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2016, Year of Modern Flashbacks (Part 2)


Six months ago, Magic Online announced that 2016 was officially the year of Modern flashbacks. What this announcement meant was that, outside of release periods for new Standard-legal sets, Magic Online will feature a new flashback format every week of the year. Even better, the flashbacks started at 8th Edition and moved sequentially through Modern, so we have gotten a chance to play our way through Modern, limited style, over the course of the year!

When the announcement first came out, Wizards only announced the first half of the schedule, from 8th Edition up to 10th Edition, with the promise that we'd get the rest when the time was right. Well, the right time was last week, when the second half of the schedule was published. Also, back in December, I wrote an article breaking down the EV of each format, which was apparently helpful, since I've gotten a ton of requests for an update covering the second half of the year over the past week.

So, today, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about the second half of the year of Modern flashbacks, starting with payouts and entry fees, and then the formats themselves. Finally, we'll conclude with the five formats I look forward to drafting the most over the last half of 2016.

Payout

My first impression of the new entry fee / prize structure for flashback events is that it was lacking. However, after doing the math, it appears the exact opposite is true. Even the least value-filled of flashbacks are of comparable value to Standard draft formats. Some of the most valuable sets are off-the-charts in terms of value. Let's compare the new flashback drafts with the other major draft structures on Magic Online. To allow for easy comparison, I've converted everything to play points (PPs). As a reminder, 1 event tix is equivalent to 10 play points, and one booster is worth 4 event tix (or 40 play points).

Magic Online Limited Structures
Format Play Points In Play Points Out Percentage of Points Paid out as Prizes
8-4 1,120 480 43.85%
4-3-2-2 1,120 440 39.28%
Swiss 1,120 480 43.85%
Flashbacks 800 400 50%

As you can see, if we value boosters at 4 tix or 40 PPs each, the payout of the flashbacks is significantly higher than all other formats on Magic Online. Without taking into consideration the variations among formats, things are already looking good for flashbacks. They cost less than normal drafts, and their payout is only slightly less. However, this change doesn't impact all players equally.

Payout By Finish
Format Finish Percent of Total Payout
8-4 1 66.67%
8-4 2 33.33%
8-4 3–8 0%
4-3-2-2 1 36.36%
4-3-2-2 2 27.27%
4-3-2-2 3 / 4 18.18%
4-3-2-2 5–8 0%
Swiss 1 25%
Swiss 2 / 3 / 4 16.67%
Swiss 5 / 6 / 7 8.33%
Swiss 8 0%
Flashback 1 50%
Flashback 2 25%
Flashback 3 / 4 12.5%
Flashback 5–8 0%

The payout for the new flashbacks falls somewhere between 4-3-2-2s and 8-4s. Unlike 8-4s, the third- and fourth-place finishers in a flashback draft get rewarded with half of their entry fee back (50 play points). Unlike 4-3-2-2s, the flashbacks put a premium on winning the draft. Basically, these queues have a slightly more top-heavy prize structure than 4-3-2-2s, but still reward players for winning the first round. This prize split suggests that Wizards wanted to give pros and limited specialists a reason to play, but also reward the random player who just wants to experience the old cards and hopes to scrape out a win or two.

The Formats

The payout for the new flashback drafts is solid, but left out of the equation are the cards themselves. The most exciting thing about flashback drafts is that you get to keep all of the cards you open. Some formats will be much better value than others. Right now, Future Sight boosters sell for 8–9 event tix. During the Time Spiral block flashback drafts, you could draft for 10 event tix total. Let's examine the expected value (EV) of each format, while also highlighting the money cards you should look out for.

June 1–June 8: Triple Lorwyn

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: Wanderwine Hub, Thoughtseize, Garruk Wildspeaker

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

One theme you'll notice as we move through the second half of Modern flashbacks is that expensive Commons and Uncommons are less prevalent than they were in Mirrodin, Kamigawa, and older core sets. Lorwyn provides a good example of this, with zero lower-rarity cards of value. It's also worth noting that these events are currently happening, which means the prices of some of the singles has already decreased (thus far, the set as a whole is down about 25%). 

Pack EV: 0.52 tix.

Draft EV: 1.56 tix.

