Modern Horizons, released June 14, 2019, was met with much anticipation and excitement. The Magic: The Gathering set brought 209 new cards and multiple reprints straight to the Modern format. Many new cards appeared to be potent, with the possibility of creating original archetypes. Also, the new cards would be playable in Legacy and Pauper. There was something for almost every multi-format constructed player.
I was in attendance at a large-scale MTG event the weekend of Modern Horizon's release. (Remember those?) Vendors were selling booster boxes between $180 and $200 and players were purchasing them, along with chase cards like Prismatic Vista, Force of Negation, and Wrenn and Six. There was much speculation on how Modern Horizons would impact MTG formats.
With the continued demand for Modern Horizons 19 months after release, the average market price for sealed booster boxes on TCGplayer is just under $200. When looking at the 30 last sold listings on eBay, I calculated an average sold price of $192. Finally, MTG Dawnglare shows an expected value (EV) of $196 when referencing TCGplayer market pricing.
Considering this information, why are booster boxes selling for about the same price as they did upon release? What does the future hold for Modern Horizons booster box pricing?
Before predicting future pricing for Modern Horizons booster boxes, it is crucial to understand a bit of the set's history. Modern Horizons became one of the most format-warping sets printed in the current era of Magic: The Gathering. Cards in the set proved to be so dominant that they broke multiple formats—Wizards of the Coast had to ban multiple cards in order to stabilize Legacy, Pauper, and Modern.
Not long after Modern Horizons' release, we experienced the set's first card banning on August 26, 2019. Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis received a banning in Modern after ruling the format. At this point in time, booster boxes were selling for a TCGplayer market price of $184, with an EV around $214. On a positive note, Hogaak's banning provided an opportunity for other Modern Horizons cards to shine in Modern.
Arcum's Astrolabe" || "Wrenn and Six
Following the Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis banning, Arcum's Astrolabe received an expected ban in Pauper on October 21, 2019. Not long after, Wrenn and Six received a ban in Legacy on November 18, 2019. The average market price of Wrenn and Six dropped from about $80 to $60 following the ban. Since Wrenn and Six remained legal in Modern, the average cost of the card stabilized.
While not a card from Modern Horizons, Mox Opal received a ban on January 13, 2020. Interestingly, the ban of Mox Opal had little to no effect on Urza, Lord High Artificer's price. I am unaware of any negative price impact on Modern Horizons cards due to Mox Opal's ban.
Urza, Lord High Artificer" || "Ice-Fang Coatl
It was almost a year later when Arcum's Astrolabe became banned in Modern on July 13, 2020. However, banning Arcum's Astrolabe did not stop players from continuing to use other Modern Horizons cards. Urza, Lord High Artificer and Ice-Fang Coatl found new homes in Modern.
Banning three cards across multiple formats over a 12 months likely had minimal influence on Modern Horizons' set EV. Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis was a rare and separate archetype in Modern. Wrenn and Six dominated Legacy but is still playable in Modern. While multiple Modern Horizons cards worked well with Arcum's Astrolabe, they were not reliant on Arcum's Astrolabe for play in Modern.
WOTC ensured Modern Horizons booster boxes were available during and after release weekend. Players had little issue finding booster boxes for sale. I initially thought the availability of booster boxes would start dwindling around eight months after release. However, supply remained plentiful throughout 2020. As long as stores can readily buy booster boxes from distributors, the ability for prices to rise remains low. Only in the last two months have I noticed Modern Horizons booster box pricing begin to move higher. The recent rise in price is likely the result of supplies leaving the market from distributors, stores, and online outlets.
Currently, four of the top 50 most played cards in Modern are from Modern Horizons. In Legacy, Modern Horizons has six cards within the top 50 most played cards. Force of Negation is in the top 10 of both formats. The popularity of Force of Negation in constructed formats, even during COVID, is one reason why the average market price is $49.
Modern Horizons contains six cards with average market prices over $20 and an additional six cards over $10. The cycle of dual-colored lands is at an average market price of $5-$10. There is likely more demand to come on the back of Modern Horizons 2 and the hope of paper MTG returning. I can see prices moving higher for format staples between now and the end of the year.
On December 14, 2020, the TCGplayer average market price for a Modern Horizons booster box was $181. The average sale price on eBay hovered around $175. These prices were close to what Modern Horizons booster boxes were selling for at release in 2019.
As of January 20, 2021, the TCGplayer average market price for a Modern Horizons booster box is $199. I calculated $192 as the average sold price on eBay up through January 20, 2021. These price increases reflect a 10% increase respectively in just over a month.
Along with the price increase, Modern Horizons booster box EV increased 8% to $219 since mid-December 2019. The current set EV is about $5 higher than just after the ban of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis in Modern. While the EV gain is small, I believe it reflects the continued interest in Modern Horizons. Also, I believe the current set EV is a good indicator that booster box prices will continue to rise in the short term.
In December 2019, I predicted that Modern Horizons booster boxes would have an average market price today between $223 and $232. This forecast relied on supply availability dropping in spring 2020. Unfortunately, my initial prediction turned out to be incorrect, as booster box sales have not entirely broken $200 on average. Despite this, I still believe that Modern Horizons booster boxes can reach $223 in 2021.
In the future, we may experience another 10% price jump around the release of Modern Horizons 2 in 2021. I foresee players wanting both Modern Horizons and Modern Horizons 2 for their personal collections. By the end of 2021, I predict Modern Horizons booster boxes will have a TCGplayer market average price between $220 and $225. This revised forecast is based on supply availability dropping, price changes in the second half of 2020, and maintained demand for the set. The speed at which paper MTG returns may also help push booster box demand higher! I recommend anyone interested in adding a booster box of Modern Horizons to their collection should consider grabbing one at around the $200 mark.