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Buying Battlebond: The Conspiracy Model

Heading into Battlebond spoiler season, my expectations were pretty low. A couple of sub-par Masters sets over the past year had made it easy to forget just how awesome Conspiracy: Take the Crown (Conspiracy 2) was for reprints. Now that we've seen the entire spoiler for Battlebond, it's pretty clear that rather than being a frustrating combo of an overpriced and lacking-in-value Masters set, Battlebond is much more similar to Conspiracy 2 than other recent reprint sets: overloaded with sweet, valuable, and in-demand reprints along with some interesting new cards for Commander and maybe a few for eternal formats as well. 


Unfortunately, supplemental sets like Battlebond and Conspiracy work a bit differently than normal sets, primarily because apart from drafting, most of the demand from cards in the sets comes from Commander and casual play, since none of the new cards are legal in Modern or Standard and few of the reprints are focused on those formats. So today, we're going to discuss the financial aspects of Battlebond, specifically how the cards in the set will move in price over the next few months to a year, using Conspiracy 2 as our guide. 

While it might be tempting to run out an order Doubling Season, Land Tax, or Mycosynth Lattice right now because these cards are already at a meaningful discount compared to before they were previewed in Battlebond, this probably isn't the best plan, especially if you are worried about maximizing your Magic budget. So, the plan for today is pretty simple: we're going to talk about a few groups of cards from Battlebond and discuss what their financial future likely holds. 


Before talking about the cards from Battlebond, we first need some baseline numbers to work with. Right now, the prices from the set are extremely high. Using preorder prices, the average retail value of a mythic is currently $13.80, and even using a conservative counting method (counting cards valued at $1.50 or less as worthless), the average value of a rare at retail price is close to $2.50. When you consider that you'll get an average of 4.5 mythics per box (for a total of $62) and about 31.5 rares (for a total of $79), even this quick back-of-the-napkin math (which doesn't include lower-rarity stuff or foils) shows a box EV of close to $150. 

The point of this isn't that you'll get $150 of value from a box of Battlebond; the full set was just previewed a couple of days ago, and prices will start to adjust heading into its official release, so the EV will be lower by the time you can actually crack a box. Rather, this number suggests that the prices of the set's cards not only need to drop in value but need drop in value a lot. A typical booster box ends up with an expected value of somewhere between $50 and $70, which means to get in the normal range, the cards from Battlebond need to—on average —lose at least half of their value. Of course, this loss of value won't all be distributed equally, with some cards losing more and some losing less. But over the next few weeks and months, expect both the new and reprinted cards from Battlebond to be among the biggest value-losers in Magic. There's simply too much total value in the box for the individual cards from the set to maintain anywhere near their current price. 

New Mythics

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Discounting Leovold, Emissary of Trest, which is in a category all by itself as a card that was broken in Commander and one of the best cards in Legacy, the cards from Conspiracy 2 that were most likely to be underpriced during spoiler season were new Commander mythics. Cards like Selvala, Heart of the Wilds and Expropriate started off at about $5 and have steadily increased in price in the 18 months since seeing print, with both falling into the $15 to $20 price range today.

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This means two very important things for Battlebond. First, cards like Rowan Kenrith, Will Kenrith, and Bramble Sovereign are already very close to their ceiling. Assuming they actually develop into Commander staples like Selvala, Heart of the Wilds (the fourth-most-played green Commander) and Expropriate (a top 150-ish blue card in Commander), which is certainly not guaranteed, falling into the $15–20 range a couple of years from now is probably the best outcome. On the other hand, there are plenty of new Conspiracy 2 mythics in the $2 range because they simply aren't all that in-demand, so if the hot new mythics from Battlebond don't catch on in Commander, they could easily lose most of their value in the next six months and end up at or near bulk prices.

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The second thing we can learn from cards like Selvala, Heart of the Wilds and Expropriate is that the cards from Battlebond that are mostly likely to increase significantly in price are the new mythics that are currently in the $5 range. Probably the two most likely candidates are Grothama, All-Devouring and Najeela, the Blade-Blossom. If either of these cards ends up being way more popular in Commander than people are predicting, they could be the mythics that end up growing into the $15 price range over the next 18 months. While this probably isn't a likely outcome, it certainly is worth watching. 

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On the other hand, the future does not look all that bright for Arena Rector, at least from a financial perspective. One thing we've learned over the past few years is that the potential for seeing Legacy play isn't enough to help a card maintain its price. Perhaps the best comparison for Arena Rector from Conspiracy 2 is Sanctum Prelate, which was also in the $30 range during spoiler season based on hype for Legacy play. While Sanctum Prelate does show up now and then in Legacy, this fringe play hasn't been enough to keep the card from dropping all the way down to $10. While Arena Rector might fare a bit better, since it has more Commander appeal than Sanctum Prelate, remember that we were just discussing how the ceiling for Commander mythics is maybe $15 to $20 over the next couple of years, so even if Arena Rector becomes a Commander staple, her current $30 is likely too high. 

