Category Archives: The Gilded Goblin

Elspeth vs. Kiora Duel Deck Review

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By: Jared Yost

Today I’m going to take a look at the Elspeth vs. Kiora Duel Decks to see where the financial value of the decks lie. I’ll look at both the MSRP versus retail value of the singles and then present my thoughts about the future values of the cards.

For the alternate art foils, I am going to use the TCG Median price since MTGPrice does not yet track the value of the duel deck foil versions.

Decklists

Elspeth $$$ Kiora $$$
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion* $9.95 1 Kiora, the Crashing Wave* $6.83
*Alt art foil price
2 Icatian Javelineers $0.32 1 Omenspeaker $0.16
1 Mother of Runes $6.60 2 Coiling Oracle $1.86
2 Kinsbaile Skirmisher $0.26 1 Kiora’s Follower $0.27
1 Kor Skyfisher $0.19 2 Grazing Gladehart $0.32
1 Precinct Captain $0.53 2 Netcaster Spider $0.28
2 Veteran Armorsmith $0.44 2 Man-o’-War $0.92
1 Court Street Denizen $0.13 2 Lorescale Coatl $3.02
1 Standing Troops $0.14 1 Nessian Asp $0.13
2 Veteran Swordsmith $0.46 2 Surrakar Banisher $0.26
1 Banisher Priest $0.26 1 Sealock Monster $0.19
2 Gustcloak Harrier $0.28 1 Scourge of Fleets $0.31
1 Gustcloak Skirmisher $0.19 1 Simic Sky Swallower $1.36
1 Gustcloak Sentinel $0.15 1 Inkwell Leviathan $3.26
1 Gustcloak Savior $0.40 1 Nimbus Swimmer $0.21
2 Loxodon Partisan $0.26
1 Gempalm Avenger $0.14 2 Explore $1.22
1 Noble Templar $0.14 4 Accumulated Knowledge $2.28
1 Captain of the Watch $0.58 1 Peel from Reality $0.13
1 Mortal’s Ardor $0.14 2 Time to Feed $0.28
1 Explosive Vegetation $1.55
2 Sunlance $0.46 1 Aetherize $0.21
1 Mighty Leap $0.17 1 Whelming Wave $0.46
2 Raise the Alarm $0.46 1 Plasm Capture $0.40
1 Soul Parry $0.13 1 Urban Evolution $0.24
1 Celestial Flare $0.24
1 Dauntless Onslaught $0.17 2 Evolving Wilds $0.32
1 Dictate of Heliod $0.46 1 Temple of the False God $0.21
1 Decree of Justice $0.61 11 Forest n/a
11 Island n/a
2 Secluded Steppe $0.30
22 Plains n/a
Retail Deck Value $24.56 Retail Deck Value $26.68
Total Retail Value $51.24

Wow, the retail value is worth more than double the MSRP of the deck. However, as we all know the retail value can be misleading. I did account for the alternate art foil version of the headlining cards rather than their regular counterparts yet why is there is such a vast difference between MSRP and individual retail value? Most likely, the market hasn’t caught up yet with the mass release of this product. Initial glances tell me that any value in the deck is going to dry up as time marches on.

Before I talk about individual cards I first want to point out two things about the decks.

Firstly, It is a shame that neither deck contains any relevant Modern reprints. Unlike Jace vs. Vraska, this deck didn’t give us anything amazing like Remand to make us really want to go out and purchase it. It’s mainly reprints of casual favorites, along with some other interesting choices (a gustcloak theme in the Elspeth deck? Really?) to help us along our way to acquiring a new alternate art, foil Elspeth and Kiora. I mean sure, Path to Exile has been reprinted six times already but maybe replace one of those Sun Lances with a card that has more flair? Meh, who am I to judge versus a team of  WotC field research. Maybe Nimbus Swimmer, Scourge of the Fleets, and Sealock Monster are really what the target customer of this product wants.

