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 April 3, 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.
The liquidity crunch triggered by the release of Modern Masters 2017 (MM3) has largely dissipated with prices having rebounded this week. On top of that, the start of Amonkhet (AKH) previews has fueled demand for Standard cards as players dream of their pet decks and the potential for a metagame shakeup. The best buying window has passed, but there are still a few pockets of short-term opportunity.
Aether Revolt (AER) looks like it has a found a price floor of around 40 tix and is a low-risk speculative purchase at current prices. Even during the first few days after the release of MM3, it barely dipped below this level. If you've been waiting on buying cards or sets, the bottom looks like it's in. Remember, though, that redemption for Kaladesh (KLD) and AER will end in early June, so this is not a long-term strategy; unloading of full sets should be completed in May.
Previews from the new set and the new allied-colour dual lands with cycling are going to be shaping Standard right from the get-go. Good mana fixing shapes what is possible in Constructed formats and upcoming Standard will be no different. Right off the top, delirium strategies are going to get a boost with a new way to get the land type into the graveyard beyond Evolving Wilds. Grim Flayer is already seeing the benefit as it has bumped up to 19 tix.
With the release window of MM3 drawing to a close, players and speculators alike are contemplating the purchase of singles from this reprint set. Examining how a few key staples from Modern Masters 2015 (MM2) fared will give some guidance on whether or not now is the time to be a buyer. The price graphs below are all courtesy of MTGGoldfish.
Starting with Tarmogoyf, the flagship card of the original Modern Masters (MMA), seems appropriate. MM2 was released on MTGO at the end of May in 2015. By the end of June, this card was a little under 50 tix, but it would get to 42 tix after the release of Magic Origins (ORI). Looking at the above chart, being a buyer of this card anywhere prior to the release of Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) would mean a large opportunity cost of having a bunch of tix tied up in one card, with no appreciable benefit.
If you timed the market perfectly, you could have bought Tarmogoyf at 49 tix on June 29, and sold on July 12 for 59 tix. But considering a typical buy/sell spread of 10 percent, this would have left you with a net gain of about 4 tix. This is an awful rate of return for a speculative position with perfect hindsight. The best buying and selling window was buying at the release of BFZ in the fall, and selling at the end of December 2015. The buy in price would have been the same at 49 tix, but the sale price would have been 72 tix. After accounting for the spread, this would have been a net gain of 15 tix.
Next we can look at Mox Opal in a similar way. Clearly this would have been a better speculative target buying during the release period of MM2, as it rose from 20 tix to 29 tix just before the release of ORI. Although there are ups and downs around the release of ORI and BFZ, the overall trend is higher into the winter. Buying this card right away or during the release of BFZ were both good choices in hindsight, but like Tarmogoyf, buying in the fall was still the superior choice on a time-adjusted basis. In other words, considering the opportunity costs involved, buying at the release of BFZ and selling a few months later was the ideal speculative strategy.
Our last example is a regular rare, but Noble Hierarch displays a similar pattern. Buying in the first four months of this cards release was largely a bust, unless you hit the peak around the release of ORI perfectly. Speculators would again have done better waiting until the fall before buying this card. But even then, the ideal purchase window is pushed back a little further to the release of Shadows Over Innistrad (SOI) in the spring of 2016. One could have bought this for 12 tix at that time, and then quickly ridden the wave higher to 20 tix only two months later.
From these three examples, I think the best thing for speculators to do is to hold onto their tix and to come back to buying cards from MM3 in the fall. This set has been massively popular online and there is a lot of interest in Modern Constructed at the moment too (evidenced by the gains in non-reprinted staples in recent weeks). Once this all dies down, I anticipate lower prices for many cards from MM3 into the summer, although there will always be outliers that go through profitable price swings.
For players, I think it's an excellent time to be a buyer of reprints. If you are going to be using cards from MM3 right away and will get playing utility from them, then there's no better time to be a buyer. Timing the buys and sells takes a lot of work, but if you are going to be getting playing enjoyment out of your cards, then now is a great time to pick up the cards you need from MM3.
KLD and AER boosters have rebounded this week, peaking at 3.7 tix and 1.7 tix respectively. I expect these to fluctuate up and down over the next three weeks with an overall bias downward. With the release of AKH on April 24, there will be another round of selling as players liquidate their boosters in order to draft the new set. This will be a good opportunity for tucking away a few cheap boosters for a rainy day.
The recent price drop in response to the release of MM3 is instructive for what to expect when AKH is released. AER boosters dipped below 3 tix and KLD boosters fell below 1.3 tix. If prices get this low again, then it will be a good time to start buying. However, the recent removal of boosters from Treasure Chests has cut off the supply coming from Constructed players, which points to a repeat of those price lows as being unlikely. Further monitoring of the situation as it develops will be prudent.
As for the only other Standard-set Draft queue that is available, Shadows Over Innistrad (SOI) Block Draft will be removed from the draft queues with the release of AKH. SOI boosters are already cheap at 1.0 tix and don't have much further downside, so selling these is not correct as long as you don't need the tix. On the other hand, Eldritch Moon (EMN) boosters are fully priced at 4.0 tix and will steadily drop in price over the coming weeks and months. Selling EMN boosters is definitely correct if you are holding any.
Trade of the Week
For a complete look at my recent purchases, please check out the portfolio. I took advantage of the rebound in AER and KLD booster prices to unload my purchases from last week. With a 20 percent gain on the table, I felt it was a good idea to build up my stash of tix in advance of AKH. Set releases are always a time of flux in the market, so having your tix ready to go is prudent in order to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself.
At the very least, I want tix on hand in order to buy foil mythic rares from AKH. My recent experience with AER foil mythic rares has given me strong confidence that this strategy will deliver steady gains in the 10- to 20-percent range. Although in the past I've encouraged players to use this strategy as a way to play Standard without losing a ton of value, it looks like its ready for speculators to experiment with. I'll be expanding my purchases beyond just a playset of each foil mythic rare with AKH, and I will be reporting on the results over the summer.