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Insider: Don’t Buy Your MM17 Cards Just Yet

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Is that it? Is the Modern bloodbath over? I look at the price chart for key staples like Snapcaster Mage and I see a nontrivial bounce in price. Could this really signal the end of the sell-off of all the reprinted cards of the set?


Not likely.

For starters, just take a quick look at how many boxes are in stock on TCG Player.

Boxes
(Click to expand.)

 

There are over 20 new booster boxes for under $200. Also, this is just the tip of the iceberg—we’re viewing the first ten results of 100, and already we see nearly 100 boxes listed on the market. If we assume quantities are fairly consistent from one page to the next, we can calculate there are up to 1,000 total boxes available on TCG Player right now.

That’s a lot of product. And that doesn’t count stock on eBay, not to mention the major retailers like Star City Games and Card Kingdom.

So where do I see prices going from here? We’re definitely in for a bumpy ride, but I’ll try to look at some historical trends from Modern Masters 2015 to predict where prices will end up once the dust settles.

Let’s Consider Some Graphs


Here we have the price chart for Modern Masters 2015 Noble Hierarch. I’ve zoomed in on the time period of note: from the card’s release to about eight months later. Observe how the card initially dropped upon release, then bounced a couple weeks later before tapering throughout the summer. After bouncing the card dropped from $39 to about $32, a nearly 20% decline.

Here's a chart for Karn Liberated. This one’s a mythic rare instead of a rare, so let’s see if the trends are different.


For this card, there’s a similar trend at first where the card sells off before bouncing. But in Karn’s case, it looks like the bounce wasn’t as transient as Hierarch’s. Instead of bouncing momentarily before dropping another 20%, we actually see Karn bouncing and maintaining its “bounced” price throughout June and July before tapering downward in August. The ensuing drop after the bounce was much more subtle, roughly 10%.

Let’s try an uncommon this time—how about Lightning Bolt.


Once again there’s a momentary bounce after the first week or so of Modern Masters 2015’s release. But in the case of Bolt that bounce lasts no more than a couple of days before dropping in price again. The card bounced to about $2.50 before bottoming near $2 in late august: close to another 20% drop just like Hierarch.

Let’s take a look at one more graph. This time, rather than focusing on a reprinted Modern staple let’s have a look at something that was expensive for reasons other than Modern play. How about Iona, Shield of Emeria, which I’d argue is not a Modern staple.


This chart looks much worse. There’s no post-release bounce whatsoever. The card opens at around $20 and promptly plummets before bottoming out in the $7 range. What’s more, here we are over a year later and the card still sells for around $7. It never really recovered, in other words.

Modern Masters 2017 Breakdown

Using the data presented above, we can begin to make predictions for where Modern Masters 2017 cards will end up. For Modern staples, it looks like we should expect a post-bounce drop of 20% on rares and 10% on mythic rares. If we look back to Snapcaster Mage, we see that the card bounced to around $42.50. It’s already been drifting lower again, and I predict it settles somewhere in the $35 range when it bottoms this summer.

Liliana of the Veil bounced from $65 to $75 in the past week or so. That said, I expect her to follow the same trend as Snapcaster, meaning it should settle in the $65 range when dust settles in a couple months.

After enduring its third reprint in six years, I expect Tarmogoyf to get hit a little harder. This creature is an auto-include in Modern Masters sets it seems, and 2017 was no exception. The card had a weaker bounce than Liliana and Snapcaster, rising from $85 to $90 over the last week or so. I believe this one will drop a little harder since it has now been reprinted three times. My price target is between $75 and $80.

Let’s shift focus to a couple rares in the set. Let’s look at Scalding Tarn as a proxy for the fetches, since I expect them to all behave similarly to one another.


The card recently bottomed at $40 before bouncing to $47. My prediction of a 20% drop based on results from Modern Masters 2015 puts the settled price on this fetch land at around $38. Let’s round up to $40 since Scalding Tarn does see play in other formats and is one of the more popular choices for Modern. The other extreme would probably be Marsh Flats, which bounced from $24 to $26 and will likely end up in the $22 range.

As we move away from fetches and look at other rares in the set, we start to observe behavior that more closely resembles Noble Hierarch of MM15. Goblin Guide, for example, is definitely a Modern staple but it experienced no bounce in March whatsoever. It started trading at $30 and is now $18. I still think another 20% drop is likely, putting my price target for this one at around $15.

Worse still is Abrupt Decay, a Modern staple that holds no hope for keeping its current $4.50 price tag. This should bottom in the $3 range, and I’m not even sure it’s worth acquiring down at that price either.

The hardest hit award for Modern Masters 2017 rares has to go to poor Damnation. I mean, how ugly is this price graph?


The card has already gone from $40 to $24 and there’s still a ton of product to be opened. If I compare this to a chart like Iona, Shield of Emeria from MM15, it paints a dire picture for the black sorcery. I definitely anticipate this card dropping below $20, and I think $15 is very possible. We definitely need to stay away from this one, and it may even pay off to sell every copy you open throughout the month of March.

Some Takeaways

I’m not a major Modern speculator anymore. Since its removal from the Pro Tour and the announcement of recurring Masters sets, I don’t think it’s safe to sit on Modern cards for natural growth any longer. There are plenty of opportunities for quick flips and speculation on metagame shifts, for sure, but the concept of “buy-and-hold” in Modern seems like an extinct beast. This is why I’ve personally shifted focus to Old School cards, which can be bought and held for longer time periods with little downside risk.

That said, if you are interested in acquiring some of these reprinted Modern cards, we can try to use the predictions above to determine the right time to buy. Looking at all the charts from MM15, it seemed that August was roughly the timeframe for bottoming prices for all Modern staples. So for Modern Masters 2017, this would include your fetches, Snapcaster, and Liliana.

