Insider: Eternal Weekend and Old School Cards

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Eternal Weekend is just around the corner, which means that lots and lots of folks are about to enter into the "Old Card Zone." Okay, maybe that was a little more dramatic than it needed to be, but the point is that eternal cards are about to be highlighted in a pretty significant way—what can we do with that?

The Magic marketplace has undergone pretty serious upheaval over the past few years. So. Many. Reprints. It makes investing in generic "cards" a risky proposition since pretty much anything can be reprinted at any time and for any reason.

I used to spend a significant amount of resources investing in all sorts of Magic cards. I worked at a card store and I was plugged into the pulse of what people liked and what cards moved. If the store inventory ever consistently dipped on random casual cards, I was all about buying in on that card.

However, I am now of the opinion that there are basically two kinds of Magic investing: short-term spikes and Reserved List holds. Everything else exposes you to too much reprint risk.

1. Investing in Short Term Spikes

It's not a bad strategy. If you see the Standard, Modern, or eternal metagame shifting one way or the other, and can predict a trend that you believe might happen, you can buy in. For instance, if you saw that Vizier of Remedies was spoiled and made the connection that it was an infinite combo with Devoted Druid… Buy up those Druids because they are about to be solid gold!

Obvious example is obvious. It can be more subtle than that too. Perhaps you had the inside track about how Dredge was about to explode in Modern last year before the banning. Maybe you noticed the deck was starting to tear it up on MTGO or something. If you believed what you were seeing was real, you might have bought up Dredge staples, Grafdigger's Cages, and Rest in Peaces based on your presumption that what you were observing was going to happen on a bigger scale on the tournament scene.

You can spend some amount of money or trade stock to pick up the cards you believe are poised to spike with the intention of moving them once the spike occurs.

However, you can't really hold these cards forever. Eventually those Cages, Rest in Peaces, etc., will be in Modern Masters, Eternal Masters, Commander 20-nextyear, or some other reprint deck package. These are not long-term investments but rather quick flip transactions.

2. Reserved List Cards

Reserved List cards are a completely different animal because there is zero risk that they will ever be reprinted. As long as the game remains relatively healthy and people are interested in playing it, these cards will continue to grow in value over time.

If you consider Magic to be a collectible investment (like sports cards or comics) and not just a game experience, these are the cards to have and to hold.

Eternal Weekend and Reserved List cards kind of go hand in hand. The eternal formats are the place where Reserved List cards actually see tournament play. Wizards was very crafty to ensure that their prized jewel of Modern did not feature Reserved List cards. They can reprint everything in Modern until the cows come home without worry of ever upsetting the Reserved List.

Eternal? Not so much. Eternal is a format for collectors and fans of the old stuff. The old ways. It is also the place for investors.

The Allure of the Old

Personally, I consider all cards from the earliest sets to be an extension of the Reserved List. Alpha, Beta, Arabian Nights, Legends, and Antiquities. Many of the cards in the set have been reprinted to excess already. Many of the cards are not on the Reserved List. However, the fact remains that they will never reprint a Beta or Arabian Nights version of a card ever again.

Take a look at the price of Erhnam Djinn, which was reprinted as an uncommon in Chronicles.

Editor's note: The Arabian Nights version of Erhnam Djinn isn't displaying correctly right now—TCGplayer's market price for the ARN version is currently $112.93.

The value of this card has nothing to do with "card availability" in the traditional sense. If you needed an Erhnam for a deck you could get one for about a buck any day of the week. The value of this card is linked to the scarcity and collectability of the Arabian Nights version.

Other cards which are on the Reserved List, like Juzám Djinn, command insane premiums.

However, I'm arguing that these "old cards" are good collectible investments even outside of the glowing halo of the Reserved List.

I collect and invest in Magic the same as you or anybody else. I have a budget that I'm willing to spend. When I want something, I often trade or sell other cards to raise the funds to acquire it.

My personal strategy for investing in Magic has changed dramatically over the past few years. For starters, I have a very small amount of "long-term hold" cards that are not Old School cards. The reprints make it too risky and low EV. I've actually exchanged much of my Modern collection to buy deeper into older cards, which I believe are a better investment.

What am I talking about when I'm talking about "old cards?" Honestly, it's hard to go wrong with any of it—assuming that you are able to acquire the cards at the right price in the here and now.

The assumption under which I'm operating is that there is basically no reason for Old School cards to ever decline in value outside of a major collapse of Magic itself. Therefore, my assumption is that the only trajectory for these cards is a climb in value, no matter how much play they see. Cards that see more play will climb faster, cards that are less commonly played (and thus less desirable) will climb more slowly.

With that in mind, I'm basically willing to invest in any old Magic cards from these sets so long as I am getting them below current market price. Some cards that I think are particularly spicy investments I'm willing to buy or trade into at market price.

I've been collecting a lot of the misfit Alpha and Beta rares that are sweet and iconic and don't have particularly prohibitive buy-in costs. I believe all that stuff is headed up already, with no reason to stop. Wizards could reprint Mahamoti Djinn a thousand times and it would have zero effect on the cost of a Beta copy.

Editor's note: TCGplayer Market price for Beta Mahamoti is $107.11 (and they're sold out).

Basically, that is the long and short of my current Magic investment strategy. I'm all about actively trying to pick up Old School cards when the price is right.

Eternal Weekend

Lastly, I'd like to link this conversation back to Eternal Weekend. I doubt that Eternal Weekend is going to have much of an effect on the prices of the actual Vintage or Legacy prices. Those prices are worldwide and relatively fixed in stone. Power and duals trickle up the same as any other Reserved List card and they rarely spike.

The place I think the biggest change could happen would be with regard to random Old School prices. Eternal Weekend also features the Old School World Championship. I know for a fact that there are going to be a ton of Old School players there again this year, looking to battle and probably also pick up cards for their decks and collections. With so many localized Old School players converging on one dealer hall, there is a chance it could have an effect on the larger markets.

I could imagine some scenario where the onsite dealers are charging a premium for the Old School Alpha/Beta/Arabian Nights goodies. If people who had planned on picking up cards onsite decide they don't want to pay the premium, and buy from TCGplayer instead, we could see some upward trends in the marketplace occurring as a result. I'd be shocked if at least a couple of Old School cards didn't spike after this weekend.

Every Old School card that I've ever bought is worth more today than the day I bought it. I love this strategy and thought I'd share it with you all. Look for those deals and just hold onto the cards until you're ready to cash out. The only downside of the strategy is that the cards are basically too cool to ever sell...

One thought on “Insider: Eternal Weekend and Old School Cards

  1. Excellent read, much appreciated. I search and search for articles about old school magic and actually finding a good one is like pulling a Lord of the Pit out of a Revised pack. For all you new-schoolers out there, that means ******* awesome!

    P.S, And you posted this on my birthday. Nice of you guys

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