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.
Below are the total set prices for all redeemable sets on MTGO. All prices are current as of March 19, 2018. 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 took a big dive this week on MTGO as players sold their cards off to fund drafts of the premium-priced Masters 25 (A25). Sets of Ixalan (XLN) and Rivals of Ixalan (RIX) dropped below 60 tix, and while XLN has been pretty stable in price, this was the first time in over a month that RIX has been below 60 tix. The low prices triggered a wave of buying and the GoatBots website had trouble keeping these sets in stock for a couple of days.
At this moment, the price of RIX has recovered and now sits at 60 tix, while XLN maintains the 58 tix level. GoatBots is back to being fully stocked, so the temporary buying frenzy has abated. It's still impossible to say whether or not we've seen the price bottom on these two sets, but each week that passes, I am getting more and more comfortable with being a buyer. I have been steadily adding sets into the portfolio, and I will continue to do so at these prices.
This is the time to be targeting cards from RIX and XLN, and full sets are a great way to reduce risk by just buying the whole lot. Case in point is the price of Vraska, Relic Seeker. This card was a high flier back in the fall, hitting 20 tix in early November as Temur Energy had adopted her into their decks.
Buying the price dip on this card subsequently would have generated steady losses to date. But as Vraska has fallen in price, the price of a set of XLN has been much more stable due to redemption. Value has flowed from Vraska to cards like Carnage Tyrant. Buying the whole set means you miss the ups and downs of individual cards but capture the gains on the pool of value in the set generated by redemption.
If you haven't checked out Kyle's article from Monday, it's an excellent survey of the uncommons that are potential speculative targets in RIX. I think it's a certainty that one or two RIX uncommons will be priced in the 0.5 to 1.0 tix range next winter, and I would focus my attention on that set over XLN. Uncommons from XLN have a much larger supply to overcome due to being drafted for much longer, so if I had to pick only one uncommon to speculate on between the two sets, it would be in RIX. Having said that Field of Ruin is a fine pick and will probably be over 1 tix next winter when interest in Modern hits a seasonal peak.
Prices in Modern have dipped as well for the same reason as Standard. Players want to draft the new set and A25 is driving that bus at the moment. The former high fliers of Jund have all taken a step back this week, perhaps as players realize this deck is great but still a complicated beast to play.
There's also the fear that Tarmogoyf was plucked from the A25 print run for Dominaria (DOM) or the upcoming core set. The late inclusion of Tree of Redemption has been acknowledge by Mark Rosewater on his blog and this has got tongues wagging. The fact that the two cards share a rarity and their first letter adds fuel to the fire.
With Modern's continued popularity and a new flagship card in Jace, the Mind Sculptor to anchor the value of future Modern Masters sets, I think it's a possibility we'll see Tarmogoyf in a Standard set this year. This is not a card that I've speculated on in the recent past, but needless to say, a printing in a Standard set will absolutely crater the price of this card.
Players should not feel like they have to sell their playsets imminently. Nothing is confirmed yet, so there's nothing actionable at the moment. But if we get into the summer months and you are considering taking a break from MTGO, selling your playset of Tarmogoyf with an eye to buying back in the fall is a perfectly defendable strategy.
If prices are largely stable, then you suffer a 10-percent hair cut, but prices on Modern cards are usually weak in the fall, so it's possible you'll even gain a few tix. And if the card is reprinted in the core set, then you'll be happy you sold out when you weren't going to be playing with them anyway.
The key to this working is knowing yourself and what kind of player you are. If you sell out but continue to think about Magic and playing Magic, then it's better off to just hold onto your cards rather than go through the hassle of selling and rebuying. If you can take a real break and then come back to Magic in the fall, then turning your cards into tix is a great way to reduce your risk over the medium term.
If you can honestly answer what type of player you are then how to treat your online collection gets a lot simpler. Personally I love tracking the MTGO economy, playing Sealed Deck and occasionally playing some Modern. But I don't have any trouble selling a playset if a card gets very expensive, as I can go months without playing Modern
Trade of the Week
For a complete look at my recent trades, please check out the portfolio. Aside from continuing to add XLN and RIX sets, this week I was interested in A25 uncommons. Ash Barrens was high on my list for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that the card is a staple of the Pauper format. Next, it recently spiked as high as 10 tix which is a product of being a format staple and having limited supply.
This is the first time this card has been drafted, only showing up online so far in Treasure Chests. Although this card is still being cracked out of chests, the supply is more of a slow drip than a tidal wave. Short term demand can be much bigger than the incoming supply, as evidenced by the recent spike to 10 tix.
Lastly, there's the trend that is visible on playable Masters sets uncommons. In November with the release of Iconic Masters (IMA), Mishra's Bauble dropped to 3 tix right out of the gate. This was another short supply uncommon and prices quickly snapped back over 4 tix before heading to 8 tix in early January. It was a very successful spec and another great example of how these uncommons can be quickly over sold when drafting starts.
Checking in on the first night of drafts this time around, Ash Barrens started at about 3 tix, but was quickly available at 2 tix and even a little under 2 tix. The last time the Commander version of this card was priced that low was back in early 2017 so this felt like a snap buy and I bought a bunch at that price.
By the following day, the price of both versions had bounced higher and that trend continued on the day after that. This was a good sign that I was on the right track. Prices have settled down a little since then and there might end up being another dip into the 2 to 3 tix range. This would be another good buying opportunity as I think this card will try to hit 10 tix again within a year. Although it's been a popular format for years on MTGO, paper players are starting to wake up to the format, which will help drive further interest in all Pauper staples such as Ash Barrens.