Insider: A Modern Masters Massacre

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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…

Unsustainable Prices

As soon as I saw the pre-order prices for MM individual cards I started to question my lust for the set.

$30 Doubling Seasons? $30 Cryptic Commands? $10 Academy Ruins and Bridge from Below?

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 resemblance is uncanny!

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.

Shooting Blanks

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!

I present to you: TARMOHEDGE! Isn't he precious?

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:

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!)

Closing Remarks

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 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 on June 13 / 2013)


Card Set New Old Change
Adarkar Valkyrie (R)   Modern Masters $5.92 $9.97 -40.6%
Glen Elendra Archmage (R)   Modern Masters $9.54 $14.97 -36.3%
City of Brass (R)   Modern Masters $5.15 $7.97 -35.4%
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner (R)   Modern Masters $9.77 $14.97 -34.7%
Blinkmoth Nexus (R)   Modern Masters $9.85 $14.97 -34.2%
Summoner's Pact (R)   Modern Masters $9.99 $14.97 -33.3%
Demigod of Revenge (R)   Modern Masters $4.03 $5.97 -32.5%
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV (R)   Modern Masters $6.75 $9.97 -32.3%
Figure of Destiny (R)   Modern Masters $4.06 $5.97 -32.0%
Strip Mine (U)   Antiquities $9.00 $12.99 -30.7%
Spell Snare (U)   Modern Masters $4.16 $5.97 -30.3%
Woodfall Primus (R)   Modern Masters $7.00 $9.97 -29.8%
Sarkhan Vol (M)   Modern Masters $14.04 $19.97 -29.7%
Glimmervoid (R)   Modern Masters $10.57 $14.97 -29.4%
Kataki, War's Wage (R)   Modern Masters $5.64 $7.97 -29.2%
AEther Vial (R)   Modern Masters $10.69 $14.97 -28.6%
Kitchen Finks (U)   Modern Masters $5.75 $7.97 -27.9%
Divinity of Pride (R)   Modern Masters $5.79 $7.97 -27.4%
Doubling Season (R)   Modern Masters $21.76 $29.97 -27.4%
Academy Ruins (R)   Modern Masters $8.74 $11.97 -27.0%
Bridge from Below (R)   Modern Masters $8.99 $11.97 -24.9%
Ethersworn Canonist (R)   Modern Masters $5.99 $7.97 -24.8%
Kokusho, the Evening Star (M)   Modern Masters $13.73 $17.97 -23.6%
Blood Moon (R)   Modern Masters $7.66 $9.97 -23.2%
Tooth and Nail (R)   Modern Masters $9.24 $11.97 -22.8%
Engineered Explosives (R)   Modern Masters $11.63 $14.97 -22.3%
Pact of Negation (R)   Modern Masters $11.95 $14.97 -20.2%
Gifts Ungiven (R)   Modern Masters $7.97 $9.97 -20.1%
Yosei, the Morning Star (M)   Modern Masters $7.99 $9.97 -19.9%
Vendilion Clique (M)   Modern Masters $40.73 $49.97 -18.5%
Cryptic Command (R)   Modern Masters $24.51 $29.97 -18.2%
Knight of the Reliquary (R)   Modern Masters $6.55 $7.97 -17.8%
Ancient Tomb   From the Vault: Realms $9.99 $11.98 -16.6%
Life from the Loam (R)   Modern Masters $4.19 $4.97 -15.7%
Lotus Bloom (R)   Modern Masters $6.78 $7.97 -14.9%
Savage Summoning (R)   Magic 2014 (M14) $5.99 $6.99 -14.3%
Deadbridge Chant (M)   Dragon's Maze $4.25 $4.95 -14.1%
Progenitus (M)   Modern Masters $13.73 $15.97 -14.0%
Maelstrom Pulse (R)   Modern Masters $10.36 $11.97 -13.5%
Legion's Initiative (M)   Dragon's Maze $5.19 $5.99 -13.4%
Vedalken Shackles (M)   Modern Masters $12.98 $14.97 -13.3%
Arcbound Ravager (R)   Modern Masters $17.53 $19.97 -12.2%
Path to Exile (U)   Modern Masters $5.28 $5.97 -11.6%
Marton Stromgald (R)   Ice Age $7.00 $7.88 -11.2%
Keiga, the Tide Star (M)   Modern Masters $5.31 $5.97 -11.1%
Chalice of the Void (R)   Modern Masters $7.09 $7.97 -11.0%
Mystical Tutor (M)   From the Vault: Exiled $16.89 $18.97 -11.0%
Extirpate (R)   Modern Masters $4.47 $4.97 -10.1%


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!


