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Predicting Eternal Masters: Mythics

Last time we talked about Eternal Masters our focus was on the Reserve List cards that would not be in the set. While important, figuring out what will not be in a set is far less fun and exciting than trying to figure out what will be in the set, which is what we will be doing today. Before talking about the set and the cards, I should put out a disclaimer: trying to guess what cards will be in a Magic set is extremely difficult, and today's article is highly speculative. While these are my predictions, I'll be thrilled if I'm right about a handful of these cards, so please, please, please don't make any rash financial decisions based on this article. 

In all honesty, the real reason I wanted to do this article was to present the expected value framework for Eternal Masters, so you'll be able to make your own predictions in a mathematically sound manner. While we can't determine exactly which cards will be in the set, using expected value (EV) can give us a good idea if our predictions are within the realm of possibility and figure out the types of cards that will be in the set. 

For an example of the danger of predicting a Magic set without taking account expected value, take the fake spoiler list someone posted to 4Chan and Reddit a few days ago. The average value of a Mythic Rare from the list was an astounding $92. Considering that you'll get three Mythics from a typical box of Eternal Masters (MSRP $240), just the Mythics alone would make buying a box of Eternal Masters plus EV. The fake list had an average Rare value of $21. Since you get approximately 21 Rares in a box of Eternal Masters, these 21 cards would add another $441 to the expected value of a box. Discounting the foil in every pack and all the Commons and Uncommons, the fake list pegged the expected value of a box of Eternal Masters at a laughably impossible $717. 

We are going to talk a bit about how limited print run sets differ from "normal," print-to-demand sets. Then we'll talk about the breakdown of Eternal Masters specifically, and wrap things up with an expected value driven by what Mythics could be in Eternal Masters. Originally I was going to cover the entire set in this article, but I quickly realized it would be impossible, so I'll be back again in a few days to have my predictions for the Rares and possibly some of the Uncommons and Commons.

Limited Print Run Reprint Sets

Limited print run reprint sets like Modern Masters and Eternal Masters are strange beasts, so we need to take a couple of minutes to talk about how they differ from "normal" (i.e. print-to-demand) sets like Battle for Zendikar or Shadows Over Innistrad. In a "normal" Standard-legal set, the prices of cards in the set are not a huge concern (apart from putting too many expensive reprints in the same set, which wastes reprint equity) for a couple reasons. First, it is really, really hard to predict the prices of cards before they actually start seeing play. If huge vendors like StarCityGames, that look at card prices all day every day, can't get it right all the time, no one (including Wizards of the Coast) can. Second, when a set is printed-to-demand like a Standard legal set, prices are naturally controlled by the supply. If the prices of singles in a set get too high, people will crack more sealed product, which will bring the prices of singles back down. 

Limited-print-run sets like Eternal Masters don't work the same way. First, Wizards has more control of the values of the cards in the set, because they can look at the secondary market and use it to guide their decision making process. Wizards knows better than to just look down the list of the most expensive cards in the history of the game and stick them all in the same set, which is pretty much what the fake Reddit spoiler did. It doesn't make any business sense to waste so many valuable reprints in the same product. Second, since the supply of Eternal Masters will be limited, players can't just crack more boxes if the prices of the cards are too high. There just aren't any more boxes to crack. 

As such, from Wizards's perspective having the expected value be in the same neighborhood as the MSRP of the set is important for a few reasons. If the expected value is too low, everyone is going to be upset, and less people will purchase the product. On the other hand, if Wizards puts $350 (or $717) of value in a $240 box, there are other problems. As we saw with the original Modern Masters, vendors will jack up the prices. Even though the MSRP is $240, your local gaming store or internet retailer will sell it for $350. Not only does this spike upset the player base, who feels like they got ripped off, it doesn't help Wizards either. That extra $110 is going into the pocket of the local game store or internet vendor — not Wizards

The other thing that is important to consider is Limited. Wizards has shown clearly over the past several "Masters" that they care about making a good Limited format. Of the 68 Rares and Mythics in the original Modern Masters, somewhere between 5 and 10 of them were unplayable in Limited. In order words, between 85% and 92% of these cards had some purpose in the Limited format. Modern Masters 2015 dropped that number even more, with perhaps two or three Rares or Mythics being unplayable in Limited. We should expect that a large percentage of the higher rarity cards in Eternal Masters will have some impact on Limited, which means we are unlikely to see cards that are expensive and/or very good in constructed, but unplayable in Limited. 