Secondly, I am actually surprised that Kiora’s deck is worth more in value on average than Elspeth’s – especially considering that Mother of Runes is almost as expensive as the Kiora foil! The surprising value comes from the playset of Accumulated Knowledge, two Lorescale Coatl’s, two Coiling Oracles, and the Inkwell Leviathan. All of these cards share the trait that they haven’t been reprinted since this duel deck (outside of premium or promo versions). Unfortunately for Elspeth, the value drops pretty hard after Mom. Decree of Justice and Captain of the Watch, the most valuable runner up cards in the deck, are barely breaking $0.50. Hardly a surprise then that Kiora would slightly eek out value over Elspeth even with such a Standard defining planeswalker heading the deck.

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OK, now that I’ve covered these two subjects let’s dive into the singles. 

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Singles

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Currently selling for $10 on TCGPlayer, Elspeth will continue to sit around $10 until rotation since it is such an important Standard role player. Then, the price will continue to drop sharply since Sun’s Champion doesn’t see any eternal play in Modern or beyond. Due to the duel deck reprinting, there are going to be plenty of copies of Sun’s Champion on the market which will drop the price into the $3 range. The price for entry is fine for now – she currently is worth half the MSRP value of the deck. However, be warned that that this price will not last forever and will decline fast going into Theros rotation.

Kiora, the Crashing Wave

Again, Kiora’s initial price reflects the hype demand of the release of the new duel decks. Let me direct your attention to the following trends.

Figure 1 – Jace, Architect of Thought Price Decline Since Duel Deck Printing

jace, aot dd price history

Figure 2 – Vraska the Unseen Price Decline Since Duel Deck Printing

vraska dd price history

I’m surprised that they’ve bottomed out so hard but I can see the reason why. Putting Remand, a certified Modern staple, in the product will do that to the other cards. Since Remand is carrying the bulk of the value of JvV Duel Deck the other cards have been very suppressed. Even Future Sight, a card that at one point was $4, is now only a measly $0.57 after the release of the JvV Duel Deck. Overall though, the JvV duel deck package was pretty weak overall – kind of reminds you of this duel deck package, no? Except no Modern staples.

There are plenty of casual cards, however just like the rares Future Sight, Ohran Viper, and other others, I expect them to drop to around $0.50 or less eventually.

Kiora will also follow the trend of Jace and Vraska. Without extensive tournament play in Modern (which seems unlikely) I fear that she will also not escape the $3 fate.

Mother of Runes

Honestly, I can see this card maintaining $4-$5 long term strictly on the back of casual appeal. Mom is popular enough with casual players (and of course Legacy enthusiasts) that I can see her continuing to maintain value in the long term, especially with new art. Mom is this duel deck’s Remand, the price is going down but not by much.

Inkwell Leviathan

The card has much casual appeal, yet I will refer back to the Future Sight / Ohran Viper example. This card isn’t higher than $0.50 once these decks hit stores everywhere.

Lorescale Coatl

Let’s take a look at Jace’s Phantasm here to see a similar example. Before the JvV Duel Deck, Phantasm was around $2.50 at it’s highest point. It is now around $1.25 even after the reprint, which is actually pretty decent since it only lost half value (at least compared to the planeswalkers above). Half value leads me to predict that Coatl’s will be around $1.50 (or slightly higher) once the EvK decks are out for a while.

Accumulated Knowledge

I don’t see this losing value. It’s already a common, and the release of the duel deck isn’t going to crash the price. The deck provides four of them, with a total value of about $2. Despite the reprint I don’t see it changing much.

 

 

Coiling Oracle, Explosive Vegetation, Explore, Man-o’-War

Again, like Accumulated Knowledge above, these cards aren’t going to be crashing overnight due to this duel deck like the rares in the deck. They are all popular casual cards that should maintain a decent amount of their value going into the future.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, even though this deck appears to have quite a bit of potential based on the retail value of the singles right now, I can only predict doom and gloom for many of the card’s prices based on the performance of Jace vs. Vraska Duel Deck singles. The only one to come out unscathed was Remand, due to its vast Modern appeal. To this day, the card still carries the bulk of the value of the JvV duel deck. Unfortunately, the only similar card from the Elspeth vs. Kiora Duel Deck is Mother of Runes, which already has several printings. Regardless, I still think it will do well in the long run due to its vast casual appeal in addition to the added Legacy appeal.

