Insider: Cracking Boxes and Pro Tour Fate Reforged Insights

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Alright, so if I don't jam this in here, I may never get to it. Let's start with the Fate Reforged booster box cracking!

I bought two boxes at a local store for $100 each, with 7% sales tax

Total = $214

BUT! They offer a points program, so I get 10% off a future purchase.

Total = $194

My main comparison in doing this is against the alternative of just buying the singles I would want out of this set, so I'll subtract the "keep cards" from my total cost at the price they were selling day one.


Subtotal = $78

Total = $ 116

My favorite outlet for new cards is Pucatrade, but this time around I was not hitting as heavy as I usually do. Since release, I've shipped the following cards:

Subtotal = 8805pts ($88)

Total = $28

Beyond that, we're into binder grinding.



Total = +$44


Things to factor into the equation: I still have a number of rares left, some of them are even playable, though many are not. Plus I have a playset of commons and uncommons.

I was pretty unlucky with my foil rares, only hitting Arcbond and a Dragonscale General. I have a feeling I'll be holding on to both cards for a very long time.

What you can also see is some uncertainty--like shipping a Tasigur under $5, then shipping Frontier Siege before reacquiring.


I thought Tasigur was pretty sweet, but Legendary creatures at rare have a long history of being unable to hold any value. Going forward, I think Tasigur might break this mold as he is an absolute lightning rod. Having more than one copy is rarely going to be a bad thing.

Frontier Siege was card that I thought had potential, but I followed the crowd and shipped it while it was still worth more than postage. Then I saw it in action and had to give it a shot. In the same deck as Tasigur.

Overall, I'm happy that I got my money back out of my boxes, but this set overall didn't produce the results I am used to. Part of this is the lack of a Standard Pro Tour accompanying release, as well as the trend towards people just buying more sealed product.

Factoring in inflation, Magic sealed product gets cheaper and cheaper every year as the retail holds onto that $3.99 pack price that we've seen for more than a decade. $100 for a booster box just is not as substantial a cost as it used to be.

Pro Tour

If you somehow haven't heard, there was a Pro Tour this weekend in Washington, DC and the format was Modern.

The big breakout deck of the weekend was, of course, Jund Abzan. The deck is very similar to the Jund decks of yesteryear, trading Bloodbraid Elf for Siege Rhino and Lightning Bolt for Path to Exile.

The deck gains some key advantages in Lingering Souls and the power of Gavony Township. If anything has been made clear, it's that Siege Rhino is the real deal.

This is about the time in Thragtusk's lifespan that it started climbing from perpetually $6 to the highs of $20 we saw towards the end of its reign. The key difference here is that Siege Rhino is seeing serious play in Modern and even fringe play in Legacy.

Yes, I lost to Siege Rhino in Legacy, and yes I muttered profanity under my breathe.

This weekend at the SCG Regionals in Columbus, we could not keep Siege Rhino in stock and our neighbor bumped their buy price to $5, signalling an incoming price hike on this multi-format staple. If you don't own your playset, now's the time. If you like hording cards that are likely to have a strong demand for a long time to come, now's also the time.

While there are multiple flavors of Abzan, they all share the inclusion of Gavony Township, a card that is probably still underpriced at $3. It's only a matter of time for people to figure out that this card is going to be a force in Modern until creatures are no longer legal.

Township isn't "exciting" because it's just a land that doesn't even make colored mana, but it's been a solid role player for a long time and it's price doesn't reflect that.

What about cards that are not as obvious but still could see some movement based on Abzan's success?

[cardimage cardname="Lifebane Zombie"][cardimage cardname="Maelstrom Pulse"]

Abzan was piloted by roughly 25% of the field at the Pro Tour, so if things get incestuous in Modern, I expect to see the metagame getting fairly inbred as this deck grows in popularity. There really just isn't a great way for these decks to interact with Siege Rhino.

Enter Lifebane Zombie.

LBZ also shores up the Wilt-Leaf Liege shenanigans we've seen come out of Jacob Wilson's version of this deck. Other benefits? Lifebane Zombie is shockingly cheap right now.

Maelstrom Pulse is already one of the most flexible removal spells ever printed, resting solely on it's ability to destroy virtually anything. But the proliferation of tokens makes this card even more important in a field where one for one removal spells simply can't function.

Voice of Resurgence is another piece of tech coming out of Jacob Wilson's deck that we can expect to see some movement. Voice has been tragically underplayed in Modern, despite the field being ripe for crapping out elementals like a rabbit craps out Cocoa Puffs. While I expect Voice's price to move upwards at a glacial rate, I do expect it to rise over time.

The other decks we see in the Top 8 are two copies of Burn, two copies of Splinter Twin, and an Amulet of Vigor deck.

