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 tolerances 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 May 23, 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.
Standard Constructed was on display again this weekend at Grand Prix Montreal and Grand Prix Santiago. Energy-based decks featuring Aetherworks Marvel and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger took the top prize in both events. From a financial perspective, this is the top of the mountain for cards from this archetype. After making a strong showing at Pro Tour Amonkhet in Nashville, the 18 Marvel-based decks in Montreal's top 32 and 15 in Santiago's is confirmation that there is a best deck in the format. At this point, cards from this archetype have no further upside and should be avoided by speculators.
Chandra, Flamecaller saw further adoption by the top deck this week in order to combat low-to-the-ground creature decks. It's reached a near term peak of over 10 tix and now sits below that price with the ebbing of the Zombie threat.
Shaun McLaren piloted a BG deck into the top eight of Montreal, packing four maindeck Dissenter's Deliverance to help with the battle against Aetherworks Marvel. Having a cycling cost of one green mana allowed McLaren to include a narrow answer in the main deck without being severely hamstrung against non-Marvel decks. Look for decks to move in this direction if Marvel decks continue to post strong results.
With multiple cards now banned in Standard, there's going to be a lot of people clamoring for another ban if Marvel decks keep dominating. In general, I am not a fan of speculating on Standard as we head into summer, but another round of bans would generate a bout of volatility in Standard prices. It's something to keep in mind, but I would not be betting on another ban at this point.
At the Star City Games Modern Classic event in Louisville, Collected Company decks came out in force, taking three out of the top four spots. Powering up the deck is the new infinite mana combo of Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies. Although it's useless while the druid has summoning sickness, Collected Company and Chord of Calling both do great work at putting creatures into play at instant speed, thereby getting around that particular drawback.
This deck looks like the heir apparent to the old Birthing Pod archetype, and I would expect to see continued strong results from this new iteration. A card like Linvala, Keeper of Silence will see increased demand as mirror matches become more important.
Trade of the Week
For a complete look at my recent purchases, please check out the portfolio. This week I went deep on a staple of Modern in Noble Hierarch. I'll explain the thought process behind this decision, but it should be no surprise that it begins with noticing the new archetype in the 5-0 results from the Modern Constructed leagues and the strong finish the Counters Company deck posted in Louisville.
Examining the price chart, this card took a big price hit from its reprint in Modern Masters 2015 (MM2). But since the release of Shadows over Innistrad (SOI), it's been in a rising trend where both the highs and the lows are rising. In other words, the peaks are higher and the troughs are higher. The one exception might be just prior to the release of Modern Masters 2017 (MM3).
There's no doubt the fear of a reprint in that set contributed to a very pessimistic period for this card, but that came on top of the Gitaxian Probe ban in January, which had all but removed Infect from being a legitimate threat in Modern. Once Noble Hierarch was confirmed not in MM3, the price took off like a rocket back to about 30 tix, before stumbling down to 23 tix more recently.
That's the overall setting for this purchase. With the ban of Gitaxian Probe firmly in the rear-view mirror, I would not expect much supply to enter the market from players moving out of the Infect archetype. And as a one-casting-cost mana dork, there's no need to worry about a reprint in Standard. The next possible reprint for this card would be in Iconic Masters, but that won't be something to worry about until the end of the summer, and I'd be skeptical of anyone who thinks Noble Hierarch has a good chance at a reprint in that set.
The reasons to be bullish on this card are numerous. The potential emergence of a new deck in Modern starts the list, but there's also the fact that it presently anchors a number of different strategies. There's no pending reprint and the recent addition of the weekend challenges will spur demand for all Modern staples. The stage was set for a good speculative target. The one final check I had to make before pulling the trigger on this trade was on the overall supply of this card. When I peaked at the available supply on MTGOTraders, they had six copies of the Conflux (CON) version, and a single copy of the MM2 version.
This told me all that I needed to know, that the market was not well supplied at the current price. If there were forty to sixty copies available, then I would be more cautious. With significantly fewer than that, any strong result at a big event could push this card firmly into the spotlight and raise its price.
My first step in starting to buy these cards was to scour MTGO Library. The bots that use this service often have prices set below the prevailing rates charged by the larger operators like MTGOTraders or GoatBots. After picking off a few play sets from the MTGO Library bots, I moved onto ordering playsets of both versions of the card through the MTGOTraders and Cardhoarder delivery services. If you have not started using the service, it's a very convenient way to order and receive cards. Although you still have to interact with the bots in the client, you do not have to hunt them down in the classifieds as they message you when they are ready to deliver. All you have to do is have your tix ready in exchange.
With the bulk of my position already purchased, the last step is to do a search on the classifieds and to buy any copies that I could find at a reasonable price. Most of the purchases I had made were in the 22 to 23 tix range, so anything at 23 tix or less would be a fine target to round out this strategy.
I am confident this card will get back to the 30-tix level at some point in the next twelve months. It could very well return to that level by September, which would be the next selling window for Modern staples. Keep in mind, though, that Grand Prix Vegas is coming up in June, and this could drive a lot of near-term interest in Modern and Legacy. Noble Hierarch is well positioned to benefit from both.