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Insider: Just Around the Corner

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The first Modern PTQs are three weeks away.

I know. It came as a surprise to me too. Under the “traditional” schedule PTQ season runs from February to March, but the change that allows more stores to run PTQs has made them anxious to do it as quickly as possible, since they only have one to plan.

This has moved the season up some, and I can tell you almost nobody has talked about it yet. The hype has been on Gatecrash since previews aren’t that far away, but I believe focusing on Modern right now will make you more money.

And importantly (something we’ll touch on later), Modern Masters is financially good for speculators right now.

Inquisition of Kozilek

But first, let’s talk about Inquisition of Kozilek. The staple uncommon has risen from $2-3 to nearly $6 on TCGPlayer recently, and I can’t say it’s a move we didn’t see coming. I’ve been advising readers to pick this up for a year now since they were easily available for $2 in trade, a price that's looking pretty good right now. I have a big stack myself, and considering SCG only has a handful in stock at $6, I think a spike to about $10 in the first few weeks of Modern season is likely.

Inquisition is representative of a larger trend, namely the burgeoning popularity of Modern which is causing a growing scarcity of cards that were easy to find just a few months ago.

Other staples could follow the same path. For instance, I expect fetches to hold steady in retail but creep up on eBay and the trade floor. I plan on unloading my bunches of them this season rather than risk waiting another year, provided I can get $22-23 a copy rather than the $20 being offered right now.

Only time will tell on the trajectory of Modern staples, but I can say with certainty that more people than ever will be playing the format this time around. The game has continued to grow since last year, and with new records being set all the time by Wizards we know tournament attendance is still trending up.

Modern has also proven itself as a format. It’s still got a long way to go, but people haven’t flat-out rejected it like they did with Extended. Attendance at Modern GPs has been healthy, and the format has shown a ton of diversity, even if Jund comprises most of the field and takes home the wins.

But another factor leads me to believe Modern will be bigger than ever, and that is Return to Ravnica. Specifically, the shocklands. A pile of $25-30 lands previously discouraged people from buying into Modern. With shocks now going for under $10, that’s not longer an issue.

On the other hand, you have $35 fetchlands filling the void. But I think there’s a key difference here. For starters, only two of the five usable fetches are reaching that price, as opposed to seven or eight of the shocklands, with the others priced more reasonably. Secondly, those eight fetches let you build any deck in the format. Before, a grinder who wanted access to any given deck on a particular weekend would need a playset of all ten shocks.

All this points to a big increase in attendance for the coming PTQ season and I think there’s still money to be made, with one caveat. You need to get in now. You have until January to get things at depressed prices. As soon as the calendar rolls over, people are going to forget about the holidays and start focusing on their PTQ deck. Get in on the format staples while you still can.

Modern Masters

But why buy in when reprints are right around the corner?

That’s an astute question, and a relevant one. And as far as medium- to long-term plays are concerned, the answer is you don’t. Modern Masters will come along next summer and while it’s not going to destroy the price of things like Goyfs, it will depress or stagnate prices on a ton of format staples, from Spell Snare to filter lands to [card Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker]Kiki-Jiki[/card] and so on.

Of course, we don’t know exactly what will be in the set, but that doesn’t matter. It’s not worth your time figuring out what will or won’t be in the set. Treat all of these cards as if they will be reprinted, and move them before then.

But remember the beginning of this article. Modern PTQs are three weeks away. The PTQ season will also be over long before Modern Master previews even start. Sure, prices will go down in a year (and people know that), but it doesn’t change the fact that those same people need cards for this season. There’s a ton of time to get in and out of Modern staples before they start dropping in price.

I’ll go one step farther. Modern Masters presents an opportunity. Think of something like Kitchen Finks, which most people assume will be in Modern Masters. Because all reasonable people know the price of the card is headed down, surely they need to get rid of it as soon as possible, right?

Wrong. Use this to your advantage. Sure, you don’t want to be stuck with the Finks in a year, but PTQs are going to drive up demand long before then, and dealers are still going to need to offer good prices. That means you can make your money and be out of them long before you take a hit.

Lingering Souls

Now, this isn’t a full list of good pickup for the next few weeks (that’s coming in the next article), but there's another card that deserves mention. Lingering Souls is still insane in every format, and it’s still just $2.50 from an under-opened set in Dark Ascension. This isn’t going to last forever. Spectral Procession costs more than that, and sees way less play. Of course, there aren’t as many Processions on the market, but it’s also not Standard-legal nor a dominant card in both Modern and Legacy. Hoard the Lingering Souls now and it will pay off eventually.

Remember, as Warren Buffett advocates, “be aggressive when others are fearful.” It pays off in investing, and it pays off in Magic.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

Corbin Hosler

Corbin Hosler is a journalist living in Norman, Oklahoma (also known as the hotbed of Magic). He started playing in Shadowmoor and chased the Pro Tour dream for a few years, culminating in a Star City Games Legacy Open finals appearance in 2011 before deciding to turn to trading and speculation full-time. He writes weekly at QuietSpeculation.com and biweekly for LegitMTG. He also cohosts Brainstorm Brewery, the only financial podcast on the net. He can best be reached @Chosler88 on Twitter.

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Posted in Buying, Finance, Free Insider, Modern, SellingTagged , , , , ,

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3 thoughts on “Insider: Just Around the Corner

  1. I have a handful of Lingering Souls I’m keeping aside to sell for profit. As for Inquisition, this trades easily at $6 now…and I can see it retailing on SCG for $9.99 at its peak. But will cash prices follow?

    What’s the ceiling this winter on non blue Zendikar fetches? $18 cash, $25 retail?

  2. I enjoyed the article and I agree with your logic. One thing I’d like to point out is that while the blue fetches are much more pricey than the shocklands, the non-blue ones are still quite reasonable and when you throw in the fact that one of the favorite/best modern decks (Jund) doesn’t need any of the blue fetches (Tarmogoyf’s are another matter).

  3. Historically, the Zen fetches were seen as a budget alternative to the Onslaught ones if you couldn\’t optimize your base. You can still snag a Sea with a Misty if you didn\’t feel like shelling out for Delta. Now, with a full set of 10 available, the further we get from Zendikar the more people will optimize and play with the exact fetch they need. The demand will go up for the non blue ones. They\’ll go up, and once they\’re up, they\’ll never go down. If you don\’t have as much as you can spare invested in Verdant Catacombs right now, consider it.

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