I call you speculators because that's what many of you found out you were this weekend when you had your %&*^ing orders cancelled.
An Alternative Proposal
When I sold on eBay, I didn't change my prices every day. Most of the stuff I had listed just sold, and the stuff that sat there didn't sit there because the price needed to be changed, but rather because it was obscure foreign and foil stuff waiting for the right buyer. If something changed drastically, I obviously changed it. However, on occasion I saw something that let me know I had screwed up.
"eBay user Ben_Bleiweiss has sent you an electronic payment".
Nothing says "You done %&^ed up" like seeing Ben Bleiweiss bought one of your cards. That means you were selling for less than Star City's buylist, even if that was because they just changed it.
I've mentioned that story in the forums and the general sentiment was "well, just block Ben Bleiweiss on eBay" and I think to do that is to miss the point. The point is not that I don't like selling to Ben. The point is I don't like when Ben buys my cards. I don't like it because when he buys my cards, he's reminding me that I need to pay attention.
Another story. I was listing a gigantic stack of cards on eBay. This takes a long time to do and it was around 5:30 am at the time I was reaching the end of the stack. I decided to just power through and get it done rather than go to sleep and finish later. I had a good rhythm going so I continued.
My wife woke up at 6 am, my dog started flipping out and I went upstairs to chill it out. I left it halfway through a listing and I didn't remember what I was doing when I came downstairs. I was listing either Supreme Verdict or Falkenrath Aristocrat. The description and picture were Aristocrat but the title was Supreme Verdict. I decided that it must be Aristocrat, so I changed everything to be Aristocrat and moved on.
Literally two minutes after I submitted the listing, I realized my mistake when someone snap-bought the Aristocrat. I had two listings for Aristocrat and zero for Supreme Verdict. The first Aristocrat listing was for $18.95 or whatever they were at the time. The other listing was for $2.95, the price of Supreme Verdict. After debating for a little while, the buyer decided he wanted to pay $2.95 for Falkenrath Aristocrat.
What do you do in my position? You've made a mistake, and the buyer knows it. If you ship, you have to take down your listing for $18.95 because you only have one copy. It takes a few mouse clicks to refund the money and sell it for $18.95 later. What do you do?
You Ship the Damn Card for $2.95, That's What You Do
How is this even up for debate? This is a situation where you screwed up. From the buyer's perspective, there is no difference between "I put the wrong price accidentally because I didn't pay attention when I listed it," and "I thought they were $16 cheaper because I don't pay attention to card prices". You listed it for a certain price. eBay auctions aren't enforced as contracts, but perhaps they should be.
A party made an offer (a card was listed for sale, buy it now for $2.95 shipped), the offer was accepted by a second party (they clicked "buy it now") and the mutuality of obligation is created. Consideration is given by the second party (they paypal you $2.95, possibly while laughing at you) and thus the only step left is for the first party to fulfill their part of the contract, namely shipping the card.
Perhaps $2.95 is insufficient consideration for the seller, but whose fault is that? The seller is the party that drafted the contract in the first place. If you don't want to sell Falkenrath Aristocrats for $2.95, here's a simple solution. Don't list Falkenrath Aristocrats for $2.95, either on purpose or accidentally.
Failure to Ship the Card Is No Less Than a Breach of Contract.
I don't see it any other way. I shipped the Aristocrat, and I never made a mistake like that again. I double-checked prices before clicking "submit" no matter how tired I was. I checked Star City's buy prices often to make sure I knew what was trending. Occasionally they would raise a price drastically and buy out eBay but that was no big deal. That happens.
I listed a foil Thalia, Guardian of Thraben for $15 and SCG bought everyone on eBay out at $15 and started selling theirs for like $25 at one point this year. Whose fault is that? Mine for listing it at $15 just because that is what everyone was selling theirs for. I could have kept it in my spec box but I listed it. I was content getting $15 at the time. You know what made me feel bad? As soon as I saw how much SCG was charging, I thought, "Man, I probably could have gotten $25."
