Insider: Pro Tour Financial Effects

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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:

  1. Card Kingdom
  2. Starcity Games
  3. ABU Games (they may reduce your order but will still send something).
  4. 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.

7 thoughts on “Insider: Pro Tour Financial Effects

  1. Buying into these spikes tends to pay off for me, but even when sellers do ship my orders there’s still the wild card of shipping time. I’d hate to receive cards a few days too late and miss out on the largest portion of profits. But to date I don’t know of any solutions to this challenge. The reality is we still deal with products that are physical and not digital, so there’s shipping time and response time.

    Maybe I should be looking at MTGO these days…

    1. True. There isn’t anything you can do about the time gap between ordering and when they arrive. However, I would honestly feel safe “pre-selling” my cards if I’d picked them up off of SCG as I’ve never heard of them cancelling an order, though I wouldn’t do it for any other order site. I am also far less likely to invest in a card that is spiking if I don’t believe in it myself.

    2. I struggle constantly with the decision to look into MTGO as a way to start amassing profits when cards spike in popularity and price. However, the main problem I have with MTGO is that it would be my second collection, and I wouldn’t intend to use MTGO to play a lot (still prefer physical copies to digital in most facets of my life).

      Do you have any suggestions on how to extract your new-found wealth from MTGO if you were to experience a windfall like this past weekend (i.e. set redemption)? I’d hate to make lots of tickets in profit and just have them rot away in the system.

  2. Here was a response by WeQu in the forums that might help in some cases.

    ‘Do what I do in such cases: ask for cards that are worth total of the one you bought taking into account current price. If he really no longer has the card, he’ll accept. If he does have the card, he’ll “find it back”.’

    Also any chance this article could be moved to free side might gather some extra support.

    1. I will try that if I have an order cancelled due to “lacking the card”, however, a lot of what I was reading was stores just cancelling the order because they “could”, not that they should, but because they believe there is currently very little punitive damage that can occur from doing so. I’m hoping that QSers can prove them wrong.

  3. My experience with TCGplayer has been mostly good. In a marketplace where a less than 99% rating could make your store seem pretty bad, most sellers are honest. Some of the big names like Ideal808, Pack Fresh Magic, Empire Cards, OldSchoolGaming, and ChannelFireball (and countless others) are always honest from my experience, and these stores I feel comfortable making $300+ orders from. Ebay is a whole another story, as is evident from the fact that the average seller has like a 90% rating. A 98% rating means one could ship commons to 49 buyers, and “fail to” ship that one $50+ order every fifthiest. On Ebay, I would advise only buying from the absolutely biggest names (unless your order is cheap, like below $20), and even then exercise caution.

    1. I definitely agree with the fact that sellers can “pad” their ratings with small inconsequential sales is a problem. I haven’t purchased on TCG player much since they opened it up to a lot of individuals (which as much as we like to use it here on QS may be part of the problem). Individuals will have a much smaller problem cancelling orders to maximize profit if they can make new accounts. Like I mentioned, I really hope that the TCG player staff implements new punitive measures for cancelling orders like this.

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