Hello everyone and welcome to my article about the Financial Value of Magic 2012! Because Magic 2012 is a set comprised of both reprints and original cards I'm going to approach my discussion about the value of cards in this set differently than I have for sets that are (for the majority) all new cards.
I'm going to break the discussion into three sections: Reprinted cards that were recently printed (such as the Titan cycle from M11) reprinted cards that haven't seen print in a Standard-legal set for a while (such as Grim Lavamancer) and cards that are new to Magic. I'll have the most to say in the third section and there's a general trend we can address with both types of reprints (recent and not-so-recent) now that we have M10 to M11 as a precedent. Without further ado let's have my thoughts!
For the sake of brevity I'm going to just discuss Mythic and Rares unless there's a Common/Uncommon of note.
Section 1: Recent Reprints (Standard-legal within the past 2 years)
When I wrote my M11 financial review I underestimated how much the value of reprinted M10 would depreciate because of the mass-printing of M11 cards. I figured a 10-25% dip in value but the drop-off was much sharper—more like 25-50%. There are 25 Rares/Mythics returning from sets printed from M10 forward and eight of these are Mythics (five Titans Time Reversal Sorin Markov and Gideon Jura).
Further compounding the depreciation of value of these cards are the mass-market reprints of several of these cards in promotional sets. A lot of these cards are just plain overprinted at this point. Consider these bulk cards (cards I expect to sit at the $0.50-$1.50 mark in value before M13 comes out):
BULK REPRINTED M12 RARES/MYTHICS
Cemetery Reaper - M10 M12 Archenemy
Djinn of Wishes - M10 M12
Dragonskull Summit - M10 M11 M12
Goblin Chieftain - M10 M11 M12
Honor of the Pure - M10 M11 M12 Buy-a-Box Promo
Manabarbs - M10 M12
Mesa Enchantress - M10 M12
Redirect - M11 M12
Reverberate - M11 M12 Premium Deck: Fire and Lightning
Rootbound Crag - M10 M11 M12 Premium Deck: Slivers
Royal Assassin - M10 M11 M12
Sunpetal Grove - M10 M11 M12
Time Reversal - M11 M12
The issue is that the core set comes out annually now. Back when the core set was biannual there was time for the supply of some of these cards to dry out of Standard or reach a full rotation of players through an entire block of Standard. Now we have some of these cards being reprinted FOUR times in two calendar years! Even if the M10 dual lands were really good it'd be hard to justify a non-bulk price on them when say Rootbound Crag has been out four times in two years.
The other reprinted cards in this set have been at record low prices:
$2: Birds of Paradise - M10 M11 M12 Buy-a-Box Promo
$2: Day of Judgment - Zendikar M11 M12 Buy-a-Box Promo Player's Reward Promo
$2: Drowned Catacomb - M10 M11 M12 Mirrodin Besieged Event Deck
$2: Glacial Fortress - M10 M11 M12
$2.50: Elvish Archdruid - M10 M11 M12
$5: Frost Titan - M11 M12 Duels of the Planeswalkers Promo
$20: Gideon Jura - Rise of the Eldrazi M12
$10: Grave Titan - M11 M12 Duels of the Planeswalkers Promo
$8: Inferno Titan - M11 M12 Duels of the Planeswalkers Promo
$20: Primeval Titan - M11 M12
$10: Sorin Markov - Zendikar M12
$4: Sun Titan - M11 M12 Prerelease Card
Of these I think I'm going to have the drop Elvish Archdruid ($2) Gideon Jura ($15ish) Grave Titan ($7-8) Inferno Titan ($5-$6) and Sorin Markov ($7-$8) once our preorder period is over unless there's a sudden surge of sales. Primeval Titan has taken a small dive but I think it should recover because it's only been printed twice and is still the most powerful of the Titans.
Section 2: Older Reprints (haven't been Standard-legal since Scars block came out)
Innistrad is almost certainly going to be a graveyard-mechanic-based set. It looks like Wizards of the Coast accidentally left some Innistrad cards in the raw data file for Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 and returning is flashback [highlight to see]. Wizards decided to plant quite a few cards in this set that would interact well with a graveyard theme including Grim Lavamancer Smallpox Zombie Infestation Sutured Ghoul Buried Ruin Auramancer Jace Memory Adept Vengeful Pharaoh Visions of Beyond Arachnus Spinner and Sphinx of Uthuun (among others).
These are a lot more interesting than the recently reprinted cards because they haven't been as widely circulated in recent years leading to less of an active supply on the market. Solemn Simulacrum was featured in the under-printed Commander product but has a picture unique to M12 (which will help its value). Grim Lavamancer was printed in Premium Deck: Fire and Lightning and I believe that if it weren't reprinted there we'd be looking at a $10 card.
