Insider: MTGO Market Report for September 13th, 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 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 September 11, 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. Although both Aether Revolt (AER) and Kaladesh (KLD) are no longer available for redemption, their prices will continue to be tracked while they are in Standard.



As we get closer to the release of Ixalan (XLN) and Standard rotation, the price bottoms on the rotating sets are in sight. Below is a chart I've produced in the past, updated with the latest data points for Shadows over Innistrad (SOI) and Battle for Zendikar (BFZ). The price declines are moderating, and in the past week these sets have fluctuated around the 20 tix mark, with a few dips below that level. Buyers are stepping into the market and further large price declines are remote. Although the precise bottom is only visible in hindsight, all signs point to it being a fine time to start accumulating these two sets. Speculators who like to minimize their risk through diversification can happily start adding complete sets of SOI and BFZ into their portfolio, as I have started doing.

On the singles front, players looking to fill out their decks should have no concerns about picking up Modern staples like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger at current prices.  Players can wait on more fringe cards like Traverse the Uvenwald, though, as a wave of selling is bound to occur once XLN is released.

The next chart covers Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) and Eldritch Moon (EMN) in advance of rotation. Price declines for OGW are slowing down and it looks like it is putting in a bottom in the 30- to 35-tix range. EMN took a big tumble this week, and it looks ready to continue dropping in price. Both sets are tracking the price path of Journey into Nyx (JOU) quite well, and that set bottomed at 40 tix in the week after it rotated out of Standard.

The market hasn't really started buying these two sets yet, though. Historically, large sets have been a better bet to see demand from redeemers, so speculators might be avoiding these sets as a result. There's also the price. Both are priced higher than the the large sets, and so they don't "feel" like they are on sale.

Relative to paper prices, both OGW and EMN are good value. I have started adding them into the Market Report portfolio, though I have avoided buying complete sets of EMN. Liliana, the Last Hope is still a 20-tix card that I think it will drop into the 15- to 18-tix range in the next two weeks. Regardless of whether it falls in price or not, I will round out my set purchases after the release of XLN. It's important to acknowledge that buying the pool of value that the complete set represents is important. Trying to pick winners and avoid losers will increase the risk of speculating on these sets. There are potentially higher rewards, but I prefer to take a diversified approach. Being approximately right on the timing is a lot easier if you are just considering how the prices of complete sets will evolve over the coming months.


The Magic world got its first look at Iconic Masters (IMA) this past weekend as players got to play Sealed Deck with the unrevealed cards at HASCON. IMA has a bevy of Modern reprints, and the market has been digesting this news in the past few days. Modern staples reprinted include Primeval Titan, Blood Moon, Thoughtseize, and Cryptic Command. Two reprints of note are Horizon Canopy and Mishra's Bauble, which both have high prices on MTGO based on their scarcity.

Although the exact details of how this set will be released on MTGO have not yet been announced, it will be coming in November. I expect a three-week release window similar to how Modern Masters 2017 (MM3) was released. The set looks like a lot of fun, so expect heavy drafting, and needless to say, the reprinted cards will be available at a good price when the set is being opened in Draft.

Standard Boosters

The price of an Amonkhet (AKH) block Draft set tumbled this week, dropping from 9.7 tix all the way down to 7.1 tix. Although we are a little under two weeks away from the release of XLN on MTGO, the market is looking ahead to drafting triple XLN and forgetting about AKH and Hour of Devastation (HOU) draft for a while. Based on how the price of AER and KLD boosters evolved after AKH was released in the spring, speculators should be getting their tix ready to buy a few boosters.

The absolute price bottom on a Draft set of AKH block will occur in the days after XLN is released, but 7 tix is a fine price to look out for right now. I expect a Draft set of AKH block to be priced at over 9 tix by the end of February.

A 2 tix profit per Draft set over the course of five months is a very respectable profit. It takes a little effort to buy and sell these, but with a low spread, a ton of liquidity, and strong economic fundamentals backing up this strategy, speculating on AKH and HOU boosters is highly recommended for those with a little patience. It's a strategy that doesn't need to be monitored; you can buy these, forget about them, and then sell them in early 2018 for a profit.

For Draft sets of KLD block, the future is not so bright. After XLN is released, KLD block Draft will get bumped from the Draft queues and there will be no sanctioned play available with these boosters. AER boosters are at 3.5 tix and KLD boosters are 1.9 tix, but these prices will not hold without Draft support. Look for these to start drifting down and approaching their expected value as the winter approaches. KLD might drop to 1.5 tix or lower, but AER is definitely heading down to 2.5 tix or less. Any excess AER or KLD boosters in your account should be sold at current prices as soon as possible.

Trade of the Week

For a complete look at my recent trades, please check out the portfolio. This week I started buying sets that are rotating out of Standard, specifically BFZ, OGW and SOI. EMN will be added to the list when it gets closer to 40 tix.

Buying complete sets is a way to reduce single-card risk through diversification. The actual cards that see more or less play in Modern don't matter. What matters is that each of these sets represents a pool of value that can be turned into paper sets through redemption. As long as these sets are redeemable, a complete set will have price support. The redemption guarantee date for these sets ends in November, but historically, sets have been available for redemption up until the redemption cutoff date.

