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Mythic Rares and Fungibility

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Ever since Mark Rosewater first announced the creation of the mythic rare over two years ago, forums have been filled with complaints about the secondary market value of cards like Baneslayer Angel, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Primeval Titan, and the like. There is a widespread perception among the competitive Magic community that the introduction of the mythic rarity has "been bad for the game," in that the cost and potential price volatility of these cards pushes players out of competitive Magic, in particular Standard, due to a lack of access to the cards needed to play a competitive deck.

Opponents of mythics tend to be quite vociferous in forums on the subject—see, for example, forums here and here—and tend to base their arguments on the assumption that mythics have made competitive Standard constructed decks more expensive. In what follows, I seek to explain how this argument is flawed, and then to outline what I perceive to be the true problem of the mythic rarity: trade fungibility and Diminishing Returns.

The Myth: Mythic Rares Make Standard Decks More Expensive

This is almost certainly the most widely perceived problem with the mythic rarity. The basic argument is that, since the in-demand chase cards tend to be mythic rares, they tend to carry exorbitant price tags. Furthermore, the demand for these cards is driven by their tournament viability, so every major tournament deck will rely on at least one staple mythic, with some more expensive control decks relying on multiples. Pre-Worldwake, the main culprit here was Baneslayer Angel, who clocked in at $50; now her place has been taken by the $90 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, as well as the $40 Primeval Titan.

At first glance, this argument seems perfectly reasonable—and, as I will argue later, it does have some merit (just not in the way most people argue the point). However, as a strict numbers argument, it fails. The core problem with the argument is that it looks only at the mythic rares like Jace, while ignoring normal rares like Mimic Vat, Day of Judgment, or Creeping Tar Pit. Formal statisticians and economists call this problem "selection bias"—in that the selection of cards for the survey is biased toward a desired conclusion. This point has been made since mythic rarity was announced, principally by Ben Bleiweiss. For example, see this article for Bleiweiss's projections of what the value of Lorwyn would have been, even if all the most expensive rares in the set had been mythic rares. Bleiweiss comes to the conclusion that purchasing a complete set of Lorwyn, one single at a time, would have been less than 2 percent more expensive if the set included mythic rares—hardly a backbreaking number!*

"But Sean," you complain, "no typical Magic player wants to buy a whole set; they just want to buy a deck! The decks are chock-full of mythics. No one cares about all the normal cards!"

Fair enough. Bleiweiss's analysis is arguably missing the point, in that what we really care about are tournament-playable cards, not just any old card. Plus, we want to be able to afford any deck in Standard so that we can continue to compete at the highest level. So, allow me to present a modified comparison, tailored to assess the actual price of a highly competitive tournament deck. In what follows, I present a heads-up comparison of four different deck pairs. Each pairing is of decks that are of roughly the same price "position" in their format—that is, there are two expensive decks, followed by gradually less expensive deck pairings. Each comparison is between an older, pre-mythic-rarity deck, and a Standard deck from either Shards/Zen or Zen/Scars Standard. The intent of these comparisons is to indicate that the price of the current Standard environment is broadly reflective of historical pricing trends. The vast majority of pricing information is taken from historical pricing charts at www.findmagiccards.com.** While there may be some error from estimating values from a line graph, such error should be minimal.

Comparison #1: Faeries vs. U/B Control

Faeries:

Creatures:

4 Mistbind Clique @ 6.00 = $24.00

4 Scion of Oona @ 10.00 = $40.00

4 Spellstutter Sprite @ 0.50 = $2.00

3 Vendilion Clique @ 6.00 = $18.00

Spells:

4 Cryptic Command @ 22.50 = $90.00

4 Rune Snag @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Terror @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Ancestral Vision @ 4.00 = $12.00

4 Bitterblossom @ 20.00 = $80.00

Lands:

4 Island @ 0.00 = $0.00

2 Faerie Conclave @ 1.50 = $3.00

4 Mutavault @ 25.00 = $100.00

3 River of Tears @ 7.00 = $21.00

4 Secluded Glen @ 8.00 = $32.00

2 Sunken Ruins @ 5.00 = $10.00

4 Underground River @ 3.00 = $12.00

2 Pendelhaven @ 2.00 = $4.00

Sideboard:

