Hi, everyone, and welcome back for another High Stakes MTGO!
With a much better idea now of what we are getting into with Kaladesh, specs linked to Standard rotation are what is probably in most speculators mind at the moment. Between decks completely disappearing along with Magic Origins and Dragons of Tarkir, to dormant strategies flaring up, to new possibilities heralded by KLD spoilers, anything can happen. Or rather, anything can happen until the dust has settled after Pro Tour Kaladesh.
During a period of about a month surrounding a Pro Tour right after rotation, a fair number of cards are likely to gain substantial value. On MTGO, a card with no previous use in competitive decks, priced at bulk level, can easily see its price multiplied by 10 or 20 in a matter of weeks. Even identified good cards can see their price double or triple when finally incorporated into top-tier decks in the new Standard metagame. How to identify these gems, and when to pick them up, are two central questions for any speculator.
A strategy that has yielded decent results for me in the past is the "shotgun" approach, which consists of buying almost everything susceptible to move up after Standard rotation. Finding which cards could go up is not the most difficult thing to do. The next two steps are what can make the difference between barely breaking even and generating a good profit.
The final step is obviously selling for a profit (or at least cutting losses as early as possible)---always the trickiest part of the bargain. I won't expand too much here but if you're familiar with my approach you know I will encourage you to sell as early as possible. Especially with a "shotgun" approach in a context of Standard rotation and Pro Tour hype, a lot of things can go up for good or bad reasons. You're likely to make more profit than any other time by selling most of your positions during the weekend of the Pro Tour.
However, what interests us now are the intermediate steps---when to fill your portfolio with the great targets of soon-to-be Standard. Sure, you may know what might be the next bomb in Standard post-KLD, but buying it as low as possible is also very important.
As judged by the value of their corresponding full set prices, Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon singles, on average, are at or close to their lowest value now. Based on Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch price trends before the release of SOI, we know there isn't much else to expect from SOI and EMN in term of price evolution.
Surely if you wanted to buy full sets you would not err by much buying now. To be fair, BFZ got cheaper during SOI release events but OGW increased in value every day during the same release events! For singles, the only exceptions could come from cards still flying under the radar as KLD hits MTGO (meaning these cards would remain unplayed during the first Star City Games tournaments with KLD). These cards would momentarily dip during Kaladesh MTGO release events pre-Pro Tour.
BFZ is still in the ditch value-wise and I'm really hoping several cards from that set will be prevalent in the next Standard environment. All three of OGW, SOI and EMN have a lot to offer but not all cards will be winners. My goal will be to make sure I have as many winners as possible and that I can unload the losers before they cost me too much.
So the hunt is open! I have already started to grab a few possible candidates. I'll keep doing so for the next two or three weeks, at least until prices seem fair to me. Waiting for more action on that specific subject is much of what I did last week. The link to the live portfolio hasn't changed and is available here.
Buys This Week
Cryptic Command used to be a pillar of almost any Modern deck playing blue, and this command cruised way over 30 tix for a while even after its reprint as a rare in Modern Masters. But everything went downhill for the past year or so after a second reprint in Modern Masters 2015---Cryptic Command's price merely fluctuated between 5 and 10 tix. Last June, Lorwyn flashback drafts poured what should hopefully be the last wave of supplies for a while into the market.
As of last week, Cryptic Command hit its all-time low in the Modern era around 4 tix. While all three versions of the blue command (LRW, MMA and MM2) have always been close in price, the MM2 version dropped below 4 tix and that's when I decided to get into this spec. I'm certainly not expecting this card to be back to 30 tix anytime soon. I'm just betting that 4 tix is a solid enough floor and that the price can get back in the 6-8 tix price range by the end of the year.
Two solid long-term picks in Rise of the Eldrazi, in my opinion. Both have seen competitive play and may again. I think there's enough potential here to justify picking these guys up right after ROE flashback drafts. Now let's be patient until the next spike.
More of these this week. Since it is a bulk spec it doesn't cost much to accumulate more copies and this will only pay off because of the volume. I was targeting between 150 to 200 copies so I might go for another round if the price maintains below 0.05 Tix.
These ones were two suggestions from Brian DeMars and are two strong picks with good potential once Standard rotates. Kaladesh looks promising for red so let's hope the 2016-17 Standard season favors this color a little bit more in Standard. Currently these two cards are at the best price you can get for the past four months. I picked them up now to make sure I have some stock here, and I will pick up a few more copies during Kaladesh release events on MTGO if the prices get better.
Another two positions purchased betting on Standard rotation to shake things up. Eldrazi Mimic is an almost-bulk rare seeing fringe play in almost every format at the moment. It just needs to see more play in Standard to push its price above 1 tix. I'm looking to acquire Mimic closer to 0.25 tix, which is why I didn't grab more copies at this time.
Bearer of Silence is more like a true bulk rare spec. A lot more things need to happen before this card sees play in Standard, and frankly all these Servo and Thopter tokens certainly won't help. But it's a bulk rare spec so there's little to lose here anyway.
Sales This Week
More painlands sold this past week, still plenty to go. At this point it's only a matter of cleaning the account, rather than waiting to recoup a ticket or two per playset whenever prices swing up again. Painland prices are getting ridiculously low these days but I think I would rather sell as many as possible, even with a big loss, than keep hundreds of copies on my account doing nothing for the next two years.
The price of the blue shoal peaked to 7 tix last week, within the range I wanted to sell for. This is one of the many situations where the price can go any direction from here, including cycling down one more time. Selling with a 40% profit felt like the best option at the moment.
From a flopped quickflip to a reasonable spec in less than a month---I'll take it. Especially considering that the viability of U/G Crush decks relies extensively on Den Protector---a card leaving Standard in four weeks---I didn't think it was a good idea to hold onto copies of Crush of Tentacles when I had the opportunity to sell them at a profit.
On My Radar
I'll keep an eye on Modern for sure, but Standard is becoming more and more the focus now that we have a better idea of what Kaladesh will deliver at the end of the month. Besides a potential short dip during Kaladesh release events, a lot of BFZ, OGW, SOI and EMN singles are pretty much as low as can be before the Standard rotation.
Things will probably be different after Pro Tour Kaladesh as we'll have our lot of disappointments and price drops, but until then buying anything promising at a good price is likely to be a good move.
Collected Company will stop oppressing the format and red will finally be given another chance to exist. Servos and Thopters might make token decks stay viable, potentially keeping Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in the loop. U/W Spirits, a deck that's losing close to nothing with the incoming rotation, could get more credit than it has now, potentially increasing the value of all the spirit clique.
It is also going to be a good period to get in SOI and EMN full sets. About six months ago OGW full sets were about to undergo a 50% price hike over barely two weeks. It will be interesting for sure to see if EMN performs as well as OGW, and if SOI does as bad as BFZ did.
That's a lot of things to consider and I'm not going to have enough spare time to do it all. What I'm really planning on doing is going through the last four Standard sets to check if any card has been undervalued or has potential moving forward.
Thank you for reading,