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Insider: The Financial Implications of Monday’s Announcements

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Bloodbraid Elf is banned. Seething Song is banned.

These are the attention-grabbing headlines that met us when we furiously refreshed the mothership homepage (dailymtg.com) on Sunday night. In the immediate aftermath, it wasn’t clear exactly where things had settled. Opinions varied on whether or not Jund and Storm were dead as decks or if Wizards banned the wrong cards. And, of course, there were plenty of people upset that Jace, the Mind Sculptor was left on the banned list.

And the hits didn’t stop there. The announcements regarding Dragon's Maze are just important, if not even more so.

So let’s tackle these in order. First, the changes to Modern.

Effects of the Bannings

Jund is not dead. Storm may be.

The sky is not falling. Jund decks running Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells were already doing well, and many will just slot in the Huntmaster and chug along. That means Huntmaster, which was nearing $30 already on some Standard play, has since seen movement to that price and I don't expect a drop until PTQ season ends or that incarnation of Jund proves to be bad. That said, Huntmaster still moves a ton based on its role in Standard, so it's hard to predict.

Of course, some people are jumping ship. Vendilion Clique has been making moves this week as people think blue has the ability to assume the top role in Modern. For what it’s worth, I don’t like moving on Cliques since I expect a reprint in Modern Masters. Even if it comes at the mythic rarity like I believe it will, it makes staying out now the right decision.

So while I’m not panic-selling anything from Jund, there is a possibility that the deck will change. Since Deathrite Shaman, people have been happily splashing Lingering Souls, but there is a real question of whether or not the red mana is worth it when the Elf is gone. Shifting into Junk-colors (white, black and green) could be the deck's next evolution because it makes the manabase a little better and potentially opens up more cards in white.

That makes something like Doran, the Siege Tower interesting. At $3-4 a pop right now, Doran is not a trade target. It could be in Modern Masters and it may take a while for people to figure out the best configuration of such a deck, but it’s something to keep in mind.

And Lingering Souls seems as solid a call as it ever was, since it’s unlikely Jund can play without it now. Somehow this card is still just $2, but that won’t last. It could happen quickly, if the card hits it big in Standard, or slowly, but this card is going to $5 and I’m continuing to stock up while I can.

Blackcleave Cliffs could be a victim here, but I have to believe the number of new players entering Modern and the increasing age of this card will keep its price from dropping, outside of seasonal considerations. I still think it's a fine target for future years.

Now let’s look at Storm. The deck is likely not dead, though it is certainly weakened. In fact, I imagine it’s weakened to the point of not being Tier 1, though it’s still the kind of Tier 1.5-ish deck that can pop up and make good showings. That means that the sweet buylist cards in it like Manamorphose and Desperate Ritual are still solid in that regard.

It also means that people may move to Pyromancer Ascension a little more, since it allows you to add consistency at the cost of a turn or two, something you may need with Song gone.

Dragon’s Maze

Now this is where we have some really interesting developments. I’ll quote from Wizard’s announcement:

“The fifteenth card in all Dragon's Maze packs isn't basic land; it's nonbasic land. All ten guildgates will be showing up (with the Dragon's Maze expansion symbol), as will all ten shocklands from Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash (with their Return to Ravnica or Gatecrash symbols). You are about half as likely to open a shockland in Dragon's Maze as in Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash and, since this is for all ten shocklands rather than five, that means you are about a quarter as likely to open a specific one. There's also a mythic rare land from Dragon's Maze that will show up there sometimes!”

I’m not a master by any means at understanding everything about the printing process, so I’ll just work off the “quarter as likely” line.

To me, here's how that breaks down. If we assume the original count of any given shock in Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash is 100 percent, which it obviously is since we’re using it as our baseline, then this will add another 25 percent.

Yes, I’m ignoring the original shocklands here, because their existence was already built into the price of the new ones.

So that 100 percent of Hallowed Fountains in RtR represented 100 percent of the supply and therefore 100 percent of the price. If Dragon’s Maze is opened at the same rate (again something we don’t know for sure but can assume is comparable), then we will have 125 percent of the supply we did before.

This means that without considering any additional factors we can expect the price to fall by 20-25 percent. Since all RtR shocks are currently retailing at $8-10, that would indicate a drop to $6-8.

