Welcome back, readers! Today's article is going to focus on getting you as much information at your fingertips as possible so you can make better decisions with regards to speculating.
It's important to vet the sources of any information you use for your decisions, because you're risking your own money and there's always plenty of bad advice out there. With that said, what follows are some of the MTG finance sources I choose to rely on.
Let's get the easiest one out of the way first. As you're reading this Insider article, you're clearly a member of Quiet Speculation already. However, are you utilizing all of the resources QS offers?
One of my favorite aspects of this site are the forums, where everyone is able to bounce ideas off of each other. You can discuss a card's future promise, alert your fellow speculators when something is on the move, or get an opposing viewpoint if you fear tunnel vision may be making you see only positives.
The forums also offer a place to buy and sell from fellow QS members. The reseller reviews have saved countless people from shipping to, or buying from, shady people or stores that could have cost them dearly. Lastly, the forums offer a place for the leaders of QS to post information straight from the Pro Tour floor (as we often have at least one, if not two, people at the Pro Tour providing up-to-the-minute information from both player and dealer perspectives).
Obviously, another resource QS offers are the articles by us writers. I know all of the writers on here try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to their own speculative purchases (I typically include a note about how many copies I own), and we all stress that you should only speculate on cards that you yourself believe in. But we also have a wealth of experience to draw on when discussing cards in said articles, and we're trying to share that with you.
Last, but certainly not least, you have Trader Tools, which is a fantastic way to convert cards into the maximum amount of cash by comparing buylists from multiple large stores. There's no guarantee that no store out there will pay slightly more on a given card, however, the likelihood on a lot of cards is slim. The stores are also vetted and bad ones are removed (or at least hidden) to prevent you from having a bad experience selling cards.
Another aspect of Trader Tools that I personally use a lot is reviewing the spread (difference between the retail price and the buylist price). Cards with low spreads typically signal a strong demand, as a store is willing to take a lower profit to make sure they have the card in stock.
While Salvation is well-read during spoiler season, year-round it also has a wealth of members who are constantly brewing or tweaking decks. I love reading through the forums, especially the Deck Creation and Developing sections for each format.
The important thing to remember is that this day in age information travels faster than ever. The window between seeing a card overperform on camera and buying up the cheap copies of it grows smaller with each passing Pro Tour. As the price rises, there will always be sellers who refuse to ship cards sold right before or at the beginning of a spike, and you can't make a profit on cards you never get. This is why I like to stress being ahead of the game, and these forums are a key tool in doing so.
For example, Nourishing Shoal was a bulk rare until June 14th, 2015. But on the Developing Competitive (Modern) forum, the Grishoalbrand deck was originally posted in March 2015. Now this isn't to say that every developing deck has promise (a lot don't). But for those who tested out the deck and found it had some teeth, there was a three-month window that one could buy Nourishing Shoal for less than $0.5. It subsequently spiked to $15 and settled at $10 (now it's more like $7).
Now I'll be the first to admit that trying to keep up with every thread is extremely daunting, if not impossible. However, thanks to the fact that most active threads tend to be at the top, you're likely safe skimming through maybe the top 10-15 threads. And you can always read lower ones whenever you have some extra downtime. The point is that when you're ahead of the game you can buy cards pre-spike and have them in hand if and when they do spike.
Another example: While reading through these forums I noticed there's some talk about a cool little interaction between Abundant Growth and Oath of Nissa if you have a Cloudstone Curio in play (allowing you to keep bouncing the Oath and giving green decks some solid card advantage). Cloudstone is a card that has spiked repeatedly and has only a single printing (so here's your card pick of the day).
While I always prefer to be far ahead when it comes to speculative choices, you're far more likely to have price spikes caused by actual results than just theoretical potential. One of my favorite resources for results is MTGTop8. This site posts tons of MTG results from across the world every day.
For our purposes, some of the most important of these are the MTGO Competitive League results. MTGO tends to lead the pack when it comes to innovation, as players can tweak and immediately replay a deck in a competitive environment over and over again. In fact we'll often see the MTGO innovations bleed over into real-world events a short time later. The window between picking up the cards when they start to show up heavily on MTGO versus real world MTG is rather small, but it does exist.
This site also offers results from a lot of real-world events as well, and while I enjoy reading over the latest SCG results, in a game of variance more data is always better. I love that they have a "Metagame Breakdown" at the side of each format page, which can drive you towards good hate cards for decks that start showing a strong increase in metagame presence.
Our sister site is devoted to the Modern format, and while it's a bit more niche, a lot of good speculation targets have come from the Modern format. As the site is so focused on a singular format, they tend to go a bit deeper on evaluations regarding Modern, which can be the difference between a good speculation target and a bad one. Similar to MTGTop8 above, they also include a metagame breakdown, and they post a lot of articles on brews.
MTG Stocks is a price tracking site. Unfortunately, this means cards only tend to get highlighted on here after they've jumped in value, which makes it not great for picking speculation opportunities. However, it is a great and easy way to see what has spiked in a given week.
We all have many different obligations in our lives, and while we all love Magic most of us can't devout our entire lives to it. When you have a very large collection, you typically don't want to price out every card every single week to look for changes.
Thankfully, they have a wonderful interests page which shows the most recent price jumps from both the current and previous weeks. So I often scroll through this page and see if I'm holding anything that has jumped in price, ideally so I can try and sell or trade it to lock in profits.
MTG Goldfish offers many of the same stats that MTGTop8 and Modern Nexus provide, but one of my favorite things they have is their format staples page. This page shows the most commonly played cards in various formats.
Now typically you expect that cards that see a lot of play likely have a lot of demand and thus a higher price, however, there are times when a heavily played card can be underpriced. The other important thing to consider is that when you see a card start to show up a lot, cards that naturally counteract it may have a bright future and can serve as excellent speculation opportunity.
These are definitely not all of the sites one can use to help get a step ahead of your speculation opportunities, but I did want to highlight some of my favorite ones (and ones that I use quite a bit). The key to getting ahead with regards to speculation is to have as much information as possible and to use that information to guide your decisions. I know that sounds obvious, but I've seen so many people with access to the information who choose not to act on it.
If you have any other suggestions for great sources of finance information, feel free to mention them in the comments. I'll try to review each and offer my feedback, and perhaps revisit the topic in a later article if there's interest.