Considered the grandfather of modern trading card games, it’s only natural that the Magic: The Gathering series would feature incredibly rare cards.
Since its debut in 1993, over 11,000 unique Magic cards have been printed across more than 85 sets and expansions (not counting reprints). Approximately 20 million players have become avid planewalkers as of 2015, and the growth of the franchise through spinoffs and annual tournaments means that number will continue to grow as time goes on. We’re not sure if Richard Garfield realized the hit he had on his hands when designing the game, but his name beside Magic’s place in the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame tells no lies about his legacy.
Below are 10 of the rarest and most sought after cards in the Magic: The Gathering series. As this list does not include misprints and Richard Garfield’s vanity cards, these merely scratch the surface of Magic‘s 20+ year history.
Early in the history of Magic: The Gathering, an extremely limited supply of super-powerful cards were produced known as the “Power Nine.” Power Nine cards were only distributed between late 1993 and early 1994, and they’ve either been banned or restricted for use in most tournament rule sets. As a result, it’s no surprise that these cards are among the most sought after by Magic collectors everywhere.
Timetwister is the first of many Power Nine cards on this list, and it can easily go for over $700 in auction.
9: Force of Will
Being an official Magic: The Gathering judge isn’t always easy, but at least it comes with some nice perks.
For instance, the holographic Force of Will was awarded exclusively to judges, contributing to its current value of over $750.
8: The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Hailing from the Legends expansion, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale can effectively cripple an opponent’s entire deck when used correctly.
The card’s high demand by competitive players contributes to its $800 pricing.
7: Imperial Seal
Releasing in 1999 as part of the Portal Three Kingdoms set, this is the most recent card to make this list. Imperial Seal is also considered a novelty card used only when playing by specific tournament rules.
In spite of all of this, Imperial Seal is worth a good $800 on the second hand market.
In the Power Nine collection, there are five jewelry themed cards that play virtually identically: “Mox Jet,” “Mox Emerald,” “Mox Pearl,” Mox Saphire,” and “Mox Ruby.” Given the similarity of the cards, fans like to collectively refer to these cards as “Moxen.”
The Moxen cards allow the player to add one corresponding color of mana to the player’s deck without turn restriction, letting players set up powerful plays early in a match when used properly. Depending on the Mox card in question, values can range from $800 to $1050.
5: Ancestral Recall
This simple “draw three” may be among the simplest of the Power Nine collection, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable.
Expect to drop around $920 for this bad boy.
4: Time Vault
Surprisingly, despite being very powerful and sharing a “time” theme with other cards on this list, Time Vault is not among the Power Nine.
Time Vault allows players to take double turns as they please while skipping turns when it is most convenient, effectively allowing the user to control the flow of the entire match. With a price of $924, this one is at least unlikely to wind up in an enemy’s hands.
3: Tropical Island
Tropical Island is primarily for use in green and blue mixed decks, but the functionality it brings more than makes up for its niche appeal.
Even if the card looks basic, it can be sold for over $1050 in auction.
2: Time Walk
Similar to Time Vault, this Power Nine card allows players to immediately take an extra turn after playing.
Its simple but powerful use explains why Time Walk commands a value of over $1350.
1: Black Lotus
As the most infamous of Magic cards, trading card fans shouldn’t be surprised to see this on the list. The card’s legacy is enough to turn a simple unboxing video into a viral sensation, and those who know its history should not be surprised.
The Black Lotus is not only among the “Power Nine,” but its ability to instantly draw three mana makes it among the most powerful of all Magic cards. Zvi Mowshowitz, a professional Magic player, has even gone as far as to say that every deck is better with a Black Lotus in it. Wizards of the Coast would eventually go on to release a balanced variant of the card known as the “Lotus Petal,” which merely allows the player to add one mana to their deck instead of three. Even in vintage tournaments where the Black Lotus is permitted for use, only one card is allowed per deck.
Though the card can be found between $1600-$3000 as it is, a Black Lotus in mint condition has been sold for as much as $30,000 in the past.