Last week I pointed out some Legacy cards which may have been overlooked during the recent resurgence in demand for Eternal staples. I identified how foil Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration seemed criminally underpriced and also how other foils deserve a second glance, such as Creeping Tar Pit.
My article was not intended to incite buyouts. That is never my intent when I communicate anything publicly about MTG finance.
But a couple of people latched onto these ideas in the QS Forums and now foil Delvers and foil Creeping Tar Pits are more expensive. You know what? They should be. It was just a matter of time, and in no way did I orchestrate this movement.
Sometimes, buyouts are instigated on purpose. When Autumn Willows disappeared from the internet, it was all because of one person’s (strange) interest.
Suddenly this once-worthless card has value. It is buylisting for $0.75 and retailing for a few bucks!
While demand for this particular card will hopefully not spike because of this buyout, the person who amassed the Autumn Willow collection really doesn’t have to worry about his collection plummeting in price. After all, Autumn Willow is on the Reserved List.
Reserved List Effects
Cards on the Reserved List can never be reprinted for regular game play. This decree is self-enforced by Wizards of the Coast, and was made even more strict in March 2010 when they published their pledge. The list includes mostly rares and U3’s from older Magic sets. The comprehensive list can be found here.
So because Autumn Willow shows up on this list, Wizards of the Coast has promised never to reprint it ever again (shucks?).
When it comes to silly underpowered creatures like Autumn Willow, most people don’t even blink an eye at the Reserved List. On the other hand dozens of cards that appear on this list are high in demand and low in supply.
Dual lands are probably the most notorious cards in that category--as long as they remain on the Reserved List, Wizards of the Coast will never be able to make Legacy more affordable. Duals are at the backbone of the format (along with fetches) and their rising prices can never be counteracted by reprints. Therefore when Volcanic Island becomes a $300 card it’s likely to stay there.
City of Traitors is another Reserved List land that has been on a tear lately. A Legacy staple from almost 20 years ago that’s on the Reserved List? I’m only surprised that this jump didn’t occur sooner!
Once legitimate demand sends a Reserved List card higher, you can believe that it will never come down in a meaningful way as long as the game continues to be popular. Because of their age, most Reserved List cards are much harder to find on the open market. You’ll find far fewer copies of a rare from Mirage available for sale than you’ll find for Modern sets.
Sometimes even if a spike is orchestrated and happens overnight,a card on the Reserved List won’t retract in price much at all. When Gaea's Cradle spiked, the jump happened very suddenly. Yet even though the amount of play Cradle saw in Tier 1 Legacy decks didn’t alter much, the rarity of this legendary land meant the price wouldn’t really retract much. And it still hasn’t one year after it shot up.
Since Magic is more popular now than ever before, it would make perfect sense that popular Legacy, Vintage and casual staples on the Reserved List continue to soar into the sky. Being on the Reserved List means there will always be fixed supply. In fact one could argue supply gradually diminishes as cards are lost and damaged.
Bets on Reserved List cards are basically bets on Magic as a whole. If more players enter the game these will go up in price. Seems like a solid investment, right?
Strangely enough there are some popular cards on the Reserved List which haven’t yet gotten onto the latest price-spike train. There are some cards currently played in Legacy and EDH which are on the Reserved List and yet have not budged much at all in price of late. Can you believe this? Here are a few examples.
Hasn’t Intuition been a playable Legacy card for years now? Yet the card has actually declined in price over the past couple years. Sure there’s a promo printing of the card, but then again there’s a promo for Gaea's Cradle too.
I know the Legacy metagame has been evolving and this card may have fallen out of favor recently. But the card still is played and I can’t find a reason why this wouldn’t be a wise investment going forward. If Eureka can maintain a $100+ price tag on nostalgia and one-time Legacy stardom alone, then I believe Intuition could go higher.
Metalworker had been on the decline for over a year. The artifact creature always seems so breakable, but it can’t seem to consistently break into the top tables at SCG Opens. Nevertheless the card has shown small signs of life in the past few months, and being on the Reserved List bodes well for a small investment here.
The creature’s ability is also very powerful. Wizards of the Coast doesn’t take this kind of mana acceleration lightly, so the chances of a card being printed with a similar ability at such an aggressive mana cost is unlikely.
Remember when this card was unbanned in Legacy and it shot up in price dramatically? Unlike Illusionary Mask, Grim Monolith actually saw Legacy play in serious quantities. The mana acceleration is powerful, and EDH players love their artifact mana acceleration as well.
Now four years later the card is on the rise yet again. They say a rising tide lifts all ships, and this Legacy card is no exception. Being on the Reserved List is an added bonus for this potential investment. I could see it going higher.
Island of Wak-Wak
This idea is a bit more far-fetched, but I think there are merits to a small play on this land. The card has a powerful ability that can be played in every EDH deck. It’s a shame it doesn’t tap for mana, but Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth fixes that in black decks.
The artwork is also nice, and the card’s flavor is phenomenal. In fact that holds true for almost every card in Arabian Nights. I don’t think this card will blow up any time soon, but with there only being a couple dozen in stock it’s not impossible. If people did buy a few copies here and there, I’m fairly confident you wouldn’t see a sudden surge of new sellers. This card is very old, and being on the Reserved List means it’s going to remain rare forever.
It’s amazing how many terrible cards there are on the Reserved List. What do you mean Icatian Skirmishers can never be reprinted?! Oh no!!
Some cheaper Reserved List cards are worth a second glance, however. What about something like Tithe, which has a very powerful ability? It’s only worth about five bucks, but being on the Reserved List means this card’s likely never to drop in value. It may be dead money for a long time, but if you wanted to gamble I’d say this could be a prime choice. I like situations where upside is there but there’s virtually no downside.
Retribution of the Meek seems like a strong card for EDH. So does Shimmer. Or how about that glimmer of hope that Earthcraft gets unbanned? All of these show up on the Reserved List, and so their supply will continuously dwindle.
As I mentioned at this article’s open, I am not advocating reckless buyouts. They are foolish and I question how easy it is to profit from such an endeavor. I just see prices tumble back down from artificial peaks way too often. Once a price spikes, all the sellers come out of the woodwork looking to capitalize on the higher price. Thus the race to the bottom commences.
Older cards on the Reserved List are a bit different. As long as the card has some real demand from Legacy, EDH, etc. then a price jump is much more sustainable. That doesn’t mean you should go buy the internet out of Tithe this instant, but it does mean a small bet on a few Reserved List cards could add some stability to your portfolio.
I especially like the Legacy-playable cards like Intuition and Metalworker. As far as the rising tide goes, these boats seem to have been anchored down. I don’t think this can last forever however. As long as the game grows in popularity, these cards will have an upward trajectory. Acquire accordingly.
- Star City Games finally relisted foil Rest in Peace, at the new price of $14.99. Honestly, I think this price is reasonable for the short term. I can’t advocate buying at this new price, but I’m not in a rush to sell my set either.
- Someone decided Damia, Sage of Stone was too cheap. It spiked now, and SCG has just two SP copies in stock at $12.99 ($14.99 for NM). This price seems sustainable to me given the rise in EDH’s popularity since the 2011 Commander decks saw print.
- The run up on Zendikar fetches finally ended. They seem to have settled in price. They may even have a small downward trend after their rapid rise of late. Dual lands, however, still have tons of room to run. Consider this: SCG has 101 copies of Misty Rainforest in stock across all three conditions, yet they have been sold out of Tropical Islands for the last couple weeks. It’s pretty obvious which will go up next.