Category Archives: Modern Masters

Dealing with 150,000 Bulk Commons

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I’m not going to talk about Modern Masters 2015.

“But DJ, it’s the hottest ne—”

Don’t care.

“There are a bunch of complaints about the packaging an—”

Nope.

“This set is going to make Tarmogoyf into a $50 ca-”

No, it’s not. And I said I don’t care.

Maybe that’s a bit of an aggressive opening to this week’s article, but it’s honestly how I feel. I’m not diving in headfirst and buying mass copies of cards that have been reprinted, and I’m not squirreling away boxes of the set so as to gamble on their long-term desirability.

My methodology stays that same throughout this turbulent time in pricing, and that’s, “Buy stuff at or below buylist prices, and then sell it for TCGplayer-low through local individuals, Facebook groups, and on TCGplayer itself.” It’s really that simple, for the most part. If Timmy/Tammy cracks a Mox Opal but was hoping for an Emrakul, I’ll be happy to ship her $20 for it so that shecan grab two more lottery tickets.

…I just talked about Modern Masters, didn’t I? Crap.

That Is Over Now, Though

Actually, this article is supposed to be one that will continue to be useful months and years after MM2015 stops causing a financial hurricane. About a month ago, I purchased a pretty large lot of bulk commons and uncommons: approximately 150,000.
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Thanks to being able to negotiate with a past employer who owns a videogame store, I’m able to have access to a display case and physical retail location where I can buy and sell singles, collections, and bulk lots. My most popular item is definitely a lot of 1,000 randomized commons and uncommons sold in a BCW storage box for $7.

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Quick aside: While I used to highly recommend ordering these boxes en masse from BCW itself, its shipping costs have changed since I last ordered from the site.

supershittyshipping
“Super Saver Shipping”? Not exactly.

If anyone reading this knows of an alternative method to acquire 1,000 count boxes for a cheaper price, please feel free to let me know so I can spread the word. I’d like to know for myself as well.


One of the “Magic Rules of Magic Finance” that I tend to repeat a lot is that I will always pay $4 per thousand on unseen bulk commons and uncommons and never more. If I am already stocked up on tens of thousands of cards and am in no rush to acquire more, I’ll lower my buy price down to $3 per thousand. If the person I’m working with wants to trade for cards out of my binder, I’ll give $5 per thousand. Because a large majority of the cards in this lot were common and sorted by set and color, I ended up giving $500.

Sorting 150,000 Commons

It’s actually a lot more annoying for me to buy collections of commons and uncommons that are sorted methodically by color and/or set, because casual players don’t really want 14 copies of Pensive Minotaur all lined up next to each other. They want one or two of each minotaur from the set, and some supporting cards from other sets so they can build their own 78-card unsleeved minotaur deck akin to how Tony Stark built his first Iron Man suit. The more randomized, the better, and I let people know that before they sell to me.

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The most frustrating part of this buy was effectively randomizing the 100,000 cards from the recent blocks of Return to Ravnica and Theros and mixing them into the older stuff that was among the collection. Ideally, you want a wide mix of cards in every box so that Timmy/Tammy doesn’t feel like he should have just dropped his money at Wal-Mart on two packs of Return to Ravnica and gotten some rares with a chance at a planeswalker.

(Side note: announcing that you threw a planeswalker into one of these boxes may have the side effect of new players ravenously buying out every single box in hopes of being the winner of the Golden Ticket).

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Thankfully I’m a college student and have other friends who had nothing to do but pick through my intimidating wall of Magic cards. That plus the promise of food and Netflix helps.

A Barren Landscape

Wasteland.full

No, we didn’t find a Wasteland or anything else close to that amount of money in a single card. The person that I purchased the lot from had thoroughly picked it of almost everything that I would have set aside, and I was actually more impressed than anything. It was definitely the cleanest-picked collection I have ever seen, so it freed me up to skim through a lot of the sorted cards without worrying about missing anything. However, there were a couple of things that I did end up finding…

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Shadowborn Apostle has gone the way of Relentless Rats, to the surprise of zero people. While buylists only pay around $.15, they’re easily able to be unloaded locally in sets of 20 for $15 to all of those casual demon players or anyone wanting to make a fun EDH deck with Athreos, God of Passage.  Out of dozens of forgotten M14 commons, these guys helped make up for the fact that all of the relevant uncommons were already spoken for.