As a buyer, you can get screwed pretty easily. If a price spikes and the seller doesn't ship, they give you a refund at the old price. This means you're left with less money to try and buy a card that went up. You could have gotten it somewhere else for the same price you paid them, but now it's too late and you're completely screwed.
That "feel bad" feeling you get as a buyer is frustration at how unfair the situation is. You have no choice but to pay the new price even though you were on top of things and bought ahead of the spike. The seller could have moved their price up instead of selling at the old price and cancelling if only they had paid attention. Instead, they saw they undersold and it felt bad to them. They weren't paying attention, but it doesn't matter. They don't want to sell because selling at the old price feels bad.
That "feel bad" feeling you get as a seller? That's greed, folks. That's you not being content to sell a card that is essentially worth $0.16 for $15 because you might have gotten $25. If you decide to refund the money and keep the card you are committing a breach of contract and you are doing it because you are greedy.
Parties who deal with contracts have to be careful of the possibility of something called an "efficient breach". An efficient breach is a situation where the penalty for breaching the contract is lower than the cost to the party to fulfill their obligation and therefore breaching the contract and paying the penalty is more cost effective.
If it cost you a $100,00 penalty to breach a contract to build a parking garage but the cost of concrete went up so much that it would cost $250,000 more than you were paid to build the garage, you might just cut your losses and pay the $100,000.
Similarly, if companies or sellers had to pay a $250 fine to Paypal each time they cancelled an order through Paypal, they wouldn't cancel orders. If they didn't have the card and noticed when it was time to ship, they would buy it somewhere else, no matter how much it cost, and ship it to fulfill the sale contract. They wouldn't cancel orders saying, "we limit orders to four copies of a card," or worse, "We are not in the business of selling to speculators".
If you listed Master of Waves for $5 and they hit $20 and someone bought them for $5, too bad. You "lose" $15 selling at the price you designated, but since you'll lose $250 if you cancel, it's a no-brainer. You ship, and you say "I sure am glad I had enough copies to fulfill my obligation so I didn't have to pay that $250 penalty".
The current system for buying and selling cards isn't enforced as a contract. Sellers reserve the right to cancel or alter orders for any reason, and there is no penalty for a breach. If you pay someone for cards, you have to count on them not to get greedy and to actually send the cards you paid for.
If all the seller has to pay in penalty is a refund of your money, it's a no-brainer. If this were a contract system, there would be efficient breaches all over the place. However, even though these sales aren't enforced as contractual agreements, maybe we as a community can do something to make sure these "breaches" aren't quite so "efficient".
Did you order cards over the weekend and have your order cancelled? Let everyone know in the comments and in the section for seller reviews in the QS forums.
I preorder cards on eBay from sellers I trust because they fulfill their sales. I pre-ordered Thragtusks from an eBay seller and they went up before the set came out. He sent me 50 copies at the price I paid and I have preordered cards from him every set since because I trust him not to get greedy. I reward him with my business just like I never give my business to companies that have cancelled my orders.
If we send a message to companies that cancel our orders and as a community don't buy from them, they'll get the message. If we tell them they will never again get our business and enough of us tell them to change their practices, they'll pay attention.
A lot of people were paying attention to prices this weekend. I have never seen this much price movement over the weekend of a PT just after rotation. Normally people notice on Monday and prices change drastically today, but it seemed like prices were moving almost in real time.
Since a lot of stores aren't staffed on weekends, the prices weren't updated as dynamically as TCG Player so a lot of people were able to buy spiking cards at the old prices. Master of Waves went from $5 to $20, Thassa, God of the Sea doubled to $25ish, Tidebinder Mage hit $5, Nightveil Specter tripled to $2.50, then doubled again to $5. All of this was due to a powerful mono-blue devotion deck that was all over coverage.
Gervaise Pechler was reporting from the floor and a QS Insider e-mail blast warned of coming price bumps and advised buying Thassa at $12 and Tidebinder Mage at $1. A lot of people made a lot of money because they paid attention to the coming price movement and got in cheap.
However, a lot of people had their orders cancelled. It's one thing to pay attention to coverage and be ahead of price spikes, but until something changes in the way cards are bought and sold, a lot of QS Insiders basically repriced the major websites' cards for them for free.
