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 3 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.
Spoiler season for Aether Revolt (AER) officially began this week, so it's worth considering existing Standard cards and how they will interact with the new cards. Rishkar, Peema Renegade is a legendary rare creature from AER that has an excellent rate. For 2G you get up to four power and toughness, and you only need one other creature in play to make that happen. On rate alone, i.e. the stats for the cost, it will see play in Standard, but it also has the potential to ramp up your green mana production. Be sure to check out Michael Flores and Patrick Chapin at their Top Level Podcast as they preview this card in depth.
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar from Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) seems like a likely candidate to benefit from the printing of Rishkar. Although its on the same spot on the mana curve, Nissa generates creatures to receive the +1/+1 counters from Rishkar, as well as being able to distribute its own +1/+1 counters. This type of redundancy can lead to very consistent and powerful decks. It's not clear to me yet if this angle is powerful enough to pursue, but it's worth keeping in mind. Nissa looks to be getting a boost from the cards in AER.
Standard doesn't get all the fun with the new cards as Fatal Push is set to enter the fray as a premier one-casting-cost removal spell in Modern. Check out the spoiled card here. It's floor of being able to destroy a two-casting-cost-or-less creature is already excellent, with many high-toughness targets that shrug off Lightning Bolt in the format, such as Tarmogoyf, Death's Shadow and Spellskite. Triggering revolt in a fetch land format makes the ceiling on this card very attainable, and don't forget that creature lands like Inkmoth Nexus and Celestial Colonnade will fall prey to this card even without revolt.
Noted B/G/x master and Hall of Famer Willy Edel tweeted out this after seeing the new black instant.
The comparison to Lightning Bolt is interesting, but what he implies here is that this card is going to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting that Path to Exile had previously been doing. If Fatal Push can do 90 percent of what Path to Exile does, but with no drawback, then clearly this new card is going to push the format in a new direction. It will be worth keeping an eye on.
Elsewhere, hype around the potential for Frontier has seeped into the prices of all the redeemable sets on MTGO. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound jumped up this week to 30 tix before settling back down a little. The large jump in paper prices for Magic Origins (ORI) this week suggests that this trend is not over, so if you are holding some ORI sets or singles, there looks to be further gains coming. But as I have been pointing out, we are getting close to the liquidity crunch triggered by the release of a new set, so don't hold onto your winning specs for too long. It will be harder to sell cards, particularly Modern cards, when everyone is interested in AER and its impact on Standard.
Triple Zendikar Draft Leagues
This week sees the first Flashback Favorite draft with the return of triple Zendikar (ZEN). Notably these events are not the single elimination events that we've seen, and are in fact draft leagues. You complete the league by getting to three match wins or two match losses. Relative to the recent flashback draft queues which had a 10 tix entry fee, the entry fee is higher. You can still enter these events with the appropriate boosters and 2 tix, but the tix only entry fee is 12 tix now (or 120 play points). Check out the full announcement here and you can read my brief summary of the format from back in August here.
These changes mean that less product is going to be opened than what we saw back in August when the most recent week of triple ZEN flashback drafts went live. If the price of the fetch lands takes a big drop over the next few days, I would think this is an overreaction based off of this recent experience. I will be watching the market and looking for cheap copies of all the fetch lands. As an example, I would consider 20 to 22 tix for Scalding Tarn to be an excellent buy price.
Some financial writers have floated the idea that the ZEN fetchlands are going to be reprinted in Modern Masters 2017 (MM3) this spring. I would treat this idea with extreme skepticism. When ZEN was originally in development, Magic as a game was in the midst of declining sales and interest. For that reason, Wizards of the Coast pulled out all the stops when creating ZEN and part of that was the first printing of the opposing-color fetchlands. Due to their ubiquity in constructed formats, including casual formats, the fetchlands are guaranteed to make any set where they appear into a block buster.
MM3 won't need any help in being a successful release. Interest in Modern is strong and this set will get to draw from all Modern sets up to and including Magic 2014 (M14). Liliana of the Veil from Innistrad (ISD) is a shoo-in to be reprinted, and I expect this valuable card and popular character to be a tentpole in terms of promoting MM3. With a limited print run and other valuable cards to reprint, there is no need for Wizards of the Coast to include the ZEN fetchlands in order to sell MM3.
Despite all of this, I think that the MTGO market still fears a reprint in MM3. The digital price of the ZEN fetchlands seems low to me relative to the robust interest in Modern and the price of other format staples. I expect that we'll see a substantial increase in the price of the ZEN fetchlands when they are confirmed not to be reprinted in MM3.
Trade of the Week
As usual, the portfolio is available at this link. This week I continue selling down my positions with the sale of a set of Dragons of Tarkir (DTK). Although my timing on the buy side was too early, this purchase has still yielded a small profit. I should have known better than to start thinking about a full set purchase at the end of August, but all the Modern staples in the rare slot had me thinking that maybe DTK would be different.
It turned out the set was weeks away from completely bottoming out. This is a good lesson in avoiding bottom fishing and trying to be too fancy, especially when there are other signals that lower prices are on the way. In this case, it was much too early as historically sets rotating out of Standard only bottom out after they rotate. There is some variation on a card by card basis, but complete sets reliably follow this pattern.