Did Theros Beyond Death Collector Boosters Destroy The Standard Market?

Cassie LaBelle sees the prices of Theros Beyond Death cards acting strangely. Is this the new normal or a critical buying opportunity?

Erebos’s Intervention, illustrated by Mathias Kollros

We need to talk about Erebos, Bleak-Hearted.

Right now, the booster pack version of Erebos is selling for $6 — a little low, perhaps, but still within the normal range for a Commander-first mythic in a current set.

Erebos, Bleak-Hearted

What’s wild is that the Alternate Art version of Erebos, Bleak-Hearted is just $7, and the pack foil is just $10. Heck, even the Alternate Art foil is only $15. This is a pretty far cry from the kind of premium that this double-super-special-mega-awesome variant is supposed to command.

It’s not just Erebos, either — it’s a bunch of the key cards in Theros Beyond Death. Not even the planeswalkers are immune. Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis is selling for $7, but the Full-Art version is just $10, the pack foil is $13, and the Full-Art foil is a mere $20.

Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis

This is very different from how things went with Throne of Eldrane. When Throne‘s Collector Boosters dropped, even its non-Oko Full-Art planeswalkers commanded a pretty serious premium. The Full-Art Garruk, Cursed Huntsman was $50, and its foil variant would set you back $100. A Full-Art copy of The Royal Scions set you $40, while the Full-Art foil was worth a whopping $150.

Something must have happened here. Is the community suffering from promo fatigue? Did Wizards of the Coast (WotC) print too many Collector Boosters? Have they changed the drop rate on Full-Art cards? Might this have something to do with the foil Full-Art lands in Theros Beyond Death?

It’s essential that we get to the bottom of this, because the wider implications to the world of Magic finance are pretty significant. For starters, it’s worth trying to figure out if the premium variants from the Theros Beyond Death Collector Boosters are being undervalued right now — because if they are, they might be the best specs in the entire game at the moment.

It’s also important to figure out if this is likely to be a Theros-only blip or the new normal for all Full-Art cards going forward. If there’s something unique about Theros Beyond Death Collector Boosters that’s unlikely to be true about the next set, then it’s possible that everyone will undervalue those cards early on, giving us a sweet buying opportunity when Collector Boosters for Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths hit shelves.

Most importantly, though, we need to talk about how these foil prices are affecting values across the entire set — not just in the world of Full-Art premium cards. The entire shape and scope of Theros Beyond Death finance is being warped by the Collector Boosters right now, and I’m determined to figure out how that dance will play out.

So even if you don’t care about foils or Full-Art cards, read on. If you’re ever planning to buy a card from Theros Beyond Death, this article is for you.

The Slot-By-Slot Differences Between Throne of Eldrane and Theros Beyond Death Collector Boosters

WotC changed a couple of key things about card distribution in the Theros Beyond Death Collector Boosters, and this seems like the best place to begin our discussion. Let’s go through each of the slots in a Theros Beyond Death collector booster, one at a time:

  • Eight foil commons, uncommons, or non-Nyx basic lands. This is down from nine “dead” slots in Throne of Eldrane, which is already a pretty solid improvement.
  • One ancillary product card. This is the same as Throne of Eldraine. The Theros Beyond Death ancillary cards are a little less exciting, but it’s still something of a push.
  • One non-foil Full-Art rare or mythic rare. This is also the same as Throne of Eldraine.
  • One foil rare or mythic rare, including all variants. This is also the same as Eldraine.
  • One foil token. This is also the same as Eldraine.
  • One non-foil Saga, constellation Showcase card, or Full-Art planeswalker card. This is the first big change from Throne of Eldrane. In those Collector Boosters, there were three “special frame, non-foil” slots. That’s down to just one in Theros Beyond Death, though the slot is better now. Back in Throne of Eldraine, you had a decent shot of getting commons in these slots. In Theros Beyond Death, all constellations are either uncommons or mythic rares, while all the Sagas are rares or mythic rares.
  • One foil constellation Showcase card or foil Full-Art planeswalker. This is another big change. In Throne of Eldraine, you could only get a foil Full-Art planeswalker in the foil rare or mythic rare slot. The addition of this slot makes these planeswalkers a lot more accessible, and at least partially explains the price discrepancy for these cards. This slot is also the reason why there are so many foil Showcase mythic Gods running around.
  • Two foil Nyx lands. These slots add guaranteed value to each and every pack, regardless of whatever else is included. This may not seem like a big change, but it might actually be the biggest difference between the Theros Beyond Death and Throne of Eldraine booster packs. I’ll show you why:

Foil Nyx Lands Are Key to Understanding Theros Beyond Death Collector Boosters

A box of twelve Theros Beyond Death Collector Boosters is currently selling for $270 on Star City Games, giving us an approximate pack value of $22.50 each. No matter what else comes in a Theros Beyond Death Collector Booster, you are guaranteed to open exactly two foil Nyx lands.

Right now, the foil Nyx lands are selling from $3 (Plains, Swamp, Mountain, Forest) to $4 (Island) each. This means that each Collector Booster comes with at least $6 in guaranteed value, no matter what else you open. That’s 25% of your pack value, given back to you as a rebate in the form of easily traded foil lands.

Even better, these lands are only going to gain value from here. Foil Full-Art lands always do well over the long haul, and the Nyx lands are unique. The Battle for Zendikar Full-Art lands were probably the most disappointing Full-Art lands printed to date, at least in terms of low prices and easy accessibility, and even those are worth between $4 and $7 these days.

Even with the Collector Boosters adding supply to the market that didn’t exist back in the Battle for Zendikar days, I suspect that the foil Nyx lands will be trading in the $6-$7 a couple years from now. If you’re in the market for Nyx lands or you just want an easy, low-risk spec, pick them up now, while the market is saturated. You’ll be glad you did.

The existence of these lands also helps explain why the prices are low for a lot of the other Theros Beyond Death Collector Booster variants. In Throne of Eldraine, without any guaranteed Full-Art lands, it was possible to open packs that only had $3-$4 in total value. This helped prop up the price of the better promo cards in the set. But since even the worst Theros Beyond Death Collector Boosters are worth at least $10 or so, the overall value curve for these cards is a lot flatter. In essence, the Throne of Eldraine Collector Boosters had a higher ceiling while the Theros Beyond Death ones have a higher floor.

A Showcase in Contrasts

There were 30 unique Showcase Cards in Throne of Eldrane: two mythic rares, five rares, nine uncommons, and fourteen commons. Very few of these cards are exciting, and Brazen Borrower is the only high-value pull. Realm-Cloaked Giant and Murderous Rider are also pretty good, but it gets sort of rough after that.

Brazen Borrower Realm-Cloaked Giant Murderous Rider

In Theros Beyond Death, there are only eleven unique Showcase Cards: five uncommons and six mythic rares. I have no idea how much more often the uncommons actually show up compared to the mythics, but anecdotal evidence (talking to lots of people who have opened lots of Collector Booster boxes) seems to indicate that each box tends to have at least one or two Showcase Gods.

This is a pretty massive difference between the two sets. In Throne of Eldrane, the Showcase slots tended to be quite poor, and you were basically opening your packs for the Full-Art Rare slot and a shot at one of the Full-Art planeswalkers. In Theros Beyond Death, the Showcase slots have a far larger shot of paying off — especially since one of them can also contain a foil Full-Art planeswalker in lieu of the foil Showcase card.

It’s hard to say exactly how much this change impacts the value of the set, but it’s significant. The fact that most Collector Booster boxes seem to have one or two foil Gods helps to explain why their prices are so low compared to the foil Full-Art mythic rares in Throne of Eldraine, and this increase in supply is absolutely dragging down the price of the Theros Beyond Death Gods in general. Quite simply, there are just a whole lot more of these kicking around than there are of most mythic rares from older sets. And since none of these cards has made much of a splash in Standard yet, prices are down across the board.

We will probably feel the impact of this supply glut for years. These additional copies won’t matter very much if any of the Theros Beyond Death Gods do actually break out in a competitive format — demand will vastly outstrip supply in that case — but if you’re just counting on them to be slow and steady casual gainers? Look elsewhere. The Showcase variants of the mythic Gods might actually be a little under-priced right now, providing you’re willing to wait several years for your spec to pay off, but this should keep the normal non-foil variants nice and low for the foreseeable future.

How Do Theros Beyond Death‘s Other Full-Art Foils Stack Up to Throne of Eldraine?

