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Insider: Legacy Staples Fallen Through the Cracks

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It’s no secret: Legacy cards are absolutely on fire! Every single Legacy staple has been on a sudden kick higher in the past couple weeks, and it all started with a couple price bumps for dual lands and Ancient Tomb.


The trend has been unstoppable, and in many cases there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. After all, when you look at last week’s top movers on mtgstocks.com, you find many Legacy movers in the mix. From Reserve List staple Volcanic Island to speculation target Food Chain, it seems every Legacy card that has seen play lately has also jumped in price.

Even foils like Ponder and Rest in Peace have jumped significantly in the past week. The upward trend must be making some people a lot of coin.

Foil Rest in Peace

Initial Reactions

When I first discovered this massive demand spike in Legacy prices, my first instinct was to track down any cheap copies of hot cards on the internet. Guess what? I didn’t find many. Turns out the speculation engine has accelerated its reaction time. Opportunities to buy cards as they spike are harder and harder to find.

I did manage to obtain a few MP/HP dual lands, as well as a couple foil Rest in Peace. But my success rate was far below 10%. Most of the time I looked for a hyped Legacy staple, none were available at the old prices.

Clearly it’s time to modify my strategy.

A Different Thought Process

When Star City Games increased their buy prices on Volcanic Island and Underground Sea many people reacted in a perceptive way. Rather than chase prices higher, the consensus in the MTG finance community was to pursue the dual lands which hadn’t yet spiked: Tropical Island being the primary target.



The logic being that the rest of the MTG universe may have focused so heavily on SCG’s targets that they momentarily neglected other duals. The idea had significant merit, and it’s no surprise that all other dual lands have risen significantly in price since. But now the opportunity is largely removed.

The strategy can be reapplied. With Legacy price increases on a tear, perhaps there are some solid targets that haven’t spiked as much but are likely to in the near future. They say rising water lifts all ships, and this is yet another situation where this phrase applies.

But we can’t just go and buy something obvious like Force of Will. It’s simply too obvious. The same goes for Wasteland. These have both already spiked to record highs! (although they may be pulling back slightly…)

Force

Waste

To take advantage of this format-wide price increase, we’ll need to think a bit more outside the box. Perhaps there are some Legacy cards which are played a little bit less frequently, but are still recognized as staples nonetheless.

Identifying Targets

This is easier said than done. When even something obscure like foil Wear // Tear spikes to over $10, you know you’ll have to think very critically to find opportunities.

How about something like foil Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration? There are a couple dozen copies of this foil on TCG Player, starting at around $10. How in the world is this card worth the same as foil Wear // Tear?! Sure, Wear // Tear was in the massively under-opened Dragon’s Maze as an uncommon and not common, but let’s be real here. Delver is played about twenty times more than the sideboard spell. Foil Delvers will eventually go higher.

Not into foils? How about Counterbalance? The card took a massive beating when Abrupt Decay was printed, for obvious reasons. But it would appear the uncounterable removal spell isn’t enough to prevent the Counter-Top combo from disrupting top tables at Legacy events. There were a full three Miracles decks in the Top 8 of SCG Charlotte a week ago.

Speaking of Miracles, what about Terminus?


The miracle board-sweeper is definitely a Legacy staple, yet the card is about one-fourth its peak price. When Terminus rotated out of Standard its price tanked. But it’s definitely bottoming now, and the future should yield steady upside as long as Miracles is a successful Legacy deck.

I really like trading for these, and while I don’t own many yet I think the time to acquire is now. These cards will only get older, and Avacyn Restored was another set that was just not opened enough.

One last idea: Foil Creeping Tar Pit. This card has proven its worth in Legacy, yielding you an uncounterable, unblockable creature, which is quite handy against planeswalkers like Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Liliana of the Veil.

The Worldwake manland even sees occasional play in Modern, and I suspect it will only become more popular over time. Blue-black is the most powerful color combination in Eternal formats, right? Isn’t that why Underground Sea is always the most expensive dual land?

Despite all these positive characteristics, foil copies of this card only maintain the fairly average 2x multiplier over nonfoil copies. Granted there aren’t that many copies available on the internet, which means a sudden spike would be quite easy to orchestrate.

I’m not going to advocate a buyout of course, but let’s just say if this idea showed up on certain networking websites that rhyme with credit, the card will spike. If you want copies for your decks there’s no better time to buy like the present.

A New Leaf for MTG Finance

Corbin astutely pointed out in a recent posting that there are now more MTG players worldwide than World of Warcraft players at the MMO’s peak. World of Warcraft made a mainstream impact on the world.

WoW wasn’t a game just for nerds who liked dragons and spell-casting. It was enjoyed by anyone who liked popular video games. Magic is gradually becoming more mainstream, and the upcoming movie release will surely solidify this perception.

What does this all mean? Well for one, I don’t see demand on cards dropping anytime soon. I used to think that $300 Underground Seas would spell doom for Legacy. Not anymore. Now that I can crack a pack of Modern Masters and open a $200 Tarmogoyf, the cost of a blue dual land isn’t nearly as daunting.

Also, as Modern staples continue to jump in price, more players are holding collections with four- and five-digit values. Some Modern players will seek to trade their Misty Rainforests and Cryptic Commands, which they acquired for $10, into Force of Wills and Wastelands.

The result: rising demand for everything! Modern, Legacy, Vintage (have you seen the spike in Black Lotus), EDH, Casual, etc. The only format I question is Standard--not because the format will die, but because its staples will always be the newest and most readily available cards. Therefore I continue to stress that the most money to be made in MTG right now is in older cards.

