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October is nearly upon us, when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of the prerelease and the beloved Lingering Souls FNM promo turns to Evolving Wilds.
Wait, seriously? Evolving Wilds? 2008 called, and they want both their card, and premise for a joke about the past calling wanting something back, back.
Brainstorm Brewery plans to have Jon "the magic 8 ball" Medina on the cast to discuss price speculation. Expect Corbin to borrow heavily from his own articles. Expect me to borrow heavily from Corbin's articles. After all, he's the only one on the AVR episode of the cast who correctly called Restoration Angel, a pick that seems obvious in retrospect.
More on Retrospect
You may recall reading an article where I talk about the 99.9% of the Magic Community that conspicuously isn't Sam Black. I noted how most of these folk tend to think their ideas aren't great unless someone else reaches the same conclusion independently. I then encouraged everyone to run with their ideas, good or not, and to bathe and brush their teeth before the prerelease. (OK, that wasn't in that article, per se, but it should be in an article somewhere and this one seemed as good a place as any).
This is a finance site, so let's talk about how bad everyone is at finance.
The Retail Effect
Most people are best represented as follows:
Whether or not you consider yourself an intelligent person capable of independent thought, human behavior predisposes us to act predictably and follow groupthink unless conscious effort is made to resist. We all do it. Most of us misevaluated cards in Avacyn Restored. Let's not lie and pretend we didn't.
Corbin will routinely defend his picks in a followup article here on QS and be honest with himself when he is wrong. (When he's right, expect to hear about it for the rest of your life. See Restoration Angel). I don't write finance articles and I'm rarely asked to publicly assess the monetary value of spoiled cards, so I don't have to pretend later I wasn't extra wrong. I get to chuck hundreds of copies of Gloom Surgeon into my furnace and pretend I've never made a bad call in my life.
Remember all the articles about [card Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded]Tibalt[/card] and Temporal Mastery? I sure do! Temporal Mastery was a $100 foil the week of the prerelease, while Bonfire of the Damned foil was like $11 if memory serves. Remember when Tibalt and [card Tamiyo, the Moon Sage]Tamiyo[/card] were the same price, which was greater than that of a foil Griselbrand? Remember when Terminus presold for 50 cents less than Entreat the Angels? This all happened. Those prices were obviously transient, but there is a point to be made.
Presale prices are arbitrary. They're guesses. Educated guesses, sure, but still guesses. One retail site in particular (I won't name it but I don't think I have to) tends to set the prices which other sites copy. Certain cards can sell out quickly putting upward pressure on presale prices, but it isn't until players actually play with the cards that the true values begin to pan out. Presale prices aren't really backed by anything beyond mere conjecture. Without millions of players having actually used the cards, how informed can they be?
Remember Time Reversal? The initial reaction of "ERMAGERD! [card Time Spiral]TERM SPERAL[/card]!" from most players led to its $30 presale price tag. Another $30 presale card? Skaab Ruinator, a card I pick up in bulk now. So good in Pod, right? That's what we thought.
The point is this: if a price seems too high, it probably is. If a price seems too low, it probably is. If a card seems good and no one is talking about it, they could be wrong. Trust your gut and make some damn money!
Mitigating Your Risk
The obvious way to ensure you make money is to buy low and sell high. But what if the bottom drops out?
If you bought at the bottom, nothing. A bulk rare will never fall below a certain price. If you buy at that price and it goes up, you made some money. If it doesn't, you assumed little risk. There will be some "breakage" via fees and such when selling to recoup your initial investment, but you won't lose your house because you went a few hundred deep on a bulk rare that didn't pan out.
I've spent the last year picking up every copy of Drogskol Reaver I could get my hands on, usually at $1 or less in trade. I'm either about to look like a genius, or about to sell a lot of Drogskol Reavers for $0.50 cash. Either way I am out nothing, and all it took was patience. Reaver seemed low to me, and with Azorius a likely color combination for an eventual control deck, it looked like a solid candidate for the role of finisher.
Of course you don't have to spend a year to accumulate a lot of copies of a card that seems too low.
If you are intimidated by the higher-priced cards like Angel of Serenity, which has a lot of room to go up or down, try a bulk rare. Lots of bulk rares hit $5 when they start to see play. Wolfir Silverheart, which preordered at bulk (even the foil was dirt cheap because of its inclusion in the precon deck), hit $12 after PT Barcelona. Zealous Conscripts hit $5.
I preordered 100 copies of Conscripts for bulk, the same price I paid for 100 copies of Divine Deflection. I totally whiffed on Deflection, but what am I out? If it's not a card after "Sinker" comes out, I can dump it for bulk or trade it to casuals. You know, bulk. What I paid for it.
Thanks for the Tip. Now Give Us Some Alters, Monkey Boy!
Ask and ye shall receive, provided you continue to pepper me with insults inspired by Buckaroo Banzai.
Inspired by an Alex Grey lithograph called Ecstasy, this commission is easily one of the most breathtaking pieces we've seen out of Klug to date. Compare this to the original piece: