Today we got quite the bomb dropped on us with the announcement of Eternal Masters.
Wizards made it explicit that nothing on the Reserved List will make an appearance (in case it was in doubt at all). But this will nonetheless create a lot of new interest in Legacy, and gives WotC a chance to reprint some expensive older cards whose value is due almost exclusively to their extreme rarity. Those latter cards are the ones that will likely take the biggest hits in value.
Today I'd like to consider how this will affect eternal prices so we can prepare to take appropriate action. To start, let's look at the top ten most expensive cards in each color that satisfy these conditions:
- Not on the reserved list
- Non-foil, regular-print cards (not special promos, etc.)
All cards marked with an asterisk are Modern-playable, though we don't know if they will or won't include Modern-legal cards in this set.
- Ravages of War - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Zhang Fei, Fierce Warrior - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Pang Tong, "Young Phoenix" - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Linvala, Keeper of Silence* - Rise of the Eldrazi
- Loyal Retainers - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Auriok Champion* - Fifth Dawn
- Monastery Mentor* - Fate Reforged
- Stoneforge Mystic - Worldwake
- Huang Zhong, Shu General - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Guan Yu's 1,000-Li March - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Capture of Jingzhou - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Force of Will - Alliances
- Flusterstorm - Commander
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor - Worldwake
- Mana Drain - Legends
- Show and Tell - Urza's Saga
- Snapcaster Mage* - Innistrad
- Temporal Manipulation - Portal: Second Age
- Jace, Vryn's Prodigy* - Magic Origins
- Sun Ce, Young Conquerer - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Damnation* - Planar Chaos
- Imperial Seal - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Grim Tutor - Starter 1999
- Liliana of the Veil* - Innistrad
- Overwhelming Forces - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Sinkhole - Alpha
- Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Dark Confidant* - Ravnica
- Zhang He, Wei General - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Vampiric Tutor - Visions
- Burning of Xinye - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Goblin Settler - Starter 1999
- Imperial Recruiter - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Rolling Earthquake - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Zodiac Dragon - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Warrior's Oath - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Dong Zhou, the Tyrant - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Yuan Shao, the Indecisive - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Diaochan, Artful Beauty - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Sneak Attack - Urza's Saga
- Berserk - Alpha
- Riding the Dilu Horse - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Tarmogoyf* - Future Sight
- Zuo Ci, the Mocking Sage - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Wolf Pack - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Lady Zhurong, Warrior Queen - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Meng Huo, Barbarian King - Portal: Three Kingdoms
- Natural Order - Visions
- Noble Hierarch - Conflux
- Scapeshift* - Morningtide
- Arcbound Ravager* - Darksteel
- Crucible of Worlds* - Fifth Dawn
- Mana Crypt - Promotional (This breaks my rule #2 above, but it's a likely candidate.)
- Sword of Fire and Ice* - Darksteel
- Aether Vial* - Darksteel
- Chalice of the Void* - Mirrodin
- Ensnaring Bridge* - Stronghold
- Mox Opal* - Scars of Mirrodin
- Oblivion Stone* - Mirrodin
- Spellskite* - New Phyrexia
- Rishadan Port - Mercadian Masques
- Wasteland - Tempest
- Enemy Fetchlands* - Zendikar
- Cavern of Souls* - Avacyn Restored
- Dark Depths - Coldsnap
- Grove of the Burnwillows* - Future Sight
- Horizon Canopy* - Future Sight
- Eye of Ugin* - Worldwake
- Glimmervoid* - Mirrodin
- Inkmoth Nexus* - Mirrodin Besieged
- Fulminator Mage* - Shadowmoor
- Voice of Resurgence* - Dragon's Maze
- Dack Fayden - Conspiracy
- Gaddock Teeg* - Lorwyn
- Kaalia of the Vast - Commander
- Sliver Legion* - Future Sight
- Animar, Soul of Elements - Commander
- Glimpse the Unthinkable* - Ravnica
- Maelstrom Wanderer - Planechase 2012
- Sen Triplets* - Alara Reborn
That's a pretty impressive list so far. The key thing to note is there are a ton of Portal: Three Kingdoms cards on this list, due to such a small print run so long ago. We are very likely to see many of these cards show up in Eternal Masters, which will obviously tank their value.
The original print versions will likely maintain a pretty good markup over any reprints due to collectibility, but a lot of the value of the more expensive ones comes from Commander demand. These are players whose demand will happily be met via reprints in Eternal Masters.
From an investment standpoint, I wouldn't want to hold any cards on this list as the set starts getting spoiled. But remember that space constraints will guarantee some of these cards miss a reprint.
Eternal Masters is a 249-card set, the same as Modern Masters 2015 (MM15). Assuming the same rarity breakdown, that gives us the following:
- 15 mythic rares
- 53 rares
- 80 uncommons
- 101 commons
The spoiler shows Force of Will at mythic and Wasteland at regular rare. So we likely have 14 mythics and 52 rares remaining to be spoiled. That means a solid 20 or so cards from my list above that don't make the cut minimally. Of course, they won't just pick every valuable card, so realistically many of these cards won't see a reprint.
Impact on Eternal Formats
Remember that the original Modern Masters helped grow the Modern playerbase by providing reprints at a significant reduction in cost compared to other options. As the Modern playerbase grew we saw many of the Modern Masters cards continue to rise in value (often coming close to their pre-reprint prices, and eventually surpassing them in many cases).
Thus, Eternal Masters may well usher in a new demand for Legacy and Vintage. That being said, don't forget how many heavily-played cards in the format are on the Reserved List and thus ineligible for reprint. The most significant in this category are the dual lands. It stands to reason that if Eternal Masters creates demand for Legacy or Vintage, the cards not included as reprints will rise in value.
Some are at all-time highs, like Black Lotus, the Moxen, Time Walk and Ancestral Recall on the Vintage front. However, many dual lands have trended downward significantly since Star City Games announced that every Sunday would no longer feature a Legacy Open. We could well see the dual lands rebound with the release of this set.
Being on the reserved list makes them a pretty safe bet. However, the upfront investment cost for duals is still very significant, with an average price around $134 per copy.
A note on foils. There will almost certainly be some foils that have never been available before (or some which have extremely expensive foil versions, like Force of Will). Picking up foil copies of any of the true staples will most likely yield the best results---Legacy and Vintage players are often the biggest proponents of foils, with Commander players right behind them.
It will be interesting to see if Wizards pushes Vintage/Legacy staples hard or if they pepper in a lot of specifically Commander cards from Portal Three Kingdoms and the like. It will also be interesting to see how many cards change rarity (as we already saw Wasteland upgraded to rare and in MM2015 we saw Eye of Ugin downgraded to rare).
Some other random cards that are valuable simply due to low supply are:
- Three Visits
- Hunting Cheetah
- Ravaging Horde
- Brimstone Dragon
- Cruel Bargain
- Cruel Tutor
- Sylvan Tutor
- Norwood Priestess
- Personal Tutor
Should any of these show up at lower rarities expect their values to tank as well.
What are your thoughts on Eternal Masters' likely impact? Are we about to witness a new resurgence in the Legacy or Vintage formats? What cards do you expect to see reprints, or get passed over?
Sound off in the comments, and thanks for reading.