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By: xger, Xger
Sep 29 2016 12:00pm
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So, we conclude Scars block with the considerable drama that was New Phyrexia. First, there's was Wizards attempt to lead us to believe that the Mirrans won with "Mirrodin Pure." However, that was quickly overshadowed when the godbook for the set was intentionally leaked. For those that don't know, the godbook is a file that contains every card, well before previews start. The Kozilek, the Great Distortion leak was minor compared to New Phyrexia! However, there is plenty of value, so let's get to it!

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
New Phyrexia, Mirrodin Besieged, Scars of Mirrodin 9/28-10/4
Break for Kaladesh 10/5-10/25
Triple Innistrad 10/26-11/1
Dark Ascension, Innistrad, Innistrad 11/2-11/8
Triple Magic 2012 11/9-11/15
Triple Avacyn Restored 11/16-11/22

Wizards has updated the schedule, so these are confirmed dates (they've even included dates beyond what I have here). Turns out that the switching above was on purpose--Wizards felt Innistrad happening the week after Halloween was not fun, so they moved things around. That does mean we will have 3 relatively lackluster weeks in a row with M12, then Avacyn Restored, then M13.

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:

New Phyrexia History and Background:

Scars block was about the war between the Phyrexian and the Mirrans, culminating in New Phyrexia. However, like any story, knowing the ending spoils at least part of the journey, so Wizards made some attempts to cover up the winner of the war. In the age of the internet, a company like Wizards cannot copyright or trademark something without someone relatively quickly finding out and talking about. For a number of reasons, Wizards needs to get the copyright and trademark well before the set releases. So, for the third set, Wizards filed two copyrights and two trademarks:

Mirrodin Pure--where the Mirrans won--or New Phyrexia--where the Phyrexians compleated the world. Of course, when Wizards officially announced and tried to lead players on, the internet went to work. It didn't take long to determine two primary indicators that the Phyrexians won. First, the images and product displays for Mirrodin Pure just weren't up to the normal quality that Wizards produced. On quick glance, it seemed normal, but on closer inspection it was apparent the Mirrodin Pure product didn't get the attention a set normally would. Second, when calculating the number of Mirran and Phyrexian cards in Scars of Mirrodin and Mirrodin Besieged, the conventional wisdom meant Phyrexia had to win. With Phyrexian winning, and the difference in set sizes, the overall block would be roughly balanced between Mirran and Phyrexian. Wizards ruse did not last long for the denizens of the internet.

Now, onto the real drama. Prior to New Phyrexia, Wizards handed out godbooks to select publications so they could prepare for set reviews. It was supposed to be highly confidential and closely held to the trust few. For New Phyrexia, that trust collapses. A French player and writer received the godbook and shared it with a French pro. Allegedly, the sharing chain continued through two more French players. The leaker was the 3rd to receive the god book after the magazine writer. The leaker essentially bragged on an open IRC that he had the godbook and eventually shared it in private messages with members of that IRC. As attributed to Ben Franklin, "three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead." The whole book leaked to the world because of a "pix or didn't happen" IRC challenge.

As a result, those players involved were banned for 18 months while the writer was banned for 3 years. The community was divided, as some thought there was no harm no foul, but most every content producer was severally disappointed, and a number of them lost views and revenue as a result. Wizards has stated that New Phyrexia sold less than expected, at least in some part due to the leak.

Of course, that has little to do with the set itself. We got mechanics, such as Phyrexian mana (Noxious Revival), and sub-themes like Master Splicer.

In the MTGO world, not much occurs, other than disappointment of the millionth delay of leagues. Modern begins to loom as a possible addition, which is not that far off after NPH.

Fiscal Value of the Flashback

Prices are from MTGOtraders and MTG goldfish as of the morning of the 28th (a bit late due to the site issues on the 27th).