Once the release of XLN is in the rearview mirror, markets will start normalizing in both paper and on MTGO. Redeemers will start to think about stocking up on the rotated sets to take advantage of the price discount on MTGO. Demand from Modern players will start to push up the price of the Modern-playable cards from these sets as we head into the winter. Keep in mind that the Constructed format for Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan will be Modern, so there will be an extra spotlight on that format over the next six months.

8 thoughts on “Insider: MTGO Market Report for September 13th, 2017

  1. Hey Matt,

    I always love when you do these rotation analysis. One observation I noticed is that BFZ and SOI are significantly lower in value compared to the other large sets at this point in time. Not really sure what it means though. Next lets move onto the small sets. Based on the data you provided I asked myself how does BNG, FRF, and JOU compare to EMN and OGW in terms of modern playables. JOU was a homerun performance wise with a large chunk of value in eidolon, and keranos. BNG and FRF only had 1-3 really modern playables. EMN has 2 big hitters with Liliana and Collective Brutality plus a number of other fringe playables Emrakul, Selfless spirit, Spell queller, and grim flayer. OGW has thought-knot seer as the big one, with Kalitas, matter reshaper, eldrazi displacer, and the manlands as lower value but very playable. Based on this I think I really like the outlook for these small sets, since there are a lot of modern playables, especially EMN. Also, the last 2 years or so were the pinnacle of undercosted threats, so if theres any new breakout cards I think it will be from these newer sets, since THS block was generaly weaker. So I think these sets will perform more like JOU and less like BNG. Makes me wish I didn’t spend my tix so soon. What are your thoughts?

    1. Yes, BFZ and SOI are much lower. With BFZ, I think we can attribute that to the presence of the Expeditions, so it might make sense to compare paper and digital prices with a ratio. I’ve done this in the past, but haven’t reproduced it in a while. Basically, I calculate the ratio of (MTGO+25)/TCGMID for each set, with the +25 representing the redemption fee.

      Here are the ratio lows for each set, they occur at similar times around rotation to the price bottom.

      KTK: 0.45

      DTK: 0.48

      ORI: 0.40

      Here are the current ratios for BFZ and SOI

      BFZ: 0.41

      SOI: 0.30 (!!!)

      Next, small sets,

      BNG: 0.52

      JOU: 0.59

      FRF: 0.42

      And OGW and EMN,

      OGW: 0.57

      EMN: 0.46

      So, using the ratios, it looks like value goes like this,

      SOI>BFZ and EMN>OGW, though all four sets look to have value and be close to a price bottom using the ratio as the metric of choice. Note, EMN and SOI both did not have expeditions, while OGW and BFZ did.

      So, yes, I like the outlook a lot for OGW and EMN, as you suggest based on looking at Modern playable cards. BFZ has two Modern staples in Ulamog and Gideon, plus the creature lands. SOI looks like the worst in terms of playable, but still has Nahiri, Prized Amalgam and Tireless Tracker.

      It will be fascinating to see what happens and which ones turns out to give the best return in the end. But all sorts of fundamentals and experiential evidence is lining up in their favor. Too bad this is the last time we’ll be able to get the benefit from the combo of longer redemption windows and rotation!

  2. Might as well go big then!

    Those ratios are interesting. Question do you have financial tools that you use to check this sort of stuff, or do you just enter values into spreadsheet?

    1. I don’t use any financial tools, I’m just logging data in a spreadsheet.

      I used to have it automated in excel and would collect prices almost on a daily basis, but then supernova starting to have unreliable prices so I had to start manually entering goat set prices. More recently, mtgstocks made it harder to scrape set prices using excel. Weekly prices seem to be fine for the kind of big picture speculating I favor anyway.

      Some of my earlier articles talked about the ratio more often, but I wasn’t sure about its predictive value so I stopped publishing it.

  3. Hey Matt, as always great article! Too bad the shift to redemption will kill this safe strategy. I want to take advatange of it for the last time, so I was wondering if it makes sense to buy into all the mythics, not just the bulk ones, after rotation. I have a good share of bulk mythics already, but considering late october is the target for BFZ-OGW it could yield a nice profit for very little time.

    Thanks so mucho for your help!

    1. Yes, it is too bad! This is really the last time this strategy will be employable.

      Buying all the mythics is correct, but if you already have your fill of the bulk mythics, I would not focus on these. Many are already double or triple the price from a few months ago so I don’t think the bulk myhthics are good value at the moment.

      Also, it’s important to target the Modern playable rares. Collective Brutality and Thought Knot Seer come to mind right off the bat. These will be holding value too. If you look at Dragons of Tarkir, most of the value in that set resided in the Modern playable rares.

  4. Disappointed you did not take into account the effect that MTG Arena will have on standard drafting. Willing to bet that the AKH-HOU draft sets might not go that high if MTG Arena is rolling by then…

    1. Certainly MTG Arena introduces uncertainty into MTGO speculation and you make a good point on this front. If MTG Arena is up and running, and draft leagues are replicated there and are much cheaper, then the value of all draft sets on MTGO will drop.

      However, boosters are very liquid, so there should be plenty of advance notice from Beta version testing. If there is any information that becomes actionable, I’ll be sure to bring it up. For the moment, it’s steady as she goes until Beta testing starts and more details of MTG Arena are revealed.

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