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By: xger, Xger
Aug 17 2016 12:00pm
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Zendikar was a pet idea of Mark Rosewater that took considerably persuasion of the folks at Wizards. The idea was for a land focused set, and many people could not see how it would work out. Fast forward a few years, and Zendikar was incredibly popular, finally making land drops something worthwhile. And what place would be better to complete the Onslaught Polluted Delta? Time to find out! If you want to jump past the introduction, click here. To jump to the fiscal analysis, click here. 

Introduction to the Article Series:

To jump to the set background, click here. To jump to the fiscal analysis, click here.

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.

Here is the upcoming schedule:

Format Dates
Triple Zendikar 8/17-8/23
Zendikar, Zendikar, Worldwake 8/24-8/30
Triple Rise of the Eldrazi 8/31-9/6
Triple Magic 2011 9/7-9/13
Triple Scars of Mirrodin 9/14-9/20
Mirrodin Besieged, Scars of Mirrodin, Scars of Mirrodin 9/21-9/27
New Phyrexia, Mirrodin Besieged, Scars of Mirrodin 9/28-10/4
Break for Kaladesh 10/5-10/25

Wizards has updated the schedule, so these are confirmed dates (they've even included dates beyond what I have here).

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:

Zendikar History and Background:

Zendikar features some of the more popular items in Magic between the fetchlands and the full art basics. Wizards knew from Unglued and Unhinged that players really enjoyed full art. So, for a period of time Wizards wanted to bring back full art basics, but it was just a matter of determining when it would work. Since Zendikar is the land set to start off the land block, this was the perfect place. It also allowed the completion of the fetchlands, finally balancing out the Onslaught set with the enemy versions, such as Scalding Tarn

While Zendikar started as a land world mechanically, the creative overlaid an adventure world. What does an adventure world need? Well, an adventure! So, Wizards created quests--Khalni Heart Expedition--and traps--Archive Trap--and equipment--Blazing Torch. In the paper world, Wizards included "priceless treasures" which were old leftovers of potentially extremely valuable cards, such as the Power 9 and Dual Lands. Of course, this lead to gouging, rumors, and buy outs of the original runs of Zendikar.

Zendikar introduced Landfall, a popular mechanic that came back with Battle for Zendikar. Finally, players wanted land drops later in the game because of the triggers of cards like Roil Elemental. It also forced players to focus on the value of playing a land at a different time. Zendikar also brought back Kicker, an old favorite that is likely to come back again. Last, Zendikar also brought with it two new planeswalkers in Sorin Markov and Nissa Revane. Both have remained popular and come back a number of times. Zendikar also brought arguably the worst planeswalker ever printed with Chandra Ablaze (though of course you might argue other red planeswalkers are worse such as Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded--Wizards seems so scared of powerful red planeswalkers...)

sorin markovchandra ablazenissa revane

As for MTGO, the community cup got its start around this time, with the community team handily defeating Wizards about a month after release. Awkwardly, Wizards talked about leagues a little, noting that there were nicknamed "sandwiches" and saying more info would come in a few months. League info barely squeezes in in the promised timeline in March.

Fiscal Value of the Flashback

Prices are from MTG Goldfish, from Tuesday evening August 16th.


Top 5 Mythics
Name Price
Mindbreak Trap $8.13
Eldrazi Monument $6.38
Lotus Cobra $4.14
Warren Instigator $3.10
Sorin Markov $2.54
Top 10 Rares
Name Price
Scalding Tarn $31.78
Verdant Catacombs $25.00
Misty Rainforest $17.11
Bloodghast $14.39
Arid Mesa $13.94
Marsh Flats $9.51
Goblin Guide $5.59
Pyromancer Ascension $4.16
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle $1.51
Archive Trap $0.84
Top Uncommons


Worthwhile Commons
Ior Ruin Expedition $0.15
Journey to Nowhere $0.12

Zendikar presents another set where the rares are where the money is. Of course, nearly 2/3 of the set value is tied up in just the fetchlands. That is particularly good for the value of this set, as the fetches hold long term value, so the prices should recover relatively quickly after the flashback. Unfortunately, there is not much value in the uncommons or commons, so Zendikar is just about the rare lottery. However, it is quite a fun set to draft, so it should balance out!


These charts show the inflection points of the mythics and rares--here, between the 5th and 6th mythic and between the 8th and 9th rare. That means that 5 mythics and 8 rares in the set are priced higher than the averages ($2.41 and $2.40, respectively). Not surprising, but the average rare value is quite good, but concentrated in the top sixth. It is a bit surprising that the mythics also have a relatively decent value, since commonly one of rares or mythics is a low average.

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.\

Zendikar's Rare Lottery Rate: 85%

Zendikar's Mythic Lottery Rate: 33%

Zendikar's Blended Lottery Rate: 78%

These rates are close to what we've been seeing in the mythic sets, and it seems likely to stay that way.

Set Trend Pack Value Average Draft Value
Zendikar has dropped about 20% since December, bouncing a bit and falling recently slowly. $2.66 Normal Pack


$2.46 Without Commons $7.38
$2.36 Without Mythics $7.09

The pack value is one of the best, and the EV close 0.8 is outstanding for a draft, particularly an old format. Of course this will change some, but it should be a good week. That doesn't even consider that the flashback will bring more fetches into the system!

