On August 1, 2016, Wizards of the Coast released the full spoiler for this year’s iteration of the From the Vault Magic: The Gathering collection. From the Vault: Lore is a limited print collectible product, focusing on fifteen cards that all share a central theme—previous From the Vault themes range from Angels to banned cards. These cards use a special foiling process unique to the From the Vault line, and oftentimes will feature new artwork for a select number of cards. From the Vault products also contain a special twenty-sided spindown die (featuring the symbol for that year’s From the Vault theme), and a collector’s guide explaining why each card was chosen. This year’s theme of “Lore” explores story-heavy cards from across the history of Magic: The Gathering.
From the Vault: Lore releases on August 19, 2016 and has an MSRP of $34.99.
Now, I’m sure many readers are asking themselves, “Is this worth buying?”, which is a valid question to be asking about any new Magic: The Gathering product. On paper it appears that you’re getting a very good deal—fifteen foiled cards, some with alternate artwork, and a special spindown die for just under the price of a Fat Pack seems very reasonable. However, there are a few persistent problems with the From the Vault line that prevent it from being the premium-quality product that it is advertised as.
Firstly, From the Vault is not only a limited print collectible product, but one with an extremely light production run. Remember that from the last time production runs were discussed, products with limited print runs are only sold in local game stores, and only have a single printing. What this means is that your local game store, depending on how much of a Magic: The Gathering audience it has, may not have enough From the Vault product to meet demands—if it receives any at all.
Players can also expect to pay much higher than the MSRP of $34.99—local game stores typically sell this product in the fifty-to-seventy dollar price range—and the sealed product is currently pre-selling for much higher on markets such as TCGPlayer at the time of writing this article. At the time of writing this, the non-foil editions of these cards are selling for a combined total of $158 (before shipping and taxes). Of these cards, the most expensive are Umezawa’s Jitte, the Marit Lage token, and Dark Depths. These prices will stay consistent even after the release of From the Vault: Lore—limited print runs barely affect card prices, especially in the case of product like the From the Vault line. At MSRP this set is a steal, but considering that it’s pre-selling for double and above in price, the value isn’t as good as it could be.
The second major issue with the From the Vault line has to do with the unique foiling process that is used. Unfortunately, the process that is used in the From the Vault sets causes the cards to undergo extensive warping. All foiled cards will eventually warp, as a result of humidity affecting only the card stock and not the foil layer on top; the card stock expands, and the card bends inward to compensate. However, for whatever reason, cards from the From the Vault sets are affected much more by this foiling process, even when the cards are still new. The below video from the Tolarian Community College YouTube channel illustrates exactly what I mean.
This video was uploaded only eight days after From the Vault: Angels was released, and yet the cards from this set show warping that would be expected of much older cards. What this means is that, even when double-sleeved and using preventive measures—such as proper binder storage, silica gel packets, or even storing the cards under heavy weights—these cards still stand out in a players deck, and may not be tournament playable if the warping is extensive enough. If you’re only interested in purchasing these cards for display purposes, this isn’t an issue, but for players who are looking to use these cards in their decks, this poses a major problem.
Finally, let’s consider From the Vault: Lore from a playability standpoint—how useful are these cards for players? Umezawa’s Jitte is a key component of Legacy Death and Taxes and is found in many other decks as a one-off. Dark Depths is found in a variety of land-focused decks, as is Tolaria West. Momir Vig, Simic Visionary is an incredibly powerful Commander used in “Toolbox” style decks. Everything else is found in a variety of EDH/Commander decks. Overall, From the Vault: Lore isn’t a set that’s useful for a Vintage or Legacy player, but for those who play EDH/Commander, as well as those who are familiar with the rich lore of the franchise.
Bottom line is: unless you’re a serious Magic: The Gathering collector, From the Vault: Lore isn’t for you. If you’re able to find this product for MSRP or close to MSRP, I would buy it, but otherwise trade for the cards you’re looking for from other players or buy them from stores or online.
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Were you aware of the From the Vault line before reading this article? How has this article influenced your decision to purchase From the Vault: Lore, if at all? Let us know in the comment section below.