One of the biggest things going for MTG right now is the massive amount of reprints. MTG is incredibly expensive, creating barrier-to-entry points and stifling the pace at which the game can grow. How many people will spend over a thousand dollars on a deck of cards?
This makes reprints incredibly important. The mission is to provide players with game pieces that would otherwise be much more difficult to acquire. Cards that cannot be reprinted in MTG still go for absurd prices – just look at any of the Dual Lands that cannot be reprinted thanks to the Reserved List.
The point is that, from this point of view, reprints are integral to helping grow Magic. In order to keep things accessible, we need more copies of desirable cards as demand for those cards grows. Reprints are something that Wizards is largely doing right, but there is one glaring issue that seems to have appeared over the past few reprint decisions.
Recently, multiple cards appear to be getting back-to-back reprints. Sometimes this isn’t a bad thing. Doubling Season, for instance, got printed in both Commander Masters and Wilds of Eldraine. While rather frustrating from a customer perspective, this managed to knock Doubling Season down from about $65 to $35-40. This is still an expensive piece of cardboard, meaning that, while some players may not have like the double reprint, it was a good one. This needs to be cheaper.
The problem is when the other type of reprint occurs – a moderately interesting reprint that only affects a niche few MTG decks. One reprint is definitely needed since a lack of supply can really push prices to weird places. Two reprints, however, are a complete waste of what could have been a much better card. Why have a second reprint of a card, knocking it down from a $1 to 50 cents when that same reprint slot could, instead, knock down another $5 card to $1?
This is Krenko, Mob Boss, an infamously powerful Goblin Commander that can easily run over entire games if left alone for just a little too long. Krenko definitely has some demand behind it considering it’s easily the most popular Goblin Commander on EDHREC.
Krenko just got reprinted in Commander Masters. Before this reprint, the beloved goblin was only worth around $5, as, despite its popularity, it’s nonetheless somewhat niche. Following the recent reprint, you can now find Krenko, Mob Boss for $1-2. Ultimately, this isn’t the most noteworthy reprint in the world, but it still makes Krenko more accessible to players who are interested in trying him. Mission accomplished.
Fast forward to Ravnica Remastered coming in early 2024, and one of the first few cards announced for a reprint is Krenko, Mob Boss… again. This one has a neat anime artwork, which is cool, but do we really need another reprint of Krenko? This could have been a much more exciting reprint that we don’t have a decent amount of access to yet. Krenko being at $1-2 should make him very accessible to the player base. Even reprinting a different $5 and knocking that card’s price down to $1 would provide a lot more value to the average player. If this did not take up a traditional rare slot and instead only appeared as an anime artwork, it could be more enticing.
It’s All Over the Place
While Doubling Season was the most egregious example in some players’ eyes, since it lowers the expected value of chase cards in two back-to-back sets (this is fine. The card needs to be cheaper. It needs more reprints), this double reprint issue in regards to cheaper cards has been particularly terrible lately. For example, looking at the new LGS promotional cards reveals that all five reprints are either irrelevant financially or are getting another reprint in a recent set.
Lord of Atlantis, the most valuable reprint of the bunch, is getting another reprint in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Appearing as one of the new Special Guests cards, this powerful lord is already reappearing via The List. This makes the new promo card significantly less useful, although it does have new art which is always nice to have.
Serra Angel, while iconic, has been printed into the ground and is pretty useless as a gamepiece nowadays. While the new promo does obviously have new art, this rarely ever carries much value due to the card’s availability. Unfortunately, Gaea’s Liege has no secondary market value either.
Zombie Master, a card long overdue for a reprint, suddenly got two due to the upcoming Creepshow Secret Lair and in the LGS promotional cards. Thankfully, this one is a bit more reasonable since not everyone will want the Creepshow version of the card, but it is still somewhat alarming. A similar reprint was seen for Blightsteel Colossus when it suddenly appeared in both the Transformers Secret Lair and on The List.
This leaves the only somewhat reasonable reprint as Goblin King. Goblin King has not received a reprint recently and has its lowest market value at around $4. It’s nothing to write home about, but it is a somewhat scarce card that could see its price knocked down to become more accessible to the public.
On a separate note, despite these reprints seeming rather lackluster, the flavor text is very charming, especially from the perspective of an LGS rat like myself.
While I could discuss each and every instance of double reprints that have occurred recently, I will instead list them in bullet-point style to save time. As we do that, however, we’ll also be noting where double reprints may not be a bad thing.
While many did not like the double reprinting of Doubling Season, $30-40 for a card that almost every green Commander player wants to get their hands on is still a lot of money, and should be cheaper. Compare this to Sol Ring, which is undeniably more powerful and desirable. Despite higher demand, Sol Ring is only worth $1 because of how much it has been reprinted. This card is incredibly powerful yet still accessible to every player that wants it. Considering almost every Commander deck wants to play this card, multiple reprints, in this instance, are encouraged.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer also saw a recent double reprint. Ragavan held an absolutely ridiculous secondary market price prior to the printing of March of the Machine. Every Modern player wanted four of them, and a large subset of Commander players had some interest in the card as well. The March of the Machine reprint was heavily welcomed, watering down the price of Ragavan slightly but largely leaving it unaffected.
