All posts by Cliff Daigle

I am a father, teacher, cuber and EDH fanatic. My joy is in Casual and Limited formats, though I dip a toe into Constructed when I find something fun to play. I play less than I want to and more than my schedule should really allow. I can easily be reached on Twitter @WordOfCommander. Try out my Busted Uncommons cube at http://www.cubetutor.com/viewcube/76330

What Does The Math of MH3 Tell Us?

Last week I went through the numbers and the slots and figured out the degree of difficulty for opening the most and least desired variants in MH3. So now that we know how hard it is to pull certain things from a Modern Horizons 3 Collector Booster…now what?

Well, there’s some big ideas we can take away, some comparisons worth making, and just how nuts can the serialized cards be?

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.

To learn how ProTrader can benefit YOU, click here to watch our short video.

expensive cards ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

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.

The Mana Math of Modern Horizons 3

Welcome back the the Mana Math series, where I break down the odds we’re given for the new set. This time, we’ve got no huge subsets in Modern Horizons 3, but we do have a lot of fun bonus frames and treatments, including 750 serialized Eldrazi Titans. 

Wizards has given us an enormous number of treatments, frames, foiling and rarity, meaning that some of these tables might be a bit intimidating. Buckle up, though, because I did the math and hopefully this is easy for you.

One thing to mention is that Collector Boosters have zero Ripple Foils. Those are reserved for the premium Commander decks, and will command very high prices, given how the deck is selling for $500+ right now on TCGPlayer. There’s no option to open those in any other product, so you won’t see any Ripple here. 

Here’s the breakdown of what’s in a Collector Booster, organized by slots: (note: foil = traditional foil unless otherwise noted)

4 foil commons

3 foil uncommons

1 foil full art Eldrazi land

1 nonfoil retro common/uncommon

1 foil retro common/uncommon

1 foil reg frame rare/mythic

1 Commander card: Foil-etched Commander mythic rare or a non-foil or traditional foil Booster Fun Commander rare or mythic rare

2 nonfoil rares or mythic rares with the borderless, extended-art, or retro frame treatment

1 Traditional foil rare or mythic rare that’s an extended-art, borderless, or retro frame card, or one of the following: A double rainbow serialized Eldrazi, A foil-etched rare or mythic rare, A traditional foil Special Guests mythic rare (10 cards total—4.4%), A textured foil Special Guests Elemental (1.9%) or DFC planeswalker (1.9%). The remainder of this slot has the same content as the non-foil slot above with the percentages reduced appropriately to account for the inclusion of serialized, foil-etched, textured foil, and Special Guests cards.

Let’s go over the 2 nonfoil slots with special frames, which is unusual in one Collector Booster. I’ll go over the odds for one (this will be important in a moment) and review the chances for one pack.

Treatment (# of cards)Percent chance for any card of that category (over the two slots)Percent chance for a specific card of that category (slot odds)Percent chance for a specific card of that category (pack odds)# of CBs to open one specific card from that category (pack odds)
Extended-Art Rare (20)45.40%1.14%2.27%44.05
Extended-Art Mythic Rare (1)1.10%0.55%1.10%90.91
Borderless Framebreak Rare (20)29.60%0.74%1.48%67.57
Borderless Framebreak Mythic Rare (3)2.80%0.47%0.94%106.38
Borderless Profile Rare (10)18.20%0.91%1.82%54.95
Borderless Profile Mythic Rare (5)4.60%0.46%0.92%108.70
Borderless Concept Eldrazi Profile Mythic Rare (3)1.70%0.28%0.57%176.47
Borderless Fetchlands Rare (5)5.70%0.57%1.14%87.72
Borderless Rare Land (5)11.40%1.14%2.28%43.86
Borderless Mythic Rare Land (1)1.10%0.55%1.10%90.91
Borderless Mythic Rare DFC Planeswalkers (5)5.70%0.57%1.14%87.72
New-To-Modern Borderless Framebreak Rare (6)13.60%1.13%2.27%44.12
New-To-Modern Borderless Framebreak Mythic Rare (1)0.60%0.30%0.60%166.67
New-To-Modern Borderless Profile Rare (2)4.60%1.15%2.30%43.48
New-To-Modern Borderless Profile Mythic Rare (2)1.70%0.43%0.85%117.65
New-To-Modern Borderless Mythic Rare (1)1.10%0.55%1.10%90.91
Retro Frame MH3 Rare (incl fetches) (24)28.40%0.59%1.18%84.51
Retro Frame MH3 Mythic Rare (8)5.70%0.36%0.71%140.35
Retro Frame New-To-Modern Rare (2)4.60%1.15%2.30%43.48
Retro Frame New-To-Modern Mythic Rare (1)1.10%0.55%1.10%90.91
Retro Frame MH2 Rare (2)4.50%1.13%2.26%44.25
Retro Frame MH2 Mythic Rare (6)6.80%0.57%1.13%88.24

