Black Lotus
10, Oct, 22

Data Suggests MTG’s Most Premium Product Is Lacking Value

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Article at a Glance

Following the announcement of the $999 30th Anniversary Edition, Wizards of the Coast received a lot of flak online. The product, which contains 60 reprinted cards from Beta spread across four packs, was meant to be a cause for celebration. In actuality, however, this extremely expensive product has many MTG players up in arms and furious with Wizards. This is thanks to these reprinted cards not being tournament legal. Adorned with a striking gold bordered back, these cards cannot be played in any Magic: the Gathering format. While 30th Anniversary Edition is already divisive, to say the least, one question remains. Is MTG’s 30th Anniversary Edition Worth It? 

Unfortunately, with 30th Anniversary Edition still far from release, that’s a very difficult question to answer. Ultimately, there’s no telling how much these non-tournament legal cards will retail for after all. Nevertheless, the community consensus is suggesting that 30th Anniversary Edition is probably not worth it. With a high price tag buying effectively purely collectible cards, it’s clear to see why the MTG community made this assessment. Unfortunately for Wizards of the Coast, it’s not only community sentiment that suggests 30th Anniversary Edition isn’t worth it. Looking at the numbers, 30th Anniversary Edition appears to be the mother of all bad deals. 

The Numbers

First pointed out by TCGplayer Infinite writer Frank Karsten, it appears that the numbers for 30th Anniversary Edition really don’t add up. For instance, the odds of getting the prized beta card, Black Lotus, are incredibly slim. This makes opening many 30th Anniversary Edition boxes to try and get a Black Lotus immensely expensive. So much so, in fact, that you can buy an actual playable Black Lotus for cheaper than this dubious venture. This comes down to the fact that Beta has 117 Rares diluting the pool of what you can find in a pack. 

For better or worse, 30th Anniversary Edition doesn’t include all of Beta’s 117 Rare cards. In this celebratory product, Wizards elected not to reprint six cards, four of which are Rare. These cards are: Contract from Below, Darkpact, Demonic Attorney, and Crusade. This reduces the total number of Rares down to 113. To make matters more confusing, however, each of Beta’s ten dual lands appears twice as frequently as other Rare cards. When calculating probabilities, this effectively adds ten additional Rare cards to the set, increasing the final total to 123. As TCGplayer Infinite states, “this means that each Rare should act like a random, independent draw from 123 cards.”

How Rare Is a Black Lotus in 30th Anniversary Edition?

According to Wizards of the Coast, in 30th Anniversary Edition packs, there are two chances to get a Rare card. In the almost $250 fifteen card packs, there’s one guaranteed Rare card and one “additional retro frame card.” This additional retro frame card has a one in three chance of being a “Rare retro frame card.” Factoring this in, TCGplayer Infinite states there’s a 98.95% chance of not finding a Black Lotus in a 30th Anniversary Edition pack. This is evidenced by the mathematical expression 122/123 * (0.7 + 0.3 * 122/123). Each 30th Anniversary Edition pack, therefore, only contains a Black Lotus 1.05% of the time. Extrapolating this data, each 30th Anniversary Edition box has a 4.15% chance of containing a Black Lotus

As you might expect from this minuscule percentage, this means you have to open a lot of 30th Anniversary Edition boxes if you want to guarantee yourself a Black Lotus. You’ll have to open 24 30th Anniversary Edition boxes, to be exact. At $999 each, this means you’ll need to spend just under $24,000 for the chance at pulling a non-tournament legal Black Lotus. As TCGplayer Infinite rightfully notes, “for that price, you may be able to purchase an actual Beta Black Lotus.” Alternatively, $24,000 could purchase you a brand-new 2023 Hyundai Kona or 106,760 McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets. For reference, a Lightly or Heavily Played 1993 Collector’s Edition Black Lotus typically sells for around $4,000

Is MTG 30th Anniversary Edition Good Value?

In short, the 30th Anniversary Edition is probably not good value. Ultimately, this boils down to the fact that there aren’t enough valuable cards within 30th Anniversary Editon’s pool of rares. While the Power Nine, Dual Lands, and cards such as Chaos Orb and Time Vault are immensely valuable, they still don’t justify the cost. Currently, only 19 cards from the 1993 Collector’s Edition are more valuable than a single 30th Anniversary Edition pack. Nine of these cards are dual lands, meaning 28 of the 30th Anniversary Edition’s rares are worth more than $250. Using the equation of 28/123 + 0.3 * 28/123, we’re left with a 0.295. This means there’s only a 29.5% chance to pull a card of equivalent or greater value from a 30th Anniversary Edition pack. That’s assuming that prices of 30th Anniversary Edition cards are in line with their 1993 Collector’s Edition counterparts.

Unsurprisingly, 30th Anniversary Edition is also a terrible value proposition for collectors looking to obtain one of every Beta card. Compared to the 1993 Collector’s Edition, which retailed for $50, 30th Anniversary Edition’s $999 pricetag is already overblown. This is an especially stark price disparity when you consider that 30th Anniversary Edition only includes 60 Beta cards, while the Collector’s Edition included all 363. Nevertheless, for players looking to open 30th Anniversary Edition packs until you obtain one of every Beta card, be prepared to pay a lot. According to Frank Karsten and the quick simulation they coded, you’ll have to open 496 packs to get at least one of every beta card. This means 124 30th Anniversary Edition boxes, or just shy of $124,000

Read More: Two New MTG Cards Banned in Premier Competitive Formats!

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