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Insider: Impact of the New PTQ Schedule

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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

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.

Modern Masters

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

Remember what happened after GP Vegas and people realized there weren’t nearly enough Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf reprints opened in Modern Masters packs?

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

How about all those other Modern cards we’ve been greedily purchasing over the past couple months? All those Birthing Pods, all those Chord of Callings, and all those Zendikar Fetch Lands?

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.

  1. Sell my expensive Modern cards (if you need them for Legacy, this may not be possible)
  2. Stop buying Shock Lands
  3. Focus on diversifying Modern bets
  4. Turn attention towards changes to come with Standard rotation
  5. Continue to buy Scavenging Ooze for any price $12 and less. Then trade for more.

Sigbits

  • 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.

-Sigmund Ausfresser
@sigfig8

Sigmund Ausfresser

Sigmund first started playing Magic when Visions was the newest set, back in 1997. Things were simpler back then. After playing casual Magic for about ten years, he tried his hand at competitive play. It took about two years before Sigmund starting taking down drafts. Since then, he moved his focus towards Legacy and MTG finance. Now that he's married and works full-time, Sigmund enjoys the game by reading up on trends and using this knowledge in buying/selling cards.

View More By Sigmund Ausfresser

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20 thoughts on “Insider: Impact of the New PTQ Schedule

  1. Good article as usual… I pretty much said the same thing as you on the forums.

    Shock lands I would hold on to but they’re much less desirable then they were before. We expected these to have crossover demand of modern and standard this winter… but it turns out that when the modern demand kicks in for these standard rotation will be looming. So what’s going to happen is that instead of declining next summer, they’ll just level off. I do expect that they’ll see modest gains this winter, especially the ones that are cheaper now (breeding pool and steam vents), since they’ll be less opened but more demanded.

    Modern heavy hitters (bob and goyf in particular) have a good chance of being reprinted in MMII. They want the format accessible and cards with triple digit price tags only months after a reprint is not exactly accessible. I think they’ll keep reprinting these guys until the price is reasonable. The good news is that until they get reprinted, the prices are not likely to crash since these cards are valued highly and there are a lot of people who want them. I’d try to trade them for cards with more potential to gain or at least more likely to stay steady.

    Other modern stuff… fetches, pods, remands, fulminator mage, chord of calling, etc. Like you said, we have time to sell, but these aren’t going to make any gains, until they get reprinted (or modern season starts and they don’t get reprinted). So I’d try to unload them by January.

    1. Mark,

      Sounds like we’re on the exact same page here! Your post makes perfect sense to me. I also feel there’s no reason for WOTC not to include Goyf and Bob in MMII as well. I can also see Zen Fetches showing up. That oughtta be enough to drive sales, right? 🙂

      Thanks for commenting!

      Sig

  2. The only thing you aren’t accounting for is the modern gp’s…which are still this fall/winter. While we are unlikely to get as much profit with this change…there is still money to be made. It’s also important to note that unless mm2 is printed far more than mm1..the prices of the staples are unlikely to take that big of a hit. I will say I am going to cool my modern buying by a lot due to this change…but I still think my investments will pan out.

    1. David, you’re likely right in that Modern prices are still not going to just drop all of a sudden. People will still be looking to pick up cards for decks – we just can’t expect the rampant buying anymore. That is on hold.

      As for MM2 – I think the print run of that set WILL be larger than MM1. Wizards did an experiment and they gathered a valuable data point – the amount they printed this time wasn’t enough to budge prices of the desirable Mythic Rares. Even the regular rares didn’t drop nearly enough. They may print more next time…just maybe.

  3. Maybe WotC changed this to alter speculation on Modern. Just changing the schedule slows Modern speculation , changes the standard dynamic and they wait for MM2 until the next year. I think MM2 next summer is more likely but it is possible they are just trying to be unpredictable to discourage speculators.

    1. This is a real possibility. To say that WOTC is going about this psychologically is to give them a ton of credit. I think it’s best to assume they’ve got something planned in advance of Modern PTQ season, and diversify accordingly. Being greedy here may pay out, but I’m not in a rush to take on that kind of risk.

  4. Lesson here is don’t bet again WOTC. Don’t buy and hold a bunch of cards that are so expensive that they make the format inaccessible and expect their prices to keep going up (remand, chord of calling, etc)… These cards are good for quick flips but long term are playing with fire.

