Last updated on September 29, 2023
Rhystic Study | Illustration by Terese Nielsen
What are the most expensive commons in MTG? The question isn’t so simple.
If you want the most expensive individual printing of a common card, you know those are mostly from Alpha. But if you want to know which commons are the most expensive regardless of reprints or, in other words, what are the most expensive cheapest-printed version commons around, I’ve got you covered.
Not to be too clickbaity, but I think this list will surprise you. Ready to find out?
Utopia Sprawl | Illustration by Ron Spears
As a ‘90s player, I have the giant white boxes full of Magic cards, and most of them are unplayable nostalgia pieces. The other day, as I was working on an Ashnod, Flesh Mechanist deck for EDH, I wanted a Culling the Weak, but my three copies already had homes in other decks. I was all set to buy another copy until I saw that the card is almost ten bucks right now!
It got me thinking about pricey commons in MTG’s history and what it means when they aren’t reprinted. The poster child for this for a long time was Three Visits, which was around 80 bucks before it was reprinted in Battle for Baldur’s Gate. Now it hovers around $60 for the original, and the reprint, upshifted to uncommon, is about five bucks. If your goal was just to get a copy for your ramp deck, a reprint is just what the doctor ordered.
If you’re sitting on a pile of old commons that happen the be worth a bit right now, you’d probably want to know what the most likely candidates for reprints are, assuming that WotC wants to reprint high priced commons and uncommons. The chances of those decreasing in value at some point, perhaps in Commander Masters, can be gleaned from the list I’ve got for you today.
Let’s get on with the show! I’m looking at every English language common with a current price for the cheapest-printed version (according to Scryfall) of more than $3 US. That’s 57!
As with Three Visits, Portal Three Kingdoms cards are all over this list. A really small English print run from 1999 with no reprints will do that. Even though lots of these cards, like Spring of Eternal Peace, are pretty much unplayable.
Never reprinted since Urza’s Destiny, Bubbling Muck is a great card which is key as a burst of mana black decks with expensive spells and commanders, like Vilis, Broker of Blood and other demon tribal decks. It also does work in more combo oriented decks like Toshiro Umezawa.
$3 seems the current floor for Portal Three Kingdoms cards. Even with the coveted horsemanship, Wei Strike Force is a pretty bad rate.
Aha! A card I play in my decks! Listen, I use Tortured Existence fairly. I swear. I don’t use it when I put a Phyresis on my Syr Konrad, the Grim to kill the table. Really. This is the first card with an actual reprint, but that’s on The List, so it hasn’t budged prices much.
Gnat Miser, from Saviors of Kamigawa, is for rat tribal decks only. Even then, there seems to be no real reason to play this card in those decks except you just happen to have it and the art is kinda sweet.
This card leveled me up as a young Magic player. When I first realized I could Arcane Denial my own spell and draw three cards, it was like the scales dropped from my eyes! This is how (brag alert!) I knew Tibalt's Trickery was gonna be busted when it was spoiled. I wasn’t the only one who knew that, of course!
This has been reprinted half a dozen times and still retains its value across those reprints. In fact, most of the reprints are pricier than the originals!
Phyrexian mana, especially on a 1-drop, is pretty busted. Mutagenic Growth, from New Phyrexia, sees play across Modern prowess and Delver decks across formats. I’m not sure you really want this in EDH, though.
Another below rate card, I like that the artist for Wu Light Cavalry, Huang Qishi, seems to get that horsemanship is a replacement for flying in this real-world version of MTG. That horse is ready for takeoff!
At almost four bucks, it’s really kind of expensive to build a Rat Colony deck in Commander, where you need like 30 of them!
The least reprinted of the soul sisters, Soul's Attendant from Rise of the Eldrazi is a must have for those decks. Which is why it’s almost four dollars.
Crimson Wisps hasn’t been reprinted since Shadowmoor. It’s a great card in Birgi, God of Storytelling storm decks and Voltron decks like Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh, and it’s card draw in Zada, Hedron Grinder decks. The wisps will keep wisping until we return to Lorwyn.
The colorshifted Planar Chaos soul sister in green, Essence Warden holds value with multiple reprints.
A bad mana dork that’s a) an elf; b), a druid; and c) a snow creature will find a home. Good for Coldsnap’s Boreal Druid!
There are much better cards to find two lands than Skyshroud Claim, but in an EDH world, you often just need more slightly worse “copies” of effects that are key to your deck.
With more horsemanship, Shu Cavalry takes us over the $4 mark.
These horsemanship cards are getting closer to a playable rate as we go up this list, which makes me think that Wei Scout is actually being played, maybe?
Considering you can do this much more cheaply and with more nuance, like targeting only your opponents’ creatures, I’m at a loss as to why Desert Sandstorm is almost five bucks.
