Highlights Magic: The Gathering cards from the Alpha Set have become extremely valuable, with even common cards worth several thousands of dollars. Some of the rarest and most valuable cards, such as the Shichifukujin Dragon and the 1996 World Champion, are considered priceless and not for sale. Dual lands like Taiga and Tundra are highly sought-after and can sell for thousands of dollars, providing versatility and power to decks that use multiple card colors.
Magic: The Gathering debuted on Aug. 5, 1993, with what is known as the Alpha set. The cards in this set have become extremely sought-after over the years, with many of them worth thousands of dollars in today’s market. If only we knew then what we know now about these early sets; even some of the common cards in the Alpha Set are now worth several thousands of dollars.
The second printing of the Alpha set in Sept. of 1993, called the Beta set, even has cards worth thousands of dollars. Below is a list of the rarest and most valuable Magic: The Gathering cards and what they are worth today. The card prices here are for mint/near-mint card conditions.
Updated on August 5, 2023, by Jeff Drake: So many gamers are kicking themselves for not buying Magic: The Gathering cards when they first started appearing on store shelves. A few unopened boxes of Alpha Set cards would net enough cash to be enough to retire early nowadays, and in comfort too. The price of the most sought-after cards just continues to go up and up, without any ceiling in sight to stop their rise in value. Cards in the Unlimited Set are even starting to get into the price range of several thousands of dollars (if graded).25 Shichifukujin Dragon
This card is beyond rare, it’s unique. The Shichifukujin Dragon was a promo card made for the grand opening of the Duelists’ Convocation International Tournament Center in Tokyo, Japan. There is only one Shichifukujin Dragon card. As the saying goes, if there are still two left they are valuable, if there’s only one it is priceless.
The card itself still resides in Japan and is not for sale. It is unlikely to ever be put on the auction block. Magic: The Gatheringplayers will just have to live with the fact there will always be one card they can never own.Price Range:
Since there’s only one, and it’s not for sale, a price is almost impossible to assign this card. It is priceless.24 1996 World Champion
This is another unique Magic card that was created to commemorate an important event in the card game’s history, the 1996 World Championship. The power of this card is completely overblown; it is clear from the power this card is not meant for play. The 1996 World Champion card summons a creature with a power and toughness equal to the opponent’s remaining life.
The power of this card also allows the owner to search their library for it and place it on top. Once this card enters play a duel would probably be over in a turn or two.Price Range:
As with the Shichifukujin Dragon, this is a unique card, so it is hard to label it anything other than priceless. This card isn’t even listed in price charting lists.23 Royal Assassin
This insidious card can kill any tapped creature. This is beyond useful when the opponent sends a powerful creature forward. The Royal Assassin’s power even prevents the target creature from dealing damage since it is discarded before the Combat Damage Step is resolved.
This isn’t the most valuable Magic card, but it has retained its value for five years – leading up to 2023. However, there’s no need to spend thousands for this card with so many cheaper reprints available.Price Range:
A royal Assassin from the Alpha Set typically sells for about $1,000, though, the price charting shows it at double that in value.22 Mind Twist
This is an interesting card that forces the opponent to discard cards from their hand. This is done at random; which prevents the player from hanging onto a card they were hoping to play soon. The opponent must discard one card per black mana used.
Cards like this can win games. They can also end friendships if used a little too much, or if glee is exhibited while playing the card from the hand.Price Range:
The Price Charting lists the value of an Alpha set Mind Twist at $2,560. Viewing completed sales on eBay shows this card going for slightly over $1,000 on average.21 Birds Of Paradise
Birds of Paradise is as useful during a duel as it is valuable. Perhaps this is why this card was available (reprinted) and included in nearly every Core Set. Naturally, the earlier printings are the most valuable. Once a turn, this card can produce one mana of any color for the player.