3 Bottle Gnomes @ 1.00 = $3.00

3 Razormane Masticore @ 1.00 = $3.00

2 Murderous Redcap @ 1.50 = $3.00

3 Damnation @ 20.00 = $60.00

4 Thoughtseize @ 22.50 = $90.00

Total Price of Deck: $611.00

U/B Control:

Creatures:

3 Frost Titan @ 16.00 = $48.00

3 Trinket Mage @ 0.50 = $1.50

Spells:

4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor @ 100.00 = $400.00

2 Jace Beleren @ 10.00 = $20.00

4 Preordain @ 1.00 = $4.00

1 Elixir of Immortality @ 0.50 = $0.50

1 Brittle Effigy @ 3.50 = $3.50

1 Consume the Meek @ 4.00 = $4.00

1 Consuming Vapors @ 4.00 = $4.00

4 Doom Blade @ 0.50 = $2.00

2 Everflowing Chalice @ 2.00 = $4.00

2 Into the Roil @ 0.25 = $0.50

4 Mana Leak @ 1.00 = $4.00

1 Negate @ 0.25 = $0.25

1 Stoic Rebuttal @ 0.25 = $0.25

1 Memoricide @ 3.50 = $3.50

Lands:

4 Creeping Tar Pit @ 7.00 = $28.00

2 Darkslick Shores @ 5.00 = $10.00

4 Drowned Catacomb @ 3.00 = $12.00

2 Misty Rainforest @ 12.00 = $24.00

1 Verdant Catacombs @ 12.00 = $12.00

3 Tectonic Edge @ 2.50 = $7.50

6 Island @ 0.00 = $0.00

3 Swamp @ 0.00 = $0.00

Sideboard:

4 Disfigure @ 0.25 = $1.00

1 Dispel @ 0.25 = $0.25

2 Flashfreeze @ 0.50 = $1.00

1 Jace Beleren @ 10.00 = $10.00

2 Memoricide @ 3.50 = $7.00

2 Negate @ 0.25 = $0.50

1 Nihil Spellbomb @ 0.25 = $0.25

2 Spell Pierce @ 0.50 = $1.00

Total Price of Deck: $614.25

Looking at this comparison, we can see that controlling blue decks—typically the most expensive decks in Standard—tend to cost around $600. However, it is worth noting that the primary expense in purchasing U/B is the purchase of one play set of one card. Four copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor account for $400 of the $614.25 cost of the deck, or 65 percent of the overall cost. To reach a similar percentage of Faeries, you would need to buy Bitterblossom, Mutavault, Cryptic Command, Scion of Oona, and Thoughtseize (400 / 611 = 65 percent). So, while the price of U/B Control is similar to that of Faeries, it is fair to suggest that U/B Control's value is driven almost entirely by the value of one chase mythic, whereas the value of Faeries is driven by a larger number of chase rares.

Let's see if this pattern continues for other decks.

Comparison #2: Eldrazi Green vs. Ghazi Glare

Eldrazi Green

Creatures:

4 Joraga Treespeaker @ 1.50 = $6.00

4 Overgrown Battlement @ 0.25 = $1.00

4 Primeval Titan @ 42.50 = $170.00

2 Wurmcoil Engine @ 10.00 = $20.00

1 Terastodon @ 1.50 = $1.50

1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn @ 6.00 = $6.00

2 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre @ 12.00 = $24.00

Spells:

4 Summoning Trap @ 5.00 = $20.00

4 Cultivate @ 1.00 = $4.00

2 Explore @ 0.50 = $1.00

2 All is Dust @ 13.00 = $26.00

4 Everflowing Chalice @ 2.00 = $8.00

Lands:

12 Forest @ 0.00 = $0.00

4 Eldrazi Temple @ 4.00 = $16.00

4 Khalni Garden @ 0.25 = $1.00

1 Mystifying Maze @ 2.00 = $2.00

3 Tectonic Edge @ 2.50 = $7.50

2 Eye of Ugin @ 3.00 = $6.00

Sideboard:

2 Brittle Effigy @ 3.50 = $7.00

1 Wurmcoil Engine @ 10.00 = $10.00

2 Gaea's Revenge @ 6.00 = $12.00

4 Obstinate Baloth @ 4.00 = $16.00

2 Terastodon @ 1.50 = $3.00

3 Nature's Claim @ 0.50 = $1.50

1 All is Dust @ 13.00 = $13.00

Total Price of Deck: $382.50

Ghazi Glare

Creatures:

