The Most Expensive Deck in Magic

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By: Jared Yost

*EDIT: Unfortunately, I was wrong when indicating that Beta is rarer than Alpha. From Twitter initial comments, I did research and found this article written by Chase Andres which explains how much rarer Alpha is than Beta. My apologies, I have updated the article with similar cards from Alpha instead of Beta when I could find an Alpha version that was worth more than a graded Beta version I had previously found.

ORIGINAL:

I decided to write an article this week on the premise “What is the most absurdly expensive deck that I could play a game of Magic with and still be competitive?”. The answer will definitely shock you. As I did the research for this article, it astounded me how many rare and hard to find cards exist within the Magic world. A lot of people know that Black Lotus exists and is rare, but did you know that there was a printing of Revised that was released early and then recalled to be destroyed? Did you know that some of it was not destroyed and instead still exists today? These cards do exist and it is known as Summer Magic. The prices of the cards from that set will absolutely floor you and I will get to that later.

Before I delve into the deck, I think the first question we’re all wondering is what playmat could we use for a deck truly fit for King Midas? May I suggest this one. According to the seller, this is the world’s rarest playmat, which seems fit for a deck that would truly be the world’s rarest deck.

Though at $350, this is chump change compared to what the deck I will lay out will cost you.

The format of the deck will have to be Vintage, not only for the Power 9 but also for several other cards that are hard to find and can only be played in Vintage. I am going to go with Sna Control, a deck used by Jacob Dunn from a recent GP Melbourne Side Event since it contains most of the P9 cards (which we can all agree are the most sought after collectable cards in the game) in addition to Jace, The Mind Sculptor and other stupidly expensive cards. This deck will showcase perfectly how expensive a Magic deck can get if you want to have the most awe-inspiring, ostentatious deck that you can imagine.

Also, anything that I would acquire from Alpha or Beta I will try to prefer the Beta Alpha version over the Alpha Beta version because collectors all agree that fewer Beta Alpha cards were released than Alpha Beta cards. You will also notice a lot of foreign cards are in this deck. The reason this must be is because foreign cards for some languages were printed in much fewer quantities than their other language counterparts. Specifically Korean, Russian, and Japanese are considered the most collectable sets especially in terms of foils. Note that Korean first appeared in M12 (with some also in Urza’s Saga, Visions, Tempest, and 4th Ed), Russian first appeared in 9th Edition, and Japanese first appeared in 4th Edition. I will try to stick with this pick order throughout the deck.

OK, now let’s go through the list and figure out how to make everything as expensive as possible.

LANDS:

– 4x Scalding Tarn FOIL Russian Zendikar – Estimated $3,600

I wasn’t able to find a single foil Russian Scalding Tarn for sale online on eBay or other websites that I looked through. I did find this completed listing on March 10th for a playset of non-foil Russian Scalding Tarns for $450 which is about $112.50 each. Based on the current ratio of foil price to non-foil price for Scalding Tarn in English ($106.40 non-foil, $247.60) I estimate that a foil Russian Scalding Tarn would sell for a minimum of $261.80 based on the 0.42 ratio (which I will refer to henceforth as the multiplier) for English prices.

But with collectible rare items like this, regular multipliers go out the window. Japanese foils are of comparable rarity to Russian, and a foil Japanese Scalding Tarns sells for roughly $600 on eBay. Non-foil Japanese Scalding Tarns sell for about $75 based on this completed playset listing. This makes the multiplier 0.125 rather than 0.42 for English foil and non-foil copies. Based on this multiplier, if I had a foil Russian Scalding Tarn and wanted to sell it I would be comfortable selling it for $900 ($112.50 for a non-foil divided by 0.125 multiplier). Since we are trying to make the most expensive deck, all four Scalding Tarns must be foil Russian so the final total comes to $3,600.

– 3x Underground Sea Revised SUMMER MAGIC – Estimated $24,000

Now I will tell the story of Summer Magic. According to MTGSalvation, “Summer Magic refers to a printing of Revised Edition that was to be destroyed because of numerous errors in the printing. Some of the cards survived and were released, and booster packs from this edition are extremely rare.”

To give you an idea of how rare, the snippet mentions that about only 40 boxes of the product were ever released to the public. In terms of packs, that means that only 1,440 packs of this product ever existed! Outside of test prints and other rare oddities that sometimes make their way out of Wizards of the Coast, these are some of the rarest cards you can acquire. I’m not even sure if three Underground Sea even exist from this product. However, based on the pack count I am fairly confident that they existed at some point. Assuming that they still exist and you can track them down, I based my price on this listing I found on ABUGames which prices one at $8,000. If you look at the picture, you can tell that it is different than a generic Revised Underground Sea because the art is much darker and there is a copyright date displayed.

Summer Magic Underground Seapng;base64153230a555c5fd5f

Generic Revised Underground Seapng;base6492d6889077b6ea71

Personally, I love the darker art because it gives the card a crisper appearance. Even though the card is white bordered (the usual mark of a high value deck is that all cards are black bordered) I think we can make an exception in this case. Funny, we’re already at $27,600 and we’ve only bought seven cards so far…

(Before I continue, it usually noted amongst collectors that the blue Hurricane from the Summer Magic set is regarded as the rarest misprint in existence. These currently go for about $16,000 on eBay. Even though Hurricane isn’t in the deck, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make a casual deck that is still crazy expensive!)

– 3x Polluted Delta FOIL Japanese Onslaught – Estimated $5,835

Since Russian cards did not exist until 9th Edition, we will defer to acquiring foil Japanese Polluted Deltas. Since I’m not sure what the best offer was from this sold foil Japanese Polluted Delta, I will have to base my calculations on the multiplier I discovered with Scalding Tarn Japanese foil prices. This playset of non-foils sold in Feb for $598 as a playset, so individually they are worth about $149.50. Using the multiplier 0.125, I would be comfortable selling a foil Japanese Polluted Delta for $1,196. For three of them, that comes to $3,588. a listing that I discovered on tokyomtg.com for a Japanese foil Polluted Delta. The Delta is listed for ¥199,000 which is about $1945 USD. For three of them, that comes to $5,835 total. My multiplier is inaccurate for Polluted Delta due to its age and the premium Vintage & Legacy players place upon it (based on Twitter feedback).