    1. Mark,

      You’re absolutely right. This isn’t Legacy – we don’t have a Reserved List to protect our investments and we don’t have security that our investments won’t be reprinted in Standard. Most Modern cards are on the reprint block in one way, shape or form. It’s a matter of when, not if in many cases. I was hoping for a quick flip, but this delay in Modern season may inhibit that. That’s why I’m reducing risk and diversifying.

      Sig

      1. Seems any longer term holds are under the gun – minus reserved list cards. Unless the player base doubles again and they can’t catch up fast enough. I don’t see that growth happening again at the same pace. Just makes for more short term flips. Back to duals Sig ? With Legacy stagnant ?

        1. Lol to be honest I have considered trading into a few Duals again. But wouldn’t touch most other Legacy staples. Duals should remain strong simply because they are used all over EDH and casual formats. Even if Legacy stagnates, Duals should be fairly stable in price.

          You won’t catch me ever looking to acquire stuff like Force of Will though.

  5. I’ve only been back in the game since early 2011, so when was the last time the Winter/Spring PTQ season wasn’t Extended or Modern?

    When I rebought the MM Mythics I had sold, I was fully prepared for another print run before January, but moving the PTQ season which also causes the probability of a reprint before the season to jump was definitely more of a “black swan”. At least I never bought back the rares.

    This is the latest in a series of misleading signals from WotC which have been a waste of time.

    I was also unaware that the PTQ season not matching the PT format was considered a bug and not a feature.

  6. At the time of this comment, Card Kingdom have listed 25 boxes at $279.99 vs. 34 at $249.99 at time you took that screenshot. How long ago was that screenshot taken?

    1. The sreenshot was taken this past Saturday morning. Funny.

      I believe other retailers are also selling in the $250 range though, not just CK. But this is funny.

  7. Pretty sure you are 100% wrong on selling Modern cards. Instead of a spike, these cards are going to just go up gradually over the winter and spring and then finally spike in the Summer to higher numbers. I also have a hard time believing that WoTC will fire off MM2 so soon or re-firing off MM1 again. And even if they do MM2 there is no promise that Bob or Goyf will be in that set or the drafting format will be as balanced and fun as MM1 was so the MM1 boxes should still hold value.

    1. It’s important to also look at the time value of our investments. Yes, Modern cards will go up in value, but the rise will be over a longer time frame.

    2. Stu,

      I appreciate the differing opinion. I am open to other analyses, and yours is not at all flawed. These cards may go up gradually over time, especially if Modern FNM gains some traction. There are absolutely no guarantees here. For me, it becomes a matter of risk/reward. What’s more likely to make me money now? The Goyf I can buy at $120 or the 10 Scavenging Oozes I did just buy? I see some serious risk on the Goyf buy with limited upside until next Spring. On the Oozes, the risk is virtually 0 since SCG is paying $12.50 on their buy list and the upside is decent. This is really why I decided to sell the Goyfs.

      Thanks for commenting! It’ll be interesting to see what comes next!

      Sig

      1. I think all Modern cards will follow this path though, so you can pick and choose what you target. As many Goyf that I have, I probably have 5x as many of each Finks, Paths, Remands, and Inquisitions. Obviously time is an issue for some people, but if you are continue to spec on Modern cards than you don’t mind holding until Summer. These cards have already started climbing, particularly the higher end cards. Remember when ppl were freaking out and dumping Goyfs and now look where they are.

        I think Goyf is actually less risky than Oozes. Oozes can easily hit a Event Deck or whatever, Goyf isn’t. I mean, bankroll IS also an issue where I can afford to buy up 10 Goyfs to go with the 10 Oozes, but not everyone has that luxury so I see your reservations.

        I am going to still actively stash Modern cards until the season starts and I recommend everyone else do so as well.

        1. Have all Modern Masters cards really bottomed yet, though? I look at the mtgstocks chart for Kitchen Finks and it appears the downward trajectory is still in progress…at least on the Shadowmoor version. They sure are cheaper now than before, and I suppose they can only go so low – so there is that. No qualms about Wizards reprinting this in a new MM as Uncommon and sending this down in price even further before Modern season?

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