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By: xger, Xger
Apr 15 2014 12:00pm
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There is a lot of speculation about fetchland reprints. Over at mtgsalvation there is a (currently) 33 page thread where there is a lot of tidbits and anecdotes as well as just random assumptions. I gathered and collected as much data as I thought applicable to show why the most logical and reasonable speculation is that fetchlands will be coming to Standard, and in Huey block. Even the Onslaught fetchlands!

The important facts and deductions from them:

Modern was announced for the community cup in May of 2011. In August of 2011 the shortly upcoming PT was changed to Modern. That was 2.5 years ago roughly. That means in the timeline that R&D works on, Theros was the earliest set to have been able to have fetches reprinted after Modern was officially a format. Given they are not in it that means Huey could have them when looking strictly at the timeline.

Next, the Modern announcement article had a small, but quite important tidbit about fetches: 

Modern Announcement - Source
As with any format, there are some cards whose conspicuous absence will be felt. In particular, the Onslaught fetch lands feel like a strange omission, when the Zendikar fetch lands combined with the Ravnica dual lands will likely be important to the format's mana bases. I admit that it is strange . . . For now, the lack of allied-color fetch lands would be one of the format's idiosyncrasies. There would be others that we would discover over time, and that's okay too.

 

Bloodstained MireFlooded StrandPolluted DeltaWindswept HeathWooded Foothills

So Wizards, from the beginning, viewed the ONS fetches omissions as, "conspicuous", "strange", and an "idiosyncrasy" of the format. It is not a stretch to see that meaning that introducing the ONS fetches into Modern is seen almost as inevitable. Even more so when the "For now," qualifier is looked at specifically. That phrase says much more than the 2 words written. It says the idea of bringing the ONS fetches to Modern is a real possibility that was discussed at length when Modern was announced. That was almost 3 years ago. Which is conveniently pretty close to the set life cycle at wizards (if you include pre-design and advanced planning). So the established fact is that Wizards has already considered, and found reason, to introduce the ONS fetches to Modern.

Next up is introduction through a supplemental product versus Standard. First up is the statement by Mark Rosewater (referred to hereafter as MaRo) that fetches are a 3 on the storm scale. For those unfamiliar, the storm scale came from MaRo's blog. The scale is about the possibility of something happening or returning to a Standard legal set (on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being inevitable, 10 being nearly impossible - such as storm). Here is where MaRo assigned that value:

Fetches in Standard - Source

profblahson asked: I haven't seen this question answered yet, so if you have I apologize, but Fetch Lands on the Storm Scale?

Maro: Fetch lands are a 3. The only thing holding them back might be developmental concerns.

This answer was posted in February of 2013. At that time the concerns were likely tied to Ravinca shocklands, as those considerably increase the power of fetchlands. The Theros/"Huey" Standard will have scrylands plus the lands from Huey block. The scrylands would not add any developmental concerns to introducing the fetchlands as they don't work together, just side by side.

The Onslaught Fetches:

"Old" Fetches in Standard - Source

zombimokus asked: Will we ever see the old fetchlands in Standard?

Maro: I’d say it’s a possibility.

This question is specifically about the Onslaught fetches. This combines with the recent R&D decision to equalize enemy and allied mana bases to strongly indicate that a Standard reprint of the Zendikar fetches means a Standard reprint of the Onslaught fetches. Here is a relevant quote about the mana bases:

Mana Bases in Standard - Source
While it made thematic sense to separate enemy and allied color fixing in the past, we have come around to the definite conclusion that it is just plain incorrect from a game-play perspective. This is one of these situations where game play should just trump flavor.

These all combine to establish that a full reprint of all 10 fetchlands could happen in Standard.

Non-Standard Reprint:

To make a strong case I separate a non-standard reprint into two categories - a Modern Masters style product and everything else. For all supplemental products history shows that these do not introduce anything into Modern. Changing that policy would require either a very confusing policy (some supplemental products would be in Modern, some would not) or highly restricting what goes into supplemental products. A supplemental reprint would then likely mean the ONS fetches would not be introduced, which seems to strongly contradict the previously established facts. This leads to reasonably determine that they will not be reprinted in a non-modern masters supplemental product. Here is further reason to rule out non-modern masters products for a reprint:

Supplemental Products for Reprinting - Source
The best tools available to us were our fixed-card products like Duel Decks and multiplayer products like Commander and Planechase, but trying to get older cards into circulation using those avenues is difficult and inefficient, and can end with the products being purchased for reasons other than what they are intended for.

