19, Aug, 23

MTG's Rarest Cards Aren't As Expensive as You Thought

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Article at a Glance

With each new set, Wizards is pulling out all the stops to go bigger and better than the last. New artwork, card frames, special foil treatments, ink variations and serialization are all things Wizards has done recently to amp up the “collectibles” angle of Magic: the Gathering resulting in the penultimate achievement of the $2 million One Ring.

However, for the vast majority of these new collectibles, has the value and rarity remained or were they a flash in the pan? In no particular order let’s take a look at the numbers for just a handful of different rare products from the last few year and evaluate what the future holds.

Warhammer 40k Collector’s Edition

This was the highest end Commander product that Wizards mass produced. While pre-order pricing for an entire set of sealed boxes quickly ballooned from $500 to $1000, the hype, and massive price increase, were relatively short lived. A full year later, you can pick up a Collector’s Edition sealed case for just under $500. Yes, that means if you waited a year you could get these, brand new, for less than the pre-order price. Sealed product seems like one of the worst gambles and this is just one example.

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Hidetsugu Red Neon Ink

In the Neon Red Ink treatment Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos is an exceptionally rare card. It was calculated that it appears in roughly 1 in 1828 packs making it vastly rarer than any non-serialized card. Keep in mind, these are Collector Booster packs only as well so the expense of trying to open this card would be massive.

When it initially debuted it went for thousands of dollars. The card is still fairly rare and has held steady at the $1,000 mark with small fluctuations unless you count the crazy prices on graded 10 examples. If you opened this card from a pack you would be very happy. If you purchased it as an investment, it likely did not pay off.

Still it’s a unique and very rare card and to the right collector it could appreciate in the future. Luckily, it has not lost a significant amount of value in the past year. Hidetsugu is proof that if you make something rare enough, it can maintain a fair value even if the card itself is not very powerful. What about a more common example?

Read More: 5 Budget Underrated Lord of the Rings MTG Cards in EDH!

The Brothers’ War Shattered Glass Transformers

The foil, shattered glass variants of the Transformers in The Brothers’ War debuted at over $1000, with Megatron, Tyrant generally being the most valuable of them. One year later? Not so much. While most of the foil Transformers are a few hundred dollars, some of them are under the one hundred dollar mark. All appear to be slowly going down.

Could this be something that picks up value many years later? It seems unlikely as it’s clear these were not quite as rare as originally speculated and there are many available on the market. One thing to note is that Slicer, Hired Muscle is a very busted cEDH commander and having the coolest print of that card could keep its value higher for longer.

The Brothers’ War Serialized Cards

Taking a second bite of the apple, The Brothers’ War also was the first full set to introduce serialized cards. The initial market price was well over $1,000 for any particular serial card at all with many auctions going for multiple thousands of dollars. If you had a key number like 001/500 or a meme number, you could hope for a lot of money. Today? Mox Amber number 388 sold for $1,600 in June making it the highest recent example from the set. This was not a fluke as three other Ambers, one graded, were also sold for around that amount within a month.

Outside of a 500/500 which could be considered a “special number” for a serialized Mystic Forge many of the remaining serialized cards are selling for significantly less though. How much less? As low as $55 and many examples under $100. Unfortunately even if you did open a serialized card, if it wasn’t the right card or the right number, the value did not hold. Prices for most of these cards are going down. Speaking of the downward spiral of serialized card value…

Read More: Unbanned MTG Cards Continue to Cause 2300% Price Spikes!

March of the Machine Overdoes it

Proving that Wizards has only one speed, March of the Machine also featured serialized cards with the all stars clearly being the Praetors. These cards sold and are continuing to sell for several hundred dollars or even over a thousand. Their value has remained relatively strong since their release. Just this week Elesh Norn number 422 sold for $1,730. The flip side? Many of the other serialized cards are selling for as low as $50 with many of them under $100 and dropping regularly.

Again, merely opening a serialized card is not a guaranteed home run, and prices for most of them are creeping ever downward at a massively accelerated rate. Still, the very popular Praetors seem to have held steady and may climb in the long term. These are are, again, very rare all told.

The Lord of the Serials

Let’s not dwell on The One Ring too much. As the most expensive Magic card ever sold it now has left an indelible mark on the game. The much more common serialized Sol Ring however are also doing considerably well. The Elven version is selling for thousands of dollars, while even with three times as many printed, yet still rare, Human rings are selling for over a thousand dollars. The Dwarven version appears to be solidly in the middle. While the exuberance of the first few sales is gone the price appears to have stabilized and remains high.

This is the single biggest reason that the Lord of the Rings sealed collector boxes are still very close to $400 each and have remained relatively price stable after The One Ring has been found. Long term, it’s difficult to know if prices will go higher. It’s far more likely prices will very slowly and gradually decrease over time. Still it’s not impossible that each of these cards goes up astronomically in several years.

Read More: Wilds of Eldraine Spoilers Reveal Incredible $40 Reprint!

What no Mention of 30th Anniversary Edition?

TCGPlayer notes that “we’re still gathering sales data” for the price trends of this authentic proxy Black Lotus. Generally speaking that means very few have sold. You can see on eBay that a few high graded 30th copies have sold for several thousand dollars with a graded 10 retro copy selling for $15,600 in June. There is a small market for these cards but in the same period of time many more “real” copies have changed hands and usually for quite a bit more money. Long term pricing for any other cards from the 30th Anniversary set are fairly abysmal and trend lower every month.

Unless we’re talking about the next twenty years, it looks like these are not very “collectible” in a value sense. If anything, Wizards has shown they will just reprint them again. Maybe it would have made more sense to have these be serialized and more limited by print run, not by outrageous pricing, but that ship has sailed. It’s only a matter of time before Wizards does this kind of thing again and that will further devalue these underwhelming reprints.

A Wild Few Years

Certainly, there was quite a bit more product than what we’ve covered. From multiple different Secret Lairs to Convention Exclusive cards, there seems to be no end to the flood of product being pumped out. In most cases there is a huge initial burst of sales at a very high price point, then a massive retraction, a return to near the initial height and then a slow, steady, decrease from there.

Some of the rarer offerings seem to have stabilized and look like they could hold a significant value over the coming years. That said, most of the product coming out now is only hot for a moment until it’s replaced by the next FOMO inducing, ultra rare, collectible offering.

If you are the kind of collector that is looking for long term value, you’re going to have to be far more choosy when it comes to new product. Just getting an ultra rare card is not enough. Opening a serialized card is not enough. It must be the right card, the right number and the right treatment down to the very ink on the card to really have something truly rare, and extremely valuable. Still, there are cards out there that have achieved lottery status and if players keep buying packs, Wizards is going to keep printing them.

Read More: New EDH Decks Cause Multiple MTG Cards to Double in Price!

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