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We have seen tons of cards on the Reserved List spike in the past year, many simply from buyouts with no real merit. That being said, there is a small category of cards that I haven’t seen covered much, and today I hope to rectify that problem. I’m speaking about color-shifted Reserved List cards—exact or near exact duplicates of a RL card but in a different color than the original.
What’s interesting about this phenomenon is that WotC doesn’t seem to have any qualms with doing this. They have repeatedly stated that they stand by the Reserved List and have even backed away from reprinting specialty sets like Collector’s Edition and International Edition, because some believed it violated the “spirit” of the Reserved List. However, WotC doesn’t seem to consider legal color-shifted versions in the same way.
Let’s look at some of the major cards in this category to see if we can draw some conclusions about the finance aspect.
I’m a big fan of Porphyry Nodes. The ability is very powerful, and it was played in Modern in some UWx Control sideboards a few years ago. Back then it jumped in value, before falling out of favor and slowly dropping back to its current price.
However, that isn’t the reason I like it as a speculative target. Legacy Lands is an extremely powerful archetype, because its win condition and toolbox answers are very difficult for opponents to actually deal with—you can’t counter lands. It is usually a slower, grindy deck that abuses Life from the Loam, but now has a quick combo finish thanks to Thespian’s Stage.
It is an extremely expensive Legacy deck, so you could make the argument that anyone investing in it would simply opt for the best possible options. Drop of Honey is generally preferred because the deck is base green. That being said, the deck does play Karakas and 4x Mox Diamond, so a white splash isn’t out of the question, especially when you factor in that white also has some of the best sideboard options.
It’s understandable that some players might not want to pony up for a card like Drop of Honey, which only finds its way into some sideboards depending on the metagame. The other important thing to consider is that while color-shifting this card to white makes it worse for Lands, it does make it better for Modern (where white has some of the best sideboard hate in the format).
This feels like an odd color shift to me. Green has typically been the color to draw off of casting creature spells, while black tends to draw cards at the cost of life. We have seen Recycle show up in some very old Legacy Goblin variants combined with Skirk Prospector. This combo is now available in Modern. Goblins has shifted from being a mono-red tribe to R/b (with black being minor, but still relevant), so this is definitely something to keep an eye out for.
Null Profusion is sitting at bulk status so it’s at a price floor. Note, however, that Recycle itself (despite being on the Reserved List) is still only worth $4. While I don’t know how viable this deck idea is, it’s always worth keeping a tab on the card, especially when it’s a bulk rare.
This is a very interesting reprint. Donate became a Standard staple during Ice Age/Urza’s Saga block Standard on the back of its combo with Illusions of Grandeur, which formed the basis of the Trix deck of 2000. Now, red is arguably a much weaker color than blue in most formats, and Harmless Offering was a bulk rare pretty much it’s entire life in Standard, though some people did try to play it alongside Demonic Pact. It remains bulk now.
The bigger takeaway is that this color-shifted reprint occurred in Eldritch Moon (so not too long ago), whereas the other previously mentioned cards were from Planar Chaos. This tells us that WotC doesn’t view the color-shifting as some big mistake, and more may happen in the future.
One could argue that, despite the name and abilities, this is like a double-color-shifted card, as its +1/+1 buff requires a Plains instead of a Swamp and the regeneration requires white instead of black mana. However, Sedge Troll sees no play in any format except perhaps ’93/’94 (which wouldn’t allow Hedge Troll anyways). That being said it does show that if WotC color-shifts a card, they may change quite a bit.
We saw Elvish Farmer shoot up on the back of speculation on Slimefoot, the Stowaway. Mycologist obviously can’t be played in a green-black Commander deck, which is where much of this speculation was centered. So it’s certainly a downshift, especially since spore counters and Saprolings have always been green with the exception of Time Spiral block.
Neither the original nor the reprint see real play in anything. Sadly a 6/6 for four mana and a drawback just doesn’t cut it in most competitive formats (save perhaps Standard).
I’ll be honest—I didn’t even know Ivory Gargoyle was a card until I did the research for this article. That being said, this ability definitely feels more red, though again neither card seems to see much play in any format.
Yet another one where neither card sees play in anything, yet interestingly enough the rare Dwarven Thaumaturgist got downgraded all the way to common when it was colorshifted.
While WoTC seems to be holding steady to keeping the Reserved List intact, their actions prove that they are willing to think outside the box when it comes to reprints. While Reserved List cards will always have a higher price ceiling, thanks to collectibility and low supply, it’s quite possible that with a certain color shift, some old Reserved List cards could lose value as players flock to the shifted version.
This becomes more likely if the original version requires a splash in order to run it. (This may go against my argument for Porphyry Nodes, though as I stated I see that being more of a cost comparison than splash requirement).
Why bring this up? We have seen explosive growth in so many Reserved List cards. In fact we had several months in which MTGStocks/Interests was almost exclusively Reserved List cards, many of which made no sense. The prevailing thought is that those prices are “safe”—even after being bought out, when more enter the supply and the buyout price drops, the baseline price itself has shifted upwards.
We haven’t really seen any exceptions to this rule. But we also haven’t had a color-shifted RL reprint since Harmless Offering in Eldritch Moon, which was arguably downshifted in power level to a weaker color. Watch out in the future for any colorshifted versions of Reserved List cards that get spoiled—we may want to revisit the originals in that case.