Let's actually just move into event coverage and talk about the stuff there.
Devotion in Dublin
There were three mono-blue devotion decks, one mono-black devotion deck and one mono red-devotion deck in the Top 8.
I had a chance to buy Nykthos last week for around $5 and didn't. Obviously that would have been the play. I don't think you buy in now--that ship has sailed. I don't feel too bad about it, they wouldn't have been shipped to me anyway.
Mono-Blue was three in the Top 4 including the winning deck. If you'd told me a year ago the hottest RTR block cards in the Top 8 of the Pro Tour would be Nightveil Specter, Judge's Familiar, Frostburn Weird, Pack Rat and Cloudfin Raptor, I might have had a pretty tough time believing you. But those are sick mono-color beaters and that's what the state of the metagame is right now.
I think you sell Tidebinder at $5ish. I was wrong about Master of Waves (in our defense, Corbin and I both saw this as another bad Merfolk lord that didn't even pump Merfolk and the card is bad outside of a blue devotion deck) so I have no idea when to dump it. I think it's bad outside this deck, so if you don't want to play that deck specifically, I'd dump at his current price. I think it was scarcity more than playability that saw his price quadruple.
Thassa is finally getting some respect. If Purphoros can maintain nearly $25 this long (it's fitting that he deals two damage because his descent from $25 can best be described as "glacial") it seems okay for Thassa. Still, I don't expect it to go up from $25, so sell those now.
There really isn't much to buy in the wake of this event. When I had a dealer booth, I bought a ton of Nightveils for $0.25 on really embarrassing, faulty logic a year ago, so yanking those out of my box of shame and selling them for $5 a pop felt damn good over the weekend. If you had the cards on hand--I bought Tidebinder thinking it would see play in Legacy. Whoops!--you were fine to sell on TCG Player or eBay for the new price. I had a lot of reports of cancelled orders, so don't expect a ton of the stuff you ordered on Friday to actually get shipped.
The Mono-Black deck featured Pack Rats, which is a great way to get your devotion to black up. With a ton of (painful) ways to draw cards and sick advantage spells like Desecration Demon and Gray Merchant of Asphodel, this may be the year that limited-only cards really shine in Standard.
The mono-red list looks like a "Big Red" version of the deck my buddy Jakob Maggard used to Top 8 Michigan States this weekend, finishing 3rd slash 4th. I like Jakob's list for people who don't want to shell out for Stormbreath Dragon.
I think Dragon will come down with redemption, but I didn't think it would maintain its initial "Hey, it's a dargon" presale price. It's a poor substitute for Thundermaw Hellkite, but the format doesn't seem to mind. The protection from white is sometimes relevant in a world full of Detention Spheres, after all. Still, either build seems good. Mono red is still a thing.
I totally spaced on Chandra's Phoenix. I bought a bunch and the price did nothing and I was all bummed out. I finally checked this weekend and they're around $4. Hot damn! Maybe I should pay attention. I am really hoping if I go back through my articles over the last month or two, I said "buy Chandra's Phoenix" in one of them, otherwise saying "Yeah, I bought a bunch, no big deal" probably doesn't help anyone. I'd check, but I know one of you will do it.
All those Hammers I bought don't look so embarrassing, now--maybe the two-of main in Kamiel's deck will help the price.
Makihito Mihara's Gruul Monstrosity deck is just that--a monstrosity. I expect a lot of people to build this deck. It was basically the justification for Xenagos' price--which is not great in other shells. Xenagos allows you to get two mana from each Caryatid and Satyr instead of the one they produce and can fart out chump blockers or post-wrath closers in a pinch. I still don't like Xenagos in most decks, and I think adding too many copies of Xenagos and Domri each make the other one worse, but this deck gets there.
Four maindeck Garruk can't hurt the price of that particular planeswalker, either, although he was always pretty expensive and there was never really a great time to buy in, even if he goes back up now. Stiil, Nykthos abounds, and it was a bad move to not pick those up at $5.