Bottom Line: Triple Lorwyn—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 215.6
2nd 115.6
3rd / 4th 65.6
5th–8th 15.6

June 9–June 15: Lorwyn Lorwyn Morningtide

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

Rares $10+: Scapeshift, Vendilion Clique, Bitterblossom

Rares $5+: Mutavault, Idyllic Tutor

Uncommons $1+: Heritage Druid

Commons $0.50+: Shard Volley

Adding a pack of Morningtide certainly helps the value of the format. In fact, one pack of Morningtide is likely to yield more value than all three packs of Lorwyn. While the three big Rares are the highlight, keep an eye open for Heritage Druid and Shard Volley, as well as random tribal Rares like Leaf-Crown Elder and Notorious Throng, which are worth more than you'd think.

Pack EV: 1.61 tix.

Draft EV: 2.65 tix.

Bottom Line: Lorwyn Lorwyn Morningtide—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 226.5
2nd 176.5
3rd / 4th 76.5
5th–8th 26.5

June 15–June 22: Triple Shadowmoor

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Rares $10+: Prismatic Omen, Fulminator Mage.

Rares $5+: Fracturing Gust, Reflecting Pool, Greater Auramancy, Runed Halo.

Uncommons $1+: Kitchen Finks, Cursecatcher

Commons $0.50+: Gleeful Sabotage, Manamorphose

Triple Shadowmoor is actually pretty solid value. If you can consistently win just your first round, you'll lose an average of 10 play points (or one event tix) per draft, and if you manage to also win your second round one out of every five drafts, you're "going infinite" at current prices. While having a decent amount of 5+ tix Rares helps, the fact that there is value at the lower rarities is the main reason why Shadowmoor is a decent set to draft, from an EV perspective. It doesn't take too many 6 tix Kitchen Finks to make drafting the set worthwhile. 

Pack EV: 1.32 tix.

Draft EV: 3.96 tix.

Bottom Line: Triple Shadowmoor—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 239.6
2nd 139.6.8
3rd/4th 89.6
5th–8th 39.6

June 22–June 29: Shadowmoor / Shadowmoor / Eventide

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

Rares $10+: Fetid Heath, Twilight Mire, Cascade Bluffs

Rares $5+: Rugged Prairie, Flooded Grove, Regal Force

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: Nettle Sentinel, Slippery Bogle

Eventide is about two things: the filter lands, which are more valuable than you'd think, considering the amount of play they see, and the Commons. Having 4 tix worth of Nettle Sentinels and 2 tix of Slippery Bogles means it's not all that difficult to open something of value (with only 60 commons in the set, you should open one each draft). As a result, adding a pack of Eventide makes the format even more valuable. All you need to do is win your first round to break even!

Pack EV: 2.27 tix.

Draft EV: 4.91 tix.

Bottom Line: Shadowmoor / Shadowmoor / Eventide—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 249.1
2nd 149.1
3rd / 4th 99.1
5th–8th 49.1

June 29–July 6: Triple Shards of Alara

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Ajani Vengeant

Mythics $5+: Elspeth, Knight-Errant

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: None.

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: Relic of Progenitus

First off, it's worth mentioning that we are now entering the Mythic era, which means your odds of opening many chase cards drops significantly. Sure, Ajani Vengeant is worth 15 tix, but it's going to take you forty drafts to open a copy. For comparison, you'll open a Scapeshift every 26.67 drafts in triple Shadowmoor. This isn't a Shards of Alara-specific issue; it holds true for every set we'll talk about the rest of the way. As for Shards of Alara itself, the value is horrible. While we haven't made it through all of the sets yet, I expect it will end up being one of the least valuable in the second half of the Modern flashbacks. 

Pack EV: 0.39 tix.

Draft EV: 1.17 tix.

Bottom Line: Triple Shards of Alara—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 211.7
2nd 111.7
3rd / 4th 61.7
5th–8th 11.7

July 6–July 13: Shards / Shards / Conflux

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: None.

Mythics $5+: None.

Rares $10+: Noble Hierarch

Rares $5+: None.

Uncommons $1+: Path to Exile.

Commons $0.50+: None.

While Conflux is significantly more valuable than Shards of Alara, thanks to the fact that the most valuable cards in the set are Rares like Noble Hierarch, rather than Mythics, the format is still lacking in expected value. Even the one chase Uncommon—Path to Exile—isn't that valuable, at only 2 tix. 

Pack EV: 0.90 tix.

Draft EV: 1.68 tix.

Bottom Line: Shards / Shards / Conflux—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 216.8
2nd 116.8
3rd / 4th 66.8
5th–8th 16.8

July 13–July 20: Shards Conflux Alara Reborn

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: None.

Mythics $5+: None. 

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: Maelstrom Pulse.

