Category Archives: Modern Madness

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: The Coming Storm

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A quick bit of house-keeping at the top of today’s article: as you may have noticed, I’m on the ProTrader side of the site. Overall, my writing is going to stay the same, but I’m going to limit explanations of common terms and avoid rehashing the basics as much. If you ever have a question about something I write about, reach out on the forums or in the comments—I have really enjoyed the great feedback and discussion I’ve gotten from y’all so far. Also, I’m going to try my best to keep the parallels to football to a minimum, but sometimes they work, so let’s just try and meet somewhere in the middle on that. And now, onto your regularly scheduled programming.

“We are less than a month away from Modern Masters 2”

I seriously have to tell myself that sometimes, because it really seems absurd. The accelerated release schedule that we’ve had is probably the first time where I’ve felt like things are coming out too fast. Dragons of Tarkir has been out for a little over a month, and most of us are only now realizing what a great set it is (let’s come back to this another week, though).

Realize that, three months from today, two new Magic sets will have been released. It’s unheard of.

Of course, Wizards is well aware of the potential danger of product fatigue—the company has managed to avoid it for over two decades at this point, but I definitely think they are wading into deeper waters. The solution, at this point, is branding. Modern Masters 2015, like its predecessor, is not intended for newer or younger players. Per Aaron Forsythe’s article on the release of MM1:

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“And third, we hope the price difference keeps the product out of the wrong hands. The set will not be Standard legal—I repeat, the set will not be Standard legal—and we don’t want newer players picking these up by mistake thinking they can use them at, say, Friday Night Magic. The higher price should give them pause and make sure that players that know exactly what they’re buying are the ones getting them.”

One of the great things about Wizards is that so many of their choices and decisions, even at a corporate level, are informed by context and “getting” their audience. There are a lot of valid reasons for pricing Modern Masters sets like they have, and some of them are things they can’t really spell out on the mothership (WOTC really doesn’t like talking publicly about the secondary market).

I hate this reasoning though—it’s like making Hello Kitty wine and saying that kids won’t want it, because they know the legal drinking age is 21. My LGS has a very casual and very young base, but they all drool over the Modern Masters boxes we have behind the counter. Magic, as a forward-facing product that is the subsidiary of a humongous toy corporation, is always trying to keep its #brand fresh by changing how it looks every year. Right now it’s Dragon World, before it was Greek World, and a couple of times it was Robot World (we won’t talk about the year that it was “Silk Button-Down Anime Shirt World”).

The problem is that for the overwhelming majority of Magic’s audience, the brand isn’t defined by who or what is pictured on the packs this month, it’s by the allure of owning really good cards. Tarmogoyf is one of the most constantly talked about cards ever, on the level of Black Lotus and the best Jace. Want to own a Tarmogoyf of your own? Well, you can always try your luck at Modern Masters.

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I say all of that to illustrate that WOTC’s branding of Modern Masters seems to imply that demand will only be from a segment of the community. Here is, in actuality, a highly scientific chart illustrating the demand for this product:

mmdemand

There is going to be a lot of demand for this product, across a very wide spectrum of players. Those who can afford to buy sealed product are going to do so, but that number is likely to be a small percentage of the players you typically interact with. In the short term, I expect a lot of players to be looking to convert their extra standard and EDH stock into Modern Masters. If you are looking for a sneaky good opportunity to get in on things like Khans fetch lands or other standard-legal targets, it may be coming up. If you plan on getting into sealed product, consider having a box of packs that you trade out, especially if you are able to get in at the $200 to $225 range. A lot of players are going to want to get those packs, but taking a sure thing in trade is always going to be the winning side.

I also want to talk about what is in the set, because as of now (Wednesday), we are starting to get credible information and spoilers. Most recently, Spellskite was added, and Splinter Twin, first suspected to be a mythic, was downgraded to rare. I expect that we will start to get official WOTC spoilers soon, and that we will know the full set long before it gets published officially. There was a big leak over the weekend, which featured the (original) Command cycle, Goblin Guide, Noble Heirarch, and several other high-profile cards (in addition to the aforementioned Splinter Twin).

noblehierarch

On Monday morning, at least a full day after the leak went viral, I had a friend ask if now was the time to move his set of Noble Hierarchs (which he does not currently use, so it is not impacting his ability to play). I told him no, because the best time has likely already passed. At this point, the smartest move is to wait until Magic Origins: if the supply of MM2 has dried up, then prices will start to rise like last time, and he’ll come out as well as he would have (if not better) than selling them before the leak. If you have anything you are considering selling that falls in the range of “potentially in Modern Masters 2,” my best recommendation for right now is to wait. I think most vendors are going to be very conservative on buying until we know the full set, and once something is for sure not in, the price will likely see a small, quick uptick. Anything that is spoiled for MM2 will likely see a short dip, followed by whatever impact MM2 will have on the market.