As for the tokens, I’ve previously written about how tokens are often forgotten about and can be free money. While not all of them will be worth $.50 to $1 on a buylist, they’re easy ways to add a little bit of value to a trade here and there. At the absolute worst, I like to use them as throw-ins when I sell their associated card on TCGplayer, to practically guarantee a positive feedback review. As a general rule, a token will become more expensive as its associated card increases in price. If SCG will pay $.25 a piece for Young Pyromancer tokens, you can get at least $.50 to $1 from the actual players who want to use them.

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Eventually, I ran out of uncommons to ration appropriately throughout the 1K boxes. What I had left were 50,000 or so commons without additional uncommons, so I decided to label and price them differently without waiting to get my hands on more uncommons. As you can see in the picture, the “1,000 commons and uncommons” boxes are labeled “1K”, and the ones that have zero uncommons are labeled “1KC”. You can’t see in this picture, but I have the labeling explained on the top of the boxes as well. I’ll be selling the ones with just commons for only $5 per thousand, and it’ll be a nice experiment to determine whether the casual players who shop at the store are more attracted to having uncommons in their boxes or the lower price tag associated with removing them.

Moving 150,000 Commons

Thankfully, I have more than one out for these. In addition to having a passive source of income at the store, I’ll be making a Craigslist ad for these once I get back from Vegas now that I’m home for the summer.

I’ve even seen a bit of interest on Facebook for buying lots of 5,000 cards for above my usual sell prices, which helps take shipping into account. The sentence, “I just want to have a bunch more cards to add to my collection, kind of like opening a much less expensive booster box,” is music to my ears, so I’ll be looking into Facebook in the future to not only sell singles, but bulk lots that have been customized to have rares and mythics included.

Overall Evaluation of my Experience

I’ve seen multiple other articles where at the end of the exercise, the author will break down and calculate exactly how much money he made through buylisting the picked singles, selling the bulk, and determine an hourly rate that he basically worked for. I’m not going to do that. I already know that I probably made less than minimum wage during the time that I was randomizing these cards, boxing them up, moving them into the store, making advertisements to sell them, etc. However, I’m also a college student who didn’t have a whole lot else to do other than work on school papers, play League of Legends, and watch Netflix.

I don’t need to be told whether or not it was worth my time, because I understand that not every collection earns you $300 an hour because you happened to find a playset of Forces in the small box labeled “old blue commons.”

End Step

I forgot to mention this last week, but thankfully I haven’t really seen anyone mention it since. While everyone else was complaining about the higher-end cards that weren’t in Modern Masters 2015, I saw that Spell Pierce had also been omitted. I don’t think that it has too high of a power level for Standard, so I wouldn’t be completely shocked to see it in something like Magic Origins or in the next Zendikar block. I think selling these off is the call for now.

I had a local casual player ask me if I had any Archenemy schemes, and I was surprised to see that some of the random ones I had that were collecting dust were actually worth a decent amount of money. If you have schemes or Planechase planes from the multiplayer sets, I recommend doing an inventory and seeing if any are worth buylisting or throwing up on eBay/TCGplayer. Hint: the Time Walk one is worth something.

Anyone have personal stories of buying massive amounts of commons and uncommons? Find anything cool, or was it cleaned out like mine? Let me hear your stories! I’ll be in Las Vegas for the Grand Prix as of this past Tuesday, so hit me up on Twitter if you want to find time to hang out!

Track your collection's value over time, see which cards moved the most, track wishlists, tradelists and more. Sign up at MTGPrice.com - it's free!

