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Insider: Looking Back on 2014 and Ahead to 2015

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As always, it’s been an exciting year in Magic finance. Both the predictable and the unpredictable happened (fetchlands in Standard?!?).

In other words, it was a normal year, right? And as we’re entering 2015 (Happy New Year’s, by the way!), I thought I would look back at my predictions for 2014 and make a few for 2015.

What I’m Proud Of

This is a little personal, but I think it’s important to always recognize your goals. And it’s not always about looking forward. Sometimes it’s appropriate to look back at what you’ve done well and recognize what got you there.

-       The biggest development of 2014 for me is realizing what was truly a dream: officially becoming a part of the Wizards of the Coast coverage team. In 2014 I went from volunteering at a Grand Prix to covering a Pro Tour in Hawaii and Worlds Week in France. Truly a dream come true.

-       Spec calls. I think I did okay in 2013, but 2014 was much better to me. I’m not going to list everything I did well on and humble brag here, but I’m happy with how I performed as an analyst this year.

-       Expanding my store. What started in the summer of 2013 as me selling a few cards in a case at the LGS has turned into a substantial part of my life. I have a lot of cards come in and out of the store I work out of, and I’ve become very comfortable with the responsibilities of running the case. I’m also proud of the fact I’ve become a de facto employee of the store and run events there, making it the best place I can for our players.

-       Getting back to free writing. As much as I love this column (and I do, very much), I also missed writing to a free audience after my stint at LegitMTG ended. I’ve been fortunate enough to write this year for www.Empeopled.com, and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s not about the in-depth analysis I try to get into here, it’s about connecting with those readers who are just getting into Magic and have no idea that Quiet Speculation is a Magic card, much less a financial website.

-       Growing the podcast and BrainstormBrewery.com. 2014 was an exciting year for us on the podcast. Our listenership continues to grow, as does the site, and it feels great to be able to afford to commission custom art for tokens and then give out tokens to fans when we meet. That, and the “Finance 101” segment we implemented after pushing past Episode 100, has really helped us connect with those newbies to Magic, and that’s great.

-       Cashing in my Fantasy Football league for the first time 🙂

What I’m Not Proud Of

-       The predictions I made for 2014 (as you’ll soon see).

-       Ignoring Standard a little too much. Obviously Modern is more interesting and my favorite format, so I focus on that more. Modern hasn’t seen the growth I expected in 2014 (though some individual cards certainly have). I expect 2015 to be very good for the non-reprints in Modern, but honestly there was more money to be made in Standard than I gave it credit for. I did well with my rotation picks, but I need to pay more attention to the week-to-week metagame in 2015.

-       Impersonal writing. Sometimes I look at my backlog and I see articles I’m really proud of, usually because they combine Magic finance with lessons I learned in my life, or significant moments in it. To me, this is the epitome of Magic finance writing; when it’s about more than just the numbers. Maybe I’m out of inspiring stories or cool ideas, but I suspect it may be more a product of simply leading a very busy life. Between my “day job” as a sportswriter, writing weekly columns for two websites, doing a weekly podcast, traveling for WOTC events, running my own Magic store and trying to lead a real life beyond that, I never sit down with a full night ahead of me to write. Most articles (like this one) are done at 2 or 3 a.m. in the morning. And while I consider every article well-researched (after all, I’m plugged into the market 24/7), it certainly is harder to write something personally meaningful when you’re on a clock. I want to change this in 2015.

-       Being very slow at home improvement. Seriously, everything you think you will do in a few weeks takes a few months, and sometimes it becomes even longer. Case in point: an outside building at the house my wife and I moved into 22 months ago. We thought it would take a few months to convert it into a gameroom. We’re finally nearing that point, but it’s taken this long and some friends needing a place to stay for a few months for us to finally finish the work done. With any luck (or just work), I’ll finally have my dream game room by the end of the month. I’m aware this isn’t Magic-related, but it’s something worth knowing anyway.

So About Those Predictions…

I warned you they were bad, and I put them off long enough. I made five. The first three (It’s a Different Market, Fundamentals Still Matter and Everyone Thinks They’re a Financier) went well enough, but the second two did not.

Here goes:

Modern will Explode

[blockquote]“So since the last Modern season ended, we’ve had a pretty long layover. But in that time Modern Masters hit the scene and was hugely popular, and the game as a whole has grown.

These two factors, along with a vastly increased supply of shocklands, will all combine to make Modern a much more affordable format. It doesn’t hurt that it’s shaken out to be a little more than just Jund Jund Jund.

More players playing Modern means that some of those long-term specs we’ve had like Birthing Pod and Scars of Mirrodin fastlands will likely take off. It’s really a convergence of all the factors Wizards has put in place, and I think it will result in a relative explosion for Modern at more than just the GP level.

