Foils are an interesting Magic investment because their extra rarity relative to nonfoils means that increases in demand have a greater impact on their price. When demand for a foil is particularly high, like with Modern or Commander staples, foils demand a very large premium, potentially even dozens of times the value of the nonfoil. When a foil suddenly sees an increase in demand, prices can go crazy.
When Vizier of Remedies emerged as a four-of in the newest Modern combo deck with Devoted Druid, its price spiked to over $15 before settling at almost $10. When Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons was printed, it created a brand new Commander deck that increased demand for all sorts of -1/-1 counter cards, many of which have seen their foil versions spike in price.
There has been a lot of other action on Commander foils, and some notable Modern spikes as well. Today I’ll explain what has happened.
The Vizier of Remedies price spike has bled to Duskwatch Recruiter // Krallenhorde Howler, which has now doubled from $5 to $10. It’s the best sink for the infinite mana the combo generates and the de-facto third piece of the combo, so the future of its price is tied to the success of the combo. Recently there have been players using the combo in shells beyond the Abzan Chord version, so it seems to have a bright future.
Foil copies of Stubborn Denial doubled in price from $12 to around $25, before settling at $20, after it became a maindeck staple in the hottest deck in Modern. Grixis Death’s Shadow won both SCG Baltimore and GP Copenhagen, and has grown in popularity to be the number one Death's Shadow variant, eclipsing Jund—that means Stubborn Denial is seeing a lot more play.
Logic Knot was a four-of in the Jeskai Control deck that top-eighted GP Kobe, and its foil Modern Masters printing spiked from $1 to $4. The original-printing Future Sight with its unique future-shifted frame hasn’t budged from its $11 pricetag, but the reprint was a huge bargain at a dollar and has soaked up the new demand for foil versions.
Living End saw a spike that more than doubled its price, from $35 to over $80, which is indication of how much its stock has risen after gaining new cycling creatures in Amonkhet and making its way to the finals of GP Copenhagen.
Horror of the Broken Lands saw a massive spike from $1 to over $6 based on the growing popularity of Living End. Many versions of the deck also use Desert Cerodon. Under $1 foils seem like a real bargain, and at $3 Archfiend of Ifnir has room to grow.
Simian Spirit Guide has been a Modern staple forever, but it’s currently seeing more play than ever. It’s a critical part of the Ad Nauseam deck, which has risen to new heights in competitiveness and popularity, and it has seen a new surge in demand from Living End players. This has sent the foil price up to nearly $80 from where it sat below $50.
Another staple in Living End is Faerie Macabre, which offers graveyard removal that doesn’t get cascaded into, and that even offers great synergy with Living End because it discards itself to be reanimated. It’s seen a huge spike from $5 to nearly $20, and extra demand from other Modern decks and Legacy should help buoy its price.
Foil Eidolon of Rhetoric grew from $5 to above $8 based on its increasing utility in Modern. It stops cascade spells from ever being cast, so it hoses Living End. Gifts Storm has also become a very serious contender in the format, so Eidolon of Rhetoric is better than ever and has plenty more room to grow.
The increased value of the Arcane Laboratory effect in Modern explains the spike in foil Ethersworn Canonist, which has grown from under $9 to $50. I expect some of this is crossover demand from Legacy, which has seen Storm rise to the top after the banning of Sensei's Divining Top removed Counterbalance from the metagame.
The Commander 2017 leaks revealed that Dragons will be one of the stars of the show. In anticipation, foil Haven of the Spirit Dragon has spiked from $3 to $12. There will certainly be an increase in demand for Dragons, and because Haven of the Spirit Dragon is included in the leaks, there will be plenty of people who seek foil versions as they bling out their new deck.
Grim Poppet plays a part in the Hapatra deck that has driven up the price of all of its cards, and the artifact has a lot of crossover appeal and even sees fringe Eternal play. The new demand spiked the foil price to from $3 to $10.
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is growing in popularity as a commander, and that has spiked the price from under $3 to $8.
Outing Your Foils
When dealing in foils, condition is more relevant than ever, and the most premium prices are reserved for the cards in the best shape. There is certainly a market for played versions, especially for the most in-demand cards, but be sure to do your research and tread carefully.
Foils also tend to be less liquid than nonfoil cards, similar to old high-end cards, because there are fewer players that demand them. The average player who just wants to game doesn’t buy or trade for foils, which are reserved for more invested collectors.
Don’t expect to move your foils locally—and even some buyers at events will be hesitant to tie up cash into them. Thus the internet is your best friend for finding buyers for your foils at top dollar. Doubly so for foreign foils, which have an even more niche audience demanding them.