Welcome back, readers and speculators! While I certainly enjoyed writing about non-financial stuff, this is in fact a MTG finance website so it's only right that I get back to the subject you guys and gals are here for.
Today's article will look at the financial implications of Conspiracy. I choose to write this article after Conspiracy had been tested out by players because multiplayer draft is a very novel concept, which makes it difficult to evaluate financially. When companies test the waters with new products they usually either hit big or miss wildly (guess which did which).
I applaud WoTC for trying something different. I ran a poll in our forums (and talked to local players) regarding their feelings towards Conspiracy as a whole to gauge people's thoughts on the set. We need to gauge demand to determine the likelihood that packs will keep getting cracked and singles will keep entering the market.
We've already seen that the reprinted high-dollar staples (Exploration, Stifle, Misdirection) took a nosedive in value (it was humorous to see how many copies dealers at GP Atlanta had in their case, clearly trying to unload before Conspiracy hit). But we now need to determine if they will likely stay that low or if the excitement of Conspiracy will wear off and after a bunch of reprints hit the market if they begin to dry up as demand for Conspiracy drafts dries up.
And the Results Are in...
According to the poll I ran, about 60% were the new set, and about 40% for it (with 55 votes so the margin of error is probably pretty high--maybe +/-5%).
To be honest I expected it to be a lot more lopsided, based on talking to our local player base. The consensus seems to be that the drafts are fun, but because it's only one game played they are very short and people suffer more from the natural variance inherent in Magic (mana flood and mana screw being pretty common). There are several different deck archetypes , but quite honestly not a ton (R/x defenders, U/W flyers, Mono-green beats are the ones I've seen the most).
What Does This Mean?
A decent number of players do enjoy the draft style and will continue to draft. What this means is that the average value of the rares will continue to drop as more and more get opened. This also means that we aren't at the price floor for almost anything out of the set, so if you start buying in now be prepared to lose some more money.
It is important to note, though, that while a decent percentage of the player base does want to keep drafting it, a larger portion has already grown weary of it. This does imply that while we haven't hit the price floor yet, we will do so sooner rather than later. It is unlikely that the people who want to keep drafting it will keep opening up the desirable rares at the rate the overall player base wants (though the value per pack will likely decline to the point that it is not worth cracking packs just for the chase rares).
We should also keep in mind that the new core set comes out in a little over a month, which is a standard 3x pack draft format, which will likely pull away some of the people who would have Conspiracy drafted. We saw a similar thing happen with Modern Masters (though in a much more compact time frame).
The first couple of weeks after Modern Masters released, as more product kept getting cracked, the price of the rares in the set continued to drop. Supply dried up quickly afterwards and cards started to stabilize. Demand began to increase as WoTC kept pushing the format and the prices began to rise again.
So my list of potential spec targets from Conspiracy are:
- >Exploration - This is a casual all-star and it does see some Legacy play in Enchantress and Lands.
- Stifle - A Legacy all-star whose popularity waxes and wanes depending on how popular the tempo decks in the format are.
- Misdirection - Another Legacy card with a demand curve similar to a roller coaster. It sees play in some Sneak and Show builds as well as the Omnishow builds (pretty much acting as a fifth and/or sixth Force of Will in counter wars).
- Pernicious Deed - This is one of the few cards on the list that's both a casual and a Legacy favorite. It sees play in Rock style decks (most often Nic Fit) but also finds a home in almost every GBx EDH deck that can fit it in. It serves as an excellent rattlesnake style card (i.e. one that tempts people to leave you alone), is a mana-efficient sweeper, and doesn't hit your (or anyone's) planeswalkers.
- Council's Judgment - This newcomer is proving it can fit into Legacy as a "better" Oblivion Ring, given they don't get the card back ever (unlike O-ring which can be removed) and it doesn't target so it can hit Legacy's problem child True-Name Nemesis (as well as Progenitus). Luckily, for us speculators it tends to be a one- or two-of, so the early on set demand should be more limited, thus allowing the cards price to settle low before starting its eventual climb.
- Realm Seekers - This is my pick for casual favorite from the set. It's green (EDH's strongest color), has a decent mana cost for EDH, can be massive against the players who like to draw tons of cards, and most importantly allows us to search for any land. There are so many powerful utility (Yavimaya Hollow) or big mana (Gaea's Cradle) lands that the ability to tutor them up for three green is huge.
- Mirari's Wake - This is just one of those cards that never stays in my trade binder for more than two weeks. This one came in at mythic so the price of the original should remain relatively steady (though it has dropped some upon the reprint spoiling). Green-white tends to be the "big mana" color combination in EDH along with pure green, so a card that helps that play style along will always have demand.
- Scourge of the Throne - It's a mythic dragon that gives you a free additional attack step, so long as you attack a specific person(s). The fact that it's mono-red also means it can fit into a larger number of potential decks (being mono-colored is always helpful when it comes to EDH specific cards).
- Altar of Dementia - This card's only other printing was in Tempest and it's typically one that a lot of people don't know about, but once they see it in action they really want it. This provides a mana-free/instant speed/colorless sac outlet that can serve as a win condition. I play a copy in every EDH deck with a lot of creatures for that exact reason. It's especially good in decks that pump creatures for a turn or two (Ezuri/Márton Stromgald/Kamahl) as you can attack/kill one opponent and then sacrifice everyone to mill out another (Just beware of targeting decks with Eldrazi). It also serves as a way to punish decks that wrath repeatedly. I love it's current super low price as I expect once Conspiracy demand dies down this will easily be back up to $5-6.
- A Grixis Painter deck made top 4 of the SCG Invitational. This is a pretty off-the-wall build and it probably had a lot of suprise factor going for it. However, there were a lot of Legacy rounds for the Invitational against a lot of very talented players, so this deck's top 4 spot is not something to dismiss. It's almost a Grixis "hate deck" with a combo finish; you've got Countertop lock and Ensnaring Bridge main with a Magus of the Moon and Meekstone in the board, and you throw in a couple ways to tutor up Painter and Grindstone. I like how he didn't devote the main part of the deck to the combo, but instead included it as a "once we've run each other out of resources I can just auto win". The maindeck Nihil Spellbomb serves as a way to mill through Emrakul's (with the triggers all on the stack you can remove everything with the spellbomb.
- A U/R Delver deck made top 16 of the SCG Open running four Searing Blood in the board (which is a spectacular hate card against Elves and Death and Taxes).
- It's nice to see a Death and Taxes deck adopt both Council's Judgement and Armageddon (old school tech) in the board.