Shocks vs. Fetches

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By: Cliff Daigle

In my never-ending quest to gain value from Magic, I feel like there are times when the correct financial play is obvious. Architect of Thought is $5 when Dragon’s Maze is out? Pick up a few. Hero’s Downfall is $10? Move them out!

In the last couple of years, though, I feel I had a huge swing and a miss recently: fetch lands.

Like many people, I didn’t advocate trading aggressively for fetches while they were in print. I never missed an opportunity to trade for them when they were available, but I also felt fine trading them away as well. There was no point hoarding them, because there were so many and people got the sets and specific ones they needed relatively quickly.

You know, like what happened with shock lands in Return to Ravnica block?

However, the time has come to admit I was wrong in this viewpoint. The allied fetches have seen remarkable growth recently, and I think there are several reasons why.

As always, I want to think about where I went wrong so I don’t do it again.

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These have doubled since their low point of Dragons of Tarkir. Doubled!

But let’s look at shock lands and compare them.

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These have stayed relatively flat after they rotated out of Standard, and didn’t move much after a minor spike at the beginning of Theros block, but they went back down until rotation.

I thought that fetches would follow the same pattern: bump a little bit once they weren’t in drafts anymore, but stay stable. I certainly wasn’t expecting Polluted Delta to rise the way it has, or any of the fetches. So what the heck happened?

Factor #1: Theros vs. Battle for Zendikar

Let’s face it: Theros as a set introduced us to devotion as a mechanic. Return to Ravnica block had many good multicolor cards, but the powerhouse decks were focused on casting lots of the same color of cards.

Battle for Zendikar has landfall as a mechanic, and fetches certainly help with that, but the main thing is that the theme of Khans of Tarkir hasn’t faded at all. Everyone still has their Siege Rhinos and playing three or four colors is even easier now. (More on that in a second.)

Factor #2: Modern

I overlooked this as a factor in the price. Shocks had already been legal in Modern, and this was just adding to the quantity available. This was also the time when Modern really began to take off as a format, since people could bring their newly acquired shock lands over to this format without having to spend much on the manabase.

The allied fetches hadn’t been legal in Modern before, and that meant players could have exactly as many fetchlands as they wanted, in any color distribution. Also, I expect that not many players want to move their lands from the Standard deck to the Modern deck and back again, so there’s probably a bit more of a drain on the supply.

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I know I truly despise moving cards between EDH decks, and I’d hate moving playsets around even more.

Factor #3: Casual players

Before the reprint, an Onslaught Polluted Delta was up to $120. It was only legal in Legacy and Vintage, and it was the king price-wise. The announcement sliced that value in half, and now it’s trickled down to $40.

Players who wanted Onslaught fetches for their Cube or Commander decks might have been priced out, but when Khans landed, a good amount of the supply went to those players. I know I’ve added those fetches to all of my decks, and I can’t wait for the enemy ones to be reprinted so I can finally get a foil Scalding Tarn without taking out a mortgage.

As a side note, the reprint in Khans of Tarkir did affect foil prices too. Foil Delta went from about $475 to $350. Normally, I see foils as a safe place to put value, especially old-frame ones, but I need to think about what affected this price.

Factor #4: Battle Lands

I think this is probably the biggest reason that the fetches have spiked so hard. It’s been a long time since one land was able to get you your choice of four colors of mana. Polluted Delta can get you anything but green mana! In Standard! To get this level of flexibility, you have to go to Modern (and pay two more life) or Legacy (and buy duals!).

When the easy mana of fetches + battle lands is added to the relatively low power level of Battle for Zendikar, you have a formula that pushes players to play lots and lots of colors. This doesn’t even count how delve cards are begging for extra cards in the yard, to the point that Evolving Wilds is showing up in some lists. Even the mechanic of converge for Radiant Flames or Painful Truths encourages multi-color play, and there aren’t any cards yet that strongly push players towards a mere two colors.

