This past weekend I had a rare opportunity for nostalgia---I revisited the LGS of my childhood in New Jersey, more than 600 miles from my home in Ohio. The occasion was one of coincidence, as visiting my family while also exploring walkable neighborhoods became the perfect combination. To celebrate the walk down memory lane I purchased three booster packs of the latest Magic set: Conspiracy: Take the Crown.
The first pack brought me certain delight as I opened up two of the most coveted uncommons in the set: Serum Visions and Beast Within. Even though profit was not my end goal for the purchase, it was still encouraging to know that I recouped my entry costs on the first pack alone.
Or did I?
As it turns out, the “money uncommons” I celebrated had dropped off significantly since they had been spoiled. What at first glance looked like a $10 booster pack turned out to be a tanking pull. Beast Within was no better.
The Reprint Reality of Conspiracy 2
As most of you know, Conspiracy 2 is a completely loaded reprint set. Serum Visions and Beast Within are inconsequential when compared to some of the most impactful reappearances of 2016. Berserk and Show and Tell get top billing, but the reappearance of Inquisition of Kozilek is far from irrelevant as well. Throw that on top of some of the chase new cards, and you have one desirable release.
This isn’t necessarily a good thing for MTG finance, however. While retailers will make bank pre-selling singles at inflated prices, the reality of the situation is that card prices from this set will inevitably tank within a few short weeks. And I don’t mean 10-20% drops like we saw with some Eternal Masters cards. We’re talking 50-80% price declines in even some of the most desirable cards of the set.
Look no further than Berserk, which is selling for $25 despite the fact that Unlimited copies had just broken the $100 mark a month ago. Expect rapid and steady declines until the gap between the two editions becomes much smaller.
The same trend is likely with Show and Tell as well as all of the other reprints in the set. It’s about to get ugly.
After peaking at $80 in 2014, Show and Tell had already embarked on a steady decline due to a decline in Sneak & Show’s success in Legacy. But after stabilizing in the $60 range, the card is once again plummeting on this new reprint.
And comparing the Urza’s Saga price to the reprinted version indicates a 2x multiplier between the two. This won’t last. I expect the gap to retreat to the 20% range, meaning we will see sub-$40 copies from the original printing imminently.
And as mentioned before, that Serum Visions pull was no cause for celebration. After peaking at $15, this card is destined to plummet to under $2 now that it has been printed in an unlimited-print-run set. That’s one painful reprint.
No End to the Pain in Sight
This set was just released. There’s a ton more to be opened at FNM’s over the next month. Add in the fact that many players will be chasing these desirable reprints, and we’re on course for a major crash in prices.
Upon release the expected value of a booster box of Conspiracy 2 was well over $100. There’s no way that’s sustainable, because it means vendors are better off just cracking product to sell the singles within. This will be exactly what happens until the supply is so excessive that prices decline and the EV drops to below booster box prices---typically $70-$80.
This means anything you open from Conspiracy 2 is going to drop in price day after day until a bottom is found. The Serum Visions I pulled last weekend is worth $2 now, but I’ll be lucky if it’s worth half that two weeks from now. Those celebrating their Show and Tell pull now will likely get less than $20 for the card after fees and shipping are factored in. It’s going to get ugly for the everything in the set.
While most of the reprints of this set are destined to tank, there are a couple of very narrow exceptions I wanted to point out. Primarily, I’m talking about key eternal foils of the set.
You see, these reprints not only represent some major Modern and Legacy staples---they also offer opportunities to get foils that were previously difficult to find. For example, Show and Tell was a judge foil before it was reprinted in Conspiracy 2. Now there’s a chance to crack one open in a pack, which is certainly more attractive than trying to find a judge copy at your LGS. These foils may drop off a little bit in the short term, but I suspect they’ll maintain a significant price multiplier once the set’s dust settles.
Berserk is an even more compelling story. The only foil that existed prior to Conspiracy 2 was the From the Vault: Exiled printing. Not only were those copies $70 and hard to find, they were also manufactured with the oft-derided low-cost foiling method. The result: a lot of unattractive, bending foils with little other options…until now.
It’s no surprise that foil copies from Conspiracy 2 are already selling for $80---the same price range as the FtV version. Six months from now I expect these set-foil copies to sell for more than their FtV counterparts because the standard foiling process is that much more desirable.
