Category Archives: Modern Masters

Mastering Modern: Making Money on Modern in 2017 (Pt 4)

ADVERTISEMENT:


Welcome to the final installment in my  four-part 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, the second part here, and the third part 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.

 

MM17 mythics have been sliding modestly in the last couple of weeks.

Here we find ourselves just about on top of the Amonkhet pre-release weekend, and facing down additional MM17 supply that many vendors just received in a second wave. I suspect that much of that supply will be sold off as packs in the shops to maximize profits at this point, since the singles supply online is looking too deep to be very tempting. As a result, we’re looking at further price slides almost across the board on both MM17 mythics and rares.

Pretty much all of the relevant mythics have lost ground over the last couple of weeks, including Tarmogoyf, LOTV, Snapcaster Mage, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Craterhoof Behemoth, Voice of Resurgence and Griselbrand, with an average decline of -7%. Cavern of Souls is the only important mythic to be holding steady in the $35-40 range.  Overall, the MM17 mythics are down -52% since December 2016, -19% since release and -7%.

So now that we’re this close to Amonkhet, let’s see how my predicted entry points lined up with reality. Here are my March 8th predictions on how low the key mythics would get vs. where they landed:

  • Tarmogoyf (Target: $60 vs. Low: $78)
  • Liliana of the Veil (Target: $50 vs. Low: $70)
  • Cavern of Souls (Target: $25 vs. Low: $35)
  • Snapcaster Mage (Target: $25 vs. Low $35)
  • Voice of Resurgence (Target: $8 vs. Low: $10)

As you can see, from my earlier list only Voice of Resurgence has really fallen far enough to prove my predictions true. The rest of the high demand mythics have been bleeding value lately, but are still showing enough strength to make these earlier targets look like a stretch. Only repeated supply is likely to get us close to these targets at this point, and with Iconic Masters having been announced officially today, a supply push for MM17 in the late fall now looks unlikely. That being the case, I think you can feel confidant buying in to the mythics you need anytime in the next month if you need them to play with.  As far as speculation goes, I’m not going to be prioritizing these cards until I see the card supply dry up and I hear word that distributors aren’t sending out cases by the pallet any more.

Now let’s take at where we’re at with the MM17 rares.

Rares have also been sliding.

Predictably, though the rares have also slid another -7% since early April, the group is down more than the mythics overall since both pre-order season (-26%) and last December (-66%). That 66% drop since last fall is especially egregious if you are a fully committed Modern play with a large collection and not much to gain from Modern Masters 2017 reprints.

Looking at specifics, even the previously stalwart Zendikar fetchlands have fallen off their recover pace in the last few weeks, with losses around -6-7% for Scalding Tarn, Arid Mesa and Misty Rainforest, with neutral movement on Verdant Catacombs and a bit of a bump (4%) on Marsh Flats.   There are over 120 listings on TCGPlayer.com alone for all of these lands so supply is still piling up bit by bit for now. That being said, there really aren’t that many copies left of Scalding Tarn below $50 at present, so there may not be much point in holding out for sub $40 pricing in the absence of a major supply side event.

Here’s an overview of the targets I set for some of the rares in March vs. where we ended up:

  • Scalding Tarn (Target: $25 vs. Low: $40)
  • Verdant Catacombs (Target: $25 vs. Low: $40)
  • Misty Rainforest (Target: $20 vs. Low: $30)
  • Arid Mesa (Target: $20 vs. Low $25)
  • Marsh Flats (Target: $20 vs. Low: $25)

As with the best of the mythics, my targets were too optimistic for these high demand cards given how supply has played out so far. At this point I would be comfortable acquiring for personal use and Scalding Tarn, Verdant Catacombs and Misty Rainforest may yield reasonable gains over a horizon of 6-18 months pending any further supply side shocks. As I stated with the mythics, keep an eye on the total supply to decide whether to prioritize going deep. Poking around on Twitter, Facebook and various finance message boards may yield another 10-15% savings on your targets, so make sure to dig for your dollars.

Damnation
Down 72% since Dec/16!

