New Capenna Draft night has come to an end, and I managed to come 3rd overall with a 2-1 record. While we had enough players to run four rounds, our LGS closes soon after our drafts start, so we only have enough time to play three sets.
Everyone receives their packs for prizing, and they immediately start their ritualistic prayers to the MTG gods, asking for their assistance in opening an Ob Nixilis, the Adversary. This sort of confuses me a bit as I think ‘didn’t that card see a huge price drop recently?’ Lo and behold, I open my promo pack and what pops out?
The Beginning of it All
Everyone looks at me, grumbling under their breath. I then look up Ob Nixilis at FacetoFace, one of Canada’s premiere MTG tournament organizers and storefronts, to find the card is retailing for $50.00 CAD. For reference, this is about $40.00 USD. What a jackpot! There’s still lingering doubts in my head about what the actual price of this thing is. I looked up TCGPlayer’s price for Ob Nixilis, the Adversary when getting home to satiate my curiosity. The market price is only $12.40 USD.
After doing some research, Ob Nixilis can be found in Canada for as low as $20 CAD, but still sells for $40-50 CAD on average.
This specific snapshot on the price differentiation probably has more to do with some stores that are not quite ‘with it’ yet; not registering the massive decline in value that is happening to Ob Nixilis, the Adversary. This was enough for me to start down the rabbit hole that became this article.
I’ll be talking about some sales patterns for MTG product between Canada and the US, but if you’re only interested in what’s selling for a lot more in Canada, skip to the ‘Oh Lord, the Foils’ section.
For reference, the CAD to USD conversion being used throughout the article is 0.8. This is an approximation for what the conversion is at the time of writing this article (USD to CAD is 1.26 while CAD to US differs between 0.8 and 0.79. There is a difference in conversion rates here, so keep that in mind while reading).
Buying Sealed Product in Canada
For those of you who don’t know, sealed products for MTG in Canada and the US follow a rule. Generally, Canadian players cannot buy sealed product from the US. This also works vice versa, but there do seem to be exceptions. USD sealed product is definitely cheaper then Canadian sealed product. Its not by a huge amount, but enough that it’s noticeable. As an example, a box of Set Boosters for the new Baldur’s Gate set on FacetoFace is retailing for $160 CAD (or approximately $125 USD). There are some cheaper prices available in Canada. The cheapest that I could find was about $145 Canadian (or about $116 USD). Most stores that are selling boxes at this price are already sold out. Meanwhile, you can find the same Set Boosters in the US for $100 with $112 being the median market price on TCGPlayer. The same trend can be noticed with other sealed product across all of MTG. As mentioned before, its not a lot, but its noticeable.
What About Singles?
When looking at USD to Canadian prices to MTG singles, a few patterns popped up. There wasn’t a consistent price hike in Canada for singles like there is for sealed product. The two big patterns that did pop up, however, is that the US seems to be ahead of Canada in MTG singles price trends, and premium foil cards on Canadian only sites are WAY more expensive.
For recent price trends that are trending up, I looked at Ledger Shredder and Unlicensed Hearse. These two New Capenna cards have been dominating in competitive play recently, resulting in major price spikes. Ledger Shredder is sold out most places, but FacetoFace has more then ten of them in stock selling for $25 CAD. The TCGPlayer market place median for Ledger Shredder is about $23 USD, with copies consistently selling for between $25-$30 USD. No need to do the conversion, its easy to see that Face has the better deal this time.Unlicensed Hearse is seeing a lot less hype then Ledger Shredder is, but the price is still rising. With decks in multiple formats beginning to main deck the Hearse over other graveyard hate, its not hard to predict a further rise in price for the Hearse. The market medium for Unlicensed Hearse on TCGPlayer is about $5.80, and recent sales support it. Meanwhile on FacetoFace, the same Hearse is going for $7.00 CAD (or about 5.60 US). The card has a pretty similar price point in both places. Its safe to say that the card isn’t worth enough for the differentiation to matter.
For the sake of choosing a popular expensive Commander staple, I also took a look at the Mystery Booster Mana Crypt. In Canada, these retail for somewhere between $210 and $240 in NM condition. For reference, FacetoFace has this at $225 CAD which is smack in the middle. While this card has had a recent spike in price on TCGPlayer, the typical copy of this card is selling for about $180 USD (maybe a little more). These MTG singles prices actually average out. Its worth about the same in both countries.
Oh Lord, the Foils
US MTG players may want to consider selling certain chase foils in Canada as they are retailing for double the price they are selling in the US. Chandra, Dressed to Kill is extremely popular in Pioneer, causing an absolute spike in price for the Planeswalker over time. The Double Feature foil version of this card is quite pricey, retailing for a $113 US market median at TCGPlayer. Notably, copies of this card in their sales history are only selling for about $100 – $105. Meanwhile, FacetoFace has Chandra selling for $250 CAD, or $200 US. Looking more into this, it seems like for Canadian players that this is the average rate for a Chandra, Dressed to Kill foil from this set. There are other copies in Canada that are going for less than this, but most prices I was able to find were going for more than $200 CAD, or about $160 US. Needless to say, there’s still a huge price differential here.
TSR Foil Ponder
Here’s another bizarre instance of Canadian foils being worth a lot more than the TCGPlayer market price. FacetoFace has Foil Ponder scans going for $500 CAD, or $400 USD. This isn’t the most expensive Ponder out there either, with other stores listing ungraded Ponders in similar condition for $550 CAD. It’s easy to see that Ponder is an outlier though, as Ponders in both countries are very difficult to move at this price point. Its not uncommon to see a TSR Foil Ponder at other stores in Canada for less then $400 CAD. The TCGPlayer median for Ponder at this time is about $255 USD, and recent sales reflect that this is pretty accurate. This is a card that has heavy price fluctuations based on its condition. The condition may be a way to justify the higher price point here. All I know is that NM Ponders in my area will not sell for more than $400 CAD typically. Price conversions, from USD to CAD, depending on which you use, will heavily impact the price of cards this expensive. Do some shopping around before making a decision.
Not all premium foils in Canada have major markups like this, but they’re more common then you may think. Looking at most Canadian stores, there does seem to be a small premium on chase foils in comparison to the US on average.
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Even if Canadian MTG players want to buy primary or secondary product from the US, the shipping rate generally makes it not worthwhile. Its not uncommon for a MTG singles card to have $20 USD or more in shipping costs. You can buy more cards from one source to offset this price, but when you consider shipping costs from the US to Canada, sometimes just buying the MTG singles for a bit more isn’t a big deal.
What can we take away from all this?
- It looks like Canada is a little slower when adapting to price changes in the Secondary Market
- Premium Foils can (but not necessarily will) retail for a lot more in Canada
- MTG in Canada is a little more expensive than the US on average
- There are vast variations in MTG singles prices across Canada, and there is no source that consistently has the best or worst price
The biggest takeaway from everything here though is to know your market. Its a common mistake for players to take one price and run with it. If you’re looking to make a sizeable investment into paper MTG, whatever that may look like for you, take some time and look around. You’ll be surprised with how much you can save.
Oh, and Consider selling your Ob Nixilis if you can still get the $40 CAD price point on it.