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Insider: The Impact of General Reprints on Price

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Welcome back readers. With the positive responses I got from my article about how judge foils affect a card's value I thought I'd delve deeper into the question of reprints. While judge reprints and limited print runs (Commander/Duel Decks/Planechase/etc.) can potentially devalue a card, chances are much higher for a reprint in an actual block or core set to decrease a card's value, as many more are added to circulation.

So we want to get an idea of price changes that occur after general reprints. I've compiled some data on several reprints, found below. I'll comment on each one individually, and then sum up my findings in the final section.

First a side note about what I call "immediate reprints." This term refers to reprints like the M10 buddy lands (Glacial Fortress, Dragonskull Summit, et.al.) which are released within a year of the previous printing. Immediate reprints are much more difficult to track down. The price may or may not have had time to stabilize and often won't change since the card remains in Standard for an extended time frame. For this reason, we'll focus exclusively on cards that had a significant time gap between their last printings and their reprints.

Our working hypothesis is that the sample cards will show relatively stable prices up until the time they were spoiled, at which point they will drop slightly as people unload their old ones. Then prices would drop even further when the set is actually released.

The Sample

Let's define the criteria we're looking for in our sample cards.

  1. Cards whose first printing was at least somewhat valuable. When bulk rares are reprinted they will usually stay bulk.
  2. Rares and mythic rares. Uncommons are occasionally valuable but usually not.
  3. No Timeshifted cards. The probability of getting a Timeshifted rare is lower than that of a regular rare, so they enjoyed lower print runs.

All prices come from Black Lotus Project, when available (at times there is a lack of information, or a plateau for an extended period). When this occurred I used MTG stocks for replacement data. I mention this because BLP prices are often noticeably lower than elsewhere on the internet, since their prices are all pulled from MOTL.

It's also important to note that I did not include data from two months after a reprint became legal. For example, Meddling Mage, while maintaining its price 1-2 months after its release, continued to drop to the $2-3 range where it remains today.

Card Name Original Printing (Release Date) Reprinting (Release Date) Gap
Grim Lavamancer Torment (Feb 4, 2002) Magic 2012 (Jul 15, 2011) 9 years
Mutilate Torment (Feb 4, 2002) Magic 2013 (Jul 13, 2012) 10 years
Time Warp Tempest (Oct 13, 1997) Magic 2010 (Jul 17, 2009) 12 years
Quicksilver Amulet Urza's Legacy (Feb 15, 1999) Magic 2012 (Jul 15, 2011) 12 years
Darksteel Colossus Darksteel (Feb 6, 2004) Magic 2010 (Jul 17, 2009) 5 years
Haunting Echoes Odyssey (Oct 1, 2001) Magic 2010 (Jul 17, 2009) 8 years
Ball Lightning 5th Edition (Mar 24, 1997)* Magic 2010 (Jul 17, 2009) 12 years
Mindslaver Mirrodin (Oct 3, 2003) Scars of Mirrodin (Oct 1, 2010) 7 years
Akroma's Memorial Future Sight (May 4, 2007) Magic 2013 (Jul 13, 2012) 5 years
Gilded Lotus Mirrodin (Oct 3, 2003) Magic 2013 (Jul 13, 2012) 9 years
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker Conflux (Feb 6, 2009) Magic 2013 (Jul 13, 2012) 3 years
Meddling Mage Planeshift (Feb 5, 2001) Alara Reborn (Apr 30, 2009) 8 years
Rites of Flourishing Future Sight (May 4, 2007) Magic 2012 (Jul 15, 2011) 4 years
Door to Nothingness Fifth Dawn (Jun 4, 2004) Magic 2013 (Jul 13, 2012) 8 years

* Not actual original printing. Ball Lightning was printed several times in a row in under-printed sets.
 