– 2x Volcanic Island Revised SUMMER MAGIC – Estimated $12,000

Like Underground Sea, of course we want our dual lands to be Summer Magic. According to ABUGames, a Summer Magic Volcanic Island will cost you $6,000. Two of them comes to $12,000.

– 1x Island Guru “Drowning Man” MISSING SYMBOL – Estimated $2,000 (discovered through Twitter comment and sourced through Magic Librarities)

– 1x Swamp Guru MISSING SYMBOL – $2,000

Wow, we can actually buy REALLY expensive basic lands for this deck! Be honest, how many of you thought I would put foil Unhinged Island and foil Unhinged Swamp in this deck? You would be wrong, there are basic lands rarer than that! This Starcity article covers the a lot about the different types of rarer basic lands in Magic and mentions that Guru Lands are the rarest of all. Even though Summer Magic exists, any Guru basic that is misprinted is going to worth more than a Summer Magic basic.

Based on eBay listings, foil Unhinged Islands sell for about $60 and foil Unhinged Swamps sell on average for $45. However, eBay listings for Guru Islands are around $220 and eBay listings for Guru Swamps around $112 (but “Drowning Man” Gurus, which have missing symbols, are extra rare). Collectors place a lot more value on these Guru Lands than foil Unhinged Lands. For the curious, Mountain Gurus sell for about $110, Plains sell for about $110, and Forests sell for about $115. As for the misprint, the seller tried to sell an Island for ~$2,100 so I will estimate that both the Swamp and Island are worth $2,000 each.

– 1x Tolarian Academy Urza’s Saga – $25.64

– 1x Tolarian Academy Korean Urza’s Saga – $152

Tolarian Academy foreign copies are worth the same as their English counterparts and there are no foil or other editions of this card. Outside of finding a crimped version or having the Tolarian Academy altered to be a full art card by the original artist, we need to go by the market value of an Urza’s Saga Tolarian Academy. A commenter below notified me that Urza’s Saga exists in Korean. A Korean Urza’s Saga Tolarian Academy sold in January for €110 or about $152 USD. We definitely need to have this over any English versions.

– 1x BGS-8.5 Library of Alexandria Arabian Nights – Estimated $227.50

No other editions of Library exist outside of Arabian Nights, so here we are looking for the highest graded copy we can find. This eBay listing sold for $227.50, which is the only graded Library where I could find a sold price.

Oh my, I’ve only purchased the land base at this point and we’re already up to $43,766.14. Let’s continue with the creatures.

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Creatures

– 4x Dark Confidant FOIL Russian Ravnica: City of Guilds – Estimated $2,880

Similar to Scalding Tarn, I couldn’t easily find a foil Russian Confidant from Ravnica for sale on eBay or other websites. Therefore, I will have to use my 0.125 multiplier to estimate the price. Non-foil Russian Ravnica Dark Confidant sells for $90, so using the multiplier we can estimate that a foil Russian Ravnica Dark Confidant would sell for $720. Thus a playset would cost you $2,880.

– 2x Snapcaster Mage FOIL Korean Innistrad – Estimated $935

Innistrad was released shortly after M12, so we want foil Korean Snapcasters for this deck. Based on these sold listings, one sold for $425 and another for $510 so average would be $467.50. Two of them makes $935.

– 1x Myr Battlesphere FOIL Russian Scars of Mirrodin – Estimated $15

Again, even though these exist in Russian I cannot find a single website that offers them for sale. Basing it off Japanese prices, foil Japanese Battlespheres sold for $10 to $20 dollars. I value Russian the same so we’ll use $15 average in this case.

Instants and Sorcereies

– 4x Force of Will German Alliances – Estimated $412 (updated based on Twitter comment)

Force of Will only had one printing, so the only possibility would be foreign being worth more. Non-English copies sell for the same as English in German sell for slightly more than English. The usual market price is $95. On eBay, they average $103 for German so we’ll want to go with those for this deck. Barring having these German Forces 1) altered by Terese Nielsen or 2) finding any crimped copies or 3) finding miscut Forces that have a source indicating the price they were sold at, this is the price we’ll use for German NM copies.

– 3x Lightning Bolt Revised SUMMER MAGIC – Estimated $3,000

Lightning Bolt was in Revised and thus was printed in the Summer Magic set as well. Unlike Underground Sea and Volcanic Island, there is a good chance we can actually find three of these cards since they are only commons within the set. Still though, Lightning Bolt is a very popular card so the price won’t be that cheap. ABUGames (which seems to be the authority on Summer Magic prices) lists them at $999 each. Buying three adds up to $3,000. For those who doubt that Summer is the highest, even a graded Beta Bolts sells for only $70.

– 2x Spell Pierce FOIL Russian Zendikar – Estimated $120

I couldn’t find any listed or sold Russian foil Spell Pierce, so I will base the price from the non-foil counterpart with the multiplier. Non-foil Russian Spell Pierce sold for about $7.50 each on eBay, so using the multiplier I would value foil Russian Spell Pierce at $60 each. Two of them brings us to $120.

– 2x Mana Drain English Legends – $443.30

Even though Legends had one non-English version (Italian) collectors generally price English versions higher than non-English because Italian versions are more prevalent. We want our deck to contain English versions for the maximum Richie Rich effect. These are each $221.65, so two would be $443.30.

– 2x Mental Misstep FOIL Russian New Phyrexia – Estimated $80

Again, through all my web scouring I could not find a foil one of these for sale. (If anyone has a resource that they use to find foil Russian cards please let me know in the comments!) I did find this listing on eBay for a non-foil Russian playset for $20, so that is $5 per copy. Using the multiplier that comes to $40 per foil Russian copy so $80 for two.

– 1x Yawgmoth’s Will Judge Gift Program – $45

– 1x Yawgmoth’s Will Korean (Signed) Urza’s Saga – $205

Unlike Tolarian Academy, Yawgmoth’s Will did have another printing as Judge Foil which collectors regard as more valuable than both the English and non-English regular English Urza’s Saga versions. Judge foils are selling on average for $45 on eBay so that’s the price we’ll go by here. However, since Urza’s Saga does exist in Korean, a premium is placed on the foreign version. This website places that price at €149 or about $205. We definitely want that version over any English or foil copies.

– 1x Tinker FOIL Japanese Urza’s Legacy – Estimated $75

I’m basing this price off a listing on dacardworld since I couldn’t find any for sale on eBay or other sites.

– 1x Demonic Tutor Revised SUMMER MAGIC – Estimated $3,000

Even though there is a Judge Gift Program version of Demonic Tutor (which is the only foil version printed and goes for about $250) and a Beta graded version for $400, Demonic Tutor is also in Revised and therefore in Summer Magic. Summer Magic Demonic Tutor is priced at $3,000.

– 1x BGS-8.5 Time Walk Beta – Estimated $1,389
– 1x Time Walk Alpha – $2575

Time Walk is a classic P9 card, so we need to procure one that is in the most pristine condition that we can find. I found one on eBay which went for $1,389I found an Alpha on eBay for $2575 which fits our needs adequately. I did not find any sold graded ones so this will be the price.

– 1x Vampiric Tutor Judge Gift Program – Estimated $60

Vampiric Tutors in Korean go for about $47, so we’ll go with the Judge Gift Program version here. eBay sold listings average about $60 so that will be the price point.

– 1x PSA-10 Ancestral Recall Beta – Estimated $5,500

As with all P9 cards, we want to go with any graded versions we can find and then pick the highest grade among them. This PSA-10 Ancestral Recall (listing says case is signed thankfully) is listed for $5,500. No other comparable Alpha listings were available on eBay.

– 1x Brainstorm FOIL Japanese Mercadian Masques – Estimated $347

Wow, for a common Brainstorm is way more expensive than I thought as a foil even considering this is a Japanese foil we are looking at. Based on completed listings on eBay, one sold for $305 while others were listed at $389 but had best offers accepted. I will take the average of these two prices and estimate that $347 is the market price for a foil Japanese Brainstorm.

– 1x Mystical Tutor FOIL FTV: Exiled – $18.22

Since there were no foils in Mirage or Sixth Edition, we’ll have to go with the foil version that is in From the Vault: Exiled. This is the most expensive printing of Mystical Tutor on the market which goes for about four times the cost of a Mirage or Sixth Edition copy.

– 1x Merchant Scroll FOIL Japanese 8th Edition – Estimated $430

Interesting note about the Japanese 8th Ed Merchant Scroll is that all of them have misprinted the type line, which should be “Sorcery”, to the name of the card “Merchant Scroll” (even if you can’t read Japanese, you can still see the symbols are the same in the card name and type line boxes). Regardless, since all Japanese Merchant Scrolls have this misprint it doesn’t really add anything additional to the price other than its foily Japanese-ness. I couldn’t find any foil Japanese for sale or sold, so based on this current listing for a non-foil Japanese for $11 with the multiplier I would estimate that a foil Japanese Merchant Scroll would sell for $88. Based on Twitter feedback from @SonodaMTG  his store currently lists Japanese Merchant Scroll for ¥43,900 which converts to $430 USD. My normal multiplier will not work in this case, so I will defer to @SonodaMTG’s store for the pricing here.

– 1x Hurkyl’s Recall Revised SUMMER MAGIC – Estimated $2,000

Wow, I finally found a Russian foil listing!! If we wanted to outright buy one, this eBay listing can get it to us for $650. I personally like the art and black border of the Antiquities version, but clearly we need to buy the Summer Magic version for maximum affluence. These are priced at $2,000 per copy.

– 1x Gifts Ungiven FOIL Japanese Champions of Kamigawa – Estimated $85

Based on current listings (none sold at the time of the article writing), I would estimate the cost of a foil Japanese Champions version is about $85. We want the original here, none of that FTV: Exiled nonsense.

13 Other Spells

– 3x Jace, the Mind Sculptor FOIL Russian Worldwake – Estimated $8,160

Jace is something special. He’s so special, in fact, that my normal multiplier will not work in this case. Non-foil Japanese Jace’s have sold for about $150 each but current listings (since I couldn’t find any prices for Russian foil or non-foil) for Japanese foil Jace’s are listed at about $2,400. That’s a multiplier of 0.0625! If we base our foil Russian price on this listing which sold for $150 as well (even though it is SP), that brings us to $2,400 for a foil Russian too. If we try to estimate NM, I would add $20 to the non-foil Russian listing. At $170 non-foil, I would estimate a NM foil Russian Jace from Worldwake to be $2,720 each. Three of them brings us to $8,160.

– 1x Beckett-9 Mox Emerald Beta – Estimated $1,500

– 1x PSA-10 Mox Emerald Alpha – $3,717

With P9, my philosophy is to go with graded when we can. This is the highest grade I could find that is within the Beta set. This is a PSA-10 graded one from Alpha. This is exactly what we are looking for, so into the deck it goes. Since it was listed at $1,700 and negotiated, and another similar graded mox sold for $1,200, I will price this Mox Emerald at $1,500.

– 1x BGS-9.5 Mox Sapphire Beta – $5,000

Same as above. This is the highest grade I could find that was printed in Beta. I could not find any comparable Alpha Mox Sapphire listings.

– 1x PSA-10 Time Vault Beta – Estimated $1,700

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Based on this search for Beta Time Vaults, I only saw one PSA graded listing that sold but unfortunately the price was negotiated so we cannot see the actual price that was paid. Since other current listings are within the $1,400-$1500 range I will estimate that the PSA-10 one sold for about $1,700. There were no comparable Alpha Time Vault that were sold recently.

– 1x Sol Ring Revised SUMMER MAGIC – Estimated $3,000

I found this listing that sold for $225 for a graded Sol Ring and Judge Foils go for about $100 but since Sol Ring was in Revised we need the Summer Magic version since it is the rarest. These are priced by ABU Games at $3,000.

– 1x Mana Crypt Judge Gift Program – Estimated $180

I found this sold listing on eBay for a Judge Foil Mana Crypt that went for $180. Since the Judge Foils and book versions are about the same in rarity, and there are no differences in price between book promo languages, we’ll go with the Judge Foil version here.

