Comparing MTGO and Paper Prices
Two weeks ago I presented a chart that provided a rough guide for identifying value using a ratio of digital-to-paper prices. Revisiting this chart with updated data can give us an idea of what is happening in the market from a broad perspective. Notably, none of SCG's prices have changed in this time, meaning that any changes to the ratios have come from the MTGO side of things. I've eliminated looking at the sets released prior to Scars of Mirrodin to more clearly focus on sets with higher speculative potential.
|Set||MTGO to Paper Ratio (Aug 12th)||MTGO to Paper Ratio (Nov 14th)||MTGO to Paper Ratio (Nov 29th)||Supernova||SCG||Trend|
|Scars of Mirrodin||0.38||0.45||0.50||$63||$125||Up|
|Return to Ravnica||N/A||0.39||0.34||$119||$350||Down|
One of the striking features of this update is that the most recently rotated sets have all appreciated in price in the last two weeks. This indicates that the post rotation bottom has already occurred for these sets. Underpinning these price increases is the value of these sets to redeemers.
But a closer look reveals that New Phyrexia (NPH) now has one of the highest ratios at 0.75. In the short history of this metric, no set has held a ratio higher than 0.77 meaning further prices increases are probably limited for this set. Once the digital version gets closer to the paper price, the value of redeeming sets is reduced, mitigating the speculative potential of NPH.
Meanwhile both Mirrodin Besieged and Scars of Mirrodin look like they have further price increases in their future with relatively low ratios of around 0.5. Opportunities for speculating on these sets are not much different than what was originally suggested in my article two weeks ago, so have a look there for ideas on what cards to speculate on.
On the other side of things we have the continued fall in price of a digital version of Return to Ravnica (RtR). This is a predictable event as drafting and limited play has continued apace, keeping the supply of cards on the market high.
The ratio for RtR of 0.34 is close to the ratio observed for Magic 2013 back in August. At that time, there was exceptional value in buying Magic 2013. This suggests that buying RtR today also represents good value. However, the ratio for RtR is probably not done falling. There are still a number of weeks to go before the release of Gatecrash and the switch to the GGG draft format, so RtR has probably not bottomed in price yet.
Avoid Innistrad block and Magic 2013. The ratios on these sets are bouncing up and down depending on shifts in the metagame. There is no clear, exploitable trend that can be detected. This means that making a broad purchase from these sets is much riskier than, say, buying a basket of mythics from MBS. Specific cards might represent good speculative opportunities (though I have looked closely and not come up with any recently), but from a complete set perspective you should avoid Innistrad, Dark Ascension, Avacyn Restored and Magic 2013.
Each of these sets has only about five months to go before prices start collapsing due to impending rotation and a fall in demand from redeemers. Note that even though Innstrad block does not rotate out of Standard until October of 2013, we can expect prices to start falling for these sets by the spring. The window of opportunity for speculating on specific cards from these sets is much shorter than for a card from RtR, which has at least 16 months to go before it starts to show it's age.
If a speculative mistake is made on a card from RtR, there is plenty of time for something to change in the Standard metagame that would bail out a position. In comparison, cards from Innistrad block and Magic 2013 only have a few months left before underlying market forces start pressuring prices downwards. Fighting against the market is a tough way to make a few tix as a speculator, so avoid these increasingly risky sets.
The MED Events
Upon the announcement of these events, prices on cards like Force of Will tumbled quite a bit as players sold their copies into the market. They anticipated that the MED events would push new supply onto the market and prices would fall as a result. But I don't think it quite worked out the way that people expected, including myself.
Outside of the drafts for MED I, aided by the lure of cracking a Force of Will, very few of the other MED drafts fired. In fact, I didn't detect any MED II or MED III 64 player drafts firing at all. Players were simply not interested in drafting these sets.
MED sealed queues on the other hand, started off with a bang. These only accepted tix for entry, for which you got one pack of each set in order to build a 30 card deck. Initially the cost of entry was a discount compared to secondary market prices on packs. For instance, MED I was priced at over 10 tix just prior to these events. This encouraged players to join these events in the hopes of cracking valuable cards while also enjoying reasonable prize support in packs.
However, without many of the draft events firing, the prizes from the sealed queues flooded the market causing pack prices to tumble. As a result, the costs of entry became too high relative to the payout and the sealed queues slowed down considerably over the weekend.
The end result was to see a short term bottom on Force of Will on Friday night of the events with a sell price of 84 tix. If you were quick and had the available tix, buying on Friday night could have yielded a small short term profit of 8 tix as the current buy/sell prices on Supernova bots has rebounded to 92/100 tix.
Power Nine on the Horizon
With the Power Nine getting a dry run in the upcoming Christmas holiday cube draft on MTGO, the future for speculating on Eternal staples from the MED sets looks good. At the bottom of this page, WoTC appears to confirm that the Power Nine will be released on MTGO in some collectible and playable form in 2013. Buying staples such as Underground Sea and Tundra at this time is a logical course of action to follow for those interested in speculating on Eternal formats or for those who want to play Vintage in the future.