Conjured Currency #15: More Words on the Internet About Fetch Land Reprints

“Now let’s talk about the fetch lands. Can we talk about the fetch lands, please, Mac? I’ve been dying to talk about the fetch land reprints with you all day, okay?” –Every Modern and Legacy player ever 

Last week, I casually mentioned my own personal thoughts on Twitter about the subject of if and when Wizards will introduce the Onslaught fetch lands ([card]Polluted Delta[/card], [card]Windswept Heath[/card], [card]Bloodstained Mire[/card], [card]Flooded Strand[/card], and [card]Wooded Foothills[/card], for newer players) into Modern, or even Standard. For those interested in reading the opinions of the other members of the conversation, here’s a link to the Twitter page. Also, every person in that conversation is worth following. Twitter is one of the best places on the Internet for Magic financial updates.

If you don’t feel like reading the thread, I’ll summarize my thoughts here. I personally believe that we will not ever see the Onslaught fetch lands in Modern or Standard, but there may eventually be a supplemental product (such as a Commander-esque set) that contains them. As for Zendikar fetches, I think that the most likely candidate for delivering them lies in the unannounced, yet probably soon-to-come Modern Masters 2. This still leaves them out of Standard, but helps the Modern, Legacy, and EDH demand. If you feel like I’m on something other than cardboard crack and want to close the browser without reading further, I won’t judge you. However, I’d like to take a few moments of your time and utilize the next few paragraphs to explain my reasoning, since I couldn’t fit everything into 140-character bursts.

Crack, Fetch, Take Two Minutes, I’m Wasting Time

In these articles, and numerous other minor internet posts that I remember seeing but was unable to locate (convincing argument, I know), the people who make our card game have publicly announced their dislike for the amount of time wasted by too much needless shuffling in a game of Magic. At a casual level, it’s not a big deal. Kitchen table players have all the time in the world, and generally don’t worry about cutting the deck or having opponents shuffle.

However, at a competitive level, matches are timed. We have 50 minutes to play up to three games of Magic, and sometimes even that’s not enough for drawn out control mirrors. Taking up several minutes throughout the match to perform a mundane game action that isn’t really “playing Magic” is definitely not an optimal use of our time. I think it’s a large factor that Wizards is willing to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to reintroduce any fetch lands into Standard, or the Onslaught ones into Modern.

Does it Matter When we Have Shocks?

When discussing Modern, players often make the joke that “Modern is a 17 life format.” This is because there are so many games that start out by using a fetch land to grab a corresponding shock land, bring it in untapped, and cast a vital turn-one spell. [card]Misty Rainforest[/card], [card]Stomping Ground[/card], [card]Noble Hierarch[/card], go. Four-color decks are already easily viable in the format. Does adding the Onslaught fetches really change much, when we’re already just using shock lands to smooth out our mana? I don’t see how resurrecting [card]Polluted Delta[/card] would be at the forefront of the minds of Wizards when there is tons of unexplored land space waiting to be used.

There’s the argument that it is unfair for enemy colors having the ability to fetch basic lands as opposed to the allied colors, but I honestly don’t think it’s that big of a deal to omit the Onslaught fetches from Modern. Historically, Wizards has shown a massive preference towards allied colors in land cycles, and some incomplete cycles have shown to be more successful then others. I have seen zero requests to finish a [card]Grove of the Burnwillows[/card] cycle, even when that card is just as expensive as [card]Arid Mesa[/card]. No blood has been shed over the lack of finishing the [card]River of Tears[/card] cycle either. My point is that it’s ok to have “incomplete” cycles sometimes, even though our human minds crave patterns and want things to look finished.

But We NEEEEED Reprints!

Technically, I don’t think we need [card]Flooded Strand[/card] reprints at all. Other than the occasional [card]Land Tax[/card] unban and intentional tossed bone in the form of [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] or [card]Abrupt Decay[/card], it looks like Wizards has all but given up on Legacy. The Reserved list prevents the company from supplying dual lands, keeping a ceiling on the actual number of people able to play the format. We get approximately one Legacy grand prix a year, and it’s not a PTQ format. Like Vintage, Legacy is headed down the road to being a “privileged” format where only people who have excessive disposable income or who have been sticking with the game since its origin can afford. And that’s okay. Not every person can afford every format. This is why I believe that if we do see Onslaught reprints, they’ll  be in the form of a supplemental product, like Conspiracy (they almost certainly won’t be in Conspiracy, but a future similarly designed product could hold them). This keeps them out of Modern and Standard, but still sells product like wildfire and douses the price to a degree.

On the other hand, we do need more [card]Scalding Tarn[/card]s in the market. It’s not okay to have a single card cost $80 in an FNM-legal format for an extended period of time. If we listen to Aaron Forsythe’s discussion on the BSB podcast a few weeks ago, it’s evident that demand exploded before Wizards had time to react. I believe that we’ll have to wait out that delayed reaction time a bit longer, because Wizards does work 18 months in advance. Back then, fetches weren’t even close to their current prices. Modern Masters was testing the waters, but I think it’s clear that it was an overall success, and the company would be foolish to not repeat the concept and increase the print run slightly. Until then, I think we’ll have to suck up having expensive fetches, and we won’t get any until a whole year from now.

Bring the Comments

I know that this is a hot topic, so I’m very interested in sparking a discussion and listening to what you readers have to say. Is there anyone else out there who agrees with me, but for different reasons? There are definitely other factors in this debate. Do you think I’m a complete idiot, and that we’ll see [card]Windswept Heath[/card] with the new border that’s being debuted in M15? Regardless, it’ll definitely be an interesting year going forward, and seeing the course of action that WOTC decides to run with. Until next week!

About the Author
@Rose0fthorns     -     Email     -     Articles Douglas Johnson is a 20-year-old MTG player who goes to college courtesy of a scholarship from Gamers Helping Gamers. He is currently found writing a weekly finance column at MTGprice.com, and you can always feel free to contact him on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit.

13 comments on Conjured Currency #15: More Words on the Internet About Fetch Land Reprints

  1. Evan Jamieson says:

    Fetchlands, both ONS and ZEN, will see standard play. Soon. My reasoning for this is that WotC cares about the availability of Modern staples, and fetchlands are a massive barrier to entry into the format that is WotC’s current darling and future cash-cow. In order to bring the price down on fetches to a reasonable level, they’re going to have to be reprinted in a block. Reprints in supplemental products like CNS or MMA don’t really move the needle that much on secondary market value, and fetches, being some of the most-played cards in the game, will need to see reprints at truly massive quantities to meaningfully influence the price.

    Issues with shuffling, albeit real, take a back-seat to the long-term viability of the Modern format. That’s just a hit that WotC and the players are going to have to take. Having ZEN and not ONS fetches in Modern seems unbalanced, and WotC seems like the kind of company that’s going to prioritize long-term balance of the format over making some difficult printing decisions in the short-term. The argument that WotC works in 18 month cycles and Fetches exploded in value recently kind of falls down when you consider that 18 months before RTR they decided shocklands needed a reprint, and their values weren’t outrageously high at that point. WotC looked at the state of shocklands prior to RTR and decided that the most aggressive reprinting of a set of cards ever was necessary for them. I can’t imagine they would make that decision, and then turn their minds to the question of fetchlands and say “yeah, they’ll be fine for the next four years, we shouldn’t worry about it.” If they expected Modern to be half as successful as it has become, they should have realized that fetches would now be the price that shocks were when they warranted a reprint in RTR. The “18-month cycle” argument assumes that WotC made a very clear and deliberate plan for half of the most-played cards in Modern manabases, and utterly ignored the other half.

    My best guess is that, at the time the RTR shock reprint was planned, a fetch reprint was planned, two-blocks down the road so shocks and fetches weren’t in modern together at the same time. Nothing else puts the necessary quantity of cards into circulation to make a meaningful impact on the format. The RTR shock reprint showed a clear and deliberate move to affect secondary market prices of mana, and there’s no reasonable basis to believe that the fetches – which are roughly identical to the shocks in terms of level of play, function, and availability – wouldn’t be given the exact same treatment as soon as practically possible to ensure the viability of the Modern format.