The Data

Card Name Price Upon Spoiling ($) Price at Reprint Release Price 2 Months After Reprint % Change in Value Comments
Grim Lavamancer $7.43 $5.76 $4.13 -44.4% It's interesting to note that Grim Lavamancer, after a minor downturn upon spoiling, actually went up to $9.51 before plummeting back down. This is likely due to old school players seeking the original Torment prints for Standard use. It also helps that this is a Legacy staple for burn decks and was originally printed in a middle set.
Mutilate  $2.48  $2.42  $2.2 -11.29% This card didn't really change a whole lot, which makes sense given its value before being spoiled was primarily related to casual and EDH.
Time Warp  $2.88  $2.44  $5.84 +102% Time Warp actually saw a price increase two months after being released in M10. This may be due to the fact that it was primarily a casual card until its reintroduction into Standard and also because it was printed at the mythic rarity, thus reducing the number added to circulation.
Quicksilver Amulet  $3.34  $2.41  $2.33  -29.6% This is a highly desirable casual card and while its pre-spoiled price was only $3.34, I was easily able to trade these at $5 prior to their reprinting solely based on casual demand and scarcity.
Darksteel Colossus  $9.76  $7.79  $4.69  -52.04% This was the original king of the robots, one of the prominent Tinker targets in Vintage before he was replaced by his nastier brother Blightsteel Colossus. It's interesting to note that unlike Time Warp, which also jumped in rarity, his price still dropped dramatically.
Haunting Echoes  $4.99  $3.6  $2.04 -58.91% Haunting Echoes saw play during its Odyssey block stint in the powerful Traumatic Echoes deck, which utilized mill and library removal to empty the opponent's deck as early as turn 5-6. Mill is often a "casual" win strategy and the people who enjoy the mill strategy love doing it.
Ball Lightning  $5.42  $6.34  $4.49 -17.15% Ball Lightning was considered an iconic card, especially for burn players, so its reprinting caused a lot of excitement. People seemed to scramble to get old copies, thus the rise in price, before the M10 copies pulled the price back down.
Mindslaver  $2.26  $2.69  $2.31  +0.02% It's important to note that this card shot up upon its spoiling and then trended downward to its previous price. It did go from rare to mythic rare though, thus limiting the influx of supply.
Akroma's Memorial  $14.27  $7.33  $4.26  -70.14% I have to admit my surprise at how much this card dropped with its reprint. This casual all-star was difficult to find in trade binders prior to its reprinting. Its price may also have taken a blow courtesy of Eldrazi Monument (which competed for the same spot in most casual decks).
Gilded Lotus  $6.53  $3.51  $2.48  -62.02% If Akroma's Memorial was difficult to find in trade binders, Gilded Lotus was nigh impossible prior to its reprint. This was quite often an automatic inclusion for any EDH deck as it allows for massive ramp while color-fixing, however being reprinted at regular rare in a highly-opened set dropped the value rapidly.
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker  $16.99  $12.66  $10.66  -37.25% This card is a casual player favorite, a planeswalker, an iconic Magic character, with very powerful abilities. It still dropped by 37%.
Meddling Mage  $7.45  $12.38  $8.21  +10.2% While Meddling Mage saw a nice jump upon being spoiled, its value continued to drop after release, eventually settling into the $3 range.
Rites of Flourishing  $1.12  $0.69  $0.59  -47.32% A good "slightly above bulk" casual/EDH card for group hug decks, this card has fallen to the "bulk" status courtesy of its reprint.
Door to Nothingness  $1.63  $0.6  $0.5  -69.32% Another casual favorite as it has the "instant win" factor. It dropped dramatically as many more copies hit the market and demand was unable to catch up.

