The Safety in Shiny Things

I love foils. I’m not shy about it. I am constantly looking for foils to go into my Commander decks, and that’s proven to be a sensible financial investment.

In the last couple of years, we’ve had some notable foil versions of lots of cards, and I want to examine what the long-term prospects of those cards are, because it seems likely that we’re going to get more and more of these.

For a long time, the usual special release of a card was a Judge Foil. This was a slow-but-sure way to get reprints out there or to put out foil versions of a card that had zero chance of being foil. Flusterstorm is an example of this.


The Commander version has been ticking upward since its release in 2011, primarily due to Legacy play, but its power in any format cannot be overstated. The Judge Foil has consistently stayed more expensive, but not to a major multiplier. We don’t have exact numbers of how many Commander versions there are and how many Judge versions there are, but a multiplier of only 1.5 is surprising.

Should Flusterstorm be reprinted, what would happen to these prices? Well, it depends. Are there foils of the new printing? Is it in Conspiracy 2: Conspire Harder? Eternal Masters? Another Judge printing?

Normally, the most valuable printing of something is the original foil. In these cases, new versions, even in foil, aren’t going to ding the originals or even will increase the values.

For instance, Damnation. The foil has stayed consistently in the $100-$120 range for the past couple of years, despite the presence of an MPR version and a Judge Foil in 2015. The foil has stayed stable, even with the foil judge version coming out. That’s what we want from our high-end cards: stability.

A big factor, though, is the art and the look. Let’s look at a case when the new art can blow the old versions away: Hanna, Ship’s Navigator.


Hanna’s pack foil lost about a third of her value, dropping from $55 to $35 at the beginning of 2015, with the release of a Judge Foil featuring gorgeous new art from Terese Nielsen. In this case, the original took a hit but that’s quite rare. Mostly, old foils and especially those in the old frame, are immune to losing significant value.

There’s another example in recent times of a card that’s been given multiple printings and what the prices can do: Polluted Delta, along with the other Onslaught fetches.

The original Onslaught foil of Polluted Delta is at a little under $400, but two years ago it was about $100 more. In 2009, there was a Judge printing of those lands, and that helped keep prices reasonable, if not quite affordable in terms of the foils. We’ve gotten two new printings of the card, though, in Khans of Tarkir and as a Zendikar Expedition.

PD Foil

The price on this flinched slightly, about 15%, when Khans came out but didn’t budge at all when the Expeditions became known. This tells us that the sheer number available as an in-print rare matters a lot more than the presence of the Expeditions version. There’s not many of the pack foils, and they are going to stay rare and expensive. You now have four choices for the foil in your deck, though, and all four have different looks and different frames and different prices. It’s totally up to you what you like vs. what you can afford.

The Judge Foil version of Polluted Delta took a little bit of a hit as well from the one-two punch of Khans and then Expeditions. I expect the price to recover, though, as the supply has maximized and people are getting the foils they want. There’s almost a glut on the market, though only two of these are printed in the last five years.

What does this mean going forward? It means that I love picking up the Expeditions edition filters. There’s one version competing, the original pack foil. These Expeditions will not go down in price once Oath of the Gatewatch stops being opened, and the relatively smaller print runs mean a smaller supply.

The pack foils from Shadowmoor and Eventide did not change in price when the Expeditions were announced, and that is telling. I think it reflects the relatively small print run of those sets more than anything else, and it’s entirely possible that there’s more Expedition Cascade Bluffs out there than Eventide foil versions.

These Expeditions are in a strange place, as some of them are more expensive than the pack foil, and others are cheaper. I am a fan of getting these, and other foil lands, as safe to hold their value for years going forward. If you want them for your Commander deck, your cube, or just to bling out any deck, I suggest you get them now.

One thought on “The Safety in Shiny Things”

  1. That’s why Innistrad Snapcasters are a great buy right now. The RPTQ promo art is HORRIFIC. True, the original art isn’t everyone’s favorite, but it’s the first and deserves the premium. Both can be had on eBay for $130…but which to pick should be a no-brainer.

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