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Jason’s Archives: Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

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Greetings, Episcopalians,

Great news in the world of MTG Finance. If enough people are all wrong about a card, they stop being wrong.

It's True! Example Time!

This first one was your fault. Not you specifically, although it's possible you contributed. I meant QS people in general.

Didgeridoo

This all started in the QS forums. Insiders can go back and laugh, non-insiders should consider becoming insiders just so they can go back and laugh.

One of like thirty people I know in the Magic Community with legal training--I say "legal training" and not "graduated law school" so I can lump myself in there. You like that?--and legitimate fun-conjurer Scott Peitzer, AKA @Boozecube, posited in the forums that since Theros is likely to incorporate some Greek and Roman mythology into the block, was it "too farfetched to speculate" that Didgeridoo could go up?

The fun factor is there, and if there is some seven-mana legendary Minotaur face-smasher in the block, being able to Aether Vial him in on turn four could get there. No one mentioned whether or not the card was playable; they all talked mostly about how hilarious it would be if Didgeridoo went up in price. Actually, that's a lie. They also brought up Merfolkgate to troll me and Corbin--Insider "craw" said they would have minotaurs in the set, but call them "bull mutants".

Craw was wrong about M14 at least--it features two minotaurs (three if you count Mutavault, which you should), one of which is a 6-drop! Ramping to him on turn four would be siiiiick.

A little while later, a confused Sigmund Ausfresser asked "So are we actually making this a legitimate speculation target?" It was a joke until they started disappearing from binders, selling out online, and people our insiders hadn't seen before were asking for Didgeridoo at events.

It was all fun and games until the price doubled from $2 to $4. People were happy to sell out at $2. They shouldn't have been.

It hit $8.

The Lesson

You people are clowns, and in talking about how funny it would be if something happened and making your own, minor contributions to it, you actually affected the price of a card. It was an accident, but now you see how easy it is to do on purpose. This was the classic example of a self-fulfilling prophecy and the best part is that it started as a joke. Imagine what we could do if you guys would get on board with Master of the Pearl Trident instead of pooping on it.

"Deadbridge Chant is a sideboard card"

Actually, that isn't the most accurate first quote, but it's the one that sounded prophetic. The first quotes were things like "This card gives you a random card, therefore it's bad" and "This is a bad Staff of Nin" because someone on SCG said that and it sounded cool.

People had no trouble ignoring the fact that most of them were wrong about the card being playable and were happy shelling out $8 for the one copy that they all put in their sideboard because Owen Turtenwald did.

However, even Turtenwald himself in his write-up of the event mentioned he put this in to replace Staff of Nin and all but said "Don't try and build around this." With the only person ballsy enough to play with it calling it a sideboard card, it became generally accepted as a sideboard card. No one tried it out maindeck, even in a metagame full of the Jund mirrors and other matches where you expect a Sire of Insanity to hit the board. Despite admitting Deadbridge Chant made him a favorite in those matchups, Owen had sealed its fate.

Chant is currently back down to about $4 retail and buylists for less than half of that, but since I sold most of mine when they hit $8, I've already won. The problem is, this is not a sideboard card. At all.

Owen himself said that whenever he was at six mana and about to cast a creature he thought better of it and cast the Chant to turn off their removal, get card advantage and autowin if someone stuck a Sire. Why not build around that or at least run one or two chants main? Card advantage is good in every matchup.

Worse still, a lot of people didn't understand when to board the card in. They played it in their sideboard because the list on the intermanets said to, but didn't even board it in for the correct matchups. Since they never saw the potential of the card, it stayed in sideboards until people started cutting it for cards they understood better.

It's nearly impossible for a card to escape its relegation to a "sideboard card"--the only recent example I can think of is Blind Obedience and that has been cut from most decks altogether by now. It's such an ingrained mindset that even players who should know better can't escape it. At a PTQ one time a player called a judge to deck-check me because I played a Stifle on a trigger of his game one. Stifle is a sideboard card. Sure, sometimes. How about when you're playing Parallax Wave?

The Lesson

You can't fight city hall. I may have ended up regretting it if Deadbridge Chant actually caught on and hit $10-$15 because people built around it, but I learned from the Seance debacle that if the attitude of the community is against the card, whether you feel like you're right or wrong, you have to tailor your behavior to popular opinion.