One of the strange things about supplemental products like Conspiracy and Battlebond is that ever since True-Name Nemesis in Commander 2013, the "Oh my God, it's going to see play in Legacy" mythic from the set has been vastly overpriced because vendors fear missing out on the next Legacy staple. While the price tag is sometimes justified (see: Leovold, Emissary of Trest), more often than not, it turns out that these cards are either not Legacy playable at all or very fringe playable, and they end up being some of the biggest value losers from their sets. As a result, Arena Rector has the potential to be good in Commander but still end up losing half of her value over the next six months.

Reprinted Mythics

Let's take a minute to talk about Doubling Season, which is a card that doesn't really have a great comparison from Conspiracy 2. In Conspiracy 2, the two "chase" mythic reprints were Berserk and Show and Tell, both of which were extremely expensive before they were reprinted, started off presales in the $40 range, and are now $10 to $15. While $15 Doubling Season probably sounds amazing, it's also pretty unlikely to happen. To understand why, we need to talk a bit about demand. 

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Think about who actually needs Berserk and Show and Tell. The answer for Berserk is Legacy Infect players (of whom there are probably dozens) and maybe cube builders. For Show and Tell, it's Legacy Show and Tell players, cube builders, and maybe a very, very small number of Commander players. Meanwhile, Doubling Season is an ultra-staple in Commander, which is either the most played Magic format outside of Standard or maybe even the most played Magic format period, while also showing up in fun fringe Modern decks like Double Moon Walkers. Basically, Berserk and Show and Tell, thanks to the decline of Legacy, simply don't have very much demand, which is why their prices dropped like a stone and haven't show any real signs of recovering 18 months after reprinting. Meanwhile, the demand for Doubling Season is extremely high, which means even though it will likely drop a bit in price, it will recover fairly quickly over the next year or two, just like it did when it was reprinted in a Masters set.

Now, this isn't to say that Doubling Season is going to stick at its $45 presale price. It won't be a surprise to see it fall to $25 or $30, but it will be one of the cards that recovers most consistently and steadily from Battlebond. In general, the floor with these ultra-staples is roughly six months after the set is printed; then, we start to see a slow but steady increase in price as little new supply enters the market (since people have moved on from opening Battlebond to opening Commander 2018 and Guilds of Ravnica) and the available copies are slowly eaten away by Commander players around the world. While you definitely shouldn't buy Doubling Season at its current $45 presale price, you also definitely shouldn't expect that the enchantment will be cheap forever—it simply has too much demand to end up as another $10 mythic.

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On the other hand, Mycosynth Lattice and Land Tax are much more likely to drop in price and not recover, at least for a long, long time. Remember, the cards from Battlebond need to lose at least half of their overall value, and "expensive because they have low supply" cards like like Mycosynth Lattice (first-ever reprinting) and Land Tax (first reprinting since the Battle Royale box set) are the exact type of cards that see their prices tumble. While there is some amount of demand for these cards, they are not ultra-staples, and their current expensive price tags are more a reflection of the fact that there just aren't that many copies on the market than of high demand. If you are cracking boxes of Battlebond, these are the cards you should attempt to sell or trade as quickly as possible because their trajectory is down and a quick recovery is unlikely. Meanwhile, if you are looking for singles, wait a few months for the prices to drop—you should be able to pick up either for $5 to $10 in the fall.

New Rares

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New rares are simple: they won't be worth anything. Just take a look back at both Conspiracy sets. In the original Conspiracy, the only new rare worth more than $1.50 is Council's Judgment, which sees heavy play in both Legacy and Commander, while the most expensive four rares in Conspiracy 2 are in the $2 range, but even several of these $2 rares were close to bunk until they recently spiked in price. 

The problem with rares from sets like Battlebond and Conspiracy is that they simply aren't legal in enough formats for demand to keep up with supply. Even if a card is fairly popular in Commander, if it's printed at rare in one of these sets, there will be enough copies on the market that it's hard for these cards to maintain any real value. In fact, the rare slot is where a lot of Battlebond's value will by lost, with a bunch of cards that are currently $2-ish dropping toward a bulk price of $0.50. 

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This being said, one cycle of rares from Battlebond will put this theory to the test: the rare land cycle. The rare lands from Battlebond should be ultra-staples in the Commander format, likely ranking right behind fetch lands, original dual lands, and shock lands in terms of desirability, and maybe even coming in ahead of some of these more traditional cycles in terms of play, thanks to their cheap cost. This puts the cycle in uncharted territory as far as supplemental sets are concerned, which makes it really difficult to predict where their prices will fall in the future. My guess is that their current $5 price tag is about right, assuming there actually is a high amount of demand from Commander, and this by itself would make the cycle worth more than twice as much as the best new rares from either Conspiracy set. While it's possible that these cards will creep up in price over the next year or two, it's also just as possible that Wizards views this cycle as the perfect cycle of Commander dual lands and reprints them in one (or more) of the next few Commander sets, making them close to bulk. 

