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13 most expensive and rare Magic: The Gathering cards

Mana cost.
Magic: The Gathering Black Lotus card artwork
Image: Christopher Rush/Wizards of the Coast

Magic: The Gathering is practically its own currency at this point, with no shortage of rare and expensive cards out there to buy, sell and trade. Your old deck could be more valuable than you realise - or it could be full of Mudholes and goblins worth less than the box they're kept in. There's no way of knowing if you'll find the most expensive magic card until you start looking around, especially considering that at the end of the day... well, it's all just printed card.

And some MTG cards are ridiculously expensive, the kind of long-term investment that could justifiably be kept in an armoured vault with attack dogs waiting outside. Fingers crossed you find one of these in your attic; here's the most rare and expensive Magic: The Gathering cards of all time.

Most expensive Magic: The Gathering cards

However, there are plenty of people who put big money into MTG, and it’s caused some spectacular prices throughout the years thanks to things like the Reserved List. The Reserved List, for those not in the know, is a list of cards that can never be reprinted. Its purpose is to keep the value of certain cards from dropping, but what it’s actually done is caused certain formats to be completely inaccessible to all but the most trust-fundy of people.

That being said, it is fun to marvel at just how expensive MTG cards can become, so we thought we’d take a look at the most valuable cards in Magic: The Gathering.

Now, there are rules here. First of all, all of the prices are as listed on MTGGoldfish for a consistent comparison. Secondly, we’re talking about the most expensive these cards have been on the site. That means we’ve got a look back at the most expensive cards, rather than attempting to nail down any kind of finances in the current market.

Thankfully, this leaves us with some all-time classic cards, so it’s likely to be true several years from now - even if the prices themselves change, the content should be accurate. Now then, without any more ado, onto the list.

1. Black Lotus (Beta)

Oh, that Black Lotus

Peak price: $42,000, 02/10/19

Black Lotus is revered as the most expensive Magic: The Gathering card ever made, fetching tens of thousands at auction. Image: Wizards of the Coast

The chances are that you’ve heard of this card even if you’ve stumbled across this article by some weird coincidence. Black Lotus is an excellent card because for the low cost of zero mana, it gives you three mana. Needless to say, that’s a powerful effect - and, thanks to the Reserved List, it’s not one we’ll be seeing again any time soon. Black Lotus is the poster-card for how expensive MTG can be, and that’s unlikely to ever change.

2. Ancestral Recall (Alpha)

Forget about being able to afford it

Peak price: $19,999, 29/08/19

Ancestral Recall lets you draw three cards from your deck - at the low cost of 20 grand. Image: Wizards of the Coast

It turns out that gaining access to cheap resources is something that comes at a premium in MTG. Where Black Lotus gives you free mana, Ancestral Recall gives you very cheap card draw. For a single Blue mana, you can choose to draw three cards or make an opponent draw three cards. You’re unlikely to ever actually use the second mode of the spell but, then again, you’re also unlikely to be able to afford this responsibly.

3. Volcanic Island (Beta)

Burning a hole in your pocket

Peak price: $19,888, 13/10/19

One of the earliest dual lands, Volcanic Island is more powerful - and pricey - than its modern-day counterparts. Image: Wizards of the Coast

We come to the first of the dual lands on our list. The dual land cycle includes ten lands, each of which represents a different colour pairing. Volcanic Island is the Red and Blue land. Land is an important part of MTG, and the reason that these ones cost so much is that there is no downside to playing them. Modern-day lands that give you access to multiple colours always have a downside of some sort, that’s just not the case here. Of course, this is also on the Reserved List.

4. Mind Twist (Beta)

Do the twist

Peak price: $18,416, 17/08/20

Mind Twist isn't powerful by itself, but paired with a mana generation card it can quickly swing a game in your favour. Image: Wizards of the Coast

This is a fun one; Mind Twist is a card that can be used to make your opponent discard their hand. It’s not an obviously powerful effect and, on its own, it’s not all that great. However, thanks to the magic of mana generation like Black Lotus, it means you can potentially destroy your opponent’s hand before they even play anything. That, as it turns out, pretty much wins you the game… most of the time.

5. Mox Ruby (Alpha)

You’re as likely to afford it as steal it from the Cave of Wonders

Peak price: $17,908, 02/12/18

Like the gemstone it takes its name from, Mox Ruby is a precious acquisition. Image: Wizards of the Coast

The Mox cycle of cards are a marginally less broken version of a Black Lotus. Each one gives you one mana for no mana but, unlike Black Lotus, can be used multiple times. Mox Ruby gives you Red mana, and has been used in a plethora of decks since they were released. Also, they’re on the Reserved List - it’s at this point that you should be fully aware of how much the Reserved List has bolstered the cost of these cards instead of protecting them.

6. Mox Sapphire (Beta)

A price tag that’ll leave you blue

Peak price: $14,999, 27/09/19

Mox Sapphire is an artifact in more ways than one. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Imagine a Mox Ruby, but make it for Blue mana, and you’ve got everything you need to know here. These two, along with Volcanic Island, all fit in the same colour scheme, and therefore regularly go in the same decks, which is probably why they’re all so highly valued.

7. Timetwister (Alpha)

Let’s twist again

Peak price: $14,999, 25/10/19

Timetwister resets both players' decks and hands, almost leading to a complete restart during a match. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Timetwister costs three mana and lets you shuffle your hand, graveyard and library together and then draw seven cards. Once you’ve managed all of that, your opponent does the same. In essence, it’s an incredibly potent spell that lets you not only draw a whole new hand, but almost reset the game without changing the actual board state. Also, it’s on the Reserved List.

8. Copy Artifact (Beta)

Can I copy your homework?

Peak price: $12,611, 19/05/20

Copy Artifact is surprisingly cheap to play in terms of mana cost, but the card itself comes with a steep price tag. Image: Wizards of the Coast

For only two mana, Copy Artifact is an enchantment that lets you copy an artifact. This card might take the prize for having the most on-the-nose name, but it’s a very powerful effect and one that only gets better as more artifacts get released. The pricing of this one might be the most interesting on the list, with it generally being very steady up until its peak in 2020 and then fluctuating wildly ever since. In a shocking departure from the norm, this card is also on the Reserved List.

9. Underground Sea (Alpha)

Everything’s better, down where it’s wetter

Peak price: $11,882, 17/10/16

Like Volcanic Island, Underground Sea is a dual-colour land - here, Blue and Green. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Underground Sea is the only other dual land on this list. It taps for either Blue or Black mana with no downside whatsoever. We think you can agree that with this and Volcanic Island on the list, it must mean the combination of Red, Blue and Black must be the best one in Magic - and that means Nicol Bolas is probably right. Yes, this is also on the Reserved List.

10. Mox Emerald (Alpha)

A lot of green for a bit of Green

Peak price: $10,125, 15/09/19

As with its ruby and sapphire counterparts, Mox Emerald is as valuable as its name suggests. Image: Wizards of the Coast

This time around - and in something of a break from tradition - we’re not looking at a Blue, Red or Black Mox, but at Green. That makes this card unique on this list for being the only card on the Reserved List on this list. Wait, no. It’s the only Green card on this list.

11. Time Walk (Alpha)

Let's do the Time Walk again!

Peak price: $6,500.00, 09/06/2021

time walk alpha expensive mtg card
Cool picture, great card, staggering price tag. Image: Wizards of the Coast

Now come on, who let this happen? Time Walk is as powerful as it is simple - you play two mana to take a whole second turn after the one you're currently doing. That's a very good advantage, and the fact that it's so cheap to play means you can do a massive amount of set-up early in the game, or just a play a big monster and have it get over its summoning sickness before the opponent can do anything whatsoever. This might explain why it's banned in basically every format you can think of.

12. Foil Intuition (Judge Promos)

My gut feeling says I absolutely cannot afford this.

Peak price: $4,999.00, 09/06/2021

intuition foil expensive mtg card
With Intuition, your opponent chooses exactly how you get to hurt them. Image: Wizards of the Coast

This one is very powerful, but interesting enough not to be banned absolutely everywhere. Arguably Blue magic at its bluest, three mana allows you to hunt down any three cards in your library... but you only get to keep one. Your opponent gets to choose two to go in the graveyard, but that still gives you a lot of power. If they don't know your strategy, you could try and fool them, or just pick three super-cards and watch them struggle to guess which one is least dangerous. And if you're running some graveyard snuffling cards, you can always get the two they made you throw away back.

13. Mox Jet (Alpha)

Jet-setters.

Peak price: $9,999.99, 09/06/2021

mox jet alpha expensive mtg card
The Mox series continues to be ridiculously valuable.Image: Wizards of the Coast

Alright, fine, we're not done with Mox cards, but we promised to lay out the most valuable MTG cards and Mox cards remain ridiculously valuable. This one's a Black mana source, and remains as ridiculously powerful as the rest of its moxy brethren.


Jason Coles avatar

Jason Coles

Contributor

Jason spends a lot of time shuffling, sleeving up cards and playing decks that are bad. It's for this reason that he loves card games, even if they don't always love him. His poison of choice is Magic: The Gathering, but he'll play anything really, as it doesn't pay to be picky.

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