As the summer winds down, Wizards has yet another product for us that’s dripping with Magic history. The latest From the Vault edition, FTV: Lore, is focused on key points in the Magic timeline that have shaped the universe of our card game. Unfortunately, many of these cards are not playable or valuable. Today we are going to analyze the fifteen-card foil set and discover if it's an investment worth making.
I would hazard a guess that most players are disappointed with the cards chosen for this particular From the Vault and I’ve heard many negative comments online to confirm this. Is it really that bad though? As the consumer, we have gotten used to huge price points for these box sets but the truth is that they are only $35 MSRP products. In the past, there have been so many valuable cards in them that they sell for hundreds of dollars instead of the $35 they are intended to be sold for. By this point, this is business as usual.
Due to the initial dissatisfaction about this product, the first presale copies sold for $75. These eBay copies have since dried up and are now selling in the range of $85-$99. There is a similar price range on TCG Player and other sites. At this point, not all of the big name stores have entered the presale free-for-all, but they soon will.
For an unexciting set, seeing the presale value trend upward is not only surprising but a pleasant change of pace. Normally we see everything plummet in value as time passes. It’s still early in the process but the initial bump is great to see. That’s the overall price so far but let’s dive into what is driving this price. Here’s a list of the cards in the set.
There is also one bonus card in this edition of From the Vault: the Marit Lage token that you make from Dark Depths. Marit is a nice bonus for the set and definitely a factor in its price. As a rare token, this card has commanded $15+ for a long time now. It sees tons of play in Legacy, and the demand is strong.
Dark Depths is your route to getting the giant flying monster onto the battlefield and is the main chase card of the set. A large portion of the price of this set is made up of these two cards. Legacy Lands utilizes Depths as one of its primary routes to victory, but this land has always been a casual favorite as well. Many Commander decks jam this bad boy in their 100 cards and try to live the dream of Marit flying by their side.
As a $50 card, I would expect the foil to be at least that high and it's definitely a great investment for the long haul. The original set foil is still hovering between $150 and $200 and there were never many copies online. Now that this version is going to be printed, players will have a more affordable foil to acquire and I think there will definitely be demand for them.
The other card pulling a lot of weight for this set is Umezawa's Jitte. As one of the most powerful equipment cards ever printed, another Jitte printing is a welcome addition. This may be one of the most diversely pronounced cards of all time, but that hasn’t stemmed the demand for the Kamigawa block artifact. You may only need one in most Legacy decks thanks to Stoneforge Mystic, but that isn’t the only reason there is demand for the unique samurai sword. All types of players want a copy of Jitte.
Middle of the Road
After the two home runs from the set, we dip down drastically to the $10 range for six cards. These six cards are Unmask, Tolaria West, Cabal Ritual, Memnarch, Momir Vig, Simic Visionary, and Phyrexian Processor. The Marit Lage token also falls within this grouping.
The future price of this group will likely diverge in two different directions. The ones I like are mainly the cards that were granted new artwork. Both Cabal Ritual and Momir Vig, Simic Visionary got some sweet new art. The problem with Cabal Ritual though is that it was originally printed as a common. Seeing a common in a premium set like this has a bad feel to it. Luckily this common sees play in Legacy Storm and I’m sure that’s what’s driving the price of this particular card.
Momir Vig is a popular Commander to build around. With this new awesome artwork I think he will be purchased frequently, but the subset of players interested in acquiring him will be much lower. They only need one copy and not every Commander player will want one. Still, with the unique art, I think the card should be solid long-term.
As for the rest of the group, I think they’re headed the wrong direction. Phyrexian Processor, Unmask, Memnarch and Tolaria West are not pressing anyone’s brain with a need to purchase. In the future the Tolaria West foil could tick up if it gets included in another Modern deck, but I think the price of the blue land will flow alongside how much constructed play it sees.
Bottom of the Barrel
My real issue with this group is not their price but their desirability. The main reason these cards all fall around or under $5 is because there isn’t much demand for them. The cards in this group are Mind's Desire, Beseech the Queen, Obliterate, Conflux, Glissa, the Traitor, Helvault and Near-Death Experience.
Of them, Mind's Desire is the best; but in addition to being banned in multiple formats, it already has a sweet promo version. Beseech the Queen, Conflux and Glissa, the Traitor are all a couple bucks a piece, but there’s not a lot to drive their price. As for the other three, we have two bulk rares and a bulk mythic. These do not make for wise choices.
I would feel much better about buying/selling this product if this group were replaced with cards that players were looking forward to. Most From the Vault sets have cards that fit this description, but usually they are still cards that players are excited to get a hold of even if they aren’t very expensive.
Beseech the Queen $5
Cabal Ritual $10
Dark Depths $45
Glissa, the Traitor $3
Mind's Desire $7
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary $7
Near-Death Experience $2
Phyrexian Processor $9
Tolaria West $13
Umezawa's Jitte $35
Marit Lage Token $10
Although there are going to be many changes to these prices, right now the set as a whole is valued at a whopping $178! I expect this total value to drop once more sellers add their stock to the internet. If the numbers on individual cards stay near these current prices though, buying FTV: Lore sealed and breaking them up for singles could prove quite profitable.
Unfortunately, I expect that not to happen. My current prediction is that all of the cards from the set should drop in value except for two. What I think will happen is that Jitte and Depths will dictate the flow of sales for this product and I think that was Wizards plan. Because those are the two cards players care about though, many more copies of the other cards will be available online and therefore the prices of those cards should drop.
When prices are shaped this way from a set, many times the in-demand cards increase in value while the other cards drop. A great example of this is what’s happening right now with Liliana, the Last Hope. Many of the cards in Eldritch Moon have had their prices drastically cut, while Lily has gone up quite a bit from her presale value.
To wrap up my thoughts on FTV: Lore, if the reason you’re interested in the product is the two high-dollar cards, I would get them sooner rather than later. If you want any of the lower-end cards, waiting is the right play. Tons of copies of those cards will be readily available so bide your time until you see the prices fall.
I think sealed copies will be good buys if you can get in at a somewhat low number. I know for my store, we are looking to sell low to help out players and unload all our copies. If you can find a store like that near you, From the Vault: Lore is looking like a better buy than the initial glance might have made you think.
What are your thoughts on the set? Will you be buying a copy of this premium product? If so, what cards are you interested in from the set? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time,
Unleash the Force of Lore!
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