Insider: How much money has the Prediction Tracker made you?

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[Dear QS Free Readers:  We decided to make this article available to you because we think it might sway you to make the leap to Insider.  We work extremely hard to make sure you get your money's worth when you're a subscriber, and we hope it shows! --Kelly]

Hello, and welcome back to the Revenue Review!

Fair warning, I’m about to devote a few paragraphs to my personal life. Personally, I like it when my favorite Magic writers share a bit about themselves, as long as their entire body of work isn’t “my life is so cool,” or “my life sucks.” If you’re the type of person who can’t stand reading anything but all Magic, all the time, go ahead and skip down to “To the Tracker.”

By the time you guys are reading this, I should already be in London (the suburb Surbiton, specifically), where I am surprising my girlfriend of 6 years and proposing (luckily, she doesn’t read this site). There are a couple reasons I bring this up. First of all, as I mentioned above, I like it when Magic authors are a little more than an automated machine that spit out deck tech (or financial tech). Secondly, it’s pretty damn awesome news, and I’m excited.

Thirdly, and more relevant to Magic, is how I got here. Setting goals is obviously an important part of succeeding in Magic or in life in general, and a while back I set a goal to make enough off Magic to buy an engagement ring. How did that go? If you follow my string of semi-coherent rambling on Twitter, you might already know part of the answer. I plan on devoting next week’s column to discussing Magic-related goals and why they’re important, especially in trading, but today we’re here to review the first few months of the Prediction Tracker.

Before I get to the Tracker, I want to preemptively answer the two questions I know you all have on the tips of your tongues (or fingers, as it were).

  1. Yes, this is the only romantic thing I’ve done or am ever going to do in my life, so I’m doing my best to make sure it’ll last me another 60 or so years.
  2. And yes, I am going to be playing Magic and doing some trading while I’m there. I’ll be there for a week, and Dan Barrett (@dangerawesome) is being awesome enough to take me to a draft while I’m there.

To the Tracker. When we first launched the Tracker back in May, we had some big goals. Getting the entire QS financial team to collaborate on one massive document to be the cutting edge in trading tech is not a simple task. While I think there is plenty of room to continue to improve (and I have some ideas for the release of Innistrad), I’m very pleased with how we’ve done so far.

One of the major questions we get from potential Insiders is “what am I getting out of my subscription?” While I think we can all agree that the speculating, trading tips and market expertise easily cover the cost of a monthly subscription, this isn’t even to pin a number on.

Before the Tracker, this wasn’t all that easy to do. After the Tracker, we have a week-to-week historical reference chart for all of the QS teams’ called shots. Today we’re going to look at some of the best called shots from the Tracker so far and how much money would have been made if you invested in a playset of these cards.

The one note I want to make before we start is this: I’m not approaching this from a “we’re so awesome” point of view. Some of the calls made by individual contributors on the Tracker haven’t exactly shot up, and while some are still set to do so after rotation, the fact is not every called shot works out.

On the other hand, it’s very easy to determine which cards the team as a whole is in agreement on. If you’re a discerning Prediction Tracker user (as I suspect most subscribers to this site are), then you recognize that it’s a lot easier to buy into a card when four or five people are recommending it, rather than just one. These are the cards I’m going to be focusing on, as I feel like they are the cards most likely invested in by Insiders. We’ll also be working with only buy/sell prices, even though many of you probably traded for these cards, which means you actually had no costs going into these deals. Shipping a couple of Eternity Vessels for a Consecrated Sphinx back in the day means you’ve made much more “real” money (see The Myth of Making Profits if you need a refresher) than if you actually bought the cards in cash.

We’ll be using Black Lotus Project prices for this exercise, and we’re going to calculate profits assuming you invested into a playset of each card. The goal I hope to achieve is to put a number on the value of an Insider subscription. Of course, the value of a subscription is worth a lot more than the money made speculating (content, forums, etc), but I think this is a solid start.

Consecrated Sphinx

I don't think this guy qualifies as a "sleeper" any more

First appeared: May 26, 2011

Average price at the time: $3.42

Current price: $6.11

$6 and steadily rising. I’ve flipped some Sphinx to dealers for $7, and traded off still others at $10 apiece. The consensus seems to be that’s Sphinx is still on the way up, especially now that Besieged is no longer being opened.

Profit: $10.76

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

First appeared: May 26, 2011

Average price at the time: $72.31

Current price: $54

I figured we’d get Jace out of the way quickly, since there’s been so many factors going on with him. When this first appeared, we were advocating buying at a $45 price tag after the rotation while at the same time telling you to pitch all the copies you had. In reality, pretty much everyone from QS was saying to sell Jace long before we introduced the Tracker. His price peaked at $87 in March and had fallen more than $20 even before the bannings hit. Interestingly, his price has been popping back in the last week, so our $45 price tag was pretty accurate considering he just rotated a few months early.

Profit: Going to give this one a N/A, due to so many extenuating circumstances.

Dark Confidant

First appeared: June 3, 2011

Average price at the time: $15.62

Current price: $28.41

My personal buy call on Bob predated the Prediction Tracker for a few weeks, but everyone jumped on board in the Tracker’s second week. Confidant’s price has been going crazy since then, and while it’s probably closing in on its short-term peak, selling out now would net you a very healthy profit.

