Welcome to the MTGO Market Report as compiled by Sylvain Lehoux and Matthew Lewis. The report is loosely broken down into two perspectives.
A broader perspective will be written by Matthew and will focus on recent trends in set prices, taking into account how paper prices and MTGO prices interact. Sylvain will take a closer look at particular opportunities based on various factors such as (but not limited to) set releases, flashback drafts and banned/restricted announcements.
There will be some overlap between the two sections. As always, speculators should take into account their own budget, risk tolerance and current portfolio before taking on any recommended positions.
Below are the total set prices for all redeemable sets on MTGO. All prices are current as of December 21st, 2015. The TCG Low and TCG Mid prices are the sum of each set’s individual card prices on TCG Player, either the low price or the mid price respectively.
All MTGO set prices this week are taken from Goatbot’s website, and all weekly changes are now calculated relative to Goatbot’s ‘Full Set’ prices from the previous week. All monthly changes are also relative to the previous month prices, taken from Goatbot’s website at that time. Occasionally ‘Full Set’ prices are not available, and so estimated set prices are used instead.
Theros Block & Magic 2015
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is a Modern staple that is seeing a recent surge of interest on the back of the black-base Eldrazi builds that have been popping up in the top league decks. Magic 2015 (M15) is up 4% in price on this card's rise, as well as higher prices on the enemy-colour painlands. Look for more discussion on this new Modern deck further below.
Elsewhere, the MTGO prices of the Theros block sets are all flat to negative in the past week. Look for these sets to have continued weakness as the calendar turns over into 2016. Journey into Nyx (JOU) in particular had a big run-up in the past six weeks, so a little breather is expected before further gains come down the pipeline.
Tarkir Block & Magic Origins
Taking a tour of the most expensive cards from these four sets is going to illuminate the factors that go into making cards expensive on MTGO. Starting with the big fish of Standard mythic rares, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy of Magic Origins (ORI) is the most expensive card in Standard since Jace, the Mind Sculptor of Worldwake (WWK) was banned from Caw-Blade Standard. Things had to break just perfectly for this iteration of Jace to hit 70+ tix.
First off, it's a powerful card that sees heavy play in Standard. This factor alone is enough to push any given mythic into the top three priciest cards from a given set. More importantly though, it comes from a core set, which means a large set with a limited drafting window.
This significantly cuts into the supply that enters the market as there really are only two months where ORI is drafted heavily. Large sets typically see at least three months of heavy drafting, with Fall sets getting opened for much longer (albeit at a lower rate after the 2nd set is introduced).
The next most expensive card in Standard is Monastery Mentor from Fate Reforged (FRF). It has blown past the 20 tix mark and now sits at 25 tix, nearly half of the value of the entire set.
Unlike Jace, this card really shines in Legacy and Vintage Constructed, and both of these formats were at a low ebb of interest after the introduction of play points and the nerfing of prizes for Daily Events. Those two factors combined put a huge damper on singles prices as interest in Constructed bottomed out.
These events are firmly in the past now as constructed play has picked up in the Fall. The three main factors for this resurgence are the introduction of Leagues, the Legacy MOCS, and the recently established monthly Vintage tournament.
There's no surprise here really. Without anything to play for in September and October, constructed players were selling their collections off. Now there is a reason to hold onto cards again and prices on cards like Monastery Mentor have benefited as a result.
Kolaghan's Command from Dragons of Tarkir (DTK) recently overtook Dragonlord Ojutai as the most expensive card from that set, at a shade under 20 tix. The factors that go into this card's price are bound to be familiar at this point, but it boils down to being a staple of Modern Constructed and having a short run in the draft queues.
Like ORI, DTK is a large set that didn't get opened as much as other large sets. In DTK's case, it was never opened in triplicate as it was always opened alongside a single FRF booster. Modern Masters 2 (MM2) also took a big chunk out of drafters' wallets in the summer, diverting away potential DTK drafts.
The last most expensive card from these sets is Anafenza, the Foremost of Khans of Tarkir (KTK) at 11.5 tix. This card is nearly 50% lower than the other most expensive cards in Standard.
Here we can observe that it's from a Fall set, which means it was heavily opened for months, and it appears alongside a valuable cycle of lands in the allied fetchlands. When a set's value gets soaked up in such a popular cycle of lands, there's little left over to distribute to the top mythics.
Battle for Zendikar
After briefly rising above 70 tix, sets of Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) have dipped back down to 65 tix. Previously this set has been as low as 59 tix, and this week's price weakness means revisiting that low is now a possibility. With over a month of triple BFZ drafting still to go, a rising supply of BFZ cards will continue to exert downward pressure on the MTGO set price.
Players and speculators should look for an ultimate bottom during Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) release events. Hold off on large speculative moves into BFZ cards and sets until then. In the meantime, bottom-fishing for particular mythic rares and rares is fine if they're priced lower than 0.4 tix or 0.05 tix respectively.
