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 30th, 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
Triple Lorwyn (LRW) drafts start this week, and this is a set which marked a turning point in Magic as a game. Although they were hinted at in Future Sight, the introduction of the original five planeswalkers ushered in a new era of Magic and is the most distinct development that arose from this set.
On a more subtle front, the gameplay that arose from the Lorwyn draft format helped set the stage for the New World Order of Magic R&D. If you haven't read the article before, I highly recommend reading Mark Rosewater's piece on it.
Although the creatures are underpowered relative to what we're used to today, there exist a ton of tribal synergies that can create very complicated board states. It was this complexity that helped spur the changes that showed up in the core set reboot of Magic 2010. Needless to say, the triple LRW draft is not for the faint of heart.
LRW doesn't offer a ton of value, but there are some notable Modern staples that players and speculators should be aware of. The original printings of Cryptic Command and Thoughtseize are from this set, but the fringe-playable Wanderwine Hub is the most expensive card from this set at 9 tix currently. Avoid this rare land and focus on more-played cards from Modern and Legacy, like Thorn of Amethyst.
Lots of Modern staples saw depressed prices lift this past week after the full Eternal Masters spoiler was revealed. Cavern of Souls, Grove of the Burnwillows and Infernal Tutor are a few cards that are up sharply this week.
If there's anything to glean from the price activity around the release of a Masters set is that the fear of a reprint is much bigger than the reality of a reprint. I had been willing to buy cards like these in recent weeks, and on the final morning of EMA previews I put the last few of the Market Report portfolio's tix into more copies of Modern staples like these.
Wizards of the Coast has had a lot of practice by now balancing out the value of these reprint sets, and they aren't willing to just helicopter-drop a ton of value into players hands. Modern cards that get expensive will eventually see a reprint in a Modern Masters set or in a new cycle of Expedition-type cards, but speculators and players should not fear reprints.
If a card gets reprinted and you are stuck with a big loss on a position, that's a risk that you should be willing to take at this point. Let the rest of the market be fearful and when most of the reprints don't occur, be happy to sell cards back at the new price after players scramble to buy back the cards that they need to play with.
The usual caveats about diversification apply here, of course. As long as your portfolio is spread across a variety of cards and/or formats, a drop on one shouldn't sting too much.
Although he didn't finish in the Top 8, Tomoharu Saito took an innovative blue-red deck to a Top 32 finish, which Ryan Overturf briefly wrote about here. We can see the immediate impact of a new Standard archetype, with Goldnight Castigator from Shadows over Innistrad (SOI) more than doubling in the past week.
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is back up to his old tricks, falling to around 30 tix before staging a rebound back to 39 tix this week. Although the overall downtrend continues, there have been many potentially profitable swings on this Magic Origins (ORI) mythic rare.
With bot margins on Standard cards being so narrow, this can be a profitable price range for speculators to move on. Only nimble speculators who can dedicate time to watching the market should be trying to speculate on Jace, but it's very possible there is another cycle down coming for this card.
In Battle for Zendikar (BFZ), Part the Waterveil has made an unusual move higher in the last six weeks. A 500% increase is nothing to sneeze at, but it's unclear if this is organic market activity or someone trying to corner the market.
Recent tournament results from decks using this card suggest that it's fringe-playable only, which doesn't justify the current price. If you are holding any copies of this card, it's a good time to sell.
Last week I predicted that Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) and Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) boosters would stabilize and rise above 2.2 tix and 3.2 tix respectively as Tenth Edition draft replaced the relatively popular Time Spiral block draft in the flashback queues. As of writing, BFZ boosters have sunk below 2.1 tix, though OGW boosters have bumped up to over 3.3. tix. Let's call this one a draw and see what happens next week.
Trade of the Week
As usual, the portfolio is available at this link. When your portfolio is tix-constrained and there's no current release event draining liquidity from the market, it's correct to assess which positions have reached their short-term potential.
One of my recent purchases at the start of Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad was Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, a powerful planeswalker that anchors the G/W Tokens strategy of Standard. This deck took down both Standard Grand Prix events this weekend, and the price of Nissa did not budge.
I think the ceiling on this card while it's in Standard is in the 15 to 20 tix range, though it might take until the winter to reach its peak. It's also possible that shifts in the Standard metagame push G/W Tokens out of contention, but it definitely looks like players on MTGO aren't picking up this deck in great numbers.
With no short-term catalyst visible and no recent upward price movement, it's become time to harvest profits on Nissa and prepare for other opportunities. I'll be looking to cull additional cards from the portfolio over the next month in order to build liquidity heading into the summer. The release of Eternal Masters and then Eldritch Moon will be a good time to have tix standing by.