It’s a Buyers’ Market Out There

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“And I’m a bad boy, ‘cause I don’t even miss her
I’m a bad boy for breakin’ her heart…

Now I’m free
Free fallin’
Yeah, I’m free
Free fallin’”

Tom Petty, "Free Fallin'"

These Tom Petty lyrics may have been introduced to the world four years before Magic debuted, but they still ring true in the current market environment. It’s no need to panic, though. Let's dive into recent market data and try to highlight some ideas to have on our radar as we navigate this new buyers’ market.

Double Masters 2022 Selloff

I’ll admit “Free falling” may be a bit of a hyperbole, but check out the biggest declines on MTGStocks over the past week—clearly, free-falling is an appropriate descriptor for Double Masters 2022 at least.

These are market prices, meaning the cards are selling for this much less than they had sold for just seven days ago. Most of the movers are borderless variants, but there are some regular printings smattered throughout the list as well. Privileged Position, one of my favorite cards, has suffered the worst out of regular printings, down 72.78% this week.

The list above isn’t nearly complete, mind you. This was just what I could display on my laptop for a screenshot. In fact, there are 45 cards listed that have dropped more than 50% since last week. To get to a card not printed in Double Masters 2022 on this list, you have to go to the 53rd worst performer, which is the MagicFest printing of Path of Ancestry.

Suddenly, my warning not to preorder any singles from Double Masters 2022 seems like worthy advice. Booster boxes have also pulled back, albeit more modestly than the set’s singles. Boxes can be purchased on TCGplayer for $345 as of today. They were $375 when I wrote about the set a couple of weeks ago. It’s much more difficult to project where prices will go from here.

My pragmatic (though not all that specific) advice would be to monitor pricing trends on these closely for any indications of supply constraints. If prices begin to move up, we’ll know our window to purchase these boxes at a fair price is closing. Until that happens, however, I think we can take our time.

Old School Card Selloff

On the one hand, we have cards from Magic’s newest paper set, Double Masters 2022, selling off like crazy. On the other hand, cards from Magic’s oldest sets, from Alpha through The Dark, are also pulling back. You won’t see massive lists of 70% droppers from Arabian Nights like you did from Double Masters 2022, but I am definitely seeing market softness in certain areas.

For example, Card Kingdom’s buylist prices for Old School cards have retreated over the past few weeks, quite significantly in some cases. At its peak in late 2021, Eureka could be buylisted for nearly $800 cash to Card Kingdom. Today, Card Kingdom’s buy price is $420, with downward momentum.

The only reason the above price plot doesn’t look more negative is that ABUGames stepped up their buy price recently, to $535. If not for that, the graph would look a bit worse.

Even more egregious perhaps is the buy price graph for Beta Disrupting Scepter. I’ve followed this card closely because it wasn’t long ago when I was looking to pick up three of these to upgrade the copies in one of my Old School decks. I found some in the $300-$350 range from Star City Games and thought I was getting a steal! At the time, the top buy price was around $450 for near mint copies, so I figured LP/MP copies $100 less was a great price.

Then Card Kingdom started restocking these, and their price dropped. Then dropped again. Then dropped some more.

The best buy price on this card went from $450 all the way down to $240 before ABUGames once again upped their buy price a bit. I took note of that adjustment, in fact, and shipped ABUGames two of my three copies for cash (I wasn’t using them anymore). That’s right, cash. I almost never ship cards to ABUGames for cash because their trade-in credit numbers are so much higher, and usually, I can find something to trade into. Not this time—just show me the money!

For the most part, prices on Old School cards like this have been steadily declining, once again making for a potentially attractive buyers’ market. One other card I want to touch on is Library of Alexandria.

You can’t see it in the graph above, once again because ABUGames is paying pretty well on this card. Removing them from the equation, you see a very different picture. Card Kingdom was paying over $1800 cash just a couple months ago. Now they’re offering a disappointing $1010. I can’t really blame them because they have a dozen copies in stock! They are definitely in a price reduction cycle, and they’ll continue to drop these prices until copies move. At that point, Card Kingdom will likely start bumping numbers gradually upwards again.

