War of the Spark is officially released and is destined to be one of the greatest selling sets of all time. At face value, this may sound like a bold prediction, but I’d argue it’s already a foregone conclusion. It all comes down to one thing: Planeswalkers. War of the Spark is riddled with Planeswalkers, and players will literally open one in every single pack.
This means we’ve gotten something previously unprecedented with this set: Planeswalkers printed at uncommon rarity. We’re used to seeing these printed at mythic rare, so getting uncommon planeswalkers means the supply on some of these will be much deeper than predecessors. This will put a lot of downward pressure on their price, and it’s very likely the worst of the bunch will be relegated to near-bulk--something unheard of in a world where any Planeswalker is worth at least $2.
But it’s not the worst that interests us—instead, this week we should focus on the most popular uncommon Planeswalkers in War of the Spark to predict what their price trajectory is. Since uncommon Planeswalkers are something we’ve not had before, it would behoove us to think ahead of their potential to determine how we want to deploy capital in this field. It’s easy to get caught up in hype from other MTG finance personalities and follow recommendations blindly. This week I will share perspective on where these may go over the short and long term so you can factor in these data when making your purchases.
Popular Uncommon Price Histories
Before predicting trajectories for the uncommon Planeswalkers, let’s first examine the price charts of recent playable uncommons.
According to MTG Stocks, Lava Coil is the most played card in Standard. Granted this could shift since the metagame is in flux. But for now, it’s safe to assume this simple removal spell has been relevant during its time in Standard thus far. Upon release, the card was worth about a buck—nothing to sneeze at for an uncommon. It peaked last February at around $3 and has been dropping back towards $1 ever since. It didn’t help that two copies were included in the Lightning Aggro Challenger Deck. Up until its reprint, though, this was a very strong uncommon that may have made you profit during preorder season.
Another uncommon that sees ample Standard play is Cast Down.
The price chart on this card looks quite different from that of Lava Coil. It seems the black instant was fairly hyped upon release, peaking nearly $5. But it crashed down to a buck within a few short weeks of release, not really managing to break the $1 price point since. Buying into preorder hype on this card would have been painful.
Slightly less painful would have been Wilderness Recalamation.
This card is currently ranked 49th in Standard—far from the top but a nonzero amount nonetheless. What’s more, this card is a reasonable Commander card. Who doesn’t like tapping out on their turn and still having mana available to disrupt opponents’ turns? This uncommon launched at near the $3 mark and quickly tumbled to $1.50. But instead of flatlining permanently, the card has slowly rebounded and is nearly $2. It’s still not profitable, but there is hope for this card when considering the long-term.
Lastly, I want to mention a recent multi-format all-star: Fatal Push.
This card launched at around $5, rallied toward $10, and then gradually retreated all the way down to $4. The FNM promo likely did a number on this card, but I suspect the biggest drag on its price was its departure from Standard. Still, the price trajectory of this card gives us a glimpse at upside potential for an uncommon that sees significant play in non-rotating formats. It’s worth noting Fatal Push has been around for over two years and is still trading near it’s all-time, post-rotation low.
The Uncommon Planeswalker Trajectory
Let’s assume for a moment that being a Planeswalker, alone, will not overcome the high supply of these uncommons. What can we expect their price trajectory to look like in the near term?
This will depend on multiple factors. If a card becomes a Standard staple, it has the potential to start very strong price-wise. But such a jump in price may not occur day one. Lava Coil’s price was depressed for about a month before it jumped. Cast Down tanked hard within the first month and never really recovered. Based on this assessment, I’d say ordering these uncommon planeswalkers into the incoming supply gut is a risky move.
But I’m not going to give a blanket “pass” on these cards. Not yet. There are two factors that could come into play that may make these good bets. First, there’s the surprise factor. If any of these uncommon Planeswalkers surprise us during the early stages of the new Standard, then that card could hit $5 immediately afterward. If you have a chance to profit on any uncommon Planeswalkers during such a spike, that would be your chance to cash out.
Second, if an uncommon Planeswalker has multi-format utility, it has a much higher chance of maintaining an elevated price tag. Fatal Push is a recent example for multi-format all-start printed at uncommon. Should any of the uncommon Planeswalkers achieve such status, it could maintain a price tag well north of $5 for its time in Standard. But it’s important to remember that Standard demand is transient, and will diminish as rotation approaches. This seems like a long ways away now, but it’s important to remember this inevitability because the price will drop when the time comes. Even Fatal Push couldn’t dodge that impact.
