Looking back at the second expansion in the Urza block.
Urza’s Destiny may have come out over two decades ago, but it provided us with some monstrously powerful cards that are still in high demand even today. Of course, much of that demand and the consequently inflated prices that come with it is because many of the cards from this set are on the Reserved List. Whatever your thoughts on the Reserved List, whether you hate it or really hate it, you can’t deny the impact it has on the prices of these old cards—let’s dive in and get across the most expensive cards from Urza’s Destiny with The Brothers’ War on the horizon.
#10 Phyrexian Negator
You might think it weird that a card that is essentially a reverse Phyrexian Obliterator would be nearly $20. There are much better options when it comes to over-statted, under-costed Black creatures, right? But that’s the point: this card is expensive because of its drawback (and, I suppose, because it’s on the Reserved List). There is a whole Commander archetype built around giving opponents creatures with significant downsides, with generals like Jon Irenicus, Shattered One or Blim, and Comedic Genius. In those decks especially, Phyrexian Negator is perfect—foist it on an opponent, deal it some damage, and watch them sacrifice their permanents!
Repercussion offers a very narrow and rather unique effect, a card that sees decent use in aggressive Commander decks that can unload damage onto opposing creatures. Whether it’s with damage-based sweepers like Blasphemous Act, or damage-increasing effects like Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, or Fiery Emancipation, Repercussion helps you manage the battlefield while also clocking your opponents. There aren’t many effects like this in Magic, and combined with this card’s age explains its $20+ price tag.
Oh boy. Opalescence has got to be one of the most infamous cards in Magic purely from a rules perspective, as it creates so many unbelievably confusing situations when combined with other cards, such as Humility, Mortuary, or Worship. What happens if you have Opalescence and Humility out? Do you get 1/1s, or 4/4s, or a mixture of both? It’s so complex that even the Oracle rules page has this specific disclaimer: “This is the current interaction between Humility and Opalescence…” Aside from this, Opalescence does see a decent amount of play in enchantment-based Commander decks. Although for the sake of the table’s sanity, I’d suggest you leave Humility on the sidelines.
#7 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
Poor Rofellos. Because he is absolutely broken in half as a Commander, he’s banned from the format altogether in the wake of removing the “banned as Commander” rule. He’s too slow for Legacy or Vintage and isn’t legal in any other format, so the best Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary can do these days is serving as a build-around in Cube decks. It’s a great shame, and I wish they would restore the “banned as Commander” rule so he could return to our EDH decks. Even in his current unplayable state, the one-two punch of price memory and the Reserved List means that Rofellos holds firm at around $40, even after all these years.
#6 Urza’s Incubator
Urza’s Incubator is in dire need of a proper reprint. Hovering at around $50, this card is an extremely powerful inclusion in any tribal Commander deck, helping you accelerate out big threats ahead of schedule. It was included in Commander 2015 and its consequent reprint in the second Commander Anthology, but that level of supply has been completely outstripped by continued increasing demand, and in the last five years this card has risen and risen in price to its current point. It’s not on the Reserved List, and with an Urza-themed set currently in focus in Standard, you might have thought now would be the perfect time for it to return in The Brothers’ War.
Once again, the price memory and the Reserved List combined kept the price of Treachery at around $65, and this is after having a drop from around twice that after a massive spike in early 2021. Like any “free” spell, Treachery can be obscenely powerful, and can do silly things in decks led by Commanders such as Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief, where it allows you to untap your lands twice when you cast it. It’s also relatively common in other decks built around the theme of stealing your opponents’ stuff, but more than anything else, it’s the history of this card results in its inflated price.
#4 Academy Rector
As you can probably guess, Academy Rector is an inherently unfair card. Invariably used to go and fetch something like Omniscience, this card sees play in enchantment-based EDH decks of all colors, from Bant to Esper. It’s even worth including in non-Blue decks, as even if it can’t fetch Omniscience, it can still cheat out cards like Overwhelming Splendor, Sandwurm Convergence, or Legion Loyalty (or, if you really want to be nasty, Divine Intervention or Humility). At $85 or so, Academy Rector isn’t cheap, but given its unfair ability and the fact it won’t be reprinted any time soon due to the Reserved List, I can’t see the price coming down all too much.
#3 Yavimaya Hollow
It may not look like much, but the fact that Yavimaya Hollow goes in any non-demanding Green manabase and acts as a frustrating Mother of Runes-type protection ability means this card commands a much higher price than you think. With one card, you can blank opposing removal spells, protect your Commander or another key creature through a sweeper, and generally keep being a thorn in the side of your opponents’ interactive plans. Its price means you can’t just throw it into every Green brew you put together, but were this a more affordable, non-Reserve List card, you can bet it would be in every EDH deck that plays Forests.
Like many other cards on this list, Replenish is an all-star in EDH decks built around enchantments. Sythis, Harvest’s Hand, Tuvasa the Sunlit, Ghen, Arcanum Weaver—all these Commanders and more would be thrilled to have a cheap way to reanimate every single enchantment in their graveyard and Replenish comes in at just four mana. In Commander, your enchantments are never truly safe when cards like Hour of Revelation or Austere Command are floating around, and Replenish is the best way for an Enchantress-style deck to come back from mass removal. Given the popularity of Enchantress decks in Commander, Replenish is consequently nearly a $100 card.
Metalworker is one of those cards that can produce the most staggeringly broken and unfair starts to a game. As a three-cost mana dork that can reliably tap for six to eight mana and sometimes even more—Metalworker is absolutely busted in artifact-based decks, and as a result, Metalworker is a mainstay in older Commander decks led by the likes of Karn, Silver Golem, or Kozilek, Butcher of Truth. More recently, Metalworker is enthusiastically adopted in newer decks like Trazyn the Infinite, where its ability can be pilfered by Trazyn once it dies. If you’ve never played against Metalworker, here’s a piece of free advice: kill it the second you can because if they untap with it, good luck. And this advice is just about the only thing you’re getting for free with Metalworker, as its power, history, and of course, position on the Reserved List combine to have it push almost $150 in price.