Speculating on booster packs have been primarily considered as a slow and quiet way to bring in profit on MTGO. Price movements happen to be fairly predictable, especially if you are paying close attention to prize pay-out structures. Risks are pretty low since prices usually fluctuate within a +/- 20% range.
In these recent years, competition has intensified between bots, which has caused the spread between buying and selling prices to narrow down to few cents of Tix, allowing speculators to increase previously slim margins when speculating on boosters.
With MTGO speculating, in-print booster packs are analogous to high quality bonds. These digital packs are in steady demand, they are highly liquid and their prices are stable compared to digital singles.
Recently, WotC engaged into an effort to help stabilizing in-print booster prices in the secondary market and showed that it would not hesitate to adapt the prize pay-outs to maintain prices of draftable boosters as homogeneous as possible. The idea is that awarded boosters should be at least worth the the entry cost. This was not the case, for instance, when JOU boosters dipped below 2 Tix while being awarded for a two man tournament that costs itself 2 Tix to enter.
I have been only moderately interested in speculating with boosters. I was only doing so when I had a fair amount of spare Tix and no decent investments within the next one or two months. Even with excellent speculative conditions, boosters would not generate really more than 20% in two months, which is still pretty good but slightly under what I am aiming for when I invest in cards.
Recent events, however, made me consider pack speculation a bit differently.
During M15 release events, several specs on boosters showed tremendous gains. Today we'll take a look at M15 and other booster specs in order to get ready for Khans of Tarkir!
Maybe you have read about this here, on the MTGO forum or in Alexander Carl's article. Maybe you have actually done it and have generated a nice little stack of Tix in a very short period of time for a booster spec.
The idea is pretty simple. During the prerelease time only, Tix are accepted to enter sealed and draft events. The boosters awarded can't yet be used to enter events--not until the following Monday after release events. Therefore players who want to play sealed after sealed have little choice but to sell their packs to pay for their next buy in.
Substantial profit can be made by buying boosters during the prerelease events when everybody is getting rid of their boosters, then sell them for profit the following week when everybody needs boosters. Cant' be more simple.
This type of quick flip with boosters is not really new, although it is amazingly efficient. Matt Lewis, our boosters expert here at QS, has been on this for a while now and proved that the theory was worthwhile earlier this year with Theros boosters. He also suspected that such a strategy could be employed every time prerelease events accept only Tix as an entry option and when the draft format requires a triplicate of the same boosters.
It worked out pretty well for me and others. Here is what I did and what I would recommend to do next time.
On Thursday 24th, M15 boosters started to sell ~3 Tix and rapidly fell to 2.6-2.8 Tix. If you plan on buying a large quantity of boosters, you may want to start buying as soon as day one.
To buy boosters, you have basically two options: bots or via the Classifieds. As long as I was logged on, MTGO I had an offer posted as "Buying M15 boosters 2.5 Tix". And I bought a lot of them this way. Even when bots were offering a better buying price, even drowning in the ocean of offers on the Classifieds, I was buying several dozen boosters per hour, especially on the weekend.
No surprise the weekend is the busiest time. I was online as often as I could be, always with my offer on the Classifieds as well as buying from bots pretty regularly.
I was almost exclusively buying from Goatbots, as they are always stocked and their prices are very competitive. Their prices adjust and increase by ~0.02 Tix after every transaction, so you can't really buy them out without overpaying for it. I was buying 10 boosters (the limit) every time. I bought M15 boosters as low as 2.52 on Saturday and as high as 2.77 on Sunday.
I also bought a few boosters from Cardbots at a very surprising price of 2.41 Tix, although they were mostly out of stock for the rest of the weekend.
I had a pretty big stack of Tix ready to be invested this way and I was prepared to by an unlimited quantity of M15 boosters under 2.8 Tix. I ended up with a little less than 400 boosters, and that was the first time where time was the limiting factor, not Tix. This shows you that if you are ready to put big money on this kind of spec, you also have to be ready to spend some time on MTGO.
