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Insider: MTGO Market Report for March 1st, 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 March 1, 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.

mar1

Paper prices were almost all down this week for redeemable sets. Clearly the market is anticipating the pending release of Modern Masters 2017 (MM3) and is getting liquid in advance. On MTGO, prices were more in flux, but Khans of Tarkir (KTK) took a tumble this week after flashback Draft leagues were opened in the wake of the failure of the throwback Standard gauntlet. Players looking for cheap sets to redeem would do well to take advantage of this short-term discount. Elsewhere, Aether Revolt (AER) continues its downward march to the 60-tix threshold.

Modern Masters 2017

Spoiler season for the Modern Masters 2017 (MM3) kicked off with a bang this week as WotC revealed the opposing-color fetchlands will be reprinted. This is a big shift from past sets Modern Masters (MMA) and Modern Masters 2015 (MM2) and will dictate how speculators and players alike should approach holding the Zendikar (ZEN) fetchlands. For the moment, though, I'll discuss the near-term ramifications of this news.


Regular readers will know that I have been holding the ZEN fetchlands in the Market Report Portfolio. This was a strategy predicated on the notion that MM3 would sell itself and that WotC would hold reprinting these cards for a Standard set. Now that this hypothesis has to be discarded, the question is how to move forward with a segment of my portfolio facing a pending reprint.

To begin with, immediately selling these on Monday after the start of spoilers would have been a mistake. Prices dropped by about 50 percent, with Scalding Tarn falling to 12 tix and Marsh Flats briefly dipping below 4 tix. These are prices that haven't been seen in years and represented an extreme, knee-jerk reaction from the MTGO market. As of today, the prices on these two lands have recovered to 17 tix and 6 tix respectively. The other three rares in the cycle have seen similar price gyrations.

This week's price action represents the market losing its mind and then coming to its senses. It's not hard to see why the market would lose its mind as this shift in reprinting practices by WotC was unexpected. To figure out why prices have subsequently rebounded, we'll have to analyze what the release of MM3 means to the MTGO economy.

First of all, we've already had substantial reprints of the ZEN fetchlands in the past year. Back in August, there were two weeks of discounted flashback drafts from ZEN block that released a substantial amount of these cards onto the market. And then there was another week of triple ZEN drafts in January, this time without a discount. On top of that, there's been a slow drip of the fetchlands entering the market through the Treasure Chests. Of each of these, the discounted flashback drafts are the most illuminating for comparison.

MM3 will not be a discounted draft format. It will be priced at a premium and available for only three weeks. Although it will be a popular format due to its novelty, the higher price will quickly become a barrier as players burn through their tix. In paper, players will have a chance to open high-value cards like Scalding Tarn or Snapcaster Mage. The ratio of the cost of a booster to these cards is in the 1:7 and 1:4, while on MTGO the current ratio is about 2:5 and 2:3 for these cards respectively.


What this means is that players will be much less likely to "pay for their draft" on MTGO than in paper. The amount of repeat drafting that players will be able to do as a result of opening high-value cards will be small.

A premium price combined with the modest value of the opened cards will make the three weeks of this sets availability less impactful than feared. The best buying opportunity for the ZEN fetchlands might have already come and gone with the panic selloff on Monday, but I anticipate that prices will recover over the coming months. September is typically a peak for interest in non-Standard Constructed formats, and I expect to see the price of Scalding Tarn recover to over 20 tix by that time.

Trade of the Week

For a complete look at my recent purchases, please check out the portfolio. This week I was away on vacation, but I tuned into the fireworks on Monday. Even though I was away from my computer, I was able to fire up MTGOTraders on my smart phone and place an order for the ZEN fetchlands, save Verdant Catacombs. The extreme reaction had me in a buying mood even though the portfolio already had underwater positions in these cards.

When deciding on what to do, a good speculator has to take into account all current information. This means ignoring the price of what I had paid for a card like Scalding Tarn in the past. The current information available looked like the market was expecting a massive reprint on these cards, but after doing some thinking about it, I thought the actual quantity of reprints would be smaller. Hence, the buy decision.

I avoided buying Verdant Catacombs because the card had come up substantially in recent weeks on the success of the Death's Shadow Jund deck. At the time of purchase, the G/B fetchland was priced at around 13 tix which I felt was too high. The rest of the fetchlands were offering a much more substantial discount on their recent prices.

I'll be looking to see how the prices of the ZEN fetchlands evolve once MM3 is available on MTGO. There is going to be another buying opportunity on these at some point during the release window. As for the opportunity to sell these, I would be looking to the summer as the next good time to sell. The new fall set and the rotation of Standard will capture most of the attention of Magic players everywhere, so you'll want to have sold your positions in advance of this event, including your Modern positions.

5 thoughts on “Insider: MTGO Market Report for March 1st, 2017

  1. Hey Matt, great analysis as always. I wasn’t expecting this reprint but I made the same decision you did. I am wondering what do you think about Goblin Guide. It’s price was reflecting the fear of reprint for a lot of time but if there isn’t that much product being opened maybe it’s price will recover? Thanks for your valuable insights!

    1. Goblin Guide has been hit by the same reprints as the ZEN fetchlands, so I think it’s got an excellent chance at a recovery over the next 8 months. I think this is a fine card to be a buyer of once MM3 events start up. I’d wait until the end of the first week, and then start to pick off the cheapest copies and then stop buying when you get your fill.

    2. Actually GG on MTGO is reflecting that it’s still available in a PRECON deck in the MTGO store at a set price so it caps it’s possible high point.

  2. I went the opposite way, and went on the panic sell. Took a massive hit to my profit. Unfortunately, I undid my last 6 months worth of profits by doing so, however I freed up a ton of capital that hasn’t been doing anything. I did give some consideration to being the buyer instead of the seller, but modern has been so weak for the last year. Prices really haven’t moved much since the reprint, and the massive treasure chest sell off, and with more supply on the way, the outlook just doesnt seem great. Although had I waited until today to sell, I would have lost less. Maybe my opinion will change in time, but right now Modern doesn’t seem like the place to be make profits. What do you think?

    1. This is true, Modern has been very weak in the last year, overall. However there are cards like Ensnaring Bridge and Blood Moon that have seen new highs in the past year.

      I think we’ve moved from a period of strong growth where it was hard to make a mistake in speculating, to a period where winners and losers are more spread out. It’s definitely more challenging to speculate on Modern as a result.

      For me, the mistake I have to avoid is buying too soon or at an elevated price. My best specs occur when there is clearly a panic going on, or there is some repercussion from a banning, or I am buying in the Fall when everything is depressed. Week to week, month to month, the good buying opportunities are few and far between, so I need to work on my patience and to be ‘ok’ with having tix that are not being deployed.

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