Jordan Pollack: The Basics of Full-Art Finance

I remember drafting Zendikar and the shop had full art lands for free for everyone to use in their draft.

Little did they know they were turn out to be almost $1 each. (Some of the Islands are more than $1, but who plays those anyway?) Easy to pick up in trades as throw-ins, even today. Yay!

Let’s discuss the full art lands we have at our fingertips. The Terese Nielsen lands (the judge promo set of five) we won’t discuss, as they are wildly expensive.  Even just the name Terese Nielsen can add an extra zero or two. Beautiful? Yes. Good investment? No.

Unglued full arts don’t have a foil printing, but man they are cool. There are no other lands like them.  Some people prefer them over the nonfoil Unhinged lands. I’ve even seen a cube with all Unglued lands. It must have taken forever to collect enough of them; for an 8-man cube, you probably need 200 lands. At $6-10 each that’s steep for some casual fun. (Granted, you could have bought them years ago for $3-4 each. Lands are like real estate, slowly appreciating in value.)

Masterpiece (Expedition) lands are technically full arts, but an entire article could be written on Masterpieces. Oh, wait.

The Unhinged ones are my personal favorite. I like the art, I like the borders, and I like that they are in limited supply.  Today they are $8-15 each, but my price memory point was always around $4-5 each. That means it’s the same for other people too. The foils are crazy expensive, ranging from $40-80, and are so tough to find.

The price point on these and the Unglued lands has stayed constant in 2017. I’m OK with that. I want more people to be buying the new full arts and new Unstable ones. I will be buying the old ones and making profits!

Unstable lands are just … Unstable. They are too expensive right now. The foil island is $70 and the other foils are $40-55. The nonfoil copies are $1-3 each.  I have seen stores buy them for a quarter, then sell them like hotcakes for $1. Great for flipping, but we all don’t have a brick and mortar location. But, it’s cards like this that keep the lights on for your LGS. So pick them up in trades and then sell them back to your shop.

To me, when I sit down and draft Unstable, I don’t need to keep my draft chaff.  I would rather make a little kid happy and give them all to him. But with each land being worth more than the price of a booster pack, you must keep them. But what if my casual beer spills on the silly Magic cards? No big deal, right? Wrong! That’s $2-3 I just lost. I could have gotten a 6-inch Subway sandwich for that.

Also, I actually don’t like the lack of border. I feel like they stick out too much. But I’m picky. The art is amazing, but there are more of them out there than you think. People aren’t playing flip it or rip it with Unstable; the lands are too pretty.

The prices will fall, then that will be the time to scoop them up like trash. Unstable has a much bigger print run than Unglued or Unhinged. The prices will go down overall, especially once a new set comes out, or the millionth Masters set. Then everyone will want to buy those singles instead.

Wastes are so cheap right now its awesome. I like the foil ones more for investment. You do have to be careful as foils bend. Don’t leave them out in the heat or cold. Don’t leave them in your trunk.  If they do bend, stack some books on top of them for a while that should do it. Some people use blow dryers, but electricity is expensive these days and you don’t want to catch your cards on fire. When the Eldrazi come back, which they will because Wizards loves big flying spaghetti monsters, Wastes will be in demand once again.

Battle for Zendikar foil lands are a “sell” right now, actually. There are too many of them, and they are overvalued. Yes, people like them, but when BFZ came out, we never knew we were going back to an “Un” set and get more full-art lands. Also, there were way more print runs of BFZ than there were for Unhinged and Unglued.  Then came Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation.  Now, they just don’t feel as cool.

The foiling process is very good on the Zendikar lands. Underrated, in my opinion. There are more of them out there compared to the Unhinged foils, but they still suffice in an all foiled-out modern or EDH deck. They can range in price today from $8-30.

Before we’re done, let’s talk about trading for lands. Nobody expects a percentage decrease on Standard cards when trading for lands (as they do for Legacy staples), but they probably should.  What’s more likely to get a reprint, Mana Drain or an Unglued Island? Last year I would have rather had a mana drain; this year, after seeing it reprinted in Iconic Masters I would pass. The iconic masters art is awesome, but most people like the original one, especially because it has that Legends symbol on it. Right now, everything Legends is money. Bulk rares in Legends are long gone.

When trading for value, it’s very easy to turn the tide by throwing in some beat up Unglued/Unhinged lands. They are also good to make a trade more equal if both sides are unhappy.  Easy to stock up on and buy in bulk online, and super easy to trade, as everyone loves them.

It’s like buying a house. Would you rather buy a piece of ground (full-art lands) and build the dream house you want, or buy a piece of land with a house already on it?  The latter is someone else’s dream, not mine. If I’m going to pony up my life for the next 30+ years on a mortgage, it’s going to be my choice of land and my choice of my money. As for Magic, it’ll be my choice of lands for a deck I’m going to shuffle up 10 times a week.

Jordan Pollack is a tax accountant and Magic player from suburban Chicago. He holds an accounting degree from the University of Kansas and is currently pursuing CPA certification. He enjoys watching the Blackhawks and doing manly things such as fixing a leaky sink, grilling, and making sure his girlfriend has everything she needs (and wants).


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Jordan Pollack