So where does that leave us? For reference, here’s what I predicted concerning the price of shocklands back before Return to Ravnica's release.

“It is by considering all of this information that I’ve come to my own personal conclusion on the price of Shocks – that they’ll have a baseline of $7-8, with the most popular ones spiking to $12-13.”

It seems we can revise that to a baseline of $6-7 with spikes to $9-10.

The Takeaway

So what do all these numbers mean to you?

For starters, once again, the sky is not falling. I’ve been a huge proponent of trading into shocklands just like I did with fetchlands (which turned out well), and I’ve heard far too many people bemoaning how this announcement ruins that play.

It doesn’t. Sure it sucks that the ceiling on these will be 25 percent lower than it was before, but we can also now get in at a similarly-discounted rate. Sure, the 20-30 shocks I’m already holding that I traded for at $8-10 will net me less of a profit than the ones I get from this point on, but who cares? I’m still going to make money on them over time, it’s just not going to be as much as it was before. Personally, I’m okay with making a few dollars less per copy of an already-good investment since it means I’ll have more time to scoop up additional, cheaper copies.

So my advice boils down to this. Continue trading hard for the RtR shocks, only do so with a new baseline. Be honest with people about the effect Dragon’s Maze will have on prices, and scoop up every single one you can at $6-8 in trade. It’s still going to pay off.

Remember my first rule of Magic finance –- Where others see obstacles, find opportunities.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

7 thoughts on “Insider: The Financial Implications of Monday’s Announcements

  1. Good article. One thing you didn’t mention was that if Blackcleave cliffs takes a bit of a hit, then Razorverge Thicket will rise (especially if Jund becomes Junk).

  2. I like most of your thoughts. Two small quibbles with your theory on Shockland pricing, though your ultimate prediction on price may prove true. First is that the assumption that Dragon’s Maze will be opened at a comparable rate to GTC/RTR seems like very unlikely. It’s a small set, and a large portion of it will be opened alongside equal amounts of GTC/RTR via Limited. Also, if the Original Duals are built into the pricing as you say, you have to consider those as part of the “supply” you are considering Dragon’s Maze is being added to.

    Second, is that the price is not as linearly dictated by supply and demand as you make it out to be. While you’re generally correct in how price moves in response, for a lot of complicated economic reasons such as marginal demand, it’s not always as simple as “demand doubled, supply stayed the same, so the price doubled.” As an example, gasoline over ten years or so went from $1 to $4 a gallon on steady supply, and increased demand, but not a 400% increase. Similarly, when it dropped to 2.50 for a bit at the end of the last decade, it was reduced demand, but not in the order of a 40% drop in worldwide demand.

    1. @Timothy Good points.

      As to the first, that would mean the new supply is even less %-wise than what I made it out to be, so the effect wouldn’t even be as pronounced as I predicted.

      You’re absolutely right about the intricacies of supply and demand, and the gas comparison is a good one since both markets have speculators involved. In general, I would say that hype or perceived changes move the oil market a little more than the MTG market on something with such established demand as Shocks (although with other flash-in-the-pan cards it’s nearly exactly like oil markets in the overblown response).

      Sure, it’s possible that the market becomes so saturated no one needs any more, but if that was true and Shocks hit $5, speculators and are going to step in and grab them all, so I can’t see them going lower than that at the max. And since all the things that made Shocks a good investment are still true, I’m still a huge fan of getting in at 6-8 in trade.

      1. Ultimately, I think that if you’re seeking to acquire a bunch of Shocks as you did Fetch Lands, these trends will help you. The psychological effect of a reprint on price is probably stronger than what Supply/Demand should dictate, so you probably will find people at some point shipping shocks worrying about significant drop in price, when in actuality the reprint may have a relatively effect on it.

  3. I think your math is wrong.

    I have 4 of something, the only 4 in existence. They are valued at $100 in total.

    Suddenly another pops into existence. Given no extra demand, they as a whole are worth $100 still, and are each valued at $20 now that there are 5 in existence. They areot so rare any more and aren’t worth so much. They have gone from $25 to $20, .

    So a 25% increase in supply results in a 20% drop in price. In your article you imply that it would be 25%.

    Is the above commenter kinda saying tha same thing? Sorry if so.

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