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Insider: MTGO Market Report for March 9th, 2016

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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.

Redemption

Below are the total set prices for all redeemable sets on MTGO. All prices are current as of March 7th, 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.

Mar7

Flashback Draft of the Week

9th Edition draft will be with us for a week, so it's another opportunity for players to pick up cards like Blood Moon, the Urza lands (known as the Tron lands) and the original Ice Age cycle of allied pain lands and Apocalypse cycle of opposing-colour pain lands. Adarkar Wastes in particular is one not to let slip through your fingertips as it has recently spiked to over 10 tix due to its use in Modern Eldrazi decks.

This is a draft format which I have familiarity with. It's very fun, with cheap removal and high-impact creatures, as well as many ways to gain card advantage. Prioritize good removal and fliers, and you'll be well on your way to a solid draft deck.

Blue's card drawing and selection is exceptional with Sift and Sleight of Hand at common and then some real powerhouses at uncommon with Thieving Magpie, Thought Courier and the windmill slam first pick, the draw-four sorcery of Tidings.

Like most older sets, green is typically underwhelming in power level. Llanowar Elves and Rampant Growth are two powerful cards to accelerate your deck, but the typical large creatures tend to be underwhelming and relatively fragile due to the common removal spells and tappers, as well as stuff like Drudge Skeletons that can effectively gum up the ground.

Green can be paired with red in an aggressive shell to some success. Just be sure to pack cards like Panic Attack and Threaten in order to break through a ground stall. Red also brings Flame Wave and Blaze at uncommon for finishers. Alternatively, green has two uncommon landwalkers in Anaconda and River Bear that do a lot of work against two of the best colours in the format, black and blue.

White is also a top notch colour in the format, but usually seeks to control the board with small utility creatures, backed up by targeted removal such as Pacifism and Vengeance. Glorious Anthem is a fantastic reason to get into white and combines very well with what this colour wants to be doing in this format.

In general, try to be in blue or black as these are the two best colours of the format in terms of power level. White and red occupy the mid tier, with green at the bottom. A lot of the classic colour pairs and strategies are viable, and some high-cost cards like Aladdin's Ring and Plague Wind should find their way into your deck, if not out of your sideboard.

Try to stick to two colours, but splashing a third colour is not hard for blue due to their card drawing and selection. Typically green doesn't operate well as a core colour due to the low power level of their cards, so don't be too tempted to try a multi-colour deck based around green.

Modern

During the Top 8 of Grand Prix Detroit this past weekend, Brian David Marshall from the coverage team did a live interview with Aaron Forsythe on the state of Modern and the impact of the Eldrazi. Forsythe is the director of Research and Development for Magic at Wizards of the Coast (WoTC), so any banned and restricted announcement has to be approved by him.

His message was that the Eldrazi were over-represented in the Modern metagame and something was going to be done about it in time for the Shadows over Innistrad (SOI) banned and restricted announcement. He also said the goal would be to keep Eldrazi builds competitive in Modern.

This suggests that WoTC feels that Eldrazi is more akin to something like Jund in Modern, where problematic cards push a deck over the top in terms of power level. Two rounds of bannings saw Bloodbraid Elf and Deathrite Shaman get the axe for that archetype.

Unfortunately this is not a great precedent to draw any inference from as the cards banned were creatures that appeared ubiquitously in that archetype. One might conclude that either one or more of Thought-Knot Seer, Reality Smasher, Eldrazi Mimic and Endless One could be banned. This would be a mistake.

There are precious few lands that accelerate your mana development in Modern. Outside of the Tron lands, which require effort to assemble and give no benefit during the turns before all three are assembled, the Eldrazi decks gets access to two lands that accelerate your mana with no effort. The true power of the deck comes from Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple.

These lands are akin to the artifact lands which powered Affinity decks of yore. Notably, five out of six of the artifact lands have been on the Modern ban list since the inception of the format. This is the correct comparison to make, and why many have been calling for the banning of these lands. This inference combined with Forsythe's comments over the weekend means we should expect one of the lands to be banned.