– 1x Beckett-5 – Mox Pearl Beta CRIMPED – Estimated $1,900

Yeah, that’s right – since Mox Pearl is one of the “bad” moxes we can’t be satisfied just getting a normally graded Beta Mox Pearl. We must have the graded, crimped version and who knows how many of those exist. This could literally be the only one. I think that’s a steal at $1,900 compared to some of the other stuff on this list. I’m going to assume there isn’t an Alpha version of this.

– 1x PSA-6 – Mox Ruby Alpha – Estimated $1,045.95

In the same vein as our other P9, we want to have a graded one. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any graded Mox Ruby’s in Beta that were even close to NM. I found a few Beta “Altered” graded cards but these look horrible and I personally would never want to own one. Thus, we have to take a step back from Beta here and go with this Alpha one from dacardworld. I found this Alpha Mox Ruby at dacardworld. Without the discount the price is $1,045.95.

– 1x BGS-10 Black Lotus Beta – $100,000

Not only the jewel of our deck, but the crowning jewel of our collection and probably worthy of inclusion in a museum dedicated to Magic somewhere. Listed on eBay for anyone to buy, I’m not sure if it can be sold for $100,000 but since we’re building this deck we’re going for the gold here so to speak. Touted as the “only BGS-10 Beta Black Lotus in existence” I definitely want this Black Lotus for our deck. There were no other comparable Alpha listings on eBay.

Hands down this has to be the most expensive card in all of Magic. If anyone can find me a pricier card, please post it in the comments because I would be curious to see what it is.

– 1x Voltaic Key FOIL Russian M11 – Estimated $13

Russian copies of Voltaic Key are just as hard to find as all the others, so based off of Japanese non-foil Voltaic Key playset prices I would estimate that foil Russian Keys are about $13 with the multiplier of 0.125.

– 1x Beckett-8.5 Mox Jet Beta – Estimated $1,000

Based on the sold listings for Mox Jets on eBay, two graded ones were listed at $1,250 and $1,500 but were negotiated. After negotiations, I assume that they sold for close to $1,000 and $1,100 respectively. We’ll go with the cheaper option here because at this point our budget is starting to get stretched thin. I did not find any comparable Alpha Mox Jets.

******************************

The main deck brings us to $197,710.97 (mostly due to the Black Lotus which can arguably be negotiated in price a bit) but we also need to make sure we include the sideboard.

Sideboard

For the sake of wrapping up this article, I am going to save you all the links and research that I completed for calculations and instead post them at the end of the article in case you are curious about the price calculations. Suffice to say, Russian foils are hard to find. Maybe they are worth more than I giving them credit for…

My research yielded the following prices for the Sideboard cards:

– 3x Grafdigger’s Cage FOIL Korean Dark Ascension ~$135 total

– 1x Mountain Guru Land MISPRINT ~$2,000

– 4x Ingot Chewer FOIL Russian Lorwyn ~$96 total

– 3x Yixlid Jailer FOIL Russian Future Sight ~$60 total

– 2x Surgical Extraction FOIL Russian New Phyrexia ~$190 total

– 1x Strip Mine FOIL FTV: Exiled ~$22

– 1x Toxic Deluge Commander 2013 ~$12

The Final Price Count

Drum roll please! The total value of the deck, including Sideboard, comes to a grand total of $200,225.97. Ladies and gentleman, if you want to play the most expensive deck in Magic this is what it would cost you.

Of course, I realize that if you bust open the graded cards it will devalue them significantly. Taking this into account, my point in writing this article is to show you that you that Magic is a collectable and surprisingly valuable hobby. The cheapest card in the deck is Toxic Deluge at $12. And even if we didn’t play with graded cards the price of the deck would still be over $100,000 if we looked for NM copies of everything in the rarest edition that they exist.

I hope you all enjoyed this experiment! It was certainly the most fun I’ve had writing an article. If your friends ask you what the most expensive deck in Magic is you can now show them. Not only is the deck expensive but it can also do well at a Vintage tournament. Also, I’m finally on Twitter – follow me @gildedgoblin.

Last thing: I’ve included a handy table below as a quick reference in case you want to come back and quickly look up the price of various cards in the deck.

Deck List and Prices

Card

Estimated Cost

4x Scalding Tarn FOIL Russian Zendikar

$3,600

3x Underground Sea Revised SUMMER MAGIC

$24,000

3x Polluted Delta FOIL Japanese Onslaught

$5,835

2x Volcanic Island Revised SUMMER MAGIC

$12,000

1x Swamp Guru Land MISPRINT

$2,000

1x Island Guru Land MISPRINT

$2,000

1x Tolarian Academy Korean Urza’s Saga

$152

1x BGS-8.5 Library of Alexandria Arabian Nights

$227.50

4x Dark Confidant FOIL Russian Ravnica

$2,880

2x Snapcaster Mage FOIL Korean Innistrad

$935

1x Myr Battlesphere FOIL Russian Scars of Mirrodin

$15

4x Force of Will German Alliances

$412

3x Lightning Bolt Revised SUMMER MAGIC

$3,000

2x Spell Pierce FOIL Russian Zendikar

$120

2x Mana Drain English Legends

$443.30

2x Mental Misstep FOIL Russian New Phyrexia

$80

1x Yawgmoth’s Will Korean Urza’s Saga

$205

1x Tinker FOIL Japanese Urza’s Legacy

$75

1x Demonic Tutor Revised SUMMER MAGIC

$3,000

1x Time Walk Alpha

$2,575

1x Vampiric Tutor Judge Gift Program

$60

1x PSA-10 Ancestral Recall Beta

$5,500

1x Brainstorm FOIL Japanese Mercadian Masques

$347

1x Mystical Tutor FTV: Exiled

$18.22

1x Merchant Scroll FOIL Japanese 8th Edition

$430

1x Hurkyl’s Recall Revised SUMMER MAGIC

$2,000

1x Gifts Ungiven FOIL Japanese Champions of Kamigawa

$85

3x Jace, the Mind Sculptor FOIL Russian Worldwake

$8,160

1x PSA-10 Mox Emerald Alpha

$3,717

1x BGS-9.5 Mox Sapphire Beta

$5,000

1x PSA-10 Time Vault Beta

$1,700

1x Sol Ring Revised SUMMER MAGIC

$3,000

1x Mana Crypt Judge Gift Program

$180

1x Beckett-5 – Mox Pearl Beta CRIMPED

$1,900

1x PSA-6 – Mox Ruby Alpha

$1,045.95

1x BGS-10 Black Lotus Beta

$100,000

1x Voltaic Key FOIL Russian M11

$13

1x Beckett-8.5 Mox Jet Beta

$1,000

SIDEBOARD

******************

3x Grafdigger’s Cage FOIL Korean Dark Ascension

$135

1x Mountain Guru Land MISPRINT

$2,000

4x Ingot Chewer FOIL Russian Lorwyn

$96

3x Yixlid Jailer FOIL Russian Future Sight

$60

2x Surgical Extraction FOIL Russian New Phyrexia

$190

1x Strip Mine FOIL FTV: Exiled

$22

1x Toxic Deluge Commander 2013

$12

GRAND TOTAL

$200,225.97

Sideboard References:

3x Grafdigger’s Cage FOIL Korean Dark Ascension

This Korean foil sold for $44.95 so I’ll accept that as the price. For three, that comes to about $135.

1x Mountain Guru Land MISPRINT

Again, we can use the misprinted guru Mountain for inclusion in this sideboard. Like the others, based on the Island listing I would price each of them at ~$2,000. (Lucky for us, the misprints were in exactly the colors we needed them to be to make this deck extra pricey.)

Honorable mention to Arabian Nights Mountain, since Arabian Nights wasn’t supposed to have basic lands but Mountain was accidentally included as a rare. These are about $30-$40 if we want one.

4x Ingot Chewer FOIL Russian Lorwyn

A playset of non-foil was listed but unsold for $12. Using this as a guideline, with the multiplier foil Russian copies would be about $24 each. That comes to $96 total.

3x Yixlid Jailer FOIL Russian Future Sight

Non-foil Japanese Yixlid Jailers go for $10 per playset on eBay, so using the multiplier for foil and assuming Russian is priced like Japanese that comes to $20 per foil copy, which is $60 total for the deck.

Based on what you’ve seen so far, this might seem low. Keep in mind there are also English and Japanese DCI Promo Foil Yixlid Jailer to keep other foil prices down.

2x Surgical Extraction FOIL Russian New Phyrexia

Based on this ended auction I found for a playset of Russian Surgical Extraction, two of them would cost $190.

1x Strip Mine FOIL FTV: Exiled

Completed listings on eBay average about $22.

1x Toxic Deluge Commander 2013

No other versions, all languages priced the same. Market price is $12.

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Neat Tricks with MTGPrice.com

By: Cliff Daigle

If you’re reading this, then you’re already aware that MTGPrice is the best price tracking site around. We are more than a set of numbers though, and today I’m going to walk you through a half-dozen tricks that will really enhance your experience with MTGPrice.

Trick #1: Price lookup history

If you use MTGPrice on a mobile device, usually while trading, you’ve probably had to look up several cards in a row. It can be quite annoying to have to look up prices a second time, as terms of a trade change. Here’s a tip for making that process faster and easier.

Since we put the price into the title of the page, all you have to do is look at your recent history in your browser. I have an iPhone, so when you go to the Safari history you see the list of cards and their prices in chronological order that you looked them up.

Until we have an official app, this is a really great tool when you’re working with a group of cards at once.

Trick #2: The Slider

For comparing historical trends, our slider is top-notch. We post our graphs in articles all the time, but seeing the drop from pre-order prices to bulk status reinforces how right you were to sell, sell, sell!

Conversely, you can see long-term trends this way. I know that there are lots of cards that have spiked in the past year, but there’s others on a slow upward trend. The really valuable tool is comparing very similar cards, like the Zendikar fetchlands or the Scars fastlands. While the price of the blue fetches is sky-high, it’s only a matter of time until the other fetches catch up.

#2 – Set Prices

If you look up one card, then you can click on the name of the set that the card is in. That gives you a list, sortable by name, price, and buylist price. This is incredibly valuable information, especially if you’re trying to trade for things that are going to sell easily for good money.

We also get that list ready pretty quick when a new set comes out. I use it as a tool for the early weeks of a set when I want to draft for money or make trades for the future.

#3 – Buylist comparisons

When you enter the cards you own into your collection, there’s a tool for getting the instant cash value of your collection. I realize it hurts to see the retail value of your collection, and then see that you’d get 60% of that in cash, but that’s the nature of the market.

Beyond that, when you’re looking at the price of an individual card, you click the ‘sell to’ button to show what different vendors are paying for that card. If there’s one vendor you prefer, you can check on them, or see what the trends are for that buylist price. Has it gone up and down a lot? Is it consistent? This will let you know.

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#4 – Time Slider

For both the buylist and the value, our sliders can track the past two years. This is long enough to show a trend, a banning, or other spikes/drops. Two years is helpful for tracking the effect that Standard rotation has on the price of a card.

Right now, that means Innistrad block, which rotated a year ago. The most striking example of rotation affecting price is Huntmaster of the Fells. Slide its graph all the way out to 106 weeks, and remember when this was a $40 card.

#5 – Prices even though sold out

Finally, an overlooked feature is the ability to see what prices a vendor had for their card before they ran out of stock. We calculate the Fair Trade Price using what is in stock, but it can be very helpful to know what price was so good that they ran out! Sometimes this reflects a run on a card, or someone trying to run up the price by buying out a store’s stock.

When you click the button next to a vendor’s name, you’ll see what price they had. Again, if you like a certain vendor, you can focus there, or you can make a prediction on what they will restock the card at.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of some of our free features. Don’t forget about the lifetime Pro Trader offer! There’s a few spaces left and it is super cheap for all you’ll be getting!

Leaving Legacy

By: Travis Allen

I addressed this topic about a year ago on my personal blog, but now feels like an appropriate time to revisit the matter and distribute the idea to more than those poor souls who had the link forced upon them eleven months ago.

GP Richmond was a lot of things to a lot of people. It was the largest constructed event ever. It was the largest event that many players have ever attended, and it was the largest event SCG had ever run. It was the first major Modern tournament many players attended. It was the catalyst that got many players off their butts to finally put together a Modern deck period. It was also a huge, shining beacon for the entire community: Modern is here to stay.

