The Modern PTQ season is currently in full swing online. On top of that, there is a Legacy MOCS scheduled for early February. Just prior to the MOCS announcement, I was in the process of selling all my Modern investments. However, with a high profile Legacy event on the horizon, a card like Tarmogoyf will be in demand for both Modern and Legacy players.
The promo Force of Will being awarded for qualifying for the MOCS and playing in the prelims also provides a strong incentive to play this month. We've already seen an uptick in Legacy play with a Daily Event firing each day of the last week. For these reasons, holding off on selling any cross-format staples until the last week of January is the best move.
Return to Ravnica (RtR) has bottomed out as a set online, with the shocklands all bouncing off of 3 tix. Jace, Architect of Thought has also tried to break below 15 tix and failed to do so. These six cards are all safe bets that now have established price floors. After building a position in each of these cards, the discerning speculator should dig a little deeper and attempt to figure out which ones are the best of the best.
If forced to choose which shockland to buy, I'd take Hallowed Fountain and Steam Vents first. Based on historical playability, these are some of the most-used colour combinations, although Steam Vents is seeing little play currently. I'd put Blood Crypt next, which leaves Overgrown Tomb and Temple Garden as the least appealing of the RtR shocklands. Both of these last two appeared in the original Ravnica and were heavily opened as a result. The presence of these older versions online will provide a natural cap to future price increases, whereas the relatively more rare Hallowed Fountain does not face the same constraint.
Cube will no doubt return at the end of the month to coincide with the paper prerelease of Gatecrash on January 26th and 27th. During the lead up to the online release of RtR, Cube draft awarded Mirage block and Tempest block packs as prizes. After recently awarding Urza's block and Mercadian Masques block boosters as Cube prizes, another out-of-print set is probably in line. I'll be dollars to donuts this time around we'll see Lorwyn and Morningtide followed by Shadowmoor and Eventide as prizes, but stay tuned for the official announcement.
Lastly, the new Banned and Restricted announcement schedule takes effect this month. The announcement is set for Monday the 28th of January, so after you've had your fun at the paper prerelease events for Gatecrash, be sure to stay up late on Sunday to be the first to read the announcement. There are usually several bots that are not updated regularly and it can be very profitable to pick up cards that become unbanned in Modern or Legacy. On the other side of things, dumping banned cards to bots with out-of-date prices is another must.
Gatecrash will be coming to MTGO in February. Up to and during the prerelease events, be sure to sell off any older versions of the Gatecrash shocklands. Currently there's not much opportunity to profit on these reprints, but if prices on Sacred Foundry or Watery Grave dip back into the 6-7 tix range over the coming weeks, don't be afraid to snap up a few copies. These should be selling in the 8-10 tix range leading up the release events.
Release events should be in full swing by the 16th of February. This is a good time to try to identify mispriced mythics. Sphinx's Revelation was available for 4.5 tix at the peak of RtR release events, so keep your eyes out for cards that are misunderstood. Junk mythics and rares can be bought on the cheap in that week too, but the key is not to overpay. As a rule of thumb, don't pay more than 0.5 tix for a junk mythic or more than 0.10 tix for a junk rare.
Pro Tour Gatecrash will be taking place at about the same time as Gatecrash release events. This event will feature Standard so paying attention to match coverage could lead to valuable insight into cards that are underpriced. No doubt the rest of the QS community will be trying to squeeze out some spec ideas from the coverage so check your email and participate in the forum discussions.
By the Spring, it should be more obvious which cards from Gatecrash have made the biggest impact and which cards have turned out to be duds. Also, mythics like Ajani, Caller of the Pride and Liliana of the Dark Realms (two cards I have recommended to buy in the past) will have either found a place in the Standard metagame or they will still be sitting on the sidelines. If the latter, it will be time to cut losses and sell these cards lest they get reprinted in Magic 2014.
Also, little-used cards from Innistrad, Dark Ascension and Avacyn Restored will start to fall in price as players give up on trying to make them work. The true staples might see one last price spike before the Summer, but in general the writing is on the wall for cards from Innistrad block as a speculative investment. It will be time to sell cards from these sets before the rest of the market gets a whiff of Fall Standard rotation.
Keep in mind the big picture when trying to figure out your next move. Rather than chase after the most recent flash in the pan, it might be worthwhile to keep a few tix handy for the B&R announcement. Also, be sure to enjoy yourself and play in some Gatecrash release events!