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By: xger, Xger
Feb 16 2016 12:00pm
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It's been a little while and the effects of the previous flashbacks should have settled. Unfortunately, we are heading into Champions block, which isn't a bastion of strong cards or nostalgia (except for a small subset of players). Regardless, let's dive in:

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.

Mirrodin block articles: MirrodinDarksteel, and Fifth Dawn.

Here is the upcoming schedule:

Format Dates
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
Triple Ravnica 3/16-3/23

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:

Champions of Kamigawa History and Background:

Champions of Kamigawa is often considered one of the low points of Magic. The story was based on various Japanese myths, but the focus that Wizards chose was not the commonly recognizable pieces of the myths. Instead, Wizards focused on getting more technical and obscure pieces, aiming more for correctness, not for relatability. Compare to Innistrad or Theros, where the story and cards focused on emulation and not strict imitationthe goal was getting players to instinctively know the world, not on being right.

Yosei, the morning star




insatiable harpy

So, we have a spirit dragon because the enemy was spirits and Wizards wanted a dragon cycle, so it had to be a dragon spirit. Good thing it fit on the type lineno really, that's the reason. Theros played to expectations with a harpy, but it being insatiable was an obscure reference. The difference is one approach required intimate knowledge and the other less so. Ninjas didn't come until later.

Beyond story, the set had a heavy legends theme. With that theme came a change to the legend ruleplaying the same legend destroyed all of the same on the battlefield, regardless of ownership (this rule changed to our current legend rule many years later). Problematically, Champions included so many legends that limited and constructed play were hindered.

nagao, bound by honorstudent of elementsbrothers yamazaki

Of course, Champions also followed Mirrodin block. Even if Champions block was middle of the road power wise, following Mirrodin would make it look weak in comparisonthe same fate that fell on Mercadian Masques. However, Champions wasn't powerful and its theme meant less power by the nature of legend interaction. The mechanics weren't the best either. Splice onto Arcane is very parasitic and the flip cards are difficult to read.

desperate ritualglacial raybudoka gardenerOrochi Eggwatcher

As for MTGO, it was still in the rocky stages and Wizards kept promising the new version not too far off.

Fiscal Value of the Flashback

Prices for the individual cards are from MTGOTraders sell price on Monday evening the 15th. Set trends are from MTG goldfish.

Champions of Kamigawa:

Top 10 Rares
Name Price
Through the Breach $13.33
Forbidden Orchard $8.06
Boseiju, Who Shelters All $7.86
Minamo, School at Water's Edge $5.16
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker $4.85
Night of Souls' Betrayal $4.83
Azusa, Lost but Seeking $4.67
Gifts Ungiven $3.83
Glimpse of Nature $3.39
Eiganjo Castle $2.64
Top Uncommons
Name Price
Sensei's Divining Top $3.91
Ghostly Prison $1.97
Worthwhile Commons
Lava Spike $0.52

So, Champions value is flat, but not that impressive. Particularly, the uncommons and commons have little value, only two uncommons above 4 cents and one common sellable for more than a fraction of a cent.

This chart shows the inflection point of the rares--here, between the 13th and 14th highest rare. That means that 13 rares in the set are priced higher than the average rare ($0.77), which lowers the lottery feel. However, the lower lottery feel exists here because of the overall lower average rare value. Here, there are not true lottery rares, the best covers the cost of the draft and a little more.

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. 

Champions of Kamigawa's Lottery Rate: 30%

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

As for the predicted value, Champions of Kamigawa should follow a path similar to Mirrodin. The difference is probably in the amount previously opened of Champions. It was not popular and it was surrounded by two far more popular blocks.

Set Trend Pack Value Average Draft Value
It has increased 8% from its flashback announcement. However, it has dropped ~5% in the last week $1.20 With Commons $3.59
$1.01 Without Commons $3.03
N/A Without lottery rares N/A

With 13 rares above the average, there isn't much to remove and the rare value is already low, so removing some of the lottery rares will serve little purpose.

Flashback Trends:

  Before Price After Price Percent Change
8ed $101.20 $110.20 8.89%
Blood Moon $35.00 $30.71 -12.26%
Mirrodin $94.90 $72.50 -23.61%
Oblivion Stone $35.00 $16.56 -52.69%
Glimmervoid $10.20 $8.49 -16.76%
Darksteel $68.60 $61.20 -10.78%
Arcbound Ravager $9.10 $11.42 25.49%
Aether Vial $5.60 $4.64 -17.14%
Fifth Dawn $106.00 $89.50 -15.57%
Auriok Champion $27.10 $24.00 -11.44%
Serum Visions $2.80 $2.25 -19.64%

The changes are interesting, though a good amount is more likely related to the recent Modern Pro Tour. Eighth's rise is largely due to Ensnaring Bridge, which is now the most valuable card in Eighth. Ravager climbed because Affinity wasn't massacred by Eldrazi. In general, and unsurprisingly, the cards are dropping in value, but it seems the cards won't crash abysmally.

Draft Strategy:

My take:

  • White is pretty typical this time, with some fliers and some defensive cards. It's hard to separate out whether white is weak or the set is overall weak.
  • Kitsune Diviner is going to be strong, a decent amount of the creatures as spirits. Similarly, Kitsune Riftwalker is likely to be strong.
  • Kabuto Moth is a contender for best white common. First a flier, and second, the ability will dominate the board.

It is possible to build a Dampen Thought deck, but only one drafter can attempt it. If you get it, it is very good, but it is not the easiest to successfully create.

Overall, blue is weak. This is before blue had even decent creatures, so the options there is low. The spells are mediocre.

The Soratami theme is intriguing and cards like Meloku the Clouded Mirror can be busted. But, the abilities are pretty parasitic, so be wary of thinking you will use a lot of them.

Black is probably the strongest color, mainly because it has a number of removal options. Rend Flesh and (Rend Spirit:CHK) are first pickable, and Befoul is excellent as well.

Honden of Night's Reach is pretty strong, even as your only shrine. It can really mess with an opponent and eventualy prevent tricks against you.

The black flip cards are probably the most likely to actually flip, and both are decent.

Glacial Ray is probably the best common in the set, as its potential is extraordinarily high. The set has loads of arcane, so the splice is very useful.

You will not trigger Akki Lavarunner. It's great in concept, but in the rare chance you can trigger it, you'ver probably already won.

Brutal Deceiver is the best of the cycle because of the blow out potential of first strike. If your opponent isn't defended, it will likely hit for 2 regularly.

While a vanilla creature, Order of the Sacred Bell is very good in this environment. Not exciting, but very solid.

The various snakes with the chill ability make green pretty defensive, which is uncommon for the color. The snakes can also be disruptive, not all players are familiar with or able to plan around multiple chill effects.

Never underestimate the potential of Lure. There are not many stalemate breakers in this format, but Lure is one.


Other's Take:

Here is an article from the mothership. The article covers black/red aggro and have some draft pick lists. 


As always, I appreciate any comments!


xger21 on MTGO.