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By: xger, Xger
Nov 02 2016 12:00pm
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Time to round out the Innistrad draft experience with Dark Ascension. There really isn't much here financially, and Dark Ascension is not very distinct from Innistrad, so the draft format won't shift dramatically. For now, just hope to crack a Grafdigger's Cage. A Sorin, Lord of Innistrad is probably the best if you want value you can use in limited. 

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
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:

Dark Ascension History and Background

Unfortunately, Dark Ascension is relatively unremarkable in retrospect. It continued the very well down Innistrad, but doesn't stand out all that well on its own. The set itself was supposed to wrap up the available space for a horror world--because originally many people though there was only enough material for 1 large set and 1 small set. Dark Ascension continued the feel of Innistrad overall, but did fail in some aspects--the lack of a legendary werewolf, lack of a human captain, and the lack of a green curse. 

To start, Dark Ascension brought various lords (captains) for the tribes started in Innistrad: Drogskol Captain for Spirits, Diregraf Captain for Zombies, Stromkirk Captain for Vampires, and Immerwolf for Wolfs and Werewolfs. Thematically, the set is supposed to show humans on the run, getting desperate, and facing a very real chance of extinction on the plane. That's at least partially why there was not a Human captain. Of course, players were not thrilled about it, and Mark Rosewater later stated they probably shouldn't have left it out. Other cycles included increasing flashback spells (Increasing Devotion), mythic tribal cards from the four above (Falkenrath Aristocrat), and enemy utility lands (Vault of the Archangel).

increasing savageryhuntmaster of the fellsgrim backwoods

Mechanics included Fateful Hour and Undying. The two had opposite receptions, with Undying being popular and Fateful Hour less so. Storywise, Liliana Vess still searches for Griselbrand, one of the demons that granted her magic under a demonic contract. The humans are running, with more and more going mad, scared, or desperate (Village Survivors). The loss of Mikaeus the Lunarch was tragic to the humans of the plane, but the transformation into Mikaeus, the Unhallowed really darkened the world. The only glimmer of hope was the discovery of Avacyn, Angel of Hope, who was trapped in the Helvault.

As for MTGO news of the time, there was not much. A few months after Dark Ascension landed on computers, Cube started up on MTGO for the first time. The release included a LAN tournament at PAX with in person play.

Fiscal Value of the Flashback

Prices are from MTGOtraders and MTG goldfish as of the afternoon and evening of the 1st:

Dark Ascension

Top 5 Mythics
Name Price
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed $4.83
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad $3.61
Huntmaster of the Fells $3.23
Havengul Lich $1.48
Drogskol Reaver $0.7


Top 10 Rares
Name Price
Grafdigger's Cage $17.04
Gravecrawler $1.77
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben $1.44
Geralf's Messenger $1.29
Vault of the Archangel $0.16
Predator Ooze $0.12
Hellrider $0.02
Thraben Doomsayer $0.02
Lost in the Woods $0.02
Counterlash $0.02


Top Uncommons
Name Price
Lingering Souls $0.51


Worthwhile Commons
Name Price
Thought Scour $0.16
Death's Caress $0.09
Break of Day $0.07

While nearly half of the set is tied up in Grafdigger's Cage, at least there are some okay commons and uncommons. Beneficially, Lingering Souls and Thought Scour are cards that will likely retain at least some of their value long term, as they are both constructed cards and casual favorites. Lingering Souls is unlikely to see a reprint anytime in a standard set--it needs both Flashback and cross-color flashback while also wanting a B/W tokens strategy.


These charts show the inflection points of the mythics and rares--here, between the 4th and 5th mythic and between the 4th and 5th rare. That means that 4 mythics and 4 rares in the set are priced higher than the averages ($1.29 and $0.59, respectively). Here, Grafdigger's Cage holds up the rares almost singlehandedly--without it, the rares would be worth just 14¢ on average. The mythics are a bit flatter, but not overall that valuable.

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.

Dark Ascension's Rare Lottery Rate: 100%

Dark Ascension's Mythic Lottery Rate: 75%

Dark Ascension's Blended Lottery Rate: 96.88%

Dark Ascension's rates aren't as bad as Innistrad, but a large portion of that comes from the relatively low value of the mythics, meaning more make the cut. Similar to Innistrad, this is about a lottery card.

Set Trend Pack Value Average Draft Value
Dark Ascension is strange. It is about where it was last December, but it had climbed 50% up til about 2 months ago. $1.00 Normal Pack


$0.76 Without Commons $2.83
$0.84 Without Mythics $1.70

The most interesting of the above is that Liliana of the Veil still has an outsized role in this. She accounts for nearly half of the entire draft value.

