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Insider: What’s Next After Rotation?

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The past few weeks have been a wild ride for speculators. With Standard rotation looming, so many price fluctuations are taking place. Innistrad block cards are pulling back as they say farewell to Standard. Well, most of them anyways. Liliana of the Veil and Snapcaster Mage may be the big exceptions.

Liliana

Meanwhile, players need to fill the gaps in their Standard deck strategy that have been vacated by the rotating cards. Enter Return to Ravnica block cards. Now these are getting their time in the spotlight–-they are opened much less often nowadays and demand should increase. Hence, we have trends like Jace, Architect of Thought’s:

Jace

My advice as Theros launches is to begin selling some of these hyped cards. Feel free to try and time the market perfectly. This is a gamble I usually avoid because I’m risk-averse and like to lock in profits. But there’s plenty of merit to the strategy.

With all these recent spikes, you should be profitable on many holdings. Ringing the register and earning some dough should be a great feeling.

Now I have a question: what’s next? We’re generating all this revenue from sales, but there may not be an obvious place to speculate next.

A Time for Quick Flips

This is arguably the most interesting time in Standard from the standpoint of MTG finance. In addition to the movement on cards, both rotating and non-rotating, we begin to see how the newest set impacts the format. Many players are speculating on what strategies will dominate and what Theros cards support those strategies. This is a fine approach.

But I like my approach a little more due to my risk aversion. I simply wait until the first SCG and Pro Tour results come in. A SCG Standard Open just concluded yesterday (sadly results aren’t available until after this article is due). There were likely some Theros cards that made a splash–-these could be worth grabbing for a quick flip.

Or perhaps with a smaller card pool, we learn that something like Dreadbore is actually an amazing card. Perhaps Rakdos's Return makes a comeback. Either way, there will likely be something that spikes in demand as a result of these events. My advice is to buy quickly into these opportunities for the quick flip. To make this a profitable endeavor, you’ll need liquidity.

Return

Remember to favor mythic rares for their higher price ceilings. Avoid speculating on expensive rares unless they are multi-format all-stars. And even then, rares don’t exceed $20 cash nowadays--don’t expect this to change. I’m looking at you, Thoughtseize.

Thoughtseize

Random Aside

Hey look at that, AlphaBetaUnlimited is a newly launched seller on TCG Player? Is this the ABU Games? If so, then it’s interesting to see another major retailer on the site. If not, then ABU should try and go after that guy for using their name if they can. Seems a bit dishonest to create a seller profile and name yourself after a major retailer. Just saying.

Okay, back to the topic at hand.

Quick Flips Not Your Thing?

The quick flip speculation route has made me solid bank in the past. Craterhoof Behemoth and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage were both cards I purchased after they saw play in a major Standard event. By the time they arrived in the mail their sell and buy prices jumped significantly, providing me with an easy, profitable outlet.

But I recognize not everyone on this site has the same opportunities I have. Mainly, this refers to my location. Being in the United States means I have more buying and selling outlets than some members in other regions. As a result, the quick flips may not be viable due to time lag and/or shipping costs.

No need to fear, I’ve got a couple other ideas up my sleeve.

May I suggest moving some profits into a booster box or two? Innistrad boxes reached $160 while still in Standard. While I don’t expect Return to Ravnica boxes to reach quite as high (more supply, arguably less fun to draft) I still fully expect these to rise in the coming year. FYI I’m taking my own advice on this one--I just purchased two more boxes last week during an “eBay Bucks promotion” of sorts. Parking hundreds of dollars into sealed product isn’t for everybody, but it’s a safe way to convert short-term gains into long-term investments.

Yawn – Sealed Product Is Boring

Modern can be a tempting format to invest in, but I’m becoming weary of this play. I already have sizable Modern bets and I’m hesitant to deepen them. This is mostly due to risk of reprint--I still expect some sort of Modern Masters 2.

And if this doesn’t happen before Modern season, there are still the new Commander decks which could potentially have many Modern cards. For example, I could see Wizards including fetchlands and/or Worldwake manlands in each Commander deck. Boy, wouldn’t that stunt the growth on stuff like Celestial Colonnade?