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: Terminate

Alara Reborn brings the value of the format back down a bit, and while it isn't quite as bad as Shards of Alara in terms of expected value, it's pretty close. The problem here is that there just aren't any chase cards. Cards over 10 tix? Zero. Cards over 5 tix? Just Maelstrom Pulse, which may be under 5 tix by the time the drafts start. Overall, the lesson is that you don't draft Shards block hoping to make a profit; you draft it because you enjoy fun multi-color formats. 

Pack EV: 0.48 tix.

Draft EV: 1.77 tix.

Bottom Line: Shards / Conflux / Alara Reborn—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 217.7
2nd 117.7
3rd / 4th 61.77
5th–8th 17.7

July 20–July 27: Magic 2010

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: None.

Mythics $5+: Time Warp, Garruk Wildspeaker

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: None.

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: Lightning Bolt

Another bust in terms of value, Magic 2010 is worth even less than Shards block. The good news is that the set had an important impact on the game, by not only bringing along sweeping rules changes but also being the first core set to contain new cards like Baneslayer Angel. It also harkened a marked improvement in core set limited. While "M" core sets still have a slightly watered down, new-player view, the painful insanity of 8th and 9th Edition, and the huge set size of 10th Edition are gone. The format actually feels like it was designed with limited in mind. 

Pack EV: 0.34 tix.

Draft EV: 1.02 tix.

Bottom Line: Magic 2010—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 210.2
2nd 110.2
3rd / 4th 60.2
5th–8th 10.2

August 17–August 24: Zendikar

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Mindbreak Trap.

Mythics $5+: Lotus Cobra

Rares $10+: Scalding Tarn, Misty Rainforest, Arid Mesa, Verdant Catacombs, Marsh Flats, Bloodghast

Rares $5+: Goblin Guide

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: Journey to Nowhere

Thanks to the fetch lands and some other randomly expensive cards like Mindbreak Trap, drafting Zendikar is quite literally a free roll. The event takes in 80 tix, gives out 40 tix in play points for prizes, and also hands out 61.2 tix worth of cards (on average) per draft. So 80 tix in, 101.2 tix out. This means that the average participant will come out ahead when drafting the format. 

Another note on Zendikar: last time we had a flashback, people freaked out about getting cheap fetch lands. Prices dropped pre-draft as people (presumably) sold off their copies in anticipation of a price decrease. Then, once the drafts started, prices actually increased while the packs were being opened (apparently, the possibility of opening less-expensive fetchlands increased demand enough to outeigh the increase in supply). While I'm not saying this history will happen again, don't expect a massive discount during Zendikar draft week. 

Pack EV: 2.55 tix.

Draft EV: 7.65 tix.

Bottom Line: Triple Zendikar—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 276.5
2nd 176.5
3rd / 4th 126.5
5th–8th 76.5

August 24–August 31: Zendikar / Zendikar / Worldwake

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Mythics $5: Avenger of Zendikar

Rares $10+: Celestial Colonnade, Creeping Tar Pit

Rares $5+: Death's Shadow, Raging Ravine

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

The bad news is that Worldwake is worth less than Zendikar, so adding a pack decreases the value of the format. The good news is that Worldwake is the second-most valuable set we've covered so far, so even with the overall value of the draft dropping by 0.5 tix per player, the format is still a free roll, with the average draft yielding a 2 tix profit per player. If you are interested in value, make sure to draft both weeks of Zendikar as much as possible when they come online in August!

Pack EV: 2.14 tix.

Draft EV: 7.24 tix.

Bottom Line: Zendikar / Zendikar / Worldwake—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 272.4
2nd 172.4
3rd / 4th 122.4
5th–8th 72.4

August 31–September 7: Rise of the Eldrazi

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Linvala, Keeper of Silence

Mythics $5+: Vengevine

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: None.

Uncommons $1+: Inquisition of Kozilek.

Commons $0.50+: None.

Rise of the Eldrazi bring things back to normal as far as value is concerned, and the brief foray into free-roll lands comes to an end. The good news is that it doesn't really matter. Rise of the Eldrazi is on the short list of all-time great limited formats, so it's worth playing, even though you're likely to take a loss in the process. Just be aware that Inquisition of Kozilek is currently over 4 tix and isn't very playable in draft, so make sure to scoop them up if you find them circling the table. 

Pack EV: 0.60 tix.

Draft EV: 1.80 tix.

Bottom Line: Triple Rise of the Eldrazi—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 218
2nd 118
3rd/4th 68
5th–8th 18

September 7–September 14: Triple Magic 2011

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: None.

