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Two’fer Tuesday: E-valuations – Pack a Punch!

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Hey everyone, welcome to the second edition of my MTGO finance article series: E-valuations. I wanted to write a short something to introduce myself before I get into my topic for the week:

I learned to play Magic around when Mirage block came out. I played casually with the kids in my neighborhood for a few years, spending my hard earned money (allowance) on booster packs for my collection. I took a lengthy break from the game when I moved out of town. Quite a few years and a career later I came back when Time Spiral block was being released. After my return I understood my passion for this game was deeply rooted in nostalgia. I got into MTGO when I realized my local community of magic players was sparse. I now help manage & host an online Player Run Event and have been dabbling in Bots for some time. I try and take every opportunity I'm granted to make money through cards & other digital Magic-related product. I truly am intrigued by the financial side of Magic Online. I’m committed to sharing my experiences with you and hope you can use the information to make some Event Tickets! It doesn’t matter if you just purchased your MTGO account, or have already taken the plunge into Bot ownership – I hope to contribute content for all business minded readers!

Bad for legacy, great for. . . Learning?

Now, on to the money-maker of the week. This time I’m going to let you in on a method I’ve used to make profit that doesn’t even deal with online singles. Booster Packs! Today we’ll explore booster pack supply and demand flow. I’ll show you how to take advantage of the MTGO event schedule to make some cash in the secondary pack market. The bottom line is: Buy low and sell high!

  • Supply

One key difference between online packs and ones we buy from our game stores is availability. There’s no way to buy boxes or cases of packs online, and WOTC really dominates the initial resale market. If you were to buy physical packs in the same manner as online we’d all be lined up at Wizards HQ just so we could run a casual sealed event or even crack some for our personal collections. Seems mad doesn’t it? Well, such is the way it goes online. No one gets a break for buying large amounts of product since it all comes from the MTGO store with a set price tag. You may be thinking this is ludicrous but if you come with the intentions of making money you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Although boosters are available from the Magic Online storefront in an unlimited quantity, they’re not up for sale indefinitely. At the time I’m writing this article you may currently purchase M11, Zen Block, and Shards Block packs for the standard price of $3.99. When a new expansion is released, some products in the store essentially “rotate” out. This leaves the buying and selling of said rotated packs to the secondary market, creating a large drop in supply. I could simply tell you to go buy packs that are soon to rotate like it’s going out of style, but I don’t think that’s a smart move. Why? Because the way we’re going to increase our ticket count this week is not by acting like an MTGO store with a huge overhead. Instead we’re going to take into consideration the price spikes associated with online events.

  • Demand

The definition of demand (in economics) is the desire to own anything and the ability & willingness to pay for it. So who’s in demand for packs? The casual player, the drafter, the guy practicing for the Pro Tour, or the EDH fanatic? At some point in time pretty much everyone who plays is going to need packs. The way you want to handle packs is take them in when there is a large supply and little demand, and hold on to them until they “mature.” This is the business model for a plethora of industries and it should be yours as well. How? Read on my friends.

I’d like to share this link with you from the Wizard’s official site. If you’re going to try and cash in on the demand of packs, the schedule above will be your best friend. You see, the majority of people don’t plan ahead. But you should! Let’s look at one of the many avenues of making a profit in accordance with the schedule. If we’re looking at the Weekly Nix Tix Draft Schedule we can see that Wizards is bringing back older draft formats. The players for these events probably fall in into a few categories. Those who enjoyed the format the first time, those who never got the chance to try it, or the ones that just want to mix up their drafting a little. We can see in late October that Magic 2010 and Shards of Alara queues are going to be coming back in the draft room. You could probably pick up any amount of these packs for cheap right now. Probably less than $2.50 each! Who really needs M10 packs at this point anyway? Probably no one. But when the drafts go live again for a week what’s going to happen to the demand? That’s right, I can assure you it will go up. The packs you picked up earlier for dirt cheap are now going to be in far greater demand. A quick trip to the classified section and you’re in business. Not only will there be players lobbying for how much they’ll buy packs for, but you can advertise that you have what they need – and set your own price standard! I don't see why anyone with a business mindset wouldn't want to take advantage of this opportunity. I urge you to!