What about the rest of the rares? Here’s where my other price predictions ended up:

  • Damnation (Target: $20 vs. Low: $17)
  • Blood Moon (Target: $15 vs. Low: $16)
  • Goblin Guide (Target: $12.50 vs. Low: $15)
  • Arid Mesa (Target: $20 vs. Low $25)
  • Marsh Flats (Target: $20 vs. Low: $25)

We did better overall with the rest of the rare predictions. People told me I was nuts for calling the previously $60 Damnation to fall under $25, but here we are with it at $17. The reality is that this card’s demand was more urban myth than it was fact, and supply is currently still piling up. I want a couple of these for casual decks and cube, but I’m in no rush until I see a deal at $15/copy.

Likewise, Blood Moon has fallen hard from $45 and doesn’t seem likely to recover any time soon given the number of listings out there. This card is on my list of “cards they might get rid of at some point in Modern” so I can’t see myself being inclined to go deep on it no matter how low it goes. Goblin Guide has been bleeding out steadily since December, and may well get to my target. Either way, you’re already set up for a $100 discount per play set, so no definite reason to be shy if you need them now.

ADVERTISEMENT:


Death's Shadow

ADVERTISEMENT:


I didn’t comment on the likely price of Death’s Shadow up front, but so long as that deck doesn’t get banned out of Tier 1 status, picking these up at current prices ($7/$15 foil) seems like the most obvious place to start speculating on the reprints, though inventory isn’t low enough, even on this obvious staple, to make it a priority target.

The Up & Comers

Last week we took our second look at the cards that dodged a reprint in Modern Masters 2017. This week we’ll move on to looking at some of the cards that have just recently been printed or been making fresh waves in the format to figure out if there is any meat left on that bone.

Collective Brutality

Collective Brutality

Collective Brutality was largely underestimated when it debuted in Eldritch Moon in the summer of 2016. Even before Fatal Push set a new standard for black removal in Modern and Legacy, Collective Brutality was assumed to be too slow as a two-mana sorcery to see serious play. The mistake made by the detractors however, was almost certainly the flexibility provided by this powerful card. Depending on your immediate needs, Collective Brutality can get rid of a key combo piece, removal spell or sweeper, kill a creature, or help win a race with a significant life swing. The ability to use multiple modes via discard, both turns on madness and serves up a bonus to decks that want various card types in the graveyard anyway. The most recent Jund Death’s Shadow builds are a great example of a prominent deck that puts the card to good use, as do Dredge, Abzan and Grixis Death’s Shadow. Each of these decks tends to run a max of one copy in the main, with another 1-3 copies in the sideboard. In Legacy, B/R Reanimator runs 2-3 copies in the sideboard, and 4C Loam sometimes runs it as well.

Last August you could have had your fill of this emerging staple at $2, but now it’s hovering between $9-10. Most of the play isn’t in Standard, so this card could hold it’s elevated price tag (relative to other Standard rares) despite rotating in the fall.

I was in on foils early at $6 or so, and recently sold out closer to $20 based on my “greed limit” rules. It’s possible that foils near $20 are still a buy however as total inventory is very limited and the card could easily hit $30+ this year if demand is persistent. Being from a small summer set lessens overall inventory here, so performing better than say, Collected Company foils, might be reasonable.

Current Price: $10 ($20 foil)
Target Price (2018): $15 ($30 foil)

The Mid-Range Eldrazi

Thought-Knot SeerReality Smasher

Thought-Knot Seer & Reality Smasher already occupy dual positions in the Top 10 creatures in the format by play volume and they are almost always played as 4-ofs. These two bad boys never see any play on any team but Team Eldrazi, but given that there are several possible flavors of Eldrazi in Modern, and that these cards see play all the way back to Vintage, we should at least feel them out. Another point in their favor is that Oath of the Gatewatch was a winter set rather than a fall set, meaning that there is significantly less of these around than say Smuggler’s Copter.

During Eldrazi Winter (Feb/March 2016), when Eldrazi decks were temporarily ruining Modern, TKS got up over $15, but has since fallen back into the $5-7 range. Given that Thought-Knot Seer currently boasts about the same number of total listings online as Death’s Shadow, despite coming from a set with wider distribution, it would seem like a relatively safe value store for next couple of years.

Reality Smasher only got up to $10 or so last year, and is currently available closer to $3, so it may represent the better deal here since both cards see roughly equivalent play. Matter Reshaper is also a constant presence in the Eldrazi lists, and at $2 it’s fairly attractive. Endbringer is a typical three-of in the Eldrazi Tron lists, and it’s just $.50, partially due to the presence of widely distributed promo card and partially because this card wasn’t caught up in the original hype last year.

