Lost Legends: A Deep Dive

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I started playing Magic in 1997—this was unfortunately far too late to enjoy the opportunity to purchase and crack open booster packs of Legends. Though that set came out just three years earlier, it was sold out at any of the local hobby shops I could get to with my bicycle (I was only 13, after all). For over a decade, the set remained mysterious and out of reach.

Fast forward ten years, to the late 2000s. I learned that a co-worker of mine had collected Magic cards when he was younger. Through some negotiations, I managed to purchase his collection, which was a haystack within which many valuable needles were hidden. I found a few Dual Lands, some Force of Wills, and a stack of Legends cards (though none of the big dollar cards). One of the most interesting components of that collection was an Italian Legends booster pack.

I kept this treasure sealed for a while, but finally gave in to temptation (and a little peer pressure) and cracked open the pack—no Mana Drain, and the rare was a Telekinesis.

Despite the underwhelming contents inside, I recognize the experience as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to open pack fresh Legends cards in the modern age.

Until Now…

Dominaria United is scheduled for worldwide release on September 9, 2022, a little over two months from the time of this writing. The set is likely to include many throwback references to cards I used to enjoy playing as a kid. Naturally, this is boosting my hype for the set, and I hope it has more resonance with history than the last Dominaria set (old card frames please?!).

Last week, Wizards of the Coast announced the most exciting component of Dominaria United yet: the concept of Lost Legends.

If you missed the announcement, here’s the synopsis: cases of Legends were allegedly lost in a warehouse somewhere isolated in Washington state. This product was recently found, cracked open, and the singles were spread throughout sealed Dominaria United Collector Boosters. Pretty amazing, right? Imagine, the chance of opening up any beloved, classic card from one of Magic’s earliest expansion sets! It’s a chance for newer players to acquire cards they never could have found and/or afforded otherwise!

With all the product that was found and opened, there’s a three percent chance a given Collector Booster will contain one of these sweet Legends cards.

What’s In and What’s Out

While the previous section provides a high-level synopsis of these Lost Legends, the reality is there are a number of nuances of which everyone should be aware.

First, when Legends was printed 28 years ago, printing and collation technology were not exactly state of the art, and there were collation problems. Because of this, many booster boxes only contained one portion of the possible uncommon cards—they were either from set “A” or set “B”. A booster box from set “A” would not contain any uncommons from set “B”, and vice versa.

This was so frustrating to players, in fact, that Wizards of the Coast initiated a Legends Exchange Program, which gave consumers the opportunity to trade in up to 100 cards from one group of uncommons for an equal number of cards from the other group. Pretty wild, right?

Legends Exchange Program from Duelist #2

What does that mean for Dominaria United’s Lost Legends? Well, true to history, the cases that Wizards cracked open for this promotion only came from one of the print run batches. In other words, some uncommons won’t be appearing in this product at all, despite being popular cards from Legends. Fifty cards, to be exact.

While most people probably won’t care that their Collector Boosters won’t contain unplayable uncommons like Wall of Dust or Undertow, there are some noteworthy omissions. First and foremost on many players' minds, you won’t be able to crack open any copies of Mana Drain or Land Tax. There’s no Underworld Dreams either. If you were hoping to pull the infamous Albert Einstein printing of Presence of the Master, you will be disappointed yet again—it’s not included, either.

That’s not so bad, though, because there are still plenty of valuable cards that will be included, right?

Yes. Absolutely. You’ll still find gems like Magus of the Moat, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, and Nether Void.

No, wait a second, Nether Void’s not in there either. It turns out that Wizards also purposefully removed sixteen additional cards. It’s obvious that cards they had previously banned due to racist undertones (or overtones, in the case of Invoke Prejudice), are not included. In addition, all cards by controversial artist Harold McNeill (Nether Void, Sylvan Library, etc.) are out, and a few others are also sidelined. This includes some high-dollar collectibles like Gwendlyn Di Corci, which isn't too surprising. I don’t think bondage is something Wizards wants their game associated with.

At the end of the day, Legends has 310 unique cards in the set. 244 of those cards will be included in Lost Legends and will appear in Dominaria United Collector Boosters.

Impact on the Legends Market

I cannot say definitively, but I don’t expect this small increase in the supply of Legends cards will move prices all that much. Any downside pressure from more copies hitting the market is likely to be cancelled out by a small increase in demand and newfound interest in the set. It should be a wash, especially on the rares.

On the other hand though, cards excluded from the Lost Legends set may get some additional attention. By calling out certain cards like Barbary Apes and Pyrotechnics, it draws attention to these cards. The last time Wizards called out such cards, it drove buyouts on them. This is occurring again, though it isn’t really hitting the radar yet.

Here are recently completed sales on TCGplayer for Barbary Apes and Pyrotechnics, respectively.

People seem to be buying these up, but the reality is there are many copies of these cards on the market. It would take a lot of repeated buyouts to get these to stick at a higher price point. Honestly, why bother? If you really wanted to make a play in this space, you’d be better off buying Gwendlyn Di Corci. At least that’s a rare card, on the Reserved List, and has a cool history.

Other than that card, I wouldn’t bother much with the rest. I’d treat this Lost Legends release as a non-event in the grand scheme of Magic finance. The market forces at play involving currency fluctuations, rampant inflation, and economy weakness are much more likely to influence card prices going forward. The best I can hope for is a broader population’s kindled interest in one of my all-time favorite sets.

Wrapping It Up

Will I be purchasing any Dominaria United Collector Boosters in the hope of pulling one of these Legends cards? The novelty makes the idea tempting, and we all have a small gambling streak within us. That being said, when you crunch the numbers, the odds look fairly abysmal.

There’s been a lot of chatter about the set in the Old School Discord. I don’t know who Robert Vincent is, but he did some calculations that I wanted to share here:

The fact that you’d have to spend over $12,000 to pull a full pack (15 cards) of Legends is pretty telling. Also, at $24 a pack and just 3% odds, it doesn’t seem like a great idea to try and expand your Legends collection this way. Don’t forget that, when you do open a Legends card in one out of every 33ish boosters you open, chances are it’ll be some garbage unplayable common. Do I really need to pay $24 for a bunch of new cards I won’t care about and a shot at a Glyph of Destruction? Nah, I’m good.

For the money we’re talking, I’d rather just purchase the real thing. Card Kingdom has a few English Legends booster packs in stock currently at $999.99. If I want a piece of history, I could trade in some cards to their online shop for store credit to pick one of these up. That would definitely be more exciting than trying to pull one card out of 33 Collector Boosters.

At the end of the day, I hope these Lost Legends cards drive greater interest in Magic’s history. A little light shined on one of the Four Horsemen sets can be a small boost in interest from the broader community, and this gets me excited. As for gambling on the Collector Boosters—that’s not the angle I intend to play. If I purchase a few, it’ll be to open some cool throwback cards that remind me of the game back in 1997 when I started playing. Nothing more.

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