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Insider: An Objective Look at Modern Masters

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Welcome back, readers! Today's article idea stems from a discussion that began in our forums, speculating on what will be in Modern Masters 2017.

We all know that reprinted cards will likely drop in value, but the amount they do will depend on their rarity. Fortunately, we have two past sets (Modern Masters and Modern Masters 2015) that give us a lot of information.

Here's what we know so far. MM2017 includes cards all the way up to Magic 2014 (notice how WoTC's announcement emphasizes Return to Ravnica and Innistrad). The release date is March 17, so spoilers are likely to start up in the very near future. The other bit of information we get is that MM2017 has 249 cards in it, the same number as Modern Masters 2015.

Obviously, nobody outside of WoTC has perfect information on what is and isn't in the set. However, we can look for any existing patterns and try to make educated inferences from them.

Rarity Breakdown

Set Commons Uncommons Rare Mythic
Modern Masters 101 60 53 15
Modern Masters 2015 101 80 53 15

What we see here is that WoTC has kept the rarity breakdown the same over three of the four possible categories. Because the set has the same number of cards as Modern Masters 2015, it seems reasonable to infer that the rarity breakdown will be the same.

Mythic Comparison

Card Name Modern Masters Modern Masters 2015
Dark Confidant Y Y
Elspeth, Knight-Errant Y  
Jugan, the Rising Star Y  
Keiga, the Tide Star Y  
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker Y Y
Kokusho, the Evening Star Y  
Progenitus Y  
Ryusei, the Falling Star Y  
Sarkhan Vol Y  
Sword of Fire and Ice Y  
Sword of Light and Shadow Y  
Tarmogoyf Y Y
Vedalken Shackles Y  
Vendilion Clique Y Y
Yosei, the Morning Star Y  
Bitterblossom   Y
Comet Storm   Y
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite   Y
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn   Y
Iona, Shield of Emeria   Y
Karn Liberated   Y
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth   Y
Mox Opal   Y
Primeval Titan   Y
Tezzeret the Seeker   Y
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre   Y

This table shows us that between the first two Modern Masters, only four mythics were printed in both sets. This means around 25% of the mythics in MM2015 (4/15) were duplicate reprints. It seems likely that WoTC will keep these duplicate reprints limited in the next installment.

The most likely candidate for a re-reprint is Tarmogoyf. Goyf was the flagship card for the first two iterations of the Modern Masters series, which clearly didn't satisfy market demand given its price is still sitting around $120. It seems perfectly reasonable that WoTC would continue this reprint into MM2017.

Dark Confidant has recovered decently as well (currently sitting around $37-$38). But with the addition of Innistrad to the line-up, I think Liliana of the Veil would be a better flagship card for black in the set.

Vendilion Clique and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, on the other hand, have plummeted from their highs of years past. Clique is sitting at around $30 and Kiki-Jiki at $11-$12, and both have stayed steady at these new prices. Thus if secondary market value is one of WoTC's metrics, I wouldn't be surprised to see them retire these two to make room for other mythics.

Another important metric to look at with these lists is that not all the mythics are heavily played in Modern. WoTC typically includes some solid Commander cards in Masters products as well. Looking at the original Modern Masters set, I'd put these cards in that category:

  • Elspeth, Knight-Errant
  • Kokusho, the Evening Star
  • Progenitus
  • Sarkhan Vol
  • Sword of Light and Shadow

For Modern Masters 2015, the following cards similarly look geared towards the Commander crowd:

  • Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
  • Iona, Shield of Emeria
  • Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
  • Tezzeret the Seeker
  • Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

These cards make up one third of the mythics in both sets, which is a significant amount. That isn't to say that none of these cards see play in Modern (or other eternal formats), but the demand driving their prices comes mostly from the casual/Commander crowd. So, again I would infer that WoTC will save at least five of the mythic slots for non-Modern players.

The last bit of information we want to notice is the color breakdown of the mythics in each set.

Color Modern Masters Modern Masters 2015
Green 2 2
White 2 2
Red 2 2
Black 2 2
Blue 2 2
Gold 2 0
Colorless 3 5

What we see is a very even distribution of two mythics per color, with the remaining five split between gold and colorless. It seems fair to infer that WoTC will continue this trend.

Note also that no color had two highly valuable cards. Instead we tend to get one more expensive and one less expensive. This is no doubt in part to save valuable reprints to sell other products.

All that being said, here are the most expensive cards in each color in Modern.

Color Most Valuable 2nd Most Valuable 3rd Most Valuable
Green Tarmogoyf Doubling Season Noble Heirarch
Blue Ancestral Vision Snapcaster Mage Pact of Negation
Black Liliana of the Veil Damnation Dark Confidant
White Linvala, Keeper of Silence Auriok Champion Avacyn, Archangel of Hope
Red Through the Breach Goblin Guide Blood Moon

Going through this list, six of the cards have been printed previously in Modern Masters sets. It's important to note that four of those were printed at rare.

