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Insider: This Last Week’s Buzz

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It’s been yet another wild week. Between more price jumps, some personal big bets, and multiple major tournaments over the weekend, the news has been coming in nonstop. Fortunately I had just enough time to read up on much of this. In rapid-fire form, I will attempt to summarize the most important facts I could dig up from the past week.

Price Jumps

Got any Rishadan Ports for trade?

I sure don’t. But then again, I don’t really want them. Someone decided to buy TCG Player out of this land and this caused an abhorrent spike on mtgstocks.com. The card isn’t on the Reserved List, and there really hasn’t been a recent spike in demand. Granted it does appear in the mono-white Legacy decks that performed well at GP Strasbourg, but it’s already been a few weeks since then. If Legacy performance was the main rationale behind the spike, it should have occurred sooner.

Oh, and pro tip: if you’re going to buy the internet out of a card, you may want to make sure you purchase the copies from Card Shark as well. The fact that this card sold out on TCG Player yet remained in stock on Card Shark and eBay told me the spike was false.

Speaking of false spike, have you seen Earthcraft’s chart lately?

To be honest, the gradual price rise from July until now never hit my radar. But now that the card has spiked to $20+, I’ve taken notice. I do not understand what the main driver is here. The card is banned in Legacy, and I always thought the unbanning price would be in the $20’s. I guess I need to recalculate that? This one is on the Reserved List, but I’m still avoiding it. Again, TCG Player spikes, yet copies remained on eBay and Card Shark – seems like a buyout scam to me.

Finally, we have Sliver Queen.

I’m really glad we decided to send out a blast on this one – the upside potential was definitely there. Even though the initial spike has since recovered as new copies are listed on TCG Player, I know that Sliver Queen’s price will now settle higher than where it was previously. The card is on the Reserved List and is a casual staple. After being a $20-$30 card forever, the increased casual player base will finally help drive this card up in price. Newer players will get to experience what some of us experienced when Slivers first came out.

I am selling my Sliver Queens because I think the upside is now gone. But I can’t blame you for holding. Likewise on Sliver Legion.

Standard SCG Open

The Standard format is very mature now as we are introducing more sets to the format. It seems Dragon’s Maze has made a small impact on the metagame at best. I see a few Sire of Insanity in the top 8, one playset of Advent of the Wurm, a handful of Voice of Resurgence, and zero Deadbridge Chant.

Let’s start with the last one, Deadbridge Chant:

That spike was pretty awesome last week, right? I was able to grab a couple playsets on TCG Player for under $14 shipped and I’ve since sold two sets for a small profit. But there’s a problem here – the supply of this card is increasing and the demand may not keep up. With a no-show in the latest SCG Top 8, I wonder how many people are trying this card out. Sure, it will see plenty of casual play and it’s a Mythic Rare. But I don’t think this price tag is sustainable.

Speaking of unsustainable price tags, have you seen Voice of Resurgence’s price lately? That card has broken $30 on mtgstocks.com, yet it doesn’t dominate Standard as you’d expect it to at that price. I remember when Bonfire of the Damned jumped, it was a mainstay of Standard. This card isn’t there yet, and I see little reason to buy in at this price.

I’m much more optimistic for Advent of the Wurm and Sire of Insanity. Both have their place in Standard and neither have really “spiked” like the previous two. Will they ever break $10? Unlikely, at least not until Standard rotates. But they are powerful cards in decent deck archetypes. As long as Jund and Bant decks exist, these cards will see some play. I’m not buying deeply into these, but I’m also fine with picking em up in trades and holding onto them to see how prices shake out in the coming weeks.

My Biggest Bet Yet

I just went fairly deep, and I’m eager to share this decision with the Quiet Speculation community to hear what others think. I am purchasing about 3 cases worth of Innistrad booster boxes, with an average buy price of somewhere near $147 shipped. Here’s my rationale.

In my experience with Booster Box investing, there are three major factors that contribute to a box’s price: how fun the draft format was, how many Eternal money cards there are, and how large the print run was.

Very few sets satisfy all three of these criteria. In my opinion there have been only three in recent years – Future Sight, Worldwake, and Rise of the Eldrazi. Even these are somewhat questionable, because Future Sight had only one valuable card for the longest time and Worldwake may not have been the best draft set.

Looking at Innistrad, I see some strengths and one weakness. On the plus side, the set has a few valuable Eternal cards and I would love to see Liliana of the Veil’s price trajectory continue to follow Jace’s. I think Liliana will always trail behind Jace in the long term, but I think the pattern is going to be similar barring reprint. Snapcaster Mage and Geist of Saint Traft will also be noteworthy pulls, and the Innistrad Duals won’t ever become completely worthless.

Another plus: I have heard from others that triple Innistrad draft was one of the best draft formats since the Modern card frame. Some have ranked this set right below Rise of the Eldrazi and Ravnica / Guildpact / Dissension in terms of draft enjoyment. This means there will be plenty of casual players who want to draft this set for years to come, long after it leaves Standard.