In summary, if you’re going to buy this duel deck for a collection or to add it to your existing repertoire of duel decks then please buy it for as close to (if not lower than) MSRP value as you possibly can. Even to this day, JvV duel decks can easily be purchased online for $18 including shipping. I’m sad to say that this is one of the weakest duel decks that we’ve seen financially. Speed vs. Cunning was so much stronger, which not only included Modern and Legacy playable cards but also provided copies of wedge tap lands and other great commons and uncommons that will hold value going into the future. Due to the lack of Modern appeal I can’t see this deck being a great purchase unless it is being done from a purely causal perspective.

However, as a sealed product there is chance that it might be a good idea to throw a few of these into storage for several years down the line. Sealed Sorin vs. Tibalt Duel Decks are starting to see a price increase since they are becoming harder to find. Many are now $25 to $30 online. Not that this is a huge price increase for holding onto them for a few years, but it does give me a feeling of security knowing that even a planeswalker as crappy as Tibalt has a chance if he’s in a sealed product that is popular with casual players.

What do you think of the new duel deck? Are you planning on buying one, and if you are what really draws you to the duel deck?


 

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Results from Japan

By: Jared Yost

I was browsing MTGTop8 results and noticed that there were three major events that took place in Japan over the recent weeks – there were two Standard PTQ’s along with a large Legacy event that had almost 300 players. Let’s see what types of results have come from these events since they could be adopted by other regions for metagames. 

Standard – PTQ Takadanobaba

Decklists

Soulfire Grand Master – This card showed up as a playset in the second place deck. This makes me wonder if this was a metagame call or if the Grand Master has the potential of being a main staple of Jeskai decks in the new Fate Reforged Standard. The current price trajectory of Soulfire Grand Master over the last month:

soulfire grand master price history

The cheapest current price is $12, a lofty fall from its preorder price of $25 and higher. Many have thought that the Grand Master was nothing more than a cute, gain-more card that was destined to fall pretty hard. While this is true, it has also proven that it can be a powerful card in Standard. Its inclusion in the second place deck along with another appearance in the Boros Aggro deck that made the Top 8 (with two copies appearing the deck) is making me seriously consider this card’s playability in future Standard events.

Cheap casting cost mythic rares can be hit or miss. However, I really think this card has struck a chord with spikes and has incredible casual appeal. Remember that time in your Magic playing career that you loved gaining life? This card takes that desire to a completely different galaxy of possibilities for the casual players among us.

While I believe that the Grand Master has some room to drop as Fate Reforged continues to be opened, if it starts going into the single digit ranges I’m going to be watching it very closely as a potential pickup. It has current and future Standard value as well as casual appeal. To me, these are all signs of an undervaluation if the Grand Master continues its price descent.

Soldier of the Pantheon – This card also made an appearance, in both Jeskai Midrange and one of the Abzan Midrange decks. Soldier currently sits at around $0.83 retail, with many copies listed at $0.75 or less. There could be potential for a spike in the short run if Soldier turns out to be good in the new metagame, and if that happens it will be the time to get rid of any copies of Soldier that you have. I don’t expect it to become a Modern or eternal mainstay so the last chance to get value out of Soldier will be in the coming months.

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Wedge Tap Lands – Wedge tap lands are seeing play in nearly every deck due to the three color nature of the format. The time to get in on wedge tap lands en mass is coming soon. Even Sandsteppe Citadel, arguably the most widely played wedge land, is only around $0.50 retail. If you can pick up these lands for $0.40 or less it will be a great addition to a long term spec box.

Rakshasha Deathdealer – Another card that appeared in several decks, the power of Deathdealer in the new format cannot be underestimated. It is one of the best shades that Wizards has printed and it could really shine in Standard at some point. At $1 it seems like a very good pickup for future gains. 

Standard – Tarukiru Dragon Kiden (Japan)

Decklists

Archfiend of Depravity – Three copies of this card showed up in an Abzan Midrange list, which is surprising since I didn’t figure that that this card had constructed potential. Due to the inclusion it makes me want to watch the card closely over the next few months in case it pops up anywhere else.

Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury – The dragon appeared in the sideboard of the Mardu Control list. In addition to constructed playability, Kolaghan will also be popular with the casual crowd. This will enable it to retain a fairly decent price even if it doesn’t see much Standard play. I like foils here if you can get them on the cheap.

Citadel and Outpost Siege – Many players are hyping the red siege (Outpost) since it brings Chandra, Pyromaster’s best ability out as an enchantment, which is generally harder to remove. However, Citadel Siege should not be overlooked. In aggro decks this card really shines as both modes can be useful to you throughout the game. I’ll be keeping a close eye on Citadel Siege as Fate Reforged results continue to roll in.

Soulfire Grand Master was seen at the top tables at this tournament too, being featured in Boros Aggro as a playset. This furthers the idea that it could have Standard possibilities.

Monastery Mentor only showed up in Jeskai Tokens, which means that he is not quite as popular as Goblin Rabblemaster in the current Standard. This leads me to believe that his price will come down a bit more over the coming months. I would watch out for any good deals through the summer because even though Mentor isn’t a powerhouse in Standard now we all know that he will be quite good in the future once Rabblemaster rotates.

Legacy – BIG MAGIC OPEN 3rd

Decklists

Death and Taxes took down the event. Thalia has been slowly rising to close to $5 retail and I expect this upward trend to continue. She is not going to get a reprint in Modern Masters 2 while still being a widely played Modern and Legacy staple.

Mother of Runes was just announced as reprint in the upcoming Elspeth vs. Kiora duel decks, so I expect her to trend downward in price in the coming weeks based on the announcement. Leonin Arbiter is a hard call – at $1.50 retail it is very cheap for a card that occasionally sees Legacy play and definitely sees Modern play. However, I think many vendors and players are speculating its inclusion in Modern Masters 2 which has kept the price suppressed. Just last December the card was at $4 and seemed to be gaining in price. Then all of a sudden it dropped back down to $1.50 and seems to keep lowering.

leonin arbiter price history

So what happened? Its hard for me to put an exact reason for Arbiter’s price history, but it feels to me that his price reflects the wax and wane of the Hate Bears deck in Modern. Once Treasure Cruise was banned and the format shifted towards BGw Midrange Decks, Arbiter again found himself on the sidelines.

Historically, his drop in the middle of last year was leading up to Treasure Cruise and the general lack of large Modern events, and once the Hate Bears deck started doing well against the Treasure Cruise format he then shot back up to the $4 range. Of course, this is all just a theory – it could very well be the case that vendors just kept getting bought out at particular times which explains the temporary price spike of the card.

All in all, this tells me that Leonin Arbiter is a card that should be watched very closely for future gains or losses. Its volatile past tells me that the card could swing easily one way or the other depending on the direction that Modern or Legacy take.

Other notables from the tournament include a second place Merfolk list and Grixis Control placing in the Top 8 along with changes to Delver archetypes.

Merfolk made some interesting choices – main decking Waterfront Bouncer, Choking Tethers, and Chalice of the Void. It appears to to be a straight beatdown deck, playing four True-Name Nemesis and three Cavern of Souls in order to get the beats on. The sideboard included Ensnare and Back to Basics, cards I haven’t seen in a while in a Legacy Merfolk sideboard.

Grixis Control is playing Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Goblin Rabblemaster, Counterspell, and Dack Fayden along with a slew of one mana cost spells including Inquisition of Kozilek in order to control the early game. Mainly, the deck showcased that Tasigur and Rabblemaster are also Legacy playable apparently.

Delver decks now are splashing black for cards like Deathrite Shaman, Tombstalker, Cabal Therapy, and Tasigur. One version did strictly stay UR and opted to play three Dig Through Time over two or fewer to get the maximum effect out of the Delve keyword alongside cards like Gitaxian Probe and other cheap spells. Delver is still alive and well as one of the top decks of Legacy.