I do want to concentrate on these two cards because I think they stand the best chance of any of the reprinted cards (older or newer) to rise in value. Right now they have depreciated from their previous non-special set printings (Mirrodin and Torment) but both of these cards are highly playable tournament staples. Unlike Nantuko Shade (which was last year's big reprint bust) Solemn Simulacrum is splashable in virtually any midrange deck. Grim Lavamancer is a staple of Zoo and Red decks in Legacy so it's hard to believe his power level would diminish much in an environment that currently has fetchlands and that later will be based on graveyard themes. I think right now is the lowest you're going to see both of these cards so I'd pick them up sooner rather than wait hoping for their price to drop. They are both proven winners and are being dropped into an environment where they both (especially Lavamancer) should thrive.
Call to the Grave and Quicksilver Amulet are both casual favorites. I think Call will drop down to the $1.50 mark but Quicksilver Amulet should hold value just as Elvish Piper and other cards of this type have held value over time.
There's a bunch of $1 Commons and Uncommons in this category as well:
Oblivion Ring is an interesting case because this time around it's an Uncommon whereas with all previous printings it's been a Common. I think there's a chance—between the short print cycle of M12 the fact that it's an Uncommon and what I believe will be a drop-off in M12 opened compared to M11—that this version of Oblivion Ring may command a small premium above the Lorwyn/Shards versions (this has been the case for Archenemy and Planechase versions of Oblivion Ring) and bump to $1.50.
And of course there's…
Section 3: New Cards
And here is the meat of this article. The base set is opened less than most other sets and is drafted for the least amount of time so the singles from the Core set (at least the first time around) have the greatest chance to hold value on their first printing. This is how we saw Baneslayer Angel at $50 for M10 and Primeval Titan at $40 for M11—power level combined with less availability.
It's interesting that the three new Planeswalkers in this set are preselling for less than the Planeswalkers from other recent sets! (Koth of the Hammer at $40-$50 Karn Liberated at $40-$50 Venser the Sojourner at $40-$50 Elspeth Tirel at $40-$50 Tezzeret Agent of Bolas at $35-$50.) There's been a lot of discussion about people being afraid of missing the next Jace the Mind Sculptor and so the opening prices of Planeswalkers have been inflated. Except for Tezzeret four of the five Planeswalkers from Scars block have seen precipitous drops in value. Koth has gotten off easy at a 50% drop; Venser Karn and Elspeth have depreciated by about 75% from preorder prices. Tezzeret: still going strong and poised to keep gaining in value once Zendikar block drops out.
Keep these two factors in mind when we discuss the Planeswalkers in M12; they will be in shorter supply than Planeswalkers from the other expansions of the year (fewer packs opened) but Planeswalkers have been subject to a lot of hype at the time of set release.
So looking at these predictions I'm expecting Chandra to drop 50% of her value Garruk 33% of his value and Jace 25% of his value. This speaks of how I view their playability.
People are excited about Chandra right now because she's the first easily splashed planeswalker. Great except what you're getting for the first ability is Hornet Sting. Hornet Sting doesn't excite me at four mana. Yes I understand the second ability (Reverberate) works great with Tezzeret's Gambit—but at four mana wouldn't you rather play Koth?
Traditionally more-than-four-mana Planeswalkers haven't been the greatest for competitive play. The new Garruk packs two playable abilities that can immediately impact the game (dropping 3/3 creatures every turn for free and drawing cards). Consider Garruk compared to Harmonize—one more G mana to cast but you're probably drawing 3+ cards and Harmonize was a savior of a card for green. I think Garruk will see Standard play and while it won't be ubiquitous (especially with a trips-green mana cost) he will be a player.
So that leaves Jace. I'll be honest. I'm a lot more bullish on Jace than others are. I see what's coming down the pike (Innistrad) and I think that Jace's second ability (the mill for ten ability) is just going to be absolutely insane come October. Jace Memory Adept has a very very strange dynamic going on so allow me a minute to muse here:
1) Jace backlash: Both of the previous Jaces (Beleren and Mind Sculptor) have been popular and powerful; in fact Jace the Mind Sculptor is so powerful he was banned in Standard and is a staple in both Legacy and Vintage. This Jace both costs more mana (five versus three or four) and doesn't look as powerful on the surface.
2) Power level backlash: People are judging the first and second abilities based on the current environment where mill isn't very relevant. They aren't looking down the road three months when milling ten cards into your library might very well be one of the most powerful effects you can generate in Standard.
3) Mythic/Planeswalker backlash: Again people have seen how Planeswalkers have dropped in value from the Prerelease period and are starting to get a little more gun-shy about picking them up when they very well may be at the peak of their value.
