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Insider: Iconic Masters Revisited

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When WoTC first announced that this next Masters set was going to be focused on Iconic cards I got excited. That turned quickly to disappointment, when shortly afterwards they said it was going to emphasize some of Magic's oldest tribes: Dragons, Angels, Demons, Sphinxes, and Hydras. I did a breakdown of possible reprints assuming those would likely take up many of the mythic slots, and the set looked like it would likely be a flop.

So how many cards did I guess right that would be in Iconic Masters (IMA)? I looked at every mythic rare over $10 that had one of the announced creature types. Out of these 14 cards, just three made it in:

That's not very impressive. Though, to be fair, after highlighting those tribes in their statement they only included a grand total of three Hydras, five Angels, two Sphinxes, and five Demons in rare (or higher) slots. The only tribe they did really focus on heavily was Dragons (which had 10).

So I honestly can't feel that disappointed in my previous analysis since we kind of got the ol' bait-and-switch from WoT. Not that I'm complaining, as my original article was rather pessimistic. Instead we got another Masters set chock full of valuable cards in dire need of a reprint (from the player perspective).

Dropping Values

As we have seen with all the Masters sets so far, expect the rarity to play a big role in how much the card values drop:

  • Anything printed at common will likely decimate the price of previous versions (I'd expect at 75% drop in value or more).
  • Uncommons will likely drop by somewhere between 50-60% (based on previous drops).
  • Rares will likely drop somewhere in the range of 35-50% (depending on whether the card is a deck staple, a sideboard card, or if its original printing was really long ago when print runs were smaller).
  • Mythics will likely drop somewhere in the range of 15-35% (again, depending on whether it's a staple, sideboard card, or just exceedingly rare).

With that out of the way, let's look at some of the biggest reprints from the set.


Good ol' Mana Drain. I'm betting there are still some people who think this card is on the Reserved List. Its original printing was as an uncommon in Legends, thus exempting it from the rules of the RL.

While I imagine the original Legends English versions will see modest drops, the Italian ones will likely see the biggest losses. They were already cheaper, and thanks to the new artwork, I imagine they will be less desirable then the Iconic Masters option. I would also expect the judge foils that we got relatively recently to take a bit of a hit, as players may prefer the Iconic Masters foil.


Next up we have Horizon Canopy, which had managed to dodge a major reprint (save the Expedition) throughout its entire history. Horizon Canopy is one of those lands whose value was heavily influenced by scarcity as it was typically played only as a one- or two-of in decks that did play it. With a reprinting at rare and no major shift in Modern towards GWx decks, I expect this one will take a hard hit.

The good news is that the original has the different (and often beloved) alternate border design, so it will likely maintain some sort of premium over the reprint. However, this is definitely one to move out of if you have any before Iconic Masters hits the shelves.


With only two previous printings (one a judge foil, the other its original printing in the very first Commander set) this card's value was heavily influenced by scarcity. The Legacy format really took off after it was printed, which meant a low supply. And with WoTC's dislike of the storm mechanic, we aren't likely to see any more storm cards printed in Standard-legal sets—so the options for reprinting this card were pretty limited.

Flusterstorm was very close to $100 prior to this spoiling. I definitely expect it to drop a lot—this would be one of those closer-to-50% drops, if not more. Though, admittedly, its drop will be heavily dependent on the print run of IMA.

Also note that Flusterstorm is rarely a four-of in any deck, much more often appearing in the sideboard as a one- or two-of. Some Miracles decks do run it main now (as their ability to lock Storm decks out is exceedingly more difficult than before).


This card has actually cooled off a bit from its previous highs. This is thanks in large part to a shift away from GR Tron, which ran four copies of Grove, towards other versions (mainly Eldrazi and GW). It has also been replaced in many Legacy Lands decks with the Dark Depths/Thespian's Stage combo, which is a lot faster than trying to Punishing Fire out one's opponent.

