The Nutt Draw: Set EV Matrix

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Hello and welcome to another edition of The Nutt Draw. This week I’m going to expand on the chart and data that had previously been little more than tacked on to the end of my articles. I’ve always found the results interesting and useful and since I’ve received a few comments about what I thought of as a foot note, I decided it’s time to get a bit more serious about it.

There have been quite a few comments about my set and pack EV analysis and so I’ve reworked all the formulas from scratch (I even crashed my system and had to create them again) and intertwined the calculations more closely with all the other bits of data. I’ve also decided to make Set EV updates a part of my regular article rotation along with the Demand Matrix and Buy List Matrix.

1st Highest Priced

In the old Pack EV spreadsheet I had totaled up the values of the singles in the given sets, added up the price of the packs it would take to complete one full set of each expansion, extracted the approximate value of the cards from all those packs, calculated the pack EV and compared that with retail pack pricing. This served my purposes well and it was created entirely because I was curious as to how the comparative values might shake out and change over time. Because I thought it was interesting, I reasoned that some of you might as well so I published it. In the past however, I didn’t make it a point to explain what I do with this chart outside of its creation, nor what could be done with it apart from pointing and thinking “hmmmm.” As my arch nemesis (and Washington State Champ) Joe Bono pointed out to me over this last weekend in between rounds where he co-won a GPT, I present a lot of data to dive into, but I’ve really not taken the time to lay out how it can be easily used. Going forward I’ll make an effort to explain what I use it for and also try to extrapolate how it might be put to use by others. I’d also like to ask you all to comment about how you use the information, and if there are any data points you think I’m not hitting. There may be reasons I don’t use them (including that I hadn’t thought to) but this information will help me sort the way the results are displayed in ways that are more applicable for everyone. Why am I telling you all this instead of just doing it? Well, I want to give you the reasons that a seven row, nine column spreadsheet is now a sheet with 44 active rows, nine columns and with another seven columns waiting for additional sets.

I present to you the new Set EV Matrix. (I’m not sure why I keep using the term “matrix” but it’s now thematic).

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Much of the resulting data in this sheet was calculated and added just in case someone out there might want to see it (I apologize for the necessary right/left scrolling on this one). These forms aren’t interactive (yet) and so I needed to try and give any and all information that I thought someone would want to see. There are many aspects to this that I don’t personally use, but that others may prefer. For example, I like to use the Singles vs Pack percentage to tell me both which packs have the most comparative money in them as well as to suggest the course that a set might take throughout its honeymoon period while standard legal. Much of the end results of my number crunching are arrived at partially because I want to see if I could do it, and because I am looking for patterns to emerge in order to increase my understanding of the ever changing landscape. As you can see, with this new version I’ve expanded the calculations to include not only the old results, but with additional twists like auto-filtering out cards that are below $0.75. I’ve added in calculations to give us the average price of a set’s Mythics, Rares, and Uncommons. I’ve added indicators as to which Mythic, Rare, and Uncommon cards are the most expensive in each set along with their latest going eBay rate. Pack EV is now calculated in seven different and simultaneous ways including a 14 card total, sans Commons, Mythics and Rares only, independently with cards over $1.00, $0.75 and $0.50 and my favorite, with the highest priced card removed. This last one is my favorite because I like to see what kind of return I can get on random pack X if I don’t hit the number one money card. I’ve also added in the total Buy List value of the cards from each set as well as the card with the highest buy price and a re-leveled sum of the single’s Demand Index.

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I’d like to draw your attention to the results of the calculations that ultimately were responsible for my system crashing. In my effort to be more complete and clear about the results I decided to try and look at this data from the perspective of someone what might want to be spoon fed some simple and easy to compare results. I tried to imagine the mind set of average Monty T. Gamer, standing in from of a staggering array of booster packs, only eying those that are standard legal (for some reason), and clutching the fiver he snuck out of him mom’s purse while she was nearly unconscious from sampling 13 consecutive “5ths of Jack.” Aside from the CPS hotline, what series of numbers could I hand Monty to make his day a bit easier? Toward the bottom of the chart you’ll see a series of figures about each set currently in Standard. I ran the numbers several different ways and struggled to display them in such a way as to make them accessible and useful to more people. It’s still a bit math heavy, but these figures show you what your chances are of getting the chase card, as well as the chances of pulling cards of incrementing values between $1 and $50. I’ve also tried to take a little of the guess work out of selecting which boosters to purchase with the chart below by ranking the packs according to several metrics.