Thought-Knot Seer
Current Price: $6 ($20 foil)
Target Price (2018): $15 ($30 foil)

Reality Smasher
Current Price: $3.50 ($12 foil)
Target Price (2018): $6 ($20 foil)

Walking Ballista

Walking Ballista

Mostly through play in Eldrazi Tron as a four-of, this multi-format all-star from Aether Revolt was underestimated early, but quickly turned heads in multiple formats.  Paper copies spiked closer to $15 near the Pro Tour, but have since fallen closer to $10 as Standard interest has waned this winter. As a powerful colorless creature with a flexible casting cost, a built in mana sink and a number of interesting artifact and +1/+1 counter synergies, I definitely have interest in investing in the card long term, but I’d like to see what happens with the upcoming Standard list before I consider a move. Ideally, I think I want to look at the non-foils under $5, which likely means waiting until the 2019 fall rotation, but foils are already nearly dry under $20, and could easily hit $30, so I’d likely start with those now. I recently bought a few Russian pack foils for less than $50, and I expect those will be a really nice feature in my portfolio in a couple of years.

Current Price: $10 ($20 foil)
Target Price (2018): $5 ($30 foil)

Traverse the Ulvenwald

Traverse the Ulvenwald

Early in the summer of 2016, when Shadows Over Innistrad was nearing peak supply, you had a shot at Traverse the Ulvenwald close to $2. Fast forward a year and the card has posted up in the paint as part of the best brew in the format, Jund Death’s Shadow, where it is played constantly as a four-of in a deck that has no trouble at all hitting Delirium and turning this into a virtual Demonic Tutor. Consequently you’ll need to cough up $7 or so to get your hands on some, and I think you can safely pass on that if you missed out on the lower price tag.

The foils are another matter entirely, as there are very few available, and the different between the sub-$10 copies around and the $20 asking price on the 30th or 40th copies will not be a tough bridge to cross assuming that Death’s Shadow stays near the top of the metagame. The foil multiplier is also inexplicably low, especially for a set with no Masterpieces to hold back it’s price recovery down the road. Furthermore, even the death of Death’s Shadow aggro might not be enough to hold this card down long term, since the power level and casting cost are in the sweet spot that tends to get used in multiple shells over a long enough time horizon. I’ve been a pretty active buyer of foils near $10 over the last few months and I’m not done yet. In terms of solid specs, this is about as good as they come.

Current Price: $7 ($10 foil)
Target Price (2018): $4 ($20 foil)

Fatal Push

Fatal Push

There’s little doubt that this card represents the most important new kill spell in any format in recent memory. The problem, from a financial perspective at least, is that everyone was fully aware from the start and the card is an uncommon. Despite that lowly rarity, foils are hovering in the $30-35 range and the inventory is not particularly deep even at that price.  Aether Revolt will still be opened to some degree for the rest of the year, but we are almost certainly facing peak supply already or pretty close to it. Could this be a future $50 foil uncommon?  I think it might get there, but I don’t like the buy in prices as they stand so I think I’ll pass on this one in favor of more likely success.

Current Price: $6 ($30 foil)
Target Price (2018): $6 ($40 foil)

Join me next week when we dig deep into the Amonkhet opportunities in a new Digging for Dollars!

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.

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!

ADVERTISEMENT:


Please follow and like us:

Mastering Modern: Making Money on Modern in 2017 (Pt 3)

This is the third in my (now) four-part 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, and the second part 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.

As predicted, the shift in focus to Amonkhet and the continued availability of supply has lead to even the mythics that were rebounding demonstrating contractions since we last checked in. Tarmogoyf, LOTV, Cavern of Souls, Voice of Resurgence and Griselbrand have all fallen further and the mythics are, on the whole, down 15% since release. Even Snapcaster Mage is holding steady now in the low 40s. Same logic applies as before here: you can feel free to buy the highest demand cards at these levels, but there is no real rush on the rest and you can judge your entry point when you start to either a) see supply draining out or b) catch wind of additional supply entering the market.

