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The Expected Value of Throne of Eldraine


Normally, I write the expected value article on prerelease weekend, but for Throne of Eldraine, I decided to wait. One of the most interesting aspects of the set is the Collector's Boosters, and I figured it would be fun to include an expected breakdown of these as well. Unfortunately, I still have no idea about the distribution of the Collector's Boosters, and after talking to some other people grappling with the same issue, I've come to the conclusion that as of right now, we simply don't have enough information to figure out the value of the product. While we do know what comes in the boosters—nine foil commons / uncommons, one foil rare / mythic, one extended art rare / mythic, three special-frame cards, one ancillary (Planeswalker Deck, Brawl Deck, Buy-a-Box promo) card, and a foil token—what we don't know is how the cards are distributed within these slots. 

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Here's an easy example: the ancillary card slot could contain a very expensive Arcane Signet or a just-as-expensive Chulane, Teller of Tales, or it could contain a common gain land like Thornwood Falls. While coming up with a lot of possible ancillary cards shouldn't be too hard, we simply don't know how rarity works within these slots. Are you more likely to open a Thornwood Falls (since it is a common) than a Chulane, Teller of Tales? We don't know. This is also a big issue with the special-frame cards. From watching some Collector's Booster openings, it seems like commons and uncommons with special frames show up way more often than rares and mythics with special frames, but the exact ratio is unknown. 

All this is to say, it's impossible to calculate the expected value of Collector's Boosters at the moment, so it would be foolish to try. If we figure out the distribution at some point in the future, I'll try to post an update. But for now, we'll focus on calculating the value of the set proper, and even this comes with a huge asterisk: some special-frame cards show up in normal draft boosters, and here again, we don't know the exact distribution. So for the sake of our calculations, we'll pretend like these cards don't exist. If anything, this will underestimate the expected value of a box by a bit, and if we can't be completely accurate, it's better to miss low than to miss high.

As an extra bonus for this expected-value article, I also wanted to show you a really quick and easy (and fairly accurate) way that you can calculate expected value on your own, without going card by card through the set, using multipliers and the like. Anyway, let's look at the expected value of Throne of Eldraine.

Methodology Notes

  1. Commons (except in very rare cases) are considered to be bulk, which I value at $5.00 per thousand. This means that an entire booster box worth of commons will add $1.80 to the expected value of the box.
  2. Most uncommons will also end up in the bulk pile, although chase uncommons (generally uncommons worth more than $0.25) that can be sold or traded away individually will be calculated separately.
  3. Foils get their own section. Foil mythics (typically the most valuable foils in a set) are incredibly rare, and the odds of getting one in any individual box are quite low. That said, the possibility of opening one does increase the overall expected value by a few dollars.
  4. These prices won't be good for long. Remember: the idea is to determine if Throne of Eldraine is worth opening on release weekend. If you buy a box six weeks from now, don't blame me when these prices are wrong because I can tell you right now that they will be wrong—and likely very wrong. Remember that the EV is a snapshot based on current prices and not a prediction of where prices will be in the future.
  5. As I mentioned before, it is possible to open alt-frame / alt-art cards in a normal booster box, but since we don't know the distribution of these cards, we can't really bake them into the expected-value calculation. These cards do make a box of Throne of Eldraine slightly more valuable than our expected-value calculation will suggest, but we have no way of knowing how much value these cards will add until we get distribution numbers (if we ever do).
  6. Another reminder: you don't actually make a profit until you sell the card. So, just cracking boxes on release weekend isn't enough; you need to take the next step and actually trade away the cards, list them on eBay / TCGplayer, or sell them to a buylist.
  7. The prices were calculated on Friday. If something spiked in the last couple of days, it won't be reflected in the expected-value calculation.
  8. Finally, be aware of variance. These numbers will be accurate if you open enough packs. But, like most aspects of Magic, variance can have a huge impact in small samples. In theory (although not in practice), a booster box could contain zero mythics and all bulk rares, or it could contain a complete set of foil mythics. The more packs you crack, the more accurate the EV will become because you will smooth out these outliers.

Throne of Eldraine Mythics

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Throne of Eldraine—Mythics
Card Value Multiplier EV Added
Oko, Thief of Crowns $30.81 0.3 $9.24
Questing Beast $14.45 0.3 $4.34
Brazen Borrower $11.99 0.3

$3.60

The Royal Scions $9.83 0.3 $2.95
The Great Henge $9.56 0.3 $2.87
Garruk, Cursed Huntsman $8.70 0.3 $2.61
Rankle, Master of Pranks $7.42 0.3 $2.23
Robber of the Rich $5.31 0.3 $1.59
Realm-Cloaked Giant $4.07 0.3 $1.22
Embercleave $3.26 0.3 $0.98
The Magic Mirror $2.54 0.3 $0.76
The Cauldron of Eternity $2.54 0.3 $0.76
The Circle of Loyalty $1.87 0.3 $0.56
Harmonious Archon $1.32 0.3 $0.40
Outlaws' Merriment $1.32 0.3 $0.40
Totals      
Average Mythic Value $7.67    
Total Value Added to Box $34.49    

