War Of The Spark Finance Across All Formats

War of the Spark has had a huge impact on sets from Standard to Modern, Legacy, and even Vintage! Chas Andres breaks them all down, plus alternate-art Japanese planeswalkers and This Week’s Trends!

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that War of the Spark has a shot at going down in history as one of the most impactful sets of all time. Not only has it begun to make its mark in Standard, but I’ve started to see key War of the Spark cards not just showing up, but dominating in Modern, Legacy, and even Vintage.

Financially speaking, there are times when it’s worth zooming back a bit and taking a look at the big picture. This is one of those times. People are cracking packs of War of the Spark at a record pace, and card availability is getting more and more plentiful. As it does, it’s worth taking a look at which cards are likely to hold their value best – not just in terms of Standard playability, but in terms of Eternal demand. That way, you can buy and sell with the future of your collection in mind.

But we’re not going to stop there, because War of the Spark‘s financial impact goes beyond the key competitive cards. There’s been some wild movement in the world of Japanese alternate-art planeswalkers, and foil uncut War of the Spark sheets are going to be given out to everyone who had their Mythic Edition orders cancelled. It has been a big week for War of the Spark here in the world of Magic finance, but don’t worry – I’ve got you covered.

War of the Spark in Standard

Now that we’ve had a full week to react to the results from SCG Richmond, it’s a lot easier to see how the Standard metagame is taking shape. I highly recommend reading the Mox Insights column from last Friday, which breaks down Richmond by the numbers.

The summary is basically this: Simic Nexus did well on Day 1, especially against Sultai Midrange, but it did poorly versus Mono-Red Aggro all weekend long. Meanwhile, Mono-Red got to feast on Simic Nexus while only really losing to Esper Midrange. Esper Midrange had a decent game against everything except Esper Control, while Esper Control destroyed Azorius Aggro and Gruul Aggro while having no major weaknesses to any of the top decks.

Granted, these figures are from just a single event, and they’re subject to both small sample size worries as well as future shifts in metagame strategy. That said, they match up pretty well with the current metagame popularity breakdown on MTG Goldfish. Esper Control is the most popular deck at the moment, likely because it doesn’t have any major weaknesses. Mono-Red Aggro is in second place, since it’s fairly neutral against the top deck and only really weak to Esper Midrange. Esper Midrange is third, since it can prey on Mono-Red. Simic Nexus is fourth, since it still has a lot of game against the field outside of Mono-Red.

We talked at length about all four decks in my article last week, but I’d like to quickly go over some of the key War of the Spark cards from these four archetypes again anyway.

Teferi, Time Raveler has been the most impressive Standard card out of War of the Spark so far. It’s a key staple in both Esper Control and Esper Midrange as well as almost all the Bant Midrange brews I’ve seen floating around. $16 is high for a rare, but this three-mana Teferi is going to be a format-defining card going forward. You can’t really go wrong buying or trading for these right now. Even in a set as chock-full of power as War of the Spark, Teferi should be a $20 card.

Chandra, Fire Artisan has also proven itself a top-tier staple at $7. Here’s hoping you bought in at $3 last week like I told you to. She’s probably not going to find a home in more than one deck, but Mono-Red Aggro is here to stay and Chandra has a solid place in it. I don’t see her price increasing much from here, but I doubt she drops below the $5 range.

Tamiyo, Collector of Tales and Blast Zone are crucial cards in Simic Nexus. Even though Simic Nexus doesn’t have a ton of game against Mono-Red Aggro right now, I doubt it’ll be entirely hated out of the metagame, either. Tamiyo feels pretty stable to me at $5, and Blast Zone is actually increasing in price right now. It was $8-$9 last week, and now it’s sold out at $10. With all the Modern play this land has been seeing, it might be a long time before Blast Zone is below $10 again.

These other cards – Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord; Liliana, Dreadhorde General; Narset’s Reversal; and Enter the God-Eternals – are a little more on the bubble. They’re either sideboard plays, or they don’t show up in every version of these decks. I like them more than the War of the Spark cards that haven’t made a real play yet, but I’m more skeptical about their current retail price. For example, Liliana hasn’t seen nearly enough play to justify her $35 price tag, and I’m not even sure she’s all that well-positioned to fight anything in the current metagame. I expect her to see even less play at SCG Syracuse unless the metagame changes significantly, and that should impact her price going forward.

