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A Buyer’s Guide To Ikoria Collector Boosters

Cassie LaBelle breaks down the Collector Boosters of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths! What does she think of Spacegodzilla, Death Corona?

Spacegodzilla, Death Corona, illustrated by Zezhou Chen

Welcome to Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths Collector Booster season!

While most of the world’s Collector Boosters won’t ship for another week or so (StarCityGames.com pre-orders will go out on May 15th, just like any Ikoria singles you order from us right now), a large portion of the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region has already received their allotment, and some of those boxes have started to trickle out into the rest of the world.

I haven’t been able to get ahold of any Ikoria Collector Boosters myself, but I’ve watched a number of unboxing (unwrapping?) videos, talked to a few dealers, and compiled a bunch of stats in an attempt to get the lay of the land. That way, we’ll have the best possible information to work with once these cards start hitting shelves closer to home.

If we don’t talk about Ikoria Collector Boosters now, it might be too late. There generally aren’t multiple print runs of these sets: they hit the market all at once, and their price either rises like Throne of Eldraine or falls like Theros Beyond Death. If this particular round of Collector Boosters ends up being particularly good, you’ll wish you’d bought in early. If not, then you’ll wish you’d decided to wait. That’s why we need to figure the market out now.

Ikoria also has some added wrinkles that don’t apply to most other Collector Booster sets. For one, we don’t know if the Ikoria Collector Booster print run was significantly disrupted by COVID-19. Regular Ikoria boosters and Commander 2020 decks both had issues with printing and distribution due to the virus, so it’s not out of the question that the same issues will be at play here. And that could make these packs a lot scarcer than Collector Boosters from both Theros Beyond Death and Throne of Eldraine.

There’s also the matter of Spacegodzilla, Death Corona. This is a unique situation where the Ikoria Collector Boosters are by far the best place to find a card that’s going to be collectible both inside and outside the Magic community for many years to come.

I’m going to talk at greater depth about Spacegodzilla’s scarcity and future value later in this article, but let’s start the week out by taking a look at the composition of each slot in an Ikoria Collector Booster. Have they changed things up again since Theros Beyond Death? You bet!

Ikoria Collector Boosters VS Theros Beyond Death Collector Boosters

Here’s the slot-by-slot breakdown for each Ikoria Collector Booster:

  • Seven foil commons, uncommons, or basic lands. This is down from eight “dead” slots in Theros Beyond Death, which was itself down from nine “dead” slots in Throne of Eldraine. The slow march of progress continues!
  • One foil token. This is the same as Theros Beyond Death and Throne of Eldraine.
  • One ancillary product card. This is the same as in Theros Beyond Death and Throne of Eldraine, but they’re a little more exciting this time around since they’re from the latest round of Commander decks. A lot of the Commander 2020 cards are selling for dizzying amounts of money right now since the initial print run was so small, so this is a pretty valuable slot at the moment.
  • One foil rare or mythic rare, including all variants. This is also the same as Theros Beyond Death.
  • One non-foil Full-Art rare or mythic rare. This is also the same as Theros Beyond Death.
  • Two non-foil showcase commons or uncommons. This is our first big change from Theros Beyond Death, which didn’t have many showcase cards that weren’t rares or mythic rares. I guess these two slots more or less replace the two foil Nyx lands from the Theros Beyond Death packs, but I’d rather have those sweet Nyx lands in nearly every circumstance.
  • One non-foil Showcase rare or mythic. This is an upgrade from Theros Beyond Death collector boosters, where this slot ended up being a valueless uncommon constellation card some amount of the time. In Ikoria, it’s guaranteed to be a rare or a mythic. We’re back in business!
  • One foil Showcase card or foil Full-Art planeswalker. This is a continuation of what the slot was like in Theros Beyond Death, but don’t be fooled — there are a lot more showcase cards in Ikoria, so the foil Full-Art planeswalkers and good foil Showcase cards are likely going to be a lot scarcer than their counterparts from Theros Beyond Death.
  • One foil or non-foil Godzilla Monster Series card. Believe it or not, this is actually a bonus sixteenth card, and it’s what really pushes these packs over the top for me. We didn’t get this slot at all in either of the last two rounds of Collector Boosters, so this is just a straight-up value increase. Not bad!

