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By: xger, Xger
Oct 26 2016 11:00am
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We return to the flashbacks, this time on Innistrad, just in time for Halloween! Innistrad is often regarded as one of the best draft formats ever, so these should be fairly popular. Of course, it really means you really hope to open either Liliana of the Veil or Snapcaster Mage, otherwise you're just there for fun. Let's cut to the chase and dive in...

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 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
Magic 2013 11/23-11/29
Triple Return to Ravnica 11/30-12/6
Triple Gatecrash 12/7-12/13
Dragon's Maze, Gatecrash, Return to Ravnica 12/14-12/20
Triple Magic 2014 12/21-12/27

Wizards has updated the schedule. They haven't announced the next year's schedule, if any, so this is what we have for now.

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:

Innistrad History and Background

Innistrad brings us Wizards first real attempt at a Top-Down world design in many years, pre-dating Modern and several sets before that. Mark Rosewater had wanted to do a Gothic Horror based world for quite some time, and he finally convinced the powers that be to give him the chance. Apparently, some at Wizards thought the world of Gothic Horror was too limited for more than a large and small set. So, the block breaks out as two sets on Innistrad as we first visit it, whereas Avacyn Restored changes the plane significantly. 

The biggest introduction in Innistrad is the now-common double-faced cards. Unsurprisingly, the introduction was quite controversial as many people felt that you could never change the back of a Magic card, let alone put an entirely new card face on the back. There were a number of obstacles, foremost being draft. So, in Innistrad, we had perhaps the first real difference between drafting in person and on MTGO. The rule for Innistrad was that everyone could see the double-faced card, so you could not hide that. Commonly, everyone would just show the double-faced card to the table before picking started. The card you most recently picked must go on top of the pile, so everyone can see that. On MTGO, none of that mattered, and the draft went as they all had historically. Just recently, with Shadows over Innistrad, Wizards changed the rules for professional events, and now draft cards are stamped and sleeved, sidestepping the issue.

Other than Double-faced cards, Innistrad brought back flashback and introduced Fight, Morbid, and Curses. Fight and Flashback are mainstays that aren't going anywhere. In fact, Fight wasn't "new" in the sense that Wizards had long played with this ability--Contested Cliffs and Arena, for example--but here they finally gave it its full value. It's now the de facto green removal. Flashback is a strong and popular mechanic first introduced in Odyssey, and it will very likely return (and I wouldn't be surprised if that was soon). Morbid and Curses both are a 5 on the storm scale, due to limited space ad execution respectively. Curses, at least, have already returned in small numbers.

For the story of Innistrad--we start on a dark and stormy night....

Err, a plane where monsters run amok. Sorin Markov heralds from Innistrad. Before he left, he created Avacyn, Angel of Hope to protect the humans on the plane--though his real motive was protecting his fellow vampires. Sorin realized that without protection, the vampires of Innistrad would overwhelm the humans and lose their food source--hence, Avacyn. When we arrive on Innistrad, Avacyn is missing and Liliana of the Veil is tracking a demon. Liliana made a contract with four demons granting her power and life, but now she is hunting them down. An upcoming villain on Innistrad is one of those demons. Garruk Relentless followed Liliana, and here is where his descent begins. Liliana used The Chain Veil's power and spread the demon curse to Garruk, hence his double face and slip into Black magic, and eventually he becomes Garruk, Apex Predator.

In the world of MTGO, several things occurred. Just prior to Innistrad, Modern became a format and joined the MTGO gauntlet. Event Decks--now extinct in paper as well--are removed from MTGO because, well, they were worthless on MTGO. The best cost about 50% as singles, while many cost less than 10% as singles. Finally, a few months after Innistrad, Masques block becomes the last 'old' full set released on MTGO. With Masques in the system, there was a few hundred only vintage cards, most notably the Power 9, absent from MTGO.

Fiscal Value of the Flashback

Prices are from MTGOtraders and MTG goldfish as of the afternoon and evening of the 25th:


Top 5 Mythics
Name Price
Liliana of the Veil $85.14
Geist of Saint Traft $8.38
Past in Flames $6.57
Garruk Relentless $1.05
Olivia Voldaren $0.93


Top 10 Rares
Name Price
Snapcaster Mage $11.15
Stony Silence $2.64
Sulfur Falls $0.89
Champion of the Parish $0.85
Gavony Township $0.3
Isolated Chapel $0.28
Hinterland Harbor $0.26
Clifftop Retreat $0.16
Woodland Cemetery $0.13
Heartless Summoning $0.03


Top Uncommons
Name Price


Worthwhile Commons
Name Price

Here the lottery nature of Innistrad is apparent. Less than 10 rares to drop to less than 5¢ per, less than 5 mythics to reach sub $1. As most likely expected, Liliana of the Veil and Snapcaster Mage dominate the set financially (and in power level). Geist of Saint Traft and Past in Flames both are decent value, but nothing super exciting. There is nothing else redeeming about the set financially--there's not even any uncommon or common worth noting. If you are playing this flashback, do not expect much in value, significantly less than normal. Liliana of the Veil accounts for more than 2/3 of the set value, and by the end of this flashback, will likely make up even more. 