Now that we know more or less what the new Standard metagame looks like, what about the bevy of new brews ready and able to take them on? There was no major Standard tournament this past weekend, but we’ve still got some Arena and Magic Online results to look at, as well as ideas from SCG’s impressive stable of writers and pro players.

First up, we’ve got last week’s decklists from the Magic Pro League to consider. There was no Simic Nexus at all here (not that I blame anyone for not running Nexus of Fate on Arena), and there’s quite a bit more Mono-White Aggro and Azorius Aggro than there was in Richmond.

While these two white-based aggro decks are a bit light on War of the Spark cards, it’s worth noting that the Azorius Aggro decks also run Teferi, Time Raveler and both of these brews make use of Gideon Blackblade. That mythic planeswalker was a bit of a non-factor in Richmond, but I expect it to make its presence known in Syracuse. Gideon is fairly priced at $20, and I don’t think we’ll see that number come down soon.

Beyond that, there are all sorts of possibilities on tap. Emma Handy wrote about Mardu Judith last week, which would instantly cause a ton of price spikes were it to catch on because of how popular decks like this are when they’re viable. Dreadhorde Butcher is the key War of the Spark card here – it’s a four-of in practically every theoretical version of this brew, and it’s just $3 right now. A Top 8 finish in Syracuse would likely cause it to end up in the $7-$8 range, much like Chandra, Fire Artisan last week.

I also really like this take on Jeskai SuperFriends from MPL Competitor John Rolfe, who calls it a Tier 1 deck in this tweet after blasting his way through the current Arena metagame with it late last week:

This deck is War of the Spark personified, and I’d love to see it near the top of the metagame. Fblthp is currently just $1.50 while Sarkhan is $2, and both cards are powerful four-ofs in this list with plenty of room to grow. I also wouldn’t be shocked if The Elderspell ($2.50) sees a little more growth as a sideboard spell if planeswalkers continue to dominate going forward.

Lastly, I’d like to highlight Finale Combo, a deck that Todd Anderson played on VS Live! last week:

I highly doubt this deck is Tier 1, or even Tier 2, but people love their Standard-viable combo decks, and this one could end up being incredibly popular at the FNM level, especially if Saffron Olive highlights it at some point. Ral, Storm Conduit ($5); Spark Double ($4); and Finale of Devastation ($10) are the key War of the Spark four-ofs here, though none are particularly underpriced at the moment. You might want to take a look at Naru Meha, Master Wizard instead. It’s just a two-of, but it’s an older mythic rare and it’s currently just $1.50. I can imagine some growth here, especially since Naru Meha has some long-term casual potential as well.

War of the Spark in Modern

Let’s start by taking a look at the Azorius Control deck that placed ninth at the SCG Modern Classic in Richmond last weekend:

This is a spicy meatball. Teferi, Time Raveler makes its presence known again here – what can’t this card do? – and I guarantee you that we would have seen a price spike had Alan Gray made it into the Top 8 instead of finishing in ninth place. I love Teferi, even at current retail, and I’m trading for them whenever I can.

It’s also worth taking a look at Knowledge Pool, a card that was a bulk rare up until last month and is currently still selling in the $5 range. Knowledge Pool seems silly, but it’s amazing with Teferi, Time Raveler, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see this deck gain traction going forward. If so, we’re looking at a $10+ card here without question.

The fourth-place deck at that same tournament is equally exciting. Take a look at this new version of Mono-Green Tron:

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That’s four copies of Karn, the Great Creator in the maindeck and a singleton Mycosynth Lattice in the sideboard to complete the combo. People have been speculating on this interaction becoming a real thing for a couple of weeks now, but this is the first time that we’ve seen actual results. Expect this newest Karn to remain a desirable Tron staple going forward.

Speaking of Karn, the Great Creator, check out the deck that finished sixth last week:

Yep, that’s a Mono-Red Prison deck running four copies of Karn, the Great Creator alongside Blood Moon, Ensnaring Bridge, and all the rest. While these decks have caused Mycosynth Lattice to spike in a pretty major way, they’re also going to ensure Karn’s future as a $10+ card. Trading for these at current retail seems solid to me.

If you’re looking for another potential secondary spike, check out Ensnaring Bridge. The card gains a lot more utility with a Karn on the battlefield, because you can simply wish for a Bridge out of the sideboard if the situation permits. I’ve noticed a lot more people going to their sideboard copy of Bridge instead of Mycosynth Lattice, especially earlier in the game when it’s harder to cast the Lattice. Regardless, Ensnaring Bridge hasn’t moved in price at all since Karn was printed, and I suspect that will change soon.