Mythics $5+: Garruk Wildspeaker, Primeval Titan, Inferno Titan

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: Leyline of Sanctity, Leyline of the Void

Uncommons $1+: None. 

Commons $0.50+: None.

The biggest problem with Mythic-era core sets, from an expected value perspective, is that there's rarely value at Uncommon or Common. As such, Magic 2011 comes in fairly average and unexciting, with no cards over 10 tix. The good news is that Leyline of Sanctity and Leyline of the Void are both completely unplayable in limited, so there's a decent chance you end up with a 5+ tix rare coming around late, especially if no one else in the pod is drafting for value. 

Pack EV: 0.73 tix.

Draft EV: 2.19 tix.

Bottom Line: Magic 2011—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 221.9
2nd 121.9
3rd / 4th 71.9
5th–8th 21.9

September 14–September 21: Triple Scars of Mirrodin

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Mox Opal

Mythics $5+: Wurmcoil Engine, Venser, the Sojourner

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: Blackcleave Cliffs

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None. 

Not much to see here. Scars of Mirrodin is pretty much Mox Opal or bust. As far as actually drafting the format, the nuts Infect deck is so much better than everything else in the format. The strategy pretty much comes down to feeling out whether or not the archetype is open. If you're the only one in Infect, you're nearly guaranteed to win the draft. If you're one of two players on Infect, your deck will likely still be pretty good. If there's three or more Infect drafters (which is actually pretty common on Magic Online, because people love drafting infect), you're all going to get crushed by Metalcraft

Pack EV: 0.71.

Draft EV: 2.13 tix.

Bottom Line: Triple Scars of Mirrodin—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 221.3
2nd 121.3
3rd / 4th 71.3
5th–8th 21.3

September 21–September 28: Scars / Scars / Mirrodin Besieged

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, Thrun, the Last Troll

Mythics $5+: Blightsteel Colossus

Rares $10+: Inkmoth Nexus

Rares $5+: None.

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

Mirrodin Besieged is essentially the same as Scars of Mirrodin, with no value at the lower rarities and only one true chase card in Inkmoth Nexus. The good news is that the chase card is a Rare instead of a Mythic, so the odds are better that you open a copy, which increases the expected value of the set. 

Pack EV: 1.28 tix.

Draft EV: 2.7 tix.

Bottom Line: Scars / Scars / Mirrodin Besieged—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 227
2nd 127
3rd/4th 77
5th-8th 27

September 28–October 5: Scars / Besieged / New Phyrexia

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Batterskull, Karn Liberated, Phyrexian Obliterator

Mythics $5+: Sword of War and Peace

Rares $10+: Spellskite.

Rares $5+: Melira, Sylvok Outcast, Surgical Extraction

Uncommons $1+: Dismember, Beast Within

Commons $0.50+: Gitaxian Probe, Mutagenic Growth

New Phyrexia is the single most valuable set in all the second half of our year of Modern flashbacks. Surprisingly, it even tops the fetchland-filled Zendikar, mostly because it has an insane amount of value at the lower rarities, including the 4 tix Gitaxian Probe at Common. Currently, buying a pack of New Phyrexia on the secondary market will set you back 5.51 tix, so you're getting a massive discount by cracking these packs in a 10 tix flashback draft. The downside is that you only get to open a single pack of the set. However, just the one pack of New Phyrexia doubles the EV of the format.

Pack EV: 2.97 tix.

Draft EV: 5.19 tix.

Bottom Line: Scars / Besieged / New Phyrexia—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 251.9
2nd 151.9
3rd / 4th 101.9
5th–8th 51.9

October 26–November 2: Triple Innistrad

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Liliana of the Veil, Geist of Saint Traft

Mythics $5+: None.

Rares $10+: Snapcaster Mage, Past in Flames

Rares $5+: Stony Silence

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

Innistrad is the definition of top-heavy. While the fact that the set contains one of the most expensive cards in the entire game, in Liliana of the Veil, makes the expected value look fairly solid, there are very few money cards in the set. In fact, Liliana of the Veil, all by herself, accounts for more than two-thirds of the 1.22 tix expected value for a pack of InnistradInnistrad without Liliana of the Veil would be among the lowest EV sets out of all of the flashbacks. 

What this distribution means is that most drafts will be big losers, but if you're one of the lucky ones to get the 101 tix planeswalker, you'll spend the rest of the week or month drafting for free, regardless of your skill level. Not that any of this really matters, because Innistrad has a really solid argument for being the greatest limited format of all time, so it's worth drafting early and often, even though there is a ton of variance in opening value.

