Speculating on MTGO, compared to paper, is rather easy and doesn't involve extra costs. All transactions are lightning fast and cards are always gem mint. But unlike in the paper version of the game, successful speculation on MTGO does not generate real money.
Prior to investing on MTGO you need to acquire tix. The event ticket ("tix" for short in plural) is the in-game currency. You invariably need them to buy cards and they constitute the payment you receive when selling cards.
As your MTGO bankroll grows you may want to sell some of these tix and finally get your cash back. I intend to cover this process in future articles.
In this article I'll talk about the different options available for buying tix. The difference between the cheapest and most expensive options can be up to 50%. But each has advantages and disadvantages, so you may want to consider them all.
The Value of a Ticket
What's the average cost of a ticket in real-world currency (dollars, euros, etc.)? An easy answer would be to check the MTGO official store. This is probably the most convenient place to buy tix, with an extremely stable price of $1.00 per ticket + taxes. This price has been constant since the beginning of MTGO.
If you look around a little bit, you'll find that it's fairly easy to buy tix below $1.00/ticket. Based on my experience, I think $0.95/ticket is a good average price and is my reference price nowadays. That's what a ticket is worth to me. I try not to sell tix below this value or buy tix above it.
With this in mind, buying tix at any price below $0.95 is a good deal, and at any price above $0.95 a not-so-good deal. Everything depends mainly on how much effort and time you are willing to put into your search for a good deal.
Here is a list of, to my knowledge, all the different sources to buy tix from, with their expected prices and advantages/disadvantages.
The Official MTGO Store
This one isn't big news. The easiest and most convenient place to buy tix is undoubtedly the official in-game MTGO store. The price never changes and is $1.00 per ticket (+ taxes). Having tix readily available 24/7 with zero risk of being scammed is undoubtedly an advantage.
The disadvantage with the official provider is that, depending on where you live, some extra taxes may be added to the bill. If I'm correct, sometimes up to 20%, making the MTGO store the most expensive place to buy tix. In some countries and some US states, like in Georgia, there are no taxes and tix can be purchased at $1.00/ticket.
You will probably never use the official store to buy tix, at least not directly. However, there is a trick that works from time to time to acquire discounted tix.
Special decks such as Commander or Planechase can offer an avenue for this. Prepackaged decks like this are usually a pile of known junk plus one or two valuable, sometimes as-yet unprinted, cards. People pay little attention to these sets, with the exception of these one or two chase cards.
You would think that the sum of the individual cards equals the cost of the deck. But when an individual card, such as Baleful Strix, is drawing attention its price rises. Sometimes that's enough to create a situation where the individual cards can be sold to bots (mostly Mtgotraders, as not all bots accept special set cards) for more than the value of the deck.
For instance, it is possible to buy a $19.99 deck and the individual cards for, let say, 24.7 tix. This would be the equivalent of buying 24.7 tix at $0.81/tix, a pretty good price in deed.
The Other MTGO Stores
These sites are selling tix at $1.11, $1.00 and $0.98 - 1.09, respectively. You might be able to find other stores selling tix at prices close to $0.99/ticket, or maybe even lower.
Most, if not all, of these stores also sell credits for their bots, usually around $0.95/ea. While this sounds like a good deal at first glance, the restriction to a certain bot chain is significant. No single store has the lowest prices on every card, so ultimately this method won't save nearly as much money as the difference would imply. Buying tix offers you the most flexibility.
Three years ago, eBay had a lots of auctions for MTGO tix, and you could get more tix for your cash. Now, there are only few auctions or Buy It Now for tix.
In theory, eBay's auction structure lets items be acquired at low prices. In practice, this is very rare. Usually, auctions end at about $1.00/ticket.
Occasionally ticket auctions go relatively unnoticed. Watching regularly eBay auctions is your chance to get tix at a good price if you happen to be the one paying attention to a specific auction.
Looking from another angle, eBay can be a hidden gem when it comes to buying tix. As with the official MTGO store, another trick is to buy cards and sell them to bots in exchange for tix.
Buying individual cards and collections can sometimes be quite profitable. If most of the collections sold on eBay have prices close to or higher than the sum of the individual cards, I have also won collections at ridiculously low prices and turned them into a nice pile of tix.
