Welcome to a special edition of The Magic Market Index. Normally, we cover the sets in Standard, but today I wanted to do something different. Masters 25 was recently spoiled, and it has caused quite a commotion in the Magic market. Reactions are mixed, but extreme. With doomsayers and promoters both giving weighted views, I wanted to look at the set from an unbiased, purely analytical viewpoint.
I have never claimed to be a master at price speculation or market premonition, but aggregating existing data is definitely my forte. Today is the first day we can see a full picture of the set's preorder prices, which is traditionally the highest overall value a set will ever have while it is in print. There's quite a bit of pricing data to go over, so I've broken it down by rarity.
Pricing has been pulled from five different sources: TCGPlayer's Market Price, Troll and Toad's Pre-Order Prices, Star City Game's Pre-Order Prices, Magic Card Market's Pre-Order Prices (converted to USD), and TCGPlayer's Mid Prices. This will gives us a large cross-section of the entire Magic market, so we can get a good measure of Masters 25's value. Please note, I am going into this as unbiased as possible - I will let the data tell the story.
Masters 25's Mythic Rares
Let's start at the top. Mythic rares almost always hold a set's largest values, and Masters 25 is no different. This is also where a lot of the controversy for the set has taken place. While Masters 25 has some high-end marquee cards here - like Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Imperial Recruiter - it also has some mythic duds, like Prossh, Skyraider of Kher. The mythic selection seems to be evenly broken in two: half are high value, and half are value-light. The value-light side has sparked quite a bit of grumbling, but let's look at the data.
Averaging the mythic rare card's prices across all five sources shows us the regular return on a mythic is around $23. That seems low, but that's almost perfectly on point for the price of the booster pack. Booster pack prices vary a bit from where you purchase them, but Masters 25 should run you about 3 times the price of a regular booster pack. A normal expansion set has an average mythic rares value between $7 and $8, so a value of $23 here is exactly where we would expect it to be. The average mythic value is neither high nor low.
The tricky part is the actual rate of getting mythics in any given box that will surpass the average pack expectation to offset the losses from value-light rares. With such big swings between high dollar mythics and duds, it seems a gamble on whether a box will attain it's value. The rate of mythics per box is just over 3. The chance of actually getting 2 or 4 mythics per box is unknown, so we will have to assume a steady rate of 3 per box. This gives us a target of around $70 that our mythics should hit to be an at-least-average box. Assuming we count all mythics that are less than the pack price as duds, three mythics in a box gives us a 15% chance of ended up with all duds. That's 15% is disheartening, but it also means that 85% of the boosters will not be all duds. In fact, there is a full 80% chance that we will hit close to, or even exceed, the target of $70. Within that 80%, there's a 40% chance we can do this in a singular card, by getting one of the top three mythics, and a 15% chance we will greatly exceed our $70 target.
Let's do a bit of rounding so we can quantify this nicely:
One in seven boxes will fall short of it's mythic rare mark, five in seven boxes will be on par, and one in seven boxes will be a mythic value party.
It can be scary, looking at the low value mythics and knowing there's a chance a box or pack can be beyond disappointing. The math is solid, however. The value is there. It's a bit top-loaded, but it's honestly better than many expansions that see the set value all held within a couple of cards. It might be disheartening knowing that you might pull a Prossh - and especially so if you ever do - but it's no different from the Boneyard Parleys and Axis of Mortalitys in expansion sets. Six out of seven boxes having value is really good odds.
Table: Masters 25's Mythics
Masters 25's Rares
Mythics have the spotlight for value, but it is the rare cards that bare the burden of being foot soldiers of total value. A box of Masters 25 will have 22 rares within it, and this where the majority of a box's value will come from. There are 53 rares in Masters 25, and they range in value from under $0.50 to just over $45, with an average value of $5.85. If we toss out all of the duds that are at or under $0.50, the rest will add an average of $125 to a box's value.
Just as the mythic's value had some variance, so too will the rares from a box. However, as these are spread out over 22 cards, that variance will be exceptionally smaller. Figuring out the standard deviation and mean absolute deviation for the rares and rare slot becomes much more useful.