Showcasing the Best Commons and Uncommons in Ikoria? Not Really.

Unfortunately, the non-foil Showcase commons and uncommons are pretty disappointing this time around. They look cool, but most of them were designed to highlight the mutate mechanic, which has been a disappointment outside of Limited play. It’s possible that a few of these cards will eventually find a home in Standard or Commander, but we can more or less write off this slot for now.

Here’s a list of everything you can “hope” to open in this slot:

Yeah, there’s not much more to say about these cards, unfortunately.

The Non-Foil Showcase Rare and Mythic Slot Is a Lot Better

There’s a silver lining to how disappointing the non-foil Showcase common and uncommon slots are: you can’t open any of those cards in this slot. Instead, you’re guaranteed to get one of the five Showcase rares, one of the five Apexes, or one of the five Full-Art Triomes. Here’s how that list shakes out:

My assumption is that Cubwarden and Dirge Bat will eventually end up in the $1-$2 range, but Everquill Phoenix and Gemrazer still have a shot at seeing competitive play. We already know that Sea-Dasher Octopus is a top-tier Standard card. Granted, the Octopus isn’t the sort of card that tends to demand a high foil premium — Standard-centric cards rarely are — but you won’t ever be sad to see it in your booster pack.

Things only get better from there. The Apexes are always going to remain somewhat in demand thanks to Commander, and you won’t ever be sad to see one of these in your booster. Mythic rares tend to show up at lower-than-expected rates in most Collector Boosters, so they often hold their value pretty well regardless of how much Constructed play they see. Even though the Apex cycle has disappointed in Ikoria Standard so far, I wouldn’t be shocked if they hold onto a majority of their current value going forward.

Lastly, we have the non-foil Full-Art Triomes. These cards are gorgeous, and they’re going to be Cube and Commander staples forever. That said, based on the conversations I’ve had with folks who have opened multiple boxes, I expect them to come down in price due to how often they show up in this slot. Both the Triomes and the five rares show up a lot more often than the Apexes, so I’d suggest holding off on buying these for another three to four weeks. The price will drop as we head toward peak supply.     

The Foil Showcase Slot Is for Home Run Swings

The last slot in each Ikoria Collector Booster has a foil copy of a Showcase card (including the Triomes) or a foil Full-Art planeswalker. That makes it the highest-variance slot in the entire pack: you’ll probably end up with an undesirable common or uncommon, but you could end up with one of the most expensive cards in the entire set. Here’s a full list of everything you might open:

This list looks pretty balanced between good and bad pulls, but remember: there’s rarity weight in play here, meaning you’re a lot more likely to open a Cavern Whisperer than a Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate or a Savai Triome. I’m not going to spend much time on the low-end cards here — very few people are ever going to want a foil Showcase Porcuparrot, sadly — but I think we do need to talk in depth about the foil Apexes, Triomes, and planeswalkers.

Let’s start with the foil Apexes, which look to be solid buys at current retail. They might drop a bit during peak supply, but these are gorgeous Commander cards and they’re incredibly scarce. Word from the Asian markets (where peak Collector Booster supply has already hit) is that all of the mythic rares in this set are harder to get than you might think, and they’ve all seen their price tags remain fairly stable. If you want these, pre-ordering them now is a reasonable choice.

I feel pretty similarly about the foil Triomes. $50 each is likely at or close to peak value for these cards, but anyone who thinks they will be easily available in the $20 range is probably going to be disappointed. These cards are quite scarce, and the drop rate looks to be somewhere in the neighborhood of one foil Triome per every 1.5 boxes of Collector Boosters. Commander demand is going to be high for these, and scarcity will keep the price up. I’d guess they remain in the $40-$50 range for a while.