The slot after the two nonfoil special frames is then foil, with the percentages as given above. A little arithmetic, and now we know that the stuff in the nonfoil slots fill up 78.6% of the special foil slot.

So this means we can take the nonfoil (the two slots before) and multiply those single-slot odds by .786 to get the chance that the foil version shows up in this last slot. I know these tables are long, but that’s the fault of Wizards, who put twenty-seven different permutations of finishes, foils, groups and rarities into this one slot.

Treatment (# of cards)% chance for any nonfoil card of that type (prev slot)% chance for any foil of that type (one slot)Percent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Foil Extended-Art Rare (20)22.70%17.84%0.89%112.09
Foil Extended-Art Mythic Rare (1)0.55%0.43%0.55%181.82
Foil Borderless Framebreak Rare (20)14.80%11.63%0.58%171.93
Foil Borderless Framebreak Mythic Rare (3)1.40%1.10%0.37%272.63
Foil Borderless Profile Rare (10)9.10%7.15%0.72%139.81
Foil Borderless Profile Mythic Rare (5)2.30%1.81%0.36%276.58
Foil Borderless Concept Eldrazi Profile Mythic Rare (3)0.85%0.67%0.22%449.03
Foil Borderless Fetchlands Rare (5)2.85%2.24%0.45%223.20
Foil Borderless Rare Land (5)5.70%4.48%0.90%111.60
Foil Borderless Mythic Rare Land (1)0.55%0.43%0.43%232.56
Foil Borderless Mythic Rare DFC Planeswalkers (5)2.85%2.24%0.45%223.20
Foil New-To-Modern Borderless Framebreak Rare (6)6.80%5.34%0.89%112.26
Foil New-To-Modern Borderless Framebreak Mythic Rare (1)0.30%0.24%0.24%416.67
Foil New-To-Modern Borderless Profile Rare (2)2.30%1.81%0.90%110.63
Foil New-To-Modern Borderless Profile Mythic Rare (2)0.85%0.67%0.33%299.36
Foil New-To-Modern Borderless Mythic Rare (1)0.55%0.43%0.43%232.56
Foil Retro Frame MH3 Rare (incl fetches) (24)14.20%11.16%0.47%215.03
Foil Retro Frame MH3 Mythic Rare (8)2.85%2.24%0.28%357.13
Foil Retro Frame New-To-Modern Rare (2)2.30%1.81%0.90%111.11
Foil Retro Frame New-To-Modern Mythic Rare (1)0.55%0.43%0.43%232.56
Foil Retro Frame MH2 Rare (2)2.25%1.77%0.88%113.09
Foil Retro Frame MH2 Mythic Rare (6)3.40%2.67%0.45%224.52
Foil-Etched Rare (12)9.30%0.78%129.03
Foil-Etched Mythic Rare (10)3.90%0.39%256.41
Traditional Foil Special Guest (10)4.40%0.44%227.27
Textured Foil DFC Planeswalker (5)1.90%0.38%263.16
Textured Foil Special Guest Elemental (5)1.90%0.38%263.16

After reviewing this table, there’s a couple things worth noting.

First, even the commonest foils are not that common. FEA rares, usually something that takes up most of this slot, is still going to be a 1-in-110 packs chance to get a specific card. That’s high compared to other sets with breakdowns like this.

