Over and Under - March 2023
It’s been a wild few weeks for Magic, with new spoilers showing off exciting sneak peeks from the upcoming
This time last month, Counterbalance was added to the list of cards with an upcoming Secret Lair printing. When the February edition of Over and Under came out, I wrote that I expected the price of Counterbalance would begin to steadily decline, both due to the lack of overall demand as well as the influx of new copies into the market. Well, it seems that the decline has started quite a bit sooner than I anticipated. Counterbalance reached a peak on February 25 and has been trending down since then, so now the only question is: how low can it go?
Craterhoof Behemoth, on the other hand, hasn’t had any sort of dramatic reprint news of the same sort as Counterbalance (although the news of Commander Masters now has me betting that just might change) and - in quite the opposite price trend - seems to be on the upswing! This price trend started closer to late December/early January, so it seems that this is the proper trend for the card’s price right now, as opposed to a momentary tick upwards.
Well, that does it for our recap session. Now on to the overvalued selection for the month.
We have a lot to talk about here, because the incoming Jeweled Lotus reprint isn’t going to affect prices as simply as “more supply, lower price.” So let’s get into it.
First off, we need to understand the origins of Jeweled Lotus.
Ok, given that we understand where we are coming from, what about where we’re going? Jeweled Lotus already experienced a near-20% price slide in the days following the reprint announcement, and that’s without any real change in the overall supply. It is, however, a change in the market supply. What I mean by this is that people who had copies but didn’t need them flooded the market with reduced-price sales in order to offload before the new cards come to market in August. We can see this in the price history data as a dramatic fall between Feb. 21 and Feb. 24, followed by a gradual upwards trend back into the low $80’s ever since.
Now let’s look to the future. As with the other Masters sets before, there will without a doubt come a time when the new Jeweled Lotus copies begin to hit the presale shelves, as well as game store inventories on Launch Weekend. This has historically been when big-ticket items from reprint sets are at their lowest, as people rush to sell remaining pre-existing copies (i.e., those printed in Commander Legends) before the full anticipated effects of the reprint hit the market, which are often less severe for prices than expected (especially with a product priced as high as Commander Masters).
Ultimately, this anticipated phantom-plummeting effect is why I think Jeweled Lotus is overvalued. The card is likely going to trend upwards in the near term, but as we approach August I’d keep a careful eye on this Commander must-have.
Now, for an exciting cycle of undervalued winners.
Undervalued Pick: The Enemy-Colored Fetchlands
Modern doesn’t get as much attention nowadays as it used to. Don’t get me wrong, the format is fantastic (although I admit it isn’t my usual cup of Magic tea), but overall Modern and the other sixty card constructed formats like it have fallen out of the Magic product forefront in recent years. We’ve seen recent highlights of Constructed Pro-Play with events such as the MagicCon: Philadelphia bringing back the ProTour, but even so, that was an event highlighting Pioneer. So, this leaves us with a bit of a question: what happens with all these Fetchlands?
The Fetchlands have a long history with Magic, first debuting in Onslaught with the Allied-color pairs:
While the limited printings of the Allied Fetchlands have caused them to drift ever higher since release, the reprintings of Enemy Fetchlands (as well as their less-frequent Commander play, relative to their inclusions in sixty-card formats) means that they have absolutely plummeted in price. Scalding Tarn is the epitome of this; at one point breaking $100 for a single copy, the card can now be bought for just about $20.
As the momentum for their price free-fall has stalled out and competitive play seems to be heating back up again, this appears to be a rare opportunity to grab multi-format staples for all-time lows. Seeing as this was among one of the more recently reprinted land cycles, it is less than likely that we’ll be seeing it in a booster product any time soon, which only heightens the appeal of picking them up as a value play for the time being.
Since last month, both our projections came to fruition, with Counterbalance beginning what looks to be a steady decline and Craterhoof Behemoth ticking ever further upwards in price. Our overvalued pick, Jeweled Lotus, is an excellent case study in forecasting long-term impacts of an upcoming Masters set reprint, while the Fetchlands serve as lynchpin in the question of pricing constructed staples. Tune in again next month where we’ll be asking what’s over and what’s under.
Harvey McGuinness is a student at Johns Hopkins University who has been playing Magic since the release of Return to Ravnica. After spending a few years in the Legacy arena bouncing between Miracles and other blue-white control shells, he now spends his time enjoying Magic through CEDH games and understanding the finance perspective. He also writes for the Commander's Herald.