There has also been a fair amount said in regards to Commander 2013 and True-Name Nemesis. Here is a very relevant statement:

True-Name Nemesis - Source

paalbs asked: In hindsight, would you say putting True Name Nemesis in the grixis commander deck was a mistake?

Maro: Absolutely. It pulled focus in a way that I didn't think was good for the product.

True-Name Nemesis

Those various factors all combine to fairly conclusively rule out a non-modern masters supplemental product.

Reprinting in a Modern Masters Style Set:

The MMA announcement articles have several tidbits to glean:

Card Availability, Legacy, and Modern - Source
We knew that many players wanted a non-rotating format in which to keep playing their older cards, but the best alternative at the time—Legacy—was, and still is, hampered by card availability problems that stem from our Reserved List (a policy that prevents us from reprinting several cards from Magic's early days, many of which are tournament mainstays).

So card availability is something they explicitly do not want harming Modern. Economically speaking, the prices of fetches is a form of card availability issue - if many more were available the price would fall as supply increases.

Willingness to Reprint Cards in Modern - Source
I made a big deal early in the format's life that not only were we allowed to reprint the staple cards of the format, but that we actively planned to do so. A good bit of that rhetoric was anchored in the fact that I knew the ten "shocklands" were slated to appear in Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash; similarly, a couple other big Modern cards are slated to show up in other Standard-legal sets down the line.

TarmogoyfDark ConfidantMutavaultHallowed Fountain

Given the timing of this announcement, it is entirely feasible that this could include Huey cards. Given that it is established that fetches are capable of appearing in Standard and they did not appear in MMA, it is reasonable speculation that the fetches could indeed be some of the cards "slated to show up".

Print Run Size - Source

I can't say it enough: our print run is very small, especially compared to what we're making for our current headliner sets like Return to Ravnica.

This indicates (along with the entire tone of the section I pulled it from) that MMA2 would likely be a significantly smaller print run in comparison to a Standard set. While we don't have the numbers of cards printed, it seems unlikely to alter the availability enough to encourage long term change.

Modern Masters Price Impact:

To analyze MMA impact it is necessary to consider the relevant cards from MMA. Looking at Lava Spike doesn't say much about fetchlands. I only look at the normal rares of MMA. These seem the best analog in terms of amount entering the system. If and when fetchlands are reprinted there is essentially no logical reason to believe they would be anything other than rare. Mythic would be out of the question just simply on logistics - they would take up 1/3 or 2/3 of the mythic rare slots. Uncommon or common would break severely with established precedent for fetches.


Click here for a table of Magic Online prices:

Click here for a table of Magic paper prices:

 

Here are the breakdowns:

  Modern Masters Release Approx. 3 months after release Price week of 4/5/14
Magic Online Prices ~94% ~62% ~91%
Magic Paper Prices ~110% ~92% ~84%
Online Staple Prices ~85% ~63%  ~107%
Paper Staple Prices ~113%  ~93% ~102%

These all use the Modern Masters announcement date as the baseline. So the first box, Magic Online Prices-Modern Masters Release means that the total of the rares in MMA was when Modern Masters was released were at 94% of the total they were when Modern Masters was released. Prices are retrieved from mtggoldfish.com when possible. I could not find adequate data for Auriok Salvagers. Aether Vial did not have online price data for MMA announcement. Staples are cards that have appeared with some regularity in tournaments. So a card like Knight of the Reliquary is counted as it appears in high level events, but something like Skeletal Vampire is excluded. 

Cryptic CommandArcbound Ravager

The question here is whether or not Cryptic Command should be included in the data set as it is such an outlier. I kept it in for one primary reason - of the rares of MMA it seems the most analogous to the fetches. It is played in a much wider range of decks than something like Arcbound Ravager. Monitoring the price of a key piece to a single deck doesn't reveal nearly as much as monitoring the price of a card used in many decks when thinking of fetches. So, if MMA2 increased Modern demand, the current supply of fetches plus a reprint would likely not absorb the new demand fully enough if at all, especially over the long term. It is also unknown how large a MMA2 print run would be. Given the current fetch prices, a ~15% dip would not be much of an impact either. Even if you give estimates very generously in favor of a MMA2 reprint for numbers the outcome would not be a long-term solution.

Summary:

  • The timeline from the announcement of Modern to now means Huey could contain the fetches.
  • Wizards has thought about ONS fetches joining Modern and sees it as a likely inevitability.
  • Placing the fetches in a non-MMA supplemental product seems completely out of the question.
  • Card availability is something that Wizards will actively work to address - fetches are clearly currently under supplied.
  • The print run of MMA was not enough to push down prices sufficiently long-term, especially on the most analogous rare.