Richmond had a huge impact on Modern card prices, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss today. Rather, we’re here to discuss the impact it will have on Legacy card prices. I’ll sum it up for you.

Legacy is going to die.

Admittedly, it will never actually die die – someone, somewhere, will be playing it. Rather, it’s going to go the way of Vintage, relegated to its own tight-knit, late-20’s, financially secure old guard that spend more time thinking about, discussing, and goldfishing the format than actually playing in sanctioned events. When Wizards announced that the reserved list had not been repealed, but instead solidified, this thin slice of history became axiomatic.

The process will be gradual. The gap between the frequency that Standard/Modern staples and Legacy staples are sold at will widen at the local level. Less people will ask if you have Forces and duals for trade. (This is something that I’ve personally witnessed.) Richmond was the first horseman of the apocalypse, and SCG adding Modern as a major format to their open series will likely be the second. It will begin with just a few events where Modern shows up as a trial to gauge demand. It will be popular. Perhaps following that they’ll switch to a 75/25 split between Legacy and Modern. Maybe they’ll run Modern alongside Legacy on Sunday, creating a division between old eternal players and new eternal players. I’m not sure, and I’m guessing Pete isn’t either. But they certainly aren’t blind to the amazing demand for the new reality. 

Think about all of this from a newer player’s perspective. I’m not talking about the guy that started six months ago and still has commons in his trade binder; I’m talking about the guy that joined up during Zendikar or Scars. Someone who came in during Scars block now has about three-and-a-half years worth of cards. They’ve got Birthing Pods and the Fastlands and a Thrun or two and maybe even a few fetches, since they were still Standard-legal (and $10) when they started playing. They just played through Return to Ravnica, so they have a full set of shocks. They did a draft of Modern Masters or two which helped procure a handful of staple uncommons and maybe even a Goyf or Confidant. Sure they don’t have a full Modern list together, but they’ve got a comfortable portion of several decks.

Where does that same player stand in relation to Legacy? He owns zero dual lands. He’s never had cause to own Karakas or Onslaught fetches or really anything on the reserved list at all. There is a far wider financial gap between a playable Modern deck and a playable Legacy deck at this point. And that’s just the cost in dollars. How about availability? Splinter Twin and Arcbound Ravager and Kiki-Jiki and Birthing Pod are in trade binders. Karakas and Counterbalance and City of Traitors are far, far less visible on a trade floor. Even if you find one, the owner is looking for a premium. After all, our junior player has no Legacy staples to trade away. That Jace is going to command an exchange rate.

Beyond the additional financial barrier, where is our budding Legacy enthusiast going to play? The Legacy scene is highly dependent on region, of course. Here in the tropical paradise of Buffalo, there are a whopping ten stores that sell Magic cards and run events. Do you know how many Legacy tournaments there are? One a month. Other areas have none. Sure, maybe you live someplace where they get thirty people weekly. That is awesome for you. But that is the exception to the rule.

As speculators, investors, and players, it is important to keep an eye on the future. It doesn’t necessarily need to start directly influencing our actions quite yet, but we would be remiss to ignore it. What does all of this mean for our Magic portfolios? Well, it means that Legacy staples aren’t really the bastion of stability you want them to be. They’re definitely more reliant than Ral Zarek or Trostani. But they aren’t going to hold all of these numbers forever, and they’ll only get less liquid as time goes on and less new blood enters the market.

First I’ll tell you what’s pretty safe. Tier S grade AAA reserved list cards are going to be pretty bulletproof. Think Dual lands and Gaea’s Cradle. Cards whose prices are predicated on their rarity and collectability will also remain valuable, such as power, Candelabra of Tawnos, and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale.

What about the rest of it though? I flipped through the top sixteen of the most recent SCG open and here are a list of cards whose value is propped up in some considerable capacity by Legacy playability:

True-Name Nemesis
Daze
Force of Will
Sylvan Library
Mother of Runes
Swords to Plowshares
Umezawa’s Jitte
Karakas
Stoneforge Mystic
Sensei’s Divining Top
Counterbalance
Natural Order
City of Traitors
Sneak Attack
Show and Tell
Lion’s Eye Diamond
Cabal Therapy
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Vindicate

Some of those will fare better than others. Force of Will is not on the reserved list and is played in exactly one format. As Legacy wanes, so will it. Stoneforge will hold a bit better, as she’s still excellent in Cube and EDH, and some small handful of pie-in-the-sky dreamers will hold out that she’ll be Modern legal some day. Reserved list cards will be more resilient, but won’t be immune to slow declines. If at some point in the future Legacy is no longer a main event at SCG opens, how many people are really going to want Lion’s Eye Diamond anymore? City of Traitors? Take a look at Llawan and Terravore. This type of behavior will be far more common than the other direction once we cross the tipping point and Legacy begins to contract rather than expand.

Capture

 

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As a Legacy-invested player, what should you do about all of this? I’d start by picking a deck or two that you enjoy playing and making sure you’ve got it together. Then I’d start going through your collection and making sure you aren’t hoarding things unnecessarily. Do you have a pile of Daze or Swords to Plowshares? Into the binder they go. Unlikely to ever play the type of deck that JtMS is in? Maybe you consider putting that up for trade as well. Start considering what you actually foresee yourself using, and more importantly, what you foresee yourself never using.

You don’t need to firesale any of this. The TNN or Karakas can sit quite comfortably in a binder sleeve for over a year without any reasonable offers and that’s just fine. You aren’t looking to get out immediately, because the decline isn’t going to happen immediately. You just want to position yourself to capitalize on solid trades that may not come around again.

Before everything sinks, some prices will jump. There will be more spikes on Legacy cards. This is certain. But it doesn’t hurt to put the goods out there, just to see what types of offers you get. Maybe you’ve got a single Exploration that you’ve had socked away that someone ends up offering you a Karn Liberated for. A single Exploration decaying from the forces of entropy isn’t going to help you, but maybe you really needed that fourth Karn for your Tron list. You can’t get trade offers on cards that you don’t have available to the public.

I will reiterate that this is all long-term perspective. If someone is offering you a True-Name Nemesis for two shocks, take it. Don’t be afraid to make good trades that you can capitalize on in short order. What I wouldn’t do is pick up a City of Traitors just to have it, especially if it means shipping cards you would otherwise actually be playing with in Standard and Modern.

