A Record-Breaking Black Lotus
There is currently an eBay auction for an Alpha Black Lotus with a price over $109,000. It will become the most expensive Magic card ever sold, surpassing the $87,672 record another copy of Alpha Black Lotus with identical grading claimed last July. It seems the buyer of the previous copy scored a serious bargain, and there are still days left for the price to grow until the auction ends Wednesday night.
A card like a pristine Alpha Black Lotus transcends being a Magic card into a piece of artwork or other high-end collectible. But I see this as a great sign about the health of the market for Magic cards as collectibles and for their legitimacy as investments.
Graded copies of the rarest and most iconic cards will continue to be the best way to capitalize on this demand, with a serious premium paid for pristine condition. The same dealer who sold both record-breaking Black Lotus sold two other Alpha copies in January and December, but being graded just 9 they brought in only $57k and $52k respectively.
Snow on the Forecast
Magic’s head designer Mark Rosewater has a blog where he regularly provides nuggets of Magic knowledge and answers questions, and within these words there can be information very relevant to Magic finance. This week Mark implied that that the return of Ice Age’s snow theme is inevitable, at least in a supplemental set.
This isn’t exactly the most prophetic wisdom he has shared, but my immediate thought was to find out what old snow-matters cards are on the Reserved List. A return of snow in something as major as a Commander deck would surely drive a frenzy for these cards. But I imagine any printing of snow cards in any fashion will send their prices higher, whether by speculators or otherwise.
Don’t count on this as a definitive list, but my search through Ice Age Reserved List cards for the snow-matters theme provided the following four cards: Blizzard, Glacial Crevasses, Snowblind, and Winter's Chill.
One way to cash in on demand for Snow cards could be old-school Ice Age Snow-Covered lands, or even the Coldsnap lands—foils especially. That said, the printing of a full-art Snow-Covered land could throw a wrench in that plan and become the most desirable of these lands.
No More MSRP On Boosters
Magic cards have had an MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) for as long as they have been in print. This week it was announced that from War of the Spark forward they won’t be suggested for Magic products. The rationale WotC has shared for the change is that MSRPs are, “not favored in many parts of the world, which has led to some confusion among our global player base.”
The actual impact of this is outside my area of expertise. My initial thought are that it would decrease transparency at the local level and allow for stores to overcharge customers, especially in foreign markets where sealed product is already sold at a premium. I’ve read speculation that a likely result is allowing major retailers, specifically Amazon—with which Wizards recently partnered—to create their own price and sell at a massive discount.
After the partnership, Amazon slashed their price of sealed boxes significantly, and there are now likely more discounts to come. This might not be a bad thing for players looking to get cards cheaper, but it has the impact of gutting support for local game stores that will not be able to compete.
With the increased focus on Arena and a decrease in paper, it creates the paradox of these paper cards offering less utility and therefore being less valuable. What’s the point of buying cheap cards if there's nowhere to play them? That’s a question the community will have find an answer to.
Channel Fireball Takes Over GP Coverage
When Wizards announced the end of video coverage at Grand Prix, a clear cost-cutting measure given their shift to more competitive play online with Magic Arena, it caused an uproar in the community. This created an opportunity for another party to step in. Like the way GGsLIVE used to handle video coverage for Grand Prix, CFB has now grabbed the reins, announcing they’ll provide their own coverage for select events.
This was the natural solution to the problem, with the tournament organizer now handling coverage for their own event. It represents a nearly complete hand-off of running and managing Grand Prix to CFB, but also of CFB stepping up and taking complete ownership of their MagicFest product.
CFB has produced their own GP coverage before, and this will be an opportunity to further develop and refine their system. It has long been said by the community that Star City Games coverage has blown away official WotC coverage in terms of quality and consistency. This move will ideally result in CFB following suit to bring Magic coverage to the next level.
The more exposure Magic gets, the more it will grow and the stronger the market will be. So I see this announcement as a great sign for the health of paper Magic.