The Set Itself

We also need to talk about the unique aspects of the set itself. There are two interesting things about "Masters" sets that will influence our discussion. First, the box size is whacky, containing only 24 packs instead of the standard 36 packs. If you buy a box of Eternal Masters, on average, you'll wind up with three Mythics, 21 Rares, 72 Uncommons, and 240 Commons. It takes five boxes to get one of each Mythic, about 2.5 boxes to get one of each Rare, and a bit over a box to get one of each Uncommon (plus 2.5 copies of each common per box). Second, in Eternal Masters there will be a foil in every pack. While we won't go too far down the rabbit hole in this article, it is worth pointing out the foils do eat away at some of the value in the box. 

Finally, there will not be any Reserve List cards in the set, so we won't be talking about them. They simply are not relevant to the conversation. I'd love to see dual lands reprinted, but it's not happening. 


Considering the history of Masters sets, I expect the Mythics will eat up a little bit less than half of the set's expected value, which is between $80 and $120 per box. This means we are looking for an average Mythic value of somewhere between $27 and $40. I don't expect this value to be equally distributed throughout the rarity. Instead, we are likely to get three or four chase Mythics, maybe four or five "average" Mythics, and another seven or eight "bulk" Mythics.

Chase Mythics

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First off, we know Force of Will is in the set, and we already know it will be one of the chase Mythics given its current price tag of $90. Picking the other two chase Mythics is actually fairly hard. 

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For our first chase Mythic, I decided to go with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which seems like a natural fit for the set since it's hard to reprint in other places thanks to it being banned in Modern and too expensive for most supplemental products. Plus, it's difficult to imagine a Magic set without any planewalkers. The other option for the "chase planeswalker" slot is Liliana of the Veil, but I strongly believe she will be saved for the next Modern Masters set (something Jace, the Mind Sculptor can't do). We just had a Liliana of the Veil promo, which feels like a "here's a few copies to tide you over until Modern Masters 2017" type of reprinting. While I don't think it's impossible that we see Liliana of the Veil in Eternal Masters, I believe it is unlikely. It feels like a waste to use one of the most expensive card in Modern to sell this set when there are tons of expensive cards that are not eligible for Modern Masters to fill the role. Cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

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For our third "chase" Mythic we have Rishadan Port, which really needs to be in the set, not just for paper Magic, but for Magic Online where it is more expensive than Black Lotus. There are a few reasons I think a reprinting at Mythic is more likely than at Rare. First, a Sinkhole attached to a land feels really bad, and it's possible that Wizards will try to avoid having Jimmy or Jenny Standard Player enter a draft at their local game store, only to never cast a spell thanks to Rishadan Port. Second, $90 is a lot for a Rare. The set can support significantly more $90 Mythics than it can $90 Rares. I'm not sure Wizards will want every chase Rare to be a land, since we know Wasteland is already at that rarity. 

Other Chase Mythic Possibilities: Imperial Recruiter and Grim Tutor seem like good possibilities, but they are so expensive they are hard to make work without going way over the expected value. Show and Tell could work, but there are so many good Blue cards that I don't really see it making the cut. Sneak Attack is definitely a possibility, but would require a lot of support to be playable in Limited. Dark Depths or Cavern of Souls could take a colorless slot, but are more likely to show up at Rare, if they show up at all. Plus, Cavern of Souls is a good way to sell a Standard-legal set at some point in the future. 

Average Mythics

Another factor in predicting the Mythics in Eternal Masters is the colors themselves. In Legacy, a high percentage of the most expensive cards are either colorless (including lands) or Blue. For the sake of Limited, there is no possibility we end up with six blue Mythics, five colorless Mythics, and one Mythic of each other color. Instead, having two Mythics for each color, along with a handful of colorless and multi-colored Mythics is most likely. As a result, we'll be steering away from mono-Blue cards for the rest of our Mythic discussion. 

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Rummor has it that Stoneforge Mystic will be in the set, which means we'll have some amount of equipment. Umezawa's Jitte might finally be getting a reprint. If Umezawa's Jitte is reprinted, it has to be Mythic because it is the most busted Limited card of all time. There is no way Wizards wants it showing up every other draft; it's simply too good. 

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Natural Order makes the cut because there are not a lot of good options for Green Mythics. I don't think Wizards will want to use cards that can sell Modern Masters to sell this set, so I'm discounting another Tarmogoyf reprinting. Plus, I think Wizards will want Eternal Masters to feel different than Modern Masters. While Natural Order doesn't show up all that much in Commander, it is a Cube staple and a Legacy stalwart thanks to its ability to search out a game-ending Craterhoof Behemoth in Elves. 

