Insider: Looking at Modern Masters 2’s Impact

Are you a Quiet Speculation member?

If not, now is a perfect time to join up! Our powerful tools, breaking-news analysis, and exclusive Discord channel will make sure you stay up to date and ahead of the curve.

Welcome back readers/speculators!

Today's article idea comes from Doug Linn, courtesy of our writers/editors forum. Many of you might think it's easy to come up with one article idea a week, but sadly it isn't (as my plethora of "unfinished" ideas in my queue can attest to). Luckily for me, Doug had the idea to come up with a post for article ideas when we get stuck. This is one of those ideas.

Modern Masters 2 Breakdown

The premise is an interesting one. A set of all reprints that caused Modern prices to jump dramatically by creating demand for the format and exciting people (see GP Vegas breaking the sealed GP record and me waiting in line for 2.5 hours to try and get into a MMA Mini-Masters). The experiment that was Modern Masters (MMA) will likely be repeated, though likely with a different card set.

The original reasoning behind Modern Masters was to reduce the cost of the Modern format. It didn't accomplish that as the marquee cards were printed at mythic (with the exception of a small few) and they are now more expensive than before Modern Masters came out. It's almost assured that MM2 will also be all reprints and likely include a lot of Modern staples from Zendikar block and forward.

I expect the following cards to make an appearance.

However, there are a lot of potential rares. If you're wondering why I didn't include the Zendikar fetchlands on this list it's because in MMA WoTC only had three rare lands (two of which tapped for mana of any color) and the other was Blinkmoth Nexus. WoTC has a love of printing cycles and I don't think they'd devote five rare slots to the Zendikar fetchlands.

Effect on Singles Prices

The fact that card prices actually rose after the printing indicates that the player base can absorb a much larger print run of the staples without crashing the secondary market. If we review the price graphs of the following MMA reprinted staples we can see how the rares were affected. (The only mythics that budged were the Kamigawa dragons, because they had casual appeal and demand didn't increase to meet the influx of stock, unlike the actual Modern cards.)

cryptic command mm1 graph

aether vial mm1 graph

arcbound ravager mm1 graph

I've chosen to stop the graphs around October of last year because MMA was released in June, so the packs that would have been opened were mostly opened and the card prices had enough time to settle.

You'll notice that across the board these main staples dropped a little but not really more than 15-20%. Certainly not the $60 to $0.5 drops we saw with Chronicles. It's also important to note the current price of these cards have them back closer to (if not greater than) their previous price.

The other subset of cards are the sideboard or "niche" cards like Kira, Great Glass-Spinner which have yet to really recover.

Kira mm1 graph

What we learn here is that Modern-legal sideboard cards whose price is due principally to lack of supply are likely to take the biggest hits. While a lot of MMA rares dropped the value of their respective original printings, the ones that had the biggest plunge were like Kira.

While MM2 is likely still about a year away it seems wise not to stock up on the sideboard tech cards unless you can get rid of them in a timely manner.

Wizards' Goal for MM2

If WoTC's goal for MMA was to lower the price of Modern, they did a terrible job (in the long run--short-term they did drop the prices of some staples considerably). If it was to sell a ton of cards in almost no time and make a nice profit, they did an amazing job.

Now it does appear that a lot of MMA boxes were scooped up by speculators because the writing was on the wall regarding their price. Many of us have been saying the price of boxes was assuredly going to rise and likely hit $500 or so within a year or two.

Boxes of Ravnica and Future Sight already hit that mark, and the chase cards of those sets were also in Modern Masters, as well as a ton of other highly valuable, sought-after cards. This leads me to my next point.

Print Run

I honestly believe WoTC could print five to ten times as much MM2 as they did MMA and the Modern staples would drop by maybe 15%, if that. Now, I still doubt they'd print that much, but three to four times the print run is more likely.

The fact that MMA stopped at Shards block, after which quite a few Modern staples have been printed, indicates that MM2 will likely differ quite a bit from MMA. So the concern that MM2 boxes would cause MMA boxes to drop in value is unjustified--after all, the announcement of Return to Ravnica didn't cause boxes of Ravnica to drop in value.

The reason is simple. The people who tend to buy older boxes want them for:

  1. Retro-drafts
  2. Collecting
  3. Chase cards

Only #3 would actually get "appeasement" from MM2. So there would still be demand for MMA from a lot of camps.

Another important point to consider is if WoTC will make MM2 a draft format like they did MMA. This is an interesting thing to consider because the rarity of some cards was likely determined so as not to make draft un-fun.

