In Modern Masters’ Wake

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This week I’d like to take a look at the most played cards in Modern, how Modern Masters 2015 has affected their prices, and what the future holds for many of these cards – including those which did not get reprinted.

 

Starting Thoughts – Tarmogoyf and Other Leaders in the Set

 

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Based on my observations from Modern Masters 2013, we’re going to be in for another interesting ride this time around as well. Unlike last time, we had up-to-the-minute price tracking at GP Vegas because MTGPrice had authors on the floor keeping track of the event for everyone. This enabled us as a community to see in real time what the dealers were paying for certain cards from the set that weekend. Why is the GP weekend important? Because it shows us which cards the dealers felt were going to be the most important going forward by having their buylists reflect that confidence all at once (due to the massive influx of tons of people opening expensive cards and wanting to offload them).

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Hey, even Standard cards made the list! Thanks for the snapshot Douglas Johnson.

As Corbin mentioned in his post on June 4th, the dealers had to compete with buylist prices for chase cards like Tarmogoyf because even though only one or two vendors had a high buylist price for the card initially (the $130 and higher range) that meant that everyone else eventually had to raise their buylist prices in order to snag some Tarmogoyfs for themselves.

As they say, history is doomed to repeat itself and Tarmogoyf is no exception. Don’t get me wrong. This time the price of card did drop. Going from $220 to $170-$180 is definitely a discount. Yet, is it good enough? I’m sure we’re all thinking to ourselves that a 22% discount isn’t really that great in this case since the card is still pretty darn close to $200 per copy, which is what sets like MM15 are supposed to remedy. Many players were expecting ‘Goyf to fall much harder than this. A lot of us in the mtgfinance community we’re pretty solid believers in the idea that ‘Goyf might even drop into the double digits, at least for a while. Yet, the card is still as wildly popular and in demand as ever and an entire slew of fresh reprints hasn’t really made a large impact in the retail price.

 

Again, let’s go back to the release of Modern Masters 2013. That time, ‘Goyf didn’t move in price at all. It was $120 before the release and stayed $120 after the release. There are two reasons for this. The first is that ‘Goyf was (yet again) printed at mythic rather than rare. I can understand why Wizards printed it at mythic the first time around – they wanted to make sure that they didn’t crash the price of the card and create a situation similar to Chronicles. This time around they could have done things differently though. They knew that printing ‘Goyf at mythic wasn’t going to do anything to its price in the long term. This leads to the second reason that ‘Goyf didn’t move in price this time and last – the player base increase. Once you get a taste of the ‘Goyf, well you just can’t have only one. You need a full playset in order to make it work in Modern. Jund just isn’t the same without four of them. It also doesn’t help that Jund has been doing really well in Modern recently, further exacerbating the demand for Tarmogoyfs in the format.

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I think Wizards made a big mistake not printing ‘Goyf at rare this time around. They knew what happened last time, knew that players were still going to demand a large amount of ‘Goyfs this time, and still decided to keep it at mythic and guaranteeing it an absurdly high price. If it was a rare we wouldn’t be seeing the $180+ retail prices but I still think that ‘Goyf would be in the low $100s based on the demand we’ve been seeing in Vegas and beyond. As it is, by the end of the year we all know that ‘Goyf is going back to $200 and beyond as time continues. Again players who hoped to pick up ‘Goyfs cheap have had those hopes dashed.

 

Alright, alright, enough about ‘Goyf. I’m sure you’ve heard about him to death at this point and I’ve said what I have to say on the matter. Let’s see some prices on other staples. Also, let’s take a look at the data with the previous retail prices and see how much of discount we’re getting on singles now.

 

