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 March 14, 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.
This week's prices were collected the day after the banned and restricted announcement. With no changes to Standard, prices on select cards have recovered in the past day. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, for instance, was widely available for less than 20 tix prior to Monday morning. Now that it is safe in Standard for the next month or so, the price has recovered to 25 tix. There are other examples of card that had a discount associated with the fear of being banned, such Saheeli Rai and Heart of Kiran.
Despite the recovery in prices of these and other cards, prices on Standard sets on MTGO are still largely in a downtrend. This is mirrored in paper where all Standard sets have lower prices today than they did a month ago. This is not unusual: as spring approaches, the cyclical peak of Standard prices tends to occur in the winter, between December and March. The release of Modern Masters 2017 this week is also weighing on prices as vendors and players calibrate their budgets around this highly anticipated set.
This week I had to the pleasure of watching Luca Ashok's video on how he speculates on Standard cards. It's an excellent primer and guide on speculating with a completely different perspective than what I normally discuss. I advocate a high-level look at the market, with the lens of redemption as a guide, whereas Luca uses a bottom-up approach. He targets cards that have good potential, but are seeing very little play in Standard. He accumulates those cards, and then waits for the Standard metagame to change.
It sounds like a can't-miss strategy, but it does take some work. First of all, knowledge of which cards are on the rise and which cards are on the wane in Standard is key. This is what leads to the large price fluctuations that speculators can profit off of. This is where good card evaluation skills come in handy, and the Quiet Speculation forums are a great place to develop these skills during spoiler season.
Lastly, I would reiterate a very important point: speculating is a lot easier if you are heading into the winter as opposed to the summer. Interest in playing MTGO (and thus Standard prices) are cyclical in this regard. If you are seeking to replicate Luca's technique, just know that it will be much harder over the next few months as prices will have a general downward trend heading into the warmer weather of the spring and summer. Cards that look like they are at a price bottom will in fact find new floors.
Just check out the price of former Standard staple Thragtusk in the spring of 2013 to see what I mean (see below). If you were a buyer around the release of Dragon's Maze, this card was about to enter a downtrend that lasted well into the Fall and rotation out of Standard.
Like Standard, Modern was left untouched by the banned and restricted announcement this week. I think this is correct as the format is still adapting to Death's Shadow. Witness the latest incarnation of the deck, as players put the namesake card into a Grixis shell.
Unsurprisingly, this deck makes use of Fatal Push as a four-of. Aether Revolt will be drafted heavily for a a little more than a month to go. This means that the time to be accumulating this card is now. If you are a player, get your playset some time over the next four weeks.
Speculators that are willing to think long term should be loading up on this card. It's going be a Modern staple for the foreseeable future, so I would expect it to hit 3-plus tix next winter and 5-plus tix the winter of 2019. Don't be afraid to back the truck up on this one.
Elsewhere, Copy Cat decks are infiltrating Modern as well, often combining with Sun Titan as an additional way to combo out. This innovative build blends in Soul Sisters and Kiki-Combo components as well. This is the type of deck that can be flexible and powerful enough to really shine in Modern. I'd be watching this one to see if it takes off in the current metagame as a descendant of Birthing Pod decks.
Trade of the Week
For a complete look at my recent purchases, please check out the portfolio. I've been watching the price of Aether Revolt (AER) fall steadily over the past few weeks. At its current price, this is the cheapest a small set has ever been since switching to the two-sets-per-block structure that began with Battle for Zendikar (BFZ). I think this can be explained by the relative power level of the set and the fact that AER will have a shortened redemption window.
With Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) and Eldritch Moon (EMN), both of these sets hit their lowest point at about two months after they were released on MTGO. After that, it took about another two months for them to increase in price by over 50 percent. Buying AER this week was a little early relative to this timeline, but I felt the chance at Standard getting a big shakeup from the banned and restricted announcement was worth considering. If cards had been banned, AER looked primed to be a big gainer as cards like Paradox Engine and Tezzeret the Schemer could potentially anchor new Standard strategies, while Mardu Vehicles, B/G Constrictor and Copy Cat decks were the obvious targets to suffer from a ban.
Despite no changes to the banned and restricted list, I think we are close to prime buying time for cards from AER. With Modern Masters 2017 set to be released on March 22, their will be a new and interesting draft format to take players' interest away from Kaladesh (KLD) block draft. This means the supply of KLD and AER cards to the market will be slowing down, meaning we might have already seen the price bottom for these sets.
AER will be redeemable through the release of Amonkhet (AKH) and up to the date that AKH goes live for redemption. Typically, this is about a month after a set is released, so the target selling window for AER sets will be in the first two weeks of May, although there is much that is unknown about how the price of a Standard set will behave once it is no longer available for redemption. It's possible that demand for Standard staples will drive the price of AER much higher, similar to how the prices of OGW and EMN moved. It's going to be an exciting few months on MTGO as we enter this uncharted territory.