  • Scale

One thing I’d like to mention is the scale in which you could buy and sell these Booster Packs. You see, the niche formats are a large part of various players’ schedule, but some more than others. Use common sense when purchasing product you intend on selling. Certain formats were/are more popular than the rest. You should do some research and find out which ones the community of players enjoyed and which ones they avoided. Be mindful of how many packs are available in any given market. A quick search through some MTGO retailers that have web sites can give you a good idea if the market is already saturated with packs. The window of opportunity for pushing out your stock is going to be small, and you’ll need to keep this in mind. Fortunately there are plenty of options for you to choose from. If you miss out on one hot set of packs, fret not, as there will be plenty more in the coming weeks. The name of the game here is to stay one step ahead of everyone else. Your time investment and budget should reflect what’s going to make you the most event tickets!

At this point I feel I need to get a bit more specific with you all. I can steer you in the right direction as much as I want, but I wouldn’t want to leave you out there with no solid examples for inspiration. So, what am I picking up right now? Look at what’s going on from 11/3 to 11/10. How many packs of Lorwyn/Morningtide are currently available? They’re out there, but not in very vast quantities. The demand isn’t great right now but the supply is already low. You should be able to pick up these packs for around $3.00. When the drafting begins I would imagine packs sales to top over $4.00. Hence, if you can cash in some of your bankroll today, when these queues start to fire you’ll be in business. On top of this, LRW/SHM block will stop being redeemed from MTGO to paper product soon. Also note the coming extended season, and the role these sets will play in constructed. Add all that together and it seems to me like a formula for success.

-Some Trade Action-

This week I also wanted to try and incorporate a trade I made online to spark some interest and hopefully some comments & discussion. Without further adieu:

It seems I lost a little value-wise in this trade (using prices at the time of writing). However, I'd like to explain why I went through with it. If you read my article last week you'll undoubtedly know I'm all about picking up bulk cards. Well, in this case I had the opportunity to offload some fruits of my labor. I picked up an abundance of Caress' when M11 was released and have been slowly trading them off. At the .50 price point they are a great throw in, especially in a playset. I'm surprised at how well they have held value even after supplies of M11 went up. The Liliana Vess isn't a big loss even though I'm trading away a mythic for some rares as I don't think she  goes in any tier 1 decks right now.

My choice of the Misty Rainforest is pretty simple, if you have a chance to pick up any Zendikar lands in this cycle then I would suggest you do so. It seems the Dredgevine deck will be played for a while, and the Rainforest is at least a 3-of auto-include. I know Valakut Ramp is going to stick around, hence my other choice in the promo one. (Also note: Mono Red) Do I get extra cool points for it being promo? Probably not, but I'll have more to report on that front next week! All in all I think it is a nice trade, one that can help me advance my digital binder. I know trading is a little edgy right now due to what's been brewing for the new Standard, so I like to concentrate on what I think  will be solid trades either way.  What do you think?

Thanks for reading another edition of E-valuations, any comments are appreciated below! You can follow me on Twitter @skeletoy, and as always be sure to follow @QuietSpec! See you next time around!

-Rusty Young

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4 thoughts on “Two’fer Tuesday: E-valuations – Pack a Punch!

  1. Great Article! Quick question (or maybe 2), though:

    In your experience/estimation, is it worth the time and money to actually collect the cards from sets that are about be cut-off from redemption? I would think that most people who are interested in redeeming those sets have already done so. Do you think it would be better to just scoop up the cards we expect to play a part in extended and pass on the rest?

    Either way, I liked reading this one, and your first part as well. Keep it up!

  2. So do you think we should move in on Alara? How many pack do you recommend getting?

    On another note: does anyone know where I could buy some cheap tix online?

  3. @ TempleGuard: Thanks for the kudos! I actually plan on writing an entire article on the set redemption subject. Not my next article, but probably the one after that, so stay tuned! As far as picking the cards themselves up now to try and price them up right before the end of redemption; I don't see a whole lot of users scrambling to complete sets last minute. Cards that will be hot in extended on the other hand, would probably be the best route to go. I have some assumptions on this but will hold off commenting until I finish my research for you all!

    @Lunco: Concerning ALA block, I would probably hold off on that particular set. It's set to rotate out of the store, however the market seems to be a little flooded with packs right now. ALA was pushed pretty hard as an alternate draft format in the last few months, and as such there are plenty of packs roaming around at this time. Also note that since it has been in the draft room fairly recently, some users will have gotten what they wanted play-wise out of the set already. Thanks for the question and feedback!

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