Being able to produce one mana of any color allows for a more varied deck, without having to put in a bunch of lands to power a couple of cards.Price Range:
An Alpha copy of Birds of Paradise averages around $2,200 on eBay. A copy from the Unlimited set sells for several hundred dollars. Recent reprints sell for under $10.20 Taiga
Taiga is one of the much sought-after dual lands. In this case, the land is a combination of forest and mountain; allowing the player to get either a green or red mana from it every turn. This makes this a lot more versatile than standard lands. This has been reprinted several times, but even the later reprints are worth a hefty sum.
The price of this card has steadily dropped since August 2023. Collectors looking to add an Alpha Taiga to their collection might want to act now.Price Range:
An Alpha copy of Taiga can run as high as $3,000 but is more commonly sold for around $2,500. A Taiga from the Unlimited set sells for approximately $450. Except for Tundra, all the dual lands are worth about as much as Taiga.19 Vesuvan Doppelganger
It’s sad that this card is so valuable, as that sort of defeats part of the purpose of the card. Vesuvan Doppelganger can imitate any creature in play, minus any enchantments. This would allow a new player to counter that super powerful, and probably expensive, card their friend has in every deck they create.
Fortunately for new players, this card was reprinted; the reprint sells for a more modest $15 or less. Now they canPrice Range:
This incredibly useful card was part of the Alpha set, and a card in great-to-excellent condition can fetch as much as $2,700. Graded cards sell for several thousand more, depending on the grade.18 Tropical Island
This is one of the most sought-after lands in Magic: The Gathering and its price reflects this demand. The Tropical Island is a dual land that can either supply the owner with a green or blue mana when tapped. Green-blue decks have always been popular, and this land helps fuel the cards of both colors. Dual lands are one of the best ways to add flexibility to decks that use multiple card colors.
This is another card that has been reprinted more than once. The Alpha version is the highest in price, but even the Unlimited Set version can sell for almost $1,000.Price Range:
An ungraded Alpha Tropical Island sells for around $6,000 in excellent condition. A Beta version is worth about $3,000.17 Copy Artifact
This handy card allows the owner to duplicate any artifact in play – even an opponent’s artifact. This copy remains in play even if the original is sent to the graveyard. So, if an opponent has powerful artifacts, like Black Lotus, the player can have one too. This card acts as an equalizer for beginning players and allows a powerful artifact to be used against its owner.
This card has been reprinted many times, and even a copy from the Unlimited Set will fetch several hundred dollars, but the price of an Alpha Copy Artifact is well out of the casual collector’s price range.Price Range:
An Alpha Copy Artifact typically sells for around $3,000 in excellent condition. A Beta reprint in excellent condition is still going to cost over $1,000.16 Gaea’s Cradle
Gaea’s Cradle was one of the Judge’s Cards. These were special cards given to those who took the thankless and often non-paying job of being a judge at Magic tournaments. Wizards of the Coast created these cards as a way of compensating these judges, and now many of the early Judge’s Cards are worth thousands.
This powerful card gives the player one green mana for every creature they control when it’s tapped. This power can be absolutely game-changing in the right scenario.Price Range:
Many Judge’s Cards haven’t gone up in price too much, Gaea’s Cradle isn’t one of those. This card’s ungraded price is in the neighborhood of $2,000 in good condition.15 Tundra
The dual-land cards in the early sets are a great example of reverse power creep. Normally in card games, the first sets are considered underpowered after a few years of booster sets. The newer cards are almost always better, to entice players to buy the new booster sets. Dual-land cards were so powerful that it would be a while until they were re-introduced. Tundra provides its owner with either blue or white mana each turn.Price Range:
The Alpha set Tundra goes for around $3,000 – $4,000, depending on its condition.14 Chaos Orb
Players seek after this card because it is still viable, and it’s one of the rarer cards from the original Alpha set. The power of this card probably caused a lot of double-takes back in the day as the targeted player exclaimed, “I’m sorry, that card does what?” For two colorless mana, this card lets players drop it from at least one foot in height and discard all cards it touched when it lands.Price Range:
This card has an average price of $9,000 depending on the condition. The Beta version will save fans some money. It’s worth about $2,500, but one in excellent or mint condition will cost around $4,000.13 Timetwister
This blue sorcery spell forces all players to shuffle the cards in their hand, graveyard, and library together to form a new library. This is a great card to have for players frequently finding themselves playing against a “deck buster,” a deck designed to make the opponent’s library empty quickly. This card can also help players win with a come-from-behind victory.Price Range:
The Alpha Timetwister commonly sells for about $9,000, but the Beta Timetwister can be bought for a measly $5,500.12 Mox Pearl
The Mox Pearl is an artifact that players can use as a source of white mana, with the added benefit of being used as an interrupt if needed. This artifact can also be played without expending mana, which is fairly uncommon in Magic.