Carl Szalich

28 thoughts on “Insider: A Modern Masters Massacre

  1. hmm,

    I have the feeling that this is a rage because you didn’t open a tarmogoyf in your MM boosters. (that’s my feeling after reading the article)

    For every magic set, if you buy and open boosters just to get a money rare, you will get frustration. This is very old news. So why did you expect it to be otherwise?

    Many people burnt their pants on the MM speculation.

    When MM was announced, most people here agreed that this set would only be interesting to lower prices. What we, as speculators, should do is buying these cards at the minimum price.

    However, I have the feeling that many of us got caught by the whole hype and forgot the wise teachings of the previous month.

    If you bought boosters/boosterbox, don’t open them, keep them and wait.

    If you don’t have sealed product, buy these cards now that they are cheap. Maybe wait another week but get them now. Next modern season is 6 months from now, and then these cards will go up again.

    1. Now that I’m at a desktop computer instead of trying to reply on my iPhone I can write more comments! 🙂

      After re-reading your comments I think you and I are actually on the same page. Sure I opened 4 packs for fun, but I am 100% in the camp of “don’t buy packs” which is really what the entire article was about.

      I absolutely agree with your comment about waiting another week or two then buying singles from MM instead of cracking packs. AFTER GP LAS VEGAS will be prime time because there is a good chance that the participants will want to sell their product to help pay for their trip once it’s all over which should put a lot more onto the market as well. That’s when I intend to really stock up on MM singles which lines up exactly with your comments as well!

      Indeed in 6 months time (next modern season) the PLAYABLE cards should bounce back, but I think it’s doom and gloom for the set foils and casual cards they included…

  2. Thanks for the comment! I was actually fortunate enough to be able to buy 3x boxes and I sold them all without opening them at an $85 / box profit. I wasn’t motivated to write this article due to bad pulls, more so as a warning that although the set had some really good cards in it, you’re not guaranteed to make your $ back by cracking packs as many people seem to be saying. 😉

    I feel it’s best to trade for the staples of the set without cracking packs. I’m not against MM at all and think its great… I just don’t think that NOW is the time to be buying because you’re buying into the hype and as illustrated under the “updates” the MM cards are still falling in price.

    Sorry if this read like a vindictive hate post, but I’m actually pro MM, just not pro buying it… And not pro the new art on a few cards! Lol

  3. Great article, Carl! I really appreciate your price comparisons of the Modern cards. Glad to see them all drop as I expected. Prices will drop even further after GP Vegas. That’ll be the time to re-buy staples needed. So I will once again own Goyfs and Bobs hopefully within a month. 🙂

    1. Thanks Sig! I tried to mix in my feelings about MM in general and touch on all the points I thought were relevant: Foils, Reprints, Box Prices & Individual Cards. I’m in agreement that prices should drop more after GP Vegas and although I don’t actually NEED any more modern cards (OK I lied.. I need 2x more TS foil Goyf and 1x more RAV foil Dark Confidant lol) but intend to buy on the low curve and sell back into modern season.

      Also: Did you get any packages from me yet? There are 2x on the way to you… 1 that’s a present and one to re-direct to me.. pm me! 🙂

      SIDE NOTE: That’s another thing I love about QS… the community! While I haven’t been as active as in the past I’ve learned a lot from the members and made some great friend on the boards. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

  4. Should i ship my mm foil doubling season or the $20 buy list?

    In a draft i played in, i got foil doubling season pack two pick three, dark conidant pack three pick two, maelstrom puse pack three pick four……you just need to draft with casual players to get all the value

    1. Wow that is the most ridiculous draft I’ve ever heard! :O

      NO, I would not ship my foil MM Doubling Season to a buy list for $20. Since it’s a casual card BUT foil I feel that you should be able to find an EDH player in your region who needs it and you should be able to get better value. Non foils I’d get rid of asap however… they are already down to as low as $13.50 on eBay. Try and move it at SCG price for other cards at SCG prices that are a little more in line with reality before they reduce their prices and you get less. Time is of the essence in getting rid of them IMHO.

      1. As an additional follow up:

        If you don;t find a buyer / trader in the next few days (pre-GP Vegas) I’d probably list it on eBay w / a $30 BIN. Looks like most people are trying to get $33+ as BINS which would make yours a desirable buy. After fees (approx. 13%ish) you’d still get $25-26 which is what non-bin auctions seem to be closing at.

