There aren’t many box set releases that Cube managers should get excited about, but this one is certainly it. All twenty cards in the set have seen play in my Cube at one point or another, and almost all of them are still in it. However, this is the first FTV release that has been hyped way beyond the MSRP because of the presence of a certain Mind Sculptor. Because of this, finding a copy for under $150-$200 has been mostly futile. But should you make the investment, if you cannot obtain it for MSRP? Being a long-time player and trader in addition to Cuber, I’m going to look at each card individually and break it down for all of you out there who are interested in finance as well as non-Standard formats like Legacy, Modern, Commander, and Cube.
Looking at FTV history, there aren’t many cards that are complete duds (under $4 retail), and all of them are cards that see virtually zero play in current formats but may have been awesome in the past. Good examples of this are Black Vise, Jester’s Cap, Masticore, and Zuran Orb. Commons and uncommons that see ANY kind of constructed play all come in at about $5 minimum (Dryad Arbor, e.g.), and top-flight rares and mythics for constructed and casual formats top $10 quite easily. If a card is printed in foil for the first time and playable in formats, the price is typically higher than other copies, regardless of artwork (Nevinyrral’s Disk, Ancient Tomb). If the card has the trifecta of being a constucted/casual staple, printed in foil for the first time, and being a ‘money’ card in non-foil, then you really get something special value-wise (Mox Diamond, Berserk, Lotus Petal). The other thing to keep in mind is that many people dislike the FTV foiling process, so many of the higher-level blingers shun them if there are other foil copies available. Sounds easy to figure out, right?
An oldie but a goodie, Dark Ritual hasn’t been legal in Standard since the days of Rishadan Port for a good reason. Although it only sees play in Legacy, it is an in-demand artwork that is available for the first time in a format in which people like to bling. It is also a Cube staple, which helps a lot. Although the FTV foiling process is often maligned, this is a card that newer players will desire because of the significantly lower price tag than the other foil copies printed so far. I have a hard time imagining this card at lower than $10, but the $50-60 price tag of older copies means this might settle in as high as $15.
Swords to Plowshares
The second best card in the set in terms of playability and appeal, STP has always been a high priced uncommon; even the cheapest copies retail for $4-5, and the available foil copies clock in at over $100 and over $50. While I certainly wish they would have chosen the Ice Age art for this promo, this card sees wide play in Legacy, Cube, and Commander alike and will be the major piece in the set other than He Who Inflated the Price. I see this as a $20+ card long term.
Hymn to Tourach
A playable Legacy card (especially recently, with the emergence of Shardless BUG decks), Hymn to Tourach is also one of the cards that foil Cube owners are looking forward to owning. Random discard really isn’t a thing in casual Magic, so you lose some mass appeal there, but overall you have a constructed playable card that is available in foil for the first time. I do wish they had chosen one of the older artworks, however. A winner, but likely not much higher than $10 long term.
I think the only people excited by this reprint are Cube owners and lovers of pointed ears. It barely sees play in Legacy elves, and even then only as a 1x or 2x. The artwork is an upgrade, but I was certainly hoping for better. $3-4, maximum.
This card used to be awesome. Even though it is playable in Cube (and awesome on Isochron Scepter!) and only has one older promo that is a foil, the lack of usage in constructed formats will keep this card from getting much above $3-4.
Wall of Blossoms
A mainstay from the RecSur decks of old, Wall of Blossoms no longer sees any serious play outside of casual formats like Commander and Cube. Since we already have a foil copy available (FNM), this card will stay towards the bottom of the values in the set. For those who like the modern Magic border better, this is an upgrade from the FNM foil. $2-3.
Another former constructed all-star (and one of Covetous Dragon’s favorite toys), Thran Dynamo sees roughly zero constructed play at the moment, and a modicum of casual play in some Cubes and artifact-themed or mana-hungry Commander decks. Even with all that in mind, regular copies retail for about $6-7 and foils are about $25-30. With that in mind, I plan on seeing Dynamos at around the price of normal copies, settling in around $5-6.
The list of former all-stars continues! Tangle Wire sees a touch of Vintage play, but is a first-pickable card in Cube. The difference between regular and foil copies varies widely ($5 or $50), and with the new artwork I’m hoping that this card will land somewhere in between the two, but I’m dubious and expect the card to be on the low end of the spectrum at about $4.