The largest downside: the print run. Innistrad was a HUGE success story for Wizards. The set significantly increased the Magic player base, and as a result the set was printed a great deal. Innistrad was printed much more than Worldwake and even more so for Future Sight. One saving grace: since Avacyn Restored was drafted alone as the third set in the block, at least the print run was a little smaller.

Taking all these factors into consideration, along with the fact that it’s difficult to find boxes of Innistrad below $160 already, I’m going deep.


The set itself is out of print, so downside is marginal. But the upside is tremendous – I expect these boxes to break $200 in 2014 and possibly $300 a couple years after that. If this comes to fruition, the bet could pay out huge. If not, then I’ll be hosting a lot of Innistrad drafting.

Quick Summary

MTG Finance is more exciting than ever before. We’ve had some tremendously successful sets come out recently that have increased the player base. We’ve had the introduction of a new Eternal format, along with the announcement of the first massive reprint set in many years (Modern Masters). And we’ve had some crazy price spikes in older cards, with seemingly little catalyst behind them.

I made a New Years’ resolution that I would go deep and follow my gut more often, and I’m finally following through on this in Innistrad booster boxes. In the meantime, I’ve sold some stuff off that has already paid out nicely. Inventory turnover is a good thing.

And overall, I’m having a great time speculating with everybody. Our community has grown significantly and everyone brings unique value to the discussion. I hope to continue with the speculating and make more big bets in the future!

Sigbits

  • It appears Star City Games has upped their prices on foil Onslaught Fetches, and I think this is newsworthy. NM copies of foil Polluted Delta are now retailing for $400, and the buy price is $250. The others have certainly not gotten cheaper.
  • I didn’t go deep at all on New Phyrexia Booster Boxes. In fact, I own exactly one. But the fact Star City Games is sold out of these at $174.99 is very reassuring. I haven’t made a bad Booster Box buy yet – they all seem to go up in price. New Phyrexia has a handful of Eternal cards and it’s a third set of a block. I don’t think it added much to draft fun, but having these two characteristics should help drive this set over $200 a box in 1-2 years’ time.
  • Another week has gone by, and Steam Vents hasn’t really budged in price. I still think we’re nearing a bottom here. More copies will be opened, but once Standard rotates and Innistrad Duals are gone, these will become absolutely critical in maintaining a metagame that is dominated by 3-color decks.

-Sigmund Ausfresser
@sigfig8

28 thoughts on “Insider: This Last Week’s Buzz

  1. Sig,

    Glad to see the article up 😉

    Deadbridge Chant might actually get the attention it deserves with Scavenging Ooze coming in M14. Knowing this, still think the price tag is not sustainable?

    1. Hmmmmm, Scavenging Ooze may make things a little more interesting. But I still question whether Chant will become a dominant force or if it’ll just be one of those “cute” cards people have fun with. I’m on the fence. Either way, I still see no need to acquire these in the next month or two.

  2. Another enjoyable article…I will say I had no idea on Rishadon Port’s value jump (found one in a binder last night I didn’t know I had), but I agree with your logic on most of your calls this week. I do think it’s important to note that Liliana has dropped back down in price (the tcg low on her is $39 (currently)) so she’s down from her $45 low a month or so ago, though demand is still there, she isn’t really following JTMS…I don’t see her ever being in that range.

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      Regarding Liliana, I don’t think she’ll ever reach Jace’s range, but I think she could still follow Jace’s price history, just at 50% Jace’s numbers. I do recall that Jace hit $100 at his peak in Standard, but dropped down to like $50-$60 as he rotated out. Liliana hit $50 at her Standard peak, but she will likely drop to $25-$30 when she rotates.

      But if she continues the trend, she could be $60 within a couple years…assuming no reprint.

      1. I agree 100% with that. I actually don’t see her dropping a whole lot @ rotation (maybe 5-10% max) given her obvious eternal playability and the fact that her current high price does NOT seem to be due much to standard (judging by the lack of decks I see her in..only ever really jund)

      2. I think her reprint chances are fairly high. Maybe not this core set as Liliana of the Dark Realms has just had one year and so far they have been giving the newer ones 2 yrs. She is not broken like JTMS was. Maybe next summer..

        1. A reprint is more likely for Liliana than for Jace, I’ll give you that much! But think about all those players who paid $150 for their foil Lilianas. How would they feel? 😛

      1. If I could buy MM boxes near MSRP I’d do it. But at $225 a box, it seems so risky. We know so little about print size and we dont’ know what cards will be included. These boxes could become $500 or they could become $150 (likely not lower) depending on how things go. I suppose upside is much greater than downside, which is worth considering. I am just holding out to see what box prices do when they are released. I hate preordering anyways.

        1. Nice! You likely got a better price than I did. I believe there is 1 or 2 boxes on eBay for less than $170 and that’s it. This will be a $200 box by 2014 unless Liliana and Snapcaster are reprinted before then…not likely.

