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Insider: MTGO Market Report

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It's been a while since we've looked at the MTGO-to-Paper ratio, so checking in on what is happening there might show some interesting trends. Gatecrash also gets its first reported ratio, which is important because it is the first set with the higher redemption fee.

Previously, we could compare the ratio between sets to judge relative demand from redeemers. Also, it gave us benchmarks for set prices and an idea as to whether the set was expensive or cheap. With the higher redemption fees, we'll have to develop new benchmarks for comparison, although our older numbers will maintain some use.

Set MTGO-to-Paper Ratio (Nov 14th) MTGO-to-Paper Ratio (Jan 3rd) MTGO-to-Paper Ratio (Feb 14th) Supernova SCG Trend
Scars of Mirrodin 0.45 0.58 0.56 $70 $125 Flat/Down
Mirrodin Besieged 0.39 0.58 0.60 $60 $100 Flat/Up
New Phyrexia 0.57 0.95 0.84 $92 $110 Down
Magic 2012 0.36 0.53 0.52 $78 $150 Flat
Innistrad 0.51 0.58 0.48 $133 $275 Down
Dark Ascension 0.64 0.76 0.69 $103 $150 Down
Avacyn Restored 0.76 0.79 0.58 $146 $250 Down
Magic 2013 0.5 0.58 0.49 $122 $250 Down
Return to Ravnica 0.39 0.34 0.39 $108 $275 Up
Gatecrash N/A N/A 0.39 $117 $300 N/A

Gatecrash

The latest release from WoTC is making waves in Constructed and after PT Gatecrash this weekend there should be some better information on the early direction of Standard. For the moment though, despite still being in the release period, Gatecrash's (GTC) ratio is already closing in on what Return to Ravnica's (RtR) ratio was a month after release. This suggests that the new redemption fees are already being priced into the market with lower prices for GTC singles on MTGO.

The big push of supply for GTC mythics will occur soon due to the first weekend of release events. There might be some opportunity to buy up junk mythics for a short term flip, but in general this is not the correct time to be bottom fishing with GTC cards. This set will be opened in draft right through the summer, and the Dragon's Maze release events in particular will produce a large flood of cards onto the market. Keep your bullets dry till that time to scoop up junk mythics or other speculative targets from this set.

Return to Ravnica

The ratio from this set has bumped up recently, which is entirely due to the drop in SCG's price. The set price on MTGO has fallen to a new low as players liquidate the cards they have for tix in order to play in GTC release events. This price weakness for digital RtR cards should be short-term. Once GTC release events wind down, focus will return to Standard and Block Constructed. Combined with the shift away from RtR drafting, this will support prices for RtR cards going forward.

There might be an opportunity to cash out on junk mythics and other cards from this set if demand from redeemers pushes prices up. This will be evident in the MTGO-to-Paper ratio, so keep an eye on this metric over the next few months.

Innistrad Block and Magic 2013

All three sets from this block have seen their ratio falling lately. For these sets, demand from redeemers is only a small component in the price. Much more important is the relative playability of the cards and the current need players have for tix.

Last year, there was some opportunity in both Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Sword of War and Peace. Both cards tanked in price prior to Dark Ascension releases events for no apparent reason. Both cards rapidly recovered their price once the short term pessimism or need for tix dissipated. The timing of the fall in price and subsequent rise is a little different for each card, but both give an idea of what is possible for short term opportunities in cards from last year's sets. Have a look at the charts below to see how quickly prices can change on MTGO.

Looking into the recent price activity on cards from Innistrad block does not reveal an equivalent play this year. Although we're seeing some price weakness in staples from these sets in general, nothing screams out as being irrationally priced in the manner of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Sword of War and Peace at this time last year.

Three cards have been on my radar due to recent low prices. Olivia Voldaren has seen a recent drop in price which might fit the above pattern, but the magnitude of the drop is not similar. If you've been waiting to get your play set, it's a fine price currently but it doesn't look like a snap buy.

