This week sees the return of the Master's Edition sets to MTGO, just in time for American Thanksgiving. 4 pack sealed deck queues will run until the 28th, and 64 player draft events will run over the long weekend. When playing in these events, it's good to keep in mind the secondary market value of the cards that you crack. Below is a guide to the price of notable cards in each set, as well as some comments on limited play and other oddities.
As a rule of thumb a card worth 4 tix, essentially close to cost of a pack, is worth rare drafting. Keeping the pricier cards in mind when drafting will help you to "go infinite" and play in future drafts for free or at lower cost. Playing in more events cheaply gives you continued chances at cracking one of the high value foils. Unlike normal in-print sets, the foils in the MED sets can be priced at many multiples of the non-foil version's price.
All prices are from MTGOTraders and are current as of Wednesday November 21st, 2012. These prices will fall as a result of the events, but they provide a useful reference for those who will be playing MED I through IV sealed deck and draft.
A complete set of Master's Edition (MED) is priced at 164 tix. It was released at a time when the online player base was much smaller. It is also pretty bad for limited play as a standalone set, because it was meant to be played with 10th Edition. These factors have combined to create the situation where the set was only lightly opened, and Force of Will is the most expensive card in the digital economy as a result. Crack a foil version and it will definitely pay for a few drafts! Notably, Animate Dead and Lightning Bolt are reproduced here with their original art, which is why foil versions go for 7 and 6 tix respectively.
Cards over 4 tix:
- Foil Animate Dead ($7.0)
- Foil Ankh of Mishra ($5.0)
- Foil Armageddon ($4.9)
- Berserk ($4.19), Foil Berserk ($10.5)
- Foil Contagion ($4.0)
- Foil Diamond Valley ($8.0)
- Force of Will ($105), Foil Force of Will ($295)
- Foil Hydroblast ($4.0)
- Foil Hymn to Tourach ($18.0)
- Nevinyrral's Disk, ($5.52), Foil Nevinyrral's Disk ($15.2)
- Foil Ivory Tower ($4.45)
- Foil Lightning Bolt ($6.0)
- Foil Mishra's Factory ($6.0)
- Foil Moat ($10.2)
- Foil Pyroblast ($6.0)
- Sylvan Library ($7.9), Foil Sylvan Library ($21.75)
- Foil Thawing Glaciers ($7.75)
- Winter Orb ($5.12), Foil Winter Orb ($14.1)
Master's Edition 2 (MED2) is priced at 151 tix for the set. It heralded the printing of the original allied dual lands but otherwise the power level of this set is probably the lowest of all the Master's Editions. Like MED, limited play was again quite poor.
Creatures are such a huge part of Limited and it's only in recent years that WoTC has gotten a better at designing and costing them. Thus, MED2 has such notables as Adarkar Sentinel and Kjeldoran Skycaptain. To modern eyes these cards may seem mediocre, but both of them should pretty much make the cut every time in sealed deck.
Lastly, Gorilla Shaman was printed in this set as an uncommon, but due to its original paper printing in Alliances at common, it is legal for play in Pauper. That's why it carries such a high price. It is a fantastic sideboard card to bring in against Affinity builds, which rely heavily on the Mirrodin artifact lands.
Cards over 4 tix:
- Badlands ($13.42), Foil Badlands ($40.3)
- Foil Brainstorm ($15.0)
- Helm of Obedience, ($4.63), Foil Helm of Obedience ($12.75)
- Imperial Seal ($5.87), Foil Imperial Seal ($20.55)
- Mana Crypt ($12.05), Foil Mana Crypt ($48.2)
- Necropotence, ($4.89), Foil Necropotence ($13.45)
- Savannah ($24.42), Foil Savannah ($73.3)
- Taiga ($10.72), Foil Taiga ($32.2)
- Foil Temporal Manipulation ($6.0)
- Underground Sea ($29.73), Foil Underground Sea ($81.75)
A set of Master's Edition 3 (MED3) is priced at 139 tix. It saw the printing of the original enemy dual lands, and development was handled by Erik Lauer, who implemented a more enjoyable limited experience this go around. There are some important things to keep in mind for sealed deck and draft. Portal Three Kingdoms shows up here, along with the Horsemanship ability. Creatures with this ability play out much like creatures with shadow from Tempest block, i.e. they are evasive and should be valued as such.
Riding the Dilu Horse, an uncommon, deserves special mention. Although it is a sorcery, it grants +2/+2 and Horsemanship permanently as if it were an enchantment. Don't ask me why; Portal was a strange beast.
There are also many overcosted gold creatures from Legends in this set. In sealed deck, six or seven mana is not too much for these creatures as not much removal can take them out and games usually go long enough for large creatures to matter. Also, Remove Soul is excellent pseudo removal as a consequence.