Lastly, we have the foil Full-Art planeswalkers. These cards would be massively under-priced if they only appeared in this slot, but the fact that you can open them up in the “foil rare or mythic rare, including all variants” slot as well should keep the price somewhat reasonable. I’ve also heard some anecdotal value that the drop rate for these in the “including all variants” slot is a little higher than expected, too.

That said, it does look like the Full-Art planeswalkers will still end up being a lot scarcer than they were in Theros Beyond Death Collector Boosters. All three of Ikoria’s planeswalkers should not be cheaper than all five of the Triomes, at any rate. One of these cards will have to break out before buying in now starts to look like a no-brainer of a deal (my money is on Lukka), but as with the foil Triomes and foil Apexes, I suspect these three cards will depreciate far less than some people are expecting.  

How Good Are the Full-Art Cards in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths?

The non-Showcase Full-Art cards aren’t available for sale on StarCityGames.com yet, so I can’t do a price breakdown on the exact value of those slots right now. Honestly, I don’t think we need it to get a good sense of the market. Here’s a full list of the available Full-Art cards and their non-variant, Draft Booster price tags as reference:

I don’t blame you if your eyes glazed over while scanning this list, which is 50 cards long and chock-full of rares that aren’t all that exciting. One of the bigger problems that the Full-Art slot has is that a lot of Ikoria‘s coolest cards — the Apexes and Triomes chief among them — don’t have a big standard Full-Art treatment because they’re being highlighted in Showcase form instead.

That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if this batch of Full-Art cards ends up being above-average. Not only do all the mythic rares range from solid to good (though that will certainly change once Ikoria packs become easier to get), but the set’s overall focus on Commander playability bodes really well for its long-term value. On the whole, it seems like a better bunch of mythic rares than we saw in Theros Beyond Death.

The wild cards here, of course, are the companions. Even the companions that are currently selling for $1.49 have the potential to be $40 or $50 foil Full-Art cards at some point. It’s certainly possible that the entire mechanic will be swept under the rug and banned at some point. It’s equally plausible that Ikoria‘s companions will quickly be outmoded by the next batch of powerful companions. But if neither of these things happens? Then Ikoria’s Full-Art Companions are going to be in high demand for years, if not decades, to come.

Talkin’ Toho

It’s finally time to talk about the Godzilla Series.

StarCityGames doesn’t have its non-foil Godzilla cards listed yet, but we can take a look at the foil prices, I also know that the non-foils look like they’re currently tracking at roughly 30-50% of their foil counterparts on eBay. With that in mind, here’s a list of all the Godzilla Series cards you can hope to open in an English Collector Booster, complete with their current foil price tags:

  • King Caesar, Ancient Guardian – $4.99
  • Babygodzilla, Ruin Reborn – $4.99
  • Godzilla, Primeval Champion – $4.99
  • Dorat, the Perfect Pet – $9.99
  • Destroyah, Perfect Lifeform – $9.99
  • Anguirus, Armored Killer – $14.99
  • Godzilla, Doom Inevitable – $24.99
  • Bio-Quartz Spacegodzilla – $29.99
  • King Caesar, Awoken Titan – $29.99
  • Gigan, Cyberclaw Terror – $34.99
  • Biollante, Plant Beast Form – $44.99
  • Mothra, Supersonic Queen – $69.99
  • Ghidorah, King of the Cosmos – $79.99
  • Spacegodzilla, Death Corona – $99.99

Based on the same anecdotal Asian market reports and unboxing videos we’ve already talked about, I expect the high-end mythic rare Godzillas to hold their value — especially in foil. There just aren’t that many foil Mothras and Ghidorahs out there, and they’re going to be in high demand for years to come. These cards are kind of like the Alternate Art Liliana, Dreadhorde General from War of the Spark — if you wanted a foil copy, you should have pre-ordered it right away.

