Old School Magic- How Much Demand is There?

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By now, you've probably heard of the "new" format known as Old School Magic, or 93/94. Basically, you can only play with cards released up to the year 1993 or 1994, and no proxies are allowed. There was a reasonably sized Old School tournament at Eternal Weekend this year, and I'll admit that the format looks fun, even if the barrier to entry is completely unreasonable.

There have been a lot of spikes for reserve list cards occurring recently as a direct result of old school magic. You can see the market prices of these cards changing, but I'm curious about how successful anybody has been on speculating on these cards. Price and value, after all, are very different things. In my article about buying everything I mentioned the downside of purchasing cards that don't have mainstream appeal. I often have to lower the price of casual cards to set the new TCG low before I actually sell them. Right now, my store has a Russian foil Storm Crow that will never sell for the so-called "market price", or anywhere close to it.

Recently we came across an Italian Storm World in some bulk that we purchased. At the time, the card had just been bought off the internet, and the TCG price had spiked from around $3 to $75. There weren't any Italian copies on TCGPlayer when I went to post it, and I based my $40 list price off of English listed prices. A day later somebody else posted a copy at about $32, and there both of the listings sit. I will likely start lowering the price later this week or next, but I have no idea at what price point the card actually starts becoming attractive.

I write this in part to caution investors not to buy things simply because they are rare, but rather to be more certain of real demand before making an investment. The other reason I write this, is because I want to know if any readers have stories of successful Old School Magic investments. Power doesn't count!

Ryan Overturf

Ryan has been playing Magic since Legions and playing competitively since Lorwyn. While he fancies himself a Legacy specialist, you'll always find him with strong opinions on every constructed format.

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42 thoughts on “Old School Magic- How Much Demand is There?

      1. If anything, what I’ve written is doing the opposite. I’m shedding light on the fact that these investments aren’t great. I also mentioned the only Old School Magic purchase I’ve made was found in bulk! 😛

        1. For a perspective, when I look for a card I check 40+ stores in Europe and MCM (which has thousands of sellers, comparable to TCG Player). For King Suleiman, a recently spiked card, only 2 stores had any stock at all, MCM had 27 copies, now 2 days later 1 store has stock left and MCM has 7 copies. Cheapest NM on MCM is now double what it used to be (the one store is actually cheaper, I wonder when they’ll “wake up”).

        2. If the idea is that people are going to act irrationally, then I don’t what can be done better. There’s already a problem, and I’m trying to illustrate it. I very much doubt that I’m actually making it worse, and again if I’m only making it worse because people aren’t listening, then I don’t see what I could actually say.

            1. To elaborate: it’s like the test situation where the act of observing itself influences the test result. Giving attention to old cards from an MTG Finance perspective in itself influences the sales of old cards by bringing them to people’s attention. Maybe someone sees the Storm World and thinks: “hey, $25 for that piece of crap? I’m sure I can identify more potential breakout cards!” or maybe someone sees it and decides they want a few copies for play. In either case, those cards disappear from the market. I’m not saying either scenario is likely, but due to the scarcity of these cards even a single person that way has a significant impact.

              To continue my example, if I was to buy a playset of King Suleiman right now I would be purchasing 40% of what I can currently find on the European market.

  1. You’re basically playing hot potato with these cards. I recommend extreme caution.

    Also $40 it totally unrealistic as a starting price, Italian copies don’t move well at all for any card, try $20.

    1. It was the only one on TCG and it literally doesn’t cost me anything to list it. I put it at that price with the intention of lowering as soon as somebody else listed lower.

        1. It doesn’t make sense as a seller to list low immediately. I put in the article that I’ll be moving progressively downward, which is the only way that it makes sense to operate as a seller.

          1. That is assuming that going progressively downward doesn’t have you end up selling below $20 ultimately. If you look really cheap compared to competition you will be more likely to sell than if you have a similar price.

            It is also assuming that the you are not missing out on sales to the few people who would buy Italian copies who come by when you still have it priced very high. If you still end up selling at $20 you would prefer that you sell it now rather than in a few weeks, wouldn’t you?

              1. But that is assuming you can sell it for more. I seriously doubt it would sell over $20, I really don’t think $20 is a low price for the Italian version of the card at all.

                1. It’s not assuming that though. It’s testing the idea that maybe I can. I KNOW I can sell it for $1, but I’m not going to it list it at that price.

                  1. Yes, but the problem with that is that you may be missing opportunities to sell it by starting too high, there’s even a chance that some other sellers come in and you have to go below the $20.

                    It’s an optimization problem and I know you realize that or you would’ve started it at some crazy high number like $1000 and worked down from there, because by your reasoning that’d be even better. I feel it’s more optimal to start a bit lower than you have as I just can’t see it selling much higher than $20 and I would want to avoid missing the opportunity to sell at that price.

