After a wild roller coaster ride took us through Modern PTQ season, the MTG financial market has finally settled down a bit. My daily mtgstocks.com check have not yielded any surprises now for the past couple days. Nothing has doubled overnight and there have been no inexplicable jumps.
In fact the only cards to have gone up appreciably (>20%) in the past week are Ajani Vengeant, Fury of the Horde and Liliana of the Veil. It’s fairly obvious why Ajani Vengeant has jumped – it’s basically the last “hoorah” of Modern. Liliana of the Veil has been on a steady rise, and the shift from Modern to Standard PTQ seasons won’t impact demand in a negative way.
Last week Corbin touched upon how significantly the casual MTG market is rising. I have no desire to repeat this effort – just make sure you add this Coldsnap sorcery to the list.
What Does This Leave Me To Write About?
In this quiet week, it may be a great time to talk portfolio rebalancing and diversification. When people think diversification, they sometimes fall into the trap of thinking it only refers to format balancing. You’ve got some Standard cards, Modern cards (hopefully less now), and Legacy cards, so you’re all set.
But there are other ways to diversify risk. For instance, I can name a group of cards which are all Standard legal but give you very different risk profiles. Consider: Hallowed Fountain, Deathrite Shaman, Sphinxs Revelation, and Craterhoof Behemoth.
The above cards are all legal in Standard. Yet their positions in our MTG portfolio serve very different purposes. The Shock Land is a solid investment for the future of Modern. Deathrite Shaman (chart from mtgstocks.com) is a great Eternal play in general, though the short term projection for this card is still sloping down.
I consider Sphinxs Revelation a mainstay of Standard, and with Standard PTQ season arriving, I am a believer. I know I show the mtgstocks.com chart for this white and blue instant every week, but with good reason. I saw the card was rising over the past couple weeks and this trend has continued.
I see this card returning to its previous height of $25 with a strong chance of breaking through this time around.
Craterhoof Behemoth is an odd one. It too is a Standard play, but one with a much different risk equation. The chart from mtgstocks.com tells the whole story for this creature.
The card was clearly a flash in the pan, and after quadrupling to nearly $20, the card plummeted down to $5 in just three months. But the story may not be over yet on this beast – he’s seeing play in Standard yet again. This is your go-to investment for high risk and high reward. He’s tough to find, but his time in Standard is also running out. If you want something risky to invest in, you don’t need to look far back to find it.
Cut A Different Way
There’s more than one way to skin a cat. If Standard’s not your thing, you can still achieve a solid balance of high and low risk positions through Eternal cards and other Magic products.
Consider these parallels:
- Hallowed Fountain -> Misty Rainforest -> Sealed Return to Ravnica boxes
- Deathrite Shaman -> Dark Confidant (post reprint in MM) -> NM Alpha Rares
- Sphinxs Revelation -> Felidar Sovereign -> Sealed Commander Product
- Craterhoof Behemoth -> Griselbrand -> Sealed Duel Decks
I’ll be the first to admit these aren’t perfect comparisons. But hopefully they convey my point – diversification does not necessitate cross-format holdings. The cards Misty Rainforest, Dark Confidant (after potential reprint in Modern Masters), Felidar Sovereign, and Griselbrand all yield different types of risk/reward structures without being as impacted by what’s going on in Standard (yes Griselbrand experiences it a little bit, but it’s also played in a variety of Legacy decks).
The other parallel is even more of a stretch, yet still enables some risk balancing within a portfolio. Like Shock Lands, sealed boxes of Return to Ravnica are a relatively known entity. Both will remain popular and should see steady price increases over time barring further printing. Meanwhile, some sealed Duel Decks are a huge success and increase in value (e.g. Divine vs. Demonic) while others flop completely (e.g. Phyrexia vs. The Coalition). They have their chance to shine, but they may not quite make it – much like Craterhoof Behemoth.
Take A Second Look
I’ll admit all is quiet on the western front in the world of MTG Finance. We’ve actually managed to go most of a week without seeing a card double in price, and this trend is likely to continue for a little bit as Standard PTQ season ramps up. My guess is Modern Masters will provide the next sudden jolt to the market, but there will of course be opportunities in Dragon’s Maze as well.
During this down time, it’s a great idea to do some housekeeping with collections. Last time I had some free time I sifted through my bulk to find the newest quarter commons and fifty cent uncommons to move to my trade binder. Stuff like Ponder has really increased lately. And have you noticed what Relic of Progenitus has done as well?
This card is the latest to join the two dollar Common Club!
In addition to this exercise, I’d also suggest adding a new one to the regiment. Perhaps it’s not even an addition as much as a modification – I’d reevaluate your diversification. Rather than taking stock based on format, try taking stock based on risk/reward potential as well. Sure, moving out of Modern and into Standard seems like the right thing to do right now (while keeping Casual always in mind). But what Standard to buy and what Modern to sell can also be influenced by your risk tolerance.
Since I’m risk averse, I’m moving my high-risk Modern cards (high risk of reprint, that is) and buying Standard. But the Standard I’m seeking is Eternal in nature. I am very heavily seeking Abrupt Decay, Supreme Verdict, and Shock Lands because of their safe nature. I also want some short term potential, which is why I like Sphinxs Revelation as well. Being risk averse, I’m trying to avoid Craterhoof Behemoth and the like. Though I may pick up a couple extra Angel of Serenity, which is a much stronger high risk / high reward play in my opinion – especially after the solid performance of the Angel at SCG Kansas City.
It all comes down to your preferences. I only suggest you think about your preferences in a slightly different way next time.
- I for one am completely shocked at the price of some Duel Deck products. Elves vs. Goblins ($249.99), Divine vs. Demonic ($149.99), and Jace vs. Chandra ($99.99) have all paid for themselves many times over. I wish I had these! Meanwhile Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas, Venser vs. Koth, and Phyrexia vs. the Coalition have all been a bust. Fortunately the rest have also increased marginally in price. This is why I see investment in these products as somewhat risky – you could increase your money fivefold or sit on a stagnant position for years depending on what you buy!
- Fat Packs, on the other hand, almost always seem to exceed retail when they go out of print. There must be some Fat Pack collectors out there because some relatively undesirable sets still have costly Fat Packs. Scourge is a bit older, but SCG is sold out of these Fat Packs at $99.99! Shards of Alara is much more recent, but SCG only has two in stock at $119.99 each! This is a very strong return for just a couple years’ investment, and could be another low-risk MTG investment avenue to consider.
- I think it’s noteworthy to highlight Deathrite Shaman’s recent pullback. Even SCG has 25 copies in stock at $12.99. Considering the card once traded at $20, this is a significant drop. Although I regret picking up a couple copies near this price, I still have high hopes for the longer-term prospects of this Eternal staple.