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Insider: Of Collections, Miracles and Wolves

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I’m not sure if you heard or not, but there was a Pro Tour recently. But of course you have. In fact, it would be a miracle if you… (Never mind, can’t bring myself to do it).

This week we’re going to look at the movement of the Pro Tour and what it means going forward. But first I wanted to finally wrap up the Collection Flipping Case Study and answer a few of the questions raised in the comments of last week’s article.

From Slack:

As for when to sell: my advice is immediately. I always start with the cheap stuff and sell everything as singles to dealers until I've recuperated all, or the largest part of, my investment. Sometimes that leaves you with one or two prize cards, sometimes a ton more, but you're then poised to re-invest that money into another collection while you slow grind the good stuff. Plus, it makes your efforts immediately apparent and easy to determine. (ie "It took me X dollars and Y hours to earn this pile of cards in my hand")

This is the approach I’ve traditionally taken, but I changed it up last time for a few reasons. The first is that, frankly, capital is not a problem for me. I don’t make a lot of money as a journalist, but I’m lucky enough to be debt-free after college and live in a state (Oklahoma) with a very low cost of living. A product of my upbringing, I’m very frugal and would rather save money than buy something, even sometimes when it’s something I need. As a result, I don’t mind leaving some money in cardboard for a few extra weeks because it’s not going to prevent me from buying again if something came along. There’s a lot to the “don’t tie up your money” argument, but it’s not something I’ve had to worry about.

The thing I like most about that approach is the easy “x-y” comparison you mentioned, which is why I tried to track my efforts in that area.

The point was also raised by Pi:

What I missed in these articles was something like a time versus reward analysis. You put in $80, made about $45, how many hours were spent to do this? Also, what would the results have looked like if you did not find a very good deal for the Foil Mage, Foil Mystic and the Wasteland?

With the traveling and extra effort, $45 feels like it might not constitute a very good hourly rate.

First off, I should clear up that the foil Snaps, Mystic and Wasteland weren’t included in any of my figures. I was ready to roll them into the collection, but since I was able to move them separately I instead treated them as a standalone deal since I was able to trade/sell them separately. I basically made a free Wasteland on that particular deal.

On the time/money issue, you guys are completely right. I didn’t make this clear enough last week. Between buying the collection, trading it and then pricing it out again, I spent about four or so hours on it, meaning I only “made” about $10 an hour. Trading out of the collection didn’t really cost me anything in terms of time, since I was already going to be trading from my regular stuff anyway. While the $45 number certainly is not great, what that figure doesn’t show is the value I added to my “regular” trade value.

As I more or less just put some of the extra profits from each individual trade into it and didn’t keep track quite as much there, I can conservatively estimate I added another $40-50 in retail value to my binder. This works out to about $25-30 in cash, so if you add that to the previous number you’ll find my hourly wage was closer to $16-18 an hour, which is something I can get behind.

One more:

I disagree with forcing all to one outlet. I have 4 sites that I sell to for various reasons and easily make more than the shipping in the difference in the buy prices.

I can go a little deeper into this now that I’ve spoken to Chris, the shop owner at White Lion Games in Texas, the store I ultimately sold to. I first met Chris at SCG Dallas last year, and we worked out a very good trade for both of us, wherein he took my Standard goodies and I came away with a Volcanic Island. He told me then to let him know when I was selling and he could cut me a deal, so I went back to them this time around.

I sent Chris my spreadsheet with the offers from the stores I had, and he matched or nearly matched the prices on every card. By opening a line of communication with a dealer, I was able to get the prices I wanted on my stuff and have the ease of moving it all to one place. This essentially netted me that money I would have spent in shipping to separate stores.

Lessons learned from the Pro Tour

I won’t bore you with a bunch of paragraphs on what you’ve already read. Wolfir Silverheart will not sustain its current price, and you should get out immediately. You probably have another 7-10 days or so if you’re cashing out to a buylist, and probably a little less on Ebay (and this article might give you some more insight to flipping on Ebay).

Get out of these before the bubble pops.
Get out of these before the bubble pops.

Instead, I have a different tack to touch on regarding the Wolf, and it’s a lesson the last two Pro Tours have drilled into me.

