Insider: Masterpiece Finance Trends

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My article for this week was originally going to be on another topic. There was seemingly a lot that happened in Standard over the weekend, and I was going to discuss the financial fallout from the format trying to correct itself from having only two playable decks. Although some new decks did well this past weekend, I didn’t notice much happening on the finance side. Here are the only cards I updated prices on this week:

Aetherworks Marvel $8.5
Emrakul, the Promised End $18
Liliana, the Last Hope $35
Tamiyo, Field Researcher $9.50

Other than Aetherworks Marvel jumping back up due to success this weekend, not much has changed as you can see. I priced my Marvels slightly above the current market price to try and get ahead of the curve on this one. Emrakul bumped up a little because many players are fighting for the fastest cast time on him. Lilly and Tamiyo dipped a little this week, though. I’ve been really impressed with Tamiyo in this format, however. I’ve been casting her a lot lately and she’s always been the best part of my deck.

Since there isn’t as much going on with the competitive Standard cards for this article, let’s take a look at a different set of important cards in the format that sometimes goes unnoticed to those of us in the tournament scene.


When Battle for Zendikar was being spoiled, we all went nuts for the Expeditions. They spoiled the fetches, shocks, and battle lands, and we were pumped for this new rarity and all the possibilities. Dealers and players cracked box loads of packs for inventory, collections, and a variety of other reasons. One of the main driving factors though was the slim possibility that you could open a card worth a couple hundred dollars. So, players who were smart went together to buy cases instead of a box or a couple random packs to essentially guarantee success on the new and exciting Expeditions hunt. I know this marketing stunt pulled me in, and I was more excited to open packs than I have been in a long time.

Modern players devoured the market for these lands. Everyone foiling their Modern deck wants the best and coolest foils, so they dove straight for the Expeditions. When you go to a Star City Modern Open or a Grand Prix featuring the format, you’re likely to see many players sporting these lands. Their price certainly indicated their desirability, as the blue fetches crested $200, with Scalding Tarn jumping to around $300!

What I’ve noticed is that the Battle for Zendikar Expeditions have been knocked down a couple pegs to more reasonable numbers. Take a look at the current market price for these lands.

Scalding Tarn $198
Polluted Delta $180
Misty Rainforest $172
Verdant Catacombs $151
Flooded Strand $141
Arid Mesa $101
Wooded Foothills $101
Windswept Heath $98
Bloodstained Mire $97
Marsh Flats $90

Steam Vents $86
Godless Shrine $72
Overgrown Tomb $72
Stomping Ground $69
Breeding Pool $67
Watery Grave $63
Temple Garden $60
Hallowed Fountain $57
Sacred Foundry $56
Blood Crypt $53
Cinder Glade $31
Prairie Stream $30
Canopy Vista $27
Smoldering Marsh $26
Sunken Hollow $23

From the initial price climb, basically all of the cards in this cycle have fallen down a bit. The buy prices for these lands have also calmed down a bit, too. You can still find dealers buying these lands pretty aggressively, but for the most part, the buy prices have adjusted back to the normal percentages for cards at each price level.

The demand for fetches and shocks is high due to how many players play them in every format they are legal. It’s no surprise that the battle lands have fallen down to around $20 to $30 each. Because those five lands are so cheap, that leaves more room for the other lands in the cycle to be worth more money.

I think eventually we will see the price of these lands start to incline once more, but for now, they are definitely not growing at all. This initial decline in price took me by surprise because once the original supply dried up, it seemed logical for each land to be sold for more and more money.

The current prices we’re seeing may be the lowest they will ever be, but if the demand never picks back up for these commodities, then they could dip a bit more.

Expeditions, The Sequel

What happened next still surprises me. Wizards chose the most random selection of lands to include in the second half of the Expeditions set. Instead of going with two cycles like the filter lands and man lands, we got a pile of random lands mashed together. Basically what happened is that all the players just wanted lands from the first release and far fewer players sought out lands from Oath of the Gatewatch. These Expeditions too have fallen in value down to more manageable prices for most players.

I think if another decision had been made and a different selection of lands were chosen, we would have seen steeper demand for the second half of the Expeditions. Here’s where we’re at with the Oath Expeditions.

