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Insider: Knowns and Unknowns with Regard to Eternal Masters

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The Eternal Masters rumor has been floating around for a while now, but this week we got official confirmation. Already we have started to see prices increase for relevant reserve list cards, and David Schumann did an excellent write-up earlier this week outlining cards likely to see EMA reprints. Today I want to touch on some of the known information for the set, and also on relevant unknown information.


The Force of Will reprint is bad news, at least in the short term, for owners of the card. The price has already dipped, though the print run of EMA will be short. What remains to be seen is just how much demand there is for Legacy staples going forward.

What we know with regard to Modern Masters is that the mythic rarity in limited print run sets doesn't have a very negative impact on older printings. A caveat to this is that demand has increased for Modern following the release of both Modern Masters sets. It's unclear if Legacy Masters will lead to the same increase in demand for Legacy staples.

To be clear, I'm not advocating selling off Force of Will---especially not during the dip happening right now. The two most likely scenarios for EMA are that it does drive demand for Legacy and prices do increase, or the set doesn't do much of anything and the price inevitably recovers. New Force of Wills will come in foil, which will certainly be in demand, but Alliances Forces will always be worth more than the non-foil EMA versions.


Wasteland as a regular rare is a bit trickier, and it will be more difficult for Wasteland to retain value without Legacy gaining popularity from this release. Wasteland is an EDH and Cube staple, but the price is dipping and is much less likely to recover meaningfully than Force of Will.

Selling right now doesn't feel great, but it might be your best opportunity for some time. I'll be holding onto my set, but you stand to lose a lot more value if you have a lot of these.

The Unknowns

Bergeot

The release of Modern Masters 2015 was huge. There were three Limited GPs across the globe and on-demand events firing for people to get their hands on more product. It's unclear exactly what the strategy is for EMA, but what we do know is that it is releasing the same weekend as Legacy Constructed GPs.

This reads to me more like an opportunity for non-Legacy players to play a sweet limited format while actual Legacy players play Legacy than it does a way to support the format. This is compounded by the fact that there is only one more Legacy GP all year, and no mysterious "TBD" events.

A boom in Legacy is impossible without tournament support. The cost of owning dual lands is afforded only by people with a fair amount of disposable income or those who stand to put that money to work towards winning more money with those cards. The people with money for Volcanic Islands weren't waiting for cheaper Force of Wills.


Owning dual lands remains a strong position, but most of the value just comes from the fact that they are more liquid than most other Magic cards. They just saw a jump with an announcement, and to maintain this growth or to grow further there just needs to be more actual demand.

I would basically only tell somebody to sell off dual lands if they needed the money, and I would always recommend trying to trade Standard and Modern staples into dual lands. This announcement really doesn't have any impact on my position on these cards. You're putting a lot of cash into them if this announcement caused you to buy in, and I'd much rather be turning profitable specs into dual lands than trying to spec on the duals themselves.

There Isn't a New Format

I've heard talk of "No Reserve List Legacy" and it just isn't going to be a thing. The support for Modern right now is huge, and such a format would only cause tension between the two formats.

Yes, it might be more affordable than Legacy for now, but it would also both cause huge increases in prices of a lot of cards the same way that Modern has, and just suck as a format to boot. It might not be fair for me to say that No Reserve List Legacy would suck, but I have my reasons for thinking it would simply be inferior to actual Legacy---downgrading of dual lands only being one of my concerns.

NRLL

You can't play City of Traitors. You can play Ancient Tomb. You can't play Eureka. You can play Show and Tell. Don't even think about casting a Sedge Troll!


The list is just a bunch of nonsense, and crafting a format around it isn't going to be intuitive. You could make a format that is only with sets printed after Urza's Legacy, but then we're still just grasping at straws for ways to play cool cards when we already have Legacy.

It's not like there is actually a problem with dual land availability, at least in the United States. Revised had a sizable print run. The price concerns are real, but Magic is a luxury item and any new format you introduce is going to be expensive, too.

Not to mention...

Forscythe

There's not a new format coming. This is a set intended to benefit the Legacy format, which again, will have an impact based entirely on the format seeing more tournament support. Some of you might use the following as a reason to believe that a new format is coming:

Maro

To be blunt, this simply has nothing to do with EMA, and is just an obvious inevitability. Magic is an ever-growing game, and as it gets larger more ways to play will surface. It would be amazing if a new tournament format never emerged. I mean, come on.

Further, this is from the man who has been pushing for Un-set 3 and making riggers that assemble contraptions for many years. There is inevitability in these things, but they're not on the horizon any time soon.

Takeaways

In sum, EMA is a starting point for growing Legacy, but what the format really needs is tournaments for people to play. I think that investing in Legacy staples that won't see reprints in EMA is obviously a good way to turn a profit, though without this tournament support, the investment strategy is going to vary.

If we continue to see low tournament support, then I'd be looking at flipping that Reserve List stuff and anything confirmed not to be in EMA quickly. If we do see the format supported more then I like investing more in the format as a long-term strategy.

A tried and true method to grow your portfolio will always be to trade into dual lands. This isn't changing. As for the matters that are changing, there's simply too much going on that we don't know yet---and I definitely don't advise investing in Reserve List cards that have seen recent gains until the future of price trajectories of cards like that are more certain.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

3 thoughts on “Insider: Knowns and Unknowns with Regard to Eternal Masters

    1. I wouldn’t give too much weight to that piece. It’s just a way to make the game more exciting to more players.

      Commander has gotten the attention of WotC, but isn’t given the level of support that I’m describing that’s needed for Legacy.

      Again, I believe when MaRo says a new format is a “when” but not when others say that it’s a “soon”.

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