I'm not Owen Turtenwald. If he puts a copy of a newish card in his sideboard, the price is going to quadruple. If I had won a PTQ with four copies maindeck, people would have talked about how weak PTQs are lately because even some no-name with a Deadbridge Chant deck can win. Since there is nothing I can personally do to counter popular opinion, I was correct to just sell my Chants when they hit $8 and hope they didn't go up more.

I hate it when I get to be right by being a pessimist, but I got to quadruple up on a card that is probably not going to see popular adoption in this lifetime, and isn't that the best way to speculate? Sell into the hype; that's Finance 101.

If you hate a card and everyone loves it, pay attention. Even if everyone else realizes they were wrong eventually and the card goes nowhere, you are richer than you would have been because you capitalized on the brief window of opportunity. This isn't a movie and there are no bonus points for rooting for the underdog.

I put in hours of testing with Beck // Call Elves and came to the conclusion that I could actually improve on the Intruder Alarm/Opposition/Sprout Swarm elves deck I designed for Extended that Aaron "The Godslayer" Sulla crushed a few PTQs with because now I had Elvish Archdruid to do insane things with Intruder Alarm. The Alarm is more explosive than Cloudstone Curio but I tested both and Alarm came out on top. Everyone else bet on Curio and it soared to $10, leaving me able to scoop Intruder Alarm at around $1.

Who was right--is Intruder Alarm or Curio better?

The Real Lesson

It doesn't matter.

Let's say Intruder Alarm IS better. If no one agrees and they build the deck with Curio and it doesn't do well, no one is going to build it with Intruder Alarm! They've already decided it's bad. They're going to take the losses with the Curio build and say "Elves sucks" and that will be it.

Not only did Intruder Alarm never go anywhere, neither did Beck//Call. Even if you assume I was 100% right and that Curio was bad for the deck, everyone built it with Curio. The money I invested in Intruder Alarm and the money I invested in Beck//Call is essentially wasted because I ignored public opinion. It doesn't matter if you're right if being right gets you nothing.

Naturally if you are ahead of a card you make a ton of money being able to buy in cheap. I still haven't written Deadbridge Chant off entirely, and people like Chris Lansdell are brewing with it and liking it. The sheer absurd amount of advantage in the card made it a no-brainer and quadrupling up felt good when people made fun of me for investing hundreds of dollars. Tarmogoyf was under $5 for almost two weeks, after all, so there is real money to be made being ahead of a card before it spikes.

But there is a difference in being ahead of a card and arguing with people when they say a card is bad. If you're right about a card and another guy is wrong, you win the argument. If you're right about a card and six million people are wrong, you're actually wrong. No amount of testing results, persuasive arguments or convincing one person at a time will help.

If there is no demand for a card because you were too far ahead of the metagame and it never catches up, there's no money to be made and there's no money to be made in identifying good cards no one will ever buy.

Non-Theoretical Magic

Some actual games of Magic were played this weekend, including at the Grand Prix in Kansas City. I don't know which Kansas City.

GP Kansas City Top 16

Corbin would be upset with me if I didn't mention Oklahoman Tyler Lytle got Top 16 at this event, but ever since Corbin himself got 24th in Vegas, Top 32 at a GP means a lot less to me.

On a more serious note, Jeff Hoogland showed me the U/R deck he was working on for Modern and it looked strong to me but I had no real way of knowing. It reminded me of a U/W/R deck that did well in Modern before, and I love the idea of closing a game out by going "Helix, Snapcaster Helix" but I don't know if Lightning Helix and Path to Exile are enough of a reason to play white.

Jeff demonstrated that blue and red are enough with his Top 16 finish. Even with no one-mana cantrips to stack the deck, Delver is still strong if you have a lot of burn, and I would rather play Telling Time in a Modern Delver deck than Sleight of Hand, even though I would rather catch my grandparents making a homemade porno than play a Delver deck. I think Hoogland is on to something here, and this event probably gave him a bit more data to tighten it up and shift some numbers around. I personally love Burst Lightning and Electrolyze in a deck with Snapcaster Mage.