The other new rare that is worth keeping an eye on is Spellseeker. While it's likely to be heavily played in Commander, it's also one of the Battlebond cards mostly likely to develop into a staple in Legacy or Vintage. While $11 means it's already quite expensive, it could go up in value if it manages to pick up a reasonable amount of demand from both Commander and Legacy. This being said, the counterpoint to this argument is that Council's Judgment is $7 with both Legacy and Commander demand, which means for Spellseeker to maintain its current price or increase in price, it's going to have to do even better in terms of play. The benchmark is likely Spellseeker becoming not just playable in Legacy but a four-of in a "real" Legacy deck. While Spellseeker will probably remain the most expensive new rare from Battlebond, whether this means $7 like Council's Judgment or $20 remains to be seen. While the most likely outcome is that it ticks down a little bit in price, it's the rare from Battlebond that has the best odds of spiking based on Legacy play.

Reprinted Rares

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When it comes to rares reprinted in sets like Conspiracy and Battlebond, it's all about one thing: how much demand does the card have in Commander? (And, to a lesser extent, Modern, but there aren't many Modern cards in Battlebond outside of Kor Spiritdancer, so we'll focus on Commander for today.) Traditionally, when it comes to reprints, outside of Modern staples like Mox Opal and Liliana of the Veil, the cards that rebound the fastest in terms of price are ultra-staples for Commander. Cards like Phyrexian Arena, Vedalken Orrery, Burgeoning, and Reflecting Pool give us great examples from both Conspiracy and Conspiracy 2. While all of these cards were cheap (or at least cheaper) upon their reprinting, they have all quickly recovered the lost value, and some are even more expensive today than before they were reprinted. While fringe rares end up as bulk (or close to it) upon reprinting, rares that are staples in Commander both lose less initially and rebound faster because the Commander market is massive. So, what cards from Battlebond fit the bill as ultra-staples in Commander?

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On the other hand, cards like Vigor, Sower of Temptation, and Tidespout Tyrant, while somewhat valuable, aren't really Commander staples. While this doesn't mean they are unplayable, it does suggest that, unlike the cards above, demand simply isn't as high for these cards as it is for some of the other Commander-focused cards in the set. As such, they will likely decrease more in price and take longer to recover than the true Commander staples. 

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The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to reprinted rares from Battlebond is the timing. Most casual cards spend the first three to six months after reprinting decreasing toward their floor, and then sometime between six months and a year after reprinting, you see prices start to increase. The most playable of these cards end up being back to, or even above, their pre-reprint price a couple of years in the future. 

It probably sounds strange that a card could actually end up being more expensive after a reprint increases the supply of the card, but it actually happens fairly regularly with Commander cards for a couple of reasons. First, Commander is always growing and becoming more popular, so natural player base growth slowly increases demand and eats away at supply as new-to-the-format players pick up copies of staples. Second, and more interestingly, is that when a random old card like Mind's Eye or Vedalken Orrery gets reprinted, a reasonably high number of casual players are seeing the card for the first time, and for these players, Vedalken Orrery or Mind's Eye is basically a cool new card that they just have to have for the fun kitchen table / Commander decks. So, in a weird way, the very act of reprinting a card increases its demand.


So, where does all of this leave us in terms of buying Battlebond? Here's a quick recap:

  • The EV of Battlebond is currently extremely high, but this is partly because we've just gotten the full set spoiler a couple of days ago. Over the long-term, prices on average need to drop by at least half, and at least some of these price decreases will happen before the set is even released, so don't expect to find $150+ of value in your Battlebond booster box.
  • The mythics from Battlebond are likely overpriced at the moment, with current prices being close to the ceiling prices from similar past sets. In general, both new and reprinted mythics are going to lose a lot of value in the coming months, with the possible exceptions being a couple of potential Commander-staple mythics that are currently in the $5 range. 
  • Doubling Season isn't done dropping in price yet, but as the best and most heavily played Commander card from Battlebond, expect that once it hits its floor (likely somewhere between $20 and $30), it will rebound more quickly than most cards from the set. Then, if it doesn't get reprinted again, it could easily be $50 or more two or three years from now. 
  • When it comes to rares, new rares from sets like Battlebond are almost never worth a meaningful amount of money—their supply is simply too high compared to their demand. The new Battlebond dual lands will be important moving forward. They should be some of the most in-demand Commander rares ever printed in a supplemental product, and their price will likely be close to the ceiling for new Commander rares from supplemental sets moving forward. 
  • As for reprints, Commander staples drop less and rebound more quickly than other cards. The floor is typically three to six months after the set's release, so if you are looking to get the best possible deal for your Commander collection, plan on buying sometime around when Guilds of Ravnica is released in the fall. Prices will start to climb if you wait too long, but you'll be paying a bit of a tax if you buy too early, since we won't yet be at peak supply. When the community is focused on Standard rotation and a new fall set, this September and October will likely be the perfect time to find the best deals on most of these cards. 


Anyway, that's all for today. Battlebond looks amazing, which is especially refreshing after a couple of unexciting reprint sets in Iconic Masters and Masters 25. Oh yeah, we're also giving away a booster box of Battlebond, so make sure to enter the giveaway, if you haven't already! 

What reprints from Battlebond are you going to pick up? What new cards are you most excited to play with? Are you going to crack a box? A case? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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