Mastering Modern: Making Money on Modern in 2017 (Pt 2)

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This is the second in my three part series on making money on Modern cards in 2017. You can find the first part, covering the cards most likely to rebound from Modern Masters 2017, over here.

First off, let’s check in on the prices of the rares and mythics from Modern Masters 2017 to see how those potential specs are progressing.

Most mythics are still on the decline since the release of MM17.

There was some chatter online last week that the set was rebounding, but as the charts above show, this is clearly not the case overall. MM17 mythics are down nearly 50% on average from Dec 1st, 2016 and

Nearly all of the MM17 mythics are either holding steady or have continued to fall, down an average of 12% from their release day pricing. Some very good deals were found during opening weekend, and momentum from those couple of days likely accounts for the few rebounds. The exceptions along those lines so far are Liliana of the Veil, Cavern of Souls and Snapcaster Mage, all of which are of course very popular staples in both Modern and Legacy. LOTV currently holds one of the shallowest listings on TCGPlayer.com, which could indicate it could regain $90-100 within the next few months, pending information on further set inventory.

Tarmogoyf has also been relatively consistent in the $85-90 range. As frequent 3 or 4-ofs in multiple decks, many players have had their eye on these cards looking for a solid entry point, and were likely impressed enough by the large discounts vs. prices from last fall to move in. It’s possible that some dealers and speculators have also taken up some of the inventory slack in hopes of future profits. From here on out, I would expect the cards that have been holding stead or rebounding to continue along similar lines, but whether this stays the case will depend heavily on how much more inventory shows up. Now that we’ve moved on to Amonkhet spoilers, the shift in focus back to Standard may redirect player funds and chill the rebounds as well. That being said, there really aren’t that many listings for the mythics at present, so if inventory is choked off faster than expected, further gains on the popular cards are likely.

Rares also continue to fall.

MM17 rares have been following similar patterns, with the average rare down a whopping 63% since Dec 1st/16, and nearly 19% since release day. If we ignore the most popular handful of rares, many of the other rares are down over 80% (!) since December. Some of these cards are now so cheap that waiting for further discounts is largely unnecessary. If you need play sets of Terminus, Pyromancer’s Ascension, Thragtusk, Scavenging Ooze, Phantasmal Image, or Abrupt Decay a further 10-20% decline won’t make much difference either way.

The most resiliant rares have so far proven to be Scalding Tarn, Verdant Catacombs and Stony Silence.  Most of the other fetchlands are so far holding steady, with shallow gains or losses, but I don’t think you need to be shy on getting in on them at this point, at least for your first playset. I’d like to spec on some of these, but for those purposes I’m willing to hold off until I understand inventory flow a bit better. Death’s Shadow got as low as $4 at one point during release weekend, but as one of the most important creatures in Modern right now, it didn’t take much for people to scoop them up and push the price back towards $8. If the card stays popular, and doesn’t get banned out of the format this year, these could end up close to $15 and may still be a solid speculative pick.

Cards like Damnation and Basilisk Collar, whose prices were largely supply side driven, have taken a serious pounding, with $20 Damnations now available, representing a 67% discount vs. last fall.

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A Look at The Cards Not Printed

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Now let us turn our attention to the important Modern cards that didn’t make it into Modern Masters 2017, investigate their recent price trends and try to identify our best targets for further gains.

 

As per a recent video by Rogue Deckbuilder (found here), the above are some of the most expensive and/or most popular cards in Modern (and beyond, eg Doubling Season) that weren’t featured in Modern Masters 2017. Let’s explore some of our more interesting options here for the purposes of financial speculation:

Noble Hierarch

Noble Hierarch

Noble Hierarch is one of the top ten cards in Modern by play pattern, and as a staple in Abzan, Bant Compay, Bant Eldrazi, Infect and Bant Spirits we have every reason to believe it will continue to occupy that position. I wouldn’t hold your breath for a better mana creature either as Hierarch already pushes the envelope pretty hard. This card peaked near $80 last fall, only to fall to $60 on reprint fears. Now that we know it isn’t likely to be reprinted this year (other than potentially as a Masterpiece) it has regained a few dollars and could easily top $80 again before a near certain reprint by Modern Masters 2019. This isn’t a card that is going to demonstrate fantastic % gains, but it is a consistent staple that could earn you $40/playset after fees before the end of the year, so there’s relatively little risk on getting in on a set to play with or speculate on.