CARD NAME FAIR TRADE PRICE FAIR TRADE PRICE (January 2015) % DIFFERENCE
Tarmogoyf $172.99 $210.00 17.62%
Vendilion Clique $56.65 $80.00 29.19%
Dark Confidant $48.99 $102.00 51.97%
Mox Opal $40.32 $54.00 25.33%
Noble Hierarch $38.28 $74.00 48.27%
Cryptic Command $35.70 $63.00 43.33%
Bitterblossom $35.46 $44.00 19.41%
Karn Liberated $33.99 $50.00 32.02%
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn $33.17 $56.00 40.77%
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth $31.43 $65.00 51.65%
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre $24.93 $44.00 43.34%
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite $24.52 $30.00 (highest price $40 in Apr-May) 38.70%
Fulminator Mage $21.54 $44.00 51.05%
Spellskite $18.86 $22.00 14.27%
Iona, Shield of Emeria $17.39 $30.00 42.03%
Splinter Twin $17.36 $20.00 (highest price $30 in Apr-May) 42.13%
Leyline of Sanctity $14.99 $32.00 53.16%
Daybreak Coronet $14.68 $35.00 58.06%
Primeval Titan $14.28 $15.00 4.80%
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker $14.16 $27.00 47.56%
Wilt-Leaf Liege $11.00 $15.00 (highest price $30 in Apr-May) 63.33%
Tezzeret the Seeker $9.67 $15.00 35.53%
Blinkmoth Nexus $8.12 $11.00 26.18%
Remand $8.10 $12.00 32.50%
All Is Dust $6.97 $22.00 68.32%
Eye of Ugin $4.45 $9.00 (highest price $18 in Apr-May) 75.28%
Creakwood Liege $3.99 $13.00 69.31%
Hurkyl’s Recall $3.98 $12.00 66.83%
Etched Champion $3.96 $6.00 34.00%
Surgical Extraction $3.84 $7.00 45.14%
Necroskitter $2.63 $6.00 56.17%
Mirran Crusader $2.52 $3.50 28.00%
Puppeteer Clique $2.47 $6.00 58.83%
Lightning Bolt $2.33 $2.00 – $3.00 22.33%
Apocalypse Hydra $2.25 $10.00 77.50%
Electrolyze $1.97 $3.00 34.33%
Mystic Snake $1.93 $2.50 22.80%

(All cards in MM 2015 with a buylist price of $1 or more. Bolded all discounts of 35% or less to see which cards were the least affected by reprinting).

 

OK, so taking a look at the cards that were the least affected by the reprint. So far, the top five are:

  • Primeval Titan, 5%
  • Spellskite, 14%
  • Tarmogoyf, 18%
  • Bitterblossom, 20%
  • Mox Opal, 25%

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This is pretty interesting to me – who would have thought that Primeval Titan would still be about the same price after the reprint? The only deck it’s played in is Amulet Bloom, a deck that was almost destroyed by the banning of its champion Speck if not for the superb finish of Justin Cohen at GP DC. Also, it’s banned in Commander! Where is this demand coming from!? Well, my guess is that more people became very interested in Bloom Titan after seeing Justin smash face with it, and this makes me think that other pieces of the deck that haven’t been reprinted (and there a few – Azusa, Hive Mind, Summoner’s Pact, Gemstone Mine, etc.) will soon be under someone’s radar.

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Though I shouldn’t be surprised, I’m still pretty confused as to why Spellskite hasn’t dropped much in price. The card is mainly sideboard tech, albeit one that is included in basically everyone’s sideboard in Modern, but for a reprint to not move the price more than 15% is pretty telling. This means that many more people are trying to pick up Spellskite in order to combat the onslaught of Twin variants and decks that pack tons of spot removal. Due to Phyrexian mana, it truly is an evergreen card that can perform well in every deck / sideboard.

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Bitterblossom is yet another interesting case – why drop just 20% when it’s only played in Tier 2 strategies Black/White tokens and Faeries? In this case, mythic rare scarcity could be playing a part in the price sustainability. However, the first printing of Bitterblossom was at rare — unlike Primeval Titan, which has always been a mythic. Could this be telling us that players getting into Modern are starting with B/W Tokens (due to the event deck) or Faeries? Here are some other cards from those decks that have started jumping or might jump soon:

 

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Open Discussion – Cards Not in the Set and Their Futures

 

Already we’ve seen several cards start climbing up in price due to not being in Modern Masters 2015.

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Blood Moon – This card has spiked to $50 due to a buyout, but I’m not sure if it can sustain that price. Blood Moon is great in Modern but only because people are playing greedy, three-color decks that can be hosed by it. Plus, in certain matchups it can be dead. The card was printed in Chronicles, so there are tons of these out there. I think if you want to pick up Blood Moons you will unfortunately have to wait.

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Urza’s Mine (and others) – Another buyout on TCGPlayer, this card will increase in price but the $18 I’m seeing it listed at won’t stick. However, this buyout will get people to notice that Tron lands were not in MM15 so expect the prices of others to tick up over time as well.

