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Insider: MTGO Market Report for November 8th, 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.

Redemption

Below are the total set prices for all redeemable sets on MTGO. All prices are current as of November 6, 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.

Standard

Pro Tour Ixalan wrapped up this past weekend, and Energy decks continue to dominate Standard. Check out the top 8 decks here. The energy mechanic is warping decks around a sub set of cards and is causing some to raise the alarm for a potential ban in Standard. If we hadn't been coming out of a year where multiple Standard bans took place, I think this chatter would be non-existent.

Energy is clearly dominant, but it doesn't look oppressive. It's not like a two-card infinite combo, nor is it as soul crushing as playing against Emrakul, the Promised End. The energy mechanic and the cards it shows up on still feels like you are playing Magic, so I think a ban is highly unlikely at this point.

In particular, Standard will not be the Constructed format at the next Pro Tour, so there's even less incentive to tinker with Standard now. It's more prudent to allow time for the release of Rivals of Ixalan and its impact on the meta game to percolate. With an additional set having the potential to boost the tribal synergies and an intervening Modern Pro Tour, there will be no rush to ban any cards in Standard until spring 2018 at the earliest.

Speaking of tribal synergies, Angel of Invention was the big winner this week, rising all the way to 18 tix on MTGO as it got a boost from being featured in a Mono-White Vampires deck. The deck performed well, going 8-2 or better, and players are always eager to try out new aggro decks on MTGO.

Modern

With Pro Tour Ixalan behind us, the next premier event will be Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan in February, featuring Modern in the Constructed portion. This is the next big selling window for Modern singles, and its important to realize we are still months away from this event. Prices have recovered nicely, and the breakout of the Human tribe has shown the format is still evolving, despite a plethora of established archetypes. With no strategy currently dominating, Modern is going from strength to strength.

At this point, it would be very tempting to start selling down recently acquired Modern positions in order to capture some of the gains. Cavern of Souls is one of the cards that has gained the most in the last six weeks, more than doubling as it rose from 16 tix to 34 tix. Doubling up on a 10-plus tix card is a big price move in a short amount of time, and profit is profit as they say, but is the timing right?

Increasingly, I think about the implicit choice of selling any position. If I sell now, what will I do with the tix on hand? I'm not interested in taking tix out of my portfolio nor out of the MTGO economy. There are high transaction costs associated with cashing out of MTGO, so it's better to keep your money on MTGO over the long haul. I want to stay invested, ideally with objects that are gaining value.

The trouble is, the big buying opportunities of the fall have dissipated. The success of new speculative positions will depend on how the Standard and Modern meta games develop over the coming months. If I sold Cavern of Souls today, I would like to redeploy the tix right back into something – something exactly like Cavern of Souls! So, the choice of selling now means implicitly that I think I have a better opportunity to use the tix for. But I can't say that such an opportunity exists.


I am happy with my Modern positions, and there is nothing that is screaming out as being cheap at the moment. If I started selling now, I would probably be deploying the profits into worse speculative positions than just holding onto my current specs. Even worse, I have a tendency to talk myself into really marginal specs. Tangle Wire for example is a recent spec that hasn't worked out at all.

It's obviously correct to avoid marginal specs, and right now, I feel like the portfolio is strongly positioned for the months ahead. Not turning over the portfolio just for the sake of doing something is the best choice; I just want to ride out the trends that are in place and then consider selling in January and February. Deploying tix into a bad spec will destroy the value that has accrued in my positions that I have worked on building.


However, there will be a chance to pick up some Modern staples on the cheap this month. Although the precise details on its release on MTGO have not yet been posted, Iconic Masters (IMA) will be released next week in paper. I expect we'll see an announcement shortly for MTGO, and that IMA will follow the path that previous Masters sets have taken. They will be premium priced drafts and boosters for a three-week window.

For staple rares out of this set, look no further than Primeval Titan, Thoughtseize and Bloodghast. On the uncommon front, both Mishra's Bauble and Aether Vial are key Modern staples and carry hefty price tags of 17 and 9 tix respectively. Expect these two to drop substantially, but I think they will be excellent pickups during the peak of drafting.


On the more speculative front, Ancestral Vision has really fallen out of favour in Modern, and this reprint will push its price down even further. It's not a target to load up on, but if you want to round out your collection with a play set, it will be a good chance for picking it up on the cheap.

