Commander 2013

It’s finally here; what was promised to us way back in 2011. A new set of Commander decks has arrived, complete with new toys to play with and to spend a lot more money on.

Commander has really taken off, enjoying a growth period that Wizards really wants to encourage. They’ve shown their eagerness to push Commander by releasing cards in each expansion, such as Theros, that are perfect for the format. If you’re new to 100-card decks, buy any of these new product and have a blast.

For more experienced players, the retail price of $150 for all five decks is a big cost. Is it worth it?

Before I get to the discussion, let’s see if I did well in some of my predictions a few weeks back.

I never would have thought Sol Ring would come around again, but I’m strongly in favor of Swiftfoot Boots being reprinted over and over. I’m impressed that they gave us new Zombie and Bird legends, and enable new strategies using the Command Zone. Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

I was right about a Naya beast legend, wrong about Angels and Sphinxes (ugh, Sharuum *again*?) and totally wrong about fetchlands. C’est la vie.

Perhaps the big surprise is the Portal:Three Kingdoms reprints. These cards have popped up before: Cao Cao and Sun Quan in FTV: Legends, Xiahou Dun as a judge foil, Loyal Retainers and Diaochan, Artful Beauty in Commander’s Arsenal, and now three legends (Hua Tuo, Honored Physician, Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon”, and Lu Xun, Scholar General) plus three spells (Spoils of Victory, Strategic Planning, Borrowing 100,000 Arrows). None of these are overpowered legends, though I can easily see someone building a control deck around Lu Xun.

I would expect the prices of these reprints to stay reasonably low. Their original incarnations won’t budge much (see Loyal Retainers,) but these will be available.

As I mentioned last time, the price spikes in the sealed Commander sets from 2011 is due to both the Legacy playability of the cards as well as the sheer value of the rest of the cards. For example, in the 2011 Heavenly Inferno deck, Kaalia of the Vast, Sol Ring, and the Command Tower make up the MSRP, while everything else is a bonus. True-Name Nemesis

There is a lot of value in the five 2013 decks, and the flag bearer is the Grixis deck, since True-Name Nemesis and Baleful Strix are in there. Those, plus Thraximundar and Sol Ring, easily put you over MSRP.

True-Name Nemesis alone is pre-ordering for around $40. That is more than the MSRP. More than any other card in this set. I can’t see it holding this price for long, not when big box stores like Target get product. Scavenging Ooze is the historical example, and that hit a high around $40 before tapering off and getting reprinted.

It doesn’t seem like you can go wrong buying the Grixis deck and moving the singles, especially while the hype and demand is at its peak. With the price of Nemesis and Strix being so high, this looks to be the chase deck and might well depress the price of everything else inside. I’d get rid of everything I could immediately. Sell into the hype, as Jason Alt likes to say.

Again, everything is gravy… if you can move it.

As someone who bought eight of the first decks, allow me to toss this stone from my glass house: I will be trading for specific singles this time around, not buying complete decks. The reason is because aside from some of the brand new cards, I don’t need anything from these sets. I’ve still got most of those cards sitting in a box.

I know, I know. I could buy the deck that has what I want and trade away everything else.

The problem is that it took me 18 months to find someone who wanted to trade for my Commander Sol Ring. It sat in my binder forever! I preach patience but really, that drove me crazy. It is possible to extract the value from the decks, but the process is not a fast one. Keep in mind that lots of other people will be trying to do the exact same thing, and Wizards has indicated that they will reprint these decks if the demand is there. Unexpectedly Absent

So this weekend I’m going to start trying to trade for a few select cards. I suspect that the Legacy chase cards will be True-Name Nemesis, Unexpectedly Absent, and Sudden Demise. Unexpectedly Absent is fantastic if you have WW open and they use a shuffle effect; cast it for zero in response and put whatever on top of their library, which results in them being forced to shuffle it away. Keep an eye on Angel of Finality, because it’s cheaply costed, an effective beater, and has a very relevant ability. You’re paying two colorless more than Rest In Peace and getting a 3/4 flyer!

