So I think we need to be honest: while a lot of the attention and coverage is on the triple Grand Prix in Vegas and all the associated silliness, there’s a lot still going on, especially as this is Announcements Week!
I’m not here to remind you of what’s happened. If you have a Twitter account, if you even glance at the Magic subreddit, if you engage at all the you’ll read this and not need me to tell you the base news, but there are some things worth taking away from all the stuff that’s gone on.
I’m going to be referring to this site quite often for the next year or so: the ‘Coming Soon’ page. This is a list of what’s coming out and when, though some specific dates aren’t on there, it’s at least a month/year listing.
Financially speaking, there’s a whole lot of things to be aware of. It’ll be up to you about what action to take.
The Masters Sets
We’ve had expensive times in Magic before. I don’t think we’ve had anything to compare to this, though. In one 12-month period, we will have had Modern Masters 2017, Iconic Masters, and 25th Anniversary Masters, or Masters 25 as they are calling it, and I devoutly hope a better name comes along before then. I get that it has to say ‘Masters’ in there someplace, to continue the naming convention, but wow that makes for awkward branding.
Those three sets represent 747 reprinted cards, in just one year. There might be some overlap, there might not.
Why we care: Reprint risk has been at an all-time high lately, and this is a pure minefield. Something like Conspiracy would at least have some new cards, but this is all reprints and all will likely have the one-foil-per-pack setup we’ve gotten used to.
I don’t know what they are going to print and speculation is rampant. We’ve had a lot of reprints covered in the Masterpiece series (more on that in a second) but right now, I’m taking stock of what I’ve accumulated and if the value has appreciated enough, I’m going to look at moving it. This many reprints in this short of time is a minefield, and I want to minimize what’s going to hurt. I don’t think you can escape, if you have a lot of cards you’re holding long-term.
From the Vault: Transform
One of the things that’s come up over the years is the logistical difficulties of printing double-faced cards, and how safe those are from being reprinted. I wonder if anyone thought this would be the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. There’s only 92 cards that are completely double-sided, and 59 of those are from the last two years. Will they have fixed the terrible appearance of FTV? Will these somehow curl on both sides?
Why we care: The quick consensus seems to be that Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is going to be the expensive card of the set, and Delver of Secrets seems like an easy inclusion…and then what? I freely admit that I’d been quietly picking up foils of Archangel Avacyn, and that seems likely to take a hit. Are we going to get the Arilinn Kord reprint we didn’t need? There’s not a lot of value in double-faced cards, and what value there is, is about to take a major hit.
I think a Meld pairing is going to be included, but which? I think Hanweir, the Writhing Township is most likely the choice but who knows? Will we get the full Delver trilogy? Will they do something wild, like turn the Kamigawa flip cards into full transform cards? Who knows. Would we even care? I highly doubt the prices of old flip cards would budge if new double-sided versions were premiered this way.
The third Un-set: Unstable
I’m exceptionally torn about this. On one hand, playing with either of the first two silver-bordered sets was an amazingly enjoyable experience. On the other, I think I would pay full price to draft this…twice? Three times, tops? We have a recent example of how this model doesn’t always work: Conspiracy: Take the Crown. It’s a lot of fun, a unique draft experience, it’s got its share of valuable cards, and yet you can still get boxes dirt cheap.
Why we care: The basic lands. When we get around to opening these packs, we are going to expect some sort of unique land design. I don’t think they can match, much less excel, the standard set by Unhinged’s minimalist approach or the beauty of John Avon’s work. I do think these will look…nice. Pretty, even. But they will need to carry all of the value, since none of these cards will be worth anything else. Foils will likely not carry much weight either, as you can’t put these in Commander decks. How many thousands of Unstable cubes will need to be created for this to be valuable?
The beginning of single-set blocks and the return of Core sets
This might be the biggest news of all, aside from the leaked cards. We’ve had things sort of like this before, such as a standalone third set (Rise of the Eldrazi, Avacyn Restored) or the big-big-small model of Return to Ravnica block, but this is going to be interesting. Sets will be opened for three months and that’s it. No more 6:2:1 of the three-set block, or the 3:1 ratio of two-set blocks. This is one and done. Supply will be pretty clear at that point. We also get Core sets back, which means reprint mania!
Why we care: I like the single-set model because I don’t have to worry about that trickle of packs during the second set. For example, as we go into Hour of Devastation, does the small amount of Amonkhet being opened mean the price of Anointed Procession will keep trending downwards? Core sets will likely be on the modern model of some reprints and some new cards, keeping the set interesting while providing a place to reprint stuff that might not have fit, flavor-wise, into some other block. Think of Stifle or Inquistion of Kozilek in Conspiracy 2.
The Ixalan Leaks
So someone who’s working on test prints for Ixalan (the set is three months away, the cards should pretty much be set in their wording, barring emergencies) decided to snap a couple of photos and spread the word. This is wrong and bad but not something that we can ignore.
Why we care: We’re about to get a new tribal-based block, with some interesting color shifts. Merfolk in green. Vampires in white! DINOSAURS! We are also about to get tribal Commander decks in August, so if stuff avoids reprints in that set and this, it’s got nowhere to go but up.
The Commander decks worry me, because, again, that’s a lot of reprints. Foils are probably safe, but only if they couldn’t possibly be in Ixalan. Something like Obelisk of Urd, where the nonfoil is an easy inclusion into a Commander product, but the keyword is ruling it out of Ixalan.
Masterpieces becoming rarer
Someone at Wizards must have said, “Holy crap, we’re already down to printing Divert as a super-mythic alternate frame chase card? We need to throttle back.” So Masterpieces will be back, just not in every single set. FTV: Masterpiece is probably just a couple of years away.
Why we care: Standard will be a little more expensive now without chase cards goosing the value of the product. I think this is the worst side effect of a good change. We’re too used to this, and it’s in our best interest to have this be something we are excited for, a bonus, instead of an expectation.
Cliff is an avid kitchen table player who’s loving the Drake Haven deck in FNM. He’s been at this since late 1994 and doesn’t appreciate being called iconic, though he’s extremely likely to build a foil Unstable cube. Find him on Twitter @WordOfCommander.