Financial Analysis & Speculation – From the Vault: Legends

With From the Vault: Legends being revealed last week the question on everyone’s mind was simple: is it worth it? Historically, From the Vault sets have been difficult to find and even more of a challenge to get at the MSRP of $35. Currently, the last three From the Vault sets are available at Star City Games for $99.99. At nearly three-times the mark up, they don’t seem to be moving.

With fifteen cards released in brand new, shiny goodness, the question still remains: is the set worth it? Will this be the set that finally makes From the Vault sets obtainable? Probably not.

Note: All prices listed were compiled 8/16/11 from MagicCards.Info pricing based on median prices, not the high/low. All assume a near mint quality and for foil prices, I went with the lowest offering unless it seemed like a statistical outlier. Also, all prices have been rounded to the nearest half dollar to make it easier. In the event of a card not being available on MagicCards.Info, source will be provided. Sun Quan, Lord of Wu and Cao Cao, Lord of Wey have never been printed in foil before.

From the Vault: Legends Non-Foil Foil
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir $     4.50 $   15.00
Kresh the Bloodbraided $     1.00 $    5.00
Progenitus $   15.00 $   40.00
Doran the Siege Tower $     3.00 $   15.00
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker $     9.00 $   50.00
Sun Quan, Lord of Wu $   35.00 NA
Cao Cao, Lord of Wey $   20.00 NA
Captain Sisay $     3.00 $   30.00
Omnath, Locus of Mana $     3.50 $    9.00
Oona, Queen of the Fae $     5.00 $   25.00
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre $   11.50 $   25.00
Visara the Dreadful $     5.50 $   15.00
Rafiq of the Many $     5.00 $  17.00
Sharuum the Hegemon $     2.50 $  20.00
Mikaeus, the Lunarch NA NA
Total Values $123.50 $266.00

Now, by going off basic math and known values of cards, From the Vault: Legends automatically looks to be worth at least $123.50, and that is omitting Mikaeus, the Lunarch entirely. It would be foolish to assume the set will be worth the full value of the foil singles, but looking at the past sets can give more information about what this set will be worth.

All the following prices based on MagicCards.Info median prices unless otherwise noted. All non-foil prices are medians as well but based on the most recent non-special set printing thus excluding sets like CommanderAnthologies, etc.

From the Vault: Dragons FtV Non-Foil
Bladewing the Risen $    6.50 $    3.00
Bogardan Hellkite $    5.50 $    2.00
Draco $    5.50 $    2.50
Dragon Whelp $    1.50 $    0.17
Dragonstorm $    6.00 $    2.50
Ebon Dragon $    5.50 $    7.50
Form of the Dragon (alt) $    6.00 $    1.00
Hellkite Overlord (preview) $  10.00 $    4.00
Kokusho, the Evening Star $  13.50 $    9.00
Nicol Bolas (alt) $  40.00 $    1.00
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind $  18.00 $   10.50
Rith, the Awakener (alt) $    7.50 $    3.50
Shivan Dragon (alt) $    3.50 $    0.50
Thunder Dragon (alt) $  11.00 $   30.00
Two-Headed Dragon (alt) $    4.50 $    2.50
Total Value $144.50 $   79.67

From the Vault: Dragons is often seen as being the “cheapest” of the From the Vault sets so far and if it weren’t for the amazingly impressive increase in value seen from Nicol Bolas, the set would barely be worth its retail price on the secondary market in non-foils (also oddly inflated because of Thunder Dragon). It is also worth noticing that with the exception of Thunder Dragon, all other alternate art cards are worth more than their other parts.

From the Vault: Dragons is worth 81% more than the sum of its non-premium parts.

From the Vault: Exiled FtV Non-Foil
Balance (alt) $    6.00 $    2.50
Berserk (alt) $  47.00 $   63.50
Channel (alt) $    3.50 $    0.50
Gifts Ungiven $    6.00 $    4.00
Goblin Lackey (alt) $  18.00 $   14.00
Kird Ape $    3.00 $    1.00
Lotus Petal $  11.50 $    3.50
Mystical Tutor $  10.00 $    5.50
Necropotence (alt) $    9.50 $    4.50
Sensei’s Diving Top $  42.00 $   15.50
Serendib Efreet (alt) $    4.50 $    2.50
Skullclamp $    6.00 $    2.50
Stripmine (alt) $  12.50 $    4.00
Tinker (alt) $    7.00 $    4.00
Trinisphere $    5.00 $    3.50
Total Value $191.50 $ 131.00

Like From the Vault: Dragons, FtV: Exiled is worth more than the sum of its part, with a 46% increase in value. This time though Berserk is the odd-one-out when it comes to value as Unlimited Berserk is still more valuable. But Sensei’s Diving Top shows off some alarming gains in value, much like Nicol Bolas did before.

