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Insider: Snap Judgments on Modern Masters

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I’ve avoided it for long enough, but I think it’s finally time.

I’ve talked about Modern Masters in generalities before today, but never in specifics, for a few reasons. The most important of which is how seriously I take this column. I didn’t want to delve into specifics just to ride the “it” topic of the day or week. Despite how much we guessed or asserted, the truth is we didn’t know what would be in the set.

Now we do.

Another vital question still remains unanswered, namely how much of the set will be printed. Obviously this is a subject of immense importance, but it’s one I’d only be speculating on at this point.

But I do think it’s time to talk about Modern Masters. Over the next few weeks I'm going to address the topic from several different angles.

  1. General impressions/predictions on singles/box prices and trajectories (today)
  2. Modern Masters misses and opportunities (next week)
  3. Post-Modern Masters targets (two weeks from now)

I want to break this up to avoid giving short shrift to anything, because I think there’s a lot to cover. And the tradeoff for my relative silence on the set in the past is that I’ll be talking about it a lot for the next few weeks. It’s safe to say managing this set correctly is probably the most important thing to hit MTG finance since the creation of Modern itself.

So let’s begin.

Supply Issues

If supply stays as it stands now, there’s not going to be any real difference in the price of mythics. Rares will move a little bit, and anything lower will take a substantial hit.

This article illustrates a lot of what we’ve been saying, and attempts to apply real (though estimated) numbers to the discussion.

With all the hype this set is getting, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more people attempt to enter Modern, which means prices aren’t dropping far. Sure, there will be some drops in the first month or so, but once boxes begin to dry up, they aren’t going anywhere but up. For most of the mythics, this is basically a non-starter in terms of price, because I don’t think it’s going to do much. And how many players really want to sell the Tarmogoyf they just opened? Instead, they’re going to start looking for three more.

Now, I will make a note here on Goyf, which is that I hate picking the card up despite what I just said. Why not just wait for Scavenging Ooze to bottom out in Standard and pick those up instead? Ooze is not just the cheap man’s Goyf, it’s actually just as good (or even better) in some cases. There are Legacy decks that use Ooze but not Goyf, and I think that keeps Goyf’s price from going too high, at least as long as there are cheap Oozes to grab.

The opportunity will be in rares and uncommons, which could actually flood a bit in the weeks following the Modern Masters event at GP Vegas (See you all there, I hope!). That means I’m moving on stuff like Manamorphose and Spell Snare and the like. Kitchen Finks, I will note, gets worse with Ooze entering the format, so keep that in mind.

And just a hint of baseless speculation. It’s my belief Wizards will issue more Modern Masters onto the market, even if it’s not a true second wave and instead just another part of the narrowly-allocated first wave. This is something that has been hinted at in their release materials to stores, and I have to imagine they have this in mind since prices so far haven’t moved at all.

Boxes

Boxes are way too much right now. I even put my money where my mouth was on this and sold the fourteen I had at $200 apiece. At the time of the sell that wasn’t as sweet of a deal as it is now, but I wanted to lock in profits rather than take a chance that Wizards disappointed with the set.

I’m glad that they didn’t, but people paying nearly $300 a box right now is insane. Sure, maybe it’ll be worth $400 in two years, but they could also keep the reprints flowing and it could not move much. This isn’t like a From the Vaults where the cards aren’t likely to show up again. Instead, these are all cards Wizards is actively trying to reprint, which makes me like it less as a long-term investment. I also don’t like spending double the MSRP just to get into your position.

If you want to do this, wait a few weeks after the release and find out if any more waves are coming. If not, and you still want to invest, that will be the time. Box prices won’t be much different and there will be less risk.

Casual Staples

One thing many of us didn’t expect in this set was the huge influx of casual staples like Doubling Season and Adarkar Valkyrie.

These, I think, are the only rares/mythics that will see big movement. I haven’t heard anyone say “I really want Modern Masters” for my casual cards!” No, they want it for the tournament staples, and that means stuff like this is going to get sold to help recoup box costs.

Even though I do expect these to move briskly on the market, there’s a lot more for a popular-but-not-ubiquitous casual card like Valkyrie to lose than there is for a Vendilion Clique to lose.

Commons/Uncommons

There’s also a ton of “money” commons and uncommons you may have totally missed while skimming the spoiler.

Etherium Sculptor is a great pick from bulk, as is Manamorphose, Flickerwisp and Faerie Macabre. While on some level that sucks for people who pick collections like I do, it also adds a little bit of unseen value to a pack, so remember that even the commons in the draft leftovers from a set like this are worth looking through.

People obviously know about Path to Exile, Finks and Relic of Progenitus, but if you want to find some free value don’t forget about the rest.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m excited to draft the set, and I’m excited for Vegas, where I and the rest of the Brainstorm Brewery crew have rented a house (come to our cookout on Friday and Saturday night!). I think this has created a ton of hype for Modern, and even if it doesn’t move prices as much as Wizards hoped there’s a lot for us to profit from here. But you can’t lose your head. Stay disciplined and make the safe moves, and it will pay off in the end.

6 thoughts on “Insider: Snap Judgments on Modern Masters

  1. I agree with your analysis. I myself have snagged 3 boxes of MM all at MSRP or below. I will probably just sell them on ebay and make a solid profit rather than crack them (despite the obvious desire to do so).

  2. We will do the same work for modern master online…My first artcile is already writen or almost…I’m trying to get a feel of the paper world by reading your article, but online, a lot of thing does not apply…Still, I think Goyf will stay as a staple even with Scavenging Ooze coming. I know some Legacy players does prefer Scavenging Ooze, but tarmogoyf still an undercost big creature and still the most played creature between the two.

    I don’t know how the price has been affected so far in paper, but online the price of a lot of these staples are already -35% to -50% wich already represent a good opportunity from my point of view.

    I wish you good drafting tonight guys (you lucky guys!!!) Enjoy, we still have a full week to wait on MTGO!

    1. look forward to it. most of the people at the local store are say that MM is worthless because of no redemption and no demand. But I think after a while there will be plus its really fun to draft and few stores are presenting the opportunity.

  3. I think you’re right on with this, Corbin. And I wanted to pile on to your comment about people who open a Goyf (or Bob, or…) are not going to turn around and sell it, they’re going to look for three more – I’ve been saying a version of this to anyone who will listen, and for the medium term I think that will be true. Eventually, something else may come along and make that person trade in or sell, but I think at least half the players that open these money cards are going to treat them like tropies rather than assets. If you’re a member of this site, you’ll probably sell for a good price because you look at cards differently – not so for the general magic playing public. Goyf will be the one people hold on to the tightest, then Bob or clique, on down from there.

    1. Exactly, and the trophy comparison is apt. Sure, people may eventually give up and sell, but I don’t think it will come at first or even offset the number of people who want a playset because they got started.

  4. I know that our flgs has been issued 36 boxes…if you multiply that by how many game stores are out there…I’m sure that product won’t be that hard to come by.

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