Welp, I’ve done it again. I’ve committed to doing an article that’s going to be a lot of work that I’m not even sure if I want to write anymore. Seriously, have you seen how many Masterpieces there are in this set? And I said I would write about all of them? What hubris. But that’s what I do, I overcommit and challenge myself not to underdeliver.
You guys are worth it, though. You’re the best and savviest readers in the business because you know EDH is slow, forgiving, predictable and steady. It might not be as sexy as Pyromancer’s Goggles spiking overnight and everyone scrambling to place and order that’s going to be cancelled before everyone else does, but the sports car you buy with all of the money you make buying Squandered Resources for a quarter each will be.
Can we predict where the Masterpieces are likely to end up? Where they’ll start out? What this will do to the price of the set? We can sure try. Let’s get messy.
The Gearhulk cycle
Star City wants $40 for these beasts, which may or may not be too much. I feel like this won’t get as much EDH play as they need to in order to sustain $40. With 2/3 of the Zendikar expeditions trending downward in price, EDH demand isn’t enough on some of these cards and I don’t think these will even have much EDH demand. Noxius and Torrential are obviously good, but good enough? I don’t see it. These are a sell at their current $40.
SCG wants $120 for this right off the bat, and I think that may be pretty close. There are 9 Zendikar Expeditions currently above $120 and half of them are trending upward in price right now. Of course the top 5 are all fetchlands used in multiple formats, which makes it tough to judge the price of Vial. However, Ancient Tomb is currently $120 and I think Vial is a decent corrollary for Vial, actually. It’s used as a 4-of in the decks that use it and it’s used in multiple formats. I feel like Ancient Tomb gets used in a few more places than Vial, however. Vial has Darksteel foils, FTV foils, Modern Masters foils and now these. Is this Masterpiece far and away the sexiest? Yes, and people who want these will want 4. If you look at Ancient Tomb, the price has barely moved, but Ancient Tomb doesn’t have the Modern demand Vial does, leading me to believe Vial could have upside due to there being more demand for it than for Tomb. FTV Aether Vial costs 50% more than FTV Tomb, but those have wildly different availability, so that’s sort of meaningless as a metric. Ultimately, I don’t think Vial at $120 is correct based on how much more in-demand it will be than Ancient Tomb. I think this has upside.
I hope the rest of these go quicker. I got cocky being able to do 5 at once and I just wrote half a book about one card.
$50 for this is almost certainly incorrect for Helm. Scarcity has made Helm expensive – it is $2 more than Chromatic Lantern despite being in far fewer decks. However, I don’t think the prices will stay similar. There will be the same number of Expedition Champion’s Helms and Chromatic Lanterns with much greater demand for one than the other. I think the prices will diverge. We’re left to figure out which way prices will go. Considering a regular foil Lantern is already $20, I am inclined to say that $50 may be too cheap for Lantern. Mana Confluence is a $50 Expedition and that is down from $80 and has a $17 foil from the set. I think the starting point for the Expeditions may be misleading because a lot of those were pure guesswork and we have some more data this time. I think Lantern may have a bit of upside at $50, but, again, looking at Mana Confluence which has a very similar non-foil price, it may hover around $50 +/- $5 or so because while EDH demand for Lantern is very strong, it’s only the one format. I think Helm will tail down in price more than Lantern does. I have taken into account the fact that this is the only premium way to get Champion’s Helm and there are already foil Lanterns – I think the profound difference in demand within EDH more than accounts for that.
Chrome Mox is an odd card. Banned in Modern, underutilized in Legacy, not a great deal in EDH, this card nonetheless is commanding $80 out of the gate. People who want one are likely to want 3 or 4 and that could be the factor that makes this sell higher than EDH staples that disappear one at a time. Chrome Mox is a $40 set foil despite also being printed as a $25 GP Promo.
It’s hard to find a corollary for this. Almost all of the expeditions lost at least 30% of their value over time due to the sheer amount of guessing that went into pricing them initially and the stickiness of prices on very rare, luxury cards. There won’t be a huge race to the bottom on any of these cards, so a lot of these prices may hold. The very highly-sought cards will have upside but the rest will likely tail off and I think this is likely to tail off a bit, or at least have a very difficult time growing in price. I don’t like this at $80.