Flashback Trends:

  Before Price After Price Percent Change Change Since Last Article
Eighth Edition $101.20 $92.42 -8.7% -16.3%
Blood Moon $35.00 $27.46 -21.5% -20.5%
Mirrodin $94.90 $60.60 -36.1% -17.2%
Oblivion Stone $35.00 $13.36 -61.8% -20.8%
Darksteel $68.60 $50.60 -26.2% -8.6%
AEther Vial $5.60 $5.51 -1.6% -15.2%
Fifth Dawn $106.00 $113.82 7.4% -6.8%
Serum Visions $2.80 $1.98 -29.3% -38.7%
Champions $75.50 $48.23 -36.1% -5.9%
Sensei's Divining Top $3.50 $1.40 -60.0% -16.2%
Betrayers $63.20 $46.25 -26.8% -7.9%
Goryo's Vengeance $28.86 $15.86 -45.0% 12.1%
Saviors $61.10 $71.10 16.4% -2.5%
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds $15.50 $15.02 -3.1% 11.7%
Ninth Edition $102.40 $75.77 -26.0% -7.7%
Phyrexian Arena $5.20 $4.32 -16.9% -2.9%
Ravnica $78.20 $73.36 -6.2% 4.2%
Dark Confidant $12.59 $10.70 -15.0% -0.9%
Guildpact $41.60 $31.17 -25.1% -12.6%
Orzhov Pontiff $8.40 $2.32 -72.4% -29.1%
Dissension $74.50 $67.57 -9.3% -11.0%
Infernal Tutor $36.66 $32.67 -10.9% -15.0%
Coldsnap $74.70 $48.60 -34.9% -4.9%
Dark Depths $25.09 $11.78 -53.0% -17.2%
Time Spiral $44.90 $54.10 20.5% -15.8%
Ancestral Vision $21.01 $32.15 53.0% -21.0%
Planar Chaos $26.20 $21.65 -17.4% -10.6%
Damnation $14.32 $9.56 -33.2% 2.6%
Future Sight $203.60 $179.16 -12.0% -1.5%
Grove of the Burnwillows $39.02 $30.13 -22.8% -8.8%
Tenth Edition $104.40 $89.02 -14.7% 0.5%
Crucible of Worlds $25.77 $19.97 -22.5% -6.6%
Lorwyn $78.70 $55.64 -29.3% -10.9%
Thoughtseize $6.45 $5.06 -21.6% -20.8%
Morningtide $99.10 $79.90 -19.4% -6.1%
Scapeshift $30.16 $28.51 -5.5% 13.4%
Shadowmoor $108.40 $75.11 -30.7% 3.6%
Fulminator Mage $12.62 $11.28 -10.6% -14.9%
Eventide $118.00 $93.72 -20.6% 1.1%
Twilight Mire $15.90 $17.31 8.9% 15.1%
Shards of Alara $46.60 $30.35 -34.9% -2.0%
Ajani Vengeant $14.47 $9.37 -35.2% -4.1%
Conflux $49.10 $40.09 -18.4% -5.8%
Noble Hierarch $21.48 $22.07 2.7% 4.5%
Alara Reborn $30.10 $26.08 -13.4% -9.3%
Maelstrom Pulse $5.07 $3.96 -21.9% -10.8%
Magic 2010 $46.40 $35.23 -24.1% N/A
Time Warp $7.63 $5.95 -22.0% N/A

Wow, that's a pretty across the board crash. Because of such a big change, I looked into a little bit to see if there was an explanation. Reasonably, the most logically explanation is that players sold off in anticipation of the prerelease and the new standard format. So, I looked back to the last article following a break, Time Spiral. in that article, there was a similar drop, nearly across the board, same as here. So, tip for those investors (that should already should have been known): don't see old cards during a prerelease! Obviously sell the new cards, but try to sell before the new stuff arrives to get better deals.

There is one card that has a different explanation: Dark Depths. Dark Depths will be appearing in the new From the Vault, as one of the two decently valued cards, so of course it crashed here. For a long period of time Dark Depths won't really go above whatever ceiling is established. I will probably change it out next week, as it will have an artificial barrier. I might change out a number of the cards at that time too, particularly ones like Sensei's Divining Top which has similar factors artificially manipulating the price, at least from these article's perspective.

Cards like AEther Vial and Serum Visions also emphasize the selloff idea. Those are commonly used investment cards, and visions in particular fell hard.


Don't forget to look at articles here on PureMTGO. Here is a search link for Zendikar articles. Of course, this list includes Battle for Zendikar, so just try and look for the most recent ones. Old articles on the draft format: 

  • Here's an article from Joel Calafell on BlackBorder covering Zendikar draft artchetpyes.
  • Here's an article from Brian Coval on SCG on Zendikar.

Kicker makes for a fun deck building and drafting experience, as you can get a very flexible deck. Heavy kicker decks often need more mana, so consider your curve carefully.

As always, I appreciate any comments! 


xger21 on MTGO.