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Insider: Making Money from the New Flashback Schedule

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Welcome back! This week I'll be discussing how we can make money off of the new flashback schedule on MTGO and will provide an update on my portfolio. I've invested $700 and sold $300 this month on MTGO, so there's a lot to catch up on. The best way to get better at investing is to see how other people do it, and I'll give you the inside scoop on my portfolio today!

I. Safe, Easy Money from MTGO Flashback Drafts

A month ago Lee Sharpe announced a new path forward for flashback drafts. Because of the infusion of supply from treasure chests, 2017 saw a dramatic reduction in the number of flashback drafts offered. Players loved the 2016 "Year of the Modern Flashbacks," and last month it was announced that flashback drafts would be occurring more frequently again...but with a twist. They would only be phantom, and you could enter either with 10 event tickets, 100 playpoints, or two event tickets and two boosters of the set in question.

That last option, in particular, is why I'm writing this article today, because that is the factor that makes speculating in older boosters from specific sets a safe, viable investment strategy. For many flashback draft offerings, that last entry option will mean that the draft costs significantly less than it should. Last month we were treated to triple Theros drafts, and because of how cheap the Theros boosters were, players were basically getting paid to do the flashbacks, as it took only a 45-percent win rate to break even. Note too how Theros boosters shot up once the Theros flashbacks were announced.

Theros booster prices more than tripled, going from $0.50 to $1.75. You could have bought these for $0.50 and sold for about $1.35, a return rate of 170 percent! Let's not miss this boat again.

Because we know which formats are more popular and more likely to be chosen for the flashback treatment, we can look at those sets' booster prices and determine which ones are worth investing in. This is a strategy to employ with excess tickets, as you won't know in advance when you can sell out. But given that we've been told that there will be more flashback drafts going forward, chances are good you won't be caught holding onto these investments for more than a year.

Another thing you can consider doing is to just buy some of them in expectation of using them to draft the flashbacks. Especially for those of you who enjoy drafting, this is a good option to consider if you don't want to burden your investment portfolios with these boosters.

Below are the sets most likely to be chosen going forward. We know Lorwyn is next (unless they still haven't fixed that bug), but what comes after that is anyone's guess. My money is on Rise of the EldraziShards of Alara or Champions of Kamigawa.

You can expect more sizeable gains (as a percentage) from those I've colored green. Those colored yellow will still likely be profitable, but may not be worth holding over the long haul. Those colored in red will see no bump because the $10 entry option will be cheaper than using the boosters themselves.

I personally do not have many excess tickets to spend (I've invested a whopping $700 this month, more on that below), but in a few months, hopefully I'll have some extra tickets, and I'll likely put some of them in boosters from those sets colored in green.

II. Portfolio Update

A copy of my portfolio can be found here.

In February I bought $0.24 and sold $661.06 worth of digitcal cards on MTGO. This month I've deployed that recently freed up capital, buying $702.05 and selling $327.98. That's a heck of a lot of activity, so let's take a deeper look at what I've been doing.

1. For the past two months, I've been working to free enough capital to invest in Masters 25 and Rivals of Ixalan. This has led me to being an active seller. I flipped about half of the investments I made in the fall and winter months, and about 66 percent of my investments remaining from the summer months. The only major investment from Kaladesh block I have remaining is Voice of Resurgence, and that's been true for a while now. I've been holding out for $15 a copy, but Voice has yet to even reach a sell price of $15. I may begin to sell my Voices for a mere $11 a copy if I need to free up more capital, which would result in a disappointing 22-percent rate of return.

I stress my desire to sell cards from Kaladesh and Amonkhet blocks because it's important to not have dead weight in your portfolio. For example, I've sold almost all of my copies of Hour of Devastation, Earthshaker Khenra, Sweltering Suns, and half of my Rishkar, Peema Renegade. Why? Because even though those cards might spike this spring and summer, I think that the overall health of my portfolio will improve if I replace those cards with newer cards I have more confidence in.

My goal is not to have the highest percentage rate of return for any given season but is instead to make the most money. A 50-percent rate of return on $2,000 is better than a 75-percent rate of return on $1,000. Churn is important because it lets you invest more overall money.

2. I've begun to take the advice I've given in my Rivals of Ixalan article series.

My investment into Rivals of Ixalan cards kicked off with Baffling End, Skymarcher Aspirant, Path of Mettle // Metzali, Tower of Triumph, and Angrath, the Flame-Chained, with a sprinkling of Legion Lieutenant and Polyraptor for good measure.

Over the next two months I'll be looking to continue investing in the Rivals cards I identified in my previous articles. Check them out if you want to catch up on what to invest in.