4 Llanowar Elves @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Loxodon Hierarch @ 9.00 = $36.00

4 Selesnya Guildmage @ 0.50 = $2.00

1 Viridian Shaman @ 0.50 = $0.50

4 Wood Elves @ 0.50 = $2.00

3 Arashi, the Sky Asunder @ 7.00 = $21.00

3 Kodama of the North Tree @ 7.00 = $21.00

3 Yosei, the Morning Star @ 11.00 = $33.00

Spells:

3 Glare of Subdual @ 4.50 = $13.50

2 Congregation at Dawn @ 0.50 = $1.00

2 Naturalize @ 0.50 = $1.00

1 Seed Spark @ 0.50 = $0.50

3 Umezawa's Jitte @ 23.00 = $69.00

Lands:

6 Forest @ 0.00 = $0.00

4 Brushland @ 6.00 = $24.00

4 Selesnya Sanctuary @ 0.50 = $1.00

4 Temple Garden @ 16.00 = $64.00

2 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree @ 0.50 = $0.50

1 Eiganjo Castle @ 1.00 = $1.00

1 Miren, the Moaning Well @ 4.50 = $4.50

1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers @ 1.00 = $1.00

Sideboard:

1 Pithing Needle @ 23.00 = $23.00***

2 Carven Caryatid @ 1.00 = $1.00

1 Seedborn Muse @ 4.00 = $4.00

3 Faith's Fetters @ 0.50 = $0.50

3 Greater Good @ 9.00 = $27.00

1 Naturalize @ 0.50 = $0.50

2 Reciprocate @ 0.50 = $1.00

1 Hokori, Dust Drinker @ 6.00 = $6.00

1 Yosei, the Morning Star @ 11.00 = $11.00

Total Price of Deck: $372.50

To a lesser extent, it appears that the comparison of Ghazi Glare and Eldrazi Green mirrors the comparison between Faeries and U/B Control. A play set of Primeval Titans is worth $170 of the total $382.50 cost of Eldrazi Green, or 44 percent of the value of the deck. To reach a similar percentage for Ghazi Glare, you would need to purchase 3 Umezawa's Jitte, 4 Temple Garden, and 4 Loxodon Hierarch (169 / 372.50 = 45 percent). Nevertheless, it is again worth noting that a "mid-range" deck (as far as price point is concerned) is a $350 to $400 deck, whether in a pre-mythic or post-mythic format.

The following two comparisons involve decks that do not use mythic rares. Let's see how deck price points stack up, absent mythic rares.

Comparison #3: Boros vs. Ravnica Zoo

Boros

Creatures:

4 Goblin Guide @ 10.00 = $40.00

4 Steppe Lynx @ 0.25 = $1.00

3 Spikeshot Elder @ 2.50 = $7.50

4 Plated Geopede @ 0.25 = $1.00

4 Kor Skyfisher @ 0.25 = $1.00

3 Stoneforge Mystic @ 12.00 = $36.00

Spells:

2 Adventuring Gear @ 0.25 = $0.50

1 Basilisk Collar @ 5.00 = $5.00

1 Sword of Body and Mind @ 11.00 = $11.00

3 Journey to Nowhere @ 0.50 = $1.50

3 Burst Lightning @ 0.25 = $0.75

4 Lightning Bolt @ 1.00 = $4.00

Lands:

6 Mountain @ 0.00

4 Plains @ 0.00

4 Arid Mesa @ 12.00 = $48.00

4 Scalding Tarn @ 13.00 = $52.00

4 Marsh Flats @ 10.00 = $40.00

2 Evolving Wilds @ 0.50 = $1.00

Sideboard:

1 Basilisk Collar @ 5.00 = $5.00

4 Cunning Sparkmage @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Kor Firewalker @ 0.50 = $2.00

3 Arc Trail @ 0.50 = $1.50

3 Mark of Mutiny @ 0.50 = $1.50

Total Price of Deck: $261.75

Ravnica Zoo

Creatures:

4 Frenzied Goblin @ 0.50 = $2.00

2 Isamaru, Hound of Konda @ 8.50 = $17.00

4 Kird Ape @ 2.50 = $10.00

4 Savannah Lions @ 6.00 = $24.00

4 Watchwolf @ 1.25 = $5.00

2 Scab-Clan Mauler @ 0.50 = $1.00

Spells:

