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Reaction to SCG Buylist

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Welcome back everyone! Hopefully you enjoyed last week’s foray into MTGO redemptions, even though it is unfortunately not as profitable as it was in the past. There were lessons to learn there for the future. I was struggling for a topic this week, and then a miracle happened, Star City Games decided to post a buylist that will more than likely change the financial landscape forever. This buylist has already forced a change reaction that has been felt from everyone on eBay to every vendor on the planet to the casual player sitting in their local game shop, hoping to finish off their EDH deck or cube. Even Facebook has exploded with 100+ message conversations on walls of different members of the financial community. One such example that blew up this past week was this post by Dan Bock:

Dear Magic Players and Michael Angelo Russo,

Do you dislike high prices for Magic cards? Guess what? You're not going to enjoy the next 3-6 months of MtG.

Love,
...DanBock

This set off a firestorm of 100+ responses in a matter of 12 hours. That is quite impressive for a personal account, not one that is advertising a product or service.

Almost 2 years ago, Star City posted a list similar to this, looking to buy duals, power, and hard to find Vintage cards. These would eventually find their way into packs as “Priceless Treasure” as part of the marketing plan for Zendikar. This caused a sudden surge in the price of duals, where many of them gained 25-50% more value than they previously had. Last week, they posted a list with a similar list of cards, but at significantly higher numbers. Before this past week, you could find Sensei's Divining Top and Aether Vials for a reasonable amount of money, at least under the $10 they are currently asking for such cards. Force of Wills was hitting eBay at $35-$40 regularly, but now they are hitting $60-$70. Wastelands last week were $20-$25 most of the time and now they are $50. Kind of funny when Ben Bleisweiss said in his article at the beginning of the year that he thinks FoW will outgain Mana Drain, and low and behold, his company’s buylist has forced a decent condition Force to reach the price range of a  VG conditioned Mana Drain. These sudden price spikes have altered the landscape and people will now fall into one of three categories.

Category 1: People that will hold steady.

A segment of the people that play legacy regularly will just continue to do what they are doing now, not selling their cards and just play legacy. This could very well be the majority of players too.  Ok, yeah, this category is pretty boring but it is still an aspect to consider.

Category 2: People that will sell out.

Now, this is where it gets exciting. Getting $50 for your Forces or $40 for you Badlandss is pretty tempting. Badlandss have been $30-$35ish for a long time now, and with SCG offering to buy them at a number much higher than market makes it for enticing for players to just say “screw it” and ship everything and laugh to the bank.  If the majority of people choose this route, you could see a bubble burst when vendors have an overstock of cards and can’t move them for profit. This could cause a lot of vendors to have to sell out at much lower numbers and see profits drop significantly. A bubble burst could also scare people out of the format permanently. The question with this category is when will the bubble burst and how bad will it be?

Category 3: People that will never enter the format.

The simple truth with this category is that people have mostly been priced out of the format. A competitive Counterbalance deck is already reaching 4 figures. A lot of players just can't jump into a format like that; it almost makes Standard look tame with the $80 mythics. This hurts the growth of the format. It will start to get stagnant like Vintage did after its boom in the early part of the century.

It is a shame that the financial landscape has come to this. Personally, I think that the prices on this buylist are boarding on irresponsible and obscene. They are well over what the market was offering for these cards and just caused this huge spike instead of letting inflation take its normal course and let prices rise gradually. I would feel a lot safer investing in Legacy if the cards were going up on their own and were not artificially inflated. I think to solve this situation, WoTC should step in and find a way to lower the price of cards. After a long conversation with a friend of mine who is a very influential vendor, I think a “Master’s Edition” in real life that includes cards like Force of Will and Wasteland is the best option. Make it limited edition and a onetime shot like From the Vault sets. They will make money on the sets, cards will settle back down and new players will be able to enter the format which will get them buying other cards that are needed, causing vendors to make more money.

Speculation picks based on the bubble continuing to grow:

Dark Confidant: This guy is the key in quite a few decks and he offers such an insane amount of card advantage if left untouched he will quickly take over the game. He is currently $12-15 on eBay, but if he dominates a Top 8 for the GP or SCG event, I would see him spike into the $20-$30 range.

Goblin Piledriver: One of the lynchpins to the Goblin deck that will just never go away. He is already hitting $20 on eBay and a lot of vendors just do not have a significant quantity of them in stock. I would expect to see him hit at least $30 at the GP, if not sooner. Every Top 8 he makes, it adds another 10-15% to his value, and soon he will be the most sought after cards in the format.

