As I sat down to write an article for this week, I couldn’t think of a new topic that would fill an entire column. It’s not that the MTG finance world has been overly quiet—if anything, it’s been buzzing with maximum news. But many topics worth covering have already been covered and my own unique contributions would be fairly small. This is especially true when it comes to newer cards, such as those impacted by Dominaria spoilers and Masters 25 reprints.
With all that said, I thought I’d cover a few smaller topics this week in more abbreviated fashion. This way I can hit the highlights while also avoiding needless ramblings. And because I wanted to be gimmicky, I figured out a way to apply a common wedding phrase to each of my four topics. Who doesn’t love a catchy theme?
As most of you know I follow the Old School market extremely closely. The rate at which I check Card Kingdom’s buy and sell prices as well as their stock on key cards may even border on obsession. The community benefits from this unhealthy obsession, however, because I can report shifts in the market as they’re happening in real-time.
What’s going on lately? I have noticed a couple trends. First, the Alpha market has remained hot but I think it may calm down soon. In Sweden there will be an all-Alpha tournament in a couple weeks. According to the Old School web page, around 50-60 players have signed up. This may sound like a small event for most formats, but in a format where only 1100 copies of each rare exists you can see how readily such an event can impact the secondary market.
The question in my mind is whether all-Alpha events will become more recurring or if this a one time flash in the pan. If it's the latter, we could see less demand for random commons and uncommons going forward.
That’s not to say prices will suddenly tank. But if any new supply hits the market, it may not be absorbed nearly as rapidly. I’ll be watching this trend very closely.
I also want to point out a couple big shifts in market pricing for some classic cards. While buylists have dropped a bit on some of the heavy hitters in Old School (e.g. Juzám Djinn, Serendib Djinn), buy prices on smaller cards have gotten a bump.
I remember when Al-abara's Carpet spiked, its buylist jumped to $16 very quickly. But then as copies came in, Card Kingdom dropped their buy price little by little. Now the price is back up again and this trend may continue.
Then you have buylists on some of the garbage rares jumping. Cards like Petra Sphinx, Adarkar Sentinel, Escaped Shapeshifter, and Wall of Opposition are suddenly fetching you double-digit buy prices. Just when I thought the hype around these cards was dying down, a resurgence in buying seems to be taking place, and the Discord has been lighting up with announcements of surprising sales.
What’s more, lower-end Arabian Nights cards have also bounced recently. Check out the buy price on Aladdin, for example.
I’ll continue to monitor trends as time goes on. The market seems to ebb and flow as certain cards spike, then retract as other cards take their turn. I can’t predict all this movement, but I am certain of one thing: old cards from Magic’s first two years will continue to grow in value over time.
Some members of the MTG finance community have been vocal about buying their Masters 25 cards last weekend as prices tumbled. And when I say “tumbled,” I mean it—as in, how Jill descended the hill after Jack made his crown-breaking fall.
For reference, here are the Masters 25 cards that made all-time lows last Sunday.
While some of these drops are worse than others, I think the pain isn’t over just yet. This is especially true for original printings, which will suffer declines much more gradually. So far Imperial Recruiter from Portal: Three Kingdoms has dropped from $250 to $190. I can see this going all the way down to $150 or even $120 over the next six months.
Of course, the more in-demand cards will rebound in a healthy way. But the cards that see less play, or only play in Commander, will really suffer. Cards reprinted at rare will be hit especially hard.
If you’re hoping to buy some cards for your decks, I recommend waiting. If you’re grabbing the Masters 25 printings then you probably only have to wait another week or two. Prioritize cards played frequently in Modern and hold off on some of the lesser-played stuff a bit longer.
Most importantly, monitor stock on TCGplayer to determine when a card is bottoming. As soon as you see stock of the cards you’re after drop for a couple consecutive days, you may be eyeing the best time to jump in.
One of the top movers for last week was Fiery Confluence, a Commander 2015 card in the "Wade Into Battle" deck. While market price hasn’t moved just yet, it does look like this card could settle in the $25 range with further possible upside. I remember hearing Douglas Johnson talk about this deck on Brainstorm Brewery the other day, and I have to admit his observation about "Wade Into Battle" is spot on.
