I never thought I'd ever have to say, that the day the angels went away, was the very best day. Not even sure what that means, but I like the sound of it. Pre-release was a blast this weekend, and I love the new Limited format. I got to both play and judge some events, and it was really refreshing to be done with Avacyn Restored. Time to really get our hands dirty with M13 and see how this Summer will develop. But first, we have another MTGO move to make.
Cube is Back on MTGO
Upon the release of the MTGO Cube, not long ago, people were instantly enamored with the huge strides WotC was making to support the Cube fans on MTGO. As this small sample pattern has shown, they'll be offering Cube drafts during times when the MTGO formats are lagging behind the paper formats. Cube has been popular, even though its unarguably pretty poor EV in comparison to other queues.
One thing we noticed last time, as this new format exploded, is that prize packs plummeted in price. At the time, we were talking mostly about Future Sight packs, but in reality, all Time Spiral block was a part of it. Packs plummeted because in order to continue Cubing, people had to convert the packs they won back into tickets so they could pay another entry fee. Typically, in draft queues, you're allowed to use unopened boosters to cover a majority of your entry, but since Cube packs are "Phantom" (the cards you draft you don't keep) the prize doesn't match the entry. Converting the prize to tickets is done most rapidly through Bots, which of course are operating on a profit margin. We saw Future Sight staple Tarmogoyf fall in price as well.
This go around, prize packs will be from Onslaught block. Onslaught packs are about $5 now, while the others are $2 or less. Onslaught packs hold Fetchlands, which of course is why they sit so much higher than their counterparts. An opportunity for us, the speculators, is to be ready to buy up these packs as drafters look to dump them. All you really need is a chunk of tickets. If you're matching or barely beating bot Buy Prices, you should be able to turn a profit after the cube fanaticism ends in only a week.
Don't get scared. The packs will continue to plummet and plummet, just keep lowering your buy price as consistently as the Bots are. Of course if you have the ability to let a Bot do this work for you, all the better! There is certainly some amount of risk involved here, as the Future Sight Packs never really recovered their full value, yet. But Tarmogoyf has passed his bottom and has started steadily rising back up, regaining almost half of its lost value over that time. I expect the packs to follow suit, even if it takes some time.
To be clear, I don't expect this to be a quick hit. I expect that by buying and holding as many of these packs as possible, especially if you wait for prices to come down a bit first (towards this weekend) you'll be able to hold them long term for a decent profit. In this same vein, buying in on Fetchlands (if and when) they drop in price as a result of these queues is a bit safer play but takes a bit more investment. WotC is clearly making these Cubes as a way to help bring down cost of Legacy staples online. Longer term maybe we look at Legacy staples that are under-priced due to an underrepresented Legacy metagame on MTGO.
Trading Post, REALLY?
Yeah, really. This card is solid. After getting my hands on this card a bit over the weekend, and keeping it in mind during brewing sessions with my crew, I'm convinced this card is going to see a decent amount of play. Not to mention, casuals are going nuts just to get a chance to make some Goat tokens. StarCityGames and CardKingdom agree with me, that this card should not be at bulk level since they both have it at $1.99 which I find still a bit too low, while it could still be found for $1 at ChannelFireball.com. I don't expect this card to get much higher than $3, but it's extremely versatile, and generates tons of value in the right deck. Some at my LGS are calling it the "Poor-mans-planeswalker".
While buying them at $1 from Channel Fireball is enticing, after shipping I'm worried about giving up too much edge. It may be the right play though; however, I would recommend picking them up in trades at or near bulk prices and hunting them aggressively. By jokingly telling people at my Pre-release that I planned to build a Door to Nothingness Standard deck, I had 3 copies gifted to me by the end of the day.
Now, my suggestion isn't to ask for hand outs, but rather to let people know you're actively excited about it. I have the most success with these types of speculations when I am legitimately excited about playing it. The joy you experience about a pet card is something people want to be a part of, and they're happy to help you with it. Maybe this card isn't the one for you. But when I'm at my LGS, and I'm actually excited about a card, it makes it much easier to trade for. Keep this in mind as you're picking up things at the store. Trading Post is my sleeper, what about yours?
Over the next few articles I'd really like to work with reader submissions in one way or another. I've had two different ideas, but ultimately it needs to be something you guys would like to see. One thought would be if there was a specific speculation target, either from M13 or from Innistrad block that we want to dig deep and see some hard analysis on what we might expect for the future. Another idea I had was to create mini-achievements and challenges for readers to follow. The idea is to be constantly thinking about how your current behaviors and tactics are or are not progressing your plan for trading. Think of Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try." What you're currently doing either is, or isn't helping you, and a series of exercises would be designed to keep you focused on what your goals are. I'm open to suggestions or submissions both in the comments here, on Twitter (@torerotutor) or by email chad(at)torerotutor(dot)com.