Insider: Battle for Zendikar Spoilers and You

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Welcome back, readers!

For this week I had planned on working on an article about analyzing your customers and the tools you can use for that--until I saw the Battle for Zendikar spoilers announced when I got up on Sunday morning. We got not one but two huge revelations.

1) The new Battle for Zendikar dual land cycle;

bfz lands

and 2) "expeditions," similar to the hidden treasures from the first print run of Zendikar.

bfz full arts

Wow...just wow...

There are 25 different lands in Battle for Zendikar with this treatment. Mark Rosewater stated that it would be two sets of 10 and one set of 5 and since they also spoiled the BFZ duals full-arted it appears that we'll get all 10 fetchlands and shocks full-arted as well. These will likely command some exceedingly high prices starting out, though I feel like their inclusion alone will cause massive amounts of BFZ to be opened.

Other valuable information relating to these "expeditions":

  • They are only in English, but will show up in other language sealed products (i.e. you can still get them in Japanese booster boxes, they just won't be in Japanese).
  • They are unredeemable on MTGO and not officially part of the BFZ set (hence the special expansion symbol).
  • Their rarity is equal to that of¬†a premium foil mythic rare. According to previous calculations by Mr. Ben Bleiweiss, this equates to about 1 in 216 packs (or 6 boxes), though that was in reference to Conflux¬†so the odds may be slightly different with bigger sets. This distribution¬†is similar to the Dragonball Z and Yu-Gi-Oh "Ultra Rares."
  • There will be 20 more¬†of these "expeditions" in the second set, Oath of the Gatewatch.

What this means is that they will likely command a high premium out of the gates (the only place I can see anyone trying to sell them is on eBay at $199 for the Arid Mesa). This premium may drop a bit assuming the set is opened as widely as expected.

So What Does This Mean?

The bigger question is what does this do to older versions of these cards (the Zendikar fetches, Khans fetchlands, and shocklands). If people really like the artwork (currently it seems to be getting mixed reviews) then these could become the newest "pimp" version of the cards, though I imagine they are probably still less rare than original pack foils. However, these will assuredly affect the prices of the current "pimpest" versions in some way.

The other important thing to keep in mind is that given the values of their current counterparts, I feel like they will likely fall into three distinct camps:

  1. Fetches - These will be the most valuable, with the blue ones commanding the most premium (likely $175-$250 range).
  2. Shocks - These will be middle tier, still likely valuable enough to recoup the cost of a box (i.e. $100+ range).
  3. BFZ Duals - The current consensus is that these are awesome for Standard but worse for Modern. It's unlikely that many three-color Modern decks will run them, though they may fit well in two-color control decks like the U/W Control that's popped up recently. These will be the lowest tier (likely in the $50-$75 range).

The other big question is now what will the ones in Oath of the Gatewatch be. It's actually a bit odd that WoTC would put both fetches and shocks in the first set as both are some of the most desirable lands that they are willing to reprint (and thus will drive demand for product by a great deal). Given WoTC's desire to complete cycles it seems pretty safe to assume that the enemy duals (to match the BFZ ones) will be in Oath and will also get this "expedition" treatment. So that means there would be 15 more options.

This is awkward because it implies we can have another full set of 10 for one other dual land cycle, but there's five remaining, which is only half a cycle (or something like mono-color lands). At this point we can only speculate on the remaining lands, but assuming that WoTC sticks to reprinting lands that already exist we have the following options (ranked in order of current secondary market value) for the 10 spot.

  1. Shadowmoor/Eventide filter lands
  2. Checklands (M10/11/12/13 and Innistrad)
  3. Painlands (Ice Age + Apocalypse)
  4. Temples (Theros block)

Keep these cycles in mind if we start to see the expeditions affecting previous versions on the secondary market.

Also note that unlike the Zendikar treasures it doesn't appear that these will be limited to "first print run," so if product demand remains high, then a lot of them will be opened over the long run. This means the value of any given BFZ rare will be severely limited.

The most valuable rare in Khans is Dig Through Time at around $5.50 and the second most valuable is Siege Rhino at $3.80 (TCG Mid Values as of 8/30/15). Even the most valuable Khans mythic is only $8 (Sorin, Solemn Visitor); so the ceiling for the set is actually pretty low.

To me, this also means that unless you need a card immediately for a tournament, preordering this set is an extremely bad idea, unless you're very sure on the card (i.e. Hangarback Walker).

The fact that these are not redeemable is also very important. MTGO Redemption greatly increases the paper card supply on the secondary market, so these expeditions will not get a price drop when redemption starts (as we often see with most other Standard cards) and their MTGO price will likely be far lower than their paper price.

BFZ Duals

I kind of glossed over these originally in my haste to get to the "expeditions" because they have more financial relevance, but it's important to try and evaluate the BFZ duals properly.

  • They have basic land types, which means they can be fetched; with fetchlands in Standard for another year or so, they will likely serve as powerful mana fixers.
  • They become better later in the game when you're likely to have two¬†basics, which¬†means like temples they may be better suited for control decks.
  • The basic land requirement makes them worse in tricolor (or more) decks, which are likely to run more nonbasics and thus less likely to satisfy the "untapped" ability.
  • They are likely best in a two-color deck which plays a decent number of basic lands.
  • Modern tends to play a lot of nonbasic lands. A land that always comes into play tapped before turn three, and often afterwards too, is unlikely to replace the shocklands.
  • They will be very good in Standard, allowing decks to splash an extra color.
  • Standard will likely heavily favor allied colors thanks to having allied fetches and now BFZ duals (at least before Oath¬†comes out). The current allied colors will have all the lands that enemy colors have (minus wedge trilands), and these additional 8 lands.

2 thoughts on “Insider: Battle for Zendikar Spoilers and You

  1. What is wizards thinking with this HUGE rarity spike for “nessisary” cards? New people no longer have to drop 100 – 350 to have a competitive deck, they might have to drop what double or triple that? What good is this?

    1. The argument is that there are cheaper versions of the same cards already available…it’s not like they just made all the super competitive cards into these “ultra mythic rares”, the full art foil Steam Vents does the same thing as a plain RtR Steam Vents…it just looks cooler. Now, adding these may not really help reduce the prices of the current zendikar fetches (which are really the only major price outliers in the modern land base)..but I fully expect we’ll see them reprinted again in the near future.

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