Flashback Trends

  Before Price After Price Percent Change Change Since Last Article
Eighth Edition $101.2 $104.42 3.2% 2.5%
Blood Moon $35 $34.69 -0.9% 0.5%
Mirrodin $94.9 $59.15 -37.7% 2.5%
Oblivion Stone $35 $9.84 -71.9% -0.4%
Darksteel $68.6 $52.06 -24.1% -3.8%
AEther Vial $5.6 $4.6 -17.9% 4.8%
Fifth Dawn $106 $99 -6.6% -0.8%
Serum Visions $2.8 $2.8 0% 34%
Champions $75.5 $38.59 -48.9% -1.8%
Through the Breach $13.33 $13.47 1.1% -2%
Betrayers $63.2 $34.92 -44.7% -10.5%
Goryo's Vengeance $28.86 $10.62 -63.2% -19.1%
Saviors $61.1 $63.84 4.5% -1.5%
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds $15.5 $11.4 -26.5% 1.1%
Ninth Edition $102.4 $73.68 -28% -2%
Phyrexian Arena $5.2 $4.45 -14.4% 1.6%
Ravnica $78.2 $67.47 -13.7% 11.6%
Dark Confidant $12.59 $7.79 -38.1% 13.4%
Guildpact $41.6 $25.5 -38.7% 8.1%
Orzhov Pontiff $8.4 $1.05 -87.5% -12.5%
Dissension $74.5 $62.59 -16% -1.5%
Infernal Tutor $36.66 $35.23 -3.9% -1.8%
Coldsnap $74.7 $37.19 -50.2% 5.1%
Mishra's Bauble $6.15 $4.4 -28.5% -27.8%
Time Spiral $44.9 $35.01 -22% 2.6%
Ancestral Vision $21.01 $17.78 -15.4% 2.2%
Planar Chaos $26.2 $16.9 -35.5% 4.7%
Damnation $14.32 $8.02 -44% 7.2%
Future Sight $203.6 $136.46 -33% 2.7%
Grove of the Burnwillows $39.02 $25.57 -34.5% 10.1%
Tenth Edition $104.4 $63.85 -38.8% -2.1%
Crucible of Worlds $25.77 $11.62 -54.9% 29.5%
Lorwyn $78.7 $34.57 -56.1% 3.6%
Thoughtseize $6.45 $3.87 -40% 4.9%
Morningtide $99.1 $68.3 -31.1% 1%
Scapeshift $30.16 $22.58 -25.1% 1.5%
Shadowmoor $108.4 $45.19 -58.3% -5.1%
Fulminator Mage $12.62 $7.32 -42% -11.7%
Eventide $118 $88.85 -24.7% -3.5%
Twilight Mire $15.9 $23.94 50.6% -2%
Shards of Alara $46.6 $25.48 -45.3% 4.3%
Ajani Vengeant $14.47 $8.14 -43.7% 5.4%
Conflux $49.1 $42.33 -13.8% 5.3%
Noble Hierarch $21.48 $24.02 11.8% 7.6%
Alara Reborn $30.1 $23.83 -20.8% 0.3%
Maelstrom Pulse $5.07 $3.26 -35.7% 9.8%
Magic 2010 $46.4 $26.99 -41.8% 0.7%
Time Warp $7.63 $6.31 -17.3% 0.2%
Zendikar $157.7 $106.35 -32.6% 8.6%
Scalding Tarn $31.78 $22.98 -27.7% 3%
Worldwake $100.3 $53.05 -47.1% -1.1%
Celestial Colonnade $26.97 $16.54 -38.7% -0.5%
Rise of the Eldrazi $50 $26.46 -47.1% 3.8%
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn $12.3 $5.66 -54% -8%
Magic 2011 $81.6 $51.4 -37% 2.9%
Primeval Titan $12.66 $7.61 -39.9% -1.7%
Scars of Mirrodin $94.18 $59.71 -36.6% 9.6%
Mox Opal $29.53 $24.26 -17.8% 7.3%
Mirrodin Besieged $87.67 $55.41 -36.8% 9.9%
Inkmoth Nexus $32.78 $26.22 -20% 23.9%
New Phyrexia $148.9 $100.55 -32.5% 10.5%
Batterskull $23.9 $15.45 -35.4% -0.3%
Innistrad $121.3 $122.74 1.2% N/A
Liliana of the Veil $85.14 $72.16 -15.2% N/A

So, this week we some level of recovery, though it may be just the standard rate of things. In the New Year, I'm planning on doing an article analyzing what happened over the year, so we'll see that then. The recovery seems relatively wide spread, so perhaps some of the fears surrounding the chests have subsided.

Some cards have climbed quite a bit, such as Inkmoth Nexus and Crucible of Worlds. Those two in particular are not that surprising to see such a climb. Both are long time staples of different formats and decks, and neither is super likely to see reprints outside of Modern Masters. I would not be surprised if some of the bigger jumps are people buying in are the recent cratering of the price, at least historically. Though, if that were the sole explanation, it would be reasonable to expect a card like Blood Moon to shoot up as well, since it is a long time staple with low reprint possibility. 

The more concerning aspect is that the recent cratering pushed down the prices so that only a few are above where they started. Currently, only three sets are above where they started, and some are still substantially depressed. Hopefully, over the next few weeks those prices creep back up and return to more historical prices. It's also possible that some sets just won't return because their prices were inflated due to low supply, such as Champions of Kamigawa. 


Should you want other flashback articles, here's a search link! Old article on the draft format: 

  • Here's an article from oraymw here at PureMTGO
  • Here's an article from Melissa DeTora at Gathering Magic

Sadly, some of the most valuable cards simply aren't that playable in limited. So, Grafdigger's Cage and Mikaeus, the Unhallowed are more likely to sit in your sideboard--triple black is a risky 1st pick of a draft...

As always, I appreciate any comments! 


xger21 on MTGO.