Rotation Prep Pt. 1: Throne of Eldraine

For years, the power-level of Standard sets seemed like it had been relatively consistent and stable. Set after set, the storyline and lore fused with limited and Standard design to make for a typically-balanced, almost-always solid drafting experience. This statement includes Dominaria and the Ixalans, the second Return to Ravnica (Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance), and further back to sets like Kaladesh/Amonkhet and Shadows Over Innistrad/Eldritch Moon.

Realistically, every Magic set since the beginning of time has had its fair share of pushed cards, some more than others. But in Fall 2019, we got the fairytale set called Throne of Eldraine (ToE) that pushed every button on the power grid.

All four of these cards have been banned in Throne of Eldraine Standard, and Oko and Once Upon a Time are also banned in Modern. Oko is actually only still legal in Vintage and Commander.

If I told you that ToE would print four six (editor’s note) separate cards that would see a ban in their Standard lifetime, would you believe me? How about if I were to tell you Throne of Eldraine will have the most powerful Planeswalker ever printed in it – so powerful, that people joke it is no longer the Power 9, but rather the Power 10?

All of that and more came from Throne, and while the flavor was an absolute slam-dunk homerun, the power creep was detrimental to the health of MTG. Bans swept through formats, largely due to Oko, for the better part of six months post-Throne of Eldraine release. There was hope that Theros: Beyond Death would fix things in February 2020, but little changed as “Food” and “Adventures” decks (note Cauldron Familiar and Lucky Clover also being banned) ravaged Standard.

As history now shows, ToE may be the most powerful Standard set in MTG history. Few have ever shaped two years worth of Standard meta with little disruption, and few have been so resilient to continue to be relevant post-four bans. Even despite the bans to the most powerful cards in the set, we still saw Embercleave, The Great Henge, and Mystical Dispute remain highly-relevant.

This is all to say that the quality, depth, and sheer power-level of Throne of Eldraine cards from Mythic to Common is exceptional. Whenever that happens, it is easy to bank on the set remaining financially relevant for years to come (more on this later).

INVESTMENT PLAN, PICK #1: OKO, THIEF OF CROWNS

Oko, Thief of Crowns revolutionized the top arch of power-level, especially where CARD TYPE = Planeswalker. The ability to permanently turn any artifact or creature into a harmless 3/3 Elk, and doing so as a +1 (!) in the process, made Oko impossible to contend with. He is banned in every format MTG has to offer with the exception of Vintage and EDH because of his “resolve-win” impact on the game.

The good news is being legal in EDH means Oko will always retain value (albeit not the $60 he was pushing at peak before the banhammers hit). Rotation is a nice time to pick up a copy or two for your decks, collection, or to just simply speculate on. There should be some additional supply that will hit stores, both via players buylisting as they prep for the new Standard 2022 meta, and from stores moving on from their Throne of Eldraine overstock.

I like Oko pack non-foil at $15 which is where it is priced on TCGPlayer at the time of this publication. I think this price actually could fall a little more post-rotation and you might be able to find copies for as low as $12 (20% savings) before it is all said and done. I am also a bigger fan of the Borderless non-foil at $18-20. There are a few already out there on TCGPlayer and eBay at this price-point, and I expect more will hit the open market in coming weeks. I do think this card has more demand from commander and Vintage players than you may expect, so if you do want to buy a copy, I wouldn’t get stingy on saving the extra few pennies. Oko will begin to climb within a few months post-rotation, and should start to really rebound by March 2022. Don’t be surprised if the now-$15 copies are $25-30 six months from now.

Lastly, the only way Oko ever catches a reprint is in a premium product line such as Secret Lair. Something like that will always hurt the price of a card, but I am confident in Oko’s staying power on EDH demand alone, and a reprint would really just serve as a good opportunity to buy back in for more copies.

My confidence on this pick over a 6-12 month time horizon is 8/10. I firmly believe Oko will rebound back to the $20+ range in 2022, and because of that, I am aiming to acquire between four and eight pack non-foil copies at $12. I am also hoping to find four Borderless non-foils at $17-18. I plan to be patient with these target entry points, but I may eventually settle for copies $1-2 higher if it doesn’t get that low. If you want to play Oko foils, go Borderless and aim for NM at $85-90. These actually have $150+ upside given the combo of Vintage and EDH demand only (foils tend to have higher prices when demand comes from these two formats).

INVESTMENT PLAN, PICK #2: THE GREAT HENGE

The Great Henge
Hot take: the best card for commander printed in all of 2019 comes from Throne of Eldraine. Its name is The Great Henge.

I truly believe The Great Henge is the best still-legal card from Throne of Eldraine, and I’m of the mindset that this is among the top 20 commander cards printed all-time (debate-worthy topic for an episode of Brewin’ With Conviction by the way). At a mana value of nine, it looks intimidating to cast at first, but then you realize how fast its first ability reduces that cost. TGH saw plenty of play during its tour in Standard, having at least three different archetypes want 1+ copies. This bodes well for its price post-rotation because Standard-only players may take their opportunity to cash out of their copies for top dollar, and that means we may have a good opportunity to buy down the road.

