This weekend will see the Pro Tour stop in Valencia with the constructed portion covering the recently shaken-up Modern format. Both speculators and players are keenly interested in the direction the format takes, so keep your eyes out this weekend for breakout decks and strategies.
In the meantime though, keeping tabs on the rest of the market reveals some interesting trends occurring with the set prices from Innistrad (ISD) block. The most recently rotated Standard sets are generally good buying opportunities in the Fall, and the evidence that has piled up over the last few months broadly confirms this strategy.
The Third Set Effect
Right now, hands down, it looks like Avacyn Restored (AVR) was the set to tie your horse to back in October. It has continued to march higher both in paper and digital.
The link between paper and digital is particularly evident during the first week of January. From December 31st to January 11th, TCG Mid for AVR went from $153 to $170, an 11% increase. There was a bit of a lag on MTGO, but the set was 11% higher than its December 31st price by the 14th of January, jumping from 114 tix to 126 tix in that time frame.
The chart below plots the price changes of a complete set of AVR in both paper (using TCG Mid prices) and on MTGO (using Supernova prices). Price changes are plotted as percentages relative to prices on October 10th, 2013.
The third set effect looks to be alive and well, and with cards like Griselbrand, Craterhoof Behemoth, Cavern of Souls and Restoration Angel, there's no shortage of Modern and Legacy staples in this set to drive demand. With Vintage Masters on the horizon, PTQs returning to MTGO in advance of Modern season, and gains in paper expected to continue, the outlook for cards from this set continues to be positive.
A Surprise Hit
The middle set of ISD block, Dark Ascension (DKA), has seen impressive gains on MTGO. Similar to AVR, it’s about 60% higher than it was back in early October, with about half of that gain coming since the start of January.
These gains have been a surprise to me. Based on the relative price of DKA in paper, I did not expect the digital version of DKA to see such high prices.
Unlike AVR though, it appears as if the gains have recently stalled out. Without being supported by a rise in paper prices (a trend that only just seems to be getting under way), future price increases will be muted for the digital version of this set. A digital copy of DKA is quite pricey compared to the paper equivalent.
Lastly, the price trends of ISD tell another story altogether. It shows a much more volatile price than the other two sets in the block. The big jump in December and January came on the back of Jund’s strength in Modern, with Liliana of the Veil being a key role in that deck, helping to drive the price of ISD sets up by 40%.
What’s happened since that time is interesting. We all know the recent Banned and Restricted announcement shook up Modern and for the moment it looks like Liliana will be riding the bench more than she used to. The market has driven her digital price down by about 25% in recent weeks, and the effect is visible in the Supernova set price for ISD. From a peak of 149 tix on Jan 21st, ISD now goes for 133 tix as of today, February 20th.
Over that same time period, we see that the TCG mid price for a set of ISD has gone from about $175 up to about $200 as of today. The recent price drop on digital ISD sets combined with the paper price increase has made ISD much more attractive to redeemers. Compared to DKA and AVR, ISD is the best value proposition at the moment.
Once redeemers start to get busy, we should see prices for ISD stabilize and then move higher. This will be most evident in the price of junk mythic rares.
Currently Mirror-Mad Phantasm is priced at 0.55 tix. As this card and other junk mythic rares start creeping up closer to 1 tix, you’ll know that redeemers will have been siphoning supply out of the digital economy. The value of redeeming sets of ISD in advance of Modern season will be too tempting for them to ignore.