Colonnade

Because every Modern staple has a potential target on its back, it’s difficult for me to suggest many safe bets in this format. I still like sideboard cards Torpor Orb and Spellskite. Scars of Mirrodin dual lands are safe, but they also haven't really moved at all. I sure hope these cards start to get some life in them next Modern season.

Other than that, the only other safe Modern bet could be original-set foils. Not everyone has the cash to sink into foil Liliana of the Veil or Snapcaster Mage, and the upside on these is arguably less because their prices are already so high. But how about foil Melira, Sylvok Outcast? Or foil manlands? Or even foil M14 Mutavaults, which are so much cheaper than their Morningtide counterparts despite having identical artwork? The same goes for Scavenging Ooze.

Mutavault Prices

These are all viable places to park some cash if you’d prefer a longer-term time horizon and don’t have access to quick flip opportunities.

Might I Suggest…

Don’t forget cash is king. When I am looking to unload a position, the most powerful bargaining tool people can present is cash. Trades are nice, but they don’t yield true monetary gains. These are only achieved when you have more cash in your pocket than when you started with.

Therefore, it’s okay to sit on some dough while we wait for things to evolve. You don’t have to be in a ton of speculative positions all the time. Sometimes having increased liquidity is advantageous because it allows greater flexibility when the time to buy does finally come.

And if you absolutely hate cash because you fear your net worth drops as inflation creeps higher, you could always do what I do. Every time I hit a certain threshold in sales, I take the profits and invest in the stock market (or as I like to call it, “RL Investing”). This isn’t for everybody, but it’s a smart way of converting paper gains from MTG finance into a sustainable investment in your future.

The approach may be less exciting, but it’s also much less work and more stable. Major companies on Wall Street will be around for many years to come. We can only hope the same is true for Magic, and that ten years from now I can be writing a similar article about Standard rotation.

Sigbits

  • It feels like Hallowed Burial was a flash-in-the-pan type of card. All this discussion on the Eventide rare took place on Day 1 of GP Detroit, and by the end of Day 2 all the hype had died. Jund kind of destroyed almost all the other Modern strategies out there. This is yet another reason why I’m hesitant to move in on Modern staples--Wizards is likely to do something to shake up the format in the coming months.
  • Star City Games had a nice sale last month, and some mark-downs made some of their cards reasonable buys. That is, assuming you were quick enough to actually pull the trigger. I saw SCG restock their Snapcaster Mages multiple times at $15.99, only to have them sold out again within minutes. Expect the $20 price tag to return to stay once this sale is over.
  • Here’s one I didn’t know about until I just looked them up--do you have any idea how expensive foil Tron lands are? Foil copies from both 8th Edition and 9th Edition are retailing for about $12! The prices are no lower on eBay--this is an opportunity I most certainly missed.

-Sigmund Ausfresser
@sigfig8

11 thoughts on “Insider: What’s Next After Rotation?

  1. Hey Sigmund,

    Question – what are your best ways of liquidating your card investments to cash? I do ebay but the fees and shipping are killer. Buy lists also eat up your margin. Do you simply make friends at your LGS and try and sell out there?

    1. I can’t speak for Sigmund, but ebay is my primary out…that’s also why I don’t usually buy more than 24 of any particular card (6 playsets). The only exception are dirt cheap “casual” cards..like Primordials that I’ll simply be happy trading away at $3-4 rather than needing to unload them all for cash. That being the case, when you know your out is ebay you need to focus only on the cards that you feel will be profitable AFTER fees/shipping. If you start with this mindset, then you’ll pass on the cards you think will go from $1 to $2 simply because with the fees/effort needed to unload the profit isn’t worth your time. And instead focus only on the ones with larger potential profits PER card as opposed to profit %.

    2. My strategy is identical to David’s. I sell mostly on eBay. Selling on MOTL is painful and time consuming and I don’t use TCG Player. I buy list from time to time, but usually that’s on more obscure stuff or on over-hyped stuff. The fees are A PAIN! But it also keeps me honest about what I speculate on. Buying Jace at $20 in the hopes at selling at $28, for example, is a risk I can’t justify taking simply because fees and shipping would make the profits tiny relative to the risk.

