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"This is the bet you can't lose! Buy all of them and you'll win 100% of the time. Guaranty! Even your Grandma will win this one! No other investment has been any safer. It's amazing, I can't believe it, I just simply can't lose with these positions!"
Does it sound like a sketchy catchy ad for a financial scam? Does it seem too good to be true? Does a sure bet exist on MTGO?
On MTGO, if you keep yourself alert, updated and on the top the trendiest deck techs, you may probably be able to buy cards when they are cheap, and relatively under the radar, and sell them with some profits later on. And you may be right more often than not.
But is it possible to buy several cards, even without knowing what they are, and generate predictable profits? The text inside the card frame doesn't matter, the metagame doesn't matter, past and future sets don't matter.
It seems like buying all fifteen mythics from the core set a couple of days after release and selling them several months later is actually a pretty safe way to speculate.
Is it that simple? You set your brain aside and simply buy all the mythics? And it works?
Buying was relatively easy. Selling requires a bit more attention. However, if you look at the prices I bought my fifteen M14 mythics, you'll see that all of them--no exceptions--were more expensive at some point between August 2013 and April 2014, and thus had the potential to generate profits.
Recent history and charts of M12 and M13 mythics let me think that there may be some very sage investments to make here. Let's explore.
Core Set Mythics
My interest in the core set mythics started here on the QS forums. Back in July 2013, I was making some observations and data analysis to come to the conclusion that core set mythics are as close as can be to a sure bet. And nice profits could have been made by betting on all of the M12 and M13 mythics, not just +10% after six to ten months. Briefly, here is a summary of what I was saying ten months ago, which prompted me to experiment with the M14 mythics. Based on the prices history of M12 and M13 mythics, it appears that between soon after their release and January-April of the following year, both M12 and M13 mythics index experienced a very nice increase:
The index simply represent the sum price of each mythic in the set. Looking at the graphs, and in M12, for example, if you had bought one of each M12 mythic about two weeks after their release for ~73 Tix, the same 15 mythics are now, in March 2012, worth ~105 Tix. A 40% increase.
Same observation with the M13 mythics, from ~60 Tix (two weeks after release) to ~115 Tix--a 90% increase.
It appears that all the mythics are at their near their average absolute bottom about two weeks after the release of the core set. Some mythics experienced their highest during the fall, but most hit their ceiling the following winter or spring.
According to the index, selling all these cards between January and April seemed to be the best overall move.
I looked in details at the price evolution of each M12 and M13 mythic and tried to see if there was a trend that would help us predict which mythics would be more likely to generate profits and if there were losers to avoid. I compared the casting cost, the color, being reprinted or not, and the type of card.
None of the results I got led me to believe that being a Planeswalker, a blue card or even a newly printed mythic was a key factor for success. Briefly, here is what I concluded:
- Being reprinted or not doesn't affect the potential highest price a card may reach. Garruk, Primal Hunter was in M12 and M13, and the M13 version hit 20 Tix. However, reprinted cards start with a lower initial price tag, especially if they were not really played previously. Ajani, Caller of the Pride was in M13 and steadily dropped from 12 to 4 Tix. The M14 version started at 3 Tix, and finally reached 10 Tix in December. The ground was set for a nice raise (+233%).
- It was fairly impossible, with the data that I had, to predict any winner in advance. All have the potential to grow. Some mythics would explode, most would show moderate gains, and very few would drop.
- …very few would drop? Actually, it is striking that between two weeks after their release and their highest point in January-April, only three of the thirty M12/M13 mythics experienced a lower price! Ajani, Caller of the Pride being the worst with -22%. By comparison, most of the mythics from other sets do drop, and very few are profitable. In fact, there are very few losers among the core set mythics, at least during the first six to nine months.
- Fun fact: the two best raises seen among the thirty M12 and M13 mythics were from the only two mythic enchantments: Angelic Destiny and Omniscience.
If the total value of the fifteen mythics from the core set raises between their release and the following spring, and if it's pretty much impossible to be sure which one is going to go bananas, then buying all fifteen mythics is likely to be a good move.
In addition, buying an equal amount in tix of all the core set mythics is probably better than buying a fixed quantity of each mythics in order to even the profit variance.
If an expensive mythic (let's say 12 tix at release) goes down (let say by 30%), the tix loss can't be counter balanced by a junk mythic (0.5 tix) that goes up by 200%. I you buy one of each, and with these types of % results, you end up losing 2.6 tix. Whereas if you buy 12 tix of each, and with the same % results, you will end up with a profit of 20.4 tix.
Finally, according to M12 and M13 charts, I concluded that the best period to buy the core set mythics was about two weeks after their release, where prices were on average the lowest. Individually, some mythics might be cheaper later or sooner, but, as a whole, two weeks after the release of the set is likely to be the best time.
According to the prices history of M12 and M13, the best selling period would be anywhere between January and April.
To put this theory to the test, I decided to buy, in equal tix, all fifteen M14 mythics. No questions asked, no discrimination--simply buy all of the M14 mythics.
