The Spread on Fate Reforged

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By: Jared Yost

Based on the work I’ve done previously for Khans of Tarkir (which you’ll want to read if you have no idea what I’m talking about when I mention spread), let’s take a look at the spread on Fate Reforged singles to see if we can tell where prices are going in the future.

Comparing Retail to Buylist

Let’s take a look at the Top 25 cards by retail price from Fate Reforged.

CARD NAME FAIR TRADE PRICE BEST BUYLIST PRICE SPREAD
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon $32.22 $23.50 27.06%
Monastery Mentor $19.80 $11.01 44.39%
Soulfire Grand Master $14.46 $9.70 32.92%
Whisperwood Elemental $13.40 $8.00 40.30%
Shaman of the Great Hunt $7.23 $4.00 44.67%
Tasigur, the Golden Fang $6.99 $4.01 42.63%
Brutal Hordechief $5.92 $3.01 49.16%
Warden of the First Tree $5.14 $2.51 51.17%
Crux of Fate $3.42 $2.15 37.13%
Outpost Siege $2.86 $1.55 45.80%
Torrent Elemental $2.78 $1.01 63.67%
Mastery of the Unseen $2.55 $0.75 70.59%
Valorous Stance $2.01 $1.25 37.81%
Temporal Trespass $1.96 $0.95 51.53%
Flamewake Phoenix $1.92 $0.60 68.75%
Citadel Siege $1.31 $0.48 63.36%
Frontier Siege $1.31 $0.31 76.34%
Mardu Strike Leader $1.31 $0.55 58.02%
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death $1.03 $0.14 86.41%
Soulflayer $0.99 $0.13 86.87%
Silumgar, the Drifting Death $0.96 $0.28 70.83%
Ghastly Conscription $0.95 $0.21 77.89%
Wild Slash $0.84 $0.23 72.62%
Monastery Siege $0.78 $0.10 87.18%
Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury $0.77 $0.21 72.73%

One trend that should always be noted is that low spreads do not necessarily correlate with the higher priced fair trade cards. For example, even though Monastery Mentor has the number two retail price in the set at the moment, there are six other cards with lower spreads than the Mentor.

Warden of the First Tree has the highest spread amongst the cards in the top ten retail prices. The reason the spread is higher on Warden is because it only fits into one current archetype, Abzan Aggro, which needs to compete for demand in a field of other Standard deck possibilities. The best out for your extra Wardens is to trade them, since you’re hardly going to get half its retail value if you decide to buylist.

Now that we’ve gotten idea of what the desirable cards from the set are, let’s take a look at the list sorted by lowest to highest spread. This will better tell us which cards should be watched closely for price increases.

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CARD NAME FAIR TRADE PRICE BEST BUYLIST PRICE SPREAD
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon $32.22 $23.50 27.06%
Soulfire Grand Master $14.46 $9.70 32.92%
Crux of Fate $3.42 $2.15 37.13%
Valorous Stance $2.01 $1.25 37.81%
Whisperwood Elemental $13.40 $8.00 40.30%
Tasigur, the Golden Fang $6.99 $4.01 42.63%
Monastery Mentor $19.80 $11.01 44.39%
Shaman of the Great Hunt $7.23 $4.00 44.67%
Outpost Siege $2.86 $1.55 45.80%
Brutal Hordechief $5.92 $3.01 49.16%
Warden of the First Tree $5.14 $2.51 51.17%
Temporal Trespass $1.96 $0.95 51.53%
Mardu Strike Leader $1.31 $0.55 58.02%
Citadel Siege $1.31 $0.48 63.36%
Torrent Elemental $2.78 $1.01 63.67%
Flamewake Phoenix $1.92 $0.60 68.75%
Mastery of the Unseen $2.55 $0.75 70.59%
Silumgar, the Drifting Death $0.96 $0.28 70.83%
Wild Slash $0.84 $0.23 72.62%
Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury $0.77 $0.21 72.73%
Frontier Siege $1.31 $0.31 76.34%
Ghastly Conscription $0.95 $0.21 77.89%
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death $1.03 $0.14 86.41%
Soulflayer $0.99 $0.13 86.87%
Monastery Siege $0.78 $0.10 87.18%

Ugin’s Spread

The greatest point of discussion that we can draw from this is that Ugin, the Spirit Dragon has the highest retail price, highest buylist price, and lowest spread of any card from Fate Reforged. This highest spot in all three categories tells us some important information about the card. 

