Last updated on June 22, 2023

Shivan Dragon (Secret Lair) - Illustration by Justine Jones

Shivan Dragon (Secret Lair) | Illustration by Justine Jones

Serialized cards have existed for decades in the sports card industry, and now they’re making their way to MTG. This move creates hyper-collectibles, which both makes cracking packs more exciting and provides a new top end to the most sought-after versions of the most popular cards.

These golden ticket variants have the potential to change the landscape of the collectible side of Magic, but there’s more to them that meets the eye. Let’s look at some of those cards and the impact they’re going to have!

What Are Serialized Cards?

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer - Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Serialized cards are versions of Magic cards with a limited run that have a number printed on them to tell you which number in that set they are. For example, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer has a serialized version in March of the Machine, of which 500 were printed. Each one has a unique stamp ranging from 1/500 to 500/500.

These have existed for some time in sports cards, and similar concepts exist in other collectibles like figurines. We haven’t really seen the same thing in MTG in the past. Although some alt-arts were incredibly rare, we didn’t know exactly how many were printed, and truly unique cards were a real oddity.

When Were Serialized Cards Introduced?

Officially, the first serialized cards were introduced in The Brothers’ War, where each of the Retro Artifacts in that set had a 1/500 serialized version that you had a chance of opening in a collector booster.

Before that there was another serialized card that has yet to be officially acknowledged by WotC. You had a chance of pulling a 1/100 serialized version of Viscera Seer in the Phyrexian Praetors: Compleat Edition Secret Lair, which was also mirrored left to right. These appeared around a year before Retro Artifacts, so they were the first true inclusion of these sought-after cards.

How Many Serialized MTG Cards Are There?

There are currently 144 different serialized cards, including the Viscera Seer from the Phyrexian Praetors: Compleat Edition Secret Lair, 63 Retro Artifacts, 65 Multiverse Legends, and the five Praetors included in March of the Machine. There are also three different versions of Sol Ring coming in Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, and the 1/1 The One Ring.

We don’t know if there will be any more serialized cards in the LotR set at this point. There was a series of 295 Shivan Dragon given out to random people attending MagiCon Philadelphia in 2023. These are technically classed as Secret Lair cards.

If we add all these together, that makes a total of 66,001 total serialized cards in existence.

Sets with Serialized Cards

The Brothers' War

March of the Machine

Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth

Secret Lair

Shivan Dragon

What Packs Are Serialized Cards In?

Serialized cards are only found in collector packs, so far. Although they’re generally available in collectors packs in any language, we know that The One Ring will only be found an English language collector booster (although these can be found anywhere in the world).

What Are the Odds of Pulling a Serialized Card?

The odds of pulling a serialized card is generally stated as “less than 1%”. However, we know from Amazon that the chance of pulling The One Ring in a collector booster is less than 0.00003%, indicating there are at least 3,333,333 collector booster packs of LOTR: Tales of Middle-Earth!

Are Serialized Cards Worth More?

Serialized are definitely highly sought collector items and are almost certainly worth more than a standard version. Taking a look at sold listings on eBay shows that people are willing to pay much more for even the most basic serialized cards. For example, Mazemind Tome sold for $175, where most regular versions can be picked up for a couple of dollars.

Obviously, more popular cards fetch an even higher premium than the less interesting ones. Serialized Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer can go for thousands of dollars, but somewhat surprisingly some more popular commanders like Kenrith the Returned King seem to be fetching an even higher price.

Not only does the card matter, but so does the number printed. The 1/XXX version always goes for a premium, and so do the rest of the single digit numbers to a lesser degree. The last number in a print run (for example 500/500) also fetches a premium, as do “funny numbers” like 69 and 420.

What’s the Most Valuable Serialized Card?

The most valuable serialized card is undoubtedly going to be The One Ring. Even before release, it’s had offers of $100,000 to sell it, and even $50,000 for someone to throw it into a volcano. Some are speculating that it could be the first $1 million Magic card, but we’ll have to wait and see on that front!

Parting Thoughts

The One Ring - Illustration by Veli Nyström

The One Ring | Illustration by Veli Nyström

Love them or hate them, serialized cards have generated a lot of hype and almost certainly have generated a lot of revenue for Wizards. On top of this, they also seem to be bringing down the price of other singles in the sets as people are anecdotally opening packs more hunting for the serialized cards.

They’re far from ubiquitously loved, though, as some see them as gimmicky and cash grabs. Either way, they attract a lot of attention and bring a spotlight to the game. Do you like them? Or would you rather they didn’t exist? If you don’t like them, what’s your reasons for that? Let me know down below, or over in the official Draftsim Discord.

Until next time, I hope you open 69/420 in your next collector pack!

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