Wakey wakey, it’s time for Strixhaven!
The most prestigious university in the Multiverse is opening its doors for us in the coming weeks, and social media is alight with talk over which College everyone belongs to. It’s having a massive impact on people’s ability to express themselves: some are abandoning the Boros Legion in favor of the more historically appreciative Lorehold, and others are leaving behind the shackles of the Orzhov Syndicate for the eloquent Silverquill College. I’ve even ditched the goggles and tesla coils of the Izzet League to pursue a career in Prismari’s expressive elemental magic!
With Strixhaven comes the Mystical Archive: a collection of 63 of the most iconic instants and sorceries in Magic’s history, all with striking new borders and bold new art. You’ll get one in each booster pack of Strixhaven, meaning they should be fairly accessible to all. Japanese booster packs have different versions of those same cards, each with unique imagery inspired by traditional Japanese art.
This collection has been making waves online, too. With Magic fans praising the incredible art and expressing their stylistic preferences, there’s no doubt that these pieces struck a chord. If the point of art is to make you feel something, then the Mystical Archive has done an incredible job.
These are just one of several special versions of Magic cards we’ve seen in the past few years, including showcase frames and countless full-art variants. Some may say that there are too many options to choose from, but the upside is that these cards have made it easier than ever to add some bling to your deck.
“Budget bling” may sound oxymoronic, and it’s a concept that’s yet to catch up with most other hobbies. These recent, widely accessible special editions have been responsible for the popularization of the phrase, and it’s something that will do wonders for the game. Here are some of the reasons why the Mystical Archive is a huge boon for everyone, including budget players.
Classic Cards Gain Their First Alternate Arts
It’s always great to see staples getting their first ever alternate art treatment, and Mystical Archive does this for a number of Commander’s well-loved (or hated) cards. There are many ways to qualify a card as being a “staple,” but I have a simple approach to it: If most people know what a card does, that’s good enough for me! Approach of the Second Sun is a common alternate win condition, Blue Sun’s Zenith is extremely popular among the more combo-focused blue mages, and Increasing Vengeance is an auto-include in many spellslinger decks. Seeing these new versions will surely reinvigorate players’ love for them, and it’s a great excuse to treat your decks to a nice upgrade.
Commander isn’t the only format benefitting from this special run of cards, either. Modern staples like Inquisition of Kozilek and Grapeshot are getting the glow-up treatment for the first time. Even Ponza players can rejoice: despite being first printed all the way back in Alpha, Stone Rain is finally getting its first ever fancy art. Paper Magic may not be possible right now, but that just means you have plenty of time to get your hands on some upgrades for a flashy return!
Some cards in Commander surpass the “staple” branding, and ascend to “all-star” status. These are cards that are so good at their job that they’ve become synonymous with the format and its identity. Chaos Warp is one of those cards, and yet it’s never had a makeover until now. The same can be said for Krosan Grip; while it did get an FNM Promo printing back in 2010, it never had a true stylistic overhaul before the Mystical Archive came along. Tezzeret’s Gambit is another card that’s cast exclusively in multiplayer games, and has retained the same look for a decade. Strixhaven is giving it the glow-up it deserves, and proliferating the number of fantastic new ways to express yourself in the 99.
New Classics in Need of Bling
There have been some cards printed over the past couple of years that have become multi-format staples in no time, and players have been looking for blinged-out versions for their decks. Almost any card that has the “storm” keyword becomes a relevant player somewhere, and Weather the Storm is no exception. Village Rites is showing up in fringe decks in Modern and Pauper, and is a fantastic one-shot sacrifice outlet in Commander. Snakeskin Veil is a much newer card, having just debuted in Kaldheim, but it’s already proving to be one of the better versions of this effect. These new classics are already budget-friendly, too, so the Mystical Archive upgrades will be extremely affordable ways to make your decks your own.
Even More Bling to Choose From
Some cards are eternal classics that we can never get enough of. There are some cards in the Mystical Archive that are all-stars in every format they’re legal, and already have countless special editions available, but will always be welcome and valuable additions to any product release. Swords to Plowshares has seen recent special printings with the Yargle Secret Lair and Commander Legends, but this incredible new version will fit right in among them. Counterspell also got the full-art treatment in Commander Legends, but this version is much more striking; this is perfect for those blue mages that really want to drive home the point. Finally, despite having seemingly endless special editions, you can never have too many Lightning Bolts, especially when they look this good.
Cards like these are guaranteed to remain popular, and will surely add to the inherent value of the Mystical Archive. This means every pack of Strixhaven has just a little bit more value than other sets, on average.
Two cards in particular stand out from the rest of the Mystical Archive as cards that were in desperate need of reprint: Tainted Pact and Teferi’s Protection. Both of these cards are currently sitting at a fairly inaccessible price point, even to non-budget players. Tainted Pact was printed all the way back in Odyssey and has never seen a reprint, leaving the card to steadily creep up in price over time. While Teferi’s Protection has seen some reprints, they have mostly been in extremely limited printings like Secret Lair and Judge Promos. With the exception of Mystery Booster, this will be the most abundant reprint available, so it should hopefully have a positive impact on the card’s cost.
With so many different reprints and incredible inclusions, it’s easy to see how the Mystical Archive is a huge boon to all players. Unlike Expeditions and Masterpieces, these premium cards will appear in every pack of Strixhaven, which should put more cards in players’ hands and keep the price point of these singles relatively low.
Whether you’re looking for a shiny new Tainted Pact for your cEDH deck, or just want a playset of Opts to make your Standard deck that little bit fancier, there’s something in Mystical Archive for everyone! Check out the full selection over at Card Kingdom.
Scott is an Irish content creator and the Head of Budget Magic for the Izzet League. He focuses on affordable decks in Pioneer, Modern, and Pauper, particularly ones that stray from the mainstream. When he’s not writing about his favorite decks, he can be found talking incessantly about them on Twitter and on The Budget Magic Cast.