The Math of Lord of the Rings: Special Holiday Edition

If you’re confused by an additional set of cards with the same set code and even more variations on the Lord of the Rings theme, you’re not alone. Wizards decided that the trip to the Undying Lands wasn’t ready to happen yet, and so decreed that on November 3rd, you’ll be able to buy Special Edition Collector Boosters, another round of Jumpstart boosters, and Scene Boxes.

Let’s talk about all of these, and what you might get, and how hard it will be to get those things. Additionally, we’re going to spend a little time discussing the ramifications of not just a reprinting of a premium product, but adding serialized versions and higher drop rates to such cards.

First of all, the Scene Boxes are sweet. You get six foil cards, knowing what they are on purchase, the matching art cards so you can enjoy the panorama, plus three set boosters. Anytime Wizards does ‘we guarantee you’re getting these cards’ I like it, as it makes everything simple for me. Do I want one of these cards? What’s the price? Sold, or not sold. Accompanying singles should be cheap and while these aren’t going to flood your local big box store, there will be plenty of these cards available.

The Jumpstart Vol. 2 is hopefully the last gasp for this particular product. Jumpstart was semi-phased-out of Wilds of Eldraine, but I can imagine that Vol. 2 of LOTR was finalized and printed before they made the decision to end this product line. I have to say that these cards have a lot of potential, and I won’t be shocked when some of them make a splash in tournaments or in Commander.

Both the Jumpstart and the Scene Box cards can be found in nonfoil editions (borderless for the Scene Box cards, extended-art for the Jumpstart cards) in the Special Edition Collector Boosters (hereafter shortened to SECBs), as they have their own slot and you’ve got good odds to pull what you’re looking for. There will not be a shortage of either.

Now, these SECBs are something impressive. There are no serialized Sol Rings, nor the 1/1 One Ring which Post Malone now owns. What we do get, though, is two different sets of serialized cards. Each is serialized to xxx/100, instead of 500 like others we’ve gotten, but not only are there 3000 serialized versions of the Realms and Relics, there’s an additional 2000 serialized trippy-music-poster versions of 20 mythics from the original LOTR set. 

So let’s get right to the math. We’re given a breakdown for each slot again, and with this knowledge, we’re also able to estimate how many SECBs have been created. Let’s do a little math!

We’re outright told that the chance of a serialized Realms and Relics, of which there’s 3000 total, is 0.2%. That is .002 as a decimal, and that means 1 in 500 packs, depending on what they rounded down or up to that 0.2%. 

If it takes 500 packs to get one, that means for the full run of 3000, we’ve got a print run of 1.5 million total. Nice, round numbers to work with going forward. We can even check this number against the other serialized, which is 0.1%. There’s 2000 serialized poster cards out there, and 2000/1,500,000 is 0.00133 (repeating) and that rounds nicely to 0.1%! We will come back to this 1.5 million number when calculating total amounts in play.

Then we get two slots with the same odds, though the outcome is foil or non-foil. Wizards helpfully gives us odds for each rarity, and then a number, so it breaks down real easy for the Showcase frame cards (e.g. Orcish Bowmasters and The One Ring).

Type/Rarity (# of options)Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Silver Foil Showcase Main Set Rare (60)41%0.68%146.3
Silver Foil Showcase Main Set Mythic Rare (20)7%0.35%285.7
Silver Foil Showcase Commander Rare (72)49%0.68%146.3
Silver Foil Showcase Commander Mythic Rare (8)3%0.375%266.67

The last three slots are the big money cards, with one exception. The landcycling commons in LOTR have proven to be good in Modern and Legacy, and if you haven’t tried them yet in Commander, you really ought to. There’s two slots for nonfoil commons, and then two slots for foil commons. Overall, you’re a smidge over 2% to get a nonfoil Lórien Revealed in the showcase frame and the same odds for a silver foil. Currently those are at $3 for nonfoil and $8 for foil, and now we’re getting a premium treatment. Especially for Lórien Revealed, I’d expect something like $5/$12, especially because the regular versions will be in print for a while but the SECBs are more limited.

In the third-to-last slot, we get Surge Foil Extended Art, which will be messing with the FEA treatment that was only accessible via the Sample Collector Boosters in the Commander decks. There’s 28 rares, 9 mythics, the exact same cards that were nigh-impossible to find in FEA are now going to be relatively common pulls.

