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Insider: MTGO Market Report for March 7th, 2018

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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 March 5, 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

As the calendar turns to March, the release of Dominaria (DOM) is now about six weeks away. This means the drafting of Ixalan (XLN) block, the presumptive final two set block, is in its twilight as a living and breathing draft format. From a macro perspective, this makes the next six weeks the best buying window for XLN and Rivals of Ixalan (RIX), and speculators and players alike should have some tix ready to deploy.

With that in mind, I've pulled out how large and small set prices have evolved in the two-set block era. Below is a chart of the five large sets and how their prices evolved over time after they were released. There is a lot of variation in how set prices change over time, but I think we can throw out the Kaladesh (KLD) and Amonkhet (AKH) lines as comparable right away. KLD is an outlier in terms of power level and its first year in Standard was marked by multiple cards being banned in the format. AKH is not as powerful, but it's a summer set and it features a Masterpiece series which contributed to a lower price floor. All things being equal, the presence of Masterpieces in a set reduces the value of the actual cards in the set. And since Masterpieces are not redeemable, the pool of value associated with an online set via redemption is smaller.

I think Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) and Shadows Over Innistrad (SOI) are the best comparisons for XLN, and I find it heartening that all three set prices are in and around 60 tix at a similar time their in their respective release windows. If you are considering establishing a position in XLN single card specs or in full sets, their is little downside until the end of redemption in May.

The next chapter in this story is related to the second set of the two-set block era. The picture is much cleaner on what to expect for RIX. Each of the second sets has followed a similar pattern, with a steep drop at release followed by a declining period for a number of weeks. This transitions into a relatively stable period before a price spike after drafting ends. RIX is right on track and looks to be in the stable period at the moment with the price spike set to arrive in when DOM is released.

Like XLN, RIX does not have a Masterpiece series, which would support a higher price ceiling relative to sets like Aether Revolt (AER) and Hour of Devastation (HOU), both of which did have Masterpiece inserts. I would look for RIX to move into the 75- to 90-tix range prior to the end of redemption in May.

Modern

Modern continues to go from strength to strength, with Jund staples like Liliana of the Veil, Tarmogoyf and Verdant Catacombs leading the way. For speculators that have been holding onto positions that haven't quite panned out the way you'd expect, this is a good time to be a seller. I have been reducing all of my Modern positions, and I am looking to be only selectively speculating on Modern by the time DOM is released.

Regardless of the macro perspective, it's still fun to keep an eye out for new strategies and cards that have potential. With that in mind, have a look at what Hall of Famer Raphael Levy tweeted out this week.


The R/B Hollow One deck has been picking up steam in Modern and this is an interesting take on the archetype. It adds another discard outlet with Zombie Infestation and seeks to abuse the power of Squee, Goblin Nabob while eschewing Gurmag Angler.

I have no idea whether or not this particular variant is good or not, but I have confidence that this archetype is here to stay. I've been buying up components of the deck and will be looking to add to my positions if prices come down. I think there's room for prices to continue higher in the long term as players recognize that the deck is for real and add copies of it into their collections.

Standard Boosters

We are down to the last six weeks or so to sell AKH and HOU boosters. Once Dominaria (DOM) is releaed in April, AKH block will be removed from the draft queues and so boosters will no longer have any value to drafters. This means they will only be valued by their contents and with the expected value (EV) of a AKH and HOU boosters at 0.48 and 0.88 respectively, the path forward is much much lower (EV of these boosters are courtesy of GoatBots).

Speculators and players alike should keep this mind over the coming weeks. A draft set has been fluctuation at around 8 tix for weeks with no visible upward trend. If you have a large quantity of these boosters and you have been waiting for a draft set to hit 9 tix before selling, it's time to reconsider the sell target price. The reality is that any large sale of boosters will trigger lower prices, so a speculator with a large quantity of boosters and a limited time to sell them is in a quandary. Regular and orderly selling will maintain prices, but you have to start selling when their is still time.

Trade of the Week

For a complete look at my recent trades, please check out the portfolio. After reviewing the charts on XLN and RIX compared to the other sets in the last couple of years, I decided to dip my toes into full-set specs this week with the purchase four complete sets of RIX. This might be a little early, but I doubt we are going to see much lower prices – and there's a chance we see much higher prices in the near term.


There's risk in buying and there's risk in not buying. In this case, the price stability in recent weeks has encouraged me to take the plunge and start a position. I'll look add it to it over the coming weeks in particular taking advantage of any price dip generated by the release of Masters 25.

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