Welcome back, readers. Standard rotation is always an interesting time for the finance community. There are big gains and losses to be had (or suffered) according to how one alters his or her portfolio. So how do we isolate our losses and increase our wins? In order to do so we need to evaluate our cards without bias or preference.
The biggest losers are the Standard-only stars, the Blade Splicers, the Champion of the Parishs, the Dreadbores. You can usually identify cards that fall into this category because they are only good in comparison to other Standard cards. They may be the most efficient or best threat available in Standard during their heyday, but they are quickly outclassed when the card pool opens up from the last six sets to 10+ years (Modern) or 19+ (Legacy/Vintage) worth of sets.
The biggest winners are the Eternal all-stars with a low chance of reprint (usually due to a block-specific mechanic or reference to a specific plane or character in the name.) Ideally these cards are the ones that see some Eternal play already, but didn't make it in Standard.
Often the 3rd set in the rotating block is the best place to look for these. They will have had the smallest time in standard and it seems Wizards R&D seems more willing to take chances on them. We had the Eldrazi from Rise, Phyrexian mana from New Phyrexia, and the miracle mechanic from Avacyn Restored.
I am confidant enough in these picks that I am currently trading aggressively for them.
I believe the miracle mechanic is unlikely to be reprinted anytime in the near future and that the ability to Hallowed Burial at instant speed for 1 white mana is too ridiculous to remain less than $3 for too long. Entreat is in a similar boat, though making the angels is less impressive from a Legacy player's standpoint.
Flip cards are also unlikely to see print as they require the checklist cards in the packs as well to play them (in sealed), thus requiring WoTC to have yet another issue to deal with if they were reprinted. Both cards have already seen fringe Legacy/Modern play and are a steal in the sub $7 range.
Cavern of Souls is the only card that doesn't feature a mechanic on this list. But its ability is insanely powerful in tribal decks, and most believe that it was printed in response to U/W's oppressive reign over Standard and was made over-powered in WoTC's zealous attempt to "fix" Standard. I think this one will actually drop a bit more, as tribal decks in Legacy are on the downswing and Modern hasn't seen any good ones yet. I will happily get in on these as 1+ year investments.
Past in Flames is a strong pick because the ability is insane in Eternal formats and even casual ones. Thalia has proven herself a thorn in the side of all Legacy combo players. She was printed in a second set (small set) and if she hadn't been reprinted in the event decks I'd expect her to still be at $5. The fact that you can pick her up for sub $2 is almost criminal.
Not all rotational dips last that long. Many cards that were good in Standard can also be good in Legacy or Modern. These cards will dip for a brief period right before or after rotation, but will gradually rise back up and settle in more of a long-term price.
These are the cards that are known Eternal all-stars but were also Standard all-stars. Often good mana fixing lands fall into this category as well as cheap utility creatures. These are cards you will need to aggressively trade for for the next couple of months (while they are at their lowest), as the Standard-only players will keep increasing the supply until they run out.
Last but certainly not least we have my favorite category. These are the cards that will most likely have the highest percentage increases.
This is because 1) They appeal to the casual crowd, which is a large part of the MTG community (I believe they are the "silent" majority), 2) The entry cost is often so low that risk is minimal but they can quickly double/triple in price, 3) They are less likely to be reprinted because the price usually doesn't get so out of hand that WoTC feels they need to intervene (though it has happened...Doubling Season is a great example), 4) These are the types of cards that players get excited to find in your binder.
The risks are simply that they won't catch on with the community, something better will get reprinted, or they aren't "generic" enough to fit into a large percentage of EDH decks. These are the cards I like to target in foils because the entry cost is often only twice the non-foil cost, although the percentage increase will often be higher.
The following are card I'd only get in foils, as I don't believe the demand for regulars will be high enough to provide a solid profit:
The criteria I used for determining EDH winners is as follows:
- Does the card already see significant play in a decent number of existing EDH decks?
- Does the card provide utility in multiple situations?
- Is the card thematic (zombies, angels, vampires, etc.)?
- Does the card provide some impressive, game-ending type of effect?
- Does the card fit with an EDH "strategy", i.e. life gain, milling or part of a combo?
- Does the card help you find other resources?
- Was the card prohibited from seeing Standard play due solely to its casting cost?
- If you were playing an EDH deck with the card's color requirements in it, would you want to play it regardless of your strategy?
Developing Your Own Criteria
One final note; it is critical for every speculator to determine their own set of criteria. I like to list mine because I believe that if you want to follow my financial advice you should know what criteria I used to make my decisions.
If you disagree with any criteria or have more of your own please feel free to comment, but it's important to remember that the money you invest in MTG is your money, not mine, so you are the one who assumes the risk.
I will state that I am already actively invested in every single card I've listed on here because I believe in my criteria and my ability to discern good picks. It's unlikely that I will get them all right, but if I get a good majority of them right I don't mind when I miss out on one or two.