Prepare Your Wallet

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By: Cliff Daigle

It’s going to be an expensive summer.

First of all, there’s going to be a very short window in which to buy Dragons of Tarkir cards. This will be under-opened in proportion to other big spring sets, like Rise of the Eldrazi and Avacyn Restored. Those sets were 6-of or 3-of for Sealed or Draft respectively, whereas Fate Reforged is still part of Dragons of Tarkir limited events.

Let’s return to our fictional LGS, where they do one FNM draft per week with exactly eight people, and look at the packs opened during the three ‘seasons’ of Khans block:

Season 1: Triple Khans 24 Khans/week X 12 weeks 288 packs of Khans
Season 2: FRF-KTK-KTK 8 Fate Reforged/week16 Khans/week 94 packs of FRF192 packs of Khans
Season 3: FRF-DTK-DTK 8 Fate Reforged/week16 Dragons of Tarkir/week 94 packs of FRF192 packs of Dragons

Totals: 480 packs of Khans of Tarkir, 192 packs of Fate Reforged, and 192 of Dragons of Tarkir.

From a ratio standpoint, we have a 5:2:2 ratio, meaning that Fate Reforged and Dragons of Tarkir will have been opened less than half as much as Khans of Tarkir! Keep in mind that Dragons is a big set, with more potential mythics and rares.

Let me repeat myself, so you can see the severe disparity in packs opened. For three months, we drafted triple Khans. For three months after that, we drafted two packs of Khans, giving us a very large supply of Khans cards. We are about to have three months where just two packs of DTK are opened, and that three months is going to be reduced by some amount, depending on how much time stores and players give to Modern Masters in May. 

Modern Masters 2015 is released on May 22, a mere two months after Dragons of Tarkir arrives. If all events switch from Dragons to MM for that month, we reduce the third season’s numbers by a third, and have a ration of 480:161:130, or about a 4 : 1.2 : 1 ratio. That’s the worst-case scenario for doing DDF events, the reality is going to fall somewhere between that and the 5:2:2 ratio.

It seems unlikely that all stores will have enough product and enough interest to run a full month of Modern Masters events, but if there is enough money and enough hype around this set, Dragons might be the most chase of sets. Investing in singles from this set is likely to pay off well.

The analogy last year would be how Theros – Born of the Gods – Journey into Nyx drafting was impacted by Conspiracy. Even if it’s just a couple of weeks, a month tops, that’s a big chunk of already short time, and money that’s being spent elsewhere. I would imagine that Magic Origins will be drafted thoroughly (more on that in a moment) so don’t expect to have some drafts taken away from a boring set and given to the slightly older format.

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The urge to pick up Dragons of Tarkir singles will be with me at all times, but especially this spring leading into summer. This is a big, ally-colored, powerful set, with cards that will be relevant for their entire Standard lives, which will end in fall of 2016. I fully expect to be trading for lots of these and buying a few too. I’m even thinking about pre-ordering some of these…no, wait, I won’t.

I’ll reiterate this piece of advice: Preordering is only good if you have to have a card for the first week that it’s legal, or if you’re 100% sure that the card is going to have immediate and thorough impact in Constructed. Most of the preorder speculation you do will not be profitable, as card prices drop.

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Dragons of Tarkir might be different, but probably not. We will see. The small quantity and small window has me wondering. Imagine if there were 40% less Hero’s Downfall, or Siege Rhino out there! The Rhino might be a $25 or $30 card. As the spoilers emerge, we’ll have to be on the lookout.

In just a couple of months, we have Modern Masters 2015 dropping. At $10 a pack, this is going to bust your wallet into pieces. There’s going to be more of this printed than in 2013, and there’s already a markup involved…but that’s not going to stop stores from having $45 drafts.

I am leery of buying packs/boxes for value, but this will especially be true for MM2015 packs. I’m reserving judgement on what I’ll do until I know more of the set, but there is going to have to be TREMENDOUS value in the cards to make cracking packs worth it.

Plus, that value will have to stay high even as those super-valuable packs are cracked! The low print run and increased demand of new Modern players meant that cards like Vendilion Clique, Dark Confidant, and Tarmogoyf didn’t lose value (and went up in some cases!)

