Since we last met, the inevitable update to the Modern banned list has arrived, and we of course have to modify our expectations of certain card movements. My updates are on the tracker, but there are three I want to focus on specifically.
Buy: <$3 Sell: $6.
Any format that harkens back a multitude of blocks will have control and combo decks lurking. While the ban-hammer looks to bash most of them into submission, the long grinding control decks, and the inevitable combo decks are looking for cards that not only create card advantage but also add late-game value. One such card is Gifts Ungiven. Nothing spells trouble like a Gifts pile of 3-tron pieces and a Life from the Loam, just as an example. There are rumblings around the net of Mono-U 12-post being a real thing, and if you give away Green, you’ll want some tutors in this deck. Even tutors to find narrow tutors to find game winners. The deck generates enough mana to utilize this strategy.
Buy: $15-17 Sell $25.
Magic R&D fought hard to protect aggressive decks by banning cards like Mental Misstep and Jace,the Mind Sculptor. Thoughtseize will be the best bet to stop a Knight of the Reliquary, Dark Confidant, or even Meddling Mage. Utility spell that already has Legacy demand on lockdown.
Buy $7.50 Sell $12.50
There are a ton of cheap efficient removal spells available. Path to Exile, Dismember, Lightning Bolt all come to mind. However in the more ubiquitous removal, we have Maelstrom Pulse and Oblivion Ring. Both are the “destroy target Planeswalker/Enchantment/Artifact/Creature” cards. Luckily Maelstrom Pulse also blows up O-Rings, en masse. Further, the surge of Zoo decks, will likely make a card like this very playable. Doran decks, or any Junk/Jund deck for that matter will rely on this staple to clear the board of annoying permanents, including opposing Oblivion Rings.
In full disclosure, these are the three I personally am actively buying, not just targeting in trades. Most calls I make, I am trading for them, so as not to expose myself too much if there is no-movement or negative movement. Cards above, I’m committing cash to. And will continue to until the prices adjust.
I mentioned I’d give an MTGO update this week, and here it is. My very first Article here on QS was about why you shouldn’t be drafting Scars block, and should focus on M11 drafting if you’re trying to maximize your draft dollars. Well, now I’m here to update that plan. And to also discuss pack-economics a bit farther.
First, let’s look at some facts about drafting Scars block in comparison to M12. The cards you crack are a huge portion (about half) of the average benefit of drafting. The other half comes from prize support, but both are linked, in a very obvious way. Cracking a single M12 booster, if sold directly to Bot’s should make you approximately 0.971 tickets, which over a complete draft set, comes to a total of 2.913 tickets. With Scars block, in the order in which they are opened is 1.852 for NPH, 1.303 for MBS and 0.838 for SOM. The total for the set, is therefore 3.993. As a result, the cost of these packs is different as well. You can draft Coreset for about 10.59 tickets (including entry fee) while Scars block will cost you 12.17. Supposing you pull exactly your fair share of prizes in either format, the 10.59 of M12 entry fee will average you 8.12 tickets in return (when combining prize support with cards opened). While the 12.17 Scars block entry fee will average you 8.91 in return. You are paying an extra ~1.6 to draft Scars block, while only reaping an additional 0.8 ticket reward. In more direct terms. M12 returns 8.12/10.59=76.7% of your entry fee on average, while Scars block is 8.91/12.17=73.2% entry retention.
The big issue here, is the NPH packs are the most expensive to buy from bots. If you win an 8-4, you will receive 3 SOM Boosters, 3 MBS Boosters, and 2 NPH Boosters. If you lose in the finals you receive 2 of SOM and 1 each of MBS and NPH. SOM are the cheapest of the block as is, so selling your excess SOM packs off for NPH packs to continue drafting is a huge blow to your bankroll. M12 doesn’t have this problem, and at the lower entry fee, can support almost the same expected gain from each draft. 4-3-2-2's are rarely correct options for anyone, but certainly not for Scars Block, the prize pack disbursement further exacerbates the problem of the lopsided pack values, giving out more SOM and MBS packs than 8-4's do.
So once again, 8 months later, I’m still saying, Coreset draft is better than the active block from a financial standpoint. However, you should use this information wisely and apply it to your business plan in a way that makes sense. I’ve done the hard work for you crunching all the numbers, but what can you do with it? Do you have an MTGO budget? If so, what can you afford to draft? Do you support your drafting by grinding constructed queues? If so, likely drafting M12 makes the most sense, as constructed queues pay out their packs that way, and selling them to bots is not wise unless necessary. Don’t be sheep, sheep are what feed the system for the financial minded. Take the available information and apply it to your scenario.
I’ve been starting to learn ‘the MTGO grind’ so that I can supplement my drafting with constructed queues, and any patterns or habits I discover will be updated as I come across them. The coming weeks will cover Modern fluctuations, the progress in my Legacy trading (getting closer to building a LandStill deck), and continuous updates on the MTGO scene.
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