Since the whispers about the second set of Expeditions started, I’ve been anticipating their arrival almost as much as the new Star Wars movie. I’m super excited about Expeditions, but let’s be honest, nothing can surpass a Star Wars level of anticipation. I’ve been waiting for that movie's release since 1998 and I hope it lives up to my excessively high expectations.
Similarly, I had high expectations for the new batch of these full-art foils that will appear in Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW). Many hours were spent contemplating what these twenty cards could be and discussing the topic with my friends.
My speculation about the contents of the second cycle was partially correct. I was right about the filter lands, but I didn't exactly foresee the strange collection of lands that would comprise the second half...
Filter Lands & Price Distribution
Let’s take a look at the filter lands first. This unique cycle of lands was printed during an odd year for Magic. Lorwyn and Shadowmoor block broke with the three-set block model for the first time ever.
By now we're used to four sets a year, but that wasn’t the precedent before these two mini-blocks. With the arrival of the new rotation schedule we should most likely be looking to these four sets for financial data, but that’s a story for another day.
The prices of filter lands are distributed in an interesting pattern. The most expensive one, by a wide margin, is Twilight Mire at $34. This is partially due to its printing in Eventide but also because it sees more play than the others, in Modern Jund and Junk decks.
The next group, worth about $12-15, consists of Rugged Prairie, Mystic Gate, and Sunken Ruins. Right below them are the Naya buddies Wooded Bastion and Fire-Lit Thicket, clocking in at just under $10. Finally we have the Future Sight reprint, Graven Cairns, worth just $6.
Prices of these cards in foil are similar to the foil shock lands, most of them falling in the $60 range. That comparison can help us predict the prices of the Expeditions filter lands.
I expect the Expeditions to follow the same tier system as the current price distribution. Therefore, it’s probably safe to say that Twilight Mire will be the most expensive, unless the blue ones overtake it simply because they're blue.
In case you didn’t know, blue is the best color. Even if you don't believe that, it's certainly the most popular, and we have years of financial data showing that blue lands come at a premium.
This is a lesson I relearned thanks to the Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) Expeditions. Many of the cards in the first batch followed a similar price trajectory to what I suggested in my article, The Projected Value of Zendikar Expeditions. What I did not expect was that demand for blue fetches would break the pricing mold.
That said, I don't think blue filters will repeat this pattern, simply because they aren’t as in demand as the fetches. They lag behind the shocks as well, but the prices of the new set have to be distributed somehow, and they should fall with the blue ones on the high end.
To illustrate my point, look at Watery Grave. Before Grixis Control and Twin variants were popularized by Khans block cards, the land saw virtually no play in the format. Even now most lists only run one copy.
Despite these factors, Watery Grave is one of the highest-priced Expedition shocklands. Its price falls in the second tier ($70), and the only card clearly outperforming it is the obvious choice of Steam Vents.
A Motley Crew of Lands...
What I really wanted to call this section was, "Bizarre selection of lands that seemingly have nothing to do with each other," but that was a mouthful. Most of the colorless ones are understandable but the others make for an odd-looking cycle.
The first Expeditions were broken down nicely. There were ten fetches, ten shocks, and five Battle lands. Now I'm not sure if the second half of the Battle land cycle is getting printed at all, but I thought for certain they'd be among the new Expeditions.
What we got instead was some land destruction, Commander goodies, and a random green-white dual. It’s safe to say no one predicted the whole set correctly.
Forbidden Orchard & Mana Confluence
Let’s start with Forbidden Orchard and Mana Confluence. Both of these cards see a relatively small amount of play and are highly deck-specific. I could see the painland’s price rising in the future if a Modern deck besides Amulet Bloom starts utilizing it, but it also has to compete with the legality of City of Brass, a near-perfect replacement for all intents and purposes.
Currently neither of these cards are particularly valuable, foil versions included. I expect them to be near the bottom of the price list. It’s frankly surprising to see them included as Expeditions and I don’t think many players will need a copy of either.