Fact or Fiction
While a fine choice for a card to represent the year in Magic, the choice of artwork is a bit baffling. We already have this exact artwork in a FNM promo (complete with new border), while the new Jace Fact or Fiction hasn’t gotten the foil treatment yet. I think people would have been more interested in the new artwork at this point, and the repetitive nature of this promo will certainly keep the price down. $3-4.
A non-money uncommon which has already been printed as a promo and sees roughly zero play outside of Cubes and some Commander decks equals a recipe for a value flop. This is the first minimum value card, probably about $2.
Another good choice for the year, but another dud as far as the amount of play it sees currently, since more and more Cubes are cutting it. I like the artwork a lot; unfortunately, nice art alone does not a valuable card make. Minimum price, $2.
This would have been an amazing reprint with new art (that looks gilded!) had it not been reprinted last year in M13! Since it sees a good amount of casual play, it will definitely have some value (regular copies are around $3) but I don’t think it will rise much above $4-5 since it sees little constructed play in eternal formats.
Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
A casual favorite (who doesn’t like ninja rats?!?), Ink-Eyes doesn’t have much going for it outside of Cubes, Commander, and theme decks. Add that to that the fact that it was the prerelease promo (albeit with different art), has been printed in non-foil recently in the Night of the Ninja Planechase deck, and doesn’t see any constructed play, and the price will remain pretty low. I think it will be barely above minimum, maybe in the $3 range.
Didn’t we already see Char as the 15th anniversary card? Why is it part of the 20th anniversary, too? Kinda lame. Minimum play across all formats, so minimum price as well. $2.
Venser, Shaper Savant
A great choice, by all accounts. Venser sees play in eternal formats like Modern and Legacy, has casual appeal as an auto-include in Cube and good in Commander, and has a nice price point of 20/80 for non-foil/foil copies currently available. Even though it has a new artwork, I think this card will likely be the third- or fourth-best card in this set, and should settle in around $15.
Do you like Chameleon Colossus and attacking for eight? Jimmy Buffet covers aside, CC is way past his prime as a constructed staple and sees little play in other formats as well. He is also finding his way out of Cubes as well, as the 2GG mana cost is a popular one for creatures. Minimum value for the ol’ Cat Egg Eye Sponge Oyster (editor’s note: also Mutant Ninja Turtle), sadly. $2.
A great new artwork! Another former constructed all-star! One of the most color-intensive spells ever! One of the most historic moments caught on camera! Doesn’t see any non-casual play! Another exclamatory sentence! Minimum value of $2!
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Well, we have arrived at the reason this set has been close to impossible to find at MSRP, and the driving force of value in the set. Although Jace has been banned in Modern as well as banned then rotated in standard, his impact in other eternal and casual formats has kept his price rising over the years. Regular copies retail for about $140-150, and while the initial price might be lower than this, I can’t imagine this card not hitting that level shortly after the supply dries up. The question is, will its value ever rise above the Worldwake copy? My guess is that they will stay roughly the same, with the FTV copy inching higher as people want foil copies for their Cubes and the like for a lower than $700-800 price.
Green Sun’s Zenith
I’m a little surprised they didn’t go with Batterskull here, since that would have featured a card type not included in this retrospective, but them’s the breaks. Green Sun Zenith sees some Legacy play, a good amount of casual play, and will be all over Modern if it is ever unbanned. With that much playability, I don’t think it will ever be under $5; I expect it to settle in around $10, double the price of regular copies and half the price of normal foil copies.
Kessig Wolf Run
A surprising choice, since are some very iconic cards and interesting mechanics that could have been chosen for this spot (Delver of Secrets is both, but is too hated to make the set!). While it has seen consistent play over its Standard life span, the card is still only a dollar rare AND that time is about to end; the wolves don’t seem to run as freely in the eternal formats. I am a big advocate of the card in Cubes, but that isn’t nearly enough to add any value to what will inevitably be a minimum value card, right around $2.
Adding up all the expected retail values, I’m predicting a value of about $250 long-term. The most volatile cards in the set are Jace, Hymn, and Swords, and I think the set’s value will come mainly from those three cards as well. If Jace experiences another price jump to something like $200, how could these copies stay much lower? They do the same thing in play! All in all I think the set would be a nice addition to your collection if you can afford it, but I think a LOT of these sets will be opened so people can get their Jaces to play so the market should be a bit glutted on the non-planeswalkers. If you are just looking to obtain some of those cards for your collection, I would simply trade for them this weekend at your local shops. If you want a collector’s piece that contains a never-to-be-below-$100 card, however, you’re going to have to open that wallet and pay for it. At least it isn’t as expensive as those San Diego Black Planeswalker sets, right?
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