Insider: MTGO Market Report for May 2nd, 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.


Below are the total set prices for all redeemable sets on MTGO. All prices are current as of May 2nd, 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. Note that sets of Theros (THS) are out of stock in the store, so this set is no longer redeemable.

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

Flashback drafts return this week with triple Time Spiral (TSP) starting on May 4th. Be on the lookout for Ancestral Vision as the most expensive regular rare of the set. The priciest Timeshifted card is Pendelhaven at nearly 13 tix followed by The Rack at 11 tix.

Triple TSP draft is a lot of fun. Keep in mind that the suspend mechanic is deceptively powerful, with many players considering Errant Ephemeron the top common in the set. Luis Scott-Vargas listed his favorite draft archetypes in this thread. They are U/W Momentary Blink tempo and fliers; Grixis Mystical Teachings/Strangling Soot control; G/W Thrill of the Hunt beatdown; and finally U/R suspend tempo.


Modern prices are on the upswing this week after dropping substantially around the release of Shadows over Innistrad (SOI). Sylvain has been busy buying up depressed staples and I've been doing the same for the Market Report Portfolio.

On the deck archetype front, the given-up-for-dead R/G Tron strategy is still putting up results in Leagues, as well as in paper. As a result, cards like Grove of the Burnwillows and Karn Liberated have seen a healthy jump in price this week.

It's important to realize that a truly dominant Tier 1 strategy won't exist in Modern for very long. The best older strategies eventually get banned, and if we see a warped format in the wake of a set like Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW), then Wizards of the Coast will act quickly to restore order with a banning. Given all of that, speculating on depressed staples from every Tier 1.5 or Tier 2 deck is a great long-term strategy.

There are too many playable decks to sideboard effectively against. This means that eventually every deck will have its day in the sun as the metagame stops preparing for it. This is what has happened with R/G Tron. Everyone has been selling the cards from this deck in the assumption that without Eye of Ugin it's not viable. Whoops! Turns out it can still win a tournament.


There's been a big shift in value in Magic Origins (ORI) as the market grapples to determine where Jace, Vryn's Prodigy fits into the Standard metagame. Clearly the card is still good as it shows up in Bant Company, the Esper Dragons deck that won Grand Prix Toronto, and another Top 4 deck from that same tournament in Grixis Control.

Clearly Jace still has something to say about Standard, but now there are multiple cards from ORI seeing lots of play, including Kytheon, Hero of Akros and Nissa, Vastwood Seer. It's very difficult for a card from any Standard set to hold a price over 40 tix, let alone 60 tix. High prices like these were only possible when the rest of the set was being left on the sidelines. Now that other cards are showing up, value has bled from Jace to these cards.

Elsewhere in Standard, the devaluation of SOI continues as sealed leagues and drafters continue to enjoy the new limited format. The only thing that is safe to speculate on from this set at the moment are rares priced at junk levels.

I used to consider 0.4 tix a safe level to buy junk mythic rares at, but I've steadily lowered the bar for these. At this point, 0.15 tix or less should be considered a good buying opportunity, although you might have to wait for a fleeting selling opportunity. Junk rares for 0.01 tix or less are a decent spec, but they have to have a chance of being played at some point in Standard.

Sometimes a card is priced at junk because it is junk, and these are the ones you want to avoid. Longer-term, the real buying opportunity on SOI will not occur until August.

For an example of what is possible after rotation, look to the one month returns on cards from Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) and Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW). BFZ is up 8% in the last month, but OGW is up an astounding 55%. This will be worth paying attention to in August when it's time to allocate tix to buying cards from SOI or from Eldritch Moon (EMN).

Maybe it's the power level of OGW versus BFZ cards that favors the smaller set, but I suspect we'll also see outsized returns on EMN over SOI. Months of triple SOI draft means that a substantial amount of supply will be kicking around the MTGO economy in August, whereas EMN will only see a couple of months of drafting.

Standard Boosters

There's an interesting divergence occurring in the price of Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) and Oath of the Gatewatch boosters. At current prices both represent good value relative to where their prices will be later this year. However, it appears that OGW boosters are on their way to 4 tix much faster than BFZ boosters. If further investigation reveals structural reasons for this divergence, then this would signal that OGW boosters are a superior choice over BFZ boosters.

Fortunately we don't have to look very far to discover the cause. Since the release of SOI, there is only one way to consume BFZ and OGW boosters in draft and that is in the Swiss 6-2-2-2 queues. The numbers represent the prizes awarded to the top four players. If you go 3-0, then you are awarded an even two draft sets. But, if you get two wins, you get one BFZ booster and one OGW booster.

That means every time a BFZ-OGW draft fires, three people finish the event needing one OGW booster for their next draft. This skews demand for boosters, as OGW and BFZ are entering the market in a ratio of 7:5 but they are being consumed as draft entry in a 8:4 ratio.

With BFZ-OGW drafts firing slowly but steadily, the market is going to be exhausted of cheap OGW boosters sooner rather than later. BFZ boosters will face a harder time rising to 4 tix but OGW boosters are well on their way.

Trade of the Week

As usual, the portfolio is available at this link. This week I am still picking up depressed Modern staples. One of the cards that the Eldrazi decks featured was Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. This card has fallen substantially and is now available for under 1.5 tix.

Next week, there will be some extra supply coming onto the market when Planar Chaos gets added to the Time Spiral block draft queues. Prices will go a little lower, but with fresh supply coming online soon, a savvy speculator can build up a large position in this card without causing a ripple. I put a playset into the portfolio this morning.

3 thoughts on “Insider: MTGO Market Report for May 2nd, 2016

  1. Great article as always. In regards to BFZ full sets, what price are you aiming at in order to unload yours at? When do you speculate that time will be?

    1. I did not speculate on BFZ sets myself, outside of a playset of foil mythic rares. Buying sets is a great tactic for reducing risk and getting invested, though so I have discussed buying complete sets in the column and I know Sylvain is a fan since it allows for moving a lot of tix in few transactions.

      That being said, I think the peak will not be until next winter. If you can hold until November 2016 into January 2017, I think that will be the peak.

      Otherwise, an earlier peak might be in August after Eldritch Moon release events.

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