I opened this article by comparing Theros Beyond Death‘s foil Full-Art planeswalkers to the initial price tags of similar cards in Throne of Eldrane, but there’s a pretty big variable that I haven’t had a chance to factor in yet: the fact that Throne of Eldrane was our first-ever set of Collector Boosters. Is it possible that those initial prices were just wildly out of line with the market because we didn’t know any better? Let’s take a look at how the key foil variants in Theros Beyond Death‘s Collector Boosters stack up to Throne of Eldraine‘s current value.

The three foil Full-Art planeswalkers from Throne of Eldraine are still worth quite a bit, but not nearly as much as they were at release. Right now, Garruk, Cursed Huntsman is $25; The Royal Scions is $35; and Oko, Thief of Crowns is still $100 despite all the bannings. If Oko were still legal across multiple formats, that price tag might be as high as $250 right now.

Garruk, Cursed Huntsman The Royal Scions Oko, Thief of Crowns

Over in Theros Beyond Death, meanwhile, the foil Full-Art planeswalkers are cheaper no matter how you slice it. Calix, Destiny’s Hand is $15; Elspeth is $20; and Ashiok is just $28. Granted, these planeswalkers have proven somewhat disappointing in Standard play so far, but a floor of $15 is still significantly lower than a floor of $25. It’s pretty clear that the drop rate on these cards has been increased, which tracks with what we talked about earlier.

I can’t directly compare the Theros Beyond Death Gods to anything in Throne of Eldrane, but it’s pretty clear that they have a higher drop rate than almost every foil Full-Art mythic rare in Throne of Eldraine. Right now, the foil Full-Art Showcase price tags for the six mythic Gods looks like this:

The only halfway-reasonable comparison I can make across these two sets is with the two Showcase mythic rares in Throne of Eldrane. Right now, Brazen Borrower is $80 while Realm-Cloaked Giant is $20. Not one of these Gods is as good as Brazen Borrower, but they’re also a lot more exciting for casual play than Realm-Cloaked Giant. The fact that they have a lower floor tells me a lot of about their increased level of supply. Again, this tracks with everything else we’ve talked about today.

So at this point, we’ve more or less proven that the Showcase Gods and foil Full-Art planeswalkers are cheaper in Theros Beyond Death because WotC increased their drop rates over comparable cards in Throne of Eldraine Collector Boosters. But what about the set’s other foil Full-Art cards? We know that the drop rate for those is exactly the same as it was in Throne of Eldraine. If these prices are also cheaper, it might speak to deeper issues about Theros Beyond Death‘s Collector Boosters.

In order to measure this, I decided to add up all the high-end ($20-and-up) Full-Art foil rares and mythics in each set. I’ve chosen not to include any of the Full-Art planeswalkers or Showcase cards, since those are found in different slots. Here’s how it all shakes out:

High-End Full-Art Foils in Theros Beyond Death

Total: $840

High-End Full-Art Foils in Throne of Eldraine

Total: $995

Interesting! According to this metric, there was about a 15% drop from Throne of Eldraine to Theros Beyond Death. This might have more to do with the quality of the cards in their respective sets (Throne of Eldrane is better than Theros Beyond Death) than any concerning trend about the price of Full-Art foils, and it doesn’t feel all that significant to me. The addition of the Nyx lands to the Theros Beyond Death packs could also help explain this discrepancy, as could the fact that six of Theros Beyond Death’s mythics were Showcase cards and therefore ineligible for this list, compared to only two of Throne of Eldraine‘s mythics. In fact, once you consider all of these possibilities, it almost starts to look like Theros Beyond Death‘s Full-Art foils are worth more than their comparable brethren in Throne of Eldraine.

At the very least, this answers a key question for us. Are Theros Beyond Death‘s Collector Booster cards being undervalued right now? Not really, no. The cards that feel cheaper than they should be are cheaper for very clear reasons, and the cards that are still scarce are also still valuable.

Is “Promo Fatigue” Hurting the Collector Booster Singles Market?

Open up any social media thread on Collector Boosters, and you’ll be inundated with chatter about how exhausting it is that there are multiple promo variants of each and every card these days. If you ask Reddit why the Showcase Gods are so cheap, the hive mind will respond with unusual clarity: “Because people are sick of having to care about nine different foils!”