First, since he is played in Standard yet only played as one or two copies in any given deck, it means that there is gigantic casual demand for the colorless spirit dragon. No wonder! Being colorless means that he can literally just be jammed into any Commander or casual deck. Got a five color slivers deck? Throw Ugin in. B/R Goblins? Ugin’s good here. Is your Roon deck lacking burn? Ugin’s your man. So even though everybody only needs one or two copies, pretty much every single Magic player out there is picking them up as opposed to cards like Whisperwood Elemental which only a subset of players would need for a deck. 

Second, any card that is below a 30% spread is usually a good indication that it will further increase in price. Am I saying that the most expensive card in Fate Reforged could possibly get more expensive? Yes. There is a very real possibility that Ugin hits $40 or more during his Standard lifetime, just due to the fact that he is a popular casual planeswalker in addition to a huge Standard bomb. 

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Last, the foil price is also an interesting area of discussion. Foil Ugins are currently almost $100, with just the amount of play that he is seeing now. That is almost unheard of for a Standard legal card. I’m not sure if foil Ugin will ever come down from the $90 highs, but my gut feeling tells me that there is more room for the foil to grow over time, especially if Ugin finds a home in a Standard deck that plays more than just one or two copies. That might seem farfetched now, however good mana ramp is always right around the corner and even though Nykthos is rotating doesn’t mean that we won’t have a suitable mana ramp replacement in the fall set. 

OK, so all in all what am I saying about Ugin? Essentially, given the demand for Ugin from the casual crowd in addition to his power in Standard, I’m saying that Ugin could be slightly undervalued based on the low spread that I’m seeing from the Fate Reforged top spreads data. Don’t be surprised if you see Ugins going to $40 and beyond next year. If you want an Ugin to play with, now might be the time to pick it up. 

Rest of the Top Ten Spreads 

Soulfire Grand Master is next on the list of lowest spreads, and this is a card that I’ve been highlighting since Fate Reforged has been available. It’s been showing up in Standard pretty consistently even if it might be fairly weak in the early stages of the game. The late game is where this card shines, and if you can stick a Master and cast even one or two spells with it you’re going to come out pretty far ahead. At this point, I’m hard pressed to see Master dropping below $10 retail since the buylist is so high. Similar to Ugin, I think the price here might also be driven by casual demand – after all, lifelink and lifelink spells scream casual to me and fulfill the demand of every casual player that has a lifegain deck. 

Crux of Fate is the best black sweeper in the format for now, however even with low spread I’m not entirely convinced. Its hard to see this card going above $5 since fewer and fewer control decks are seen in Standard these days compared to aggro or midrange. Still, if you need the card for Standard it certainly won’t be going down over the next year based on the data. 

Valorous Stance, an uncommon, has the fourth lowest spread in the set. This is big news for speculators looking to pick up a cheap target. I don’t think you can go wrong with Stance – it is a very playable card in Standard in Modern, it dodged a reprint in the latest event deck, is easily splashable at only one white mana in the cost, and is just an all-around flexible spell. Will this be the next $4-$5 Stoke the Flames? Unlikely, yet I do think there is some room for growth since it is an uncommon from a small set. 

Looking for other speculation targets based on price and low spread, we have Tasigur, the Golden Fang at $7, Shaman of the Great Hunt at $7.20, and Outpost Siege at $2.90.  Of these, Tasigur is the best speculation target for both foils and nonfoils. The best time to pickup your Tasigurs will be during the summer, since Magic Origins and Modern Masters 2015 will drive the spotlight away from him and potentially lower his price a bit more. He is a Standard and Modern powerhouse, and foils will be especially good targets for future gains. 

Trade Bait 

Cards that should be traded rather than buylisted if you’re looking to get rid of extras include Warden of the First Tree, Torrent Elemental, Flamewake Phoenix, and Mastery of the Unseen. These cards are pretty good in the right deck, however have narrow use in Standard which is why their spread is much higher than other cards on the high priced retail list. 

The only card I’m on the fence about (and I guess vendors are on the fence too since the spread is almost 50%) is Brutal Hordechief. Better to play it safe than sorry, so I would recommend holding onto your copies until we know if he will be played in any future Standard decks. Remember, Hellrider was insane in the right Standard environment, and Hordechief could easily follow in his Hellrider’s path if the opportunity presents itself. Not having haste is a huge downside but at least he still creates a trigger for every creature that attacks. Definitely a card to keep a close watch on even though the spread indicates that it might be worse than it actually appears. 