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Omniscience – MTGPrice authors from Vegas were tweeting and writing updates about how Omniscience seems to have been bought up by a ton of the vendors and that they were continuing to seek more copies. This is a Modern legal card, however demand here is coming from Legacy (since Omni-Show is currently one of the best decks in the format) and casual/EDH demand. Still though, regular copies are closing in on $35 and foils have broken past $100 due to not being seen in Modern Masters 2015.

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Snapcaster Mage – Everyone’s “duh” pick for going up in price since we knew Innistrad wasn’t part of the MM15 set, Snapcaster has now broken through $60 and I don’t see him stopping there until the next reprint. He is currently one of the most played cards in Modern. Foils have yet to catch up to the regular price, so if that’s your thing now would be the time to get in on foil Snapcaster Mages.

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Inkmoth Nexus – Blinkmoth Nexus was given the nod for MM15, which means that cousin Inkmoth was ripe for a price increase. This was probably one of the fastest cards to spike after MM15 was fully spoiled. I expect that Inkmoth will continue to go up since the decrease in price of Mox Opal and Etched Champion means that other parts of the deck will become more expensive over time. Steel Overseer is probably next in line for a price hike.

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Sower of Temptation – Casual and Modern sideboard demand has driven up the price of Sower to $25, and I can see it continuing to climb since Lorwyn is such a hard-to-find set. Be aware, though: this card is easily reprintable.

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Horizon Canopy and Grove of the Burnwillows – How these lands managed to dodge a reprint, I’ll never know, but they did so expect prices to start climbing up to match demand for Tron and Bogles players out there. One theory that Burnwillows didn’t get the reprint is because they knew Birthing Pod would be banned, so one of primary drivers for demand is now gone.

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Twilight Mire (and other filter lands) – Though they didn’t get a reprint and will continue to creep up, I still advocate avoiding these lands at all cost. Once they get reprinted, they will be hit hard so only get enough copies for your immediate needs and nothing more.

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Rings of Brighthearth – With non-foil copies clocking in over $20, this card has infinite casual demand behind it. Again though, like filter lands once the inevitable reprint occurs it will bottom out hard and take forever to recover. Acquire with care.

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Might of Old Krosa – Due to the reprint dodge, these have hit $9 and I don’t see them stopping since Infect is a viable Modern strategy.

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Choke – An amazing sideboard card in Modern and even Legacy, I expect Choke to also creep up over time due to not getting a reprint.

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Engineered Explosives – My final card mention is E.E., which according to floor reports was one of the sought after cards by vendors in the Modern Masters three GP weekend. It has been slowly climbing up to $10 but I still think it has legs and will grow more over time.

 

Too Many Cards, So Little Time

I believe Jason was the first to mention this but it’s pretty obvious in retrospect – Wizards can’t reprint everything. I’m sure you’re starting to get the picture at this point, but the release of Modern Masters 2015 caused just as many (if not more) price hikes as it did discounts for cards. For several Modern staples, the prices are now low enough that getting in on a deck like Splinter Twin or Affinity is starting to look plausible for many folks. However, the parts that weren’t reprinted will start rising due to the demand of the other cards and probably make it a wash in the end for those players who pick up singles more slowly than others. That’s all for this week, thanks for reading.

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19 thoughts on “In Modern Masters’ Wake”

  1. I’m going to cut and paste my comment under the Buying/Selling article but have a few additional comments since you just posted your article.

    “I honestly can’t tell about the accuracy of some prices online, I don’t know if there have been a couple of buyouts or people are pimping out decks for GP Charlotte or what’s going on. A few months ago I started picking up foil Snapcasters for $100 and foil Caverns of Souls for $40ish and now they look to be $250 and $100 respectively. (I’m disgusted with myself for not buying MM foil Blood Moons for $30 a year ago but all non-foil Moons are roughly $50+?!?!?.) Does anyone know what’s going on with these prices? Is it just that they weren’t reprinted in MM 2015, buyout, GP Charlotte prep??? For foil Snapcaster to jump from $125-140 to $250 in maybe 2 weeks seems insane although I’m quite happy if this is truly his new price point.

    And Jared, I’m not sure how or where you are buying your cards but I’ve been getting slightly better deals on foil Tasigurs and Mentors. Actually, as more Gurmang Anglers are showing up I’m a little concerned about foil Tasigur and watching the SCG Invitational at Columbus I didn’t see many (if any) Tasigur activations although a turn 2 Tasigur did win a game in one broadcast match.”