Results Are In

Its interesting to analyze different metagames in order to expand your knowledge of what possibilities for deckbuilding are out there. Even though non-Japanese metagames may not mirror the results that appeared across the three tournaments I covered, there are still some interesting trends that should be noted so that they don’t surprise you later down the road. If you’re interested in any of the decks or strategies that did well in Japan then you will want to get in on cards that are cheap now and look for good deals on cards that are currently overpriced.


 

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Fate Reforged Clash Pack Review

By: Jared Yost

This week I would like to delve into the Fate Reforged clash pack to see if it is worth picking up in order to boost the value of your collection. I’ll look at both the MSRP versus retail value of the singles and then compare them to my opinions of what the future value of the cards will be after their rotation from Standard. I’ll also keep in mind that some of the cards from the decks are alternate art foil, which could reflect their future value.

For the alternate art foils, I am going to use the TCG Median price since MTGPrice does not yet track the value of specific clash pack foil versions of cards. I will note the special foils with an asterisk *.

Decklists:

POWER $$$ PROFIT $$$
1 Typhoid Rats 0.14 1 Baleful Eidolon 0.14
4 Satyr Wayfinder 0.64 1 Leafcrown Dryad 0.14
2 Necromancer’s Assistant 0.26 2 Brain Maggot 0.98
1 Herald of Torment 0.91 1 Nighthowler 0.46
1 Returned Centaur 0.13 1 Courser of Kruphix* 7.79
2 Sultai Soothsayer 0.48 1 Noble Quarry 0.19
2 Sultai Scavenger 0.30 2 Grim Guardian 0.42
1 Scuttling Doom Engine 1.48 2 Oakheart Dryads 0.30
1 Necropolis Fiend* 0.60 3 Nyx Weaver 1.68
1 Sultai Skullkeeper 0.13 1 Graverobber Spider 0.21
1 Merciless Executioner 0.28 1 Reaper of the Wilds* 0.83
1 Gurmag Angler 0.14 1 Eidolon of Blossoms 1.33
1 Doomwake Giant 1.93
1 Despise 0.32 1 Loathsome Catoblepas 0.13
2 Taigam’s Scheming 0.20 2 Nemesis of Mortals 0.44
1 Set Adrift 0.24
1 Treasure Cruise 0.49 3 Commune with the Gods 0.60
1 Dead Drop 0.24 1 Reviving Melody 0.24
1 Annul 0.13 2 Dark Betrayal 0.44
1 Naturalize 0.15 1 Plummet 0.13
2 Sultai Charm 0.78 1 Defend the Hearth 0.14
2 Murderous Cut 1.52 1 Whip of Erebos* 3.00
1 Hero’s Downfall* 7.42 1 Font of Fertility 0.22
1 Sultai Banner 0.15 2 Vineweft 0.26
1 Sultai Ascendancy* 0.72 1 Debilitating Injury 0.17
1 Neutralizing Blast 0.23 1 Nyx Infusion 0.15
1 Monastery Siege 1.70
2 Jungle Hollow 0.24
7 Swamp 0 12 Forest 0
5 Island 0 11 Swamp 0
5 Forest 0
4 Opulent Palace 1.88
2 Evolving Wilds 0.32
2 Dismal Backwater 0.28
Total $22.26 Total $22.56
Deck Total $44.82

The MSRP cost of the deck is $24.99, so picking up the clash pack seems like it offers you great value. However, the retail value of the singles versus the MSRP of the deck doesn’t necessarily mean its a great pickup. Let’s take a look at the more expensive pieces of the decks to see where the best value lies and if the the card is in a position to maintain value moving forward. Then, once all the information is laid out, we’ll have a better idea about the clash pack value.

Threats

Courser of Kruphix

Courser of Kruphix is a popular in card in both Standard and Modern, and this event deck offers an alternate art version of the card. I think that Courser has a very good chance of maintaining a stable price through rotation. I don’t think the card goes below $5 because of its eternal playability applications. The alternate art version will be even more desirable in the future if it stays a Modern, Legacy, or Commander staple.

Hero’s Downfall

I think that Downfall has some room to drop after rotation. Even though this card is capable of killing planeswalkers at instant speed in addition to creatures, there is more efficient removal in eternal formats. The alternate art version will probably stay around the same price as the pack version in the future. After rotation, I’m predicting about a halving in value retail wise.