Conclusion and Prediction:

All of the evidence really only leaves 2 options for a long-term solution:

  • Fetches annually in MMA-like products
  • Reprinting in a large fall set

Placing fetches in an annual MMA-like release has several issues. First, it means there has to be an annual product. Second it has to have 5-10 rare slots taken each year. Finally, given the likely print run sizes, it may not even be enough to hold down the prices to a reasonable level. Therefore, the evidence and deductions shown are in favor of a Standard reprint. Simply put, I predict that all 10 fetches will be in Standard, and very likely Huey block. While the Standard reprint is well supported, Huey block specifically is not as strongly so. However, I think nearly all of the evidence (and most importantly the card availability of the fetches) means the sooner the better for a reprint. Huey is the soonest it could happen.

Counterpoints:

What if they just never reprint them? All of the evidence I have presented thus far relies on a simple assumption - that Wizards will at some point reprint the fetches. Two posts from MaRo's blog combine to conclusively show they will be reprinted:

Two Options for Fetches - Source

the-corrution asked: I have two friends (both who are significantly more experienced in Magic than me) who insist on two different views concerning the Onslaught fetch lands. One of them believes that there is only a matter of time before a reprinting occurs, and the other has the unswayable view that they never will be reprinted because they would spell serious trouble for Modern as a format. I'm curious as to which you believe has a brighter insight into potential Magic future?

Maro: All I can say is this. One is clearly in the right and the other is plain wrong. :)

"Old" Fetches in Standard - Source

zombimokus asked: Will we ever see the old fetchlands in Standard?

Maro: I’d say it’s a possibility.

The second one was already used earlier. When the two quotes are combined it means the person who saw reprints as inevitable is correct. These also combine to indicate heavily that the reprint was already scheduled for a set as that is the only way to know for sure that the reprint would happen.

What if the reprint is very far off? - It was just established that there is heavy indication fetches are already scheduled. There are also plenty of business reasons for a reprint to be close. Wizards is pushing the Modern format quite hard. Despite the overreactions of some players Wizards is not dumb - they have known from the beginning of Modern that fetches would be integral to the format. Wizards wants Modern to be unrestrained by card availability. Waiting simply does not further the growth of Modern at all.

Wizards does not want shuffling anymore, so therefore they won't reprint the fetches in Standard. -

 

This has been said by a lot of people refuting the notion of a fetchland reprint but it is highly misleading. Wizards wants to lessen the amount of shuffling not necessarily eliminate it entirely. Here are two helpful quotes from MaRo on the subject:

Shuffling - Source

dukkhasatva asked: Those members of R&D that hate shuffling, were they also against printing a card like Birthing Pod?

Maro: The card-shuffling haters dislike printing any card that shuffles. If we print them they prefer that they are at high rarities and only shuffle once.

Shuffling - Source

trunks1016 asked: It seems like there is a lot more deck shuffling in Gatecrash than in most of the recent sets. I know you were trying to cut back on shuffling but I just wanted to say thanks as I like to shuffle my deck. I don't think it's something R&D should hold back on at all, it's part of the game.

Maro: Shuffling takes time and time is a real issue in organized play.

We'll always have shuffling. The key is only use it when there's not another way to do the card.

Those combine to show that fetchlands are an acceptable use of shuffling. There wouldn't be a logical way to do fetches differently that is either not substantially worse or very breakable.

Fetches are tied to Zendikar and Onslaught, so it has to be in a return to block. - Some cards are deliberately given generic names so that they may one day be used again. Consider Gerrard's Verdict versus Thoughtseize. One is tied directly to a certain world and flavor, while the other is not necessarily attached to anything in particularly. None of the fetchlands have a name or lore that forces them to remain in their original world.

Gerrard's VerdictThoughtseize

If fetches were scheduled to be reprinted they would have been a 1 on the storm scale. - This one is straight forward:

Storm Scale Vacuum - Source

rebmcr asked: Have you ever given a high Storm Scale number to something that you already know is returning?

Maro: I judge the Storm Scale in a vacuum not taking into account what I know is coming back. It's hard, but I've gotten the hang of it.

Wizards would destroy the value of the cards for collectors and they don't want to do that. - There are 2 facts that severely go against this assertion. First, Wizards reprinted shocklands in a set that they knew was very likely to be huge. Second, any reprint in a Standard expert expansion gets new art which means the original versions get to keep some of their mystique, value, and collectability.