Second, some of these variations are impressively rare (aside from the serialized, which I’ll address in a moment) and difficult to pull from packs that cost around twice as much as a regular set’s Collector Booster. The most difficult pulls will be the eight mythic foil retro frame cards (357 packs), the foil framebreak Kaalia of the Vast is going to take roughly 416 packs, and the three new Eldrazi titans in foil borderless concept frame will take about 449 packs to be pulled. 

Third, I can’t imagine cracking packs for value here. It’s going to be extremely swingy, depending on which cards you pull. With packs being $35 or so each, you’re going to see some packs super pricey and some packs full of the chaff of the set. 

One category that people always want to know about is fetchlands. In Play Boosters, there are several slots that can get you a fetchland, and they add up to just under 9% for any fetchland, from the variety of options available. Worth noting that 2/3 of the fetches pulled from Play Boosters will be nonfoil regular frame, so keep that in mind.

In Collector Boosters, you’ve got five slots that can give you a fetchland, and they add up nicely. About a quarter of CBs will have a foil fetchland, and around 30% will have a nonfoil. There are, of course, packs that open more than one fetchland, and someone will absolutely open a Collector Booster with the full five fetches. Just keep in mind that about half of all CBs will have at least one fetchland. 

Finally, let’s talk about the xxx/250 serialized Eldrazi. Once again, it’s a double rainbow foiling applied to art that already is in use in the set. I strongly wish that they would go back to the March of the Machine idea and give the serialized cards their own art, but I’m not in charge of stuff. They don’t give us an approximate drop rate for these cards, so we’re forced to use an estimate. 

With 750 cards to distribute, we can figure out a relative drop rate and a number of packs. If it’s one per pack, that’s 750 packs in the world. If there’s a serialized in one percent of packs, it’s 75,000 packs. As a reference, the LOTR Holiday Edition had 1.5 million packs and the LOTR main edition had 3.3 million Collector Boosters. I think we’re somewhere in between those, with around two million Collector Boosters printed, and a drop rate of one in 2,666 packs or so. (If you like percentages, that’s 0.0375%.) That’s an estimate based on other data points that we don’t always get. If I get better information, I’ll update this post.

I hope this helps you make clear decisions about your buying, your opening, and hopefully, your profitable selling. If you have questions about my methods, or if you caught an error, please reach out to me on Twitter or in the ProTrader Discord.

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.

Checking Back on The Lost Caverns of Ixalan

I know we’re all eagerly tripping over ourselves with Modern Horizons 3 previews, but those are incomplete as yet and so I don’t want to move in too hard on things yet, especially because there’s four whole Commander decks (with premium versions!) that are going to smash people trying to spec on things right now. I want to avoid that pitfall, and focus for a moment on a set that has gotten to my sweet spot of six months old: The Lost Caverns of Ixalan.

Some of these cards have been mentioned in the ProTrader Discord, some have been picks on MTG Fast Finance, but they are solid value and have had time to reach bottom. From here, I’m expecting some solid growth, because they are already popular in at least one format (mostly Commander) and there’s always potential for Standard play in the next two years.

Two caveats before we begin: One, the reprint risk is very real, even for stuff that just came out six months ago. Special Guests and Secret Lairs can happen at any time, so don’t get complacent. Two, EDHREC data is useful, but not perfect. I doubt EDHREC even has 5% of all Commander players, so if a card has low EDHREC stats but high prices, there’s clearly unseen forces at work, namely kitchen table players or LGS folks who don’t bother listing decks there.

Dinosaurs are always going to be popular, from a Commander standpoint. Pantlaza has been built an impressive number of times, and will keep being built thanks to the synergies present in the tribe. The art calls back to every kid who liked the giant lizards, and while I don’t think many of the individual cards are going to grow rapidly, I expect to see all of them slowly creeping up on a very long-term scale.