New Phyrexia:

Top 5 Mythics
Name Price
Batterskull $23.82
Karn Liberated $18.26
Phyrexian Obliterator $13.00
Sword of War and Peace $8.79
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger $4.63
Top 10 Rares
Name Price
Spellskite $16.96
Surgical Extraction $8.93
Melira, Sylvok Outcast $7.38
Puresteel Paladin $4.66
Blade Splicer $4.24
Phyrexian Unlife $4.10
Phyrexian Metamorph $2.80
Torpor Orb $2.04
Caged Sun $1.35
Birthing Pod $1.06
Top Uncommons
Dismember $4.73
Beast Within $2.67
Noxious Revival $0.38
Gut Shot $0.35
Worthwhile Commons
Gitaxian Probe $3.41
Mutagenic Growth $0.54
Glistener Elf $0.35
Vapor Snag $0.27
Vault Skirge $0.24
Blighted Agent $0.07
Apostle's Blessing $0.07
Geth's Verdict $0.06

What's astounding is the very strong value of the uncommons and commons. While Dismember, Beast Within, and Gitaxian Probe are holding most of the value, there are still a healthy list of at least decent uncommons and commons. What's quite important to note is that most of those are low likelihood of reprint and they play fundamental roles in constructed, meaning their value should hold well over time. We also have some interesting bits in the Mythics and Rares. Batterskull and Spellskite each hold a lot of value, but there are other Mythics and Rares worth decent change. It hasn't been since Future Sight that we've had one set with 4 cards that all top the cost of a draft, with two fairly close to that point.

  

These charts show the inflection points of the mythics and rares--here, between the 4th and 5th mythic and between the 8th and 9th rare. That means that 4 mythics and 8 rare in the set are priced higher than the averages ($7.80 and $1.59, respectively). Not only are the average values here high, the spread is much flatter than normal. Your odds of getting a decent card are pretty high. 

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.

New Phyrexia's Rare Lottery Rate: 84.9%

New Phyrexia's Mythic Lottery Rate: 73.3%

New Phyrexia's Blended Lottery Rate: 83.46%

Here, the lottery rates belie the point--the rates are higher because there is just so much value in the set. So, it's easy to imagine times where you 'hit' the lottery but would be outside the cards the rate designates.

Set Trend Pack Value Average Draft Value
New Phyrexia is essentially the same value as it was when this whole endeavor started. $3.77 Normal Pack

$8.29

$2.82 Without Commons $7.00
$2.79 Without Mythics $4.32

New Phyrexia has among the highest pack values we've seen, and the full draft set is likely the best we will see. There's only a small EV loss for a draft, excluding prizes. It might even be positive for many players this time around.

Flashback Trends:

  Before Price After Price Percent Change Change Since Last Article
Eighth Edition $101.20 $113.48 12.1% 3.6%
Blood Moon $35.00 $41.17 17.6% 3.9%
Mirrodin $94.90 $76.00 -19.9% 1.1%
Oblivion Stone $35.00 $12.89 -63.2% 1.3%
Darksteel $68.60 $66.05 -3.7% 11.0%
AEther Vial $5.60 $7.34 31.1% -2.5%
Fifth Dawn $106.00 $138.06 30.2% -1.8%
Serum Visions $2.80 $2.45 -12.5% -10.6%
Champions $75.50 $64.90 -14.0% 3.4%
Through the Breach $13.33 $21.69 62.7% 6.6%
Betrayers $63.20 $53.49 -15.4% 3.0%
Goryo's Vengeance $28.86 $18.09 -37.3% -2.5%
Saviors $61.10 $79.05 29.4% 0.5%
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds $15.50 $16.44 6.1% 0.9%
Ninth Edition $102.40 $99.39 -2.9% 0.5%
Phyrexian Arena $5.20 $3.96 -23.8% 3.1%
Ravnica $78.20 $82.75 5.8% 1.6%
Dark Confidant $12.59 $9.64 -23.4% 5.7%
Guildpact $41.60 $33.68 -19.0% -2.7%
Orzhov Pontiff $8.40 $1.71 -79.6% 2.4%
Dissension $74.50 $84.78 13.8% 1.9%
Infernal Tutor $36.66 $46.37 26.5% 4.3%
Coldsnap $74.70 $55.86 -25.2% 2.1%
Mishra's Bauble $6.15 $11.71 90.4% 2.7%
Time Spiral $44.90 $48.03 7.0% 8.1%
Ancestral Vision $21.01 $23.62 12.4% 18.9%
Planar Chaos $26.20 $24.92 -4.9% 4.5%
Damnation $14.32 $11.86 -17.2% 4.6%
Future Sight $203.60 $199.02 -2.2% 0.7%
Grove of the Burnwillows $39.02 $33.97 -12.9% -0.3%
Tenth Edition $104.40 $96.13 -7.9% -1.0%
Crucible of Worlds $25.77 $18.53 -28.1% 0.0%
Lorwyn $78.70 $53.41 -32.1% -2.0%
Thoughtseize $6.45 $4.68 -27.4% -20.3%
Morningtide $99.10 $81.87 -17.4% -8.7%
Scapeshift $30.16 $26.97 -10.6% -23.1%
Shadowmoor $108.40 $78.78 -27.3% 0.3%
Fulminator Mage $12.62 $11.20 -11.3% 7.5%
Eventide $118.00 $104.83 -11.2% 0.2%
Twilight Mire $15.90 $25.78 62.1% 9.1%
Shards of Alara $46.60 $31.90 -31.5% -2.9%
Ajani Vengeant $14.47 $10.07 -30.4% 6.6%
Conflux $49.10 $50.21 2.3% -0.3%
Noble Hierarch $21.48 $29.52 37.4% 0.3%
Alara Reborn $30.10 $28.02 -6.9% -0.1%
Maelstrom Pulse $5.07 $4.54 -10.5% -1.3%
Magic 2010 $46.40 $38.45 -17.1% -1.0%
Time Warp $7.63 $6.99 -8.4% -4.0%
Zendikar $157.70 $124.25 -21.2% 5.3%
Scalding Tarn $31.78 $29.54 -7.0% -2.1%
Worldwake $100.30 $80.25 -20.0% 2.5%
Celestial Colonnade $26.97 $25.96 -3.7% 5.2%
Rise of the Eldrazi $50.00 $36.90 -26.2% 4.5%
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn $12.30 $8.75 -28.9% 3.7%
Magic 2011 $81.60 $71.64 -12.2% 4.4%
Primeval Titan $12.66 $11.67 -7.8% -5.9%
Scars of Mirrodin $94.18 $66.80 -29.1% -3.9%
Mox Opal $29.53 $27.20 -7.9% 4.4%
Mirrodin Besieged $87.67 $82.05 -6.4% N/A
Inkmoth Nexus $32.78 $29.31 -10.6% N/A

For the most part we are seeing more of the same. The only big swings are Serum Visions and Ancestral Vision, both cards that have seen plenty of swings throughout this process. For Serum Visions, it really probably is just the volatility involved in being a staple investment card. Ancestral Vision is probably still settling after its unbanning earlier this year. Even if it doesn't find a home of significance, it'll stay on the radars due to its sheer power.

We still don't know how the inventions will shake out. So, for now, I doubt much of Mox Opal's sliding has to do with that. This has been fairly typically--the star card actually goes up  a week or so after the initial flood. Again, my theory is that people who have been waiting to buy it during or soon after the flashback are finally picking it up, so the new supply may not keep up with the new buyers.

We're also finally starting to see some stable main set recovery. Both Ravnica and Time Spiral are up as a whole, and have been for a bit. Eighth and Ninth are being buoyed by certain cards, and I'm not sure how reliable the core sets are. Overall, the trends seem favorable. Hopefully my new analysis will shed more light on long term trends and the Modern market as whole...

Ideally, this will be the last week of this chart being the primary trend tracker. As the list has gotten large, it is becoming a bit overwhelming. It also is only telling a slice of the story, and not very effectively. Hopefully, when we come back after the back, I'll have come up with a new system that's easier to understand and more informative, especially for those not closely tracking each week. If you have any suggestions, please share!

Wrap-up

Don't forget to look at articles here on PureMTGO. Here is a search link for New Phyrexia articles. Per usual, this includes several old articles that might be helpful anyway. Old articles on the draft format: 

  • Here's an article by Brad Nelson at SCG.
  • Here's an article by Gardevi here at puremtgo.

With only one pack, New Phyrexia isn't that impactful. However, it has some ridiculously strong limited cards. There are few cards worth picking over Dismember. It's nutty good in Constructed. Even more so in limited.

As always, I appreciate any comments! 

xger

xger21 on MTGO.