Category Archives: Unlocked ProTrader

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Modern Masters 2015 Review Part Deux

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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.

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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.

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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.

magic the gathering eldrazi rise of the eldrazi emrakul the aeons torn 1920x1080 wallpaper_www.wall321.com_22

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.

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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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Legen—Wait For It…

By: Jason Alt

ldi5c

Yes, I want to talk about legendary creatures. As is our custom here in this column, I want to look at EDH-specific cards and their financial futures. EDH impact is unique and has a few quirks and legendary creatures are obviously going to be highly impacted by EDH.

But to what extent? And how do we differentiate the impact of EDH from the impact of other formats? Understanding this effect is going to help us know what to do in the future when we see cards that look like they’ll be EDH-only cards. Believe me, they’re easy to spot. Legendary creatures with unique abilities look amazing when a set is being spoiled. People mentally build around them right off the bat and make plans to acquire the cards as soon as possible when the set comes out. People can’t wait to build around that hot new commander. So how do we know when to preorder or target during the first week and how do we know when to, well…

Wait for it?

 

Loaded

Some sets just look… you know. Just ridiculous. M15 was a set like that, Dragons of Tarkir was another. Sometimes they clearly want to let EDH players know they’re aware we exist and they want to pander to us. If you look at M15, there are a ton of cards that look really saucy for EDH.

You kiddin’ me?

Wow. Daretti says hello.

This cycle is nuts!

I love to Polymorph!

They can’t all be gems

Bruna, anyone?

Hnnnnnnng.

Seriously?

YES.

They know Goblin Welder is a card, right?

Look at all these sweet EDH cards! This set is stacked. Stacked, I tells ya!

So When Did I Go In For Cash On This Stuff?

I mean, not yet. It was a relatively recent set, but let’s look at the price graphs on some of these cards now that we’re past peak supply.

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Remember when we had high hopes and thought this card would maintain a price of an entire dollar? The hubris. The hubris.

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The foil isn’t exactly blowing my mind, either. Look at the buylist price… it’s going down. Dealers get less and less confident in this card the farther we get from the release.

Kurkesh isn’t exactly a staple, though, is he? How about a card that people are excited to use as a commander?

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Yisan is a better card that’s not in much better shape. Huh. Clearly things would be better if these cards were mythic rares rather than regular rares—that much is obvious. Are there any EDH-focused non-mythics in M15 that are better price-wise that we can compare these to? Yep.

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What’s going on here? While Sliver Hive is colorless and can therefore technically go in any color deck, it’s also pretty narrow. It goes in sliver decks and really nowhere else. You can’t even use it as an Urza’s Factory since you need to have a sliver out to power it. One factor? This card is obvious to everyone that it will be a solid pickup. You don’t need to know anything about how to build a slivers deck to know that this goes in it. Just read it.

The same person who can look at Crucible of the Spirit Dragon and say, “Dragon players’re gonna love thems a big old bunch of this card,” (they didn’t) can correctly surmise that Sliver Hive is a solid pickup. Everyone is going to be all-in on speculating here because it’s so juicy.

Another factor is that this is EDH-strong but not EDH-specific. This means it can go in four-of formats as well. Casual players will snap these up a set at a time to jam in their sliver decks. There was even talk of a sliver deck in Standard. It never materialized, which is too bad, since if it didn’t happen when M15 came out, it will likely never happen. That’s a shame. Still, there was a lot of attention given to this card.

What about some other cards that may be closer to Sliver Hive than they are to Kurkesh?

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Someone is really trying to make something happen here. Artificial spikes notwithstanding, there is real, organic demand here obscured by some mild dickery.  This is a card that will end up in casual as well as EDH decks, and can be jammed as more than just a one-of. A picture is starting to develop here.

Applicability

If a card has any cross-format applicability with a casual format other than EDH as well as with EDH, we’ve seen there is a mild bump. If there is applicability with a competitive format, there is a larger bump, but all that really serves to do is obscure our data. However, it is still worth exploring a bit.

