I've heard a lot of people stating that we speculators ruin or crash the Magic market. I started a thread on the forums to find what exactly was meant by that. As far as I can tell, they were totally incorrect. We may exacerbate some sellouts, but we certainly don't cause them. In fact, we fix the problem created by the sellout. In the following paragraphs, I hope I can explain this in further detail.
That is not to say that we have never seen artificial inflation. We saw someone buy the internet out of Aluren based on insider information. It took a while to find out why. But what we did was not increase it. What we did was find copies of a $25 card at $4, and purchase them for resale. We then re-listed them for fast sale.
When I am selling a card into the hype, I am always undercutting, and most other speculators do too. Because of the fact that many of us sell on TCG and eBay, we are able to lower a price way faster than we can increase it. When Aluren shot up to $24.46, its highest ever, we started selling them for less, to flip that quick profit. When I list a $24 card for $19 to sell it quickly, that drives the price down. That store was going to increase it to $20 anyway, or get bought out by a player who saw a card way too cheap. Now, we see $12.69 TCG mid.
We are seeing some amazing overnight increases. However, people are entirely misinterpreting why we see these increases and characterizing them as a problem. I contest that there is a reasonable explanation for each increase, and that we help the situation, not hurt it. I would like to go over a few examples given on the forum.
Aluren -- This was artificial inflation, and was the first we saw. However, the card is down to $12.69 due to sellers constantly undercutting each other to get rid of them while they decrease.
Daybreak Coronet -- This was a new deck everyone wanted to play. Prior to it gaining popularity, as I was told, SCG and TCG combined had less than 20 play sets.
Serra Ascendant –- Martyr Proc, the once-cheapest deck in Modern, runs this card. It spiked upon the announcement of Modern FNMs, but was already steadily increasing prior to this due to an increased Modern player base. This card certainly has EDH/casual appeal too. a 6/6 for 1? Yes please.
Sylvan Scrying -– An uncommon used in a Modern deck that is both powerful and popular among casual/FNM players. The deck gained popularity, and because of this, we saw a need for cards that most people new to the game did not have.
Aven Mindcensor –- Hurts a lot of Modern decks. G/W and B/W Hatebears became popular and the card started selling. Demand increased, stock stayed low -- the card went up.
Marrow-Gnawer -– More rats were printed. Casual players love rats, dragons, angels, and other odd creature types. I've had three requests for Relentless Rats in the last week. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an increase on the demand for those, since people want 20-35 of them. Marrow-Gnawer is not exactly a card you can find in every binder, and as those of us who searched learned, you can't find them in every shop, either.
Oblivion Stone -– See: Sylvan Scrying. This card also was an inarguable EDH stable, which helped it increase. Not a ton of copies were available. I was only able to find eight copies when I went to buy them.
Spellskite -– Same as O-Stone, except that this card is necessary to fight multiple decks. It had a higher stock, but it goes in the board of any deck, and is a 2-4-of in every Urza deck.
Chains of Mephistopheles –- How many copies of these have you seen? There were almost none in every store. This is why it spiked. Buying ten play sets was buying out the internet.
Gyre Sage –- A card from a recent set that is sold out in most LGS, and was considered a bulk rare, was noticed as one of the best ramp spells in Standard. I can't imagine why people think this was artificial.
Shallow Grave -– Extremely old card with low stock. People need copies of it for a deck, and they are hard to find. If every copy is bought out at $3, no seller in their right mind is going to list at $3.
Hall of the Bandit Lord –- We are still waiting for information on this one to come in. However, a quick search on TCGPlayer tells me this is a fairly popular EDH land. Look at other lands from CoK. Most have gone up to $6-8. This could be more artificial inflation, similar to Aluren, but the card's price will keep going down from here due to people selling the copies they got at $1.50, and undercutting every lowest seller.
Thrun, the Last Troll –- This increase is from many people replacing Bloodbraid Elf in Modern Jund, the deck that once took up 37% of the meta in the Modern format. The Modern format, again, being one whose player base has quadrupled in the past six months. Also, this is an EDH card and a casual all-star.
The Speculator Effect
Guys, look at any graph of a card that shoots up. You'll see what looks like an unreasonable price change. Well, we go in, pick up the cheap copies, and we sell them at a profit –- but we unload quick, and we drive the price back down. This is win-win for everyone but the buyer who needs the card.
The store gets a sale, that gives them a profit, based on what they paid for the card. We get a profit, buying them and re-listing at a much higher price. The card spikes up due to demand, the players spend their money on the cards to play in events, and we push the price back to a reasonable level. The best we can do is buy them, and undercut for a quick sale on eBay or TCG. We help lower the price quickly.
Without us, these spikes would stay high. If only card shops sold the card, Aluren may be $19.99, because people will pay it. When I list a copy at $12, and someone undercuts me with $11.99, and the card is $10 on eBay, no store can get that much for it. So, they lower their prices.
Please feel free to prove me wrong. I am the type that loves to hear any factual points that shut down my opinions. However, as I think I've illustrated, we see potential in a card, and we make money driving prices down when we sell it. If anything, the Magic community should love us for making that card go back down when it should, and at an accelerated rate.
So, until next time, I leave you with this note: Buy Abrupt Decay. $6 is too low, it's a $10 card that is played in every format and is sometimes splashed just to deal with troublesome permanents.