You know how you can type a phrase into the Google search bar and it'll autocomplete the sentence for you? I dropped "Modern Horizons 2" into the bar on my browser and one of the top results was "Modern Horizons 2 confused."
This isn't surprising. Modern Horizons 2 is a unique and powerful set, but it is also incredibly hard to evaluate. It's similar to the original Modern Horizons in many ways, but that set was released in the days before Project Booster Fun. By contrast, MH2 has the greatest number of variant printings in any Magic set ever released. If we're going to figure out MH2 from a financial perspective, we don't just need to predict which cards are going to rise and fall in price and when. We need to untangle the unique ways in which this set's premium printings are likely to behave going forward.
MH2 is also just the second straight-to-Modern set ever released. Nearly every other Magic set either has cheap packs, new cards, and a high print run, or expensive packs, a low print run, and is almost entirely full of reprints. There aren't many Magic sets with expensive packs, a high print run, and a mix of new cards and reprints. Add this complication to our overwhelming pool of variant printings, and financial analysis becomes incredibly difficult.
Modern Horizons 2 might be overwhelming, but my goal today is to whelm you with some clear and straightforward analysis. We're going to puzzle out just how expensive these boosters are, untangle the variant printings, and attempt a big-picture approach to investing in this set. Then we'll dive into the cards themselves, taking a look at early Modern results and the Commander community in search of hidden gems and the staples most likely to maintain their value.
With Modern Horizons 2 hitting shelves in just a few days, there's no time to waste. Let's dive right in, starting with one of the biggest questions I'm asked about every set these days:
Right now, TCGplayer market price for a Draft Booster Box of Modern Horizons 2 is $300. A Set Booster Box is $259, and a Collector Booster Box is $408. Of course, this fact alone tells us very little because each of these boxes contains a different number of packs. The Draft Box contains 36 packs, for a per-pack price of $8.33. The Set Box contains 30 packs, for a per-pack price of $8.63. The Collector Box contains 12 packs, for a per-pack price of $34.
Let's start by analyzing the differences between the Draft and Set boosters. Ignoring the commons, uncommons, lands, and art cards, you get the following meaningful differences between the two packs:
This is a pretty stark difference, especially since The List has recently been beefed up to contain some exciting and valuable cards. While I recommended purchasing Draft Boosters over Set Boosters in Strixhaven, the opposite is definitely true this time around. Trading a 33% shot at a random foil (which could just be a common) for a 100% chance at a traditional foil plus a decent shot at getting either a wildcard or a List card is a no-brainer, especially for just thirty cents more per booster pack. I see no reason to pick up Draft Boosters this time around unless you're planning to actually draft the set.
As for the Collector Boosters, the real question is this: are you okay spending $34 per pack on a gamble? Opening booster packs like this rarely works out in the long run, so it's all up to your risk tolerance. I personally recommend being savvy with your singles-buying, but that obviously doesn't give you the same visceral rush as ripping open a booster full of new shiny friends.
Speaking of Collector Boosters…
There are, unbelievably, 16 different variants present in Modern Horizons 2. Let's go over them in turn:
Thankfully, not every rare and mythic in the set comes in every variant. There are nine different versions of the enemy fetch lands, though: Normal, Normal Foil, Extended Art Non-Foil, Extended Art Foil, Retro Non-Foil, Retro Foil with Foiled Art, Retro Foil Without Foiled Art, Retro Foil Etched, and Prerelease Stamped. Yikes! No wonder this set is confusing.
If you're spending $34 on a Collector Booster, you want it to have a shot at containing something good, right? Let's take a look at what you get this time around, ignoring all the common and uncommon slots as always:
1 foil etched rare or mythic. This is going to be a pretty solid slot, since it can contain a foil etched fetch land among other sweet pulls. You have 1/69 odds of opening a particular rare in this slot, a 7% chance of pulling a fetch land, and a 12% chance of opening a mythic.
1 showcase or borderless rare or mythic. This slot will contain a mythic about a third of the time, with 1/39 odds of opening a particular rare. There are no fetch lands in this slot, but you still might be able to snag a really good mythic.