Wasteland $99
Ancient Tomb $98
Horizon Canopy $91
Strip Mine $64

Twilight Mire $50
Eye of Ugin $49
Cascade Bluffs $42
Fetid Heath $42
Mana Confluence $40
Flooded Grove $38
Sunken Ruins $38
Fire-Lit Thicket $38
Mystic Gate $37
Rugged Prairie $33
Dust Bowl $32
Wooded Bastion $31
Kor Haven $30
Forbidden Orchard $30
Graven Cairns $29
Tectonic Edge $29

As you can see, all the filter lands fall in the $30 to $50 dollar range, and that seems appropriate for lands primarily used by Commander players. Some of the utility lands fall in that category as well, which is logical for the same reasons.

Lower demand for the majority of the cycle left Wasteland, Ancient Tomb, Horizon Canopy, and Strip Mine as the top dogs. I thought these four cards would pull away in price and keep rising more, but they have dropped off as well. As a Legacy staples, I thought at least Ancient Tomb and Wasteland would rise above their starting price points.

So, why have all these Expeditions dropped in value? I think there are two reasons. The first is that we hit maximum supply. Once most of the packs were opened from this set, all of the Expeditions were floating out there, and the initial buyers had all gotten their copies, and the rest of the copies didn’t move as quickly. Once Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch go out of print, then I think we should start seeing that supply dwindle which will cause the prices to start recouping their lost ground.

Masterpiece Theater

The second main reason the price of the Expeditions didn’t retain its original value is because Wizards told us that they were no longer as special as they were when the set was released. I think once players realized that Masterpieces were now going to be a regular part of Magic, that the Expeditions weren’t the golden goose we were looking for anymore. If there is going to be a unique cycles of cards in every set, then there is no rush to acquire my piece of this series.

Each part of the Masterpieces series is going to reflect the plane we’re on at the time. So, Battle for Zendikar had lands because landfall plus the landscape being integral to the storyline of that plane. With Kaladesh, artifacts are the central theme, so our Masterpieces here are the Inventions. Take a look at where their prices are at right now.

[Card]Sol Ring[Card/] $121
[Card]Mana Vault[Card/] $117
[Card]Mana Crypt[Card/] $115
[Card]Mox Opal[Card/] $94
[Card]Crucible of Worlds[Card/] $90
[Card]Aether Vial[Card/] $85
[Card]Sword of Fire and Ice[Card/] $78
[Card]Sword of Feast and Famine[Card/] $73
[Card]Sword of Light and Shadow[Card/] $68
[Card]Lotus Petal[Card/] $66

[Card]Chromatic Lantern[Card/] $55
[Card]Torrential Gearhulk[Card/] $51
[Card]Solemn Simulacrum[Card/] $50
[Card]Lightning Greaves[Card/] $48
[Card]Scroll Rack[Card/] $48
[Card]Rings of Brighthearth[Card/] $43
[Card]Steel Overseer[Card/] $42
[Card]Noxious Gearhulk[Card/] $40

[Card]Verdurous Gearhulk[Card/] $37
[Card]Chrome Mox[Card/] $37
[Card]Gauntlet of Power[Card/] $35
[Card]Painter's Servant[Card/] $35
[Card]Combustable Gearhulk[Card/] $35
[Card]Cloudstone Curio[Card/] $34
[Card]Sculpting Steel[Card/] $33
[Card]Hangarback Walker[Card/] $32
[Card]Mind's Eye[Card/] $28
[Card]Cataclysmic Gearhulk[Card/] $28
[Card]Static Orb[Card/] $25
[Card]Champion's Helm[Card/] $24

As you can see, the prices of this cycle mirrors the same layout as that of Battle for Zendikar. The only difference is that the highest prices don’t reach the same heights as its predecessor. The Inventions seemed to follow the structure of the Oath Expeditions more than the Battle ones as well. There are no cycles within the Inventions series, and the only connecting feature is that they are all artifacts.

We did get part of the "Sword of X and Y" equipment cycle. That means that in Aether Revolt, we can almost certainly rely on Sword of War and Peace as well as Sword of Body and Mind to be part of the Masterpieces series. Some other artifacts that I think are likely would be other equipment like Skull Clamp and Umezawa's Jitte, plus Chalice of the Void, Oblivion Stone, Defense Grid, and more cards from Affinity like Arcbound Ravager. I assume that these cards will seem just as randomly chosen as the first group from Kaladesh, but we should get some cool cards nonetheless. I can’t wait to see which cards were chosen. Post your ideas in the comments below and let’s see if we can narrow down which cards we’re likely to be able to open in Aether Revolt.

