Shadows over Innistrad (SOI) is here and it has exceeded my expectations. Rarely does a set go this above and beyond. I am an eternal optimist and that leads to being let down sometimes, but not with this set. The design of so many cards like Thing in the Ice, Westvale Abbey, and Triskaidekaphobia are bursting with the flavor of Innistrad. Many cards have had an immediate impact on the format, and even many that haven't are waiting in the wings for their time to shine.
Many cards in the set are valuable as well, making opening packs not such a terrible prospect. The great part about the value of this set is how it trickles down into the rares. Don’t be fooled by the pricing of Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch because those sets were dragged down by the Expeditions. We have no super mythics worth searching endlessly for in this set. The closest are the flip mythics.
Did you know SOI has 77 rares and mythics? Most big sets like Battle for Zendikar, Dragons of Tarkir, Khans of Tarkir, and Theros contain 68 rares and mythics. Sets with flip cards like Origins and Innistrad had 76 and Shadows over Innistrad pushes the envelope a little further to 77. By adding more cards to these rarities, it makes each individual one more valuable. In addition, it also makes their prerelease versions more valuable.
These numbers are good to keep in mind when determining the value of a set. For example, with the factor of more rares and mythics combined with no super mythics, I would predict more cards in this set to increase or hold their value.
We’ve already seen that with cards like Tireless Tracker and Ulvenwald Hydra, and I expect another card or two to follow this pattern. That type of projection is much less likely to happen with a set like Khans with its fetches, or Battle for Zendikar block with its Expeditions.
Some cards I would look to that may fall under this category are Prized Amalgam, Avacyn's Judgment, Corrupted Grafstone and Deathcap Cultivator. These rares that aren’t worth much currently but I still separated them from the bulk of the set. I also did this with Tireless Tracker; hopefully you did too.
On the flip side, the uncommons are much less likely to be valuable. With more rares and mythics, stores will have to open more product to obtain the same quantity of each card as normal. So cards like Duskwatch Recruit or Heir of Falkenrath, which I would normally start hording, I’ll be unloading ASAP while they still have value.
There are so many interesting financial features about SOI and I am anxious to dive into the data. Take a look at my box break down and we’ll discuss them after that.
Total Value: $118.5
Total Value: $147
Total Value: $100.50
Total Value: $146
Total Value: $89
Total Value: $95
Average Total per Box: $116
There are many things we can learn from analyzing this data. The first that stands out to me is how valuable the rares are in this set. Typically Wizards fills the mythic rare slot with chase tournament cards, and leaves the flavorful and story-based designs at rare. With SOI they seem to have broken that mold.
Take, for example, Startled Awake. This card would be a disaster if it were printed as a rare because people could draft multiples and destroy a draft easily by milling everyone out. The effect evokes what’s going on in the world, though, and casual players will love this card.
Previously I think we would have seen Thing in the Ice's and Startled Awakes' rarities swapped. Think about how much Thing would cost if it were mythic! Wizards did a great job allocating rarities in this set and we are rewarded for their efforts.
Take a look at boxes where I opened Thing in the Ice, Declaration in Stone and Westvale Abbey in the same box. Those three cards add $41 of value! In addition we have other great rares like the breakout Tireless Tracker, Anguished Unmaking, and many more that are worth at least the value of your pack.
In addition, each pack has three potential slots to hit on. Of course you have the normal rarity slot and the foil slot, but you also have the flip card slot. All three of these give you an opportunity to hit with each pack. Even if you open a bulk rare, Archangel Avacyn or Arlinn Kord could be waiting in the flip card spot to brighten your day.
We can see this pack layout having an effect on the value of the boxes as well. We don’t typically see a box average above $100 unless something else is going on like Expeditions or fetchlands. As I mentioned above, we do have 77 rares and mythics so the average price will be higher than normal because less of each card is opened. At the time of writing Archangel Avacyn is sold out on most sites at prices above $40. While I’m not sure she can stay that valuable, I know it’s harder to open her than it would be normally.
If you have the ability to sell packs, I’m certain you have noticed the popularity of this set as well. Packs are flying off the shelves because there is something for everyone in this set. There are legendary creatures, sweet tribal creatures, and cards that truly depict the flavor of the world.
If that wasn’t enough, the draw of opening a three-mythic pack is quite strong. Every shop has their pack openers. You know these people---they just love opening packs. They come into the store and buy a couple packs, open them, and trade in the cards to keep the chain going. Sometimes they aren’t even looking for anything specific!
I would compare this situation to that of scratch off lottery tickets. If you win money on a scratch off, what you do is buy more scratch offs! This same phenomenon goes for cracking packs and Shadows over Innistrad is drawing these people out to the store to test their luck.
Even with all these factors, I think the overall value of the set will still come down. It happens with every set and I expect it to occur here as well. Dealers will have to open tons of packs to get enough Archangel Avacyns to sate the demand of Standard enthusiasts. With the extra cards opened, the market will have more of all the other cards available which will bring down those prices.
So initially I think this set’s financial breakdown will be similar to that of Origins, but not as drastic as what Jace, Vryn's Prodigy caused. Avacyn isn’t Jace. She won’t be seeing tons of play in every format, but she will still hold a disproportionate percent of the value.
One last thing I want to mention today: getting rid of that one card that's burning a hole in your pocket. We’ve all been there before. We have twenty copies or more of a random speculation target that hit, or traded into Tireless Tracker at the prerelease, or opened multiple Archangel Avacyns in our case and want to move them while they’re on fire.
Each of these things happen on a regular basis. Yet the way we approach the selling process can make a big difference in the final price we get.
For this example, I’ll refer to the card with the most adjectives I've ever owned. One of my college friends messaged me about a random card she was trying to sell for her boyfriend. He had somehow obtained a foil, Italian, Future Sight Tarmogoyf and wanted to get some money out of it. Just to put this out there, don’t touch unpopular-language foils. This bad boy was terribly hard to move.
Regardless, we all see this situation come up where we desperately want to move a card for one reason or another. You can always sell whatever it is online through any outlet there, but I find myself wanting to skip the time and effort it takes to list the card and mail it out. So I tend to bring cards to big events to sell. This works especially well for lower-end cards that won’t fetch much money online because dealers still have buylist prices posted.
We all have our favorite dealers we’ve chosen for one reason or another. Most of the time they're simply the ones we feel will give us the best price. Once a relationship is developed more price negotiations may take place too, so this is a worthwhile goal.
No matter which dealer you favor though, when you have that one card or that stack of one card, don’t be afraid to ask every dealer in the room what their buy price is. If you’ve never done this before, you’d be surprised how much each store differs in their buy prices. Get the best price by having the most options.
This same principle can be applied if you're buying one specific card as well. The only thing preventing you from getting the best price is time and effort. It doesn’t take that much time to walk the room and look in every dealer’s case for the price on one specific card. You can always save a couple bucks by doing this.
Well that’s all I have today. Hopefully my Shadows box data and tournament finance advice helped everyone out today. Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are on these topics and I’ll see you next week.
Until next time,
Unleash the Force!
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