Tasigur is a very good EDH commander.

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However, he’s also a very good card in formats like Modern and Standard and this new format where people play using their hands to try and prevent their opponents from throwing a ball through a metal ring and—nope, no, that’s definitely basketball I was thinking of, and this card sucks in basketball. He’d get picked after me and I show up to play pickup hoops wearing jean shorts and a Rush T-shirt. Still, he’s good at just about everything that doesn’t require a 30-inch vertical.

Can we try and parse out how much of his peak price and hell, even his current plateaud price is due to EDH alone? I have an idea.

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Subtract from Tasigur’s current price of roughly $6 Shu Yun‘s current price of about one-half of one dollar and you start to see what’s going on. Shu Yun is pretty good in EDH himself and he is a Tiny Leader to boot. Even Tasigur can’t say he’s a Tiny Leader (an effect I won’t even speculate about because I don’t fully understand how Tiny Leaders affects prices because I am part of the group known as “everyone”), so Shu Yun has some things going for him that Tasigur does not. EDH has kept this above bulk while Tasigur enjoyed a brief stint at $10.

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And Shu Yun is certainly above bulk. He’s nearly worth 50 percent more than Dragonscale General. Thanks for the boost, EDH!

Let’s work on coming to a conclusion or two before we look at some more factors.

What we are seeing here is that non-mythic legendary creatures that are basically EDH-only cards in the post-mythic era are really suffering. They’re having a hard time gaining any traction despite being really cool cards and despite EDH growing at a phenomenal rate and Wizards supporting the format directly by printing cards with that format in mind and including those cards not only in regular sets but also in the special supplementary product they have created just for that format. Wizards is doing a lot to support EDH.

Why are the cards suffering? Simple. EDH would have to be growing at a rate that is four times the rate that Standard is growing, basically. I realize that’s a gross oversimplification, but looking at it qualitatively rather than quantitatively, it’s not far from the truth. EDH just doesn’t consume cardboard the way Standard does. Unfortunately for EDH speculators, Standard is where non-Magic players usually join. FNM is at the front of the funnel and our format is a tributary. EDH is overwhelming for someone who has never played Magic before, anyway. So large growth has to occur on the Standard side before it gets to the EDH side, and that growth will exacerbate the problem we’re having with non-mythic, EDH-specific cards being worth essentially bulk as players bust packs at an unprecedented rate trying to get the cards they need for FNM.

Things are stacked against cards like Kurkesh. It’s narrow. It’s mono-colored, meaning it goes in just red decks. Not only that, it can’t go in all red decks since it’s very specific to artifact decks given its ability. It was from a recent set. It’s non-mythic in the post-mythic era. People bought a lot of M15: more than any core set ever. By the time you get all the way down the list to “Kurkesh is very good at what it does” it doesn’t matter anymore. The balance is weighted so heavily against the card that it scarcely matters.

Other Formats Matter. Sometimes

So far we’ve only looked at non-mythic rares. I did that deliberately, because being mythic is a huge boost to a card’s potential. Not only that, other format applicability is going to profoundly affect mythics compared to non-mythic rares. If you have a card that has some competitive applicability, say in Modern where it was featured in a Woo brew, that would be huge for the card’s price potential. Man, what if the card were a phenomenal EDH general, too? Like… bannably good. What if a card were playable in Modern, was mythic, and was such a good commander that people complain about the card warping their local metagame?

How much would a killer card like that go for? $5? $10? Even if most of the play it saw was in EDH, a smattering of cross-format applicability is bound to make the card expensive. Can you think of any cards like that?

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Mother$&%#@!

A dollar. A dollar and change, but still a damn dollar. It’s trending down in price as we pass peak saturation of supply. Dealers aren’t very excited, either, and you can see the demand from dealers (the blue line. I haven’t mentioned that the blue line is buylist price for like… the entire time I’ve written for this site. I really hope most of you got that from context) actually diverging from the retail price. That augurs poorly, usually.