Still, Grove was sitting in the mid to low $40s, with an all-time high of $90. I'd expect this one to easily drop to $25 or so.

The Praetors


Consider the graph above a stand-in for the whole cycle of Praetors from New Phyrexia. I've been wary of this reprint for a while now (I originally called them as likely in Modern Masters 2015 in place of the Dragons we had at mythic in MMA). Although we did get Elesh back in MM2, the other four remained elusive until now.

These are very popular Commander cards and thanks to being mythic will likely see the smallest percentage drops. I advise stores to target Sheoldred and Vorinclex especially, as they seem to be the most popular of the bunch in Commander.


Mill strategies are more often than not left to the casual crowd, but boy do they love them. Despite the fact that this card isn't even in the top 50 most played non-creature spells in Modern, it was still sitting above $30 thanks to its single printing in the original Ravnica set.

Original copies were already selling for as low as $15 just two days after being spoiled. If you have any you can move out I would do so now, as the floor on this card is very low (I'd guess somewhere in the $5-7 range).


Ever since being unbanned in Modern, this card has held a $40+ price tag despite never really breaking out in the format. It has found a home in some decks, but it hasn't been as format-warping as many worried (and control players hoped). I guess when the optimal play is to suspend it on turn one and there are quite a few decks that can still kill you before it ever resolves, it just doesn't do enough.

This reprint will assuredly knock it down quite a bit. I imagine we'll see it closer to $20-$25 after the set hits.


Despite this card being bonkers in Commander, the other factor behind its price is its inclusion in the Soul Sisters decks in Modern and the fact that it was a single-print rare from M11. I will be targeting these in trade when/if they hit $6, and will probably buy a set if they hit $4.


Bloodghast had a high of around $30 (when the Modern Dredge deck became dominant) and slowly declined to around $22. There are still some Modern Dredge players. With this reprint, the deck could fall close to the budget category, now that the most expensive card in the deck will likely drop in half (bringing the deck price down to the sub-$530 category).


This marks the third Masters set with Cryptic Command in it, and despite the previous printings the card has still managed to keep its head above the $20 waterline. I think that will change this time around.

We have seen a bit of a revival in control-type strategies in Modern recently (many of which play some number of Cryptics). But if this print run matches that of MM3, then I think the sheer number of additional copies will finally knock the best Command down to $12-$15.


Blood Moons number 5-8 for many hate decks, it can be cheated into play via Collected Company, Chord of Calling, or—my personal favorite—Eldritch Evolution. It had been sitting in the $32 range prior to being spoiled but copies can already be found for $22. This leads me to believe this one will be taking quite a big hit as well.

The "Iconic" Tribes

Of course, we've skipped the three that I actually called way back when.


I expect the biggest loser to be Archangel of Thune. The combo with Spike Feeder seems to have fallen out of favor in Modern, thanks largely to the infinite-mana engine of Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies, with their favorite pal Walking Ballista.


Next we have Consecrated Sphinx, which just had a recent printing as an Invocation and didn't really see a drop in price at all. I think everyone's favorite card-drawing machine will see a modest drop and then likely rebound (especially since copies have dropped all the way to $18 since the spoiling). I will likely try to target them in trades around $15 and buy them in the $11-$13 range (if they drop that much).


Last but not least, good ol' Avacyn. This card has proven to be extremely resistant to reprint price drops. Even with the From the Vault: Angels reprint in 2015 she has never dropped below $20 (since late January of 2014). This is thanks to her extremely high power level in Commander (and somewhat due to being from a very popular "collector tribe").

While she might finally fall below that $20 barrier, I don't foresee her staying there long. I'll likely try to trade for an extra copy or two if she hits $16.

Conclusion

I am happy to be wrong on my original impression of this set. WoTC managed to pack in a lot of goodies into yet another Masters set. Though I will reiterate my concerns that the more Masters sets they release, the more diluted the excitement for the next will be, and the higher the risk of over-saturating the market.

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