                    1. There is some *possibility* of that, sure. But bear in mind that I’m posted as the lowest price on the market, and that I aggressively lower my price as the market price drops. Initially, I was the only listing, so it made sense to post high, and it’s a rare opportunity on TCGplayer to not be completely at the mercy of the market. It didn’t work out, but it was worth a shot.

                    2. And thus we get crazy high prices: because everybody just sets a high price when they are the only one and the next guy only undercuts it by a little bit. If we’re fortunate the card will at some point touch reality again.

                      I assume yours is one of the LP copies? I can buy Italian Storm Worlds on MCM for 20 euros and usually dollar = euro applies for Magic cards. There’s also a NM English one for 25 euro.

                    3. The price is only CRAZY high with a lot of sellers posted too high. I’ve already lowered my price and will be continuing to lower it. I’m currently listed lower than even the HP English copies on TCG. Often the Euro price of a card will be the same as the dollar price, though the Euro is worth more and shipping cards from Europe to the U.S. is unrealistic, so I’m not sure what you’re getting at there.

                      TCGPlayer is a buyers market, and my price is being lowered as people don’t buy. I’m not upset that it didn’t sell at the higher price, I was only doing what the market dictates I do, and in fact lowering my price as much as I am and likely will continue to do is offering a BETTER price than the market demands.

                    4. What I am getting at is that you could already see that $40 was too high, based on the knowledge of how EU and US prices normally compare you could already tell $20 was far more realistic.

                      You can follow or you can lead the market. You have clearly chosen to follow, but that doesn’t mean leading is necessarily wrong.

                      If you were asking a better price than market demands you would’ve already sold. What you are doing is asking a better price than other vendors, what market demands is what buyers are willing to pay. As you haven’t sold you clearly haven’t reached that number yet.

  2. 93/94 is pretty niche, but the people that will play it after the fad factor wears off will play it for years and years — unlike, say, tiny leaders.

    And given that many of the 93/94 players are going to be heavily vested in vintage, any place that they’re already congregating for vintage play will naturally see some 93/94 fire because it’s appealing to the same group of people that already have the expensive parts of the format.

    I think the mistake many people make is that they assume “people with power have a lot of money to spend on cards” and that these people “won’t have a problem paying a lot after a card spikes”. While that’s naturally true of some people, it’s not a universal truth. And, if anything, someone that’s watched a card be a garbage $1 card for 20 years is actually going to be less likely to now spend $100 on it just because some people are trying to milk the market.

    The ultimate problem, I think, is that many of these cards have literally zero utility outside of 93/94 but people are blinded by the fact that they’re “very old” or “extremely rare”. But, as pointed out, if the demand is extremely low then who are you going to sell your cards to after you’ve succeeded in getting the online markets to agree with you that “this card is expensive now”? If there are no buyers then it’s not worth anything regardless of the price tag you put on it.

    If we have a lot of people only looking at one side of the issue, I think it’s absolutely in everyone’s best interest to shed light on it. I think this article does a good job at starting that conversation and trying to reign in the crazy. People are already making these poor decisions and staying quiet on the subject won’t change that. If we can reign in the bad behavior sooner rather than later, that’s good for everyone.

    1. Very good reply.

      We disagree in regard to whether writing on it at all may lead to more people deciding to go crazy. If it does, then maybe staying quiet would change that as these people would then not start thinking on these cards. If it doesn’t you’re absolutely right. I fall in the former camp, but I will grant you that I can’t possibly be certain that the net effect of there being articles will outweigh the net effect of articles like this one reigning in the bad. I fall on one side, but I can certainly see how the other side could be right. Regardless, the article is out there, so it’s water under the bridge.

  3. I’d like to just say as a 93/94 player these buyouts by the mtg finance community are bullshit. It’s a waste of your time and it’s a really bad look for your ‘community.’ Go away.

    1. As you can see in the comments, some of us are encouraging that. While not specifically a 93/94 player myself I enjoy playing with old cards too, so I see the same problems.

        1. “The other reason I write this, is because I want to know if any readers have stories of successful Old School Magic investments. Power doesn’t count!”

          You might not be ‘encouraging’ it but you’re moving in that direction. Go away.

          1. Not a single comment came in with a success story. That’s the least encouraging thing possible. Your negativity is misplaced, and not appreciated.

      1. This site is a pretty big target for these sorts of moves as I would imagine you already know. When I noticed the buyouts I came here because I figured something was up- and here is a article on 93/94. I can only imagine more #mtgfinance warlords are on here so I want my comment clear to whomever, I am figuring someone involved is skimming through the comments. This is a sensitive area that players are very passionate about. The format is about having a really fucking good time with old/new friends, playing magic with old cards. When #mtgfinance starts buying out cards, it’s more than a headache-as it seems some of you are discussing.
        Stormworld sees NO play in 93/94 by the way, terrible speculation by whoever- the only people buying it now are other #mtgfinance minions, locking the actual guys who want to play the format out-which gives people like me less people to enjoy the format with.

