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Insider: The Revenue Review – Appraising Real Estate

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We know that lands are usually the best financial bet there is--well, before I go further, maybe we don’t all know that. I’ll explain.

Cards change, decks change and power level shifts around as the metagame changes. That makes bets on some non-core cards pretty risky. Sometimes they pay off big and sometimes a bet that looked really good like Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius flames out because they print Aetherling.

But one thing rarely changes, and that’s manabases. Something like RWU Control may not run the big dragon now or even Prognostic Sphinx next year like we’ve been predicting, but it’s sure going to runTemple of Enlightenment.

Lands have accounted for some of my best calls in Magic finance. Fetchlands, of course, paid off in a huge way for me, but even stuff like shocklands have generated some gains in the past few months.

Sure, it hasn’t been as much as we were expecting a year ago, but the price on these as a whole has ticked upwards while becoming much more in demand. So even though the price hasn’t moved as much as I would have liked, they’ve been so liquid that it has generated some solid turnover for me.

That brings us to the topic of today’s article. There are several cycles or individual lands that we should develop a strategy for going forward. After all, there promises to be a shakeup or two in the next year along these lines, so planning in advance is key.

Let’s start at the top.

Fetchlands



Scalding Tarn. Misty Rainforest. To a lesser extent the other three.

Talk about a rollercoaster ride. We’ve seen these go from nothing to basically a million dollars and back down again. The question is, what now?

When the big run-up around GP Richmond came, I advocated for selling out of your fetches if you didn’t need them for Modern season. I didn’t realize then just how right I was going to be. It seems like the hype drove the price up, but the incredibly important psychological barrier of $100 broke that trend. The blue ones hit $100 in the wake of the event, and we’ve seen a steep decline since.

We’re in Modern season now and beginning to see the prices stabilize, but I seriously doubt they’re going to climb back up to Richmond levels. The reason, I believe, is twofold:

  • People know a reprint is coming, if not exactly when. People have prepared for this Modern season with that in mind, and no one is rushing to buy fetchlands right now because no one wants to pay $100 for a card that could be reprinted en masse and be $20 a year from now. That eats up the demand.
  • And as I mentioned above, that $100 pricepoint took care of the supply. Remember our old friend Jace hit $100 in Standard before it too hit the breaking point. Psychological barriers are a thing real when it comes to money, and when you can out a fetchland for a c-note people decide it’s worth it. This is why we saw original duals jump again recently, because it suddenly became really easy for newer (than 1995) players to trade into them. If fetches are $100, Tropical Island won’t be $120.

So where are fetches going from here? I have no knowledge of when the reprint is coming, and while I’m extremely confident it won’t be in Magic 2015 (fetches/shocks in Standard together aren’t happening folks), I’m not sure if they will debut in the fall or not.

So the play now, if you still have fetches, is to hold them through Modern season to see if the PTQ format will stimulate demand a little and bring prices back up. If it does, sell. If it doesn’t, sell anyway in 30-45 days. The way I see fetches is they’ve probably already made you money, so take your profits and live like the rest of the 99% until the reprint comes.

Shocklands

As I mentioned, we’ve seen some incremental gains on these. I think a confluence of factors (mostly Modern season moving into the summer) really dented the ability of these to rebound like we expected last year. That said, I’ve still done well on this investment since then and am happy with the result.

Of course, the only question with shocklands is “what about rotation?”

That’s an extremely loaded question, but one I will attempt to answer. We have a few things to consider:

  • Fetchlands stayed somewhat even in the months beforehand, but didn’t drop a dime on rotation as expected, which you can see in this graph. They climbed slowly for a year or so and then exploded on the announcement of Modern.
  • People are more savvy now. I don’t think shocks, in relation, dropped as far as fetches did because of this.
  • Around this time Magic began to blow up. That explains some of this trend.
  • Modern is a known commodity, so we can’t expect shocks to follow the same trajectory of fetches.

So where does that leave us? In my mind we’ll see shocks fall maybe 10-15% since there are simply so many more in circulation. This will happen maybe a month or two before rotation, and shocks will then stagnate.

Come January, as people get over the holidays and turn their attention back to Magic, we usually see prices across the board take a small hike up. I think it’s around this time we’ll see the rebound on shocks to basically their current prices.

This will be affected by what happens with fetches. If we see the fetchland reprints in this timeframe, people will be even more likely to hold onto their shocks because they’ll have nearly everything they need to break into Modern.

My recommendation? If you have any interest in Modern, hold yours. Even a drop of 20% makes it difficult to profit from a sell-rebuy pattern. Once you factor in fees and time you’re breaking even or slightly losing money in this scenario when you go to rebuy. And I really don’t think they’ll be all that easy to trade back into since people know they need them for Modern.