It's getting to the point where Card Kingdom’s sell prices aren’t too bad when you factor in that store credit is readily available to purchase at an 85% rate. This means you can get a 15% discount off a purchase from Card Kingdom if you can find someone selling store credit. Their “Good” price for Library of Alexandria is $1259.99, so with the 15% discount you could acquire a heavily played copy for under $1100 cash.

That’s not too bad, since TCGplayer low is $1200 for damaged. That data point obscures the current weakness in the market. I’ve found a couple more interesting listings. First, there’s this ABUGames auction on eBay, which hasn’t gotten a bid yet:

Granted, this copy is in very rough shape, but it would still be sleeve playable I bet. Then, if you want a really really cheap copy, check out this one over at Face to Face Games in Canada:

Whoa, I can’t remember the last time I saw a copy for this cheap! Granted, it’s a very beat-up copy with signature and severe shuffle wear. But if you want the cheapest copy on the market that is probably still sleeve playable, this is your card! In fact, I predict that by this time next week, after readers had a chance to view this listing, this Library will have sold.

Optimism Ahead

These numbers can look pretty dire. But I want to assure readers that this is perfectly healthy for a market. We’re seeing significant selloffs in stocks and cryptocurrency—it stands to reason that Magic would not be immune to the same overall market weakness. Let’s face it: people can finally feel confident going out and experiencing things again. They aren’t allocating as much money for investing, trading, and playing card games at their kitchen table.

I don’t see any indication of a systemic risk to Magic itself. The game is still healthy, my Twitter feed is still filled with passionate people who love talking about Magic, and cards are still exchanging hand for cash on a regular basis. The Old School pullback is not going to last forever. Also, the Double Masters 2022 selloff looks worse than it really is because preorder prices were too high!

I predict that in a few months—perhaps as we get into late Fall—we’ll see things bottom. I see the current market weakness as a fantastic buyers’ market to take advantage of. In fact, I have already made some moves accordingly; I sold some cards to Card Kingdom and ABUGames before their buy prices dropped too far in order to free up cash. Some of the money I placed into the college fund (as that is always priority number one), but I do have a small bit ready to do some buying.

What will I purchase? I’m watching prices on the Four Horsemen sets in particular (Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, The Dark). If I can pick up another Shahrazad for a great price, I just might do so—it’s my all-time favorite card after all! Also, if Juzám Djinn falls below $1000 like Library of Alexandria appears to have done, I may be tempted there too. Candelabra of Tawnos is another card I’ve always wanted, and Magus of the Moat isn’t far behind.

Granted, I don’t have the money to buy all these cards so I’ll have to make some priority calls. One thing is certain, I’m going to be on high alert looking for deals throughout the summer as prices continue to remain soft.

Wrapping It Up

Prices are pretty weak in two distinct areas of the market: Double Masters 2022 singles and Old School cards—the two extremes. Honestly, cards printed between 1995 and 2022 may also be down some—I can’t follow every market so closely. But at least for the old and the new, the data is clear and compelling.

Be careful with how you spend your money in this softening market. We buyers can be picky and choosey with where we spend our Magic money. There should be no reason to rush a purchase. With enough patience (and some research of different stores), we can find the card we want at the price point we’re looking for. I anticipate the market will be like this for at least another couple of months.

If you’re afraid you may miss the bottom and forget to buy, I’d encourage you to pay close attention to this website. You can be confident that I will be one of the first people to point out any sort of market reversal as soon as I see one. Until then, enjoy some lower prices and happy shopping!

2 thoughts on “It’s a Buyers’ Market Out There

  1. Not so long ago a near mint copy of Library of Alexandria could sell for $1,000. I found it for less while digging for prices on Ebay. That was back in early 2020 when the vintage market was having a similar pullback. And there was no lockdown yet. It seemed inevitable that the prices would eventually come back down. Once Starcitygames goes back throwing weekly events like they used to things should start picking up.

  2. I’ve been actively trying to scoop cards for bargain prices and I have got to tell you the deals are not nearly as there as I expected. IMO 1-2 months ago felt like the bottom in terms of what I have been buying/looking to buy (Legacy and Vintage Commander stuff) and now prices of that stuff appears to have stabilized. Other cards that I am not interested in (read: MODERN cards) appear to still be falling, however.

    Recently I bid on a few large eBay lots for dual lands and they were selling for *about* 105% of retail; no deals were had.

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