I’d stake quite a bit of money on this tanking. I wish I could short it, frankly. SCG wants $50 for this, which I don’t think it can sustain. Curio is used in a few goofy combo decks and basically just Animar in EDH (I mean, I use it in a lot of my decks but EDHREC data shows Animar uses it 6 times as often as the deck where it gets the second most use and it’s used about a tenth as much as Lantern) so you have to question where the demand is coming from. It basically isn’t, put simply. When Beck//Call was spoiled SCG bought the internet out of Cloudstone Curio banking on a UG elf deck emerging in Modern because Elves wasn’t quite getting there with Glimpse of Nature banned. The deck never materialized (I bet my money on Intruder Alarm and had even less luck). The price is sticky and that’s leading to an overevaluation of Curio in my view. I don’t think its current demand makes it a good candidate to be the same price as cards with more demand. This is a sell.
Crucible of Worlds
At $150, this is one of the more pricey Masterpieces based on SCG preorder pricing. Wasteland Expedition is currently $150, down from an initial $300. Wasteland has 2 DCI rewards foil versions worth $250 so it seemed logical for Wasteland to start out at $250+. What do we have for Crucible? A $100 Judge foil and 2 set foils around $100 also. Wasteland fell below its judge foil versions, although those are quite scarce and the Crucible is much newer. I think this could be priced pretty accurately – I don’t expect this to fall below the set foil price by any means and since the judge foil is pegged at where the set foils are (which finally moved after I pointed out on Twitter that Strike Zone had non-foils for $10 cheaper than foils. Maybe not because I pointed it out, but after I pointed it out.) and the Masterpiece version is bound to be more. Yet it’s hard to see the version going up without demand that rivals or even exceeds something like Wasteland, which is played as a 4-of in a format where Crucible is a 1-of or Scalding Tarn which increased in price despite being pretty expensive to begin with as an expedition. I think $150 is pretty close.
Gauntlet of Power
Gauntlet of Power is a $30 set foil, which is more than Chromatic Lantern which makes sense considering how much more Return to Ravnica was printed than Time Spiral. There is not more demand for Gauntlet than there is for Lantern. If we don’t expect Lantern to grow much if at all, we can extrapolate that Gauntlet could have some downside at $50, though not much since it’s bound to go for more than the set foil.
This is $50 because none of the cards are cheaper than $50. This should be cheaper than $50. This is barely played in any format and this price is going to tank. If it holds it’s because every other Masterpiece doubled in price and this article becomes hilarious in hindsight because I got literally every call wrong. If that’s the case, are you going back through this article in the future after Chromatic Lantern is $300 to write a comment chewing me out for telling you it might not be a great buy at $50 and running across this paragraph? How meta for you. You’ll notice that even though I predicted getting everything wrong, which was write, I got every price wrong, including Hangarback Walker which, again, I think has a lot of downside.
This is probably underpriced. This is a $20 set foil as an uncommon. This is an absolute EDH staple and one of the few Masterpieces beyond Sol Ring for which that is true. If some of the other cards that are played way less often are $50, this has a decent chance of upside since there are so many decks this is waiting to go into compared to the other $50 cards and there will be one Lightning Greaves for every Champion’s Helm. This has real upside and I think if someone cracks this at the LGS and you can get it for $40 you will be happy later.
Sure, this gets used as a 4-of and sure it gets used in Legacy and some in Vintage and those are pimp formats, but at $80 I think the demand for this card is overstated a bit. Legacy players aren’t the only ones who pimp their decks out. I think $80 is high. Then again, Breeding Pool is $80 right now and that started at $100.
I am at the halfway point of the list and if I keep going, this article is going to turn into a monstrosity. We have some time until Kaladesh comes out so I think I will write the rest of this up later and release it on Monday of next week. If some of the prices start to move, that will help us write the second half with more data and a better frame of reference. If anything I said in the first half pans out, even better. Thanks for reading Part 1 of my Masterpiece Masterpiece. Until next week!