My Masterpiece Masterpiece, Part 2

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02-05-2002-sa9

Get it? Do you GET it? It’s Master P, the musical artist.  Puns have always been terrible, but something about combining them with mediocre photoshop makes them super endearing. I may be showing my age a bit here but late High School/ early College for me was Something Awful’s heyday and it was wall-to-wall posts like this. Anyone remember YTMND? Nobody? You guys are making me feel really old over here. That’s cool, Master P will still be my friend, and he can help us talk about bling.

This is the part of the article where I got the idea to pretend I was asking Master P about all of the prices then, literally less than a second later, abandoned the idea. I’m opting to structure this piece exactly like the first one, which I’m sure you read but in case you didn’t, there it is. The green part. You just click on the green text with your mouse. This green text, here I’ll do it again. Got it? If you haven’t read it, go read it. I had to re-read it myself because I figured out a lot about how these things are being priced and I forgot ALL OF IT in the last week. I could easily have written the second half last week and just released it this week, but I actually wanted to see if any of the prices changed in the intervening week and they didn’t. It makes sense – what impetus is there? These are so expensive that they’re unlikely to sell out. How ambitious is SCG that they would restock masterpieces if they sold out of them, anyway? “Oh snap, there goes another Sol Ring. Put us down for another 500 cases so we can make sure we get another Sol Ring to send to this dude” seems like an unlikely scenario, even for Star City. So I don’t expect prices to change too much, which is too bad since these were clearly all guesses. Educated guesses, but still guesses.

Speaking of educated guesses, but still guesses, let’s get into the second half of these Masterpieces, shall we?

Mana Crypt

manacrypt

Mana Crypt is getting its second reprinting in a short period of time and there are two groups of people – one group which I will call the 99% who are happy about this and another which I will call the 1% who bought an ugly, foil Mana Crypt from Eternal Masters and who have to be piiiiiiiissssed that this is a Masterpiece already. Personally, I am still a big fan of the original book promo, but then I remember I sold mine for $35 in 2006 and I get sad all over again.

The Eternal Masters foil is holding steady at $150, so $200 for the Masterpiece version which is better looking seems fine to me. I’m wondering which version will have more copies out there, though. A foil mythic from a small print-run set or a version where any masterpiece at all is only showing up once in 4 boxes but the set is printed at-will and will probably be the best-selling set of all time. I’m still inclined to say the Masterpieces will be much more rare, so $200 for Mana Crypt is probably just about right, at least for now. I could see it having a bit of upside, especially when Kaladesh is out of print, but not enough upside to want to drop $200 on it.

Ultimately, this seems like it will be the most expensive Masterpiece and with upward pressure on its price from underneath vis-a-vis the Eternal Masters version maintaining its price, it’s unlikely to drop in my view. I could be wrong, but I can’t really envision a scenario and support it with facts. Mana Crypt is an EDH and Vintage monster and if it isn’t banned in EDH, which I can’t see happening (not that I saw Prophet of Kruphix coming) it is likely to increase over time. Will they do Mana Crypt as a Masterpiece again? Hard to say, but it won’t be for years if they do and the meager supply seems unlikely to satisfy what will likely be pent-up demand. I realize I’m writing a lot about this card, but it kind of matters a lot and I’m glad I didn’t try to tackle this card last week at the end of the article when I was out of steam. It probably would have looked like this –

manacrypt

Wow, this is expensive.

OK, see you next week!

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You guys deserve better than that. I mean, a little better than that, anyway.

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Mana Vault

manavault

Mana Vault is played a lot more in EDH than Mana Crypt. And why not? It taps for all of the mana, you can leave it untapped and forget about it when you’re not using it and not have to take damage from it every turn, it’s like $10 from 4th Edition so you can actually have reasonable expectations of owning one- there are lots of reasons that more decks in EDH use Mana Vault than Crypt. Do I think that means the Vault has more upside than the Crypt? I actually don’t, really. I think the same people who can afford to but either will buy both and play with both. Lots of decks run Vault that don’t run Crypt, but the people who can afford Crypt will run both whereas the reverse isn’t true, necessarily. This means the people who can afford a $200 foil Mana Vault could afford a $70 Mana Crypt and therefore are likely running Crypt in their deck already. Will they buy a Masterpiece Vault but not a Crypt? I think the face that $10 versions of Vault means it’s accessible at the lower levels, but I don’t think we can say since there are more 4th Edition Vaults, more Masterpiece Vaults will be purchased and the price will diverge from Crypt. Also, we have no data on foil Vault so we’re guessing. If there were a foil Vault in Eternal Masters we could just compare those two prices and extrapolate. Well, we can’t do that. We’re forced to try and analyze the behavior of people who will pay $200 for a single card for a casual format (or Vintage, let’s be real, and there is nothing reasonable about Vintage). In the end, whether or not Vault or Crypt ends up worth more, I think it’s safe to say that we can extrapolate from the foil Eternal Masters price of Crypt that both of these cards are probably about the right price and if you don’t expect these to be $500 in a year the same way I don’t, I don’t think there is much urgency to buy in at $200. Watch the expeditions for what the Masterpieces are going to do a year later.