I think the problem I had with this set was everything that is powerful also seems durdly. "Xenagos will make a ton of mana," people said and I said "Yeah, in Magic Christmas land". "Nykthos could tap for 10 mana!" people said, and I replied "Yeah, it will be right at home in my EDH decks".
Everything powerful is obviously powerful, but it seemed too much like Timmy decks for me to buy in. The most powerful cards don't always get played--Worldspine Wurm would be a $20 card instead of Master of Waves. This is a format where raw power and synergy matter--how else does a deck with Frostburn Weird and Judge's Familiar dominate a format other than Sealed?
A few decks that did well but didn't top-eight are worth mentioning.
"Scumbag" Ray Perez (I don't know where that nickname came from--Ray is good people) got 11th place with a deck similar to Wafo-Tapa's on top of his 6-0 performance in the draft portion. Clearly the awesome t-shirt he wore all weekend brought him good luck. Ray is the first Brainstorm Brewery member to Top 16 a Pro Tour since the team formed the day he won the PTQ. Not bad for his first PT ever.
Here is a deck to watch from a Hall of Famer I seem to find a reason to mention every week. This is a real, buildable deck and I think some of the cards have room to grow.
The Block PT was won by a similar deck, and Theros only added to it, with Fleecemane Lion, Boon Satyr and Soldier of the Pantheon. This has "FNM" written all over it, except Rob did quite well with it so it's got actual chops. It looks cheapish, accessible and battle-tested. Have the cards in this--people will want them.
Sam Black got a deck tech--click the link. BOOM, pranked. They deck teched his draft deck. I know, they got me, too. The bastards.
Read this list thoroughly as there is a lot of info here. I don't expect the entire metagame to look like this--rarely does the Pro Tour completely define the meta. I am not 100% sure the Mono-Blue deck that won will be around for more than just the event.
A lot of people tweeted that they were reminded of the PT Geist deck that smashed at its marquee event and then petered out. I think if people are ready for Mono-Blue, it will have a tough time. Even red found ways to deal with the Master at the event with nearly no warning--imagine how a few weeks of testing will solve the deck.
Even if it continues on, it won't be the only best deck like in formats past, so build what you want, have ways to kill that dude and speculate on some other cards. If you missed the boat on Master and Tidebinder, find something else that's fun. Theros gave us so many powerful tools and with the Pros telling us it's okay to build Timmy decks, let's make something strong happen.
There were like 65 TCG State Tournaments this weekend or something ridiculous, and I'm not going to go through them all. That information is good, but I feel like the metagame will incorporate a lot of info from the PT and look a little different next week. I am glad my buddy Jakob got there, though. Besides, I remember how quickly everyone wrote off the results of states last year.
Adrian Sullivan manages a Top 4 in his backyard. I kind of expected to see him in Dublin, but I'm sure his Top 8 opponents were happy they got to play a Pro on the PT weekend. I like his R/W deck so much I mentioned him first. It's my Alticle, I'll do what I want to. I'll also continue to call it an "Alticle" because I want to prove to Nick Becvar that the word sounds obscene. It does, right? It's not just me?
That R/W list was the only Top 8 list that repeated--we had an astonishing seven archetypes in the Top 8. Compare that to the PT where the Top 4 had two. Players are brewing, and they're brewing in a vacuum which is awesome. There are aggro and control decks, creatures and planeswalkers, new cards and old.
The format might stay this diverse given the power level of Theros, which would be awesome. I don't want to see this format "solved" too quickly. If it could be more like Legacy with decks good enough to have a chance against the whole field, we'll all be a lot happier.
Zach Stern's winning G/R Monsters list looks a little like the Japanese deck Miahara did well with. Polukranos, World Eater seemed durdly at first, but I've managed to adjust how I see powerful but slow-looking cards. Mana gets big, fast and slow isn't necessarily a problem.
I think monstrosity is a mechanic that is worth building around, something not a lot of people thought when we first saw the cards from the set. Everyone was salivating over cards like Steam Augury, which no one is playing at all. It's great that Magic is getting Timmier, frankly.
