MTG is filled with a ton of rare and expensive cards. From intriguing promotional reprints to old cards that haven’t been reprinted in years, there are lots of cards that hold a heftier price tag than you might expect. In some cases, a specific version of a card with a unique treatment or artwork will be worth a lot more than traditional copies of the card. Take a look at The One Ring for example. While traditional copies are worth roughly $56 according to TCGplayer market price, the extended art foil variants that are exclusively found in sample packs associated with LOTR Commander decks are worth over $750 a piece!
Today, we will be focusing on a specific subset of cards that are quite expensive, even in their cheapest forms. This article is about none other than the most expensive Instants of all time. There have been a plethora of extremely powerful Instants printed throughout Magic’s history. However, the most powerful cards and the most expensive cards aren’t always as aligned as we might think. Most of these Instants are quite old and lacking reprints, making them rather pricey regardless of their overall power level. Notably, we will be looking at the cheapest versions of each of these cards according to TCGplayer market price when ranking them. With this in mind, here are the top five most expensive Instant cards.
#5 Natural Selection- $98
Natural Selection is the perfect example of a card whose power level is not indicative of its price. The reality is this card is extremely mediocre. All the card does is let you either reorder the top three cards of someone’s library or shuffle that player’s library. Portent does something very similar at Sorcery speed, but there’s a key difference. Portent replaces itself by drawing you another card at the beginning of the next upkeep. Natural Selection is straight up card disadvantage. Portent already sees a very limited amount of play, and Natural Selection is much worse.
Even still, Natural Selection has a $98 price tag. This is because the card is on the Reserved List, which is a list of cards that supposedly will not be reprinted in order to maintain their value on the secondary market. In this sense, the Reserved List features old cards that hold value mostly to collectors. Natural Selection’s cheapest printing came in Unlimited roughly 30 years ago. With no reprint in sight, the card is still worth a bunch of money.
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#4 Blaze of Glory- $149
Blaze of Glory is in a similar situation as Natural Selection. First of all, this card is also rather weak. For one mana, you can make it so that one of your Creatures can block multiple Creatures at a time. However, if you do, that Creature must block every attacking Creature if able. You can also use this offensively and force an opposing Creature to block as well. If your attacking Creatures are big, this can be used as an awkward removal spell in combat. None of these choices are very exciting, however, and a lot has to go right in order for this card to be effective.
Still, just like Natural Selection, this card is on the Reserved List and has its cheapest legal printing in Unlimited. While the card has seen a Collector’s Edition reprint and was showcased as a 30th anniversary edition card, these versions are not tournament legal. With that in mind, the cheapest tournament-legal variant of Blaze of Glory currently sits at $149.
#3 Intuition- $160
You may have caught on by now just how impactful the Reserved List is when it comes to the overall price of older MTG cards. As it turns out, every card on this list is on the Reserved List too, including Intuition. Intuition was printed in Tempest. Though the card was printed as a Judge promo as well, that version is worth significantly more. Unlike Natural Selection and Blaze of Glory, Intuition is a strong card that even sees some Eternal format play.
In Show and Tell decks in Legacy that play Cunning Wish, you will often see a copy of Intuition in the sideboard. Intuition lets you search your library for three cards, let the opponent choose one, and you put that card into your hand and the rest into your graveyard. Importantly, you can simply search for three copies of the same card, such as Show and Tell or Omniscience, guaranteeing that you get access to your missing combo piece. Intuition currently sits at $160.
#2 Word of Command- $350
Word of Command is an extremely strange card. Much like with Mindslaver, you can force the opponent to cast something in a way they otherwise wouldn’t want to. For example, you can force the opponent to cast a removal spell on their own Creature instead of yours. The difference is that, while Mindslaver lets you control your opponent’s whole turn, Word of Command only gives you the opportunity to control one card from the opponent’s hand.
The text on this card is rather confusing, and simply reading the text on the card makes it clear that this card is very old. This card also got a 30th anniversary edition and collector’s edition printing. Still, the least expensive tournament-legal printing of the card came in Unlimited, and the card has a price tag of roughly $350.
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#1 Ancestral Recall- Thousands
Ancestral Recall is not only the most expensive Instant ever printed, but it’s also one of the best MTG cards ever printed. For just one mana, you get to draw three cards. This card is quite simple, and way too strong by today’s standards. There’s a reason this card is banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage. Even a card like Treasure Cruise, which is a Sorcery that requires some extra work to cast on the cheap, is absurdly strong and banned in multiple formats.
Drawing three cards for one mana is absurdly powerful, and Ancestral Recall has no drawback. It’s quite difficult to pinpoint the exact value of Ancestral Recall, as there’s very few in circulation. Again, this card’s cheapest tournament-legal version is from Unlimited, and TCGplayer median price is listed at over $4,000. Ancestral Recall is the most expensive Instant by a large margin and is incredibly iconic to boot.
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