If you don’t want to spend the cash on the decks, you’ll be fine. If you’re a Curse player, you’ll be able to trade for the new ones cheaply. If you want one of the new legends, you’ll found one before too long. If it’s the last two 8-drop forces you crave, they won’t be difficult to find.

Before you run out and spend your cash for the value stuffed into these decks (and there’s good value!), do yourself a favor and evaluate which cards you want. Singles may be the better path for you.

What Good is Money if You Can’t Spend it?

This past week I realized I had no good winter footwear, and given that I live in Buffalo, this was a problem that needed solving. I set out on a search with a pretty good idea of what I was looking to purchase. After viewing somewhere in the ballpark of 7,000 shoes (thanks Zappos!), I hadn’t found anything I liked for an amount of money I was comfortable laying out. I did find one pair that was exactly what I wanted, but they were about two to three times more than the budget I had set for myself. It was while I was moving some cards around and thinking about the shoes that I skimmed past some duals in my trade binder. Suddenly, the answer was clear. Within two days I had sold a few duals and purchased the shoes. Shoe Tree

My experience refreshed in me the idea that it was sometimes completely ok to take cash out of my collection sometimes, not just always roll profits over into more stock. I am not alone in this practice. Cliff Daigle, the writer of Casual Fridays here on, just sold several Ulamogs in order to subsidize washing machine repairs. After all, what is the point of squeezing value out of these cards if we can’t make use of it every once and a while?

It’s very easy to get caught up in the process of expanding your collection. We focus on making good trades, searching for the next bubble that’s about to burst, flipping collections, buying low, and selling high. The entire activity can feel rather insulated if you never step back and consider it in the grander scheme of things. There’s an interesting cognitive dissonance that occurs with some players with regards to how they treat Magic money and real money.

You may haggle in trades over $1 worth of value on a $40 trade, but blow cash on lottery tickets every week. Maybe you go out to the bars every Saturday and drop $100 on $20 worth of alcohol. Perhaps your financial vise is a $6 cup of coffee every morning that you could easily make at home or work. Whatever the case, it’s not inconceivable for one to be fastidiously stringent with regards to their Magic transactions, but sloppy with actual currency elsewhere in life. The expression “Penny wise, pound poor” comes to mind.

This mental compartmentalization of types of assets is what occasionally prevents some Magic players from being aware of their ability to cash parts of their collection out to finance real life activity. Has there ever been a time in which you told yourself you couldn’t buy a new game and chose to pirate it instead, all while sitting four feet from $10,000 worth of Magic cards? Don’t be afraid to capitalize on some of that value you’ve accumulated through shrewd trading and speculating. 

Tropical Island

I don’t feel bad about selling duals in particular either. To begin with, there aren’t many players in my area that will even trade for them. My local scene is very Standard heavy, as I’m sure many these days are, with 95% of my trade partners restricting themselves to the roughly 25 Standard pages of my trade binder and ignoring the 200 non-Standard pages. I also don’t feel bad about the lands possibly appreciating in value. In the next two years, how much more could they be worth? $20, $30 maybe? I am in essence paying myself $20 not to buy shoes that I need. That seems silly.

Remember also that Magic cards are a commodity in nature. While that carries with it a great deal of implications, how does it matter in this context? It means that this Tarmogoyf is no different than that Tarmogoyf. Just because you sell a currently-unused goyf today for $100, that does not mean that you can’t own the card again down the road. (Nearly) all Magic cards are completely replaceable. When you remove emotion from the equation and understand objectively that selling a card doesn’t mean it is gone forever, you’ll find yourself far more able to occasionally let go.

To be clear, I’m not claiming that you should be looking to ship cardboard every time you want to buy a sandwich. I was comfortable selling what I did because they represented a small portion of my total inventory. If a few duals were 10% of my Magic assets, I wouldn’t be making that type of move. When what you’re selling won’t even be missed from your collection though, don’t feel bad about letting the cards provide something for you that you actually need. Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Your takeaway from all this should be that your Magic collection represents what can be a considerable amount of real value. Cards that are collecting dust and taking up space in trade binders can easily be a good chunk of the cost of whatever it is you’ve been eyeing recently, whether it’s a new mattress, car repairs, fancy jeans, or the latest video game. While I’d recommend you avoid doing it frequently if you want to continue growing your collection, don’t be afraid to dip in occasionally. 