The next slot has serialized Realms and Relics (30 cards, 0.2% overall), the regular surge foil Realms and Relics (30 cards, 12.6% overall), Surge Foil Uncommons (10 cards, 50% overall), Rares (5 rares, 11.7% overall), Mythic Rare (6 cards, 2.5%). Also, you have a crack at Surge Foil Borderless Rare lands (5 rares, 4.2% overall) and Mythic Rare (1 card, 0.4%) or a Scene Box Borderless Rare (20 cards, 16.7%) or Mythic Rare (4 cards, 1.7%).

Finally, the Hildebrandt slot. This has serialized poster cards, nonfoil posters, traditional foil poster cards, in addition to nonfoil and silver foil versions of the scenes that they illustrated. Half the time, this slot will gift you an uncommon from that grouping, and half of those uncommons will be nonfoil. 

Yes, half the SECBs will give you an uncommon, but this article promises that you will get a rare in one of the last two slots. One of these two slots will give you a rare or mythic, and the other an uncommon. These two slots are connected, so apparently there won’t be double-serialized packs out there, and neither will there be double-uncommon ones.

A table is needed to summarize the results here.

Type/Rarity (# of options)Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Surge Foil Extended Art Rare (28)86%3.07%32.55
Surge Foil Extended Art Mythic (9)14%1.56%64.29
Serialized Realms and Relics in Double Rainbow Foil (30)0.2%0.067%15,000
Surge Foil Realms and Relics (30)12.6%0.42%238.1
Surge Foil Showcase Uncommon (10)50%5%20
Surge Foil Showcase Rare Land (5)11.7%2.34%42.74
Surge Foil Showcase Mythic Rare Land (1)0.4%0.4%250
Scene Box Borderless Surge Foil Rare (20)16.7%0.835%119.76
Scene Box Borderless Surge Foil Mythic Rare (4)1.7%0.425%235.3
Serialized Double Rainbow Serialized Foil (20) 0.1%0.005%20,000
Non-Foil Poster Mythic (20)11.1%0.56%180.19
Traditional Foil Poster Mythic (20)11.1%0.56%180.19
Nonfoil Borderless Uncommon (5)25%5%20
Silver Foil Uncommon (5)25%5%20
Nonfoil Borderless Rare (10)11.1%1.11%90.1
Silver Foil Borderless Rare (10)11.1%1.11%90.1
Nonfoil Borderless Mythic Rare (5)2.8%0.56%180.19
Silver Foil Borderless Mythic Rare (5)2.7%0.56%180.19

Yes, you’re reading that correctly. It’s about 1 in 20,000 packs to pull a Serialized Poster Sauron, the Dark Lord, and roughly 1 in 15,000 packs to snag a Serialized The Party Tree (The Great Henge) whereas other serialized cards were never more than 1 in 11,000 packs. Mainly this is because now there’s only 100 of each card, which is going to put a real strain on the whales of collecting, the type who have to have a full set of one of each serialized card.

The real betrayal here is the surge foil reprinting of the Realms and Relics subset. It’s not a new treatment, or new art, it’s the same damn cards, only about thirteen times more common. Last time, it was about 1 in 3800 packs and now it’s more like every 238 packs. 

Let’s go for some real numbers here. We know that the first LOTR run had about 3.3 million Collector Boosters, and given the odds, there were just under 900 Surge Foils of any given card. Now, though, with a print run of 1.5 million but drastically increased odds, we’re about to add another 6300 copies or so into the market. 

Yes, that presumes we purchase and open every copy, but the ratio is still telling. We’re going to see prices fall hard and fast on these. There’s not room for ‘oh snap, originals were crazy rare, we’ll have to see if they hold a price,’ which is what’s going to happen with the original FEA cards that were Commander deck only. Now there will be Surge foils of those cards available, with the EA treatment, and it’s hard to imagine those prices hold when there’s a ton of cards with the same frame and art, just a cooler foiling.

I don’t think Wizards has done a one-two punch like this before. We’ve had reprints, even reprints one after the other, but this is our first taste of something that’s likely to happen again: reprints of special treatments. Buckle up, because these are about to be some wild times.

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.