 

Whip of Erebos

Whip has a decent chance of maintaining $3 even through rotation due to Commander applications. It is a decent artifact for black Commander decks that gives them lifelink and recursion, all in one neat package. Even picking up singles of the clash pack Whip might be a good play for the future if you can get them for $2.50 or less.

Doomwake Giant

I’m not sure how Doomwake Giant goes above $2 any longer at this point. It was reprinted several times in its Standard life, so if you have any extra copies I would be looking to out them as the Standard season approaches May to June. This card isn’t very good in eternal formats so I would not look to pick up the event deck just to get Doomwake Giant on the cheap.

Opulent Palace (a full play set)

Opulent Palace is a good pickup if you can find them for $0.40 or less. The shards lands, before being reprinted in the Commander decks, used to go for $2-$3 at their highest point. Since then they’ve dropped to around $1.50 but that should still tell you something – even after three or so reprints the shard lands are still above $1. Picking any wedge lands you can get for $0.50 or cheaper seems like a fine play to me.

Monastery Siege

This card has room to drop, or possibly grow depending on what type of Standard play it sees. I haven’t seen it do much in Standard yet maybe next year it could have potential. Similar to Doomwake Giant, this probably isn’t going to do much outside of Standard.

 

Nyx Weaver

Not really a reason to pick up a clash pack – this card is pretty much just a casual, Standard-only playable card that is used to some effect in graveyard-based strategies though more so at FNM than at bigger events.

Murderous Cut

This card has the potential to be higher priced come next Standard season. It seems to be one of the premier removal spell from Khans block, so I will be watching it closely throughout the year for an uptick in play time.

Scuttling Doom Engine

Not really played in Standard, more a casual fan favorite than anything else. Still, if the card drops to $0.50 or lower after rotation I will probably be a buyer since it really only has nowhere to go but up from there on the back of casual demand. In terms of the clash pack, not a compelling reason to pick it up.

Eidolon of Blossoms

See my Doomwake Giant reasoning. I don’t really see it going anywhere unless a breakout deck happens after Dragons of Tarkir for some reason. Not a reason to pick up the clash pack.

Answers

Is There Value For You? Yes, there are other decent commons and uncomons in this clash pack like Sultai Charm, Brain Maggot, and Nemesis of Mortals, but let’s be honest with ourselves – we’re really only incentivized to pick this package up for the alternate art foils of the better cards in the deck.

The only alternate art foils in the deck that are worth a significant amount are Courser of Kruphix, Hero’s Downfall, and Whip of Erebos – hardly a compelling case to pick up the clash pack for future financial value. These three together are only $18.21, seven dollars below the MSRP price of the package. The alternate art, foil Whip of Erebos might have potential in the future, yet at $3 and less I would much rather trade for copies or buy in cash rather than picking up the clash pack.

This clash pack is targeted towards casual players, and I would say for them yes, this package is quite the deal compared to buying singles. You get plenty of good cards, like a playset of Opulent Palace, and you do get cards like Courser of Kruphix and Whip of Erebos that will hold most (if not all) of their value through the Standard rotation of Theros block.

It is also possible that other cards in the clash pack could be breakouts, however it is better to target those on a singles basis rather than through purchasing the package. I would also recommend against picking these up for long term sealed product gains, as there isn’t anything I find compelling that would make players want to buy this years down the road.

So all in all, the price is great compared to retail prices of singles, but if you’re already a serious Standard player you most likely already have all of these pieces and shouldn’t have a desire to pick one up. For the casual players out there, I say this is a great product for you – you get a ton of solid cards for about half the retail price. For those looking for specs from the package, I would say that the best spec target is the Whip of Erebos due to Commander (and possibly cube) demand.


 

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The Strange World of Collectible Tokens

By: Jared Yost

Magic sure has some strange collectible items. You know all those tokens you get from drafting? Yeah, the ones that you throw away? It wasn’t always like that. Tokens used to be few and far between in the earlier days of Magic. They only used to be given out as promotional items or at other rare events. The older tokens are still around and have turned into collectors items. I still remember the time when I thought “Tokens? Who needs these, dice can just represent everything…” My, have the times have changed.