 

Important things to take away from this chart:

  1. The average value change caused by reprinting was -27.66%.
  2. Cards from smaller sets (or 3rd sets) whose value was heavily based on lack of availability plummeted the most (Akroma's Memorial/Gilded Lotus/Door to Nothingness).
  3. Often many cards shot up in value upon being spoiled, but quickly plummeted back down. Thus, if you have original copies (and don't care which version you play) unload within a day or two of spoiling.
  4. The shorter the time gap between the reprints the higher the likelihood of a massive price drop.
  5. Changing from regular rare to mythic rare doesn't necessarily prevent a card from dropping in value (in fact one of our worst offenders did just that; see Akroma's Memorial).
  6. Another factor to consider is if the card is still legal in Standard. Many of the cards on this list are still legal (M13 reprints) and Standard card values tend to be dependent on the metagame. Often the best gauge for a card's casual value doesn't occur until after it has rotated and the influx of rotational supply has died down.
  7. A reprint with different artwork can be worth more or less than their original printing, depending on the overall attitude towards the artwork itself (similar to the judge promos mentioned last week).
  8. While the chart doesn't always show it, there are two outcomes when a reprint is spoiled; a) it begins to drop almost immediately as players unload their original copies understanding they will most likely drop in value or b) they get a sudden jump in price as players try to pick up the originals believing, however, it's important to note that if b) occurs it's almost always followed by a sudden drop again. So if you have copies of the originals and you see the price going up after spoiling, don't expect it to remain up. (This trend was noticed on Meddling Mage, Grim Lavamancer, and Mindslaver)
  9. Casual reprints at the mythic rarity may rebound back to their original price or even above (Time Warp is now listed at $4.78), however this will most likely not occur until after they've rotated (see #7). Cards to watch out for are Akroma's Memorial and Nicol Bolas, both of which I expect to rebound somewhat (although Bolas had another printing in the Duel decks, which is likely to deflate his long-term value). My guess is that both will end up above $10 within the next two years, barring anymore reprints.

19 thoughts on “Insider: The Impact of General Reprints on Price

  1. I believe Darksteel Colossus was hurt more by the printing of Blightsteel Colossus than by the reprint. The latter is almost always better in a deck that wants to play either but not both.

    Did you ignore older reprints because of lack of data? I agree that for some cards tracking their price after rotation could be very telling and might even show price increases to the extend that they might reach the original price again. I know I like picking up FS Akroma’s Memorials at their current price.

    Time Warp was one of the 3 chase cards in Tempest (the others being Scroll and Rider), price memory might have been part of the reason it increased rather than decreased. Back in those days it was worth considerably more than $6.

    1. Excellent points. I agree that you’re most likely correct about Blightsteel simply overshadowing Darksteel, however, M10 came out July 17, 2009 and Mirrodin Besieged didn’t release until Febuary 4, 2011…so while I agree that the current price is probably deflated due to Blightsteel, he was NOT released or even spoiled when I took my data points. As for Time Warp, I’m in full agreement with you on that one. I remember how excited I was when I saw it was being reprinted and to be fair while there have been plenty of cards that do something similar, Time Warp has the lowest CMC (excluding Time Walk of course) for the “extra turn” spell (and excluding the portal variant of Time Warp)

      1. Portal variantS actually, Temporal Manipulation and Capture of Jingzhou, both of which could be argued to be slightly better as they cannot be misdirected. Besides that, don’t forget Savor the Moment, Second Chance and if other colors count, 3 Final Fortune variants, Temporal Extortion and Seedtime. I like Magic trivia ;).

        But yeah, Darksteel did go down on its own, but if Blightsteel wasn’t printed it would probably have recovered better.

        1. Agreed on Blighsteel…and I did forget the Portal Three Kingdoms Time Warp variant, but my point was that it was the cheapest “take an extra turn” spell with no other strings attached (skipping untap steps, losing the next turn, etc), besides Time Walk. But the goal of my analysis was to determine the immediate effect that reprints had on price value. A large reason behind that, you alluded to earlier; my data is limited by what I can find on BLP. In another year or two I may do another analysis on long term financial affects of a reprint, but I need more data for that.

          1. Another consideration with Time Warp is that EDH players won’t want to shell out for the Portal Time Warp variants, so that has probably propped up the price somewhat, as it is a very affordable option for players who want this effect.