  2. Andrew Cochran says:

    If we can trust what Aaron said in his BSB interview I don’t think there’s much hope for seeing any fetchlands (new or old) until mid-late 2015. If I had to put on money on it that’s where I’d put the reprints.

    I also think that you’re undervaluing the utility of having your 3 on-color fetches. Sure for the 4 color decks you can be fast and loose with your mana, but for a control deck that’s operating on this thinnest margins, having the correct fetchlands will actually make a difference. Blood moon is a thing.

    Personally I think reprinting old fetches this fall in the new block would be the most elegant solution to everything. I dont’ see it happening though.

    1. Cesar says:

      Actually he only said that the time to fix would be long, he didn’t indicate when they realized they needed to fix it. I noticed in March 2012 that this would come up, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable for WOTC to have started planning a fix then or earlier.

      Just saying.

  3. Tim Erickson says:

    You are wrong about Modern not needing the Allied fetches. With Blood moon being such a prominent card the ability to fetch basics is essential. Right now if it basically impossible to build a U/B deck that doesn’t either fold to blood moon or have terrible mana. If Wizards wants Modern to be this open format where players are encouraged to innovate then we need to remove the blood moon constraint to deck building.

    Also I believe fetch lands will be reprinted in standard because wizards will make too much $$ selling the product. At the end of the day they are in it to make $, not to design your optimal tournament experience without excess shuffling. They try and balance the two to keep players happy but the $ will win out in the end.

    1. The Warlord says:

      It isn’t just U/B, but even U/W gets hosed by Blood Moon. It would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic. I agree that Modern would be better off with the ONS fetches added to the card pool, and this is coming from someone who would (presumably) take a large financial hit if this were to occur.

  4. Vale-Tech Industries says:

    “As for Zendikar fetches, I think that the most likely candidate for delivering them lies in the unannounced, yet probably soon-to-come Modern Masters 2.”

    Thank you for referring to this mythical product in this manner. I think it is very misleading when financial authors refer to Modern Masters 2 as if it is something that actually exists and is not just purely speculative.

    1. Douglas Johnson says:

      Thanks! To be honest, I’ve probably even labeled it as a practically existing product myself in past articles, but I’m trying to stray away from that.

  5. Vale-Tech Industries says:

    I also have no idea why they have not been jamming fetch lands into the Commander products. This seems like a no brainer way to get more of them out there and drive the sales of the decks that don’t have cards like Scavenging Ooze and True-Name Nemesis in them.

    1. Douglas Johnson says:

      I can definitely see a “Commander 2015” set with Onslaught fetches in it, MSRPing at $40 or something. The main issue with that will be some guy going to his LGS and buying every single Commander deck just for the fetches, leaving none for Timmy who saved up his allowance to get started on Commander.

      1. Vale-Tech Industries says:

        Yeah, but I really don’t think it was an issue with as many were available in Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, etc. At some point they are so widely available that doesn’t happen anymore.

        1. Anonymous says:

          I have looked high and low for a Mind Seize at MSRP on a big box store shelf for X months now. Availability is a concern when they do not spread cards around. What if Bobby wanted to play Grixis? Now he has to save up 2 allowances…..

          1. Vale-Tech Industries says:

            My whole point was to throw a fetch land into each deck. To me having one that is way more desirable than the rest is a big problem for exactly the reason you mentioned.

  6. Marvel Sutantio says:

    I believe allied fetchlands is as important as the ZEN ones.. flavor wise, there are friendly allied colors and enemy colors, having only enemy colors available in a incredibly wide, monetarily accessible (unlike vintage or legacy), “format of the future” like Modern is absurd.

    Monetarily, it would make perfect sense to have a standard big block – small block set containing the ONS ones (to boost sales like crazy, lowering the already obscene price of them ONS fetches) and a stand alone, limited set containing the ZEN ones (preferably, conveniently, MM2, to lower the price but not too much).

    Although I have to completely agree with you regarding the FUT lands, Grove’s price has become exceedingly ridiculous, I already have a Melira Pod, wanted to expand to Naya Zoo and / or Kiki Pod but still lack those Groves due to the price of a complete set.. I totally vouch for a reprint of those lands!

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