Welcome back readers! As all (or 99.99%) of you are aware, this past weekend was Grand Prix Las Vegas, the first and only Modern Masters sealed GP of the year.
The tournament had to be capped at 4500 people with people waiting 5+ hours in line on Friday to try and get a playmat. While waiting in line, some entrepreneurs walked around selling their playmats at $120 each, and apparently sold five that way. Thus, they paid for their entire tournament entry (including VIP status) with just the mat.
This GP highlighted the growing cost of MTG as a whole as well as the massive amount of interest in Modern Masters. Whether either is sustainable has yet to be seen. Seeing as you QSers are here to learn financial advice, I guess I'll delve right in.
Tarmogoyf -- This one's pretty obvious, but it was still funny to see stores offering their old buylist price on Tarmogoyfs (usually around $85) when SCG was paying $100. Rumor was that someone was even offering $110 (if anyone knows who, please chime in in the comments section.) This aggressive buying strategy by SCG implies they believe strongly that demand for this card will only go up (duh!), but more importantly that it can sustain a higher price point.
Many dealers were selling Goyfs in the $150 range. Unfortunately, I didn't witness anyone buying goyfs at that price, but I have a feeling that's because most people felt they could trade for them instead. On a fun side note, there was supposedly one guy in the white pod that cracked two regular Goyfs and a foil Goyf, and promptly dropped.
Dark Confidant -- This guy was number two on the dealers' "most desirable" list. Many dealers were selling MM versions at $80, but I didn't witness anyone buying them at this price. SCG was buying them at $50, five dollars under the TCG low price at the time. Again, this implies SCG believes demand will sustain a higher price point.
Of course, some people are claiming that SCG set the price that high to hoard both Dark Confidants and Tarmogoyfs so that they'll have them for the Modern season, when they might charge even more.
Chord of Calling -- One of my friends sold his Chord to a dealer at $12 cash despite the TCG low at the time being around $14.50. The fact that it didn't appear in MM and has a unique keyword implies it's unlikely to show up as a reprint unless convoke is brought back in another set. Chord is used in several of the Pod decks as an instant-speed Green Sun's Zenith. Should Zenith get unbanned (as I believe it should be), it would most likely drop the value on Chord.
Zendikar Fetchlands -- If it wasn't obvious before, a lot of people are betting hard on the Modern format, including WoTC. With the reprint of the shocklands in RTR block the most expensive part of the mana base is now the fetchlands. I met quite a few people asking if I had fetches and many trying to trade for them. Sadly, those people didn't have enough or wouldn't give me the premium I wanted.
Shocklands -- These were also in high demand, though a large part may be due to their liquidity. I saw a lot of traders trying to "stock up" on them in anticipation of a spike come Modern season.
Abrupt Decay -- For those who didn't know, this RTR gem has dropped down to $7.25 (TCG Mid) making it a solid trade target, and a possible buy target, with a 6-9 month price target in the $10 range.
Jace, Architect of Thought -- If you read the forums daily (as I suggest you do), you already know this guy has been heating up since the RTR Block Pro Tour. The spoiling of Jace, Memory Adept in M14 has left JAoT as the preferred Jace (financially speaking) and currently one of the only planeswalkers with the ability to generate immediate card advantage in Standard.
Filterlands -- Though not as desired as their fetching or shocking cousins, the filterlands from Shadowmoor/Eventide were also in demand from many players trying to get into Modern. Personally, I was happy to trade them off at a premium whenever possible. I see a high likelihood of reprint for these guys, given that buddy lands are not in M14 and after rotation the only good mana fixing in Standard will be the shocklands.
Non-Magic Related Costs
Now that you've gotten your fill (or at least some of it) of the Magic side of my Las Vegas finance review, I'll throw in a few tidbits--not Sigbits and since Davebits sounds more like a cereal aimed at canabalistic households, we'll just stick to tidbits--regarding the hidden costs associated with traveling to major events.
Remember, money is money. If you grind out $40 in trades for a day, but then spend $40 needlessly because you didn't plan ahead, you're back to $0.
I don't intend to deter you from traveling to big events. But when money is as tight as it is for a lot of people right now, it's important to look at all the costs associated with attending an event. People often focus on the big ones (flight, hotel, car rental) but miss the little ones, which can easily add up to a lot.
Taxi/Bus Fare -- It's important to determine how far you're staying away from the venue (especially if you fly) to figure out how much to designate for taxi and bus fare.
In Vegas you can take the Duece from the strip all the way to Bonneville Station and then take the 113 to the Cashman center (the downside is that it takes around 1.25 hours), mainly because the 113 only runs every half hour, while the Duece runs every 15-20 minutes (sadly they often just miss each other). Also, if you do transfer at Bonneville, we were advised by a local gentlemen not to wander far from it as the area itself isn't that safe.
Las Vegas buses charge $8 for a 24-hour pass or $20 for a weekend pass (Fri/Sat/Sun). If you take a taxi the rate is $3.30 + 0.3 per mile, in addition to some charging extra for time (some stop lights cost us a dollar or more.) Some of the taxi drivers are a bit skeevy and might take the interstate if you aren't paying attention which will cost you another couple of bucks and is often unnecessary.
Either way, plan ahead and know where the venue is and put at least $25-30 towards transportation, if alone. In a group, taxi fares become cheaper, at least in places that don't charge more per passenger.
Hotels -- Circus Circus charged us a $66 "resort fee" when we arrived, which we hadn't accounted for, although the guy who booked it later saw a reference to it. It's important to consider the "other" costs when choosing your hotel, whether it's resort fees, internet fees, or lack of a continental breakfast.
Food -- Though it's obvious you need to eat, it's a good idea to check what restaurants are in the vicinity of your housing. It's also a good idea to check menu prices online--nothing sucks more than walking four blocks to a place that sounds good only to find out it's way more expensive than you thought.
You should also look ahead to see if there are any deals at these restaurants. For instance, Hooters Casino & Hotel in Vegas has a $9.98 prime rib dinner every night of the week (and it's delicious), $19.98 all-you-can-eat crab legs on Mondays and $17.98 all-you-can-eat ribs on Tuesdays. Ellis Island Casino also has a pretty good steak deal, which will cost about $8.00 after signing up for their free rewards club, and includes a drink (and yes that drink can be beer).
Travel Cost -- There are a plethora of other travel costs you might need to consider when determining if it's a good idea to go to a given event. For those driving, you'll need to consider gas (obviously), parking (still somewhat obvious), and potentially tolls (this is not a fun surprise). For those flying, there's often a fee to check a bag and you usually have to take something to get from the airport to your hotel (in Vegas, our shuttle was $7 one way).