That said, the uncommon Godzilla Series cards — especially the less desirable ones, and especially non-foil copies of these cards — are a bit overpriced right now. This is looking like one of those subsets where the high-end cards hold their value or rise over time, while the cheaper variants don’t end up being worth all that much at all. If you’re in the market for Godzilla cards, I’d snap up the pricier foils ASAP and wait a few weeks on the rest.

The Future of Spacegodzilla, Death Corona

Foil copies of Spacegodzilla, Death Corona are currently retailing for a cool $100. Based on eBay sales, non-foil copies are still worth about $50 right now. That’s a pretty steep price for one of the easier Godzilla Series cards to open. In fact, your odds of getting at least a non-foil copy of Spacegodzilla, Death Corona in a box of Collector Boosters is pretty good. Most of the boxes I saw opened on camera had at least one copy.

At this point, I have to believe that Spacegodzilla, Death Corona will drop in price — especially the non-foil. A box of Ikoria Collector Boosters is currently retailing for $219.99, and there’s tons of other good cards inside as well. If we assume that three boxes will return (on average) one foil copy and two non-foil copies of Spacegodzilla, that means that roughly 30% of the value of these booster boxes is in its Spacegodzillas. I just don’t see those numbers holding up.

Long term, I have no doubt that Spacegodzilla, Death Corona can sustain a price tag of $50-$100. It’s the sort of card that will impress someone who hasn’t even heard of Magic: The Gathering. I want one for my collection, and I suspect that you might want one for yours. But the math just doesn’t work right now — either Collector Boosters are extremely underpriced or Spacegodzilla is somewhat overpriced. I expect Spacegodzilla’s price to drop by about 50% as we approach peak supply, and I’ll be looking to buy in at some point in early June.

So… Should You Buy a Box of Ikoria Collector Boosters?

If you’re the sort of person who likes to open Collector Boosters, you shouldn’t skip out on Ikoria. The set has a lot going for it. Between the foil Showcase Triomes, the Full-Art companions, the emphasis on Commander playability, the potential overall scarcity, and the bonus Godzilla Series slot in every pack, Ikoria’s Collector Boosters seem like a step up from both Theros Beyond Death and Throne of Eldraine. I also expect them to hold their value better than most Collector Boosters, for all of the reasons I just stated.

If you’re just interested in buying singles, I would consider buying whatever high-end cards you want earlier in the set’s life cycle, if not now. This is especially true for the foil mythic rares, the better foil Godzilla Series cards, and the foil Triomes. This might backfire if Spacegodzilla, Death’s Corona holds its value while everything else drops, but that seems like a longshot to me.

Speaking of Spacegodzilla, I’d wait at least a month before buying one of those. Ditto for all of the lower-end Collector Booster cards and the non-foil Showcase Triomes. These cards are being overpriced right now relative to their scarcity, and their prices should drop. If you do buy a box of Collector Boosters and get it soon, you should sell all of this stuff ASAP and re-buy it later.

This Week’s Trends

The stock market and the Magic card economy have at least one thing in common: both are booming right now, despite the fact we have no idea how many more months of social distancing are ahead of us. I won’t pretend to be enough of an expert on the stock market to explain why the Dow Jones Industrial Average is doing well right now, but I can try to explain what is going on in the world of Magic. I talked about this market rally at length last week, so please go read that article if you want a more complete breakdown.

In a nutshell: part of it is the $1,200 government stimulus checks, which some folks in the US are using to add to their card collection. Part of it is the fact that we don’t have a lot of other things to spend money on right now, with concerts and fancy dinners and nights out drinking and dancing currently off the table. Part of it is that tangible commodities (like Magic cards) feel like better investments to some people during times of uncertainty, and part of it is that the cards that are spiking are relatively “safe” Commander staples and Reserved List cards that will likely not be invalidated by future shifts in the metagame.