I originally wanted this investment to be about 5% of my total portfolio size (5133 tix), or about 250 tix per mythic. I quickly realized that buying 250 Tix of the junk mythics was going to be close to impossible, so I finally capped the amount at 115-120 tix. I purchased all of the mythics during the second week after the release of M14.
I was looking at prices from Mtgotraders, Goatbots, MtgoLibrary and posted some ads on the Classifeids. 90% of my purchase came from Goatbots. The speed and the quantity available on their bots, especially for the junk mythics, was a key factor here. I was buying about 50 copies of Devout Invocation, Darksteel Forge, Ring of Three Wishes and Windreader Sphinx every day! Finally, I was set with this:
For a grand total of 1782.98 tix invested. I had decided to be flexible with the selling time frame, following price trends and moving accordingly. If needed, I would sell before the estimated selling period in order to secure some benefits.
There is something fundamental that has changed from the two past years and this 2013-2014 season, and I didn't really take it into account: the Standard PT was in October this year, compared to February the past two years!
I should have adapted to this, as it is probably a large reason why most of the M12 and M13 mythics spiked around February-March in previous years, and why the M14 mythics index showed its highest, so far, to be in October 2013.
Anywho, here is the final result:
In the end, I sold all of my M14 mythics for a total of 2037.23 Tix, a 29.3% profit. A very decent number considering that during the same period, the M14 mythics index went up by about 35% (with some spikes), and considering that I brainlessly bought everything! I also didn't end up selling them during my expected selling period, selling many as they rose.
Let's drill down a bit and see how it went.
Because Ajani was kind of disappointing last year in M13, its starting price was quiet low. I was expecting a better fate for the white Planeswalker this year, and great profits considering its low price in August.
I started to sell it in November when its price rose and rushed to finish closing my position when the suspension of big events on MTGO were announced. The mimic panic triggered by the announcement didn't last long and the price of Ajani, Caller of the Pride kept rising to 10 tix.
Too bad for me, maybe with the suspension of MTGO events I would have waited longer, probably until ~8 Tix. No much more, though, to be honest.
This guy started as the most expensive mythic of the set. However, not much movement really occurred with the archangel. PT Theros was going to be a test for the archangel to me--if the archangel was not showing up in top decks, I would sell it.
So far, the 30-40% increase was based on nothing. No Archangel of Thune at all at PT Theros. I sold all my copies. That was a good move since the archangel plunged to 9 tix and only recovered in February, while I had already reinvested my tix elsewhere.
Underestimated or not, Chandra was reasonably cheap after its release. The first Standard tournament included it and she even made an appearance in Reid Duke Jund list at the GP Detroit. That was enough for Chandra to jump from 5 tix to 10 tix, then 15 tix, a finally 25 tix for Theros release. Chandra had tripled in no time.
Once again, PT Theros was going to decide if I should stick to Chandra or sell it. After a quiet disappointing show, the decision was pretty obvious, especially after having almost quadrupled.
This version of Garruk was one revelation from PT Theros. Its price moved from 8 Tix to 20 Tix in three weeks. Garruk was also the only "big" M14 mythic that clearly stabilized later, about one month after its release. That was totally expected, by systematically buying all the mythics two weeks after their release I knew that was going to overpay some of them.
Nonetheless, I sold my copies of Garruk into the hype for a comfortable 70%. When a mythic (or any card) jump from 8 to 20 Tix in three weeks, you really have to consider selling and wonder if it could actually get any better in the coming months. The choice was clear to me.
Not much action until December. The demon spiked from 3 Tix to 6 Tix. I sold only a few copies at that time, and I should have sold them all, as it was a good opportunity to double so close to my estimated finish line.
Its price went back down to 3 tix again and spiked recently, when I sold the rest of my Shadowborn Demon--maybe too soon, but I was not so sure about the ceiling of that second peak and I didn't want to wait to much.
Overall, the best move should have been to sell this position after the first spike, and maybe reinvest later on.
This is the counter example of Archangel of Thune or Shadowborn Demon. The hydra got trendy in October as well, with a spike at almost 14 tix, and finally collapsed down to 4 tix. Unlike the demon and the archangel, there was no redemption for the hydra, and I got stuck all the way with them until I close the portfolio.
Liliana of the Dark Realms, Primeval Bounty and Jace, Memory Adept
These three cards got some ups and downs and I never felt that I had a good opportunity to sell. I stuck to my plan and waited for spring. So nothing fancy here--Jace and Liliana ended up with a slight profit and the green enchantment finished in the negative, right before Journey into Nyx revitalized it, with some constellation tricks I guess?
This dragon was never a true junk mythic, and stayed mostly flat around 1 Tix. His fate could have been different without Stormbreath Dragon. Still the time for the M14 mythic dragon never came and I sold my copies and the end of the experiment with a 25% loss.
I consider this card as a junk mythic, despite its price generally being around 1 tix. Actually, its price reached the junk status a little bit before Theros release. Nonetheless, the price Rise of the Dark Realms crossed the 1 tix value line often enough so I was able to sell couple of copies over several months for a nice 37% profits in the end.