If a player uses a lot of white cards, this artifact can mean the difference between victory and defeat. It only provides one white mana per turn, but nearly every player has had the frustration of being one mana short of summoning a much-needed champion.Price Range:
The Mox Pearl, which was part of the Alpha set, can be bought for around $3,000 if fans are lucky. However, it can go for as high as $19,000.11 Shivan Dragon
The Shivan Dragon is a red creature with a decent attack and defense. Tt can fly too, which makes it a great attacker. Four unblocked attacks from the Shivan Dragon will usually kill an opponent. For the first few years of Magic: The Gathering’s existence, this was probably the most sought-after summoning spell. Even players who didn’t use red cards wanted this one and would retool their deck if they were lucky enough to get one.Price Range:
The Shivan Dragon from the Alpha set sells for about $4,500 on the low end. A card in excellent or mint condition sells for around $5,000.10 Underground Sea
The Alpha set had a lot of useful cards, but the dual lands were perhaps the most useful. These dual lands can be used as a source of two different colors of mana, but only one type per turn. Nowadays, dual lands are some of the most sought-after Magic cards. They are easily recognizable by the spiral pattern inside the text box. Considered a swamp and island, the Underground Sea provides black and blue mana.Price Range:
This is the highest-value land card in Magic the Gathering. It typically sells for about $6,500 but has sold for as high as $14,000.9 Mox Emerald
The Mox Emerald is an artifact that can be tapped for one green mana per turn. Like the other Mox gems, the Mox Emerald can be played from the hand without expending mana and can be played as an interrupt.
The Mox Emerald, along with the rest of the Mox gems, is great for getting an advantage early in the game. Any time a player can play multiple mana sources during a turn, especially toward the beginning of the game, the odds of victory are significantly increased.Price Range:
The Mox Emerald is worth approximately $7,500, but on the high end, it can sell for about $20,000.8 Mox Sapphire
The Mox Sapphire is an artifact that provides one blue mana per turn when tapped. Of course, this artifact does not require mana to be played from the hand and can be used as an interrupt. It’s one of the more useful of the Mox gem artifacts, mainly because most counter-spell cards use blue mana. When playing a counter-spell, the Mox Sapphire’s ability to be used as an interrupt can save a player from a damaging spell. This card has saved many players from a sudden defeat.Price Range:
This card sells for an average of $9,500, and its price can reach as high as $50,000.7 Mox Jet
The Mox gem artifacts are rare and powerful, but keep in mind that many tournaments do not allow them. The rarity of these cards, coupled with the advantage they provide, has led them to be banned. This is an attempt to even the playing field for players who weren’t around in 1993 to buy the early editions (and/or don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a card). The Mox Jet provides one black mana, can be played as an interrupt, and does not require mana to be put into play.Price Range:
Be prepared to pay about $8,600 for this card. Its worth in some price guides can reach as high as $10,000.6 Time Walk
This blue sorcery spell has a simple, but very effective special power. Time Walk allows the player to take an extra turn after the turn in which it was played. This card alone was worth using a blue deck, and many games of Magic have been won because of this card. Using Time Walk allows the player to essentially bypass summoning sickness for one turn, as well as playing an extra mana source. If players can use this card early in the game, they can overwhelm an opponent who has not had a chance to summon many champions. It is also useful for untapping champions before an opponent’s turn.Price Range:
Time Walk is worth around $9,000; however, it has been sold for as high as $25,000.