Welcome back, folks.
If you haven't already done so, check out last week's article which discusses the major update that goes live this week with the release of Modern Horizons. Today I'm going to bring us up to speed on the changes to the treasure chests as well as offer my perspective on the financial side of what we're likely to see with Modern Horizons. Modern Horizons will follow a different financial trajectory on MTGO than in paper, and it's important to understand the difference.
I. Treasure Chest Update
Treasure chests are now worth 2.42 tix, their highest value since October of last year. After bottoming out around 1.80 tix in January, they've been on a steady climb upward. Courtesy of Goatbots' chart:
There are several reasons why treasure chests have been on a steady rebound. Most obviously, there is renewed confidence in MTGO; the panic selling is over; the reduction of the player base because of Magic Arena's release is over; players have been returning to MTGO to play older Constructed formats, and that has been the main driver behind the resurgence in chest prices. Modern remains the most popular format on MTGO (league numbers ~2000); Standard is second (~750); Legacy third (~500); Pauper fourth (~500). However, there are some other notable changes to the treasure chests that have boosted the value of treasure chests.
Magic Online is now infusing more value into the treasure chests via premium alternate arts than ever before. This has undoubtedly boosted treasure chest value. Everything from Ultimate Masters Box Toppers to Guilds of Ravnica: Mythic Edition Planeswalkers have made their way into the treasure chests over the past six months. I like this move overall since it props up chest values without exerting as much downward pressure on regular cards as treasure chest printings usually do. Below I've compiled a list of all the Japanese planeswalkers selling for more than 1.00 tix on MTGO:
Should I Invest in these? The short answer is no, not at this time. Demand is high for them, but they are nowhere near peak supply. They are being released into the wild at a low frequency (a curated frequency of 6 is on the lower end), but they will continue to pour in for at least another few months. This question will be worth revisiting around the release of Core 2020.
It is interesting that some like Narset and Nissa are overperforming their non-promo versions by a lot, yet others like Teferi and Karn are worth only a few more tix than their non-promo versions. I'm not entirely sure what to make of this disparity, but it is worth noting that you can play with some of these without paying a huge premium to do so. They're sexy, so if you want to play with them don't let anyone stop you!
Inclusion on this list typically means that you should sell them because their price is going to take a tumble, but the modest frequencies on several of them have kept their price from tanking. Some, like The Rack, continue to go up as the deck increases in popularity in Modern.
The headline inclusions, though, are Arclight Phoenix and Assassin's Trophy, two premier cards no longer draftable on MTGO. A frequency of 20 exerts a lot of downward pressure on a card, and that's most likely the biggest reason why Arclight Phoenix has taken a tumble from 55 tix to 35 tix over the past few months. If I'm playing Arclight Phoenix in Standard and Modern I'm not a seller; the price may even rebound once Modern Horizons goes live because demand for Modern will pick up. But I don't like holding this card as an investment. Assassin's Trophy is a fine hold for players and investors alike.
There's a decent amount to unpack here. Remember that a decrease in frequency means that these cards will be opened less in the treasure chests, giving their prices a greater chance at stabilizing or making a recovery. Some of these changes were made in anticipation of Modern Horizons (Flusterstorm and the snow-covered lands). Others were made because enough supply has entered the market that inclusion in the chests doesn't help the chests' overall value anymore (Crop Rotation, Brainstorm, and Ash Barrens).
From an investor's perspective, the most interesting cards on this list are Scapeshift and the Khans fetches. I'd counsel against buying Scapeshifts you don't intend to play with because it was reprinted in Core 19 and still has a frequency of 6. I don't see much room for growth, and I expect the card to remain stable in between 0.75 tix and 1.75 tix going forward. The Khans fetches though....now those are interesting!
The prices of the Khans fetches are at three or four-year lows. They were included in treasure chests right from the very start, and for the first time, they're getting rolled back from a frequency of 12 to a frequency of 6. Their price held relatively steady for years, then toward the end of last year, their prices fell by 50% along with the rest of MTGO. Now that they're showing signs of recovery and with Modern Horizons being released in a few days, many players want to know whether now is a good time to buy. My belief is that you should pick these up if you have any holes missing in your collection, but I wouldn't invest in them. The return-on-investment (ROI) might one day reach 100%, but you'll have tied up your capital for far too long to get there. If you're like me and don't own a playset of each though, now's a good time to change that.
II. Modern Horizons Information
Secluded Steppe by Noah Bradley
Modern Horizons comes out on Thursday and with it the usual array of events -- Sealed, Intermediate Draft, and Phantom Draft. Phantom Draft uses the new and improved prize structure I discussed last week. The others remain unchanged.
New this time is the ability to get a discount on the non-phantom events by buying "The Modern Horizon Bundle" for $50. Purchasing this bundle gives you 2.5 drafts at roughly a 20% discount and throws in a Flusterstorm and Serra Angel avatar for free. If you were thinking of buying event tickets, this is a much better option instead if you intend to draft; you may have missed the opportunity to buy tickets at a 20% discount, but there will be no better way to put money into MTGO over the coming months so I recommend this bundle. I'll be buying one or two myself, since I love drafting, and the only thing better than drafting is drafting at a discount.
III. Signing Off
As always, leave your comments down below or message me in the QS Discord if you have any questions. I hope Modern Horizons will be a blast. It hits all of the right nostalgia notes for me, and it looks like a draft environment ripe for exploration and trying new things. Next week I'll be taking a deep dive into MTGO's best-kept secret in 2019: drafting on MTGO is now cheaper than it has been in years and you should be doing more of it. Thanks for reading and I'll see y'all next time.