WotC “reprinted” Reserved List cards. Did the market even notice?
Black Lotus. Mox Sapphire. Underground Sea. If you’re an entrenched Magic player, it’s hard to even say those names without feeling a little shiver of awe.
Market Price: n/a
Market Price: n/a
Market Price: n/a
These cards are the stuff of legends; the kinds of cards that are often kept in a home vault, and only handled through multiple layers of plastic casing. They are, by the truest definition of the word, awesome.
Then came 30th Anniversary Edition, late last year. For the low, low price of $999, you could buy a total of four booster packs of a set that resembled Beta, only with modern borders and a non-tournament-legal back.
I cannot think of a single product in any other fandom that was more immediately and widely reviled as 30th Anniversary Edition, and the community instantly turned against the idea of “thousand-dollar proxies.” It did not matter that this is the first time WotC has made cards resembling the Dual Lands and the Power 9 available in decades. The price point was far too high, and the fact that the cards couldn’t even be played in sanctioned tournaments felt like adding insult to injury.
I’m not going to spend much more time recapping the 30th Anniversary Edition drama, since it’s still quite recent and, honestly, pretty exhausting. That said, I think it’s important to look back at the fallout from this set now that the eyes of the community have moved on to happier and more exciting things.
Back when 30th Anniversary Edition was first revealed, there were a lot of hot takes about what it might do to the price of existing Power 9 cards and Dual Lands, as well as a good amount of debate over whether the 30th Anniversary cards themselves would hold their value or not. Now that we’re several months removed, I wanted to dig into the charts and see what actually happened.
Did 30th Anniversary Edition hurt the price of Power and Duals at all? What about original Collector’s Edition or International Collector’s Edition cards? Furthermore, is there actually a market for high end 30th Anniversary Edition staples, or did the scope of community outrage render these cards more or less worthless? Let’s find out together!
Landing On Duals
When 30th Anniversary Edition was first revealed, I was curious if it would have any effect on the cheapest currently available Dual Lands. While 30th Anniversary Edition cards aren’t legal in sanctioned play, I figured they might show up in Commander, a format that thrives on non-sanctioned play. Would an (albeit small) influx of new Dual Lands cause the price of the cheapest existing duals to drop? I wasn’t sure.
Moreover, these are the cards most likely to be hurt by any potential future repeals or carve-outs of the Reserved List. While Alpha and Beta cards get most of their value from being old and collectible, played copies of Revised Dual Lands get most of their value from playability. If WotC ever does abolish the Reserved List, these are the cards that will drop in price first.
Thus, I wanted to see if 30th Anniversary Edition raised any market-altering fears about a potential Reserved List repeal. If that set caused a significant number of people to sell their cheaper Dual Lands in order to protect against potential future reprinting, we should see a corresponding price drop in the sales data.
Revised Edition | Rare
Market Price: $710.08
Let’s start by taking a look at LP and MP copies of Volcanic Island from Revised. Volcanic Island is the most expensive Dual Land, and I want to avoid NM copies that could potentially be in gradable condition and are thus worth quite a bit more to the right collector. Here’s the full sales chart from the start of 2022 through today:
Other than the outliers, this chart looks pretty consistent. Volcanic Island started the year in the $660-$670 range, dropped to about $600 over the summer, grew to $700 by the fall, then dropped back to $650 or so over the holidays, and is now back around $675 or so.
That said, you can definitely make a reasonable case that 30th Anniversary Edition did cause that brief winter blip. The set was first announced on October 4th, 2022, which is pretty close to the point where you can start to see this card trending down a little—I marked it in purple on the chart. It seems to have reversed itself in the days since, but there is potential evidence there.
I also wanted to compare this chart to the exact same span of time, but one year earlier. With that in mind, here’s the cart for Volcanic Island from the start of 2021 through mid-March 2022:
As you can see, the prior year was actually a lot more volatile for Volcanic Island. It began the year at $450, spiking all the way to $850 by the start of February of that year. The price then spent the next 13 months slowly dropping in value, to the $625 range by this time last year. Again, I don’t think 30th Anniversary Edition did much to the market here.
Let’s take a look at the charts from January 2022 through today for two more SP and LP Dual Lands, in case Volcanic Island is an outlier. We’ll do Plateau, the cheapest Dual, as well as Badlands, which is right in the middle.
Market Price: $329.31
Market Price: $402.41
And here’s Badlands:
Plateau began 2022 in the $270 range, and it stayed there most of the year. It didn’t experience a meaningful drop until right around the time 30th Anniversary Edition was announced, at which point it dropped to the $250-$260 range. Now, it seems to be back in the $260-$270 range.
Badlands was a lot more volatile early in 2022, with sales anywhere between $350 and $450. It seems to have stabilized around $390 by April before slowly dropping off, ending up pretty stable around $320 before 30th Anniversary Edition hit. It didn’t really drop any more, though, and it’s still right around $320 today.
