Tag Archives: Speculation

Cold Tomatoes

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Welcome back, financiers! I was happy (and a little bit relieved) to receive a lot of positive feedback to my article last week. It looks like my year and a half writing for Brainstorm Brewery prepared me well for this jump to MTGPrice. One of the Facebook comments on last week’s article asked for discussion of a completely opposite topic: the cards that can’t be reprinted in Modern Masters 2015 and other upcoming supplemental products. I thought that was just a fine and dandy idea, since it keeps me from having to come up with another idea for this week. Let’s look at what won’t be reprinted in the near future, why it won’t be reprinted, and what to do with the cards—whether you have them or not.

request

Oh, right, I almost forgot to explain the title of this piece. You see, because this article is the opposite of last week’s, I wanted the title to be the opposite to match it.

The opposite of hot is easy: cold. But what’s the opposite of a potato? Well you don’t have to Google that, because I already did that for you. I blindly clicked on the first few results, and I’ll let you see what I saw.

Potato

Potato2

Potato3

Interesting stuff, this internet thing has to offer. Where were we again? Right, Magic finance. Let’s get back to that.

Snapcaster Mage 

snapcaster

Let’s get the big one out of the way first. I get frequent requests to explain what to do with Captain Snaps now that he’s reached close to $50. He can’t be put into Modern Masters 2015 because the set only goes through New Phyrexia (which is one of the reasons he’s climbed this high already). He can’t realistically be put into Magic Origins, because that would require reprinting and creating a bunch of new cards with the flashback mechanic. They’re already bringing back double-faced cards from Innistrad as a mechanic (yes, I know it’s only for the five transforming planeswalkers), but I highly doubt they resurrect flashback along with that.

So, what do we do if we have Snapcasters? If you bought or traded for a bunch of Tiagos back when they were $20 or $30, you’re in luck! You don’t need to be in a huge hurry to cash out, and you can probably continue to expect a steady climb into the $55 to $60 range.

This is a classic example of the steady, consistent gains that I love to see in a spec. I’d start to move them toward the end of summer or start of the fall, just to be safe and lock in profits before anything is announced that could warrant a reprint. If you’re actively using them in a deck and don’t see that changing in the near future, I wouldn’t worry about unloading them. The utility you gain from holding onto them and playing them in actual events will most likely outscale the profit you gain by ripping them from your deck, selling them, and waiting for the reprint.

So, what do we do if we don’t have Snapcasters? I’ve heard a lot of people suggest buying in now for the flip potential, because the $55 to $60 price range coming in the next few months is all but guaranteed. Personally, I couldn’t disagree more with this strategy. First of all, you’re tying up a lot of money over a long period of time. If you buy in right now at $47, and look to sell at $60 towards June or July, you’re making next to nothing after fees and shipping. There will most likely be multiple hot specs between now and then that could have made you a lot more money.

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On the other hand, what if you need them for a deck? What if you desperately want to play Splinter Twin, and have zero copies of Snapcaster despite the deck running a playset? Well, I think you just have to bite the bullet and buy them. Burn the $200 before you have to burn $240 later in the year, and at least you’ll get the value of casting them during the time you own them. The card’s not getting any cheaper. Try to forget about the fact that you didn’t get in at $30 and mitigate that error by getting in now.

Voice of Resurgence 

voice

The good old $60 Standard mythic has been reduced to a token of its former self, hanging out at $18 ever since its rotation from Standard. It holds onto a relevant price tag thanks to seeing play in one of the stronger Modern decks of the format, and the fact that there were approximately seven packs of Dragon’s Maze opened throughout the entire world. It’s outside the realm of reprints in the near future, so do we want to pick itup at $18?

My position on this card is similar to Snapcaster, so I should be able to save a few words here. If you need the card to play with in the Abzan deck, I recommend picking it up now. I don’t think it goes any lower than its current price, and the trajectory looks to continue on a plateau, maybe going up a couple of dollars over the next few months due to how few copies there are on the market.

