It’s here, it’s here, thank goodness the precious has arrived fully!
However, as I wrote about last week, there are some really specific things going on with this set that are outside the normal experience, and it’s worth going over the details here. There’s money to be made as well!
So let’s talk about the choices Wizards made here, and how different the situation is with Foil Extended Art (FEA) cards from Universes Beyond: Lord of the Rings.
In most sets, FEA is a treatment given to the cards that didn’t get the Showcase treatment. For this set, Lord of the Rings, the showcase is a Ring-centric frame, like this:
It’s a neat l;ook, works well with the stuff that’s going on, and while it’s a little plain, it makes a lot of sense for the set. The Script around the edge is probably pretty sweet in foil, too.
For this set, we also have Borderless cards that are part of a Scene:
Generally speaking, in past sets, if a card didn’t get a special version, it would get an Extended Art version, where the art from the regular frame version would be extended to the left and right, keeping a border on top and bottom:
It’s not uncommon for a card to have an EA frame as well as some other special version. In Modern Horizons 2, there were several versions of fetchlands: Original, EA, Etched Foil, and Retro frame.
For Lord of the Rings, there’s an additional wrinkle with the EA cards: foils are not in the Collector Boosters as usual. Instead, the FEA versions can only be found in the two-card Collector Booster Sample Pack that comes with Commander preconstructed decks. I gave a mathematical breakdown of what your odds are for pulling specific cards last week, but the tiny numbers of FEA cards in circulation have me looking for more data. If you’ve opened ten or more of these packs and happened to write down exactly what you got from that mini-pack, hit me up on the Discord or on Twitter.
Since last week, I’ve been scouring ebay, TCGPlayer, most of the big sites for FEA cards and I’ve mostly come up blank. I preordered some on TCGPlayer, but more than half of those have been canceled on me, stating they don’t have the card after all.
The big operations will crack precons for selling the singles, but it’ll be hard for the precons to keep any value that way and the Sample Packs have a lot of cards in there that are repeats of cards already in the Collector Boosters. I watched a YouTube video with 80 packs being opened, and they got four foil mythics: Two of them were FEA versions of ‘face commanders’, which are the eight cards already in Collector Boosters. One was a Foil Borderless Scene card (also in those boosters) and there was a single FEA Palantir of Orthanc in that stack.
This set is already a lottery-ticket dispenser with the special Rings and the Surge foil Realms and Relics, they didn’t need to add in the FEAs this way but here we are, with TCGPlayer having no FEA versions (yet) of most of these cards, or if there are any, they are at absurd prices.
Complicating this is that the majority of players who buy a preconstructed Commander deck aren’t going to sell the Sample Packs cards online. They will open the bonus pack, get a sweet foil, and look for a deck to put that card into, or perhaps pop it into a binder for trading. It won’t go on the usual sales sites, lowering the available quantities even further.
So in these first weeks, we’ll want to pay attention to the cards whose only premium version is FEA. If there’s an FEA and a Borderless/Showcase, I’ll notice it but players will have a clear choice. For instance, Delighted Halfling has a FEA and a Borderless Scene. The FEA has sold consistently over $40, and the Scene version in foil sells for a dollar or two more than the regular nonfoil. Given the card’s popularity, I’ll be watching, but I’m leery of a $40 card the first weekend turning into the $70-$80 I need for a reasonable profit after taxes, fees, and shipping.
FEA The One Ring is going to be really rare. Remember that The One Ring comes in bundles, so copies of the card will be all over the place, along with the Scene version, but FEA is going to be the most expensive version for quite a while.
Let’s get granular here about specific cards. Wizards has released the official list of what has an FEA and what doesn’t.
|Andúril, Flame of the West|
|Arwen, Mortal Queen|
|Call of the Ring|
|Display of Power|
|Doors of Durin|
|Horn of Gondor|
|Horn of the Mark|
|King of the Oathbreakers|
|Lotho, Corrupt Shirriff|
|Palantír of Orthanc|
|Phial of Galadriel|
|Radagast the Brown|
|Rangers of Ithilien|
|Shelob, Child of Ungoliant|
|The One Ring|
Now, here’s the table for the cards that do not have Extended Art versions:
|Borne Upon a Wind|
|Dawn of a New Age|
|Fall of Cair Andros|
|Flowering of the White Tree|
|Glóin, Dwarf Emissary|
|Hew the Entwood|
|Isidur’s Fateful Strike|
|Press the Enemy|
|Shagrat, Loot Bearer|
|Sharkey, Tyrant of the Shire|
|The Battle of Bywater|
|The Ring Goes South|
|The Watcher in the Water|
It appears, according to TCG and other sites, that these are all in such low quantities that it’s hard to be sure that foils of all of these actually exist. I know of the preordering I did, none of the cards from Jumpstart or the Starter decks were fulfilled. I’ll update this article as needed throughout the weekend if I get reports that these foils exist. It’s quite possible that only Main Set cards got FEA treatments done, and those are mixed in with other foil variants in the Sample Packs.
The small quantities and the difficulty opening one, combined with the range of changes, is also probably causing a fair amount of mislabeling and/or incorrect inventory. People who open a lot of Collector Boosters but don’t read up about the drop rates might think, “Oh yeah, we get a handful of FEA cards every set” but those aren’t going to pop up here, leading to cancellations.
Those 25 Main Set rares and Mythics are the cards I’m especially keeping an eye on. The assorted ‘Surge Foils’ might become targets once we have more data, or perhaps an announcement. Mithril Coat is worth playing alongside Hammer of Nazahn, or maybe replacing it completely. Elven Chorus is a card just about every Green deck ought to play. Horn of the Mark is a draw engine for aggressive decks, just the thing to keep the aggression flowing, and so on.
The big caveat here is that if you plan to get some FEA cards and resell them for a higher price, you’re going to have to move fast. The Holiday Release will have at least one new frame, but also might include FEA cards, putting more into circulation. The cards I’ve preordered, I’m planning on turning over before August is over, just to avoid any potential reprint risk. It may turn out to be fine, but we won’t know till it’s announced or leaked, and then it’ll either go crazy or drop like a rock. I don’t want to be holding rocks.[/hide]
Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.