However, the number of MMA drafts I was able to enjoy can be counted on one finger. The format was fun, but to be fair, given the cost of packs and the value of many of the cards, making it a "draft" set was rather pointless. Very few people passed the rares they cracked (even if they were bad) unless the pack contained a more valuable uncommon, common or foil.

I hope that WoTC realizes that throwing in a lot of bad commons to make a box "draft worthy" is really just wasting space. Players would be thrilled if they cracked packs and most of the commons were just good staple cards as opposed to cutesy draft fodder.

What's Not in MM2

Lastly we want to look at what doesn't show up in MM2. One of the most obvious cards in need of a reprint in MMA was Thoughtseize, which escaped the set entirely, much to the anger of many players who wanted it for the upcoming Modern season. Lo and behold it showed up in Theros.

So if any "obvious" reprints don't make it into MM2, I wouldn't stock up on them for the next Modern season. They are strong candidates for reprinting en masse.

22 thoughts on “Insider: Looking at Modern Masters 2’s Impact

    1. I would have agreed, but I believe that WoTC’s love of finishing cycles means that it’s more likely the finish the Sword cycle and to fit an additional 3 colorless mythics in there would basically finish the mythic slots out.

  1. I really could not disagree more with a number of assertions in this article, chief among them that Wizards could print massively more MMA2 with only a small budge in prices.

    1. I didn’t say it would be only a small budge in prices, what I said was that it wouldn’t tank the prices of the staples. I mentioned Kira to show that the reprinting did tank some cards pretty hard. However, if you think printing 2-3-or even 4x as much MM2 is going to drop Tarmogoyf or Dark Confidant by 50%, then I disagree wholeheartedly with you.

  2. This article is terrible, there is no way goyf/bob need yet another MM appearance. The set is also supposed to be fun to draft, the cards you have chosen are certainly all very powerful rares but you must remember it’s a draft set.

    1. I disagree 100% regarding reprinting of Bob/Tarmogoyf. Their current prices (especially goyf) are potentially major barriers to new players trying to enter the modern format (as are the zendikar fetchlands). If you notice I actually believe making it a draft set was pointless due to the fact that it was very difficult to actually draft (as boxes/packs sold out very quickly) and WoTC is wasting time/effort into trying to turn the modern master’s series into draft sets when such limited print runs prevent them from actually being draftable.

      1. I agree on this with David, I would be amazed if Tarmogoyf does not get reprinted in MM2 if not sooner…It is widely played in the format and has a huge price tag.

    2. Unless you are sitting on a hoard of gofy and dark confidant, yeah they do. I say they downgrade gofy to rare and print him into oblivion.

  3. I feel it’s very difficult to predict MMA 2’s contents. It’s really a bit of a craps shoot depending on what Wizards wants to prioritize. The conclusions differ significantly depending on assumptions you’re going to make.

    I do feel MMA2 could get away with a larger print run, but not more than 1.5x – 2x that of MMA.

  4. What about if they were to keep it as a draft set, but changed how the product was distributed. One issue was making the bulk of the product released at a GP and in ways people could speculate on it easily. If they made it like Magic Celebration day and supplied a bunch of product for people to do MM2 Drafts at their LGS’s.

    I think the biggest issue is getting the cards into players, easing liquidity of the available cards in the market. During GP Vegas the stores were aggressive in absorbing the cards, but as a result they artificially created a floor on prices for cards like Tarmogoyf. They bought at 120. They will not release any of them into the market till its profitable, which pegs its price higher then it started.

  5. I think that the set will definitely be designed and developed for Drafting. Yes, this “wastes” some of the space, if your only intention is cracking Modern staples/playables. But it was clear that their intention on some level was to avoid crashing the singles market; Goyf and Bob at Mythic, Vial to Rare, crap rares like Jugan just for cycle completeness, etc. This means that they’re going to have to come up with a ton of commons and uncommons to fill in the slots. They aren’t going to force things like Swords, Lands, Karn, Batterskull, Obliterator, etc into uncommon, so they gotta put something in. All that free space, why NOT make it fun to draft?

    I also have a theory (and I’m not alone here) about MM2 that would not only shake up Modern as a format, but also drive sales hype even more for folks who started in the last few years. It’s going a little deep, but bear with me. Introducing non-Modern Legal cards from Magic history. Ofcourse, the cards would then be Modern Legal. It seems like a good way to add cards that Modern could benefit from, without unleashing them on Standard. Sort of like how they shoved cards like Scavenging Ooze, Tidehollow Strix, and TNN to Legacy. Thinking along the lines of Pernicious Deed, Sulfuric Vortex, Misdirection, Goblin Piledriver…

  6. My biggest point of contention with this article is that you’re missing the biggest fundamental shift here – that Modern Masters actually DROVE interest in the format. If it didn’t drive interest in the format, then we would have seen many of the Modern staples prices fall off 50-60% like we saw with many of the EDH type cards (Woodfall Primus, Tooth and Nail, Adarkar Valkyrie etc). I heard a quote from Ben Bleiweiss right around when MMA was in print that said “every time someone rips a Goyf, you didn’t add 1 Goyf to the supply, you added demand for 3 more” – and I think that was true to a large enough extent to where prices responded the way they did. SCG was the first company to RAISE the buy prices on Goyf even though there was a lot of supply hitting the market because they believed in the demand that Modern would create.