When you’re looking at cards to consider putting in the binder, remember our chat about Bayesian principles. Think probabilistically. What’s more likely, that this Submerge is going to be $20 overnight, or that it will slowly become less tradeable and less valuable?

I especially look forward to feedback this week.

Update – 3/20

I’ve received more comments on this article than any I’ve ever written, and it spawned quite a Reddit thread as well. There seems to be a lot of miscommunication about my message. I realize I haven’t communicated my ideas fully, and for that I apologize. Allow me to expand on the topic and hopefully do a better job making my point.

First, let me be explicitly and absolutely clear – nothing is happening to Legacy anytime soon. It won’t happen in a year. It may not even start within three or four years. This is not an immediate concern. It’s more of a “looking to the horizon” topic. Legacy has enjoyed a growth period of varying degrees for the last few years, just as all of Magic has. That’s also why we’ve seen the card prices rise as they have. I’m not telling you the death of Legacy is going to occur overnight or even within 12-24 months, so please don’t walk away with that message.

I do not want you to run out and sell all of your Legacy cards. There is no need to unload your favorite deck or dual lands this instant. Please don’t trade Underground Seas for Chandra Pyromasters. What I’m suggesting is that you consider looking through your stock and identifying what may be excessive. Definitely keep your set of Force of Wills. Maybe you put your three extra copies in your binder though. Do you have Explorations lying around that you can never see yourself casting? Perhaps instead of resting in your “never sees the light of day” pile at home, slide them into a binder sleeve. They could easily sit there for months at which point you decide you want to use them, and no harm done. Or, perhaps they snag a wandering eye and you pick up something you really wanted for them. Remember that Magic is a commodity market. This True-Name Nemesis is no different than that True-Name Nemesis. Trading away cards now doesn’t mean you can never have them in the future. Just because you take a good deal on your Mox Diamonds today, it doesn’t mean you can never have them back. If you decide in eighteen months that you absolutely need them, there will still be copies in the market for you to acquire.

I am not unaware of the emotional bond people have with this format. I get it. I really do. I play Legacy myself and I enjoy it thoroughly. You can do the most degenerate, wildest, coolest stuff this side of a Mox. People have far more attachment to their Legacy decks than Standard, and for very good reason. It took you far longer to build and cost you way more. I’m not telling you it’s suddenly irrelevant. All I want to do is make you aware that it may not always be the healthy, thriving format it is today. Sometime. Eventually. But not today, and not tomorrow.

Yes, SCG does a lot to support the format. They make money on it. Players play it. It’s popular. But did any of you notice that in 2013 there were multiple SCG events where Legacy wasn’t available? They’re not unaware of these concerns. SCG will milk this cow for all it’s worth, but when attendance dries up too much they’ll drop their buylist prices, sell out of their staples, and shutter Legacy at opens. Think of it like this – SCG can typically only manage to run one major event on Sunday. Do they run Legacy, which attracts 150-300 people, or Modern, which attracts 800?

Llawan and Terravore are not played in Legacy anymore, you are all correct. They were a component of the metagame, and have drifted away. Subsequently, their prices dropped significantly. My point of using these as examples are that these are two cards that were not caught up in the Legacy boom. Cards like Rishadan Port and Wasteland have exploded to keep pace with the current demand of Legacy. Meanwhile, cards that *used* to be part of Legacy have trailed off significantly. It’s easy to say that Llawan simply isn’t part of the metagame anymore, but three years ago she looked like she was an important format role-player. She was trading at $20+. Merfolk was and had been popular and Llawan felt fairly stable. Then the format shifted and Llawan’s usefulness declined. This is the point at which we are interested. If her $20 price tag was somehow inherent and separated from how playable she is in Legacy, she wouldn’t have dropped much. She did drop though, and that tells us something. All of these expensive Legacy cards are supported by their demand from that format. When that demand dries up, so will their prices. It certainly feels like City of Traitors is simply too powerful to not be in Legacy forever, but times change in ways that are difficult to predict. My point with these examples isn’t to show you why or how Legacy will fall out of favor, but to show you what will happen when it does.

This last point is something that I left out of the original post that I should have included. The most important reason that Legacy is not sustainable is the reserved list. I’m not looking to get people all hot and bothered, so let’s not go down that road today. It does have a drastic and severe impact on the format though, making it hard to ignore. Here’s the deal: dual lands are the backbone of the format. Our current supply of dual lands is it. It is the total amount we as a community have and will ever have. It is impossible to add more dual lands to the market. That means only two things can happen: 1. the number available can stay the same or 2. it can decline. Given that Magic cards are flimsy pieces of cardboard, it’s a safe bet that the number will slowly decline. Cards are damaged or lost or forgotten in basements and attics. Slowly but surely, the most essential cards to the format will become harder and harder to find.

Wizards isn’t looking to one-up these either. They’ve had their chance. If they wanted to make Legacy viable, they would have taken what steps they could already. But they didn’t. Instead, they introduced Modern. In Modern, they never have to deal with any of these issues ever again. Yes, some of the card prices are absurd. For right now. They aren’t in a rush to fix things. We think on a scale of months while they think on a scale of years. Yes, people don’t have beloved Modern decks. Yet.  I’m guessing most people didn’t have beloved Legacy decks when that first became its own format either. Wizards has chose how our timeline plays out, and we’re all just left living in it.

Don’t think about Magic a year or two from now. Think about Magic five years from now. A decade from now. That’s the Magic I’m thinking of this week.

GP Richmond: A Tale of Two Tournaments

By: Jared Yost

Unless you were on site, you would not have known that Starcity had to split GP Richmond up into two areas of the Richmond Convention Center. One room was the Green and White flights, and another room was the Pink Flight. As you might guess this caused a lot of controversy amongst the tournament attendees. Based on when you signed up for the tournament you may not have gotten to play in the same hall as your friends were. I was assigned to Pink and none of my friends were. Thus I was separated from my group that I came down with for the tournament all day. Despite this I had a really great time and wanted to share my experience with all of you.