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Modern Masters 2015 Review Part Deux

By: Travis Allen

One thing’s for sure. The texture of Modern Masters 2015 is very different from the original Modern Masters. Modern Masters was a highly synergistic Draft format (which led to an atrocious Sealed experience, by the way) with money up and down throughout the set. Of the original release, a full one-half of the rares were good pulls. It’s tough to nail down exactly how many you’d consider worth the pack, as we each have our own personal metric for that, but if we consider a rare to have been a good pull if it was worth roughly at least as much as the pack was, there are about 26 good rares. In a set of 53 rares, that’s damned impressive. In contrast, Dragons of Tarkir, which also has 53 rares, only has about 10 good pulls.

 

Mythics in the first Modern Masters weren’t bad either. Twelve of the 15 were at or above the curve, which meant that 80 percent of the times you opened a mythic, you were pleased with it, or about four of every five times.

The commons and uncommons were quite rich, as well. There were 14 or 15 solid commons and uncommons, with all-stars like Path to Exile, Kitchen Finks, and Lightning Helix hanging around. Overall, there was a fairly robust distribution of value through a Modern Masters pack without even considering the foil slot. It’s not hard to see why packs regularly sold for over MSRP: there was a lot of cash jammed into each one, and simply finding them to purchase could be a challenge.

What About the New Modern Masters?

This time around, things are quite different. On the mythic side of things, Modern Masters 2015 hits a lot harder. Now a full 14 of the 15 mythics, 93 percent, are excellent pulls. Not only is all but one mythic a good pull, they’re good pulls. Ten of those 15 mythics clock in around $30 or more right now, with several in the $40 to $55 range. Compare that Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre to Keiga, the Tide Star or Sarkhan Vol and you can see how much better the mythics are in Modern Masters 2015.

When we move over to the rares, things swing hard the other way. Where MM13 had a full 26 solid rares, MM15 has maybe 13. Part of that is that the pack MSRP is a full $3 higher, which means cards in the $7 range don’t justify the cost of an MM15 pack in the same way that they used to justify a MM13 pack. The result here is that while half the rares you opened last time just about covered the cost at MSRP, this time only a quarter of them are going to. That puts us a lot closer to the Dragons of Tarkir ratio than the Modern Masters ratio.

The commons and uncommons are weaker this time through, as well. Remand shows up, which is great for sure, but then after that, the goodies fall off quickly. Instead of multiple uncommons worth around $2.50 to $3, there’s only the one now. Electrolyze is back, which is fine, but it’s not covering half the value of the pack like it used to. Lightning Bolt is certainly no Kitchen Finks when comparing dollar signs. Eldrazi Temple is cool, but copies are already down below $3 and MM15 hasn’t even hit shelves yet.

What Does It All Mean?

Let’s boil this all down for analysis. The mythics in Modern Masters 2015 are better than in the original run. There’s more of them we want to see, and they’re individually worth more money, as well. Only a quarter of the rares are valuable enough to cover the pack’s MSRP in MM2015, as opposed to half of them originally. There’s some decent commons and uncommons in the new set, but overall not quite as many, and aside from Remand, they’re less strong individually as well.

All of this leads us to a few conclusions. When the top end is top-endier and the dregs are unequivocal gutter trash, as we’re seeing now, prices are going to remain much more stratified than they were in Modern Masters, a far more egalitarian set.

We can look back at a past discussion of box prices to understand how we arrive at this conclusion. The long and short of it is that a $240 MSRP box needs to be worth $240 somehow, and if people aren’t paying eight bucks for Comet Storms or six bucks for Mirran Crusaders now, they’re not going to start when more copies hit the market. All of that value is going to exactly three places: good mythics, the absolute best rares, and some of the foils.

 

This is in contrast to the first Modern Masters, where the $168 MSRP boxes had far more configurations to get you your money back. With so many valuable, in-demand uncommons and rares, and a less heavy top end, there wasn’t as much pressure on individual cards to carry the weight of the box.