My personal expectation is that there will likely be “enough” MM2. The print run on MM1 was small, and was made even smaller by distributors stashing away cases. I think the two-pronged solution of more product plus a higher MSRP (which also means “higher wholesale cost”) will prevent distributors from holding onto as much as they did last time, so a higher percentage of the total print run will hit the market. A lot of packs are going to be shipped out in anticipation of the massive bacchanal sealed GPs that will be happening the following weekend, but I suspect that that is merely in addition to the print run, not a portion of it. WOTC wants to make sure that people feel like they had the chance to get some, without devaluing the product so much (in either price or allure) that they can’t swing Modern Masters 2017 in two years. Things like Serum Visions will plummet back to earth, but the cards like Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf will stay elusive enough to make people clamor for future printings.

bacchanals

Some quick Modern Masters-themed hits to close us out:

  • In the arcana for the upcoming FNM promos, they said July and August will both be Modern staples in honor of MM2, even though the set will be released two months earlier. It doesn’t say specifically if Path to Exile (the first promo) will or will not be in the set. I could see it going either way.
  • Speaking of promos, I read that roughly 1,200 of the new Liliana promos were given out last weekend. If that number stays the same, it means less than 10,000 of them will be in existence at the end of the year. I don’t plan on trying to get my set until after the third round of RPTQs, when they will lose their allure.
  • Speaking of Liliana of the Veil, all of the cards “safe” from Modern Masters 2 (Innistrad, Return to Ravnica, etc.) are probably going to see a short-term surge, but will settle back after people realize that wasn’t a supply-driven spike, but rather opportunism. Stay away in the short term, unless you see something that you absolutely can’t live without that has stayed relatively static. Shout out to Jagster in the forums.
  • I’m excited to see what draft archetypes get included this time around!
  • It’s crazy that Blood Moon, a card that has been in Eight Edition, Ninth Edition, and freakin’ CHRONICLES is still $20. That would be a great include, but at some point you have to expect Magus of the Moon to start climbing. That card was in one set, and that set was Future Sight, so it almost doesn’t even count. Plus, do you remember the 8-Moon decks? I sure do, they were sweet. I’m tempted to just buy a ton of magi right now for retail. I also want to build Karstenbot again.
  • Profane Command is about to be reprinted for the actual hundredth time. That card gets no respect, no respect at all! Profane Command gets so little respect, American Airlines called, they thanked him for flying United!
  • We haven’t gotten official confirmation, but I don’t think there will be room for any of the Swords since the Eldrazi (and their Dust) will be taking over mythic slots. This means that there won’t be many good targets for Steelshaper’s Gift, which means the card could very likely not make it in MM2. If it’s not, I expect it to be the most expensive uncommon in Modern, unless I’m missing something super obvious. Also, I’m hoping for a Remand reprint.
  • People were clamoring after Splinter Twin got confirmed at rare that the Reddit leak was wrong, but the source had a lot of credibility from getting stuff right with MM1. If you don’t remember the old leaks (Ranc0red_Elf, et al), then it may sound like these leaks are just people throwing stuff against a wall to see what sticks, but there are a few sources with credible info. Getting rarity wrong is not a glaring error, especially since they are typically only dealing with limited information, and I’ve seen a lot of pictures where the set symbol could be either gold or orange. When you are reading spoiler info, try to get a sense of the poster’s pedigree, and if they have a high resolution, full frame picture of a new planeswalker with a crazy ability, assume it’s fake.
  • We are going to do another set review coming up soon like I did with Future Sight. I’m thinking Coldsnap, but if you have a favorite, let me know!

Thanks for reading my first ProTrader article! It was a pretty difficult topic to try and cover all at once, but I am more than happy to go over anything I may have skimmed in the comments. If you want to talk about any of this below, I’ll keep a close eye on the feed. Thanks, and I’ll see y’all next week!

Best,

Ross

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Pro Tour Fate Reforged: Day 1 Coverage

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Stay tuned for round by round MTGFinance coverage of Pro Tour: Fate Reforged!

[Day Ended]

A Wild Defiance foils buyout is going down as a result of the card appearing in Infect decks from Team Pantheon. Card may settle in the $6+ range, but the deck needs to Top 8 to maintain the price mid-term.