Mid-Week Card Watch

  • Nykthos was seen splashing around GP Antwerp this weekend. It didn’t manage to Top 16, but I doubt this is the last we’ve seen of it in the format. You know what was in 10 of the top 16 decks? Spellskite.
  • Zur the Enchanter saw a huge spike a week or two ago. His price hasn’t settled yet, but it looks like he will be somewhere between $7-$15.
  • Mutavault started climbing from it’s low of ~$12 and hasn’t stopped yet. It’s currently pushing $20, and $25 is not a far cry.

The Greater Fool Theory

“Jason” people are always asking me “why are your finance articles so boring and heady when your articles over on Quiet Speculation are so fun and so closely resemble fart jokes?” I honestly don’t know how to answer that. I suppose my goal with this series is to delve a bit into some of the things I’ve learned over the years and write a serious article series just to keep people guessing. After all, isn’t that the greatest possible fart joke there is?

Joking aside, I want to launch into a topic that may help you not end up making poor investments in the future. I think there are two types of speculators in the markets, and both are essential to the process. You want to be one of those kinds of speculators and the other kind you do not want to be. At all. Let’s name the two kinds up front and then talk finance.

The first kind of speculator we will call an “Initiator”. If that term sounds somewhat arbitrary I want to assure you that’s only because it is. It’s totally arbitrary. I have a great name for the other kind of speculator but I had to just wing it for this one. I hope it sticks. It certainly sounds cool – you want to be an “Initiator” don’t you? Sure you do. Initiators initiate things. They take initiative. You want to be both of those things.

The other kind of speculator has a few different names. One of them is “bagholder”. Is that equally evocative? I hope so- you don’t want to be a bagholder. Bagholders are trying to sell Master of Waves for $14 on TCG Player right now and no one wants them. Bagholders are pretty upset about this because they bought Master of Waves at $15 when it was on its way to $25 and they thought they were pretty slick. They saw the price going up and thought “hey, me too!” and now they’re struggling to only lose a dollar on the hottest card of last weekend. What happened?

Well, put simply, they didn’t take the initiative. There is a theory in economics that helps us know when to buy and when to sell a card like Master of Waves that seemed like it was on its way to $40 just one short week ago. It’s the eponymous “Greater Fool Theory”

On a market gone mad

A lot of people watched the coverage of Pro Tour Dublin and thought “Wow, that Mono-Blue devotion deck looks incredible”. Thassa shot up from $12 to $25 overnight. Nightveil Specter went from bulk to $5, and Tidebinder Mage shot up from $1 to $6 at its peak. Team Starcity was all over those cards and raised their prices. When that happened, all hell broke loose on the markets. There was a sudden run on those cards. Many stores cancelled or modified orders because they didn’t want to “lose” money selling into such a price disparity. They were perfectly happy getting $1 for Tidebinder Mage 24 hours earlier, but that’s another article. Master of Waves went from $5 to $10 to $15 to $20 to $25 some places in a ridiculous frenzy of buying over a 48 hour period. If you saw that they were $20 most places and $25 others, you were smart to buy in at $12-$15 if you could, right?

And since the prices were rocketing up so quickly that many sites didn’t have time to register the increments between $5 and $20, who on earth was selling at $12-$15?


On history repeating itself

Let me explain. I watched coverage like everyone else, but while many saw the next Jund, I saw the next UW Geists. When Dark Ascension came out, Huntmaster of the Fells was not a card anyone was excited about. It seemed like a durdly werewolf that took a lot of effort to flip back and forth and it wasn’t obvious where the card fit in. At the first few events where the set was legal, the card started to prove that even a small amount of advantage in the form of a wolf and some life made the card worth playing, but at the Pro Tour, no one was talking about Huntmaster of the Fells because Jon Finkel had broken the format.