4 Char @ 8.00 = $32.00

4 Flames of the Blood Hand @ 4.00 = $16.00

4 Lightning Helix @ 2.00 = $8.00

4 Shock @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Volcanic Hammer @ 0.50 = $2.00

Lands:

4 Battlefield Forge @ 7.00 = $28.00

1 Brushland @ 6.00 = $6.00

2 Karplusan Forest @ 7.00 = $14.00

4 Sacred Foundry @ 13.00 = $52.00

4 Stomping Ground @ 15.00 = $60.00

4 Temple Garden @ 16.00 = $64.00

1 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree @ 0.50 = $0.50

Sideboard:

2 Golgari Grave-Troll @ 2.00 = $2.00

2 Kami of Ancient Law @ 0.50 = $1.00

1 Leave No Trace @ 0.50 = $0.50

4 Loxodon Hierarch @ 9.00 = $36.00

1 Otherworldly Journey @ 0.50 = $0.50

1 Rathi Dragon @ 3.00 = $3.00

2 Umezawa's Jitte @ 22.00 = $44.00

2 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree @ 0.50 = $1.00

Total Price of Deck: $431.50

This comparison is between two aggressive decks that use expensive lands—fetch lands in the case of Boros, Ravnica duals for Zoo. The price of their creatures is approximately the same (roughly $60 each), and Zoo's spells are moderately more expensive (mostly because of Char), but not exorbitantly. The real difference is in the lands. If we compare just the 12 fetch lands to the 12 Ravnica duals (ignoring pain lands, which add an additional cost), the cost of Zoo's land base is $176 as opposed to $140 for Boros. The fetch lands, on average, are 20 percent less expensive than the Ravnica dual lands. It is also worth noting here that fetch lands during Odyssey block were actually more expensive than dual lands in Ravnica block (for example, Flooded Strand and Polluted Delta ran between $20 to $25 while they were in Standard), so the difference is likely even larger.

A similar comparison could be made between pain lands and M10 dual lands—both Standard mana-fixing that have been reprinted. For example, Karpulsan Forest is $7, while Rootbound Crag is $3. Thus, while it could be argued that Ravnica Zoo uses more rares than Boros does, even if Boros were somehow a tricolor deck with similar fixing, we can see that it would continue to be less expensive.

Comparison #4: Pyromancer Ascension vs. Ravager Affinity

Pyromancer Ascension

Spells:

4 Pyromancer Ascension @ 2.50 = $10.00

4 Spreading Seas @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Lightning Bolt @ 1.00 = $4.00

4 Mana Leak @ 1.00 = $4.00

3 Call to Mind @ 0.25 = $0.75

3 Foresee @ 0.25 = $0.75

4 Ponder @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Preordain @ 1.00 = $4.00

4 See Beyond @ 0.25 = $1.00

4 Time Warp @ 7.00 = $28.00

Lands:

11 Island @ 0.00 = $0.00

7 Mountain @ 0.00 = $0.00

4 Scalding Tarn @ 13.00 = $52.00

Sideboard:

1 Echo Mage @ 2.00 = $2.00

4 Burst Lightning @ 0.25 = $1.00

3 Into the Roil @ 0.25 = $0.75

3 Jace Beleren @ 10.00 = $30.00

4 Negate @ 0.25 = $1.00

Total Price of Deck: $143.25

Ravager Affinity

Creatures:

4 Disciple of the Vault @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Arcbound Worker @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Arcbound Ravager @ 22.00 = $88.00

4 Ornithopter @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Frogmite @ 0.50 = $2.00

2 Myr Enforcer @ 0.50 = $1.00

Spells:

4 Skullclamp @ 4.00 = $16.00

4 Thoughtcast @ 0.50 = $2.00

3 Chromatic Sphere @ 0.50 = $1.50

3 Shrapnel Blast @ 2.00 = $6.00

2 Welding Jar @ 0.50 = $1.00

2 Cranial Plating @ 0.50 = $1.00

Land:

4 Vault of Whispers @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Seat of Synod @ 0.50 = $2.00

4 Great Furnace @ 0.50 = $2.00

3 Glimmervoid @ 10.00 = $30.00

2 Blinkmoth Nexus @ 8.00 = $16.00

3 Darksteel Citadel @ 0.50 = $1.50

Sideboard:

3 Furnace Dragon @ 4.00 = $12.00

3 Pyrostatic Pillar @ 0.50 = $1.50

3 Mana Leak @ 1.00 = $3.00

2 Shatter @ 0.50 = $1.00

4 Pyroclasm @ 2.00 = $8.00

Total Price of Deck: $203.50

This final comparison is between two decks that were tournament-competitive (or, in the case of Affinity, dominant), but were also budget options. Ravager Affinity is more expensive because of its sheer format-dominance driving up demand for Arcbound Ravagers, but both are budget options at a highly competitive level. While budget options do not always exist, it is worth noting that when they do, they are still similarly priced today (if not cheaper, due to the increased supply of normal rares) to how they were priced in the past.