 

The cards in Khans of Tarkir are, by any objective measurement, more powerful than Battle for Zendikar. Being multicolored is a design tool allowing cards to be stronger, because needing three colors is supposed to be hard. Unless you’re paying life or going through other contortions, casting Mantis Rider on turn three shouldn’t be a given, but that’s where we are today.

We are only there until April, though. Shadows of Innistrad lands on April 6, and now we begin the new world of 18-month Standard. I’ve held onto my fetches long enough. I’m trading them now before they begin to fall. I’m not going to try for 120% when I’ve already made 100% gains in value. I’m going to also suggest that if you have fetches in any casual deck, that you take them out, trade or sell them, and then pick them up again in April when they have fallen.


 

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7 thoughts on “Shocks vs. Fetches”

  1. Whoa there… calm down. Fetches are the price they are right now because every freaking person and their grandmother plays 4-10 in their standard deck. Or, they WANT to anyhow.

    Despite there being a kajillion (yeah, new word) of these out there (um, look what Siege Rhino’s price is, despite being an absurdly powerful card), they’re still this price because there’s so… many… standard… players right now.

    Fetches should be priced at 2-4x the price of pack opened siege rhinos, in my opinion (and other strong modern cards from Khans).

    They went up in price almost like magic *immediately* when BFZ said “we ain’t got no fetches for you”. People said “damnit… now I need to get these Khans ones and make them work in my deck”. And they did. And deltas went right over $20+.

    If Oath or Shadows comes out with fetches (unlikely), these will drop instantly. If they don’t, they will drop significantly when they rotate (come on, look at Thoughtseize, even THAT dropped post rotation because there were so many out there, and there’s WAY less thoughtseizes out there than there are “ooh they reprinted allied fetches in Khans? I’ll order a case”)

    1. Oh… battle lands, yeah that’s another reason why they’re all over the place in standard now too. I’m telling you, standard is driving fetch prices through the roof right now.

      And now that I finish finish the whole article… your conclusion sounds like the exact opposite of your intro. Oddball 🙂

  2. Um….the premise/body of this piece/argument….is utterly detached from the conclusion.

    “Boy I assed up thinking Fetches would be like Shocks…..”
    “Here’s why fetches arent the same as shocks…”
    “I’m selling my fetches now at the peak, to rebuy lower WHEN THEY DIP AT LOCATION LIKE SHOCKS DID….”

    Um……beavis … what the….?

    Fetches are actually THE KING OF DUALS. Yes, I’m saying it : BETTER THAN EVEN ORIGINAL DUALS. They took a long time to perfect them after the first attempt in Mirage (and ok, Thawing Glaciers may be considered the OG Fetch)….and they opted to make them “Beta Good”: 1 life point cost, no “Enters tapped”, choice of two land types (basic or otherwise).

    Thats the cleanest design frame they could have gone with (0 life loss would have made these things broken with duals and shocks).

    They took so long to do the enemy cycle because they know, these are the level of quality that echoes the original game, they were always going to be “Instant Vintage” upon existing.

    The fetches would have looked perfectly normal amongst the alpha to legends releases back in the day.

    Fetches are and always will be the unspoken Power for all formats they are played in.

    Get 4 of every one and keep for deck building as long as you have so much as a playset of bolts and brainstorms.

    Fetches are correcting in price: we now have the lovely situation where we can track the Onslaught printings, judge foils, ONS set foils, khans foils, and expedition foils as one “Silo” – the “allied fetch” silo.

    We can then look at the enemy fetch silo: one set printing only, and no judge foil… so only a nonfoil, set foil and expedition foil to deal with.

    Enemy foils never exploded to the same level as non foils when bfz confirmed “no fetches” (before literally reprinting every one….hahaha….)

    All the people commenting on the anti-legacy trend are actually ignoring the biggest thing of all that happened nearly a year back….

    The reprinting of khans fetches AT ALL was not a big favour to legacy, in fact quite the opposite. A slap in the face to the format. Modern had ONE (enemy) cycle of fetches. Legacy had 2. No modern competition for their friendly ones. No need to give modern the full 10, but i understand the choice to do so. But it was the first finger up at legacy.