I also fully expect stores and WotC distributors to clear what’s left of their sealed ToE product if they haven’t already. Some of this might be via crack-and-list (think TheGamingCo on TCGPlayer) or selling sealed boxes for a nice discount on eBay (think ChannelFireball). All that is to say we should see a supply of additional ToE singles hit the market sooner than later, and my hope is that will push The Great Henge down more.

I posted this back on July 28th. Since then, TCG low has dropped from $40 to $34. There is more room to fall, but it will be a brief dip before going up again. Be ready to buy!

The above Twitter thread demonstrates how closely I have been watching the card for a month already. This is actually my top target in terms of rotation picks mainly because I want a copy for my own collection. I have a 10/10 confidence that The Great Henge will be a money maker in 2022 if you time your purchase right. The important thing is to be aggressive in your bottom-end entry point. Don’t settle for $34 when you could get $28. More importantly, think about what it will take to profit if you buy at $34 vs. $28. Suddenly you need to sell back for $55-60 instead of $45-50. That’s a big difference to a player’s wallet, so just remember that before you get antsy and buy. The worst case is it doesn’t hit $28 and you end up investing in something else. But being disciplined with speculation is a much more important skill than just throwing money at the wall and hoping it sticks.

I’ll be loading up on as many copies as I can handle at $28 as I fully expect this card to rebound into the $40s by March 2022. There’s a real chance TGH could find a home in Pioneer and/or Modern, and if it does, that would only further accelerate its price action.

My plan if it goes any lower than $28 is to cost-average down by purchasing more copies. I do have a sense of higher-than-average reprint risk (I could envision a Secret Lair with all five Legendary Artifacts from this cycle), so as always I will remain diligent to churn quickly and cautious if my Spidey sense tingles. That said, I don’t fear a lack of outs for this card – it sells extraordinarily well on TCG Direct – and I don’t think there is a concern for going “too deep” here. At $28, I plan to be buying as much The Great Henge as my cash flow can handle.

INVESTMENT PLAN, PICK #3: THRONE OF ELDRAINE SEALED

Throne of Eldraine - Booster Box
The safest bet on Throne of Eldraine is sealed. High-powered sets like this come around once every five or so years and the sealed product will be highly sought after 3-5 years of the set being out of print.

My final and probably safest pick from Throne of Eldraine is any of the sealed product. This set is among the most powerful in Magic history and we know based on MTG history that power-level sells. The quality of powerful cards at every rarity combined with multiple chase Mythics means Throne of Eldraine sealed product will increase significantly over time.

It is worth noting before we talk about target entry points that Throne of Eldraine was highlighted by a few finance publications out there already, largely as speculation the same way I am writing about it now. This is important to note because boxes are already $120-125 depending on where you look. I don’t like this price, and I think a price drop by 10% is coming. I would look for boxes, especially on eBay, to hit $105-108 in coming months. I expect to find prices around the holidays in particular, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see some specials run where we can get boxes as low as $100 during the Black Friday window (possibly in conjunction with a TCGPlayer kickback or eBay bucks).

Throne of Eldraine was a pretty-popular set across numerous formats, and it had a ton of chase singles. That means (in my estimation) there was high demand for sealed product for stores to crack, and I am confident plenty of sealed boxes still exist with distributors and/or with LGSs which haven’t yet made it to market. At some point closer to the end of 2021, those boxes will hit shelves, and the overall prices will have to come back down a bit so the new supply can be absorbed by players and speculators before sealed ToE can begin to organically rise.

The entry point you want to shoot for is around $100-110, and you will also want to be prepared for any investment into sealed products to take longer to mature than singles. This is a safer pick in general, but it will tie your money up for as much as 18-24 months before you will be able to realize a significant (50%+) return. Booster boxes are also more of a pain to deal with from a shipping & handling perspective, so it is important to factor that into your decision before purchasing.

That said, if you are patient for 2-3 years, sealed product can often net significant (2-3x) returns especially when the set contains multiple chase cards and is a fun set to draft (which I believe Throne of Eldraine was).

My plan is to acquire anywhere between 4-8 draft booster boxes at $105 reservation price (would likely start by buying four at this price then cost average four more if the price drops further). I have also already acquired four Collector Booster boxes for $200/ea. and plan to continue holding those. My target exit is not until 2023 at the earliest, but I project I will be able to sell both the draft boosters and CBBs for a double-up by then.

WRAPPING UP

This was the first of my four part series where I will continue to review the rotating Standard sets up until rotation on September 24th. Up next will be coverage of Theros: Beyond Death.

You can also catch more of my specs at the end of each Brewin’ With Conviction podcast episode, and you can always find me posting live information on Twitter.

Finally, you can now find even more of my content on www.CardSphere.com! I will be producing 1-2 articles per month for CS where I will be blending my love for MTG finance and commander together into one sweet, sweet package. I am so excited for the opportunity to broaden the distribution of my content stream.

As always, I’ll leave you with our tagline, think like a brewer and buy like a financier!

When in doubt, I’m here to help. My DMs are always open!

Chris Martin is the co-founder of Conviction Gaming and co-host of the Brewin’ With Conviction podcast. He has been playing MTG since 1998 and is an avid EDH player with a knack for MTG finance.

You can find him on Twitter @ChiStyleGaming.

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