When it comes to grading Magic the Gathering cards, most collectors almost unilaterally agree that Magic cards are meant to be played with, not encased in hard plastic shells. But, there are Magic cards that have far more value when graded by PSA or BGS. These cards are often not ones you would expect; in fact, today we are looking at a card printed in the year 2020. It’s one of a few Showcase Foil cards from the controversial Collector Boosters that Wizards of the Coasts has released in the past couple of years. This one features artwork of a Spacegodzilla, firing a death corona beam, and honestly, it’s some tremendous artwork. But, you may ask, why is this among the Magic the Gathering cards worth grading?
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As sweet and cool as Spacegodzilla, Death Corona looks, it’s actually based in the actual Magic the Gathering card game on a lowly uncommon, called Void Beckoner. It’s not that this card is bad in and of itself, but it’s not one you’ll see played often. Void Beckoner is a Nightmare Horror creature card costing a whopping eight mana to cast, six of that generic and two of that needing Black mana specifically. It has Deathtouch, meaning that it kills any creature that it deals combat damage to, and is a creature with eight power and toughness. However, on its own, that’s a mediocre vanilla creature. What value it does add is through its Cycling mechanic, allowing you to pay three mana (two generic and one Black) to discard it and draw a card, plus give one of your creatures a deathtouch counter. This counter, as you may expect, gives that creature deathtouch, which considering you can play this ability at any time where you could spend the mana, is pretty nifty.
While it’s a relatively niche card, Void Beckoner does in fact see some play in the massively popular Commander format. It sees a significant amount of play in the Zombie Turtle Gorex, the Tombshell decks, who can exile any number of creature cards from its owner’s graveyard to make its casting cost two generic mana less for each card exiled this way. Naturally, having a Cycling creature like Void Beckoner is useful, especially as Gorex can add a card at random back to its owner’s hand when it attacks or dies.
There’s also the niche, but neat Nightmare Horror lord, Umbris, Fear Manifest. Generally, you don’t have to play Nightmares or Horrors in the deck to allow Umbris to function, but if you really want to be on flavor, Void Beckoner is useful in some builds of the deck. There’s also Runo Stromkirk, who loves to have creature cards with mana value 6 or higher on top of your deck in order to transform into Krothuss, Lord of the Deep, who is a terrifying lord of sea monsters. In Umbris and Runo, Void Beckoner is usable, certainly, but far from a premier choice.
That leaves Gorex, the Tombshell as about the only common home for this particular uncommon. So, yes, it’s pretty neat to have Spacegodzilla, Death Corona in your possession to snazz out your deck. Also, whereas the typical Void Beckoner is worth mere pennies, the Showcase version has been worth around $5 USD, with the foil version coming in a dollar or two higher, in late 2021. It seems doubtful that this card could be worth so much for how playable it is, which is minimal even in Commander where homes for niche cards are constantly found. But, of course, it does feature one of the biggest pop culture icons of all time in Godzilla.
As it turns out, any card featuring Godzilla artwork from the Showcase versions of the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths set is going to be worth a few dollars. Yes, they are really cool to look at, but several other cards that feature Godzilla are much more playable in a variety of decks than Spacegodzilla, Death Corona. What makes this card special? As it turns out, this card was renamed soon after the Ikoria set launch, thanks to its very name, Death Corona, coming at a very inopportune time with the Coronavirus pandemic. Being that Wizards of the Coast designs these sets at least 18 to 24 months in advance, this was an unfortunate coincidence.
Wizards moved fairly quickly to rename the card to Void Invader, but by that time, the entire run of limited edition collector boxes already shipped out. While the name was officially changed by Wizards, and is named as such on Magic Arena, all printed copies of the Showcase card bear this name. Being essentially a “Banned Card” means that it’s literally the rarest Ikoria Showcase card in existence, and therefore, valuable to hardcore Trading Card Game (TCG) collectors. So, of all of the Ikoria cards, this is why all three versions of an uncommon that pretty much no one plays are readily sent in for grading.