As we look out to the long-term horizon, things are trickier to predict. There really is no precedent for an uncommon Planeswalker’s price trajectory. Depending on how much demand there is for the card in non-rotating formats, any trajectory is possible. If a card finds a home in Modern and Commander, it could easily sustain a $5-$10 price tag for years. On the other hand, weaker demand could relegate an uncommon Planeswalker to the near-bulk bin. Still, a Planeswalker is a Planeswalker and I don’t think any of these will truly become bulk. Personally, I’d keep any Planeswalker separate from the rest of my War of the Spark bulk because there’s bound to be collector demand if nothing else.
Keeping these cards out of bulk is one thing—but is it wise to speculate on them? Would I recommend buying a stack of Narset, Parter of Veils? It’s hard to say. There’s bound to be one or two uncommon Planeswalkers that do break out, and those could be quite profitable if you get in now. If Narset is one of those break-out cards, it could easily jump to $5, and a $3 buylist would be an excellent out for a stack of these.
But if Narset isn’t the winner, and instead Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted becomes a mainstay in Standard, then you may be stuck.
Being stuck with a stack of uncommon Planeswalkers you paid a buck each for isn’t the worst. But it may take a while for that buy to pay out. If that’s going to be your play, then I’d definitely recommend trying to get these at their absolute floor, a couple weeks post-release. If you think you have the breakout card for Standard, then you’re better off buying now and selling into the spike. But I’d recommend holding off on pulling the trigger on any long-term type speculation, waiting for peak supply to hit the market.
From there, although unprecedented, I think you could do a lot worse than sitting on 100 uncommon Planeswalkers that cost you $0.25-$0.50 each for a couple years. Some of them are bound to hit.
Wrapping It Up
These uncommon Planeswalkers are difficult to evaluate. They are uncommon in a set where you get one Planeswalker in every single booster pack. This means supply will be through the roof, especially if the set is a huge success (it’s the first set that interested me since Dominaria). With this in mind, I think you have two angles to try and make profit on these.
First, you could try to buy up the potential break-out card in Standard. If you pick correctly, you could get lucky and end up shipping a stack of cards to a buylist for easy gains. I’ll admit picking Standard winners is not my strong suit. I’m more inclined to play the second approach: waiting for these to bottom in price and then shoving a bunch of them in a box for a while. Some may not get there, but I think we’ll be able to evaluate which Planeswalkers will be relevant in non-rotating formats over the coming weeks. I’ll target my favorites and try to get a bunch for $0.25 to $0.50. This will require little capital and offer potential for long-term growth.
Lastly, you could also focus on foils. I suspect foil copies of these will remain desirable regardless of the amount of play they see. I didn't study foils in particular this week, but I think you'll want to get any foils you're interested in owning shortly after release when supply peaks.
One thing is for certain: there are 20 uncommon Planeswalkers in War of the Spark and only three are worth more than a buck according to MTG Stocks. That may not be the case a couple years from now. If I can get a bunch of the more desirable Planeswalkers on the cheap in the next month or two, I will be very tempted to do so for the long-term. Planeswalkers will always have a special place in the hearts of casual players, and that should provide sustained demand for these cards for years to come. As long as you’re patient, it seems like you can’t go wrong.
- I’m always talking about what’s hot in this portion of my weekly column. Let’s take a look at some cards that are cold this time around. This data can be equally important. Let’s start with Dual Lands—every single one of these has fallen off Card Kingdom’s hotlist. None of them are fetching prices they would have gotten you a couple months ago. For example, Plateau and Tundra are two Duals that I’ve shipped to CK in the past when their buylist was $105 and $270, respectively. Now they’re offering $75 and $170 for those same cards. It’ll be interesting to track where these go over the summer.
- I recently shipped Card Kingdom a near mint Mox Diamond for $165. This card is still on their hotlist, but now they have over a dozen in stock and their buy price is down to $145. This isn’t exactly cold, but it does look like they’ve pulled back on aggressive acquisition of this Reserved List artifact.
- Card Kingdom is still somewhat high on the Book Promo version of Mana Crypt. Just recently they offered $200 for near mint copies, though that number has since dropped to $170. In the meantime, Card Kingdom dropped their buy price on EMA copies from $165 to $130. These were on the precipice of disappearing from the market, and it seems the new price point has motivated sellers to come out of hiding and bring their copies to the market. This has suppressed further price growth for now.