Insider: Not All Long-Term Specs Are Great

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So a few weeks ago, we had a discussion on the viability of long-term specs in this "new world order" of en masse reprints. The conclusion that I came to is that long-term specs are still a viable strategy, but you have to pick cards with less versatility that were more problematic in development. Stuff like infect, Eldrazi, and suspend have all caused major headaches for Wizards in the past, and they're not exactly chomping at the bit to return to those less-than-beloved mechanics.

We can also use the public announcement schedule provided by Wizards months in advance to plan and deduce where cards are more or less likely to end up. This week, I'm looking to provide the counter argument to my previous article on long-term specs. I don't want that article to be misinterpreted to imply that every long-term spec target is still as easily viable or free from reprints. So with Commander 2016 fresh in our minds, I figured now would be a good time to go over some cards that would have been excellent long-term holds in 2013, but aren't as failsafe anymore.

Deepglow Skate is the big one that gave me the idea for this article. While the card was obviously incorrectly priced at $2 on presales on its first preview day, I've seen some murmurings in my social networks asking if this is the next card to hit big in a couple of years. You can pick them up for $8 right now, but is this something to keep your finger on as more "counters matter" stuff continues to be released? If it dives down to $5 at all, do we want to be stockpiling these for the long-term slope we all like to see on graphs? The five-mana casting cost and "doubling stuff" words make it look similar to Doubling Season, but more than a cursory glance makes it an apples and oranges comparison.

We can use the same announcement data that we've used before to determine that it's unlikely to get a reprint in the next nine months, but this card is absolutely generic enough to get thrown into any number of supplemental products next year.


The most important thing here to me is the giant $8 buy-in price tag. We all know I love bulk because of the extraordinary multipliers that stuff can end up seeing with very little effort (Chancellor of the Annex anyone?), but an $8 buy-in?

There's a serious possibility this gets blindsided next year by a Commander 2017 printing, or that it goes in one of the Archenemy printings. The option of "any counter anywhere" leaves it wide open to reprint from a multitude of angles, and I'd much rather just move these with a "buy at $5, sell at $8" strategy instead of gambling a huge margin away on a card that doesn't have any distinguishing features to protect itself from a second printing.

I'm in a similar position with Boundless Realms. Riding the 3000-percent multiplier from $.10 to $3.00 was fun and all, but I'm happy to cash out of all of these and not hide them away hoping for a jump to $6 based on slow and steady dwindling supply. Is the card fantastic in a lot of different Commander decks? Absolutely – that's why it spiked and has maintained its post-spike price without dropping a beat.

I still don't want to be hoarding these on a long-term basis.  It could be in one of the Archenemy decks without much difficulty, or in the March Duel Decks product. There's nothing stopping "generic rare ramp spell" from randomly getting slapped by a reprint in the next year, so I want to sell these to all of my customers at $3, then buy in again once the reprint powders it into bulk status. As long as Boundless Realms continues to see play on EDHrec in the big green decks like both Omnath, Locus of Mana, Kruphix, God of Horizons, and Maelstrom Wanderer, then I'll continue to love buying and selling the card. I just don't want to be blindsided by ignoring the fact that this isn't a great long-term spec at $3.

There's a whole pile of casual, mechanic-free, generalized theme cards that fit into this category that I simply don't want to hold onto. It's easy to look at these reprinted cards in particular and say that long-term speculating is dead as a whole, but you just have to pick and choose your battles now instead of casting a blanket net over half the cards in a set.

I'm glad I was able to buy Chasm Skulkers at buylist and sell between $2 to $3 during the past couple of years, and even happier now that it's been reprinted. I know that there will be a whole bunch of Atraxa, Praetors' Voice players in my local group who crack the deck, upgrade it to Infect or Superfriends, and sell me their Skulkers for $.25, while I throw them into the dollar box.

I didn't even want to hold Blade of the Bloodchief once Atraxa was spoiled, because I assumed it would be a shoo-in for the deck. On the other hand, I'm happy to scoop up all of the $3 Laboratory Maniacs because I really don't see a slot for it in the next 12 months that would make any sense. As long as casual players continue to build Leveler/Inverter of Truth decks, Lab Maniac will eventually be $6 and everyone will wonder why.

End Step

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are passed, but that doesn't mean the deals aren't still there. Some stores get really aggressive with their end of the year sales because they have to pay an inventory tax on everything they have left. Combine that with the fact that Craigslist will be a bit more interesting in the coming months, and you've got a month full of easy buys. Whether its' for speculating or deckbuilding, December is always an easy month to make money in Magic thanks to the holidays. Until next week!

7 thoughts on “Insider: Not All Long-Term Specs Are Great

  1. What in the everliving hell is that opening paragraph supposed to mean? Besides the usual slap half the old mtgprice writers throw at conservatives out of nowhere?

    1. as a liberal who’s had more than enough random conserva-slaps thrown his way by dint of living in a very red state: eh, you grow thicker skin and just learn to live with the fact that some people around you don’t share your politics

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