When was the best time to sell Narset? Right the hell away, it turns out. When is the best time to buy? Not yet, that’s when.

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Even the foil isn’t wowing me right now, although we’re looking at a healthy 10-times multiplier, which all but confirms that the EDH community is very, very aware of Narset.

So what do we do if most legendary creatures that are EDH-only won’t have the advantages Narset has like being mythic, featured in a Woo brew, and being a once-in-a-block busted commander like Nekusar or Rafiq?

What do we do if an EDH-focused legendary creature card with a lot of advantages isn’t getting there and worse ones certainly won’t?

Wait For It

That wasn’t just a pun in the title. I think when a legendary creature comes out, you’re almost always going to have to wait if it’s an EDH card. Sometimes a very long time.

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Too soon.

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No, not yet.

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Not yet.

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Eh, look at that spread getting BIGGER. Yuck.

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Think we may be onto something…

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Woah. Look at that growth. People who bought at rotation and sat on these did okay. EDH obviously loves this guy and he’s a sweet commander, but goblins players use him, too. What’s our multiplier look like?

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Only double?! So we’re just beginning to see the real growth. The foil is about to diverge from the non-foil and dealers seem to agree.

So How Do We Hit the Next Krenko?

  • Identify the Krenko.

The next Krenko is going to be a powerful general with a cool ability. Relevant tribal affiliation never hurts. The card will be mostly overlooked by competitive players.

  • Buy at rotation.

Krenko hit its lowest point a year after its release, when it rotated out of Standard. This is about what we expect. He’s a sicko commander, and when Purphoros was spoiled in late August 2013, we saw some price movement in Krenko’s price. Growth has been nice and organic. Buying at rotation was the best time to guarantee we’d buy at the cheapest he’d ever be. Lots of Spikes dump their cards at rotation and we want to be there with our wallets out. Buy at the blue line, not the green one if you can.

  • Wait for it.

You will wait a few years. Magic 2013 was released in July of 2012. It’s not yet July of 2015. The next Krenko could get spoiled in Battle for Zendikar and we’d have a long wait.

What Do We Not Want to Do?

  • Don’t preorder like 90 percent of the time.

Sure, maybe you could have gotten a cheap(er) Dragonlord Dromoka, but it wasn’t EDH that made that price go up and you’re better off just waiting for EDH-only stuff to tank. People will be impatient initially and pay whatever price and then they will wait until they get around to building the deck.

Legendary creatures look really sexy on spoiler sheets, but I think I’ve made the case that they are a trap almost all of the time and the play is to sit on them. We’ll figure out what the next Krenko is together, and as soon as we identify that card, well, we’ll know what to do. We’ll wait for it.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: The Meta Report, 2 May – 10 May

By: Guo Heng

Welcome to the second instalment of The Meta Report, a weekly column dedicated to analysing the evolution of the metagame and the financial implications that result from it.  This week we will be looking at both paper results (IRL) and Magic Online (MTGO) results. The previous weekend saw two Standard Grand Prix – Sao Paulo and Toronto – with a starkly different metagame in the top 8, and StarCityGames Open Portland. Grand Prix Paris took place last weekend with a top 8 that resembled that of Toronto. We would also look at 307 decks from the MTGO daily events which took place over the past week.

 

Before we begin, let’s review last week’s calls and see how they have performed.

Last Week’s Calls

Deathmist Raptor – Last Week: Hold; This Week: Sell

Deathmist Raptor Price 11 May

After a stellar showing at Grand Prix Toronto last week, with half the top 8 running a full four copies of Deathmist Raptor, the mighty morphing dinosaur’s price hiked from $20.51 to $23.68. My call for the raptor this week would be a sell call. With the Dragonlords taking up a large chunk of the set’s value, I suspect $24 is pretty close to the ceiling for Deathmist Raptor. On top of that, the first wave of Dragons of Tarkir redemption will be processed this Wednesday and would start hitting the market next week. Deathmist Raptor’s current spread is 37%.