    So it looks like your advice about foil Snaps is already too late unless I’m looking at the wrong sites. I’m SHOCKED by Spellskite as well but at the same time it really is an EXTREMELY versatile card, it even just won Ali Antrazi the match vs. CVM at the invitational.

    And I have to jump on my soap box for a moment, Dealers/Vendors like Aether Games (and I’m going to blast Madlem too when he posts) have prevented the price of Goyf from dropping further. People talk about SCG causing inflated prices at times but they aren’t the only ones. There’s no reason Aether Games HAD to offer $130 for new Goyfs. I’m not a store or vendor, but I don’t understand the importance of paying more just to have a card but making less profit. Buying Goyf at $100 and selling for $130-140 yields the same or more profit than Goyf at $130 and selling for $150-160…unless Aether Games is continuing to buy and not list them for less than $200. It’s just extremely disappointing that a few people/dealers have artificially kept the price of Goyf a good $50 more than it could be and $100 more than it should be, but I guess that’s life. It still doesn’t make much business sense to me…a card is reprinted and you offer MORE to buy it than before it was reprinted!?!?!

    Ok, back to you and your opinion, last huge modern GP hosted by Star City really spiked a ton of prices of cards like Blood Moon and Goblin Guide and many others…with GP Charlotte this weekend will MM 2015 cards hit their high point and then drop, climb and stay there, or not be affected?? Or will it depend on performance? Just wondering if now if the time to buy a playset of Splinter Twin or when that time would be.

    Thanks man, thanks for your card analysis in your article.

    1. “Buying Goyf at $100 and selling for $130-140 yields the same or more profit than Goyf at $130 and selling for $150-160…unless Aether Games is continuing to buy and not list them for less than $200.”

      Incorrect. If you offer the highest buylist prices and thus get all the Goyfs, you’ll come out ahead even if you sell them for a lesser margin.

      1. David I guess you are right but it still seems like a bit of a publicity stunt at the cost of players in need of Goyf(s). Plus, after buying at $130 Aether Games has to compete with the prices of other vendors who can sell for less than them to make a profit. Goyf is only $145 on ebay, that’s a tough price to compete with in the short term.

        I admittedly don’t understand the vendors perspective of buying cards…vendors go to events and GPs to buy cards!! I would think they would want to sell cards they can’t move at their home store (if they have a brick and mortar store) and only buy stuff they can fairly easily flip for a profit. So there must be something to offering the highest buylist price and having people flock to your table to sell Goyfs and other cards but I personally don’t quite understand how it helps the bottom dollar.

    2. As always, thanks for your great comments Spencer. Let me go down your list of concerns one by one:

      Foil Snapcaster / Cavern of Souls – These are price corrections due to the influx of new Modern demand from Modern Masters 2015. These cards have been poised to go up for a while.

      Foil Tasigurs / Mentors – Great, glad you’ve been able to snag better deals! For me, I mainly buy through TCGPlayer since my local card stores are always SCG prices or higher than TCGPlayer mid. Gurmag Angler foils are also nice to pick up as specs, however I think Tasigur is just so much better than Angler.

      Honestly, I’m with you on the Aether Games price offer for ‘Goyf but think about it… If they didn’t offer that type of price, they would have easily been sideswiped by other huge vendors onsite and wouldn’t have been able to get any ‘Goyfs for themselves. It was only a matter of time before someone did it.

      Like GP Richmond after MM2013, GP Charlotte will have price spikes on site and then bottom out as the end of the year approaches. Many cards still have a good chance of continuing their price decent, especially casual cards like Creakwood Liege. If you’re looking to pickup Splinter Twin, I would wait until next month and the market becomes saturated.

      Again, thanks for reading!

  2. Why has the buyout only made 9th edition Urza’s mine spike? Is that the only thing that someone bought out?

    Are the filter lands only propped up because of their scarcity? How hard would you speculate they would drop when reprinted?

    Any idea what’s with the oblivion stone spike?

    1. My thoughts on your questions:

      O-Stone spiked on GR Tron winning the Invitational. The buyout on 9th is because there was simply a scarcity of that printing online.

      Filters have solid, all-around deman,d and they’re old. They’re $6-8 cards if reprinted.

  3. Goyf staying that high is helping to spur the popular Grixis decks in Modern, especially for newcomers with the Delver version. You COULD buy a playset of Goyf and run Jund/Junk, or you could run the much cheaper Tasigur who’s doing a fine imitation so far.
    I’m just glad to see UBR a thing again.