Here is how I have proceeded in these cases:
- Once I have spotted an interesting collection on eBay, I estimate its value using Goatbots buy prices (for Standard/MMA cards) or using 80% of the Mtgotraders sell prices for non-Standard cards (80% is about what I should be able to sell the cards for). I take into account only the cards with a value of more than 0.10 tix. Junk rares, and most of the uncommons and commons have virtually no value here; at best that's a bonus.
- When I have estimated the "buy price" of a collection, lets say a 100-ticket collection, I use my price reference for tix. Here, the collection is worth $95 to me. To give me a margin of error (in case buy prices change by the time I win the auction for instance) and to make sure I get a good deal, I'm usually willing to pay no more than 80-85% of that $95, so about $78. These numbers can be changed to whatever you're comfortable with.
- Once I have won and collected the collection I make the cards tradable and check Aboshanbots bots, Hotlist (from Mtgotraders) and Goatbots for offers. These three bots offer the best combined buy prices out there. I sell the cards to the best offer. Afterwards, I also check Mtgo_Bazaar for low-value uncommons and commons, which this bot chain frequently buys at a decent price. I do all of this on a secondary MTGO account, to process the newly acquired collection more conveniently without interfering with cards on my primary account.
To give you an idea of the potential of such a process, six months ago I managed to buy a great collection for $590, mostly composed of Standard cards. I sold the entire collection, with the exception of junk uncommons and commons, for more than 840 tix.
That's $0.70/tix, my best rate for tix so far in three years! It's definitely worth the time to check MTGO collections on eBay.
On the Classifieds, Directly from Humans
Different offers can be seen from the Classifieds on MTGO, the in-game marketplace. Prices are usually good, around $0.96/ticket, sometimes more, sometimes less. Some offers refer to online stores and their websites, other are directly from humans. Some humans sell tix recurrently, others just once.
Trust is the key factor here. If you're buying from humans, you can ask for references and to see the tix first. If you're not sure, buy small quantities at a time, 50 tix or less. Also pay attention to potential Paypal fees when it comes time to make a payment. Paypal Gift is free if used between two verified accounts of the same currency.
You can also find some offers on different forums all over the web. Buying small quantities is again a safe play if you're not sure.
From QS Members
Lastly, some of us Insiders are selling (and buying) tix. Check on the forum topic, Buying and Selling MTGO Tickets Here, and post your offer.
I might sell some myself early this Spring, probably at $0.95/tix.
With all these options, and a little patience, you should be able to find tix at an attractive price.
However, buying tix is the easiest part of investing on MTGO. Now, you'll face another challenge--finding your way through the jungle of the thousands of vendors, bots and humans to acquired digital cards and start speculating. That will be the topic of my next article.
A brief review of my transactions these days:
- THS boosters are still on my buy list, at 3.00 tix or less. It seems like their price has increase recently. I try to buy as close as possible to 3 tix/boosters and wait for Born of the Gods to make a bigger move.
- Deathrite Shaman is a major player in Modern. I bought a few copies at 4 tix and I'll be chasing more if its price drops again under 4 tix. As it doesn't see any play in Standard, its price is only sustained by Modern, Legacy and casual. I anticipate a stronger demand during Modern season and I'll start stocking them now. And if Born of the Gods makes the shaman playable in Standard that will be the jackpot. This past weekend, 16 copies of Deathrite Shaman made Top8 at GP Prague.
- Coralhelm Commander and Gravecrawler have decent buy prices now, as well as Copperline Gorge and Seachrome Coast, which are about half of their historic highest and decreasing.
- The new double-colored devotion gods may or may not be playable, but I think taking advantage of hype surrounding them is a good short-term speculation. Any B/R, G/W or U/W card is potentially good: Fleecemane Lion, Trostani, Selesnya's Voice, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, Tymaret, the Murder King. The two mythics have the most potential as they are enough to turn a god into a creature on their own.
- M14 Boosters. Still selling a little bit everyday. They are getting more and more closer to 3.5 tix/boosters.
- I noticed on Sunday that Enter the Infinite has just passed 1.5 tix. I had no idea why at the moment, but as I had bought three dozen of copies at around 0.9 tix last summer I am unloading some now.
Thanks for reading,