So, what have we learned? Well, played Revised Duals were still dropping off from their 2021 peaks heading into the start of 2022. Some of them got a little friskier last summer, but others did not. Prices dropped a bit more in the fall, but it’s unclear how well that correlates to 30th Anniversary Edition. Regardless, that dip was both minor and short lived. I don’t see any lasting effect from 30th Anniversary Edition on the price of these particular cards.
The Price of Power
Unfortunately, pieces of The Power 9 don’t sell often enough for me to have nearly as much data to analyze. Condition also matters a whole lot more here, since a single scratch or ding on a card can mean a difference of hundreds of dollars in value. That said, larger trends in the market should still show up in the data, so if 30th Anniversary Edition really hit the price of these venerable cards, we’ll see it on the charts. Let’s take a look!
We’ll be looking at SP and LP Unlimited Edition Power only here, for the same reason we only chose those the cheapest possible Dual Lands. Even though it gives us even less data to play with, it’s better than comparing, say, two LP Unlimited Mox Pearls with a NM Alpha Mox Pearl. Those cards aren’t even on the same planet, value-wise.
Let’s start with the biggest card of all: Black Lotus.
Unlimited Edition | Rare
Market Price: $11999.99
This isn’t much to go on. We’ve only got two sales after 30th Anniversary Edition to look at, one for $19,000 and one for $13,500. Before that, we’ve got sales as low as $3,500 in January of 2022 and as high as $20,400 just a few days later, in February.
See what I mean about how much condition matters? I’m also not even convinced that the $3,500 sale happened as shown, as it could have been a mis-listing or some other outlier. After all, the cheapest Unlimited Black Lotus you can buy right now is just under $10,000, and is sold as damaged with very heavy wear.
At the very least, there doesn’t seem to have been any 30th Anniversary Edition-related Black Lotus selloff. The closest thing I can find is a Damaged Lotus that sold for $1,000 about a week after the announcement, but I’m also not sure that was a real sale. Two other damaged Lotuses sold in the months since, one for $5,000 and the other for $10,000. It’s certainly possible that this card has lost some of its luster since that set was announced, but I don’t have enough information to conclusively say that.
What about the Unlimited Moxen? Well, I can throw them all into the same chart, and see if that might reveal something:
Again, there’s just not enough data to say whether or not 30th Anniversary Edition dropped the price of these cards by some small amount. What I can say is that the last few data points on this chart are post-30th Anniversary Edition, which tells me that there hasn’t been a fire sale on these cards, either. If their price did drop, it wasn’t by enough to cause a glut of cheap Moxen to hit the market and cause a race to the bottom.
The Future of Power and Duals
At this point, I think we can pretty safely say that 30th Anniversary Edition hasn’t meaningfully impacted the price of existing tournament-legal Dual Lands or members of the Power 9. It may have had a minor and temporary cooling effect for a few months, but even that isn’t conclusive. Despite all the drama, the set just didn’t really change people’s minds all that much about existing versions of those cards.
But should 30th Anniversary Edition have been a wake-up call for those holding these older cards? After all, the mere existence of the set shows that WotC is more willing to toe the line with the Reserved List than they have been in a long, long time. And with WotC pumping out more and more products at a greater and greater rate, it feels like a matter of time until they try again.
Had 30th Anniversary Edition been a smashing success, I think we’d be inching closer to an eventual Reserved List repeal. We’d likely have gotten similar proxy sets in future years, headlined by other Reserved List darlings like Grim Monolith and Gaea’s Cradle. Ultimately, in order to keep the series alive, WotC would have either had to lower the price point, make the cards fully tournament legal, or do both. Think about how they handled the enemy-colored fetchland reprint: a series of expensive premium reprints, followed by slightly cheaper and easier to acquire premium reprints, followed by a widespread reprint. That allowed them to maximize their profits over a two-year period, attracting a wider and wider base of potential customers all the while.
30th Anniversary Edition was not a smashing success, though. On an investor call back in December, WotC CEO Cynthia Williams even admitted that they intentionally scaled back the number of 30th Anniversary Edition Drops made available to the public as a direct response to the community outcry. Couple this with the anecdotal reports at the time that far fewer people even tried to buy this set during the half hour it was on sale than was expected, and you get the sense that WotC heard the message loud and clear. I think it will be a long, long time before they return to the $1,000 product well.
If they don’t want a repeat of that debacle, WotC is left with two choices: go back to pretending that the cards on the Reserved List basically don’t exist, or attempt to reprint them at a far lower price point. The second is far riskier, especially after the Bank of America report already sounded the alarm about 30th Anniversary Edition eroding investor confidence in Reserved List cards, and enough people took it seriously enough for Hasbro’s stock price to take a meaningful hit. That doesn’t mean they won’t go there eventually, but I’d be shocked if it happens over the next couple of years.
Ultimately, then, Power and Dual Lands are likely as safe an investment as they’ve always been. They may not hit the highs of 2020 and 2021 again, at least not unless there’s another crypto boom. When it comes to Reserved List reprints, I feel like 30th Anniversary Edition was akin to WotC touching a hot stove. Before WotC goes back into that particular kitchen, they’ve got to wait for the burn to heal and the memory to fade.