Mind’s Eye

mindseye

$50 seems to be the minimum price for these non-Gearhulk cards. I see a little downside here because this is a $15 set foil compared to a $20 set foil like Lantern. This is played less than Lantern although it’s an important piece in the decks where it’s good. I think this has some downside at $50 although not a ton.

Mox Opal

moxopal

I don’t know how to evaluate this card because it has practically 0 EDH demand. We’re banking on, what? People pimping out their Modern decks hardcore? This gets played in Vintage and maybe people with Japanese foil Mox Opal want this instead. I don’t think cards with 0 EDH appeal should sell for more than cards that are playable in Modern, Vintage AND EDH. This just got a Modern Masters reprinting and is down to like $50 in set foil, making me think $180 for the masterpiece is too ambitious. However, Expeditions have shown that cards that are almost exclusively played in Modern should maintain their price for a while.

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Painter’s Servant

paintersservant

I really can’t get behind paying $80 for a card that’s played in literally one deck and that one archetype is almost exclusively played in Legacy, a format everyone decided a year ago that we shouldn’t hold any events for. This is a $50 set foil but I don’t think that justifies the $

80 price tag, at all. I think a card needs to get played a ton and have some cross-format appeal and this is banned in EDH. I think this has some downside.

Rings of Brighthearth 

ringsofbrighthearth

The math on this card is all wrong. This is expensive because the Tiny Leaders speculation crowd bought the internet out of these because they’re so good in a pretend format people don’t play anymore. That’s what happens when you invent EDH for people who hate EDH. Now the price is all sticky, no one is in a hurry to dump a card that gets significant use in EDH (the real kind) so we’re stuck overpaying. I guess $50 is the minimum so this isn’t mispriced by Masterpiece standards, but it’s the $50 card I’m least impressed with.

Scroll Rack

scrollrack

This is a card that spiked because of anticipated demand in Miracles decks that never panned out and, like Rings, stayed high because a non-zero amount of EDH demand seemed to justify the cost. With only an ugly Commander’s Arsenal foil to try and guess this price from, SCG has priced this at $60. They reckon people will pay more for a foil Scroll Rack than a foil Lightning Greaves. I am actually not so sure, but I think some of these prices will fluctuate around $10 plus or minus, so even if they’re wrong, worst case scenario is this approaches the $50 we think it should be, now.

Sculpting Steel

sculptingsteel

My initial reaction at seeing this was chosen was to conclude that this had the most potential to lose money at $50 and a maybe that’s just because this has a $15 set foil and it’s the same price as cards with $30 set foils.

Sol Ring

solring

At $150, this price is high but maybe not high enough. This is probably this set’s Scalding Tarn and while other cards have higher foil prices, nothing matches the combined EDH and Vintage demand of this card. This is an absolute EDH staple so while theoretically only people with lots of money are going to upgrade to these and those people will theoretically also play Sword of Fire and Ice and Mana Crypt so in theory Sol Ring should scale with the rest of the Masterpieces, the fact is 99% of EDH decks run Sol Ring so this is likely the Masterpiece with the highest demand, even accounting for these being luxury goods. Tarn maintained $300, I see no reason this can’t maintain $150 or even head up, even in the short term.

Solemn Simulacrum

solemnsimulacrum

I don’t think $60 is correct. They did their best to extrapolate the price from its set foil price, which is a mistake. This has a lot of foil printings for people to choose from, meaning demand is satisfied to a greater degree than for other cards. I’d argue that there are more copies out there waiting to be upgraded. Along with Sol Ring, this is an EDH staple and I think this could have pre-sold for $80 and shipped out briskly. That said, I don’t expect the demand to be so high that it outpaces the other $60 cards and you’ll wish you bought in at this price, but Expeditions indicate prices won’t tank, at least in the next year.

Static Orb

staticorb

This shouldn’t be the same price as Chromatic Lantern. I think too many of these prices were extrapolated from set foil prices and not relative demand. If this maintains $50, I expect Lightning Greaves to take off and I doubt that will happen. Maybe what we have here is a non-zero amount of pent-up demand and enough people to buy these copies at their current price but not enough to buy them at a higher one. You have to really love your cube and hate your friends to pay $50 for this, I think. Of course the set foil is around what Chromatic Lantern is – this is a 7th edition foil. You could equate these two cards on that basis, or you could remember that a 7th foil Static Orb is worth that same as a 7th foil Storm Crow. This card is destined to under-perform financially.

Steel Overseer

steeloverseer

Pricing this at $70 seems to indicate SCG has more faith in the ability of Modern and Vintage to grow the price of cards than EDH. That’s probably true from their perspective since they sell a lot of cards at tournaments and therefore to tournament players. They also sell a lot of cards on their website where tournament players are reading tournament articles. We’ll see – Modern and Vintage made this a $50 set foil so they had no choice but to mark this higher than cards with $20 set foils. I bet this can maintain this price.