If you’re looking for a sweet spec target, I’d look elsewhere. If it does creep upwards, the trend will likely be too small to make a reasonable profit. It does, however, look like a nice trade target (along with Snap) if you’re trying to turn volatile Standard stuff into a secure chunk of value that won’t move for a while.

Liliana of the Veil 

lilianav

Liliana is more expensive than Dark Confidant and has been for almost two months now. I don’t know why so many people are clamoring for another reprint of Bob when he hasn’t been seen in a top-tier Modern deck for a long time now. Liliana is by far the more powerful and popular card, seeing play in a variety of decks. She has a small reprint on the way in the form of a PTQ promo, but I don’t expect that to slow down her price growth very much. There won’t be a massive number of promos out there, and she’s certainly not going to be in any of the rest of the currently announced products for the rest of 2015.

To be perfectly honest, I fully expect Liliana of the Veil to be the next $100 Modern staple, a price currently sustained only by Tarmogoyf.

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Quick Aside on Dark Confidant:

If you’re not using these (and you probably aren’t), I actually recommend selling them. While the card probably won’t be in Modern Masters 2015, it also hasn’t put up any significant results for a while. Bob has even seen a lot less play in Legacy lately, so I feel that a large chunk of its price is inflated by a combination of price memory and how iconic the card itself is. Trading Bobs into the other cards mentioned in this article will provide a much better return on investment in both the short and long terms.

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed 

mikaeus

Speaking of mythic black cards from Innistrad: “Dead Mike” has slowly crept up the past year and a half from his low of $4 to the current price of $12. Although he obviously has zero competitive applications, his power level in Commander is not to be ignored. I play one myself in my Marchesa list, and I’m never disappointed to draw it.

I don’t think this card stops creeping upward as the year goes on, and I can see it hitting $20 by the end of 2015. Foils are currently $32, and I’d get them now if you feel that you really need one for Commander, as there certainly won’t be any more getting added to the market anytime soon.

Mikaeus seems like a Doubling Season-esque situation to me, where the card will invisibly creep up to $25 or $30, and everyone will wonder when that happened.

Oh, Doubling Season is $30 again, by the way. And the judge foil can be found for $30 on eBay right now, with a few copies trailing behind in the $35 range. You can’t explain that.

Dseason

Abrupt Decay 

AbruptDecaycard

Decay has been sitting at a steady $12 to $13 for almost six months now, refusing to budge above that and break into the $15 range. What has changed, however, is the card’s buylist price. If you check out the blue line on our MTGPrice graph, the strongest buylist price has slowly crept up from $6, which is a 50 percent spread, up to $9, a mere 25 percent.

I don’t need to tell you how powerful Decay is in both Modern and Legacy—you already know that. You probably also knew that this card was going to creep back up to $20, due to the fact that it will be hard to find a spot for a reprint in the coming months. I’m here to give you a thumbs up and tell you that you’re right. Abrupt Decay is a fine pickup in both trades and cash, assuming you’re looking for an extremely safe investment.

I also want to touch on foil Decays. While it’s not impossible to reprint Decay due to its ubiquitous name (it doesn’t reference a specific plane, name, or faction, unlike Inquisition of Kozilek, for example), foils will be a lot harder to put into the market. I can see Abrupt Decay being put into a Duel Deck product in the future (although they’ve already done Golgari ones to death), or a casual product like Commander, but the cards in those decks aren’t foil. Copies are approximately $75 at the moment, but they’re definitely safer from reprint than non-foil copies. I admit, though, that I don’t expect quite the same double-up with foils as for non-foils.

End Step

Overall, I’m seeing a pretty similar trend in a lot of these “un-reprintable” (at least in the coming months) staples. If you can acquire them in trades by liquidating Standard staples, or cards that are ripe for reprinting, then I fully approve.