MM17 rares have been following similar patterns, and they’re down an additional 2% in the last couple of weeks. Scalding Tarn, Arid Mesa, Phantasmal Image and Abrupt Decay are showing shallow gains with the rest of the rares either holding steady or falling off further. Most of the fetches, Blood Moon, Goblin Guide, Death’s Shadow (which is up despite my red coloring in the chat above) and Damnation all seem fine here if you need them, and otherwise you choose your entry point as with the mythics.

A (Further) Look at The Cards Not Printed

ADVERTISEMENT:


Last week we took a look at some of the format staples that were not reprinted in Modern Masters 2017 that are likely to show gains, or have already shown gains. Let’s polish off that list before we move on to newer cards that may yield further gains next week.

 

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:

Dark Confidant

Dark Confidant

Dark Confidant was nearly one of my picks on MTGFastFinance a couple of weeks ago, as a perennial staple that got printed twice in Modern Masters (2013) and again in Modern Masters 2015 but not in MM17. Since the release of the new set in mid-March, this Jund staple has moved up $10 from $38 to $48 or so, but there are still copies out there closer to $42 and those seem like a solid pickup. I would expect Dark Confidant will hit $60-$70 before it sees another reprint as NM inventory across the three printings is relatively low for a Top 40 creature in Modern. Not a huge home run, but a solid hold that you can play with while it gains value.

Ancient Stirrings

Ancient Stirrings

This card is one of the most efficient card selection spells in Modern, so long as you’re on the hunt for a specific colorless card. Between Bant Eldrazi and various Tron builds there is plenty of Tier 1 demand for full playsets, and Lantern Control also runs the card. I called this on MTGFastFinance to move from $5 to $10 this year when it wasn’t reprinted in MM17, and it briefly spiked, but as a common vendors managed to restock fairly easily, and we’re back to the previous $5-6 plateau for now with a 150+ copies in stock on TCG. That could take a while to drain, but if you felt like going deep because of the demand profile, you could make a dent. We’re unlikely to see a reprint until 2019 so the odds are solid we hit my target sooner or later.

Mox Opal

Mox Opal

Mox Opal is a central card in Affinity decks in Modern and has been for years. It also sees lesser play in Lantern Control and Puresteel Paladin builds, and most recently as a four-of in the new Scrap Trawler/Krark-Clan Ironworks combo decks. Since January Opal has moved from $40 into the $55-$60 range and the printing of the Masterpiece version in Kaladesh means it’s pretty unlikely we see this again until 2019. There is also the outside chance of a potential banning in Modern as a card that enables unreasonable mana acceleration, but I suspect there are higher priority targets this year. All of that being the case, despite the odds that you could squeeze another $5-15 from this stone, I will be staying away from regular copies.  On the other hand Masterpiece copies are still available from some sources in the $90-100 range and I suspect that they will end up over $150 within the next 18 months so long as the card dodges the slight ban potential, as the inventory is already fairly low. I’ve picked up a few on that premise.

Aether Vial

Æther Vial

Aether Vial is consistently a four-of in Merfolk decks in Modern and Merfolk has been putting up reasonable numbers for a couple of years now despite many players looking down their nose at the deck. The card also shows up in Eldrazi Death & Taxes (my current deck) and GW Hate Bears, and it’s a four-of in those modestly played decks as well. Despite that, it’s barely a Top 100 card in the format, though it does boast some additional demand from Legacy Death & Taxes. This card is up a couple of bucks since the MM17 list was revealed, but inventory is not under much pressure, so it may be that Aether Vial needs another prominent home to drive the price towards $60 before a likely reprint in 2019. I’m not in a rush to get in on this action, but the Masterpiece versions around $90 are a bit more tempting, since they are likely to drain in fours (as opposed to something like Sol Ring) and should end up over $130 down the road.

Crucible of Worlds

Crucible of Worlds

Crucible of Worlds has been experiencing an upswing in play in Modern lately with many decks looking to generate value engines using Ghost Quarter to keep Tron lands and creature lands in check. Eldrazi Tron sometimes runs it main, or has a single copy in the sideboard. GW Value with Renegard Rallier, U/W Control and Lantern Control also make use of it, but not in much greater quantity. As such, most of the $60 price tag is being propped up by the fact that we haven’t seen a regular printing yet of this card in any of the Modern Masters sets. It was a Fifth Dawn rare, reprinted in 10th edition, and the Masterpiece in Kaladesh was the first new printing in years. The regular copies could edge up higher between now and Modern Masters 2019, where it is a likely inclusion, but it could also show up randomly in some other supplemental product in advance and the demand profile is too shallow to get me excited. The Masterpieces in the $90-$100 range are a good bet to beat $130 at some point, which is a solid return, and inventory is already low so if you like this, maybe you’d be better off looking at that version.

