It's been a while since I sat down and put some keystrokes and thoughts into an article for you. This hasn't been for lack of ideas or lack of opportunity, either (there have been two full set releases since I last wrote about Niv-Mizzet Reborn). I was simply burnt out and needed a little mental recharge. Between a newborn son, a hectic (but very positive and successful) series of initiatives at work, and continuing to scale my online storefront (@ChiStyleGaming), I had my plate full and I overwhelmed myself a bit.
And now that I am, I want to share some lessons from my time off and also provide a handful of cards I am currently watching as we head into the doldrums of summer.
What did I use two months off to do?
The most important thing I accomplished since my last article was learning some basics on how to be a father. Our son, Liam Thomas, was born on May 2nd, and since then I've learned all about sleep deprivation, changing diapers, and how to avoid total meltdowns. In all seriousness, it has been the most rewarding ten weeks of my entire life.
It also created a new opportunity to reexamine where I prioritize time and reevaluate how I value it. As a parent, I quickly learned the world is no longer about me and my desires; it's all about Liam. This isn't a bad thing, though. It's simply an adjustment. Honestly, it is a ton of fun watching a little one learn and grow each passing day (it moves too fast!) and I wouldn't trade these moments for anything. That said, the adjustment to fatherhood has forced me to be precise with how I spend the moments I get to myself.
I've cut back on things that I used to do often which weren't producing meaningful benefits or results (ex: video games). I also found ways to up my game when it came to repetitive tasks like my morning routine; it turns out I was wasting about 4-5 minutes every day! I now get coffee brewing while I take a shower and brush my teeth in the shower instead of before/after. That effectively gets all three things done in 7-8 minutes compared to the previous 12-15 minutes. That time saved goes to Liam or my wife or maybe a quick tweet. No matter how I spend it, it's time I couldn't have spent even 12 weeks earlier because it didn't exist.
That may seem ridiculous to think about, but imagine wasting 2.5 hours a month on inefficiencies in your routine! It can add up fast, especially if you find multiple inefficiencies, whether they be at work, school, or otherwise. Every few minutes you can save by increasing your efficiency opens the door to new possibilities on where to spend that time.
If you take nothing else away from this article, please consider this: the last two months made me realize just how much we take time for granted. I encourage you to reexamine how you spend your time to make sure it is well-allocated to your priorities and that you are happy with how you use it! I found that this has made me happier because I feel more productive and accomplished each day.
Ask yourself this: are you able to save a few minutes? How could you spend that newly acquired time? I'd love to hear more about your interactions with this thought-process on Twitter, the QS Discord, or the comments below. DMs are always open!
Chris, did you really give up Magic for two-months?
No, no, no... one doesn't simply escape Magic! I'm no exception.
I used the last two months to focus on scaling my business, Chicago Style Gaming, and took a little time off from producing articles and content. I've worked hard over the last 18 months to grow CSG into a trusted brand in the community. The last two months included me making my first major collection purchase in the last ten years and it also involved the formalization of an LLC so I can begin focusing on CSG as its own entity (i.e. separating it entirely from my personal finances). Both of those events were huge learning opportunities for me as I continue to transition into a full-time online reseller.
It's always an exciting time to be an entrepreneur but in the current MTG landscape, I can't imagine there being a better time to open a shop (online or otherwise). The game is so healthy - players are extremely engaged even as the summer lull is upon us - and Hasbro ($HAS) earnings continue to highlight Magic: the Gathering as one of the most meaningful growth levers of the entire company. I'm looking forward to continuing my efforts with Chicago Style Gaming and appreciate all of your support along the way!
Specs, the things we enjoy the most...
The other thing I did was monitor all of the set releases for commander specs I may acquire as prices deflate over the summer. I hardly acquired anything over the past eight weeks (aside from the aforementioned collection), but I did buy a couple foils from Modern Horizons. This small purchase was just before our QS Insider-only cast on June 21st.
The short-list of purchases I made included (name, quantity bought, price-per-card):
- Morophon, the Boundless (three copies, $38)
- Yawgmoth, Thran Physician (two copies, $78)
- Generous Gift (two copies, $5)
Chaz and I discussed a three-month runway on the 6/21 cast where we felt supply would dry out on Modern Horizons and foil playables will appreciate (note: the above list is a not the complete one discussed on cast - join QS Insider to get a full look at that cast and many others like it!). I'll be updating these purchases on October 1st to see how we did.
Chris's Commander Corner for the Summer Lull
I have a list of cards on my watch list which I'd like to share for you. These are all cards worth speculating on and that I also plan to acquire for personal use. Some may have already bottomed as recently as last week, but in general, I think their appreciation will be steady over the next 6-12 months (note: timeframes vary and are noted on a per-card basis).
I was extremely high on Narset's Reversal from the moment it was spoiled:
I targeted foils reaching $5-6 and we are SO close to getting there. Copies have quietly descended under $10 for most small-scale vendors on TCGPlayer. Card Kingdom continues to hold onto a $10.99 price, but their supply is strong on these as indicated by them not buying foils of the card currently. I'll be holding out for a further price drop to my original target (see above screenshot) before acquiring copies. With MTGO redemption in full force, I think we get there in August before "reversing" back up to $10 over the subsequent six months.
