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By: xger, Xger
Jan 19 2016 12:00pm
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Fifth Dawn, the red-headed stepchild of Mirrodin block. Fifth Dawn was in a precarious position--it had to simultaneously continue the block while also not making the disaster that had become Standard any worse. Let's find out where that leaves us:

Introduction to the Article Series:

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.

Previous Mirrodin block articles: Mirrodin and Darksteel.

Here is the upcoming schedule:

Format Dates
Mirrodin-Darksteel-Fifth Dawn  1/20-1/27
Triple Champions of Kamigawa  2/17-2/24
Champions-Champions-Betrayers of Kamigawa  2/24-3/2
Champions-Betrayers-Saviors of Kamigawa  3/2-3/9 
Triple Ninth Edition  3/9-3/16


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 brief drafting advice. This will come either from my own experience and memory (if I actively drafted the set) or from what articles I can dredge up. Likely, it will be both, but will probably lean more towards the articles.

With that, let's get started:

Fifth Dawn History and Background:

Fifth Dawn was a set doomed before it was released. Darksteel had only increased the woes caused by Mirrodin and the game was losing players rapidly. Skullclamp was banned to coincide with the release of Fifth Dawn. Fifth Dawn was hoped to not exasperate the Affinity menace (it would eventually take the largest Standard ban in history to put Affinity down). 

Mirrodin and Darksteel had a lot of really strong artifacts that mostly did not care what colors you played. Logically, then, Fifth Dawn did the same right? Of course not, Fifth Dawn focused on using many colors, up to five:

Bringer of the White DawnChannel the SunsFist of SunsOpaline Bracers

When looking at Fifth Dawn outside of its block, it seems less red-headed stepchild and more eccentric uncle:

  • Fifth Dawn introduced a popular mechanic that is, only recently, evergreen: Scry.

tel-jilad justiceMagma JetStand Firm

  • It had a number of cycles, some of which have been reprinted in part.

Beacon of CreationBringer of the red DawnHealer's Headdress

  • It had a four card combo that did infinite damage and infinite mill. 

summoning stationblasting stationsalvaging stationgrinding station

  • It had a You Make the Card winner, a new version of an old favorite, and the only card in Magic that says "Target player loses the game."

crucible of worldsrazormane masticoredoor to nothingness

  • Last, Fifth Dawn introduced a number of cards that have become staples in various formats, here are a few:

eternal witnessserum visionscranial platingvedalken orrery

On the MTGO side of things, the client still struggled along and the server limitations continued. Wizards continued to intonate fixes on the horizon that took years longer than suggested (spoiler: this pattern continues for....well, ever).

Fiscal Value of the Flashback

Prices for the individual cards are from MTGOTraders sell price on Monday afternoon the 18th. Set trends are from MTG goldfish.

Fifth Dawn:

Top 10 Rares
Name Price
Auriok Champion $27.44
Crucible of Worlds $22.29
Engineered Explosives $17.60
Vedalken Shackles $4.85
Staff of Domination $4.15
Vedalken Orrery $3.38
Silent Arbiter $3.25
Mycosynth Golem $2.41
Beacon of Tomorrows $1.36
Helm of Kaldra $0.99
Top 5 Uncommons
Name Price
Night's Whisper $2.79
Krark-Clan Ironworks $2.35
Eternal Witness $1.24
Lantern of Insight $1.15
Blasting Station $0.75
Worthwhile Commons
Serum Visions $2.24
Condescend $1.01
Cranial Plating $0.17

So, Fifth Dawn has a lot of valuable cards and after the top three lottery, there are still many cards worth more than $2.66 (the 'cost' of the pack in these drafts). Further there are several uncommons worth grabbing. Even the commons have two gems, though both of those will likely lose a lot of value.


This chart shows the inflection point of the rares--here, again, between the 8th and 9th highest rare. That means that 8 rares in the set are priced higher than the average rare ($1.68), which lowers the lottery feel. I realized this time that in my hurry to finish last week's article I wrote the lottery ratio in reverse. Sorry about that. With that in mind, If the below lottery rate is 100%, then the set is in fiscal balance with half the rares more valuable than average. The closer to 0% the rate, the closer it is to a true lottery with only one real winner. For reference I will include the rate for Darksteel at this time. 

Fifth Dawn's Lottery Rate: 29%

Darksteel's (current) Lottery Rate: 33%

If people are interested in the corrected math, I can add it in the comment or in future articles.

