Last week, we talked about my current thoughts on the Modern metagame, Eldraine’s massive impact on all constructed formats, and the potential fallout from Monday’s Banned and Restricted announcement. I’m writing this article Friday, 10/18/19, and I’m proud to say I didn’t have to change a thing (Edit: Okay, Pioneer, you win). I performed middlingly (tomorrow) at SCG Regionals, and Field of the Dead is now banned from Standard. No changes to other formats (Pauper doesn’t count because I don’t know anything about that format). I know we're all itching to dig into Pioneer, but it's really important that we explore the implication of Collector's Edition while the iron is hot.
Throne of Eldraine Collector’s Edition
As little as I care for Standard or for foils, Throne of Eldraine surprised me with the desirability of its Collector’s boosters. Once everyone lowered their expectations for this product and accepted it for what it is, it’s begun to seem more reasonable. I’ve even been trading for/buying some of these cards on the off-chance that some of them stick around in Modern, because the showcase cards are really cool! Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft and Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp both look awesome, for example, and aren’t really that expensive relative to how I perceive their scarcity.
That said, what the heck is going on with these Finance-wise? Sure, Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft is a mythic, but the showcase nonfoil costs more than twice as much as a regular nonfoil! I expected foil multipliers to be buck-wild due to demand outstripping supply, but nonfoils too? Wait a minute… are there really only two mythic rare showcase cards? Realm-Cloaked Giant // Cast Off has a 2-3x multiplier for nonfoil as well. We’re likely not seeing this border or card style again for quite some time, so these two particular cards are in a fairly unique position. Get them soon if you have any interest, as this border likely won't be reused for future Collector's sets.
The Game Has Changed
This is very different from what we normally see in Magic, but we need to figure out the financial impact of all this so we can make more informed decisions moving forward. Especially if Wizards does a Collector’s Booster for Theros: Beyond Death as well, but we’ll get into that more later. First and foremost, the regular pack foil versions of Realm-Cloaked Giant // Cast Off and Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft have almost no multiplier. At this time, you can purchase a non-foil Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft on TCGPlayer for $9, and a foil for $13. A 1.4x multiplier is extremely small for a solid mythic rare from the most recent set. Realm-Cloaked Giant // Cast Off also has the same, miniscule 1.4x multiplier.
Judging from the price spread between regular foil and non-foil Murderous Rider // Swift End and Oko, Thief of Crowns, this trend is not exclusive to mythic rare showcase cards. It seems the pack-foil multiplier for cards with more premium versions is going to be lower than normal for this entire set. This makes perfect sense, as wide-spread availability of aesthetically superior versions is going to make the regular versions less desirable.
This is about as close as we can come to understanding the present impact of Collector’s Boosters. It’s actually way, way more complex than this, but I don’t have the tools or time to figure out how much so. To summarize, I present a few unanswered questions:
1) How heavily is regular booster pack EV affected by this? Will the lower prices of foils across the board be compensated for by the potential to get a rare card variant (which seems kind of unlikely because the chance of getting a foil variant is extremely low)?
2) What is the ceiling for the most expensive cards from Collector’s Boosters? The foil borderless version of Oko, Thief of Crowns can be found for just $160 currently, which seems like a steal of the supply is as low as it seems. Is the ceiling actually much higher for this card? Is WotC willing to reprint these high-end variants as judge foils or something similar, thus inflating supply?
3) Will Collector’s Boosters become a regular Magic product? Will Theros do this as well? Borderless planeswalkers have held strong prices in the past, in no small part due to scarcity. If every planeswalker ever printed from now on gets a borderless variant, is that a good thing or a bad thing in terms of how excited players will be for them? (Edit: Okay, Theros collector’s boosters were announced after I wrote, but before I submitted this article.)
Checking In On Modern
15th at SCG Regionals last weekend is honestly better than I was hoping for. As I said in my last article, I bought the entirety of Amulet Titan after scrubbing out of SCG Indianapolis. My goldfishing and discussions with better players than I led to me having a pretty solid understanding of the deck. I lost my win-and-in to top 8 against the Amulet Titan mirror in three decision-less games. I did, however, savagely punt game three of round three to Hardened Scales. I had him dead to rites, with a ridiculously improbable combination of several draw steps being his only potential out.
But instead of taking that 99%+ chance to win, I decided it would be more prudent to return a Forest to my hand off my Simic Growth Chamber. My opponent controlled Damping Sphere, and I, having played versus Alpine Moon all day, forgot that the wetball makes my karoo-lands tap for colorless. I then skillfully did not pay for my Summoner's Pact trigger on my next upkeep due to being a green source short. But hey, what can ya do? That's jazz, baby! Modern doesn't seem to be changing that rapidly right now, so I'm going to keep running this deck back until my attention is drawn elsewhere.
I write this conclusion on 10/21/19. Pioneer is announced as a new non-rotating format that will receive Grand Prix support. I was correct about Field of the Dead being banned from Standard, no changes to other non-Pauper formats, and about my middling performance at SCG Regionals. I’m feeling good about Amulet for SCG Atlanta, and Pioneer is shaping up to be very interesting. Pioneer itself deserves its own article, and we discussed it at length on the QS Cast this week in terms of some good buys.
I still want to stress that you should be buying as much of the Pioneer index as possible, but do keep in mind that it is very likely that a lot of cards will be banned over the next couple months. Don’t go too deep on dangerous cards like Emrakul, the Promised End or Saheeli Rai. Don’t underestimate how high the prices of the manabase can go. Cards like Mana Confluence and Botanical Sanctum have already gone up and may make you feel like you’ve missed the boat, but if this format catches on, they have so much more room to climb.
Wizards of the Coast will have likely discussed more of their ban philosophy for this format by the time you’re reading this article, so my next article can have more information about what is likely to be banned and what is likely safe. Numerous cards are going to be spiking every day for the next several months.
Next time, we’ll go more in-depth regarding Pioneer and get into some more specifics about what to buy and sell in the format moving forward. I’m testing the format on MTGO when I have time, but my focus for the weekend will be Modern for SCG Atlanta. Wish me luck, and follow me on twitter @MahouManSam!