Insider: [MTGO] Vintage Masters Speculation Update

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Eight months have passed since the release of Vintage Masters on MTGO. Access to Black Lotus and the other pieces of power got both players and speculators excited. However the excitement quickly faded and the value of the VMA set is now down by about 30% compared to its value last June.

After the excitement of the first weeks it quickly appeared that WotC was not very actively supporting the development of the Vintage format. Notably, the schedule of Vintage tournaments and the prize structure of these tournaments were not encouraging people to play Vintage. The consequence is that prices of cards as rare as the Black Lotus dropped in price without a steady demand from players. Since Legacy is not particularly encouraged either all the Legacy playable cards from VMA also dipped.

Several of us, myself included, had decided to invest in some Vintage and Legacy staples last summer. So far, it has mostly been a disappointing investment even if short-term returns were not really the goal with Vintage Masters speculations. Unexpectedly, good news came last week with the announcement of a new MTGO event manager--Lee Sharpe--and with this a change in the Daily Event schedule structure. These changes promise to revive some interest for the most powerful formats on MTGO.

Today I'll review how my Vintage investments have been doing for the past eight months and how things may positively change in a near future.

Eight Months of Vintage Specs

July 2014

A little bit before M15 release events I acquired each of the P9 cards. This move was half speculation half a little treat for me to play cards I have never played with before.

Along with power pieces I also bought several more "serious" cards for speculation purposes. I acquired among others some Force of Will, at least a playset of each dual land, Flusterstorm, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Lion's Eye Diamond, Mana Crypt, Vampiric Tutor, Dack Fayden, Burning Wish. I also acquired some penny rares/mythics I had great hope for such as Edric, Spymaster of Trest, Council's Judgment, Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary and few other Conspiracy cards printed in VMA.

As I discussed in a previous article about long-term speculations, this kind of investment cannot be gauged after only six to eight months. I was committed for the long term when I invested in VMA.

As you can see in the chart below of the aggregate value of Vintage Masters, the global trend has been pretty much slightly downward since the beginning. Stopping the VMA drafts before Khans of Tarkir release didn't change much.

Eight Months Later - Not Everyone Is Equal

Let's start with P9 pieces. They probably are the most disappointing of all my VMA positions--collectively they have lost 30-40% of their value. Being expensive and Vintage-only playable doesn't help the price to grow in an environment that doesn't support Vintage play. All nine cards were high in September before the Khans of Tarkir release. They bottomed in December and have barely recovered as of now.

Anticipated to be one of the best targets of VMA, Dack Fayden and Council's Judgment are some of the very few Vintage Masters cards to be more valuable now than they were last July. The white sorcery peaked at almost 3 Tix in September (a 500% increase from my buying price) but has dropped and stabilized between 1 and 1.5 Tix recently. Dack also spiked in September and reached 18 Tix; I should have sold my copies of this planeswalker at that moment. Although the price of Dack Fayden is now back to 11 Tix I'm still up by about 100%.

All my other positions, including dual lands, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Tolarian Academy and Flusterstorm, have remained more or less flat. A little bump here and there but nothing that we could call a trend. I took advantage of a recent little bump on some prices before Fate Reforged release events to sell several copies of Mana Crypt and Flusterstorm and move some Tix to more profitable Modern positions.

Not Great, But Not Bad

In the end, if I had expected a more positive outcome after eight months I was also prepared to wait one or two years to see positive returns on most of my Vintage Masters investments. Sure I would be happier with all my Vintage specs up by 50% but there's nothing to really worry about. The combined value of all my VMA specs is actually pretty stable since last July--for instance the gain from Dack Fayden made up for most of the losses on the P9 pieces.

If we put these specs in the context of an unpopular online format that isn't supported by a constant player demand, the result is clearly not that bad. This fact doesn't really make my specs look better but at least it makes me confident the floor under these current VMA prices is solid enough and that prices won't drop dramatically in a near future.

With the exception of Vintage-restricted cards most of my VMA specs could significantly rise if Legacy or Vintage are encouraged to be played. Based on previous price history we know the potential of cards such as the dual lands and Force of Will. Finally, newly printed cards from the Conspiracy set--Dack Fayden especially--have the potential to explode if the formats they are legal in get more popular among the player base. After all the supply is fairly limited.

All I need is a little push to help these specs rise, which is exactly what happened last week!

