Insider Trading – How Do Mythic Rares Affect Magic?

Tuesday, July 22nd – In June, Wizards of the Coast announced some major changes for the rarity breakdown for upcoming sets – instead of the Rares, Uncommons, and Commons we were used to, they added a new rarity level known as Mythic Rares. How do these new types of rares affect the value of your cards? In this week’s edition of Insider Trading, Ben tackles the issue of Mythic Rares and gets down to the nitty gritty of the situation!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the second weekly Insider Trading column! In this week’s column, we’re going to take a look at what the Mythic Rarity means for Magic. You’ve heard a lot of hype, speculation, flotsam and jetsam – but let’s clear away all of the flimflam and look at the figures behind Mythics.

According to the Wizards of the Coast announcement about Mythic Rares, the set size for Shards of Alara will be 249 cards, of which 15 are Mythic Rares and 53 are regular Rares. Mythic Rares will appear in roughly out of one out of every 8 packs. These are facts. Let’s extrapolate this to a larger data pool:

Let’s say you open 100 Booster boxes of Shards of Alara. This is 3600 Booster packs, assuming 36 Booster packs a box. We will discount Foil rares and Mythic rares for the time being, since they are inserted in place of a common, and are not in place of the regular rare. One out of every eight packs will be a Mythic Rare. In a perfect mathematical world (and let’s assume this is one), this leaves us with:

450 Mythic Rares
3150 Normal Rares

There are 15 Different Mythic Rares, and 53 Different non-Mythic Rares. Using the above figures, this gives us:

30 of each Mythic Rare
59.4 of each regular Rare

This larger sample size illustrates that Mythic Rares will appear at almost exactly half of the frequency of a regular Rare. Let’s compare this to something like Lorwyn, which is the current Standard-Sized base set:

Lorwyn has 80 Unique rares.
If you open 3600 Booster packs of Lorwyn (the same 100 booster boxes used above), you end up with 45 of each rare.

Let’s assume that you open up 100 Booster Boxes of Lorwyn and 100 Booster Boxes of Shards of Alara. You would find that the following:

You will have 33% more of each Shards Rare than you had each Lorwyn Rare.
You will have 33% fewer of each Shards Mythic Rare than you had each Lorwyn Rare.

Wizards of the Coast has announced that Mythic Rares will not necessarily be tournament staples (like Tarmogoyf or Bitterblossom), but will be reserved for more of the “wow!” effects like Planeswalkers. If we wanted to pick out fifteen cards that might have been Mythic out of Lorwyn, we would start with the five Planeswalkers. However, we’re not going to do this! Instead, we’re going to take the fifteen highest-priced Rares out of Lorwyn, and add 33% to their value. This would simulate an absolute worst-case scenario in which the fifteen most expensive Rares in the set all ended up being Mythic. Likewise, we will take the other 65 Rares in the set, and subtract 33% from their value.

The 15 Most Expensive Rares in Lorwyn (NM Prices):

Ajani Goldmane – $6
Cloudthresher – $10
Cryptic Command – $22.50
Doran, the Siege Tower – $10
Garruk Wildspeaker – $22.50
Gilt-Leaf Palace – $7.50
Liliana Vess – $7
Mistbind Clique – $6
Primal Command – $7
Profane Command – $10
Scion of Oona – $10
Secluded Glen – $8
Sower of Temptation – $12.50
Thoughtseize – $22.50
Wanderwine Hub – $7.50

Total Value: $169
33% Bonus: $55.77
Total Adjusted Value: $224.77

The other 65 Rares:

Ancient Amphitheater – $3
Arbiter of Knollridge – $1
Ashling the Pilgrim – $1.25
Ashling’s Prerogative – $1
Auntie’s Hovel – $5
Austere Command – $4
Boggart Mob – $1.25
Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile – $1.50
Brion Stoutarm – $3
Cairn Wanderer – $1.25
Chandra Nalaar – $5
Colfenor’s Plans – $1
Colfenor’s Urn – $1
Dauntless Dourbark – $3
Deathrender – $2.50
Dolmen Gate – $5
Dread – $2.50
Epic Proportions – $1
Eyes of the Wisent – $2.50
Fathom Trawl – $1
Favor of the Mighty – $1
Forced Fruition – $2
Gaddock Teeg – $5
Galepowder Mage – $2
Guile – $1
Hamletback Goliath – $1
Heat Shimmer – $1.50
Hoofprints of the Stag – $2.50
Horde of Notions – $2.50
Hostility – $2
Howltooth Hollow – $1
Immaculate Magistrate – $2.50
Incandescent Soulstoke – $4
Incendiary Command – $2.50
Jace Beleren – $5
Knucklebone Witch – $2.50
Mad Auntie – $3
Masked Admirers – $2.50
Militia’s Pride – $4
Mirror Entity – $5
Mosswort Bridge – $1.50
Nath of the Gilt-Leaf – $1.50
Nettlevine Blight – $1
Nova Chaser – $3.50
Oona’s Prowler – $6
Purity – $2
Rings of Brighthearth – $1.50
Shapesharer – $1.25
Shelldock Isle – $1.25
Spinerock Knoll – $2.50
Sunrise Sovereign – $1.50
Surgespanner – $1.50
Sygg, River Guide – $3
Thorn of Amethyst – $2.50
Thoughtweft Trio – $3
Thousand-Year Elixir – $1.50
Timber Protector – $4
Twinning Glass – $1
Vigor – $3
Wanderwine Prophets – $1.50
Wild Ricochet – $1.25
Windbrisk Heights – $3
Wort, Boggart Auntie – $2.50
Wren’s Run Packmaster – $4
Wydwen, the Biting Gale – $1.50

