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Insider: Getting Down to Specifics

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Lately my articles have involved a 10,000-foot view of Magic finance. In broad strokes I've examined the health of certain formats, trends, and the game as a whole. Hopefully this approach is useful—sometimes it’s more important to invest in the right sector first, at which point picking the right cards in that sector becomes the secondary requirement.

I often pick stocks in this same manner. For example, I really like bank stocks, but once I identify banks as the sector, picking the “right” bank stock becomes secondary as they often move together.

I present to you supporting data below, comparing the one-year performance of JP Morgan and Bank of America stocks.

Banks
(Click to expand.)

This week I want to spin things a little differently. In GP Louisville I cashed out of a lot of cards. Most of them weren’t worth a ton, but the practice really helped me streamline my binder. Now only a few strategic positions remain in my portfolio beyond Old School and Vintage.

This week I want to touch on specific targets that I still own and which I think are worthwhile to hold. Just keep in mind that I have financial interests in each of these items, meaning I stand to gain from everyone else’s speculation. Disclaimer made.

Foils

I still have a few foils that I think have room to run. My favorite is foil Temple Bell.


This card-drawing favorite of mine was reprinted in a couple Commander decks. But guess how many foil printings of the card exist: one. That’s right, if you want a foil Temple Bell you have to pick up the M11 printing specifically. Maybe this is why foil copies finally took off in Fall of 2016. But going from $2 to $3.75 isn’t relevant here because after fees and shipping there’s not really a profit to be had.

I think there’s still plenty of growth to come as long as the number of foil printings remain one. The card may not be an EDH favorite, but I think it’s close enough to Howling Mine to merit owning for niche decks that want instant-speed card-drawing effects (Leovold?).

The other foil I held onto is admittedly a bandwagon purchase: a couple foil Yisan, the Wanderer Bard.


I witnessed the buyout of this foil creature, so when I found a couple copies on eBay at the old price I snagged them. Sadly they haven’t maintained traction at all. Despite spiking to $20 on paper, I haven’t been able to move my copy on eBay priced down to $10.

I suspect this will drift all the way back down to around $8, at which point it may be worth picking up again. I won’t advocate buying in unless you want personal copies, though, since I’m a little turned off by the manipulation around this card.

Planeswalkers

While in Louisville, I sold my set of Tezzeret the Seeker to a vendor for trade-in credit to pick up a Beta Demonic Tutor. But after I got home, I realized I still like this card a lot so I replaced the set on eBay using my eBay Bucks.


First off, there are only 72 active listings for this card on TCG Player across all three printings. That’s extremely low for something that was reprinted so recently. Secondly, buylists on this card are fairly aggressive, reaching as high as $7 for a card that can still be bought for under $9 on eBay. This is a spread I can get behind, as it represents such small downside risk.

Most importantly, this card is played heavily in the two most popular Commander decks according to EDH REC (rapidly becoming one of my favorite websites). He’s used in 17% of Atraxa decks and a whopping 53% of Breya decks! Considering how heavily used he is, it’s no wonder stock is so low on this card.

With multiple printings I don’t see Tezzeret shooting to the moon overnight, but as volume thins I can see a gradual move towards $15 with buylists jumping to $10. As long as he dodges reprint for a while, this is one of the safer bets you can make.

The other planeswalker I like for upside is Garruk, Apex Predator.


On the plus side, there’s only the one printing. He sees some play in the Atraxa Commander deck, so there’s a slow and steady demand for the card. Four abilities on a planeswalker is also very rare. That said, I don’t like him as much as Tezzeret, and would rather spend $10 on Tezzeret than $10 on Garruk given the choice. Still, it’s good to diversify interests.

What I’m Watching

For non-Old School cards, the above list about summarizes my exposure. I did manage to buy a couple sets of Inexorable Tide when I saw the card jump on MTG Stocks.

I also really like Magistrate's Scepter, which Daivd Schumann mentioned in the forums. Take a second to read what this card does—an artifact with one printing in Mercadian Masques, with text that includes both counters and taking extra turns—to me, this screams “buy.” I’m not one to go deep on specs, but I encourage you to consider picking up a copy or two for personal use if you see the utility in this card as I do. Foils may be particularly attractive given how few must exist.

One other idea I really like is Lux Cannon.


This artifact also has only one printing, as a mythic rare in Scars of Mirrodin. Looking at its chart, the card has risen monotonically since 2012, never turning lower. Recently Lux Cannon hit an inflection point, likely due to Atraxa. I've only bought one copy so far, but seeing just 18 results for the card on TCG Player just now has motivated me to grab a couple more. This one is definitely going higher.

