Welcome to the MTGO Market Report as compiled by Matthew Lewis. The report will cover a range of topics, including a summary of set prices and price changes for redeemable sets, a look at the major trends in various constructed formats, and a trade of the week section that highlights a particular speculative strategy with an example and accompanying explanation.
As always, speculators should take into account their own budget, risk tolerance and current portfolio before buying or selling any digital objects. Questions will be answered and can be sent via private message or posted in the article comments.
Below are the total set prices for all redeemable sets on MTGO. All prices are current as of January 25th, 2016. 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.
Flashback Draft of the Week
The original Mirrodin block flashback drafts have ended, to be followed by a hiatus as Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) prerelease events begin on Friday and run over the weekend. The next flashback draft will start in three weeks on February 17th and will be triple Champions of Kamigawa draft to kick off Kamigawa block draft.
After the recent market turmoil due to the banning of Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom, prices have started to come down in general. A former high flier that has really suffered is Keranos, God of Storms from Journey Into Nyx. After peaking near 50 tix, it can now be found rather easily in the 26 to 27 tix range.
This type of drop definitely piques my interest as its very easy to imagine some kind of blue-red deck moving into the void created by the departure of Twin decks. If Keranos continues to show up as a key sideboard card, this recent drop could be a good buying opportunity. A price of 20 tix or less should be a snap buy for players to pick up a couple of copies to keep in their collection.
Speculators and players alike should be taking a hard look at the cards in their collections and judging whether or not its worth keeping something like Grove of the Burnwillows which has recently hit 53 tix. Players who can't imagine playing anything but Tron in Modern should keep their playsets, but this price level for this type of card is extreme. If Tron is that good in the new Modern, it will be under threat of a ban at some point.
With OGW being released in paper and the first tournament results including this set trickling in, attention is shifting back to Standard. Prices on recent sets are in fluctuation as the format digests the addition of the new cards. MTGO players and speculators alike should be sitting on their excess tix at this point with an eye to scooping up any deals that show up in the next couple of weeks.
Broadly speaking, we should be looking at targeted purchases of cards from Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins first. These two sets will still be in Standard after Shadows Over Innistrad is released in April. Today's Standard staple is likely to be player in the next iteration of Standard, although there will always be room for format all-stars to drop in utility and for unplayable cards to find a home.
For speculators that want to keep things simple and avoid picking stocks, adding Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) sets into your collection is an excellent way to diversify and reduce risk. Set prices bottom while a set is being drafted and then rise when a set is not being actively drafted. This simple rule means patient speculators and players can expect modest medium- to long-term gains on BFZ sets purchased over the next month.
Cards from Fate Reforged (FRF) and Khans of Tarkir (KTK) are the riskiest bets at this point. With only a few months left in Standard, the specter of rotation will hang over the price of these sets.
A card like Warden of the First Tree is heavily played in Standard and is at a low price relative to its history. It's a prime candidate for a bounce back in the next three months, but it's not guaranteed. Seeing zero play in Modern means that this card will be heading to below 0.5 tix at some point after April.
Speculating on a Standard-only cards from FRF and KTK is a guaranteed loser in the long term, so only nimble speculators should consider speculating on Standard singles from these two sets.
The key booster trade this week is to buy OGW boosters during the prerelease weekend. Events will be tix-only entry and pay out in OGW boosters, which means that players will be looking to sell their prizes in order to play more events as they won't be able to use them to draft or play sealed deck. Once prerelease events wind down on Monday, release drafts will start accepting boosters as an entry option.
What this means is that there is a temporary window where the price of an OGW booster is depressed because it isn't very useful and some players will convert them into tix. After this window closes, the price of an OGW booster will increase along with their utility.
Speculators and players alike should be on the lookout this weekend for discounted OGW boosters. This type of trade can be quite crowded and so don't expect to be able to deploy hundreds of tix at optimal prices. An OGW booster at 3.5 tix or less should be considered a fair price for a short-term gain or just a discount to the store price. If you have the opportunity to buy any amount of boosters at 3.3 tix or less, don't be afraid to snap them up as quickly as you can.
Having said all that, there is no data on how the price of OGW will evolve over the next week. Previously small sets were introduced into draft queues as a single booster, but two boosters of OGW will be used. This will also be the first small set introduced under play points. Both of these new effects are stimulative to demand, so this might mean that boosters prices don't fall below 3.5 tix.
In a situation like this, where there are a lot of unknowns, the best advice is to update your expectations as more data becomes available. If prices start out at 3.1 for an OGW booster on Friday night, this might be a screaming deal or it could be the sign of lower prices to come. My bias would be to expect higher prices than that over the weekend, so I wouldn't be afraid to start buying if I saw prices like 3.1 tix.
However, there would be a nagging doubt about the direction of prices, which could only be allayed by checking back in on Saturday morning. If prices had recovered to 3.3 tix or higher at that point, then I would have no fear of going deeper on OGW boosters as my expectations would be proven correct. But if prices had dipped below 3.0 tix, then I would not be a buyer and would have to go back to the drawing board on my thoughts on booster prices in this new environment.
Elsewhere, FRF boosters have continued to drift down and now sit below 1.6 tix, which is getting very close to their all-time low of 1.4 tix. Players should not be afraid to top up their booster supply at these prices. Speculators will want to deploy tix into FRF boosters with the kick off of OGW release events, though it should be a lower priority booster spec this weekend.
These would be a medium-term spec, looking for a selling window in March of over 2 tix. I put the likelihood of this price move at 60%, but the downside is quite limited. I would say there's only a 5% chance that FRF boosters will drop below 1.4 tix before the first week of March.
KTK boosters have proven to be very stable, and with the presence of the all-format staple fetch lands, there is a very strong reason to suspect prices will not dip in any meaningful way. Look for any price weakness over the next week as an opportunity to stock up on these boosters. I would put the likelihood that KTK boosters crest 3.5 tix again in the next two months at 75% with a small chance of 10% that they drop to 2.8 tix or less.
Trade of the Week
A trade I made over the weekend was to target Serum Visions; you can see the portfolio entry at this link. I bought two playsets; one from Fifth Dawn and the other the promo version. Considering a recent price history fluctuating between 2 and 8 tix, 2.5 tix seemed like a safe level to buy this card. Although it might not hit 8 tix in the next year, I would say there's an 80% chance of a return to 5+ tix over this time frame.
This type of trade should be the bread and butter of any speculator. The temporary supply from flashback drafts is always an opportunity to look for good prices on staples such as Serum Visions. Modern staple commons that have seen prices above 5 tix invariably will see a return to those prices at some point.
The only event that threatens a drastic price decrease on staple commons is a full-on reprint in a current release or a Modern Masters type release. Both of these events are possible in 2016, but unlikely in my mind. Modern Masters sets have so far been well telegraphed in advance, and have occurred every other year up to this point, which points to the next big round of reprints from a Modern Masters set occurring in 2017.
A reprint of Serum Visions in a current release is possible, but with scry having been a mechanic recently seen in quantity out of Theros block, I find it unlikely to see such a narrow reprint in the near-term. Although scry did show up in OGW on Seer's Lantern, this is more a utility card and not a showcase for the mechanic, which is what I'd expect if Serum Visions was reprinted.