1 non-foil extended art rare. This isn't a super exciting slot, since these cards aren't foil, but you can get fetch lands here. With a 1/39 shot at opening any specific rare (no mythics here, remember), you've got roughly 13% odds at snagging a fetch land in this slot.
1 foil alternate frame rare or mythic rare. This is the big money slot, and it's also the only way that most of these variants can be opened at all. The fact that so many variant pressings are shoehorned into a single Collector Booster slot tells me that they are likely to hold their value well, but it also makes each individual booster a bigger gamble than you might think.
In this slot, you're going to get a retro frame foil with foil art rare or mythic about a third of the time, and a regular foil extended art rare about a third of the time. The final third of the time, you'll be getting a borderless foil rare or mythic or a sketch foil rare or mythic. All of these mythics have a rarity of 1/253, which means that you'd have to buy 253 Collector Boosters—a retail cost of about $8,600—to fully complete the set.
Because of this, the truly expensive cards that are only found in this slot, like the retro border foil Force of Negation, are likely to remain expensive. There simply aren't going to be that many of them out there.
This slot is also solid for opening fetch lands. You have roughly 1/126 odds of opening a specific rare, and there are two different fetch land treatments found here, so you've got an 8% shot to pull a fetch land here as well.
Add these odds up, and you've got about a 28% chance of opening a fetch land in any given Collector Booster, which means that each Collector Booster Box will contain 3.37 fetch lands, on average, all of which will be variant copies. Considering how many other expensive cards will be in these boxes, it stands to reason that each individual variant fetch land can't end up being worth too much without the rest of the set tanking or the Collector Booster boxes surging in price. Since neither of these things is going to happen, I'm skeptical about the near-term future price tags of the fetch land variants, and I'd consider staying away until the market settles down a bit.
First off, let's take a look at fetch land prices since the start of April. Here's Misty Rainforest:
And Verdant Catacombs:
As you can see, it appears as though the fetch lands have already hit bottom (on June 9th) and begun to rebound. I don't think this is the actual bottom of the market, though. Supply and demand have clearly both increased over the past week, but demand is likely to remain steady over the next few weeks while the supply hose is turned on full blast. Remember: most people's Modern Horizons 2 orders haven't actually been delivered yet. That's why buying in on release weekend is usually the best move.
I know Modern Horizons 2 is a unique set, but I'd still like to take a look at the last time fetch lands were reprinted (in Modern Masters 2017) as a point of comparison. Here's what those price charts looked like, with the release date highlighted, starting with Misty Rainforest:
And Verdant Catacombs:
As you can see, all three cards bottomed out on release day before rebounding right away. Demand for these fetch lands was scorching hot in 2017, and nobody wanted to miss out.
Is it possible that we've already reached that point this time around? Perhaps, but I don't think so. You can already see the 2021 price charts starting to dip back down again, and there is a pretty clear trend of small retailers dumping their available supply onto the TCGplayer marketplace on release weekend. I'd be patient for just another day or two if you're in the market.
Is it possible that fetch lands won't rebound right away and will just keep dropping and dropping this time around? That does give me a little bit of pause, I'll admit. Modern Horizons 2 is full of exciting cards, so it's possible that most of the value will end up elsewhere. The fact that Modern Horizons 2 is print-to-demand, unlike Modern Masters 2017, is an even bigger red flag.
Let's do a little bit of math, though. The odds of opening a fetch land in any given Set or Draft Booster of Modern Horizons 2 is about 7%. That's about 2.5 fetch lands in every $300 box of Draft Boosters. The current average price of an enemy fetch land is $35. Is it unrealistic to expect that roughly $88 out of your $300 booster box—about 30% of its value—will be taken up by fetch lands? I don't think so. That seems a fairly reasonable percentage for the flagship cycle in the set, and it tells me that we shouldn't see $10-$20 copies of Misty Rainforest or whatever else some of the folks on Reddit are predicting. You probably won't be upset if you want to wait a few weeks before buying in, but release weekend still looks like a solid bet to me.
It's important to remember that Modern Horizons 2 is a print-to-demand set. It isn't a Masters set, where you only have a few weeks to pick up booster boxes or you're out of luck. You will be able to buy boxes of this set for months. It likely won't leave print for about a year.