Sword of Feast and Famine

swordoffeastandfamine

I’m puzzled by this being pegged at over $100. This is a $50 set foil with a $55 judge promo foil. $120 for this seems reasonable since a 2x multiplier for a Masterpiece is reasonable, but they are charging $80 for a different card with a $50 set foil. I don’t know if this can maintain $120 based on that, but EDH helps with this more than it does with Steel Overseer, so there’s always a chance. I am still kind of skeptical that any of the swords can maintain this price tag.

Sword of Fire and Ice 

swordoffireandice

This card has an even more complicated history than Feast and Famine. The takeaway here is that they didn’t apply the standard 2x multiplier here because they want the same $150 for this that they’re charging for the Modern Masters foil. That was one of the iconic cards from Modern Masters, sure, but implying this will be the same price seems ballsy. One of the prices in this set is way off, but even using Expedition data I can’t for the life of me figure out which one.

Sword of Light and Shadow

swordoflightandshadow

At $120, this is probably in the same boat as Feast and Famine, although this is a little closer to Fire and Ice in terms of the impact of one new printing given this has been printed in foil more times than Feast and Famine. I have no idea if $120 is correct, but I can’t see any factor other than raw demand being powerful enough to move the needle on this price too much. No one will have enough of these for people to start undercutting each other on price so these prices are bound to be a little sticky, but eBay is going to really be the price to watch going forward.

This is a weird set. If Expeditions are to be believed, the prices will do a pretty good job of maintaining, almost irrespective of demand. I think it’s possible that the only thing that matters is whether there are enough people who will pay the prices on these and not the demand of the individual cards relative to each other. You set an initial price justified by historical prices of other foils of that same card rather than relative EDH or Vintage or Modern or Legacy demand and you bank on there being enough people who want to pay as much for one card as you’d pay for a full set of all of the 2016 precons to justify that price and price memory and an unwillingness to cut the price on a card you’ll likely only ever see one copy of just to ship it will prop the price up. Who knows? I am going to watch the prices of Expeditions to see what is likely to happen to the Inventions. Masterpieces every set? That could put a damper on people banking on scarcity since they’re going to have to resort to reprinting cards they have already reprinted soon enough. All I know is that this is a lot of guesswork on everyone’s part and the bottom line is that you should only buy these if you want them to play with until we have enough data to accurately predict how much you stand to gain or lose.

Next week we’ll talk about something I know a lot more about and we’ll all be happier for it. Until then!

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9 thoughts on “My Masterpiece Masterpiece, Part 2”

    1. It spiked because of a Tiny Leaders buyout. Despite being good in EDH, its price was flat-ish for years. Its non-zero amount of play in EDH has helped justify the cost not coming down, but it absolutely spiked around the time people were nuts for Tiny Leaders crap.

  1. Painter’s Servant is selling for 80 not 180 on Star City Games (though sold out), unless I’m mistaken. I’m assuming what you wrote is a typo.

  2. A message from your copy editor:

    “who can afford to but either will buy both” – replace “but” with “buy”
    “I think the face that $10 versions of Vault” – “fact” not “face”
    “I really can’t get behind paying $80 for a card…I don’t think that justifies the $180 price tag, at all.” – $80 or $180?
    “and a maybe that’s just because” – delete “a”

  3. Do you think that Masterpiece Swords will have a negative impact on set foil prices? Will people that already have foil swords sell them off before/after they upgrade to Masterpieces?

    If these Masterpiece Swords make the other foils more affordable, I might be tempted to buy the set foils instead. I’ve actually been looking forward to a Sword reprint for awhile now… Didn’t really expect it to be Masterpeices… now I don’t know what version of these Swords to get.

    I guess there will be no downwards pressure on non-foil swords either… So are those going to rise in price a little now that people aren’t “expecting” a reprint like I was? I might end up just buying into some non-foil Swords to be honest. Why not at this point if they aren’t going to get any cheaper?

    Thoughts? Thanks in Advance!

    1. I think there will be so few copies that it’s hard to imagine it will impact the prices of the other swords. Scarcity and demand made those where they are, and it’s not like this injects enough supply to change that. I’m skeptical. Look at what Expeditions did to judge Wasteland next year before they announced Wasteland in EMA.

  4. So you expect Mana Vault to stick around the $200 price mark? I’d expect it to slide somewhat, I mean, a foil version of Vault doesn’t really justify a $150+ markup from the other cheaper 4th Edition Vault… Demand will likely be low. Id expect it to lower maybe around $100? Really not sure..

  5. I was wondering what you thought about the fact that these will be harder to get then the Zendikar Expeditions. For example if you wanted one of the Lands from Zendikar there was a 1 in 20 chance you would pull the one you were looking for if you were lucky enough to get one (1 in 144 packs x 20 different one = 1 in 2880 packs) There are 30 different Inventions in Kaladesh so the odds of getting the right one are a lot harder (1 in 144 packs x 30 different ones = 1 in 4320 packs for every given one) Seems like they will be a lot more rare this time.

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