Pack EV: 1.22 tix.

Draft EV: 3.66 tix.

Bottom Line: Triple Innistrad—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 236.6
2nd 136.6
3rd / 4th 86.6
5th–8th 36.6

November 2–November 9: Dark Ascension / Innistrad / Innistrad

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: None.

Mythics $5+: Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, Huntmaster of the Fells, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad

Rares $10+: Grafdigger's Cage

Rares $5+: None.

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

Dark Ascension is a weird set. Not only does it have significantly less value than Innistrad, even with the recent spike of Grafdigger's Cage up to nearly 15 tix, but it also (arguably) makes the limited format worse. While it's still worth playing and drafting, get your fill the week before during triple Innistrad

Pack EV: 0.71 tix.

Draft EV: 3.15 tix.

Bottom Line: Dark Ascension / Innistrad / Innistrad—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 231.5
2nd 131.5
3rd / 4th 81.5
5th–8th 31.5

November 9–November 16: Magic 2012

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: None.

Mythics $5+: Primeval Titan, Inferno Titan

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: None.

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

I'm running out of things to write about core sets, but I will say that Magic 2012 is in the running for least valuable flashback on the schedule. It tops out at 8 tix for Primeval Titan and only has two other cards worth more than the MSRP of a pack. If you really like core sets, go for it, but don't draft this one for value. 

Pack EV: 0.43 tix.

Draft EV: 1.29 tix.

Bottom Line: Magic 2012—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 212.9
2nd 112.9
3rd / 4th 62.9
5th–8th 12.8

November 16–November 23: Triple Avacyn Restored

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Griselbrand, Craterhoof Behemoth, Entreat the Angels, Temporal Mastery

Mythics $5+: Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Sigarda, Host of Herons, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, Bonfire of the Damned

Rares $10+: Cavern of Souls.

Rares $5+: Restoration Angel

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

While the value of Avacyn Restored is concentrated at Mythic, apart from Cavern of Souls, there are a ton of valuable Mythics in the set. If you manage to get lucky enough to open a Mythic, you're about 50 / 50 to pay for the entire draft, or possibly even come out way ahead if you hit something like Griselbrand. All in all, these odds lead to a fairly solid EV for the format. If you manage to win Round 1, you're drafting for free. Anything more than that will pull you a profit. That's good, because the format (at least, in my opinion) is one of the worst on the schedule, in terms of how fun it is to play. 

Pack EV: 1.64 tix.

Draft EV: 4.92 tix.

Bottom Line: Triple Avacyn Restored—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 249.2
2nd 149.2
3rd / 4th 99.2
5th–8th 49.2

November 23–November 30: Magic 2013

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Omniscience

Mythics $5+: None.

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: None.

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

The least valuable of all the flashbacks on the second half of the schedule.

Pack EV: 0.38 tix.

Draft EV: 1.14 tix.

Bottom Line: Magic 2013—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 211.4
2nd 111.4
3rd / 4th 61.4
5th–8th 11.4

November 30–December 7: Triple Return to Ravnica

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: None.

Mythics $5+: Sphinx's Revelation, Jace, Architect of Thought

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: Abrupt Decay

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

The big problem for Return to Ravnica is the fact that it completely lacks any high-end cards. The best possible open in the set is Sphinx's Revelation, at only 7 tix. The shock lands from the set are also on the low end, with most being in the 2 to 3 tix range. Maybe the best value-drafting strategy is just to snap off any shocks that come around the table and hope you can put together a deck that's good enough to steal a round or two. 

Pack EV: 0.52 tix.

Draft EV: 1.56 tix.

Bottom Line: Triple Return to Ravnica—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 215.6
2nd 115.6
3rd / 4th 65.6
5th–8th 15.6

December 7–December 14: Triple Gatecrash

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: None.

Mythics $5+: None.

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: Stomping Grounds.

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

Everything I just said about Return to Ravnica holds true for Gatewatch (which, remember, is another large set that is drafted by itself, rather than being drafted along with Return to Ravnica). Basically, you hope you can pick up some shocklands that other players pass and try to piece together enough value to make the format profitable, but there isn't one single card that will make you feel like a big winner, from an expected value perspective. 

Pack EV: 0.46 tix.

Draft EV: 1.38 tix.

Bottom Line: Triple Gatecrash—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 213.8
2nd 113.8
3rd / 4th 63.8
5th–8th 13.8

December 14–December 21: Dragon's Maze / Gatecrash / Return to Ravnica

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Voice of Resurgence

Mythics $5+: None.

