Now we get to see Ravnica again! We get five guilds, so get ready to pick one for drafts. Unfortunately, Return to Ravnica is not a financially strong set, so draft if you enjoy it. There's not even one card that will pay for your draft, so no single card winners. Anyway, let's dive in and look at the chaotic Ravnica...
Over the course of this year, Wizards will run flashback drafts that are from the Modern sets. One week for each format. The flashbacks will stop when there is a prerelease or release going on. More info here.
Wizards has updated the schedule. They haven't announced the next year's schedule, if any, so this is what we have for now. As of 11/22, there is not an update on this.
First, I will do a fiscal analysis. While a lot of players will play just for the fun of it, knowing what cards are worth something is a good plan. Since none of these formats are competitively valued anymore, there really is no reason to pass on a $30 card. Even if it is terrible and useless in limited. Further, knowing what common and uncommons are worth the effort to sell could be useful.
However, just a rote listing of pricing is only so helpful. A lot of the cards, particularly core sets and the older sets, just don't have the supply to adequately meet demand. That means some of the cards might tank quickly when there is a sudden surge of supply. Some of these sets have probably never had flashbacks, or it has been many years. That means the market reaction might be extreme or subtle. It is also unknown how many cards will enter the system—if the drafts are popular, the effect is greater.
To give the most useful information, I am going to track the value of the sets already given a flashback as well as the time just prior to the flashback. Hopefully this will give some idea of the fiscal value of the flashback draft. Of course, it is still going to be a lottery most of the time.
Second, I will give some very brief drafting advice and provide links to other articles from those better experienced.
With that, let's get started:
Return to Ravnica History and Background
Ravnica block was one of the most popular blocks of Magic (generally, the vast majority would say either Ravnica or Innistrad). So, a Return was inevitable. However, the problem that shaped the original block still existed--there was not enough room to fully fit 10 guilds into one set. In the original block, we had 4-3-3 guilds in Ravnica, Guildpact, Dissension. That was prior to the possibility of a large spring set, so the structure of Large-Small-Small dictated Wizards' hand. This time around, Wizards was much more flexible, and so we ended up with a Large-Large-Small structure, with the guilds being 5-5-10. That means that we start with Azorius, Golgari, Izzet, Rakdos, and Selesnya.
There was some debate on bringing back some of the original Ravnica mechanics, but Wizards felt players of those guilds would feel shafted, so we got 5 new mechanics, as well as more hybrid mana. Azorius got Detain (Lyev Skyknight), Golgari got Scavenge (Deadbridge Goliath), Izzet got Overload (Street Spasm), Rakdos got Unleash (Carnival Hellsteed), and Selesnya got Populate (Coursers' Accord). Here are the storm scale values for these mechanics:
Detain - 3
Scavenge - 4
Overload - 6
Unleash - 4
Populate - 5
Return to Ravnica also required another accommodation--more uncommons! There are 20 more uncommons than a normal set. Perhaps the most notable inclusion of uncommons was finally bringing guild charms! The story goes that the Gatecrash team decided to make charms, and then told the Return to Ravnica team, who then knew they also had to include them (it's possible I switched the teams). So, we finally get gems like Rakdos Charm and Azorius Charm! We also have the return of shocklands!
In the world of MTGO, there was a bit of news. First, the Holiday Cube came online. Next, Worth posted, saying 2012 was great and that leagues were slated for 2014. Finally, the first community loss in the Community Cup. Of course, this year we didn't even get a Community Cup, so this news may fade into history and be forgotten...
Fiscal Value of the Flashback
Prices are from MTGOtraders and MTGgoldfish as the afternoon on the 29th.
As I alluded to at the start, there are no cards that single-handedly pay for the draft. Nor are there any good commons or uncommons. At least there are a decent number of rares worth more than a buck, anchored by Rest in Peace, Abrupt Decay, and Steam Vents. Sadly, mythics are quite pathetic, while only Sphinx's Revelation is worth more than a typical pack, and they drop off fast.
These charts show the inflection points of the mythics and rares--here, between the 4th and 5th mythic and between the 12th and 13th rare. That means that 4 mythics and 12 rares in the set are priced higher than the averages ($1.31 and $0.48, respectively). The mythics are somewhat deceiving because they drop off in value very quickly, and Sphinx's Revelation skews the results.
A lottery rate of 0% will mean the set is balanced, and 100% will mean a single card accounting for ~70% of the rares total value (70% is an approximation of the percentage of drafts that will not have the top value rare). The same is applied for mythics. The blended rate below is 7/8 rare rate and 1/8 Mythic.
Return to Ravnica's Rare Lottery Rate: 84.9%
Return to Ravnica's Mythic Lottery Rate: 73.3%
Return to Ravnica's Blended Lottery Rate: 83.5%
The rates don't seem that bad overall, and are buoyed by the rares being relatively good. So, you have a decent shot at getting a "high-value" card for the set, but that just isn't that high to start with.
Average Draft Value
Return to Ravnica had a recent drop of about 33% when Kaladesh released. It went up about 25% since, which is still down overall.
An oddity here, the average value of the commons and mythics in the pack is nearly identical (rounding makes it appear identical here). The value is slightly higher than Magic 2013, which isn't good.
The overall trend seems good, as the week to week raised a number of prices. Of course, there's not anything really going on, and it was a holiday week in the U.S. So, perhaps there was less activity overall. Then, accounting for Magic 2013 being a lackluster flashback, the Modern may have just been less volatile than normal.
Some of the standouts this week are Ajani Vengeant and Dark Confidant. Ajani Vengeant is not that surprising to see, as various decks that can utilize Blood Moon are making strong performances (which also helps accounts for Blood Moon's continually rise...I wish I had picked up a set when it was much cheaper!). As for Dark Confidant, Jund has been making somewhat of a return as well, as the Modern metagame has started to allow fairer decks to exist again.
The modest jump of Inkmoth Nexus might also be attributed to the 'fairer' metagame. Affinity is also a deck that does better in a fairer metagame, and Inkmoth Nexus sees play there. Of course, infect plays the largest role, and it's a deck that doesn't care as much about the metagame (though if it gets creature heavy, infect would likely drop some).
The drops of Magic 2013 and Thragtusk are interesting. At some point, there is probably a floor for the whole set (above 1¢ per card), and I imagine Magic 2013 is not that far from it. There just doesn't seem to be much left to lose. Here, Thragtusk alone accounts for 1/3 of the whole set's drop. So, Thragtusk's drop is fairly standard, but there's just not much else for Magic 2013 to bleed.
Should you want other flashback articles, here's a search link! There's a few articles back to look at, it's back to being a rather lengthy list.