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Dack Fayden is one of my "locks of the week" for Eternal Masters. It just feels all too obvious to include the one-print (in Conspiracy, of all sets) planeswalker. He sees a bit of play in Legacy, a ton of play in Vintage, and is an auto-include in powered Cubes. While it's possible the greatest thief in the multiverse shows up in Standard eventually, given the right format, his inclusion seems like an easy way to increase supply, while also filling one of the planeswalker slots. There should be at least two and possible three of these slots in the set.  

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First off, I believe Sensei's Divining Top will be in the set, not so much because of Legacy, where half the community loves the card (Miracles players) and everyone else hates it, but as a shout out to the Commander community. According to the Monthly Commander Metagame Sweep on MTGSalvation, Sensei's Divining Top is the eighth most played card in all of the Commander format. Now it feels really, really strange to put a utility card like Sensei's Divining Top at Mythic, but here are the reasons why I think it's the most likely landing spot. 

  1. Limited. There is no way Wizards is going to put Sensei's Divining Top at Uncommon, and might not even want to put it at Rare simply because it slows the game down to a crawl. While I think they will want it in the set, Limited is king when it comes to Masters sets, and Wizards doesn't want to hear endless complaints about how people's drafts took 10 hours to finish because everyone opened a Sensei's Divining Top
  2. The price. Currently about $30, which is way too much to be in the Uncommon slot. If it was a Rare it would be among the "chase" Rares in Eternal Masters. Sticking it at Mythic avoids this problem altogether. 
  3. Force of Will. Sure, Wizards doesn't like to print utility cards at Mythic (or so they say), but we are getting Force of Will at Mythic in this very set. If a counterspell that forces you to two-for-one yourself is a Mythic because it makes Limited feel bad (or as a money grab, take your pick) there's no reason as to why Sensei's Divining Top couldn't be there as well. 

Below-Average/Bulk Mythic

Before getting to these cards, I should say that our choices are getting extremely limited. So far our hypothetical Eternal Masters set has two blue Mythics, one green Mythic, and four colorless/multi-colored Mythics. As we slot in the rest of the Mythics, we need two Red, two White, two Black, one Green, and one colorless/multi-colored Mythic to make things work for Limited. 

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The best argument against Land Tax is that it isn't all that great in Limited. The argument for Land Tax is three-fold. First, there are not a lot of good options for White Mythics. Second, it's a staple in Commander and shows up fairly regularly in Cubes. Third, we are getting to the point where we need some low value Mythics to make the expected value numbers work. We are also getting to the point where the picks are more of a crap-shoot and will depend in large part on what limited archetypes happen to be in the set. So while this slot may or may not go to Land Tax, something in the $10 price range is likely. 

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By far the most played Black card in Commander. I originally had Grim Tutor in the Mythic tutor slot that now contains Demonic Tutor, but realized it was almost impossible to get the set to the right expected value with the $266 Portal Rare. In fact, if we put Grim Tutor in the set, along with Force of Will, the average value of the 13 other Mythics would have to be around $10 to make the set come in at the correct expected value. That scenario would mean a ton of bad, unexciting Mythics, which I think Wizards would like to avoid. As such, we'll have to make due with the most powerful tutor ever printed to the joy of Cubers and Commander players everywhere. 

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Assuming we get Stoneforge Mystic, which means we'll be getting some equipment, Nahiri, the Litchomancer is an interesting option for the last planeswalker and the last white Mythic slot. One thing about the Commander planeswalkers is we've never had a chance to play with them in Limited — at least in paper, they have shown up in Magic Online Cubes from time to time. Even though Nahiri is a relatively new card, it will still feel fresh in the all-important Limited format. 

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One thing I associate with eternal and Cube is a Storm deck. As I've mentioned before, well-know Storm player Adam Prosak is the lead designer of Eternal Masters. While I could be off-base, I think some sort of Storm deck is likely one of the limited archetypes in Eternal Masters. If so, Necropotence would be one of the key cards for the deck. Better yet, you can play it in Black aggro as well, so it's sort of a two-for-one when it comes to designing a set with Limited in mind. Based on history alone, it should be a Mythic. Necropotence can be super broken in limited, although it is more difficult to build around than something like Umezawa's Jitte

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Speaking of the possibility of Storm in limited, assuming it makes the cut, Past in Flames feels like a fine choice for one of the red Mythic slots. In all honesty, finding Red cards that qualify as Mythics is extremely difficult. In fact, trying to put together this article gave me a whole new appreciation of a card like Comet Storm in Modern Masters 2015. Unfortunately Yawgmoth's Will is on the Reserve List, so we can't put it in this slot. As a result we'll have to make due with Past in Flames, which has proven itself to be very powerful in both Legacy and Modern. 

