Of the new Lord of the Rings cards prereleased this weekend, two cards are already on the community’s radar. One – a disastrously powerful $30 card that threatens to upend multiple formats. The other? A bizarre common that has Commander players freaking out. Interestingly, aside from the two-million-dollar ring, the most bizarre financial outlier in the MTG Lord of the Rings set has nothing to do with gameplay. This, instead has to do with a new bizarre collectible uncommon that has had its prices explode over the weekend. What is going on with the nine Nazgul?
As far as Lord of the Rings go, the Nazgul is the first major villain that Frodo has to face in his journey. Past Human kings corrupted by the Rings of Power, the Nazgul are now extensions of Sauron’s will, who will stop at nothing to hunt down The One Ring until it returns to its rightful owner.
In the MTG world, the Nazgul have been done a service flavorfully. Not only can you have nine Nazgul in your decks, but their presences will all power oneanother up. Each Nazgul Tempts the Ring on entry and, whenever you’re Tempted by the Ring, each Nazgul will place a +1/+1 counter on each Wraith you control. The Nazgul just so happen to be Wraiths.
Finally, as is suggested by the Nazgul’s early wound on Frodo, these guys have Deathtouch. Addressing the flavor miss of Frodo not dying to the Morgul blade is Arwen, Mortal Queen, who can pass Indestructible onto another creature.
Besides all the flavor wins mentioned with this MTG’s interpretation of the Nazgul, there’s one more flavor win that is the most likely factor impacting these card’s prices: there are nine of them.
Just like in the Lord of the Rings movie, there are nine different Nazgul cards with different artworks. Mechanically, these have absolutely no bearing on the game, but it does make each individual Nazgul a whole lot rarer. Notably, as mentioned in our Collector Booster overview, there are special slots for these variants available in Collector Booster packs, but you can also find them in the normal set. I have one from a prerelease pool, for example (number 0336, if you must know). If you want to take a look at the different Nazgul you can collect, you’ll find them scattered amongst this article.
Either way, these cards are selling for about $10-15 apiece depending on the variant, and they do seem to be seeded a bit differently in comparison to normal uncommon cards according to other players.
In the night it took for this article to be written, the Nazgul have actually continued to spike in price. Normal copies are beginning to approach and surpass $15, while foils are approaching $30! This has all happened rather quickly, however, which means prices are currently quite unstable.
Are the Nazgul Short Printed?
The way that these cards are slotted into Collector Boosters certainly make it seem that way. For reference, short printed cards refer to cards that are, quite literally, printed less than others in the same pack slot, making them a whole lot rarer than their marked rarity would suggest. This is more of a thing in Yu-Gi-Oh! than Magic, but it can happen in any trading card game.
While the short print question is difficult to answer, it does appear that the Nazgul are being treated differently to other uncommon cards:
“Nazgul are marked as uncommon, but looking at CB slots: one non-foil, one foil that can contain this card, they are not seeded like a regular uncommon. My early guess is 1-2/12 NF, 1/24 Foil. Haven’t looked at Draft or Set rates.”strongsauce
This may suggest that the Nazgul are a bit harder to find than other uncommons. That said, the card is still available in Draft Boosters, and is still an uncommon card. There hasn’t been enough product opened for players to determine just how these cards are being treated, but, in Collector Booster packs at least, its clear that the Nazgul are not treated as normal uncommon cards.
Are the Nazgul Overpriced?
My personal opinion is that the Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Nazgul uncommon cards are going to be worth a bit of a premium in comparison to other uncommons. That said, I also believe that the current valuation of the Nazgul are higher than what they’re worth, at least in their nonfoil versions.
The massive caveat to these cards is that players can open them in Drafts. Should the Nazgul truly be just as rare as the other uncommons, a lot of these cards are going to be pulled. Of course, every individual Nazgul is going to be rarer than other uncommons simply because, whenever you come across one, you’re actually coming across one of nine variants. If some variants prove to be rarer than others, those variants could have a significant premium that matches the current price of the cards.
The foil Nazgul, on the other hand, are likely to primarily be opened in Collector Booster packs. There’s only two slots that a Nazgul can appear in these packs, and only one of those is a foil slot. Sure, these can also be opened in Draft and Set Boosters, but the chances of that foil (if you even hit one in a Draft Booster) being a Nazgul is pretty low. This will be doubly true for any variants that prove to be harder to come by after some time has passed.
Keep a Watchful Eye
The point, though, is that a lot of Draft Boosters are going to be opened as players continue to celebrate the Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set with their Friday Night Magic crew. Nazgul can be opened from these packs, so we should see a consistent stream of new Nazgul hit the marketplace. This stream will likely impact prices as demand is met for these collectibles. That said, if the demand for the Nazgul continues to outweigh or stress the supply, than these cards could be worth exactly what they should be.
It’s quite difficult to pin exactly how the Nazgul will act in the secondary market since instances like this in MTG are far and few between. Teferi, Master of Time, a powerful Commander Planeswalker, is another instance of card with collectible artworks that feature slight deviations (much more slight than the Nazgul’s artwork). The card, in a majority of variants, retails for about $5 nowadays. Considering it’s Commander playable, this price could be appropriate regardless of collectibility.
So? Is the collectibility of the Nazgul just a financial flash in the pan? Are these some of the best cards to find in your Lord of the Rings packs ten years from now? Those questions don’t have a definite answer yet. If you happen to open a Nazgul in one of packs over the next few weeks, however, have a think about what you want to do with them. Do you think they’ll maintain their value? Do you want to collect them, or sell them?