Grave Betrayal – A Magic the Gathering Card Review

Grave Betrayal has been a popular card among Commander players since it was first released in Return to Ravnica. This Enchantment has a very splashy effect, taking any creature that isn’t yours that dies and putting it back onto the field under your control. Even more flavorfully, it also becomes a black Zombie in addition to whatever colors and types it already had.

Grave Betrayal magic the gathering card

With how popular Zombies are as a casual tribe, Grave Betrayal has found itself in a variety of mono-Black and Reanimator decks. But, being a 7-drop, and the fact you’ll ever only want to play one copy, it was a dollar bin card for years. Even foils, which are a favorite of hardcore Commander players, rarely broke the two dollar mark.

In July 2015, there was sudden interest in this Return to Ravnica enchantment. At that time, it had little to do with the supply of Return to Ravnica drying up. It had more to do with speculation around the release of a hot new creature from Magic Origins: Liliana, Heretical Healer. This creature was the first to feature Liliana as a Legendary Creature, but she could flip to become yet another incarnation of the Liliana Vess planeswalker called Defiant Necromancer.

The -8 ability on Liliana, Defiant Necromancer isn’t quite Grave Betrayal, but it’s close enough. The new Liliana flip-walker proved to be a key piece to a new and improved Zombie archetype in kitchen table Magic and Commander. Of course, if your end game is going to revolve around Liliana’s “ultimate” ability, then why not have Grave Betrayal to give you redundancy?

With the reveal of a powerful new Zombie called Relentless Dead from Shadows Over Innistrad, many Zombie related cards started flying out of store inventories everywhere. Not only did Grave Betrayal foils finally start to show an uptick in price, but non-foil copies saw steady growth, as well. Between February and March 2016, Grave Betrayal saw a 30-day increase from $0.68 to $0.86 on TCGPlayer. That doesn’t sound like much, but it was a 26 percent jump for a card that saw zero competitive play.

This was the beginning of a slow, but very steady climb for Grave Betrayal’s market value. It would eventually peak every time new powerful Zombies were released. In July of 2020, it even hit four dollars a copy, with foils costing about the same amount. Savvy Magic Finance investors may have well recognized the value buy for foils. Not long afterward, the nonfoil version of Grave Betrayal steadily declined until it settled close to two dollars in 2022. Meanwhile, the foils of Grave Betrayal never stopped growing, hitting an all-time high of nine dollars per copy in July 2022.

Grave Betrayal has been a casual hit for a long time. While it never became a $5 card in non-foil, foil copies of Grave Betrayal continue to sell for higher prices month over month. While it still could be included in a future preconstructed Commander deck or Masters reprint set, which would tank its market value, it hasn’t as of mid-2022. If we can learn anything from the price history of Grave Betrayal, it’s that whenever foil prices suddenly coincide with nonfoil prices, you may have a strong foil buy on your hands. After all, foils are always a much safer investment, as they will always be the rarer version. Hopefully for those who have bought a ton of copies of this enchantment, it doesn’t show up in a future Masters release.

Writing words, spreading love, Amelia Desertsong primarily writes creative nonfiction articles, as well as dabbling in baseball, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and whatever else tickles her fancy.
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