Lastly, I wanted to take a look at the MTGO Modern Challenge results from last week to see if they confirmed the results from Richmond. By and large, they did. Azorius Control did really well in the Modern Challenge, and both Teferis were all over the place in those brews. Dovin’s Veto also saw quite a bit of sideboard play, making me feel like foil copies are a tad undervalued at $9 retail.

Lastly, it’s worth pointing out that all sorts of Modern decks, both in Richmond and on MTGO, are running Blast Zone now. Even though the card is a one-of more often than not, the fact that it has multi-format appeal cannot be ignored. As I said earlier, I feel like Blast Zone is going to be $10+ for a while.

War of the Spark in Legacy and Vintage

There wasn’t a major Legacy or Vintage tournament last week, and neither format is currently available on Arena, so I’ll be relying entirely on MTGO results for this section. The good news is that there’s still plenty of information to fall back on, especially since War of the Spark has had a pretty major impact on these two formats so far.

Let’s begin with Legacy, where we’ve got the results of an MTGO Legacy Challenge from May 5th to play with. We don’t have to look all that far to find a couple of juicy War of the Spark cards, either; the first-place Eldrazi Post decklist has three copies of Karn, the Great Creator and three copies of Ugin, the Ineffable in their maindeck. Wow.

While Ugin, the Ineffable hasn’t shown up as much as Karn, both colorless planeswalkers are likely being underrated right now. Legacy play is a big deal, and it speaks to the overall power level of these cards. I really don’t want to undersell this –two brand-new cards headlining a first-place Legacy deck is not a thing that happens very often. You’re going to want to have a playset of each going forward.

I also suspect that Eldrazi Post is going to surge in popularity now that it has Karn and Ugin to play with. It put three decks into the Top 8 of that Legacy Challenge, and all three brews ran both Karn and Ugin. This might finally be the push that Thought-Knot Seer needs to see an uptick in price, and it can’t mean bad things for Reserved List staples like Grim Monolith and City of Traitors. These cards are already hilariously expensive, but it doesn’t take much to cause older Reserved List cards to surge in price.

As for Vintage, we’ve got the MTGO results from the Vintage Challenge of May 6th to examine. Just like with Legacy, the deck that took down that tournament also relied on Karn, the Great Creator – four full copies of the brand-new planeswalker. The foil is sold out at $40 right now, and I wouldn’t be surprised the foil it ends up over $100 at this point. It’s rare to get a card that’s an instant four-of in both Legacy and Vintage, but Karn is it.

I’d also like to take a moment to talk about Narset, Parter of Veils. While we don’t focus much on uncommons, generally, Narset is selling for $2.50 and her foil is sold out at $35. That’s quite a bit more than most Standard-legal uncommons generally sell for.

There’s a good reason for this price tag, though, and it’s the fact that Narset is showing up in all four major competitive formats. She’s a staple in Simic Nexus in Standard, Azorius Control in Modern, Miracles in Legacy, and loads of wild decks in Vintage. In fact, there are two copies of Narset in the second-, third-, and fourth-place decks from the MTGO Vintage Challenge that we looked at earlier. Ben Friedman wrote a great article about Narset in the Eternal formats last week, and I agree with his conclusion. This card is going to be an Eternal staple for years, and you should make sure that you have a set or two of them in your collection. This foil is going to be an easy $50+ in the future.

The Rise of the Japanese Planeswalkers

Remember when we discussed the Japanese alternate-art planeswalkers a few weeks ago and the promo multiplier on them was generally somewhere in the 2-3x range? That is no longer true. The Japanese version of Narset and Karn are both up around $40 now, with even lesser Japanese ‘walkers like Domri, Anarch of Bolas selling in the $25-$30 range. The foils are on an even wilder ride right now – foil Japanese Narset is selling for more than $250, and Liliana is up over $1,000.

What’s going on here? Well, it’s a confluence of two factors.

First, supply for these cards is pretty low right now, especially here in the US. Since US-based stores had to place their (small) orders for Japanese boxes before knowing that these alt-art planeswalkers were going to be a thing, there’s far more demand than supply at the moment. That will change, though – War of the Spark is a print-to-order set, so people will have a shot to order Japanese boxes in the US. Plus, at some point a large number of these cards will start to trickle in from Japan. Prices will come down.