Thragtusk has been in a steady decline since peaking at around 18 tix in mid-November. This week it appears to have found a short term bottom at around 7.5 tix, and then has bounced higher to around 10 tix or so. It could see a return into the 13-14 tix range depending on how Standard works out. However, Boros Reckoner is going to have a big say on what Standard looks like moving forward.

Temporal Mastery is another card I have kept my eye on. Of all three, this one has the best short term speculative potential. See this article for a more detailed breakdown of why this card might bounce up in the short term.

Both Olivia Voldaren and Thragtusk offer some short term potential, but neither is a strong buy. If you decided to take a gamble on these cards, keep in mind that prices for Innistrad block and Magic 2013 will start coming down in the Spring. If these cards are rotting away in your collection at that time, the outlook for gains will be grim. Fighting against the market is a losing proposition, so consider these only as a short-term gamble.

Scars Block

Checking in on these sets, the ratios for Scars of Mirrodin (SOM) and Mirrodin Besieged have been relatively flat. New Phyrexia (NPH) has seen a drop off in prices due to reduced demand from redeemers.

As a set, NPH offers very little value to redeemers lately. Since the start of 2013, the ratio for NPH has been very high compared to other redeemable sets. This means that there is little demand to prop up the value of junk mythics in this set. This trend is obvious if you look at the price chart for Etched Monstrosity.

Since the start of the New Year, the price on this card has been tanking. When Modern season winds down, and if prices on cards like Batterskull, Karn Liberated and Spellskite drop, then an opportunity to buy up junk mythics such as Etched Monstrosity might come up.

Looking at the other Scars block sets, their flat ratios don't tell the whole story of what is going on in terms of redemption. Both sets have seen price increase on their mythics. Cards like Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and Elspeth Tirel have seen steady gains since bottoming in the Fall. Both cards have little application in Modern, which suggests that steady demand from redeemers is responsible for the rising prices of particular cards.

Scars block sets and Magic 2012 will all be redeemable until the Fall of 2013. If you have been holding cards from SOM, NPH or M12, there will be continued price increases in the mythics from these sets over the coming months. If you need liquidity, selling now is not incorrect, but if you can afford to wait a until the summer, then this will be a better time to cash out on demand from redeemers.

9 thoughts on “Insider: MTGO Market Report

  1. I’m new to MTGO in general, but I’m trying to transition away from paper specs more towards digital because of the convenience factor (I’m a new dad with a three week old baby – what’s an FNM again?). I can always find a few minutes to trade digital product, not so much for paper transactions…

    My question is this: do the duel deck series have a noticeable impact on MTGO prices for certain cards (I’m thinking thragtusk here). Do I need to be as cognizant of sealed products online as I am IRL?

    1. Great question. First of all, Event Decks no longer appear on MTGO. Thragtusk, for instance, is only ‘printed’ in M13 online. They do bring the theme decks online, such as Izzet vs Golgari and Koth vs Venser, so what about these. Well, they are not redeemable, and so they carry less value than cards from a ‘real’ or redeemable set.

      Sometimes theme decks do put a cap on prices. Like, if one or a few cards can be sold to make up for the cost of the entire deck, then you’ll have people cracking these packs to sell. Some examples of this include the Mirage block decks that had Natural Order in them. I can’t remember what the deck sold for, but Natural Order was going for 40+ tix.

      Another example was with Stoneforge Mystic when it was in Standard. Cracking the theme deck it appeared in was worth it just for the copies of SFM, so this put a cap on the price of this card.

      Long story short, no, you don’t need to be as cognizant of sealed products. Much more important are Fall rotation, redemption as an ongoing theme, seasonality (buying and selling for Modern season has been consistently profitable) and changes to payouts and formats. These are the dominant themes and if you are a patient, working with these themes can be a great way to make a few tix.

    1. Supernova is a retailer that operates a number of bots on the MTGO classifieds. They buy and sell rares from all sets. They also publish buy and sell prices for all rares and booster packs on their website. Check them out at supernovabots.com. The ratio of digital to paper is a way to gauge relative value in sets. If you read some of my past articles, I go into more depth around the idea of the ratio and what it means.
      https://www.quietspeculation.com/2012/08/insider-w

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