Let’s talk briefly about Wall Street finance—specifically, U.S. Treasuries. Normally, a longer-term treasury offers a higher yield than a shorter-term treasury. Once in a while, this isn’t the case. Back in August of this year, the two-year yield and the ten-year yield inverted. When this happens, it means a higher rate is earned on a two-year treasury than on a ten-year treasury.
Historically, this inversion is a warning sign to stock market investors. A negative 10-2 spread has predicted every recession since 1955. Granted, it is a far-leading indicator, meaning the recessions have taken 6-24 months to occur after the yield curve initially inverts. In the meantime, returns have actually been solid.
That same trend may be unfolding right now. Since the yield curve inversion in August, the market has proceeded to notch all-time highs! Despite the strength in stocks, it seems some Magic cards have not be as fortunate. In Magic, there has been a recession, at least in certain pockets of the market. Often times a weaker market offers great opportunities to be a buyer.
What should be acquired? Here’s my list of six cards that have dropped significantly from their highs, and could be great to buy imminently. I’ll also include some creative ideas on how to acquire them on the cheap!
1. Thunder Spirit
This Old School staple from Legends peaked up around $240 at online retailers. According to the chart, the card has pulled back to around $150 over the past few months, where it has stabilized. That’s a 38% pullback. Given the card’s utility in Old School, there’s always some level of demand for this flying creature. It could be a good pick-up.
But TCGPlayer’s pricing is completely out-of-sync with the pricing at major vendors. The cheapest near mint copy on TCGPlayer is $190 shipped. Meanwhile, Card Kingdom has near mint copies at $89.99! Even ABUGames—notorious for inflated prices—has near mint copies listed at $109.99. My advice: pick up a few Thunder Spirits from these two vendors using store credit. Obviously TCGPlayer pricing is out of whack, but there is robust demand for this card at lower prices. This is the cheapest this card has been since 2017, and I think it reflects a strong opportunity to acquire once-overpriced copies of the card from major vendors.
2. Power Artifact
At its high in 2018, Power Artifact sold for nearly $200. Since then the price has dropped down to around $120, a 40% pullback from highs. In addition to potential Old School play, this card has utility in Commander and Cubes. It combines well with Grim Monolith to generate infinite mana, which players can leverage in countless ways.
If you’ve been waiting for this card to get cheaper, now is your time to buy. Played copies start at $80 on TCGPlayer. Card Kingdom’s pricing is somewhat consistent. However, ABUGames is the place to go if you want to acquire copies of this card cheaply. If you can catch a restock, ABUGames lists played copies at $107.55. With store credit running so cheaply, you could probably acquire this credit for around $75. As long as you don’t mind the extra effort, this is a great way to grab an inexpensive copy of this card.
3. Sliver Queen
Every time new slivers are spoiled, speculators acquire older slivers at an alarming rate. This creates a sudden spike in price, and an opportunity to cash out. Sliver Queen is perhaps the most iconic of all slivers; its presence on the Reserved List ensures it remains the rarest sliver ever printed. This combination explains why copies spiked to around $175 earlier this year when slivers were spoiled in Modern Horizons.
Since that high, these have pulled back dramatically, now retailing for around $100—a 42% pullback. Suddenly, these copies are affordable again, but you never know when new slivers will be printed and cause another buyout. That’s why I’d consider getting copies now if you’ve been waiting. I wouldn’t buy these from TCGPlayer, Card Kingdom, or ABUGames. Instead, these should be acquired from Japan, where demand is particularly soft. Hareruya has 34 English copies and 23 Japanese copies in stock. Their English copies range from $52 to $74 and their Japanese copies range from $39 to $55. This is well below U.S. prices, and could even represent arbitrage opportunity right now.
4. Unlimited Underground Sea (and Other Duals)
It’s been a while since Dual Lands were a topic worth discussing. These have felt like dead money for quite some time now. The recent pullback makes for a great opportunity to acquire these ubiquitous lands. Whether for Cube, Commander, Legacy, or Old School, these are always useful to own in any collection.
