Ultimate Masters has now been released, but how has it affected the Magic ecosystem? Today we’re going to dive into the winners and losers and explain why it all shook out the way it did. There is still some residual increases from the set spoiler release and the highest demand cards continue to soak up most of the box prices. If you’re looking to buy in I’ll give you a list of what you don’t need to wait for.
The biggest non-UMA winners have to be Manamorphose and Surgical Extraction. Both cards avoided reprint in the set and had a good number of related cards reprinted. Manamorphose is often played in Grishoalbrand and Storm and both decks had some cards reprinted in this set. I would find it unlikely to be reprinted in the Gruul Guild Kit because the card was not printed in a Ravnica set (it’s original printing was in Shadowmoor). I don’t foresee this being an incredibly easy or important card to reprint but I also don’t see the ceiling being much higher than this. If you need them for a deck, now is probably the best time to buy them before next year. If you have copies you don’t need, this is also probably a reasonable time to sell. Surgical Extraction is a phyrexian mana spell that is also pretty difficult to reprint because it’s not something you want to put in casual focused pre-constructed decks. I can’t imagine that Wizards wants to dump a Surgical Extraction into a Commander deck but they could print something more flexible like Cavern of Souls. With the surge of graveyard reprints and another reprint of Snapcaster Mage (one of the most commons cards you want to play in tandem with Surgical Extraction) I am not surprised it spiked. At $40 it seems like a tough pill to swallow for a sideboard card but it is similarly priced to other powerful graveyard hate cards. Leyline of the Void is about $45 and also requires no colored mana commitment. I don’t see a world where this gets a lot cheaper without a ban in Modern or a new product announcement.
In the Ultimate Masters front, the staples have bottomed out and started to track up. Over the weekend Liliana of the Veil, Karn Liberated, Snapcaster Mage, Engineered Explosives, Noble Hierarch, Celestial Colonnade, Tarmogoyf, and Ancient Tomb have all bottomed out over the weekend and are beginning to climb. We talked about it on the last Cartel Aristocrats, but this was expected. Prices usually decline in anticipation of reprints and then over the weekend of release a lot of players try to quickly liquidate their box opening. This caused a crash to the bottom where eager players were ready to buy back in. If you need any of these for any of your decks then there is no time like the present to get in. The box EV is beginning to take shape around the higher demand rares and mythics and the less in demand cards continue to see drops. Cards like Back to Basics, Demonic Tutor, Phyrexian Tower, Phyrexian Altar, Flagstones of Trokair, Through the Breach, Goryo's Vengeance, etc will continue to see drops.
If you’re thinking about getting into some of the less desirable but previously hard to find cards then I think you can continue to wait. Runed Halo can be found for $5, Fauna Shaman is $4, and there are a whole host of sub $3 cards like Raging Ravine, Eternal Witness, Daybreak Coronet, Flagstones of Trokair, Kitchen Finks, Woodfall Primus, Lava Spike, Sublime Archangel, Sleight of Hand, Chainer's Edict, Laboratory Maniac, Devoted Druid, Faithless Looting, and Desperate Ritual but I think those are buys. Anything $3 or less there is almost no risk in buying in but a ton of risk with waiting. The card could break out in a tournament and triple up overnight. The cheapest things in the set are the easiest to buy safely.
Box toppers continue to be all over the place. The amount of product released has exceeded my expectations and the number of toppers continues to grow which puts real pressure on the performance of the top cards. Unfortunately it looks like very quickly these Masters boxes are devolving into the same as the previous ones. Card values continue to decrease and the winning and losing boxes seem to be divided by which mythics and toppers are contained within. The desirability of the least desirable box toppers is pretty significant which leads to the current divide of $208 between the most expensive topper (Liliana of the Veil) and the least expensive topper (Lavaclaw Reaches). I don’t think there will be a lot of chances of this gap to close in the future. I’ll take another in-depth look at the box toppers another time when we have more data.
Did any of you open any Ultimate Masters product? Are you purchasing singles? Did this help you any? Please leave a comment below and if you have a question don’t forget to leave it on the Cartel Aristocrats page - we answer them on the cast!