All Your Modern Horizons Finance Questions Answered

Wizards of the Coast promised a big Modern announcement, and they delivered with Modern Horizons! Chas Andres sets himself to answering all your burning questions, plus This Week’s Trends!

Holy. Mackerel.

When I wrote back in early February that we might be two weeks away from the biggest Modern rally ever, I was crossing my fingers for something exactly like Modern Horizons. While the biggest part of the rally is now unlikely to happen until May (when Modern Horizons previews begin), this set is going to cast a large and impressive shadow over Modern for the rest of 2019. If you want to understand what is about to happen to the Modern market, you’ll need to understand Modern Horizons.

Even though we only know the identity of two cards in Modern Horizons, there’s actually a lot we can infer about the set and its contents so far. And since the Magic market moves at the speed of light these days, we can’t just wait until May in order to act.

That’s why I’m going to devote the entirety of today’s article to Modern Horizons, a set that is likely to end up being the most financially relevant expansion of any kind since the very first Modern Masters.

Let’s start off by asking a question that seems simple, but is actually quite difficult:

What Will Modern Horizons Booster Boxes Cost?

With MSRP now a thing of the past, one of the biggest mysteries about Modern Horizons is this: How much will a booster box cost?

While it won’t be possible to really dial in on a price until boxes start becoming available for pre-order, we do have a couple of clues to work off for now. First up, this leaked document from the upcoming MagicFest Seattle indicates that the entry fee for the main event, which is Modern Horizons Sealed Deck, will cost $100. This appears to indicate that Modern Horizons boxes won’t cost all that much more than boxes of Ravnica Allegiance or any other Standard legal set. After all, last year’s Grand Prix Las Vegas also had a $100 entry fee, and that event was Amonkhet Sealed.

Unfortunately, the other piece of pricing information, given to us via the product announcement livestream, appears to contradict this theory. We now know that packs of Modern Horizons will sell for $7 on Magic Online, which puts it in line with literally all previous Masters sets. Check it out:

Masters Set

Physical Pack Price

Magic Online Pack Price

Ultimate Masters



Masters 25



Iconic Masters



Modern Masters 2017



Eternal Masters



Modern Masters 2015



So there you have it. Modern Horizons will sell for somewhere between $4 and $14 a pack. Hooray, we figured it out!

In all seriousness, my guess is that the functional MSRP for this product will be close to the $10/pack level. This means that you should be able to find boxes for around $150-$160, assuming they’re 24-pack boxes. I can’t imagine Wizards of the Coast running that $14/pack price point back – that was pretty clearly reserved for a once-in-a-lifetime set like Ultimate Masters, what with its Ultimate Box Toppers and buck wild reprints. So if these packs are going to cost Masters-set money, it’ll likely be in the $10 range, not the $14 range.

I also can’t imagine they’d sell packs for $7 on Magic Online while allowing you to find them in paper for $3-$4 each. That would be bizarre and incongruous. It seems far more likely to me, then, that the leaked MagicFest document has the wrong figures. For all we know, it’s either a placeholder or a mistake – with no MSRP to base their price on, perhaps the folks running the event don’t know what it’ll cost quite yet. Or perhaps they’ve got some sort of sweetheart supply deal going in order to keep the prices down and entice more folks to play in the event. Since that Magic Online figure of $7/pack is straight from Wizards of the Coast and wasn’t on a leaked document, I trust it far more.

As a result, I’m going to treat price predictions for Modern Horizons as if the set had a similar price point to Masters 25 or Iconic Masters as opposed to, say, Battlebond or Conspiracy. While this might end up being incorrect, it seems like the most likely outcome at this point.

Should You Buy The Best New Modern Horizons Singles Right Away?

Even though Modern Horizons will probably be priced like a Masters set, it won’t have a limited print run like Masters sets do. This is important – players only had a very small window to buy into sets like Modern Masters 2017 and Ultimate Masters, but you can still buy Battlebond boxes for $100 here on Star City Games, and I’ve heard rumblings that they released another printing of that set as recently as last week.

Battlebond isn’t a perfect comp for Modern Horizons because this latest set is almost assuredly going to have more expensive booster packs, but it does clearly show us that we’re going to have more time to buy whatever new cards we’re going to need for our Modern collections. It took almost a year for the best Battlebond cards to really start surging in price, and Modern Horizons will likely be opened in far higher quantities. My guess is that the best time to buy Modern Horizons cards will be in mid-to-late August, when prices hit their seasonal lows, rather than at the market saturation point in late June, which is what I’d advocate if this were a regular Masters set.

