Welcome back, readers!
Ultimate Masters releases on December 7, 2018 and it looks like an impressive set overall. We are getting a significant number of high-value reprints at the mythic, rare, and uncommon rarities.
I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to sealed product I don’t typically speculate unless the product has a limited print run or I get it at a very aggressive price. I have found that moving sealed product is considerably more difficult than singles as the potential customer base is smaller and the shipping charges are much higher.
That being said, Ultimate Masters is a limited-print-run product, and I happily bought four boxes for $254 each. I may crack a box or two if the singles prices remain high. But this feels like a product that could easily sell for $350-$400 in a year or so, especially since WotC has stated that they are not printing any additional Masters sets “for the foreseeable future.”
As long as WotC remains true to their word, we should expect Modern singles prices to begin to rise again, as the threat of reprints diminishes greatly. This especially when you consider that many of the most expensive Modern staples would warp Standard should they reenter the Standard environment.
With the last few Masters sets I have avoided buying any sealed product and instead utilized the money I would have spent on boxes buying up the format staples. This strategy has proven successful so far, in that most of the cards I purchased have gone up a fair amount. However, as prices change over time, the obvious goal is to buy when they are at their lowest. The best way to determine that is to look at the past pricing history from Masters sets.
To do this, I gathered a combination of Modern staples that were reprinted at mythic and reprinted at rare in various Masters sets and then looked for trends. The cards I used for my calculations were.
- Dark Confidant
- Karn Liberated
- Mox Opal
- Tarmogoyf (taken twice)
- Vendilion Clique (taken twice)
- Cavern of Souls
- Liliana of the Veil
- Snapcaster Mage
- Ensnaring Bridge
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor (taken twice)
- Chalice of the Void
- All is Dust
- Cryptic Command (taken twice)
- Daybreak Coronet
- Fulminator Mage
- Leyline of Sanctity
- Noble Hierarch
- Surgical Extraction
- Arid Mesa
- Blood Moon (taken twice)
- Death’s Shadow
- Goblin Guide
- Grafdigger’s Cage
- Marsh Flats
- Misty Rainforest
- Scalding Tarn
- Stony Silence
- Verdant Catacombs
- Aether Vial
- Horizon Canopy
- Pact of Negation
- Rest in Peace
- Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Astute observers might notice that some of the cards on these lists have been reprinted more than the number of times listed. For this analysis I ignored the original Modern Masters (MMA), predominantly because the Modern playerbase grew at an incredible rate after this set’s release, and I was concerned that demand might skew the results heavily. I gathered pricing at the following times:
- Last major printing (LMP) price on date of the reprint announcement.
- LMP Price on the date of the actual reprint set release.
- LMP Price three months after reprint set release.
- LMP Price six months after reprint set release.
- Reprint price on date of set release.
- Reprint price three months after reprint set release.
- Reprint price six months after reprint set release.
I wanted a large sample size for my analysis, so each card on the list has seven price points. While I would like to have factored in metagame shifts, as we all know those can greatly affect a card’s value, I fear that could have taken me a significant amount of additional time. So I’m hoping that my large sample size will smooth over any noise that metagame pricing would have played a role in.
Now for the actual results. Average LMP Price Drop between date of announcement and actual reprint set release:
- Mythic Rares- 5.25%
- Rares- 11.12%
Average LMP Price Drop three months after reprint set release:
- Mythic Rares- 3.4%
- Rares- 18.72%
Average LMP Price Drop six months after reprint set release:
- Mythic Rares- 8.92%
- Rares- 25.09%
Average Reprint Value three months after reprint set release:
- Mythic Rares- +4.18%
- Rares- 2.96%
Average Reprint Value six months after reprint set release:
- Mythic Rares- +2.4%
- Rares- +0.49%
Looking at these numbers we see—as expected—previous versions of a staple taking a huge hit when reprinted at rare, with an average loss of around 25% in value. However, the drop when reprinted at mythic is nowhere near as bad, with a loss of a little under 9%.
We also notice that the LMP prices continue to decline well after the reprint set’s release. The six-month drop averages greater than the three-month drop, which means that if you want to buy copies of the LMP you’re better off waiting at least six months (if not more) after a reprint set is released.
However, what I found most interesting was that the reprinted mythics tended to rebound quickly after the reprint set release. They already show positive growth just three months after said release, having grown on average a little over 4% from the initial release price. Rares were slower to rebound—they were down almost 3% at the three-month mark, but did eventually rebound to slightly above their initial price as well.
The takeaway here is that if you are looking to speculate on reprint-set Modern staples, your best buying time varies based on the rarity. For reprints at mythic, your best time to buy is actually right around the set’s release dates, which for UMA means December. For reprints at rare you can hold off for three months or so. But you may want to start buying them before June 2019, as on average they are likely to start trending upward.
Finally, it is important to note that this data is averaged out, so any speculation on reprinted staples that is heavily influenced by metagame will likely buck this trend.