By Sunday night I was buying boosters as high as 2.77 Tix. In the end, my average price was 2.64 Tix/booster. I was not sure how high the prices would rebound, so 2.8 Tix felt like a good limit. By Monday morning, prices had already started moving up.
Here is how M15 booster prices have fluctuated these past three weeks. The lowest point is on Saturday 26th of July, the first weekend day of the prerelease events. You can also see that prices are always relatively high during the weekend and dip during the week.
With prices on the rise, I waited until Friday the 1st to start selling my packs and tried to sell all weekend long. With the same strategy I used for buying, an offer on the Classifieds and selling to bots whenever prices were good. I was selling my M15 boosters on the Classifieds for 3.5 Tix each and sold many boosters this way. I was selling to Goatbots when they were buying at a minimum of 3.4.
Due to lack of time, I had sold only about half of my stock by Sunday night. I decreased my selling price to 3 boosters for 10 Tix and sold some at Goatbots for ~3.25. When M15 boosters price dropped below 3.25, I stopped selling and waited for the next weekend for more favorable prices.
The following weekend (9th & 10th) prices rebounded and I sold the rest of my boosters in the 3.2-3.4 Tix range, again to bots and through the Classifieds.
My average selling price was 3.28 Tix per M15 boosters. A average margin of 0.64 Tix per boosters, for a 24% profit. Afterwards, it because clear that prices significantly drop during the week and rise again during the weekend, consistently reaching 3.3 to 3.5 Tix per booster. Even this past weekend, M15 boosters could have been sold for 3.5 quite easily. Next time I'll be more patient and I probably won't sell under 3.3 Tix per booster.
Overall, a 24% margin is a pretty good figure, especially for a two week turnaround. The strategy is clearly successful and is especially attractive since you can invest a fairly large amount of Tix on one single spec. If you prepare yourself to spend your weekends buying and selling, it is possible to invest several thousand Tix. With more presence, your margins could be as high as 30-35%, making the prerelease events a major event to generate some profit online.
Journey into Nyx Boosters
What an odd price trajectory are the JOU boosters.
From 4 Tix early in June to 2 Tix for about two months, then an additional dip to 1.5 Tix during M15 prerelease events, followed by a terrific rebound to 2.4 Tix two weeks later.
1.5 Tix is really low for an in-print booster, especially with several valuable cards in the set including Mana Confluence, Temple of Malady, Eidolon of the Great Reveal, Keranos, God of Storms and Ajani, Mentor of heros.
Didn't see it coming? I didn't. At least not as fast as that. If it is easy to say it was obvious now, but I certainly wasn't sure enough before and I still have Dragon's Maze in mind, where boosters price stayed flat pretty much forever, even at 2 Tix.
Nevertheless, thanks to our discussions on the QS Forums, some of our QS Insiders were more optimistic and had anticipated such a rebound. A relatively impressive gain in the end.
For the past five months, Theros boosters have been up and down, and if you were able to correctly time your specs, you may have made some easy profit. More recently, Theros packs also abruptly dipped during M15 prerelease events and went back up within two weeks.
Again, this trend not really new, but it was really sharp this time around.
It is also noteworthy to says that Born of the Gods boosters also dipped and jumped during M15 release events, although to a lesser degree than JOU and THS packs.
Release events are definitely a time worth watching booster price fluctuations in the future. Very decent quick flips are more than likely to happen again.
Want To Do It Again?
Repeating the M15 prerelease booster spec is what I'm looking forward to with Khans of Tarkir coming up in less than two months.
By that time, I'll be sure I have enough spare Tix and plan around having enough spare time. The great thing with booster specs is that you only need a couple of Tix to enjoy it. Theros boosters fluctuated this way when released:
Buying and selling prices may not be the same as M15 boosters. By watching the prices evolve on Friday and looking at how low they go on Saturday should provide some guide in order to get the most out of this type of spec.
Boosters are usually a quiet and slow way to grind Tix on MTGO, but during the release events of a new set, things can get wild, making it more lucrative than usual for attentive speculators.
Thank you for reading,