Modern season has finally arrived, and now all of our cool cards will spike and we’ll be able to make some big money. $100 fetchlands are back and everything else is coming along for the ride.
This graph is not alone. Across the board, Modern staples like Restoration Angel or Birthing Pod are actually still dropping in price. How can we explain this, since the notion of “card prices going up in season” has always held true before?
I have a theory. And while it starts with some bad news, it gets better before the end, I promise.
It began with Modern Masters. Demand for Modern cards began to spike. The MTGFinance subreddit also took off and pushed some truly random cards up in price, and like that we were off to the races with Modern prices.
Things finally came to a head in Richmond when fetchlands hit $100. I talked last week about how this was an important mental turning point for people, and it would seem that this sentiment extends beyond just the fetches.
I advised getting rid of fetchlands at the $100 Richmond peak, but I sure didn’t expect the rest of Modern to follow suit and trend downward. This is the first time in modern Magic history that we’ve seen card prices go down in-season. I’ll repeat that: This has never happened before. PTQ seasons used to be very predictable. Extended staples would blossom in the first few weeks of the PTQ season before falling off at the end and for the rest of the calendar year.
The takeaway from the trend this season is that demand for Modern is being driven not by the hardcore PTQ grinder crowd, but by the larger Magic community. That includes players who want to go to a Grand Prix because it’s the big Magic convention that comes around every few years but don’t want to drive across state lines to hit up multiple PTQs.
So I’ll make a bold claim that’s been gnawing at the back of my mind for a couple of months now, even though I’ve pushed it off because it goes against all precedent: Modern prices are not going up anytime soon.
If PTQ season isn’t enough to even stop downward trends, what is enough to make Modern prices rebound? We’ll get to that in a bit, but the important thing for now is the question of how to handle our Modern stock for the next few months.
Like many of you, I have piles of Restos and Pods and Scars fastlands and Kitchen Finks. Four months ago, even amidst the run-up of cards across the board, I thought Modern season would lift all of these. That was the clear time to sell as prices would skyrocket.
Except it hasn’t happened.
Now, maybe it will. Maybe I’m wrong and the market is simply lagging a bit. But I seriously doubt that at this point, and I’m more convinced every day that goes by and MTGStocks doesn’t change.
Prices on these staples aren’t going up in the next few months. On the contrary, they’re headed lower as we get out of PTQ season and into the rotation waiting game. We’ll see plenty of movement on Standard cards in that time, and all anyone will be talking about is how their cool new deck is insane after rotation or how awesome the mechanics are.
The one thing they won’t be talking about is Modern. And prices are going to feel it.
Now for the *
There won’t be a freefall. The bottom isn’t sinking beneath us. But the tide has stopped rising, and that means we won’t be seeing the growth we want. Prices will continue to drift downward without tanking, and it’s probably not a great idea to sell off your entire Pod deck with the expectation of it being half the price six months from now because I told you it was time to sell.
The reason comes down to opportunity cost. You will be able to reacquire these cards in six months at prices lower than current numbers(^), so there’s nothing wrong with taking your profits and having that money available for the typical rotation plays.
And if you haven’t, you should most definitely sell your fetchlands.
Now the ^ and the Future of Modern
I don’t want all that to come off as doom and gloom; it’s simply how I see the market right now. So let’s move onto some happier news.
First, Modern is not dying. The format is great, Wizards continues to support it, players continue to play it and that’s not changing. But it is in a lull for the next few months, until the next catalyst for growth comes along.
Which is where the ^ comes in. In terms of newfound growth, there are exactly two things that will make this happen. The first is the announcement/release of Modern Masters 2. I think we can be reasonably confident it’s going to happen, and I’ve always pinpointed summer 2015 as the time period where that is likely to happen.
The second is obvious, and possibly connected: the reprinting of fetchlands.
This could be in Modern Masters 2. It could be in a Standard-legal set. I don’t know where or when it’s going to happen, but if they do to fetches what they did to shocks (and I expect them to), Modern will explode again. That’s when you pick up all those specs again, because stuff like Restoration Angel or Path to Exile or Spell Snare or Razorverge Thicket will be along for the ride.
Going off of what Aaron Forsythe said of my podcast, Brainstorm Brewery (Sig covered it well here), I expect that to come sometime next year. If they surprise us and it’s in the fall set, then I’m sorry in advance for telling you these cards will be cheaper in six months. But hey, at least I included a ^ to hedge!
Anyway, we’re all speculating here of course; I’m simply confident in how I’m reading the market and know that I’m right there alongside you.
An Action Plan
Here’s how I plan on handling Modern cards at my store for the next year.
- Try to actively sell the current crop of Modern staples that are at a medium-term peak over the next few months. Don’t buy more aggressively.
- Come rotation when everyone else is worrying about Standard, I want in on Modern staples again, which I believe will be at a lower price point than currently.
- When the next catalyst comes, aggressively buy staples across the board.
- A year from now (or longer, if Wizards is that slow)? Profit.
That’s where my head is at right now. What about you?
Thanks for reading,
@Chosler88 on Twitter