  3. Great Article I enjoyed reading!

    What’s your opinion Sig on RtR sealed boxes? It has less attractive mythics but way more inter-format (even legacy and classic) rares + a half of shock lands.

    1. Thanks!!!

      For RtR, I see 2 of the 3 criteria being met. The set has many worthwhile Eternal staples, as you’ve called out. Also, the set is somewhat fun to draft I believe (though I think the jury is still out on DGR draft). Problem here is that the supply is HUGE! Best selling set of all time = most printed set of all time.

      That being said, I do own 4 boxes of RtR, and I like getting them in the $85 range if possible. I think these will appreciate nicely IF Magic remains uber popular in the coming years. This is necessary in order to keep demand high so that these boxes are bought up. At this point it’s your call on whether or not this is likely.

  4. I noticed that scg has modern masters booster boxes pre-ordering for 300. What’s your thought? Is the demand really that high or is star city just price gouging?

    1. Star City Games started with lower preordre prices, but enough sold such that they increased the price. I don’t think this is SCG being SCG necessarily…but I’m not paying $300 that’s for sure.

  5. I think the Earthcraft jump is more sustainable than you think. The card is very rarely seen In trade binders and ebay prices have been close to the old market value for awhile. I was lucky enough to notice this jump a day or 2 before it happened because cfb had already adjusted their price to 25 bucks with none in stock (now they have over 20 in stock) and I bought a Korean and a playset of japanesse on ebay for pretty cheap.

  6. We disagree on Earthcraft, it’s always been a great casual card and chances are the casual player base increased. In addition to that it will at least be tried if unbanned in Legacy. It’s been on my radar as a card with potential and have been picking up a playset and a few extra copies in recent months.

    1. It’s not that I don’t think Earthcraft can be a $20 card…I just thought it would be $20 post-unbanning (after the original ridiculous spike). Now that Earthcraft has already jumped, I wouldn’t want to rush to buy a dozen copies should it become unbanned. It became a much more risky prospect.

      I’ve never seen Earthcraft played casually, but it’s possible I don’t play enough these days to see that.

      1. It’s a rare card to find in binders, it was played a lot when it was still fairly new and available when Odyssey block came out and introduced Squirrel’s Nest. I reckon the card is more likely than most to have been lost to the Magic community as a whole because of casual players/moms thrashing collections or otherwise keeping them away from the general public. I haven’t seen one in trade binders since forever (I was looking to pick up a reasonably priced set for years). While it always had some value the price memory for those older casual players who had them at the time would have been a couple of dollars at most, not the kind of card you make sure to sell when you stop playing.

        I am not advocating to get them now, unless you manage to find them at the old price, but, I am saying that this is not a rise that surprises me.

        In a similar vein, I am a believer as far as the Medallion rise is concerned. They are great casual cards and equally old. Much of the same reasoning applies, particularly to the non-blue ones as they saw little tournament play. (Casual players have loved playing them even if competitive players haven’t). I wouldn’t be surprised if we see those eventually climb towards $20 too. I am in the progress of making sure I have at least a playset of these too.

        1. In general I think casual hits from long ago that still have potential today are great pickups, especially if they are on the reserved list. You might have to wait for a while, but I think their eventual increase can be counted on.

          I would include any great land, like Volrath’s Stronghold or Yavimaya Hollow, cards that can be played in many decks, like Memory Jar, and anything that works well with newer cards (though those tend to go from bulk to expensive overnight), it’s harder to predict these, but I kinda like Oath of Ghouls and Oversold Cemetery, that keep getting better now that we have the creature power creep thing going on (which would also be a nice argument in favor of Spike Weaver not that I think about it). I am sure other candidates can be found when you review the reserved list from a casual perspective (in fact something I should maybe do some day, if only I can find time).

            1. Wow, very thorough response. Your arguments that these are casual staples and merit higher prices are not unfounded. I don’t mean to disagree. But now that prices have spiked dramatically, it’s much more difficult for me to tell people to buy them. In my opinion, it’s mostly too late. If you need them, you could try to find them cheaply or you could wait. You are suggesting not to wait, and that you think prices are stabilized now at this elevated level. This is perhaps true, but I am skeptical.

              We’ve seen these price spikes many times before – some of them stick (Legends Legends) and some don’t so much (Aluren, Rishadan Port to a lesser extent). These higher prices should motivate players to dig their Medallions and Earthcrafts out and back into trade binders. Now that these cards have spiked, they’re on people’s radar again. So maybe you’ll see more supply now that price is much higher. That’s generally how the market works – price rises and supply rises as a result. More people are willing to sell at higher prices. The invisible hand should prevail eventually…I think. 🙂

              1. I am not suggesting to get them now at $20, but I am suggesting the rise is real and could have been expected at some point. I expect it might dip a bit, but will otherwise hold steady.

                What I am doing is challenging the “scam” conclusion and trying to explain what I see as the main driver.

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