Insider: Across the Atlantic – Trades, Thoughts & Speculation

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I am writing this article in the middle of the RtR Spoiling season when people get excited, cards get overhyped or frowned upon, brewers start their testing sessions eager to make an impact, and we speculators come back from holidays ready for financial opportunities.

In this article I want to address a mix of different topics I have been thinking of, discussing and doing recently.


First things first I am still going deep on Overmaster as the webshops in Europe are starting to up their prices if they have any in stock.

I think $2.55 is far from the real eBay price. MagicTraders has it at $3.88 currently and looking through itself I see three auctions at $15 in played condition (80%) and two other playsets at $19. If you've been following the Overmaster thread in the forums, you know some posters are confident they can still sell them for $5 a piece. I have some Overmasters incoming from vendors and plan to put this to the test.

I am the only non-US seller selling it as a single card instead of a playset, and I feel this puts me at an advantage because in the past people have bought 2 or 3 copies each from me. My buyers are mostly residing in European countries in which I have no competition other than a lone Spaniard selling Spanish-language copies.

I bought 35 copies at €0.50 ($0.65) each and sold them for $4.5 each within a week. I still find some shops with these cards at bulk price so I think I will order some more and keep a playset just in case prices rise even more. If you can find any under $1.50, I would recommend buying them. If you can find any in trade binders or bulk bins, by all means ask them to add one or two as a deal closer.

Thoughts about Return to Ravnica Spoilers

Presale has started in Europe. Keep in mind that StarCityGames is among the quickest companies to offer the new product, a "luxury" we don't enjoy in Europe. When I'm looking for presale cards, I mostly look at Several sellers from different countries offer presales and they are fiercely competitive which makes cards either extremely cheap or overpriced.

A prime example is Abrupt Decay:

It is currently in the top weekly selling cards on MagicCardMarket among other RtR cards like Supreme Verdict (€3.70 low), Lotleth Troll (€7.25 low) and Dreadbore (€5.87 low).

But Abrupt Decay is particularly interesting because StarCityGames has it priced at only $15 USD.

Since I feel this set is following the same spoiling pattern as Avacyn Restored (I will write in more detail about this when I have done my analysis), I will not be purchasing any of these cards as speculation targets.

Avacyn Restored spoiler season began with Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Disciple of Griselbrand and Temporal Mastery. It continued with hyped cards like Vexing Devil, [card Tamiyo, the Moon Sage]Tamiyo[/card], Desolate Lighthouse and [card Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded]Tibalt[/card]. Bonfire of the Damned was spoiled at the same time as Tibalt and Tamiyo so it sneaked under almost everyone's radar, especially when 48 hours later Entreat the Angels was miraculously spoiled.

I will be looking closely every day. I also have the luxury of being a member of the Irish/United Kingdom Magic page in which people post new cards and go nuts with comments. This way I get a good grasp of how people are thinking about a card, and can decide whether to speculate on it or trade it away during the prerelease.

A thought about sealed booster boxes. It is common for online shops to sell them for 85€ - 87.50 ($108 - 111). Some weeks ago the exchange rate was 1.22:1 so it would have been $104. I know more or less how much it cost for retail shops to buy these boxes from their wholesale distributor. My conclusion is that booster box prices won't rise that much here in Europe compared to USA.

Local Trades & Thoughts

Magic Celebration was honestly fun. A lot of players showed up (free boosters, I'll take it!) and some even brought trading binders with them. I cracked my first pack to find a Thundermaw Hellkite. I actually put effort in making the first page of my binder as attractive as possible for these casual players.

So since I have a 3x3 UltraPro binder these were the nine cards I put in front: Serra Avenger, Bruna, Light of Alabaster, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Angel of Jubilation, Akroma's Memorial, Foil Battle of Wits, Elvish Piper, Gideon Jura, Thundermaw Hellkite.

Now one has to realize that I have two binders, one more exclusive with cards like Vendilion Clique, Innistrad duals, which I do not show as easily as the first binder. The binder I show first contains cards that appeal to Standard, EDH and casual players.

The goal for each card in the front of the binder is to create instant excitement and a "must have card" urge for whatever reason. A first impression is something I am testing out in my community, as I do not like asking, "Do you have any trades?" I much prefer starting a conversation with a player who is already looking at my Avacyn with interest. Then I can transition into trading.

If a person gets instantly excited about certain cards, they will trade easier with you, especially if you small talk during the trade. I dislike quoting of prices and I won't even start talking about ratings as it costs me time and energy and I want to keep it simple for these players.