So far, I've shown comparisons of four different pairs of competitive Standard decks, each filling a distinct role and price point within a Standard format. In general, it is clear that Standard typically has decks costing anywhere from $150 to $600, and that these price points have remained largely unchanged, despite the introduction of the mythic rare. The reason for the relative similarity of prices is easy to see: Although "chase" mythic rares are more expensive than nearly any card in previous Standard seasons (excepting Tarmogoyf), the vast majority of "normal" rares, in particular dual lands and similar mana-fixing, are substantially less expensive.

Broader Economic Context: Inflation and Purchasing Power

Before moving on to what I think the real problem with mythic rares is, I'd like to touch on a couple related points regarding the overall price of a Standard deck. Judging from the data above, it looks like most Standard decks have remained at a roughly constant nominal price—that is, the control deck you would have paid $600 for during Odyssey block still costs you $600 today, despite the existence of the mythic rare. However, this data doesn't account for either inflation or the purchasing power of U.S. households (in particular Magic players' households). The picture here is a little more complicated.

As one might expect, if we look just at inflation over the past decade, we find that, since the nominal price of Magic decks has remained roughly constant, the "real price" of Magic decks has actually decreased. If we adjust for inflation from 1999 to 2009, we find that $100 in 1999 would be worth $131 today. Thus, a $600 deck from that era would cost $786 today. If we only go back to 2006, the increase is only about 6.5 percent, but the $600 deck would still be worth $639. Again, we would find that, since the nominal price of our decks has remained constant, the real price of the decks has actually gone down.

It is an incontrovertible fact that the price of Magic decks has remained stable or decreased in real terms. Nevertheless, the blogosphere and local FNMs are inundated with complaints about the cost of Magic, and many players cannot seem to afford the cards they need to compete at a high level. There must be some truth to the idea that Magic, or at least constructed Magic, is harder to afford. Why might that be? There are two potential explanations.

The first explanation relates to the economic context of most Magic players—in other words, college students and young professionals. Despite the fact that Magic, as a hobby, has declined in price, the fact remains that other expenses college students face—in particular tuition and gasoline—have dramatically increased in price. According to the College Board, tuition has increased at three times the normal rate of inflation. This means that in-school and recently graduated students today must spend a larger portion of their income on tuition/loan payments than they did in the past. Similarly, over the past ten years, average gas prices have increased by 130 percent (according to the Department of Energy), also far above the rate of inflation. As we have all noticed, that $20 tank of gas from 2000 is now a $45 to $50 tank of gas. Transportation, like tuition, is another of the largest expenditures college students face.

All of the above means that Magic players, in general, have substantially less discretionary income now than they had in the past. Consequently, it appears to those players that they are able to afford fewer and fewer cards. Coupled with the fact that chase mythics actually are more expensive than chase rares, it's no wonder that mythics have been blamed for the increased cost.

Nevertheless, this is not to suggest that mythics don't bear part of the blame. They do, just not in the way most people assume. The real problem is not the cash price of the cards, but rather the fact that mythic rares make it harder to acquire the cards you need through trade.

The Real Problem: Fungibility and Diminishing Returns

The simple fact of the matter is that mythics have made it more difficult for the majority of players to acquire the staples of constructed formats—in particular Standard—through trade. While the cash price of decks is not more expensive than it was a few years ago, it is fair to say that players who wish to maintain a relevant constructed deck do have to spend more money on cards than they used to. The reason is that mythics have made the trading market less efficient, which necessitates that players purchase singles from stores/eBay/dealers rather than simply trading away cards they don't need for cards they do. To appreciate this difficulty fully, it helps to know a little about the basic economic concept of fungibility.

