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Sig’s Current Approach to the MTG Market

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Recently I wrote about how the stock market could possibly interact with the Magic market—to see a measurable impact, it takes a significant move on Wall Street.

However, I admit I was mainly looking at these markets at their macro level. In other words, I focused on impacts to the broader market and not impacts to my own strategy. Because I enjoy the grind of both the stock market and MTG finance, I tend to maintain more frequent turnover within these portfolios. Thus even a move of the slightest in either market may be enough to motivate me to readjust.

You could call it unnecessary. You could call my behavior tedious and without merit because it’s impossible to time market tops and bottoms. But it’s how I enjoy Magic as a hobby these days.

This week I’m going to review some of my most recent transactions (there are only a few) and underscore my motivations behind each one so you can get a feel for where I am at, personally, with MTG finance right now.

The Sales

The last significant sale I made was via an ABU Games buylist order I made months ago. That trade-in entailed shipping all but a few of my Alpha bulk commons/uncommons to their buylist for trade credit, and picking up a played The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale.


I made this trade for two key reasons. First, Alpha and Beta cards have finally stagnated in value over the past couple months. Cards that were easy to acquire at cheap pricing on TCGplayer and Card Kingdom suddenly became more expensive, and ABU Games offers serious trade credit for these cards. If they really want my Alpha Glasses of Urza that badly, I guess I can ship it to them.

The second motivation was consolidation. As I was browsing my Alpha cards, and seeing the slowdown in demand at the new price points, I realized that moving them would be a tedious process. Trading them all to ABU Games for credit was an easy way to exit the position cleanly and minimize effort on my part. Remember, time is a valuable commodity too!

Since then, I managed to sell the Tabernacle and use the cash for a purchase (more on that in the next section). After selling the Tabernacle, I was fairly content with the cards that remained in my collection. I actually thought about stopping for 2018.

Then the stock market dropped a bit, and I suddenly came to a different realization. I should be opportunistically cashing out of some more cardboard to reallocate funds into the stock market. The market may not have moved enough to get some people excited, but my personal end game is to slowly take money out of Magic and move into stocks to help save for my kids’ college costs. After riding near all-time highs in the stock market, I felt the modest pullback we had in October was worth taking advantage of.

So I sold a few more cards—not a ton, just a little here and there. I sold another Alpha uncommon left behind (Earth Elemental) and I sold the two Arabian Nights City of Brass I wasn’t using in my Old School decks. I even sold the Singing Tree and one Mirror Universe to try and raise liquidity further.

Lastly, I still have a few more Alpha uncommons listed on eBay with the hopes of eventually moving them. As expected, moving random, played, Alpha uncommons for cash is a slow process (hence why I moved so many to ABU Games at once ).


You may be wondering why I sold such collectible cards. Surely these will climb higher in price, right? They probably will over the long term, but I believe their prices are fairly stagnant in the short term. Also, keep in mind that Old School cards are pretty much all I own nowadays. There’s not much else in my collection worth any money other than the Old School stuff, so that’s what I have to sell when I want to raise cash. I just trim carefully.

The Purchases

I already established that my motivation for selling was to put more money into the stock market—that’s a big chunk of my buying lately. For those who are interested, I mostly focus on ETF’s in the college portfolio for diversification, but I did make an individual stock purchase in Activision Blizzard. But don’t take this as investment advice, please. Normal disclaimers: I have vested interest in the stocks I own, consult a financial adviser before buying stocks, etc.

Most of you probably don’t care about the stock part of my investing. But rest assured I have not been completely removed from buying cards these last few months. For example, when I sold the Tabernacle I used the funds to acquire a beat up Unlimited Timetwister. I made this purchase for play in a deck, but also because I still think Power is a worthwhile investment. Even at elevated prices, there is still persistent demand for Power—especially heavily played stuff at discounts to the market.