These charts show the inflection points of the mythics and rares--here, between the 3rd and 4th mythic and between the 5th and 6th rare. That means that 4 mythics and 8 rare in the set are priced higher than the averages ($6.48 and $0.29, respectively). Innistrad is extremely top heavy, with Liliana of the Veil throwing off the balance of the whole set. Snapcaster Mage doesn't help the situation either.

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.

Innistrad's Rare Lottery Rate: 96.6%

Innistrad's Mythic Lottery Rate: 100%

Innistrad's Blended Lottery Rate: 97%

Well, we have yet another set with a 100% rate. Unlike Mirrodin Besieged, Innistrad is much worse with both of its rates very high, making the blended rate tied for the highest. Good thing Innistrad is a good format...

Set Trend Pack Value Average Draft Value
New Phyrexia is essentially the same value as it was when this whole endeavor started. $1.32 Normal Pack


$1.17 Without Commons $3.35
$0.51 Without Mythics $1.54

Probably not surprisingly, Innistrad has a horrid pack value once you remove the Mythics. Liliana of the Veil really does carry the set, financially. So again, play this format because you like it, not because you are hoping to make money by opening.

Flashback Trends

  Before Price After Price Percent Change Change Since Last Article
Eighth Edition $101.2 $101.87 0.66% -10.23%
Blood Moon $35 $34.52 -1.37% -16.15%
Mirrodin $94.9 $57.7 -39.2% -24.08%
Oblivion Stone $35 $9.88 -71.77% -23.35%
Darksteel $68.6 $54.11 -21.12% -18.08%
AEther Vial $5.6 $4.39 -21.61% -40.19%
Fifth Dawn $106 $99.81 -5.84% -27.71%
Serum Visions $2.8 $2.09 -25.36% -14.69%
Champions $75.5 $39.28 -47.97% -39.48%
Through the Breach $13.33 $13.75 3.15% -36.61%
Betrayers $63.2 $39.01 -38.28% -27.07%
Goryo's Vengeance $28.86 $13.13 -54.5% -27.42%
Saviors $61.1 $64.83 6.1% -17.99%
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds $15.5 $11.28 -27.23% -31.39%
Ninth Edition $102.4 $75.22 -26.54% -24.32%
Phyrexian Arena $5.2 $4.38 -15.77% 10.61%
Ravnica $78.2 $60.48 -22.66% -26.91%
Dark Confidant $12.59 $6.87 -45.43% -28.73%
Guildpact $41.6 $23.58 -43.32% -29.99%
Orzhov Pontiff $8.4 $1.2 -85.71% -29.82%
Dissension $74.5 $63.56 -14.68% -25.03%
Infernal Tutor $36.66 $35.86 -2.18% -22.67%
Coldsnap $74.7 $35.39 -52.62% -36.65%
Mishra's Bauble $6.15 $6.09 -0.98% -47.99%
Time Spiral $44.9 $34.11 -24.03% -28.98%
Ancestral Vision $21.01 $17.4 -17.18% -26.33%
Planar Chaos $26.2 $16.14 -38.4% -35.23%
Damnation $14.32 $7.48 -47.77% -36.93%
Future Sight $203.6 $132.93 -34.71% -33.21%
Grove of the Burnwillows $39.02 $23.22 -40.49% -31.65%
Tenth Edition $104.4 $65.24 -37.51% -32.13%
Crucible of Worlds $25.77 $8.97 -65.19% -51.59%
Lorwyn $78.7 $33.36 -57.61% -37.54%
Thoughtseize $6.45 $3.69 -42.79% -21.15%
Morningtide $99.1 $67.62 -31.77% -17.41%
Scapeshift $30.16 $22.24 -26.26% -17.54%
Shadowmoor $108.4 $47.62 -56.07% -39.55%
Fulminator Mage $12.62 $8.29 -34.31% -25.98%
Eventide $118 $92.08 -21.97% -12.16%
Twilight Mire $15.9 $24.42 53.58% -5.28%
Shards of Alara $46.6 $24.42 -47.6% -23.45%
Ajani Vengeant $14.47 $7.72 -46.65% -23.34%
Conflux $49.1 $40.19 -18.15% -19.96%
Noble Hierarch $21.48 $22.33 3.96% -24.36%
Alara Reborn $30.1 $23.75 -21.1% -15.24%
Maelstrom Pulse $5.07 $2.97 -41.42% -34.58%
Magic 2010 $46.4 $26.8 -42.24% -30.3%
Time Warp $7.63 $6.3 -17.43% -9.87%
Zendikar $157.7 $97.9 -37.92% -21.21%
Scalding Tarn $31.78 $22.32 -29.77% -24.44%
Worldwake $100.3 $53.65 -46.51% -33.15%
Celestial Colonnade $26.97 $16.63 -38.34% -35.94%
Rise of the Eldrazi $50 $25.49 -49.02% -30.92%
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn $12.3 $6.15 -50% -29.71%
Magic 2011 $81.6 $49.96 -38.77% -30.26%
Primeval Titan $12.66 $7.74 -38.86% -33.68%
Scars of Mirrodin $94.18 $54.49 -42.14% -18.43%
Mox Opal $29.53 $22.6 -23.47% -16.91%
Mirrodin Besieged $87.67 $50.4 -42.51% -38.57%
Inkmoth Nexus $32.78 $21.16 -35.45% -27.81%
New Phrexia $148.9 $90.99 -38.89% N/A
Batterskull $23.9 $15.49 -35.19% N/A