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: None.

Uncommons $1+:  None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

The value of Dragon's Maze is laughable. While it does have Voice of Resurgence, which is closing in on 40 tix, the next most valuable card in the set is Ral Zarek at 1.88 tix, and the only other card in the set worth more than a tix is Progenitor Mimic. When we were talking about Innistrad, we discovered that Liliana of the Veil made up a huge percentage of the set's expected value (about 70%). Well, with Voice of Resurgence, the expected value of a Dragon's Maze pack is 0.43 (which is still low). If you remove Voice of Resurgence from the pack, the expected value of Dragon's Maze drops all the way to 0.08 tix—less than a dime's worth of value from a $3.99 MSRP pack!

Pack EV: 0.43 tix.

Draft EV: 1.41 tix.

Bottom Line: Dragon's Maze / Gatecrash / Return to Ravnica—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 214.1
2nd 114.1
3rd / 4th 64.1
5th–8th 14.1

December 21–December 28: Magic 2014

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mythics $10+: Archangel of Thune

Mythics $5+: None.

Rares $10+: None.

Rares $5+: Scavenging Ooze, Mutavault

Uncommons $1+: None.

Commons $0.50+: None.

The good news about modern-day core sets is that they are consistent, value wise. The bad news is they are consistently bad. As far as actually drafting Magic 2014, Opportunity is essentially a mythic, so if you decide to take the plunge and draft the set, value it highly.

Pack EV: 0.43 tix.

Draft EV: 1.29 tix.

Bottom Line: Magic 2014—Entry 100 Play Points
Place Total Winnings (in Play Points)
1st 212.9
2nd 112.9
3rd / 4th 62.9
5th–8th 12.9

Value Rankings

Purely from a value perspective, which sets from the second half of the year of Modern flashbacks are most profitable to draft? The following table shows the average total value a player will get from a draft. It includes not only the play points paid out in prizes (split equally among the eight participants) but also the expected value of the boosters the player will open in the draft. Remember, it costs 100 play points to join any of these flashback drafts, so a score of 100 will mean the average player can expect to break even after playing the event.

Value Rankings
Format Average Payout Average Play Points Won/Lost
Triple Zendikar 126.5 +26.5
Zendikar / Zendikar / Worldwake 122.4 +22.4
Scars Besieged / New Phyrexia 101.7 +1.7
Triple Avacyn Restored 99.2 0.8
Shadowmoor / Shadowmoor Eventide 99.1 0.09
Triple Shadowmoor 89.6 10.4
Triple Innistrad 86.6 13.4
Dark Ascension / Innistrad Innistrad 81.5 18.5
Mirrodin Besieged / Scars Scars 77 23
Lorwyn Lorwyn Morningtide 76.5 23.5
Magic 2011 71.9 28.1
Triple Scars of Mirrodin 71.3 28.7
Triple Rise of the Eldrazi 68 32
Shards Shards Conflux 66.8 33.2
Triple Lorwyn 65.6 34.4
Triple Return to Ravnica 65.6 34.4
Return Gatecrash Dragon's Maze 64.1 34.9
Triple Gatecrash 63.8 36.2
Magic 2012 62.9 37.1
Magic 2014 62.5 37.5
Triple Shards of Alara 61.7 38.3
Shards Conflux Alara Reborn 61.7 38.3
Magic 2013 61.4 38.6
Magic 2010 60.2 39.8

Fun Rankings—Five Formats to Draft

Of course, drafting on Magic Online isn't just about value. Magic is a game, so sometimes it's worth losing a bit of money in the name of fun. Here are my completely subjective rankings of my five best flashback formats for the second half of 2016!

1. Triple Rise of the EldraziBattlecruiser Magic at its finest!

2. Triple InnistradSo many interesting archetypes and oozing with flavor—what more could you want?

3. Shadowmoor / Shadowmoor / EventideHybrid mana makes for a super-unique format, where you can be mono-colored and five colors at the same time!

4. Scars of Mirrodin / Mirrodin Besieged / New PhyrexiaI'm a sucker for artifact formats, plus New Phyrexia is stacked full of really powerful cards. 

5. Magic 2014I'm probably in the minority here, but any format where the best card is Opportunity is right up my alley. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. What set are you most excited to draft? What do you think of the year of Modern flashbacks thus far? As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments. You can reach me on Twitter (or Magic Online) @SaffronOlive.


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