Unlocked: MTGO Market Report for July 25th, 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.


Below are the total set prices for all redeemable sets on MTGO. All prices are current as of July 23, 2018. The TCGplayer market and TCGplayer mid prices are the sum of each set's individual card prices on TCGplayer, either the market price or mid price respectively. Redeemable sets are highlighted in green and sets not available for redemption are highlighted in red.

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.

Magic Arena

Alexander Carl returned to Quiet Speculation this week with an excellent article on MTG Arena. Be sure to check it out here. He's definitely bullish on MTG Arena, so much so that he sold out of his MTGO collection completely. The prediction he makes is that MTG Arena will supplant MTGO as the place to play digital magic and that the MTGO economy will collapse.

I think this is a possibility but a small one. The freemium model is a powerful one for attracting users, but MTGO has always been about competing with other players. MTGO is still the premier place to test constructed and draft and the level of competition has never been higher.

For this reason, I see a clear distinction between the markets that will be served by the two platforms. MTG Arena will grow to quickly eclipse MTGO in the number of daily users, but the hardcore users looking to improve their game will always gravitate to the platform that offers the best chance for developing their skills and practicing the latest format.

There will be a little bleeding back and forth between the platforms. I think there is a high possibility that MTG Arena actually grows the MTGO player base. But for competitive testing of constructed and draft MTGO will remain the go-to option. This does hinge on the assumption that competitive magic and the Pro Tour continues to be a driving force and a key plank of Magic marketing. If this changes, MTGO will lose a lot of traction.

Regardless of what actually occurs, speculators should have been making large changes to their activities as a result of Treasure Chests. Have a look at the chart of a Modern staple, courtesy of Goatbots, and how it's priced has moved while Jund has been out of favor. The chart begins just prior to the introduction of Treasure Chests coincident with the release of Kaladesh (KLD).

After peaking earlier this year at 70 tix, Liliana of the Veil has been on a nearly steady decline and now sits just over 30 tix. This is the lowest price this card has been since it was legal in Standard.

Prior to Treasure Chests, if Jund were out of favor and Jund players were selling their cards then speculators could move in and buy Liliana of the Veil  knowing that a shift in the metagame would end up making it a profitable move, eventually. Now prices keep dropping. There's no obvious floor and so if you wait long enough then that long-term position will turn into a long-term loser. If you had bought Liliana at 40 tix, you'd be underwater by about 25 percent already, bleeding tix while Jund has fallen out of the Modern metagame. That's not a position to be enthused about.

As a result of Treasure Chests, I've severely curtailed single card speculative strategies on MTGO. I've focused most of my recent speculation on positions that have solid economic fundamentals behind them. They are not splashy specs, but they have a high expectation for success and they are not reliant on swings in the metagame. For those that have been paying attention, these are speculating on boosters, foil mythic rares and complete sets.

MTG Arena will have an impact, but Treasure Chests have already completely rewritten the speculative landscape on MTGO. I would not advocate completely selling out, but the new reality is that speculators should be thinking much more short-term and limiting their exposure to any single card that is being reprinted in Treasure Chests.


Sarkhan, Fireblood is making waves in Standard in Grixis Dragons builds. The price has almost tripled from a low of 2.9 tix to the current price of 8 tix. Have a look at an example of the deck here. This is a rapid repricing of this card that is just starting to take hold in paper too as it rises from $12 to $15.

I think this trend has room to run further and will be amplified by applications in Modern. It's started showing up in Mono Red Prison and it also notably spawned the Skred Dragons deck that took first place at the SCG Modern Classic this past weekend in Philadelphia. Although these types of decks are heavily reliant on Blood Moon for disruption in Modern, they remain pesky Tier 2 decks that see some success from time to time. Having a three casting cost planeswalker slot nicely into the mana curve of these decks has the potential to bump up the power level of these archetypes.

Although the easy money has been made on this card, there's still room for it to run in my judgment. Information gets disseminated quickly, but uncertainty on the power level of this card is still present and the current price reflects that.

Standard Boosters

Dominaria (DAR) boosters jumped up this week into the 2.2 to 2.3 tix range. That means that all boosters bought for 2 tix or less are now clearing 10% profit in under four weeks. That's pretty solid. Checking in on the number of drafts that were ongoing on Tuesday evening, there are eight at the moment. That's a high number relative to the number of Ixalan (XLN)block drafts that were firing while DAR was the newest draft format.

This high level of drafting activity bodes well for continued gains as players grind through the available supply. A DAR draft set will be going for 8 tix in a month with a peak of 9 tix also possible. Those holding DAR draft sets will do well if they start selling in the second half of August or if the price reaches the 8 to 9 tix range.

Trade of the Week

For a complete look at my recent trades, please check out the portfolio. This week I took a look at the rapid ascent of Sarkhan, Fireblood and decided to pull the trigger on a short-term, momentum play. I think this card has further to rise as it demonstrates its utility in dragon based decks in Standard and Modern.

Three mana planeswalkers have a high pedigree and this one was discounted with Jace, Cunning Castaway as the most recent example fresh in player's minds. Prices in digital and paper are in flux as the market reassesses the potential of this card and grapples with the price and availability of a core set mythic rare.

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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Posted in Finance, Free, MTGO, MTGO Market ReportTagged , , ,

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2 thoughts on “Unlocked: MTGO Market Report for July 25th, 2018

  1. I also took the plunge on Sarkhan and so far its paying off. As a comparison, I bought Scarab God when it was in the 3-4 ticket range, and sold them at the 13 ticket mark, thinking it wouldn’t go higher, only to see it eventually go to nearly 50 tix! I’m not sure that Sarkhan will ever go that high, but at what point would you personally get out? At a certain percentage gain? Or a particular price reached?

    1. I’d like to see what price it gets to in paper over the coming weeks. I think if it gets into the 12 to 15 tix range then I’d sell some.

      Rotation is a whole other ball of wax. As you’ve pointed out, that’s when The Scarab God generated massive price increases. I could imagine that Sarkhan goes to 15 tix in the near term, but when rotation hits there’s a ton of demand that pushes it to 25 tix. Depending on how things go over the next month, I might want to hold a few copies until October.

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