    1. fetches are wonderful in commander, and wizards loves to kill the cost of modern trying to drive people into the format, i honeslty stopped looking for fetches after tarn hit 45.

      if for any reason you doubt this, consider Goyf, Bob, MM as a set, Shocks, and Mutavault

      Fetches Shuffle, Fetches Fix, and 1 life means exactly nothing in commander.

      Most Casuals i know dont buy Singles, they buy sealed product and trade for what they want (except the rare uber timmy who doesn’t trade and buys playsets of the foil version of a cool card because he thinks its the shiznit, then procedes to put it in a box next to other cool stuff collecting dust)

      The commander Precons are a perfect outlet to trounce fetches and give the casuals powerful tools at the same time.

      Original Comment posted in wrong spot

      1. From a casual perspective it makes absolutely no sense, a casual player would be just as happy with something like Evolving Wilds for his deck most of the time. Why waste a rare slot on a land little better than a common land is what they will be thinking. If they are going to use the precons for reprints, which I do feel is reasonable to expect, then it will be cards that both make sense for commander and modern, cards like the colonnade, or the previous oblivion stone reprint. I also wouldn’t be surprised at birthing pod, eldrazi, perhaps spellkite?

        I understand it from the modern perspective, but would Wizards really use product meant for their much larger casual audience, risking keeping the product out of their hands? I just haven’t seen a convincing explanation of how it would make sense from the casual perspective that is leading for this product. (Barring some landfall commander perhaps).

  2. fetches are wonderful in commander, and wizards loves to kill the cost of modern trying to drive people into the format, i honeslty stopped looking for fetches after tarn hit 45.

    if for any reason you doubt this, consider Goyf, Bob, MM as a set, Shocks, and Mutavault

    Fetches Shuffle, Fetches Fix, and 1 life means exactly nothing in commander.

    Most Casuals i know dont buy Singles, they buy sealed product and trade for what they want (except the rare uber timmy who doesn’t trade and buys playsets of the foil version of a cool card because he thinks its the shiznit, then procedes to put it in a box next to other cool stuff collecting dust)

    The commander Precons are a perfect outlet to trounce fetches and give the casuals powerful tools at the same time.

    1. Gah!! I wish I can pull that Wizards article up where they explain that they don’t want to put Constructed staples into a casual product like Commanders. If you put something like fetches in there, Constructed players will be competing directly with casual players for those products.

      The same fiasco already happened just now with FTV 20. People who are competitive players that never cared about FTV series all of a sudden want to buy as many FTV 20 as they can get their hands on because of Jace!

      I understand that Wizards need to start increase the supply of fetches into Modern to make it more accessible, but Commander products are a wrong way to do it.

      1. Understand your arguments, and I hope you’re right. I don’t want to see fetches in Commander products – I merely present the risk of it happening. There may be some impact on who wants the Commander products, but there’s also upside for Wizards in that it helps drive down cost of entry to Modern. This is something Wizards wants. They may not decide to do it, but they probably talked about it.

        Either way, we all probably agree we don’t want to be acquiring fetches right now unless we’re outing them for profit quickly.

        1. I think fetches have a much higher shot of being in MM2 than the Commander products for the reasons that have already been listed by Pi and Tu Ta. I for one don’t plan on holding onto them after March (when MM2 spoilers start leaking) unless they remain stagnant until that point (though I highly doubt it)

          1. I am still trading for Zendikar fetches, but I’m not trading other super staples (such as Goyfs, Bobs, duals) for them. I think they are poised for another bump next Modern season.

            As for MM2, I do not believe that it will be announced until late 2014. The 2014 schedule is already set, with all the formats announced. Unless Wizards plan on doing a surprise announcement, then MM2 will not come out until 2015. Also, Wizards need to do a lot of market research on MM and how it was received. Furthermore, they need to put MM2 together the way they did MM1, aka, the set is to be draftable. With all that in mind, I think 9 months (release of MM1 to March 2014) is a little bit ambitious for Wizards to be released MM2 spoilers.

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