Welcome to Touch of the Eternal! In this episode we look at the common and uncommon staples of the Eternal formats. This article idea is was suggested by MirageofHope, so a special thanks to him/her for that.
I'm a huge fan of trading in commons and uncommons rather than rares. There are several reasons for this.
- They rarely become so valuable that the price is detrimental (i.e. so expensive people are unwilling to pay or trade for them.)
- The commons often max out at 4-5 dollars (Sinkhole being the glaring exception to this rule) while uncommons can peak at 15 or so. This makes them prime for trades.
- They are necessary to run all the top-tier decks in Legacy/Modern. (As a side point, if you are a store trying to expand your player base, it is critical to have a good collection of these commons/uncommons.)
- They are easily thrown in to "even up trades" and are often great ways to make money when buying collections (when most people sell their collections they only value out the rares and then either throw in or bulk out the commons/uncommons)
Determining Risk of Reprint
There are some dangers to the common/uncommon waters. A reprint can often devalue all versions by 50% or so, especially commons. For a great example of this, look at Ancient Grudge.
Given this potential loss involved in holding commons and uncommons, it's wise to determine the likelihood of reprint. To help do this, I break commons and uncommons into two major categories: the power cards on one hand, and the hosers and enablers on the other.
The power commons/uncommons are the ones that are valuable based solely on their power in the abstract. These are far less likely to see a reprint. Some examples of these are:
- Sensei's Divining Top
- Aether Vial
- Wasteland (OK this may be cheating since it's treated as a mythic rare when traded or sold)
- Standstill (Reprinted with a comic book, but still valuable)
- Spell Snare
- Swords to Plowshares
- Path to Exile
- Tendrils of Agony
- Force of Will (OK another cheat)
- [card Mystical Tutor]Mystical[/card]/[card Enlightened Tutor]Enlightened[/card]/Worldly Tutor (These are more difficult to define as they are technically enablers, but they are so powerful at what they do, one is banned in Legacy and one created an archetype of it's own.)
Hosers and Enablers
Hosers and enablers on the other hand are far more likely to see reprints. These cards are good mainly due to the context of other cards that are currently legal and thus are often used to support the power cards. Good examples of these are:
- Ancient Grudge (hoses artifacts)
- Tormod's Crypt (hoses graveyard based strategies)
- Ponder/Preordain (enablers whose power comes from the fact that blue often wants to find specific cards)
- Spell Pierce (hoses non-creature decks)
- [card Circle of Protection Red]Circle of Protection: Red[/card] (amazing against Burn)
Modern Legal or Not?
There is one last consideration to take note of: is the card in question Modern-legal? If so, then there is a much higher probability of a reprint. Many traders and speculators believe that Modern Masters will slightly reduce the cost of some high-dollar rares and mythics, but heavily depress the value of Modern uncommons. Here are some of the uncommons currently worth a couple bucks or more that are likely to reappear in Modern Masters.
All the cards listed above are currently at retail prices of $2.50 or more. However, any that are printed in Modern Masters will drop considerably (I'd guess they'll be at 50-75% of their original value). With a few exceptions they were all printed once and the current value is based on that fact. A second printing (especially at uncommon) will flood the market with extra copies as many players try to recoup the cost of Modern Masters.
A Note on Artwork
Another factor (though considerably weaker) that will determine future prices is the artwork. One important thing to keep in mind with Eternal players is that they often want the best of the best in their decks. This is why regular daze costs $2.50 but foil ones go for $45-50.
The best current example is the Brainstorm from Izzet vs. Golgari (the artwork is gorgeous, see image to the right) and it's currently the most valuable of the non-foil Brainstorms. Something to keep in mind should any of the uncommons in Modern Masters receive new artwork.
My current call on any of the cards listed above is to sell while you can. If and when they appear on the Modern Masters spoiler, their price will drop and continue to do so until they've hit their bottom about two months into Modern Masters' release. That will be the time to buy back in and hold for a while.
The Magic finance roller coaster is luckily quite predictable with prices changing based on the season (Modern/Standard/Legacy) so simply tracking that can make you a decent profit.