Most importantly, a lot of this rally has been driven by supply chain issues. Dealers unable to access warehouses and run their fulfillment centers. Dealers who don’t have the capital to buy collections right now. Dealers who no longer have easy access to buying cards from their FNM regulars or at large event booths. Couple that with the toploader shortages, and you’ve suddenly got a market that’s far more inefficient that it was just two months ago.

This will all fix itself at some point, but until it is, prices might remain higher than they would be otherwise — especially for older cards that tend to be bought and sold in smaller numbers. This particular market is also ripe for buyout shenanigans for the same reason, so expect that to start up at some point as well.

Just like last week, this week’s market has a potpourri of Commander and Reserved List price spikes. Gaea’s Cradle, Willow Satyr, Forcefield, Gilded Drake, and Mox Diamond were all among the biggest winners, and we talked about them all at length in last week’s article. Forcefield and Gilded Drake appear to have peaked, but the others might still be on their way up for another week or two. Regardless, if you’ve got any extras lying around and you need the cash, I’d sell them into the hype.

Some of the best non-Reserved List Commander staples also saw an increase in price this week: Sliver Legion; Mana Reflection; Innocent Blood; Blightsteel Colossus; Cyclonic Rift; Forbidden Orchard; Stoneforge Mystic; Final Fortune; Zacama, Primal Calamity…the list goes on and on. Folks are buying cards that feel like safe holds in their favorite format, and social distancing doesn’t seem to be preventing anyone from brewing up Commander decks for video play or in preparation for the lockdown to be over. These spikes will certainly end at some point, but I don’t think we’ll get there either this week or next. For now, the rally should continue unabated. Next up, by my estimation: the Revised dual lands.

I wanted to break this card out and talk about it individually, because Echo of Eons is the latest Wheel of Fortune variant to spike this month. These cards play super-well with Ikoria in Commander, and the only reason I didn’t suggest buying Echo of Eons a month ago is that I completely forgot about it. It looks like everybody else did too, because Echo of Eons didn’t start spiking until late last week. Modern Horizons cards have a pretty high ceiling, so don’t be surprised if this card ends up in the $20-$25 range, at least for a little while. It certainly won’t be available at its current (sold out) retail price of $7.99 again for a while, if ever.

Did you order a copy of Secret Lair: Theros Stargazing back in mid-February? If so, your order is finally scheduled to ship in June. This likely means that WotC at least has a deal to get some of their printing operation up and running again, though who knows if it’s enough to handle the second run of Commander 2020 or the next few paper products. Just be aware that there are currently issues with order address changes, especially between states, likely due to issues with sales tax. If you think this is going to be an issue for you, now’s the time to start trying to figure out where you’re going to ship your Stargazing sets.

Speaking of Commander 2020, those prices have gone absolutely wild over the past week-and-a-half. This is a result of many stores only getting 10-30% of their expected allocation, with the problem looking like it might hit Europe the hardest. A lot of folks are seeing their pre-orders cancelled or delayed as a result.

My advice? Don’t panic. WotC will honor all of these orders, though it might take several months, and the prices could remain incredibly high until WotC’s printers are back at full capacity. If you want any of these cards for your Commander decks, try to hold out if possible. If you can get any of these decks at or near MSRP, you should jump on it.

Lastly, Ikoria the Standard metagame is continuing to evolve. Yorion Jeskai Lukka looks like the best deck in the format right now, and it’s by far the most popular in terms of metagame percentage. A Fires of Invention deck that’s also a Yorion deck, a Lukka deck, and a Teferi deck? Yeah, this thing has power and redundancy to spare.

Financially, there hasn’t been a ton of movement here yet. Agent of Treachery has been the biggest beneficiary of Yorion Jeskai Lukka’s rise to power, and that card is close to sold out at $9.99. If any other card is going to spike, it’ll be Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast. This card is somehow just $12.99 right now despite being a four-of mythic planeswalker in the best deck in Ikoria Standard, which seems a bit wild to me. Its price has doubled on MTGO in recent days, and I suspect the paper price will follow. If you’re in the market, buy your set ASAP.

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