In order to get a sense of what this actually means, let's take a look at a couple of long-term price charts from the first Modern Horizons set. Here's Archmage's Charm:
Look how patient you had to be with this one. Archmage's Charm pre-sold for close to $25, was $4 by release date, and bottomed out at less than a buck by early November of 2019. You could have made a solid profit flipping them for $5-$6 the following May, about a year after the set released, but you really had to wait until the May after that—about two years—before the card really began to pop off.
Force of Negation had a slightly different journey. Take a look:
This card was cheapest on release weekend, but it was still reasonably priced as recently as April of 2020. It started surging again after that, almost tripling by April of 2021. Yet again, the biggest gains weren't really possible until the year after the set was in print.
Wrenn and Six was another card that proved wildly underrated on release weekend. You could have picked it up for around $20 when the first Modern Horizons set hit shelves, but it was pushing $100 by August of that year. It never quite hit those highs again, bottoming out around the holidays before rebounding in year two. It is now well on its way to becoming more expensive than ever.
Next up, here's Fiery Islet:
This card (and the entire cycle) was overrated at the start, in large part because Horizon Canopy had been so expensive for so long. That indirect price anchoring really skewed our perceptions of these cards, which are good but not great. Much like all the other cards we've talked about today, Fiery Islet bottomed out the following winter before eventually rebounding in year two.
Let's end this list by looking at a Commander all-star, Morophon, the Boundless:
This is an even more extreme version of the same patterns we've seen. Morophon, the Boundless bottomed out in mid-November of 2019, surged after that, dropped off a bit the following winter, and spiked like wildfire this spring.
What can we learn from this? Well, if Modern Horizons 2 follows the same trajectory as the first Modern Horizons set, then you either want to buy in on release weekend (if you believe that a card is going to be a future staple) or else wait until October or November. Prices are still going to be in flux for the first year, but they'll probably surge wildly in year two, once the set leaves print.
It's worth remembering, however, that Modern itself was a bigger deal in 2019. Large competitive events were the norm back then, and many more people were building tabletop decks. These days, Commander is a much larger part of the game as well as the finance behind the game. Because of that, I expect prices to be a little more stable in the early going, and I don't think we'll see as many massive spikes. I also don't think we'll see quite as many huge drops among the cards with a lot of Commander demand, like the fetch lands. I still think waiting until November to pick up your spec targets is probably best, but I'm definitely going to snag some of my most-wanted staples this weekend.
First off, it's way too early to say what the Modern metagame will look like by the time you're reading this article, much less two or three months from now. That said, I've been paying attention to the tournament and testing results that we've had so far, and we're definitely able to start identifying the cards that are most likely to make a splash early on.
First up, Urza's Saga looks like the most busted card in the set, regardless of format. Take a look at this price chart:
Urza's Saga is unlikely to drop in price anytime soon. It might dip a bit on release weekend, but it will have to suffer a ban to be at much risk. Not only is this card absurd in Modern, but it's a Commander all-star as well. Even though Urza's Saga isn't a mythic, I expect demand to far outstrip supply for quite some time to come.
Urza's Saga has shown up in several top Modern decks already, but it seems to be making the biggest splash in Amulet Titan. That deck has surged to the top of the metagame, and I wouldn't be shocked if there were a few secondary spikes incoming.
Here's Amulet of Vigor over the past few months:
That's a $7 increase over the past few months without even really taking Urza's Saga into account yet. Once the word gets out, this card could surge past the $30 mark.
Next up, let's talk about another exciting new deck, Temur Footfalls. This deck utilizes Crashing Footfalls from the first Modern Horizons set alongside Shardless Agent from Modern Horizons 2. Subtlety is also a four-of in this deck, at least for now. Let's take a look at the price charts for all three cards. Here's Crashing Footfalls:
As you can see, the Modern Horizons 1 card is still on its way up while the two MH2 cards are dropping as release weekend approaches. Honestly, I'm bullish on all three. Crashing Footfalls can easily be a $7-$10 card if Temur Footfalls ends up as a top deck in Modern, as can Shardless Agent. I was far higher on Subtlety than most in my set review, and the fact that a blue mythic is being underrated right now has me licking my lips. I'm definitely picking these latter two cards up on release weekend, and I'd snag Footfalls ASAP if you actually want to play this deck.
