Well, Shadows over Innistrad is here, and while I have been wrong about a lot of things, I want to look at one of my most cherished ideas and see if that’s even applicable this time around: Not opening packs/boxes.
There’s 59 rares and 18 mythics, and that counts the double-faced cards. There’s not any strong or official information out there regarding the relative rarity of the double-faced mythics as opposed to regular mythics, but since two of the three double-face mythics are two of the three most expensive cards in the set, maybe there’s something to that.
It’s time look at some cold numbers.
Here’s all the cards currently that have a Fair Trade Price over $2.50. I’m using that as a general cutoff, that means the box price is $90. I know you can beat that price, but that is a pretty optimistic box price.
Just in case you’re curious, though, I’ll note when we pass the MSRP of $4 and when we get to $3, which puts a box at $108, a better price than stores will give yet slightly higher than TCG.
Card Name and Fair Trade Price
Archangel Avacyn $57.49
Sorin, Grim Nemesis $23.99
Arlinn Kord $23.64
Declaration in Stone $17.99
Westvale Abbey $12.73
Thing in the Ice $12.35
Relentless Dead $12.05
Olivia, Mobilized for War $11.85
Nahiri, the Harbinger $11.60
The Gitrog Monster $8.23
Tireless Tracker $7.23
Thalia’s Lieutenant $6.98
Mindwrack Demon $5.64
Ulvenwald Hydra $5.64
Anguished Unmaking $5.58
Startled Awake $5.14
Sigarda, Heron’s Grace $4.38
Traverse the Ulvenwald $4.19
Port Town $4.17
Only 21 cards at $4 or more, two weeks into the set. Now let’s see what’s under MSRP in value.
Game Trail ">Game Trail $3.98
Always Watching $3.97
Goldnight Castigator $3.73
Choked Estuary $3.51
Descend upon the Sinful $3.04
Eight more cards have the average value of a pack. So if you happen to win a cheap eBay auction or something and get your box for $90, there’s an additional pair of cards that are worth the price of a pack:
To the Slaughter $2.51
At the most optimistic price, you have a 31/77 chance of making the value of a pack. That’s 40%. Ouch. Not great but not awful? Would you push all-in on a 60/40 hand?
If you get your packs at the TCG price of $108 or so, then you have a 29/77 chance, and that’s a slight decrease to 37%, and at the full MSRP on boosters, it drops further to 27%.
There’s a couple of flaws with my admittedly basic methodology, and it’s worth addressing them.
First of all, I don’t have any way to account for foils. That’s a random event and a nice bonus, but nothing that can be counted on. For every box with a foil Archangel Avacyn, there’s another box with no foil rare at all. If you get it, great! If you don’t, well, better luck next time.
Second, the distribution of double-faced cards is a little wonky, and you can have a double-faced mythic and a double-face uncommon in the same pack. That’s a weird way to go about collating the boosters but hey, that’s not my job. If this is the price we pay to no longer have box mapping be a thing, I’m all in favor of it.
With that said, though, I have to say that the value is just not there for me. Opening a box is a rush, one I know well. Pack after pack of potential, of going slowly to drag out the anticipation or just tearing into it all in a flurry of Mylar. It’s a great feeling…until it’s gone.
I am obligated to point out that not all mythics are equal. Three of them (Seasons Past, Geralf’s Masterpiece, and Wolf of Devil’s Breach) don’t even make this list. That’s not a surprise in the abstract, as we all know mythics can be powerful and yet still inexpensive, but with so little time in retail stores and draft settings…that’s a lot of value gone and fast.
We have a potential spike in front of us, though, with the Pro Tour starting today.This will begin the dance of ‘who will follow through with orders?’ and ‘I can’t sell this fast enough!’ and the popular ‘oh god the card spiked and I had it on my want list…’ and that’s all an extra layer of price complexity. What cards will be popular? Who will run the table with an unforeseen and effective metagame call?
Still, the advice remains solid: Don’t buy packs. Don’t buy boxes. Don’t buy cases. At this point, you’re going to be lucky to open even equivalent value.