The rare cards themselves have a standard deviation of $8.40 and a mean deviation of $5.73. Adding in mythics at their rate, the card slot has a standard deviation of $14.30 and a mean deviation of $8.54. A normal expansion has a rare-slot standard deviation of around $3.50 and a mean deviation of around $2.15. As prices are three times higher for Masters 25, the growth in deviation is only slightly elevated from normal.
Masters 25 has a slightly higher rare deviation than a normal set, but nothing abnormal.
While using five different pricing sources can increase the deviation slightly, it is most likely the the fact that we are looking at pre-order prices that has its deviation inflate. As a set settles down, so too does its deviation. Even if these figures remain, however, neither is high enough to warrant concern about a box rare value fluctuations. There will be lower end and higher end rare pools, but none should stray from the norm by any concerning margins.
Table: Masters 25's Rares with Value
Masters 25's Uncommons
Thus far, we have around $70 in mythics and $125 in rares per box. This is normally where people stop, but we've gone this far, so we might as well be complete. Rest assured, uncommons can add value to a box, they just do so at a smaller rate. There are 80 uncommons in Masters 25, and there are 12 that have a some value of significance. These twelve have an average value of $1.18 across all five pricing sources. With the rate that these twelve will show within a box, they should add an average of $12.50 in value to any given booster box.
Twelve dollars in sellable uncommons might not be much, but it takes us from $195 in booster value to $207. I hate odd numbers, and there's a bit of iffyness on actually selling some of these uncommons, so lets round that down to $205 for further calculations.
Table: Masters 25's Twelve Valued Uncommons
Masters 25's Commons
There are only a few commons in Masters 25 that have any value of note. These values vary wildly between our pricing sources, so it's hard to make out any value they would truly add to a booster. Calculating the average for the top five commons, across all five sources, indicates the better commons could add as much as $8 to a booster box's value. Like the uncommons above, I feel the need to round this down for safer estimations: the good commons could add about $5 to a booster box's value.
Table: Masters 25's Possible Value Commons
Masters 25's Final Calculations
It's been a lot of math, but we're nearing the end. The only other cards in the pack are tokens and foils. While tokens generally do not add value, foils most certainly do. There's a problem in trying to calculate the foil prices, however. There are very little sources to go by. Not even our five pricing sources have reliable data on foils for presale.
Traditionally, foils add about $10 in value to a booster box with a good level of variance between boxes. Given the three-times-price of Masters 25, this would mean it should have an average of $30 per box. A strong case can easily be made that it should be at least this value, if not higher, given the higher than normal demand of its common and uncommon cards. Foil Brainstorms go for $7-$8, afterall.
I went down a long rabbit hole trying to find us a reliable price for foils, but to no avail. Everything I did find reinforced the idea that $30 of value in a box is about right, if not a little low. If you want to play it a bit safer, you should take a few dollars from this number.
Let us look at the final table, which shows the computed values per source, before wrapping up.
Table: Masters 25's Overall Set Valuation
|Total Set Value:
|| ||$671.93 ||$618.98 ||$758.98 ||$778.18||$877.67|
|Rare Slot Average:
|| ||$7.28 ||$6.56 ||$8.31 ||$8.72||$9.28|
|Rare Slot Deviation:
|| ||$12.88 ||$12.47 ||$14.94 ||$14.72||$16.48|
|Estimated Single Pack Value:
|| ||$9.20 ||$8.50 ||$10.81 ||$11.94||$14.18|
|Estimated Booster Box Value:
|| ||$229.95 ||$212.60 ||$270.35 ||$298.42||$354.51|
TCGPlayer Mid is definitely inflated, as people are throwing in higher than normal preorder prices, hoping to cash in on the hype. The others are much more in line with what we expect.
The average cost of a Masters 25 booster box is $200 - if you're paying more than that, you need to shop around. All five pricing sources show values higher than this from a booster. Even discounting the inflated TCGPlayer Mid, they average $260 of value in a booster box. These are preorder prices, which are always a bit higher, and the booster box estimated value will definitely drop closer to $200 as the weeks go on. That said, it is a very clear picture that there is value to be had in Masters 25.
Honestly, I went in to this expected the doomsayers to be closer to the truth. There's nothing like seeing multiple low-value mythics to get your hesitation and doubt going. Buying individual packs is much more of a gamble, given the higher price, but booster boxes will pay out their expected value. Investors should be able to feel comfortable when they consider the set.