Mindslicer

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Alright! So maybe I was a little mean in last week’s article, and I apologize for that. I’m a little bit frustrated from trying to explain some concepts to people repeatedly, and I wanted to vent it through satire. My message seemed to get a little lost in translation, so let me reiterate the primary point that I wanted to nail down in the midst of all the Modern “buyouts”.

Speculators Anonymous

I do not deny the existence of speculators, as some seem to believe. I know there are people out there who buy Magic cards (sometimes lots of them) in hopes that they go up in price. I’m guilty as charged when it comes to buying copies of  Spawnsire of Ulamog and Heartless Summoning, then waiting months for them to jump. If that should be considered evil, so be it:

“Hi, everyone. My name is Douglas Johnson, and I am a dirty speculator.”

Dirty Wererat x Mystic Speculation

I’m also in agreement with the statement that we finance writers can be a catalyst for a card’s price increasing. Again, Spawnsire is a pretty good example of that. While I remain adamant that Spawnsire would have ended up a $9 card regardless of my articles, I’ll accept that my writing probably caused it to jump a few weeks sooner than it otherwise would have. I neglected to mention our effect on the market, which Derek Madlem summarizes very well here when referring to “the observer effect.” I missed an opportunity to elaborate on that in the content I wrote last week, and accept that mistake.

However, the disagreement starts here. I’m really getting tired of the old, “Rabble, rabble, speculators are making Modern prices extremely high, rabble, rabble.” The shadowy cabal that turned my stack of 100 Heartless Summoning into 100 Benjamins does not have the power to profit by making powerful Modern cards jump by ridiculous percentages and stay at those prices without actual demand.

I will stand by that statement. Nowif only we had an example of a card to showcase it…

Let’s Slice Some Minds

mindslicer

What. Alright. This card will work, I guess.

Untitled

Even MTG Stocks itself is disgusted at the Mindslicer spike, so it refuses to show us the card image on the page. Oh, you didn’t notice? That’s probably because my replacement drawing is basically indistinguishable better in every way. Well, let’s get to work and do some research, to make sure we didn’t miss anything. I’ve never seen a Mindslicer cast in Modern or Legacy in my entire life, although it is pretty fun to cast in a B/G/X Commander deck. However, there’s absolutely no way that the “new” Meren deck is enough to cause this kind of movement.

edhrec

I wonder if the pros are testing some sort of super secret tech involving Mindslicer, Lyzolda, Savra, and the five pieces of Exodia? That’s the only other rational explanation that would drive someone to actually believe that there’s reason enough to expect a higher price point. Maybe a pro like LSV is planning on shaking up the format now that Twin is out of the picture.

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LSV

Oh. Alright then.

Actual… Demand…? By Who? 

So there’s no spicy new Commander demand, at least according to EDHREC (the most reliable compilation of EDH/Commander decks that I’m aware of), and LSV made a joke about that card. One or more  psychopaths drank the kool-aid and felt that LSV was being serious. If only we could look into this guy’s mind and see what he was thinking while he was rolling his face around on the keyboard in a combination of clicks that allowed him to fill his cart with Mindslicers and hit “Confirm Purchase”. Thankfully, we have a cameo from your favorite old-man Commander-durdle writer to provide a comedic spin on some historical precedent. I wasn’t a part of the public finance cartel at this time, so I don’t remember the Cosmic Larva buyout as clearly as Jason Alt.

Jason’s Storytime

Reddittt

Thanks, Jason. Now, let’s recap our lesson from last week. As long as nobody buys Mindslicers at the $10 they are now, they have zero reason to remain at $10. The sellers who pick their Slicers out of bulk rare boxes, Commander decks, and out of the toilet will list them on TCGplayer and eBay, causing a drop back down into the dollar bin relatively quickly. Then everyone will forget about this crazy person who bought them out, and players can go back to paying $1 to jam this in their Meren decks. Until yesterday, I firmly believed that would be the case. I heard about the Mindslicer buyout, and thought, “There’s no way someone is actually going to pay anything over $2 or $3 for this card. This guy is going to crash and burn, and I’m going to revel in it.”

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That all changed yesterday during our Cartel Aristocrats podcast, when we brought up the topic of Mindslicer. Travis pointed out something I had forgotten about; that you can check the price of the last sold listing on TCGplayer if you have a seller account.


That reminds me: you should probably get a seller account on TCGplayer, even if you don’t currently sell cards. All it takes is a bank account, phone number, and email address, and you can be set up relatively quickly. Even if you have no plans to sell cards at the moment, you’ll have your account ready to sell in the future if you want to quickly liquidate cards that spiked, like Mindslicer, and even if not, you’ll have access to this information regardless.


Last Listing

tcgplayer

tgplayer
I don’t actually own any Mindslicers. Well, I might have a couple; I have to dig through my bulk rares this Friday…

So this is what the listing looks like when you’re putting something up for sale on TCGplayer. You have the lowest listing column on the left, which you usually need to match if you’re trying to move your cards as soon as possible. The price on the right is the “market price,” which attempts to average the  most recent sales for that product. The middle column, while rarely used for listing cards, is helpful in situations like this. It actually tells us what someone else paid for the card, although it doesn’t say when. It’s kind of like checking the eBay completed listings…

mindddd

My Mind is Sliced

Wait, don- … Why wou-… Alright, then. So someone needed a playset of Mindslicers at $9 a piece. That’s… interesting. And according to the “last sold listings” for the Ninth Edition and Odessey versions on TCGplayer, people have purchased non-foil copies of varying conditions $7, $8, $9, and $10. On the cast, Travis even said that he saw the last sold listing hit $30 for a single copy.

