A week ago Saffron Olive presented the merits of what is commonly referred to as No Reserve List Legacy. This is, in short, Legacy as we know it but with all of the cards on the Reserved List banned. As many of you know, the Reserved List is a collection of cards that Wizards has promised they will never reprint in physical form. Many years ago they would toy with the idea of doing collector’s editions (non-tournament playable) but they have since buckled down and are sticking to the policy. With this policy preventing new Legacy cards from being printed, many people have tried to come up with alternate solutions to the problems, such as Saffron Olive. Last week our own Kate Donnelly responded to the idea of No Reserve List Legacy with her review of the problems with Legacy and with this solution. Today we’re going to talk about the logistics of all of these solutions.

Print More Legacy Cards

The answer is so simple, isn’t it? The only barrier to growing Legacy and supporting it on a worldwide stage is to print more Legacy cards. Let’s forget the Reserved List for a moment here. Pretend it doesn’t exist, or that all the cards on it were banned, or that we’re just going to go on with our lives even though it’s here. Now, moving on from the Reserved List let’s get back to the original solution. Print more cards. How difficult can that be?

Well, here’s the bad news folks, it’s actually quite difficult. Let’s walk through the different types of products Wizards prints during the course of the year and look at how feasible it is for Wizards to add Legacy reprints to each product. We’ll start with the product offerings that I believe are least likely to successfully harbor Legacy reprints and finish with the only long-shot option that makes any sense.

We will have a few rules which will guide us along our journey:

  1. Wizards will not make any changes to existing products that would reduce the number of new players coming into the game. We don’t want new Legacy players at the expense of new Standard players. We need to facilitate both.
  2. Wizards will not make any changes that would actively influence the secondary market. We want more supply while maintaining demand and value. Products like Modern Masters have shown that Wizards is very delicate in this space and not eager to make any large and unpredictable splashes.
  3. Wizards will not add any new products to the annual release schedule. What we have today is what we can work with. Adding a new set to the calendar is a non-starter due to the logistics of the printing presses.

Commander Decks, Duel Decks, or Event Decks

At first glance these actually seem like the perfect product through which to reprint Legacy cards. In fact, some Legacy cards in the past have been printed in these sets. Brainstorm was printed in a Duel Deck and the original Commander set. Stoneforge Mystic appeared in an event deck when it was originally printed. But the times have changed and Wizards has a renewed focus on designing and developing these products for their target audience: new players.

The problem with putting valuable cards in one of these box sets is that collectors and Legacy players will buy up all the available product leaving very little left for new players. So this proposal would result in fewer new players coming into the Magic community. That’s probably the quickest non-starter there is for getting a change made. This is Rule #1 above.

What about an Event Deck? They made one for Modern, didn’t they? Well they did, but it wasn’t exactly a big hit. We haven’t seen one since. It was a serviceable entry-point into the Modern format though. Could the same be done for Legacy? My guess is that the Modern Event Deck left a bad taste in Wizards’ mouth. The community outrage was highly volatile when it was revealed that the deck contained mostly average cards and nothing of value (e.g. Godless Shrine or Marsh Flats). This resulted in a lot of people avoiding the deck due to the perceived low value.

A single failure shouldn’t really dictate the future though, so what else is a problem for a Legacy Event Deck? Creating an entry-level deck for Legacy, but trying to reprint format staples, puts us in a bit of a conundrum. If there are enough highly valuable cards in the deck then the MSRP would have to be quite high. Otherwise Wizards would be actively influencing the secondary market and that would go against Rule #2. If there aren’t enough valuable cards in a Legacy Event Deck then we’re not actually solving the core problems. Maybe we add some new players to the Legacy community, but we wouldn’t really be fixing the card availability problems overall.

Promo Cards and From the Vault

Entry-level products are a no-go so what about higher-end products? We need to appease collectors anyways, so what about products that target them? This brings us to promotional cards and the annual From the Vault set. Both of these options have served as ways to reprint Legacy cards in the past, with varying degrees of success. Let’s start with From the Vault. A total of 125 cards have been reprinted with the FtV treatment. A few of them are even non-Modern cards that are played in Legacy regularly. So what’s the problem?

Availability. From the Vault is probably the scarcest product Wizards prints annually (save a few promos we’ll get into shortly). How many new copies of cards realistically get added to the supply this way? The challenge of this set is skirting around Rule #2. How does Wizards create a high-end promotional product with desirable cards without tanking the secondary market for the original versions of those cards. One way is to print cards that already have multiple printings, like Dark Ritual. Another is to print cards that are played in both Legacy and Modern so that the value is held up by the incredibly high demand, like Aether Vial.

But what about highly played cards with a lot of value due to low supply? From the Vault lands decided to forgo including Wasteland (even though it is not on the Reserved List). Was this done out of fear of impacting the value of existing copies of Wasteland. Not at all. It was done because it would be a bad way to get Wastelands into the hands of Legacy players. What would the secondary market value of FTV be if it contained Wasteland? These boxes already reach $100 without much help. Adding a legacy staple would price out almost everyone but dealers who would immediately flip the cards for profits. It would be an incredibly feel-bad scenario that no one would be happy about.