Finkel took third place with a Delver of Secrets deck that utilized Dungeon Geists, Drogskol Captain, Phantasmal Image and Lingering Souls. The Drogskol Captain kept them from being able to target your Phantasmal Image and kill it, so you could either copy their best creature or make a bunch of copies of Dungeon Geists and keep their creatures tapped forever. The deck was all anyone wanted to talk about. The prices for Phantasmal Image, Dungeon Geists and even Drogskol Captain went up precipitously.

However, the deck would not rule Standard forever as everyone had anticipated. By early March, jund midrange and other Huntmaster decks were running roughshod and Delver decks took a different tack, dropping the durdly Dungeon Geists for more spells. A deck that took a PT by storm, was designed by Jon Finkel and looked invincible was nowhere to be seen.

It was with this in mind that I watched the coverage of Pro Tour Dublin and by Saturday morning, every copy of Nightveil Specter, Tidebinder Mage and Master of Waves I had were gone.

The greater fool theory

The greater fool theory is an economic theory that says, basically, that in a situation where the price of something is not driven by its actual intrinsic value (which isn’t $5 for Master of Waves but also isn’t $20) but by expectation and speculation, irrational buyers will set the price. Therefore irrational buyers will justify purchasing at a price that is above its likely intrinsic value by theorizing that someone even more irrational will come along and buy it from them. They are buying to sell to a greater fool than they are.

There is a problem with that. You’re taking a sure thing, like Master of Waves tripling and betting on something less sure, like Master of Waves quintupling. If you bought into Master of Waves around $5 (something I didn’t think was a good idea so all my copies came from packs) you had two choices. You could sell to a fool for $15 or hope to make $20.

However, fools had a much broader range of choices. They could buy in at $10 and hope their order wasn’t cancelled (good luck). They could buy in at $15 and hope to sell to a greater fool. They could buy in at $20 and try to trade them out at $20 when they arrived. They could stay out of it entirely, and if they had any $5 copies, they could hold onto them.

Why you sell at $15

Who is buying at $5 and $10? These are the Initiators. They either predicted the trend and bought at $5 or they saw the trend beginning and bought at $10. They took initiative in recognizing potential, and they initiated the precipitation of the price with their buying activity.

Now, the easy way to answer “Why do we sell at $15?” is to simply ask “Who is buying at $15?” Bagholders, that’s who! If people were able to sell at $15 that means people were buying at $15. Now, some of those were people intending to play with the cards, and in a sense they were kind of savvy since they bought the card before it hit $20 and therefore virtually made $5. But given the card’s eventual settling at $12, they virtually lost $3. The people who weren’t intending to play with the card and who bought in at $12-$15 thought they were being smart. You probably think they were being smart, too. After all, $25 wasn’t an unreasonable goal for the card and buying a $25 at $12 is 100% profit, right?

Not so fast. Let’s bring this all full circle. It may seem like those bagholders were buying into a guaranteed 100% profit, but they were in fact banking on being able to sell to a greater fool for $25. A spec is only worth what you can actually realize when you sell it, any other numbers are purely theoretical. If there aren’t enough greater fools buying the card at $25, did you actually realize a profit? Now, the fools who bought at $15 take less of a bath when the card maintains $20-$25, that’s true. But my analysis was that the Mono-Blue devotion deck was a deck, not the deck, and therefore the hysterical high point of $20 was likely very short-term. I realize I gambled, too, but I picked a wager where my worst case scenario was that I tripled up.

In summary, it’s sometimes best to sell a card like Master of Waves that you don’t feel is going to be able to maintain its peak price for long at a price point where you have all kinds of fools buying, both greater and lesser. Don’t speculate after a card has gone up a few times hoping that it will peak at a much higher price- to do so is to fall victim to the greater fool fallacy and to be left holding the bag.