Devout Invocation, Ring of Three Wishes, Darksteel Forge and Windreader Sphinx
These four junk mythics never did anything. They were fluctuating around 0.5 tix, my buying price. If I was able to sell some copies above 0.5 tix, it was near impossible to move more than 200 copies of each card at a better price. I had not placed great hopes in these positions and they confirmed it. Moving that many cards in such a short period of time (the two/three last weeks of April) negatively affected the price.
Teachings and Perspectives for M15
This experiment was overall a success. Beyond this fact, I think several aspects of this experiment can be modified to be even more successful this year with M15 mythics.
Tix Distribution and Junk Mythics
I will not buy hundreds of copies of junk mythics. Buying 4 or 5 x 250 cards is okay--selling them at a decent price is a nightmare and takes hours and hours.
In this experiment here I stuck to my rule of buying the same tix worth of all mythics. In the future I would suggest to modify this a little bit. I would cap the maximum copies at 50 units.
That is what I will do for M15. Whatever my budget will be for M15 mythics, I will spread it as evenly as possible among the fifteen mythics, but I won't buy more than 50 copies of any card.
The extra tix not spent on the junk mythics will be redistributed for the "regular" mythics. In M14, this would have capped to 50 the four junk mythics, Rise of the Dark Realms, and Scourge of Valkas.
I would keep buying about two weeks after release, as it was the best timing and also made things easier.
One little exception to this is for the junk mythics. I bought mine at 0.50 tix on average and 0.67 Tix for Rise of the Dark Realms. However, all of them dropped a little bit more and reached 0.30-0.40 Tix at some point, even the black sorcery.
For the true junk mythics, which you can pretty much identified right away, I would wait after the two weeks window to get them cheaper. Even if it was close, I would not consider Scourge of Valkas a junk mythic.
Selling. This will be the biggest difference, and it might be even trickier next time. This summer, the PT Standard will be right after the release of M15, still in the "old" Standard. M15 might be barely available on MTGO at that time. Prices might go crazy, and could be artificially high. Or some mythics could be totally useless in the "old" Standard and become stars in the new?
They should be rising and falling according the fall set and along the new Standard era. This time around I will focus only on the price. If a mythic is about to double from my buying price, I will seriously considering selling it.
Rises and Falls of The Core Set Mythics
Among the M14 mythics, some of them had two clear peaks with a fairly long dip in between: Archangel of Thune and Shadowborn Demon. Others, Kalonian Hydra or Garruk, Caller of Beasts, spiked in October-November and have been dipping until now.
The take home message here? Sell whenever you see a significant spike, and watch the metagame trends to maybe rebuy later and ride another wave.
This experiment was clearly a success.
Systematically buying all of the fifteen mythics of the M14 set two weeks after their release has proven to be a viable strategy to generate profits. With some adjustments, this way of investing could generate even more tix.
I'm definitely looking forward to repeating it this summer with M15. However, and due to another change in the PT schedule, I'll have to adjust again.
I hope that this report convinced your that the core set mythics are very valuable investments on MTGO. The core sets are special sets when it comes to speculations. They are release late in the season, as a kind of 4th set, and stay in Standard for only one year.
We'll se next week that the core set rares can be very interesting as well.
Thank you for reading.
9 thoughts on “Insider: [MTGO] Nine Months of Portfolio Management – M14 Mythics, a 100% Winning Blind Bet?”
Looks like it was a great learning experience! And your observation around the relevance of the PT format to price peaks seems astute. We’ve also seen prices on THS block staples rise after PT JOU this past weekend, despite being in the middle of release events. I don’t think price spike from the PT will make or break specs, but they definitely provide some broad guidance for when to sell.
Thanks for the comments Matt!
Spikes from the PT are already back to normal, or close to. If they don’t predict anything for the future standard, these are the card to keep an eye on. Kiora is a good example, no play or so little in standard right now but seems in all blue deck in block.
The main thing keeping me from MTGO speccing is the prospect of having to install and fire up MTGO. Uuuugh. We can only dream that one day it moves to browser-based…
From a trading perspective, firing up and running V3 isn’t so bad…
Sadly, V3 is going dark in favor of Shiny in July… and trading is HORRIBLE in the new client. I am strongly considering just paring ALL of my positions down to just boosters and mythics. The trading on the beta makes my head want to explode.
I play the beta for a long time now, and eventually, you get used to it. It’ better to change now and get used to it than to wait untill we have no other choice.
Still, the client is crap, but still better than previous clients.
Just a wonder, but does this trend happen in paper as well?
Paper is really different because prices persist really longer. On MTGO cards opened are readily available and sold, making prices low. Prices can spike fast and collapse fast as well.
It takes really longer for prices to go down in paper MTG, even when cards are overrated, on MTGO that’s rather quick, after about two weeks.
Your posts and the forum are the two reasons I still subscribe to Quiet Speculation. Great work. Great Detail. Really appreciate the work done, and hopefully my e-wallet appreciates it too.
I’m glad you can benefit from my articles and posts. You can also follow me on Twitter (@lepongemagique), although I always post my targets here on QS first.