Since Magic has increased so much in popularity over time, the prevalence of tokens has also increased since having the physical representation added another layer of depth to the game. We like to see tokens being used on camera matches, for example, because it is much easier to distinguish them between all the other types of counters that are used on other permanents. Due to the prevalent use of tokens, players are more inclined to pick them up for decks they use to better represent game states (especially since Wizards seems like to creating new types of counters, it only makes the use of tokens more important in games).

Since I’ve recently had a fascination with discovering these types of rarer tokens, today I would like to share with you some of my findings.

Token Rarity Theory

Unlike Magic’s past, you probably don’t throw away tokens you crack in packs. For example, planeswalker emblems are notoriously harder to find than other types of tokens. I’m not sure what the statistical distribution of emblems are compared to other token types but I believe they are probably the rarest type of token to crack in pack. To peak my curiosity, I did some research on token rarity and found this interesting theory which I’ll quote below:

I couldn’t find an official answer, but I can make an educated guess based on how cards are produced in general.

Cards are printed in big sheets and then cut out and randomized. These sheets are grouped by rarity. You print sheets based on the desired ratio of rarities in the final product, e.g. 1 rare sheet per 10 common sheets if the two sheets are of equal size.

Sometimes, more than one copy of a cards is on each sheet. For instance, early sets, particularly the small sets which tried to simulate three rarity levels with only two print sheets, had multiple copies of some cards — this is why Camel is listed as “Common 5” in some collector guides, or why Knights of Thorn is an “Uncommon 1” (functionally a rare for The Dark). For a more modern example, consider mythic rares: mythics don’t get their own sheet; instead the rares sheet has two copies of every vanilla rare and one of each mythic.

This is undoubtably how the ads and tokens sheet is arranged as well: all of the ad and token cards are printed on one sheet, but there are multiple copies of the “common” tokens and few copies of the “rare” ones. For example, a whole sheet of around a hundred M13 ads and tokens might contain twenty goblins and only one Liliana emblem. The exact mix of cards is likely to vary from set to set, but you can get a good idea of the rarity of “rare” tokens if you know the overall sheet size.

The theory made a lot of sense to me. This would explain why its good to sock away all those Monastery Mentor tokens – they’re basically Young Pyromancer tokens yet even rarer since Mentor is a mythic and people will need lots of the tokens for decks that play him. Mentor tokens are close to $0.80 retail per token, which should come down once more Fate Reforged is released, but if Mentor becomes a powerhouse over the next Standard cycle you can bet that tokens will be in high demand. Look at how much Hornet Queen tokens go for right now – close to $2.50 per token!! That’s a lot for a card that isn’t even a card.

Higher Priced Tokens

Alright, let’s break down some of the more expensive tokens and see why they’re so high.

Soldier Token (League)

soldiertoken

Price – $15 Median (Only two sellers selling on TCGPlayer as of the time writing this article)

Alright, so the first thing that popped out to me is that the token is from Theros, a current Standard set. I was not expecting the most valuable token on TCGPlayer to be this card. In truth, it isn’t – the Marit Lage token is worth more and I will get to that later. But still, a Theros token is worth $15? Why?!

Some of the comments on TCGPlayer help to explain the price. According to commentators, the price is set so high because they were promos given out to players who participated in something called “Gateway to Core” events right after Theros was released. Apparently, the events weren’t very popular, because even though every person that participated in them got a promo they are still really expensive for a token card.

The takeaway here is that if you want the pimped soldier token out there, this token would be it.

Marit Lage Token

marittoken

Price – $18 Median (forty-eight copies listed at this median price – which means the token is actually popular and with a demand-based market price)

The reason that this token is so rare is because it was the Release Event Card (card being used very loosely here) at Coldsnap release events hosted at local game stores. Anybody ever been to one of those? I think not.

For the Legacy players amongst us, the Lands deck uses Dark Depths as the win condition. The token goes along with this land. What may not be obvious in the picture is that the token is foil – that’s right folks, the Marit Lage tokens are pretty much the only “easily” obtainable foil tokens around! Which is another reason why it is so collectable. So we have aesthetics and utility combined in this token to give it the current price.

