Why are the Cards I Need So Expensive?

What can make card expensive? It seems like a really easy answer but many different factors go into a card gaining value. These ten examples show why cards prices aren’t constant and fluctuate.

sol ring

1. Age

What makes price of Sol Ring from the Alpha set and the Sol Ring from the Commander Set so different? The print run in Alpha was much smaller than the Commander Set which makes Alpha cards much more harder to find. This rarity within a rarity increases the price of older cards even if players aren’t playing with them as much as they once did. Older cards are also harder to find because of just simple wear and tear. We are talking about cardboard here.

2. Hype

All aboard the hype train! Even before a card is cracked from a pack, players have seen spoilers, heard the talk and are on the hunt for broken cards in a new set. Many players even proxy new cards into their current decks to make sure these new spoiled cards can work. This initial speculation can take a cards price tag higher and higher even before any players get hands on them. Need a good example of what hype can look like in regards to price?

Aurelia’s Fury

Aurelia’s Fury was not a bad card. It just did not have the support in Standard it needed to really gain momentum. As a result, Fury’s hype train crashed and burned not long after packs were opened.

3. Power

The power of a card itself isn’t the sole factor of why it may be expensive. Many small factors go into the actual price of the strong card. This includes supply and demand. If many people are playing with a card, less extra copies of the card are out there to purchase, thus making them harder to find and result more valuable. The same goes for cheaper cards. “Junk Rares” is a term used for cards with rarity that players don’t typically use. These cheaper rares may have the same number of printed copies as other more expensive rares in the same set but because virtually nobody plays with them, there are plenty to find.

4. Set Legality

The Standard format often drives the prices of cards that have been printed in the last few sets. Newer cards are typically more expensive than equal powered counterparts from previous sets for years long past. Not only does Standard dictate card prices, a card rotating out of Standard dictates it’s price. A great example of this is Sphinx’s Revelation.

Sphinx’s Revelation

Sphinx’s Revelation was one of the more powerful spells played during it’s Standard run. As you can see from the link, once the mono-colored devotion decks of Theros came along the price dropped. Once it’s Standard run started coming to an end it dropped $5. It’s final resting price dropped another $5 once it was completely out of the format.

5. Winning Decks

If a deck wins big name events players fight over what copies are left on the market. A great example of this is Birthing Pod.

Birthing Pod

On the graph, you can see the price spike on a few occasions. These occasions were this card being featured in many winning Modern decks. Each win picked up the pace on it’s price. Pod decks began to dominate the format.

6. Bannings

Banning a card can play a part of price changes. We will feature Birthing Pod again in this segment. With it’s strength on the rise from more and more great creatures being printed, Birthing Pod received a ban in Modern. The result? A price decrease since mid January 2015. The only bad part about this type of price change is it won’t help your budget options since the card is illegal in your format.

This situation also changes the price of legal cards. If a certain deck type is banned, other weaker decks become viable again meaning players need cards for that type of deck.

Splinter Twin

Notice that in the middle of January 2015 when Birthing pod became banned and it’s price dropped, Splinter Twin’s price increased. Player’s new deck of choice was Splinter Twin, a deck that was often beaten by Pod decks.

7. New Formats

A great example of this is Tiny Leaders. this new format s like Commander but for casting cost 3 or less legendary creatures. In result, cards like Tetsuo Umezawa receive a 100% price change.

Tetsuo Umezawa

When I saw this change it blew my mind. It was already high priced because of its older set but this price spike has come from a new casual format being invented.

8. Budget Versions

Inquisition of Kosilek

What do you notice about this card? The slow rise of this cards price is because of it’s similarity to it’s higher priced cousin Thoughtseize. For a while now, you could purchase a playset for the same cost as just one of the higher priced card. Players took notice and started picking up a few copies. As a result this card has slowly increased in price.

9. Black Borders

Believe it or not, this does have some influence on pricing. Most players prefer to play with decks containing cards with all the same color borders and will go to great lengths to get them, (like black Sharpies) including paying a little bit more. if you are a budget player you can trim down the overall cost of your deck just a bit by purchasing the white border counterparts.

10. Condition

Although it wouldn’t matter much to budget players, many players just refuse to shuffle moderately played cards into their decks and are wiling to pay more for less worn cards. Because of this some cards may be more expensive due to condition.

There you have it, the ten reasons cards are expensive. See you all next week.


There is only one Aiokii but due rough shuffling and some worn corners, his price rarely raises. If you would like to contact Aiokii, follow him on Tweet at https://twitter.com/TheAiokii or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thepaperchampionblog or message or post in the comments below.

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