          1. NP! I’ve also had success positioning overpriced cards like that by saying things like: “SCG has this listed at $30, but I only value it at $22-25. Would it interest you at that price?” Since it’s already down to $13-15 REAL $ you’re still doing well! 🙂

  5. From a European Point of view I want to ask you how your predictions for MM prices will be? There is no MM GP over here, although I will be attending GP Las Vegas the card supply should not be that much bigger over here. What I plan and this is what I am asking you, does it make sense for me to load up on MM at GP Miami or Vegas at U.S. retail prices to unload over here next

    Modern season?

    1. While I am not familiar with the economics of MtG cards in Europe I can make a few assumptions:

      If there is not much sealed product in Europe, I would try and bring back SEALED product to appease the masses who are probably clamouring for it. I know there are $30 drafts happening here in Canada, so provided you can get sealed at a good price perhaps that’s a way for you to make some $ AND have some fun?

      Secondly, while again I’m not an expert in international markets these days we live in a global economy. Anyone can check eBay prices and buy / sell at those prices. As such with the influx of MM cards that will flood the market after GP Vegas I would invest only in MM staples and avoid all fringe played cards. This includes cards like Glen-Elenda Archmage because while they do see play, they don’t see it in the quantity that would make it an auto-acquire to anyone looking through your binder.

      That’s my $0.2! Hope it helps 🙂

  6. price memory is the reason for this high prices. Most players believe the cards will be higher this season and are holding them. they just forget it is 5/6 months away and most of them will need to sell them to buy new standard cards or just lack of interest in the game.

    after people realize no one buys MM cards for this high prices, it will start to drop

  7. these card prices go down, at worst, until las vegas event. then store owners have all their product back and they aren’t going to sell it back to you on the cheap. this is dual lands all over again: buy em up on the cheap then constrict supply/ run modern events.

    we also know Wizards is supporting the format. foil dark confidant from MM might be ugly, but it is in fact the rarest version of the card ever printed.

    if you have sealed product there is no hurry to open. i just got 40$ per player for an 8 player draft (i played so 280$). if you have legit staples, like Spell Snare, no need to move them unless you’ve yet to secure enough shocklands. shocklands will also benefit from an increase in modern play. that said, SCG is offering those on sale and paying good money for your MM. i wonder what their endgame is?

  8. Good thing we don’t have such a big shark swimming in the European tank. SCG is buying cards here aswell but they don’t do this as much as in the US.

  9. I think the point here is dont buy packs to crack… and that if you didnt have all your staples years ago you will be chasing/ acquiring in a manipulated market. I think anyone who has been playing this game long enough knows that you go the single market route for individual cards and buy them at lows. I am sick of all this complaining… there is a reserved list for a reason and those are the cards you should be targeting. If you want to play modern then accept that your cards will fluctuate in price and you may lose money. However, at least you can recoup some of your initial investment. I mean we play magic for fun and I was playing this game way before the secondary market as we now it today came into existence. I don’t understand why someone would want to go through all the work of selling cards and hoping they drop a significant amount to make rebuying worth while. I would like to know what that amount is, $15 an hour $20? I have many of the staple but unless I thin a card is gonna tank I feel there is little incentive to sell and rebuy. I would much rather trade if possible.

  10. And I thought my friend’s draft went well last night when his 3 packs in the draft contained Goyf, Doubling Season, and foil Arcbound Ravager! I’m in the same mode as all of us here serious about finance, trying to trade for/buy Modern staples, especially Confidants and Goyfs, at their lowest prices. Also will be trying to pick up the staples as cheap as possible. Question though: the big money commons and uncommons, should I maybe be trying to pick up the commons at $.25-.50 each and some of the uncommons other than FInks, Path, etc. in the $1-2 range? Or should I wait longer for them to fall?

  11. This is 10x worse online. Vendillion Clique is already down to 15 or so from 22 on the low end before it release, and it’s only been online for just over 24 hours. Academy ruins was under a dollar on there I think. Since there will be no set redemption online (which I think wizards should re consider) prices will tank on MTGO.

    1. With the number of drafts happening at every second of every day this does not surprise me. My twitter feed is full of people drafting MM and commenting on how awesome it is… interest in MTGO drafting of MM is not going to die down until it stops being offered further reducing prices IMHO.

