Eternal Masters (EMA) hangs in the balance and nobody wants to talk about eternal cards until after the spoilers starts to trickle in. In other words, nobody wants to actually speculate on the eternal market until after it's too late.
I don't consider applying new information to trading and buying decisions before others have gotten the memo to be speculating per se. It is certainly profitable, and I recommend doing it whenever you can. But the opportunity for capitalizing on this kind of moment is fleeting.
Anyways, we are at an interesting moment where everybody is sort of waiting to see what will happen next. Everything hinges on
- What cards are in Eternal Masters; and
- Whether Eternal Masters will foster new interest in eternal formats.
Let's use some practical problem-solving skills to anticipate where some of the smart money may be hiding.
What Cards Are in Eternal Masters?
We don't know much. However, we do know some of the cards that specifically will not be in Eternal Masters. If we were playing a game of Werewolf we would have a safe camp of "every card on the Reserved List."
The scenario that's likely to play out is that the value of every single card appearing in EMA goes down. That is bad. The upside is that every single card that isn't in EMA has a good opportunity to improve in value.
The fact that cards on the Reserved List cannot appear in EMA means they all have opportunity to improve and little reason to decline. So, let's take a look at some cards that seem nicely positioned.
I love Copy Artifact as a card to sink some resources into right now. The card has a notably low price tag at $5. It is worth noting that the card was not reprinted in 4th Edition (only Revised, Unlimited, Alpha and Beta).
The card is clearly quite powerful. It doesn't really see Eternal play but it potentially could at some point. I think the big appeal for this card is that it is very good in casual-competitive formats like Commander, Cube, Combo Cube, and Tiny Leaders.
Basically, its just a cool old card that is good in those kinds of formats. These kinds of cards actually have a very strong marketplace. There are plenty of cards that have fat price tags because of their place in casual Magic. And consider that the most recent printing of Copy Artifact was over 20 years ago! Also, it will never see print again.
Not to mention that Copy Artifact is also a staple in Old School Magic, or 1994 Magic. I see that format as trending to allow Revised copies as a more universally accepted thing in the future. All good things for Copy Artifact on the horizon.
It hits all of my criteria for a good speculation target. It's at a near hard floor and trends suggest it should go up. I like this pick a lot.
Another safe pick with both competitive and casual appeal is Transmute Artifact. First of all, Transmute has somehow managed to dodge all the spikes on old cards for two years, despite being a busted and awesome old Magic card.
I've played with this card in competitive Vintage and at a Legacy Grand Prix, and it is certainly a "real" Magic card by constructed standards. In addition to being a fringe card for competitive Magic it also sees play in the competitive-casual decks of Commander and 1994 Magic players.
The effect is very powerful and allows players to do things that are quite broken. Tutoring artifacts directly into play is something I don't see Wizards printing a ton of in the future... Oh, and also they will never reprint Transmute Artifact because it's on the Reserved List.
It is a desirable, unique, and scarce-enough card to easily justify the current price tag, which is probably the floor. With a little bit of interest or a small buyout the card could really surge in value. Or, God forbid, they print something that pushes this card into the limelight in Vintage or Legacy, and lots of people suddenly put on the bat signal for a playset!
In the Eye of Chaos
In the Eye of Chaos is another casual and competitive card that could have desirability among lots of different groups of people. Remember, you only need one group of people to say, "card is good," and the price will jump pretty significantly in the future.
$40 is a pretty low price tag for a card that is considered fringe-playable card in eternal formats.
Some cool applications of this card are that it is absolutely insane against the best combo decks in Vintage. It is difficult to cast Gush when you are "in the eye." The card also does a number on Force of Will and other counterspells. I could see Vintage players start to actively seek out In the Eye of Chaos in order to punish Gush decks if they become dominant.
I also have to give the card the nod in a format like Commander. The upside could be high here.
Not that this tends to dictate price or anything, but the card is also just "kind of cool," which sometimes matters on old cards. It has a neat name. It has cool art. It's an enchant world. It is just sort of a neat old card that looks cool in a collector's binder.
Undiscovered Paradise is also on the Reserved List and has a pretty modest price tag for how much constructed eternal play it sees.
The card is a cornerstone of pretty much every dredge deck in every format as a land that can continually retrigger landfall for Bloodghast.
Dredge also has the advantage of being the default "budget deck" in Vintage (I know, I know oxymoron...) because it doesn't require Power 9. In the grand scheme of things, four Bazaar of Baghdad and a bunch of Dredge cards is much cheaper than P9 and duals.
Dredge is also playable in both Legacy and Vintage, which makes it kind of appealing since a lot of the cards go in both decks. So, for people who just want to be part of the Eternal crowd they can kill two birds with one deck. Not to mention the interactions are all the same which makes learning the decks easier.
Just saying that a snap four-of in Legacy and Vintage Dredge is probably better than the current price tag on a Reserved List card.
Will EMA Foster New Interest in Eternal Formats?
Unfortunately, I doubt we're going to see eternal formats explode in popularity off the back of Eternal Masters. I just can't fathom this set suddenly making people want to buy Vintage or Legacy decks. The price on Force of Will dropped $30! I can't wait to buy $300 Volcanic Islands now!
That seems delusional to me. I think the Vintage and Legacy crowd may well be pretty locked in. Not much goes in and not much goes out...
The place I think Eternal Masters makes the greatest impact off the bat is with the Commander crowed. The set gives players better access to some of the pricier cards they might not have been able to afford before. People who might not have wanted to buy $80 Wastelands for a Commander deck might be temped if the reprints are $25 or something.
Better access to expensive cards could lead to more Commander players deciding to retool their decks to include cards they didn't want to buy before. Or, it might create interest for these players to begin work on a new deck project. My prediction is that this set will creates more spikes in Commander cards than it does in other places.
I'm beating a dead horse here but I think the cheaper dual lands are among the best spec targets in all of Magic. They are among the best cards ever printed in the history of the game. Vintage and Legacy may be dominated by blue decks, which push these cards out of the competitive scene more than is fair---but they are still tremendous in every casual format ever.
There will never be more of these cards. Ever. Reserved List.
These are the kind of cards that players building new Commander decks often seek out. You want to play Jund? Guess you need Badlands? Cool.
Yeah, that's right, Fallen Empires on the Reserved List! The set was so bad they had to make a rule that says they are not allowed to reprint much of it LOL.
The card is very cool and actually quite good. The tactical element it adds to the game is super interesting and fun. Also, the card basically has zero value right now and will never be reprinted.
As we prepare for the release of Eternal Masters, I'm speculating on Reserved List cards that look to have niche applications in Vintage and Legacy but still have lowish price tags. That, or cards that are old, cheap, and feel great for Commander.