PROTRADER: Modern Masters (The Other One)

Everyone is opening Modern Masters 2015. They love it, they hate it, they open packs with all rares, they open packs with no rares, et cetera, et cetera…

The new set certainly seems to be a bit of a mess. I have four boxes, and I’m not sure if I should bust them and hope for the all-mythics box or keep them sealed and sell down the road for fear of the no-rares packs that I’ve seen opened. It’s certainly a tough dilemma, and one that Magic players across the world are dealing with right now.

The original news was that there would be no second run, but now we are hearing that perhaps that’s not the case. Whether or not this reordering is a result of the myriad printing and quality assurance problems with the first run or not, it means more product could be hitting the market.

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PROTRADER: Digging for Gold

On a recent episode of the Money Draught podcast, financier JR (@time_elemental) lamented the lack of real EDH cards in Modern Masters 2015. While Modern Masters…One (I guess) included a lot of EDH staples in an attempt to bring their prices down while simultaneously not acknowledging the secondary market, Modern Masters 2015 doesn’t seem to.

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Going Mad – What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Go to Vegas

By: Derek Madlem

For those of you that missed it, the first GPVegas was well…a valuable learning experience. Things quickly grew out of control because nobody had anticipated that level of attendance, and it showed. As the final days drew closer a cap was instituted and players were warned that on-site registration was going to be limited at best. This was the first GP to really push the preregistration game.

Two pairs of restrooms and one concession stand is not what you’re hoping for when you attend a GP…especially when over 4500 people show up.

But they’ve learned a number of lessons this time around…and we’re looking at upwards of 8,500 players cracking Modern Masters 2015 by the fist full.

6x 8,500 = 51,000 packs opened

With 1 in 8 packs containing a mythic rare and 15 mythic rares total you’re looking at roughly 425 copies of each mythic rare without even going into the FOIL copies.

Keep in mind this doesn’t even take into account the numerous side events that will be happening from dawn until dusk for four straight days.

This is not a Magic tournament, this is a Magic convention.


I’m sure many of you are planning to bring a binder, box, or Ziploc bag full of cards with you to Vegas. After all those buffets aren’t going to pay for themselves…but when’s the best time to sell?

Well let’s think it through here. You can expect the FIFTY vendors at GPVegas to roll out their war chests for this event so there’s going to be a metric expletive ton, expletive load, or different expletive load of cash flying at you. There are even a number of vendors with $1,000,000+ buy budgets for this event. I feel pretty safe in guessing that there will be $10-15 million in cards bought by vendors over the four day weekend.

So what’s that mean for you?

Obviously those war chests are not going to be balanced evenly, so a number of the “small timers” are going run out of money fast. $50,000 in cash might get you through an average Grand Prix, but in Vegas that’s going to be gone on day one.

If you haven’t figured this out yet: sell as early as possible.

There are going to be 9,000 people in a city that inhales cash. People aren’t flying to Vegas to play EDH, they’re flying in to be a part of the biggest Magic event in history in a city that provides 24 hour a day amusement of any kind. You also have to keep in mind that many of these people are not collectors or speculators … they’re just people that play Magic and off their extra cards to allow them to keep playing Magic.

From the vendor side of things, there’s a “break even” point for events like this. If they’re buying cards at 50% of retail, then they need to buy at least double their expenses to break even. Once stores buy enough to justify their trip, they’re going to want to switch to “good buys” … which means they’re looking to buy anything CHEAP. 

As that war chest shrinks, vendors are going to be more picky about what they’re buying and they’ll be more prone to push a trade bonus on you to make their cash last a bit longer. I’ll go into trade bonuses in another article, but they’re really not quite all they’re cracked up to be.

The Bad Guys

With the amount of money changing hands on the convention center floor, you can bet that this event has caught the attention of some ill-intentioned individuals.

Common sense will get you pretty far in most cases:

  • Don’t leave your stuff unattended
  • Your friends are terrible stuff attenders
  • Put your bag under your chair during your match

But an event of this size is likely to attract professionals. So you might want to be a little more precautious:

  • Don’t flaunt your “bling”
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

You can be almost certain that numerous people are going to have cards stolen. I would even venture a guess that a non-zero number of people have cards stolen out of their rooms, vehicles, or from their person.

Another threat that we’ve heard so much about over the past year or so is the increasing quality of counterfeits. If these guys will show up to a Starcitygames event in Indianapolis, IN…you can bet they’ll be around at GPVegas. While you probably don’t have to worry much about anything printed after Magic 2015 thanks to those embedded holograms, any of the older cards is on the table as a possibility.

If you’re looking to pick up power, dual lands, or even those Juzam Djinns for your #mtgunderground deck, buy from a vendor you trust or ask your trade partner if you can get a second set of eyes on the card if you’re not sure what to look for. There have been countless articles about how to spot fakes, so I won’t go into that here but it’s important to know that they’re out there.

Modern Masters Buy Prices

There has been a lot of debate and chicken-little antics regarding Modern Masters on Twitter the past few days about what a beating the recently reprinted cards are taking.