Rare Comparison

Card Name Modern Masters Modern Masters 2015
Academy Ruins Y  
Adarkar Valkyrie Y  
Aether Vial Y  
Angel's Grace Y  
Arcbound Ravager Y  
Auriok Salvagers Y  
Blinkmoth Nexus Y Y
Blood Moon Y  
Bridge from Below Y  
Chalice of the Void Y  
City of Brass Y  
Cold-Eyed Selkie Y  
Countryside Crusher Y  
Cryptic Command Y Y
Death Cloud Y  
Demigod of Revenge Y  
Divinity of Pride Y  
Doubling Season Y  
Dragonstorm Y  
Earwig Squad Y  
Engineered Explosives Y  
Ethersword Canonist Y  
Extirpate Y  
Figure of Destiny Y  
Gifts Ungiven Y  
Glen Elendra Archmage Y  
Glimmervoid Y  
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV Y  
Greater Gargadon Y  
Jhoira of the Ghitu Y  
Kataki, War's Wage Y  
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner Y  
Knight of the Reliquary Y  
Life from the Loam Y  
Lotus Bloom Y  
Maelstrom Pulse Y  
Meloku the Clouded Mirror Y  
Molten Disaster Y  
Oona, Queen of the Fae Y  
Pact of Negation Y  
Pyromancer's Swath Y  
Reveillark Y  
Rude Awakening Y  
Scion of Oona Y  
Skeletal Vampire Y  
Slaughter Pact Y  
Squee, Goblin Nabob Y  
Stonehewer Giant Y  
Summoner's Pact Y  
Tombstalker Y  
Tooth and Nail Y  
Verdeloth the Ancient Y  
Woodfall Primus Y  
All Is Dust*   Y
All Sun's Dawn   Y
Ant Queen   Y
Apocalypse Hydra   Y
Argentn Sphinx   Y
Banefire   Y
Battlegrace Angel   Y
Chimeric Mass   Y
Creakwood Liege   Y
Daybreak Coronet   Y
Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder   Y
Etched Champion   Y
Etched Monstrosity   Y
Eye of Ugin   Y
Fulminator Mage   Y
Ghose Council of Orzhova   Y
Guile   Y
Hellkite Charger   Y
Horde of Notions   Y
Hurkyl's Recall   Y
Indomitable Archangel   Y
Inexorable Tide   Y
Leyline of Sanctity   Y
Lodestone Golem   Y
Lodestone Myr   Y
Long-Forgotten Gohei   Y
Midnight Banshee   Y
Mirran Crusader   Y
Mirror Entity   Y
Mystic Snake   Y
Necroskitter   Y
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind   Y
Nobilis of War   Y
Noble Hierarch   Y
Overwhelming Stampede   Y
Precurser Golem   Y
Profane Command   Y
Puppeteer Clique   Y
Scute Mob   Y
Shadowmage Infiltrator   Y
Spellskite   Y
Spikeshot Elder   Y
Splinter Twin   Y
Sunforger   Y
Surgical Extraction   Y
Surrakar Spellblade   Y
Swans of Bryn Argoll   Y
Thunderblust   Y
Wildfire   Y
Wilt-Leaf Liege   Y
Wolfbriar Elemental   Y

There were only two rares printed in both sets, despite the fact that only six additional sets got added to the possible card pool (Zendikar and Scars of Mirrodin blocks).

The other big takeaway here is that a lot of the rares are not regularly seen in Modern. Between the two sets we have 34 cards that have seen some Modern play in at least semi-competitive decks, 21 in the original Modern Masters and 15 in Modern Masters 2015. So in both cases a majority of the rares in the set were actually not Modern-playable.

This actually makes sense. WoTC has to figure out an MSRP for this product, and putting in too many high-dollar cards would likely keep packs out of players hands (it would be more profitable for shops to crack the packs themselves and sell the singles). However, the danger of top-loading the value (i.e. having a few really valuable cards and a lot of really bad ones) could easily turn away players who spend $10-plus on a pack and pull a $0.25 rare.

The other thing we notice with the rares (just like the mythics) is that WoTC likes to sprinkle in some solid Commander cards in there as well. This is great for Commander players who don't have a lot of these cards already, but it tanks the price in most cases.




All three of these cards were reprinted in MMA. I'll admit that Grand Arbiter has recovered a good bit by now, but right after MMA he had dropped by over half.

Conclusion

I expect we'll see a few returning favorites in Modern Masters 2017, and that WoTC will once again split the mythics between competitive Modern and commander. The rares are more difficult to predict, if only because WoTC seems to put only a small percentage of truly competitive rares into the set and a lot of chaff.

While I didn't break down the uncommons in this review, it's important to note that MMA had a lot of good valuable uncommons in it (which helped take the sting out of opening a bulk rare in a $7 pack). Modern Masters 2015 had fewer money uncommons. Remember that all valuable staples will begin to decline in price as they're spoiled, but the steepness of the drop will depend on what rarity they're being printed at.

For now, I'm weary of trading for any Modern staples that haven't been reprinted yet (I'm looking at you, Goblin Guide). I'm honestly a bit cautious trading for higher-dollar Commander staples that have dodged a reprint thus far as well.


4 thoughts on “Insider: An Objective Look at Modern Masters

  1. I just had to say that this article is what I as a speculator was looking for. Eventhough it was was a speculative article, the reasoning that was backed by Facts was amazing. I hope that QS writers will produce more of this type of data/trend analysis type of articles.

    1. Thanks. I am a firm believer that if you are going to invest your money in anything you should have solid reasoning behind it. I also have to admit that I honestly didn’t realize how little crossover the first two MMs had until I started the article, nor did I realize how much “chafe” was in the sets at rare.

  2. 1)

    wary, not weary

    2)

    your editor should have told you to take the GD tables out. that’s like a hundred lines to say what could have been said in one (“there were four mythic repeats: bob goyf clique kiki”). and again with the nonmythics.

    great idea, poor execution 7/10 would read again

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