Everybody is talking about Standard. Marvel this and Marvel that. Zombies this and Zombies that. Mardu this and Mardu that... If you are into MTG finance, like I am, the boat has already sailed on Standard specs and you've already been working to cash out while the getting is good. Who doesn't enjoy cashing out on their Ulamogs and Marvels for three times what they were going for a few weeks ago?
The game is always the same. We spec on Standard before the Pro Tour and look to push those specs off once they hit or miss. Standard is always all about spikes and steady declines in the aftermath. There isn't a lot of Standard work to be done in the middle of the season since most cards will be trickling down toward their final resting place in the bulk bin or as a casual standout.
Modern is different for a couple of reasons. First of all, the cards don't rotate which means their shelf life is infinite (or until they are made obsolete via a better printing or a banning). We don't need to move out of these cards within a two-week window or risk losing all value. That means we have more luxury when it comes to holding onto cards for a long period of time and waiting for something to happen.
Modern also evolves a lot slower than Standard does. First of all, fewer people are working to break it out of the gate (Standard season comes first) and second of all the format is much, much bigger and harder to break. In Standard, there are only so many available options at any given time and most of the good ones are found after a few weeks or so. In Modern, however, things take longer to "break out" since there are so many options available.
Information spreads more slowly and there is more information to sift through. It also lends investors more time to figure things out and make a move before the market adjusts. Look at the PT as an example. The majority of the price movement happened on Standard singles before the event had even concluded. It is easier to look at the picture being painted, solve it, and make an investment move. The downside is that the window to get in or out is much, much smaller.
Looking for Value in Modern
Today, I'd like to talk about a few Modern staples that I think have a nice window at the moment to get in on. Obviously, the nature of this game is speculative but I feel like these are the kind of bets on the metagame that are likely to be rewarded moving forward.
Collected Company: what can I say, they don't make 'em like this anymore. Speaking of which, I don't even really understand why they made one like this in the first place!
The card is busted in half and extremely unique. It seems likely that such a card will be around as the centerpiece of decks for a decade or more. Basically, the card is completely insane and broken and only gets better every time a new creature gets printed.
I think that Collected Company is a great speculative target right now because it seems very likely to only go up in the foreseeable future. The Vizier of Remedies plus Devoted Druid combo has come out of nowhere to be another great CoCo deck. I'm a buy on these right now and want to hold onto them for the future.
Another card that slides nicely into any Collected Company shell is Eternal Witness. First of all, Witness is a completely busted-in-half card no matter how you shake it. It's another good example of, "They don't make 'em like this anymore," and with good reason—the card is obnoxiously powerful and abusable.
E Wit has been reprinted quite a bit in the past few years and has a pretty large price range depending on who you are trying to buy it from. Copies can be acquired for between $2-$6 right now. That spread is unreal and tells me a couple of things.
The first thing is that a lot of online dealers value the card highly and are willing to wait for bigger value down the road. They see the future coming. The other is that a lot of people currently undervalue the card because they have supply they want to dump, i.e., reprints.
I want to pick up the cheap copies of this card and hold onto them. The best-case scenario is that Witness doesn't see a reprint for a year or so and the value goes up significantly in that time.
It is also worth noting that Witness is seeing more and more play in the Company lists (particularly Vizier) which is increasing demand for the card. We're all adults, we know how supply and demand works. Picking up those undervalued copies is likely to yield a nice return down the road.
Spire of Industry is a cheap Standard Mardu Vehicles land that also slots nicely into a range of Modern artifact decks as a mana fixer. I prefer the card to Glimmervoid by a wide margin. I'll gladly take a few points of damage rather than risk my house of cards falling apart on the first turn to a Lightning Bolt, or having to mulligan.
Vehicles doesn't appear to be the hot dog of Standard like it was last season, so I think these will continue to dip as players change Standard decks. These are a good pick-up for the future. Easily one of the best Modern cards in Aether Revolt for the long term.
Junk rare? Not a chance!
Inventors' Fair may hold a bulk rare price but this card is going to be gold for value in the future. It is a Modern card already (Krark-Clan Ironworks combo, Lantern Control) and sees Vintage and Legacy play in various Workshop-style decks. It is also worth noting that the card is an auto-include in most Commander decks.
I will literally trade for every copy of this card that comes across the trade table and stash these away for the future. I feel like this card being worth something down the line is almost a foregone conclusion. It's good in a ton of formats and a Commander staple. You could do a lot worse than having 50-100 copies of this card floating around in a box two years from now!
Dredge is kind of a known commodity right now. It's not great, but a solid deck nonetheless. I don't anticipate that it will be going anywhere in the foreseeable future.
I actually looked through the lists for something to spec on from the archetype, but it felt like most of the cards were at fair prices and didn't have a ton of room to move around. However, Vengeful Pharaoh could be a nice dark-horse pick. It's pretty cheap right now and doesn't feel like the kind of card that is super likely to see a reprinting anytime soon.
It's also a generically good Magic card. All of these factors make me think it is a potentially nice card to pick up a few copies of to store away for a rainy day in the future. It probably won't be a card likely to spike hard, but it seems likely to become more valuable than its current market price. It only takes a GP weekend where Dredge "breaks out" again for a card like this to see increased demand and a price jump.
Supreme Verdict is a great Magic card. It is so unique and awesome and I doubt we'll every see another card that does something like this. It's also very good against the Company and Bant Eldrazi decks that are popular in Modern.
I do think we will eventually see reprints on Verdict but I also think the card is likely to go up before that day rolls around. I've been picking these up for a while and noticed they continue to trickle upward, week after week. It's probably a really nice card to have some spare copies of hidden away just in case.
We are kind of in a lull period of MTG finance but there are still specs to be made. Standard is being solved and we don't have new spoilers to bet on yet. However, the work of a Quiet Spec'r is never done. Grinding out those mid-season trade targets does provide value down the line.