We are thrilled to introduce Travis Allen as a new contributing author for MTGprice.com. Travis maintains a blog at http://travistyofmagic.blogspot.com and can be found on Twitter as @wizardbumpin. Welcome Travis!
With the release of Modern Masters, the MTG community is seemingly awash with high-quality Rares and Mythics, many of which are at the cheapest they have been in years. I’m here to tell you that this is about the lowest price point we’ll see many of these cards for quite some time. My expectation is that MM will ultimately raise the price of many tournament staples and unique cards rather than deflate them.
At base, price is a factor of supply and demand. In MM’s case, I believe the increase in demand will be greater than the increase in supply. Consider your newer player that started sometime around Innistrad or Return to Ravnica. We know Magic has seen explosive growth in the last several years – there were something like 365 players at a recent PTQ in Toronto, which Brian Kibler remarked is larger than a GP he won there previously, and GP Vegas is set to be close to 4,000 players. These new players have been accumulating Standard cards for a while, and maybe even picking up a few Modern cards here and there. Now MM comes out, and all those cool cards the veteran players at their local store talk about are right there, in trade binders and in display cases. If our new player is particularly lucky, maybe he or she even gets to draft the set. After a taste of the power of an eternal format, and with the Modern PTQ season 6 months away, the player decides to start picking up cards so he can play in January. Part of his plan includes obtaining a playset of Tarmogoyfs, a Grade-A Tier-S Format-Megastar Dash-Heavy staple.
Consider the average store. How many Tarmogoyfs were in their allocated product? I’d be willing to guess that most stores saw in the range of 3 to 8 Tarmogoyfs total in all of the boxes of MM they received. That means most stores would see about one to two playsets of Tarmogoyfs.
Two months ago, a lot of these players didn’t even factor into the demand for Modern. They didn’t have Modern cards, and they didn’t want Modern cards. (Think of it like the unemployment rate: the people that aren’t looking for work don’t factor in.) But with the MM release, they are now trying to get involved, so they’ve entered the market. Demand has increased significantly, but the supply is nowhere near enough to compensate. The best way to consider this is playset-per-player. For each playset of Tarmogoyfs that has been opened from MM packs, how many players do you think have decided they want to pick up a set? As long as it’s more than one, there is now a net increase in demand for Tarmogoyf, as opposed to reducing the strain on the limited supply.
I would expect the Grade-A Mythics and Rares – cards like Tarmogoyf, Vendilion Clique, Dark Confidant, and Arcbound Ravager, as well as any new art – both swords, for example – to follow a pattern of minimal to no losses now followed by growth beyond their original price points by January. The supply of these cards is currently greater than it has ever been, and with Modern PTQ season a ways off, not everybody will have turned their attention to the singles they need yet.
Once January rolls around, and most of the MM inventory has migrated to binders of players that were savvy enough to pick it up early, demand will begin to skyrocket. I would also pay close attention to any foils in these categories, especially alternate art cards. Foil Sword of Fire and Ice is already higher than both the original pack foil and the judge promo, and I don’t expect that to change.
Other cards that are Legacy and EDH staples have seen more drastic price suppression, and may not ever recover. In their case, more copies have been added to the market, but the demand for them hasn’t seen any real increase. Meanwhile, Uncommons have already seen price reduction almost across the board, and while their dip in value may last longer than the Rares and Mythics, I anticipate most will be back to their original prices by PTQ season, or quite possibly higher. Similarly, any alternate-art foil Uncommons will get out of control quickly.
For those that were hoping Modern Masters would squash the price barrier of the format, I’ve got news for you: the wall isn’t getting any lower. If you need Modern cards, now is the time to get in. The supply of these tournament-grade cards has never been higher, and demand is temporarily tempered by a distant PTQ season. By January, however, expect a significant rise in prices across the board, even on cards in Modern Masters. And what of the staples that haven’t been reprinted by then? Some of those price points may seem downright Vintage.