Insider: Getting Familiar With the Modern Masters Set

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Probably the biggest news this weekend wasn't the fact that Jund is really good in Modern - we all knew that. It was Aaron Forsythe's announcement of the Modern Masters set, which I emailed everyone about. The first spoiled card was Tarmogoyf. That gets everyone talking and we're going to talk this week about what we've deduced about the Modern Masters set - even though we only know one card for sure! There's a lot of shadow room that we can look into; find out what is and isn't there, due to the set size.

Reprints are probably good for you, even if you have a binder full of Goyfs.

First, this set doesn't come out for another nine months. In that time, there's an entire PTQ season. They announced this set well in advance of needing to cash out and they even stacked it in the favor of the person heavily invested in Modern staples. They created a demand for the cards and gave it to you! That was certainly nice of Wizards.

Reprints are probably good for you because the Modern market is small right now and could use a bit of growth. Yes, this will probably reduce the price of cards printed in the set, but it also increases the value of all the other Modern cards in your binder. This is a good thing, as many of them are unlikely to see reprints (more on this later!). The only card we KNOW will be in the set is Tarmogoyf, at Mythic rarity. That means that there will be a Goyf every five boxes of 24 packs, which means that it will be much more rare than Goyf was during the Time Spiral prizes on MTGO. Now I know that they're two different markets, but Goyf dropped from around 65 tix to about 43 tix, a drop of about 33%. That's all! They were being given out as prizes for Cube drafts for two weeks and the price, with Goyf in the rare slot, only dropped by a third. Sure, a third is a lot, but we've got to look at this as our only historical evidence and say that if you're holding Tarmogoyfs, you will probably not see a big drop in the price of your Goyfs.

Math time.

There will be 24 packs in a box at a price of $6.99. There are 36 packs of RTR in a box at $3.99 apiece. The boxes, then, are $168 instead of $143. That's not a big increase over the normal price, considering that you're going to get some really, really good cards instead of normal-powered stuff.

The average cost of a Return to Ravnica card is 26.6 cents.

The average cost of a Modern Masters card is 46.6 cents. One of those cards will be foil.

I am hopeful about the set because the cards are worth only a little under twice as much and I have a feeling that they are going to be worth, on average, a whole lot more. Let's put it this way - do you want to have the chance of opening the $50 card with mostly terrible and cheap cards in the booster? If so, you should get RTR packs. If you want to get a booster where you're much more likely to make up your cash with power uncommons, then Modern Masters is the better choice.  I have a strong sense that even at nearly double the price, it's going to make much more sense to crack packs of Modern Masters than it would be to crack Return to Ravnica.

A good rare is easy to find.

The biggest problem with the Modern Masters set is that there are so few rare slots. Only 53  and 15 Mythics. A grand total of 68 baller, awesome reprints with no filler. There are a lot more than 68 rares played in Modern, even if you limit yourself to anything before Zendikar. How about Elspeth, Knight-Errant? She'd be a Mythic, so there's two of fifteen slots next to the green monster. Dark Confidant? Sure, and rare at best. No reason that The Greatest couldn't be a Mythic, either. There are plenty of Legends that could absorb a Mythic slot; what about Vendilion Clique? Arcbound Ravager? And then we get to the rares, which are the bread that will sop up the expense of Modern. There's been talk about the Lorwyn filter lands in it, but that would make up nearly a fifth of the rares with just lands! I think it's safe to rule them out. Do as Sig says and get your Twilight Mires.

My most likely candidates for reprint as rares are Noble Hierarch, Cryptic Command, Vendilion Clique, Maelstrom Pulse, Knight of the Reliquary and Dark Confidant. Aaron hinted at Faeries battles in limited, which makes me think that Scion of Oona will show up, too. Those rare slots are going to fill up quickly. The spoiled art is obviously City of Brass, so there's another slot that gets filled. As an aside, don't we already have enough Cities in print? Are six editions not enough?

Uncommons are going to plummet in price.

If you've been flipping collections lately, I'm sure you know the joy of seeing Spell Snares in a box of junk. Those are ten dollar bills! There's a large pile of uncommons in Modern that are worth several dollars and I target them as most likely to drop in value. These include Kitchen Finks, Remand, Spell Pierce, Bloodbraid Elf and Desperate Ritual. Finks seem most likely, where a card like Desperate Ritual, with an obscure keyword, might not get consideration. We will also probably see Aether Vial reprinted again, though it just came out recently in the From The Vaults set.

While you are only opening a single rare, you're going to see three uncommons out of a pool of sixty in each pack. Math time, that means that you'll see a full set of sixty uncommons in each box (since each will have 72 uncommons, total). The price of the entire product must remain below $7 for people to avoid cracking and reselling, so the uncommons are going to suck up a lot of that price and drop down correspondingly. This is where you must be conscious of what is going to be reprinted and sell out accordingly.