  12. Great Articule… may be a little over the top on the sell … but I think we need the message…

    Friday night in LA(ok the valley) I saw kid trade 4 voice of resergences in for $25 store credit a peice and then use that to buy 9 packs of MMA… Claiming theres so much value!… I think he opened a foil kicken finks thats about it.

    ON MTGO I’ve rare drafted and got 10 rares and was like I need to build a deck?!

    My situation I need help with is that I am traveling working this week. Unless I go to a store today or buylist stuf I can’t get rid of my cards till after GP Vegas.I don’t have a modern deck I’d like one. I opened one box got my gohf… Most stores are sold out so I bought One box at $250 to leave it sealed. I Can’t go to vegas unless I just drive there sunday to sell my one goyf, one doubleing season, one elspeth… should I go there sunday and sell my 6 force of wills , library of alexandria, and 40,000 bulk cards.

    I think the prices going down where WOTC plan and its working… ANd I now have one goyf and now want the other 3. I think the part where stores are selling the boxes for 250+ is the problem…

    I love playing this format I’ve been to 3 irl drafts and won 1 of them. they each have ben a great experience and would have no problem paying $30 for each of them.(one I only paid $25 for)

    I’m going to try to never crack open another pack just for fun.

    1. Hey Vince thanks for the reply!

      So I checked out ebay vs SCG to see which you’d get more for your FoW… looks like they end around $60 ea on eBay and SCG buylists for $50 in NM. If your FoW are NM you could go either way to sell, as you’d get just about the same $ after fees. SCG is also buying MM Goyf for $80 and it sells for around $90 eBay so again, after fees you’re pretty close.

      This is strange, but they’re buying doubling season MM for $15 which is higher than it’s selling on eBay in a lot of cases… I’d unload that right away to their buylist ASAP! Elspeth is also on SCG buy @ $15 and is selling for $20ish on ebay, so use your judgement on that one.

      So basically if you were going to GP Vegas just to sell and not to play, I’d probably skip it as buy prices from SCG are about in line w / eBay in most cases and you can save all of the $ and time you’d spend going to GP Vegas just unloading to buylists at par. The only thing you’d have problems moving is the 40K c/u, but put it on craigslist or kijiji and they will go to a local player.

      RE: The LoA, unless you need the $, I wouldn’t sell it yet… I’m hoping something happens to it’s “legality status” in commander or legacy / vintage… I’m holding out hope at least! Any change in it’s legality = ++++$ so I’m sitting on mine at least. Just my personal opinion on this one :).

  13. I think that the best and the worse thing that WoTC has done with bob and tarmogoyf was give us a new art… in my personal opinion this is one of the issues that help these two cards to not decrease in value. Im from Mexico city and at least here everyone wants a new copy of the ugly goyf and the emo bob… Even though they already have the playset of old ones. I think that these two will not lose value unless they have a massive reprint of the new art and the old prints will keep the same value. Also paying 250/300 usd per box also helps to not decrease the value. As a player you are paying exactly the same as the retail price of every single you open unless you crack a foil goyf…

    1. Thanks for the comment! I agree with you that the new art is good AND bad for the same reasons you’ve stated. Here in London (Canada) the only Goyf / Bob available are all the MM versions… those people who have the old style don’t want to part with them and I personally haven’t seen any more of them come up for trade even after the MM release. I honestly feel that the only reason these aren’t falling hard like the other MM cards is because they are real staples in high demand. Many of the other cards saw fringe play, but these bad boys are the ones EVERYONE wants. As such I think the demand is still so high that there probably won’t be a price reduction on the big 3 (Goyf / Bob / Clique)… which means that WotC failed by making this a such a limited run because it hasn’t reduced the entry barrier to Modern for the cards that are actually needed for tier 1 decks.

      If they really wanted to reduce the entry barrier they would send out a few more boxes to stores to get more into the market… however that would further crash the good rares that saw reprints like Aether Vial and Engineered Explosives etc…

      Also: Price Memory. People are used to Goyf being worth $100+ so if it’s a goyf (MM or FS, doesn’t matter which), it’s worth $100+ to them.

  14. Another interesting observation, playing devils advocate:

    Many people are saying that once a player cracks a pack and pulls a goyf that they will “look for 3x more to complete a playset”. I don’t feel this is necessarily true. I think the chance is high that they crack a Goyf, think to themselves “Man, I could get sooo many cards I need for this Goyf, and there’s no way I’ll ever get 3x more” and will then proceed to try and trade it.

    That’s the other side of the coin I guess 🙂

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