Standard

The introduction of sealed deck leagues featuring Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) and Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) has been a huge success with over 4000 active players. This is a substantial increase in the product flowing into the MTGO economy and the prices on BFZ and OGW sets reflect this change, with OGW falling 17% this week.

Look for this trend to continue up to the release of SOI. Players and speculators who have been holding off buying cards from BFZ and OGW will be rewarded with the lowest set prices in the coming weeks.

Fate Reforged (FRF) and Khans of Tarkir (KTK) continue their descent as rotation nears. Typically the bottom will come during SOI release events, followed by period of flat prices. Paper prices usually bottom in the months after rotation. Once paper prices turn upward, then digital prices will follow.

What this means for speculators and players is that cards from these sets are not yet on sale and the short-term prospects are bleak. It's time to build up tix in your portfolio in anticipation of when cards from these sets will be on sale in April.

Elsewhere, Dragons of Tarkir (DTK) and Magic Origins (ORI) are at a mid-season peak. Standard rotating in April will shake up relative valuations for cards from these two sets. Value will flow from cards that become less played to cards that are played more often, but further gains in set prices are difficult to imagine. Both DTK and ORI have more downside risk than upside as we head into April.

Standard Boosters

BFZ boosters have seen a boost from the introduction of sealed deck leagues and are now sitting at over 3.8 tix. Players and speculators should be looking to sell their stock of BFZ boosters over the coming weeks. Longer-term, these will hit 4 tix, but the short-term boost from leagues combined with the pending release of SOI should encourage most people to take advantage of this situation in order to increase liquidity over the next few weeks.

FRF and KTK boosters have suffered as a result of this reintroduction of leagues. Players and speculators should look to sell all of these boosters over the next two or three weeks. The gains on these are now baked in and getting closer to the release of SOI will introduce greater downside risk.

After FRF and KTK rotate out of Standard and are no longer usable in draft, the value of the boosters will sink alongside the value of the cards they contain. Holding these closer to April is an invitation for further losses.

Trade of the Week

As usual, the portfolio is available at this link. This week I picked up Linvala, the Preserver from OGW.

Although casual demand is quite small on MTGO, there are cards that attract higher prices and higher price floors due to their nature. Angels are usually a pretty good bet, and mythic ones don't often fall below 1 tix while they are in Standard. This gives us a strong sense of safety when considering Linvala as a spec target. We are unlikely to lose much at this price level.

On the upside, Linvala is objectively powerful and not played in Standard. If there was any prospect of future play in Standard, then this would give us a hint at the upside.

I have no idea what Standard will look like in April, but I do know that the three- and four-colour mana bases so prevalent right now will be impossible to achieve without a much higher cost. And with many of the powerful wedge cards rotating along with the fetch lands, the reasons to stretch your mana base will also be less compelling.

Add it all up, and a retreat to mono- or two-colour strategies is a strong possibility. Any card with two of the same colour of mana in its casting cost should be considered carefully in light of the pending Standard rotation. Value-conscious speculators should be looking to cards like this that are underplayed at the moment, and Linvala certainly fits the bill.

2 thoughts on “Insider: MTGO Market Report for March 9th, 2016

  1. Hey Matt,

    Great article. The prices on Eye of Ugin never converged as we hoped they would. What is the new strategy for this card now that it has lost so much value?

    1. Great question. Longer term, it looks like Eldrazi will be Legacy playable, which will support prices on Eye of Ugin. However, a banning in the short term will lower the price. If the card is not banned, then prices will rebound.

      Opinions are split on which of Eye of Ugin or Eldrazi Temple will get banned. I lean towards Eye, but enough smart people think that the Temple ban would be correct to give me pause.

      At current prices, I feel the upside outweighs the downside. I think the MM2 version of Eye of Ugin would go to 1 to 2 tix based off of being banned in Modern but Legacy playable. But, if it’s not banned in Modern, then it should rebound to 8+ tix in short order. This defines the risk/reward for me, and although it’s been a big loser, you can’t worry about what you have lost. At this point those tix are gone so we have to move forward with the best available information.

      To conclude, I will continue to hold my Eye of Ugin as the expectation is that the upside outweighs the downside, at current prices.

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