In the end I made a few trades, but in one a guy who pretends he is a good guy saving novices from getting ripped off was interfering by saying he could pull out half of my cards. This is annoying and creates tension among the trading table. I told him to not interfere as I was not interfering with his trades. I should have thanked him for helping people out and then seize momentum by just adding a few rares in the trade that make my trading partner even happier.

I want to end this section discussing a moderate-size trade I made for some eternal cards. Inspired by my playtest group who plays a cube weekly, my trading partner wanted to create a cube himself. Since cube owners tend to change their cube constantly, you can be there to offer advice on what cards to include, and trade or sell them what they need.

I made the following trade using the average price on (It made the trade easier and I had no intention of taking advantage of him):

I gave (prices in USD):

Restoration Angel ($12)
Battlefield Forge ($1.8)
Mirran Crusader ($1.88)
Geist of Saint Traft ($19.6)
Black Sun's Zenith ($2.83)
Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells ($18.7)
Elvish Piper ($4.78)
Swords to Plowshares ($3.7)
Gideon Jura ($6.5)
Total: $71.81

I received:

Sterling Grove ($4.6)
Serra's Sanctum ($17)
High Market ($6.5)
Erratic Portal ($1.2)
Master Transmuter ($6)
2x Cackling Counterpart ($1 total)
Darksteel Forge ($11.5)
Salvaging Station ($0.5)
Ignoble Hierarch ($20)
Skull of Orm ($0.5)
Mind Funeral (he treated it as bulk uncommon but $3.5)
Bulk uncommons like Muscle Sliver, Diregraf Ghoul, Treasure Mage
Total: $73

I helped out his cube and I got the cards I was looking for for my EDH deck. The Ignoble Hierarch is basically in there because he did not want to trade his Bribery, which was of course unfortunate but I can't complain.
I like this trade because I traded away Standard cards for eternal cards that are hard for me to get in general because of what I possess.

Magic Online Project

Lastly, I was talking with fellow QS author Sigmund Ausfresser about starting up a MODO portfolio. So far I have only focused on paper Magic, but lately I've been thinking about writing an article cataloging the development of an online portfolio, and I want to see what my readers think.

Basically the article would be a sort of diary of progressing from a starting point of, let's say, 100 tickets to 1000 tickets. I would describe what I invest my tickets in and the various permutations of the portfolio as it develops. Let me know what you think about this idea. I look forward to reading your comments!

- Gervaise 'Gerv'

P.S. I changed my Twitter nickname to Generally I tweet with other speculators about certain cards but from time to time I'm also looking to buy some MTGO tix!

19 thoughts on “Insider: Across the Atlantic – Trades, Thoughts & Speculation

  1. (Muscle Sliver is a common)

    I know 2 sellers in NL that sell boxes for 82.5 each, contact me if you'd like to know which shops they are. I'm thinking they get their stock from Germany as I've seen boxes as low at 80 there (but shipping cost sort of rules out buying there unless you are getting large volumes).

    In the trade that Forge looks a bit high. I would probably prefer that side anyway as it's bound to remain more steady in price than the other side which is mainly based on the Huntmaster and Geist that I see going down when they eventually rotate. I think you might have asked for a few extra throws because of that high priced Forge. Though maybe they move very well in your area?

    I'd be interested in your MTGO diary, I've been considering obtaining full sets on MTGO rather than buying boxes, but I know little about the MTGO world. While Matthew's articles are great, I think I need more of an introductory course at this stage ;). I could imagine that with some speculation based on the forum and articles here it might be doable to get a full playset online for little more than what I would normally pay for packs.

  2. Thanks for your comment!
    I am very interested to buy some at 82.5 🙂

    About the trades, we used an Index to make it all easier. Yes some cards were over/underpriced due US demand instead of European demand. My primary reason to trade was acquiring it for my EDH deck. However it is also handy to now when you can trade it away just in case one does not need it anymore in his/her EDH deck. I found an UK Legacy community but also a really active UK marketplace where I can put it up

    I will be doing this MTGO diary starting out as a MTGO novice. I played the first online PTQ last week as I wrote but I did not wrote down that I won 2 matches (7-3 record) with just 5-10 seconds on the clock… But i'm excited in how I am going to work it out.

  3. Great article! Fluid and engaging, and of course I love the comment on Overmaster. That card has made me some easy money.

    The MTGO project is intriguing. I wonder…how hard is it to make profit in MTGO? Innistrad Duals will surely increase online just as it has on paper, so it seems like many of the paper trends should hold true. Plus, I wouldn't mind having the ability to play Magic when it is convenient for me rather than Friday nights for example. Certainly thinking about it…

  4. Great article, thanks for writing! I'm also super interested in your MTGO diary. I'm in the same boat as pi, I would love to get more involved in MTGO but am also a bit of a novice when it comes to that whole arena.

