Quiet Speculation – Write to Reid

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Sometimes you have a great idea for a 4000 word whopper of an article.  Sometimes a new theory grabs ahold of you and you set out to prove it or at least discuss it and bring it before your peers.  Sometimes a Flash of Insight takes hold and a brilliant new deck list appears in your brain, and sometimes, you've just got a lot of small, disparate thoughts on the secondary market of Magic: The Gathering that all lack the depth to explore in a full length article.  Although I vastly prefer the former options because of how in-depth it allows me to think about the game and the markets, sometimes it's just Mailbag Day.  But first, some musings.

What's Gonna Happen Next?

As much as I hate to say it, it's that time again.  The days are still hot and humid here in the great American midwest.  The days are long, the PTQs are far away, and getting fewer and fewer in number.  That summer PTQ season, the one you promised yourself you'd play, because it was for Amsterdam, and everyone wants to go hang out there?  It's almost over.  And you probably didn't qualify.

But the news gets worse.  It'll be fall soon.  You have to go back to school.  Work stops being "easy" since the bosses are all back in town.  Then it'll be Halloween and you won't know what to wear for a costume, then it's winter-time again.  The cycle of the seasons marches on, and as sure as the sun comes up each day, so does Magic's cyclical life continue.  At this time last year, as many of the same thoughts were fleeting through your mind, you probably forgot to start snapping up the right cards and selling the wrong ones.  So, which are which, and how do you tell?  Well, look back on the same time last year.  The same feelings you had.  The same types of cards that took a dump on you and left you holding a playset of Cryptic Commands that you still haven't moved a year later.

"Later" is "Now".

You know all those cards that people say will "be good after the rotation?"  Yeah.  That's "now" as far as you're concerned.  Scars of Mirrodin will be out in 2 months, and there's not much Standard to be played before then, at least on a competitive level.  The big staples from Shards of Alara block have taken huge hits in value, as was discussed in previous articles by this author.  You still have a chance to make this work.  Think about all those cards that "might be good" when the rotation happens.  What?  What cards?  Well, these!

His nickname is "The Mailman". Get it?

Lotus Cobra, Oracle of Mul Daya, Sun Titan, Avenger of Zendikar,Stoneforge Mystic, Steel Overseer, Vengevine... you know, all of "those" cards.  Also, the fetch lands are going to be crucial, but they're not as common as they used to be.  I'm going out on a limb here, but I would absolutely be hoarding fetch lands right now.  I'm going to attempt to leave Grand Prix: Columbus with 20+ of each, at minimum.  Misty Rainforest is my guess for the best one, as the decks with Jace and Lotus Cobra seem like they'll be the best.

Call Me Karl Malone...

Here are some awesome questions from Twitter.  While the Mail Bag is traditionally the lazy writer's way of saying "I have nothing worth talking about", I prefer to think about it as an important way of interacting with our readers.  Whatever lets me sleep at night, I guess.  Anyway, onwards:

@BenFrenchman asks:  Do you play the stock market? No: Why not? Yes: What are some sim. and diff. between stocks and MTG cards?

Great question, Ben.  Yes, I did play the stock market.  I did not do it for long, focused on tech stocks, and made a quarterly profit of around 4%.  Although I am not a registered securities dealer,  I have sat for and passed the NASD Series 7 and Series 66 exams.  I was sponsored by a firm but chose not to accept the position for personal reasons.  I do not currently do so, as growing my business is more important, and small investors do not have a lot of advantages in the stock market, whereas a small-budget Magic player can still make a huge difference.  Besides, Magic writing is much, much more fun and less stress.

There are almost no similarities, to be honest.  The margins on Magic cards are an order of magnitude higher, there's almost no regulation, there are circumstances where news leaks to select parties before others, and there are people who are transacting cards for reasons other than profit.  Thus, it is actually a poor analogue for the Stock Market.  There is one truism that holds true between the two:  Buy on Rumor, Sell on News.  That's another topic entirely, but we'll save it for another day.

@vrazix asks: advice for someone looking to invest in an eternal format with none of the eternal cards? best way to acquire duals, etc. thanks

That's not such an easy answer.  Basically, read every article I've ever written, every article on here, and then some.  You need to find people with Eternal cards that need Standard cards.  Eternal cards don't move much, but when they do, they shoot up dramatically.  Standard cards fluctuate more frequently and less dramatically.  Thus, you can build a lot of value with Standard cards in a short time, and then you can use that value to offset the fact that most people with Duals, etc won't want to trade down.  Basically, you need to trade your non-Eternal stock so tightly that you don't mind losing dollar value on a trade-up for Duals, Force of Will, or so on.  Otherwise, you'll just have to drop the cash, and no one wants to do that.

@YoMtgTaps asks:Now that Sun Titan is officially "Le Nuts" where do you see it's price ending up? Prerelease foil - higher or lower than regular?

Given that it showed up in the winning deck list from French Nationals, I would feel comfortable calling [call]Sun Titan[/card] by such a moniker.  I've been thinking that Sun Titan is probably the best one, even more so than Primeval Titan, but I am still not sure.  However, if they're even close, and Primeval Titan is a $50 card, then surely Sun Titan is $20, with the pre-release foil lagging slowly behind.  Especially next year, when pre-release foils are in much shorter supply, we could see Vampire Nocturnus pricing.

@ToxicFungus asks: is primeval Titan the real deal? $50, $30, less, more?

Yes, very much so.  The body is huge, the ramp is for real, and the tutor effect is amazing considering the wide array of lands in the format worth fetching.  His synergy with Lotus Cobra is nauseatingly good.  $50 is good for now, but if the deck doesn't turn out to be the utter stoneblade, I could see it slipping closer to $30.  It's hard to really tell anyone to buy or sell at this point, since emotions run high when there are $50 cards in the discussion, but you're not crazy if you want to  trade these 1-to-4 on Sun Titans.

@Stan_Grunder asks: where do you sell off product, like some soon to be valuable frost titans and/or destructive force and how do you price vs others

Wherever I can.  I have a lot of sources and I just get the best deal I can.  Sometimes that's MTGO, Ebay, dealers, or just to customers in my store.  It all depends if I have immediate need to liquidate or I am just trying to take profits.  Basically, know the marketplaces you can work with and know when to use each.  As far as pricing is concerned, I like to take an aggregate of the major online dealers and consider Ebay pricing as well.  I also factor in the probability that a card will sell in my retail store when setting a buy price, and will often pay more for something when my stock is running low.  By the way, I love Destructive Force and feel it could be an important card in the emerging metagame.  I'm buying them aggressively.

That's about all I have time for this week, but please let me know how you feel about these mailbag-style columns.  I have been considering doing one of these that would encompass all our writers as a regular thing, since I value reader interactivity above everything else.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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