What I Played

I went 4-3 Day 1 with UWR Midrange and then dropped after Round 7. Technically my final game Round 7 was a tie however I decided to concede the game to my opponent because we were both X-2’s at that point and neither of us would have made Day 2 with a tie.

Here is my list:

25 LANDS
4 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Island
2 Mountain
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Eiganjo Castle
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Plains
1 Tectonic Edge

13 CREATURES
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Grim Lavamancer
3 Geist of Saint Traft
3 Vendilion Clique

19 INSTANTS and SORCERIES
4 Lightning Helix
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Path to Exile
2 Mana Tithe
2 Electrolyze
2 Remand
1 Izzet Charm
1 Boros Charm

3 OTHER SPELLS
2 Batterskull
1 Isochron Scepter

SIDEBOARD
2 Wrath of God
1 Wear / Tear
2 Runed Halo
1 Spellskite
1 Shadow of Doubt
2 Aven Mindcensor
1 Baneslayer Angel
2 Counterflux
1 Damping Matrix
2 Threads of Disloyalty


This list is a facsimile of the deck that made the Top 8 of GP Portland last year and I liked it because I was familiar playing the list and also thought it would be a good choice against the various Affinity and Zoo decks that I foresaw playing against.

Based on the Top 8 I bet most of you are wondering why I wanted to run Wrath of God over Anger of the Gods. I thought about this choice for a long while and still decided to run Wrath over Anger because of Tarmogoyf and the possibility of seeing Thrun throughout the day. Wrath still worked pretty well for me but I never played Pod to test out how good it would be against that archetype.

I don’t want to harp on about my playing too much (since I’m sure you all want to hear about financial analysis) so here is how I did:

Wins:
2x Affinity
1x Mirror (UWR Midrange)
1x Scapeshift (Generic List)
Losses:
1x RG Tron
1x Scapeshift (Primeval Titan version)
Tie (then conceding afterwards):
Faeries

I did not get matched up against Pod, Splinter Twin, or RUG Twin at all, which makes me slightly disappointed since I wanted to see if I could win against those match ups. Luckily I avoided B/W Tokens, Living End, and Bogles, which are my deck’s hardest matchups. I also didn’t play against any random brews so I feel like I was able to get a lot of good playtesting at GP Richmond.

In retrospect, combo was a great choice for the tournament (thus why Pod got five of the top eight slots). However, combo and Affinity weren’t the only takeaways from the weekend. Modern is a wide open format despite the Top 8 results. There are a ton of decks you can play, and similar to Legacy the format rewards people for knowing how to play their deck really well. I was able to win a lot of games by just auto-piloting my deck through the usual motions due to all the interactions I discovered playtesting with it. I would bet the same is true for everyone playing Pod, Affinity, and U/R Twin that made the Top 8. They are all tricky decks to play at the best of times, so knowing your deck really well definitely gives you an advantage over less experienced players.

Card Financial Analysis from the Tournament Floor

Ironic that my tie is to the deck that people were laughing at and calling tier 2. Well, let me inform you – the person that I conceded to did make Day 2. Faeries can still sling some cardboard pretty well and my deck just happened to have a bad matchup against them. Bitterblossom isn’t an $80 card but that doesn’t mean that it is complete garbage. I would still watch out for Faeries pieces to move in the future. Some cards that I saw in the person’s deck that interest me included:

Creeping Tar Pit
Tectonic Edge
Mutavault
Spellstutter Sprite
Cryptic Command
Vendilion Clique

I would bet that out of these Vendilion Clique and Tectonic Edge are the safest in terms of going up in price and then holding onto their price until a reprint.

Based on my own matchups, and in addition to what I was hearing from other players, I want to target the following cards for future growth:

Pod:
Spellskite
Birds of Paradise
Restoration Angel
Chord of Calling

Affinity:
Etched Champion
Glimmervoid
Inkmoth Nexus
Blinkmoth Nexus
Arcbound Ravager

Scapeshift:
Scapeshift
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Primeval Titan

Merfolk (this deck went undefeated Day 1):
Aether Vial
Master of Waves
Master of the Pearl Trident
Lord of Atlantis
Phantasmal Image

On the trading floor, I was able to scrounge through $1 to up to $10 binders for deals. This was completely worth it. I was able to pick up Chain Lightnings for $6 HP, 4 out of the 5 Medallions (every color except for white) for $5 each, Chokes for $0.50, a playset of Scapeshifts for $36, and Japanese foil Myr Enforcer and Frogmite for $2 each. Unfortunately only one vendor had these types of binders but I was still able to get a lot for my money while on the tournament floor.

Everything else cardwise for Modern was totally over priced. One crazy card spike was Runed Halo, which went up to $15. Many dealers sold out of these during the tournament. I myself played two of them because they help my matchup against Bogles and Storm. I saw later that they also went up to $15 online yet I don’t think this price will be sustained. They are great sideboard tech at their best, so unless Torpor Orb is soon to become a $15 card I would not want to be picking up Runed Halos right now. Some of the cheapest deals were coming from Channel Fireball who were selling Celestial Colonnades for $17 each and offering great buylist prices for many Modern staples. I offloaded a bunch of Genesis Waves and Sigg, River Cutthroats to them for $3 each buylist which I thought was pretty good.

You could also find great deals on other products. Troll and Toad was selling Dragon Shield 100 count boxes for $8 each which is 20% off the usual going rate. I picked up a few boxes of these because you almost never see Dragon Shields that cheap.

Surprisingly, the Eternal Witness playmat that I received from GP Richmond is going anywhere from $55 to $80 based on complete eBay listings. If you didn’t do so well at the tournament, take solace in the fact that the playmat and GP Batterskull that you received (which is going for $30 at Starcity and anywhere from $35-$45 on other websites) more than paid for the basic tournament entry of $40.

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All in all, it was a great weekend to find deals and discover which Modern cards are currently trending. I will be looking towards picking up pieces of Modern decks I am working on building (like Pod and Affinity) in anticipation of the summer and more Modern tournaments. Modern is a wide open format, so the field could change significantly going into the summer, but I have a good feeling that I will still be playing UWR Midrange going forward. Even though a lot of my games went to time during the rounds of the tournament it is the deck I know best how to play and I believe that this will lead me to more Modern success.

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