Temples

Basically, I’m a big fan of all the Temples, but especially the ones from Born of the Gods and Journey into Nyx. We’ve seen all of these hold higher prices than maybe we initially expected, and that means that the upside may be a little limited, but it still exists. And like with shocks, even if these don’t take off price-wise they will be in demand, and that generates opportunities.

Mana Confluence

The decline continues, but it is slowing. This is going to settle at $9-10 in the next month and then I believe climb from there. I’m on record saying $15 is where this will end up in the next year, but I believe this is strictly a short- to medium-term spec.

It has a generic name on a riff of a card (City of Brass) that’s been reprinted a ton. This will show up in Core Set sooner or later. That limits the long-term value here, but I still like it for the next 12 months.

Soft Landings

That’s where I’m at on most of the major questions concerning lands right now, and as always real estate dominates my interest in Magic finance (there’s a reason Knight of the Reliquary is my favorite non-Merfolk card).

What do you guys think? A lot of this work is conjecture, of course, but I believe it’s about as much of an educated opinion as you can get. What are your thoughts?

 

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

11 thoughts on “Insider: The Revenue Review – Appraising Real Estate

  1. “Modern is a known commodity, so we can’t expect shocks to follow the same trajectory of fetches.”

    Why not? As more people become Magic players new people will come in who don’t have Shocks. Wizards is likely not going to reprint these again soon, so eventually supply will run out. While I don’t expect the exact same trajectory, the “known commodity” part to me suggest you are not expecting them to go up much at all?

    To me (long term) what you expect for them should be based on whether you expect Magic to continue to grow and when you expect their next reprint. I reckon “yes” and far from now and as a result I believe these are a good long term hold. I don’t expect them to go above what I am currently getting for them in bulk rares soon, so I am moving them that way, but I have no problem getting in on more if I can find a good deal as I’m happy to hold them for a while. In fact I just closed a deal on 31 more shocks (3 foils).

    (About 50% of my bulk rare deals consists of people trading for my Shocks).

    1. Because when fetches Rotated Modern didn’t exist, so there was this huge demand hole no one even knew existed. I’m definitely a long-term fan of Shocks, but they aren’t going to increase 1000% like Fetches did.

  2. To be fair, Aetherling was pretty much a dud financially too;turns out being a 1-of in a deck doesn’t do much to move prices, even if that deck is Tier 1. Dracogenius seems like he should at least hold value long term better than Aetherling though once they both rotate from Standard.

    Most of the temples can be had pretty cheap right now (depending on your pricing metric, I like to use tcg low, eBay, and cash prices), so I don’t necessarily agree with you on their upside being limited (U/W and B/G are the only ones $5+ right now, though G/W is pushing that threshold).

    Obviously their prices also depend on what lands we get in M15/Tarkir block, if any. I’m leaning towards none in M15, possibly finishing the Scars lands cycle in Tarkir or a reprint of Onslaught fetches (names seem representative of the geography of the region Khans is based on, and they go well with Scry lands). Filter lands are most likely out, as they use hybrid mana, and the Future Sight cycles have names that seem like they wouldn’t fit in with the storyline. This is all conjecture on my part of course.

  3. Hybrid mana is evergreen, in the sense that wotc feels they can use it in any set if they feel it makes sense. Doesn’t mean they WILL, so maybe it’s more “deciduous”? But we can’t ever completely rule out a reprint based on hybrid alone.

    1. I wasn’t ruling out a reprint completely. I think they’ll be reprinted at some point; MMA2 or some other special set seems the most likely. Otherwise I wouldn’t expect them for a while since we just got done with a hybrid mana set.

  4. Good stuff per usual Corbin, any thoughts on the Scars fastlands going forward? Felt like they may have been an oversight in this article.

    1. I’d like to second Jim’s comment. I’ve been banking on moving my Scars Fast Lands this PTQ season so I could free up some cash and move into a different position. I’m not saying these will necessarily peak here and then drop, but I suspect the reprint risk slowly creeps up the older these get and I’d rather take easy profits and move into something else instead of hold these a whole additional year hoping for more gains.

      What do you think here?

      1. Good catch guys, kinda glanced over them. To be honest, I have a stockpile but haven’t done any really recent research on them. I’ll look into this before next week.

      2. The fast-lands have Plane-specific names. Razorverge, Blackcleave, Seachrome, etc.. they won’t be reprinted without returning to Mirrodin, and with the fact that it’s now New Phyrexia, we might get enemy-colored fast-lands in that set instead.

        1. They could theoretically show up in a core set, as those sets aren’t plane-specific. Looks like WotC is moving from land cycles in core set to spread across the fall block in order to help sell packs, so I’d say the reprint on these is at least a couple years out (if at all), assuming they don’t show up in some special set like Commander or something else.

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