Den Protector – Last Week: Sell; This Week: Sell

Den Protector 11 May

Den Protector grew more than I expected when I put a sell call on it last week. If Deathmist Raptor’s showing at Grand Prix Toronto was stellar, Den Protector’s was interstellar. There were 25 Den Protectors in the top 8 of the Grand Prix an as a result Den Protector’s price grew from $5.32 to $8.65.

My sell call on Den Protector last week was made based on conservative decision making. While Den Protector was seeing a lot of play in Standard, I was not confident that her price could grow further as she staple she may be, she nevertheless remains a single-format rare. With redemption coming in two weeks (as of last week’s article), Den Protector would be hard-pressed to maintain her price of $5.32 amid the other high value cards in the set and the line of play with the lower risk would be to sell at $5.32.

While my prediction that the meta would shift towards more Den Protector due to megamorph synergy’s favorable position in the metagame came true, I was wrong about Den Protector’s price trajectory. I did not foresee that Den Protector would be that prevalent.

Now at $8.65, I am going to put another sell call on Den Protector. I’d be damned if she breaks $10 even after the influx of supply from redemption.

Collected Company – Last Week: Hold; This Week: Sell

Collected Company spiked over the weekend when Yohan Dudongon brought a sweet four-color Collected Company brew to 9-0 at Grand Prix Paris and narrowly missed the top 8 by a single win. Collected Company is now sitting at a TCG-mid of $9.75. If you are holding on to any copies, now would be the right time to sell. Again, with redemption hitting the market next week, $10 is probably the ceiling for Collected Company.

Now lets get to the juicy stuff.

The Three Large Events from the Previous Weekend

 Grand Prix TorontoGrand Prix Sao PauloSCG PortlandIRL Total
Abzan Aggro1236
Esper Dragons213
Ojutai Bant Megamorph22
Abzan Control22
Atarka Red (Tokens)112
Esper Dragons Mentor11
Sidisi Whip Megamorph11
Abzan Megamorph11
UG Collected Devotion11
Mono Green Aggro Megamorph11
RG Dragons11
Mardu Dragons11
GW Aggro w/ Megamorph & Collected Company11
GR Devotion11

I’ve separated Grand Prix Paris from the three major events which took place on the previous week as Paris occurred one week later and its metagame could be a reaction to the metagame in the three events.

The  most successful deck from the previous weekend was Abzan Aggro, appearing in all three events’ top 8. As Abzan Aggro is a relatively old archetype, it’s dominance has little implication on the price of its components. It was the third most played archetype in the RPTQ top 8s in the week before.

Esper Dragons was the second most successful deck, and while the table showed the total number of Esper Dragons to be three, the real number is four. I’ve separated Ricardo Nunes Martins’ innovative build of Esper Dragons which sported four Monastery Mentors. Ricardo’s take on Esper Dragons looks enticing, but it may be a one hit wonder as no one else was able to replicate Ricardo’s success with the deck. It only appeared once in the MTGO daily events in the week that followed the deck’s debut.

The centrepiece of Esper Dragons, Dragonlord Ojutai, is currently perching at a height of $37.99, after another spike.

Dragonlord Ojutai Price

Definitely sell your extra Dragonlord Ojutai now.

The top 8 at both Grand Prix Sao Paulo and Toronto contained a starkly different metagame, with the Toronto top 8 revolving around the megamorph synergy while the Sao Paulo top 8 resembled that of the  previous weeks. The megamorph synergy was touted as the most efficient way to beat Esper Dragons, which may explain the prevalence of Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor.

Grand Prix Paris Last Weekend

Den Protector was still popular at Grand Prix Paris last weekend, with 19 copies of it in the top 8.