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If we are going to have Natural Order in the set, we are going to need some big Green creatures to search up. I considered both Craterhoof Behemoth and Regal Force, but there simply isn't enough expected value to support a more expensive card in this slot. The awkward part of Avenger of Zendikar is that it has been reprinted multiple times over the past couple years, which means it isn't an exciting conclusion and doesn't scream "eternal," but it does serve a purpose in limited and it is very popular in Commander, while also showing up in Cubes. 

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I honestly didn't consider Worldgorger Dragon until talking to some people on Twitter. Once it was brought up, it made perfect sense. First, the set needs some bulk Mythics. There just isn't that much expected value to go around. Second, there's no reason Wizards can't put Animate Dead in the format, and make the infinite mana combo draftable, much like Splinter Twin in Modern Masters. If they decide to go this route they will doubtlessly want this to be a "sometimes" thing, rather than an "every draft" thing. Putting Worldgorger Dragon at Mythic makes sense. 

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In all honesty, I have no clue whether Coercive Portal will show up in Eternal Masters, but I wanted to mentioned it for one very important reason: I expect to see several (many?) reprints from supplemental produces like Commander, Conspiracy, Planechase, and the like. Many of the cards from these sets are popular in Commander and Cube, not to mentioned Legacy in some instances, but more importantly they are also really hard to reprint effectively. Many are designed in a way that makes them difficult, if not impossible, to print in a Standard legal set. They aren't legal in Modern, and many are too complex to put in supplemental products focused on new players. As such, Eternal Masters might be Wizards only opportunity to get more copies of these cards in circulation for the next few years, and I expect they'll take full advantage of it. So, while Coercive Portal many or may not show up in Eternal Masters, similar supplemental product all-stars are exceedingly likely to make an appearance. 

Putting It All Together

Eternal Masters Mythics
Card Color Current Price Multiplier  EV Added
Rishadan Port Colorless $89.93 0.2 $17.99
Force of Will Blue $89.65 0.2 $17.93
Jace, the Mind Sculptor Blue $85.68 0.2 $17.14
Dack Fayden Multi $35.00 0.2 $7.00
Natural Order Green $34.04 0.2 $6.81
Umezawa's Jitte Colorless $30.15 0.2 $6.03
Sensei's Divining Top Colorless $28.41 0.2 $5.68
Demonic Tutor Black $15.67 0.2 $3.13
Land Tax White $12.58 0.2 $2.52
Past in Flames Red $11.38 0.2 $2.28
Necropotence Black $8.49 0.2 $1.70
Nahiri, the Lithomancer White $3.85 0.2 $0.77
Avenger of Zendikar Green $3.49 0.2 $0.70
Worldgorger Dragon Red $3.04 0.2 $0.61
Coercive Portal Colorless $2.22 0.2 $0.44
Totals       $90.73

As you can see, these predictions give us an average Mythic value of just over $30, which is in the low end of the "normal" range. The prediction means a couple things. First, it means that one or two of the low-end Mythics could be upgraded to a high-end Mythic without moving the value of the set out of the normal range. For example, the $3.04 Worldgorder Dragon could become the $45 Sneak Attack, which would raise the average Mythic value up to $33 dollars. The $3.49 Avenger of Zendikar could become the $19 Craterhoof Behemoth. Second, having an average Mythic value at the low-end of normal leaves more room for powerful and valuable Rares and Uncommons, which is going to be important if we want to have things like Stoneforge Mystic, Sylvan Library and Wasteland at this rarity. 

I'd encourage you to make your own predictions within this framework. I would suggest you keep the values of the cards relatively consistent, so swap a $90 card for another $90 card, or if you upgrade a $90 card to a $250 card, take away $160 in value from other Mythics. I'd also try to keep the color breakdown similar. Having at least two of each color is extremely likely, and then the other five slots can be used for colorless/multi-color or as flex slots for additional colored cards if you think the colors will be unbalanced. 


As I mentioned in the intro, my initial plan was to go through the entire set today, but after I started writing I realized the article would be way too long. As such, I'll be back soon to break down my predictions for Rares and Uncommons. Until then, leave your predictions in the comments, along with your thoughts, opinions, and suggestion.  You can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 



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