Six different decks in the Top 8 is not bad at all. I like how a simple deck like Greg Ogreenc's (actual name) can punish inconsistent draws from the opponent and get there. Skullcrack puts a real damper on Kitchen Finks if played properly and splashing black, green and white mana allows the deck to have a ton of flexible cards. The best part is, the "4-color" strategy being base-red makes you like 90% resilient to Blood Moon. Sure you can't activate Deathrite Shaman, but you can still Lava Spike them into Bolivian.

I like the hybrid UWR Control / Twin deck Casey Swanson played. You have enough room for both strategies in the deck since so many cards overlap. Being a decent control deck that can say "Ooops, I win" with the Kiki combo or Twin or even with Kiki and Restoration Angel seems strong. Robert Berni's UR Twin deck was a bit more straightforward.

Scott Hoppe's Scapeshift deck wasn't very surprising.

Also not surprising was Ari Lax sleeving up Kiki Pod again. The deck lost its best removal spell in the form of Phantasmal Image now killing none of the problem cards it used to, but we'll think of something.

The finals between Seth Manfield and Joe Hemmann were painful to watch on coverage. Manfield's "Oh, I forgot you had Faerie Macabre in hand after I cast Thoughtseize," was countered by Hemmann's "That's okay, I forgot I could use Macabre to stop your combo", all of which made for a very "exactly how long WAS day two?" reaction from spectators.

Hemmann didn't exactly punt since being able to stop the combo didn't change the fact that he was landscrewed and behind on board, but conceding in response to his opponent gathering the appropriate combo pieces indicates his brain fart was more fatigue than being terrible. 17 rounds is all of the rounds.

I don't think there is much financial opportunity presented by any of these stock lists, but Modern everything will creep up soon, so stockpile accordingly. Scars lands are still worth nothing and that won't stay the case. Any and all Modern cards will be hot commodities in trade binders, so stock up and get ready for the next big thing.

SCG Worcester Standard Top 16

It's too bad Dan Jessup had to spoil the perfect "Jund and Junk Top 8" we almost had. Not a lot of variety here, but who wants to build new decks when cards are so close to rotating? Jund is reliable, and Brad Nelson did us the service of brewing a new deck, Junk Aristocrats, to play with and potentially beat his other deck, Junk Rites. Honestly, Standard is incredibly stale and everyone has a kind of senioritis--almost phoning in events until we get new cards.

I like this deck a lot, though. I wish he'd done better because people don't tend to look at decks that didn't Top 8, which I think is a mistake. I don't know whether the deck will be okay losing Augur of Bolas, but Olivia could easily become Master of Cruelties, a card Marcel from the cast has been hard at work crushing people with.

Grixis could be the play going forward, and may get the nod over UWR or Esper because it can play both Far // Away and Turn // Burn which are absurd cards and do all of the things you want.

There is still a 0% spread on Aetherling. It's actually a joke at this point. Shut up about "invest in shocklands" and pay attention to what the dealers are buying. Aetherling is a buy at $3-$4 and every dealer thinks so. Why there are still copies lying around for nearly that cheap is beyond me. I guess dealers are waiting because it may be a month or two before Aetherling gets a ton of play because good creatures from Innistrad block still legal. For the love of God, buy Aetherling. The only walkers being Jace, Architect of Thought show that there is one man at this event thinking beyond next week.

I just realized this is my article and if I don't want to talk about Standard anymore, I don't have to.

SCG Worchester Legacy Top 16

I wasn't kidding, I'm moving on to Legacy.

Ever since Elves started running Natural Order to hit Craterhoof Behemoth, it's probably lost its "pet deck" status and become a real thing again. 8th and 11th places were Elves, and though Jackie Lee didn't Top 8, she helped popularize an archetype. Maybe there is hope for Beck // Call in Modern after all.

Pet deck of the week may actually be TES, and if you'd told me that a year and a half ago, I would have laughed.

I guess what I can say that matters to finance folks is buy Stoneforge Mystics. With Todd Anderson smashing all the faces two weeks out of three with Esper Deathblade and its appeal outside of strict Stoneblade decks, this card is low now because people held onto them but it's creeping up.

The RUG mirror for the finals meant there were more Wastelands in the finals than there were in the entire Top 8 a few weeks ago. Wasteland is a card people were saying was tapering off. I think it's crucial in the right decks, so don't ever think they're going away.

Two newish UWR decks popped up here, a Delver deck and an UWR Stoneforge deck. Plateau is currently the cheapest dual land, and while these decks are running fewer than three copies right now, I don't think Plateau will stay cheap forever.