Mono Red2
Abzan Aggro2
Abzan Control1
GW Collected Megamorph1
RG Devotion1
Abzan Megamorph 1

Although the top 8 consisted of six different archetypes, Den Protector was found in five of them (the only deck that did not run Den Protector was Mono Red). Two of those archetypes, Abzan Aggro and GR Devotion only had Den Protector in their sideboard.

There were only 11 Deathmist Raptors in the top 8, a slight dip from the previous weekend’s Grand Prix Toronto where 16 Deathmist Raptors were prowling the top 8.

Even though the megamorph duo are still exerting their grip on the metagame, I have place a sell call on both of them as it is likely that the both of them have already hit their ceiling, and with redemption hitting the market next week, it is unlikely to see them make any significant gains. Especially Den Protector.

Magic Online Daily Events 2 May – 8 May

Let’s take a look at the metagame from last week’s MTGO daily events to see if we could spot new developments to combat the megamorph threat and at the same time keep Esper Dragons, Mono Red and Abzan Aggro in check.

 MTGO Total
Abzan Aggro33
Esper Dragons32
Mono Red32
Abzan Control28
Atarka Red (Tokens)28
Mardu Dragons21
GW Aggro w/ Megamorph & Collected Company16
Ojutai Bant Megamorph10
RG Dragons10
Abzan Megamorph7
Temur Midrange/Superfriends7
GW Aggro w/ Megamorph6
GW Aggro w/ Collected Company6
GR Devotion6
Jeskai Tokens6
Esper Dragons Narset5
Mardu Midrange5
Mono Black Aggro4
GW Devotion4
UB Dragons3
UW Control3
Sidisi Whip Megamorph3
UR Burn w/ Atarka's Command3
RB Dragons3
Bant Heroic3
UW Dragons2
UB Control Adrian2
Abzan Reanimator2
RB Aggro2
Temur Dragons2
Esper Dragons Mentor1
4 Color Dragons1
Sidisi Whip1
Abzan Splash Ojutai1
UG Collected Devotion1
UR Artifact Aggro1
Mono White Aggro1
Mono Green Aggro Megamorph1
Mono Green Aggro1
RB Dragons w/ Dragon Whisperer1
RB Reanimator (Swift Hellkite)1
GW Heroic1
Red Devotion1
BW Warriors1
Jeskai Aggro1
Jeskai Superfriends1
Temur Aggro1
Naya Dragons1
Naya Aggro1

As we can see, the top five most popular decks in the MTGO daily events last week were the usual suspects. However, a relatively new archetype gained ground in the metagame and secured the sixth spot on the list. Mardu Dragons has been around as a fringe archetype or simply as Black-Red Dragons which posted a few results in the RPTQs, but it was Edgar Magalhaes piloting Mardu Dragons to the finals of Grand Prix Toronto that popularised the archetype.

Dargons for the win.
Dargons for the win.

The current incarnation of Mardu Dragons is pretty much the aggressive Black-Red Dragons shell with Crackling Doom, Seeker of the Way and Soulfire Grandmaster added. Mardu Dragons is designed to combat the top dogs of the metagame. A combination of Crackling Doom and Foul-Tongue Invocation means you are unlikely to die to Dragonlord Ojutai which Esper Dragons leans on heavily to win. Seeker of the Way and Soulfire Grandmaster provide enough life gain for you to survive the early game against Mono Red or Atarka Red. A playset of Anger of the Gods in the sideboard ensures that dead dinosaurs remain dead. Stormbreath Dragon is the best card to play against Abzan Aggro and this deck runs four copies of it.

While Mardu Dragons is theoretically very well-positioned in the metagame, the deck was absent from last weekend’s Grand Prix Paris top 8 and there was only a single copy in the top 16. Nevertheless the archetype is a relatively new one, and it may take a while for its prowess to be felt.

Unfortunately, the financial implications of Mardu Dragons being propelled to tier one is limited. The deck’s key cards comprise mostly of cards from old sets whose price has settled. Dragonlord Kolaghan was only present as a singleton in the sideboard.