I also wouldn’t disapprove if you were purchasing Snapcasters, Voices, or Lilianas for your own personal deck construction, because they appear to either be holding steady, or steadily creeping up over the course of the spring and summer.

You still have a chance to liquidate all of your Zendikar fetches, Bolts, Probes, and Mox Opals before Modern Masters 2015 arrives, but be sure to pick up your staples that you’ll be needing before the full brunt of the storm arrives, too.

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or content that you feel needs to covered. I’m easily reachable through Twitter, Facebook, email, Reddit, or the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

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Conjured Currency: Hot Potatoes

It’s That One Guy from Brainstorm Brewery

Hey, everyone! You might remember me from brainstormbrewery.com, where I’ve been writing Magic finance articles for the past year and a half. You might remember great classics as Be Your Own BuylistChecking in the ClosetPower 10,  One More Card,  The Nekusar Effect,  Common Rares, Rent a Car(d), and Wizards has Never Done That! If I had to give a list of my articles that I’m most proud of and feel are the most informative, I think that’s a pretty comprehensive list. Hopefully, this week’s bundle of words is going to be one that gets added to that list. While I will no longer be writing finance content for Brainstorm Brewery, you can still read my articles here on MTG Price every week, and I’ll still be working with BSB in one shape or form. Thanks for sticking with me!

Have you Heard about the Word?

The word of the week (and month, and next couple of months), is dragon. Dragon, dragon, dragon. Dargon, winged wyvern, scaly fire-breathing lizard, Shivan—however you want to say it. Dragons are the talk of the town, in both the casual realm and the finance world. Everyone’s hunting down the next Scion of the Ur-Dragon, as if they were the Khans in the first set of the block. While there are so many people rushing to pick up cards that they’re expecting to spike, I’m leaning towards liquidating some cards that are either dead weight at this point, or are likely candidates for reprinting in the near future.

Modern Masters 2015 is a mere two months away, and so is Grand Prix Las Vegas (with GP Chiba in Japan and GP Utrecht in the Netherlands being played simultaneously), so I’m looking to start getting rid of the inflated Modern staples that have a shot at being in the set. There’s also Magic Origins on the horizon, not to mention From the Vault: Angels coming out toward the end of the summer. There are lots of opportunity for Wizards to reprint some of the more valued cards in various formats, so I’m looking to stay clear of being hit too hard by selling early. I want to reinforce that the idea of this article is less of a “What do I think will be in Modern Masters???!!!111”, and more of a “I think these cards are too risky to hold onto in the short term, and I am looking at liquidating them in the next couple of weeks.” Some of you might be more inclined to hold these cards for a bit longer, but I prefer to avoid as much risk as possible, and just lock in what I can, when I can. 

The Praetor Cycle

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite 
Urabrask the Hidden 
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur 
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger 
Sheoldred, Whispering One

eleshnorn jin vorinclex sheoldred urabraskj

New Phyrexia is the most recent set that MMA2015 will contain, and it’s already confirmed to have a higher print run than the original set. But how much larger, you ask? Well, we can’t really say as of yet. However, it’s safe to assume that Wizards has realized the mistakes that occurred in 2013, and will be rectifying them in 2015, at least to a degree. What’s important to take away here is that if they get reprinted, some praetors will take a bigger hit than others. Elesh Norn is the biggest red flag here, at $33. If she’s not reprinted, she probably continues to creep upward to $40, but I’m jumping ship here while I can lock in money. I don’t want to own any Praetors that I’m not using come May.

Gitaxian Probe 

gitax

Gitaxian Probe is a $3 common. Let that sink in for a moment. It wasn’t printed a decade ago like Serum Visions was, but it’s still $3. Maybe there’s a chance of it creeping up towards $4 in the longer term, but I don’t really care to have any part of that. I’m happy buying these across the buylist table at $1, and shipping them for $2 or $2.50 out of my local display case. While Phyrexian mana is pretty awkward to have to reprint, Modern Masters is pretty much the perfect excuse to do it.