At a per-card level, we can make two predictions. Rares that aren’t currently worth much are going to be absolutely pummeled by the MM15 printing, while cream of the crop rares and nearly all mythics are going to see way less of a drop in price than some may have hoped. Gone, for example, are my expectations that Tarmogoyf may finally have his price cracked and end up south of $150 for an extended period. With the amount of work the mythics are going to have to do carrying this price tag, we really can’t expect that much of a loss in value.

In fact, I’d venture that we see maybe a 10 to 20 percent loss of value on the mythics, and maybe not even that much on some of them. Kozilek has dropped from a fair trade price of $53 about a month or two ago to $46 today. I’m dubious that he’ll ever get below $40, and if he does, it won’t be by much, and it won’t be for long.

I’m going to extend my predictions here beyond the immediate price drops as well. If the mythics have to work hard to support box prices, they’re not going to see a deep loss of price, and it’s not going to last too long, either. They won’t dip deep, and they won’t dip for long. When they begin to rebound, we could see them rebound quite hard—potentially above where they were before the reprint, perhaps within six months to a year.

Why is that? Well, this was it. Modern Masters 2015 was the chance to make these cards more affordable and available. Prior to the release of MM15, there was this dark cloud hanging over the head of all of these cards. Even before the announcement, it was assumed that MM15 would happen and that cards like Fulminator Mage and Spellskite would be in it. Now that cards not in the set no longer have the immediate fear of a reprint over their heads, we may see prices surge. In three months time, we’re going to be saying, “They just reprinted Emrakul. They’re not going to print him again for at least a year or two.” That will be right about the time copies start hitting $70 and $80.

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Knowing all of this, it will be important to react quickly during the coming months. The good stuff won’t have far to fall, and when it gets there, it won’t be there for too long. Maximizing profits will require identifying when cards have stopped dropping and moving in within what will probably be a window of only a month or so. What cards, that I didn’t already talk about last week, should we be considering?

Well, first of all, basically all of the mythics. I don’t like Comet Storm at all, of course—stay the hell away. Primeval Titan isn’t exciting to me, either. This is its umpteenth printing, and without terribly strong demand backing it, I don’t expect it to rebound from all of this nearly as well as some of the other orange set symbols. Tezzeret the Seeker isn’t anything I want to be a part of, either. With zero competitive demand and only mild casual appeal, there’s nothing here that really excites me.

elesh

Other than that, all the mythics are good. You’ll notice that prior to MM15, Elesh Norn was climbing. Despite everyone being aware of her potential inclusion in the summer’s Modern product, we saw her price climb from $30 last November to $40 in early April. This tells me that there’s real and powerful demand for her, which will support her price considerably as we get a few months past the MM15 street date. This demand, combined with Wizard’s hesitance to reprint iconic legends, has me looking to trade for copies when prices bottom out. I’ve never been able to keep an Elesh Norn in my binder longer than a few days.

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Despite lukewarm Modern performance, Bitterblossom has sustained a surprising price tag. Tokens has evergreen appeal, even in competitive formats, it seems. With the Modern event deck last year being BW Tokens, there’s probably quite a few people out there looking to start or finish their sets of Blossoms.

As for the big colorless three, Battle for Zendikar is going to bring us additional enablers for Eldrazi, which will only make them more playable in more formats. It’s not unreasonable to imagine that BFZ may bring us just enough to push multiple Eldrazi into a competitive Modern deck, which would be a tremendous boon for their price tags. Imagine some sort of deck that runs eight to 12 big, honkin’ Eldrazi, Temples, Urzas, and a few Eyes to hurry them out, Sylvan Scrying and Maps to find lands…could it be real? I don’t know. Depends on what we get. I’m just daydreaming now. Let’s move on.

Dark Confidant may not fare all that well once the dust settles. While he’s currently one of the better mythics to open, his price is supported fully by the competitive scene—a scene which has been sorely lacking any Confidants for some time now. Neither in Legacy or Modern have we seen much confidanting, really. Even though MM15 is poised to do a great job supporting the prices of its mythics, that relies on the assumption that those mythics are still desirable to their respective crowds. I’m probably staying away here, actually.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker won’t drop dramatically, but his will be one of the slower ascents. Like Dark Confidant, he just isn’t making the rounds quite as much as he used to, which means we’re combining a reprint with an overall loss of demand. He’s still an extremely powerful card though, both at the kitchen table and the feature-match table. If a Modern deck pops up that needs Kiki-Jiki rather than Splinter Twin again, he’ll move fast.

