Down to the last two weeks of flashbacks! Hopefully, you actually want to draft DGR, because there is no real incentive to from a fiscal point of view. Dragon's Maze is one of the lowest value sets we've seen, which follows two low value sets. So the full block just isn't that valuable. Anyway, let's dive in...
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.
This is the end of the flashbacks! Wizards announced that the last flashback will be Magic 2014, so the flashbacks--and these articles--are coming to a close soon.
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:
Dragon's Maze History and Background
Dragon's Maze rounds out the Return to Ravnica block, packing all 10 guilds into a small set. That means Dragon's Maze takes a small space to try and accomplish a lot. It wants to pseudo-advance each guild and its mechanic, and it must include all ten guilds, in relative balance. The guild champions were omitted from Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash (while there were included in the original block, i.e. Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran). All ten champions appear in Dragon's Maze, both to accommodate the set overall and to advance the story. The ten champions are the "Maze Runners" which is what Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind revealed to the guilds.
One of the main distinctive qualities of Dragon's Maze is the unusual use of the land slot. No packs of Dragon's Maze had a basic land. Each basic land was replaced with a special land slot. Most commonly, you would get a guildgate. While these guildgates had new art (and thus were new versions), it was the first time there was an intra-block reprint. So, you have Rakdos Guildgate became Rakdos Guildgate. If you look closely, the new art is a larger view of the first art. Instead of a guildgate, you might also get any of the shocklands. These did not have new art, and each carried the symbol of its most recent release (so a Godless Shrine in a Dragon's Maze pack has a Gatecrash set symbol). Last, you might get Maze's End, both a critical story card and the unique win condition of the set.
The guild runners were the champions for each guild, similar to the original Ravnica, The easiest way to see the connection is with Teysa (one of my personal favorite characters). First, there was Teysa, Orzhov Scion, and she became Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts. While the power level drop is substantial, it is the same character, taking on a new mantle. The most controversial of the champions is Emmara Tandris. The story is that, just prior to the too late to change point in a Magic set's production, development decided her previous incarnation was too strong and couldn't be printed. As a result, Wizards had to change and her printed ability was safe and quick. However, Selesnya players felt rather shafted, as her card simply was not comparable to the other runners.
The Maze was completed by Jace, who became Jace, the Living Guildpact. So, Wizards yet again had Jace become the "chosen one" or some similar approach.
In the world of MTGO, Mike Turian joined the team. Otherwise nothing happened.
Fiscal Value of the Flashback
Prices are from MTGOtraders and MTGgoldfish as the afternoon on the 13th.
So, this set is really pitiful. There is Voice of Resurgence and then....nothing. There's no uncommons worth more than 4¢ and only a few commons worth that. There just isn't really anything here. The rares don't help, because even the best is only 51¢. Maze's End isn't your normal mythic, so you could get it with another mythic, but that's still not much. Basically, only draft this for the format, not any attempt at value.
These charts show the inflection points of the mythics and rares--here, between the 1st and 2nd mythic and between the 4th and 5th rare. That means that 1 mythics and 4 rares in the set are priced higher than the averages ($2.07 and $0.05, respectively). Note that Voice of Resurgence takes up about 80% of the average value of the mythics.
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.
Dragon's Maze's Rare Lottery Rate: 92.5%
Dragon's Maze's Mythic Lottery Rate: 100%
Dragon's Maze's Blended Lottery Rate: 93.4%
The rates are abysmal, but that was expected at this point. The rare rate is misleading because hitting the rare 'lottery' means getting a 50¢ rare. Basically, as already noted, it's Voice of Resurgence or bust.
Average Draft Value
Dragon's Maze's price pretty much follows Voice of Resurgence which is the only valuable card in the set. So it has gone up and down $20 over the last several months.
Now we come to see the worst overall draft set value in quite some time. If you take out the few outliers, the draft set would average less than a buck. Again, do not draft this if you are hoping for a financial win.
Well, it looks like the market wanted to make a fool out of me. Last week I discussed how the older sets seem to be stabilizing and returning to a better price. This week, a lot of the older sets fell, sometimes substantially. For instance, I don't understand why Oblivion Stone fell 4 bucks in the week, or Through the Breach losing nearly half its value. The only thing that didn't fall in the first 10 or so sets is Serum Visions, which follows its own erratic path because of its long history.
While the market may have shown me wrong on that reading, it seems my general interpretation that people buy into certain cards shortly after the respective flashback. Here, Thragtusk increased nearly 50% from its low last week. Essentially, people that may have been on the edge of purchasing are pushed in because of the flashbacks, which means a few weeks later some cards spring back up. That happened with Scalding Tarn and the other fetchlands, and it seems to have occurred with Thragtusk, and also Visions of Beyond. Additionally, Rest in Peace climbed a bit, supporting the theory. That'll probably change in the next week with DGR, but with just 1 pack, it shouldn't be too great.
Outside of what I've noted, the only significant shift was Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. The rest of what I follow stayed relatively normal, with small fluctuations. That itself is good, as it indicates there probably wasn't any destabilization because of the long string of flashbacks. I'll write up an article investigating that sometime after all the flashbacks are over, and there is enough time to really look at the effects.
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.
Here's an article from Melissa De Tora on TCG Player
Here's an article from Owen Turtenwald on Channel Fireball
If you end up the only Orzhov player, you might get a huge pay off with a couple of Tithe Drinkers, which are exceptional cards, and one of the best commons throughout the whole draft. Of course, that means Return to Ravnica isn't a great pack, so you need to fill out before then.