In addition, it’s worth reminding everyone of another easily overlooked fact about Conspiracy 2: it’s not redeemable online. So while it’ll be opened infinitely at big box retailers and LGS’s alike, there won’t be massive redemptions of complete foil sets to fill out supply.
As a result, I expect desirable eternal foils from this set will offer a fighting chance for decent ROI. After watching the Alpha Investments video on Youtube about this very subject, I suspect you’ll agree.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Ok, so reprints will tank in price. You may be thinking this is nothing new. You’re right.
That’s why I wanted to add this one last section, consisting of a few speculation ideas worth considering as the Summer ends and the Autumn season begins.
First, I want to talk generically about Eldritch Moon cards. I’m no Standard expert, so I won’t even consider recommending specific singles from the set. What I will argue, however, is that any Eldritch Moon cards that do well in Standard---especially after Standard rotates this fall---are well-positioned for a pop. Because Eldritch Moon was sandwiched between Eternal Masters and Conspiracy 2, I have to imagine the amount opened will be significantly lower than other recent sets.
While I wouldn’t take this as license to buy recklessly into every rare of the set, I do believe any “surprises” in Standard come this Fall will see significant appreciation. My advice: stay on top of the Standard metagame as soon as the format rotates and place your bets before the Pro Tour to ensure a shot at maximum profits.
Oh, and if Liliana, the Last Hope remains powerful in Standard, don’t expect it to drop below $35 anytime soon.
Standard not your thing? Don’t worry, it’s not mine either.
While my affinity for Modern is also minimal at best, I will admit there is some opportunity for profit sprinkled throughout the format. The Death's Shadow Aggro deck has been making waves across many large Modern events, and I expect more players to sleeve up the deck come this fall. That means more growth for the deck’s namesake card ahead.
Considering this is a card from Worldwake (which was opened minimally) that has never been reprinted, you’re looking at real potential to pop here. That $10 price tag may seem steep now considering the card was once bulk---but trust me, it has a lot of upside. If this remains a top tier deck in Modern, this card will break $20 easily.
I also like that new Dredge deck in Modern. Some of the cards have already gotten very expensive, but Golgari Grave-Troll and Bridge from Below aren’t unreasonable. They both spiked recently but have since sold off from their highs. I’d suggest waiting for the dust to settle and then picking up a few copies to sell in a couple months.
Lastly, I remain a steadfast fan of key Reserved List staples. Many have exploded already, but there are still a number of playable, classic cards with a ton of upside and zero downside. Academy Rector comes to mind first, but you might as well lump it in with Replenish and Grim Monolith. But why discriminate? Just diversify amongst a smattering of these cards and you’re bound to make money in time.
Wrapping It Up
Get out immediately!
That’s my overall sentiment towards Conspiracy 2 cards. Every single nonfoil is destined to drop unless there’s a massive, surprise breakout in Legacy. The EV of this set simply cannot remain this high given the set is going to be printed into the ground. This isn’t a limited-print-run set---hobby shops will re-order cases as long as it’s selling. This bodes poorly for the non-foil singles within.
But don’t despair. Trade out of those singles now and move into some exciting Modern staples. Or better yet, allocate some of your resources into Reserved List Commander staples. There’s always a place to make profits in Magic, and right now those places are out of reprints and into the unreprintable. This equation will set you up for success with your MTG investing now and for years to come.
Sig’s Quick Hits
- It appears Star City Games finally re-listed their Power. I don’t remember what their prices were before they restocked, so it’s difficult for me to interpret what this means for the high-end collectibles. But does it really matter? I maintain that Power is one of the best places to invest your MTG money for the next 5-10 years.
- Juzám Djinn was restocked at Star City Games a few weeks ago but they’re once again sold out. Their price tag is still $600, and I’m not sure they’ll be boosting that price any time soon. But the fact that they sold out again paints a pretty compelling picture for the Arabian Nights I’m not selling yet---Near Mint copies will hit $1000 eventually. The card is so iconic that this seems inevitable.
- Engineered Explosives has been absolutely on fire. The card continues to hit all-time highs every week, and I see no slowdown in sight. Star City Games is completely sold out of foils and nonfoils, with nonfoils ranging from $26-$28 depending on the set. It’ll take a reprint to stop this price growth from continuing.