I’m particularly attracted to the Unlimited printings of these lands. The Unlimited version is nice and dark, making the card more attractive. Unlimited copies are far less likely to be counterfeited, and these versions are far rarer than their Revised counterparts. Underground Sea spiked to around $1800 at retail earlier this year, but now sells for $950—a nearly 50% drop! Card Kingdom is the place to go to acquire these—they recently dropped their pricing on Unlimited duals, making for attractive entry points. For example, they have VG copies at $569.99 while ABUGames offers $950 in trade credit for played copies. Can anyone say “credit arbitrage?”
5. Revised Tropical Island (and Other Duals)
Unlimited Dual Lands not your thing? Not to worry, I think Revised copies are also smart to acquire now. As an example, consider Tropical Island, which spiked to $400 retail last year. Now copies are about 25% cheaper, hovering around $300, with played copies going for around $200.
My favorite place to acquire Revised Dual Lands is ABUGames, using trade credit and targeting played and HP copies. With the discounted trade credit, these are attractive pick-ups. If you don’t have ABU trade credit, your best bet is to watch social media. That’s where these are posted below TCG Low, making for an attractive entry point.
6. Alpha Air Elemental (and Other Alpha Cards)
At one point, any Alpha uncommon would buylist for at least $20, with many questionably playable cards going for north of $30. I remember flipping cards like Green Ward and Burrowing from TCGPlayer to ABUGames and Card Kingdom because their buylists were so aggressive.
Now those prices have dropped back significantly. I wouldn’t go near the unplayable stuff, but playable Alpha cards make for an attractive target. For example, Air Elemental is one of the more popular Alpha uncommons. At its peak, it retailed for around $120, but these can now be acquired for half that amount. Card Kingdom has been particularly aggressive in their price reductions on Alpha cards. If you can catch a restock, those $45 VG copies and $30 G copies look particularly attractive.
Honorable Mention: Discounted Bundles
As Black Friday approaches, I’ll be keeping my eye out for profitable deals. I’ll be watching particularly closely for heavy discounts on sealed product. Recently, Troll and Toad marked down bundles of Rivals of Ixalan to $18 plus shipping. They also had Core 2020 bundles at $23.
Sure, these sets aren’t the most inspiring. But I’m pretty sure any bundle that cheap would garner some demand, at least locally. Rivals of Ixalan bundles sell for $24 on eBay, so if you could out these locally at $20 you may be able to make a few bucks. You could also sit on them for a year or two to see if demand gains traction. If nothing else, they’d make for good Chaos Draft fodder. These sets didn’t thrill me, but if I see a deep discount on War of the Spark or Thrones of Eldraine bundles, I may sock away a few for a rainy day.
Wrapping It Up
There’s no sign of a recession on Wall Street, but we’ve been living through a deep recession in the Magic market. You just have to know where to look. If you believe in the health of the game, you may consider putting some money to work in some of the hardest-hit Magic cards.
If Old School is your format, then you have a prime opportunity to acquire cards at significantly cheaper prices than they were last year. Alpha cards are particularly soft right now. If Old School isn’t your thing, you may still want to pick up some older cards for Commander or Cube play.
And if none of those cards interest you, do not despair. Black Friday is around the corner, and it’ll definitely bring significant mark-downs across the board as stores look to spurn sales and generate liquidity as they plan for 2020. I’ll be watching for deeply discounted sealed product. It’s definitely a buyers’ market, and if history is any indicator, prices will rebound all over again at some point in the future. The key is to be well-positioned to sell when that inevitably happens.
- After marking down their Library of Alexandrias, Card Kingdom recently increased their price again. They also have the land on their hotlist with a $720 price tag. While I wouldn’t get too excited about the modest price change, I do gain confidence that the Old School market is bottoming. Every time Card Kingdom drops prices on cards like these, buyers swoop in and Card Kingdom is forced to readjust.
- I mentioned Revised and Unlimited Dual Lands, but there’s also Collectors’ Edition duals that may make for attractive pick-ups as prices pull back. Card Kingdom has Savannah and Plateau on their hotlist with prices of $62 and $59, respectively.
- Sliver Queen demand may be soft, but Card Kingdom seems to be interested in acquiring more copies of Sliver Legion. They currently have the card on their hotlist with a $48 buy price. Considering LP copies are available on TCGPlayer in the $51 range, this buy price seems quite strong.