7:03pm An Infect deck piloted by Austin Bursavich just went to 8-0. Manfield also takes his Burn build to 8-0.

7:01pm: Jon Finkel  (Infect) vs. Martin Muller (Abzan)

Lingering Souls being called out as a good speed bump against Infect.

6:50pm: Frank Karsten (Affinity) vs.  Osman Ozguney (Faeries)

Karsten goes to 7-1 with a traditional Affinity Build.

Each of Infect, Affinity and Burn have a player at 7-0.

6:30pm: Alexander Haybe breaking down the Jeskai Control Archtype on camera

6:10pm: Rnd 7: Marco Lombardi (Merfolk) vs. Seth Manfield (Burn)

5:44: Rnd 7: Lee Shi Tian (Burn) vs. Makihito Mihara (Grixis Twin)

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Whoa! Mihara is running one of my top underated cards of Fate Reforge, with multiple copies of Humble Defector in his innovative deck list.

Marco Lombardi is 6-0 with Merfolk.

4:55: Rnd 6: Andrew Cuneo (Infect) vs Ken Yukihiro (Abzan)

Yukihiro takes the match.

Tasigur on camera yet again. Thoughtseize featuring in game after game. Noble Hierarch’s demise after Pod banning widely exaggerated.

4:43pm: Rnd 6: Kentaro Yamamato (Abzan) vs. Shuhei Nakamura (Jeskai Control)

Yamamato takes the match, finishing Shuhei off with Siege Rhino, a card that continues to earn it’s keep in the format.

Lingering Souls has seen multiple release at uncommon, but the only mainstream foil release was the original, and those have been sitting at half their peak value for a while without a home in modern. Today, the card is all over the place, and should easily regain $10+.

3:56pm Frank Karsten and Affinity build being featured in the metagame overview with BDM.

3:45pm: Rnd 5 Jelger Wiegersma (Twin) vs. Justin Maguire (Jeskai Control)

Restoration Angel and Blade Splicer getting some camera time in the Maguire deck. A wild top Splinter Twin top deck gets spoiled by Wear/Tear.

3:09: Rnd 5 Patrick Chapin just played a Gurmag Angler and protected it with a Stubborn Denial…in Modern!!! (bowing respectfully to the master despite his losing to Affinity.)

3:04pm: Rnd 5: Paul Cheon (Abzan) vs. Stanislav Cifka (W/B Tokens)

Cifka deck noteable for running Bitterblossom & Intangible Virtue (keep an eye on foils, but remember the card has been reprinted multiple times). Sorin, Solemn Visitor in the Cifka deck, over the older version.

2:52pm: Eidolon of the Great Revel being discussed in the burn deck tech. This card is still too low around $6 and should break $10 this year for sure, especially if Burn does well this weekend.

Just snapped up some copies of Chord of Calling around $3, promo Tasigurs around $20 and whatever Ghostways I could find overseas under $10, which wasn’t many. M15 foils currently have a 4x foil multiplier so I’m staying away for now.

Sam Black showed off a very sexy Naya Ghostway based deck earlier this week on StarCityGames.com. See it here. Rumor has it that a few pros are actually running the deck, and Ghostway has already been bought out into the $16+ range, with minimal copies remaining online. This was a sub-$8 card last week.

Team Channel Fireball has several members on WGB Junk with Noble Hierarch and Gavony Township.

2:39pm Jon Stern (Abzan) vs Kenji Tsumura (Abzan)

2:15pm: Jelger Wiergersma (Twin) vs. Milos Stajic (Elves!)

  • Chord of Calling features prominently in the Elf deck and is noteable as being undervalued since it’s part of the Ghostway deck as well. I’ve noted well over 100 copies disappear in a short time period.
  • Elves went down in 3

2:07pm: Owen Turtenwald (Infect) vs. Ben Stark (Scapeshift)

  • Team Pantheon reportedly all on UG Infect

2:01pm: 1st on camera Modern match, Round 4: Shehar Shenhar (Burn) vs. Seth Manfield (Burn)

  •  Shenhar has the black splash for Bump in the Night vs. Mansfield’s white splash for Boros Charm
  • Games are tight involving a high degree of basic math strategy

1:59pm: The guys predict the following archtypes as defining the metagame:

  • Scapeshift, Abzan, UWR Mid-Range, Aggro

1:49pm: Rich Hagon and Randy Beuhler counting down the 10 most important cards in Modern:

Notable that Siege Rhino has gone from being “unplayable” in Modern a few months back to a #2 ranked staple based on it’s role in Junk decks!