Karn Liberated

Karn Liberated

Karn Liberated doesn’t even crack the top 50 cards in Modern, but it is a fixture in both Eldrazi Tron and GW/GB Tron Variants, where they run anywhere between two and four copies, depending on the build. The card is also iconic and splashy enough to enjoy solid casual demand, but it has already popped from $45 to $65 on the news that it wasn’t included in MM2017 so it’s not clear how much meat is on the bone. If the Tron lands ever get from Modern, this card withers instantly, and that’s not an impossible scenario. There may be a few more dollars to be made here, but I think I’ll steer clear and focus on higher yields.

Doubling Season

Doubling Season

Doubling Season is distinctly not a Modern card, but it was last printed in a Modern Masters set (2015) so it was fair game to see a reprint this winter on the strength of it’s EDH/casual play and it’s steady price gains since the last reprinting. At this time last year Doubling Season was a $40 card that used to be $15 back in 2014. Now it retails consistently around $60 as a staple in Atraxa, Ghave, Rhys and Marath decks in Commander, including over 8300 lists found on EDHRec.com. That’s a strong demand profile, and the inventory is relatively shallow no matter where you look. These are all conditions for further gains, but I’d guess that $80 might be the max for this one before it gets nailed by a reprint, which could come as soon as Commander 2017 next fall. If you can glean some copies closer to $50 and aim to exit near $70, you might be ok, but you’re tying up just as much capital as with Noble Hierarch hoping that demand keeps pushing it up the curve.

Fulminator Mage

Fulminator Mage

Fulminator Mage is an increasingly useful card in a meta where Tron lands and ambitious mana bases abound, hence why we see it in lists from Death’s Shadow Aggro to Grixis Delver and Jund. Last seen in Modern Masters 2015, the land hating shaman didn’t make the cut this time around, popping from $20 to $30 on the news. There are now very few copies out there under $40 and this looks like a solid option on the premise that it is a Top 10 card in the format and could breach $50 before seeing a reprint or an unlikely replacement (since WoTC rarely makes new land destruction cards with Modern playable casting costs).  Getting in close to $40 will likely pay off.

Chalice of the Void

Chalice of the Void

Chalice of the Void is another Top 50 Modern staple that we got in an earlier Modern Masters (2013), but not since, though in this case a Masterpiece edition was printed in Aether Revolt. The value of this artifact floats relative to how good shutting down one drops is and whether mid-range and control decks can work around that stipulation in their own lists. The card most often shows up in Eldrazi Tron, Valukut Breach or W/R Prison as of late,  Chalice enjoys the added benefit of being playable in both Legacy and Vintage. Chalice of the Void was already at $45 heading into MM17, and has since popped to $65 or so, with very shallow inventory under $80. I can’t see another reprint any time soon, so I think $80 is a definite possibility, which could be worth $40 a set on a $260 investment. That’s not amazing, and Noble Hiearch’s strong overall demand profile may mark that as the superior play of the two. If you’re already holding, there’s no rush to unload, so check back in a few months.

Living End

Living End

Living End is worth noting because as of today we now know that Amonkhet is bringing back cycling as a mechanic. This means that we may be about to get a bunch of creatures with cycling that could add some power to Living End. Early speculation on that basis has already pushed this card from $8 to $12 today and inventory is now low enough everywhere that the price could settle anywhere between $10 and $20, depending on whether a stronger version of the deck emerges or not. Now on the one hand, this card has only ever seen a single printing and that was over a decade ago. Because Living End has the Suspend mechanic, it can’t just be thrown into any old product release, but on the other hand it doesn’t feature any specific narrative cues that prevent it from being included alongside a return to suspend as a mechanic. There is also the possibility that Living End decks suffer from too much incidental graveyard hate in Modern overall, and just aren’t positioned well to gain fresh traction. There are still some scant few copies floating around at $10 or less, and under $12 I’m be fine picking up a few playsets to roll the dice.

Eldazi Temple

Eldrazi Temple

Eldrazi decks in various flavors are putting up solid numbers in Modern, largely because they get access to this clearly overpowered land. You would think that as an uncommon that has seen multiple printings in the last few years, this would be a card that was resistent to strong growth, but we’ve already seen this Top 15 land in the format go from $2 to $10 during Eldrazi Winter (2016) only to fall back to $5, and then hit $12 just recently on renewed use in Eldrazi Tron lists. At this point inventory is shallow enough that I’ve moved in on several fresh play sets aiming for a $20 exit. Within the year I think we’ll get it.

Ok, so we’ve covered a lot of ground but I’ve got at least ten more cards I think we need to discuss. Join me next week when we pick up this thread and continue exploring ways to make money on Modern this year.

CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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