Lastly, I’m trying something new out with eBay that I wanted to share. I noticed recently that some Alpha and Beta cards sometimes sell for far below market price (i.e. TCG Player pricing). After further study, it looks like some cards are occasionally listed as auctions on eBay with awkward end times. This may be the middle of the night or, more likely, the middle of the work day.

So I started doing generic searches for “MTG Alpha” or “MTG Beta” and browsing the auctions that end soonest. This alerted me to numerous graded Alpha cards that ended up selling within 10% of buylist.

Now, I wasn’t in the market for a BGS 9.0 Alpha Disrupting Scepter last weekend, but the fact that it sold for around $190 shipped when I know Card Kingdom pays $200 is just wrong. While I missed that one, I did win an auction for a BGS 9.0 Beta Balance last week for $192…I sure hope it ships because nice Alpha and Beta cards that are also playable have a lot of momentum behind them lately.


I realize that by sharing this strategy, it no longer becomes as attractive if many readers adopt it. But sharing these opportunities is my job, and I definitely put this community’s interests ahead of mine just as a stock broker is supposed to do with their clients. So please have a look, let me know if it works, and share your wins in the comments section. It’s definitely worth the five minutes daily to take a shot.

Wrapping It Up

It’s not often that I share specific ideas for speculation. I tend to shy away from getting too detailed, focusing on broad strokes and market sentiment. But I recognize I should get specific at least occasionally, even if only to share what’s on my radar at a given point in time. This week I have given you just that.

You may have noticed my list of cards is extremely short. That’s for three reasons. First, I am trying to reduce my collection to a more manageable set because my MTG time will be limited once my daughter is born. Second, I really prefer Old School investments for the long haul over stuff that can be reprinted at any time. And third, I find myself less interested in newer cards these days and it’s more fun to make money off cards I also enjoy using rather than cards that collect dust in a binder for months before selling.

In addition to the cards I mentioned, I also have some Beck // Calls I’m continuing to sell at $8.50 - $8.90 a playset on eBay. I have roughly 60 Rainbow Vales for pack wars and personal use. I have a handful of Nephilim. And I have nine Origins Booster Boxes, which have seen some momentum lately off the recent jumps in Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound and Hangarback Walker.

I was starting to have regrets about these boxes when I saw Card Kingdom selling them for $90 each during a sale over the holidays. But now that they are back to around $100 shipped on eBay, I really like this investment for a three-to-five year hold.

As 2017 unfolds, I will do my best to continue sharing my personal investments. Not to boast or to gain criticism, but to share openly where I am actually parking my own resources. To me, when a stock picker puts his own money where he is recommending, it gives me confidence that they believe in the idea. As long as there isn’t malicious intent around manipulation and “pump-and-dumps,” it’s important to be transparent with an audience who may be following along.

I hope I provided that transparency sufficiently today. If not, please challenge me and ask questions and I will do my best to reply.

...

Sigbits

  • Solitary Confinement just hit an all-time high. I’m not exactly sure why this card is suddenly seeing demand, but it’s definitely real. At this point Star City Games has only one copy in stock, an MP one for $5.59. Near Mint copies are gone with a $7.99 price tag. Given that this card is $10 on MTG Stocks, I suspect SCG will be increasing their prices pretty soon.
  • I would keep an eye on Clever Impersonator. Buylists seem awfully aggressive for this one. There’s still plenty of supply out there, but it looks like the mythic rare may have bottomed already. If you’re looking for some reasonable copies, SCG has about 21 SP for $2.99 each. This is below TCG market price, so I suspect these won’t be in stock for long.
  • Here’s an Old School one you can take to the bank: check out Arabian Nights Junún Efreet. The card is low in stock and Star City Games is sold out at $17.99. Who would have guessed this nearly-unplayable card would suddenly become so valuable? The crazy part: I think it will go higher as more people try it out in Old School. I have a personal playset, but I don’t advocate buying more than you’ll use because you don’t want to sit on a huge lump of unmovable inventory. Just because this card shows as “$24” doesn’t mean copies sell at that price.

3 thoughts on “Insider: Getting Down to Specifics

  1. Thanks for the mention Sigmund. I finally bit the bullet and bought a foil Magistrates Scepter the other day (I actually have maybe 12 regulars) so it seems we are in agreement

    1. My pleasure, thanks for the comment. I definitely wanted to make sure you got credit for this one, as I think it is primed to pop someday. I wonder if many people (like myself) just didn’t know of the card’s existence. It seems like the card is all sorts of breakable in Atraxa builds, right?!

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