Perhaps this will be the fabled “No bad cards” set. Even the first Modern Masters had the Kamigawa dragons as a mythic cycle, so we will see what Wizards does to make four packs of this have the same MSRP as a From the Vaults set. Maybe we get the Praetor cycle, but those values would take quite a hit, likely losing half their value or more.

(As an aside, I know that MSRP is not a rule, especially for the FTV sets, but it’s still a number Wizards attaches to products.)

Next, we have Magic Origins in July. Not just any Core Set, apparently, and they wanted to avoid all the ‘M16’ jokes.

So far, we know that Nissa, Gideon, Jace, Liliana, and Chandra are getting the attention. We have been told that ten worlds will be featured, two for each planeswalker: an origin world and the first plane they went to.

I’ll talk more about those worlds soon, but we have it confirmed that Nissa’s home of Zendikar will be among the locales. It seems quite possible that the enemy fetches will be in Origins!

Since the ally fetches were spoiled in Khans, it’s been a matter of when, not if, the Zendikar ones would be reprinted. What a way for the Core Sets to go, with this one having Scalding Tarn and its brethren.

It’s been pointed out in several places that putting the fetchlands in a set will guarantee high sales, and that’s true, but Wizards has evolved its model to not need the summer set to be the big seller. There’s also the philosophy that Standard doesn’t need to have all ten fetches legal at the same time. Both of these feel true, but I’m aware that Wizards’ logic is not laways the same as mine.

I would advocate selling/trading your extra Zendikar fetches soon, no matter what set they are reprinted in they will take a hit. Keep the ones in your Commander deck, keep a set for Eternal play, and move the rest. Don’t get caught with excess stock when the spoiler hits.

We also have FTV: Angels arriving in August. I’m already on the record with my predictions, and I’m going to make a further proclamation: this will keep its value very well, and not just Avacyn. Angels are one of the premier and most popular tribes, and these foils are going to get snapped up and locked into thousands upon thousands of casual decks.

I think that you’ll be able to get these for around $60 once the initial IMUSTHAVEITNOW wave is done, and at that price, I’ll be happy to get an extra set or two for long-term storage. That price will change if the Angels in the set are pricier than I expect (It’s not out of the question for Wizards to go financially big and give us Iona, Linvala, Avacyn, and Baneslayer, for example) but that seems unlikely to me.

Patience on an FTV is often rewarded. Even Legends, which didn’t go for much over MSRP at the time, is more than $100 now. Part of that is the passage of time, since anything from four years ago has an increase in value, but there’s been a real increase for FTV: Realms in half the time.

Bonus Buy: I told you about Dragonspeaker Shaman a few weeks ago, and now Dragonlord’s Servant has been spoiled. It’s an uncommon, so it looks like the Shaman will not be in the set and the old foils are due to go up, what with all the new Dragon decks being built. I tweeted about it Wednesday, when TCG had 11 foils under $10 and 4 more between $10-$15.

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8 thoughts on “Prepare Your Wallet”

  1. I noticed last week that TCG Mid is no longer listed in a card’s “Current Prices” box. How come? You obviously reference it (it’s in your article) and not putting the most used buying/selling tool in a spot there is deliberate. Just wondered what the thinking behind that was.

  2. I think the steep price for MM2 packs will limit how much it is drafted in enough places (never mind any lack-of-supply issues) that DTK may well get more pack opens than your assumption. I know it won’t reach KTK-level opens, but, with Magic Origins nearly four months after the DTK release, total DTK opens could surpass the total FRF opens. Conspiracy was a little different, as the packs were closer to normal pack price as opposed to near-triple (or more) like MM2 will be, plus it offered drafting scenarios unseen in any other draft format. In additional support of DTK, dragons, and many of them… players love dragons. 😉

    I will say, though, that I’d always rather underestimate than overestimate such things, so there is that. Overestimating usually ends up being more costly.

    Of course, if FRF-DTK-DTK doesn’t draft well/players don’t like the format, throw everything I’m saying out the window, and your estimates may be an overestimate instead. 🙂

  3. I’m wagering that Dragons of Tarkir will be opened more than any of us can predict. Dragons are the most popular creature type in magic (it wins by multipliers). This set is going to get opened alot.

  4. It’s likely that the enemy fetches will be reprinted in the fall set, now that we know we’re returning to Zendikar. Still seems crazy to me to have all ten fetches in standard at the same time. That’s why I thought they would be included in MM2 instead. But that seems less likely now.

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