Here’s the thing, retail stores ultimately determine and guide the value of cards. There’s a lot of factors that they take into account when determining where to set the bar, including supply and demand; but when the big stores set a buy price on a card, that is more or less drawing a line in the sand. Everyone else can play the “race to the bottom” on TCGPlayer, but ultimately they’re in the business to make money so if they’re going to sell every copy of a card they have in stock at $10, there’s absolutely no reason to sell it for $8. 

When a Channel Fireball level store says “we’re paying $110 for Tarmogoyf” then other stores either starting paying somewhere close to that price or they don’t get many Tarmogoyfs. We’ve seen this time and time again, especially with Starcity’s buylist. Force of Will floated back and forth between $65-80 for months on end, then one day Starcity pulled the trigger and upped their buylist price to $75 and everyone else pretty much fell in line and now Force retails in the $115 range.

With an event like Vegas on the horizon, many stores have been too preoccupied with planning, packing, and preparing to bother wading into the fray to buy Modern Masters cards. They also know that they’ll be in a room with 51,000 freshly acquired cards, so they’ve been tightening up their bank roll in anticipation for this event while gleefully watching the prices plummet.

Vegas will likely be pretty close to the “bottom” for many of the cards in Modern Masters 2015, you can bet that many of the vendors will be buying up as much Modern as they can get their hands on, reprints included. With fifty vendors in the same room, prices for these cards are going to sort themselves out pretty quickly. While there will be a few “barn burners” blowing out cards at ridiculous prices on Thursday, prices will stabilize by Friday and we’ll know where to expect these cards to land going forward.

History lesson for those that missed it: two years ago we had our first Modern Masters Grand Prix in Las Vegas, Tarmogoyf was hovering around $110 with a reprint coming in that was sure to decimate it’s price. During one of the early rounds of the event when 4,500 players were preoccupied with their matches Starcity sent their agents into the field to buy every single Tarmogoyf in the room from the other vendors at full retail, cementing Goy’s future as a $200 card.

Stores WILL be making moves at this event; some of them will undoubtedly be mistakes, but some will be home runs.

It’s Not Time to Panic

Yeah, Modern Masters prices are going LOW. That’s great, Timmy spent his allowance and drafted Modern Masters so he’s got a Tarmogoyf to sell – good for him. Unfortunately for Timmy, he can’t reinvest his profits in a ton more Modern Masters because that supply is going to quickly run dry.

Here’s the thing about Timmy that you need to keep in mind – Timmy only plays burn, and is generally a complete degenerate. Timmy’s burn deck doesn’t include any copies of Mox Opal, Tarmogoyf, or Vendilion Clique so he sells every copy of those cards he opens. Did I mention that Timmy is an absolute degenerate? Seriously, Timmy’s the kind of guy that finds a stray cat, feeds it, and leaves it out in the yard to get pregnant and litter the yard with kittens because he has no concept of the future.

The thing to keep in mind with Timmy is that he’s going to ship those cards, and he doesn’t really care what he gets for them because he’s got reservations for one at Denny’s tonight and those grand slams aren’t going to pay for themselves.

If you’re not going to Vegas this weekend, it’s going to be a great time to snipe some cheap auctions on eBay as everyone’s attention will be focused on the festivities and the bulk of Magic’s loose money is going to be on the battlefield in Vegas.

Modern Masters strategy in a nutshell: If you see a good price on a card you need – BUY IT. If you’re just trying to time the bottom so you can profit – GOOD LUCK, this is the sort of thing that could be an eight hour window or you could have an entire week, as long as you’re generally buying low you should be in good shape.

Shameless Self Promotion

I’ll be working with Aether Games this weekend in Vegas, come by the booth and “holla at ya boy” if you feel so inclined. I’ll try tweeting out SOME information on how prices are shaking out if I get a chance this weekend, so you can follow me on Twitter @GoingMadlem for that.

Also there’s a slap bet that may or may not be settled between one of the other owners and Aether Games’ own Kyle Lopez (@itsyourboyLOPE)…so I’ll try to announce when that’s going to happen or at least post a video.


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PROTRADER: Going Hunting on the Banned and Restricted List

By: Travis Allen

When this article goes live, I’ll either be in or en route to Las Vegas, along with what feels like what must be a quarter of the Magic-playing population. I haven’t been aboard the #hypetrain that three-fourths of my Twitter feed has been, mostly because I’m incapable of experiencing these "emotions" I hear people constantly have, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless.

I suspect that my plan for the event is similar to many: I’ll participate in the main event because I’m there and it should be fun, but it’s hardly the flagship activity of my attendance. Other activities, all just as important, will be two-headed giant events with friends, social mixers with various Magic personalities I’ve yet to meet in person, distributing MTGPrice loot to a handful of individuals, writing up coverage about what’s hot on the floor, taking in a show or two, and maybe even hanging out at the pool in the naked desert sun. If you see me wandering around the floor, feel free to stop me and say hello. I’m always happy to meet the few poor souls that read my articles.

I’ve spent the last three weeks writing about Modern Masters 2015, so I’ll spare you from that this week. After all, big price movements will be happening after all the events wrap up and tens of thousands of cards end up hitting dealer buylists or local binders across the world. A week or two after the festivities will be a good time to check in on MM2015 again. In the meantime, let prices settle a bit, enjoy the draft format, and see what else is going on.

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