The other thing to remember when you’re looking to buy Modern Horizons singles is that the set’s power level is going to seem incredibly high compared to almost every other Magic expansion that we’ve ever seen. Seriously – this is the first time that Wizards of the Coast has ever designed Magic cards specifically for competitive Eternal play without having to worry about cards warping Standard. We’ve gotten the stray Legacy plant in a Commander set, of course, but this will be a whole new world of awesome.

As a result, I suspect prices for the new chase cards are going to start out incredibly high. We’re going to get multiple cards on the level of Cryptic Command and Death’s Shadow, and people will be willing to pay for them as though they’re already format staples. Since Modern Horizons will be printed to order, you don’t have to be aggressive here. I’ll do a complete set review and clue you in on the underpriced cards as they get previewed, but I’m likely going to be preaching patience on most of the cards that are obviously good and instantly expensive.

Will Modern Horizons Raise or Lower the Price of Its Reprints?

This is a far harder question to answer than it seems at first glance.

Reprints that cause a price increase are incredibly rare. When Snapcaster Mage was reprinted in Ultimate Masters, the price went down because the available supply of Snapcaster Mages increased while demand remained the same. Reprints mean that prices go down. It’s a no-brainer.

The difference here is that all Modern Horizons reprints are going to be rubber-stamped with admission into the Modern format. This is a big deal – the Modern player-base is far larger than the Legacy player-base, so if Modern Horizons gives us a reprinted format staple, demand is going to surge. I’m not saying that Force of Will is a likely inclusion in the set, but just imagine how many people out there would need a playset of those were it to suddenly be made Modern legal. Assuming it were to be reprinted at mythic (or – gasp! – as the Buy-A-Box promo), there’s no way that the new influx of supply would be able to keep up with demand. The price would go up, not down.

This has happened in the past, when older cards have been reprinted in Standard-legal sets, but it’s rare. For example, when Reflecting Pool was reprinted in Shadowmoor, it jumped from a $5 Commander curiosity to a $20 Standard staple. Of course, this was back when most Commander cards were still just a buck or two; nowadays, most good pre-Modern cards that haven’t been reprinted in forever will run you far more than $5.

There’s also a reason why I had to go all the way back to Shadowmoor in order to find a good card to talk about. Absorb is a more current example, and you can pick up Ravnica Allegiance copies of that card for just $2.50 right now, which is less than an Invasion copy would have cost you prior to the reprint.

But that’s not the full story with Absorb. Invasion copies of the card sold for about $5 prior to the reprint, but they’re going for $11-$12 now. That’s because pre-Modern cards have that sweet old frame, they’re super-scarce, and lots of players are willing to pay up in order to show off. Heck, original Ravnica block shocklands don’t even have old frames, and they’re still far more expensive than their reprinted compatriots. You can pick up a Guilds of Ravnica copy of Steam Vents for $14, but a Guildpact version will set you back $30.

Paradoxically, then, I feel like we should be buying original copies of almost every card that’s reprinted in Modern Horizons.

Think about it. Even if Modern Horizons does saturate the market for these reprinted cards after a month or so, that still gives you the entirety of preview season and the first few weeks post-release to sell your reprints into the massive surge of new demand. Even if you miss that window, you’ll still have a shot at selling your old-bordered copies of new Modern staples to players who just want to show off. There’s almost no risk here and a massive amount of upside.

Will there be exceptions to this rule? Probably. Back to Basics was the exact sort of card that would have been a terrible buy if its reprint had come in Modern Horizons instead of Ultimate Masters. Even though this card would have immediately become a Modern staple, it was well over the $100 mark prior to reprint. All the Modern demand in the world isn’t enough to keep a non-mythic rare in a current set at or near the $100 mark.

Beyond that? Go nuts. Obviously cards like Baleful Strix that don’t have an old-bordered printing aren’t going to have that sort of collector value safety net baked in, but considering the fact that Baleful Strix is already starting to surge in price merely on the off-chance that it shows up in Modern Horizons…yeah, I think you’re safe speculating along these lines.

What Are the Chances That [Insert Powerful Legacy Card Here] Will Be in Modern Horizons?

I wish I knew. Seriously – the reveal stream didn’t give us a single reprint, so there’s no way of knowing how greedy I can be in asking for sweet things to be included in Modern Horizons. I feel like the people expecting Brainstorm, the single most-played card in Legacy, are going to be disappointed. But what about Daze, Force of Will, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, or Wasteland?

I can see Wizards of the Coast approaching these reprints either very aggressively or very conservatively, depending on what their playtesting results shown. Mark Rosewater indicated that there was significant playtesting for Modern Horizons, so I highly doubt they’re just going to be dumping half of Legacy into Modern for the hell of it. Wizards of the Coast either tends to be a little too aggressive or a little too conservative when it’s their first time doing something, so we’ll know pretty early on in preview season which direction they’ve gone in this time.