Lightning Bolt

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lightningbolt

Did you know that the cheapest edition of Bolt is also pretty much $3 at this point? It’s the most popular nonland card in Modern, according to MTG Goldfish. The last time it was printed was in the Premium Deck Series: Fire & Lightning set, and before that was M11. If it’s not going to be in MMA2015, I can see it being put into another casual product like a Duel Decks or Commander product. I had these in my spec box when they were $1, and now I believe they’ve ripened to the point where I want to harvest the crackling energy that is pure profit. That being said, this isn’t something I would liquidate in an emergency if you’re running them in a deck. At the most, you’ll probably lose $6 per playset if it’s put into a supplemental product. I just wouldn’t advocate holding onto extras or stocking up on additional copies expecting a continued climb for too much longer.

Congregation at Dawn

congregation

If you haven’t heard, this recently jumped up in price to $3 because of speculation on a new (well, semi-new) Modern combo with Collected Company. The idea is to tutor up three small creatures that can go infinite together, then slam them all on the board at once with the new Dragons of Tarkir rare. Personally, I think the combo is a bit too clunky, and it’s trying too hard to be what Birthing Pod used to be. Foils have jumped up to $15 on the low end of eBay, but I’m still not upset about getting rid of the one I had at $12 while it was on the rise. While the card is getting increasingly hard to find due to lack of reprints, I’d get out now if you managed to buy in for cheap.

Master of Waves 

masterofwave

Once Nightveil Specter took a vacation, Master of Waves was lonely, and sank into a deep financial depression. Until Dragons of Tarkir came along and a newfound friend appeared! Because of Shorecrasher Elemental’s reveal, there were rumors spread throughout the community. Is Mono-Blue Devotion going to be good again? Should I buy a significant amount of Master of Waves, and be prepared to sell them for $20 like I did last year? Apparently the answer to all of those questions was a resounding and presumptuous “YES!” Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what I expect to happen. While it has jumped from $3 to $7 in the past couple of weeks, I’m advocating that you also make a jump of your own: out of your copies of MoW that you already own. Even if Devotion becomes a deck again, there’s no “Wow” factor this time at a pro tour to make everything’s price go absurdly crazy. Get out while you can, there’s really no financial hope for Master of Waves in any other format than Standard.

Zendikar Basics

zenlands

Ever since these were inserted into the Zendikar and Worldwake booster packs, I remember people saying, “I’m stocking up on these, they’ll be the next Unhinged lands,” or something to that effect. Well almost six years have gone by, and these still have barely breached $1.50 each, let alone the $5 that was predicted by many. Instead of becoming hard to find chase basics that show off how regal an individual’s deck is, the non-foil ones are mediocre for “blinging out” purposes, and have mainly been relegated to cubes and Limited players’ arsenals for a cheap alternative to Unhinged.

If you were hoping for these to pay for your retirement, I’d stop and give it up already. This slow to non-existent growth is accompanied by the fact that we’re returning to Zendikar this fall, and there’s a non-zero possibility that Wizards decides to include some nostalgia in the packs by reprinting these full-art lands. Instead of keeping the ZEN full art lands in your spec boxes, they’re probably best kept for personal use or unloaded to move cash elsewhere. While I think the foils are still a fine pick-up in trades, I wouldn’t touch the non-foils unless you get them as throw-ins for practically free.

Spellskite  

The little anti-Twin that could has slowly climbed higher and higher these past few years, and as its increasing utility in Modern grows, the number of existing copies stays the same. If Gitaxian Probe manages to see a reprint, ‘Skite will almost certainly be in the same boat. I don’t think there’s enough potential left in the Phyrexian mana magnet to warrant holding onto copies if you’re not actively sleeving it up and sending it into battle, so I recommend unloading extra copies while you have the chance. Channel Fireball is offering $15 cash for copies while I’m writing this article, which seems like a darn good deal to me. If ‘Skite is shown to be in Modern Masters this year, I can’t see it staying above $10, maybe even $5 depending on the print run.