Notably from BFZ, Oblivion Sower is anchoring a new Modern archetype that features many BFZ Eldrazi cards, powered up by Eye of Ugin, Eldrazi Temple, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, black discard and artifact graveyard removal to power up the processors. This deck looks like it has the chops to succeed in Modern with more Eldrazi cards on the horizon with OGW.
The interaction between Urborg and Eye of Ugin seems underappreciated at the moment. With both lands out, these two cards act like a mini set of Urza's lands, producing four mana when casting Eldrazi spells. This is the type of synergy that is needed to make a mark on a large format like Modern. Keep your eye out for this deck leading up to Pro Tour OGW which will feature Modern Constructed.
Last week's report recommended that speculators sell their FRF and KTK boosters. Those continuing to hold these boosters should consider reducing their holdings in advance of OGW release events.
Release events are a period of high demand for tix, so players will sell any excess boosters they are holding in order to play tix-only release events and buy the new cards for Standard. Speculators who ignore this will be faced with lower buy prices on many MTGO objects during OGW release events. Moving out of boosters and into tix is a prudent move which will give speculators the opportunity to redeploy tix when cards and boosters go on sale.
The prices of BFZ, FRF and KTK boosters have weakened since the start of Vintage Cube drafting on MTGO. This popular alternative draft format makes older draft formats less attractive, so even the most recent set's boosters dip in price.
If prizes switch to paying out OGW boosters instead of BFZ boosters after OGW is released, then BFZ will be a good opportunity for speculative gains. Cutting off the supply of boosters with three more months of drafting will gradually push BFZ up to the 4 tix level. Speculators and players alike could be well served by stocking up on BFZ boosters if they get to 3.3 tix or less.
After almost two months of uninterrupted growth, Modern positions have come to a stabilization point this past week. The most expensive Modern staples have only moved by few percentage points these past few days. However, several other Modern mainstays have seen wider price variations in both directions.
One the one hand, Goblin Guide, Eidolon of the Great Revel, Through the Breach, Razorverge Thicket, Heritage Druid and Aether Vial have been on a marked losing trend since last Wednesday. On the other hand, Fulminator Mage, River of Tears, Snapcaster Mage and Damnation are examples of positions that posted great gains over this past week.
With the opening of the year-long Modern flashback drafts next week (with 8th Edition drafts), speculators definitely have to adjust their strategy according to this agenda. Prices of Modern staples appearing in each draft format will definitely fall, and it's strongly advisable to sell these staples a few weeks to one month in advance. Rares are expected to see significant price cuts and uncommons or commons will see the biggest drops as their prices should return to near-bulk prices.
8th Edition, 9th Edition and Mirrodin block drafts are up for January. Top cards from these sets include Blood Moon, Ensnaring Bridge, Oblivion Stone, Chalice of the Void, Auriok Champion, Crucible of Worlds and Arcbound Ravager.
Legacy & Vintage
Following the Legacy Magic Online Championship Season (MOCS) finals prices trends in Legacy staples are fairly mitigated. While several Legacy staples such as Counterbalance, Green Sun's Zenith, Volcanic Island, Wasteland, Infernal Tutor and Natural Order have lost value over the past two weeks, other staples including Tropical Island, Lion's Eye Diamond, Dark Depths, Mox Diamond and Cabal Therapy have, surprisingly, increased in value.
The upward trend observed for these positions is rather surprising considering that interest in Legacy is usually low on MTGO. Outside of rare events such as the Legacy MOCS, staples in this format commonly don't fluctuate much or follow patterns too unpredictable for speculators. The release of Oath of the Gatewatch and its corresponding Modern Pro Tour are likely to put an end to any upward trends observed until now. Investments in Legacy should remain a marginal part of portfolios at this point compared to Standard and Modern speculative opportunities.
2016 Modern flashback drafts will also have some impact on a few Legacy staples, including Sensei's Divining Top, Counterbalance and Infernal Tutor. With substantially less demand than playable Modern staples, these cards might be subject to even bigger price drops once their corresponding sets begin to be drafted.
In a favorable context for Vintage prices, the third Power Nine Challenge is schedule for this weekend. The attendance for the second P9 Challenge was slightly lower than for the first one. Players and speculators await the results of this upcoming online Vintage event to check on the popularity and stability of Vintage on MTGO.
Pauper is not done yet with its price inflation. Many Pauper prices this week are again on the rise with several positions posting new record high.
Below 2 tix earlier this September, Exclude has now ventured above the bar of 8 tix, almost twice its previous best mark. Quirion Ranger, Obsidian Acolyte, Plated Sliver, Oubliette and Serrated Arrows are a few other examples of Pauper positions that posted strong gains over the past few weeks. Undeniably, the introduction of Pauper leagues totally reinvigorated the format which became much more attractive to competitive players.
Despite Mirrodin flashback drafts coming only a few weeks away, Great Furnace and Ancient Den set new records for themselves this past week. Along with the rest of the artifact lands, these commons are expected to take a huge hit with the three weeks of flashback drafts featuring Mirrodin later this January.
More broadly, every Pauper staple included in a set featured over the course of the Modern flashback series will see strong price cuts. Pauper players and speculators are strongly encouraged to review their current holdings and sell accordingly.