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The Faerie Trickery of MTG Finance

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We finally know the name of this fall’s Standard set: Throne of Eldraine! I like the name, and judging by the artwork that’s been released, it has the potential to be another smash hit. A set modeled off stories by The Brothers Grimm and classic faerie tales is something yet to be explored by Wizards of the Coast. My mind goes straight to another set with cards modeled off classic stories


Ignoring the musings of an Old School player, this set is sure to be popular.

But set flavor and aesthetic isn’t why people visit this website. The real question is, what is the financial relevance of what we know so far and where can money be made?

MTG Finance Groupthink

groupthink

noun

1  the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.

It only took one image of an alleged invite to get the MTG Finance community swarming like a clique of faeries.

This invitation had a picture of faeries and suddenly MTG Finance swooped in and started speculating on cards. The results are sad, really, considering we still knew virtually nothing about the set.



Shortly after this chaos ensued, someone asked Maro a relevant question via his Blogatog.

Mark Rosewater himself stated that Faeries won’t be present in Throne of Eldraine at the volume of importance that people were assuming. Since July 18, we’ve seen a steady flow of artwork showcasing the set’s theme. There may be a faerie or two in the mix, but I didn’t see anything that would encourage me to rush out and buy a terrible Homelands card.

This highlights one of my issues with MTG Finance. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been grinding Magic cards for years now, and I am an active writer for this site. You’ll see me in the Insider Discord sharing ideas and talking about the next trend. But lately, I’ve become impatient with this behavior whereby people pile into spec targets based on a loose hypothesis.

This isn’t the first time people spent money on a premature theory and it won’t be the last. MTG Finance is very good at finding any thread of possibility that gets the group in front of a trend. Sometimes, even if the trend doesn’t manifest itself, the community still imparts its damaging effects on the market.

For example, foil Secluded Glen may be a more expensive card going forward thanks to this speculation. A combination of short supply (foil cards from Lorwyn can’t be all that plentiful) and price memory could be enough to double this card’s price permanently despite the only slight increase in interest from the new set.


Never mind the fact that speculators didn’t fully think through what faerie cards would even make these cards suddenly better. It would take a specific group of cards—and a lack of a reprint—to suddenly make Secluded Glen playable in a competitive format. It would take a more significant faerie theme in the set to generate enough traction for Commander interest. And I don’t know what miracle would be needed for Willow Priestess to suddenly see play. At least that one is on the Reserved List (disclaimer: after seeing the spike, I found a few copies on ABU Games and picked them up with some credit I had sitting around…why not?).

The Best Defense…

How can we equip ourselves to combat this speculative behavior, resulting in a FOMO-type emotion as card prices spike? In this case, the phrase “The Best Defense is a good offense” doesn’t apply. While this may feel like military conflict, this is not the scenario where an offensive is merited. For example, I would not recommend speculating on other faerie cards in an attempt to get ahead of the next spike.

Instead, my best advice to you is to do one of two things.

  1. If you already own copies of the cards that are spiking, I’d recommend selling into the spike. Thinking about this strictly from a numbers standpoint, the odds of these spikes going even higher and becoming the next hottest trend are very slim. The odds of a significant retraction in price are great. Therefore, from an expected value standpoint, the right move is surely to sell into hype.
  2. If you don’t own any copies of the spiking cards, your best bet is to ignore the buyout altogether. Unless you truly think we have enough information to suggest a measurable shift towards Faerie strategies in non-rotating formats, I see no merit to speculating on faerie cards. Such behavior is reckless, risky, and likely to result in a loss of money.

There are two exceptions I can think of to the rules I recommended above. First, if a card is on the Reserved List or unlikely to be reprinted in some form, and you want to own the copies for personal use anyways, then buying copies of a card before at their old price is fine. I had some ABU credit to burn recently and I was placing an order already—adding a few Willow Priestesses at the old price seemed like a no-brainer. I expect I’ll be able to buylist these for a couple bucks to Card Kingdom in response to the spike. But also, these are on the Reserved List and are unlikely to go anywhere.

Alternatively, if you’ve been wanting a promo Bitterblossom for your cube or Commander deck, now may be a smart time to grab that copy. The card hasn’t spiked dramatically (yet), and there’s no telling how much more silly hype gets drummed up as spoiler season begins. Since you want the card anyway, I see little harm in pulling the trigger now.


The second exception is very narrow. If you can find copies of a spiked card at the old price, and can acquire them quickly, you may be able to sell into the hype profitably. For example, if you noticed a spike in Secluded Glen and your LGS had copies in stock for under $5, there would be little harm in picking a few up. You could list them for sale at $10 and try to sell into the hype. If that endeavor failed, it’s unlikely these would drop below their old price, so you wouldn’t necessarily lose money. Worst case, you could ship the cards to Card Kingdom’s buylist and break even by taking their store credit option.

Wrapping It Up

Some folks may already know better, but this seems like a great time to remind folks not to chase silly speculation. The hive mind that is MTG Finance will swarm over any opportunity to make a buck, and the recent run on faerie cards was no exception. We saw multiple faerie cards spike. While something like Secluded Glen makes some sense, I’m not sure I can see a world where Willow Priestess remains $4. It’s from Homelands, folks. Cards from that set won’t be worth much for years to come (this coming from someone who loves the set).

Mark Rosewater himself stated there’s not really a faerie theme in Throne of Eldraine. The images depicting this set look amazing and I’m really excited to see more. But I don’t believe we have enough information with which to speculate. Chasing faerie cards based on a single image is peak foolish on the part of the MTG Finance community.

My advice to folks observing these buyouts is to ignore the noise. There’s no way these spikes stick, and some players who gave into FOMO will probably be regretting their purchases in a couple short weeks. If you can find cards at the old price and can either out them quickly or use them in your decks, then you have my blessing to pursue. But if these exceptions don’t apply, then stay far away. Don’t buy into the hype, fueling profits for speculators while losing money in the process.

Keep this in mind when spoiler season begins. We know very little about the new set, but there’s one sure thing: speculators will jump on any loose hypothesis they can to make a buck.

Sigbits

  • Foil Wrenn and Six is still climbing! Card Kingdom is still out of stock with a $379.99 price point! Their buylist is “only” $190, which could be why they aren’t getting many in stock. The more I watch videos with this card in action, the more I think a $500 price point for foils is possible.
  • For a hot minute, Card Kingdom was paying $95 for Near Mint Alliances Force of Wills. But that high buy price didn’t last, and now their buy price is down to $80. That said, they do still offer $90 on Eternal Masters copies of the card. I know this card sees play in Commander, but I have to imagine this is a sign that there is at least some Legacy demand for the card.
  • Masters 25 copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor buylist for $100 again. All versions of this card fluctuate between $80 and $100 on Card Kingdom’s buylist, and this one seems to be the most in-demand at Card Kingdom for now.

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