Angels on the Battlefield

Last, but certainly not least on the pricing spectrum, I want to talk about the candidates for the upcoming From the Vault: Angels. While the product doesn’t come out until later this summer, there are a couple of cards that I’m still wary about holding due to the fact that they could be in the FTV or MMA. There’s very little to be gained on either of these cards, and I have multiple copies of each on TCGplayer right now, to put my money where my mouth is.

Avacyn, Angel of Hope 

avacyn

This card is approaching $40 through casual appeal alone. It’s fine in EDH, sure, but other than that? Pure. Casual. 78-card mono-angel-tribal land. That’s where this card sees play. I don’t think Wizards wants its Legendary Mega-Mythic Super 8/8 Angels™ to be $40, at least not just a few years after being printed. I’m going to sound like a broken record at this point, but if you’re not using them; sell them now.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence

linvala

Although Linvala sees a tiny bit of Modern play as a one-of to shut off value-based creature strategies, she sees even less play now that Pod got the axe. A prime target for either of the products we’ve been talking about in this article, Linvala’s price stagnated at $50 for the entire year of 2014, before starting to creep down, presumably because of the FTV: Angels announcement. She’s $42 right now, but I would try and unload her before anything else happens.

End Step

Anyone else have a list of hot potatoes that they’re trying to get rid of? How about those Zendikar fetchlands? There’s been a decent amount of controversy as to how “obvious” it would be if they slammed the enemy fetches into Battle for Zendikar this fall, but I’m on the fence myself. I’m still definitely selling off all of my extra Misties, Mesas, and Tarns at the moment, just in case.

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Common Cents by Aaron Dettmann

How better pricing information provides an advantage

Knowledge is power, as Sir Francis Bacon once said; in the world of magic finance, that means knowledge is money. Obtaining better information than most of the market means that you can take advantage of price discrepancies between stores, and utilize that knowledge to your advantage when trading, buying, and selling cards. One source that provides great information is this very website, MTGPrice.com; whether it be giving you more accurate pricing information than other individual card store websites, or providing ProTrader Daily Market Updates which clue you in on which cards are spiking in price so you can buy in before everyone sells out.

This week we’ll look at the importance of accurate pricing sources, and next week I’ll finish off this two-part series by discussing the ProTrader Daily Market Updates.

One experience I personally had with highly variable pricing between a store’s website and the actual worth of a card was with the card Emrakul, the Aeons Torn foil. Multiple people have asked how much I valued mine while trading, and I had always replied $50, since I had looked up the price on Starcitygames.com (SCG), and that was the relative price guide we were using. However, about a month ago I looked up the price again and realized SCG had that price posted while they were out of stock on the item. Curious as to what price eBay was selling them for, I looked over there and was surprised to discover that the cheapest listing was priced at $75. This difference in price was especially astounding because eBay usually has much cheaper prices than SCG. What’s more, the price has risen even more since then. As of this writing (March 27th), virtually all the stores are sold out of the foil Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Out of all the stores that MTGPrice.com provides pricing data for, the only places that have copies of that card in stock are TCGplayer and eBay. There are a mere three copies of a foil Emrakul, the Aeons Torn on TCGplayer ranging in price from $89-$100, and a lone, single copy on eBay priced at $90 (SCG is still out of stock, but has risen their price up to $60).

Now, I feel very lucky that none of my trading partners took me up on my $50 offer for my card; I was using poor pricing info, which caused me to undervalue my card. The lesson here is to be wary of prices when a store is out of stock of an item. Many stores don’t update their prices when they don’t have any copies of that card to sell. Using the Fair Trade Price found on MTGprice avoids this problem, since they compile their price using many different stores and only use prices from stores that have the item in stock.

Next week, I’ll conclude this two-part series, and discuss how ProTrader Daily Market Updates can let you know which cards are rising in price before all the stores adjust their prices accordingly.