Cards over 4 tix:
- Bayou ($14.64), Foil Bayou ($51.25)
- Bazaar of Baghdad ($5.67), Foil Bazaar of Baghdad ($15.6)
- Foil Black Vise ($9.45)
- Foil Capture of Jingzhou ($5.45)
- Foil Concordant Crossroads ($4.65)
- Grim Tutor ($4.7), Foil Grim Tutor ($12.95)
- Foil Karakas ($7.35)
- Land Tax ($10.2), Foil Land Tax ($28.05)
- Mana Drain ($20.13), Foil Mana Drain ($110)
- Plateau ($7.06), Foil Plateau ($24.75)
- Scrubland ($15.9), Foil Scrubland ($47.7)
- Foil The Abyss ($4.35)
- Foil The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale ($5.4)
- Tropical Island ($20.49), Foil Tropical Island ($61.5)
- Volcanic Island ($18.78), Foil Volcanic Island ($65.75)
Master's Edition 4 (MED4) is priced at 285 tix. This set basically filled out all the pre-Mirage cards WoTC wanted online that weren't previously available. Notably absent were the Power Nine. All ten of the original duals were printed again and original art versions of Balance, Black Vise, Counterspell, Dark Ritual, Fireball and Swords to Plowshares (among others) show up here as well. Following in the footsteps of MED3, MED4 was another decent limited environment. In comparison to MED2, the power level of this set is off the charts, with many Eternal format staples from Alpha, Arabian Nights and Antiquities appearing for the first time.
Cards over 4 tix:
- Foil Armageddon ($5.65)
- Ashnod's Altar, ($4.49), Foil Ashnod's Altar ($12.35)
- Badlands ($13.51), Foil Badlands ($40.55)
- Bayou ($17.04), Foil Bayou ($59.65)
- Candelabra of Tawnos ($5.65), Foil Candelabra of Tawnos ($15.55)
- City of Brass ($4.82), Foil City of Brass ($13.25)
- Foil Control Magic ($7.55)
- Foil Copy Artifact ($5.75)
- Foil Dark Ritual ($5.00)
- Demonic Tutor ($8.00) Foil Demonic Tutor ($32.0)
- Fastbond ($4.22), Foil Fastbond ($11.6)
- Library of Alexandria ($11.56), Foil Library of Alexandria ($55)
- Mana Vault ($7.4), Foil Mana Vault ($20.35)
- Maze of Ith ($9.89), Foil Maze of Ith ($27.2)
- Mishra's Workshop ($17.56), Foil Mishra's Workshop ($65)
- Plateau ($8.27), Foil Plateau ($28.95)
- Foil Regrowth ($5.20)
- Savannah ($24.67), Foil Savannah ($74.05)
- Scrubland ($16.04), Foil Scrubland ($48.15)
- Sinkhole ($6.5), Foil Sinkhole ($17.9)
- Sol Ring ($5.43), Foil Sol Ring ($14.95)
- Foil Stasis ($5.9)
- Strip Mine ($8.93), Foil Strip Mine ($24.55)
- Taiga ($10.86), Foil Taiga ($32.6)
- Foil Time Vault ($15.0)
- Tropical Island ($20.5), Foil Tropical Island ($61.5)
- Underground Sea ($23.68), Foil Underground Sea ($65.15)
- Volcanic Island ($17.32), Foil Volcanic Island ($60.65)
Although the cost of entry for 4 pack MED sealed is 20 tix, the combined secondary market cost of one pack of each of the MEDs is equal to 24 tix currently. At the outset of these events, WoTC is essentially offering a discount for players to enter the queues. Clearly they want people to play these events.
As a comparison, normal 4 pack sealed only costs 16 tix. The extra cost of the MED queues is made up for in the prize payout, as it has been increased by a total of 8 packs. Going 2-1 in a MED sealed queue will turn your 20 tix into 4 packs (one of each of the MEDs), plus you get to keep the cards that you open. As long as the price of packs doesn't crash too hard, 'going infinite' this week should be doable for those who are decent at sealed.
Speculating on Eternal Formats
Prices on Pauper staples from all four sets should crash as a result of these events. Pauper is a format that goes in and out of favor, but has been observed to drive up prices on certain commons quite high. This year, Tempest Lotus Petal reached 10+ tix. Determine the commons from the MED sets that are low in price and sock them away for the future. In particular, pay attention to the cards from MED and MED2, the sets with the lowest supply and thus the most potential for price spikes.
Depending on how popular these events are, there could be a large fall in the prices of many Legacy and Classic staples from these sets. Down the road, it's wise to anticipate another Legacy MOCS, such as the one that occurred this past summer on August the 18th. The result of having a high profile tournament online was to stoke interest in Legacy, pushing up the price of many Eternal cards. This type of seasonal swing is the bread and butter strategy of investing in Eternal staples on MTGO. Fluctuating interest drives prices up and down, creating opportunities for speculators. Legacy on MTGO is no different from Modern in this regard.
In addition, Modern Masters will be printed in the summer of 2013 which will make Eternal formats more affordable across the board for constructed play. Staples not printed in the MED sets and not in line to be reprinted soon are safe bets and will see price increases.
Wasteland is a good example of a Legacy staple that saw a recent price drop due to Tempest-Stronghold-Exodus (TSE) queues popping up on MTGO. WoTC has shown that it will rotate through out-of-print formats and next in line is Urza's block and Masques block. This suggests that we will not see another round of TSE or MED events in the medium term. Wasteland previously touched over 40 tix, suggesting that at the current price of 29 tix, there is some value for speculators in buying Wasteland.
Going forward, I will be paying close attention to the price of Force of Will. There could be a huge buying opportunity on this card if the price comes down enough. And if you haven't seen this contest in the forums, be sure to join in! I want to see what everyone thinks will happen to the price of Force of Will as a result of these holiday MED events.