Some cards gain infamy because of their power level. Sol Ring, Black Lotus, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Skullclamp all send shivers down the spines of players, and are cube draft all-stars. Some cards are famous and become recurring jokes because of how bad they are. One with Nothing, Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded, and Razor Boomerang have all been joked about and immortalized from the opposite end of the "how can Wizards let this happen?" spectrum. Today, we're going to talk about a different category of cards that are organized into a subgroup by the community. Today's article is going to discuss the group of cards also known by "Goes an absurdly long time without a reprint and gets really expensive before finally getting a release valve in some sort of product" club. That name doesn't roll off the tongue very well, but naming a few cards on this list should give you a rough idea of what I'm talking about. In fact, we just got two of those very cards in the 2019 Core Set.
Both rares hit ridiculous peaks while being the talk of the community for a couple years. Everyone knew Scapeshift and Crucible weren't on the Reserved List, so it was only a matter of time before Wizards of the Coast responded to community demand for the reprint. While many assumed that either of these cards would be placed into either Iconic Masters or Masters 25, it turns out they were slated to be in the Core Set as mythics. If you were waiting on picking either of these up, that's good news for you. We're going to see $7 Scapeshifts and $15 Crucibles relatively soon, giving you patient players an excellent opportunity to get in.
Perhaps the most iconic card that falls under this umbrella is Damnation. While black Commander decks aren't struggling to keep the board clear (Toxic Deluge, Life's Finale and Black Sun's Zenith are just a few of the many alternatives), the color-shifted Wrath of God is infamous for going over a decade without a "real" reprint (we're excluding the textless Player Rewards and the Judge foil here). However, the collective Reddit expectations for a mass reprint of Damnation didn't really start until it crept up to $40 in early 2014.
Why was 2014 the year of the expected Damnation reprint? Well, that happened to be the year that From the Vault: Annihilation was released. If you're a newer player who wasn't around for this product release, you can probably understand the confusion at this point. FTV: Annihilation was going to have fifteen of Magic's more iconic board-wipey effects; Wrath of God itself was an obvious shoe-in, as was Armageddon. Smokestack made sense too, and Rolling Earthquake was a welcome alternative to a niche crowd who didn't want to shell out for a Portal: Three Kingdoms version. Damnation would've rounded out the set perfectly as a headliner card…. but it wasn't there.
And so began the Reddit meme. In every non-Standard set where Damnation was even a remote possibility, the echoes of rational thought continued; "Okay, they saved it for THIS set instead…" but it never came. Modern Masters 2015 chose Bitterblossom and Dark Confidant as the black mythics, and Surgical was crowned most expensive black rare. Eternal Masters was released in 2016, and we got six boxes of deja vu along with it. Wrath of God was previewed…. with no Damnation. So why did it take so long? Thankfully, Adam Prosak already answered that question in February of last year, when Modern Masters 2017 was in preview season. In fact, the title of that article is "Took Us Long Enough," where Adam goes over why the card was omitted from multiple sets before finally being placed in MM17.
In short, there were a lot of players waiting to buy Damnations, for a long period of time before the reprint hit. The same can be said for Scapeshift, evidenced by the fact that Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle spiked immediately following the Scapeshift announcement. So many people had been patiently biding their time, not wanting to get blown out by buying in at the peak Scapeshift value. While some portion MTG finance is learning how to buy cards at their low, it can be just as important to remember not buying cards at their high point.
Because the supply on sets like Morningtide, Planar Chaos and Fifth Dawn is so low compared to the demand on these staples, the prices drop like a rock when the floodgates are opened. $70 dropping to $20, $57 to $7, these are the biggest ways to lose out if you're buying in at the peak of the metaphorical roller coaster. Because Wizards can only print a set number of… sets... per year, they can't hit everything. There are still a bunch of cards out there right now that are approaching (or have been cresting) their peaks for a while now, and they're the kind of cards you want to avoid buying unless you absolutely have to. Let's talk about a few examples of cards that you should wait just a little while longer...
I often joke that Shadowmoor was secretly added to the Reserved List when no one is looking, because so many of the cards in that set fit into this niche category that we're talking about. In fact, I fully expect this next card to be in Commander 2018, now that we've learned one of the themes is Bant Enchantments.