This set is full of surprises. I love finishing someone off with Ruric Thar. Mistcutter Hydra and Skylasher are two cards that might see short-term spikes in the wake of the Mono-Blue weekend. I love when people play green!
My initial impression of Chained to the Rocks was that it seems narrow. But in R/W/X you might as well play it. I like the R/W/B deck--Desecration Demon is a card I was waiting forever to go up and I'm glad it finally did. It was a confusing time for me when a card that seemed better than Abyssal Persecutor was being valued at bulk by some. Lingering Souls is gone and all is right in the world.
Whip + Obzedat seemed more cute than good to me at first, but as people play more and more events, "cute" may have been the way I dismissed Timmy-esque combos. Be able to deal with Obzedat or stay home. Cute can sometimes kill--just ask Sigfried (or was it Roy? I can never remember). Advantage like that coupled with good removal makes R/W/B a solid choice.
Kyle Houtman left his Thoughtseize in the board. Interesting... I sometimes feel like I am the only one who thinks you sell Thoughtseize right now and buy in after redemption. If you disagree, maybe this weekend will have you re-evaluate.
Mike Abraham played a deck like Rob Dougherty's which I like a lot. I said "I like two Trostani" last week and I hold to that. Three may be too many since you can't really benefit from a second one, but you can win the race effortlessly with an active Trostani and pretty much any token. Watchwolf is back in style with Fleecemane Lion, Call of the Conclave and Kalonian Tusker all seeing play in various decks. Magma Jet looks worse and worse every day.
Matthew Darnall made a Jund deck and nearly made Top 8. Die in a fire, Matthew.
Okay, I'm sorry, I didn't mean that. Still, come on! Would you give us one good month before trying to make another boring Jund deck? At least Matthew's deck looks interesting--a lot of unorthodox card choices like Prophetic Prism, Verdant Haven and Clan Defiance. This may have started out as a draft deck. If you insist on running Jund and making me sad, at least make like this dude and make me less sad because you jammed a Vraska the Unseen. Vraska may be the best card no one is playing.
I'd take this to an event if I were still playing. It has every card interaction I want to be running right now. Despite getting a lot of play, Voice is way down on MODO. It may be time to buy in, or it may be time to find out why it's down and stay away accordingly. Online tends to forecast future trends for paper, though not always universally.
Standard, Schmandard. Let's do Legacy before I break my all-time word count record.
I don't like that Sneak and Show won, especially since it beat "Oops, all spells" which I think is a fun deck, a hilarious name, and it's also not stupid Delver or Sneak and Show. I am a big fan of milling yourself completely in one turn and winning with Azami, Lady of Scrolls and Laboratory Maniac. That pleases me. It's like a Belcher deck that leaves less to chance. Getting a turn one Balustrade Spy has to feel good. The deck likely takes a lot of practice, but the games where you vomit your whole library in one shot are all pretty much the same.
Decks like this are something everyone should proxy up and goldfish until they know it. It teaches you a lot about decision trees and will improve your game a lot. I goldfished ANT for hours and I felt like it helped me. This deck looks like something you can goldfish sitting across from an opponent.
Speaking of ANT, an ANT deck made the HOLY CRAP IS THIS A POD DECK?!
Yea, we're talking about this right the F now.
Sweet, glorious pod! Move over, Cabal Therapy! I just found my new favorite way to sac a Veteran Explorer! Recurring Nightmare really makes this deck, but it's a sweet, gorgeous toolbox build without it. Full of answers, full of nice interactions that will take you a hundred games to see all of, and full of win, this is my favorite deck of the week. I'd say "year" but that four-color cascade deck last week made me seriously consider playing Legacy again.
So we had eight decks in the Top 8, we have new brews all the time and we had SCG say they will continue Legacy Sunday all next year. Next time you call Legacy "dead" you should probably reconsider it.
That's all I have the steam for, folks. My Alticles are big and dense and full of value. Tell me that doesn't sound super dirty.
You can't! You can't do it.
I was going to write some reference to "paying attention" and really bring the whole deal full circle, but forget it. Look at the word count! This is ridiculous. I skipped talking about 50 tournaments and still wrote 4,400 words. I'm done now, I promise.
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