Endless Horizons – Market Influence

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I can’t wait for new tournament results. Every time I see results from a big event, it’s like the opening bell of the stock market going off in my head. I have to compare what I have in stock to what’s doing well, and what’s doing horribly. States this year was a good example of this. I predicted that Vengevine would lose its dominance, Fauna Shaman wouldn’t live up to expectations, and that Primeval Titan would surge since ramp decks only lost rampant growth, and was positioned post rotation to be the big contender out the gates. I had a few friends tell me I was wrong about my predictions, but it turns out people that were putting money on the vine and shaman lost out. Almost everyone here knows how to make money when a market is going up on a card.  This week we’re going to examine how to make money when the market goes down, which is much more difficult to master, but I’ll introduce the basic concepts here today.

As a small aside here, I really don’t think Frost Titan is that good. In fact I think it sucks. Yes, I understand that it makes you pay more to target it, and that it can tap down one permanent per turn. That’s not nearly the impact that any of the other titans have. Frost titan is currently being played because its ability is half decent for shutting down all the other big mana creatures running around. The next evolution is for speedy decks such as GW aggro, RW aggro, and others along those lines to rise up to fight against them, providing more threats than the Frost Titan is able to deal with. At that point, many RUG Control players will switch to running Inferno Titan so they can mass burn creatures every swing. At that point Inferno Titan will be amazing, and the cycle will continue. Is Frost Titan good right now? Sure, it fills its role for the current metagame, but overall it won’t see the play that cards like Umezawa's Jitte or Tarmogoyf did because it’s too situational. Good card for now, but off them quickly while the price is still high after this weekends 5K.

We all know to be on the lookout for sleeper or chase rares, to pick them up when its cheap, and sell them when their price hits a level were comfortable with for a profit. This is how you make money when the market goes up. As a savvy reader of you already know this, and as a reader of my articles you know how to open up markets and develop them. Now how do you make money when a card loses value? Here's a basic introduction.

Cardboard Short Selling – Have a feeling that a card is going to fall in price? Trade all of them off now at their maximum value, then in a couple of weeks or a month, trade to get them back at a much lower value. You net the profits in between, and you still can keep your card in the long run, or you can just take all the profit and not worry about the card coming back.

I still think its bad, but if it makes me money...

Trade other peoples stuff – If you have a good reputation, you can trade from other peoples stock for your own gain. I’ve done this a few times, basically writing them an IOU for the card, or sharing some of the profits. This got rid of a card from their stock that was going to lose value, gave me immediate gains, and assured them a return, usually more than the original card was worth. Use these two ideas in combination with each other for easy profits. This is much closer to the actual idea of short selling in the stock market.

If you can use those two tactics together you will literally have access to every card in the shop, and if your reputation is on par, everyones trade binder is, within reasonable means, your trade binder as well. Just don't default on what you owe.

Influencing a market is a tricky business. At one of my local shops, Goblins did well pre SOM. The Goblin deck won roughly 40% of the time, and it was gaining popularity. Outside of my shop the market for the cards in the deck was very limited, but within that shop Goblin Chieftain, Warren Instigator, and Goblin Guide were all worth at least 20% above going rate in trades. At the time Goblin Guide was already worth a decent amount because of the success of RDW. I traded many of all the above mentioned cards for healthy profits, kept the players happy, and helped steadily guide the market. I’ll go through the top two things  that dictate most markets, and what you can do to help influence it.

Winning – Winning is obviously the most important factor in determining how much a card is valued at. If your shop follows coverage from large events such as 5K’s and Pro Tours then your market is already feeling the effects of outside influence. If you can pilot a deck with new tech in it, and win with it on a consistent basis, then the cards you’re using will rise in value within that shop. Consequently the cards that are used to stop you will also rise in value. If you can position an unused mythic to be the perfect counter to your strategy, you can usually reap a hefty profit by trading them off at a higher value.

Availability- Every market follows the flow of supply and demand. Without these factors we wouldn’t have any kind of measurable economy, so if you want something to rise in price constrict its supply. Trade for every copy you can get, and then when the card shows up in deck lists, with a constricted supply you’ll be set up to make a hefty profit. Paying attention to the tips offered here on the site and from other notable people will give you the opportunity to start gathering cards before they go up in price. It took Frost Titan a couple of months, but it’s gone from a bulk mythic to a current staple. Gerry T said that it was one of the most underrated cards in the set just a few weeks after it came out.

While no one thing is guaranteed to help you steer the market exactly where you want it to be, those are the top two things you pay attention to. If you do, profits will show up over time, and the better you get at using the methods and the more tricks you learn the easier it becomes to guide your market into a steady profit machine. Once you have the trade capitol you will be able to constrict and release the flow of staple cards as you see fit, at least enough to have more say in price controls.

To finish this off, I want to point to a few decks from the 5K. In standard, RUG control took both first and second place, and the staple cards in that deck should see a small rise in value. The real attention was in Legacy, where Gerry Thompson took second with a deck based on abusing Survival of the Fittest and Necrotic Ooze. Its worth noting that Survival based decks made up half of the Top 8, and took first and second place. If you don't have them, I would wait until after the banned and restricted announcement in December before buying them, just in case. If Survival isn't banned though, expect to see its price rise very quickly over the next year. That’s all for this week, remember to keep those journals updated, they will help show just how much your time is worth for those couple of hours a week you spend in the cardboard market.

Until next week,

Stephen Moss

MTGstephenmoss on twitter

or feel free to e-mail me

5 thoughts on “Endless Horizons – Market Influence

  1. For starters great article Stephen.

    I find your comments on Frost Titan insightful. I too think Frost Titan is bad, but traded into a couple of them as suggested by earlier articles on this site because the current meta is titan friendly. I also appreciate your prediction on Inferno Titan as the meta attempts to speed pass Frost Titan.

    Recently, I am disappointed in the growing trend of Frost Titan appearing in UW control over Sun Titan. Hopefully, UW control players realize that the Sun Titan + Tectonic Edge synergy is too good to pass up, but until then trading away Frost Titan is a solid plan as overplay and hype are causing the price to peak.

    1. Jarrett,

      Thanks! Glad you liked it. A lot of sites and well known players have been talking about the aggro decks starting to crop up to handle the control decks, so its good to see the normal cycle is continuing.

      I'm also sad to see Sun Titan's fall from deck lists. Tectonic Edge is just one of the many pieces that a UW control deck can abuse with Sun Titan, but YMMV depending on build. I think the builds that are common now, heavy counter magic and other control, don't have as many ways to abuse Sun Titan fully which caused the switch to Frost Titan to happen. It will all pan out in the end, and I can see Sun Titan finding its place again, but I think its days of a price tag above $10 are over.

  2. Stephen,

    What do you think the odds are that Survival will be banned? I found one in an old binder, and I want to sell it, but I'm not sure if I should do it now, or wait until after December?

    1. Ben,

      Honest chances? Not very high. The meta will shift to adapt to it, just as it does for most things. Survival is no Mystical tutor, and I know that the DCI sees that. Yes, it does allow for powerful interactions, but that's what Legacy is for. If you're looking for profits now, you can easily sell it, but as with any speculation it could go up or down in value. Just remember how badly the people who bought Rav duals at the end of last Extended season got burned when the price tanked.

  3. @Ben

    The odds SotF will be banned are about as likely as time reversal and Kozilek spiking like TMS did. Or about as likely that over-extended will be announced.

    Hype is cool…I mean "crazy bonkers nuts WOW", sell it before the rest of the world comes to the realization that the SCG monster duped them once again.

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