Roaming Throne (showcase foil $30) – 130k decks on EDHREC easily takes the top spot for non-reprint cards, at nearly three times the inclusion rate of anything else. It’s really the perfect Commander card, as it’s good with Kindred strategies of any type or color, or good as a way to double up what your Commander does. It’s a rare, and should see a reprint eventually, but I think we’ve got a while to go before that arrives. You should definitely get personal copies now, and I expect the borderless foils to be $50 by the end of the year.

Kutzil, Malamet Exemplar (showcase foil $7) – Sometimes, uncommons lead the way to second place: 47k decks, plus another 1200 as commander. This gives players two things they love: peace of mind on your turn, plus card draw if you get in hits with non-base-stats. Commander players are really into this card, as evidenced by the price, which reflects the casual demand and cEDH need alike. Turns out, in a highly interactive format like cEDH, that first ability is exceedingly powerful.

Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation (showcase foil $23) – The foil is up $4 since the start of the year, and has really cool art to go with an absolutely bonkers ability and a very stubborn presence on the board. TCG has a few Japanese-language foils available for under $15, if you want to get in a little cheaper, but I expect this to grow very well over time. 

Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant (borderless foil $17) – Ghalta’s newest version might not be done falling, but this price has been stable for a couple months now. As a Dinosaur, it’s got the guarantee built in for that set of decks but it’s also just a very good card to ramp into. I’ve seen someone use a Quicksilver Amulet to plop this in early and smash the board, I’ve also seen it be a great reanimation target. No wrong answers, people!

Thousand-Moons Smithy (FEA $3) – Breya, Etherium Shaper is coming back with new printings and I think we’re going to get a whole lot of people building awesome artifact decks. This particular card is easy to transform, and once it’s a land it’s much harder to get rid of. Being able to staple a Construct onto just about anything you cast is a big deal, and while you can’t easily get two a turn, you’ll adapt. This is a card who found its floor early: the FEA versions were under $2 at the beginning of the year so the creeping upward has already begun.

Bonehoard Dragon (Borderless foil $14) – Amazing with Obeka, this is just great value any way you play it. I’ve got it in my Ur-Dragon deck, meaning that I think it’s one of the 40 best Dragons ever printed. The value is undeniable, and if there’s ever a good red creature deck during its time in Standard, this will pop off with extreme force. Nonfoils are up $4 since March, a good sign for things to come.

Inti, Seneschal of the Sun (Showcase foil $3.50) – Inti’s numbers on EDHREC are middling, but this is a card good enough for the Vintage Cube, indicating how ridiculous it is as an aggressive attacker. Mass removal has gotten far too good for aggro players lately, because we’re living in a time of Inti into Anim Pakal and those decks aren’t tearing up Standard. Yet. Inti’s price hasn’t stabilized quite yet, but if the meta shifts into something more aggro, this will easily pop to $10. Watch carefully.

Chimil, the Inner Sun (regular nonfoil $16) – At nearly 30,000 decks on EDHREC, this has two things Commander players love: safety and card advantage. Not every deck can make use of both (If you like X spells, this is not your bag) but those that can, do with glee. The borderless foils are $70, showing us that players love having this effect in a sweet frame. Regular frame foils should trend upwards too, but I like getting in on the lowest price possible on these and riding the wave upwards. 

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.

What To Do When a Lair Sells Out, and When It Doesn’t

The Secret Lair has sold out the Hatsune Miku drops, but that’s it. The Seedborn Muses and the big bundles are no longer available either. 

What’s that mean for the leftover cards, and what does it mean for the things that sold out? Let’s look at some examples and get into some plans for the sold and the unsold.

The Spring Superdrop still has most of its stock available. The Hatsune Miku portion sold out in under six hours, in both languages and both finishes, but everything else is available. If no one wants it, why should we care? It’s been on sale for days now, so are these relevant at all?

Clearly, that’s a yes. One of the conditions that can lead to a Secret Lair drop becoming expensive is to pick up on the drops that no one else wants. It’s not a guarantee, by any means. We have obvious examples in the Equinox Drop, that contained cards which sold out fast (everything Fallout) and things which did not (Diabolical Dioramas and Phoebe Wahl) and their value is currently directly related to the availability.