I was the first one to break the Wolfir tip. I have a friend who was at the PT who passed on to me that SCG “broke” the format with their Silverheart decks, and that the card was selling at $12 on site. I fired off an e-mail to Doug to send out to Insiders, and I tweeted it for the super late-night crowd. And then I found out that it was selling for 12 EUROS, not dollars, which is even more insane.

So I was farther ahead of the Wolfir curve than just about anyone else, and I thought about a move. I looked at TCGPlayer and saw there were a number available for under $2. The problem was that no store had more than 2-3 at that price. I also knew that the Pro Tour wasn’t going to truly affect Standard a great deal due to the banning of Lingering Souls and Intangible Virtue. With that in mind, I figured it was a $5-6 card and that made it a great trading target, but not a good cash buy. I picked some up trading at FNM on Friday and felt pretty good about myself.

Check back three days later. I was unable to watch much Pro Tour coverage due to work, and missed the Top 8. Of course by now Silverheart is $10 everywhere that still has it, and dealers are buying at $5. Clearly a failed move on my part. The sad part was that I did the same thing with Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells. I received the tip from the Pro Tour and even wrote about it the day before the Pro Tour. I could have gotten in on the card at $8, but the fear (which I’ve written about before) got to me, and again all I did was trade for a few copies before the spike.

Looking back on these two experiences, I’ve drawn a few conclusions that may seem obvious in retrospect, but oftentimes get overlooked.

It’s all about the Pro Tour

SCG Opens are nice. Grand Prix are cool. They don’t mean much. The Pro Tour, on the other hand, means everything. I can only assume the huge amount of coverage the PT gets is what accounts for this.

I’ve speculated on cards that make a showing at an Open and it rarely works out well. Same goes for Grand Prix. I made okay money on the Hive Minds I bought after that deck won a GP, but I would have made tenfold that if it had been a Pro Tour. If you’re going to speculate early and take a risk, do it on a Pro Tour deck and not any other event. Had I thought about this more, I would have certainly gone in hard on Huntmasters when I had the chance, and would have profited nicely from it.

Speculation rules the market

Silverheart is a $5-8 card for its life in Standard after this, but that didn’t stop the price from rocketing well past $10 this week. This card will do nothing but go down from this point on, and if you got in early, now’s the time to get out.

We see it happen all the time, like with Food Chain recently. Whether it’s driven by speculators or player demand, card prices react so vociferously to speculation in the market that underlying principles are simply ignored. As long as you’re fast enough, you have plenty of time to capitalize on these moves. I prefer the steady, “blue-chip” plays like Fetchlands more than I like to play the “bet on X bulk card,” but there’s room for both in your strategy.

Miracles

It wasn’t in Hayne’s winning deck, but I really think the best Miracle post-rotation is going to be Bonfire of the Damned. The reason is that, like all the miracles, it’s obviously good off the top of your deck. But I’ve also seen it cast for three mana a lot of the time to clear out Spirit tokens and allow Strangleroots to bash in. With the Pro Tour more attention will be paid to Terminus and Entreat, but while Terminus is a fine play at $5, I don’t like moving in on Entreat at $20.

Bonfire, though, hasn’t got quite as much press from the Pro Tour. It had its spike and is now out of stock at $15 on SCG and is higher than that at TCGPlayer. I’m pretty comfortable getting in on this now, especially if SCG doesn’t raise their price for a little bit. I do think all of these cards will come down in the coming months, especially since there are so many money cards people are trying to bust right now. That will cause more and more packs to be opened, and will in turn bring down prices.

That’s it for this week. On a personal note, it's been a good run for me of late. I’ve begun writing biweekly on Legitmtg.com, and you can check out my first article here. I’ll be writing about financial matters there, but don’t worry, the hot tips are staying here. You can also check out my podcast with Marcel and Ryan Bushard over at BrainstormBrewery.com.

And, in the most exciting bit of news, I get married in 16 days!

 

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

7 thoughts on “Insider: Of Collections, Miracles and Wolves

  1. A note of selling that I've gathered not everyone knows about – Bidwicket.com. I've seen Wolfirs going for $5 to dealers there, though I haven't checked in a few days.
    And thanks everyone!

  2. I live in southern California and there's a GP next weekend I'll be going to, do you think on site prices a week from now will be more than eBay/dealers today? Trying to decide whether to liquidate now or on site. Also something to factor in, I have about 70 copies which may be a hinderance on site.

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