Profit: $51.16

Shock Lands

First appeared: June 3, 2011

Average price at the time: $6-10

Current Price $8-13

I’m going to lump these together as a whole after we suggested picking them up on the back of Community Cup hype, and the possible Modern or Overextended formats. In addition, the influx of new players about to enter the Commander market made these an attractive option. Many players want to play fetchlands and duals, but can’t drop hundreds of dollars on Tundras and so forth. In Commander, the 2 life drawback isn’t nearly as painful as in Legacy, and that also helped push demand for Shocks.

Since then, Star City Games massively upped their buy price on this cycle, meaning you made a very nice margin speculating on these.

Profit: We’ll count the cycle as once purchase for the purposes of lumping it together, and call it an average of $3 a card (using Hallowed Fountain as a guide), so our number here is $12.

Koth of the Hammer

First appeared: June 10, 2011

Average price at the time: $19.04

Current price: $19.94

Very much a call in progress, Koth is poised to gain in playability with a huge number of tools available to Red decks of all varieties.

Profit: $3.60

Tempered Steel

First appeared: June 24, 2011

Average price at the time: $2.95

Current Price: $3.39

Another called shot in the process of proving itself, Tempered Steel decks are gaining in both power, playability and popularity. Picking up Tempered Steels in trades is still a great idea, and this card could see $6-8 prices post-rotation.

Profit: $1.66

That’s a very modest list of the cards that were suggested by multiple people on the Tracker. A lot of the cards on the Buy List of the Tracker are longer-term calls, and some are already beginning to prove themselves, while others are set to do so after the rotation. Also not reflected here is that many of these cards popped up on the Watch List before the Buy List, so it’s also probable that you traded into some of these before they were promoted to the Buy List.

While there are plenty of other cards on the list that have seen an increase in value, these are the ones I believe were the “easiest” calls to buy into. After tallying up the values, we come to a total of…

Total Profit: $79.18

We’re not quite to three months of the Tracker, but for the purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume you paid full price ($8.99) a month for three months of an Insider subscription, and we’ll even assume you had to ship the cards in the mail, eating up another $12 in shipping costs. This is pretty much the worst-case scenario since many of you can either sell cards in person or combine shipping.

But even in the worst scenario, you netted more than $40 from just the “easiest” buy calls of the Tracker. Tacked onto the forums, the short-term calls of the Tracker, the Ditch List, and the other Insider content, that’s not such a bad deal, is it?

Prediction Tracker updates

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Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

Corbin Hosler

Corbin Hosler is a journalist living in Norman, Oklahoma (also known as the hotbed of Magic). He started playing in Shadowmoor and chased the Pro Tour dream for a few years, culminating in a Star City Games Legacy Open finals appearance in 2011 before deciding to turn to trading and speculation full-time. He writes weekly at and biweekly for LegitMTG. He also cohosts Brainstorm Brewery, the only financial podcast on the net. He can best be reached @Chosler88 on Twitter.

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9 thoughts on “Insider: How much money has the Prediction Tracker made you?

  1. Great article as usual sir, and congratulations seem to be in order, I look forward to hear how the proposal went. Enjoy your stay in London and return safe.

  2. Congrats Corbin! I hope you didn't buy her a MOX as a wedding rock! haha 😛
    (…although that would be awesome as well! On par with the "donut ring" Homer gives Marge! lol)

  3. Congrats on the proposal!

    As per the article. Great way to get new subscribers is to post this as a free to read articles, without the current prediction tracker obviously. This way people could see what their fee could be getting them.

  4. I can't resist pointing out that after I posted in the forums about the opportunity to pick up shock lands from MTGOTraders for pretty low prices, a bunch of people, including writers for the site, advised me not to do any more of that, because they were liable to be reprinted, and there would be plenty of time to buy in if Modern and/or Overextended turned out to be supported formats. Now you are claiming that the shocklands were a "called shot". I see that you yourself have them on the buylist, but nobody else does. So who's this "we" who supposedly suggested picking them up on the back of Community Cup hype? It seems that you are focusing on paper rather than digital, but the market forces should be roughly the same. In fact, it should be easier to make money on MTGO, because you don't have the cost of shipping.

    So was this really a "called shot," or a missed call? Seems to me it was more the latter. What do people think?


    1. I had said to hold off on these (and the filter lands) because there was no proof that Modern/OE were actually going to be formats. I didn't think they'd get reprinted, but I didn't forecast that the price would increase so much just from people thinking that Modern was going to happen. If you listened to me, I probably cost you some opportunity money. It was a situation that we've really not seen before and I didn't know how to call it. I didn't want you to have fifty shocklands and then say, in a year, "when is this Modern thing going to happen?"

    2. Probably more of a missed call as a whole, as their prices have indeed gone up out of sheer speculation. However, if Wizards does in fact make Modern/Overextended/whatever a format, I would fully expect the shocklands to be reprinted. I can't find the article but I remember it because it directly contrasted the shockland names with the painland names (Yavimaya Coast?) and common bounceland names (Boros Garrison), and stated that they were generic (Watery Grave!) specifically so that they could be reprinted in a base set if they wanted.

      The M10 lands have been printed 3 times, and it would not surprise me in the least to see M13 have at minimum the allied shocklands.

    3. Fair enough. I guess I was under the impression that people other than myself were suggesting them as pickups. As I've said, part of what is driving their demand is EDH appeal, and I was advocating them from the start.
      As for MODO vs. Paper, MODO is easier in the sense that there is no shipping, but prices move much, much faster online, making the window to profit more difficult.

  5. @Josh
    I think R&D (Maro) said they didn’t want to include Shocklands in core sets because newer players don’t want to get punished for playing lands. So maybe reprints but in an upcoming set after a core set.

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