While Crucible and Scapeshift are relatively harmless to slot into Standard because they don't really promote degenerate gameplay, shroud is a different story altogether. An archaic mechanic that's been forgotten since the age of hexproof in Core Set 2012, Shroud is the worst of both worlds in terms of interactive gameplay. Not only is your opponent prevented from Doom Blading or Oblivion Ringing your shrouded permanent, you can't even target it yourself! You can't save it with Unsummon, equip it with Sword of Feast and Famine…. so Wizards replaced it with hexproof, negating any chance of this white enchantment from seeing a reprint in Standard. That leaves Masters sets, or more likely the Commander deck reprint.
With an increase in MSRP to $39.99 from $34.99, Wizards is increasing the amount of "value" they can insert into each deck to make it more enticing. They want to avoid another True-Name Nemesis mishap at all costs; a situation where buying the deck for financial gain at MSRP strips the product from being available to players. They're trying to find a sweet spot where the decks are still really awesome purchases with a good amount of value, while keeping it from being unavailable at MSRP. It's a difficult rope to walk, but they've been doing a solid job with the past two years' worth of decks. If Auramancy gets hit, I expect it to drop down to $10-14 relatively quickly. You can hold off on this one for now.
This is the most expensive card in Prophecy. Yes. Card. Not the most expensive common (well, that too), but the most expensive CARD. As one of the top five Blue cards in Commander according to EDHrec and the only one to go without a real reprint (not counting Commander's Arsenal), I'm fully expectingStudy to get hit with a reprint in the next year or so. The biggest question though, is where? It would absolutely make sense to go into the Bant Enchantments deck we just talked about, but we're still treading that line of finding the "correct" amount of value in the product. A $30 rare and $12 common as the starting lineup doesn't leave much room for anything else, so it's more reasonable to expect one or the other.
I think it's more likely to see this card in the Esper deck, while the Izzet artifact deck finds other ways to consistently draw cards. If it doesn't get hit this year and pulls a Damnation, expect it to continue to climb until the next Masters set is released. Either way, Study will get hit eventually. When it does, it's going to drop like a rock.
I know what you're thinking. I mean, I don't, but I'm going to pretend what you're thinking for the smoothness of this article. "Wait, didn't this JUST get reprinted?" It's been a year and a half since Rift got the hammer in Modern Masters 2017, and this card's price graph is starting to look a lot like Icarus. It's hitting an all-time high and I think it's time to sell out of any copies you have. While I personally think you should burn them all and write a strongly worded tweet to the Commander Rules Committee about banning this stupid card, my opinion doesn't change the fact that this card is probably due for a reprint in one of this year's decks. Last year I talked about Immortals: cards that cyclically go up and down in price because they're too universally loved or played to have reprints keep them down for extended periods of time, and Rift is one of those cards. I fully expect this to get hit in one of the blue Commander precons, even if I couldn't hazard a guess as to which one. Even though this card has received four printings in the six years that it's existed, it's sitting at the peak of the roller coaster and due for a fifth.
Before I leave for the week, I ask you this; what's your card that you've been waiting on for a reprint? We've got over 20 years of reprints that Wizards is trying to play whack-a-mole with, but they can't hit everything all the time. Cards continuing to go up just gives them more opportunities to make players happy with more reprints in the future, so I'm curious to hear some of your "top of the roller coaster" cards in the comments section below. I think my personal favorite is Phyrexian Altar, which I'm really hoping gets a reprint at Rare in the next Masters set. Thanks for reading! - DJ Johnson
Before I leave for the week, I ask you this; what's your card that you've been waiting on for a reprint? We've got over 20 years of reprints that Wizards is trying to play whack-a-mole with, but they can't hit everything all the time. Cards continuing to go up just gives them more opportunities to make players happy with more reprints in the future, so I'm curious to hear some of your "top of the roller coaster" cards in the comments section below. I think my personal favorite is Phyrexian Altar, which I'm really hoping gets a reprint at Rare in the next Masters set. Thanks for reading!
- DJ Johnson