The mythics of Throne of Eldraine offer reasonable value overall, with an average value of $7.67, which is a bit above Core Set 2020 and solidly in the average range for recent Standard sets. They do come with a ton of variance, with three bulk mythics and two more that are worth less than a booster pack, which means a full third of the mythics from Throne of Eldraine are bad opens. On the other side of the scale, we have Oko, Thief of Crowns at over $30, along with another four or five mythics in the $10+ range, all of which are solid opens, with Oko itself being enough to (likely) make your box a winner in terms of value. This variance will even out if you open enough boxes, but if you're just cracking a single box, it will be very possible to get unlucky with your mythics and get basically zero value from the slot.

Now, let's say that a couple of weeks from now, you want to check back in on the expected value of Throne of Eldraine. How can you go about calculating this in the easiest way possible? It's actually pretty simple. Rather than writing everything out, using multipliers, and doing all of the stuff we do for the article, you can simply add up the total value of all the mythics in the set (in this case, roughly $115), divide by the total number of mythics in the set (generally 15 but sometimes slightly different—Throne of Eldraine has 15, which would give us $115.05 / 15 = $7.67) to get the average value of a mythic rare, and then finally multiply by the number of mythics you'll get from an average box (here's a cheat sheet: the average box as 4.5 mythics, 31.5 rares, 108 uncommons, and 360 commons). So $7.67 x 4.5 = 34.52, almost exactly the same as our expected value number, with the few cents difference being the result of rounding half cents up and down to the nearest whole cent. While writing everything out makes sense for the article since it lets everyone see exactly what prices I'm using to calculate the expected value, the quick and easy averaging method is almost as accurate and more than good enough for a quick self-EV check.

Throne of Eldraine Rares

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Throne of Eldraine—Rares
Card Value Multiplier EV Added
Once Upon a Time $10.30 0.6 $6.18
Murderous Rider $9.33 0.6 $5.60
Fabled Passage $7.88 0.6 $4.73
Emry, Lurker of the Loch $6.09 0.6 $3.65
Gilded Goose $5.06 0.6 $3.03
Bonecrusher Giant $3.02 0.6 $1.81
Stonecoil Serpent $2.32 0.6 $1.39
Fires of Invention $2.17 0.6 $1.30
Castle Garenbrig $2.00 0.6 $1.20
Fae of Wishes $2.00 0.6 $1.20
Fervent Champion $1.75 0.6 $1.05
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell $1.75 0.6 $1.05
Wishclaw Talisman $1.54 0.6 $0.92
Castle Locthwain $1.54 0.6 $0.92
Wildborn Preserver $1.37 0.6 $0.82
Castle Vantress $1.37 0.6 $0.82
Charming Prince $1.32 0.6 $0.79
Faeburrow Elder $1.32 0.6 $0.79
Mirrormade $1.32 0.6 $0.79
Lovestruck Beast $1.32 0.6 $0.79
       
19 Bulk Rares $0.10 0.6 * 19 $1.14
14 Semi-Bulk Rares $0.25 0.6 * 14 $2.10
Totals      
Average Rare Value $1.29    
Total Value Added

$40.79

   

The rares of Throne of Eldraine look much like the mythics: their average value is fine but not spectacular, but there's a ton of variance in what you open. According to our calculations, a massive 33 of the 53 rares in the set are either true bulk or at least semi-bulk, giving the set a 62% bulk rare rate, which is quite high. This means the average rare is a bulk rare, which can be frustrating when opening a few packs.

On the other hand, the set does have some high-end rares, despite the fact that it is missing a dual-land cycle. Both Once Upon a Time and Murderous Rider are near $10, with three more rares in the $5 to $8 range. You'll do fine if you happen to open one or two of these in your box, even considering all of the bulk rares you'll find in between. But similar to the mythic slot, some bad boxes will miss on the high-end rares and provide almost all bulk. 

When it comes to doing a quick and dirty expected-value calculation of your own, the formula is the same for rares as for mythics: add up the value of all of the rares in the set, divide by the total number of rares in the set (almost always 53), and then multiply by the number of rares you should open in a box (31.5, with the other 4.5 rare slots being filled by mythics). The biggest challenge here is figuring out the cutoff. If you count all of the bulk rares at their full retail value, your expected value calculation will look much higher than mine, but this look is usually deceiving since it's really hard to get anywhere near full retail price if you are selling or trading away bulk rares. Generally speaking, I consider everything under $1.50 to fall into the bulk or semi-bulk categories and value them at $0.25 (for semi-bulk) and $0.10 (for true bulk). To make the calculation even easier, you can simply count all of the bulk-level rares as having no value. As you can see in our calculation, all 33 bulk and semi-bulk rares add a measly $3 to our total box's expected value, which isn't really enough to worry about if you're just doing a quick calculation for your own purposes.

