Welcome to the MTGO Market Report as compiled by Matthew Lewis. The report will cover a range of topics, including a summary of set prices and price changes for redeemable sets, a look at the major trends in various Constructed formats and a "Trade of the Week" section that highlights a particular speculative strategy with an example and accompanying explanation.
As always, speculators should take into account their own budgets, risk tolerance and current portfolios before buying or selling any digital objects. Please send questions via private message or post below in the article comments.
Below are the total set prices for all redeemable sets on MTGO. All prices are current as of January 9 2017. The TCGplayer low and TCGplayer mid prices are the sum of each set's individual card prices on TCGplayer, either the low price or the mid price respectively.
All MTGO set prices this week are taken from GoatBot's website, and all weekly changes are now calculated relative to GoatBot's "full set" prices from the previous week. All monthly changes are also relative to the previous month's prices, taken from GoatBot's website at that time. Occasionally, full set prices are not available, and so estimated set prices are used instead.
There is a lot of news this week with the ahead-of-schedule banned and restricted announcement plus the full spoiling of all cards in Aether Revolt (AER). Banning cards in Standard is not something that WoTC does lightly; they will only do this in response to drastic declines in tournament attendance. The last time this happened was in the Caw-Blade era when Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic were banned. This time around, three cards are banned in Standard: Emrakul, the Promised End, Smuggler's Copter and Reflector Mage. See the full announcement here.
This move alone is going to set off unpredictable changes in the metagame, which in turn will have dramatic impacts on the prices of cards. On top of this, the spoiling of all the the cards in AER has revealed an infinite combination between the new card Felidar Guardian and the Kaladesh (KLD) mythic rare Saheeli Rai. For a complete analysis of all of these changes, I would recommend listening to Patrick Chapin and Michael Flores on the special edition of Top Level Podcast that was recorded on the day of the announced bans. Check it out here.
The price of Saheeli in both paper and on MTGO shot upward on Friday almost immediately after the full AER list was revealed. If you were not already holding Saheeli Rai, there wasn't much room to move on this information. There has been a healthy discussion of this card in the forums and I believe it to be a very informative look at this card and how its price has evolved. The rule of thumb should be to take a very close look at three casting-cost planeswalkers, especially if they are cheap. One could have purchased dozens of copies of Saheeli for less than 2 tix each throughout all of December. It's not every day a Standard card quintuples in price, so any experience gleaned from this will be useful to draw upon in the future.
Not to be outdone, Modern also had two bans announced in Gitaxian Probe and Golgari Grave-Troll. Both of these bans will not completely delegitimize the associated strategies, but it does enough to take the edge off to allow other strategies to have a chance to prosper.
Gitaxian Probe allowed Suicide Zoo and Infect, at very low cost, to check whether the coast was clear in order to attack for lethal. Without it, both decks lose a little consistency and speed, as well as having to be more cautious on the moment to go for the win. The ban of this card also makes any card featuring delve a little worse, reduces the power of storm combo decks, and lowers the consistency of any future combo deck. All of these changes make Modern Magic more compelling for a broader range of decks.
In a very similar way, the return of Golgari Grave-Troll to the Modern ban list will make Dredge a more fair strategy. Although the Dredge aspect of this card is replaceable, there were certain game states in Modern where the graveyard shenanigans were turned off by Grafdigger's Cage, but Golgari Grave-Troll was coming down as a huge threat. Replacing this card with Golgari Thug means this avenue of victory is powered down.
Both of these bans are having repercussions in the MTGO market. The price of Dredge components and sideboard cards to combat Dredge have fallen substantially. The trade of the week focuses in on Bloodghast as an oversold card, but there are others, such as Leyline of the Void, that are too cheap right now.
Inkmoth Nexus is another card that suffered a selloff to the 15 tix level, before recovering to 19 tix today. This was identified in the QS forums as a good buying opportunity, and I heartily agree with this call. Infect will still be played as an archetype, and this creature-land also shows up as a four-of in Affinity decks. With three linear strategies all taking a step back in Modern, Affinity will see some increased play as a result. I fully expect Inkmoth Nexus to return to the 30-tix level some time in the next 12 months.
There is the risk of a reprint in Modern Masters 2017 (MM3) so I don't think that speculating on this card at over 20 tix is correct. The opportunity was a result of the selloff on Monday; priced in the 15 to 18 tix range, the potential reward outweighs the reprint risk in my judgement.
Trade of the Week
As usual, the portfolio is available at this link. This week I bought a few copies of Bloodghast as the triple Zendikar (ZEN) draft leagues came to a close. That was not the only reason I felt this was cheap, though, as the Golgari Grave-Troll ban has also hit the price of all cards associated with Dredge, including sideboard options for other decks.
The price ranged from 4 to 10 tix, so this is the potential I see for this card in the medium term, once the Modern metagame settles down. If Dredge is still a part of the metagame, then Bloodghast will start ticking up again and return to this price range.
There are two big risks with this purchase. With the three weeks of ZEN flashback drafts in the past year, the supply of this card on MTGO might be large enough that this old price range is no longer attainable. The other risk is that Bloodghast is reprinted in MM3. But this risk is small due to the low number of sets that have featured the landfall mechanic. With only ZEN and Worldwake (WWK) to draw from, there is only a small pool of cards to reprint that could support this mechanic in Limited.
The upside to speculating on Bloodghast at its current prices is that the market is oversold at this point and offering a nice discount on a card that has shown to be Modern playable. If some kind of Vampire tribal deck or another graveyard-based archetype takes off in popularity, this card would benefit.
If you can understand and control the risks of speculating, purchasing Modern-playable cards at or near a long-term price low is prudent. In this case, the market thinks Bloodghast won't be played again. When the market is pessimistic, it's time to be a buyer.