My guess? Due to all the playtesting, Modern Horizons will be a fairly conservative set in terms of Legacy reprints. I suspect we’ll see a lot of stuff that’s on the fringes of Legacy as opposed to the cards that define it. The designers on-stream and Mark Rosewater in his blog have both tried to assure people that they’re not looking to blow up Modern or invalidate anyone’s favorite deck. Printing cards like Force of Will would almost certainly do that. I wouldn’t expect to see anything from the very top of the Legacy staples list in Modern Horizons, but I could be very wrong.

This is important to keep in mind, because I suspect that we’re going to start to see Legacy staples begin to spike as people buy them out in anticipation of Modern Horizons. Like I said in the last section, Baleful Strix is already on the move, and it won’t be alone.

Of course, Baleful Strix seems like a decent spec since it’s under $10, lots of folks seem to think it’s safe enough for Modern, and the available supply is already low. Even if Wizards of the Coast determines that the card is either too degenerate or too unfun for Modern, you can still probably get out for more than you’ll have to play right now.

But while Baleful Strix is an example of a decent risk to take, I’d avoid specs that are too expensive right now because…well, we super don’t know what Modern Horizons will have. There’s never been a set like this before. And please, be wary of overnight buyouts—people will attempt to manipulate the market due to Modern Horizons hype, and you don’t want to lose a chunk of money because a couple of speculators have money to burn.

What other cards might be good spec targets? Well, obviously Force of Will is a bit of a moonshot: expensive now, unlikely to be reprinted, but it’s heading past $100 if it is. I feel like Flusterstorm is more likely, and you can snag those for $17 right now. Natural Order and Sneak Attack are in a similar place price-wise, though both cards are slightly longer shots because of their high power levels.

Argothian Enchantress feels like the perfect target, though – powerful but not too powerful, and likely to spawn an entirely new deck upon release. Mother of Runes and Pernicious Deed also feel like cards that could slot right into Modern and help certain archetypes without being too oppressive. All these cards would see a pretty major price spike if they were confirmed to be in the set, and I suspect that at least some of them will spike between now and May on rumors alone.

What Fringe Archetypes Might Be Buffed by Modern Horizons?

This is where a lot of the real money is going to be made. Modern Horizons is going to have some cards that are going to be obvious boons for decks that aren’t currently in Modern’s top tier, and those decks’ extant staples are going to sell out immediately. It won’t really matter how good they end up being, either. They’ll be hyped up for long enough for you to make a profit regardless.

For example, here’s the highest-finishing Modern Goblins deck that I can find in 2019 so far.

What happens to these cards if Modern Horizons contains either Goblin Ringleader or a brand-new card that looks like it might push our little red friends over the top? A lot, that’s what. Goblin Guide might not double in price right away, but that’s only because it’s already expensive. Goblin Piledriver and Legion Loyalist would almost certainly triple or quadruple in price. Cavern of Souls and Mutavault would see gains as well.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves here, but it’s worth knowing exactly what your targets are going to be during Modern Horizons preview season. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be incredibly aggressive in buying up cards like Goblin Piledriver the moment a cool new Goblin is previewed.

Even then, I’m a little worried about missing the boat by waiting for preview season. What if Goblin Piledriver sells out now, simply because a sweet new Goblin might be reprinted? It’s a very real possibility. Personally, I’m going to wait and see how the market responds to the Modern Horizons news over the next week or so. If buyouts start to happen, I’m going to start getting aggressive on cards like Piledriver. If not, then I’ll hold back and wait for previews. I’d rather be more conservative if I can be, but I don’t want to miss out on all the best specs because of risk-adverse nature.

Modern Elves is another archetype I have my eye on. A Wirewood Symbiote or Birchlore Rangers reprint would go a long way toward making this deck viable, and builds like this one might become a heck of a lot more common in the Modern metagame. Elvish Archdruid and Elvish Clancaller probably aren’t going to spike much due to market saturation, but Heritage Druid and Collected Company are both prime targets for a price spike. Even Ezuri, Renegade Leader would see a bump. This is yet another Cavern of Souls deck, by the way – that card is looking really good right about now.

Or what about Faeries? I’m not sure what Legacy-era cards might put this deck over the top, but a brand-new card or two sure might. This Faeries deck is the closest thing I can find right now, and Bitterblossom is still probably the card to target here. The things I like most about Bitterblossom are the fact that it was just reprinted and the large causal following that the card has. It’s a low risk/moderate reward play for sure.

Beyond that, there are all sorts of possibilities. Adding Psychatog to Modern could create an all-new archetype. The Onslaught cycling lands would give a pretty major boost to Dredge, but also Life from the Loam and Seismic Assault strategies. Invigorate could bring Infect back to the forefront of the format. Slivers might become a thing. Tezzeret could come back.

