Welcome back Speculators! Today's article will focus on the effects the Pro Tour has on the financial game.
As many of you know (courtesy of an insider email sent out by Doug) a few mono-blue cards spiked hard this weekend. They include Thassa, God of the Sea, Master of Waves, Tidebinder Mage, and Nightveil Specter.
Unfortunately, the time to pick these up has passed and the prices are adjusted pretty much everywhere. You might be able to pick them up at their old price if you have any stores who are slow to update prices (if you do I suggest you hit them up ASAP). But what we want to focus on isn't so much these specific cards, but in general the strategy of profiting before and during the spike.
The Dreaded Cancellation
Reading over the forums it appears a lot of our members are getting burned on their orders. Neither eBay nor TCG Player have enough fail safes in place to punish people for backing out of an order, which is unfortunate. Luckily, we have TCGplayer's ear (they have a membership to this very site) and hopefully they implement a change in their policy to punish lazy stores for this practice.
Sadly, I don't believe we have anybody high up enough at eBay to cause them to implement anything special. However, bad feedback on eBay is often a component in people's willingness to purchase, and stores/people without an incredible volume of sales will lose out on potential future sales because of the negative feedback.
But as I said, there's nothing we can really do about that now. Let's focus on the things we can control.
First and foremost is information. We QSers knew to try to acquire the previously mentioned cards because people at the PT were feeding us information. We have twitter available (to follow pros, players, store owners, etc). We have the QS forums to see what the hottest new tech is. We have the Wizards of the Coast website to watch the PT live.
There is a plethora of information available to us before and during the Pro Tour. It is up to each individual to grow their information base--follow more people on Twitter, check the forums more regularly, watch the PT live--in order to maximize their potential profits.
Now that you have your information you need to know what to do with it. This is the tricky part because as mentioned earlier, a lot of stores on TCG Player and eBay just cancelled orders. They let us do the work by keeping tabs on what was good and then simply responded with a simple order cancellation.
If you had an order cancelled you should definitely leave negative feedback. I have created a blacklist in the reseller section for members to post the companies and individuals who cancelled orders on cards as they were spiking. But there's not much else we can do, and we need to move forward.
The best approach is to have a good game plan ahead of time. What I mean is to have a list of stores that you know will honor their prices. I can vouch for cardkingdom as I was able to order 8x regular and 1x foil Tidebinder Mage from them at about $1.26 per and $3.40 on the foil. They do have a low limit (so you can't go deep), but it's better than nothing. Ones I know specifically include:
- Card Kingdom
- Starcity Games
- ABU Games (they may reduce your order but will still send something).
- Any local game stores who pre-price their cards (instead of looking up prices at the point of sale). Just don't mention that the card jumped recently.
When to Sell
Now that you've got your spoils it's time to unload them. This part is a bit more challenging because when a card spikes it may or may not hold its value for long. You need to determine your own opinion on the validity of the card's new value.
This is another reason it's so critical to have a strong knowledge base. You don't want to get stuck in a Wolfir Silverheart position where the price drops dramatically shortly after the cards arrive in the mail. You want a Deathrite Shaman position (where the card spikes and stays high).
The two cards I'm most concerned about maintaining their price with the recent spike are the Tidebinder Mages and the Nightveil Specters. While they are decently powerful on their own (Tidebinder more so), they are primarily good because of the devotion they provide. When a card's mana cost is the reason it's played rather than its actual power level, it doesn't seem sustainable in the long run. There are other cards with similar mana costs and if they are better, they'll be used.
It isn't wise to try to "pre-sell" them before they arrive in the mail, because some sellers will say it's been shipped and it never arrives (thus they try to transfer the blame from themselves onto the postal carrier) and you don't want to be stuck having to buy the cards at their current price to then turn around and sell at the same price to someone else, as you'll lose out on fees and shipping costs and end up in the red.
However, as Corbin likes to say constantly, "sell into the hype". Once the cards arrive (if you think they've hit their peak), turn around and put them up for sale or trade them at their current price for more stable cards. I tend to take this approach unless I feel the card has more room to grow, which rarely happens with regular rares nowadays.
My last word of advice is to bet on mythics. If there's anything I've seen in the last few sets, it's that the only rares that really spike hard are the ones that have multi-format appeal and aren't realized ahead of time (I remember Deathrite Shaman's selling on SCG for $4) or prove to be absolute powerhouses in Standard (Boros Reckoner).
Mythics have a much higher chance of spiking due to their greater scarcity. One of my new trading strategies is that when I see underpriced or cheap mythics in a trade binder, if there's some potential there, I pick them up. I don't suggest doing this until after a set's been officially released for a week or so (as the prices all around tend to drop and mythics usually take the biggest hit), but you can often offset any losses by hitting big.