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The order of the sets in this chart tell us how ranked against each other on average in 14 of the calculated categories including the average prices in each rarity, Pack EV calculations, % chance of opening certain values of cards as well as the most sought after cards from the scraped buy lists.

All of this is to say that there are many ways of looking at and tweaking the data, and I expect that this list to be comprehensive enough to get us by until the next update. Of course, if I’ve missed anything, or you’d like to see it presented in another way, please let me know. Hopefully this massive amount of information will be useful on its own, as well as spark an idea of what you each might really like to see.

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Though some of these points aren’t explicitly listed as figures, I can tell from the data provided that if I were to purchase 80 packs of Worldwake (the statistical average for a full set) and for some reason didn’t open a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, my total value of those packs would be about $190 vs $257 if I had opened the Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Missing that one card drops the value of my pulls by almost 26%, and since the chances of opening a Jace, the Mind Sculptor card is about 1 in 80 packs (2.2 consecutive boxes) grabbing an occasional random Worldwake pack is significantly more risky than the other sets in terms of likely value. The Worldwake EV isn’t that much different than the other sets, but 1/3 of the value on a complete set is tied up in a single card.

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Whether you’d like to know which two or three packs you should throw in with your next singles purchase or you’re going to blow your inheritance on cases of Magic, this data is for you. Give it a look, and the next time your BFF is reaching for that pack of Alara Reborn you can feel a bit more justified for slapping it out of his/her sweaty gamer hands for not getting M11 instead.

Chris McNutt
@fatecreatr on twitter

Chris McNutt

Born in Seattle, Washington, Chris McNutt has been playing and collecting Magic: The Gathering since Unlimited Edition. As an active player, tournament organizer and judge he regularly scrubs out of Pro Tour Qualifiers but inexplicably cleans up at the local draft tables. When not net decking Chris is either busy working as an Information Technology Sales Rep or spending time with his family. Other non-magical pastimes include playing guitar and an unhealthy number of video games. Cursed with an undying love of generating spreadsheets purely for “fun”, he’ll be crunching the numbers each week in order to serve up delicious data burritos to the salivating, hungry readers of Quiet Speculation.

View More By Chris McNutt

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5 thoughts on “The Nutt Draw: Set EV Matrix

  1. To provide some feedback on how a random commenter uses our matrices . . .

    I've been using the Singles Demand Matrix to find discrepancies and similarities in values over different areas. For example, I try to find a card that has a huge variance between the eBay price, the store buy price, and what I know the average person at my local game shop will most likely value something at. I then try to find something with a very low variance (Vengevine, Fauna Shaman, etc). When I trade, I try to trade the high variance card for the low variance card.

    When someone pulls out the smart phone or decides to go by Starcity prices in a trade, the numbers come out much more even. However, I can restock a high variance card that I trade away cheaply through eBay. It's the version of "trading up" that I've decided to embrace.

    As for the Pack EV Matrix, I'm actually using it to help me determine if I should draft at FNM, or play Standard. I'm much more inclined to draft if the EV of a pack is higher, as I have a chance to open some decent cards even if I do poorly in the draft itself. It also helps me determine which packs to select for my winnings if I do perform well.

    I'm really liking these matrices! Keep up the great work!

  2. Another awesome article! I love numbers. The one thing I think would be great to add is pricing out the top 5 Standard cards over a longer period of time. I think there could be some really great comparisons and trends to see if we looked at the price graph of cards through their Standard life.
    Obviously the charts likely began just a few months ago, but even in that time it would be very interesting.

  3. Coool chart. I haven't touched a paper booster in about a decade yet spent a good fifteen minutes scrolling around through the chart comparing data just out of curiousity 🙂

    Here's something I think could be interesting to see possibly, though I'm not too sure how telling it would be, and it might be a considerable amount of work depending on whether or not you maintain a timeline of prices…
    Total singles value based on the highest prices each single has ever been at. Because everything starts extraordinarily high, you would need a cutoff such as 6-8 weeks after set release to begin "counting" high prices – whenever "settling" seems to somewhat finish, otherwise almost every card would simply go by it's release price.

    The idea would be to get a gauge of "power" in the set, though there's a good chance this isn't the result…I have no idea what it'd end up showing, and no idea how this would be used… I'd just be curious to see the results lol. It might be interesting to find that the total of peak-values for any set is roughly proportional to the totals for current values, or to find that a set with high peak values ends up maintaining a higher % of that value, or a lower % perhaps due to attracting people to buy into that set more heavily.

    This might be a really terrible idea, not sure… I guess it largely depends on how easy it is to throw together.

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