    Now, what that means for MMA2 is that unless you see an equitable amount of growth in the Modern player base, any reprint will in fact drop prices significantly because you don’t have the same underlying growth rate. While there are more Modern player in general, it’s more of a stable base than it was when MMA came out. THAT fact is why you saw Goyf and Bob and CLique increase in price despite the reprint.

  7. I’m with QED2, lots of things to disagree with :(.

    You think they would not make room for 5 Zendikar Fetches, yet the dragon cycle at Mythic exists. I think the 3 spots for lands in MMA should not be considered a good indicator in this case if they were even willing to do that. I think a set of Fetches in there is far from guaranteed, but I don’t think your reasoning for them not being in there is sound.

    The fact that card prices rose after the printing indicates it’s like any other set. Many cards went down first then recovered as Wizards was successful at promoting Modern. It may indicate that they didn’t print too much MMA, but it doesn’t lead to any conclusions regarding how much MMA2 they could print.

    When Chronicles was released the most expensive reprinted cards were $30-$35 according to many quotes I’ve read over the years. Where did you get the $60 number? Also wondering where you got the $0.5 number, I can’t think of any card Chronicles crashed that was anywhere near that when I started playing in ’97 (Elder Dragons and Erhnam Djinn are usually cited as the cards that saw the biggest drop, they were a couple of dollars each when I started).

    I believe Wizards’ goal for MMA was likely twofold: making more copies of the reprinted cards available and drawing attention to the format. They succeeded in both, but were more succesful in regard to the latter. What do you think prices would be like if they managed to draw as much attention to Modern without printing MMA? If they did a terrible job at anything it would be predicting their own succes in regard to Modern, something that would be really difficult, certainly not something you or I could have done.

    It feels wrong that a set 5-10x as large as MMA would only make a 15% change, but these things are really hard to predict and your guess is as good as mine.

    Who has a concern that MMA2 boxes would drop MMA box prices? Why would RTR and RAV make a good comparison for this situation? MMA sets are much more likely to contain the same cards given that they are mostly reprint based. Still don’t think it should be a concern, the comparison just doesn’t make sense to me.

    1. Pi,
      The $60 was something I’d heard when discussing the Chronicles debacle from a friend. I honestly can’t back that up with a specific card (or Scry price guide image), but the point was that the cards did in fact plummet by a large percentage and it’s difficult to say now what some of the originals would be worth if they had NOT been reprinted in Chronicles. A comparison I can see is something like Nebuchadnezzar who’s only printings were Chronicles and Legends and the Chronicles version is 10% of the Legends one (which is still dirt cheap).

      When I say “WoTC” did a terrible job regarding dropping the price of modern I did so without trying to imply I would have done a better job, simply they were far to conservative with the print run and seriously under-estimated the # of cards it would take to significantly affect long term prices of the staples.

      When I compared RtR to Ravnica what I was alluding to was the fact that Ravnica’s chase cards were Dark Confidant and shocklands. RtR brought the shocklands back but did NOT cause old boxes of Ravnica to drop in value despite the fact that one of the main draws to the set are the shocklands, perhaps Dissension/Guildpact would have been better comparisons because they don’t really have other chase rares (other than Infernal Tutor maybe), yet Guildpact boxes still go for $250-300 and Dissension is $300-325, yet the only cards above $10 (save Infernal Tutor) are the shocklands…which you can get equivalents (not art…but functionality) in current RTR block packs/boxes. I do understand and accept that the # of boxes of these older sets that are un-opened continues to drop and from a collector stand point means they should only ever go up in value…but if the demand came from people wanting the cards out of the boxes, then you’d expect a price drop when the main money cards to the set were reprinted.

      The 5x-10x larger print run was a bit of an exaggeration on the “conservativeness” of the MM1 print run. Mainly because from my perspective I was able to buy MM1 packs/boxes for exactly 2-3 days when they first came out for close to MSRP. Even above MSRP most stores were all sold out from their allotment (at least in our area) because the store owners could/would have sold packs for 2x MSRP or more as the demand existed. I simply extrapolated that idea out that if the print run was considerably larger I still believe the demand would have existed but the window to obtain packs/boxes would be greater. It also didn’t help that so many kept the boxes they did get (myself included) sealed awaiting the eventual and expected price increase we’re seeing now.