            1. I actually believe EDH is THE reason Temporal Manipulation & Capture of Jingzhou are as high as they are. I have playsets of them for EDH usage, it’s also the only format they could realistically see play in. Not all that many people willing to spend large amounts of money on cards are needed with something as rare as P3K. Your average EDH player might not be interested, but if only 1 in 1000 is, that’s probably enough. (I got mine when they were still about $15 and $50 respectively).

    1. Honestly it’s going to depend on how popular modern becomes as a format. If we look at previous price trends the rare landbase from one block tends to peak in the middle of the next block (usually because that’s about when all 3 of the last block sets have been fully printed and there are no more expected to be made AND when new players/decks come out and mana bases need to be completed). However, given these lands are for both standard AND modern I expect a small decrease upon rotation (of their price AT that time, I think they are underpriced right now as I personally feel like they will probably be in the $13-16 range at their peak in standard). I do think that there are a LOT of them out there given how WoTC has made RTR one of the most popular sets of all time (and certainly one of the heaviest printed), which seems to show in the fact that the GTC lands are typically more valuable than RTR lands, despite RTR having Hallowed Fountain (the most valuable one during the previous modern season).

  2. Thanks for the analysis, David. I thought of some more cards that might fit this topic since the last time I posted on the forums about it: Joiner Adept, Crucible of Worlds, Angelic Chorus, Blood Moon, Ensnaring Bridge, Greater Good, Sculpting Steel, Serra Avatar. Perhaps they can be ideas for future writing or curious readers that want to do some of their own research. I was surprised you didn’t include Platinum Angel. Perhaps you already considered many of these cards, but realized you couldn’t fit everything in the article. How did you decide which cards to include, if that was even an issue?

    1. Thanks for helping come up with the reprinted ones…A few things I had to take into account was that with BLP prices needed to be from around 2009 and onward I wanted to focus on cards that were printed long before 2009 and then sometime after AND that be the ONLY reprint. I originally had Erhnam Djinn listed (since he was dominating back in the Arabain Nights days and his reprinting in Judgement was a pretty big deal, but I didn’t have data to look up). But I appreciate the continued effort of the list and if I do a follow up sometime (adding more data points) I will definitely consider some of these other ones (I can’t believe I forgot Serra Avatar..given it was my favorite creature for several years).

        1. Solemn would have been a good one to include…Birds would be quite difficult…they’ve had so many printings and given my data is really only available back to 2009, the value trend of birds before than would be nearly impossible for me to get.

  3. This was an extremely well-researched article and a good read. Great work, and I’m glad my instincts (albeit less researched) on Bolas and Memorial and Lotus seem to be right. I would also add Vampire Nocturnus to the list.

    1. I forgot about Nocturnus, though my only gripe with him was that his reprinting only had a time gap of a couple years (M10 and then M13). Ideally, you’d expect it to take awhile (especially for casual cards) to “settle” in value (after being unloaded post rotation) the value usually rises slowly before a plateau, I am unsure if a few years is enough of a gap.

  4. One of yours articles I liked the most. Nice analysis. I guess then, you agree with me, when it regards the reprint of ratched bomb…I mean…its value will come back down.

    1. Yep..I agree 100%. Ratchet bomb was a $10 card it’s first couple of weeks in Scars block…then it slowly started slipping (but nowhere near as badly as Molten-Tail Masticore…). The current price is due to the fact that demand has increased because of it’s spoiling, but no new cards have been added to the supply yet…

  5. If the spoilers are good, at current prices the TCG mid EV of a pack of MM is $11.86 before uncommons and commons. Although the MSRP was set at $6.99 last year before the PTQ season price ramp, you know that WotC is also able to calculate what the retail EV of a pack is, and they are telling you they want those cards to be $7, not $12, with unc!

    1. I’m surprised it’s that high, though it’s very likely a few of the mythics are bolstering that overall value by a great deal. The current EV is also calculated @ the current supply level, NOT at the supply level after release (i.e. expect a lot of the rares to lose some value and the same for the commons/uncommons). I believe the “mythic” dragons will lose a lot of value with this reprint as they aren’t all that sought after (outside of Kokusho, who with the new legend rule has become worse (ironically)).

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