Well, these numbers are depressing. None of it is particularly hopeful, though a decent chunk of the drop can be attributed to the Treasure Chests and the Kaladesh Pre-release. Specifically, the Treasure Chests include nearly all of the individual cards on this list. As a result, I'm going to try and come up with a better system to show the impact of the flashbacks. Likely, this will mean tracking sets as a whole and comparing the changes over time, and how each set does in comparison to other sets. Of course, I will have to remove some data because of massive changes that would skew the results, such as the Treasure Chests.

So, the only card that gained in value since the last article is Phyrexian Arena. Oddly, the arena is on the curated list at a frequency of 12 (meaning approximately 1/600 curated cards are an arena). Arena isn't in standard, and I'm unaware of a sudden uptick in non-standard formats, so I have no idea what this is about. If you can think of something, add a comment!

Other than Phyrexian Arena most cards seemed to have dropped pretty consistently around 25-40%, which is a fairly substantial drop. The additional supply from the chests is unlikely to account for the drop by itself. For instance, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn dropped nearly 40% while at a frequency of 6, whereas Blood Moon only dropped ~15% with a frequency rate of 12, double that of Emrakul. So, what does that mean? The market is responding to far more than just the increased supply. There were--as usual--a number of doomsayers who promoted selling out, and there is necessarily going to be some volatility in the market as result. We don't yet really know what the effects of the changes will be long term, but the market seems gloomy about it, at least for constructed. However, that does mean now might be one of the better times to dive in and pick up some cards quite low, at least historically--such as Thoughtseize and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

A more hidden impact is the change to redemption. Some have speculated this is a way to kill of MTGO or make it free-to-play, but that fails to account for the substantial revenue Wizards gets from MTGO. For now, the fear is present enough that players are selling off, so if you plan on staying, now is getting to be a good time to buy in. We won't really know the full impact until Kaladesh goes off redemption in the spring. So the bottom might still be coming. Personally, I just Wizards would address the redemption changes and at least discuss them with the community. Instead, we got a few paragraphs and a highly misleading graph.


Considering we just recently got out of Shadows over Innistrad, a previous search link won't be particularly helpful, but you should still look for other flashback articles! Old article on the draft format: 

  • Here's an article by Marc Anderson at Mana Deprived.

Innistrad has a lot of fun synergies, and some very powerful decks. Spider Spawning is a particularly common favorite, so expect to see it!

As always, I appreciate any comments! 


xger21 on MTGO.


Ack, looks like I forgot to by xger at Wed, 10/26/2016 - 13:03
xger's picture

Ack, looks like I forgot to run this throw the hover program before I submitted it (which I usually do). Sorry about that, I'll try to see if there's a way to fix it.

Is that just for your article by Cheater Hater at Wed, 10/26/2016 - 16:48
Cheater Hater's picture

Is that just for your article or all articles from today? I noticed my article didn't have hovers either.

There was sadly an issue with by JXClaytor at Wed, 10/26/2016 - 18:04
JXClaytor's picture

There was sadly an issue with the hover program with today's updates. I worked on it a bit myself, and usually waiting for the macros usually does it, but after waiting 45 minutes for one article, I made the decision to fix things and publish as they were.