From the Vault: Relics FtV Non-Foil
Æther Vial (alt) $  22.50 $   16.50
Black Vise (alt) $    2.00 $    1.00
Isochron Scepter (alt) $    7.50 $    6.00
Ivory Tower (alt) $    2.50 $    2.50
Jester’s Cap $    2.00 $    2.00
Karn, Silver Golem $    4.00 $    4.50
Masticore (alt) $    4.00 $    4.00
Memory Jar $    4.00 $    4.00
Mirari $    2.00 $    1.00
Mox Diamond (alt) $  39.00 $   39.00
Nevinyrral’s Disk (alt) $    8.50 $    6.50
Sol Ring (alt) $  24.50 $   13.50
Sundering Titan $    3.00 $    3.00
Sword of Body and Mind (preview) $  14.50 $   10.00
Zuran Orb (alt) $    2.50 $    2.50
Total Value $142.50 $ 116.00

The most recent addition to the vault is Relics, a mess of artifacts that look to be impressive. The value gain is only 23% for box set, which shows a disturbing trend of the value of these sets over time. Mox Diamond is interesting because there is no change in value – in fact 10 of the cards in FtV: Relics show a change of less than $2 between editions.

A line of best fit shows a downward trend in value of 81%, 46%, and 23%. If extrapolated, this basically shows that the value increase of each From the Vault set reduces in half. (Yes, I know this math isn’t absolutely perfect). But that would put the value increase around 11.5%.

Using that number, that puts the expected value based on market trends at $130 – only $12 less than From the Vault: Relics! Provided Wizards didn’t boost production on these, I don’t see it dropping down much, if at all, when it comes to numbers. If you’re big on trading and can pick this up at retail don’t even hesitate, it’s worth it.

Now it’s time to speculate on what I think cards are going to be worth in the future and why.

From the Vault: Legends Non-Foil Foil FtV Speculation
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir $4.50 $15.00 $       6.00
Kresh the Bloodbraided $1.00 $5.00 $       2.00
Progenitus $15.00 $40.00 $    20.00
Doran the Siege Tower $3.00 $15.00 $    15.00
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker $9.00 $50.00 $    25.00
Sun Quan, Lord of Wu $35.00 NA $    35.00
Cao Cao, Lord of Wey $20.00 NA $    15.00
Captain Sisay $3.00 $30.00 $    15.00
Omnath, Locus of Mana $3.50 $9.00 $       5.00
Oona, Queen of the Fae $5.00 $25.00 $    10.00
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre $11.50 $25.00 $    15.00
Visara the Dreadful $5.50 $15.00 $       6.00
Rafiq of the Many $5.00 $17.00 $       8.00
Sharuum the Hegemon $2.00 $20.00 $     10.00
Mikaeus, the Lunarch NA NA ???
Total Values $123.50 $266.00 $    187.00

Many of these cards seem to fall into a few categories we’ve seen before. Kresh is the clear loser when it comes to value, he’s isn’t in demand and there is ample supply. Even with alternate artwork, I still see him struggling to find a home among Commander players.

Teferi, Omnath and Visara all will see a slight bump over their non-foil versions but won’t quite make it to their foil prices. All of them have potential with Teferi and Omnath being popular generals in their mono-color decks, but they don’t see play anywhere else. Visara might get a bump from reanimator decks looking for a bonus, but Avatar of Woe is pretty close.

Progenitus will hold strong and I seem him being akin to many of the cards in Relics, he’ll get a slight bump in value provided his art actually looks good in the new frame and foiling. Doran’s value doesn’t come from Commander but the simple fact that after the new Modern banned list got announced, his deck was one of the few that went relatively untouched.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker is a popular mono-red general that clearly shows how much the format can drive the price of a single card. With foil versions of him running $50 a pop, Kiki-Jiki will command a higher price but won’t reach the same height as his regular foil.

Sun Quan and Cao Cao should be talked about as a pair. Both being Portal 3 Kingdoms cards, they have never been released easily in the US and never have been given black borders. Toss in the new foiling process and you’ve got two cards that are very hard to value. Sun Quan’s horsemanship granting ability will make him adored by new Commanders as they get their hands on this guy. I see him dropping down a bit but still staying as one of the more valuable cards in the set. His number is hard to estimate since so few of them are every for sale.

Cao Cao on the other hand isn’t nearly as impressive. The discard is decent but I don’t see him becoming a powerhouse in any format. I speculate his FtV card will command a decent premium but be worth less than his P3K card, like Thunder Dragon.

Captain Sisay is a wild card. Her foil has proven to be very popular and many players love her toolbox approach to tutoring. Given the lack of market data, it is hard to say what she will be worth but I can easily see her holding around $15, possibly going higher.

Oona is rarely loved by those playing against her, but she’s popular as a commander again. This popularity, combined with being relatively recently printed, means she’ll command a higher price but won’t break her classic foil value. Ulamog will probably get a slight buff by a few dollars simply because he’s colorless and people love running Vindicates in any color. Unlike Emerakul, who was a prerelease promo and banned in Commander, Ulamog works well in almost any Commander deck allowing his value to hold well.

Rafiq of the Many and Sharuum the Hegemon are interesting because they show just how much of a demand there really is for foil versions of wedge commanders. Both show values well above the norm for foil cards and are great build around me cards for the format. But given their recent printings, I see them as being some of the few who actually don’t manage to keep a higher value.

Based on my speculation on what will happen with these cards, this puts the value of From the Vault: Legends at $187 without taking into account Mikeaus at all. I’m sure some people will disagree with this assessment but I think this set will really show just how popular Commander has become as a format and that while Legacy and Modern are great at driving up prices, they aren’t the only ones doing it.