———————

And so begins our only Modern format Pro Tour of 2015, and a defining signal for Modern hype leading up to the release of Modern Masters (2015 Edition) at the end of May via Grand Prix Las Vegas and two other mirrored tournaments in Europe and Asia.

Far from abandoning the format, WOTC seems as committed as ever to ensuring we all have a powerful, yet diverse evergreen format to cling to, with many rewards for deck builders who find innovative ways to address the metagame.

Love ’em or hate ’em, the recent banning of Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time and Birthing Pod has put the usual meta on tilt. MTGO lists have been awash with creative deck lists since the new rules took effect last week and while there may still be a very good chance that stalwarts like Junk, Jeskai/Geist or U/R Storm will be hanging out in the top 16, all signs point to a rogue deck or two storming the castle this weekend in Washington, D.C.

As per usual, the Pro Tour weekends now feature a mix of booster draft (FRF-KTK-KTK) and constructed (Modern) formats with 3 rounds of draft Friday morning, followed by 5 rounds of Modern starting around Noon EST.

The big teams such as ChannelFireball, SCG, and the various Japanese powerhouse squads have been relatively quiet all week, as their best deck ideas hide out in stealth mode, waiting to be unleashed on a hopefully unsuspecting field and scoop up the $40,000 top prize.

For we MTGFinance speculators, the weekend will be an especially important proving grounds for many of the most hyped cards of the format. Here are some early stories worth paying attention to:

Siege Rhino (Foil): Skies the Limit?

At first, many doubted whether this Standard stalwart could make the jump into a format as powerful as Modern. Then they said he couldn’t survive the banning of Birthing Pod. And yet, just a few weeks later, a quick look at the MTGO results shows that Junk lists running the full 4 copies of this swingy beast are all over the place. Whether some version of GBx can take down the tourney is anyone’s guess, but foil Siege Rhino’s are still looking like a buy to me anywhere under $20, perhaps with a target to out around $30 within the year on continued strong results. Given how quickly Abrupt Decay foils broke $80, there seems to be upside on Rhino despite the lack of Legacy play.

Dark Confidant: Heading Down?

It’s hard to believe, but the metagame may still be too unfriendly for this powerhouse card drawing engine to regain lost ground in the Modern meta. With a clear shift from Jund to Junk heading into the tournament, many lists that could run Bob, simply are not. If he doesn’t see play in the Top 16, we should be ready for a shave of $5-10 off his price at least, though the price memory is definitely strong with this sith lord of value.

Geist of Saint Traft: Where’s the Top?

We were picking up copies around $12.50 not so many months ago, but this highly aggressive legend has no staged a comeback just above $20 and could be poised to head back towards the $30+ range if a Jeskai Aggro or Control build finds a seat at the top tables this weekend. The card’s power is hardly in debate, but matchup luck will almost certainly play a role here as the card doesn’t like facing down blockers.

Snapcaster Mage: Free at Last!

In a world with Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time dominating graveyard resources, Snappy had to take a back seat last season, but with the competition taking a dirt nap, there is a very good chance that a strong showing by Esper or Jeskai Control/Mid-Range builds could start a climb into the $50 range by summer. Free from a possible MM2 reprinting due to the exclusion of Innistrad block from the set, Tiago should be good to run the chart until MM3 roles around in 2017 or so.

Paul Cheon: What a story!

Was anyone not on the edge of their seats last weekend watching Paul Cheon face Paul Reitzel at the finals of the team event at Grand Prix San Jose? Paul, the perennial kid brother of the Channel Fireball crew, has been busting his ass at the pro magic game all year, but desperately needed no less than a win at the GP to qualify for the Pro Tour. Demonstrating poise, focus and determination, Empty the Cheons played one of the best matches of the year on camera to earn his shot at the big show. Good luck Paul!

Travis has some great additional ideas on cards to watch over here, so take a look!

James Chillcott is the 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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Modern Madness

Hello world! I’m Igor Shapiro. I’ve started a business out of magic within the last 2 years. Learning this ropes in this market isn’t easy; it’s been mostly a trial and error process. In a world where everyone has the Internet in their pocket, spotting trends and being able to analyze how the market behaves is what I believe will set you apart from every other floor trader. My goal is to help the community understand this market better and how it works. But enough about me – let’s get to the numbers!

