Modern Masters is the stuff. It’s going to inject the format with tons of staples, pump up the player base, and have us all clamoring for play sets of Ryusei, Jugan and friends. It’s hella fun to draft, and you can even open a $500 card if you’re lucky… so why am I avoiding it?
Let’s delve into the secrets of Modern Masters and I’ll tell you…
As soon as I saw the pre-order prices for MM individual cards I started to question my lust for the set.
These prices aren’t any cheaper than they were before being reprinted! Wasn’t this set supposed to help eliminate the high financial barrier to entering Modern? It seems like all it has done is put more cards into the secondary market at the same high prices that were preventing people from playing in the first place!
Yes, this was a limited set, but if pre-printing it the cards were valued at X, and post-printing the cards are still valued at X, there hasn’t been any reduction in prices. It’s early in the release, so maybe the ceiling will fall, but right now SCG literally has MM Dark Confidant and RAV Dark Confidant at the exact same price.
Even more disgusting is that the foil MM Dark Confidant ($174.99) is priced higher than the RAV version ($149.99) and has the most hideous picture I’ve ever seen. Looking at the MM Dark Confidant reminds me of Marvel Comics “Deathlok” character.
The Call of the Casuals
Let’s get back to the $30 Doubling Seasons and use it as an example.
Sure SCG has it priced as such, and perhaps some stealthy Greedos will snap a few up right away in a money-burning frenzy… but what’s the demand for a card like that? Where does it actually see play? Who’s actually buying it? Are collectors just selling it between themselves hoping to value trade it away to some chumpa-lumpa?
It seems like the only place for Doubling Season is in Commander and casual decks, and specific ones at that! With it being printed at rare, and the lack of demand (aside from just hoarding it, obv), can this possibly see an upside? I don’t think it can. I speculate that the reason why Doubling Season was so expensive to begin with was because supply & demand were pretty much in equilibrium. Now that we have this new influx of stock, if the demand doesn’t rise to meet it, the price will fall.
Think about it… unless you’re playing Hazezon Tamar or another heavy token or planeswalker strategy, is this 5cc enchantment really going to make the final 99? Is the fact that there was a reprint going to make more people want to play that strategy? The $30 price tag sure isn’t convincing anyone that now is the time to go out and buy it.
What are some of the other cards that will fit this casual criteria?
None of these see any competitive play, thus they will probably only be required as a one-of in Commander decks. As such, we can expect them to decline in value as there will more than enough available to fill the casual demand.
There was nothing more disappointing to me than when I opened one of my first packs of MM and was rewarded with a foil Facevaulter, Auriok Salvagers ($1), and not a single good common or uncommon. I thought to myself: “Gee, I just spent $10+ on the Goyf lottery and ended up with nothing.” I felt like I was cracking a pack of Worldwake with a lucky coin in my pocket and a rabbits foot in my off-hand hoping for a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Next pack was a Bridge from Below (currently $10), then a Chalice of the Void ($8). Pack four rewarded me with a Cryptic Command ($30) which I was able to trade for a Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary and a little more.
So I didn’t get super lucky, nor was I the most unlucky. I didn’t get any playable foils, but I did pull the Cryptic which pleased me greatly as I really needed that Rofellos for my Ezuri, Renegade Leader Commander deck.
Overall I spent $40 plus tax (13%) = $45.20.
I ended up with the following value based on eBay (MOTL) prices:
- Auriok Salvagers: $0-1
- Bridge from Below: $5-9
- Chalice of the Void: $5-6
- Cryptic Command: $19-22
Total = $29-38.
So while StarCityGames may be telling me: “Dude, you totally made back more than your money! You spent $45 and got $49 worth of cards… you’re the man!” In the real world I didn’t even break even. Just imagine how bad I would have done had I pulled a mythic dragon instead of the Cryptic Command… and they’re mythic!