When it comes to where to get Magic cards graded, the major players are PSA and BGS, although some have been graded by SGC, as well. In particular, there are quite a few examples of these Ikoria Showcase cards being graded by both PSA and BGS. But, thanks to its unfortunate name at the time, there are more graded examples of the Showcase Foil Spacegodzilla, Death Corona in existence than any other card in the set. In fact, the regular Showcase and Japanese Foil Showcase cards of this Spacegodzilla outpace every other card, as well.
Compared to other more modern cards, which often enjoy a chance at a Gem Mint north of 75 percent, all three versions of Spacegodzilla, Death Corona come in below 60 percent. It’s not the lowest percentage of the Ikoria Showcase cards, but it does beg the question, why are these cards harder to grade? Because of the stunted print run of these cards, it seems collectors are far less picky which ones they will send off for grading, perhaps adding a bit of selection bias.
Let’s look at the BGS data, who deems a 9.5 grade as Gem Mint, whereas PSA strictly divides cards between mint and Gem Mint with no middle ground. There are quite a few examples graded by Beckett, too, but as of mid-December 2021, out of 89 examples, 67 came back with a 9.5 grade or higher. That’s a 75 percent rate, meaning that PSA is clearly much harsher on the card. There are likely a number of PSA 9 Mint cards that may transition to BGS 9.5 Gem Mint, but the cost of crossing it over, which involves breaking it out of the PSA case, is likely not worth the end result if it crosses over to a BGS 9.
While I will not quote prices here, as such data will make this article obsolete within likely a matter of months, I will describe some generalities when it comes to how these cards perform when transitioning from raw form to encapsulated form. Assuming a $5 per card acquisition cost, it seems that PSA 10 copies of even the regular non-foil Spacegodzilla, Death Corona will increase the card’s value by as much as 18 times. Even a PSA 9 Mint copy can command an 8x premium. However, this doesn’t include the cost of grading, which was at least $20 when many of these were graded in 2020. So, yes, these cards were certainly worth grading at that price point. In a world where grading costs approach or even exceed $100, however, not so much.
Admittedly, the Spacegodzilla, Death Corona Showcase Foil is a very pretty card to look at, and it’s a beautiful thing encapsulated in a PSA or BGS case. But, if you’re looking to acquire one already graded, you’re probably better off looking at a PSA 10 than a BGS 9.5, simply because the price premium for a BGS card seems to be even higher by sold comparisons. That’s likely because Beckett has long been preferred by serious Magic the Gathering graded card collectors, thanks to the sub-grades being broken down. It seems that even BGS 9 copies fare better than PSA 9 copies, especially if all four subgrades are 9 or higher, with any 9.5 or 10 marks bumping up the card’s desirability.
In a time where unfortunate card names cause such a stir, Spacegodzilla, Death Corona is a prime example of a card that unwittingly became one of the chase cards in an already very good Magic the Gathering product. Ikoria is best known for the Triomes, a set of nonbasic lands that give access to three colors of mana and can be Cycled for just two generic mana. It’s also home to other Showcase cards featuring Godzilla, many of them much more playable than the Void Beckoner re-skin. But, this Spacegodzilla will hold its place in history for the worst-named card during a Coronavirus epidemic that couldn’t have been predicted when this card was first devised.
As for other Showcase cards in Ikoria, we may take a look at those in the future. But, for now, if you happen upon these in the wild, treat them with care. Many Showcase cards haven’t fared well, but anything Godzilla-related has a long-term chance for appreciating like fine wine. When it comes to graded Magic the Gathering cards with potential for strong future values, however, you’re much better off looking at vintage, old-bordered “Old School” cards instead.
DISCLAIMER: This information provided here is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant as financial advice. Use this information as you see fit, but for real investment advice, including anything regarding trading cards, seek a professional licensed advisor.