This Week in Magic – Looting, Esports, Mulligans, & Treasure Chests

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Faithless Looting Escapes Ban, Crushes The Competition

The banned and restricted announcement last week brought no changes, which meant Arclight Phoenix lived to see another day. A card in discussion for a ban was Faithless Looting, which immediately took advantage of its freedom by dominating the fields of both Modern Magic Fests last weekend.

As this tweet observed, Faithless Looting was more dominant last weekend than Eye of Ugin in its time, which could indicate that not banning it or something else was a mistake. A ban may be inevitable, but for the time being Faithless Looting is in control of the format.

One way to cash in for the short-term is on some anti-Faithless Looting cards rising to prominence. A great example is Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, which has shown a clear upturn in price since the weekend.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet has grown tremendously online in the past weeks, at a price just over a ticket at the beginning of February, and now nearly 9 tix. The paper price bottomed out at at an all-time-low around $7 at the end of the year, but is now nearly up to $10. With its relatively low price and prospects beyond Modern, this one looks like a good long-term buy, even if graveyard decks do see a ban.

A target in a similar metagame niche as Kalitas is Anafenza, the Foremost. Anafenza is actually a much more powerful hoser against Arclight Phoenix and Dredge, but less accessible to a variety of decks as a three-color card. Its online price has grown in the past month from 0.6 tickets to 2, exceeding the paper price around $1.5.

A relatively niche legend, this one doesn’t seem due to spike anytime soon, and its low price is likely owing to Khans of Tarkir being opened to oblivion to satisfy demand for fetchlands. Still, there seems to be little downside and definite long-term appeal.

Magic Esports Receives Major Corporate Sponsorship

The $1,000,000 Mythic Invitational will begin next week. Wizards is officially ushering in the esports era with this Arena event, hoping it’s the biggest and most-watched Magic event ever. I don’t think it will have a major impact from a financial standpoint—the cards are all known quantities, and being an Arena event with a special format it doesn’t have a direct crossover to paper formats.

To me the bigger picture for the market is the increased attention this event and the push towards esports could potentially bring to Magic. A major step forward was made last week when Wizards revealed the “Omen by HP” gaming PC brand would be sponsoring the event.

Magic reaching the next level and ascending into the esports world to the attention of a higher order of magnitude of audience will require these sort of major partnerships, so I take this as a great sign of things to come. An immediately apparent benefit is increased exposure. Omen by HP is promoting the event—and therefore Magic—on social media, which is showing the game to a whole new audience.

London Mulligan Rule Comes to MTGO

Slipped within a regular MTGO announcement, we learned for the first time that the new London Mulligan rule will be tested on Magic Online from April 10th to May 1st. It will be done for the purpose of helping to provide a “critical mass of data.” It will also have the effect of helping players test for Mythic Championship London with the new rule, which was previously unavailable online.

I think it’s finally starting to sink into the paper market that this rule is likely to be reality within a few months. We’re seeing according rises in cards like Serum Powder, Gemstone Caverns, Leyline of the Void, and Leyline of Sanctity. I expect these cards to continue to grow leading into the Mythic Championship when the London mulligan appears in the spotlight.

I have my eye closest on Gemstone Caverns, which has now surpassed the price it spiked to last year before sinking. $50 for this card seems perfectly reasonable by the Pro Tour, and in my eyes there could easily be a future London Mulligan Modern dystopia where this is a $100 four-of staple in multiple decks.

MTGO Treasure Chest EV Higher than Market Value

This week it circulated on Twitter that the expected value of Magic Online Treasure Chests is currently around 15% higher than the market value, if Play Points are valued at the same rate at tix.

For the purposes of entering events, Play Points are the same as tickets (at the rate of 10 to 1). So for anyone looking to play events in the future there is real value to be made. Any online grinder is always hungry for Play Points, especially if they spend their ticket winnings on cards to increase their collection or cash out by selling tickets. Now is a good opportunity to stock some Play Points away.

There is technically the risk that the value of Magic Online tickets falls by more than 15%, but that seems extremely unlikely in 2019. One way to mitigate that risk is to cash in the Play Points ASAP—a good opportunity will be the upcoming Modern Horizons and War of the Spark releases.

The prices of cards online are inflated at release, when constructed players need them for Standard but they're still in very short supply. This is the ideal window to play Limited on MTGO. If you have any interest in playing any of these upcoming releases, opening Treasure Chests now could help make it cheaper.

Note that the contents of chests are random, so it’s possible to make less (or of course more) than the expected value. But the large 15% buffer makes it much harder to lose. Each chest also contains a guaranteed 5 play points, which reduces the variance significantly.


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