Hello, and welcome back for another High Stakes MTGO article!
Last week was rather well balanced for my portfolio, with several buys and profitable sales. I am still in the mindset of cutting my losses and taking my profits early rather than looking for the ultimate selling point, even if this means leaving some tix on the table here and there. I have found this high-turnover strategy very efficient overall, helping to limit variance and reduce stress.
As you may have seen, five of the cards I bought this past week didn't really belong to Standard, Modern or any other current eternal formats. Indeed, they were all made with Frontier in mind.
Frontier may or may not become a mainstream popular format, but it seems like there is enough potential here to warrant a few preemptive specs. Although things were different with Modern, mainly because that format was introduced and supported at the highest levels of competitive play, it is never too early to grab playsets of cheap or bulk cards in case anything happens.
Let's review and discuss the moves I made last week. You can always follow my moves in real-time on my portfolio's spreadsheet here.
Buys This Week
This Jace has very limited applications in Modern but it has appeared in the past in competitive decks. I first bought about ten playsets a few months ago and decided to keep them through Return to Ravnica flashback drafts. Not suprisingly, the price of Jace, Architect of Thought took a hit and went as low as 2 tix earlier this month.
I still think this card has good speculative potential and therefore decided to add about two more playets to my stocks. Although the price was still low, I didn't want to go overboard and own more than 50 copies overall. With a peak price that can easily reach the 5-10 tix range, I'm now hoping this Jace doesn't get reprinted in Modern Masters 2017—a reasonable hope in my opinion.
Following last weekend's double Standard GPs, I decided to go for two quickflips with the hot cards from these tournaments. I sold Panharmonicon on Monday with a comfortable 70% profit, although the stakes of that spec were low.
I was probably 12 hours late on Aetherworks Marvel. I was on the verge of selling my copies on Sunday night—barely 12 hours after buying—but ultimately chose not to, waiting for potentially more on Monday after such a good performance at both GPs and the SCG Invitational.
Not exactly the best decision as it stands, although if Aetherworks Marvel is really coming back, I expect the price to get closer to 5 tix soon. What's playing against me is that Kaladesh is still the newest draft set available and supplies are still poring in on MTGO. I'll try to break even at least on this one but am ready for a loss—being too greedy with quicklfips is never a great idea.
So Frontier may or may not be the next "big" format of Magic. It may or may not be popular and interesting from a competitive perspective, and it may takes months, if not years, to catch up on a large scale. While waiting for Frontier to be the next big thing or the next flop, there might be some speculative opportunities here.
As it was for Modern before and during, I would say, the first year and a half of its inception, every card is worth nothing until it explodes. I still vividly remember buying Chord of Calling in the fall of 2011 for about 0.35 tix. This card quickly rose to about 5 tix, and finally hit 30 tix three years later. You can easily find similar stories with Modern cards, some of which haven't been reprinted yet, leading to ever expanding prices.
Frontier, for now, is clearly not as diverse as Modern. The card pool for potential speculative opportunity is still very small, composed of much more recent sets than Modern was when the format was created. Mirrodin had been released eight years prior to Modern's creation, Magic 2015 was only released two and a half years ago.
Another downside to speculating on anything Frontier right now is that all sets involved, with the exception of M15, are still redeemable. This means prices haven't hit their absolute bottom yet and going full-speed on Frontier speculation now may not be the best option.
That being said, it's doesn't cost much to start accumulating staples of the potential new format. It won't cost much to invest around 50 tix in hundreds of copies of bulk cards, and maybe come back after redemption stops for some of these sets to accumulate another 100 copies for 20 more tix. The risks are very minimal—and will increase after redemption stops for the sets concerned—and the reward could be really high.
This past week I just started to select cards, based on both the first tournament results and Brian DeMars's article about the format. With the exception of Goblin Rabblemaster, everything else is at or near bulk level already. Dromoka's Command is in a slightly different position, as this card may enjoy some momentum due to possible Modern applications and Dragons of Tarkir redemption support. Apparently this Command could be great in Frontier, but I might be selling it sooner if the price catches up for any reason.
Note that some of the cards I'm picking up now because of Frontier also have a chance to rise because of other formats. I'm not entirely Frontier-dependent for success here.
Sales This Week
A profit of 55-plus tix with only six copies of a card is not your everyday spec. When Liliana of the Veil dropped to 70 tix after Innistrad flashback drafts, there was an opportunity of a low-return, low-risk spec.
A 10% or 20% return might not seem particularly attractive. But the advantage here, provided your bankroll can support the investment, is that you only need a playset or two to grind the number of tix that would usually take a dozen of playsets for any "regular" spec.
This iconic version of Liliana has been oscillating between 70 and 100 tix for almost three years, but with a more-possible-than-ever reprint in MM3 I was only targeting a selling price in the 80-85 tix price range. There might be a little more room for growth if you're still holding onto your copies of Liliana. As far as I'm concerned, the job is done.
I bought the Stone a while ago at an apparently way-too-high price, hoping for a rebound to 25-30 tix. As Eye of Ugin was amputated from Tron decks, the archetype lost its appeal and so did Oblivion Stone. Soon after the release of Kaladesh I had lost more than 50% on the spec and didn't know how I would exit the position without major losses.
Fortunately, Modern is a cyclical format and Tom Ross a great deck builder. His SCG Open win with an unexpected GW Tron deck last month put the deck on the radar again, sending Oblivion Stone back in the 20s-tix range in the process. Although not ideal, that was the opportunity I was waiting for to close this spec with, if not a profit, acceptable losses.
Another flashback draft spec and another success for the leylines. The price of the white leyline was simply entering my range of selling prices. Since the release of the Modern Masters 2015 version of Leyline of Sanctity, 9-10 tix has been the maximum to expect here. Both percentage and profit numbers were totally in line with my expectations, and there was no reason to wait since the price of this card oscillates frequently.
From a big drop to 0.2 tix earlier this past October to 2 tix very recently, Westvale Abbey // Ormendahl, Profane Prince has been keeping the trend up for more than two months now. This card is a solid one- or two-of in WU Flash decks, but I don't know if that's enough to drive prices higher. A return of 70% and 40 tix in profit are the kind of numbers I'm looking for, so I decided to close this position while it was still very profitable.
On My Radar
Frontier could be only a flash in the pan but it could also be the next gold mine. It's a little bit tricky to buy into something so uncertain when most of the speculative targets are out of Standard but still being redeemed. All that translates to a minimal demand while the absolute bottom is still to come.
Nonetheless, with more and more players talking about it, Frontier can't be totally ignored. Anything that was good in Standard previously is a good starting point for specs. Anything at or near bulk price even more so.
Thank you for reading,