This series is for MTGO players and speculators looking to build value in their collection and play Magic for free. My focus recently has been on Eternal Masters (EMA) which means this has been a big week.
Winners and Losers
A dozen or so cards shot up the moment they were confirmed out of the set, and others dropped hard. Here are some of the winners and the losers:
I kept folks updated in the forums, and if you moved quickly (or placed good bets in advance) there were some nice profits for the taking. On Friday morning I restocked the "watch list" playsets I dumped and stocked up on omitted staples. Infernal Tutor, Cavern of Souls, and Grove of the Burnwillows are not in the index above, but were nice winners as well.
It was a good day finance-wise, but as someone who has predicted, and hoped for, the growth of Legacy as an online format, the final round of EMA spoilers was pretty disappointing.
Many people had expected to get Rishadan Port or Show and Tell, which would have lowered the barriers to entry for the format. I understand if they didn't want to include Port and Wasteland in the same set, but they missed an opportunity by omitting other cards that are expensive on MTGO but cheap in paper.
Including a few of these would have boosted the MTGO expected value (EV) and increased the volume of drafting while leaving paper EV unaffected. (Paper EV is a concern since they don't want stores hoarding boxes or cracking packs for profit.)
By this logic, Tangle Wire (50 tix online, $4 paper) and Misdirection ($85 online, $5 paper) should have been no-brainers. The high prices of these cards create a distorted MTGO ecosystem and metagame.
The bottom line is that we're looking at a low-EV set for MTGO---significantly lower than Modern Masters (MMA), Vintage Masters (VMA), and Modern Masters 2015 (MM2) when they first hit the draft queues. Saffron Olive has crunched the numbers and it's not a pretty picture: the average draft will cost 24 tix but contain only 10.8 tix of value in singles. And that's the high mark, since EV will fall quickly once drafting starts.
I still think people will draft it because the set looks fun and because, let's face it, we're degenerates. But the volume will be lower because chewing through 20 tix a draft is no fun (nor sustainable for many). Wizards left some money on the table by not making the MTGO EV better.
What About the Cards That Weren't Reprinted?
There is a huge need for Rishadan Port and Misdirection in the MTGO metagame and I think Wizards will find a way to reprint them. The question is how and when---and whether it will be enough. Port is 60 tix more expensive than Black Lotus right now, which is bizarre to say the least. Do you want to be holding a 197-tix time bomb?
In the forums, Bill Quick speculates that a MOCS quarterly promo is likely, but that won't introduce much supply. That they chose not to reprint some key Urza's and Mercadian Masques block cards makes me think we will see some flashbacks (or remasters) of these sets. VMA2 is another possibility. But these methods will take a while.
It's always risky to be holding high-value MTGO cards since there is no online Reserved List and reprints can come in many forms: promos, flashbacks, Legendary Cube prize packs, etc. It's worth taking some profits on the gains you've made rather than sitting on these cards too long.
There are two good exit points for EMA "hits" (which include our Reserved List specs and last week's round of non-reprinted EMA cards).
- The first is to sell between now and when EMA drafting starts online, on June 17. Why sell before EMA? All set releases put pressure on prices as players sell cards to draft and bots preemptively adjust prices.
- The second opportunity will be to sell directly before the Legacy Festival. (This includes competitive Leagues and a high-payout Championship.) The window here is between July 6 and July 20.
I'm not sure which of these opportunities will offer higher sell prices. Selling before June 17 is safer, but you may be leaving money on the table. Most likely I will split the difference and sell some of my stock before June 17 and hold the rest for the Festival.
Picks This Week
Arid Mesa (ZEN)
Current: 16 tix
Target: 21 tix
Arid Mesa is Modern staple and sees play in Legacy. And yet it is down 8 tix in the past month despite not appearing in EMA. A very safe investment.
Crucible of Worlds (10E)
Current: 19.5 tix
Target: 25 tix
A low-supply card with a home in Legacy. Has a set point of 20, so not a huge value right now. Was recently at 28.5 tix just on the basis of Legacy speculation before 10th Edition flashbacks drove the price down. Should climb past 25 before long.
Past in Flames (INN)
Current: 8.7 tix
Target: 13-16 tix
With the exception of one week last November, this card has not dropped below 10 tix. And it has recent highs of 17 tix. It's a mythic played in both Legacy and Modern, a clear recipe for success.
Current: 3 tix
Target: 8 tix
Vesuva was at 11 tix not long ago. It's back to its 3-tix floor; low risk, and nice returns are possible.
Ensnaring Bridge (STH)
Current: 31.8 tix
Target: 45 tix
Bridge hit 50 tix not long ago and then drifted down because of EMA reprint concerns. It has not really rebounded, so there's still a window to buy in. You can save a few tix by buying white border if you are looking for cheaper playsets.
Current: 18 tix
Target: 40 tix
Shout out to Justin Vickers in the forums for this one! Doomsday slowly crept up to 46 tix around BFZ release and stayed there for months before plunging when EMA was announced. It has not recovered, but it will.
All KTK Fetchlands
These are down 5-10% this week, but the future is bright as multi-format all stars in a set that is being redeemed but not opened.
Cards to Watch
The following cards are likely to drop a bit further as we enter two weeks of Lorwyn block drafts. Keep an eye out, as there is value to be had.
Current: 26.3 tix
Target: 36 tix
Morningtide drafts are coming, which will be a good time to snag some Scapeshifts. The linchpin of the deck that bears its name, Scapeshift has hit 40 tix before. The deck has seen Tier 1 success, and a strong performance at a GP or in the hands of a popular pro will net a tidy profit. But even barring that, 35 tix seems likely.
Gaddock Teeg (LRW)
Current: 4.5 tix
Target: 7 tix
Teeg hit 11 tix before Oath of Gatewatch. I don't expect him to get back there, but 7-8 tix is possible.
That's it for now. Let's go pad our wallets before EMA takes its toll.