Master of Waves

Master of Waves

If you’re looking for a low value target with solid upside, you could do worse than this automatic four-of mythic rare that has earned a permanent slot in the Merfolk decks. Supply is still pretty deep because this was a fall set mythic, so there isn’t any rush here, but we’re not likely to see this again for a while. No deck but Merfolk wants it, but you only really need 50-100 new Merfolk players over the next year or two and some speculator activity to push this into the $6-10 range.  There’s also the fact that the fall set this year, Azatlan, seems to carry a strong merfolk theme, which one would imagine might give this deck a boost.

Mishra’s Bauble

Mishra's Bauble

This is a $50 uncommon featured in a deck that many see as too powerful to be allowed to be left unscathed by the ban hammer. Either a reprint kills this, or a banning does, because I can’t see this card surviving as a spec long enough to show worthwhile gains from this point on. If you had these sitting around and sold already, they likely paid for your Coldsnap boxes back in the day but I don’t want to be holding or acquiring a card this dangerous right now. Move along.

Ancestral Vision

Ancestral Vision

This is an odd card to be at $50 given that it doesn’t even crack the Top 100 most played cards in Modern. When it is played it’s usually in Grixis or U/W Control shells, but those decks haven’t been at the top of the metagame for years, and blue decks in general feel like they need a bit of help to break through. Sentiment seems to be warming to reintroducing Jace, the Mind Sculptor to the format, but that could easily fail to materialize. Then of course, As Foretold was revealed this week and brewers start wondering if casting this immediately off that slow (yet powerful) enchantment might be enough to kick of a dazzling display of control. All that aside, this is another price tag that is mostly propped up by limited supply, and only the suspend mechanic really holds it back from popping up randomly in a product release. That being said, supply is shallow enough that there is a chance the card could hit $70-80 on increased play, so your decision to move in is really a bet on success before a reprint.

Join me next week when we look at some of the up and comers in Modern that might make us some money if they can break through to the top ranks.

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.

Please follow and like us:

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

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.

A Look at The Cards Not Printed

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.

Please follow and like us:

Mastering Modern: Making Money on Modern in 2017 (Pt 1)

It would be perfectly natural if after looking over the Modern Masters 2017 set list last week, you found yourself wondering “how am I going to make money on Modern this year?”.  And while the surprisingly solid starting EV (Estimated Value) of MM17 boxes has set off the usual round of doomsaying with regards to the viability of Magic finance, the nimble minded among us should have relatively little trouble finding a way forward. After all, the set does have value well distributed between the mythics, rares and uncommons, but the print run is likely to torpedo the EV in the coming weeks, and plenty of relevant cards were left out.

That being said, last week I wrote that opportunities in Modern were likely to come from a few specific categories:

  • Recovering Reprints: Examples: LoTV, Tarmogoyf, Snapcaster Mage, Cavern of Souls
  • Recent Reprint Dodgers: Examples: Ancestral Visions, Inkmoth Nexus, Engineered Explosives, Grove of the Burnwillows, Mishra’s Bauble
  • Newly Useful Cards: Examples: Rite of Passage, Death’s Shadow, Amulet of Vigor, etc. (when they were new)

This week I’m going to kickoff a three-part series, starting with an examination of the cards from MM17 that are most likely to make us money if we get in at the lows.

Note: Crystal Commerce, the software many vendors use to manage their inventory has been causing issues with TCGPlayer inventory this week, so I am referencing Ebay BIN prices and StarCityGames.com pricing as well as TCG & MTGPrice Vendor Team prices posted  for now to get a handle on price movements. Generally speaking you can expect prices to fall further once the set is actually released and we start the slog towards peak supply with sellers undercutting each other left and right.

First off, let’s review what’s on deck for reprint in the mythic slot in MM17, and how the week has treated the prices of these cards:

MM17 mythic pricing has already fallen off hard in the last week.