Promo fatigue is definitely a real thing. I feel it myself. Ten years ago, I traveled to large Magic events explicitly to trade for rare foils. Nowadays, I can’t keep up and I don’t even try. If I get a cool version of a card I like, great! I have no desire to track down each and every variant. I know a lot of other collectors feel the same way.

It’s possible that promo fatigue has caused foil prices to dip across the board over the last couple of years, but there’s no evidence that this problem has gotten worse with Theros Beyond Death. As we’ve discussed, the promos that are cheaper in Theros Beyond Death are cheaper for concrete reasons. “People are tired of foils now” is not among them.

“But riddle me this!” I can hear some of you saying. “If people aren’t tired of foils, than why did the price tags for the foil Full-Art planeswalkers in Throne of Eldrane tank so hard? A foil Full-Art copy of The Royal Scions dropped from $150 to $35! Surely that’s promo fatigue in action!”

A few thoughts on this. First, The Royal Scions was looking like a potential Modern staple back when it came out. That didn’t really pan out. Remember: foil Full-Art copies of Oko, Thief of Crowns were also pre-selling for $150, which would have been a fine price before all the bannings.

Second, it’s pretty clear that the foil Full-Art planeswalkers were somewhat overpriced to begin with. Their drop rates ended up being a little higher than most people thought, which couldn’t really be determined until a whole bunch of Collector Boosters were opened. Once we got a better sense of how scarce those cards actually were, the price dropped.

I think it’s better to look at what happened to the price tags of the other high-end foil Full-Art cards in Throne of Eldrane, which tell a different story. Remember our collection of hig- end Full-Art cards that are currently selling for $955? That same batch pre-sold for $1,145 — a pretty small difference in overall value, and one that is almost entirely explained by two or three busts (Robber of the Rich dropping from $100 to $20, for example) as well as Once Upon a Time getting banned in multiple formats. Most of the Commander staples either stayed the same or went up in price.

So yeah. I definitely think there are quite a few people out there who are overwhelmed by the current flood of promos, but the market tells a different story. Commander-focused foils are still doing quite well, and there hasn’t been a meaningful dip in that market since the Collector Boosters were first previewed.

Did Theros Beyond Death Collector Boosters Destroy the Standard Market?

No. But it is going to shape the Standard market for Theros Beyond Death cards in several meaningful ways.

The only cards that seem truly affected by the changes to Collector Boosters are the three planeswalkers and the six mythic Gods — which, admittedly, is more than half of the mythic rares in Theros Beyond Death. If any of these cards finds success on the level of Arclight Phoenix or Hydroid Krasis, that additional supply won’t matter much — their price ceilings are still incredibly high, and still linked closely with high-level competitive play.

Things get a little more complex once we turn to the world of Commander. It is likely that most of these planeswalkers and Gods will not end up becoming key Standard staples, and the ones that don’t find a competitive home are going to be cheaper than average due to the additional influx of Collector Booster singles. After all, if you’re building a Commander deck around a card like Thassa, you’re probably going to want a premium copy of some kind — especially if its price tag is already pretty low. This leaves the regular booster pack versions of these cards in kind of a tough spot.

Thassa, Deep-Dwelling

If booster pack copies of these planeswalkers and Gods end up being cheaper than average, all that value will have to congregate somewhere else. Remember how casual mythics The Immortal Sun and Zacama, Primal Calamity were always super-expensive because Rivals of Ixalan was such a poor Standard set? A similar thing might happen to Theros Beyond Death. Cards like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath; Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger; and Ox of Agonas might end up being worth more than they would in other sets due to the depressed cost of the Gods and planeswalkers.

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger Ox of Agonas

It’s a little too early to say for sure, though. First, we have to see what kind of an impact Theros Beyond Death is going to have on the Standard metagame. All the mythic rares seem to be underperforming so far, but the set is still quite new and things can change in a hurry.

Regardless, I’d be quick to jump on any of the other mythic rares in Theros Beyond Death if they do look like they’re going to break out. Because of these Collector Booster quirks, their ceilings might be higher than you think.

This Week’s Trends

It was a big week for Pioneer innovation. Inverter of Truth shot through the roof thanks to its interaction with Thassa’s Oracle, and the resulting deck has completely shaken up the Pioneer metagame.

