Wizards of the Coast released the first set of Magic: The Gathering Challenger Decks on April 6, 2018. Each Deck contained 60 cards, plus a 15-card sideboard, from a Standard format archetype. For the low price of $29.99, product-hover id="161417" gave players the opportunity to play inexpensive and competitive Standard decks at Friday Night Magic (FNM) or with friends.
With the success of the first set of Challenger Decks, WotC decided to continue offering them each year. On April 2, 2021, WotC released four new product-hover id="232755" for about $30. Each 2021 Challenger Deck encompasses one of the following Standard archetypes:
The initial expected value (EV) of each 2021 Challenger Deck far surpasses their purchase price. For example, the product-hover id="232756" contains one Shark Typhoon and two Skyclave Apparition—a combined average market price of $38. Not only do players save $8 buying the product-hover id="232756", they also get 72 other cards theoretically for free! Challenger Decks offer significant savings to players over purchasing the included cards as singles.
Although Challenger Decks offer a fantastic value to players, they do have one significant drawback. The majority of cards found in the 2021 Challenger Decks rotate in October 2021—the decks will become unplayable in Standard within six months. Since rotation is unavoidable, what happens to the average market prices of cards in Challenger Decks over time?
As Standard cards approach rotation, they traditionally see downward price movement. The price trend is due in part to the limited amount of Constructed playable time remaining. Standard playable cards can decline at various rates over their lifespan leading up to rotation.
In March 2020, COVID-19 caused decreasing prices for many Standard-legal cards. Players couldn't participate in FNM, MagicFests, or CommandFests. With the profound effect COVID-19 had on MTG card prices, it's hard to tell the impact product-hover id="209424" had on rotating card prices.
To isolate price changes, we'll look at rotating cards included in 2019 Challenger Decks. The product-hover id="185029" were announced on March 18, 2019, with a product release date of April 12, 2019. The first card we'll look at was a four-of in the product-hover id="186433".
The blue line in the above chart shows the average selling price for Goblin Chainwhirler between January and December 2019. Green bars indicate the volume of cards sold per week. Before product-hover id="186433" release, copies of Goblin Chainwhirler sold between $3 and $4 each. After product-hover id="186433" release, the average selling price for Goblin Chainwhirler drastically decreased to about $1. The average selling price for Goblin Chainwhirler stayed around $1 through fall rotation. After rotation, the rising cost of Goblin Chainwhirler coincided with the Pioneer format announcement on October 21, 2019. Pioneer's creation had similar effects to other cards mentioned below.
This chart shows the average selling price for Jadelight Ranger in 2019. Two copies of Jadelight Ranger are in the product-hover id="186434" 2019 Challenger Deck. In early 2019, copies of Jadelight Ranger sold for almost $9. Post-release of product-hover id="186434", the average selling price for Jadelight Ranger dropped to about $2, then fluctuated between $2 and $3 until rotation.
History of Benalia had two copies included in the product-hover id="186432" 2019 Challenger Deck. product-hover id="186432" was a Mono-white Aggro deck that leaned heavily on cards like History of Benalia and Legion's Landing. After product-hover id="186432" announcement, the average selling price for History of Benalia dropped from $10 to $4 within 30 days, and continued to decline until October 2019.
Rekindling Phoenix was one of the most dominating cards during its time in Standard. A single copy of Rekindling Phoenix is in product-hover id="186433". Rekindling Phoenix price dropped from about $20 to $8 between the product-hover id="186433" announcement and release. Ultimately, Rekindling Phoenix had an average selling price of $2 when it rotated out of Standard.
All the highlighted rotating cards had their average selling price drop over 50% within 30 days following the 2019 Challenger Deck announcement. Interestingly, Rekindling Phoenix and Jadelight Ranger saw short-term retracing following the 2019 Challenger Deck product release. While the Challenger Decks don't drop prices to bulk for every included card, they severely affected card prices.
It's probable that the Challenger Decks' discounted price, relative to their EV, causes price reductions to included cards. What's certain is Challenger Decks add more card supply to the secondary market. Since product-hover id="232755" released, I'd expect rotating cards to drop 60% to 75%.
product-hover id="232755" include a handful of non-rotating cards from Zendikar Rising and Kaldheim. Surprisingly, product-hover id="232758" is the only 2021 Challenger Deck missing a mythic rare from Zendikar Rising. Will non-rotating cards featured in the product-hover id="232755" follow the same price drops as rotating cards? Let's find out by looking at two non-rotating cards from product-hover id="185029".
Two copies of Experimental Frenzy are in product-hover id="186433". Average selling prices for Experimental Frenzy hovered just above $2 until sinking to about $0.50 after product-hover id="186433" release. Experimental Frenzy average selling price climbed back to $1 and hovered between $1 and $1.50 through December 2019.
Arclight Phoenix was a powerful card in Standard, and was included in product-hover id="186435". The average selling price for Arclight Phoenix was close to $30 before the 2019 Challenger Deck announcement. After product-hover id="186435" release, Arclight Phoenix average selling price quickly fell under $20. Ultimately, Arclight Phoenix price stabilized around $20 throughout the summer until falling again in September 2019.
Prices fell fast for Experimental Frenzy and Arclight Phoenix between March and April 2019. However, the average selling prices quickly rebounded to about 50% of their early March prices. The best opportunity to buy the two 2019 Challenger Deck non-rotating cards, considering the price and remaining lifespan in Standard, was just after the product release date of April 12, 2019.
Based on historical trends for non-rotating cards, I'd anticipate a 40% to 50% decline in average selling prices due to the release of the product-hover id="232755". Players have about a month now to take advantage of the supply influx and depressed prices on singles.
The post-release of Challenger Decks is an excellent opportunity to purchase included singles. Discounted prices are appealing, especially for non-rotating cards with another year and a half of Standard playability.
Also, purchasing Challenger Decks to play at FNM or with friends is a fine idea. Challenger Decks offer an amazing deal for players to break into Standard. If you're interested in playing Standard before rotation in October 2021, now is a great time to grab a product-hover id="232755".