Throne of Eldraine—Uncommons / Commons / Bulk

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Throne of Eldraine—U / C / Bulk$
Card Rarity Value Multiplier EV Added
Drown in the Loch UNC $1.33 1.35 $1.76
Deafening Silence UNC $0.69 1.35

$0.93

Syr Konrad, the Grim UNC $0.36 1.35 $0.48
Hypnotic Sprite UNC $0.36 1.35 $0.48
Tournament Grounds UNC $0.36 1.35 $0.48
         
Bulk C / U   $5 / thousand   $2.40
Totals        
Total C / U / Bulk Value Added $6.53      

The lower-rarity cards from Throne of Eldraine are pretty lackluster in expected value, with Drown in the Loch being the only thing that resembles a chase uncommon. And even here, the value is only $1.33. Otherwise, there are a few uncommons in the $0.50 range, and the bulk itself adds $2.40 in value, but there really isn't much to see here. 

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As far as doing your own expected-value calculation, the formula remains the same: total value of uncommons divided by the number of uncommons in the set (80) divided by the number of uncommons you'll open in a box (108). However, there is one big trap people tend to fall into with lower-rarity cards: counting them at their retail price. Uncommons specifically tend to have deceivingly high prices, with the floor often being $0.25. The problem is no one is going to give you $0.25 for your Loch Dragon or Trail of Crumbs, so it is very important to only include commons and uncommons that have real value, rather than just including all of them at retail price.

For example, if you simply add up the value of all 80 uncommons in Throne of Eldraine, you'll find that (as of a couple of days ago) they are worth $27.85 in sum. If you divide that by 80 uncommons, you'll get an average uncommon value of $0.35. With 108 uncommons in your box, this means that at full retail price, uncommons alone will add $37.60 to the box value. 

Things are even worse if you do this with commons. In reality, almost all commons are valueless, but prices often hit a floor at around $0.15 retail, which means if you add up the total value of all 101 commons in Throne of Eldraine, you'll get a value of $23.52. Divide this by 101 (the number of commons in the set), and you get an average common value of $0.23. Considering that you get a massive 360 commons in a booster box, this means that the commons alone are adding $82.80 to the expected value of a box (almost the entire cost of a box!) by themselves. 

This is by far the most common mistake I see when people calculate expected value for the first time. To get around this problem, the easiest thing to do is to only count commons and uncommons that have real value in your calculation and count all the other commons and uncommons as bulk (which adds about $2.50 to the value of a box and doesn't really change from set to set). This method will give you a much more realistic expected-value calculation and will keep you from doing something silly like spending your rent on Throne of Eldraine booster boxes under the faulty assumption that you're going to get rich based on the inflated value of uncommons and commons.

Throne of Eldraine—Foils

Throne of Eldraine—Foils
Rarity Average # per Box Average Value EV Added
Mythics One every three boxes (0.33 per box) $19.95 $6.58
Rares Two per box $5.15 $10.30
Uncommons Two per box $0.5 $1.00
Commons Six per box $0.10 $0.60
Totals      
Foil Value Added to Box $18.48    

Interestingly, the foils of Throne of Eldraine are lower in value compared to previous sets. My guess is that this is because the rares and mythics have additional special printings, like extended art or storybook printings. In a normal set, a foil is the most blinged-out version of a card available, but with Throne of Eldraine, it might be that foils aren't all that special since there are cooler printings available. Another possibility is that the guaranteed foils in the Collector's Boosters will increase the supply of foils to the point where it is driving down prices. While the difference isn't huge (Throne of Eldraine foils are worth about 15% less than Core Set 2020 counterparts), it is notable. 

As far as calculating the expected value of foils yourself, it's exactly the same as calculating the expected value of non-foils, except they are worth significantly more and you get significantly fewer per box. 

 

Throne of Eldraine—EV Summary

Throne of Eldraine—EV Summary
Rarity Average Price Number Value Added
Mythics
$7.67
15 $34.49
Rares $1.29 53 $40.79
Commons / Uncommons / Bulk     $6.53
Foils   12 (per box) $18.48
TOTAL BOX EV $100.29    
PACK EV $2.79    

Finally, the last step to your expected-value calculation is to add everything together! For Throne of Eldraine, this gives us an expected value of $100, which is basically the break-even point. While not a home run in terms of value, in general, you should (roughly) get your money's worth out of a Throne of Eldraine box, especially considering our expected-value calculation doesn't include the possibility of opening expensive extended-art planeswalkers or storybook rares and mythics. So in reality, the expected value is a bit higher (although we don't know how much higher since we don't have enough information). 

That said, Throne of Eldraine is one of the highest-variance sets we've had in a while. Some boxes will be very good, to the point where you could easily double your roughly $100 investment. Other boxes will be complete duds thanks to the high rates of bulk rares and mythics. If you're someone who is opening cases of Throne of Eldraine, it should even out in the end, but if you're just cracking a single box, it will be a gamble.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Are you planning on cracking some Throne of Eldraine? Let me know in the comments! As I mentioned before, I'll try to post an update if we get more information on Collector's Boosters, but I'm not sure if or when that info will come out. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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