Preparations:

I am just saying what I'm doing and what I think is best if you agree with my assessment. Assuming PTQs come back online (or just period if you have paper fetches) I plan to liquidate most of my fetches near the beginning of the Modern PTQ season (which begins in June). Even if the fetches are not reprinted, repurchasing them at the end of the PTQ season should theoretically be roughly a wash, perhaps a small loss. Holding them if they are reprinted, and not using them, is the potential for a hefty loss.

If they are reprinted a myriad of cards could rise. The issue with that is that Vintage Masters seems like a strong place to reprint the dual lands as well as a number of other cards that may be impacted by higher access to fetchlands. After Vintage Masters is spoiled a more definitive stance can be taken.

 

I'm sure this article could spark quite a conversation, feel free to join in! Even if you disagree the discussion is welcome!

xger

xger21 on MTGO

777vii777 on Twitter (Note: I currently do not send tweets with any regularity, but am happy to reply if that is the preferred medium)

6 Comments

A few minor by walkerdog at Tue, 04/15/2014 - 18:32
walkerdog's picture
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A few minor gripes/clarifications (and I liked the article, which is a much-more-detailed agreement with my feelings that they will be printed):

I think you might be overrelying
"zombimokus asked: Will we ever see the old fetchlands in Standard?

Maro: I’d say it’s a possibility."

Keep in mind that Maro is powerful, but he isn't always "right" or the last word - shoot, Worth IS MODO and he said FOW wouldn't be reprinted. He has since found (very reasonable) ways around that. I wouldn't taken one quote in a "chat" setting, albeit a very public one, to be concrete.

It also feels to me like

"Placing fetches in an annual MMA-like release has several issues. First, it means there has to be an annual product. Second it has to have 5-10 rare slots taken each year. Finally, given the likely print run sizes, it may not even be enough to hold down the prices to a reasonable level. Therefore, the evidence and deductions shown are in favor of a Standard reprint."

is missing a few lines of thought, although I don't totally disagree with the ending conclusion.
First, if Modern is an eternal format, who knows what is the "acceptable" price level for a deck or a card? I'm not sure if there is a specific one - I don't really think it is too obscene for Modern decks to hold long-term, semi-stable price levels at $1k-2k - it's eternal! I also think that you've skipped over what reprinting allied fetches does to the prices of all fetches - let's say, today, we say, "All allied fetches are now legal in modern."

We're not reprinting them, but they're legal. Logically that's going to spread out the demand a little bit, especially for non-blue fetches, and lower prices, or stabilize them. I think that the next Modern Masters set could print allied fetches at rare and have a very positive effect on the accessibility of the format.

I could also see a mixture of enemy fetches in a MMA set and allied fetches in M15 (or M16 or the next block, whatever).

Anyway, good article.

I relied heavily on MaRo's by xger at Tue, 04/15/2014 - 19:39
xger's picture

I relied heavily on MaRo's blog because it is one of the consistant up to date sources. While MaRo most definitely is not all of R&D I think it is pretty reasonable to think that if he thinks it's a possibility it is. As for Worth and FoW - it was that FoW wouldn't be printed in another Master's Edition, which is what was the case.

yea by walkerdog at Wed, 04/16/2014 - 13:18
walkerdog's picture

that's pretty reasonable - I just get a little turned off by relying on it too much, but your article was a pretty solid argument.

At PAX East they also said we by thewoof2 at Tue, 04/15/2014 - 22:36
thewoof2's picture

At PAX East they also said we could expect fetchlands to be reprinted...

Source:
http://www.twitch.tv/pax2/b/519216539

I almost find it had to by Psychobabble at Wed, 04/16/2014 - 21:34
Psychobabble's picture

I almost find it had to believe that they *won't* be in standard within the next year. The only question for me is whether it's in M15 or Huey, on the model of core set duals set a few years ago I would have said M15 which also minimises any development/power level concerns other than one sweet three month period when standard has mana almost as good as modern. but the RTR method with shocklands also seems to have worked really well, so that seems probably more likely at the moment.

I didn't discuss it as by xger at Thu, 04/17/2014 - 12:15
xger's picture

I didn't discuss it as directly, but I think there are several reasons M15 is highly unlikely

1. Under the assumption they want ONS duals added to Modern, it would take up 10 slots in the core set which is quite a lot.
2. Core sets are not printed or opened nearly as much as blocks, so the number added would be less.
3. The 3 months on fetch-shockland would likely be too much. Don't forgot that Deathrite Shaman is still legal in standard.
4. Paying life to use a land is something that new players - which is what a core set is supposed to be about - do no like. That was why the painlands stopped being used.

Those all add up to make it seem pretty unlikely. The only ways I see it happening is if either the ONS or the ZEN fetches are reprinted in M15 and then all 10 in Huey block.