Up next we have a Commander all-star in Kor Haven. This is yet another card I never would have believed would make the cut. It is an expensive older foil though, so the Expedition will likely draw some attention. It sees some play in lots of formats and should end up somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Ancient Tomb & Eye of Ugin
Ancient Tomb sees some Legacy play, but with the From the Vault foil going under $20, I doubt this Expedition will be at the top of anyone’s list.
The same could be said of Eye of Ugin. Maybe Tron players or Eldrazi Commander players will want one to bling out their deck, but I can’t imagine demand being extremely high for this land either.
Non-Premium Land Destruction
Next are some land destruction lands. Tectonic Edge is a $5 foil and it’s baffling to see it on this list. Modern players might want copies but it only sees play in decks like Hate Bears. Most archetypes prefer to use Ghost Quarter. Still, there could be some demand here because the card can show up as a four-of.
That said, when there's a huge price disparity between foil versions, most players will just purchase the cheaper one. Foil Tectonic Edges from Worldwake are retailing for just about $9, and the FNM foil is even lower. So the ceiling on the Expedition isn't high.
The same could be said of Strip Mine. With the small number of formats this card is legal in, it’s doubtful it will rise very high. While it’s true you can play one in every Commander deck, I doubt players will be running out to order this Expedition when the From the Vault version is readily available.
We also get a new Dust Bowl. This land is a Commander staple. Between its desirability in that casual format and the exorbitant cost of Mercadian Masques foils, I would expect this land to fall in the middle of the pack at least.
Wasteland & Horizon Canopy
Finally we come to the cream of the crop. Predicting these two as the most expensive Expeditions in OGW may or may not be obvious, but I'm confident in my picks. Wasteland and Horizon Canopy should certainly be the highest-priced Expeditions out of the new cycle.
The combination of historically high prices, sustained demand from competitive play, and a comparatively small supply make for surefire home runs. In addition, both of these lands appear as four-ofs in their respective decks.
Even with three foil versions, Wasteland is still flirting with $200 and the most recent judge promo is even higher! If there were fewer promo versions of Wastelands available, it would be even more ridiculous. I’m setting my mark for the Expedition at $250 but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it eclipse $300.
Horizon Canopy hails from the short-printed Future Sight, clocking in at nearly $200 for the foils as well. Horizon Canopy might be the most random card on the list, but lots of players will be elated to add foil copies to their collection.
Predicting the Numbers
Let's look at some estimates on the actual numbers involved here. The OGW Expeditions will likely follow a tier system just like BFZ Expeditions did. Here are my initial price projections for the entire twenty-land cycle.
As you can see, these are laid out in a similar fashion to the current price picture for the BFZ Expeditions. There are definitely more unknowns surrounding these cards than any in the previous set, so we'll see if my prices are correct or not.
There are a few other important things to consider. First of all, this cycle only contains twenty cards instead of the previous twenty-five. That means a comparatively larger quantity of each individual card on the market. With more copies floating around, lower prices typically ensue.
The second factor is that these Expeditions come from a small set. Small sets sell less than their large fall set counterparts, as they are drafted for less time and in smaller numbers, and typically generate less hype.
This will definitely depend in some part on the number of playable cards that appear in Oath. If the set has an overall high appeal, then more Expeditions will get cracked. On the other hand, if no one is excited about the normal set rares and mythics, they're unlikely to continue cracking packs in search of Expeditions.
To sum up my thoughts on these factors, I believe that when the dust settles, Expeditions in OGW will behave similarly to those in BFZ. It seems to me the countervailing tendencies will basically cancel each other out, and we'll see a familiar price layout.
Only time will tell, but I hope this analysis has helped you gain a better understanding of the situation. That way you'll be able to make the most informed decision about how to spend your hard-earned money.
Long-term, it's clear that every card from both sets is a good investment. Every single one should increase by some amount. I imagine when I look back at this article next year, we'll already be witnessing higher prices across the board.
I'm interested to hear where others are expecting each of the new Expeditions to land. Do my numbers make sense? Is there something I've overlooked? Post your own estimates for the prices below and let's start the discussion.
Until next time,
Unleash the Force!
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