As an aside, I called Narset's Reversal as the most played War of the Spark card according to EDHREC; it is currently sitting in third place behind its counterpart Narset, Parter of Veils and a popular land, Karn's Bastion. Not bad.
Ashiok has four important characteristics that have me adding it to my watch list:
- Sees play in every Eternal format: according to www.mtgstocks.com, Ashiok appears in 12 Modern, 2 Legacy, and 1 Vintage list, and it currently ranks fifth on most-played list from War of the Spark on EDHREC
- Does something unique: shutting off fetches and tutors has only been printed on a few cards in MTG history and never on a planeswalker before, putting Ashiok into a league of its own
- Only gets better as more "search library" cards are printed: Wizards of the Coast indicated they would stay away from fetches in Standard but in Modern Horizons they printed cards like Prismatic Vista and Sisay, Weatherlight Captain which tells me "searching libraries" is a card-design that is here to stay
- Part of a collectible series: Ashiok is one of 36 walkers from War of the Spark, a set I suspect many collectors will want to complete, which could drain a little extra foil supply and make the price on playable War of the Spark walkers rebound more efficiently over time
While reprint risk always looms (especially since many are predicting a return to Theros in the near future), I like Ashiok for potential long-term gains. I'm targeting foils at $8 but this may take longer than three months to hit. Buylists are still strong on foil Ashiok (CK is paying almost $10 in credit), and it is entirely possible the floor may never get lower than now. Long-term, figure 12 months from here (and barring reprint of course), I see Ashiok, Dream Render foils having $15+ upside.
Winds of Abandon is flying under the radar for EDH players so far as it only ranks 18th on the EDHREC most-played list for Modern Horizons. The drawbacks of being sorcery speed and ramping your opponents with tapped basic lands might be enough to keep this card down. Remember though, there are very few one-sided board-wipes in all of Magic and the keyword "exile" is crucial in commander gameplay.
The comparison that comes to mind for me (and Winds of Abandon was clearly designed around) is Cyclonic Rift. They both have the "overload" keyword to provide situational flexibility and from experience, I can confidently say "overloaded" Cyclonic Rift wins games. I suspect Winds of Abandon will do similar things as players test it more in their commander circles.
I dislike non-foils as a speculative target because Winds of Abandon will be extremely easy to reprint and could see one as early as Commander 2019. That said, a reprint in a commander set would actually be a boon for the Modern Horizons foils because players who buy precons and look to upgrade over time may be the first to truly recognize the power of Winds of Abandon.
The floor on Winds of Abandon foils was likely about 2-3 weeks ago when it was touching $8-10 on TCGPlayer. That said, the buylist values aren't particularly strong (averaging around $6-7 currently), so it is possible it could get back to $8-10 before supply is completely soaked up. Once supply on the foils is tested, I see this becoming a $15-20 card, airing closer to the high end of that range. I don't think it will take more than 3-5 months for this to happen, so if you want a foil copy, add it to your watchlist now and don't hesitate if the price makes sense for you.
Quick list of other cards to consider:
I love Nissa foils sub-$10. She is seeing play all over Standard which might be propping her price up a bit, but the long-term appeal of this Nissa in EDH is real. This is not an urgent pickup, but at rotation next year I can envision a scenario where we look her up and say, "wow, Nissa, Who Shakes the World foils are $20!?"
Rhythm is one of the better uncommons printed in the last several years for EDH purposes. Tribal themes are hugely popular among commander players and Rhythm is hands-down one of the best cards to include in any tribal deck that can run it. It is ranked third on the EDHREC most-played list from Ravnica Allegiance yet it has quietly dropped to $7 for NM foils. Add this to your watchlist and be patient; I see Rhythm of the Wild foils dropping a little further to as low as $5 in August before a 6-12 month stretch of price-increases has it ascend back to $10.
Sleeper alert! Vindictive Vampire is already low supply, ranks top 10 in the Ravnica Allegiance list of most played in EDH, and it belongs to one of the more popular tribes in all of MTG. The card was already drained by Teysa Karlov commander players but found a second home recently with Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. I love buying into foil Vindictive Vampire as a penny-stock, though it won't be a penny-stock for much longer. I expect within 3-6 months these will be steady sellers at $5.
It's been a busy few months for me and I couldn't be happier. I appreciate the support from those of you who asked how things were going with the family, work, etc. I also appreciate you all hanging in there over the past couple months without me providing you information along the way. I plan on being back to status quo with activity and engagement moving forward, and I will be in Indianapolis covering GenCon 2019 this year. It's a special weekend for me as it will mark my one-year anniversary since I began writing for Quiet Speculation - Sigmund gave me a trial gig last year at GenCon and I have never looked back.
If you'll be in Indianapolis for GenCon, please (!) hit me up on Twitter or on QS Insider Discord! I would love to meet any of you there and maybe we can even play some games of Commander! I'm bringing tons of decks, so just let me know.
Until next time, see you on the battlefield!