There isn’t one big piece of Magic finance news this week that overshadows the rest, but there have been many little things that are worth discussing. Today, I’ll cover some news and trends occurring in the Magic finance world right now that you should know about.
BoGo “Buy One, Get One” Magic Cards
Shopping deals around the American Thanksgiving holiday during events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday extend to this entire holiday season, and Magic cards aren’t immune to them. There were plenty of deals occuring at online stores, and I expect stores to have more of them as Christmas quickly approached, so keep your eyes peeled.
What I know for certain is that some major brick-and-mortar retail stores are currently having a sale on their Magic product, and they present the opportunity to get some cards at a significant discount. The best of these is at GameStop, which is offering a 50-percent discount on its clearance trading cards until December 11th, which translates to some of the lowest prices on packs you’ll ever see. With prices low enough that buying and cracking packs have a positive expected value, there is an opportunity to crack the packs and re-sell the contents at a profit. It's also a great opportunity to obtain some product to play Limited, and because these include Standard-legal sets like Kaladesh and Aether Revolt, there’s an opportunity for players looking to build their playset collection. It's also a way to get sealed product to give as gifts! I was curious what set would offer the best value to someone simply looking to crack and resell the contents, and Ixalan has the highest value with a set retailing at $237, but I am not sure if those would be found in clearance, but Kaladesh isn’t too far behind at over $200. Of course, it all depends on how much the packs cost, and I’ve heard that some stores sell different sets for different prices, so react accordingly.
WalGreens is offering 40 percent off Magic cards until December 9th, which isn't quite as good a deal but still possibly worthwhile.
Iconic Masters Flops
The most recent release, Iconic Masters, seems to be bit of a flop. The set was loaded with reprints of high-value cards, but by virtue of them being reprinted, their value has tanked, and the value of the set is now lower than many anticipated. The value of the complete set peaked in early October at over $1000, but is now down to nearly $500. Rather than holding a premium over MSRP, like has been the case with the Modern Masters releases, the product can now be had at a discount. Stores seem to be fire-selling the product at a discount, as low as $140 per box, compared to the MSRP of $240.
Many of the cards in the set are Modern staples, and the prices seem certain to rebound eventually, so there is an opportunity now to get in cheaply and make profit down the line. On the other hand, it’s not clear that we’ve actually reached the bottom, and the fact that the set is not in limited supply, and is even available at big box stores mean the prices could just continue to drown in the supply flood for the foreseeable future.
Un-Sets Temporarily Unbanned in Commander
The upcoming release of Unstable, the much-awaited third Magic Un-Set, has increased interest in the past Un-sets, Unglued and Unhinged. Magic has grown exponentially since these sets were released, and Unstable will expose a whole new generation to the Un-sets. This has brought a lot of attention to cards from the past Un-sets, and the demand is following.
These cards aren’t for competitive play, but they are fair game in casual circles, and players are going to play them in Constructed decks and Cube, and they are going to go deeper by exploring Un-cards from the past. Things came to a head on Friday, when Sheldon Menery, the steward of the Commander format and curator of the banned list, announced that silver-borderd Un-cards, meaning the new Unstable set along with Unglued and Unhinged, and even silver-bordered promo cards cards like the Hascon promo pack and Holiday promos like Fruitcake Elemental, would be legal in Commander until January 15th.
It is at the same time a massive announcement and a non-factor, because what would be a massive change is essentially just a holiday gimmick. The price of Un-cards were already trending upwards, but the announcement has massively driven up demand for some of the cards, especially the gold-bordered promos. The fact is that things will be back to normal on January 16th and demand will wane, but I think the real impact of the move is that it is bringing higher awareness to these cards, and I expect many play groups will continue using them far after they are again officially off-limits, so these prices increases are real demand, and while they will settle out as people sell into the spike, they won't fall back down to previous levels.
There were some notable price spikes before the announcement, and more have followed. Frankie Peanuts jumped to $5, which has been followed by Jack in the Mox growing past $10. Strategy, Schmategy has seen two spikes, and now can't be had less than $25. Johnny, Combo Player has moved past $8, and Now I Know My ABC's past $10. The high prices of these cards and others from the sets is because of their great playability and fun factor, and as players dig deeper and find more gems from the Un-sets, they too could rise.
A good way to see the general rising tide of demand for these cards is looking at completed eBay listings. In September, sets of Unglued were selling for around $80 to $90. By November, they were $120, and this week multiple sets sold for around $150 before the announcement. I can only see the demand continue to increase, at least until Unstable is released, and afterwards it will stabilize at some point. The days of these cards being off the radar and in very low demand are over, and the prices won’t fall to previous prices.
What else is going on in the Magic finance world?