What's in the Future?

I don’t expect most of these artifacts to trend upward for quite a long time. There are some that seem like great investments. Gauntlet of Power and Chromatic Lantern are extremely powerful Commander cards and get played frequently. I like the Affinity artifacts Mox Opal and Steel Overseer, too. I could see Aether Vial going back up as well, especially if it picks up traction in Modern. As for the rest of the set, I don’t see much demand for these cards. Everyone needs lands for their decks, while not everyone needs these artifacts.

Showdown Packs/Buy a Box Packs

To finish out the article today, I want to get the conversation started about these new promotional packs that Wizards is trying out. We have both Showdown Packs and Buy-a-Box Packs at my store, but I don’t think either is generating much interest. When these were first announced, I was pumped for another way to get players to come out to the store. I was also extremely excited about opening these packs myself.

These two varieties of three-card packs are another way to open Masterpieces, but with their limited supply, I don’t think they will impact the price of these cycles much, if at all. On the other hand, opening one from one of these packs could generate more interest in them than there was before. This is the same mentality of players opening Tarmogoyf from either Modern Masters set. What I saw happen was: a player opened a Goyf, and then instead of thinking, "I don’t need one of this card," shifted their thought process to, "Now I only need three more of this card!" That same type of thinking could come into play with these promo packs, but I’m not sure enough Masterpieces will be opened to make this happen. The percentage chance to open a Masterpiece puts my store averaging one total between all of the packs we got. That’s not very likely to happen. Then again, neither is opening a Masterpiece from a random pack from a box, but I pulled one the other day as have tons of players.

Have you participated in a Standard Showdown event at your LGS? What do you think of these events in general? Let me know in the comments.

That’s all I have this week on the Masterpieces series. I hope it got you caught up on what’s been happening with this rarity and gave you some insight into the future of these cards.

Until next time,
May all your packs have Masterpieces!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

9 thoughts on “Insider: Masterpiece Finance Trends

  1. Other than the gearhulks numbered 1-5, the rest of the Kaladesh Inventions are alphabetical, so I think most of your speculations on what’s to come in Aether Revolt (other than the Swords and the Jitte) are going to be off.

  2. “Some other artifacts that I think are likely would be other equipment like Skull Clamp and Umezawa’s Jitte, plus Chalice of the Void, Oblivion Stone, Defense Grid, and more cards from Affinity like Arcbound Ravager.”

    guys, jitte was literally used by wotc as THE example of cards they could NOT put into Inventions series

    stop citing it

    the cards have to match flavor to the world they’re on. no jitte 100%, and likely no arcbound or phyrexian-themed stuff either, nor stuff that’s just a poor aesthetic match (skullclamp is super grisly, does not match the gleaming tech-as-art style of kaladesh)

  3. Ok, decided to play. So with 24 Inventions to go I am going to assume they give us another 5 from Aether Revolt leaving 19 reprints. With the justification they fit alphabetically and thematically (not a very good Vorthos), here goes nothing:

    Sword of the Meek, Sword of Vengeance, Sword of War & Peace, Tetravus, That Which Was Taken, Thorn of Amethyst, Thought Vessel, Thousand Year Elixir, Torpor Orb, Trinisphere, Triskelion, Unwinding Clock, Vedalken Orerry, Vedalken Shackles, Voltaic Key, Whispersilk Cloak, Winter Orb, Worn Powerstone, Wurmcoil Engine.

    That being said, there may be a chance that a few of those are missing and they give us some sweet artifact tokens. Maybe a thopter, servo, construct, & less likely; a clue, golem or wurm.

    1. That’s an awesomely thorough reply and if this proves correct about the alphabetical order being connected to the numbering, those seem like legitimate choices.

      I think we’d all hate opening a couple of those like whispersilk cloak or sword of vengeance but I’m pumped to see if this proves correct or not.

      1. Thanks. I don’t usually get that involved in specific speculation like that, but since they gave us a start and it looked predictable I took a shot. Yeah, there are several that are not very good and that is why I thought they might give us some sweet artifact tokens instead. Or, like usual, WOTC will surprise us by not doing the predictable thing.

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