Insider: Deafening Speculation

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Pro Tour Born of the Gods is behind us now, and what a sad thing that is. Modern pro tours are easily my favorite—they give us the best chance to see powerful things take place and often offer sweet money-making opportunities. This weekend was no exception. We got to see awesome new decks, updates on old favorites, and expert anticipation of the metagame. The top eight matches (that I was awake to see) were all excellent, and despite complaints about the change to best-of-three in the quarter- and semifinals, it was cool to see every game of every match—even if it did take all day.

I made zero purchases during the pro tour, despite there being a few reasonable opportunities. I decided against them all for various reasons, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t make money. I’ve been holding all of my Modern stock in anticipation of this very weekend, and now that hype is increasing even more for the format, it may be time to start selling out. Today, I’ll be going over why I avoided the hot targets this weekend and what kind of prospects we have moving forward.

Avoiding the Noise

The tournament started with Draft, which is my favorite part of pro tours, but not wake-up-at-3:00-a.m. favorite. So I missed the sweet BTT action, but managed to tune in in time to hear whisperings of Matthias Hunt’s deck, the Amulet of Vigor combo deck. Indeed, as a QS Insider, we knew before anyone else what Matthias was playing. I decided to stay away from Amulet this time, but I’m impressed by QS’s diligence in getting early info out to all of us.

I stayed away from Amulet for a few reasons. First, the card already spiked from bulk to $2.00 a few months ago. The time to buy in, in my mind, was back then. Second, the deck is already a known quantity and hasn’t exactly taken the format by storm. Third, and most importantly, Matthias himself said that the deck folded to Thoughtseize. You know what’s already a Modern staple across multiple archetypes? Yep, Thoughtseize.

Amulet climbed as high as $8.38 for about five minutes, but is already down to $5.90. The card spiked significantly, so I may have been wrong to avoid it when I had the opportunity to buy in. But the fact is that I just don’t believe in the card or the deck. It’s weak to a universal staple. It’s true that a card doesn’t have to be good to make you money. But if you’re like me, with limited ability and willingness to invest in cardstock, you want your buys to count. This just didn’t fit the bill for me. And it’s worth noting that the highest buylist price on Trader Tools is still only $2.26.

The new Blue Moon deck, which saw one pilot into the top eight, was certainly making waves throughout the tournament. On Friday, I tweeted about the possibility of Blood Moon being a decent buy, and as it turns out, it did go up several dollars. It was probably worth buying your copies for personal use, but I decided against speculating on the card mainly due to its many, many printings. It’s also the type of card that is only good in a metagame unprepared for it. Paradoxically, the more people that play this deck, the less good the deck is. That doesn’t seem like a favorable situation when considering a spec.

Finally, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir spiked from under $10 to around $30. This was due to one-of play from the Blue Moon sideboard. I don’t know if any QS Insiders bought in to this card, but if so, let me make a suggestion for the future: one-of sideboard cards are generally not highly profitable. Then again, Teferi can be buylisted to Mythic MTG for $22 right now, which completely blows my mind. Still, I’d sell any copies you can into this hype, because even if the card starts seeing a ton of play, as a one-of, it can’t possibly maintain its current price tag. (Almost the exact same comments can be applied to Porphyry Nodes, which jumped from below $1 to $8.)

Standard Opportunities

Aaron Forsythe tweeted a telling stat shortly after the pro tour ended:

Forsythe Tweet (Anger)

At $2, I don’t think Anger of the Gods is a good cash purchase right now. It is a rare from a large set that has been drafted a ridiculous amount and will still be drafted for the next several months. But because this card is likely in many a local binder, it represents an excellent trade target. Don’t expect the price to go too crazy, but $4 or $5 seems likely, even if it takes a while to happen. From my perspective, it can take its time, because that allows me to pile away as many copies as possible! If this ever dips below $1, I think that is the point to start buying in with cash.

With Deathrite Shaman out of the format, Scavenging Ooze stepped up to fill the role of maindeckable graveyard hate. I wrote about this possibility in my article discussing banned list implications, but despite seeing quite a bit of on-camera play this weekend, the card is still at its price floor. I’m going to take this opportunity to double down on this call, and say that Ooze is well worth targeting. I’m on the fence about whether this is a cash buy just yet, but I will be trading for 100% of the copies I see in binders.

As Standard-legal cards, I think these two are excellent targets right now. They are undervalued compared to the amount of play they see in Modern, but do not see much play in Standard. As we get further away from these cards being actively opened and added to collections, expect to see their prices grow steadily over time.

Top Eight

The top eight this weekend was excellent, right? If you consider the three different versions of Combo Twin to be different decks (which is arguable, but just pretend, okay?), then we had eight distinct archetypes in the top eight. Furthermore, all were familiar, known quantities. Some may call this boring, but I call it a healthy format. I am a bit surprised to see zero copies of either Wild Nacatl or Bitterblossom in the top decks. It’s almost as if the Modern banned list has some unnecessary cards!

A healthy format like this is good for the average player—if you can find a competitive deck that suits your playstyle, you’re more likely to enjoy playing. A mix of decks in the top eight also keeps prices spread out among more cards, which helps us avoid a situation where there is one best deck. When that happens, certain cards become prohibitively expensive.

The problem, of course, is that it offers fewer buying opportunities to speculators. With all these decks being known quantities, we’re not going to see any crazy spikes. The spikes we did see were for cards in ultimately unsuccessful decks, meaning that less money will likely be earned by buyers.

And you know what? That’s okay. Don’t make bad purchases just because it’s a major event and you’re determined to buy something. This is a surefire way to lose money. We all want to find awesome opportunities, and in some cases, we may be able to create them ourselves. But buying into cards like Nivmagus Elemental or Amulet of Vigor on day one of a pro tour, after one or two match wins, is just risky behavior.

I like to look at what cards didn’t spike during pro tour weekend, despite seeing success. Birthing Pod and Spellskite both saw a significant amount of play, but didn’t really see any bump in price. Both of these cards have doubled up or better in the past six months, so picking them up is not without risk, but both have a little more room to grow.

The card that intrigues me the most, though, is Arcbound Ravager. This is a key card in Affinity—one of the reasons to play the deck, really. It’s always a four-of and is at its historical floor. Before being reprinted in Modern Masters, it was getting close to $30, but now retails for around half that. If Affinity takes down a major tournament at any point, I expect a significant jump on this card. Keep an eye on the price to see if it dips further, and keep your other eye on tournament results to see if Affinity keeps performing. This probably won’t jump over night, but when it does, it will be big.

I hope you enjoyed the pro tour this weekend. Have some ideas for good pick-ups that I missed? Share them in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Insider: Deafening Speculation

  1. Both ravager and glimmervoid are at all time lows where as mox opal is at an all time high according to mtgstocks. New bng and rogue decks took a lot of attention from speculators making robots ripe for picking.

  2. Affinity gets top 8 consistently.

    Why are steel overseer, etched champion, blinkmoth nexus, glimmervoid, arcbound ravager, … still so ‘cheap’?

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