Trade of the Week

For a complete look at my recent trades, please check out the portfolio. During the Pro Tour, I noticed Nissa, Steward of Elements was showing up as a key sideboard card in energy-based decks. Perusing the recent Standard deck lists from the MTGO leagues showed that Nissa was not so widely adopted as in the Pro meta game. This struck me as a signal that Nissa would be seeing wider adoption when decks take the Pro meta game.

The MTGO market is going through the process of price discovery on this card at the moment, and I think it will end up in the 8- to 10-tix range eventually. Paper prices are starting to catch on, and with the end of redemption nearing for Amonkhet, there could be a short-term feedback loop established for this card where paper prices drive the MTGO price higher.

With all this in mind, I bought a number of Nissa in order to take part in this trend. Either the trend reaching a peak or a shift in the metagame will signal it is time to exit this trade.

5 thoughts on “Insider: MTGO Market Report for November 8th, 2017

  1. Hey Matt, great job here. I was wondering what do you think about mythics from the recently rotated sets, as some prices are currently high while others haven’t moved much yet. Thanks for your insights!

    1. I bought all of the rotated sets, and I am still holding. I think December will be a good time to consider selling from these sets, balancing the opportunity cost of continuing to hold and the gains due to Modern play and redemption.

      As for specific mythic rares, I do noticed there are wildly different results. Arlinn Kord from SOI has doubled since September, for example, while Linvala from OGW is flat to lower.

      In general, I’d say there’s a few things going on here. First, there’s a component of demand from casual players, on top of demand from redeemers, and then there’s supply that trickles in from players selling their rotated Standard cards. Something like Linvala was still being played in Standard over the summer, so the supply coming into the market would be higher than something like Arlinn Kord which has barely seen any Standard play. Another example of a card that saw Standard play in the summer is Sphinx of the Final Word. It’s also flat in price since September.

      Hope this helps! It’s not clear exactly what’s happening with individual mythic rares, that’s why I stick to full set specs.

  2. Hey Matt,

    I like the part where you mention talking yourself into marginal specs. I wasn’t feeling your tanglewire spec at all, so I stayed away on that one. But I think it illustrates a common issue, seeing that one price spike and thinking that the card will get back to the same price relatively soon. After taking some big hits on similar specs, where there was a big spike I bought on the down swing and it never really did much after that. I learned that some cards have a nice spike, but if they don’t have staying power, or the format gets shaken up, then they don’t owe you any obligation to spike again. The past 6 months or so Ive been trying to stay focused on understanding the catalyst for the price spike before really diving in on a card. I still need to figure out what to do with heart of kiran and verdurous gear hulk, those seem liked sure bets pre rotation, at least that was the story I told myself. So I think its important to have an understanding of, what if the story we told ourselves doesn’t turn out to be true? Anyway, hope you can find a not too painful exit from the tangelwires sometime soon.

    On a happier note. Lilliana the last hope is looking fantastic this week, Im hoping it continues to ride the modern wave. Cant tell if if should buying more and trying to catch it on the way up, or if the buying window is all done. I also noticed that Collected Company seems like a pretty good buy right now, if anyone has some spare tickets that they want to deploy. Its around 17 with fairly regular price movement, for its short post standard life, peaked at 27 not too long ago. Im digging that one. Went in on 8 copies might pick up a few more.

    1. Tangle wire is a tough one, I’m just going to have to eat that one I think. Ah well. Sometimes I have to learn an expensive lesson, and this is one of them. I think the original thesis wasn’t far off, but it looks like Vintage Shops has bifurcated into decks that do use tangle wire and decks that don’t. Unfortunately the decks that don’t seem to be posting more 5-0 records. There’s also the long term risk of a Mishra’s Workshop restriction. That would seriously affect the Vintage metagame, with unknown results.

      Heart of Kiran seems like it is getting some play in Standard, but will need some kind of shift in the metagame to go higher. This one is a hold, but if it gets back into the 10-12 tix range again, I’d be ready to sell some copies.

      Lily is doing great things this week, it’s true. I think 40 tix is not out of the question, so it’s not too late to buy as it does seem to be powering higher.

      Thanks for reading, and commenting! It’s great to get appreciation for my writing. I think working on the process of learning to become a better speculator has been my primary task in recent months, and hashing things out in the comments section is helpful in this regard. Cheers.

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