The original ten Alpha Beta Unlimited dual lands in Magic the Gathering are some of the most sought-after cards in the game’s history. However, they do exist in one other set known as Third Edition or Revised. Since then, the Dual lands which feature two basic land Types on one card with no drawback have been placed on Magic’s Reserve list. As of early November 2022, the top 10 cards best-selling on TCGplayer include Underground Sea, Volcanic Island, Tundra, Tropical Island, and Bayou from Revised. Just outside of the top 10 sits Badlands. However, the other four dual lands, Taiga, Plateau, Savannah, and Scrubland lag far behind those eight. In fact, they have all lagged much further since this article was last updated in September 2022.
Typically, these dual lands are not cards that your typical Magic player is going to buy. Despite their utility in the Commander and Legacy competitive formats, most people do not have $600 to $800 to spend on a single Magic the Gathering card. To be fair, in 2021, some of these dual lands were selling for as much as $950, especially for a copy of the most expensive of the ten, which is blue/black dual land Underground Sea. That and Volcanic Island, even in a down Magic card market, still hold a price point around $800. Tropical Island could sell for around $800, although in 2022 they are available in decent condition for under $600.
Do keep in mind that these market prices assume that the buyer is purchasing a near mint condition card. Many of the dual lands available for sale online are in heavily played or damaged condition, although even in that condition these examples are still legal in play while played in quality card sleeves. So, these dual lands can be purchased at a discount of up to 20 to 30 percent if you are willing to purchase a fair to poor condition card.
It’s somewhat strange to see these three vintage cards being surrounded by popular Modern cards such as Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, and Urza’s Saga. You do wonder where the money is coming from in order to purchase these cards in a great enough quantity to appear on TCGPlayer’s best-selling list for Magic cards. While these prices are far from their all-time highs, and have dipped significantly even since mid-2021, these are still very expensive cards to pick up for most Magic players and collectors.
Of course, with savings and bonds returning such low Returns on Investment, and stocks being a nightmare roller coaster ride, many people who may have considered alternative investments are now seeing these blue-chip vintage Magic cards as a way to park their money in liquid assets. After all, what’s more liquid than a Magic card that can fit into the vast majority of Commander decks, where Commander is the most popular format in Magic the Gathering?
Revised VS Unlimited Magic the Gathering Dual Lands
Now, with Revised VS Unlimited dual lands, it’s important to know the difference, as Unlimited copies are far more expensive. You can tell the difference between Unlimited and Revised dual lands quite easily, thanks to the wording of the text on them. Unlimited Underground Sea, for example, reads “Counts as both swamp and islands and is affected by spells that affect either. Tap to add either B or U to your mana pool.” However, Revised Underground Sea has text that begins with: “Tap: Add either B or U to your mana pool.” The rest of the text is similar, but that’s how you can easily tell Unlimited and Revised dual lands apart despite both having white borders.
Despite looking almost identical, the Revised copies carry much less value than their Unlimited counterparts. This is because Unlimited had a much lower print run than Revised, of course, as Third Edition came out after the game had already boomed and the Arabian Nights and Antiquities expansions had already released. However, buying Revised copies means you can get more quantity of dual lands, which is very important if you’re planning on purchasing these for regular use in Commander, Legacy, or Vintage decks.
This isn’t to say that traditional investments aren’t still the better long-term play for wealth generation. However, do keep in mind that any Commander deck that plays multiple colors can take advantage of these dual lands. They are the ultimate mana fixing in Magic, and since they can be easily fetched up by a wide variety of cards they’re extremely versatile. There are still old school Magic players with vintage card collections worth tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, in part thanks to having multiple copies of these dual lands in their various printings. But, anyone who’s looking to just have the best possible lands for their deck is going to consider these Revised dual lands, as they are the least expensive possible choice.
Consider that Unlimited Underground Seas have sold for as much as $1,000 in mid-to-late 2022, a 25 percent premium over the Revised copy. Unlimited Volcanic Island has also sold for $1,000 as recently as September 2022. Even Tropical Island has sold for almost $1,000 in that same time frame. Since the Magic card market cooled off for a considerable period during 2022, the Unlimited copies held their value better than the Revised copies. This is due to a much lower quantity of the Unlimited edition cards being available in good condition. So, it’s no surprise that now that the market has been depressed thanks to the 2022 recession that we were seeing more Revised dual lands than ever being bought up, even more so than in 2021 at similar price points.
First Off, Why is Underground Sea So Expensive?
