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By: xger, Xger
Feb 26 2016 12:00pm
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First, sorry this is a little late. I aim to get it in for review by Monday night, but this was my busiest week at law school and, sadly, my cat passed away unexpectedly, so I was considerably more distracted than normal. As for Betrayers, it continued a weak block, but I still managed to introduce an oppressive equipment, still banned in Modern, Umezawa's Jitte. But, I'm ahead of myself, so...

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.

Kamigawa block articles: Champions.

Here is the upcoming schedule:

Format Dates
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
Ravnica-Ravnica-Guildpact 3/23-3/30

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:

Betrayers of Kamigawa History and Background:

Betrayers is in an awkward position. It's the middle of a block at one of the low points for tournament magic. However, it has a fan favorite creature type and mechanic:

ninja of the deep hoursink-eyes, servant of onishuriken

Ninjas, unsurpisingly, are very popular. But, Wizards placed them in a block that was poorly timed, which darkens their future. Then there is Ninjutsu, which is an elegant mechanic that has a lot of potential. Sadly, its name hamstrings it because it needs Ninjas to make any sense, and can only go on Ninjas for the same reason. So, the most promising parts of Betrayers are left in an awkward purgatory.

Outside of that, Betrayers brought the offering mechanic, allowing a player to sacrifice a previous creature of the same type to reduce the cost of the new one:

patron of the kitsunepatron of the nezumipatron of the akki

Betrayers also introduced two well-known cycles, the Shoals and the Genju. The shoals are interesting because Wizards yet again made free cards, but this time all were duds for a considerable time. Blazing Shoal gained prominence in Modern due to its combo potential with cards like Glistener Elf and Griselbrand. The Genju are cards to animate lands with the idea of negating the card disadvantage inherent in auras. The Genju work in that sense, but are not particularly inspiring.

blazing shoalgenju of the realmnourishing shoalgenju of the spiresgenju of the cedarssickening shoalgenju of the fieldsdisrupting shoal

And, of course, there is the elephant in the room for Betrayers, Umezawa's Jitte. Jitte is very powerful and practically unbeatable in limited without removal. It warped the format around it, once Affinity got all of its important pieces banned. It still scares wizards in Modern.

umezawa's jitte

Lastly, Betrayers continued Champions theme and mechanics. MTGO was still showing growing pains, but the depressed state of tournament Magic made MTGO more bearable.

Fiscal Value of the Flashback

Prices for the individual cards are from MTGOTraders sell price on Wednesday evening the 24th. This means there will be some of the impact already showing in the prices, sorry again for the lateness. Set trends are from MTG goldfish.

Betrayers of Kamigawa:

Top 10 Rares
Name Price
Goryo's Vengeance $28.86
Threads of Disloyalty $7.91
Tendo Ice Bridge $6.54
Nourishing Shoal $4.39
Disrupting Shoal $4.08
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner $2.63
Umezawa's Jitte $2.13
Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni $1.48
Sickening Shoal $0.29
Hokori, Dust Drinker $0.29
Top Uncommons
Name Price
Flames of the Blood Hand $0.26
Ashen Monstrosity $0.04
Worthwhile Commons
Ninja of the Deep Hours $1.35
Goblin Cohort $0.04

Sadly, Betrayers value is already really low and tied up in primarily two cards. It is particularly telling that the most valuable common is more valuable than 85% of the rares.

This chart shows the inflection point of the rares--here, between the 8th and 9th highest rare. That means that 8 rares in the set are priced higher than the average rare ($1.09), which leads to a lottery feel. Particularly, Goryo's Vengeance accounts for nearly half the value of the rares, 48%. Because this is the first case where a single card accounts for half the value of rares (and more than 45% of the entire set's value) it highlights the simplistic lottery rate calculation I used previously. As such, I'm again changing the value, and the look. I realized it seemed strange that 100% "lottery rate" meant the set was in balance. Going forward, a 0% will mean 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).

Betrayers of Kamigawa's Lottery Rate: 93%

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

As for the predicted value, Betrayers of Kamigawa should follow a path similar to Darksteel. The difference, again, is probably going to be in the amount previously opened of Betrayers. It was not popular and it was surrounded by two far more popular blocks. Further, the fire rate seems lower.

Set Trend Pack Value Average Draft Value
It has increased 40% since announcement. However, that is almost solely (Goryo's Vengence:bok) $1.58 With Commons $3.21
$1.14 Without Commons $2.39
$1.06 Without lottery rares $2.63

With such a high lottery rate, I excluded Goryo's Vengeance. Sadly, that accounted for almost a third of the pack value.

Flashback Trends:

  Before Price After Price Percent Change
8ed $101.20 $118.28 16.88%
Blood Moon $35.00 $31.73 -9.34%
Mirrodin $94.90 $71.17 -25.01%
Oblivion Stone $35.00 $17.47 -50.09%
Glimmervoid $10.20 $8.16 -20.00%
Darksteel $68.60 $63.46 -10.78%
Arcbound Ravager $9.10 $10.91 19.89%
Aether Vial $5.60 $4.72 -15.71%
Fifth Dawn $106.00 $90.60 -14.53%
Auriok Champion $27.10 $24.10 -11.07%
Serum Visions $2.80 $2.48 -11.43%
Champions of Kamigawa $75.50 $49.60 -34.30%
Sensei's Divining Top $3.50 $2.98 -14.86%

The changes are intriguing this week, as some sets continued to rebound but Mirrodin dropped back a little. Next, Serum Visions is an interesting bellwether because it has climbed up a decent chunk, despite being a common. It is still low compared to the pre-announcement levels. However, it could also relate to the Modern landscape and UR's poor positioning. Again, 8th's rise is mostly tied to Ensnaring Bridge due to its usefulness against Eldrazi.

If you look back at my Darksteel article, you will see that Mirrodin dropped over 42% after its triple release. So, this is the first time to have a real apples to apples comparison. Champions fell a little over a third, which seems in line with Mirrodin when you consider the amount opened previously and the popularity of the set. It seems possible that for the average fall set in triple flashback, it will lost a third of its value.

Draft Strategy:

This section will be rather short this week as I am pressed for time and the drafts are already a day in. Sorry! Also, apologies for whatever happened to this section in last week's article, I am not sure what caused the formatting issues or the missing pictures.

My take:

  • First, always take Umezawa's Jitte if there isn't a money card in the pack (and still do if you don't care about the money card). There is little artifact removal, and no one will main deck it. The card will win for you single-handedly.
  • If you want to play a Genju, you probably want a higher land count by 1. The Genju can be very good, but only in the right decks. A 50/50 land split will likely not work well with a Genju

umezawa's JitteGenju of the falls

  • Ninja of the Deep Hours and Okiba-Gang Shinobi are both very good. However, ninjutsu will cause some players to play differently, so you cannot rely on getting them in. But, you can use that different playstyle to your advantage as well.

ninja of the deep hoursOkiba-Gang Shinobi

  • Green gets some good beaters and good commons. Uproot can seal a game or significantly delay an opponent. Gnarled Mass is very solid early game. Finally, Harbinger of Spring can blank some powerful cards, so it is worth playing.

uprootGnarled massharbinger of spring


As always, I appreciate any comments! Sorry again for the lateness and shortness, next week should return to normal.


xger21 on MTGO.