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Insider: What Not to Buy

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Welcome back Speculators! Today's article was inspired by a statement from Kelly Reid. He discussed the fact that because Quiet Speculation is not store-affiliated we can actually tell you not to buy cards.

Going through my articles I realized I hadn't really touched on this subject much. We like to harp on the cards that people should buy because they are at a good price, but we don't really mention the ones that are overpriced and shouldn't be touched (or unloaded if you have them).

First off, the easiest ones.

Standard

Brimaz, King of Oreskos

This card's average is $32, but the low is down to $24 or so on TCG Player. I have yet to see actual demand for this card from most players and everyone I know seems hellbent on unloading them as soon as possible. It isn't showing up in SCG top 16's anywhere.



The current price is likely due to price memory. If you have them and aren't playing them, unload them. It's unbelievable that this card is above $30 and has yet to play a major part in any Standard deck (or find a home in Modern).

Garruk, Caller of Beasts

This card's current price of $21 is also difficult to explain. It's occasionally a one-of in some G/R Monster decks and is a hit with the casual players (he's pretty good in EDH as a card advantage machine).



Being printed in M14, there aren't likely to be nearly as many copies as mythics from other recent sets (save Dragon's Maze). He will likely be reprinted in M15 (along with Chandra, Pyromaster) and his price will drop by 25-40%.

Either way, I wouldn't hold onto any, though I wouldn't be opposed to picking them up when he is spoiled in M15.

Archangel of Thune

This card is yet another example of a card with a high price tag and almost no actual appearances in top 16's. It is part of an infinite life combo seen in some Melira Pod decks (one that doesn't require the graveyard). It is a mythic angel with a cool ability.



It could be reprinted in M15, but may not be as much of a shoe-in as Chandra/Garruk. After rotation I expect this card to follow the path of Sublime Archangel (which also had only one printing at mythic in a core set and sits at $7.50).

Jace, Architect of Thought

This card already took a hit when the duel deck was announced. Jace, Memory Adept has already seen three printings so Jace AoT could well be reprinted in M15 to replace Memory Adept.



If he is, expect him to drop further. His current price of $16 will likely drop to $12-13 should he be reprinted in M15 and if not $10-12 at rotation.

Domri Rade

Currently Domri is a three- or four-of in a top tier Standard deck (G/R Monsters), but his $33 price tag is not likely sustainable and he lacks Eternal playability (not that he'll never find a home, but he hasn't yet and the liklihood is rather limited).



I wouldn't hold onto them, but I don't expect the price to start dropping until early spring (in the ever expected "impending rotation drop").

Kiora, the Crashing Wave

Another of Born of the Gods mythic that has yet to see a price drop, despite seeing virtually no play in any top Standard decks and absolutely none in Eternal (much less than Domri Rade). She has shown herself to be good against control decks (as a difficult answer that can ramp/provide card advantage), however her color combination isn't seeing much play.



She has some love from the casuals, but given how few are willing to trade/pay for her at her current price, I can only assume that her price will eventually drop to the price point that they will pay (my guess is $12-14).

Modern

Karn Liberated

Karn is currently a mainstay in the Tron decks of Modern, but those decks have been pushed to Tier 2. It is a third set mythic, colorless, and a planeswalker that can fit into almost any EDH deck. It has a high likelihood of being reprinted and I haven't seen a ton of demand for him anymore.



The high spread between TCG mid and TCG low shows that people are having to drop the price by quite a bit to actually sell him.

Fulminator Mage

While an excellent sideboard card, this card sees little play outside of that and even then only in a few decks. It is the most expensive card in Shadowmoor (by far), but the fact that it's only a sideboard card in a few Modern decks (Jund and Living End) and somehow sits at $40 befuddles me. I fully expect this card to be reprinted simply because of its price.


Mox Opal

While Mox Opal is a four-of in a Tier 1 Modern deck (and Tier 2 Legacy deck), its current price of $60 leaves little room for more growth. I think it will eventually hit $70, but the total gains aren't worth the high initial investment.



If you are going to play Affinity this Modern season, you need to get them now (as there is little chance of a reprint beforehand), but if you aren't this is not a good investment opportunity.

Steel Overseer

Another Affinity staple--unfortunately this is one isn't mythic and isn't played in anything else. It doesn't show up in Legacy Affinity lists so it's limited to Modern appeal. The ability is still good for some casual decks. At $10 each I don't see this guy going too much higher, even if Affinity has a few more good showings.


Batterskull

This one was a good call, until all the GP promos started hitting the market. It is a Legacy staple (albeit a one-of) from a third set but its current price of $25 is too high to invest in. It might see minor gains throughout the season if the GP promos aren't enough to satisfy demand, especially since some of the Modern decks run several copies.


Bitterblossom

This card is still inflated from its unbanning. Price memory keeps the current price higher than it should be based on its lack of success in the tournament scene. It hasn't done particularly well at any major events, but the fact that people paid $70+ for it just a month ago means that many are unwilling to accept it was a poor investment and sell them off.



Its current price of $57 is still higher than it should be. I would expect it to eventually drop to sub $50. Should it show up in the Modern event deck, I'd expect the price to drop more (say $35-40).