Total Value: $156
33% Deduction: $51.48
Total Adjusted Value: $104.52

Total Set Value (individually priced): $325
Total Adjusted Set Value (individually priced): $329.29

The difference? A big, whopping $4.29.

That’s a lot of math, so let’s distill some info out of the numbers, eh? First of all, this was a worst-case scenario where the absolute best, most valuable cards in the set were Mythic – this is not going to be the case with Shards, where cards like Secluded Glen, Wanderwine Hub, and Gilt-Leaf Palace are going to be regular Rares, and not Mythics. In the worst-case scenario, the total value of Shards is going to be slightly more(and I mean slightly – we’re talking approximately 1% higher here, folks), so it would stand to reason that overall, proportional to the new set size, that the introduction of Mythic rares will decrease the cost it takes to put together a functional playset of Shards of Alara compared to previous sets.

Not everyone is going to want to get a Purity or Wild Ricochet. Taking out every card that sells for $2 or less, the total of the Lorwyn Rares (mid-range rares, tournament playables, etc) comes to $113.50. Adjusted for taking out the not-as-popular and bulk rares, we get the following new values:

Total Set Value (Individually Priced): $282.50
Total Adjusted Set Value (Individually Priced): $300.81

The value differential between the two sets jumps from 1% to 6%, but again remember – this is a worst case scenario, and we’ve completely discounted the value of around a third of the rares in the “non-Mythic) category when figuring these numbers! So again, all indications (given that Thoughtseize, the Faerie Cards, and the dual lands would likely not be Mythic) show that a change to the smaller set size with Mythic Rares will lead to a decreased total cost for tournament players to acquire four-of playsets of the cards they want for Standard/Extended/Block (discounting Legacy and Vintage here, just for sake of them being a little less widespread and less influential towards new card values, Painter’s Servant excluded).

People have the fear that one of the current super-hot rares in Standard might end up being Mythic, sending the price completely through the roof – something like Tarmogoyf, Bitterblossom, or Mutavault. Even factoring in these cards at 33% higher (and personally, I believe $50 is the roof that someone will pay for a Standard card, Mythic or otherwise), the other cards that go into these decks, at a 33% discount, will decrease the overall cost to put together a competitive Standard deck – especially given a decrease in the cost of dual lands from each new set release.

How would I sum up my thoughts about how Mythic Rares will affect Magic? The answer is, financially, it won’t really affect Magic much at all! Given any sample size to be opened, be it for booster drafts, a person buying a box, or a business opening a very large quantity of boxes, the overall cost to acquire cards, either competitively or casually, will decrease due to the smaller set size with Shards of Alara, despite Mythic Rares, and will make it easier (and cheaper) for people to play with the cards they want to get from the new set, which is a good thing overall, as it will ease one of the barriers of entry into competitive play – cost of acquiring the cards to remain competitive.

I would like to take the time to address one defense of Mythic Rares – that they appear at the same frequency (roughly) as any given 10th Edition Rare or Time Spiral Timeshifted card (1 in 120 versus 1 in 121). Wizards of the Coast has publically compared the two (take a look at the interview with Elaine Chase), but this is a bad argument for one reason – every Timeshifted card and every Rare in 10th Edition is a reprint, and so there are previously-existing versions of each of these cards that a player can acquire in place of having top open packs and/or trade for the newer version of these cards. Compare to Damnation, which prior to a Rewards Mailing, was a one-in-forty shot to get in Planar Chaos, and was fetching, at the time, more-than-time-and-a-half on Wrath of God ($25 versus $15). If Damnation was a one in 121, we’d be looking at a $40-$50 card, or the worst-case scenario for a Mythic Rare. However, Damnation would not be a Mythic Rare by the rules set forth by Wizards of the Coast, so this is an argument based on the math, and not necessarily on the reality of the situation.

I hope that this article has shed some light on Mythic Rares, and what they mean financially to the game of Magic! In next week’s article, I’m going to take a look at some of the other changes announced along with the Mythic Rares announcement, and explain how Wizards can take further steps to increase the value that every player gets out of opening a pack of Magic cards! See you in seven days!

Ben Bleiweiss
[email protected] (Please feel free to chime in on the forums or to e-mail me directly if you’re forum-shy!)