Each week I sit down and write my article based on a single relevant topic. Often these articles relate to sudden price shifts of certain cards or analyses of recent tournaments. Researching what’s moving and shaking in the world of MTG Finance yields inspiration for the seeking writer. Thank goodness there are dozens of sites dedicated to this game, because there is always something to talk about.
This week is no exception – but there’s a twist. My research has inspired me to write on two separate topics. Since each topic alone may not be sufficient enough for a full article, however, I’ve decided to merge the two topics into this week’s column. The two are unrelated, but both are relevant right now and if one does not meet your interests, perhaps the other will. I can only hope.
The first topic on my mind this week relates to the Modern format. A few months ago, prices of Modern staples were exploding, enabling many cards to hit record highs. It appears the market overreacted because many of these same staples have pulled back notably off their highs.
Last week I showed a chart for Snapcaster Mage, and it had a very clear downward trend over the last month or so. This curved shape is not unique to Snapcaster Mage, though. In fact, many Modern staples are following a similar trajectory:
Notice how the price curve on these cards spike to an all-time high earlier this year, only to drift downward since at varying rates? The trend is quite consistent.
Shortly after Richmond I unloaded a good deal of my Modern stock despite nay-sayers exclaiming this was a reckless decision so far in advance of Modern season. As it turns out, the decision wasn’t horrible, as many buylists have dropped significantly to reflect this recent decline. I was able to buylist my set of Snapcaster Mages for $27 each, and now the top buylist is a significant percent lower.
As someone who enjoys analyzing financial trends, my natural inclination is to identify motivations for these price drops. With Modern staples, I can think of a number of driving forces.
First, the reprint fear is something speculators live with on a daily basis. Before Modern existed, I remember very few discussions about potential reprints. The phenomenon has happened from time to time, but the potential was not a driving force for investing. I actively acquired Legacy staples ranging from Force of Will to Carpet of Flowers and everything in between without even thinking of reprint implications.
Now that WOTC has created this in-between Modern format designed to be Eternal but affordable, the “R-word” gets thrown around almost every day. Even last week someone got wind of potential Convoke cards in M15 DOTP and immediately people are fearing a Chord of Calling reprint.
At the time of the Modern spike, Modern season was still a few months away. With so much unknown about future products, perhaps people were risk-averse and sold based on potential reprints.
A second factor could simply be the decline in Modern interest. Everything came to a head back at GP Richmond, where the largest constructed MTG tournament ever took place. No changes to the Banned & Restricted list last time around created no news for the format. Perhaps the stagnation and decline of Modern staples reflects a natural shifting of interests.
Finally, perhaps the trend is simply related to factors external to Magic. It is possible the summer leads to a small decline in prices simply because people are less engaged in Magic. Schools are out for the year and people are finding alternate activities.
All of these factors could be playing a role in price declines. But this should change soon.
Well, two of the three factors above will change, anyway. Summer is still here, but Modern PTQ season is just two weeks away! This will mean players will become eager to test decks at FNM’s, more Modern talk will take place, and hopefully we’ll start seeing a bounce in card prices. I fully expect such a bounce is coming, and while I can’t say a cash buy on Modern staples will always be profitable, trading for some of these repressed singles could yield reasonable gains when we enter the thick of Modern season.
Just make sure you unload them when they hit their local maxima because there could be another large sell-off at the end of this Modern season. Modern Masters 2 will be a thing, and other reprint potentials means the fear that drove prices down over the last few months will be magnified.
By this fall I hope to have virtually no Modern cards in my binder. But as we head into Modern season, staples seem like solid pick-ups.
Speaking of Solid Pick-Ups
Admittedly there was no easy transition from the Modern season topic to this one, so I am grasping at straws here.
But has anyone noticed how difficult it is to acquire Power lately? I’m seeing less and less of these cards available for sale. Last week I tweeted an observation that Star City Games had exactly four Moxen in stock – as of today that number is down to three. Two graded Mox Sapphires and an MP Mox Ruby.
A couple years ago I was able to acquire a HP Sapphire for under $400. Now this card could easily trade at $1000 (if only I had kept mine). And the trend is continuing. While Modern staples have largely pulled back lately, Power is on a tear. And with so few copies available on the open market, any increase in interest will drive prices higher.
Even buy lists are starting to gain traction and follow prices higher.
I know the Power 9 is a group of iconic, expensive cards from Magic. Most new players probably couldn’t trade their entire collection for a piece of the Power 9. As a result, this section of the article may not be relevant for all readers, but I want to emphasize this trend to drive awareness of what is happening.
Anecdotal evidence suggests to me that this trend is being driven by a small group of investors looking to control the market for Power.
Could this really be happening? Is there a small organization of people attempting to buy up enough Power to virtually control the market? It sounds like conspiracy (and not the new MTG set kind), but the rumor is certainly consistent with recent price trends. Even if this is all malarkey, the fact that Vintage Masters is driving more Vintage discussion will be a thing regardless.
I’m acting on this by putting my money where my mouth is. While I don’t expect I’ll have the resources to acquire all of the Power 9, my hope is to pick up a few played Unlimited pieces for some exposure to this market. It wouldn’t surprise me to see every part of the Power 9 over $1,000 in the next five years, and I definitely don’t want to be priced out of them completely if I can avoid it.
Summing It Up
As I opened this article, my mind is constantly bouncing back to two dichotomous MTG Finance trends. Modern staples have been drifting downward while Power 9 has been on a rapid rise. The two events are completely unrelated except for the fact they are both related to MTG Finance.
This is why I continue to love this hobby – where else can you have such a diversity of trends, experiences, and connections playing a game while still making money? I’m truly blessed to be involved in this game and to have such a strong community to enjoy it with.
And with many new adventures ahead as new products are released, I believe there’s still plenty of money to be made from the game. Here’s to a profitable Modern PTQ season and an exciting Fall Block!
- When Temple of Malady was first released, it was selling on eBay for $5.50 to $6 and retailed for $8. Now just a couple weeks later the price on these has already drifted upward and SCG is now sold out of both foil and nonfoil copies at $19.99 and $9.99 respectively. I can see nonfoils being relisted at $11.99.
- Eidolon of Blossoms is clearly a bust so far. The price on this card has tanked hard since being spoiled. But the card has seen some life of late, and copies have been getting more expensive over the last week. SCG has only 7 in stock and their price of $1.99 is actually in-line with TCG Low when shipping is included. I expect a bump to $2.99 from SCG very soon.
- Does Herald of Torment see play outside of Standard? For some reason SCG is out of stock on foil copies at $6.99, which is already greater than the usual 2x premium for foils. Not sure what the driving force is here, but it's certainly noteworthy if you could trade for a couple.