Last week I predicted that most MM17 mythics and rares were going to fall 20-50% heading into peak supply, and here we are just a week later with significant price declines already on the books. Here’s a quick price check I pulled together:

In just a week, the MM17 mythics have shown an average decline of 22%, and if we look back to Dec 1st/16 (when the market was already anticipating the inclusion of many of the Innistrad and Return to Ravnica staples), we see that the average decline has been 42%! That’s a pretty steep cliff if you were holding these cards in decks on the basis that you play with them.

For instance, if you owned a playset of ‘Goyf, LOTV, Cavern and Snapcaster, and held through the ramp up to the set, you’ve already cost yourself $350+! It’s going to be pretty tough to justify that inertia on the basis of getting access to some other staples you need for a deck or two at a cheaper price, but for a new Modern player things are certainly looking up.

And the thing is, we’re just getting started. Whether or not MM17 has been printed 1.25x, 1.5x or 2x the amount of MM15 we saw (which is still in the marketplace well below MSRP), prices today are still going to look optimistic vs. where they are likely to end up once the set starts getting opened. I expect a further 10-15% decline minimum on the mythics.

Now considering all of that, what might we be interested in targeting once market lows are reached? Well, generally speaking, we want to go after the cards that meet the following criteria (borrowed from my preliminary work on SpecScore):

  • multi-format all-star
  • playerd in multiple decks
  • low casting cost
  • low # of reprints
  • low chance of banning

Given all of that, my top pick at mythic out of MM17 so far is Cavern of Souls.

Cavern of Souls is the poster child for open ended synergy, benefiting decks that are tribal focused and either a) multi-color or b) in need of counter-spell defense. The card is nearly always played as a four-of, it sees play in multiple archetypes in Modern and Legacy, the card has legs in casual, the new art is sweet, the foils are likely to be stunning and it’s a card that some folks like me already offloaded and will be looking to pick back up.  It’s also been confirmed that a strongly tribal themed set is in the pipeline (Azatlan?) and Cavern will certainly be useful once that appears. This is the first reprint for the card and I don’t think this card is likely to be a priority for MM19, though there are no certainties that far out.

Target Entry: $20-25
Future Exit:  $40

Liliana of the Veil is the 14th most played card in Modern, and is often played as a two or three-of. This is her first non-promo reprint, but I could see her ending up in Modern Masters 2019 again, where they may have significantly less fresh meat for the grinder given the relative lack of new Modern relevant mythics from the last few years. LOTV is one of the most iconic cards of the last decade but I well remember picking her up at $55 in the winter of 2015, a price I think she can fall beneath in the next few months. I suspect $45-50 copies will be available and that they may recover to $65-70 in the next twelve months. Past that point MM19 casts a scary shadow, so the window will be tight to make the spec worthwhile, unless you need some to play with.

Target Entry: $50
Future Exit:  $70 (with low certainty)

Tarmogoyf is now on its 3rd reprint in five years.  There is no doubt the card is a powerhouse, but surely there is a limit to how many times something can be printed without tanking semi-permanently. On the other hand, ‘Goyf is the 5th most played card in Modern and the 6th most played creature in Legacy, is nearly always played as a 4-of, and is played in multiple archetypes providing resilience to meta shifts.

It is worth noting that the best green creature in Modern made it from $115 around Modern Masters (2013) to $200 before the 2nd reprinting in Modern Masters 2015 (which was a surprise at the time), but it’s been basically all downhill from there and finding the bottom this time is going to be tricky given how much inventory was already on hand heading into this latest printing. In the past vendors have tried to defend the price of this card with aggressive buy listing but that time is likely past. I fully expect copies to end up available between $50 and $60 at peak supply and truly I see this as an opportunity to own for play more than a great spec. If MM17’s print run ends up as deep as I fear it is, or if a fresh wave of inventory is made available to vendors later this year, I won’t be prioritizing this card beyond the personal playset I’ve held off on for years.