I still browse Card Kingdom’s stock of Unlimited Power on a regular basis and I see cards coming and going (meaning things still move at the new prices). Also, they have a total of 14 pieces in stock right now. That’s not a huge amount, and it’s noteworthy they have no Timetwisters, Mox Jets, or Ancestral Recalls in stock. Most important of all, though, is the fact they still have zero “Good” copies in stock. Any time they get one it sells immediately, because their “Good” pricing is discounted to the market and the demand for more affordable copies is so strong.

My recent buying doesn’t stop there, however. I also made an opportunistic buy of a Beta Nevinyrral's Disk. The price was right, the played condition helped make it affordable, and I wanted to upgrade the card in one of my decks. But the main reason I pulled the trigger was because Card Kingdom has been out of stock of Alpha and Beta Disks for a long time, and I can see their buylist increasing sometime soon. Card Kingdom has restocked many cards from Magic’s first two sets, but Nevinyrral's Disk is one that remains tough to track down.


I also picked up a near mint [card]Falling Star]/card] not long ago. The price was right, and it was sold by Channel Fireball so I was confident the card would be truly nice (and it was). At the time the price I paid was just a smidge away from Card Kingdom’s buylist, but they did drop their buy price a bit since then. Still, it’s a unique Reserved List card and a cool ability, so I don’t mind sitting on it for a while.

The last thing I purchased recently was a bunch of Seedtimes from Tokyo MTG and Hareruya. The card spiked, and while I have no delusions that it’ll remain over $7, buying at the old price (between $1-$2) seems like a slam dunk. If nothing else, it’s an awesome card that should gradually rise as long as it’s not reprinted. And with such a low buy in, the opportunity cost is negligible. Card Kingdom is already paying $2.20 on their buylist and if I can catch one more increase, I should be able to flip these for some store credit at a modest profit.


Besides, I think it’s every green mage’s dream to use this card to take an extra turn in Commander.

Wrapping It Up

While I have full confidence in the health of Magic’s market on the whole, I admit I have been reallocating some funds to the stock market in light of recent trends. I tend to micromanage my portfolio excessively, but it’s mainly because I enjoy doing so. It would be a disservice to readers if I wrote a generalist article without following it up with my own, personal strategy.

As you can see, I am still making strategic buys here and there. But the net movement of my money is out of cardboard and into stocks. This isn’t a reflection of my confidence in Magic; it’s mostly just opportunism and a focus on the end goal to save for college costs.

I still like holding Power and playable Alpha/Beta cards most of all, and this is reflected in my recent purchases. But the less useful Alpha cards may have limited upside over the next 12 months considering their recent run. Thus, I am rebalancing my portfolio accordingly, but mostly operating in the margins. And that’s probably where I will stay through the end of 2018.

Sigbits

  • I see a lot of Masterpieces on Card Kingdom’s hotlist nowadays. I think they’re pretty solid investments now that the hype around them finally calmed down. Examples include Sword of Feast and Famine ($85), Marsh Flats ($85), and Watery Grave ($65). Recently I traded in some Unlimited commons to ABU Games and had enough credit for a low-end Expedition (Kor Haven). It’s a small pick-up, but it does reflect my confidence in these cards.
  • After falling precipitously, Card Kingdom’s buy prices on a few Legends legends have finally stabilized. A couple are even reappearing on their hotlist, including Rasputin Dreamweaver ($65) and Angus Mackenzie ($105). These are far from their peaks, but perhaps it reflects a stabilization in this market.
  • You know what card remains on Card Kingdom’s hotlist that I can’t seem to understand? Willow Satyr. That card has been on their hotlist for weeks and their buy price remains robust at $46. Is this card actually seeing play anywhere? I have no clue where the demand is coming from, but you can’t argue with the price!

3 thoughts on “Sig’s Current Approach to the MTG Market

  1. Sig,

    You brought up Masterpieces as a good target atm. We are used at looking at them as modern time reserve list items, but how do you feel about the spoiled reprints of Masterpieces?

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