    Which brings me to my own conclusion in an equally random piece, but with more cogency….onslaught fetches be like lingerie models without dates, and right now is late afternoon on a saturday…..

  3. mdrunk the reprinting of the Onslaught fetches in Khans is the reason myself and a ton of people could begin to afford Legacy. It’s also allowed a ton of people to play Modern much more affordably. I just built Legacy Infect…I used Wooded Foothills and Windswept Heaths as my fetches. That’s about $150 for 8 fetches when it would previously have cost me over $400 with Catacombs and Mistys. Saving that $250 plus on Fetch lands equals 2 Force of Wills plus other stuff. So the printing of the Khans fetches allowed for more people access to Legacy and Modern, I don’t think it was a slap in the face at all. It was a slap in the face to investors who thought fetches would never be reprinted, which after shock lands were reprinted investors should have seen coming.

    Cliff, I don’t follow your article like the first few commentors and am a little confused by it. The Answer to ‘WHERE YOU WENT WRONG” is ETERNAL PLAYABILITY and Legacy. I had been on the trade for any fetch and every fetch train from the second they were released. Before Theros rotated I traded like crazy for fetches, flipping Dragons, Xenagoses, Ashioks, Coursers, Caryatids, Polukranoses, etc for the fetch lands. And bought some really cheap on ebay, like playsets of Mires for $30 on auction and Strands and Deltas around $50 or less. I’m selling and trading a lot now as I only see them going down from here and plan to reacquire some post rotation if necessary. I feel most Modern and Legacy players were smart enough to pick up their fetches already. If I had to play Gideon I’d trade a Delta for him but only so I wouldn’t have to waste the money to buy him. I traded for Deltas around $15 so it’s like getting a Gideon for 50% off. Otherwise it’s a terrible idea and that’s currently my issue.

    The good thing is that being “stuck” with fetches is not a bad thing. Eventually players and investors should realize that Bloodstained Mire fetches all the Grixis lands and fetches the 2 most expensive Dual Lands in Volcs and Seas; maybe they have and that’s why it’s near $25. Otherwise I’m selling a lot now. I’m trying to trade into more foil fetches as they haven’t increased in price as much as the non-foil (percentage growth anyways).

    I’m sorry you missed the fetch land train. I know Shocks have been a disappointing investment, but the simple fact that fetches were Legacy playable should have been a clue that they’d do better than Shocks. And in Modern I know the other writers have already compared the number of fetches per deck to the number of shocks and there’s about double the fetches per shock in a deck. The price of these lands won’t truly go down again until the enemy fetches are printed and players have access to a new Standard legal land that’s played across all formats. I believe Heaths will plummet the most as they are already reprinted in the clash pack and the WG fetch has to be one of the least played in Modern and Legacy but is really popular now thanks to Abzan. Otherwise the other fetches should maintain solid value. From this point forward I do NOT see the lands providing the ROI that we’ve seen during this Standard. I think now is the worst time to pick them up, but in a trade sometimes there just isn’t a better option/target.

  4. Did you huff paint bbeforewritting this article? Your reasoning under modern goes something like ” shocks transferred over to modern and people just switched them from other formatted decks, but people are too lazy to pull fetches from standard deck to put in modern? Sometimes I wonder how much intelligence is required to write articles for such a usually spot-on analysis by many other posts. In all fairness, EVEN AFTER rotation I dont see fetches crashing and burning like you suggest, so with that being said it’s a bit funny of you to recommend people to dump them and just sit it out with a janked up deck until april to save a buck or two. I got a recommendation for you to end this though, you didnt see it coming and from the points you make verses vendors at scg tournements paying ALMOST FULL RETAIL ON THEM you were better off just missing them when they were cheap and keeping your foot in your mouth. But hey, feel free to post this and face palm again down the road :).

  5. So how much of a dip are you expecting to see the fetches take when they rotate out of Standard? Will they approach their previous low price, or are we just going to see a drop by 5-ish dollars each?

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