Target Entry: $60
Future Exit:  $80 (with low certainty)

Snapcaster Mage was a bit of a surprise at mythic instead of rare, and as such, is more likely to show gains down the road. The card has a promo printing behind it and is the 19th most played card in Modern, showing up in 12% of decks and usually played as a 4-of. In Legacy it’s the 11th most played card, showing up in 25%+ of decks at an average of about three copies. Those are great stats, but this could easily show up in MM19, so the window is likely to be tight here as well. Currently selling at $35, I suspect you’ll get a shot at these closer to $25 and if you can get a couple of playsets near $100, I think you’ve got a solid chance exiting closer to $160 minus fees, especially if MM17 availability is scarce come the end of the year.

In contrast, 70% of the people I polled on Twitter preferred the original art, so I’m more likely to target those than the new version once we get to the lows.

Target Entry: $25
Future Exit:  $40 (with a tight sales window)

Voice of Resurgence is just barely in the Top 40 creatures in Modern, but keep in mind that this card has already fallen $30 (75%) in the past year on modest play patterns and anticipation of this set. When the card is played it is often as a 3 or 4-of and W/G decks featuring this card alongside Renegade Rallier have been popping up lately. If blue-based control finally turns the corner in Modern, that would also help boost demand for this counterspell hoser.

Once Voice gets below $8 it will have my attention and at $5-6 I’ll definitely take action.

Target Entry: $6-8
Future Exit:  $15+ 

Some of the other mythics feature a fairly limited demand profile and I strongly recommend exiting asap. Linvala, Keeper of Silence has already cratered from $45 to $20, and I think it could hit $10, as the play pattern in Modern is very shallow. Grislelbrand has some potential if he gets to $6, but his climb back up from the combined suppression of his GP promo and this printing may take a while. Most of the rest of the mythics already under $10 are equally unexciting, though if I’m pushed I would say that Craterhoof Behemoth near $10 (a strong EDH staple),  Sphinx’s Revelation near $2 and Past in Flames at say $6/play set might get a bit of my spec flow when the time is right.

Now let’s see what’s happening with the relevant rares:

MM17 rares are displaying massive drops in price over the last week.

Digging deeper, if we look back to Dec 1st/16, the story is even darker.

Note: I used post-spike pricing for both Basilisk Collar and Death’s Shadow since their price 3 months ago wasn’t particularly relevant. I missed Cyclonic Rift in this list as well.

If you were holding a large Modern collection or a went deep on some of these cards as specs, you are unlikely to be pleased by what this chart is telling us. MM17 rares have shown an average decline of almost 55% over the last three months, with 35% of that in just the last week. Of course, if you are just getting into Modern and had little in the way of collection value to lose, you are going to get a shot at a very solid entry point on a pile of key staples. (In contrast however, many cards that dodged the reprint bullet are likely to spike this year.)

Keep in mind that these prices are pre-order period pricing, which tends to be significantly higher than the prices we are likely to see 3-6 weeks from now as peak supply on MM17 is achieved and Amonkhet starts to steal the focus (and the money) away from this set.

As with the mythics, deciding where to get in and what to get in on is largely a function of how deep the print run goes, but we can apply similar principles as above to select some likely targets.

The Zendikar Fetchlands

Anyone telling you that you should get in on these lands at current pricing needs their head examined. The price memory on these cards is going to be soft because despite their inflated value heading into this scenario, they were printed at rare. Had they been printed at mythic rare, they might have held closer to their old prices, but you’ll be better off if you erase past expectations and work with an eye to the future.

Like some of you, I’ve been awaiting an entry point on a few of these for personal use for at least a couple of years, but trust me, there isn’t a rush to jump on pre-orders. There are going to be an average of two of these things in every box of Modern Masters 2017 and there are going to be 10,000-20,000 boxes of this set sold in North America alone. That’s a minimum of 20,000 new fetches entering the market, or 4,000 play sets of each. That means 1,000 players each get a shot at a set, and despite the average drop off in value in the mid 40% range since December, I don’t think we’re done yet. As of today, StarCityGames wants $45 for a Scalding Tarn. That tells me that TCG NM Low is likely to be closer to $35, and that deals via social media are going to touch $120/set or lower. I consider this math to be conservative. If there’s more like 40,000 boxes sold, the lows will be lower.