Vindicate: This is another card that falls into the Piledriver category of a card that people just don’t have a lot of. It is used as a catch-all in the Junk decks that consistently put up quality results. I would expect this card to be at least $25 come GP time, if not higher.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Next week I will talk about, well, haven’t decided yet. I am sure something exciting will happen between now and then to write an interesting article on. I will be PTQing in Columbus this weekend if anyone wants to say “Hi”. Unless you are Dr. Jeebus, I would not recommend saying “Hi”. Have a good weekend everyone!

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Store: The Vault- Greensburg, PA

15 thoughts on “Reaction to SCG Buylist

  1. Good call on the pickups. I really do wonder if this is the time greed is going to catch up to SCG and the bubble will pop…I may need to write an article about that myself.

  2. I feel like one of two things are happening here, either A infalted prices to keep other vendors from starting legacy events therefore monopolizing the market moreso than now or B they know something about a new format that we don't if so I have lost much respect for WotC informing the vendors to line their pockets feels wrong to me, the secondary and the primary should not be collaborating on things of this nature, with the Zendikar packs I could understand but this just feels shady, I truly hope everyone sells out and SCG is stuck with infi product and has to drop prices. Forcing newer players out of a format is just unfair really… but seriously new format…look at what cards are going up there is a pattern if you watch closely.

  3. This run on staples will create a bubble that will have to bust sometime. As a Legacy player, I'm really happy that SCG started the K series, however it may end up destroying the format. I think a lot of what will happen depends on how eBay reacts to this.

    While SCG attempts to set the price, eBay usually provides a fair check on these prices since the auctions tend to give a better representation of market value. Additionally, the BIN prices are usually 10%-20% lower than than the retail prices on SCG (in some cases, the gap is even greater). However, last week Underground Seas could be purchased for $65-$75 on eBay using auctions or BIN. This week, the lowest sale price was a $77. I haven't looked over the details of the auction to see if there was a disproportionate number of NM cards that were selling, but if nothing else, it indicates that these buys lists do impact the market immediately.

    I also know that SCG does a fair amount of what I would call market intervention (I won't call it manipulation, but its very aggressive business actions); I also believe that SCG insatiable thirst for Legacy staples is largely due to scarcity issues. People understand these cards have long term value and refuse to give them up because they only increase in value (I bought my Underground Seas from SCG for $28 a piece less than five years ago which now sell for <$100; that's better than most stocks). Ben Bleiweiss has an eBay account which was opened in 2000. He has over 1000 transactions with only one as a seller back in 2001. More than 500 of the purchases on the account have come in the last 12 months. Most of the ones I've checked have been for Legacy staples which are very "undervalued" compared to the retail value that SCG has them at. It seems as though SCG is buying up all of these singles off eBay because people can't trade the cards in fast enough. Regardless of whether or not it is intentional, this has an impact eBay and thereby justified a drive up in price on eBay which in turn makes it easier to up the retail value. I think this does come down to scarcity. As long as SCG continues hosting Legacy tournaments and WotC hosts GPs, these cards will continue to rise.

  4. I don't know how many people will hate me for saying this ….but….. I have felt for a long time SCG knows a lot of things we don't and feel they have manipulated the market for years. I understand making money and have no issue with it. The problem is they are going to hurt the format (for the record one I don't play but probably would if the prices of cards weren't so outrageous). I am a have every card in the format kind of player and that is WAY to expensive for Legacy. I agree with the idea of a Master's set that includes all that type of stuff. Make it like 20 packs per box and $8-10 per pack with 6 cards in a pack. Something like that. "Oh crap I spent $10 for a pack and only got a Dark Confidant, DARN". Or "Score Force of Will. There has to be a way to do something like this.

  5. Although they still would have that whole Power 9 and Dual Lands can't be reprinted issue, which if they did a Master's Set would let more players get in and that could drive Power/Dual prices up because of need for them.

  6. Yes, by printing a master's edition set with a lot of legacy staples would simply cause those staples to drop and the ones on the reprint policy to rise up even higher. Mainly the dual lands would be the worst offender.

  7. You know… they could solve the whole "Reserved list" issue by simply creating a new format that allows all cards except for those on the Reserved List. This would allow them to reprint any cards they wanted, in order to keep the format accessible to everyone.

  8. I am not knowledgeable on this topic, but it seems to me that if scg is out of stock on many of these cards, they simply have to offer prices that people are willing to sell for, or they will no longer have a business that sells legacy staples. Sure this might be a bubble, but it is the people paying $75 retail prices for FOW that are to "blame", not the company picking them up for $50.
    That said, the open series seems to be driving demand, and kudos to them for realizing that a robust tournament circuit could make them money and support their primary business at the same time.

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