The plan was flawless. The execution seamless. I joyously watched as my expensive Modern staples sold on eBay one at a time, until they were all gone. “Farewell” I thought as I shipped each reprint-prone Modern staple. “See you in seven months, when Modern Masters is released and I can repurchase my Tarmogoyfs, Dark Confidants, and Vendilion Cliques again at a lower price!”
The execution may have been flawless, but the plan was far from. Now what?
So Much For A Pullback
Modern Masters was announced back in October, as Modern season was ramping up. Once the news came out that all my precious Modern staples older than Zendikar Block were prone to reprint, I began formulating an exit strategy. And as card prices rose into the winter, I made the bold decision to sell, expecting to buy back in this summer.
There were two major problems with this plan. First, despite my selling out during the midst of Modern season, card prices continued to rise well beyond. In fact, the price on Dark Confidant peaked well after Modern season ended in late April. Once Wizards confirmed Dark Confidant’s place in Modern Masters, the price did drop as I anticipated! But this leads me to the second problem.
Turns out Wizards was more fearful than I expected – they printed far fewer quantities of Modern Masters than I anticipated. The result: after hitting a peak of $60, the Human Wizard suffered only a 10% drop to a short term bottom. Even with this drop, the low price of $54 was still above where I decided to sell. What’s more, the price has continued to rise once again despite 4,500 participants at GP Vegas.
The trend on Tarmogoyf is similar – the drop from peak to bottom was not quite 10%. In this case, the “bottom” lasted much longer since people knew this card would be in Modern Masters from the start. But the same recovery has already begun.
Vendilion Clique hasn’t “recovered” yet, but this Modern Masters Mythic Rare has also seen less than a 10% price drop. And as with Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf, the price drop on Vendilion Clique still has not sent the card’s value to below where I initially sold.
It’s Not All Bad
Despite these unfortunate sales, I did luck out in two instances: Mutavault and Thoughtseize. The player community was surprised to see the absence of these two cards from Modern Masters. But the recent rumors that both are in M14 have quieted the crowds. Instead of panic buying, players have resorted to selling because of these rumors (more so Mutavault since it’s on MTG Salvation – Thoughtseize is less widely discussed since it’s not on MTG Salvation…yet).
Once again the drop thus far has been only 10%. But the drop has accelerated recently and will likely continue once spoiler season rolls around and these reprints are confirmed. What I have lost with poorly timed sales of Tarmogoyf, Dark Confidant, and Vendilion Clique, I may yet recoup from Mutavault and Thoughtseize.
Hopefully the sale of both these Modern and Legacy Staples will help negate any losses I absorb from buying back the other cards I sold incorrectly. But should I rush to repurchase the cards I sold? Is there perhaps a better strategy?
From my viewpoint, I see three likely paths forward from here. Each path is dependent on some personal decisions, but I am guessing other players who also sold out of Modern in anticipation of reprints are facing similar choices.
1) Buy buy buy!!!
In other words, the trends on Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf have already turned positive. Star City Games is buying both versions of Bob at $50, which in essence has removed all copies in the US market below that price. This trend is likely to continue as demand increases. I’ve even noticed Modern Staples not reprinted have already begun another incline well before Modern season. Consider the chart for Chord of Calling, which is already testing it’s all time high.
Caution: The risk here is that Wizards notices the success of the printing but the lack of impact on the secondary market. Therefore, they can announce another print run or even initiate a Modern Masters II as soon as possible to capitalize on the hype. Prices will EVENTUALLY drop should enough copies be printed.
2) Sit Tight.
What if Wizards does decide to print more Modern Masters? The hype may continue, but if prices still responded positively, we could be finding ourselves in a bubble. An argument could be made that the best approach here is to wait things out a bit longer. Prices may increase a bit more, but we can hope they have a lower ceiling now with the greater quantities available in circulation. Therefore, the upside of buying Dark Confidants and Tarmogoyfs now may be much smaller than downside risk.
Caution: If Wizards needs a year or two to stage another Modern Masters launch, we can easily see further price increases going into Modern season. This could mean a missed opportunity. Additionally if we decide to sit tight through the coming months, we won’t have these expensive Modern cards to play with during the Modern PTQ season. Some may also lack the cards they need for the Legacy GP in Washington D.C. later this year. There may be a hidden cost to not having these cards when needed, such as playing inferior decks in competitive events.
I love Modern because I truly enjoy the metagame. To me, it’s refreshing to be able to play spells while my opponent is tapped out, knowing he can’t simply cast Force of Will. I also enjoy a format where broken things like turn one Show and Tell into Emrakul, the Aeons Torn simply cannot happen.
This may be a type of MTG Eternal blasphemy, but in all honesty I feel burnt out on Legacy. Oh, and paying $2500 for a deck is also craziness.
The best part of Modern: I fell in love with the Melira Pod deck the moment I read about it, I bought all the cards, and the deck has since become Tier 1. The deck is relatively inexpensive and does not run any of the above cards I sold. As long as Melira remains Tier 1, I may be better off not owning these expensive Modern staples. I simply don’t need them to enjoy the game.
Caution: If Melira Pod becomes too successful, Wizards may ban something like Chord of Calling or, worse yet, Birthing Pod. This would destroy the Melira Pod deck, which already had to recover from the banning of Green Sun's Zenith. Alternatively, as the Modern metagame evolves in the coming years the Melira Pod deck could fall out of favor. I may find myself in need of these expensive Modern staples at inopportune moments.
A Tentative Choice
We don’t have to decide today, but we should decide soon. My inclination is to watch eBay VERY closely in the coming week to see if GP Vegas brings new copies of Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant to the market. Should supply increase enough to bring prices down, I will likely pull the trigger.
If no change occurs or if prices continue their rise, I will likely go down path 2 or path 3. My plan will likely be to sit on sidelines and observe how prices evolve. In the meantime I’ll continue to buy Modern staples not seeing a reprint. Cards like Blinkmoth Nexus and Celestial Colonnade will almost assuredly go up come Modern season and I want to be ready.
I was surprised to see the recent bump on Chord of Calling. I truly believe Modern staples not seeing a reprint are destined for a major price jump in the coming months. Here are some other cards on the move:
- Isn’t Blighted Burgeoning basically an Exploration on steroids in EDH? Landing this enchantment on turn one gives you a major advantage. TCG Player shows a sizable price jump, and now the TCG Mid price is above SCG’s price! This won’t last – either more copies will be listed so TCG’s price drops or SCG will increase their price. Considering they have about five in stock, I’m predicting the latter.
- Can people please stop buying out stupid reserved list cards on TCG Player? I don’t care what your argument is – I’m not buying Living Plane at $60. Still, we should all be aware of this recent jump. My guess: more than half the people who speculated on this card don’t even know how Enchant Worlds are supposed to work in Magic. Sell into this hype.
- Casual prices continue to increase as MTG becomes more popular. I opened a lot of Time Spiral packs when the set was new. As a result, I used to own a bunch of Swarmyards, and they all immediately went into my bulk rare box. No one wanted them. Until recently. Sadly, mine are already gone but I’d encourage you to search through your bulk rare box and make sure you pull out all of your Swarmyards if you haven’t already done so!