Ragavan did get another reprint, but this one was an incredibly scarce Secret Lair prize card. This reprint is meant as a reward for those who managed to acquire the monkey after winning a tough tournament. This reprint is not meant to bolster availability as it’s not taking up a slot in a set – so it doesn’t really count. Secret Lairs are still noteworthy since they are available to the public, and can affect the secondary market value of a card. The above Ragavan is an example of a reprint that will not affect the secondary market value of Ragavan overall. That said, Ragavan could still do with another reprint.
During our list, we’ll also not be including cards reprinted in both main sets and Commander decks associated with the same set. Some other cards like Path to Exile have been incredibly overprinted lately, but since most printings are in Commander products, these will also be ignored.
Ultimately, we are more concerned about cards appearing in main sets and other products on different printing lines. Something like Kindred Dominance in Commander Masters and Wilds of Eldraine Commander is part of the problem. Without this double reprint, the Kindred Dominance in Commander Masters could have been something much more financially lucrative. For better or worse, however, the price tanked, making both reprints undesirable, if accessible.
We also won’t be including uncommon and common reprints as those don’t generally hold a ton of weight in a set’s expected value. Dread Return getting reprinted as an uncommon in Dominaria Remastered and a common In Commander Masters, for example, is not a big deal unless you’re a Pauper player.
Some of the below reprints are for more expensive cards. As mentioned before, these are a lot better than the double reprint of $5 cards, but to make apparent just how often this is happening, they will be included regardless.
With all that out of the way, here are some other examples of double reprints that have occurred recently. Spoiler alert: Commander Masters is really bad:
- Birds of Paradise in Dominaria Remastered, Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth and Ravnica Remastered
- Grand Abolisher in Commander Masters and Secret Lair: Randy Vargas
- Land Tax in Commander Masters and Wilds of Eldraine
- Puresteel Paladin in Commander Masters and the Evil Dead Secret Lair
- Sevinne’s Reclamation in Commander Masters and Dominaria Remastered
- Smothering Tithe in Commander Masters and Wilds of Eldraine
- Commandeer gets a special mention: Commander Masters and The List for Commander Masters
- Mystic Confluence in Commander Masters and Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth
- Urza, Lord High Artificer in Commander Masters and Dominaria Remastered
- Kindred Dominance in Commander Masters and Wilds of Eldraine
- Twilight Prophet in Commander Masters and Secret Lair Artist Series: Ryan Alexander Lee
- Ashling, the Pilgrim in Commander Masters and Dominaria United
- The Great Henge in Commander Masters and Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth
- Cavern of Souls in Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth and The Lost Caverns of Ixalan
- Heroic Intervention in Commander Masters, Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth
- Queen Marchesa in Secret Lair: Rule the Room and Commander Masters
- The Scarab God in Commander Masters and as a Secret Lair Bonus Card (this one might be fine)
- Sidisi, Brood Tyrant in Double Masters 2022 and Commander Masters
- Gilded Lotus in Commander Masters and The Brothers’ War
- Idol of Oblivion in Commander Masters and Phyrexia: All Will Be One
- Jet Medallion in Commander Masters and Post Malone Secret Lair
- Inspring Statuary in Commander Masters and March of the Machine
- Sword of the Animist in Commander Masters, Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth and Secret Lair: Angels
- Lyra Dawnbringer in Dominaria Remastered and Jumpstart 2022
- Time Stretch in Dominaria Remastered and The List (released after Dominaria Remastered)
- Oversold Cemetary in Dominaria Remastered and Wilds of Eldraine
There are more examples if you’re willing to look for them. Once again, while the double reprints of cards like Smothering Tithe or Land Tax that have a significant secondary market value are fine, but reprints can only do good for so long before they become inefficient.
If we had infinite reprints of every card to make all of MTG’s game pieces incredibly accessible, that would be an entirely different story. We only have a limited number of reprints, and making sure cards that have a moderate amount of demand don’t get double reprinted like this can make the game cheaper overall for players.
The goal is to make Magic as accessible as possible with the limited amount of reprints we have access to. Magic is still incredibly expensive. Let’s turn our attention to other cards that are simply too difficult to access and let as many people play Magic as possible.
Magic: the Gathering designer Mark Rosewater has straightforwardly stated that power equals price. More powerful reprints in a set generally mean that the set will be more expensive. Some double reprints can be explained a little if some sort of complex reprint equity is being used. Doubling Season, for example, may be considered a premium reprint of the highest equity before the Commander Masters reprint. That reprint may knock the card down a peg for equity reprint terms, allowing it to appear in a Standard set. This doesn’t really explain other examples like Ragavan, but it is a possibility.
The problem is that we, the community, have absolutely no idea how this works. So, while we can speculate all day, what we do know is that Wizards of the Coast is reprinting an unsettling number of cards too frequently and, with some variation, we could make the game much more accessible to everyone. Making the game cheaper is the goal, regardless of how reprints are happening. There simply appears to be a more efficient, valuable way to do it.