So instead of a boxed set collector’s item like From the Vault, how about regular old promo cards? Wizards gives these out for Friday Night Magic, Game Day, RPTQ’s, Grand Prixs, and Pro Tours. They also give them out to Judges. Similar to From the Vault they have used promo cards as a way to print desirable Legacy cards such as Griselbrand and Force of Will. However, Griselbrand is not a great example because it’s a Modern-legal reprint whose value is propped up by multiple formats. These aren’t the cards that are holding back Legacy’s growth. Force of Will however is a great candidate, but Wizards chose to print that promo in incredibly short supply to avoid breaking Rule #2.

So long as Wizards is unwilling to risk the secondary-market impact of a large print-run on a promotional reprint of a card like Rishadan Port, this option is difficult to explore. Still, Wizards seems willing to reprint Modern-legal cards in this way, so there is definitely hope for cards like Snapcaster Mage (already a confirmed future promo) and a card like Omniscience. But for the most part this option won’t be available for a very long time.

Standard Expansions

It’s easy to write this idea off but I think it’s worth exploring. How many of the top-played Legacy cards that aren’t already available in Modern printings could be brought back in a Standard-legal expansion? The problem here isn’t necessarily Standard itself, but actually Modern. Ponder, for example, is a card that should be fine, developmentally, for Standard, but it’s banned in Modern. Unfortunately, the further we dive into the list of Legacy cards, the less likely it seems that any of these cards would be fair in the current Standard or Modern worlds.

Brainstorm? Too powerful.

Swords to Plowshares? Too powerful.

Daze? Too powerful.

Pyroblast? Too powerful.

Lotus Petal? Too powerful.

And those are just the cheap cards from the top-played list. Cards like Cabal Therapy, Flusterstorm, and Show and Tell would simply be way to good for Standard and Modern today. I’m not a Magic developer, but you don’t need to be one to see that this problem won’t be solved through Standard-expansion reprints. Drastically raising the power level would warp both formats resulting in a clear violation of Rule #1. We would be increasing access to Legacy at the expense of the health of Standard and Modern. The worst-case scenario is that cards would almost immediately be banned. And we all know how Wizards feels about that.


This idea came to me from fellow Hipster Zach Barash. Could we reprint Legacy cards the same way Wizards just reprinted shock lands and fetch lands via Zendikar Expeditions. Basically some or all Standard expansions would include these ultra-rare Legacy reprints which would be legal in limited but illegal in Modern and Standard constructed. This is actually a pretty good idea as a lot of these cards like Cabal Therapy, Flusterstorm, and Entomb would likely have only a small impact on limited environments while adding more copies into circulation.

However, the big concern would be losing the novelty of these ultra-rare cards. Zendikar Expeditions are a pretty special offering which I suspect Wizards doesn’t intend to make a regular occurrence. After all, we don’t get full-art basic lands in every expansion.

Obviously there are other concerns such as limited power level, economic impact, and so on, but I think the novelty of the ultra-rare sheet would be the limiting factor. I think we may get this kind of product again one day, but I wouldn’t count on it to be a regular occurrence allowing enough cards to be pumped into Legacy.

Legacy Masters

This brings us to our final and most likely resolution: the creation of a paper Legacy Masters set. This would be something like Modern Masters but with the power level of Vintage Masters (sans Reserved list cards perhaps). Wizards has spent the past few years releasing two Modern Masters sets on paper and a few master-type sets online. It’s clear that they’re learning a lot about how these kinds of sets will affect the secondary market. With this knowledge they should finally be able to create a paper product that resolves all three of our rules.

First, by releasing a supplemental product in this slot we won’t have any impact to Standard players, so we aren’t hurting Wizards’ prized cash cow. We already know the impact of Modern Masters on the Standard buying-practices of customers.

Second, the secondary market has not been shaken up by Modern Masters so it’s clear Wizards is learning more about how to properly release more product without greatly impacting card values. Sure, plenty of common and uncommon staples like Kitchen Finks and Path to Exile dropped in value but cards like Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant didn’t miss a beat.

Third, we’re just using the spring supplemental spot which in the past has been the home of Modern Masters and Conspiracy. They haven’t announced the Spring set for 2016 yet, but it likely won’t be back-to-back Modern Masters sets. I think Conspiracy 2 is inevitable though maybe not coming soon. Perhaps that slot will be used for a third un-set one day. Whatever ends up going there, it’s the perfect and really only logistically sound way to reprint Legacy cards.

Reserved List or no, I think a paper version of a Legacy Masters set is a matter of When, not If.

Special thanks to fellow Hipsters Kate Donnelly, Zach Barash, and Tim Akpinar for helping to flesh out these ideas.

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.