Basically, as with all sealed product, you’re still running the pack lottery. Sure there’s the chance you could rip like a fiend and pull a foil Tarmogoyf, but you could also end up with a nice pile of Cold-Eyed Selkies, Countryside Crushers, and tear soaked tissues.
Everyone Loves a Reprint!?
I hate hate hate reprints. I can see why from a company and gameplay standpoint that they’re great, but as a collector there is nothing more infuriating than finally completing your play set of Tarmogoyf only to have it reprinted. Suuuurreeeee other people need them as well, but since the prices on the valuable mythics haven’t dropped in the secondary market, those same people who couldn’t afford it previously, still can’t.
The only thing the reprint did was give us another piece of bad art! He looks like a giant hedgehog!
The Foil Factor
I fail to see how the MM foils are carrying such high prices. You get a foil in every pack! That means that all of those expensive common and uncommon foils that are out there can expect to get their prices severely deflated. I still hold out hope that the “pimpers” will want the original printings if they can find them, but anytime there’s this much foil on the market you can expect them to tank. Think of the fail boat that was the Shards of Alara “premium all foil” packs and what they did to the value of foils in that block, or the foil Fire & Lightning or Slivers boxed sets and how they affected their respective foil prices. You can expect a similar thing to happen to the reprinted foils in MM.
Secondary Market Screw-Over
What do Modern Masters, From the Vault & Commander's Arsenal all have in common? For the most part, they were slash are all being sold at greater than MSRP value.
Sorry kiddies, I know WotC wanted to hook you up with some $7 packs that were bursting at the seams with value, but the secondary market dictates that you won’t find them that cheap. Boxes are already selling for over $250 on eBay, so we all may as well wake up from our pipe dreams of drafting these ad nauseam for a decent price.
My Suggestion? Sell It All!
Based on the above, it really makes you wonder if you should be cracking boxes looking to profit.
Think about it… boxes are $250+ right now. In 24 packs you get 3-4 mythics. Let’s say you get lucky and pull the three best:
- Tarmogoyf: $130 ($95)
- Vendilion Clique: $40 ($35)
- Dark Confidant: $60 ($50)
Total = $230 ($180)
Sure, you come close to paying off the box you just bought, but take away the Goyf and replace it with Jugan ($3-4) and you get only $139 ($138). Unless you crack a Goyf in your box, you’ll be hard pressed to come out ahead because odds are you’ll get at least a few bunk cards that are only good for putting in your bike spokes. Now I’m definitely having Worldwake flashbacks…
Do you really want to pay $10+ for a pack just to open an Angel's Grace? For that $10 you could simply buy most of the cards in the set outright without the risk! Maybe you could even just take that $10 and invest in in shocklands that you can trade at inflated SCG prices for the MM cards you’re after? (As an example SCG has Godless Shrine at $15 and it can be bought on eBay for less than $8!)
Sure, MM will be amazing to draft. I’m not questioning the “fun factor” of the set at all. If you can draft it at a decent price, do it all day long. But when it comes to cracking packs hoping to hit gold, I’d simply invest in safe cards instead and skip the risk.
(Unless you really, really want to give a few Jugans the rage crumple!)
*** BONUS UPDATE!! ***
As I continued writing this article I’ve been paying close attention to MM card values and it looks like they are finally starting to fall just as we’d all been predicting. Take a look at this fancy graph provided by www.blacklotusproject.com showing one of our good buddies Spell Snare and the downward path it’s headed on:
On May 31, Spell Snare was worth $9.57. Now, on June 13, its value is a mere $3.57, 37% of its value less than two weeks ago. The uncommons are definitely taking a hard hit due to the numbers opened.
How about some of the other cards from MM? Take a look at the weekly snapshot of the trajectory and you’ll get an idea of where the set's value is headed.
(Information pulled from www.mtgstocks.com on June 13 / 2013)
And in case you were wondering, no, there was not a single MM card that increased in price--only decreases across the board.
Looks like we may be on to something here!