I often read on the internet people referring to Chronicles expansion as a disaster, the worst mistake ever made by Wizards, the biggest drop value in Magic's history.. but nobody explains what happened!

I understood that Chronicles was the reprint of some cards the first four expansions (that went sold out in a really short amount of time) excluding some of the most powerful cards, but I miss how this has led to 70% drop in cards' value, sellers leaving their job, people not trusting Wizards anymore and finally to the Reserved List.

Can anybody explain me what happened and what made Modern Masters different?

  • They did the same thing World of Warcraft does with "welfare epics" - that pisses off the raiders and AH fiends every time they do it.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 20:07

3 Answers 3


The difference is that wizards printed a whole lot of chronicles, and they sold it cheaper than normal packs.

The result was a massive market flood of cards, some of which actually were somewhat valuable. compare the prices of Nicol Bolas to other obscure legends that weren't printed in chronicles like Angus Mackenzie, to see how chronicles affected it.

The value of people's collections dropped drastically, and people don't like it when that happens.

Modern masters was different because wizards charged more for them and they purposefully printed a very limited run of it.

if you wanted to get modern masters for MSRP, you had to already know that it was coming. Stores that sold them at MSRP sold out in less than a day.

  • To be fair, Nicol Bolas also suffers from being somewhat impractically costed (particularly the upkeep cost, which makes him an impossible reanimator target); I think without Chronicles (and, keep in mind, the black-bordered Time Spiral reprint!) he'd be more valuable than he is now, but nowhere near $70 or so; probably $30-$35. Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 18:54

The biggest problem with Chronicles was overprinting. The set was in-print from August 1995 to December 1996. As can be seen with other individual cards, reprints drive the prices down, and the more copies of a card exist, the lower the price.

The difference between Chronicles and Modern Masters is quantity. Chronicles was in-print for over a year, and printed in vast quantities ostensibly to meet demand. I do not believe Modern Masters is out of print yet (although it's only been out for ~8 months), but it's a small print run.

  • Note that Fallen Empires (which was all new cards) had a similar problem with overprinting.
    – Alex P
    Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 17:07
  • @AlexP, As I recall, the Italian version of Legends did, as well.
    – Brian S
    Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 17:09

From the horse's mouth:

A glance at print run numbers available in the public domain shows that Chronicles likely increased the number of some cards in existence by a factor of ten or more! Cards that were rare and highly collectible were suddenly ubiquitous. The error was one of scale...

Read: market prices for a lot of cards crashed out of nowhere and devauled a lot of people's collections. The mistake wasn't so much financial as it was ticking off the fanbase. Wizards then felt the need to create the Reserved List to placate those people (thus causing the card availability problems that plague Eternal formats to this day)

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