Food Chain, a card which recently got fifteen minutes of fame at a SCG Open, is now a $20 card. Does it deserve this price tag? Not really, but the card is so old that only a handful of players need to speculate on the enchantment to cause a sustainable spike.

This is the future of MTG finance. We need to adapt, and learn to focus our strategies accordingly. For me, that means disproportionate investing in Modern and Legacy.

Fortunately these are also the formats I enjoy most. If I can play with the cards I’m buying, not only to later sell for profit, this is truly the best of both worlds.

Sigbuys

I want to try something new this week. Rather than merely identifying which cards are on the move, I’m going to share some of the recent purchases I’ve made. This way you will know where I’m investing my funds on a week-to-week basis. Actions speak louder than words, after all. Let me know if you like this format or prefer the Sigbits format instead.

  • Dual lands: As I mentioned before, I moved into a few duals after I saw SCG’s price bumps. Most recently I bought a played Tropical Island for $94 shipped on Card Shark and two played Underground Seas for $200 each shipped through our QS Exchange forums.
  • I managed to grab three foil Rest in Peace before they cracked double digits. $6 bought me one MP copy on TCG Player while $11 got me two more copies from Amazon.
  • SCG March Madness was very ho hum up until the 31st, when the best deals became available. My haul: 40 Leyline of Anticipation, 20 Melira, Sylvok Outcast, and 24 Mimic Vat, all for $1 each!

12 thoughts on “Insider: Legacy Staples Fallen Through the Cracks

  1. Any thoughts on JTMS? Seems like a legacy staple to me, still hovering around $100. Could it be the next $200 “power” card from legacy? If you want to play blue in legacy, you need a few Jaces.

    1. Tell that to RUG players….while I do like JTMS as a target…especially since I can honestly see him getting unbanned from Modern…since there are really only 2 decks calling themselves control…and R/W/U is more often than not “Counterburn” (and this is from someone who plays it), with Esper/Gifts control being the only true control deck. With DRS getting banned I can see them bringing back BBE and JTMS (as BBE balances him out pretty well)

      1. I still don’t see a Jace unban in Modern. He left a sour taste in MANY players’ mouths. An unbanning would likely warp the format – not completely like he warped Standard, but I don’t know if you want to suddenly make blue decks with Jace Tier 1. It would be one of those situations where if you want to play control you HAVE to play Jace-control. Leads to less diversity.

        Just my 2 cents. Of course I could be wrong.

        1. I agree that it’s by no means a “certain” type of thing because like you said…they had to ban him in standard to open up the format. However, I honestly think he’d be fine in modern. After all, with lightning bolt and lightning helix as the premier “burn spells” if you cast him and brainstorm you open up to paying 4 mana for a brainstorm and countering a 3 damage burn spell…which quite honestly seems fine. The problem I see with modern as a format currently is that it really does seem like there is no true control deck…this is why combo and hyper aggro (affinity) are the main “top” decks with a pseudo control deck (R/W/U) being good, but as I stated..it’s just Counter-burn with white most of the time. Legacy (to me) has proven to be a more fun format because all 3 main types of decks exist and can thrive (Control, Aggro, Combo)…when you only have 2/3’s of those the formats tend to stagnate faster…look at current standard, you have control vs aggro (with no real combo in site).

    2. Jace is an interesting one. He did cross my mind, but I hesitated from including him in my article. I think the reprint actually did have an impact. He could be $200 one day, but most of the crazy expensive Legacy cards are 20 years old, not 6 or however old WWK is. Even if WWK was opened in small numbers compared to other Modern sets and Mythic Rare inception, I still wonder how many copies of Jace exist vs. Underground Sea.

      I think it’s safe to say Jace’s price will only go up from here as long as he’s not reprinted again. Not being on the Reserve List is a concern though. Granted Jace will never show up in Standard again, but he could be a Judge Foil or some such.

      You can play AnT or Merfolk and not need Jaces 😛

      1. I take back the final sentence about playing blue and needing Jaces. 🙂 But, if Goyf can be a $200 card and reprinted in MM, also originally a rare, I’m thinking JTMS has to be on that same level. (I understand different applications etc. This is just my opinion of course, which is why I asked what you guys think. Just seemed like it was a big card that hasn’t spiked yet when everything around it is spiking. Almost like a “rising tide of legacy lifts all boats” theory. Let’s just say I doubt it will go below $100, so if I’m wrong, I break even.

        1. I think the long term projection on Jace is upward, but it may be a bit recent to see a major spike. Or maybe it’s just been forgotten and next week it’ll double in price. Who knows in this market, right?

          1. I think Jace’s growth has been tempered by being pushed out of the meta by TNN in Legacy. All bets are off if he becomes unbanned in Modern though.

  2. Saw someone tweeting they got their power this weekend. If Vintage Masters on MTGO increases interest and revised dual prices are approaching some P9 prices how long before Vintage Finance is a thing?

    1. Well in a way, it is a thing. Black Lotus keeps getting more expensive, as do the other pieces of Power. And I don’t see Bazaar of Baghdad dropping any time soon.

      It’s just less of a “thing” because it’s tough to really speculate on such expensive cards. On the other hand, there are much fewer copies to buy in order to coordinate a buyout!

      I suppose fear of counterfeits is also a thing to consider.

      1. I’m sure it’s possible to speculate on such cards, but I find my budget is barely sufficient even to obtain copies. I do know that any Legacy/Vintage card that’s really old and expensive that I own has proven to be a good investment. I feel priced out of obtaining Power :(.

  3. I Agree on duals! Its like I have ca$h in the binder , everyone wants it.

    If you can afford, grab the alpha and beta versions , they are disappearing from existence.

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