Underground Sea is the most expensive dual land for a few reasons. First is its color combination of Blue and Black is extremely popular in older tournament formats such as Legacy and Vintage. Most of the power cards from older sets were in Blue and Black, after all. Because Vintage and Legacy players are happy to drop as much money as they need to have the best possible deck, this is the one land that players will pay a premium for, with Volcanic Island, Tropical Island, and Tundra trailing behind.
Also, in Commander, Underground Sea is the most popular dual land, with Tropical Island also in second place. But, in Commander, Bayou, the Green/Black dual land, actually is more sought after than Volcanic Island and Tundra, thanks to Green and Black being extremely popular colors in Commander. So, no matter the format, Underground Sea is always going to be your favorite original dual land. In fact, if you look up any dual land cycle, the Blue/Black lands are almost always the top played in their given format.
(Side note: Interestingly enough, Overgrown Tomb and Stomping Ground are more played in Commander than Watery Grave by percentage in the decks that they can be in, although Watery Grave still beats them by volume.)
How Collector’s Edition and Magic 30th Anniversary Dual Lands Affect the Price of Revised Dual Lands
The elephant in the room regarding Magic the Gathering’s future going into 2023 is the release of the much maligned Magic 30th Anniversary collector’s edition packs. Not only is Wizards of the Coast selling four packs for a ridiculous sum of $999, these proxy cards, while they look nice, are completely random. It’s no secret that what’s supposed to be a limited edition celebration of Magic’s 30th anniversary is already selling at a loss from those lucky enough to receive packs for free before the product even officially releases. What’s also interesting is that these packs have dual lands being twice as common as any other rare in this overpriced collector’s set so intent on circumventing the Reserved List.
There’s been a lot of talk about Revised dual lands dropping as much as 50 percent following this news. Indeed, the prices of many Revised dual lands have dropped significantly. However, there is the very important aspect that these 30th Anniversary dual lands are very much proxies, much like their December 1993 Collector’s Edition counterparts, are not tournament legal.
One look at MTGTop8 will show that Legacy events are still firing off daily in person during 2022, although it’s hard to say which ones allow proxies and which ones don’t. We’re currently operating on the assumption that many don’t, but in light of these 30th Anniversary dual lands, it’s possible that these proxy rules become relaxed for dual lands and other 30th Anniversary inclusions just out of respect for their existence.
However, one crowd that certainly doesn’t see a need for purchasing tournament legal dual lands is the casual Commander crowd. Many Commander events don’t shy away from allowing proxies, and those who just play Kitchen Table Magic are likely going to scoop up many 30th Anniversary dual lands. As these will be somewhat more common than their 1993 Collector’s Edition ancestors, they may be worth picking up as an official Magic the Gathering product that can actually gain in value over time. After all, Collector’s Edition dual lands aren’t exactly cheap, either. The market price of a Collector’s Edition Underground Sea is still around $650. That’s still more than a heavily played Revised copy of the same card!
Just keep in mind that 30th Anniversary is likely going to be a much more limited product than Collector’s Edition was. Very few people are going to buy these packs at the going rate; in fact, those who have sold their packs already, often for store credit, are already doing so at a virtual loss. We’ll have to see how much the actual 30th Anniversary packs sell for, and it’s very possible that Wizards will have to slash the price just to move inventory. It’s for sure going to hurt the price of Revised dual lands, since the 30th Anniversary, like the CE versions, have black borders. They also have modern card frames and an updated look.
All that being said, eventually Revised dual lands will stabilize in price. Wizards made a very bad decision offering this product, and the only reason the outcry isn’t worse is that they’re releasing a Secret Lair for “everybody else” that is thirty cards, one for each year of Magic, containing very playable alternate art cards that would currently sell at a substantial profit over their current printings. Sadly, there are no reserved list cards among them of course, since these cards are tournament legal. This Secret Lair probably saved Wizards’ butt here, and should’ve just been the 30th anniversary product in general.
If you are still thinking of purchasing Revised dual lands, just keep in mind that they may not be the best Magic the Gathering investment going into 2023. However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look into acquiring these cards. My advice remains the same as it always would regarding cards in excess of $100 a copy: look into trading in cards you are not using in your collection for store credit, or cards with better buylist prices, that you can put towards cards like tournament-legal dual lands.
Thankfully, there still isn’t any chance of these Revised dual land cards ever being reprinted in a Modern set barring the abolition of the Reserved List. So, they still should easily maintain, if not even slowly appreciate, in value. These are relatively speculation-free trading card investments that will always be among the most sought-after cards in Magic the Gathering, thanks to just being playable in every Commander and Legacy deck in existence.
What Magic the Gathering cards are you most excited about buying right now?
Updated November 5, 2022
Note: This information is solely the opinion of the author and is not intended as actual financial advice. The author also owns no copies of the aforementioned cards at the time of this writing.
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