3. I made my investments into Masters 25 this week.

  1. Ensnaring Bridge
  2. Eidolon of the Great Revel
  3. Ash Barrens
  4. Courser of Kruphix
  5. Pendelhaven
  6. Rancor
  7. Street Wraith
  8. Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

My confidence in Eidolon of the Great Revel is sky high, which is why I've now invested more into it than any other card ever ($204.61). I will continue filling this portfolio out, especially with the uncommons. Ash Barrens is one that Matt Lewis has recommended, and I strongly second that recommendation. Like last time with MM17, I focused on cards that either (i) were eternal staples that took a massive hit but should recover or (ii) higher risk cards like Mikokoro or Griselbrand that have a high ceiling but aren't guaranteed to ever go up at all. This time I shifted the balance in favor of (i), whereas last time I invested more heavily into cards in category (ii). Ranger of Eos and Courser of Kruphix are cards that straddle both categories and are, in my opinion, often the best speculations.

For the record, here were my MM17 investments. As a whole, these turned out pretty well, although I wish I had invested more heavily into Ranger of Eos and the fetchlands:

  • Griselbrand: +$2.60 (+3%)
  • Voice of Resurgence: still outstanding
  • Linvala, Keeper of Silence: still outstanding
  • Pyromancer Ascension: +$3.19 (+142%)
  • Misty Rainforest: +$51.34 (+72%)
  • Verdant Catacombs: +$50.16 (+48%)
  • Restoration Angel: +$4.40 (+27%)
  • Grafdigger's Cage: +$50.60 (+183%)
  • Ranger of Eos: +$11.14 (+153%)

4. Pauper has been good to me.

I'm afraid that my December Pauper article got a bit lost amidst the flood of Pauper content that readers were presented both on QS and elsewhere. What I wrote there is worth having another gander at because I think that Pauper is a good area to focus on, especially online.

All of my Pauper speculations over the past three months have, at minimum, quadrupled in value. Custodi Squire, then 0.15 tix, now sits at 3.00 tix. Entourage of Trest, then 1.25 tix, now hovers around 4.25 tix.  Borderland Explorer, then less than 0.01 tix, now goes for 0.36 tix. I sold a few Custodi Squire for 2.50 tix this week, but am holding everything else. Of special note is that these three cards are no longer being released through the treasure chests.

This week I bought 25 copies of Serene Heart, a card not on the treasure chest curated list, that exhibits the slow cyclical movement I discussed in my December article. I'll be looking to sell it when it reaches 3.00 to 4.00 tix (whenever Bogles takes over a larger share of the metagame and Stompy needs a way to combat it).

III. Signing Off

I'm curious to hear what my readers think of this article, and I will happily answer any questions you may have. There's a lot to dig in here. Do you like Pauper cards? What do you think of my Masters 25 speculations? Have you started to invest in Rivals cards? Let me know down below!

3 thoughts on “Insider: Making Money from the New Flashback Schedule

  1. Hi Kyle,

    Great article. I was a bit confused, if the drafts are phantom they wont require boosters correct? Could you elaborate a bit more on that. Also I liked your picks for M25 so I jumped on some of those as well. Were you targeting the masters printing, or the original printings? I picked up a little of both. I am still really hot on a earthshaker Kendra. The only really significant piece red is losing at rotation is Chandra, but I think that can easily be replaced with Hazoret and Rekindling Phoenix. In the short term I would sell if its hits up around 2, but I think its got 3-4 in it after rotation. What do you think?

    1. Hey Peter,

      The drafts are phantom going forward, but entering with 2 boosters + 2 event tickets will also be an option going forward.

      I generally targeted the Masters printing. The only one I targeted a different printing was for Pendelhaven, and that was simply because I find the new art so hideous. It’s fine to target the Masters 25 printings across the board (I think the watermarks will help them age well).

      Don’t forget that Hazoret will rotate with Chandra in September.

      I sold all of my Earthshaker Khenra (for a slight loss), but I think it is fine to hold them and see if they go up. I think something will have to change for them to spike above 2.5. It could be that the card starts seeing play in other formats, it could be that there are going to be multiple aggro decks running it instead of just mono red, it could be that Aggro will become more dominant in Dominaria Standard. If none of those things materialize, it will again dip below 1.

      I think it’s fine to hold them. There is a risk in doing so, but I also see the potential reward that you discuss.

    2. regarding the boosters, I wouldn’t buy any now (I’d wait until after the supposed Lorwyn flashbacks), but I wanted to include it in this portfolio update article now because of the recent announcement concerning flashbacks going forward. The most

      Over the summer I very well may buy some of these. I’ll have to see. It’s guaranteed money, but you don’t want to spend too much capital on stuff you don’t know when you’ll be able to sell it for a gain. The more frequent the flashbacks become, the more likely it will be that I’ll invest in some of these.

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