As far as speculation targets, Scalding Tarns and Verdant Catacombs are most likely to continue their popularity regardless of the specific meta, but all of these are solid pickups if they get low enough and you have personal use for them. It’s worth reminding you here that Khans of Tarkir fetches have been mostly shallow gainers, though Polluted Deltas and Flooded Strands I bought at $10 are now closer to $15. Still, whether MM17 is 1.5x or 4x the print run of MM15, there’s still a big difference between a globally released fall set and an LGS only set with an MSRP of $10/pack that’s printed in just three languages.  If the foiling in this set is as bad as MM15, original foils may be gainers, but they do have the hard ceiling of the Expedition versions capping their progress.

Without knowing just how much inventory is in the pipeline I’m not in a rush to get more than a personal play set. Let’s revisit options once we’ve got some pavement behind us before going deep here.

Target Entry:

  • Scalding Tarn: $20-25
  • Verdant Catacombs: $20-25
  • Misty Rainforest: $20
  • Arid Mesa: $15-20
  • Marsh Flats: $15-20

Future Exit:

  • Scalding Tarn: $40
  • Verdant Catacombs: $30+
  • Misty Rainforest: $30+
  • Arid Mesa: $25+
  • Marsh Flats: $25+

People were joking about Damnation not getting a reprint for so long that they lost sight of just how shallow the demand for this card actually is. It doesn’t rank in the Top 50 spells in Modern, let alone the Top 100 cards, and is most often played as a one or two of. There is some demand from EDH but in the end, this is a Wrath of God, and pricing on this class of cards has not been kind to reprints. SCG is currently looking for $35 on this card, but copies are already posted under $30, and I will be stunned if it’s doesn’t drop under $20 when all is said and done. In fact I feel strongly enough about this card dropping that I’m tempted to sell them now at $30, and fill those orders with copies I buy in a few weeks at $20 or less. If you need this card for a deck, grab one at lows, but I hate it as a spec.

Target Entry: $20
Future Exit:  Don’t bet on it 

On the one hand, Blood Moon is a devastating card that hammers reliance on non-basic lands in Modern so hard that it gets main decked in multiple decks. It’s in the Top 30 spells in the format, appearing in 13% of decks but only averages two copies in the decks that want it. It’s been four years since it last showed up in Modern Masters, after which it gained popularity and topped out over $50.

On the other hand it is on a short list of cards that many Modern players feel the format would be better off without and carries a slight chance of being banned. All in all if it gets low enough I’ll pick some up, but it’s not a priority.

Target Entry: $15
Future Exit:  $25 

Goblin Guide is one of the Top 25 most played creatures in Modern, but doesn’t have much demand beyond that. I consider the original art from Zendikar superior to the new art, but tastes may vary. The card is a staple creature in Zoo and Burn decks, and almost always played as a 4-of.  Copies are already out there for $17 or so, so I expect that a $50 play set is almost certainly doable in the coming weeks. The lower it gets beyond that point, the more interested I get as the decks it fits in are some of the most common entry level decks in the format and the card has an essentially zero chance of being banned and a very low chance of falling out of the format permanently due to a meta shift. It’s worth noting here that at $12, even after a 100% gain in the last few weeks, Eidolon of the Great Revel might be the better pickup since supply has been draining and it is highly unlikely to show up before MM19.

Target Entry: $12.50
Future Exit:  $20+

Most of the rest of the rares are going to be sunk for a long time, but very low pricing on Death’s Shadow, Abrupt Decay and Pyromancer’s Ascension might grab my attention. Other cards like Basilisk Collar, Scavenging Ooze and Stony Silence are either reprinted to irrelevance or corner case cards that can’t handle all the fresh supply.

In terms of uncommons, Path to Exile, Inquisition of Kozilek and Serum Visions have shown a resistance to reprintings in the past, but you can sit back and look for a deep low before making a move there and the returns are likely to be minor regardless.

When scouting for entry points on all of this, I recommend two specific periods of review. First, look to the week after release for the initial flurry of buying interest to be overcome by building inventory, leading to a serious race to the bottom, especially on the cards with weaker overall demand. Some people that bought in hard on boxes and cases on spoiler news will be panicking when they realize this is going to be a buyers rather than a sellers market, and deals will be had. The next period I would be targeting would be Amonkhet spoiler season through to the week after that sets’ release. I expect that set to be impressive, and even if it’s only average it is going to steal attention and wallets from MM17.

Join me next week when we follow up on the Modern cards that weren’t reprinted in MM17 that are already on the move or may do so down the road.

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.

Please follow and like us: