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Reserved List Cards for EDH Commander – Volrath’s Stronghold

Do you know that the best of friends can go weeks or even months without talking and then call one another out of the blue and pick right up where they left off? It’s as if time had never passed. Sure, the conversation can be a bit lengthy since there is a lot of catching up to do, but everything is good in friendship town. I’m hoping to pull off the same thing here on MTGCasualPlay.com. What can I say? It’s been awhile. So, let’s catch up!

What better way to start than by picking up right where we left off with what I believe is an extremely important article series for serious and casual Commander deck builders. Magic’s reserved list contains a hand selected lot of cards that will never be reprinted and their scarcity grows with every passing day. While I do not want to discuss the politics or conundrum that is Magic the Gathering’s™ reserve list policy, I do want to discuss obtaining deck building pieces that are on this list. This article series strives to get reserved list cards into our decks or binders today, because who knows what the price may be tomorrow. I hope you enjoy this collecting exercise aimed at being proactive instead of reactive to price increases and buyouts.

Believe it or not, this is the fourth article in a series. Don’t fret, you have plenty of time to catch up. Our goal is simple. We are adding Reserved List cards to our EDH collection by simply spending $1.00 per day. That’s right. one doll hair. Pretty sweet huh?

If you have been with us since the beginning of the adventure, then you are probably quite pleased with your initial investment and now have the following reserved list cards in your collection:

If you would like to start from the beginning, here is the first article: Reserved List Cards for EDH Commander #1 – Academy Rector.

For February, 2017 we will add the $3 we rolled over from our previous article to our $30 allowance giving us $33 to spend this month. If you would like to catch up with us and obtain the above cards we acquired in exercises 1-3, you can do that. At the time of those articles (July, Aug, Sep 2016), it cost us about $90. Over the last six months, these same cards have increased in value and now would cost us approximately $115 to obtain the same treasures. Crazy isn’t it? That is why it’s important to get our reserved list cards now.

Here are the rules of the game:
[spoiler title=’Rules for Budget Reserved List Collecting’]

  1. Our monthly budget will be $30. That is the equivalent of $1.00 a day (cue the Sara McLachlan music). Most players would spend way more than that on daily habits such as nicotine sticks, fast food, or buying a daily latte, cappuccino, sugar coffee thingy at Starbucks.
  2. Condition of the cards will not be too important since we are simply wanting a single copy of each card so that we can play it in our EDH decks. That is the main reason for wanting the reserve list abolished right? So we can play with the cards? Very well then. Since prices do tend to fluctuate, I will use the pricing for this article series as Lightly Played or Near Mint. With that being said, you may be able to save a couple of bucks by digging into the Moderate and Heavily Played cards.
  3. Pricing evaluation will be theoretically based on purchasing cards at TCG Low or Ebay for Lightly Played cards. In my opinion, TCGPlayer and Ebay are the cheapest place to buy singles but if there is a cheaper place to look, please comment below. We will round prices up to the nearest dollar for ease of balancing our budget. Not all pricing will be exact, but we’ll definitely be in the ballpark.
  4. We will target at least one card every month that is highly playable. There is a lot of cannon-fodder on the reserve list. We want to get cards that could see a buyout at anytime and can be viable in our Commander decks.
  5. In December, we will celebrate the holidays by at least adding $50 to our $30 budget. We should ask our friends and family for holiday gift cards or simply treat ourselves to $50 in solid EDH investments. We deserve it!
  6. Shipping and Handling will not be calculated. We are rounding up our dollar amounts and most shipping is either free or minute.
  7. Occasionally we will “piggy bank” some of our funds. ie: float a few dollars over to the next month so we can purchase some of the more expensive cards on the reserve list.


Ready to continue? Great! Let’s do this!

What to Buy on the Reserve List for EDH

Here’s an ironic situation. This month’s reserved list recommendations are going to be non-basic lands. Why is that ironic? Well friends, non-basic lands has been the primary focus of my column on EDHREC: Non-Basically Speaking. If you haven’t checked it out yet, give it a read and let me know what you think! Now, where were we? Oh right, this month’s pickups!

Volrath's Stronghold in EDH CommanderVolrath’s Stronghold: I am going to be upright honest with you on this one. If you play black in any shape or form in Commander, get this card now. If you already have five of them, buy one more. This non-basic land is straight value town and an iconic card from the Tempest-Stronghold block. I am actually astonished that the price of Volrath’s Stronghold is still in the $20-$40 range. Good for us though, that means we can get a copy for our collection before a major buyout starts cleaning house on the finite supply.