      Lastly, I regret not citing more concrete examples in this article, instead using more amorphous concepts/references when clearly it confused a lot of people. I consider this a lesson learned and an error I won’t repeat.

      1. Nebuchadnezzar to my knowledge never was one of the more expensive rares. Unfortunately I have to go by anecdotal evidence on this one, as memory serves people always refer to Ernham Djinn and the Elder Dragons when talking about cards that saw the biggest drop. Looking at current prices makes little sense as so much else has since impacted prices. (Also, there are 27x as many Nebuchadnezzar’s from Chronicles, so I’m actually somewhat surprised to see it being at 10%).

        When I was talking about the terrible job thing the main point was that they underestimated how many people they would draw to the format. They would have to be conservative in regard to how much they print, quite likely if Modern popularity had stayed at the level it was before MMA’s announcement we would see a much bigger impact on prices. It makes absolutely no sense to print more than they did without taking on more risk if the popularity factor doesn’t work out as they might hope. I think they did a reasonable job with the information available, the one thing you could perhaps claim is that they should have better estimated the future popularity of Modern, but I ask again, could you have done that better than they could? If not you would have hopefully come to the same conclusions in regard to how much to print. I cannot blame them for this.

        RTR brought back 5 cards from Ravnica block, some of which were not in the Ravnica set. 2 cards seeing a reprint out of 306 cards in the Ravnica set just isn’t going to impact sealed product prices much, particularly when those are not the highest value cards and you consider that people usually prefer the originals rather than reprints. Dissension and Guildpact would have both been better, though still you’re talking about very few reprints. Ravnica block is also known for its good limited environment so I would guess that a large part of the sealed product price is caused by people looking to experience that limited format again. MMA on the other hand contains a ton of reprints and as such the only sets close to it are Chronicles, Renaissance, some precons and the Masters Edition sets on MTGO. Your comparison is simply flawed because RTR doesn’t try to do what MMA is trying to do.

        I agree with many boxes remaining sealed (I have 2). Keeping that in mind, how can you blame Wizards for not printing enough? If they print considerably more suddenly holding onto the boxes becomes a less exciting prospect and a much larger part of the product gets opened, resulting in a potential flooding of the market.

        I think the error has been to try to compare apples and oranges. The reasoning just hasn’t been sound. No amount of examples would have improved that. Are you sure it’s most likely that it’s many of your readers who are the ones who are confused?

  8. This was a very ambitious article to write because there are so many assumptions based on just that… assumptions.

    I feel like you missed some cards and suggest cards I wouldn’t anticipate – but again, that’s just an opinion based on the value of some cards.

    For instance, reprint on Inquisition makes sense, but you didn’t name Simian Spirit Guide – because you don’t anticipate it being a reprint or you weren’t trying to guess the entire set?

    I agree with Elesh Norn, and Lily – I don’t agree with Goyf or Bob – but who’s to say?

    I was surprised you didn’t name Snapcaster Mage who seems like an obvious choice if you’re suggesting Liliana, as well considering their presence in the same set and importance to the Modern Format.

    Overall, I don’t think you could make everyone happy with an article like this no matter what you did.

    Thanks for the write.

    1. Thanks Jason,
      I definitely didn’t plan on trying to guess the whole set…that would be a bold and I expect disastrous undertaking. I only wanted to focus on the cards that I felt have a high probability of being in the set based on;

      1) They are considered a staple modern card and haven’t been reprinted (Inquisition)
      2) They complete an existing cycle (the swords)
      3) They fulfill a similar role to something in MM1 (The Praetor Cycle)

      I purposefully left fetchlands off because unless MM2 did get a much larger printing than MM1, reprinting them would not satiate the market. I expect fetchlands in a standard legal set or some sort of boxed collector set that can be printed on a march larger scale. I still believe they will reprint on the Onslaught fetches again before reprinting the Zendikar ones as part of the “fun” of legacy is having “perfect mana” which eliminates some deck constraints and allows for more experimentation (up until you play against a finely tuned machine like TES or RUG) and realize that countless hours have gone into the card choices in those decks.

  9. Has anyone thought about the implications of Conspiracy? They are printing a standalone draft only set, I think that this more than merits the thought process that they might be shifting the focus of MM2 off of draft.

Join the conversation

Want Prices?

Browse thousands of prices with the first and most comprehensive MTG Finance tool around.

Trader Tools lists both buylist and retail prices for every MTG card, going back a decade.

Quiet Speculation