How about the rares? What looks exciting to us?

  

 

I didn’t intend to choose these such that they represented all five colors and an artifact, but here we are. That’s balance for you.

These are the rares that are best situated to rebound after the set hits its price floor. Each enjoys a strong competitive demand profile, which bodes well for rapid recuperation of price. A lot of people are still missing their own copies of these, especially Cryptic Command, Leyline of Sancity, and Fulminator Mage.

A year or two ago, I had given up on owning Fulminators until they were reprinted. I have been completely removed from the market for Fulminator Mages. If you counted all the people worldwide that needed Fulminators, I wouldn’t have been included. Now that they’ve got their second printing, this is the cheapest they’ll be for a long while, basically until they completely fall out of the format or they get reprinted again (and again.) Because of that, I’m now coming into the market looking for a set. I’m an example of how a card that has been reprinted can see its price rise rather than fall, because total demand can increase faster than the number of copies on the market.

All of these cards are capable of that behavior. Anyone that plays Modern regularly will be looking for their own copies, and many personal playset binders are missing these. I’d expect each of these to possibly double from their floor within a year, depending on how far they end up actually falling.

Hot News

  • Serum Visions has been confirmed for the August FNM promo (with Path to Exile coming one month before it.) The increased supply isn’t going to be enough to lower prices, especially with art that cool, because even those that already own sets of Visions may want this promo (like me.) I’m thinking Wizards got caught with their pants down on this one and didn’t expect Visions to be $10 ahead of Modern Masters 2015, and now there’s no way to get more copies into the system for at least six or nine months. I’d expect an overall increase in price on Visions, possibly north of $15. I wouldn’t want to be holding copies past the end of the year, though.
  • Completed listings for Tarmogoyf are in the $140 range. This strikes me as a reactionary or fire-sale price. It may slip lower yet, probably about two weeks to a month after the GPs when supply is extremely high, but I don’t believe its price will remain that low. It’s too good in too many formats, too iconic, and these packs are too expensive for it to suddenly lose $40 to $60 in value.
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MTGFinance: What We’re Buying/Selling This Week (May 9/15)

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

One of the most common misconceptions about folks involved in MTGFinance is that we are constantly manipulating the market and feeding players misinformation to help fuel achievement of our personal goals.

It has occurred to us at MTGPrice that though we dole out a good deal of advice, most of you ultimately have very little insight into when our writing team actually puts our money where our collective mouths are pointing. As such we’ve decided to run a weekly series breaking down what we’ve been buying and selling each week and why. These lists are meant to be both complete and transparent, leaving off only cards we bought without hope of profit, where appropriate. We’ll also try to provide some insight into our thinking behind the specs, and whether we are aiming for a short (<1 month), mid (1-12 month), or long (1 year+) term flip. Here’s what we were up to this week:

Buying Period: May 3 – May 9th, 2015

Note: All cards NM unless otherwise noted. All sell prices are net of fees unless noted.

James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

BOUGHT

  • 1x Myth Realized (foil) @ $7.00
  • 1x Griselbrand @ $13.50
  • 1x Whisperwood Elemental @ $8.50
  • 1x Temple Garden @ $8.25
  • 1x Mana Confluence @ $7.50
  • 1x Scavenging Ooze (Russian promo foil) @ $11
  • 2x Pharika, God of Afflication @ $3.25/per
  • 2x Siege Rhino (foil) @ $16
  • Mutavault (Japanese) @ $10
  • 1x boxes of Modern Masters 2015 @ $230

SOLD:

  • 6x Modern Masters 2015 @ $255 USD ($210 cost)

SOLD (Pucatrade)