When you review the price graphs for the new reprints, the larger the “bounce” in price was over the past week, the higher the card’s price will settle this summer. Those would probably be fine to pick up sooner if you desperately needed copies for your deck, but if you can afford to wait I would recommend it. If you open one of these cards in your boxes, you shouldn’t feel like you need to fire-sell them immediately because their downside is relatively painless—especially for the chase mythics.

But if you open a pack with a rare that hasn’t bounced at all—such as Goblin Guide or Damnation—you are probably better off selling right away. Their prices will only drop as the hundreds of boxes on TCG Player are cracked and singles are listed for sale. There will come a time when these will bottom in price too, but the percentage drop that will occur is high enough to justify selling now and re-purchasing in August. If this advice is not heeded, be prepared to watch these prices drop significantly from where they are today.

Wrapping It Up

I’ve seen a bit of buzz lately on Twitter regarding the recent bounce in MM17 prices. Know that these bounces are temporary because supply is artificially low. There are tons of boxes on the open market and these will be opened in force over the next couple weeks. Even as box openings taper, the data from MM15 suggest singles don’t truly bottom in price until late summer. We have a ways to go.

While waiting, I suggest you make a list of cards you need most and calculate some price targets. Perhaps being disciplined and basing strategy on pure data will help you avoid the pitfall of reacting emotionally to short-term trends. Declaring that you won’t pick up Scalding Tarn for more than $40 or Damnation for more than $15 is a good way of holding yourself accountable to making data-based decisions.

Of course, this is always easier said than done. But if you need a little willpower, just check the graphs for Modern Masters 2015 cards and that will surely be a good reminder of how much farther prices can fall. Patience will be your friend this spring and summer!

Sigbits

  • I’m hearing stories of Old School MTG players using Contract from Below as a card to make your opponent buy you a drink during gameplay. While the concept sounds ludicrous at first, I have to say it may be enough to move this card’s price. Don’t believe me? Check how low stock is on this ante card from Beta, specifically. There are hardly any copies anywhere—just a couple on TCG Player and eBay, and a few at ABU Games. Star City is sold out with a $49.99 price tag! If this card was useless, it would be $10 less like Beta Living Artifact and there would be more than zero in stock!
  • Sticking with the Old School theme, did you see the recent jump in Preacher? I suspect this spike was related to a buyout, and you can clearly see there are plenty of played copies on the market. MTG Stocks just doesn’t take them into account when determining market price since the nicer copies all sold. A better gauge would be Star City’s stock: they have one SP copy and one MP copy for $8.99 and $7.49, respectively. I do believe this will climb higher, though I don’t think it will go straight from $10 to $25 as MTG Stocks currently indicates. The price will probably settle somewhere halfway between these two.
  • What is going on with Living Plane?? I can believe that the card is playable in Old School, but is it really so in-demand as to fetch a price tag over $100?! The card is nearly sold out everywhere! I found a few on Card Kingdom’s site, but at $90+ for EX I can’t imagine it’s a worthwhile spec. At that point, aren’t there far more interesting cards in that price range worth speculating on? Someone please enlighten me!

5 thoughts on “Insider: Don’t Buy Your MM17 Cards Just Yet

  1. In general, I don’t think MM17 is directly comparable to MM15, because of the unprecedented number of highly sought after cards in MM17.

    Have you sensed an overestimating of the print run for MM17? Initially we thought this set would be printed more than MM15, yet I’ve heard recently it’s print run is the same as MM15. If there is less of this set printed than initially assumed, I think we an expect prices to stay up.

    I agree with your reasoning on a portion of the rares (Abrupt Decay), but I don’t think the Fetchlands are gonna go down. The chase mythics will probably stay up too.

    1. Sparrow,

      I appreciate your input. In fact, I’ve thought on this topic some more and I identified another variable: GP’s. For MM15, we had massive GP’s where a ton of product was opened all at once. This flooded the market and caused an ensuing drop in price. Perhaps with no MM17 GP’s the supply will trickle into the market more slowly, meaning we won’t see such a defined sell-off throughout the spring and summer.

      Still, with hundreds of boxes for sale on TCG Player I can’t see prices maintaining their current levels. You yourself said there are more chase cards in MM17, which to me means there’s more incentive to crack boxes for singles. It may take longer, but I suspect we will still see some correction ahead.

      Time will tell I suppose. The drops may be small, but I don’t think we’ve bottomed here.

      Thanks again!

      Sig

  2. @ sparrow, they have already asked vendors if they want more allocation. I think the print run is there, just a short time frame before the next standard set and no GP for this I think hurts the numbers.

  3. I own a store and was only promised another case per week “while supplies last” by my biggest distributor and they are up-charging me already….

    I think your speculation is far off, I expect the entire set to go up 5-10 dollars a day to around 750-800 and most of that in the value cards.

    Very few cards will see an actual drop in price due to low print runs in previous sets. One of the most talked about being damnation which many think will stay low as it was hardly used in modern and is a commander but I am not convinced. I hope that due to the price going cheaper it likely will spark more people to invest and put it into decks, only time will tell.

    1. dillon,

      You may be right – thus far none of the drops I predicted have begun. It’s possible the market can absorb the supply of cards. But this would be very surprising to me. I can’t help but wonder if people will sell their singles to start acquiring Amonkhet cards, for example.

      Since writing this article, the number of sellers of MM17 boxes has dropped from 100 to 95 but the TCG Low for a box dropped from $198 to $185.63. The two trends run counter to each other – box prices can’t constantly drop as singles prices rise. Not forever, at least. Eventually one of these two trends will have to give. I predict it will be the trend on singles that reverses, but it could go the other way if box supply dries up quickly enough!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Sig

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