As for the predicted value, Fifth Dawn will likely follow a similar path as Darksteel did for its first week. The key difference is the rares in Fifth Dawn are more valuable so there is more room to crash. Fifth Dawn was also opened less than Darksteel, so the supply of Fifth Dawn may be more of the price constraint. Last, the uncommon value is more spread this time so the cards cannot fall as far.

Set Trend Pack Value Average Draft Value
Since the announcement, the set dipped and came back to its starting value. It has increased merely 10% from its recent low. $3.05 With Commons $6.00
$2.20 Without Commons $4.34
N/A Without lottery rares N/A

For reference, I will not include lottery rares if there is, statistically, one or more rares from the recent set worth above average rare value. With 8 packs of Fifth Dawn per draft, each draft should, on average, open one value rare, sometimes more.  The above draft values are based on MIR-DST-5DN. Mirrodin has started to recover so its pack value has increased almost 20% since last week. Darksteel has not been effected greatly and its pack price has only lost about 10%. 

Flashback Trends:

  Before Price After Price Percent Change
8ed $101.20 $93.60 -7.51%
Blood Moon $35.00 $30.90 -11.71%
Mirrodin $94.90 $69.70 -26.55%
Oblivion Stone $35.00 $32.80 -6.29%
Glimmervoid $10.20 $8.60 -15.69%
Darksteel $68.60 $64.00 -6.71%
Arcbound Ravager $9.10 $10.10 10.99%
Aether Vial $5.60 $5.40 -3.57%

So the trends are unclear here. Eighth seems to be returning to a more historically normal level, but Blood Moon has fallen further. Mirrodin came back up 20% after hitting ~$54 last week. Darksteel is staying relatively stable. Both Arcbound Ravager and Aether Vial are surprising. Ravager has increased in value despite getting more copies into circulation. Aether vial has barely fallen considering it's an uncommon. The supply for both of those must have been pretty low.

Draft Strategy:

My take:

I'm changing it up a little this time and just doing bullets for each color.

  • White is fairly defensive this set with Circle of Protection: Artifacts, a couple of vigilance creatures, and a common healer. This means white doesn't fit particularly well with the aggressive Leonin of Mirrodin and Darksteel.
  • That healer is really good. Loxodon Anchorite prevents two damage anywhere and costs 4 mana. He will make combat nightmarish for your opponent.
  • Stasis Cocoon is an anomaly in Magic. Note that is does not say non-mana abilities. This makes an artifact land into a useless door stop.



  • Blue gets a couple of strong commons in Thought Courier and Serum Visions. The Courier is a rare two mana looter, at common, and is going to be good in blue decks
  • The Affinity decks only get 1 card of use, but it is an excellent finisher for the deck: Qumulox
  • Condescend is the only playable counterspell of the set and it is not the most reliable in limited. If counters are your thing, don't expect a lot from Fifth Dawn
  • Red is about par for the course. Some damage, some mediocre creatures and a handful of useless rares.
  • Friendly reminder that equipping is at sorcery speed, so Magnetic Theft in combat can wreck an unprepared opponent.
  • Furnace Whelp is solid, if unexciting. I would play it in any deck that could cast it even if I couldn't make it heavily firebreathe.
  • In an unsurprising turn of events, if you want to take advantage of sunburst and five colors, green is the place to be.
  • Green probably makes out the best overall of the colors--its cards are nearly all playable and, importantly, stay in line with what Mirrodin and Darksteel offered.
  • Green commons are all worth playing at some point, except for tel-Jilad Lifebreather
  • The artifacts are not anywhere near the strength of Mirrodin or Darksteel. 
  • Don't think of Paradise Mantle as straight mana fixing or acceleration. I remember many players doing so, then not being able to afford the creatures or use them for mana.
  • Sunburst, when properly supported, is very powerful. 4/4 flier for 5 in Skyreach Manta is a real possibility and that is a great rate.
  • If you want Wayfarer's Bauble, pick it early. Since the artifacts are less cohesive with the earlier sets, something universal like Wayfarer's goes quickly.

Other's thoughts:

I dug around this time and found this archived article on Pojo 

  • Fifth Dawn is not that important for the draft. The change is more about the loss of a Mirrodin pack.
  • The five color strategy is very risky because it requires Fifth Dawn to pay off. When it does, stellar. When it doesn't, your deck is probably hurting.


Time for a break! After this round of flashback drafts, we get in the Oath of the Gatewatch prerelease and release period, so we won't have a new flashback format until mid-February with Champions of Kamigawa. Until then, enjoy the drafting!

As always, I appreciate comments!


xger21 on MTGO