  • 1x Grafdigger’s Cage (foil) @ $19.00 (pack opened)
  • 1x Tarmogoyf @ $195.00 ($135 cost)
  • 1x Wilt Leaf Liege @ $29.42 (pack opened)
  • 1x Sensei’s Divining Top @ $32.41 (pack opened)
  • 1x Horizon Canopy @ $34.65 ($18 cost)
  • 5x Steam Vents @ $13.20 ($8.25 cost)

My total haul of MM2 boxes now stands at 20+. The revelation of the full set list through plenty of folks for a loop, as the final rares list was significantly less exciting than many had hoped for. Running the Estimated Value (EV) calculation on the set however has revealed that much of the value has simply been shifted to the mythics and the current EV per pack is very close to the MSRP of $9.99. This means that opening a box at MSRP is roughly equivalent to the math on opening a box of MM1 in the summer of 2013, which featured a similar EV. Each pack you open will feature higher variance, but the more packs you open the more likely you are to even out your opens. As such, I’m expecting the EV to fall off in the weeks following the triple Grand Prix into the $7-8 range as people sell off their opens. If the set is constricted on supply and/or considered too risky by players to open frequently, I would expect the box trajectory to follow a similar path to MM1, with less total upside. My current target is $325 on boxes by December 2015. Even if dealers end up having more supply than my sources have told me they will, a neutral EV out of the gate is unlikely to motivate them to open enough boxes to further tank the singles market on the mythics. We now need to see how the draft format is received, because a great format will drive sales and pack openings, and push EV further down the curve, whereas a bad draft format could keep the price of key cards relatively stable.  More on this as the issues play out.

Most of my singles purchases this week were simply opportunistic grabs at prices below retail, or cards I expect to continue rising heading into fall.

Pucatrade was a huge help this week, allowing me to out MM2 reprints like Leyline of Sanctity, Wilt Leaf Liege and Tarmogoyf at full value. I now have about $700 worth of Pucapoints, accumulated since the end of March, and my goal is to trade into a mox on that platform before the end of summer.

Guo Heng Chin

TRADES

  • Thunderbreak Regent (out) for one Dragonlord Dromoka (in).

Jared Yost

PURCHASES
  • 4x Willow Satyr @ $13.96
  • 4x Gravity Sphere @ $11.76 + $1 shipping
Jarod says:
“I’ve picked up these Reserve List cards due to some analysis I did on Legends and potentially undervalued cards on the Reserve List.”

Note: The rest of the guys were quiet this week.

Bonus Tips:

  • Putting some money aside for the two weeks after the triple MM2 GPs across the globe is a solid notion indeed. Tens of thousands of packs will be opened at those tournaments and many of those players will be looking to sell of sweet opens that they don’t need for their own decks to recoup some of their trip costs. This should lead to a plethora of good deals as the sellers crowd each other out in a race to the bottom of the price ladder. This will also be the period where key standard cards will start to bottom out into their usual summer doldrums, and great cards from Khans block are likely to be in bargain territory with so much focus on Modern cards.
  • Before you plow too much money into the Eldrazi from MM2, keep in mind that we are very likely to get even more exciting Eldrazi this fall in Battle for Zendikar. Since the Eldrazi characters are set in stone, new versions could easily injur the price points on the earlier editions if they prove more interesting to collectors.
  • The absence of man-lands, Inquisition of Kozilek and Goblin Guide leaves me wondering whether WOTC will simply reprint some or all of these cards in the fall. This makes me very hesitant to get in on any of them right now.
  • As I’m writing this Yohan Dudognon is 7-0 at GP Paris running an entirely new multi-color Collected Company deck running Mantis Rider, Savage Knuckleblade and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. He just tapped out end of turn for Stoke the Flames tapping Riders and Knuckleblades so he has my full attention. Bottom line: Collected Company is proving to be a flexible and powerful magic card. Foils should be top targets while they’re cheap. I have them breaking $20 later this year.

So there you have it. Now what were you guys buying and selling this week and why?

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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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: The Coming Storm

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:

“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.

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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