Frankly, this is a good sign. I liked these Lairs in the $40 range for foils, and picking up a couple more in the $30 range for foils is worthwhile. The core concept I want to keep in mind is not the immediate price, the reactionary price. Right now, people are selling in a hurry, either because they didn’t have the liquidity to be more patient or because they want to stockpile cash for Modern Horizons 3. 

I’m personally not rebuying more of the sealed Lairs at the moment, as I’ve still got plenty from the bundles I bought, but the singles from those Lairs are looking tasty indeed, with supply near maximum and we know that there’s less of this stuff out there than there is for the Fallout cards or the Rowena Cai drops. All of the drops have dropped in price, as is standard practice right after all of the orders arrive. If you have some (as I do) just be patient. 

The current arrangement of Secret Lairs, where it’s pre-printed to a certain quantity and sold out after that, is an important metric. We don’t know exact numbers, but we know which sell out and which don’t. Therefore we know when some are rarer than others. 

Before, when Lairs were printed to order, we didn’t have any basis for comparison and we also knew that people had a month to decide what they wanted to buy. For many folks, they saw the early return on Lairs and decided to buy in after the early wave of expensive sales. That has led to a larger inventory of people who bought in with visions of profit and who are now stuck.

But these new Lairs, that are pre-printed and available only to a certain quantity, are different. Yes, there’s a long time for people to decide that they want in, but with demonstrably less being bought, I’m more optimistic about prices eventually rising.

To put another way: The old model of print-to-demand has filled many a storage shelf with overstock items, but with pre-printed Lairs not selling out, there will be a lot less of those items on shelves. Barring reprints, or new cards making cards go wild, the stock should run out that sooner and the prices increase sooner.

Now, let’s talk about the Lairs that sell out. First of all, the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a well-documented phenomenon with humans, and it’s why the assorted Hatsune Miku Lairs are preselling for over double the original $40 if you look on eBay or other platforms. A few overexcited people are buying frantically because they HAVE TO HAVE the Miku cards or they are devoutly hoping that these resell for $140+. 

I remain plenty confident that the Miku drops are going to pay off well, and $100 would be difficult to argue with. That’s a solid $40+ after taxes and fees, a profit margin I’d take every time. I’d probably keep one or two back, though, because now that we know each of the drops will sell out, there will be significant pressure on the earliest drop, as collectors go for the entire set. 

We can also presume that similar things will happen for the next three Hatsune Miku drops. If one of the drops was going to underperform, it would have been this one, that had absolutely one of the weakest batches of cards I’ve ever seen in a drop. The character, though, and the collectability of the cards, put the demand into overdrive and sold everything out before dinnertime.

It’s a pretty safe bet that even a set of Hatsune Miku lands would do equally well, and that’s been the most disliked Drops of all. Once they finished with the Astrology lands (I’m presuming they did, I really don’t care about that) I don’t think they’ve gone back to the basic land drops at all. Thank goodness. 

As we saw with the last drop, there’s some carryover effects from Hatsune Miku selling out so fast. The first thing to sell out was actually the Seedborn Muse, indicating that more large amounts were being purchased than had happened in previous Superdrops. Even that should have been slowed down some because the limit on this Superdrop, for anything, was five units.

So with a stricter limit on purchases, there was a whole lot of increments of $200 being bought. Wizards knows what the previous purchase patterns were, and likely based the number of Seedborns on that data, which proved to be a bit short of the demand.

Hatsune Miku drops were listed as sold out within half an hour of the Seedborns being sold out. (For the U.S. anyway. EU, Asia, Australia had both for a few hours longer but their allocations all got sold too.) This also means that the larger bundles, and the larger discounts, were out of play as well. The discount on the bundles was only about 13-15%, but that’s a better rate than what’s left now. The Outlaws bundles are both less than 10% off right now, making a buy for the dregs that much less appealing.

On the next drop, it’s reasonable to think similar factors will be at play. We might get more of the special addition, and slightly higher quantities of the Miku drop, as they make more money off of us, but the next ones selling out seems like a certainty given current conditions.

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.