As I’ve explored our forums here at Quiet Speculation, I’ve discovered we have a very diverse readership. Some players are returning to the game after years of being away and they are looking for how to reenter the game in a financially wise way. Others have been avid floor traders for years and they are interested in reading about potential speculation plays.
Others still are long time players and collectors, interested in the theory behind the invisible hand driving the MTG Market. Finally, others are looking to apply some theories to the MTGO market.
Personally, I am fascinated by each and every one of these perspectives. While I may dwell on some more than others in my articles, I do recognize this diversity exists. For this reason, I want to try something different this week.
Rather than cater to one type of MTG player in a deep article, potentially disappointing others, I will seek to write a précis of multiple topics to try and address most of my readers. We will see how this goes…
The Classic Collector
After exploring the value of Alpha cards a couple weeks ago, I began actively looking to acquire them at favorable pricing. The thinking was, with the recent jump in prices at major retailers, I may be able to identify some profitable opportunities.
After a couple weeks down this path, I’ve learned three tidbits of information – not enough for an entire article but certainly valuable to share. First, I have been able to find significant price discrepancy on Alpha rares between retailers and individuals. As a result, I have not had a difficult time negotiating with individuals on these cards. My target price for acquisition has been roughly 50% of SCG’s NM buy price, since all the cards I’ve bought have been at least SP.
On the other hand, commons and uncommons have been priced far more competitively amongst retailers. Channel Fireball has a dozen NM Alpha commons for $0.99 each, with a couple others at $1.49. Star City Games charges $1.99 for NM commons, but they sell played versions for just $0.99. On Uncommons, Star City Games does even better, charging just a couple bucks for played versions.
Individuals have frequently sought as high as twice the price of these retailers on their bulk commons/uncommons. Perhaps there is some emotional attachment driving this discrepancy – or perhaps people are convinced that any Alpha card is rare and merits at least a couple bucks. Either way, I’ve done almost all my bulk commons buying from CFB and I intend to buy some bulk uncommons from SCG.
The latest bit of information we have on this front come from two sources – M13 spoilers and GP Yokahama.
On the M13 front, I must be honest – I do not see many obvious opportunities. I am fairly confident Sublime Archangel will be relevant. But as for its or other M13 card’s impact on Standard, I am left guessing.
The set seems a bit underpowered so far. Sure, there are ridiculous bombs like Omniscience and Diabolic Revelation, but their casting cost is far too prohibitive to see constructed play. And all the buzz about improving the Dream Halls deck may sound fun, but I honestly see the deck stuck in the world of Tier 1.5 or Tier 2.
Net, my recommendation is to stay the course – Innistrad Dual Lands are still a safe place to move into. Though, keep in mind there are a handful of M13 spoilers we haven’t seen yet, so it is always possible something is printed that will impact Innistrad Dual values. Restoration Angel is a powerful control card that I also see maintaining value for some time.
As for GP Yokahama, here’s a breakdown of the Top 8:
Pod Kiki-Jiki / Restoration Angel Combo – 4
Mono Blue Fairies
Key pick-ups are somewhat tricky to identify since the decks run such a diverse field of cards. That being said, the key combo pieces are safe bets, and I see even more reason for Restoration Angel to remain a buy. Search engines Birthing Pod and Chord of Calling are crucial enablers in the deck, and I see these as safe pick-ups as well. Especially Birthing Pod, which goes for just a couple bucks as it nears rotation out of Standard. (chart courtesy of blacklotusproject.com)
Getting Back Into Magic
I’ve seen in the forums recently that a few QS subscribers are looking to re-enter into Magic and try to trade and speculate in order to keep the hobby as close to “free” as possible. I love this approach as this is the primary reason I speculate and trade. Many hobbies, such as golf or art, are expensive to maintain and very difficult to make bank in. With Magic, one does not even have to be a good player to profit – all it takes is some research and discipline.
I take that back – there is one sacrifice I have had to make in order to drive profitability in Magic, and it is a piece of information I believe may be valuable to share. In order to truly profit maximally from Magic: The Gathering speculation, one has to emotionally detach from most of their cards.
When I am emotionally attached to a card, I value it incorrectly. The result is small value loss in my collection. While an occasional blip to work on a personal collection is okay, the occurrence needs to be minimal. This has been a difficult lesson for me at times, but my mistakes have made me savvier. I have traded for Angels I need at prices far above retail, and I have even occasionally preordered the latest and greatest [card Linvala, Keeper of Silence]Angel[/card] card – and most of you know how costly it is to pre-order cards.
In order to maintain the proper discipline, I’ve learned a key strategy: when being asked to trade away or sell a particular card that I may be emotionally attached to, I always rationalize my decision based on the fact that I can always acquire that same card again. And if I have a shot at buying back the card at a discount, I’ve then turned a profit.
I actually recently did this with my set of Noble Hierarchs. I fear a reprint of the mana accelerator, yet I want to keep my set for Legacy. Still, I overcame emotion and sold my set for $62 since I wanted to put profitability first. A reprint still has not been revealed, and I recently repurchased a set from eBay at $54.50, in essence profiting $7.50 while keeping my set. And I am in the midst of selling this set yet again, still in anticipation of a potential price drop! (chart courtesy of blacklotusproject.com)
Net, make sure you keep the majority of your cards on the trading block, since you won’t always know when a profitable opportunity will arrive.
The MTGO Speculator
I have recently seen a call for more MTGO content. I have a confession to make: I don’t have a MTGO account. The concept of starting up a second collection is daunting to me and after playing paper Magic for fifteen years, I am not motivated to start from scratch.
That being said, I have come to understand there are some great opportunities for profit in the digital world. The possibility for fast-paced market adjustments combined with the absence of shipping costs is indicative of opportunity. But rather than make baseless recommendations, I would like to first appeal to my readers:
Is MTGO worth it?
I once tweeted this question and I received numerous responses with the majority pointing towards the negative. Since then I have resisted signing up.
Yet it seems inevitable that I join. I frequently find myself desperate for a game of Magic while being confined to home caring for an infant. A chance to play a quick game or even a quick draft could be worth the efforts of starting up a new collection. This especially becomes attractive if I can profit in the process.
Master of None
This article is a bit disjointed and I hope there was at least some value to my diverse readers. In an attempt to cover multiple topics, I haven't dove deeply enough into any one topic.
Rest assured this may be a one-shot occurrence as I attempt to broaden my topics to appease a larger audience. If it worked, please let me know and perhaps I will repeat this approach in the future. If, on the other hand, you feel value was lost due to the sacrificing of depth to enable breadth of content, please indicate this to me as well.
Next week, perhaps there will be some more impactful M13 spoilers to review. Or perhaps I will uncover some other price discrepancies to take advantage of. Or perhaps there will be some additional tournament results to review. Until then, thank you for reading.