Insider: MTGO Portfolio Update for February

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From time to time I like to take stock of my portfolio and see what direction it has taken recently. Most of my speculating ideas show up in my articles or the forums, but it's always good to go over the precise rationale for recent calls.

Archangel of Thune

This card's price took off at the end of January after Alexander Hayne won GP Vancouver. His U/W deck featured this card as a four-of out of the board.

MTGO prices adjusted quickly, jumping from about 12 tix to the 18-20 tix range, around a 60% increase. Paper prices took longer to find their level and are now sitting at around $30, about an 80% increase in just under 3 weeks.

Some of the timeline of the paper price increase corresponds to the addition of Born of the Gods (BNG) to the Standard format. Once BNG is released on MTGO this weekend, this M14 mythic rare could conceivably break through 20 tix.

I was quite fortunate to start buying this prior to GP Vancouver, and then I subsequently sold down into the immediate aftermath of that event. However, the trend in paper forced me to consider retaking a position. This morning the price tipped over 19 tix on Cardbot and I took that as a good sign to expect further price increases on MTGO, somewhat mirroring the paper price.

Bonfire of the Damned

This former high flier found a price floor around 6 to 6.5 tix. Although it’s not really considered Modern-playable, Brian Kibler has used it as a three-of in the sideboard of his Domri/Naya deck. It would be brought in against decks that overloaded the board with creatures such as Soul Sisters.

With the unbanning of Bitterblossom, this could see an increase in play. Although I can’t speak to the efficacy of Bitterblossom or Bonfire of the Damned in the new Modern format, the value is there as this card has been largely ignored.

As usual, downside risk is mitigated by this card's value to redeemers. As a set, Avacyn Restored (AVR) has seen steady price increases in both paper and digital. The redemption link supports prices on all AVR mythics and the high price of AVR junk mythic rares suggest that redemption demand for this set has been steady.

This was an easy buy in the 6-7 tix range. Currently it’s still at a reasonable price of about 7.5 tix. If this card shows up at PT Valencia in some fashion then it should increase to 10+ tix.

In the absence of any Modern usage, medium- to longer-term price increases will be supported through redemption. Disciple of Griselbrand, Restoration Angel, Cavern of Souls and Craterhoof Behemoth continue to see price strength in both paper and digital. This will help to eventually bring the price of Bonfire to a just profitable level of around 9 tix.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

This wasn’t unbanned in Modern and the price has come off a few tix in the past 10 days. The rationale for buying this one is unchanged though.

Interest in Legacy and Vintage will increase as we get closer to the release of Vintage Masters in the summer. In the short term, there will be a seasonal dip in price over the coming weeks as players shift interest towards the release of Born of the Gods (BNG) and the Standard format.

Liliana of the Veil

This one dropped hard as a result of the Deathrite Shaman banning. I wrote about why I liked it in the 58-64 tix range in both an Insider Alert and my article last week.

Prices have firmed up and are now stable in the 65 to 68 tix range. The paper price is creeping upwards, and Star City Games recently updated their price to $70.

My plan is to continue to hold this into PT Valencia, giving the pros first crack at Modern after the B&R announcement. Liliana’s place in the format should be revealed at that time. Downside risk is strongly mitigated by redemption and the rising price in paper. Any change in the outlook for paper price would increase risk and force me to reconsider holding this card.

Promo Maze's End

The peculiar nature of this mythic rare means that the Dragon’s Maze (DGM) version trades at quite the premium when compared to other junk mythic rares.

Nowhere was this more evident than when I noticed that the promo version (awarded for participating in DGM release events) was recently priced at 0.08 tix on Cardbot, compared to 3+ tix for the DGM version. The magnitude of price discrepancy between versions definitely got my attention.

Any somewhat successful Block Constructed strategy, such as decks featuring Maze’s End, should be kept in the back of your mind as Standard takes shape after a set release. If a Maze’s End archetype sees some success in Standard, the promo version should quickly close the price gap as players ignore the pricier DGM version in favor this card.

In recent days the promo price has firmed up to over 0.2 tix and the regular version has cracked 4 tix. The promo could easily go to 1+ tix if the strategy sees some uptake by Standard players.6


In January I took the opportunity to sell down my stock of M14 boosters. This was a well discussed opportunity that I think many QS Insiders took advantage of. It turned out that the optimal timing was closer to the release of BNG. Regardless, this was still nicely profitable in the ranger of 0.4 to 0.5 tix per booster.

Moving into Theros (THS) boosters is a natural switch at this point due to the structure of BNG-THS-THS drafts and their prize payouts after BNG hits the market, as well as the switch from THS to BNG in Daily Event prizes.

THS has fluctuated in the 3.0 to 3.25 tix range in recent weeks. I’d consider 3.2 tix to be the upper end where I am comfortable buying. They might see a dip over the weeekend as prerelease events fire up. The 'tix only' nature of these events means that THS booster demand will drop temporarily. Look for these to jump up to 3.3 to 3.4 tix in a couple of weeks, with further price increases after that.

6 thoughts on “Insider: MTGO Portfolio Update for February

  1. Archangel of Thune was definitely a great catch! And also a reminder that I should also pay more attention to the sideboard of winning decks.

    With some applications in Modern and a decent casual appeal, the Archangel has good chances to keep rising.

    Maze’s End is also an interesting case for me, being a mythic of a third set, being also a promo, and with such differences in price. As you discuss in the forum, the lands print in DGM makes also Maze’s End different, from a redemption point of view if I understood it correctly?

    I’ll be curious to see how the promo version evolves in the future, and especially if Maze’s End decks become viable somehow in Standard.

    1. I think the DGM version of Maze’s End, because it shows up in the land slot, is rarer than the average mythic. A couple of the forum regulars have pointed this out, and it makes sense to help explain the large discrepancy in price.

    1. Thoughtseize is a marginal card to speculate on in my opinion. Long term, you won’t lose money on it, but it will be continually opened for a number of months yet. The price history of Snapcaster Mage is probably a good guide as to what to expect from this card in the future.

  2. Took your advice, Matt. I cashed out a deck I had and rather than spending the tickets playing dailies, I went ahead and took a position Archangel of Thune. Picked up 8. Would you advise more than that?

    1. Allocating more or less capital to a position is up to the individual. But a good rule of thumb is to limit yourself to 5% or less of your total portfolio. I like Archangel of Thune, but nothing is guaranteed. Hope this helps!

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