        1. Nobody is encouraging buyouts. There is no way to control what some anonymous reader is going to be doing though. Even if they are definitely bad targets from a finance perspective someone will notice the cards are jumping and want to be part of it. I’d love to be able to prevent this, but unfortunately I can’t.

          I got just a 3 Storm Worlds for personal use at the old price (already had a copy). I do like the card (though not enough for its current price). The thing with these cards is that roughly 20k copies were printed and a relevant number of them were lost to time. This means that even very little interest can trigger price movement, even someone just getting a playset may trigger an avalanche if they just buy the cheapest copies available.

          Unfortunately reality is that these price jumps can’t be prevented as with the format gaining popularity even regular player buys will push the prices up as there just aren’t enough copies to keep them in stock. Yes, there is some mtgfinance influence, but it would be a mistake to assume they wouldn’t go up without it.

          1. “Yes, there is some mtgfinance influence, but it would be a mistake to assume they wouldn’t go up without it.”
            Who is making that mistake? Look I am here trolling because these buyouts are bullshit and are orchestrated by #mtgfinance fucks.
            King Sulieman, Storm World, City in a Bottle are just a few examples of buyouts. This has nothing to do with natural price growth/demand. One is unplayable and the other two are fringe sideboard cards. Get real.

            1. I am saying it’s not unthinkable that some of those are simply started by someone buying the cheapest copies, pushing up the low and average prices and then triggering other people to jump in to get their copies before it’s too late. In a sense the speculators work the same way: most watch for price movement and act when they see a card go up, no orchestration between them is needed (and I haven’t seen any such attempts).

              I don’t doubt that there are some people buying these to speculate and doing what you suggest, but, they are not the only ones contributing to the new price. Don’t put all the blame there, but also consider that the format may perhaps grow too popular relative to card availability.

              1. King Sulieman, Storm World, City in a Bottle are just a few examples of buyouts. This has nothing to do with natural price growth/demand. One is unplayable and the other two are fringe sideboard cards at best. I refuse to name any cards that get real natural price moves etc because I dont want to give any of you any ideas.

                There are no SCG articles, pro-tours, any of that shit in 93/94. There is barely any coverage, articles etc. Bunch of dudes drinking and playing old cards when they can. NO card sells out overnight because of the player base, especially not these crap cards that are getting bought out because reserve list/93/94. This is the same shit that happens in other formats due to buyouts. I am completely aware of how QS operates. All signs point to #mtgfinance ‘community’, you will hear the same form the rest of the 93/94 players.

                15+ city in a bottle selling nearly overnight, sure. 93/94 GP happened and BU aggro knocked out ernahmaggedon with city in a bottle, cedrick phillips is going wild. There are no spec articles, there are no ‘this card is hot.’ Especially with these cards.

                Your buddy ‘Chaz’ talked about on’s podcast this week about #mtgfinance guys that were promoting the buyouts/specs on 93/94. SO there is your proof btw, admittance form your own. He did not want to name the mtgfinance guy(s) on the cast. Shady fucks, go away!!!

                1. I have talked about it on the MTGG Podcast and other places, and I am against it as well as others – including Pi. If you dig a little deeper (as you should EvanATL) you can notice a paper trail of who actually is speaking out for and against this topic.

                  There’s no denying that financiers have a hand in this and this sudden price spiking is a byproduct of that. King Suleiman doesn’t go from 8$ after years to 25$ overnight and having the audacity to say “well it was bound to go up sometime”.

                  Like I said before, the less press on this the better. I don’t like to even acknowledge this. It feels wrong, and people should be able to like the format and not have this become another Tiny Leaders. With so much overlap with the Reserved List it just feels slimy to “invest” into them thinking we’re the next Warren Buffett because “Reserved List cards are safe hur dur and will increase, hur dur.”

                  To me this just feels like people have nothing better to do, or don’t trust themselves to invest well enough into Standard and Modern ect. So they do this and use “oldschoolmtg” as a shield to justify the behavior.

                  For me, I’ll just stick to Standard/Modern/ect, since don’t we have plenty of those cards to look at and discuss anyway?

                  If you like the format, fine, have at it. My whole arguement is I feel we need to responsible, and let me stress that some of us are. So don’t rope the entire “community” into this. Speak out to the people who do and discourage the bad behavior. Like I said, won’t be hard to find people if you look.

                  Unfortunately though, can’t do much to others who aren’t as outspoken.

    1. Reckless opinion to those taking interest….I am a 93/94 ONLY player, as I stopped around 2001 and recently got my cards outta storage and I couldnt have imagined how much fun this format is. Some of us value the format more, others dont. But I would be seriously outtmatched trying to play any other format as I dont know the majority of the cards of the last 15 years or so. I consider myself lucky and stoked

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