I don’t understand. This was supposed to be a “lol, someone tried to buyout Mindslicer and is going to fail miserably” moment, but human beings are actually buying this card with no evident reason. There’s no unstable decklist that was leaked onto the internet that was supposed to be hidden tech for the Pro Tour, no Travis Woo character streaming and encouraging people to buy. There’s nothing. I see tons of users on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit suggesting that this is going to crash and burn with no buyers, but there’s still at least one person drinking the Kool-Aid and buying copies.

The guy who bought this card out should absolutely be criticized. I’m not trying to defend him, or suggest that buyouts like this are a positive thing in the community. However, the blame is not entirely on our spooky speculator if Mindslicer sticks at a price that is above a couple dollars. For whatever unholy reason, there were multiple people who bought into Mindslicer at the $7 to $10 range. That’s demand, regardless of why they bought it or their mental capability to grasp long-term consequences.

If Slicy finds a nest in the $4 or $5 range two weeks from now, that means one of two things has happened.

  1. People continued to buy into the card well after the initial craziness wore off, and the woodworkers who pulled these out of binders/decks settled on a reasonable price, while Master Buyoutmancer ships out copies to various stores at the new price, proving that a consistent number of people are willing to accept the new price and establish it as a norm.
  2. The remaining copies from the woodworkers run dry, and players stand their ground while refusing to buy at the new price. Buyoutmancer is left with a stack of god knows how many pieces of cardboard that he can’t make money off of without refusing to lower the price back to a rational number.  Then he gets to use them as toilet paper while he suffers from explosive diarrhea because he’s too poor to eat anything other than low-quality chinese food for the rest of his days.

If someone tries to buy out a card for no reason, but players accept the new price and pay it, rogue speculators are not the problem. We are.21

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19 thoughts on “Mindslicer”

    1. Hmm… that’s really weird. All of the pictures were working for me on mobile earlier, but now they’re not working on my desktop. I’ll ask my editor to look into it!

  1. I don’t worry about “buyouts” because it usually happens with stuff I don’t need . I will use the comment section of your article to complain about Expeditions being classified as Standard on the site (My 3rd complaint) and hope that someone will see it this time. Why can’t they be changed to foils? When I click on Standard prices I should not see a bunch of lands that I can’t play every day as the biggest losses and biggest gainers. If people want to check expedition prices they have a 1 set to click on and they can see them all. When I want to see what changed in Standard I have to go through 5, soon to be 6 sets.

      1. 100% agree with joeytibbs. Expeditions separate, and every category needs to be able to 1 click change from regular to foils.

  2. Maybe I don’t speak stupid well enough, but I don’t understand how someone could think a person or small group of persons could have a direct impact on singles prices simply by buying them.
    Basic economic classes don’t even teach supply and demand as it is understood that people understand that concept. Consumers dictate price. Phyrexian Obliterators are priced way higher than I value them. If people continue to pay the current price they will never drop in price. If people stop buying them the price will slowly drop. I don’t understand what it is about humans in this country that makes them think everything should be available to them immediately.

    1. It’s cognitively a lot easier to push blame onto someone else than look for a rational explanation. “It’s his fault I can’t afford Goblin Guides” is much easier to process than “Goblin Guide is a luxury good in a trading card game that I do not need to survive, and the price point is higher than I am willing to pay.”

  3. For sp.

    Magic cards are bit different from most examples used in economic classes. As collectibles theres another market segment, which nearly guarantees a small demand; the collectors. There are new OCD collectors who start their projects as long as the player base keeps growing. There’s also an use for the cards, so please don’t bring Beanie Babies into this discussion. 😉

    As the supply really is small for older cards, relatively small investments can make the card price jump a lot. Partially the bots on TCG are at fault too, as the buyer does not have to buy that much, before the big sellers have adapted their prices. Few years back I spent some time with group of people scripting how a well executed buy-out would happen and came to the conclusion that any buy-out that doesn’t have real demand behind the price jump should always fail, if people are even somewhat rational.

    For any card where you have to buy 500 to 2k copies there should be no way to make the new price stick long enough for you to unload the cards, as such amount of cards on sale points to either huge stock availlable (new card still being opened) or to very little demand, if there’s no new reason for the cards value to rise. And that would mean lot of top tier play.

    Unfortunately I don’t know how many Mindslicers were availlable from stores all over the internet, but my only realistic guess for the reason for this buy-out is a major bet betwen two IT-millionaires, one hyping Seance and another Mindslicer.

    1. It’s evidence to the fact that there are buyers willing to pay the post-buyout price. When card X starts out at $5 and then jumps to $20 overnight, it usually settles at a price point between that $5 and $20. Sellers continue to undercut each other trying to find the point where their cards will sell consistently, while buyers wait for the price to reach a point that they’re comfortable paying. If Mindslicer chills at $7, it means that stores are either selling Slicers consistently, or the’re willing to lose sales while the other stores continue to drop their rates.

  4. If I had to speculate, I’d have to say that I believe that the main reason Mindslicer spiked so hard is due to the fact that it is one of the few cards that interacts with Sea Gate Wreckage while you still maintain card advantage over your opponent. That doesn’t exactly make it good, but I presume someone thought that it would have enough of an impact to warrant buying up.

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