Commons are anyone's guess.

Really, what commons see play in Modern? What's worth reprinting? I'm grasping for what any of those 106 commons could be. Lava Spike comes to mind. Little else does. If you've got an idea on this, I'd love to hear it.

The reason this isn't going to be like Chronicles

Chronicles is a bad set because most of the cards that got reprinted are awful.

Let's put aside the few, like City of Brass, Blood Moon and Tormod's Crypt, that would have been reprinted later anyway.

Do you know what prices were like for Legends cards? Even the worst Legends monsters were worth a lot of money and that's because Magic cards were bad and Magic players were bad. Let me give you a perfect example: Gabriel Angelfire. That is a bad card. That Angel was worth $40+ in Legends before his reprint because it was cool. Chronicles dropped its price to a few bucks and that's good in the long run because it just sped up what was going to happen to him anyway! There is no critical, competitive demand for cards like Gabriel and a $40 price tag would be unsustainable. The Elder Dragon Legends took a big hit in price and those are the most likely candidates for "would have retained set value," but come on - is someone gonna shell out $50 for Vaevictus Asmadi? As Magic players got smarter, a lot of hyped Legends cards plunged in value - even the ones that didn't see a reprint. Nobody is beating a path to Sunastian Falconer's door.

Modern Masters isn't going to be like Chronicles because the cards aren't going to suck. Pulling the all-stars from Modern history and reprinting them is going to be awesome. It's not going to have a lot of filler - we're looking at designers with four Master's Editions under their belts, so they know how to make good limited environments and how to rein in the Wall of Kelp reprints. Chronicles was almost all unsustainable filler and the money cards aren't the cards that were expensive in the first place - they're tournament-staple cards that people want older versions of. Modern Masters is going to be full of cards that you will actually want to open.

My really early prediction for what you should do with this set.

Hoard it. Buy it. Get as much preordered as you can. You are betting that each pack will contain $7+ worth of goodies, and I am confident that will be the case. This will be a popular product. This won't move the markets too much. That means that Kitchen Finks at $5 now may still be $2 later - how many power uncommons do you need to pull to see free packs? This is an exciting product and it's going to do a lot for Modern. Everyone is going to be surprised at how quickly this sells. Draft sets are $21 pre-tax at MSRP and with usual drafts going for $15 at many FNMs, this isn't much of a luxury good to stretch for. This is really big deal.

Until next week,

Doug Linn

Douglas Linn

Doug Linn has been playing Magic since 1996 and has had a keen interest in Legacy and Modern. By keeping up closely with emerging trends in the field, Doug is able to predict what cards to buy and when to sell them for a substantial profit. Since the Eternal market follows a routine boom-bust cycle, the time to buy and sell short-term speculative investments is often a narrow window. Because Eternal cards often spike in value once people know why they are good, it is essential for a trader to be connected to the format to get great buys before anyone else. Outside of Magic, Doug is an attorney in the state of Ohio.  Doug is a founding member of Quiet Speculation, and brings with him a tremendous amount of business savvy.

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10 thoughts on “Insider: Getting Familiar With the Modern Masters Set

  1. Best financial article I’ve read in a long time. Great job breaking down specific reasons for your points. Well thought out, well written, and excellent points all around. I was already excited about buying as much of this product as I could get my hands on. Now, I’m even more confidant than before. I agree with everything you said.

    Possible reprints I have thought of include:

    Sleight of Hand – this card was selling for 1-2$ at ptq’s last season because of how few copies players had.

    Inquisition of Kozilek




    Cranial Plating

    Spring Leaf Drum

    Hope that helps. I look forward to reading more updates to this topic as more information becomes available.

    Thanks so much!

  2. I do disagree w/r/t filter lands. Eventide was specifically called out for being unpleasantly high-priced.

    Also, remember that Aaron Forsythe also said that some cards are jumping rarities. Common Vials, Spell Snare, or Inquisitions could totally be a thing.

    1. You know, I wondered whether things would be moving DOWN in rarity. I reread what Aaron said and he seemed to indicate only mythic jumps, but it could be very likely that we see IoK at common.

    2. “Common Vials, Spell Snare, or Inquisitions could totally be a thing.” Does this make sense if the intention is to have a great draft experience with this product? I am no expert, hence the question, but having these cards at common slot might warp your drafting pool too much?

  3. I should ditch my maelstrom pulses? Is there anything in the $10-$20 range that we shouldn’t be moving out of now? Life from the loam dropped by a bu.nch recently

    1. I\’d hold onto Pulses at least through the middle of the PTQ season. Jund looks like the deck to beat at this point, and people need their Pulses for that deck!

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