Even better, I highly doubt that Modern Horizons will be the only set like this. I’ve been begging Wizards of the Coast to do something like this for years, and I suspect that the set will sell super well. If so, then we’ve got time for all our specs to pan out. Even if Goblins or Faeries or Loam decks don’t see any love this time around, that might change in a year or so.

What Currently Modern-Legal Cards Should You Buy Now?

Now that we know that Modern Horizons won’t have any reprints that are currently legal in Modern, it’s open season on Modern staples.

The obvious targets here are the fetchlands, which are almost always the most important ingredient in any Modern manabase. Both the Zendikar and the Khans of Tarkir fetchlands are already starting to rise, with Scalding Tarn leading the way. These aren’t getting reprinted in a Standard-legal set, they’re not going to be in a Commander set, and there’s not going to be a Masters set this year, so buying in now is about as safe as it gets. I recommend picking up whatever fetches you think you’ll need well ahead of the Modern Horizons release.

While there hasn’t been time for a lot of Modern cards to start spiking in paper yet, there’s actually been quite a bit of movement on Magic Online. So far, I’ve seen significant post-announcement gains on the following cards:

If you’re looking for a list of Modern staples that might start ticking up in paper Magic over the next couple of weeks, I’d start here.

What Does Modern Horizons Mean for the Future of Modern Finance?

A lot of the complaints I’ve seen about Modern Horizons so far are people lamenting the fact that it’s going to cause the overall price of Modern to rise. They’re right. It will. More people are going to start playing, more decks will at least be hyped up, and there won’t be any currently Modern-legal reprints to offset all that increase in demand.

So why didn’t Wizards of the Coast put any Modern-legal reprints in Modern Horizons in order to lower the price of the format? Because they literally just did that with Ultimate Masters. That set released just about as much pressure from Modern as it could, and prices are lower now than they have been in a very long time. Wizards of the Coast can get away with Modern prices increasing in 2019 because they dropped a lot in 2018. If you’re worried about the format getting too expensive, you should try to buy in soon, while prices are still low.

Even though I think that Modern Horizons-style sets will likely be the norm going forward, Wizards of the Coast will still need to find a way to reprint cards like Liliana of the Veil and Snapcaster Mage in 2020 and beyond. It’s possible that they’ll bring back the Masters sets, but I think it’s more likely that we’ll see once or even twice-yearly sets that more evenly split the difference between new cards, pre-Modern reprints, and Modern reprints.

Honestly, I don’t think they know what they’re going to do next. I think they know internally that Modern reprints are going to be necessary going forward, but that disappointing Masters sets like Masters 25 sets aren’t the way to go, and you can only get away with something like Ultimate Masters every once in a while. If Modern Horizons is a success, they’ll probably find a way to integrate in other reprints at some point. If not, they’ll find another way. Regardless, I expect some serious Modern gains this year, with Modern-legal reprints coming to calm things down at some point in 2020.

This Week’s Trends

It was a surprisingly low-impact week for Standard prices, especially considering we just came out of a Mythic Championship. Entrancing Melody and Tempest Djinn both saw some gains out of Mono-Blue Aggro, but both cards are still under $4 and you probably didn’t make much money here unless you bought in at bulk rare rates. The deck is still very good (and a lot of fun – it’s my current jam on Arena), but it’s going to remain pretty cheap going forward.

Weirdly, Mox Amber was the biggest Standard gainer of the week. $15 is a lot for a card that sees no competitive play in anything, but the next Magic set is rumored to have a bunch of cheap planeswalkers in it and people want to get in ahead of the curve. Mox Amber is probably a $30 card if it ends up being a four-of in a good deck, but I still feel like this one’s only spiking because of the word “Mox.” I’m still staying away.

While the Modern buyouts haven’t begun in earnest, I have seen some movement from cards like Dark Confidant, Scalding Tarn, Chalice of the Void, and Misty Rainforest. Expect more of this over the next couple of weeks, and especially leading up to the release of Modern Horizons in May.

It’s also practically impossible to get interesting foil or promo copies of Counterspell anywhere online right now. Most people seem to believe that Counterspell is absolutely going to be in Modern Horizons, and they want to get the coolest promo copies first. This is a good thought, and I’m mad that I didn’t buy any. Check your local stores just in case.

The biggest Commander spike of the week was Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker, which is sold out almost everywhere for less than $20. The best theory I’ve heard for why this is happening? People are using her to make Marie Kondo-themed Commander decks, where you use Michiko Konda to force people to sacrifice their permanents that don’t “spark joy.” Regardless, Michiko Konda is an incredibly powerful card in Commander, and I can’t see her dropping below the $20 mark until she’s eventually reprinted.