This past week was cruising along business as usual in the MTG Finance world. I’ve been monitoring prices of my larger positions with focus on Standard rotation and Modern season. Many seasonal price fluctuations have become almost predictable these days. Color-fixing lands in Standard are classic examples where we’ve seen price dips and gradual recoveries like textbook.
I’ve also begun outlining my timeline for selling many of my Modern investments. Plans were firming up nicely until I saw @HeleneBergeot Tweet an article link that shook up my strategy completely. The article can be found here: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/eventcoverage/wmc13/LookingatPTQSchedule but the part that matters most is pasted below.
But…But…What About Modern this Winter?
It appears all my anticipation of the upcoming Modern season will have to lengthen drastically. This fall and winter were going to be awesome as I sell many of my MTG investments. Modern brings a whole slew of new demand for certain cards, and I had a strategy in place that was sure to make me some profits come Modern season.
But now that Modern season has been postponed a full half year, dynamics become a little trickier. I’ll try to outline what this change could mean for specific investments and how I’m reacting accordingly.
Shock Lands were such a great bet. These lands were so low risk / high reward that I went fairly deep on them. Now after acquiring around 80 copies I’m learning that things won’t work out so perfectly. You see, the original PTQ schedule had Standard rotation overlapping nicely with Modern PTQ season. The result would be a steady drop in perceived Shock Land availability and an increase in demand. After all, players would naturally want Standard decks for FNM and Modern decks for PTQs, both of which require Shock Lands.
We still have Shock Land rotation on the horizon, but a Modern bump is now postponed half a year. Here’s the problem – by the time Modern season rolls around, Shock Lands will have a much smaller window of time being prevalent in both Standard and Modern formats before they rotate themselves! Instead of two phenomena happening simultaneously which would bolster Shock Land prices, we now have two competing trends happening together.
My gut reaction – I am still going to hold onto Shock Lands, but they may take a bit longer to shoot up in price. I’ll remain in wait-and-see mode as Standard rotates. If these still rise significantly in price (which they should…after all, Scars of Mirrodin Dual Lands and Innistrad Check Lands both did without Modern being a factor) I will be tempted to trim my position back if not sell out altogether.
Could I wait until next summer’s Modern season for a chance to sell at higher prices? Sure. But is it worth the risk? Check out the curve above – by the time summer rolled around Innsitrad Check Lands were well beyond their peak. I am not confident that Modern season will counteract this downward trend completely.
So I also have a couple sealed boxes of Modern Masters lying around. Modern season is sure to increase the demand in these, and their Limited playability only magnifies value. But now we have to wait almost a full year for the next Modern season to roll around.
That’s a long time. Long enough, even, for Wizards to release…say…Modern Masters II? Or how about even just reprint the original Modern Masters, which was a huge hit?
Now I’m uncomfortable. Modern Masters booster boxes were supposed to begin dwindling in supply once fall rolled around. Instead we have major retailers like Card Kingdom selling these boxes at $249.99. And lots of them.
Unfortunately I have no risk-free strategy moving forward. In the case of Shock Lands I am confident I will at least have a chance to sell for profit come Standard rotation. With these boxes, I just have to hope they go up in price before any news of another Modern Masters product gets announced. I suppose these will rise in price eventually. So I guess I can wait a couple years for these to finally dwindle in supply even if more are printed.
Heavy Hitters in Modern
These cards spiked big, punishing me for selling out in advance of the set’s release. But even though I did make the wrong decision, the ultimate end point may still be favorable. If Wizards of the Coast decides to print more Modern staples somehow (heck they have a whole year to do it!) these may drop in price yet.
You could risk it. You could sit on all your copies and hope that gradual diminishing of these cards in trade binders will cause further price increases. After all, these cards are played in Legacy and that should keep demand going. But in my opinion, upside is severely limited in the coming months. There will be no demand spike in the winter as originally planned, and now there’s a threat of more reprints before the next Modern season.
As a result, I’m selling my Modern heavy hitters yet again. Well technically I already sold my re-purchased Dark Confidants but that’s besides the point. If I had Thoughtseizes I’d sell those too, but I don’t. I will be selling my Tarmogoyfs again. I don’t play Legacy anymore and it looks like I won’t be needing them for Modern for over a year. A lot can happen in a year, and I’m fairly confident I can do better with my money that let them sit in Tarmogoyfs. I’d suggest you consider the same.
Other Modern Stuff
Unfortunately I have no clear answer here. The risk of a Modern Masters II coming out before Modern season is very real, and anything could potentially show up in such a set. The good news is not everything can show up in the set. Diversification is your friend here. Other than Shock Lands and Scars Dual Lands (which are probably safe) I don’t own overly large quantities of a single card. Should Wizards choose to do another Modern Masters set, I’ll get dinged some but hopefully not completely.
Plus I am confident we’ll have some time to sell in advance of more reprints – the only problem being we won’t have the opportunity to sell for much profit since Modern season is a year away. But sometimes it’s best to cut positions even if they don’t pay out. If you don’t plan on selling anything, at least ensure you are diversified going forward. The sure-bet of owning 100 Zendikar Fetch Lands just became a lot more risky. If you’re already profitable, that should be even more reason to trim back.
More to Come, so Stay Tuned
Everyone has the same set of information right now. That information is very limited, yet extremely powerful. I am just one speculator trying to create a new set of predictions for what’s to come. Hopefully some of these thoughts resonate with you, but if you have a differing opinion I encourage you to voice it. The community will have to work together on this one to come up with a new set of predictions, and everyone’s voice should count.
In the meantime I have my immediate next steps in place.
- Sell my expensive Modern cards (if you need them for Legacy, this may not be possible)
- Stop buying Shock Lands
- Focus on diversifying Modern bets
- Turn attention towards changes to come with Standard rotation
- Continue to buy Scavenging Ooze for any price $12 and less. Then trade for more.
- Did I mention you should buy Scavenging Ooze? SCG is “sold out” of these on their site at $24.99! But I suspect they’ll have plenty in stock soon enough because they’re currently buying copies for $12.50, which was above a few eBay listings this past week. That’s why I’m buying copies under $12. And if those disappear I may have to increase it to $13, but I’m going to wait a little bit beforehand.
- Last month I bought SCG’s final two copies of Foil Celestial Colonnade. They were SP and I nabbed them for $6.99 each. Now SCG has nonfoil MP copies listed for $7.99 each and MP foils for $12.99. They also don’t have a whole lot in stock. But the allure of this Modern staple has dimmed a bit with the recent PTQ announcement.
- When Wizards announced Theros would have an Enchantment theme, I went online and purchased seven SP Serra's Sanctums. I don’t anticipate this bet will pay out overnight, but other people apparently shared the same opinion. According to the chart below, the card has risen in price already. Just be cautious because SCG still has MP copies listed at $17.99, around the same as the going eBay price.