He talked about the fact that this deck was still readily available online for under $50. While it was this cheap, he advocated buying them up to crack in order to move the singles individually. I actually found one of these decks in my local Meijer and I tried my luck. Turns out, DJ was 100% right. Just look at some of the cards you get in this deck and the associated market price:
That’s already over $60 in value. On top of that you get a couple Titans, a Sol Ring, and a bunch of other small-time rares. I sold most of the above cards on eBay to recoup my initial cash outlay, and I ended up shipping a small stack to Card Kingdom for store credit. If you play Commander, you can even keep some of the small stuff essentially for “free” after selling the above list.
Besides the shout-out to DJ, I’m mentioning this because Fiery Confluence is spiking and I wanted to alert folks to this deck. You can’t find them for $40-$50 anymore, unfortunately, but there are still decks in the low to mid $50s online that may be worth a closer look. Especially if you think Fiery Confluence has more room to run.
In addition to Alpha and Arabian Nights cards, I’ve been tracking a new group of cards on Card Kingdom’s website lately: dual lands. These have been slowly on the move so far this year, and I think we are approaching an inevitable tipping point.
One bit of evidence supporting this theory is the fact that a couple duals have quietly been hitting all-time highs recently. Kabira Takedown // Kabira Plateau and Tropical Island notched their all-time highs just this past Sunday: $80 and $255 respectively. Bayou and Underground Sea hit their highs earlier in the week.
But the most exciting data point for me has to be Card Kingdom’s recent buylist action on these lands. They keep eight to nine dual lands on the first page of their hot list at any given time, and the number-one card has been Underground Sea for quite a while now. The blue dual land made headlines the other day when I noticed Card Kingdom was offering $360 for near-mint copies! That has to be a record! They’ve scaled that back a bit recently, but I think we’re seeing cracks in the dual land supply that will break very soon.
What will result? Expect a spike across the board as copies start to dry up, dual lands generate more buzz on social media, and players scramble to get a few extra copies out of fear they’ll miss out. This will lead to new highs for all dual lands across the board, but the blue duals will lead the pack with Underground Sea at the helm.
Wrapping It Up
Sometimes the mainstream news in MTG finance isn’t in my wheelhouse. I could attempt to write about a subject I’m less familiar with, but that is never optimal. Equally underwhelming would be yet another article about a topic that isn’t exactly on the forefront of everyone’s minds.
This week I struck a balance by shamelessly leveraging an old wedding superstition: “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.” The theme may be cheesy, but each of these topics are important.
The Old School market continues to evolve under the influence of tournament structures and vendor buylists and I will continue to keep you abreast of these trends. Meanwhile, Masters 25 is wreaking havoc on the secondary market and this is creating some imminent, attractive buys. A recent spike in Fiery Confluence is creating an attractive opportunity (again) with a Commander 2015 deck. And I think dual lands are going to spike sometime soon as they all quietly rise in price.
These topics just about summarize my recent focus in the world of Magic finance. Most of the time I stay focused on a single area at any given time. But with so much going on, this fractured article approach is the best way to touch on each of these topics all at once.
- This week I want to mention three Alpha commons that have surprisingly high price tags. Perhaps you can visit your local card shops and dig a few of these out of their binders, netting you some sizable profits. For starters, Llanowar Elves has really shot up lately. This happened before it was spoiled in Dominaria, but now that it’s coming back to Standard there’s even more reason to want the first printing of the mana dork. It’s cute that Card Kingdom is paying $30 for near mint copies and all, but…yeah…
- Next I want to touch on Giant Growth. This one has also shot up lately, and now even heavily-played copies are selling for over $30 on eBay. Finding a nice copy will likely cost you over $50. Card Kingdom’s buy price is $18 but that will also need to climb higher.
- Lastly, check out Alpha Twiddle. This card isn’t as exciting as the previous two, but it’s still randomly quite expensive. What’s more, I had a couple copies that sold fairly quickly on eBay so there is real demand here. Recent copies sold for between $15 and $22 depending on condition, and Card Kingdom’s $15 buy price is not so terrible in this case.