Everybody loves nostalgia. It's the reason adults spend a small fortune collecting the beloved toys, cards, and collectibles from their childhood days. The secondary market of Magic heavily reflects this trend where people tend to covet nostalgic items from the past.
Next weekend's Eternal Weekend extravaganza in Columbus is the ultimate celebration of MTG nostalgia. In the span of one action-packed weekend, the championships for Old School Magic, Vintage and Legacy will take place. In terms of nostalgia, nothing gets straight to the heart of the matter quite like the original awesome old cards: dual lands, Power 9, and the other busted cards from the 90s.
Eternal Weekend is the perfect crucible for exposure for the eternal formats. It brings in a huge crowd. Multiple Vintage World Champions have traveled from Europe and Japan to compete in the event. Last year's Vintage Championship attracted more than 700 players, making it the largest North American Vintage event of all time! The event also gets a tremendous amount of coverage, which is awesome for these lesser-played formats.
My thinking is that the old Reserved List cards are already great long-term MTG investments simply because they can never be reprinted, and are so powerful that they are unlikely to ever be paralleled with new printings. I mean, they are never going to reprint Black Lotus, and never going to print something better—these factors make the card very special.
Today I'll be sharing a few interesting eternal picks that I think could potentially be nice pick-ups with Eternal Weekend on the horizon.
Many people are not intimately familiar with Old-School Magic but it is a format that has been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years. The fundamentals of the format are that you can only play with cards from the first few sets of Magic through 1995. No new cards; just play Magic the way it was played way back in the day.
The format is kind of kitschy but it is also a ton of fun. I will, in fact, be playing in the Old School Championship this year! Magic back then was very different from Magic now and it is really cool to reconnect with that "old-school" experience every once in a while and relive the glory days.
While cards like duals and Power 9 are obvious staples, the format also has its own unique set of staple cards that are commonly played and very powerful. I think these could be serious investment cards—especially in premium editions such as Unlimited or Beta. There is a house rule in the format where players are strongly encouraged to play with Unlimited or Beta editions of these old cards. Players also take a lot of pride in blinging out their decks by finding truly old-school copies of these cards.
Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:
Disrupting Scepter is an amazing card in Old-School Magic. Card advantage is supremely important and few cards let you generate raw card advantage like the staff. The card has been reprinted a bunch of times but Unlimited and Beta versions are highly sought after and difficult to come by.
Obviously, Beta Mind Twist is already an expensive card—as is the case with most Beta rares—but it feels kind of underpriced compared to a lot of other Beta rares. To be fair, Mind Twist in any edition is likely a wise pick-up right now. It seems likely it could be unbanned in Legacy at some point which could really peak demand.
I also really like Mishra's Factory from Antiquities as an affordable Old-School staple with room to grow. The card is also a staple across the board in eternal in both Legacy and Vintage. It easily claims the mantle of greatest creature land ever printed, is iconic, and looks amazing in a binder.
The winter version is the gold standard and has a significantly higher tag than the others—but the lesser-appreciated versions are likely a great investment as well.
The Hive is another great Old-School treasure! Obviously, the card has been reprinted enough times to make common versions worthless, but the premium versions are really hard to get! Beta and Unlimited for the win! The card is great flavor and iconic. It is the original card that makes tokens in Magic... Wasp of the Hive tokens, in fact.
The Beta and Unlimited versions are also spectacular to look at.
Kird Ape is another random sleeper card. It is certainly a staple of the Zoo beatdown decks and the Arabian Nights version is surprisingly affordable. Also, keep in mind that Kird Ape is a card that sees some play in Modern Zoo as well. The fact is that Old-School players and collectors specifically want the old version of this card, which makes it a great card to target in trades.
There are any number of great Old-School speculation targets by virtue of the format being a perfect storm of collectibility, playability and nostalgia. Pretty much any random staple card in an old edition is likely a nice pick-up-and-hold target. The original cards are the epitome of nostalgia and that is always a great place to be when it comes to investing in MTG.
When it comes to nostalgic cards, the Reserved List isn't even necessarily a limiting factor. They can reprint The Hive a thousand times—but they can never make more Beta The Hive, which is what collectors and fans want!
Vintage and Legacy
While Old-School cards are basically a home run in my opinion, speculating on other eternal cards can be a little more tricky because their price is more closely attached to their playability in Vintage or Legacy. It is also significant that these formats don't have nearly as large of a playerbase as Modern or Standard, which means less demand from players.
The lower demand is circumvented by scarcity and nostalgia value, but it does mean fewer price spikes and slower growth over time. Generally speaking, I think that most format staples from older sets (old-card-face editions) tend to be consistent long-term gainers. Even cards that aren't on the Reserved List, which have risk of reprint in sets like upcoming Eternal Masters editions, will always have nostalgia or "coolness" factor of being from the original editions.
They banned it in Commander for obvious reasons but Tolarian Academy is a highly iconic Vintage staple that has a 100% coolness factor. There is a reason that last year's Tolarian Academy playmat is so highly sought after: the card is beautiful.
The card hasn't moved much in price in a long time and feels due for a gain at some point. I also believe that the printing of Paradoxical Outcome could really surge the card in popularity in Vintage at Champs this weekend. The card fits nicely into a wide array of Vintage decks: Storm, Blue Belcher, Steel City Vault, Workshop, and even control, which means that virtually ever Vintage player needs a copy. The fact that it has stayed so steady for so long makes me think it could be overdue for a burst.
Memory Jar is another unique card in that they will never make another one like it. Jar is an obvious Vintage staple and I find it interesting that it has done little more than creep up slowly over the years. I feel like the difficulty to acquire cards like Jar or Academy has risen significantly over the past few years, and I expect that to translate to bigger gains at some point.
Memory Jar and Tolarian Academy are also significant as part of one of the biggest stories of competitive Magic: the completely bonkers, broken constructed format during Urza's Saga block that led to a massive slew of bannings. This is a really interesting piece of MTG history, and it makes these cards interesting collectors' items for the future.
The moral of today's story is that, while predicting trends in Constructed playability is a tried-and-true method for predicting future gains, nostalgia is another thing we could look at to predict future winners. With Eternal Weekend in the wings, now is the last chance to consider some last-minute nostalgia trades or buys before things heat up a little bit.
In lots of cases, nostalgia already dictates some really high prices on cards. Power 9, while scarce, doesn't have that high price tag because there are millions of dedicated players trying to acquire pieces for their decks. Truth be told, the nostalgia and collector value likely accounts for 75% of the tag.
While these are the most desirable pieces of nostalgia, I think there's a growing market for other types of nostalgic cards. In particular, the quirky Old-School staples I suggested in today's article. The type of picks I predicted can be applied to literally dozens of other cards across eternal formats.
I'm pretty psyched to get a chance to compete in all of the eternal formats this weekend: Old-School, Vintage, and Legacy, alongside literally hundreds of other eternal fans. Nostalgia is king. Never underestimate it!