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Insider: Ooooh Shiney (A Look at Eternal Foils)

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Today's article will focus on foils, specifically in regards to Eternal foils. Why you ask? Well that's easy, because they often have the most ridiculous multipliers when it comes to value.

Without looking up prices, which card do you think is worth more right now:

1x Sphinx's Revelation (foil) - A Standard-legal mythic played in quite a few decks whose regular copy is worth $23 (TCG Mid).

1x Daze (foil) - An older Legacy-only common whose nonfoil value is $2.44

And the answer is

.....

.....

.....

.....

.....Foil Daze and it's not even close. You could get two Sphinx's Revelations in foil for one copy of a foil Daze. The foil Daze is worth $63-65 at TCG-Mid pricing. A foil Sphinx's Revelation is worth about 1.5x a regular one's value. A foil Daze is worth about 30x.

Why you ask? Because Eternal players like to pimp out their decks more than Standard players. The mindset is since your lands (duals/fetches) are often $50+ dollars each (or $80+ if they are blue) you might as well have the whole deck be as expensive as possible.

This mindset is a goldmine for players who specialize in trading foil legacy staples. The beauty of eternal foils is that so long as the format is alive, they will be highly valuable. Now, the downside is that they can be harder to trade, as they are considered more of a "luxury", but with all the outs available to people these days (TCG Player, eBay, MagiccardMarket, etc.) you can always sell them.

The Basics

There are a few factors to consider when trying to get eternal foils.

  1. Is the card in its original printing (many Eternal players prefer foils from the original set or in some cases the first printing that could be foil). For example; a 7th Edition foil Counterspell is worth around $17-$20, whereas a Mercadian Masques one is worth closer to $13-15.
  2. Pack foils are preferred to judge foils (compare a pack foil Polluted Delta $350-370 to a judge foil Polluted Delta $220-235) (though it's not possible to determine the number of each in circulation as the Onslaught print run is not public knowledge).
  3. Condition is huge. While many people just getting into older formats (especially Legacy) will be perfectly content with beat-up duals, the people who are foiling out their decks are not. They are putting a lot of extra money into the deck so LP/MP foil cards will be very hard to move.
  4. Legacy vs. EDH/Cubers. In an interesting turn of events, Legacy players who are foiling out their deck tend to like non-English (ideally Japanese/Korean/Russian) because those are harder to find. The goal for the deck is to make it truly one of a kind. EDH foilers on the other hand prefer English for an obvious reason....EDH is a more casual environment with a much stronger possibility of having newer players in the mix. It is taxing to keep explaining what a card does over and over because your opponents can't read it. The same can be said for cubers. This is less of a problem with Legacy, because while the card pool is just as large, Legacy is so much more cutthroat when it comes to "playable" that the card pool is inherently much smaller because decks play the best of the best cards and don't look for similar substitutes.
  5. The customer base is much smaller because a lot fewer people want to put the money into pimping their decks. Thus, you're far more likely to "sit on" a valuable foil card waiting for an interested party to come along.
  6. These do tend to appreciate at a more rapid pace than the regular versions, thus they can provide very solid profits.
  7. The biggest trick to picking up Eternal foils is to determine which ones will likely make it while they are Standard-legal. For the most part this is the "cheapest" they'll be as the value is kept deflated while people think they can keep opening them in packs.
  8. Most people put foils at twice the price of regular cards (except the older Eternal foils that are well known).
  9. Foils are harder to price out as many of the basic trading applications people use do not include foils (in fact if someone were to design an add on or new on similar to MTG familiar that did they could make a lot of money selling it).

Trends

It's difficult to track the trends on these foils, as Black Lotus Project and MTG Goldfish, which are the sites I prefer to use for card price history, do not track foil prices. So I can't go look back in time and show you a graph with two lines (one with the price trajectory of the regular version and the other of the foil version) as I'd like to.

However, I can show you the "multiplier" of a lot of Eternal foil staples and you can see how much greater than the typical "2x" it is. This multiplier is calculated by simply taking the current foil price and dividing by the current non-foil equivalent price.

Now we know that WoTC is going to push the Modern format as their "eternal format of choice" which means that they will keep supporting it. This means that in the long run players will play it (even if currently it seems they only play it when they have to). That being said, the next logical step is to look at the Modern/Legacy foils as they have the most opportunity for growth, and then the Modern-only foils, and lastly the creme-de-le-creme, the Standard/Modern/Legacy foils.

The ultimate goal is to find the cards with a low multiplier as these have the highest probability of growth. You'll also notice that a lot of uncommons/commons have high multipliers, which often occurs because they play pivotal roles in multiple decks and thus the demand for them is higher.