I also think Legacy will continue its malaise. Basically every big spec these days is related to Modern, and Legacy has taken a back seat to that. The format isn’t dying, as the continuing increase on Wasteland shows, but the growth it will experience will pale in comparison to Modern. Plan your activity accordingly.”[/blockquote]

 

Yeah, that didn’t quite work out.

 

And this one:

Fetchlands Won’t be Reprinted

[blockquote]My reasoning is this. Wizards has put the following things on record:

  • They don’t love fetches in Standard because of the amount of shuffling they create.
  • They design sets one year in advance.
  • They wanted to determine how successful Modern Masters was before going forward with anything else similar.
  • They want to actively reprint Modern cards.

Which means that we’ll likely see Zendikar fetchlands in a non-Standard set. It also means that any sort of Modern Masters 2 wouldn’t have been decided on until after GP Vegas (which I Top 32’ed, yay!). That means they wouldn’t have even decided to put Modern Masters 2 on the calendar until last fall, at which point the Summer 2014 set would have already been decided on.

The earliest they could slate it for would be Summer 2015, so I suspect that’s when we’ll see fetchlands reprinted. In the meantime, expect them to continue to climb higher.”[blockquote]

 

Oh…

My logic may have been sound, but I got rekt anyway on that one. At least I did see the reprint writing on the wall last summer and put out a call to sell Onslaught fetches before the reprint news hit.

Predictions for Next Year

Anyway, on to 2015:

Modern Really Will Explode

I truly thought fetchlands would drive huge interest in the format, and with it prices. They’ve certainly played a part, but it’s been slower than I expected. Between the usual year-beginning growth we see and Modern Masters 2 next summer, I’m confident everything not reprinted will see positive gains.

Tarmogoyf will be reprinted in Modern Masters 2015

There’s just no way they let it stay at $200, right? The only question is if they decide it needs a larger print run than Moderns Masters 2015 can give it.

New Rotation will make Standard matter even more

Between the new PTQ system (PPTQs, that is) and the new 18-month rotation schedule, and the change of almost all Pro Tours to be Standard-focused, we’re going to see more and more movement in Standard. That means both price volatility and shorter financial life spans, but also more opportunity because of this.

Treasure Cruise will be banned in Modern

It’s just busted, guys. Only question is if Dig goes with it.

Magic’s overall business will grow, but more slowly

One of my favorite article series I started doing in 2014 was analyzing Hasbro’s earnings reports every quarter, as well as the Q&A that comes with the conference call. This continues to provide insight into how Magic is doing on the large scale.

There’s been so much growth in the past five years that sooner or later it has to stop growing so quickly. With a US economy that’s beginning to really chug along we can expect more disposable income and more Magic cards bought, but what I’ll be really interested to see is any numbers regarding player growth, rather than just revenue growth. Based on a few factors from 2014 and overall trends like Duels of the Planeswalkers reaching a saturation point, I expect it to slow down. I don’t expect this to significantly change our financial outlook in Magic, but it’s something to keep in mind.

 

There you go. That’s my 2014 and my predictions for 2015. I’m looking forward to another great year of writing ahead (hard to believe I’ve been doing this weekly for four and a half years now), and I look forward to navigating the Magic waters with all of you.

 

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

Corbin Hosler

Corbin Hosler is a journalist living in Norman, Oklahoma (also known as the hotbed of Magic). He started playing in Shadowmoor and chased the Pro Tour dream for a few years, culminating in a Star City Games Legacy Open finals appearance in 2011 before deciding to turn to trading and speculation full-time. He writes weekly at QuietSpeculation.com and biweekly for LegitMTG. He also cohosts Brainstorm Brewery, the only financial podcast on the net. He can best be reached @Chosler88 on Twitter.

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Posted in Finance, Free Insider, Prediction Tracker, PredictionsTagged ,

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2 thoughts on “Insider: Looking Back on 2014 and Ahead to 2015

  1. I don’t know about your analysis at the end regarding the US economy resulting in greater purchasing of Magic. While the economy has been recovering, the unemployment rate is stagnant and the wages of the remaining workers are at the same 2008/2009 rate. The only real recovery has been in the stock market. Even Walmart is having problems as less people are able to afford anything beyond the essentials. I agree that if workers wages increase then we will see Magic flying off shelves as disposable income increases.

    1. And gas is at the lowest levels in 5 years. Every 1 cent drop in oil adds 1 billion to the economy. And with the stock market/401ks doing better, people *feel* like they have more to spend.

      Unemployment? It’s down like two points in the last year.

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