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Insider: MTGO Market Report for February 22nd, 2017

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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.

Redemption

Below are the total set prices for all redeemable sets on MTGO. All prices are current as of February 20, 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.

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Standard

Aether Revolt (AER) took another tumble this week, dropping 11 percent to get below 70 tix for the first time. Heart of Kiran is holding above 20 tix and Walking Ballista is next in line at 12 tix. After that, the pickings get pretty slim as the third most expensive card is Herald of Anguish at over 3 tix. It's still early days in the the evolution of this set's price, but this is the first small set since the start of the two set block structure to go below 70 tix. At the rate prices are declining, AER will also be the first such set to go below 60 tix.

Ordinarily this type of price drop would be stoking speculative interest, but AER and Kaladesh (KLD) are both saddled with a shorted redemption window. We know that prices will drop after these sets are no longer redeemable, so  those considering full set purchases in the interim have to account for this.


In the past, buying the current draft sets just before the release of the new set has been a profitable strategy. Redemption supported that strategy by providing a price floor, so now this strategy has to be considered risky until further data is gathered.

Without redemption, trying to time the bottom on these two sets will be tricky, as the window for exiting this position will be short. There will be a month after the release of Amonkhet (AKH) where you can still redeem AER and KLD, so this is the preliminary selling window at the moment. The buying window is not yet open on these, but we are getting closer every week.

Modern

There were some early spoilers out of Modern Masters 2017 (MM3) this week as the booster box packaging was revealed. The original artwork for Domri Rade, Griselbrand and Stoic Angel appear on the three visible boosters. The packaging also has a new piece of art that possibly depicts Snapcaster Mage.


Looking at the the packaging from past sets show that Modern Masters (MMA) revealed some cool reprints but not much else, while the Modern Masters 2015 (MM2) booster box spoiled two key mechanics in exalted and and metalcraft. It's difficult to ascertain further information from this little tidbit from the MM3 packaging, but I would be hesitant to jump to any conclusions here.

The depiction of two gold cards on the box for MM3 is not a strong enough signal on its own. Both MMA and MM2 had artifact and gold themes, while MM2 also had a bunch of the colourless Eldrazi. If there turns out to be a stronger showing of gold cards and the reprint of a mana-fixing land cycle in MM3, there will be plenty of people voicing how prescient they were. If nothing like this happens, we won't hear anyone admit they were wrong. Official spoilers start on Monday, February 27 and I don't know about you, but I am looking forward to MM3.

Grand Prix Vancouver and Grand Prix Brisbane both took place this past weekend and both featured Modern Constructed. The top eight decks for both events are here and here respectively. The story out of Vancouver was the dominance of the Death's Shadow deck that Gerry Thompson, Sam Black and Josh Utter-Leyton piloted into the top eight, with Utter-Leyton winning it all versus Merfolk in the finals. Brisbane had a slightly more diverse top eight, but two Dredge decks cracked that top tier.


Both of these archetypes seek to use the graveyard to advance their strategies, so it looks like graveyard hate should be back in style out of sideboards. A metagame that never quite settles down and cycles through various strategies is great for speculators as what's old becomes new again. If you are looking for a lagging speculative strategy here, I would check out cards like Leyline of the Void that are priced at a substantial discount compared to their recent highs.

Standard Boosters

Last week in this space, I discussed the prospects for KLD boosters based on recent price action and the skewed boosters payouts in the Sealed Deck and Constructed leagues. This week the market went in an unexpected direction as the price of KLD boosters dropped to 1.6 tix. When the booster market moves in an unexpected direction, it forces me to reevaluate my analysis.

An unexplained price drop of this nature means that there continues to be excess supply of KLD boosters available for sale. The price of 1.9 tix was enough to encourage a wave of selling, which knocked the price back down. With only price action to tell us what is happening, it is impossible to tell how large the excess supply of boosters is. In past situations similar to this, I've steadily bought boosters as the price has dropped in an attempt to 'average down' my buy price. My experience on this has suggested that this is a losing strategy as the market continues trending down and the eventual bounce in price comes too late to save my steadily growing position.

In this case, I have heeded my experience and have started selling the boosters I bought last week for a loss. Instead of chasing this trade and trying to make it work, I have to acknowledge that last week's purchase of KLD boosters was premature, and the price bottom is not yet established. I'll be on the sidelines of this trade until a firmer price bottom is more clear.

AER boosters dropped below 4 tix and now sit at 3.6 tix. There is very little upside at this price and these should be sold if they are not expected to be used. A drop in price into the 3.0 to 3.2 tix range would be a prerequisite for considering these for speculative purposes.

Trade of the Week

For a complete look at my recent purchases, please check out the portfolio. The Death's Shadow deck took Grand Prix Vancouver by storm this weekend, so I was able to capitalize on this result by selling down all of my Mishra's Baubles and over half of my Death's Shadows. This was the happy result of buying into these cards when the market was overly pessimistic about their prospects back in January.


You'll recall that the banning of Gitaxian Probe in Modern meant that the Death's Shadow deck was "dead." I did not have any knowledge around the potential for this archetype to iterate and find another successful build, but I was happy to be a buyer when everyone else was selling. With the market having turned around on this card, and the impending start of MM3 spoilers, I took the opportunity to sell. I had a little over four playsets of Mishra's Bauble, so it was no problem to get a top price for these, but with nearly ten playsets of Death's Shadow, it was harder to get a good price. I'll hold off on the last few playsets until the market settles down and a new equilibrium is established.


The other deck that suffered greatly from the Gitaxian Probe ban was Infect, and the price of Inkmoth Nexus and Pendelhaven took a hit as a result. I've been a buyer of both of these cards over the past month, but it looks like Infect has been relegated to tier-two status in the Modern metagame.

Inkmoth Nexus has the benefit of being a key component of the Affinity archetype, so it has an excellent chance of rising in price if it dodges a reprint in MM3. Pendelhaven, on the other hand, will need Infect to reestablish itself as a force in the Modern before it bumps back up in price. Based on how archetypes rise and fall in power level and results, it's only a matter of time before Infect returns as a top deck.

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