  • A lot of people in the finance community are saying now is the time to buy Thoughtseize. I can’t agree. MODO redemption has not kicked in yet. MODO redemption is going to inject more copies into the market, diluting the supply. This will mitigate the demand for Thoughtseize in two ways. It will either lower the price or it will not be enough to bring it down. Injecting more copies is not going to ever bring the price up so you can only benefit by waiting. When the MODO redemption copies start to hit the market, if the price does not go down, buy. If it does, wait for it to go back up a smidge and then buy. You only benefit by waiting.
  • M14 is about to be completely forgotten. Redemptions have slowed and boosters are not selling as briskly. This may be the floor for Mutavault. More mono-colored decks means people can get ballsier with their manabases and Mutavault is seeing play. This is an eternal-playable card and this is the cheapest they’re likely to be, ever. A reprint is extremely unlikely.
  • I think the weapons are bad specs. Yes, I realized this after I bought a big pile of Hammer of Purphoros. Thanks for reminding me. Even as nutty as Bident is (in that one deck), it’s likely to be a 3-of max and more likely a 2-of. Couple that with it having been a giveaway card and the other weapons being in pre-cons and you have a recipe for price stagnation.

That’s all for this time. Join me next time where we’ll discuss the Keynesian Beauty Contest.

Modern Masters – Current Trends and Future Prospects

This week I would like to delve into a topic that I feel hasn’t been discussed much lately – Modern Masters.


Modern Masters was released June 7th of this year and was a special edition set similar to Chronicles. Unlike Chronicles, this time Wizards wanted to get it right and provide us with a set of all reprints without tanking the prices of the cards. The reprints chosen not only resulted in a great limited environment where players were eager to buy boxes to draft, but also released into the world more copies of Modern staples like Vendilion Clique, Tarmogoyf, Dark Confidant, and other powerful cards that are the backbone of the Modern format.

Chronicles had a much bigger impact on the game than many of us realize. Not all players may recall exactly what happened (or have been around for it), so I will try to lay out the basic events that helped shape many decisions Wizards would make regarding Modern Masters.

In 1995, Wizards was succeeding greatly with marketing and selling their Magic: The Gathering CCG product. They realized that a lot of newer players existed that wanted to be able to play with cards from the early releases on since 1993. Unfortunately, the print runs for the first sets were very small because Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast did not know if Magic would be a successful card game or not. In order to appeal to this ever growing market of the game, Wizards decided to release another set with a considerably larger print run.

Chronicles only appealed to newer players because it did not have cards such as Mana Drain, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Maze of Ith, or Mishra’s Workshop – imagine if it had! The price of these cards would be VERY different today if they had been included with Chronicles. They did not want to include Alpha or Beta cards with this release either – those sets were strictly for collectors who bought into the first run of the game and helped to get the game off the ground. Only specific cards from Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, and The Dark were included.

Following Chronicles release, there was a huge backlash from collectors. The secondary market value of cards reprinted in Chronicles was severely impacted. Many of the cards saw their value drop 60%-90% because they were reprinted in such large quantities. This upset quite a few collectors who had accumulated a great deal of the original printings, and consequently saw the value of their collections dashed.

In order to prevent further PR disasters like this from happening in the future, and to placate collectors who had lost a great deal with the printing of Chronicles, Wizards released the now-infamous reserved list as a promise to never again print certain cards in later expansions or core sets. A few years ago, the loophole was closed when the policy was expanded to include never printing these cards in any shape or form that is tournament legal (promos, duel decks, archenemy, etc.) To this day, Wizards hasn’t shown any sign of changing the policy, with staunch promises from several high-level employees that the reserved list is here to stay.

A common opinion is that the reserve List is a mistake, as Legacy will never be able to grow with it in place. Unfortunately, Wizards as a company cannot abolish the reserved list. There are many within the company’s walls that would like to change or remove it altogether, but their hands are tied.

Wizards created the Modern format as a panacea, which is free from the tyranny of the reserve list. Now they can go ahead and reprint any card in Modern-legal sets to resupply the market and make sure that there are enough copies of the cards floating around, since the reserve list only covers cards through Urza’s Destiny.

Modern Masters is the second experiment with reprints for Wizards. This time around, they wanted to make sure they got it right by establishing a few restrictions for how the set would be distributed, and at what price it would retail for.