Legacy

Dark Depths

While it is a rare in Coldsnap (which means there are likely far fewer of them than most other newer rares as the set didn't do so well), it's a one- to two-of in Legacy Lands decks and it's banned in Modern. The high cost of Legacy Lands usually keeps the number of potential pilots to a minimum. It recently spiked when Lands did well at a few SCG events and its price memory is still inflated from this spike.


23 thoughts on “Insider: What Not to Buy

  1. Love this article concept, David. Great write-up and I agree with all your suggestions.

    Most of these suggestions are risk-averse by focusing mainly on Standard and fading Modern strategies. I would challenge the two of us to think about cards which may be ON everyone’s radar for acquisition but perhaps SHOULDN’T be. For example, can you really advocate buying into Celestial Colonnade here now that it’s $20+? Can Man Lands really achieve higher prices? (This requires further thought, but just an example).

    1. You can honestly thank Kelly for the idea (he didn’t suggest it, but he made a comment regarding the fact that since QS isn’t a store we can tell you what NOT to buy instead of just what to buy)…I figured I hadn’t really ever done that before (I do like that Matt Lewis covers that with his “Fully Priced” segement in his MTGO articles).

      1. You get the credit for writing it, though. I just thought people should be aware that they’ll never get actual unbiased advice from finance writers on sites that exist to take your money in exchange for magic cards.

  2. I definitely agree that it’s current price is not based solely on standard play. But I think Sublime Archangel is a perfect comparison (1 of printed (in a core set), mythic angel, with cool casual appeal). Both cards were (are in) the $25-30 price range while in standard, but sublime is now $7.50. If you want to keep yours, you’re welcome to do so, but this card will plummet when it rotates out…I still think it’ll likely be in the $8-10 range (again using Sublime as a yardstick), but if you can unload it now for $30 you can buy it back for >$10 in 7-8 months.

    1. I have rarely traded in the last 3 months, but when i have, every casual player i know asks if i have archangel of thune.
      sublime isn’t a fair compairison.
      Its 5/10x better in edh and casual decks.
      This is better then avacyn as far as my locals are concerned.
      I agree the price has room to fall, but how much m14 was actually opened? There is little to no standard demand, and i can’t see how the price falls more then 10$

      1. It could very well be do to different markets, but not one person at GP Richmond, SCG ATL, or any of my LGS’s has asked me for an Archangel of Thune in the last 3 months. I think M14 is likely opened as much if not more than M13 was, but I do agree that Archangel is is better than Sublime…but come rotation, I expect this to drop a lot…likely down to $15 right before/at rotation and maybe a little farther after awhile. I think $10 for a mythic angel that sees minor play outside of modern and mostly in casual decks is pretty fair (and that price acknowledges that it’s better than Sublime).

    1. I don’t doubt that he’ll rotate in/out of favor, but most modern “Naya” builds are aimed at doing a lot of damage really quickly…turn 3 Domri (while a decent play) is not killing your opponent. If more of a “boss” naya deck comes along I can see him finding 1-2 spots in it, but currently his price is almost strictly due to standard. I can see him dropping to $15 at rotation.

    1. I hadn’t seen that list yet..thanks for pointing it out..I will say that I don’t see what he really adds to Death and Taxes (except a decent threat at the 3 drop slot…should they tick the vial up to 3). I’d rather have Mangara as he provides inevitability, though he’s not very aggressive and serves more as an “out” to troublesome permanents than a real threat…

      1. Didn’t get to watch it- to late – but would have been interesting to hear Chapin’s and Sullivan’s take on it. Might try to watch later. Did see the Aluren matches and see replay of Cedric’s Painter deck with Jaya Ballard getting face time and props from Chapin though.

  3. i love this article David, what to pass on is at least as important as what to buy. i will say, if you know your market some of these still make descent plays (angel fans, cat people) the cat people are at BW if you are looking to trade.

  4. This article is exactly why I am an insider, very insightful and a lot of the non-standard cards mentioned we’re at some point or another on my radar (as possible pick-ups during Dec-Jan) but I never made a move. Now seeing this shows these windows are clearly gone and to look elsewhere (ScOoze longterm *cough cough*). A few of these cards we’re sold spec had you picked them up last sept/oct (modern) but the window is clearly gone. As an idea for a future article I wouldn’t mind some “rotation theory” in regards to what to wait on, and what to pick up as I have not experienced that being newer to the game. Looking forward to reading more articles from you in the future David!

    1. Thanks Mason. Glad you enjoyed it. Some of these were definitely picks up 6-8 months ago (looking at you Karn/Mox Opal). It’s important to understand that even if all modern cards go up in value…some will go up by a higher % of their buy-in price (these are the ones you want to focus on)…after all if 2 cards both go up by $2 but one cost $5 to buy in and the other cost $10 you can buy twice as many of the $5 card as the $10 card so your profits are twice as much. I only bring this point up because I even think Mox Opal still has some room to grow, but it’s close enough to it’s ceiling that your limited investment capital shouldn’t go towards it (unless you need it to play).

      1. That makes perfect sense. I have never looked at spec’s side by side in that regard before, when your making money regardless it’s hard to see “hidden” opportunity costs like in the example you listed above (it all adds up). I’ll start adding that into my spec equation when deciding how many cards to pick up on a particular spec while (still) making sure to diversify!

  5. I’ve never really thought of Fulminator Mage as a strictly sideboard card. The versions of Living End I am used to play 3-4 in the maindeck.

    Good article idea and choices for cards, though.

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