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Insider: MTGO Market Report for December 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.

Redemption

Below are the total set prices for all redeemable sets on MTGO. All prices are current as of December 12, 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 Hour of Devastation (HOU), Amonkhet (AKH), 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

This week was another blood bath in terms of prices, with all Standard sets falling in both paper and digital. From a tactical point of view, speculators should stay well clear of Standard at the moment. There is no near-term catalyst to Invigorate prices, heading into a week of Vintage Masters draft followed by a period of Vintage Cube for the holidays. Both of these events are going to be a good reason to sell singles for tix, so I don't think we've seen the bottom yet.


For full set speculations, typically the strategy is best employed in the final weeks of drafting a set. For Ixalan (XLN) and the upcoming Rivals of Ixalan (RIX), this means targeting these sets just prior to the release of Dominaria (DOM) at the end of April. March will be an excellent time to be a buyer of both XLN and RIX.


Last week, I punted on my The Scarab God spec and it has continued to fall in price. It looks like this card will get to its pre-XLN price range of 18 to 21 tix, which will be a good level to quietly start accumulating this card again. I will be looking for some price stability beforehand, though. I want to see at least a flattening of the current downtrend before considering dipping back into speculating on this card. Ultimately, I'd be surprised if this card doesn't breach 30 tix again over the next six months, but nothing is guaranteed on this front.

Modern

Prices on Modern cards are starting to roll over a little, with different cards now taking turns rising and falling. A card like Mox Opal has leveled off its price ascent, and the Modern Masters 2015 (MM2) version now sits slightly below its all-time high. A fresh round of interest in Affinity or Lantern Control will be necessary for this card to get back to the 70-tix level.


Although I still think we have not yet hit the peak of Modern demand, the rolling over of prices does mean the buying window is closed for speculators. There will still be opportunity on individual cards seeing price spikes as a result of metagame shifts, but a blanket, buy-everything-and-hold approach is no longer appropriate. Speculators should be starting to sell their profitable positions and looking to trim their failed specs.

It's impossible to predict the future, and there's likely to be another peak in Modern prices over the summer in the months just prior to KLD and AKH block rotating out of Standard. Nevertheless, that's too long a time frame to speculate on cards in the age of Treasure Chests. I'm simply not interested in trying to fight that influx; I want a clear entry and exit point for any single-card spec in Modern. For this purpose, the entry point was in October as Standard rotated and the exit point will be in the coming weeks as we approach the Modern Pro Tour in early February.


This was the fat pitch and I've taken my swing. I'm happy with the outcome so far, but in order for the outcome to materialize, I'll have to continue to sell down my Modern positions. Trying to stretch a solid double into a triple, to continue the baseball metaphor, risks getting thrown at the third base. There will be another fat pitch down the road, and I want to be ready for that with tix in hand and not a depleted capital base due to holding on too long.

Boosters

Although they briefly and unexpectedly jumped to 3.4 tix in price this week, XLN boosters quickly dropped back to the 3-tix level. The outlook on these is not changed in that lower prices are anticipated over time. In particular, the release of RIX will not stimulate demand for these, despite an increase in overall interest in draft and Standard. The introduction of RIX will necessarily generate a drop in demand as drafters require only one booster of XLN to enter a draft instead of three.

HOU boosters are continuing to show price strength as they sit at 3.6 tix this week, while AKH boosters have trouble maintaining the 1.1 tix price level. This is fascinating dynamic that could inform the next big round of boosters speculation in March and April. Although I would have previously suggested that buying complete draft sets is the way to go to minimize risk, the behaviour of HOU and AKH booster prices indicates there should be a clear preference for the second set.

With no changes to the booster economy between AKH and XLN blocks, the only other factor to consider would be whether the expected value of the booster contents has an impact on price. I think this effect does matter, but only weakly. Both AKH and HOU boosters have an expected value of less than 1 tix, but their price diverges wildly.

The key driver of booster prices is still the cost of entering a draft using tix only instead of boosters and tix. It's the 12-tix price of entry that players can get a discount on by going to the secondary market to purchase their boosters. As long as one can buy a draft set for less than 10 tix, there's an economic reason to spend a little extra time buying boosters from the bots in order to draft AKH block.

Trade of the Week

For a complete look at my recent trades, please check out the portfolio. This week I've been accumulating Iconic Masters (IMA) boosters at around 4 tix. Although these are not as liquid as Standard boosters, the pattern on these premium priced sets is for steady price appreciation after drafting ends. I'll be buying these as long as they are around 4 tix and as long as I've got excess tix to use.


It doesn't work to try and buy a hundred of these at once, though, since there's just not that many available from enough different vendors. If you try to buy a large quantity at once, the price will get away from a profitable level as the bots react to the perceived increase in demand by raising prices. The best approach is to slowly accumulate your position over a period of days and weeks. Keep in mind your buy price target, and if the price of the booster in question gets away from your target, be sure to reevaluate what is happening.

Last week, I was looking for a drop to 3.5 tix on these, but that never materialized in the days after IMA draft went offline. In this case, I had to adjust my original buy price target based on a persistently higher price than expected. I still think a sell price of 5 tix will be a reasonable target for selling, but this price target could also be wrong. Once we get to end of January, a clear trend will be visible as more normal economic conditions return to the MTGO market.

Note that I intend to repeat this trade with VMA boosters next week. VMA boosters will not drop as low as IMA boosters did due to being drafted for only one week, so a buy price target in the 5- to 6-tix range is expected.

 

Matthew Lewis

Matt Lewis currently lives in Ottawa, Canada and is a long time player and PTQ grinder who now speculates and plays exclusively on MTGO. He's always ready to discuss ideas and investment strategies, so drop him a line in the comments, the forums or on modo, username mattlewis.

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2 thoughts on “Insider: MTGO Market Report for December 13th, 2017

  1. Hey Matt,

    I still have sizable positions of Verdurous Gearhulk and Heart of Kiran. Should I take the loss and sell, or wait/hope that standard picks them up with the next set?

    1. I have sold my Heart of Kiran, and I think you should sell too. There had been a little bounce this week for some reason, so I would explore the reason for that, but I think there is more downside than upside at this point.

      Having said that, the fact that this card has been the most expensive card in AER means that it is worth keeping in mind. I will be on the lookout for potential catalysts that would trigger buying in this card. The first potential catalyst is the release of RIX in January. Maybe there is an aggressive pirate deck that wants to run Heart of Kiran as a four of. Who knows. But, shaking off the Energy mechanic is going to be a real challenge in just one small set.

      A more likely catalyst in my mind would be a ban on one or more of the Energy cards in Standard, post PT. My plan would be to consider Heart of Kiran in mid February. A price of 3 to 4 tix would be attractive to me, with an eye to Standard seeing a shakeup due to bans.

      Verdurous Gearhulk I have no opinion on really. I am not interested in speculating on this card, so take that for what it’s worth.

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