    1. Yes, I agree with this line of thinking. I believe Wizards created Tasigur as a “pseudo” ‘Goyf that allows non-green decks to still have a cheap 1-2 mana clock. The only issue with Tasigur is that he is legendary, and requires Delving to play cheaply. Unlike ‘Goyf though he presents inevitability to your opponent by being able to recur cards from your graveyard.

  4. Good points about the cards that were not reprinted. Engineered Explosives and Omniscience were in high demand among the binder traders at Chiba as well.

  5. im sitting on a few hundred tron lands from antiquities and chronicles, just waiting for the water to flow downhill and flooded these prices… is the 9th tron demand because of the fact that that art is the only available foil? But what about 8th? is that technically not legal in Modern?

    1. The 9th ed spiking is merely a flash in the pan. The price is going to come down, but will still be above what it was previous to the spike. I expect older versions of Tron lands to be higher priced in the long run due to scarcity and the “cool” factor.

  6. “I’m sure you’re starting to get the picture at this point, but the release of Modern Masters 2015 caused just as many (if not more) price hikes as it did discounts for cards.”

    I think that people might just have to accept that the price points for various formats and decks will stay the same moving forward. There will be these ebbs and flows of prices but in the grand scheme of things reprints are not going to “lower” prices. They are only going to be able to keep the worst “offenders” in check. This cycle seems very cyclical, which might not be a bad thing. It basically creates artificial opportunities for those who are up to speed. It allows people “deals” while not really having any impact down the road…

    Should we all just accept that prices are what they are… And they are that way because WE say they are, collectively speaking?

    Maybe MM15 was never about making cards cheaper or making the format “more accessible”. Maybe it was just about making sure there is a release valve for when there is too much pressure… Maybe MM reprints are about keeping the Overall price-point exactly the same as new players do, indeed, enter the format.

    Why should new players entering the format get to pay less than older players did? So here comes the compromise… We can give them a “deal” if they buy-in at exactly the right time…

    1. That’s certainly what it’s feeling like after seeing two of these sets released. However, I think the bigger goal that Wizards wants is for casual cards to go down in price – ones that newer players want to pick up for Commander decks like Stonehewer Giant, Figure of Destiny, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, etc. As long as the casual crowd is appeased, everything is ok – remember, most of the $$$ from this game comes from players who buy single booster packs once every two weeks at their LGS and sling unsleeved cardboard on their kitchen table.

  7. Thanks for your response Jared. FYI the best deals I find are typically on ebay. Sometimes you have to get a little lucky but there’s auctions that just fall through the cracks and foil Playsets that are “cheap” cause people only need one of a foil so buying 4 of a card leads to a discount. Like I was trying to get foil playsets of Ugin for $250 and gave up…well one of the auctions for foil playsets sold at $215 so someone who didn’t give up got a phenomenal deal. With Dragonlords and Raptors and Den Protectors the hot cards along with MM2015 release Fate foils really fell in price, or at least discounted via ebay auction. Not sure if that is still the case but check it out for foil mentors and taz.

    And foil Gurmag Angler seems a little pricey to jump in on at this point as a spec. But he’s gone from $3-4 roughly 6 weeks ago to $10-14 so congrats to whomever got theirs already.

    Actually one more question, why is foil Delver only $15 (or less)?? It’s been this price for over a year. It’s one of the most played cards in all of magic and is a great/viable archetype in all 3 eternal formats…how has this price not moved?

    Thanks bud, look forward to more great work from you. And again thanks for your detailed response. Take care!

    1. Well, foil Delver was only $5 for the longest time if you can believe that! $15 was the next point for it to jump up to, and I can only see it going up from there until the next (foil) reprint.

  8. Thanks Jared for writing this article for everyone to see. The comments have been great as well.
    Free articles like this keep the site bookmarked.
    Keep up the good work.

  9. Hi there!

    Speaking about Snapcaster Mage, when do you think it will be wiser to unload such card?

    I mean, to what extent do you think its price has a growth potential?

    I’ve seen plenty around 70-80$ on ebay, but it seems like it’s just the non-reprint announcement in MM2 that have a huge impact here…

    Thanks!

    1. If you want to unload one, then this weekend will be the best time possible. Prices are going to spike based on Modern demand, then slowly trickle back down over the weeks.

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