When a creature dies or is destroyed, it is placed into our graveyard. This is usually the result of a board wipe like Wrath of God or an opponent selecting to remove one of our threats with a card like Terminate. Kaalia of the Vast immediately comes to mind when I think of a commander deck with creatures that will be frequently targeted by spot removal and board wipes. Getting a big beater like Lord of the Void back to our hand so we can drop it back into play with Kaalia’s ability is vital for her deck strategy.

With Volrath’s Stronghold we are able to put a creature card from our graveyard and put it on top of our library. Sure, this does hinder us slightly if we are only drawing one card per turn, but in conjunction with steady card draw like Phyrexian Arena or Bloodgift Demon we should be good to go.

Throughout a game of Commander, there are a multitude of events that lead up to cards residing in the graveyard. In addition to a creature being destroyed, a “creature card” can also wind up “in the yard” through effects such as milling or sacrificing. Volrath’s Stronghold lends itself as an absolute necessity in decks like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant or Lazav, Dimir Mastermind who, through the fine art of milling cards from the top of the library into the graveyard, may need to get a creature card back into the player’s hand. Volrath’s Stronghold has an easy two step process to make this happen. In a similar world, deck strategies that cycle creatures in and out of graveyards and the battlefield will enjoy the insurance plan that Volrath’s Stronghold provides. Karador, Ghost Chieftain and Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord immediately come to mind as decks that would welcome a recursion resource like the one that Volrath’s Stronghold provides.

At the time of this article, you can pick up a Lightly Played copy of Volrath’s Stronghold for approximately $24.99 on Ebay. Our Price: $25.

City of Shadows Reserved List EDH CommanderCity of Shadows: This is odd. Didn’t we already talk about City of Shadows in a previous article? Oh, wait, I remember. City of Shadows was one of the focus points in my EDHREC article: Non-Basically Speaking — Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice. While I will try not to duplicate the content found in my Atraxa article, I will state up front that there are only a minute amount of Commanders that can revitalize this hidden gem from 1994’s The Dark. What we aim to accomplish with City of Shadows is to exile a creature we control to obtain a storage counter. Once we have a storage counter on the City we can use well built counter strategies that either Proliferate or double the counters on our utility land. In a finely tuned deck, City of Shadows could provide us with a flood of colorless mana.

Two commanders that could exploit the full potential of City of Shadows is Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice and her Proliferate ability and Vorel of the Hull Clade with his knack for doubling counters on lands, artifacts and creatures. Decks that run Deepglow Skate and Doubling Season could also release some of the potential of this obscure non-basic land.

BREAKING NEWS: City of Shadows was $4-5 one week ago. According to EchoMTG, the price has gone up 11% in the last 7 days. I jumped on Ebay today and bought a Lightly Played English version for $7.80. TCGPlayer is down to limited availability and only one page of listings. Small buyout maybe? I dunno? Our Price: $8.

Hope you enjoyed this exercise, we have now added two non-basic lands that will never see a reprint in Magic the Gathering™. A great investment to ensure we have these lands available if we need them for present day or future deck building. We spent our entire allotment of $33 so we have $0 to roll over to next month.

What did you think? Did you like this type of article? Are you on board with our budget reserved list collecting plan? What are your thoughts on Volrath’s Stronghold and City of Shadows? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

On to the next!


  1. This is great! Lands should never be underestimated in Magic as there are so many with cool effects. One of the most important aspects here is that a land might do the same thing as another acrd you wanted to put into your deck, thus freeing up a slot. Volrath’s Stronghold is a great example of this and indeed found its way into my Karador deck pretty easily. Unfortunately, I own only one copy… 🙁

    This is also the reason why players should pack more nonbasic hate. Seriously, if your opponents control things like Yavimaya Hollow or Maze of Ith, those cards need to go. The sooner, the better!

    1. Thank you my friend! Volrath’s Stronghold is definitely a great inclusion for Karador!

      I couldn’t agree more on the non-basic hate. I see an Acidic Slime every once in a while, but I’m surprised my friends haven’t caught on to my Cabal Coffers shenanigans here of late. Probably my favorite broken land that needs answered right away. 🙂

      Hope you are doing well!

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