  5. Being profitable with trading/speculating only on Mtgo is not too much complicated. Mtgo is "faster" than paper magic in terms of price fluctuation. And cards are much much accessible, to buy or to sell.
    With good advices and strategies, and If you can be present enough online (a little bit every day, and a little bit more on the weekend) and you should make good margin.

    Being profitable by playing is also possible, mostly playing constructed, but it takes way more time.

    1. Thank you guys for your comments! I was pondering between making notes of my Speculation moves only starting with an x amount of tickets.

      But there is also the option that I just start with – again – x amount of tickets but also can play from it in +EV events (that is Release Events RtR , Constructred Daily events) . For QS I think it only makes sense for me to write everything I encounter when on the trading floor. I can even make a video about it as showing the client with screenshots looks a bit too static.

      Keep the suggestions coming please! 🙂

  6. How about a live recording of you hitting the trade floors of MTGO!? I’d love to hear you comment on deals you’re making, various offers, etc while you’re making the trades! What do you think?

    1. That would be in theory possible but I would do excessive research for before jumping in on anything. I find doing a review video much better or in some kind of form. I wouldn't just write ''Bought x cards at 11-09'' in whatever form but also try to explain it to us why I made that move, therefore If someone disagrees ( I hope because I'm here to learn MTGO ) then we can have a discussion

    1. Hey Chad! It would be cool to have several authors doing this and maybe talk about each other picks & have some sort of discussion? What else could we be doing to improve our speculation by communicating with each other?

      1. I'd be up for that, as i was considering doing some sort of journal thing to help track my mtgo progress anyhow!
        I think i am going to be almost exclusively trying to work mtgo penny stocks. Or maybe keep two accounts, one for just pennies, one for more traditional specs.

        1. Obviously, i am no "author", per se… But if there's room for the common layman to jump in the pool…? Might give folks a good chance to see how speculation can go horribly wrong? Hah.

  7. Trading casually on MTGO is a total pain in the ass and it is impossible to trade for value because everyone can always cash out of a card to the bots, so basically you have to buy cards higher than the bots buy them and sell them lower than the bots sell them. Also, because the bots save credits (fractions of tickets left over from a transaction) and you can't, you have to deal in whole numbers.

    The nut is that it is true speculation.

    I have played IRL for a very long time but only got in to MTGO in 2010. The learning curve is pretty steep and I feel like a lot of paper players over pay for cards because they can't get away from the price memory of paper. They are COMPETELY DIFFERENT. I cannot stress that enough.

    For instance, IRL, you probably have multiple copies of your favorite utility cards for EDH that way you don't have to switch them between built decks. This causes increased demand for a card that really may not have much demand. Online, you can play any card you own in any deck you build, so you only need one copy to be able to play it as a singleton is every deck you build.

  8. Also, how much would Tarmogoyf be worth IRL if WOTC supported TSP/PLC/FUT drafts at every LGS for the next 2 weeks? Yeah, because that happens online about once a month. There is no where to safely park value longterm because there is no reprint policy online.

    Not to mention Promos (never buy these for Standard cards unles you want to play with them and never be able to trade them), foils, fluctuating pack prices, and on into infinity.

    Be prepared to drop $200 that you will never see again and constantly infuse that based on your activity levels.

    Don't get me wrong, I love MTGO and it is my primary source for the game these days, but you will be shocked at how spartan and cold the client is.

    Good luck!

    1. Hey Matt, thanks for your comments!

      I expect to make many mistakes and since I will just start out small with like 100-200 tickets depending how much I can get below <1 ratio.

      I am more going to be focused on speculation rather than value trading. I traded 2-3 times with friends/humans before

  9. The new site just posted my comment without me being finished lol

    ”I am more going to be focused on speculation rather than value trading. I traded 2-3 times with friends/humans before and it was a real pain in the ass

    The new client looks promising and shows that WOTC puts effort in there

    I totally agree I have to see MTGO as a complete different planet with no reprint policy and preventing myself falling in some common traps, I thank you for highlighting some of them!

    1. Personally, I hate the new client. About the *only* thing I’ve seen that’s a true improvement is that it lets you set up for trading/selling better.

      Otherwise, it’s just snafu… it’s like they didn’t even bother to hire a usability expert when they were designing it… and it looks like something fresh out of the late 90s or early naughts.

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