Above I predicted that Jace Memory Adept will be around $30 by the time Innistrad comes out. I think there's even a good chance Jace will drop to the $20-$25 range before Innistrad spoilers start full-force. I know that if this is the case we're going to be stocking up on them because I think the upward ceiling of Jace if it's as good come Innistrad will be in the $50 range. So here you have an interesting situation: do you bet against Jace because Planeswalkers have depreciated in value and because it's not great right now or do you bet on Jace based on its potential come Innistrad? Again as the business I choose the latter in this case. Can't guarantee I'll be right but I'm going to stick to my guns here and see where Jace is come October when I write my Financial Value of Innistrad article!
I think Angelic Destiny will come down some after the set release hype but I think this is a very good push in the power level of enchantment auras. I also think that Angelic Destiny will get a boost because of Grand Abolisher making enchantment auras safe to play in your competitive decks since M12! I think Angelic Destiny is a safe bet to pick up and will hold value.
He's a Vampire but he's also the Prerelease card. Not as powerful as Vampire Nocturnus as a Vampire lord though it's likely Vampires will make a return as a prominent tribe in Innistrad. I guess that I don't see bloodthirst as that powerful of a Constructed mechanic and I don't see bloodthirst as a huge casual draw based on how the bloodthirst cards did in Guildpact.
If I didn't like Bloodlord of Vaasgoth (which at least has a chance of being played in tribal Vampire decks in Standard) I really don't like Furyborn Hellkite. Dragons and Angels don't have the type of "wow" factor they automatically once had back in the day; these days with power creep and fatty love being spread out to other tribes (Titans anyone?) it's not unusual to see tournament-unplayable Dragons hit the bulk range. I think Furyborn Hellkite won't have enough bite to tickle the fancy of Commander/casual players.
I put this guy in the same category as Khalni Hydra and Nirkana Revenant—a solid casual card that will be very popular with Commander players and will hold a $5-ish value as a Mythic. Might be playable in a ramp deck in Standard though it would likely be a one-of.
This is one of the best-designed cards I've seen in a long time and honestly it's a design space that I'm surprised hasn't been used previously! The closest comparison I can make to Adaptive Automaton is Door of Destinies which has been a solid $4-$5 since it was first printed. Should be Standard playable and should be fantastic for casual play (who can't use another lord/a first lord for their deck?). This is the rare card that if not reprinted in M13 will actually go up in value after rotation as the bulk of its value is tied up on availability/desirability to casual players.
I'm not super-big on this card though I can see why people are enamored. I'd compare this to Bloodghast. Bloodghast had a pre-built deck (Vampires) was lower on the curve and returned straight to play. Chandra's Phoenix is small for the mana cost (two power for three mana) returns to hand and is harder to return from the graveyard. I just think that Chandra's Phoenix compares very unfavorably to other creatures of this type that have been printed in recent years such as Hellspark Elemental (six damage for four mana) or Hell's Thunder (eight damage for eight mana). I could be judging Chandra's Phoenix wrongly but I'm going to be happy to offload them now because I anticipate a drop.
The Blanchwood Armor mechanic as a hexproof creature. Both are popular with casual players and the latter has a lot of tournament potential in an environment filled with playable Equipment. I could see this as a playable in a ramp-type deck that wants this as a midrange beater before hitting Primeval Titan range.
In my eyes the best (new) card of the set pound-for-pound. WW 2/2 creatures have always been playable given the right abilities and Grand Abolisher just does so much—allows you to safely equip without wasting mana by having your creatures killed in response lets you play enchant creatures (Rancor in Legacy anyone?) shuts down countermagic combat tricks end-of-turn shenanigans CounterTop activations… The list boggles. Abeyance and Vexing Shusher rolled into a guy who can still hit pretty well; I think Grand Abolisher will have an immediate impact in every Constructed format.
Another card that works well once Innistrad comes out but also a very powerful (and fun) multiplayer card. Should be popular for casual play and a repeatable Windfall (on a creature) isn't something I'd ignore in Standard.
I think that Lord of the Unreal would have gone up in value from $3… except that Wizards announced that there will be M12 event decks and one of them will be an Illusion deck. I'd bet money there will be at least one Lord of the Unreal in that deck and I wouldn't be opposed to betting money that there will be at least two. Because of the extra copies of Lord of the Unreal I'm expecting to see in circulation I think the price will be kept in check.
Currently slightly undervalued. Clones have always just been on this side of unplayable (when not being part of a combo deck like Volrath's Shapeshifter/Vesuvan Doppelganger) but two mana for unconditional cloning is just fantastic as a reactive card. Two mana to kill Legendary creatures or clone your opponent's Titan—not shabby. Even if they kill Phantasmal Image you're still nabbing two lands out of Primeval Titan or two creatures out of Grave Titan. Should be great for casual play as well.