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

News of the Week

The announcement of the new MTGO event manager also came with great news for Vintage and Legacy lovers, and speculators. In summary, and for what interests us here, Legacy and Vintage will receive more support in the form of a better Daily Events Schedule. Lee's statement can't be more clear "We want to build the Vintage community".

The idea is to set a rotating schedule, allowing players to participate to tournaments of their favorite format at different times on different days. Exactly what's needed to boost the Vintage and Legacy markets!

If I understood well, one of the problems in the past with Vintage Daily Events was that the prize structure for these events was bad, and therefore didn't encourage players to participate. Nothing is said in this announcement about a potential change in prize structure, but hopefully prizes of Daily Events, or any other Vintage tournaments, will be in alignment with the will to build a Vintage community on MTGO.

This is only the first step but a step in the right direction. We'll have to wait to see if this incentive is strong enough to attract players.

The formats of Magic Online Championship Series (MOCS) are rotating every month. Whenever a constructed format is played for the MOCS it helps push the demand for that specific format and for specific cards thus driving prices up. If we know when these seasons start and end we don't have any visibility concerning their formats after the current February season.

Legacy has been used in the past for MOCS and it's likely to be the case again. So far, Vintage has never been used . The entry cost for Vintage decks is certainly the most expensive of all and a MOCS season with this format is rather unlikely. However Vintage as a format for a MOCS season is within the realm of possibilities if WotC really wants to push Vintage on MTGO.

A Good Moment to Get In

Until a week ago I would not have recommended investing in VMA positions now. While prices are currently low, the perspective of such investments wasn't clear at all. Now we know that the mothership is committed, to some extent, to build a Vintage community online. Adjustment of the Daily Events schedule may be the first of many steps to get players on board and promote Vintage in the long run.

Dual lands and other Vintage/Legacy staples such as Force of Will and Jace, the Mind Sculptor might be at their lowest for months and years to come. Prices have already started to move a little bit up as a result of the announcement of this past week. Even without any speculation intent in mind now may be a good opportunity to acquire pieces of power or dual lands.

After a disappointing eight first months I believe that the next eight months will be much more positive for my Vintage investments.


Thank you for reading,

Sylvain Lehoux


8 thoughts on “Insider: [MTGO] Vintage Masters Speculation Update

    1. Thanks!

      As for any specs, if you respect the size of your specs VS the size of your portfolio you’re good.

      Here, with a 200 Tix bankroll, speculating on Force of Will for instance is not recommended it would be a too big share of your portfolio.

      Vintage specs may also have a slower turnover than most of Modern/Standard specs.

  1. Do you think Vintage is on the verge of death as a paper format? With the barrier of entry being stupid expensive, do you believe WoTC is trying to gestate growth in MTGO for the format instead? Only reason I ask, is P9 and other Vintage staples are really laser point focused cards. I would continue to hold your digital P9–assuming WoTC can spawn the proper format following culture it takes.

    1. I don’t know much about Vintage paper. It seems to be a very niche format with a tournament organization different from any other formats. GP, PT and local tournament are held in all format but Vintage (or with proxies, not sanctioned…etc). I would assume that Vintage is “surviving” on it’s own by and for special players. In this context I don’t know if paper Vintage can really “die” from what it is now. The collection/mythic aspect of Vintage is something special.

      But I like to believe that Vintage has a room to growth online. Prices is a big reason why you would want to try Vintage online. And if it really catches up cards can be printed at will, not like reserve list for paper Mtg. So prices cannot reach crazy prices in the long run.

    1. If the demand for constructed Vintage grow up as well that should not be a problem. I would also guess that more VMA events would be pointless, and value less, if value of VMA cards is very low because not supported by player demand for constructed play.

  2. I was told Dailies of Legacy has been removed by the new event manager. This points to Vintage being the format that would be more emphasized, right? Does that mean we should target exclusively Vintage-playable cards?

    1. From what I understood from the announcement. Some Legacy DE have been removed. The removed ones were apparently at non-convinient hours for most players, causing some players to wait for nothing. They kept Legacy DE that were the most convenient for the most people.

      In a a sens this is better as people are more certain to see the Legacy DE fire and with more people.

      I would rather target cards playable in both format: duals, FoW, LeD. It’s too early to say if Vintage only cards are a great target for specs, but they are likely to be at their cheapest now if Vintage catches.

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