Release day is almost upon us and many creators and finance”-ers” alike have been speculating on the estimated value of an Ultimate Masters booster box. With or without Box Topper. With or without foils. Will it live up to the highly debated hike of the MSRP from $240 a booster box to a staggering $335. But honestly does the MSRP really mean anything? Can the estimated value of a booster box make it worth the price of admission? Here I will provide my opinion on how I believe Ultimate Masters will be valued shortly after launch and what potential I see in 12-18 months.
Uncommons, that’s where it’s at…
First, let’s ignore MSRP for the moment and strictly look at the wider lens and that’s the value that could be found inside. Most start with highlighting the mythics because it makes the bulk of the value. And it is. However, looking at the uncommons first will tell a story.
Modern Masters (2013, The Original, OG, where it all began)
The Original Modern Masters set is unique in many ways. Not only was it first of its kind but was the only set that was made with the sole purpose of being a reprint set instead of creating a Draft/Limited play environment. This set also had the least amount of cards of any Masters set produced at 229 cards. Ironically the only difference between this set and others is it consists of 20 less uncommons. However, this is set has been looked at as “the” benchmark when it comes to saying “what makes good sets are strong uncommon cards.” Let’s first look at the uncommon cards and their values at the time of writing this article. Also I would like to make mention that, for the moment, will ignore print run numbers. Although it’s a part of comparing these sets this article isn’t meant to debate that topic.
Modern Masters (2013) contains 18 uncommons that are valued above $1. Many of the reasons why the uncommons continue to remain at a solid value is due to how much play these cards get. Manamorphose, Path to Exile, Kitchen Finks and Relic of Progenitus see a tremendous amount of play in various formats.
Now let’s go back to the amount of uncommons that are in this set. Current Master’s sets have 60 uncommons. Modern Masters (2013) has 40. Yet each pack still contains 3 uncommons. This means with 33% less uncommons overall you will have a higher ratio of value to be opened. Which hugely contributes to the set’s overall high EV. This is something that since, has never been replicated.
Modern Masters 2015
Often hailed as the second best Masters set ever created it remains the least desired due to the declining print quality and the ability to reseal these packs. This set introduced 20 more uncommons to bring the total cards for this set up to 249 and Masters sets have stuck with this amount moving forward. Modern Masters 2015 has a tremendous amount of value in mythics and rares. Some that haven’t seen a reprint again like Mox Opal, Surgical Extraction and Leyline of Sanctity.
Sadly the uncommon slot, despite having 20 more than the previous set, didn’t come close to the same value or playables. Now it doesn’t mean there isn’t value at the uncommon slot. Eldrazi Temple, Remand, Dismember and Lightning Bolt are all heavily played. However, in terms of the quantity of value the uncommon slot decreased drastically from 18 (from Masters 2013) to 7.
Eternal Masters was an interesting set. It wasn’t well received, didn’t sell well and yet it is currently one of the most valuable Masters sets post 2013. Boxes were often found in the $120’s after the second wave was released, now it’s hard to find it for under $300 a box. This set has a lot of great cards both in the mythic and rare slot like Mana Crypt, Force of Will, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Sensei’s Divining Top. But that only scratches the surface of value. But let’s take a moment to check out the uncommon slot.
This set has 17 uncommons above $1 and has 2 more that are on the verge of being part of that group. It won’t be long before Victimize and Brainstorm become over a dollar due to not having a reprint in Ultimate Masters. Keep in mind that the uncommon slot isn’t as valuable as Masters 2013 but it will be hard to reach those numbers mainly due to print runs are just not what they used to be.
With that said, the majority of uncommons in this set are eternal playable which is why they will be more likely to retain their value until the next printing which, unless they get reprinted in standard, will not be for the foreseeable future (so Wizards says).
Modern Masters 2017
Fetches. Mic drop. Kidding, but seriously though this set was created specifically to reprint those highly sought after fetchlands. But let’s be honest here there was some serious value in this set with Liliana, of the Veil, Snapcaster Mage, Tarmogoyf and many other notable reprints it’s amazing that this isn’t the most valuable masters set. However it comes in at third but primarily because the rares and mythics carry this set’s value. Which makes it an unstable for holding it’s value over time (with the understanding that they will be reprinted again and more frequently in the future).
Unfortunately once again, from my perspective, the uncommons for this set are very mediocre. Even though there are 9 cards valued above $1 less than half see regular play.
Modern Masters 2017, while the exception to the rule, if you look at it from a wider lens if they had stronger uncommons this set could have been the slam duck best masters set ever. Don’t get me wrong it’s an amazing set. It may or may not have the staying power that Modern Masters 2013 has had.
Iconic & Masters 25
Both sets have upsides but overall. Unfortunately these two sets have many “soft value” cards. Many of the mythics crashed after release with very little recovery. Rares, aside from Horizon Canopy and maybe Thoughtseize, are pretty much dismal. Many of these cards have been printed several times and/or cards like Mana Drain, Flusterstorm and Imperial Recruiter are played so little that they couldn’t retain their pre-reprint prices.
With all that said between the two sets the uncommon quality is not that great either. Iconic has 5 cards over $1 and Masters 25 has 13 over $1 the overall long term price retention outlook is very grim. When Utopia Sprawl and Thran Dynamo are you top value cards and both of which see very little play it’s really hard to get on board that long term these cards can hold their value.
Now we finally reach the focus of this article. Ultimate Masters. And instead of talking about the value about the mythics or rares of the set lets get right into the uncommons evaluation.
Looking at this pool of uncommons we have 17 cards valued currently over $1. Now granted many of these could see a 20% drop in value at the least upon release the good news is the demand for many of these cards is there. In fact over 80% of these cards are in demand and over time will rebound in value.
Ultimate Masters uncommons also share a commonality between Modern Masters 2013 and Eternal Masters. The value and quantity of uncommons that are playable eternally and are on par with the top 2 sets (in value) every printed.
Ultimate Masters could end up having one of the highest values of any masters set ever created. If we start with the argument that the uncommons are on par with the top 2 masters sets current value. Let’s also not ignore that Ultimate Masters has 5 more mythics than the previous sets. The amount of value added with the extra mythics and the fact that the amount of $10 and above cards at the mythic rarity has almost doubled is a pretty interesting thought. Now I do feel that many of these cards will lose 20-35% of value upon release. I think it’s safe to assume that many of these cards will rebound fairly well 12-18 months after release. It seems to be the trend with these sets.
I think the potential is there for Ultimate Masters to be the ultimate value long term. With the perfect combination of Pauper, Modern, Commander, Legacy and Vintage cards printed in these set, from my perspective, this has the most overall eternal playable cards ever created in one set with one of the highest overall release estimated values ever been created.
This set has the highest potential upon release to have the most value per box opening and primarily due to the Ultimate Box topper. At the time of writing of this article out of the 40 Ultimate Box Topper Masterpieces the estimate added value to each box is around $65. With that said you are then buying a box that is on par with card quality (not stock) as a $300 Eternal Masters box and $500 Modern Masters 2013 booster box. At some point I do not think it’s out of the realm of possibility to say that Ultimate Masters has the potential to be somewhere in between. My guess. Within 24 months of release. Ultimate Masters EV per sealed box could reach $400 each.
Only time will tell how this set will age. It’s quite possible that this set completely collapses and isn’t worth more than MSRP of $335. I will caution to say “investing” in magic for the consumer is a bad idea so be careful when making your purchases.