As some of you may have noticed, Modern cards have recently skyrocketed in value. For example, look at the trend of Kiki-Jiki:

Kiki-Jiki_2013-01-27
Kiki-Jiki as of Jan 27, 2013

 

 

It almost doubled in price within the last 3-4 months. But why is that? It’s simple: demand for Modern has significantly increased due to the PTQ season. The availability of older cards (Pre m10) has always been low. Especially since lots of Kiki-Jikis are already hidden away in EDH decks. Now with the PTQ season everyone wants to play Modern. Kiki-Jiki is found as a 3-4 of in the Kiki-Pod decks and also at least a 2 of in some Splinter Twin decks.

This card is on its way to $30. I sold my copies to a vendor at a recent local PTQ for $22.

This card may have surprised many people. If you told me a year ago that this card would be $30, I would have laughed. But Kiki-Jiki isn’t the only card that has spiked to extraordinary amounts. Almost every card in Modern has reached very high price points, higher than we’ve ever seen before. I would want to own as many Modern cards as possible right now. With the Modern PTQ season in progress, the demand for these cards is through the roof and supply is low. They have a high liquidity and vendors are willing to overpay on these cards just to remain stocked. Most Modern cards can be sold to many vendors for close to eBay prices. Learn what vendors are paying on hot Modern cards and remember that trading for these hot Modern cards on the floor can be the equivalent of trading for cash.

The next card I want to look at is Venser, Shaper Savant. Let’s look at the data:

 

Venser_2013-01-27
Venser as of Jan 27th, 2013

You can see the sharp increase happened very recently.  I don’t think the $20+ price tag is stable. He’s starting to see more play in legacy and is still a popular EDH card. Let’s investigate what happened.

Speculators helped buy up all the copies online (especially on TCG player) causing the price to rise to a ridiculous number. There was a point where you could list them on TCG at $18 and they would sell by the end of the day.  But cards have a certain chain of exchange.

Let’s look at Venser as an example.

  1.  Here, the card starts trending upwards, with slow, gradual growth.
  2. Then, speculators buy the Vensers from stores.
  3. Supply of the card dries up online, accelerating the price upwards as everyone wants to get in and make money.
  4. Vendors raise the buy price for Venser in order to restock.
  5. The speculators that bought Vensers sell them back to vendors at the new inflated price.
  6. The vendors drop the buy price.
  7. The new price is either stable if it reflects actual demand (are there people that are willing to purchase at the new price point?) or the new price drops above what it was before the spike but below the inflated price it was at when there were no copies online.

The most important question to ask is whether the card actually has use somewhere.  What formats does it see play in? (Remember that Casual is a format when it comes to MTG Finance). In the case of Venser:

  1. It sees minor play in Legacy.
  2. It sees minor play in Modern.
  3. It sees minor play in EDH.

In the end, I think that Venser’s price will stabilize at $15. It’s not seeing any groundbreaking amount of play in any new decks but still is a fine casual and cube card.

Now let’s look at what you should be trading for this week. All these cards are trending up and you can capitalize by picking them up at their old prices before the market and everyone else catches up.

Clifftop Retreat – Many new Boros cards are in Gatecrash (Boros Charm, Aurelia’s Fury). People

Clifftop_2013-01-27
Clifftop Retreat as of Jan 27th, 2013

will want to build the deck. The retail price is up to 15 on some major websites. Pick these up at 10-12 in trade if you can. Should be very liquid.

Huntmaster of the Fells– This guy is finally starting to see a lot more play in standard and even Modern. In most lists he’s a 4 of. If you can still pick him up at 25 on the floor I’d snap them up. These DKA mythics are only getting harder to find. There is also upside if Gruul is a deck. I can see him being $40+ in the upcoming months. (Thundermaw Hellkite is a good precedent)

Inquisition of Kozilek – How is this still $6? This is a $12 card. It’s seeing a good amount of Modern play, it’s seeing a small amount of legacy play, and it’s a budget replacement for Thoughtseize. Also, being in Rise of the Eldrazi doesn’t hurt either. I was offered $5 from a vendor and still said no. I’d trade for these at 6-7 confidently.

Inkmoth Nexus – $5? Really? Go ahead and look up the price of Blinkmoth Nexus. This is a 4 of in the Infect deck and Affinity. I see this card being $12 by next season very easily.  I’d buy any copy I see at 4 (was being offered this by vendors). Inkmoth Nexus is still $5 on a lot of major sites so take advantage of that when trading.

NOTE: Inkmoth and Inquisition can’t be reprinted in Modern Masters which makes me like these cards even more.

That is all for this week folks!  I hope you enjoyed my article.

 

 

 

 

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