Great on the curve ridiculously flexible and a great Green Sun's Zenith target not only in Standard but also in Legacy—Skinshifter is going to see tournament play. Would have seen even more play if it were an Elf but hey they can't all be Elves! Solid and I see Skinshifter holding value.
This is the only card that is starting in bulk rare range that I'm putting outside of bulk rare range come Innistrad. No I don't think we're going to see competitive decks that drop Sorin on turn 6 and then kill with Sorin's Vengeance on turn 7. I do think that people are unfairly dismissing this card based on previous experiences with similar-looking cards.
Corrupt was a perfectly acceptable finisher in previous environments when Mono-Black Control decks were playable. I think Wizards is doing everything they can to make Mono-Black Control a playable deck. They've pretty much said as such in articles (go back and read some of the stuff written by Tom LaPille and Mark Rosewater). There's a common theme: R&D thought that cards X Y and Z would finally make Mono-Black Control a Tier 1 or Tier 2 deck in Standard but it just didn't happen. I think it's actually a goal of R&D to make Mono-Black Control a good deck (if even for a little while) and I think it's going to happen in Innistrad block.
That's a bit of a tangent but what I see is this: Sorin's Vengeance is a ten-point Consume Spirit for seven mana. Even if you were talking Blaze range you're looking at eleven mana to get a ten-point one-way direct damage spell. The norm is something like Lava Axe (five damage for five mana). Sorin's Vengeance may cost seven but it may be one of the most efficient spells of its type ever printed. Seven mana produces a twenty(!)-point life swing (you up ten your opponent down ten) and that's something that either buys you enough time to win the game or outright kills your opponent.
I look at how efficient Sorin's Vengeance is at what it does and this is a card that makes me want to build around it. It's not splashy in what it does but it's a finisher that is just insanely effective. Fair enough to say I'm picking Sorin's Vengeance as my sleeper card in the set.
Let's talk about the obvious abilities of Sundial of the Infinite: Keeps your creatures from dying to combat tricks and helps you avoid at-end-of-turn effects. What else does Sundial of the Infinite do? Keeps you from sacrificing Phyrexian Dreadnought to its enters-the-battlefield trigger allows you to Wasteland your opponent's fetchland on your own turn makes Ideas Unbound draw you three cards permanently combines well with Smokestack or to stop your opponent's Hive Mind from killing you and turns Final Fortune/Warrior's Oath/Last Chance (which have all been shooting up in value) into Time Walk. Or hey evoke Shriekmaw/Mulldrifter and keep them in play after their enters-the-battlefield trigger resolves but not their sacrifice trigger.
In short this is a card with a lot of potential for combo brokenness in Legacy even more so than Torpor Orb from New Phyrexia. Keep your eye on this card; if it actually starts seeing play in Legacy (I don't think it will but it might) it'll shoot up quickly to the $3-$4 range.
Not as good as Lightning Greaves (that one-mana activation cost is huge!) but close enough to count. Hexproof is also huge; one of the drawbacks of Lightning Greaves is that you can't keep piling Equipment on a creature without making it (at least temporarily) vulnerable by switching the Greaves onto another creature—and heaven forbid your only creature in play is the creature equipped with Lightning Greaves so it can't unequip period! This card would have pushed Stoneforge Mystic from ban-worthy to "profane before the eyes of your god." As is I think that Swiftfoot Boots is going to be a great addition to a White Weenie deck in particular—one that packs Grand Abolisher Puresteel Paladin Mirran Crusader Kor Firewalker and random Equipment that it can pile on to make-your-own Uril the Miststalker.
Another plant for Innistrad but one that will probably see play before Innistrad comes out. The effect here is powerful and there's plenty of ways to discard Vengeful Pharaoh (Fauna Shaman new Jace) that let you cheat around the ability and give you access to mana-free creature kill. Debatable if this is playable in Dredge because of how it negatively impacts Bridge from Below but I wouldn't count it out in older formats entirely.
My vote for the most overhyped card in the set. It's not super-easy to get twenty cards in a graveyard unless you're really trying and if you can get twenty cards into the graveyard that easily is Ancestral Recall the card you're looking for as a reward? (As opposed to Shelldock Isle?) Should get better once Innistrad comes out but which Standard deck plays this card right now? One with the new Jace?
Uncommons that I think could hit $1 before M13 comes out:
Circle of Flame
BULK ($0.50-$1.50 range)
Sphinx of Uthuun
Throne of Empires
I hope you've enjoyed this Financial Values article and as always feedback is encouraged and appreciated in the forums of this article! Until Innistrad this is Ben Bleiweiss wishing you fun happiness and financial knowledge in this Magical world!
- Ben Bleiweiss
- Director of Sales StarCityGames.com
Ben at StarCityGames dot com