On the other hand, demand for these cards is far higher than many predicted, and the overall supply isn’t going to be enough to satisfy it. No matter how many Japanese boxes are opened, there still won’t be all that many foil Lilianas in circulation. Because of that, I’d expect the most popular planeswalkers to maintain high promo multipliers, especially in foil. Your odds of opening something like a foil Liliana (or even a foil Narset!) are just so low, especially since half of the ones you pull in Japanese boxes are just going to have the normal art anyway. I wouldn’t recommend buying these for another month or two if you’re in the market, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the prices remain pretty high no matter what.

What to Do With Your Uncut Sheet

As you may have heard, WotC actually came up with a pretty solid consolation prize for those of us who had our War of the Spark Mythic Edition boxes cancelled. In addition to a $20 eBay credit, each of us with a confirmed cancelled order will be getting a foil mythic and rare sheet from War of the Spark. Neat!

I suspect that WotC was deliberate with their choice of consolation prize. They couldn’t give out more Mythic Editions without breaking their “limited run” promise to those folks whose orders were fulfilled, even if that solution might have seemed better to those of us whose orders were cancelled. I’m sure they don’t have thousands of Ultimate Box Toppers still kicking around, and giving us full sets of War of the Spark would undermine future booster sales. After all, why would we buy more cards from that set if we already had them all? Thus, they came up with a way to reward us without impacting their market.

It’s worth noting here that you’re only going to get the sheet if you had a Mythic Edition order where your payment was actually processed. If you ordered in that first wave of 12,000 boxes and your order was immediately cancelled due to “payment issues,” you’re out of luck. Folks in this camp have tried to plead their case to eBay and Hasbro already, but they’ve all come up empty so far. I’ll let you know if that changes. I don’t expect it will.

For the rest of us, let’s take a moment to see if we can figure out how much this thing is actually going to be worth.

The first step is to determine the print run for this thing. First off, let’s assume there were about 50,000 Mythic Edition orders, which is at the high end of the figures I’ve heard. 10,000 were in that first wave with payment errors and will not be compensated. 12,000 boxes will be fulfilled, and those buyers will not be getting the sheet. That leaves roughly 28,000 unfulfilled orders. (I’ve heard some evidence placing this number closer to 20,000, but I don’t have proof.)

Now we have to factor in duplicate orders. Not just duplicate orders from people who failed to get their Mythic Editions, mind you, but duplicate orders from folks who had one of their orders confirmed and the other cancelled. I highly doubt anyone is getting doubly compensated, nor is anyone getting the foil sheet as well as a Mythic Edition. Let’s be conservative here and say that 20,000 boxes belonged to non-duplicate, non-fulfilled orders.

Lastly, we have to factor in the fact that the vast majority of people who ordered Mythic Edition were trying to snag two copies. Some probably even ordered more than two copies, because even though WotC wanted to limit these to two per customer, the listing did not formally set that limit. With these additional orders removed, I feel like it’s safe to say that the number of foil sheets going out will be close to 12,000 – same as the number of Mythic Edition boxes.

In fact, the true number might even be smaller. It just feels like more because most people who got their Mythic Edition orders fulfilled were able to purchase two copies, while everyone who is getting a foil sheet is only going to get one. This makes it seem like there are roughly twice as many foil sheets as Mythic Editions if you talk to folks on social media about who is getting what, and this disparity has been skewing the conversation.

12,000 seems like a large number, but it’s actually rather small in the grand scheme of things. That’s why Mythic Edition is so sought-after in the first place – it’s not a large enough print run to cause the value of any of the included cards to take a hit, so you can be reasonably assured that your Jace or Ugin or whatever is going to hold its value.

Of course, the demand for collectors’ items like this foil sheet is far smaller than it is for a top-tier Modern staple. The print run for most uncut sheets is tiny because they’re usually only given out as prizes at large events. Normally, an uncut foil mythic and rare sheet for a “bad” set would run about $500, approaching $800-$1,000 for a “good” set. War of the Spark is undoubtedly a good set, but the market is going to be flooded with these.

So how much is your foil sheet actually worth?

Well, the cheapest available pre-sale copy on eBay right now is about $200. There has been a bit of a race to the bottom over the past couple of days, with a few sales in the $300-$400 range when the compensation was initially announced before that number began getting lower and lower. It’s possible that the price will drop even further once these sheets are shipped out and a horde of frustrated customers flood the market with their sheets, but I doubt it’ll ever slip below $150. That seems like the absolute bottom of the market to me.

