To the Future! And Beyond!

Cliff Daigle • August 28, 2023

We’ve got the schedule, and it’s time to make some plans about what to keep and what to go ahead and get rid of. Let’s go over what we know, and what we can infer. The big sets, the Standard releases all have neat concepts but who knows what’ll be in those. We’ve got no leaks and no foreknowledge of serialized cards, special sets, or Secret Lairs.

What we do know allows us to make some near-term and long-term decisions for maximizing value, though.

Let's start with the first three quarters of 2024:

Ravnica Remastered leads us off, with the confirmed retro frame version of shocklands with the original Rob Alexander art.

Arclight Phoenix, with the neat gravestone in the upper corner, that’s a neat graphical throwback that Magic boomers can appreciate.

However, it needs to be said that while the foil retro shocks are going to carry a big price, the nonfoils probably won't. This is presumably another batch of modern frame shocklands to help keep most of them in the $10-$15 price range for the basic versions. We can’t overlook just how many times they have given us shocks, including the three Ravnica blocks. Here’s the current pricing on Steam Vents, and you get to pick the version you want:

We’ve had Expeditions, Secret Lair, and Unfinity versions of the shocklands, and now we get to add Retro in there. I doubt the nonfoil Retro versions will be as cheap at the GRN versions, but I’d also expect some non-premium modern frame version that will compete with the current $14 price point. Adding the five shocklands to the rare slot helps juice the EV of the set, even though that EV will drop like a rock.

Ravnica block cards, and the reprints, shouldn’t be considered safe. Did we just get Doubling Season in Commander Masters, and then again in the Enchanting Tales? We did, but given the apparent lack of reprint coordination in the Tales (who decided that green gets Doubling Season, Parallel Lives, AND Primal Vigor?) I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a third printing in the span of a few months. Same for Smothering Tithe.

Remember that for a set to be a success from Wizards’ standpoint, packs need to sell. It’s not about how much the cards in the pack are worth on the secondary market, though that plays into it. They are attempting (with some successes and some failures) to manage the reprints so that it’s worth it to buy and open packs.

The problem is, the three Ravnica blocks don’t have many never-reprinted cards that have stayed expensive. For this reprint set, I checked for two conditions: only the original printing and a value currently at $10 or above. I found one card per block that met those conditions: Crime // Punishment from original Ravnica block, Lord of the Void from Return to Ravnica block, and then the buy-a-box exclusive Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge from the newest set of three. Everything else is either too cheap or has had additional printings which kept them cheap.

Granted, many of those additional printings were inclusions on The List, or a reprint in a Commander deck, or a Secret Lair card, but that’s kept the prices lower. I’d fully expect a new printing of Liliana, Dreadhorde General, so sell your regular copies, though a new printing won’t do much to the price of the alternate-art Amano versions.

Everything else from those blocks have been reprinted or is under $10, and even if there’s been no reprints, expect the cards to get VERY cheap in their most basic versions and potentially expensive on the most premium ones. Guardian Project is the one that comes to mind to be patient on, as we’ll have a chance to get in quite cheaply.

In early 2024 we’re going to be given a set of Commander decks like the Warhammer 40k release, this time themed on the Fallout series. There’s a lot of factions and lore in that set of games, and I’m excited to see what new legends we’ll get to build around. I fully expect the same mix of nonfoil and premium decks that we got with 40k, though if they went away from the Surge foiling I wouldn’t be shocked. There’s a lot of cool-but-bit-too-dangerous foiling names we could do, which would be on theme but make people nervous: irradiated foils, Uranium foils, Nuclear foils, Rad-X foils, etc. I love those games and this should be a fun crossover.

At the end of the second quarter, so around the beginning of summer, we’re going to get Modern Horizons 3, and presumably, the big reprinting of the allied fetchlands to match the enemy colored ones from MH2. This means if you have any of those fetchlands, especially the more basic versions, I’d get rid of those before the official announcement comes. We’ve seen Scalding Tarn and its colleagues fall to their lowest prices in a decade:

Tarn was about $75 when MH2 was first released, and fell more than $50 in the two-plus years since. Wizards was constantly pumping MH2 product out into the marketplace for first two years or so, and so these never regrew in price. It’s possible they might start growing soon, but there’s been so many copies added to the market that I’m hesitant. Once the prices start trending upwards, then I might think about buying in.

The key art for Modern Horizons 3 shows the three Eldrazi titans on a world with hedrons, and given how Zhulodok, Void Gorger has made Eldrazi cards fashionable and expensive, another set of Eldrazi might really make things shoot for the stars. I wouldn’t speculate yet if we’d get new titans or another round with the current set of six, one of whom is Commander-banned.

Most of MH2 is quite inexpensive, with the exception of Ragavan and the five pitch Elementals, all of whom seem like safe bets for a reprint in this set. Esper Sentinel and Dauthi Voidwalker, both rares, are also strong candidates for reprints in this third set of reprints and new cards. Keep what you’re using, but I’d sell the rest.

We also were told that early 2025 will have Innistrad Remastered, and frankly, this might be the last Remastered set because the value just isn’t there. The only big-name card who could help anchor a higher price point is Emrakul, the Promised End. There’s cards who currently have value despite more than one reprint, but for 60 rares and 20 mythics (that’s what Dominaria Remastered had) we’ll be seeing some very high variance. Keep in mind that Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow have both already had a reprint set in Double Feature, which was an experiment that utterly failed.

The rest of the released 2025 schedule doesn’t have much we can use, besides a return to Tarkir, and presumably some Dragon goodies, and also a return to Lorwyn set that year. We’re also told that 2026 will have a second visit to Strixhaven, so get your Lesson and Learn cards ready.

As we get more specifics about new sets, we can make better decisions, but knowing that Ravnica Remastered and then Modern Horizons 3 are coming in the first half of 2024 is the most immediately relevant news, helping us gauge reprint risks.