Insider: My Modern Misstep

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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?

What Next?

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.

3) Abort.

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.

It’s another classic case of opportunity cost. Asked simply, what would you rather invest in right now: one Tarmogoyf or fourteen Celestial Colonnades? I’m currently favoring the latter.

Sigbits –Surprises

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!

-Sigmund Ausfresser

21 thoughts on “Insider: My Modern Misstep

  1. Update!!! Last night I continuously refreshed an eBay search for Tarmogoyfs and finally I found a set listed at around $390 shipped. I pulled the trigger on these. I also bought a couple extra in the $100 range for trade/future speculation. I’ve decided that I will NOT buy my Bobs or Vendilion Cliques back for now. I never once used the Bobs while I owned them, and I only need the Clique for EDH so it can wait. But as for Tarmogoyf, I caved into the hype of the weekend and I hope this purchase pays out come Modern season. Interested in hearing how others are proceeding with these big ticket items.

    1. On Saturday, I found a seller who listed 3 Goyfs @ $240 in NM/M condition and snap-bought them a few minutes after he listed. Also found 4 Goyfs @ $340 on MOTL that I just picked up. I’m pretty sure my luck’s run out on those by now though.

      1. Nice! I refresh my search on eBay every couple hours with the hopes of getting lucky. But now that I’ve bought my Goyfs back I’ll likely just watch from the sidelines.

  2. I sold back in January and hedged about a month ago buying back 2 bobs, 2 goyfs and one clique. Still a little profit as I didn’t overpay on ebay. Opened a clique from release event and goyf at GP 🙂 nearly back to even.

    1. Well done! I was reckless by not buying a month ago. I wanted to wait for GP Vegas, which apparently isn’t having the impact I predicted.

  3. My problem with Tarmogoyf, Is I keep seeing the vision of two players during modern season, both playing the exact same deck. One can’t afford goyf so plays ooze, the other can. The ooze player wins those matchup’s 9 out of 10 times. the goyf player is left wondering why did I spend 100$ for a card that gets beaten by a card 10$ card half the tournament has maindecked.

    1. I’ve seen this argument in the forums. The counter-argument is that Ooze is in Legacy but Goyf is still played constantly. Deathrite Shaman was also in Modern last season and this didn’t hold Goyf back. If you’re best answer to my Goyf is to spend a dozen or two of mana removing our graveyards from the game 1 card at a time, I think I’m OK with that.

  4. Hi Sig, How are you, Love your articles. I never miss a monday without reading your stuff, what’s your impression of the zendikar fetchlands, do they have a ceiling barring reprint, They just keep rising and tarn is apparently the most important. How about sword of feast and famine, it seems super underpriced? I would love for you to write maybe an article on the unreprinted mythics and staples if you could one day, thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Charles,

      Thank you very much for your comment! Your compliment means a lot to me – I hope I can continue making your Mondays just a tad bit better 🙂

      Zendikar Fetch Lands don’t really have a “ceiling” barring reprint. They’ll never be more expensive than respective Onslaught fetches, but they will continue to climb as long as they’re not reprinted. I personally have my set of 20 Zen fetches plus 2 or 3 extras and that’s it. They’re great for facilitating trades in either direction because they’re as good as cash and no one minds having them. But it seems inevitable they’ll be reprinted some day…so I wouldn’t want to be sitting on dozens when that happens.

      Sword has limited downside here but it’s not played a whole ton, is it? It may even be played more in EDH than in Modern, and it’s only a 1-of in Legacy at most. That being said, they won’t really drop in price (unless they show up in Modern Masters II or something).

      Thanks for the article suggestion! Will keep it in mind.


      1. Thanks Sig, I will look forward to your articles, I was 100 percent in your mind frame that onslaught fetches should always be higher however I feel like the ones played most could possibly tie them because of their multiple format applications and the growth of modern before the actual reprint or announcement when they eventually do. What’s your take on those factors? Do you think they will print the onslaught fetches one day and how might those effect the zen fetches if they did in your opinion?

        1. May be a slight impact, but everyone recognizes nonblue Zen fetches as $20 and blue as $30 (minimum, likely higher). Price memory will keep these prices higher even if ONS fetches are introduced into Modern. Just my opinion of course.

  5. 4000+ blowing out charlotte #s = more demand. SCG buying goyfs on the floor for 110 FROM VENDORS is an artificial supply constraint in the works. if you got in under that price you did very well. serious props, sell into modern prix events if you are specing.

  6. Isn’t there a possibility that this modern prices are a bubble?

    -SCG have a very aggressive buylist prices.

    -Don’t think many players who didn’t have a modern deck during the last 2 years will go now when the card prices are this high.

    -Modern continues to be just a seasonal format.

    -we are out of season

    -In europe, which have a much lower MM supply, the prices continue much lower than on US.

    something inside me don’t believe this is normal

    1. I agree – it seems like the uncertainty has lead to a “buy into the hype” mindset. Look at the top 16 from Portland – Bob and Goyf are almost absent, but people feel like you must have them! I think a lot of people are scared of scarcity locking them out of “the deck”, so they are aggressively buying. Is this just SCG playing the Wal-mart ‘rollback’ game?

      I for one think the opportunity cost of locking $500+ down in a playset of Goyfs is way too steep – I’m willing to risk them jumping 20% for modern season if it means I have the chance to grab foil Thoughseizes/Oozes/Vaults to sit on for a few months/years.

      1. Since Bloodbraid was banned Jund has been wounded- not many other decks regularly run both – new Jund variants, Junk and BUG but none have been dominating. If you like other decks you are OK. There are tons of options.

      2. It’s all about diversification. The time to buy Thoughtseizes/Oozes/Vaults hasn’t arrived yet. We need to wait for M14 to be out a couple months first. In the meantime I’ll try to have my money work for me in Goyfs. Hope to sell these for some profits heading closer to Modern season and then buy other underpriced cards at that time.

        You certainly voice a legitimate caution. But Goyf has been this expensive before, so I don’t think we’re necessarily in a bubble yet.

  7. What’s the game plan on foils? I have two foil goyfs and two foil bobs and a foil clique but I don’t know if to sit or trade. Any advice?

    1. Yikes, not sure but that’s a lot of money you’re sitting on there. Seems risky to hold it all, but these will only go up as Modern season approaches barring a reprint. It’s really your call on whether or not you think there will be more MM printed.

  8. I was so lost as to what to do I actually instant got a membership for advice. I expected some all clarifying answer but that was unfair to expect. In the end we are just betting on stocks, but more importantly, trying to predict human behavior; a near impossible task. But I did take away something from what you said. It is probably better to diversify a little bit into more liquadable assests. So I plan to trade off the foil goyfs

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