Welcome back folks.
Over the past few years, Magic Online finance has been quite volatile. There was both a crash and a recovery. Sets get drafted in different amounts based upon what is happening with Magic Arena, which has had haphazard effects on Standard prices. We've had a global pandemic that has brought more players online. All of this has made investing on Magic Online more difficult than ever before. Magic Online finance has been particularly tricky for those of us who like stability and patterns, and I've begun to think about taking new approaches and finding new ways to recreate some of the stable cyclical investment patterns that I had followed and shared with you in the past.
Perhaps the closest thing we have to a guarantee in this day and age is Modern Horizons. I strongly recommend investing in the set now -- pick up staples you want to play with and consider investing in the set, including some of my speculation suggestions down below. As I mentioned last week, Modern Horizons fell by roughly 50% because it got a small reprint in the form of a flashback draft. The set was valued around $500 earlier this year, and right now it's valued around $300. Even though many cards are on the treasure chest curated list now, we should expect Modern Horizons cards to rise in value (I believe it likely that the set value will be at least $400 by summer's end). The market always overreacts to flashbacks, and we all have the opportunity to capitalize on that now.
II. Mining the Top Tier ($10+)
1. Plague Engineer
Previous High: $25
Plague Engineer is an important card in Legacy and Modern, seeing extensive play across multiple archetypes in both formats. This is the card in this tier that I believe is most likely to double in value. It is a key tool for keeping pesky tribal decks like Humans and Elves down in Modern, and of course, is great counterplay to some key threats like True-Name Nemesis in Legacy. Buying under $13 is reasonable.
2. Urza, Lord High Artificer
Previous High: $34
Urza has proven itself as a Modern staple. Yes, its value will ebb and flow depending on the metagame, but $17.50 is well below what its base valuation should be. Expect Urza to rise to at least $25, with spikes north of $30 or $35 possible. While I don't think your percent return on investment (ROI) will be as high as that for Plague Engineer, I don't believe this spec will carry much risk despite having a high entry point.
Most of the other cards from Modern Horizons in the $10 to $20 range, cards like Prismatic Vista or Sunbaked Canyon, will likely increase in value, but it's difficult to predict which ones will give you a ROI of at least 50%. Ice-Fang Coatl is the one that has the best chance to really catapult in value, but an $18.25 entry point carries significant risk in my view. Sunbaked Canyon and Prismatic Vista are likely to reach $15 and maybe $20, but I don't expect either card to get much higher than that.
III. Those in the Middle ($4-$10)
1. Fiery Islet
Previous High: $17
Fiery Islet is the second most expensive Canopy Land in Modern Horizons, second to Sunbaked Canyon. Although not used as much as Sunbaked Canyon, I really like its current $8 entry point. It is hard to imagine that Fiery Islet remains mired below $10. I think selling between $12-$15 is smart and something you will likely be able to do. I like Silent Clearing and Waterlogged Grove for similar reasons -- I think all of these are likely to give you a 25-50% ROI.
2. Giver of Runes
Previous High: $13
I'm quite excited about Giver of Runes as a speculation opportunity. Right now Heliod Combo isn't super popular, which has depressed its value. But this card is so powerful in creature-combo decks that, should the metagame shift its way, it could rise north of $10 once again. I personally think it's only a matter of time. This is the best Mother of Runes we're going to get in Modern, and a card with that level of protective power with such little supply can't have a value this low for too long.
IV. The Bottom of the Barrel ($0-$4)
A lot of the best specs will be cheaper cards. Not only did the brief reprint period really hammer the cheap cards, but also very few of them are in treasure chests. Only Yawgmoth, Thran Physician and Silent Clearing are. All of the rest have nowhere to go but up. I have invested in many of these already, and may invest a bit more.
1. Casual Mythics
Previous High: $1.50
The First Sliver has proven to be the most profitable of the bunch thus far, but others like Kess, Dissident Mage and Unbound Flourishing also had been showing signs of growth prior to the flashback. The reason these cards have value is because a lot of people play casually on MTGO. MTGO often has an association with being for hardcore Magic players only, but its base of users is far more diverse than that -- it's for folks who don't have a local LGS; it's for folks who have to travel a lot for work and can't play regularly at their LGS; it's for friend groups to be able to play virtually.
Slivers are a popular tribe, and The First Sliver a popular commander. With no new supply entering the market, expect The First Sliver's price to double or triple. In my view this is a $2.00 card, but you can get it right now for $0.50.
2. Aria of Flame
Previous High: $3
Aria of Flame is a card with quite a bit of upside. It is a key part of Modern Storm's sideboard plan, and we can expect it to rebound north of $2 sometime this summer. Storm isn't the most popular deck right now, but undoubtedly it will be back. This is a solid spec with some risk but with a very high reward.
3. Goblin Engineer
Previous High: $2
Along with Plague Engineer, Goblin Engineer is my favorite speculation opportunity right now from this set. It has native Legacy demand thanks to a variety of Painter decks, and likely some Commander or Casual demand as well. That demand is what led it to skyrocket up to $2 before getting reprinted. Not only should Goblin Engineer rebound in the near term, but this is a card I like as a long term hold. This card has a lot of native power that I think Modern will one day be able to realize.
V. Signing Off
Thanks for reading! I know I did not cover every good spec opportunity from Modern Horizons, and honestly that is instructive. This is a new opportunity to invest in a set that will exhibit a reliably predictive price pattern; in general all boats should lift, so you should feel comfortable investing in the card or cards that you believe will go up in value. What cards are you interested in investing in from Modern Horizons? How do you feel about investing in Theros or Ikoria cards? Let me know in the comments below or on Discord.