A quick aside: even without considering the race to the bottom, pre-selling these is a bad idea. Did you not learn your lesson with Mythic Edition? You have no idea when WotC is going to ship your sheet, whether they’ll screw something else up, or if the sheet will arrive in mint condition. Hasbro’s eBay account can eat a trillion bad feedback comments without issue, but yours cannot. Just wait until your sheet is in hand, okay? Your stress levels with thank you.

I’ve also heard some people talk about finding a way to cut their sheet. This does seem tempting, considering the fact that a complete set of foil mythics and two complete sets of foil rares from War of the Spark is worth a good deal more than $200. Unfortunately, cutting your sheet is not going to go great no matter what you do. All amateur cutting attempts are going to look amateurish (though many folks, I suspect, will try) while professional cutting attempts will leave the final product with a strong top-to-bottom curl due to how the sheets have been rolled in shipment and storage. They might be casually sleeve playable, but tournament playability is far iffier. Plus, finding someone who can cut your sheet to WotC specifications is going to be a total drag. I don’t recommend it.

Ultimately, I think the best thing to do with your foil sheet is to either frame it or stick it in your closet and forget about it for as long as you can. Right now, people are underrating this item for two reasons: one, it still has the stink of Mythic Edition failure all over it, and two, it’s being mailed to a lot of competitive players who don’t actually want it. This makes it fairly unique in the world of Magic collectibles, because most of them are at least initially purchased by folks who think they’re at least somewhat cool. Since this sheet was foisted upon a lot of disgruntled players, there are going to be a lot of copies hitting the market all at once in a terrific race to the bottom, with very few players having any emotional or financial attachment. You can also expect to hear about a whole lot of folks immediately taking a pair of scissors to their sheet, only to be instantly regretful.

Over time, this attitude will shift. People won’t be nearly as sore about Mythic Edition a year or two from now, and most of the unwanted sheets will have already been sold to folks who want them or cut into pieces. If War of the Spark is remembered fondly, as I suspect it will be, the sheet will begin to fall further in line with other foil mythic and rare sheets. I doubt it’ll end up in the $900 to $1,000 range, but I can certainly imagine it kicking around $500. The further into the future we get, the more this will feel like a unique piece of Magic history. Don’t ditch yours in a huff just because you’re still mad at eBay and Hasbro.

This Week’s Trends

We talked a lot about Standard and Modern already this week, but there are still a few cards that I haven’t touched on yet. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager was the biggest Standard gainer of the week, shooting up from $20 to about $35, largely on the back of Chris Johnson’s finish at the SCG Classic (not the Open) in Richmond last weekend:

I understand the hype here, but I’m still pretty skeptical about Nicol Bolas’s future. Grixis Control was basically a no-show in the Open, and none of the MPL pros decided to jam Nicol Bolas this week, either. In the current Standard metagame, Grixis is just the eighth-most-popular deck according to MTG Goldfish. Those numbers just aren’t enough to justify a Nicol Bolas breakout. We could be singing a different tune a week from now, especially if Grixis shows up in force in Syracuse, but the smart money is still selling into the hype. For now, this looks more like an outlier than a trend.

Over in Modern, it’s unsurprising that Mycosynth Lattice was the biggest winner of the week yet again. After seeing what Karn, the Great Creator has done across all three Eternal formats, it’s no shock that this card would end up finally hitting the $50+ range. A reprint will bring it down at some point, but it’s going to ride high until then. This combo is totally legit.

This week also featured some residual hype for Neobrand staples like Autochthon Wurm and Summoner’s Pact, though Allosaurus Riders has settled back down to a reasonable price. It’s still a tad too early to say what the future of this deck is going to be, but the fact that it didn’t dominate the MTGO Modern Challenge this week makes me believe that it’s far more vulnerable than I was worried about last week. Only time will tell whether this is a flash in the pan or a new pillar of the metagame, but the smart money, as always, is to sell into the hype.

Lastly, casual Sliver staples continue to do really well, with cards like Sliver Legion and Sliver Hive surging in price over the past couple of days. I still keep hearing rumors that Slivers will be back soon, and everyone wants to get in ahead of the rush. There’s still probably more room to grow here, and Sliver Hive could legitimately end up being a $30+ card. It could also end up being reprinted, though, so buy in at your own risk.