Magic: The Gathering has printed cards since 1993, and more than 20,000 unique cards have been designed and sold in the 28 years since. Most cards are only worth a few cents, and you can read our tips on recognizing the valuable ones here. But what about the absolute most valuable cards out there?
Which editions of iconic cards will break the bank when you buy them? Read on to learn about the most valuable Magic: The Gathering cards!
All lists include the big daddy of Magic: The Gathering cards: Black Lotus. Widely considered the most broken and powerful card in the history of the game, Black Lotus improves every deck it is in, offering three free mana of any color, at no cost but the inclusion of the card in your deck. You can draw and play it on turn one, breaking turns’ flow when you gain access to one or two additional mana per turn.
As for value, the biggest price tags are on the initial Alpha and Beta black-bordered versions of Black Lotus from the original edition of the game. Only a few thousand copies of each rare card in the original set were ever printed, and many of them have been lost to time in the decades since.
Condition of the card matters a lot, but professionally graded near mint black-bordered Black Lotuses sell for more than $40,000! That’s if you can find one. A nearly one-of-a-kind gem mint Alpha Lotus signed by artist Christopher Rush sold at auction in January 2021 for $511,100. Even copies with significant wear and tear can sell for around $10,000.
Maybe you disagree that Black Lotus is the most powerful card ever printed. The next most likely choice is Ancestral Recall. Draw three cards for one blue mana? Don’t mind if I do! This card is also a rare from the original sets printed in 1993, and both are among the first cards taken out of print because they warped games too severely. Black-bordered copies of Ancestral Recall can fetch up to $20,000.
Blue has been the most powerful color in Magic since the beginning. While some argue that green has taken over that spot in recent years, that only applies to newer cards. Blue was king of early Magic, and you might notice the frequent appearance of blue cards on this list. And if you want to cast blue spells quickly, you want a copy of Mox Sapphire to do it—assuming you are playing Vintage or another “any card” format that hasn’t banned these broken mana rocks.
The four other originals—Mox Pearl, Mox Jet, Mox Ruby, and Mox Emerald—also sell for tons of money, especially copies in top condition. But Mox Sapphire leads the way as the premier free repeatable mana producer that taps for a blue mana every turn and sticks around like a basic land. A near mint Alpha copy of Mox Sapphire can attract prices around $50,000.
1996 World Champion
Do you want an absolutely unique, edition-of-one Magic: The Gathering card? Maybe you should build a time machine and travel to 1996, win the Magic World Championships, and receive this ultimate collector’s item: the 1996 World Champion Magic: The Gathering card. In the actual real-world timeline, Tom Chanpheng defeated Mark Justice to win the 1996 World Championships and claim ownership of this card.
You probably won’t be able to acquire it now. Chanpheng sold it to a private collector in 2001 for $17,500. It has remained in private collections since.
Pretty much any rare blue card from the original Alpha printing in 1993 will command top dollar. Stasis is a powerful card, but not on the same level as Ancestral Recall or Black Lotus. Even so, it can shut opponents out of the game by turning off untap steps. Plus the card features a painting by Fay Jones, a prominent Pacific Northwest artist with a much bigger profile than most of the illustrators who contributed to the original Magic set, many of whom were students at a local art school. A near mint copy can sell for $20,000, if you can find one.
Shichifukujin Dragon is the only other edition-of-one Magic: The Gathering card ever printed, after the 1996 World Champion. This promotional dragon was also made in 1996, and the single copy was presented for display at the newly-constructed Duelists’ Convocation International Tournament Center in Tokyo. Magic had started to expand to international markets, and the game really took off in Japan. Shichifukujin in Japanese represents good luck, thus this card is the ultimate “good luck, have fun” symbol.
Back in 2003, the Tournament Center closed, and the card moved to the offices of Hobby Japan, where it is put on display from time to time for fans to view. Maybe you can view it some day. It is not for sale and has no price.
Oh look, another rare blue card from Alpha that sells for tens of thousands of dollars. Timetwister is one of the original “draw seven” cards that swaps out and refills your hand of cards. You can pull off all sorts of shenanigans with a well-timed Timetwister, and it’s even legal in Magic’s most popular casual format, Commander. But if you want to play with an Alpha copy, even one that shows some wear, it’ll set you back around $20,000.
Hurricane (Blue Misprint)
Magic is a game of cards printed on paper. Sometimes the printing process goes wrong. Most misprints are considered minor and add little value to the card. Sometimes you get cards cut way off center that end up including parts of two or more different cards. Those can be worth a lot. But no misprint commands the value of the fabled Blue Hurricane.
Back in 1994, white-bordered unlimited print run editions became urgent to produce as people discovered the game and demand for cards skyrocketed. Quality control was less than perfect, and about 40 boxes of cards went out to a few stores. Those cards became known as “Summer Magic” and included deep colors that made card text hard to read, which was corrected with the Revised edition.
All cards from the short printing of Summer Magic command a premium, but none more than the misprinted Blue Hurricane. The card is supposed to be green, and has a green mana symbol at the top. Copies of the ultra-rare Blue Hurricane sell these days for around $12,000!
Underground Sea (Summer Magic)
Summer Magic contained the cards that would go on to be known as Revised, or Third Edition. That set removed the really broken cards that appear elsewhere on this list, like Black Lotus and Ancestral Recall. The most sought after powerful card in the set is the Island-Swamp dual land, Underground Sea. You can actually buy a copy of the Summer Magic Underground Sea from CardMarket.com, if you can afford the €29,000 sticker price. Maybe you can haggle them down a bit.
Intuition (2003 Judge Foil)
For many years, Magic has printed special foil promotional versions of its cards for tournament judges to thank them for their service to the game. In 2003, they gave out copies of Intuition, a popular blue spell that lets you find copies of cards in your deck. While the price of Judge Foil Intuition has fluctuated over the years, this promo peaked in value at nearly $5,000. That made for a nice gift to judges.