Modern Masters was designed to have a limited print run to avoid a second coming of Chronicles, while still trying to appeal to both tournament and casual players by reprinting older cards that were beginning to increase in price due to their scarcity. The goal was to at least keep prices stable, or possibly even reduce prices slightly without completely cratering their secondary market value. Wizards did this by both limiting the availability of the set, as well as setting a higher-than-normal MSRP for boxes and packs.

I believe that we can all learn a lot about how mass reprints like Modern Masters will affect the market moving forward. The product was very popular and well-received, with the only public outcry being that there wasn’t enough product to go around (and also a few complaints about the sealed format).

I wanted to outline my longer term expectations for MM and which cards we should all look out for moving forward. I will delve into which cards Wizards was specifically targeting for price suppression, and see how Modern Masters has affected their prices. Let’s see if Wizards managed to accomplish their goal.


The Big Ones


Before Modern Masters release: $120
Four months After Modern Masters: $120

Tarmogoyf, the most iconic card from Modern Masters, has not seen a price decrease since Modern Masters has been released. Tarmogoyf never dropped in price – after the set was released, it even went up for a little while but has since leveled off to pre-MM levels. I think the price is an accurate reflection of the demand because Tarmogoyf is both a Modern and Legacy staple.

The reason that Tarmogoyf has not dropped in price is twofold. First, Tarmogoyf was reprinted as a mythic rather than a rare. This meant that it saw the least amount of new copies entering the market of any card in the set, on top of Modern Masters being a limited print run to begin with.

The second reason is that the player base of Magic as a whole, and the players getting into Modern and Legacy specifically, has only increased since Modern Masters was released. Wizards intended to not only reprint Modern staples for existing players, but increase the number of players in the format as a whole. This strategy appears to be working, as the price of other Modern staples like fetchlands have increased in price significantly. Tarmogoyf would undoubtedly have also followed this path if it was not reprinted.

The Future: Outside of a second Modern Masters or similar product, I don’t see Tarmogoyf getting any cheaper. They will retain their value and possibly even go up as Modern season approaches. They aren’t a target I would put cash towards unless you need to complete a playset, but if you can trade into extras with surplus stock it would definitely be a good idea.


Dark ConfidantDark Confidant

Before Modern Masters release: ~$50
Four months After Modern Masters: $75

Dark Confidant is an interesting case study from Modern Masters. It is the only reprint card to firmly rise in value! This is because those same factors that helped buoy Tarmogoyf’s price actually managed to increase the price of Confidant.

The Future: Since the reprint, his price has spiked to $75 and I’m not sure if this is the ceiling. Could Confidant hit $100 by next Modern season? Ravnica was opened a fair amount, much more than Future Sight, so there are more Confidants floating around than Tarmogoyfs. This will help to temper Skillrex’s price, but I could still see Confidant rising even further as more players enter the Modern scene.


Vendilion Clique

Before Modern Masters release: $50
Four months After Modern Masters release: $45

Due to the scarcity of Morningtide paired with heavy usage in Modern and Legacy, right off the bat Vendilion Clique commands a price much higher than is normal for a legend. In the time following MM, the price has indeed managed to drop a little bit because it does not see quite as much play as Tarmogoyf, Fetchlands, or other Modern staples. However the combination of rarity and the influx of players has prevented Clique from dropping too far. Demand remains high.

The Future: Similar to Tarmogoyf, I don’t see Clique getting much cheaper than it currently stands until the next reprint. A lot of people underestimated the amount of players that Modern Masters would draw towards Modern, so as the season approaches I can see these slowly ticking up in price.


The Swords

Sword of Fire and IceSword of Light and Shadow

Before Modern Masters release: Fire and Ice $50, Light and Shadow $35
Four months After Modern Masters release: $30 and $25, respectively

Even though the swords still command a solid price of $25+, they are the first reprints I’ve mentioned to have a taken a significant hit from being reprinted. The Sword of Fire and Ice reprint is 40% less than prior to Modern Masters, and Sword of Light and Shadow is about 30% less if you pick up the latest printing.

Originally, the sword’s prices were mainly kept up by casual demand since Darksteel was a hard-to-find set. Sword of Feast and Famine and Sword of War and Peace are in my opinion better tournament-worthy cards than the original swords, though based on a particular metagame any sword could be favored over another for a period.