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Monday: Money Ramp with Zack Alvarado

Scents of the Trade: Part 2

Last week I began writing the first part of this mini-trilogy which focuses on avoiding bad trade habits; my second installment in the series for MTGPrice.com focuses on the market of foil singles. If you’re truly hungry, like I am, you’ll take the time to sniff out your local market’s needs and cater to your peer players, make yourself part of the store, and make yourself well known. Your local market as a whole is comprised from a pool of other players whose needs and wants can vary drastically from each other; so how does one effectively assess the cards that are desirable within their MTG scene? There are a few approaches to doing so that I will further discuss.

High Market. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast.
High Market. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast.

Segmenting your market into different customer bases is quite simple once you understand how to do so. Begin by determining the largest demand within your store, and cater solely to that. This focus can range from promotional cards, to Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH) foils, to format staples for Vintage, Legacy, Modern, and Standard (the most common approach). Whatever the largest demand is at your LGS, find it and use it to your advantage.

A niche that I’ve strongly profited from lately is the EDH foil market – not many players stock these cards, but just about every other player with an EDH deck wants something that I have in a binder. Foils, in general, are a bad niche to invest in – I would advise weekend traders and players to stray from acquiring a robust binder of foiled cards. Certain cards, however, are extremely profitable when compared to their non foiled counterparts, as well as other foils on the market. Below is a list of foiled EDH cards that I have traded or sold within the past few months, as well as their normal and foil prices, rounded to the nearest dollar, for the sake of contrast.

Name

 Normal

 Foil $ Diff

% Diff

Vindicate  $    28.00  $    93.00  $    65.00

332%

Jhoira of the Ghitu  $      6.50  $    32.00  $    25.50

492%

Rishadan Port  $    40.00  $  240.00  $  200.00

600%

Karmic Guide  $      8.50  $    80.00  $    71.50

941%

High Market  $      6.00  $    61.00  $    55.00

1,017%

Reya Dawnbringer (invasion)  $      5.00  $    60.00  $    55.00

1,200%

Rhystic Study  $      1.25  $    23.00  $    21.75

1,840%

Merchant Scroll  $      1.50  $    28.00  $    26.50

1,867%

Teneb, the Harvester  $      1.00  $    23.00  $    22.00

2,300%

Goblin Matron (7th)  $      1.00  $  112.00  $  111.00

11,200%

There are many more foil cards that are heavily sought within the EDH market, and most are safe areas of investment. While money can be made in Modern and Standard foils, profit margins are small and detrimental volatility is high. To briefly illustrate this point, let’s examine some of the most sought after cards from the new set, Gatecrash. When Aurelia, the Warleader hit the market nearly 2 months ago on Feb. 1st, the foil price was $49.99 on Starcitygames; today, the cost for a foil Aurelia from SCG is only $34.99 – a loss of 30%. Similarly, when Gideon, Champion of Justice was released on Feb. 1st, the foil cost $69.99 through SCG, but now only costs $21.99 from the same site – a staggering loss of nearly 70%!

Cornering a portion of your local market is difficult without acquisition power; so, if you lack enough capital to obtain a stockpile of niche foil singles, a different approach may be better suited. An easy way to turn your extra cards into money is by simply asking other players what they are looking for. I know this sounds elementary, and it is; but chances are you actually have a card that somebody else wants to buy or trade for, and you have to inquire to find out. In the event that another player is looking for a card you don’t own, ask them what they value the card at; then go trade for it, and come back to cash out!

That’s all for now, make sure to check back next week for my final installment in this series: why not to trade eternal format staples for standard cards.

 

Weekly Finance Tip:

[Hang onto your Windbrisk Heights, Rise of the Hobgoblins and Modern Elf cards – I expect all of these to steadily increase by a near 20% within the next month or two]

Until next time,

Zack R. Alvarado
zackalvarado@gmail.com
Twitter: Rh1zzualo

P.S. Franny, this one’s for you brooo!

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