As the most usable pimp token, I don’t see Wizards ever releasing this token in the same fashion ever again. Is $18 too high for a token? Yes. However, for a collectable item such as this, that $18 could easily double or more a few years down the road. Thanks Thespian’s Stage!

Squirrel Token (Odyssey)

squirreltoken

Price – $13.50 Median (with six prices listed)

Similar to the Theros Soldier token, the Odyssey Squirrel token is worth so much simply because it is hard to find (being a Player Rewards promo and us as players no longer receiving player rewards). A token that I’m sure is close to Maro’s heart, the Squirrel token is a casual favorite because Squirrels as a tribe is both hilarious and somewhat powerful even though it hasn’t gotten any recent support outside of a reprint of Squirrel’s Nest in Conspiracy. For example, the age old Earthcraft combo I’m sure comes to mind, and in addition these squirrels and squirrel related cards all can utilize the token:

  • Acorn Catapult
  • Acorn Harvest
  • Chatter of the Squirrel
  • Deranged Hermit
  • Druid’s Call
  • Liege of the Hollows
  • Nut Collector
  • Squirrel Wrangler

Not that any of these cards are going to spike any time soon, since Squirrels is one of the  most casual of casual tribes, however it looks like Earthcraft has been steadily increasing in price over the last two years. It wouldn’t surprise me if a rare card from one of these older sets like Squirrel Wrangler or Nut Collector also starts steadily going up.

Lastly, I believe the token’s artwork and layout make it unique among existing tokens since Wizards took the token art direction in another way since the beginning days of token design.

Spirit Token (Planeshift)

spirittoken

Price – $8 Median (with six prices listed)

There are plenty of cards that make 1/1 White Flying tokens, with the most notable being Lingering Souls and Spectral Procession. Similar to the Squirrel token, I believe the reason this token is so high is due to the rarity of player rewards tokens. The artwork on this token is also very unique amongst spirit tokens, another reason to value it higher than spirit tokens from other sets that are 1/1 white flyers.

 Elf Warrior Token (DD: Elves vs Goblins)

elftoken

Price – $7 Median (with four prices listed)

OK, there is no good reason why this Elf Warrior token is so high. The Lorwyn version, featuring the exact same art (with the only difference being the set symbol) is only $0.36. Clearly the price is artificially inflated due to the low print run of the duel decks.

 Elemental Token (M14 with Winona Nelson artwork)

elementaltoken

Price – $2.40 Median (with two prices listed)

Strangely, this Young Pyromancer token was also printed in M14 along with another type of token that is only worth a fraction of the price. Only two sellers have it listed, so the price is either inflated due to this or the token is actually worth that much because players buy it out when it goes lower than $2.40.

It is a pretty cool looking token, I’ll give you that. Just not sure if it is $2.40 worth it unless you really need to see this artwork with your Young Pyromancers.

Saproling Token (Invasion)
Sliver Token (Legions)
Soldier Token (Onslaught)
Spirit Token (Champions)

varioustokens

Price – $4 to $8 Median (there are significantly more Sliver tokens on the market than Saprolings, Soldiers, and Spirits)

I would say all the above tokens are collectors items, with the most notable being the Sliver token and colorless Spirit with no abilities (which is produced from Forbidden Orchard). The Sliver tokens have seen a resurgence in popularity due to Sliver Hive, but also the longstanding popularity of Sliver Queen and her token making ability can’t be understated.

All four of these tokens have the unique players rewards artwork and should be watched for future growth as time moves on. All the tokens are produced by cards that are used in casual, commander, or competitive formats and will be collector’s items since they are hardly ever seen.

That’s All – For Now

I hope you’ve enjoyed my brief foray into expensive tokens. Surprisingly, there were both current and older tokens on the list. I wanted to highlight that the next time you’re thinking about throwing away that Wingmate Roc token you just opened or an emblem that you know will never go off (at least not competitively) that there is someone out there who is willing to pay at least a few cents for it – and if it’s popular enough significantly more than that.


 

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