I remember "conventional wisdom" saying that Badlands and Plateau will be cheap forever and when I bought in deep and cashed out on Badlands when Jund popped up, the new "conventional wisdom" became, "Well, yeah, obviously Badlands is good, but Plateau isn't played in anything."

I know I wrote the whole first half of the article about paying attention to what the general populace is saying, but, come on. This is the only dual that hasn't gone up and it's seeing play. Do the math. This may be the cheapest the Unlimited, alternate art Plateaus will ever be, as well. I would actually target those. "White border pimp" is a rare thing but it's a possibility here and the Unlimited price is way closer to the Revised price than it should be.

I see more Countertop decks than I see decks running Abrupt Decay. That's puzzling.

Maybe Maverick should be pet deck of the week, but that's probably just all the bias talking. I don't care what anyone says, Maverick is still a viable deck, although I may start playing Jeff Hoogland's Legacy monstrosity since it lets me play Knight of the Reliquary but also Chalice of the Void for one on the first turn which stymies a lot of the meta right now. It also allows me to use the verb stymy in conversations.

I'll be under 3000 words if I stop right--

26 thoughts on “Jason’s Archives: Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

    1. You know your articles are too long when more than one person describes them as a \”rant\”

      If I got paid by the word, I would bankrupt this site. I think I\’m doing it wrong.

    1. Did the printed buylist price drop? All I know is that someone who was at GPKC told me someone was paying $4 and everyone else $3. I expect the printed lists to creep back up.

  1. “. If you’re right about a card and six million people are wrong, you’re actually wrong. No amount of testing results, persuasive arguments or convincing one person at a time will help.”

    ^^ Those 2 sentences are SO RIGHT.

  2. Funny to see you telling people to buy AEtherlings after you rudely shot down my tweet saying it was a good buy a couple months ago…”@Farodsbro so you buy in at $2 hoping it goes back to $3? Can’t tell whether you are defending the card or trying to explain finance to me”

    1. That wasn\’t me being rude, it was just super unclear that you were defending the card. A couple months ago was too early because they had room to go down and dealers weren\’t buying them for as much. But you were totally right.

  3. soooo close to name-dropping me in a not-insulting way, just couldn’t quite get there. 😉

    But yes, good job pointing that out. Tyler is a boss at this game.

  4. Great read, as usual.

    By the way, now you can probably add In the Eye of Chaos to the self-fulfilling prophecy list next to Didgeridoo. It’s almost like we as a community convince ourselves that a card “may” get bought out. So we hedge our bets and buy a couple copies. But when enough people do that and the card is rare enough, we esentially do the buying out ourselves.

    I bought an In the Eye of Chaos on Card Shark for around $17 shipped. I am honestly not confident I can profit on this. But I am confident I don’t mind having 1 copy and that these will not drop below $17 for a while.

  5. “. If you’re right about a card and six million people are wrong, you’re actually wrong. No amount of testing results, persuasive arguments or convincing one person at a time will help.”

    YES!

    I remember one time telling “someone” that seance was a shit target, and then he got defensive and critical… well, where is that card now? Just because you think you are right, does not make it so! I love how it was called the “seance debacle”

    Nice rant.

    1. Congratulations, you responded to an article where I talked about times I was wrong by pointing out a time I was wrong. You don\’t look the slightest bit petty. Also, I made money on Seance so I\’m not sure it was that \”shit\” of a spec.

    1. Are you trolling or something? i prefer read an real article about his experiences, hearing him “whining” like you say and having him to respond our questions. Man, this guy do this for free, if you want to get into MTGfinance you have to know about the GOOD shots and the BAD shots. This guys is humble enough to say: “hey i was wrong, and here is why!” And if you hearing of him over the community it actually good for him, that means he’s getting know for what he does. Please tell me what do you do?

  6. not good if your becoming known for being a cry-baby, who can’t take a comment that slightly even questions his picks.

    now, you go change his diaper.

  7. You really allow it to become look not that hard as well as your display nonetheless to locate this trouble to be actually something I’m I may in no way have an understanding of. It seems way too difficult and also substantial to me. I am just shopping ahead for your upcoming create, I’ll attempt to purchase the hang on than it!

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