Final Thoughts 

Spread can definitely be one of the more powerful tools for picking undervalued cards because vendors aren’t playing around when it comes to buylist – they’ve also done their homework to set prices where they want them, and if a buylist spread is getting smaller and smaller it usually is only a matter of time before that card’s retail price rises as well. 

This time around, I’m more inclined to think that spreads could more easily shift since this is a smaller set where prices on mythics especially tend to get a little crazy if the card is super hot and in demand from several types of players. What do you guys think? Do the spreads add up or are vendors / players missing something about the higher priced Fate Reforged Cards? Do you see spreads changing pretty drastically depending on the results coming in over the next few months?


 

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13 thoughts on “The Spread on Fate Reforged”

  1. Love Tasigur foils – seems like a solid call. And your objective approach is solid, although at times possibly misleading (sometimes a spread gets good not because buy lists are rising but because TCG Player is dropping and dealers haven’t updated yet….that’s what got me on Scavenging Ooze a while back).

    For Ugin, take a look at the comment on my article regarding that card. Some really interesting discussion there, and I would love to hear your further thoughts. 🙂

    1. Hi Sig,

      Agree, the objective approach can be misleading if you’re just looking at the buylist spreads for only one or two buylists. My analysis was based on the “best” buylist price available listed at MTGPrice, so that opens it up to some error (for example, if that buylist price was based on only one copy the shop was looking for). I would like to think it is accurate for most cards but of course there are always outliers to any analysis.

      Changes happen very rapidly in the MTG finance world and dealers/vendors are constantly updating their prices to reflect that. Thanks for the insight on the Scavenging Ooze miss, that really puts it into perspective that sometimes the objective approach doesn’t work out without delving a bit deeper.

      Concerning Ugin, Standard demand drives the bulk of any Standard legal card. We could possibly be in a honeymoon phase where Standard players are still scrambling to pick up their copy, which would reflect the super high retail and buylist price for the planeswalker. Ugin only really has a shot at reaching $40 plus if he’s played in some type of ramp deck at a later time in Standard, with three to four copies played in the deck. Considering casual demand though, I don’t think he drops below $25-$30 at least until rotation.

      1. I read you answer in Sigmund’s article. Thank you.

        But I would also love to hear your thoughts on alt. art Ugin. Copies are sparse and probably a lot hard to come by in the future. Will this push the price up? Is it worth the investment? Personally I prefer the original + foils over the alt. art. So it would only be for the sake of my collection and a long term investment.

        1. I think alt-art Ugin will be a collector’s item, and will retain a premium based on that. Not being foil will hurt its case however it seems that players are big fans of the alt-art which have kept the price at $140 and higher. We might have a chance at seeing lower prices on alt-art Ugin once rotation hits, so if you’re looking to pick one up I would wait until then. I don’t really see it spiking over $200 within its Standard life, nor shortly after it rotates from Standard. It seems much more likely to drop in price with Standard rotation.

  2. Excellent article, really appreciate the thoroughness. I really think that Fate prices are mostly going to mirror Journey Into Nyx prices but better; the set does seem much better than Dragon’s Maze at least. There seem to be three bomb foils to get and that’s Ugin, Tasigur, and Mentor. Even foil Outpost Siege is 5-6x the non-foil price.

    I’ve played against FNM decks that play brutal horde chief and he’s always amazing pre-board and post-board he’s never as good…but I do run Anger of the Gods in my board so that helps keep him in check. I don’t see anyone running him with mogis marauder and I’m not sure why mono black aggro with him isn’t being explored, especially with ultimate price reintroduced into Standard.

    Shaman of the Great Hunt has been amazing for me…until Dragons was released and now the meta has changed. I’m still running 1 of him in my new RG Dragons deck and he’s amazing as an Enchantment (if ahead your dragons can become 5/5s to your opponent’s 4/4s) and I won a match at regionals casting him with xenagos out, plusing xenagos, and drawing 3 cards and then burning through my opponent’s board. As much as I love him, his price has to fall…EXCEPT he seems outstanding in any R/g aggro burn build as he makes 1/1 outburst goblins and zurgos and lightning berserkers bigger. Again, he’s actually amazing just as an enchantment for his abilities.

    I could be wrong but it seems like the spread on the Fate cards is worse than your Khans comparison. I think a lot of cards slot into one deck, like Torrent Elemental is broken in Sidisi Whip but that’s the only deck for the card and it’s fighting Silumgar now. Mastery has a brutal spread. I think vendors, stores, sellers, etc. know there isn’t a lot of product so there’s a mark up on the prices, but they also don’t want to get stuck with a lot of product they can’t move cause 80% of the Fate cards seem very niche oriented. Tasigur is just amazing, Whisperwood is a pain in the butt if he lives regardless of the Green deck, Ugin is Ugin, (and I suppose Mentor is also immune to his constructed involvement) but the rest of the cards in the set seem to have very specific types of decks they would slot in to.

    I am curious as to how the foil spreads of the Fate cards compare. Like Yasova, Shu Yun, Alesha, Tasigur, Outpost Siege, Ugin and others all have greater than just a 2x multiplier for their foil versions thanks to demand outside of Standard. How do you think the foil spreads look and what that might mean for future values of Fate cards? Excellent article man

    1. Thanks for the kind words Spencer, and also good insight from your own experiences! Good to know we’ve got some people in at the ground floor actively noting which Standard cards are being played and what they’re good against.

      Foil spreads are always a tricky business, especially for Standard cards and especially for Khans block foils since all of them have pre-release counterparts with that special little stamp. There is currently a huge discussion amongst my peers about which foils players will want more in the future – prerelease or regular copies? History tells us that prelease foils are never much more than regular copies, but now that we have forty different foils at each prerelease it might attract collectors that want the rarest versions more so than pack foils.

  3. I have to say, I really like your analysis of Ugin and I am leaning towards your argument on why Ugin’s potential price trajectory (sorry Sigmund! ;p ). I am with you on the casual demand that Ugin commands exerts a significant pressure on his current price. While I don’t think he would increase, I would not be surprised to see Ugin maintain his current price.

    Also, spot-on with the Tasigur. I need to start building my necklace of Tasigurs soon.

    1. Hello, what do you think about Ugin being below 10 tix in MTGO is it because it is a casual oriented card more than a staple?

      1. Yes, I believe it is because Ugin is more casual oriented than a Standard staple. Casual players tend to not use MTGO so I’m not surprised there is less demand there. I’m not an expert on MTGO by any means but I think that’s the gist of it.

    2. True, casual demand can really only do so much for a Standard legal planeswalker. It took months for Nissa, Worldwaker to drop below $40 and even now she is still around $20 without even that much Standard play! Ugin definitely has legs just like her.

    3. It’s all good! My viewpoint on Ugin is certainly short-sighted. But I think I’d rather put money elsewhere than Ugin right now. He’s not a sell, but I can’t advocate buying him either. Chances are his price stays fairly stable all things staying the same.

  4. Jared, thanks for your response to my post above. Look forward to more great articles from you. If you and your colleagues need Standard card advice I’m your man, lol. Basically it’s too tricky and with social media and the internet you have to guess at prerelease prices and hope you know more than 99% of the magic community. For every Thunderbreak Regent, Tasigur, Sorin Solemn Visitor (his presale was still less than his current listing) Master of Waves etc there’s a Legion’s Initiative, Into the Wilds (M14 Green Enchantment), M15 Pyrexian Revoker and Chord, etc. that I’ve wiffed on. I destroyed Theros prerelease with courser and went in on him and his foils hard and won. I destroyed Fate prerelease with Brutal Hordechief and started to go in on him but he had a higher price tag initially, and he only has 3 toughness and is a 4 drop…so I had to slow my own enthusiasm. Honestly, I’m starting to think it might be too hard and I just need to enjoy playing instead of trying to play and make money.

    Regarding the prerelease foils…I have no idea either. Initially Star City was selling prerelease foils of Dig and such at maybe 2 dollars more than non-foil pricing and foils at 2x. That trend has since changed, they are roughly equal. The prerelease with the dates are much rarer obviously, but magic players don’t seem to like change and while I think the date is cool/cute my associates typically don’t unless they opened the card at the prerelease event themselves. So time will tell, but I haven’t gone out of my way to get a prerelease event foil unless it’s been Tasigur or a foreign prerelease foil at a great deal.

    And super quick about moto, I opened a Narset planeswalker during prerelease for moto and got a bot to buy her for 18 tix, a week later during Release on mtgo I opened another one and same bot was only giving me 9 for her. Meanwhile Goblin Rabblemaster still has both of them beat in value (or it’s really close depending on the hour 🙂 Mtgo is a bizzare animal because of so much available “product”

  5. Just added a reference to your article in mine this week. Thanks for doing the spread analysis, that is a very insightful piece of information on the price trajectory of Ugin!

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