Hello, and welcome back for the final High Stakes MTGO article.
Today I’ll cover the last week of my portfolio in 2016 and discuss where I’m going from here. As 2017 starts I’m remodeling my bankroll, most likely decreasing its size markedly. As the “high-stakes” element of the portfolio will no longer apply, I’ve decided to close this particular article series. Later in January, I’m planning to write a big review article where I’ll go over the project as a whole.
The year of 2016 concluded on a strong Frontier note. Many of the cards involved in this unofficial format, starting with Magic Origins, received a nice boost last week. Enough to motivate me to sell several positions, including my ORI full sets. Frontier is definitely driving a lot of hype and has, at least, the merit of creating a lot of speculative opportunities.
Besides this, I’m still predominantly in the mode of selling, especially for anything that can give me moderate gains or limited losses. Several sales and only one buy were on the menu for this last week of 2016.
Let’s see how it went. The latest and last snapshot of my portfolio is here. The live portfolio will remain available for Insiders after the articles stop.
Buy This Week
Buys are rare for me these days. Grove of the Burnwillows is finally a position that deserves some interest in my opinion. Last week, the unique Future Sight dual hit its lowest point in more than a year. Grove usually maintains consistent value, having dipped below 15 tix just twice since the summer of 2013.
Clearly, with the timing of this purchase, I’m betting that Grove of the Burnwillows won’t be in Modern Masters 2017 next March. That seems like a very reasonable bet at this point, especially considering what I previously wrote about rare mana-producing lands in the Modern Masters series.
Grove could easily recover in the 25-30 tix range in the short term. It will certainly get a good boost if and when, as I anticipate, it’s revealed not to be in MM3. If I happen to be wrong regarding a non-reprint in MM3, I’ll sell this guy right away. To me, the risk-reward of this spec is overall very good.
Sales This Week
This quickflip didn’t work out well, and it was time to take my losses here and move on. But even doing so was not done on the right timing either. The very next day after I had sold my copies of Aetherworks Marvel, for about 2.8 tix per copy, the price trend went back up and was around 3.5 tix as of yesterday. Irony or not, this quickflip was a miss in any case.
Dark Confidant was in the list of old MM2 specs that almost didn’t do anything for as long as I have held them. From the bottom of the hole at about 6 tix, right after the release of Kaladesh, Confidant slowly recovered to above 10 tix at the beginning of December. Even with Jund making a small comeback in Modern, Dark Confidant didn’t push higher than that 10-11 tix bar.
At this point I’m okay closing this position with a moderate 9% loss. After all, a third reprint in MM3 is not impossible.
With Magic Origins (ORI) it seems like Frontier has shifted into higher gear. Last week the price of a full set of ORI made a 35% jump in a matter of days—an unprecedented spike for a full set price. Led by Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, most of this set’s cards spiked overnight in a price movement closely trailing paper prices.
With this, my profit on that spec went up to 50%, a number impossible to ignore for a full set spec in my opinion. Frontier surely got a lot of speculators excited, and I thought that selling into the hype was the best response. There might be more to gain here, but it’s in a much more speculative territory than a week ago.
I got what I was looking for with this full set spec, and in about the time frame I was expecting—no reason not to sell in such a favorable position.
The big price jump in ORI full sets came along with a price spike of several ORI singles. I was still holding onto singles acquired back when ORI was Standard-legal. Last week was the right opportunity to let go of some, with or without a profit.
If the trend sustains for a few more weeks, some of my other ORI positions will follow the same path. Vryn Wingmare, Harbinger of the Tides, and part of my giant stock of Battlefield Forge were the first to go this past week.
In the wake of Frontier speculation, Dragons of Tarkir (DTK) full sets are on a great upward trend these days. I sold four more full sets this past week, still with a return above 50%.
Although Frontier might be a factor, the price growth of DTK full sets appears much more organic than the growth of ORI full sets. I will spread out my sales a bit and continue to sell in the following weeks, as I expect prices to keep climbing.
Following the path of Return to Ravnica shocklands, the KTK fetchlands were nowhere near the ideal spec some of us may have expected. The momentary halt to redemption of KTK sets in mid-October probably didn’t help either. Fortunately, KTK sets were restocked and re-opened to redemption soon after—all prices, including those of fetchlands, finally resumed where they left off at the end of September.
Now that a few of these fetchlands are becoming profitable, with returns around 15% to 20%, I decided to sell the profitable ones. 15% is nothing to brag about, but it’s still a decent return that I’d rather put into the bank now. With more than 1,000 tix tied to these five fetchlands as of last week, I’m happy to secure profit whenever possible.
I had imagined Ugin getting closer to 10 tix sometime in 2016. It didn’t happen and I even wonder where Ugin, the Spirit Dragon would be if Tom Ross hadn’t piloted his G/W Tron deck to victory last November.
Ugin is now flirting with 7 tix, its highest price since Fate Reforged (FRF) rotated out of Standard. Even if Frontier can push this planeswalker a little bit more, I’m not convinced there’s a lot to gain before FRF’s redemption cutoff date. I sold almost all my copies with minimal losses here and I’m okay with it.
As for the past few weeks, Modern and now Frontier are the two formats I’m trying to pay the most attention to. Because of what happened to my ORI full set spec, Frontier has already paid off for me—now I’m looking for a similar effect with my DTK full sets.
I also might sell some of the other Frontier-related specs I started a few weeks ago. There has been a lot of buzz—Rally the Ancestors, for example, spiked from basically zero to 1 tix—and the overall trend could lose steam. Taking profits while prices are high is always a good thing—I won’t second-guess my judgment, and if my investments have tripled I might as well sell.
Before the end of January, I’m also planning on reviewing all of the 2016 specs made in the context of the High-Stakes series. It will be a great time to evaluate how successful my strategy was when applied to a high-stakes bankroll, and draw lessons for the future.
After that, on a longer-term horizon, I would like to write a series of more technical articles dedicated to the different strategies and methods I use in MTGO speculation. A lot of things have changed, and are still changing, on MTGO. But certain core principles remain, and will still be valid even if the redemption schedule changes.
Thank you all for reading along with me this year, and I hope you’ll join me for the next project!