No elegant preamble this week. Instead I’m grinding some numbers on the best-selling set of all time, Return to Ravnica.
At least, it was before Gatecrash came out. The game is reaching ever higher places this week, and if this is to be believed we’ve picked up more players since we returned to Ravnica.
Which begs the question, are prices coming along for the ride?
I’ve talked for the last two months about how Return to Ravnica had hit its price floor as the market flooded. Now we’re away from drafting it for the moment (though we will… return), and it’s time to find out what prices on staples from the set are doing so we can figure out whether it’s time to buy in.
Let’s start with the card that’s driving this column: Abrupt Decay. The multi-format all-star just hit a four-month high and seems like it’s going to continue rising.
It's important to note this isn't an overnight spike. The card is rising slowly, and even if there are fits and starts, this is how you tell the difference between a sustainable spike and an unsustainable one.
Thundermaw Hellkite, for instance, is a card I was hot on a few months back when it was $10-12. I advised picking them up then and I advised holding onto them at $20 because it wasn’t done rising. I came to that conclusion because the price would go up a dollar or so a day, sometimes punctuated by $3-4 jumps. But at no point did it spike from a dollar to $10 like we’ve seen too many cards do recently. That’s a telling factor for me.
So back to Abrupt Decay. The card is on the upswing now that its set is no longer being redeemed. Sure, some more product will enter the market in a few months when it's drafted again, but with redemptions basically over this won’t be a huge driver.
I expect Abrupt Decay to be $10 or so in a matter of months, so now it’s time to see if this trend is noticeable with other Return to Ravnica cards.
Likely the best Wrath of God variant we’re going to see for a long time, I’ve been advocating stocking up on these, and the numbers seem to bear that out. Verdict hit an all-time low of $3.69 back in December and is up around 20 percent since then. I still think it’s a great time to move on these.
The all-time low on this occurred early before people realized how good it was. Since the beginning of the year it hasn’t moved at all, still sitting just above a dollar. Hard to draw anything from this (though I still think it’s a great pickup at a buck).
The all-time low on this card came shortly after release, and it reached a high of $4.83 two weeks ago. Currently sitting a few quarters below that, it’s still up a sizable amount since the beginning of the year.
I think this is an important one to evaluate because it’s pretty much just a Commander card right now. Again, we see an all-time low in the middle of December, and it’s up a dollar, or 50 percent, since then.
This is influenced quite a bit by Modern, but it’s still worth evaluating. The all-time low came right after the set release, which is a testament to how players misevaluated it more than any supply-sides issues.
The all-time high was set on January 23 at $15, and it’s currently sitting right around $14. For a card that, like Abrupt Decay, fits into every format, I think this is a very safe card to acquire at this point. It has similarities to Noble Hierarch, which keeps getting more expensive, and to Snapcaster Mage, which retails for about $9 more right now. There’s nothing to not like here.
Almost all of these are setting new all-time lows every day now. This cannot go on for much longer, even with more coming in a few months. I’ve been aggressive on these and I’m trying to stock up. It’s hard when people want them constantly, which is a sign of how important they are.
This is probably the single safest investment you can make in RtR right now, and I’m going to continue to stock up.
I’m lumping these together because the data is just so consistent. Outside of Sphinx's Revelation, every mythic in the set is at or very near an all-time low. Given the mixed set of data we have from the rares, this is an interesting development that probably speaks more to the fact that none of these besides Revelation are seeing play.
That said, does anyone really believe Jace, Architect of Thought is going to remain at $12.81 (an all-time low) forever? There’s just no way. It may not be until after rotation, but that seems way too low to me.
Looking over the data, we’re able to draw a pretty good lesson from all of this. Prices on Return to Ravnica are beginning to pick up in places, but others are still bottoming out.
So it would appear that Abrupt Decay may be the anomaly of the lot, for now. My biggest takeaway from this exercise is that there’s no reason to hit the panic button yet on your RtR picks. Prices on the whole aren’t rebounding yet, so you still have some time to pick up on what you want to speculate on, which is a good thing for those who haven’t stocked up yet.
It’s probable that I’ll come back to this list in six months or a year from now and see what data we have to work with. I believe the comparisons at that time will allow us to better pinpoint a time when prices hit the floor (I believe we’re at time right now), and exactly when they began rebounding (which I expect will be in a month or so).
Thanks for reading,
@Chosler88 on Twitter