Talk about a card you didn’t expect to be financially relevant. Who ever thought Pack Rat would be winning tournaments and spiking in price? Sure, it’s a fun card (except in Limited), but I didn’t think it would make it in Constructed the way it has.
I wasn’t watching the Grand Prix last weekend, and I didn’t buy any after the prices started moving. But I do have several dozen of these. Why?
I wrote this in my Return to Ravnica Prerelease Primer.
"Casual players love Rats, and though there will be a ton of copies of this out there, it’s a good long-term call at $1."
I didn’t expect it work out quite this quickly, but I’m glad it did.
The point is, there’s a reason I love these type of calls, and why I always include this type of stuff in my set reviews. You never know what’s going to break out, but if you know there’s a great long-term chance and the card is cheap enough, then any short-term potential becomes a free bonus.
I bring this up because at the point in Standard we’re at, these are the type of cards I want to be looking at. The time to be in Master of Waves is long ago, and I hope you’ve been selling since the Pro Tour as I suggested.
Likewise, other cards are falling off, including Thassa and Tidebinder Mage (Merfolk!). One that isn’t is Nightveil Specter. It’s a card I had been keeping an eye on ever since the last few months of the summer since it was performing decently in Block. As soon as devotion was spoiled I posted about the card on our forums and started moving on it. That obviously worked out well.
Quick aside – Prices are going up even more than I expected. I didn’t imagine Specter would pass $5 since it had been a promo. But a report released this week said that Magic is up 30 percent year-over-year in terms of earnings, which we can safely assume means player acquisition is still going well for the game.
That has pushed cards to heights I wouldn’t otherwise expect. Desecration Demon was a dollar just a few months ago, and even if it hit I didn’t expect anything more than $4-6. After all, it was in the first set of an incredibly popular block and there should have been a ton of copies on the market! But it’s working its way up to $15, and other cards are following suit.
But all of that is a known commodity at this point, and it’s our job to stay ahead of the game. So what’s the next step?
I like Pack Rat a lot. I would say that $3-4 is the ceiling for a one-deck card (and it may well be), but to be honest the Rat’s power doesn’t come from any deck-specific archetype. If you’re playing black it’s an option. That means that, while still unlikely, this thing could heat up to $8 in a few weeks. Getting in now seems like a low-to-medium risk play with high upside, especially since, as Jesse pointed out in our forums, the spread is currently 1 percent.
The next card really pushes the risk-to-reward approach to the extreme. Rubblebelt Raiders has been getting some hype recently, and while there are no results at this time, I think the price is right. By that I mean this thing is widely available under 50 cents, making it essentially free in trade.
It's time to load up on these. If it doesn’t work out you’ve got a bunch of mediocre near-bulk cards you traded for at bulk. Same goes for Precinct Captain and Underworld Connections, both cards that have been showing more and more and are still cheap.
But what if it does hit? People were skeptical of my call on Nightveil Specter when I said this back at the very beginning of spoiler season:
“Seems very strong with devotion, and has seen some play in Block. Available under a buck. Thoughts?”
If Specter can hit $8-9 with a promo available, there’s no way a currently-bulk Raiders can’t find a home in a green or red deck and go to at least $3-4 and make us all solid money. Hell, the way the market has been acting recently it could go past $5 as soon as a pro starts packing him.
The question, of course, is whether it’s better than Arbor Colossus, or if Colossus itself is worth a spec. Personally, I’m fine picking up cheap Trees but I’m not going deep because it’s still actively being opened. That limits the upside. As I’ve talked about over the last several months, I much prefer getting into year-old cards rather than new ones at this point in a set’s life cycle.
Sphinx's Revelation and Supreme Verdict are still rising as expected, and while I think it’s fine getting into these I’m not sure how much more upside there is. Probably $11-12 for Verdict (using $13-14 Terminus as our comparison) and $35-40 for Revelation, using $50 Bonfire of the Damned? That’s where I’m pegging them since both were opened more than their comparison points, but I think both have some growth left in them.
It’s certainly time to get out of Detention Sphere, thanks to the stupid Event Deck killing our spec. Still made money on these, but not as much as we would have.
Real Estate Update
Shocklands have come off their lows but not risen as much as hoped for. Part of it is cyclical with what is doing best in Standard (the Esper-colored ones are trending up). I’m not sure what to make of this. These still move extremely well, so I’m going to continue to acquire. Remember, Zendikar fetches moved exactly zero dollars upon rotation, and if the shocks don’t really show any movement one way or another I’ll just hold onto them.
I still believe these have growth left in them, though it may take another 4-6 months until we hit Modern PTQ season for that to happen. The only question is if the downward pressure of upcoming rotation will offset the upward pressure of Modern season.
Mutavault, on the other hand, is clearing trending up, and I expect this to continue. The simpler manabases are allowing it more play, and we’ve covered before how little M14 was opened. That says good things for the little merfolk land that could, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it moving past $20 by the time you read this.
Expect fewer movements between now and Christmas than we’ve had in the past month. The major surprises are out of the way, and it’s just about finding the few left at this point, while investing in the stuff we expect to hold steady value over that time, like Mutavault.
Card prices have traditionally done well at the turn of the new year, and seeing as how that coincides with Born of the Gods, that may be the next time there’s major movement as a whole. It’s near that point that I think we’ll see a decision point in regards to stuff like shocklands and Theros staples like Thoughtseize.
One other thing I’ll mention: don’t forget the uncommons. Burning-Tree Emissary in particular is one I wouldn’t be surprised to see pass $3 in the next few months.
So that’s where I’m at with the current metagame. It’s basically a time to take the profits on the things you should’ve already been invested in, while targeting those few good targets that are still out there. Until next week, pack some Rats!
Thanks for reading,
@Chosler88 on Twitter