The Future: I don’t really see a big change in the price of the swords unless there is a demand in Modern for protection from particular colors. Green is an important color to have protection from due to Jund, so Sword of Feast and Famine will probably be the sword to watch out for moving forward. The only copies of Feast and Famine that exist are those from Mirrodin Besieged, so they could be a good pickup ahead of next Modern season.


The Rest

This next section is a list of cards that are worth watching, as they all have strong potential to see an increase during next Modern season due to their playability in the format.

Cryptic Command

Before Modern Masters release: $35
Four months After Modern Masters release: $22

The Future: What a drop! Almost a 40% decrease in price since the Lorwyn high, Cryptic Command could see a jump next Modern season. The cost to pick up Cryptic isn’t too high right now, and it is a good trade target. Any blue control deck wants them, and some slower combo decks like Scapeshift are in the market as well.


Arcbound RavagerArcbound Ravager

Arcbound Ravager didn’t see quite as big of a drop as Cryptic Command, and he is the cornerstone of the Affinity deck. This is another one to watch because as Modern season approaches this card could see an uptick in demand and therefore an uptick in price. This card also occasionally makes a strong showing in Legacy, which will help to keep the price moving upwards over time.


Blinkmoth NexusMaelstrom PulseBlood MoonEngineered Explosives

Blinkmoth Nexus, Maelstrom Pulse, Blood Moon, Engineered Explosives

I’m keeping my eye on all four of these cards because not only are they played in Modern but they also make an appearance from time to time in Legacy as well. Having the support of two formats is no joke, as Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant can attest to. Being rare does limit the upper bound, but I expect all three of these cards to eventually crest $10 again, and possibly even more.


Academy RuinsGlen Elendra ArchmageKira, Great Glass-SpinnerSummoner's Pact

Academy Ruins, Glen Elendra Archmage, Kira, Great Glass-Spinner, Summoner’s Pact

These are another set of cards I will be keeping my eyes on that have dropped in price significantly but for a different reason. They are all strong causal cards in addition to being tournament playable. Casual demand has become a big part of predicting the price of a card. Kalonian Hydra and Archangel of Thune are good examples of this – they really aren’t even played in Standard and yet they are $20 mythics. I think the same could be true for several Modern Masters cards, since nearly every rare and mythic was $15 or higher at one point in their original printings. If I start seeing any movement in these cards as Modern season approaches I won’t hesitate to pick them up.


Path to ExileKitchen FinksSpell SnareLightning Helix

Path to Exile, Kitchen Finks, Spell Snare, Lightning Helix

I like speculating on uncommons from Modern Masters because I feel like these are the types of cards that have a lot of room to grow during Modern season next year. They’ve all experienced big drops from their original highs and can be acquired in trades as extra throw ins. Even purchasing extra copies of these for the right price could be a good call. Once Modern season gets going, they will all be seen across a variety of decks in the format. Any one of the uncommons could definitely spike. You won’t see a huge return on any individual copy, but doubling and tripling in price isn’t unfathomable. Jumping from $1 to $3 doesn’t sound impressive, but when you have 30 copies it will be. I’ve been grabbing extras anywhere I can.


It has been four months since Modern Masters was released. According to the raw numbers it looks like Wizards has achieved its goal of reducing prices overall while not crashing the market. Even though Tier 1 staples like Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant have leveled off or increased in price, many of the other staples have taken quite a hit from the set’s release, especially uncommons and rares that derived part of their price from casual play and just plain scarcity.

Over the next six months and as Modern season approaches, I expect many of the cards I mentioned to start ticking up in price as they become harder to find and more players need them for Modern tournaments. Eventually, Modern will become the new Legacy. This won’t happen for quite a few years because the reserved list exists – it is basically unavoidable. Wizards now knows that they can create sets like Modern Masters in order to keep a successful eternal format alive by reprinting scarce cards every so often. Luckily for us, these sets also open up plenty of financial opportunities to gather reprints once they hit their low points in anticipation of the following Modern season.