We also have to talk about General Ferrous Rokiric, which has started to show up in decks like Humans, Five-Color Domain Zoo, and Five-Color Niv-Mizzet. I was incredibly high on this card in my set review as well, and it appears to be wildly overperforming expectations in the early going. The price hasn't caught up, though, and there should be some really cheap copies available this weekend:
Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar has also proven absurd, and it also marks my first set review swing and a miss. I didn't think Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar had what it took in competitive play, but it has impressed me in every game I've seen it in so far. Check out its price chart:
As with most of these cards, I'm a big fan of snagging Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar this weekend, when the price is nice and low. $6-$8 is a really good price for the flagship card in a popular Modern deck, and if this is the kind of creature you like playing with, you won't want to wait too long and risk missing out.
We also have to talk about Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer. Some folks were calling this the best red one-drop ever printed, and early testing bears out the fact that this Monkey Pirate is indeed absurdly good. $45 still seems like a lot to me for an aggressive red card, but the price already seems to be stabilizing and I expect Ragavan to remain a flagship Modern staple for quite some time. You also aren't really at risk of getting hit with a ban here, unlike with Urza's Saga.
There are many more Modern Horizons cards making waves, too. The Top 8 of last weekend's MTGO Modern challenge included all the cards we've discussed already, plus Kaldra Compleat, Fractured Sanity, Grist, the Hunger Tide, Ignoble Hierarch, Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth, and Endurance. That doesn't even get into the Enchantress decks or any of the other cool rogue strategies that could come bursting through at any point. All of these cards are worth at least considering snagging this weekend, and if you're planning to get into Modern, this is a pretty sweet opportunity to do so.
According to EDHREC, there are currently eight legendary creatures in Modern Horizons 2 that are popular enough to be the commander for fifty or more fan-submitted decks. In order of popularity, from most to least, they are:
As always with popular legendary creatures, if you're going to pick up any of these cards, I'd focus on the coolest foil variants whenever possible. For example, Garth One-Eye is currently selling for right around $18 but the foil retro frame version is a whopping $85. While I'd prefer to wait before buying either copy—I think this card is overpriced right now—I'd far rather snag the $85 version. It's going to hold its value better and be in far greater demand going forward, especially considering how scarce each individual foil retro frame mythic rare actually is. At any rate, all eight of these cards—especially alternate versions—are likely to be good spec targets at the bottom of the market, especially the top four or five.
As for the cards that are making their way into various Modern decks, the following rares or mythics have appeared in at least 200 lists submitted to EDHREC so far, in order of popularity from most to least:
First off, I had no idea that Esper Sentinel was outpacing Urza's Saga, but it has fast become the most sought-after Commander card in the entire set. This card compares favorably to Commander favorites Smothering Tithe and Rhystic Study, and so far, it has seen demand on that level. The price may be coming down right now, but that won't continue. Esper Sentinel is a $30+ Commander card a year from now, if not sooner.
The next four cards—Urza's Saga, Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth, Ignoble Hierarch, and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer—are all making waves in both Commander and Modern right now. If you're waiting for these cards to tank, you're going to be out of luck. A combination of competitive and Commander demand is a recipe for high prices, and these four cards are going to be among the most expensive in the set for months to come.
The last few cards on this list represent potential sleeper buys. For example, I wouldn't buy Dauthi Voidwalker right now, especially after looking at this chart:
That said, this card is great in Commander and it will hold long-term demand because of that. Wait for the market to drop, and then snag your copies. Remember: most cards from the first Modern Horizons set didn't hit bottom until November of its release year, and the same might well hold true here. Grab what you need this weekend, but be patient with the rest.
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Last week's newsletter was all about TCGplayer adding a "Latest Sales" page to most card listings. This is game-changing sales data, and it's now available to everyone for free. We also covered several key price spikes, including a few cards that are surging due to hot new Modern Horizons 2-fueled decks.