Eternal Foils (Legacy Only)

Card Name Foil Price Non-Foil Price Multiplier
Polluted Delta $364.13 $88.05 4.1
Flooded Strand $284.29 $68.99 4.1
Brainstorm $149.97 $1.61 93.1
Counterspell $13.64 $0.89 15.3
Preordain $11.17 $0.48 23.3
Ponder $6.10 $0.90 6.8
Dark Ritual $48.15 $0.80 60.2
Flame Rift $16.72 $0.91 18.4
Jace, the Mind Sculptor $628.40 $114.37 5.5
Sensai's Diving Top $70.53 $16.82 4.2
Stoneforge Mystic $81.97 $9.99 8.2

 

Eternal Foils (Legacy/Modern)

Card Name Foil Price Non-Foil Price Multiplier
Spell Pierce $14.99 $0.99 15.1
Faerie Macabre $7.55 $0.37 20.4
Tarmogoyf $536.46 $133.00 4.0
Dark Confidant $173.10 $72.50 2.4
Liliana of the Veil $185.75 $43.46 4.3
Lightning Bolt $3.32 $1.25 2.7
Leyline of Sanctity $20.33 $11.15 1.8
Elspeth, Knight Errant $85.00 $23.24 3.7
Knight of the Reliquary $21.56 $5.69 3.8

 

Eternal Foils (Modern Only)

Card Name Foil Price Non-Foil Price Multiplier
Living End $17.29 $8.47 2.0
Urza's Mine $13.36 $1.30 10.3
Urza's Power Plant $11.90 $1.09 10.9
Urza's Tower $13.49 $1.29 10.5
Sylvan Scrying $7.55 $2.93 2.6
Path to Exile $10.73 $4.99 2.2
Remand $27.79 $14.37 1.9
Cryptic Command $50.75 $25.99 2.0
Kitchen Finks $17.71 $4.63 3.8
Fulminator Mage $49.99 $26.97 1.9
Expedition Map $7.99 $1.16 6.9

 

Eternal Foils (Standard/Modern/Legacy)

Card Name Foil Price Non-Foil Price Multiplier
Abrupt Decay $30.99 $6.83 4.5
Deathrite Shaman $71.82 $14.20 5.1
Mutavault $79.99 $23.61 3.4
Scavenging Ooze $27.99 $12.00 2.3
Thoughtseize $160.00 $44.73 3.6

 

I've highlighted the cards from my lists that have lower than expected multipliers. I've also tried to avoid cards that are also incredibly desirable in EDH (though I will admit Expedition Map does make its way into a lot of decks) as the EDH crowd does often love to foil out their decks.

Having talked to a lot of Modern players I do know that many are weary of foiling out their modern decks just yet because WoTC has been so quick to drop the banhammer on decks that are outperforming. Hence, why I suspect that many of the Modern-only cards have such a low multiplier (save the Urza lands, which have a lot of casual appeal as well).

One of the coolest aspects about investing in foils (specifically original print run foils) is that reprints of the basic cards don't hurt the foil price much. While this can halve a normal copy, the foil may barely budge and in fact may go up (as the reprint creates renewed interest/demand in the card).

David Schumann

David started playing Magic in the days of Fifth Edition, with a hiatus between Judgment to Shards. He's been playing Commander since 2009 and Legacy since 2010.

View More By David Schumann

Posted in Finance, Free Insider, LegacyTagged , , , ,

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9 thoughts on “Insider: Ooooh Shiney (A Look at Eternal Foils)

  1. Hey David,

    Great Great article.

    For a while, not now, Vexing Devil foils were 8 while the normal were and still are 5, now they’ve jumped to 5/12 on scg.

    Recently, when QS gave me the dark depths tip, I bought a foil version for 40 and recently sold it for 120 on ebay. Got into foil stoneforge at 32 and flipped for 81 in trade.

    From those examples, even though they’re not really low on the multiplier, but if they’re staple staples, they’d be decent pickups with some (italics) upside. Even foil lily is talked about as the next foil jace.

    1. I’d also comment on the foil EDH market. Anything foil and legendary that’s really low right now (think guild leaders and the rare cycle of legends in dragon’s maze) are decent pickups as well. Foil EDH staples are also big – foil sylvan primordial etc

  2. From tomorrow on MTGStocks will also start tracking the prices of foil versions of cards. Will of course take a while before a decent price history has been established, but it’s a start.

  3. The cards with lower than expected multipliers are pretty easy to explain… Leyline of sanctity is strictly a sideboard card. When people go to foil out a deck, this one is probably usually one of the last on the list of cards to pick up. Remand doesn’t see play in any format other than modern, so no crossover appeal. Plus it has to compete with an FNM version for pimp status. Fulminator mage only just recently spiked. The regular version was 3 bucks a year ago. I’m assuming the foil was like 6. Its hard to sell a pimp card that went up %800 in the past year. Most people are going to just say screw it and buy the regular version.

  4. I’d like to add that most people decide to foil out a deck to show their committment and love of the decks that will last; most people don’t want to foil out a standard deck that may no longer be good in 2 weeks. I think that’s the primary reason why standard cards have a low multiplier. I never want to pick up standard only foils.

    1. I agree 100%, sadly I’ve tried to explain that to some friends and it falls on deaf ears…then they wonder why they can’t trade the cards away when they are done with the deck.

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