Fungibility refers to the ability to exchange one good for another good of the same type. Thus, we would be able to exchange an orange for an orange, and an apple for an apple. In fact, oranges and apples are examples of highly fungible goods—as long as both are ripe and similarly sized. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who would not trade his or her orange for your orange. In fact, oranges are so similar that we hardly see the point. Diamonds, on the other hand, are typically not highly fungible—the clarity, color, cut, and brilliance of the diamonds all bear on their value, even if both diamonds are the same size.

So how does fungibility relate to Magic? Magic cards, as collectible items, are not highly fungible; they function more like diamonds than like oranges. The rarity, tournament playability (across multiple formats), and casual appeal of the cards all have a bearing on their value. Thus, Plated Geopede is worth $0.25, Dragonskull Summit is worth $3, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor is worth $90. As we all know, this difference in values is why I can't trade my Plated Geopede for a Jace. The Magic community, or the secondary market, has created an intricate trading system to attempt to bridge this gap between cards.

In addition to the problem of fungibility, the value of most (if not all) Magic cards suffers from Diminishing Returns. In particular, while the first three or four copies of a card are likely worth full value to a given player, copies over and above the first play set are worth substantially less to the average Magic player (professional traders are a potential exception). As a consequence of this fact, consider the following three hypothetical trades:

Trade 1:

2 full sets of M10 dual lands for 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Trade 2:

8 Zendikar fetch lands for 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Trade 3:

1 Primeval Titan and 3 Lotus Cobra for 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

In terms of pure monetary value, all three of these trades are "fair" (within a couple throw-ins of equivalent). In fact, the first trade is worth more, retail value, than either of the other two trades. Nevertheless, I think it's fairly clear that most of us would be much more inclined to accept Trades 2 or 3 than we would be to accept Trade 1. This is a textbook case of Diminishing Returns. Since the M10 dual lands start to lose value (in terms of playability and need) after a player has acquired a play set, the value of the second set is greatly diminished. Additionally, because M10 duals are extremely common cards to find in trade binders, most players lack (1) a use for two play sets and (2) a way of moving that many M10 dual lands. In the case of the fetch lands and tournament mythics, it is much more likely that these are cards the Jace owner needs, and thus the trade is more likely to be successful.

So how does all of this relate to the mythic rarity? Because the majority of powerful tournament staples—cards like Primeval Titan, Lotus Cobra, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor—are now printed at mythic rarity, these cards are twice as expensive as they would have been if they were printed under the old rarity system. Similarly, staple mana-base cards like M10 duals, Scars duals, Worldwake man lands, and Zendikar fetch lands are approximately half of their price under the old rarity system. In general, as my earlier examples show, this has not changed the retail price of tournament decks. However, what it has done is made it much more difficult to acquire tournament mythics in trade. In turn, this means that the average PTQ grinder is forced to shell out more cold, hard cash than they would be under the old rarity system.

Conclusion

Now that we have had time to collect data on mythic rarity, and vendors and traders have adjusted to the new rarity system, we can finally begin to draw conclusions about the role mythics play in the Magic economy. As it turns out, both the naysayers of and apologists for the mythic rarity were, in part, correct. On the one hand, it is a myth that the mythic rarity has made constructed decks more expensive. However, and perhaps more important, because of the comparative scarcity of mythics (and surplus of normal rares), it has become more expensive for tournament players—particularly players first entering the tournament scene—to assemble viable decks. This added expense is because the mythic rarity makes it much more difficult to acquire powerhouse rares, which are typically printed at mythic, in trade.

Notes

* The reason why the overall set prices are balanced relates to the fact that Wizards changed the number of rares in each set when they introduced the mythic rarity. Bleiweiss notes that, given 80 "traditional" rares in Lorwyn versus 53 normal rares and 15 mythic rares in Shards, after opening 100 booster boxes, the average player will have 33 percent more normal rares, and 33 percent fewer mythic rares, than they would have had of the corresponding "traditional" rare.

** The exception to this is the pricing of Faeries versus U/B Control. Faeries is a hybrid of findmagiccards.com and Bleiweiss's SCG article pricing of Lorwyn cards, while U/B is taken directly from SCG. This was to enable the comparison to be as consistent as possible, to minimize error from estimating values from a historical pricing chart. Prices for current Standard decks are from mid-December, right before Extended season began in earnest.

*** Yeah, I know. There really was a time when Pithing Needle for Jitte was a fair trade. There, there . . . it breaks my heart, too.

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