Intro's are always the hardest to write, as I much rather to just get to the good stuff. I guess I will just tell you who I am and why I am writing this article.
If you have ever been on Magictraders.com or MTGSalvation, or even remotely sniffed the financial forums of those sites, you will have seen me post. I have been on MOTL since 1999 and have a top 20 ref count, which sort of shows how old I am and how long I have been working in MTG Finance.
I was also a Mod for MTGNews back when it was cool and MTGSalvation when it started. I am extremely opinionated and will ardently speak in defense of my opinions and suggestions. Needless to say, I am sure I have ticked off my fair share of people over the years, but I am alright with that when it comes to defending my ideas.
As for Stu, the person, I am a 28 year old Accountant based in Pittsburgh, PA. I went to school at West Virigina University for Business and got my MBA in Accounting at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I have a hyper-aggressive personality, where I often find myself competing, rarely satisfied.
I have rededicated myself to getting better at Magic. I am also a bit of a health-nut, and I love working out and being active.
Cut to the Chase...
You are here to invest intelligently in Magic, and I am here to assist. I feel like financial articles fail when they are simply attempting to spoon-feed information, not truly teaching anything.
As is this is my first article back, I am going to do something rather simple: I am going to give you my top five speculation targets in Standard and Modern for this article and give my reasoning to show you some basics about looking for future spec targets.
"But Stuuuuuuu, you said no spoon feeding!"
"Grrrrr, I wasn't done yet!"
Now, with each of these picks, I am going to justify my position. And your job is to critically engage in the reasoning (perhaps in the comments) and see what you can apply to future speculations of your own.
These cards will be all ranges of prices, so no matter your bankroll, you should be able to find something you like. I personally am not on all of these cards, I think diversification is a double-edged sword. On one side, I think people that preach it are not firm on their convictions, but on the other you need to have multiple copies so when they do spike, you have the customer's needs covered. Bankroll is also another huge factor. One spec on this list is as cheap as $1 and another is $35. Anyways, enough preamble, let's get to the picks (in no particular order, other than by format).
1. Abrupt Decay
This is the quintessential example of a card that needs to be aggressively bought. How these things are only $6 I have no clue. This is a multi-format staple ranging from Standard to Vintage. It is also just as rare as Deathrite Shaman, and wherever the Shaman is played, Abrupt Decay is not far behind. I fully expect this card to double in price before Modern season comes around. The last time this card was drafted in any kind of seriousness was nearly a year ago so the supply is slowly drying up.
So, Noble Hierarch is a $20+ card and this is only a $13? Tell me how that makes sense. Another card that spans from Standard to Vintage, this card will be $20+ and I will gladly take 50% profit any day of the week and twice on Saturday. The trick with this card is recognizing what really drives the price, which is Eternal formats. It sees only fringe play in Standard, so I don't see a big spike coming until a month or two before Modern, but its going to happen. If your budget allows it, Deathrite can be had in foil at $50 or so, and I can see it hitting the Snapcaster level of $80+ on foils.
*Note: These first 2 cards illustrate focusing on both format appeal and amount of time this card is drafted. I am willing to wager over the course of the lifespan of a card in Standard, 65% of the cards in the market are from random people opening packs and 35% of actual drafting of the product.*
A good rule of thumb is that every fall, Standard slows down. Four sets rotate out and all of the mana ramp and fast creatures that were legal are removed. This tends to make control decks a bit better early on. I particularly think that straight Blue-White or Blue-Black will be the way the format leans initially due to Burning Earth. Blue-White gets Sphinx's Revelation which is sitting at $16 at the moment. This looks more like a $25 card to me. Mythics from a set drafted a year ago just smell like $25.
Jace follows the same rule. It is around $8 right now and that just feels so low. It is a Mythic planeswalker that is good, just not in the context of current Standard. It's problem right now that is that it can't affect the board in a positive way against these R/G and Jund decks. Jund leaves in the fall and R/G loses a lot of its aggression in the form of Hellrider and Flinthoof Boar.
5. Ravnica-Gatecrash-Dragon's Maze Uncommons
Yep, cheating on this one. I think we are going to see an unprecedented level of $2+ uncommons, particularly from Dragon's Maze. The set was underdrafted with Modern Master's cutting the time it would have been drafted plus it being a 3rd set just sets up a spike in price for cards like Sin Collector, Unflinching Courage and Far // Away (which is on my short list of top 5 cards in the new Standard in the fall). Don't overlook uncommons and commons when it comes to make some easy money. Elvish Mystic is going to be a $1 card that can be had for $0.25. These add up and I have no problem dropping hundreds on Commons and Uncommons if it means 300% profit.
Of all of the cards I am listing here, this one has the biggest potential. More than any card in Standard, more than any card on any Restricted/Banned list. It's also one I am not buying and that is WRONG. $35-$40 on ebay with the potential to be the next $100 planeswalker. It is this cheap while not even that good in Standard, but is outrageously bonkers in Modern and Legacy. As important as Deathrite Shaman is to the eternal formats, it's this card that defines Modern and is THIS close to defining Legacy with the new planeswalker rules in effect.
People are just now starting to catch on with this card. This one is a bit longer of a hold due to PTQ scheduling and the promos. However, it might not matter, this card is still rising while being in the set that is currently being drafted. This card is good in Standard but will be a top 3 card in Modern next summer. I think Ooze actually gets a big boost from Modern being next Summer, an additional 6 months away from being drafted and promos drying up means this card should go from $13 to $25 easily.
Just feels like a $25 card. Well, it sure isn't a $10 card. After doing this for so long you just get a feeling. You look at a card and it's price and go "that doesn't seem right." Ok, for some actual analysis on the card: It's a Legacy staple and starting to see more play in Modern for both maindecks and sideboards. Add on top of that it is a third set mythic from nearly 3 years ago and I would not be surprised to see it be at least $20 by next Modern season.
Why is this card only $6? Anyone else remember it being $10+ last season? This card tanked for almost no reason since last Modern season. A lot of people whose opinions I respect more than myself are playing this card in all sorts of decks, from decks trying to fight the enchantment decks to others protecting their player and creatures from spells that would look to do them harm. It goes in the same vain as Batterskull being a 3rd set rare from a set a long time ago and you have a double digit card for next season easily.
These will all see spikes by next Summer. Similar to the comment about the standard commons and uncommons, these have plenty of time to rise up in price before spiking for Modern season. Path to Exile, Spell Snare, and Lightning Helix are all depressed due to Modern Masters printings but the surplus will dry up and these cards should get back to their pre-Masters levels. Inquisition of Kozilek will spike and hit double digits, and being a staple in both Legacy and Modern bodes well for its future.
People are already speculating on Modern Masters 2 for next Summer and I just don't see it. I think Wizards will make this a special thing and keep it every 2 years or so, I can see people getting mad at Wizards for doubling up on some of the rares and mythics and tanking the market on the cards. I really think they hit a nice balance with getting more cards in the market while letting said cards regain value and not tanking people's collections.
That is it from me this week. Remember, this is more about teaching you a mind frame when looking for targets, and not as much as to just give you some things to buy. Let me know what you want to see from me or if you have any questions.