Fire Ambush goes for face, so if you’re trying to make monored burn work in EDH, you probably need this. I don’t think that deck works, but burn is one of those things.
There were no instants in the Portal sets, only sorceries like Preemptive Strike that had text that allowed them to sort of flash. It’s unclear why this Remove Soul variant, of all of them, is so expensive.
Broken Dam at sorcery speed is rough, but someone must like it.
Does Wu Scout count as a control card in Portal Three Kingdoms?
We hit six bucks with Zodiac Snake, and these zodiac creatures feel like people just want them for fun to connect with their sign.
#20. Yellow Scarves Cavalry
Someone really likes horsemanship, although you can’t really find these cards, Yellow Scarves Cavalry included, in decklists.
As a sorcery, Mobilize is only fringe playable, and that’s usually in decks that can have everything tap for mana like Inga and Esika and Seton, Krosan Protector. It also has some infinite combo shenanigans with Eternal Witness.
Wielding the Green Dragon is almost the Portal Three Kingdoms Titanic Growth. I like the art on these cards, so maybe that’s a piece of this. Otherwise, it’s hard to explain why this is almost four dollars more than the Portal Three Kingdoms average.
Zodiac Goat, I think, is framed on the desktops of MTG players born in ‘79, ’91, and ‘03, perhaps?
Almost ten bucks for another nerfed Dark Ritual in Culling the Weak. Back in the day at tabletop, we used to play this incorrectly because you do the phrase before the colon as often as you want and get the four mana multiple times. That’s even more broken!
There aren’t that many unreprinted commons from Arabian Nights, like Desert Nomads, but all of them are over ten bucks.
Camel has the most bonkers version of banding in all of MTG for my money.
There are easier ways to make Voltron commanders unblockable than Riding Red Hare, so this price has to be from Red Hare fandom? We love cool horses. Especially real ones.
Zodiac Rabbit is calling ‘75s, ‘87s, ‘99s, and ‘11s.
One of the most expensive cards in Mercadian Masques, and by far that set’s most valuable common, Snuff Out is a “free” removal spell that works well in both EDH and Pauper. I really want one (sad face emoji).
Zodiac Rooster is cock-a-doodling ‘69s, ‘81s, ‘93s and ‘05s.
‘70s, ‘82s, ‘94s, & 06’s are barking for Zodiac Dog.
Not a lot of reprints for this cEDH staple from Tempest. You can tell how long a MTG content creator has been playing by how often they refer to treasure tokens as Lotus Petal. More than $20, this card!
I’m sort of surprised that Army of Allah wasn’t wiped with various other cards like Jihad back in summer of 2020. That plus being an Arabian Nights common buffs the price on this.
If you like the high prices of these zodiac commons, take a look at the uncommons and the rare. Zodiac Rat for almost thirty bucks is bad enough for folks from ‘72, ‘84, ’96, and ‘08. But Zodiac Dragon, at more than $200, is really tough for birth years ‘76, ‘88, ’00, and ‘12!
Of course, it’s this EDH powerhouse! Rhystic Study is, along with Sol Ring, one of the iconic cards in EDH. Powerful, obnoxious, and almost forty bucks, I think we all think it’ll be reprinted in Commander Masters, which should reduce its price just a bit.
Although most commons throughout MTG’s history are basically worthless as trade items, with pennies of value at most, these 57 cards are worth more than three bucks a piece, with thirteen over ten bucks and the high point at almost forty.
There’s another way to think about the prices of commons though, and that’s with the prices of individual printings of cards. Most commons from MTG’s first set, Alpha, are worth quite a lot. At the top is an Alpha Dark Ritual at more than $300. Another valuable set for commons is the 7th edition, specifically the foils. They’re some of the first foils in MTG, and also old border foils. The top ten most valuable individual common MTG card prices, ranging from over $300 to just over $100, where loads of other Alpha commons also reside, are:
#10. Alpha Giant Growth
#9. Alpha Unholy Strength
#8. Alpha Power Sink
#7. Alpha Wild Growth
#6. Alpha Llanowar Elves
#5. Alpha Disenchant
#4. 7th Edition Foil Counterspell
#3. Alpha Giant Spider
#2. Alpha Drain Life
#1. Alpha Dark Ritual
Arcane Denial | Illustration by Xi Zhang
There you go! Unless you have some Alpha or Portal Three Kingdoms cards stacked away in those boxes, your commons are probably not worth a whole lot.
But if you’re like me, you’ve got a few cards on this list that you didn’t know were as valuable as they are! And with Commander Masters reprinting a bunch of cards later this year, some of the cards on this list won’t retain this value level next year. But it’s anyone’s guess as to which cards those will be!
Let me know if I helped you spot a hidden gem in your card collection. Do you have a favorite expensive common? As always, the comments and our Discord are open.
Until then, be sure you’re using sleeves!
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