The Price of 30th Anniversary Cards Themselves
We’ve talked a lot about the effect that 30th Anniversary cards might have had on Revised and Unlimited Power and Duals, but what about the 30th Anniversary Edition cards themselves?
The last time I wrote about this set, the public on-sale had just taken place, and nothing had even been shipped yet. Packs have been in hand for a while now, though, and WPN stores have even begun getting the single free copies that WotC promised them. This is about as close as we’re going to get to “peak supply” for this set. Let’s go to the charts for the Power 9!
Okay, so there really aren’t any useful charts I can generate for Power from this set yet, because there simply haven’t been enough sales. Not a single 30th Anniversary Edition Black Lotus has sold on TCGplayer yet, either in the normal or the retro frame. Only one is even on sale, for a whopping $15,000. Only two Moxen have sold: both Mox Jet, for $1,750.00 each. The other Moxen are listed between $1,400 (Ruby) and $5,770 (Sapphire), but again, these are asking prices, not relevant points of sales data.
Market Price: $700.00
Market Price: $478.88
What about Dual Lands? We can do a little better here. Two Underground Seas have sold: one for $600 back in December, and one for $700 in February. The cheapest one listed right now is $800. Looking at Volcanic Island, we can actually generate a chart! Take a look:
This is a really interesting chart. Prices started out in the $500 range back in December, then there was a single sale for $350, then a few more for $500ish, then a single sale for $750, then a $350 sale again. The cheapest listing right now is $750, and three different people have one for sale at that rate.
When you combine this with the Underground Sea prices, my best interpretation of that data is that these are both $700-$750 cards right now. I feel like the $350 sales are aberrations, likely from folks who wanted quick sales or who underestimated the market. After all, with very few sales to look back on, it can be hard to know how to price cards like this.
Market Price: $725.00
Market Price: $283.24
Let’s see if any of the other Duals support this hypothesis, shall we? Tropical Island and Tundra are the next two most-expensive Revised Duals after Volcanic Island and Underground Sea, so let’s see if there’s any price history for the 30th Anniversary Edition versions of those!
So far, there have been two 30th Anniversary Tropical Island sales, each for $725. One happened in January, and one in February. There are three copies available for $700 right now, though, so I doubt we’ll see another $725+ sale until these three copies are purchased. Tundra, on the other hand, is quite a bit cheaper. Take a look at this chart:
That’s six sales, all between $265 and $300. This isn’t an aberration, either, since there are copies available right now for $285 on the TCGplayer marketplace. Is this a single card aberration, or is it possible that the demand for 30th Anniversary Edition cards drops off by quite a bit once you get past the absolute cream of the crop?
Let’s find out! Here’s a list of the cheapest currently available LP or better Revised Dual Land compared to the same card in 30th Anniversary Edition. I’ve ranked them from most expensive to least:
These numbers are really interesting. There’s a massive tier break in the price of the 30th Anniversary Cards between Tundra and Tropical Island, even though the price of the Revised versions of these cards are less than $50 apart. The 30th Anniversary Edition copies of the three most expensive cards are more expensive than their Revised counterparts, but the 30th Anniversary Edition copies of the next two, Tundra and Badlands, are a lot cheaper. Then the cheapest five cards are roughly equivalently priced, generally with $20-$25 separating the two in either direction.
Over time, I’d expect the 30th Anniversary Edition versions of these cards to track closer to the price of their Revised counterparts. Tropical Island might continue to drop off a bit, while 30th Anniversary copies of Tundra and Badlands look underpriced to me right now, and should be solid buys. While it seems silly to pay more for a “proxy” version of a card than a tournament-legal version of that same card, 30th Anniversary Edition has a far smaller print run, and its key staples are far scarcer than Revised. Remember: this set was going to be very scarce to begin with, and we know that WotC pulled some number of packs from their on-sale in order to keep it even scarcer than that.
Honestly, I think the biggest thing holding back 30th Anniversary Edition prices right now is public perception. A lot of people are super angry about this set, and they’ve refused to engage with it on the secondary market, at any price. It’s hard to justify investing in cards that a significant number of Magic players want nothing to do with, especially if they’ll launch into a rant about the product every time they see one of the cards in your collection.
I think this attitude will soften over time, whether WotC produces more $1,000 booster packs or not. After all, the Walking Dead Secret Lair Drop was hugely controversial a few years ago, complete with large swaths of the community vowing to ban Universes Beyond cards from their playgroups entirely. As I’m writing this, however, the Lord of the Rings set is getting its first few cards previewed, and I’ve come across essentially zero pushback on them on my social media feeds. At some point, speculators will look at the scarcity of 30th Anniversary Edition cards, buy them out, and there will be a massive price spike. Getting in now, especially on some of the underpriced Dual Lands, could set you up for success.
That said, if I’m in the market for a Dual Land right now, I’m sticking with the originals. They might be less scarce, and they might have a lower investment ceiling, but they’re still original Revised Dual Lands. There has never been a bad time in the history of Magic to own them, and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.