Dimir Inverter is legit, and I highly recommend checking out Emma Handy’s great article about the combo. She calls it “the deck to play going forward,” and I’ve seen her and other high-level players racking up some pretty serious win totals with the brew. At this point, my only real concern is whether the deck ends up settling into a comfortable place in the Pioneer meta or winds up getting hit with a ban.

Inverter of Truth Thassa's Oracle

If you managed to snag a whole bunch of Inverters before the spike, congratulations! Sell at least half of them now to hedge against a potential ban. You can keep the rest if you feel like taking a gamble, but dumping them all into hype is fine. Turning a $0.50 bulk rare into a $10 format staple is pretty sweet, no matter what else happens from here.

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries Thoughtseize Dig Through Time

Other than the combo itself, the other key financially relevant cards in Dimir Inverter are Jace, Wielder of Mysteries; Thoughtseize; and Dig Through Time. Jace was about as cheap as a planeswalker gets before last week, so it makes sense that he’s currently spiking. Thoughtseize and Dig Through Time are well-known staples, though, so their price tags have been unaffected so far.

If you actually think that a bunch of Pioneer players are going to pick up this deck, you’ll want to grab your copies of Thoughtseize and Dig Through Time now. Inverter of Truth spiked because it’s easy for a couple of people to snap up all the existing copes for $0.50-$1 each, but the innovation of a legitimate top deck should cause all of its staples to rise in price. If Dimir Inverter gets a couple of weeks to play before a potential ban — and it should — then Thoughtseize and Dig Through Time will both see their price tags go up.

Starfield of Nyx

The other big Pioneer innovation of the week was Orzhov Doom Foretold, a quirky control deck that combines Doom Foretold with Starfield of Nyx, a mythic rare from Magic Origins. Derek Fraley took it to a fifth-place finish at a Star City Games Invitational Qualifier last week, and it’s worth taking a look at his list:

Starfield of Nyx was the clear spec here, and it roughly doubled in value from $8 to $17. It’s current sold out at that price, and its future is going to depend on whether or not this deck is a flash in the pan or a legitimate contender. If it’s the latter, Starfield of Nyx should have no issues commanding a $20+ price tag. I’m a lot less sure about this one than Dimir Inverter, though, so I’m even more eager to sell my copies into the current hype.

Over in Theros Beyond Death Standard, we’ve got a couple of new decks to talk about. Mono-White Lifegain is the first, and it’s a sweet brew that’s taking advantage of new Theros Beyond Death cards like Daxos, Blessed by the Sun and Heliod, Sun Crowed.

Ajani, Strength of the Pride is the biggest financial beneficiary of this deck’s rise to power, more than doubling in price over the past week. Ajani has now gone from being Core Set 2020‘s afterthought planeswalker to a key mythic in a hot new deck. Ajani, Strength of the Pride is currently sold out at $13, and its fair market price is closer to $15. Expect it to stay in this range — if not higher — as long as Mono-White Lifegain continues to find success.

Ajani, Strength of the Pride Gideon Blackblade

Gideon Blackblade is the other key planeswalker in Mono-White Lifegain, and it hasn’t seen a meaningful increase in price yet. As with Dimir Inverter in Pioneer, this is another example of folks buying out the undiscovered card in a new deck while leaving the more established, more expensive tech alone. Gideon might not be the most lucrative spec out there, but it’s definitely going to see an increase in both demand and play going forward. If you want to play this deck, pick up your copies of Gideon ASAP.


Also up this week: Absorb, on the strength of Azorius Control in Theros Beyond Death Standard. The deck gained a lot of key tools in Theros Beyond Death, including Dream Trawler, Elspeth Conquers Death, and Shatter the Sky. Absorb has seen play in Pioneer for a few months now, but a massive influx of Standard demand is currently putting some serious pressure on its price tag. Expect its value to keep rising over the weeks to come.

Brain Freeze

Believe it or not, we actually had another Legacy spike this week. Brain Freeze jumped from $2 to about $10 (it’s currently sold out at $5 on Star City Games) due to its combo potential with Underworld Breach in Legacy. I don’t think the $10 price tag will stick since you still need a full playset of Lion’s Eye Diamonds to play the deck, but I can see it ending up closer to $5 than $2.