[cardimage cardname="Amulet of Vigor"] [cardimage cardname="Primeval Titan"]

It's likely that by the time you're reading this, we've already seen Amulet of Vigor being bought up and the prices raised. This one-time bulk rare has been on the cusp of a breakout performance for years and has finally made it to the big stage.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the Amulet of Vigor deck is still pretty terrible. Amulet decks are the Goblin Charbelcher of Modern. Given enough time, the deck will eventually and periodically put up a good performance, but it is by no means a Tier 1 deck.

I would sell into any price spikes related to this deck.

Snapcaster Mage is likely the only strong speculative target in the Twin decks. Tiago's invitational card has been riding the bench for a few months now as Treasure Cruise usurped the blue Mage's role as the go-to card advantage engine in blue decks.

Snapcaster has been called back from layoffs and is back on the job. I tweeted out Saturday night about rumors that a buyout was underway.

While I don't see any real evidence of that as I'm writing this, I do expect Snapcaster to quickly regain his $35 price tag and start climbing from there, though I would be sure to get off this train before Modern Masters III gets announced.


This last weekend I worked for Two Headed Games at the SCG Regionals in Columbus.

As you're working larger events and talking with the other vendors, you see some micro trends occurring in real time. There were two cards we were asked about time and time again over the weekend (aside from Siege Rhino).

The first is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, especially in foil.

We could not keep this card in stock and saw very few available for purchase throughout the day, and there were a number of people looking for these in foil. With the prerelease promo cresting $200, it's obvious this card has struck an emotional core in the player base.

The second card we were selling hand over fist is Shaman of the Great Hunt.

We sold every copy we brought with us and every card we bought, with many more asking for this card.

With SotGH being a mythic rare, its price is going to be less elastic. So if this card becomes popular, expect it to quickly reach $20. As the results roll in from the various SCG Regional tournaments, keep an eye out for this card to have a breakout weekend or fall flat on its face. Act accordingly.


8 thoughts on “Insider: Cracking Boxes and Pro Tour Fate Reforged Insights

  1. Agree on your calls, especially Rhino and Snapcaster.

    Is it really fair to compare Bloom Titan to Belcher? For one, the Titan deck has multiple ways of winning (Hive Mind + Pact or Primeval Titan), the sideboard is transformational, and the deck actually made the finals of a PT (Ok, there’s no Legacy PT so that’s not a fair comparison). I also keep hearing there were only 4 pilots of the Bloom Titan deck last weekend. One made the finals of the PT and one lost their win-and-in.

    If 20 players had run the deck, it would likely have had an even stronger showing.

    I guess time will tell, but I’m not so quick to rule out the Bloom Titan deck this time. The last two times, I was right there with you. But now that Wizards keeps banning good cards and unbanning bad cards, it’s only a matter of time before bad decks become good.

    All that being said, you’re right on one thing: sell into the hype.

    1. Did you watch the finals? He lost three games because his hands were literally full of do-nothing garbage.

      The deck is a glass cannon that is complicated to play, draw dependent, and typically folds to a counterspell. There are a number of combo decks that are more consistent, resilient, AND easier to play.

      I just don’t think it’s a good deck choice.

      1. I did watch the finals. One game the Bloom Titan pilot lost to Blood Moon. That is a weakness for sure.

        The strategy lost other games to MULTIPLE counterspells, not 1. In at least one instance pilot had pact of negation in hand (fetched by Tolaria West). But he couldn’t win through Remand + Dispel + another counter in the opponent’s hand.

        But ask any combo player – it’s tough to win through 3 counterspells no matter how resilient your deck is.

        1. Agreed, IT IS hard to win with a deck that only has seven win conditions in the deck and they all cost six mana against multiple counter spells. Which is why I would play combo decks that are more resilient (like Twin) over a deck like this, which is neat but terrible.

    1. I wanted to kick the can down the road a little further with the box portion of the article, but I had already done that a couple times so I shoehorned it in.

  2. Great article. Though it’s important to point out…that your box cracking was above average….an Ugin per box is unlikely and had you only gotten 1 you’d have been much much closer to break even. I also feel that pricing cards at “day 1 prices” that you intended to keep seems like poor logic. Unless you needed those cards on day 1 for a tournament, you could have picked up every single one 2 weeks later for less, though I do think valuing your playset of commons/uncommons would be fair to add in.

    1. The reason I use “day one” prices vs a theoretical long term price is because I am comparing cracking boxes to just preordering the cards I feel I need. If I preordered those cards, that’s the price I would have paid.

      Beyond that, if you use any other price then how can you really account for it? If I wait long enough, basically every card in the box is going to be worth $1 or less with a few exceptions so it’s hard to determine when that realistic “line” is.

      And you’re right, I did get lucky with two Ugins, but I was also unlucky with zero Monastery Mentors or Whisperwood Elementals so in theory these sorts of things balance themselves out in the aggregate. Also getting complete turds for all my foils did not help pad my results. I admit going into this set my instinct was to not buy any boxes, but I indulged myself because I’m an addict and for writing this article … this time I ended up slightly above, but this is definitely a set that is not an “auto-buy” like Khans of Tarkir was at release.

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