Other notable new developments include a few Blue-White Control lists running Narset Transcendent together with Secure the Wastes.

Narset in UW

Narset has dropped from her high $30s to just $22.66. Her spread is still at 46%, so there is not much interest here financially. Narset has room to drop with redemption coming and Secure the Wastes is still above $3.

A card that was in the sidelines but began to see a little play last week was Dragon Whisperer.

Dragon Whisperer

A couple of Mono Red builds that moneyed the daily events last week sports a few copies of Dragon Whisperer in their mainboard. A card whose ability relies on formidable trigger may seem out of place in a Mono Red deck with a mean creature power of 1 but anyone who has played against Mono Red could attest to their goblin tokens taking over the board if left unchecked. Plus Goblin Rabblemaster’s trigger also works well to help Dragon Whisperer achieve formidable. Her addition to the deck provides Mono Red with a bit of mid-game power and buffer against land floods, but to be honest she seems like a win-more in the Mono Red shell.

At $6.12 with a 57% spread, Dragon Whisperer evokes no financial interest at the moment, but is worth keeping an eye on if more Mono Red builds begin to adopt Dragon Whisperer.


 

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: MM2015 — The Unofficial MTG Stimulus

As a response to the Great Recession of Wall Street, the Federal Reserve initiated a multitude of stimulus programs. They initiated a massive bond buying program and they lowered interest rates to virtually zero. These two actions were done in an attempt to stimulate our economy and drive healthy motivation for investment in stocks.

The jury is still out on how sustainable the program was (is). Some dissenters will likely criticize the stimuli for years to come no matter the outcome. But regardless of what your political leaning may be, the resulting market performance since is impossible to argue with.

SPY

Turning back to MTG finance, one could argue that some particular cards have also been going through some economic turbulence. Original dual lands come to mind immediately – especially the out-of-favor color combinations. Other Legacy staples have also pulled off their recent highs by a measurable amount. Some Modern staples have also spiked recently, only to retreat to a lower price point.

 

Azusa

What’s to become of this developing trend? Could Magic be due for a Great Recession type of pullback?

Certainly not. The game is as healthy as ever. In fact, this week I present a new thesis that supports a new surge in some card prices. Allow me to explain.

Modern Masters 2015

Who’s excited for the release of one of the highest EV sets upon release of all time? Who’s pumped up to participate in or watch the largest MTG tournaments ever? Who’s eager to draft this set, which will definitely be a Limited crowd-pleaser?

No matter your perspective, it’s difficult to argue with the hype behind Modern Masters 2015. Even if you are a complete skeptic, dripping with disdain for some of the wasted rare slots in the set (Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder?!), you’re likely excited about the future prospects of the cards that dodged reprint this set. Speculators have been very busy lately…

Interests

Six of the top ten price gainers last week were Modern cards that dodged MM2015 reprint. The Tron lands were noteworthy absences, and clearly Inkmoth Nexus and Serum Visions are strong buys on the news. Or at least, they were strong buys before the market overreacted, sending copies up excessively high overnight.

My conclusion for Modern Masters 2015: while I’m personally not ecstatic to be opening $10 packs with a high likelihood of obtaining a sub-$1 rare, the swirl this set is generating amongst the MTG finance community is nearly tangible. I’m delighted to witness hours of debate on Twitter about card prices. The buzz should continue through GP Vegas without a hitch.

If ever there was a time to engage in MTG speculation and finance, now would be it. And with the return of a Modern PTQ season, we’ve got even more reason to get excited about Modern.

MTG Stimulus: Part 1

When the Federal Reserve bought up many billions of dollars of bonds, they infused a large amount of cash into the economy. Then they reduced rates so low that there was practically no good place to park money other than into investments. The result: a rapid decline in unemployment and multiple years of double-digit gains in the stock market.

Turning back to Magic, we need to recognize how tentative people were with buying into Modern with the knowledge that a massive reprint set was on the horizon. It’s always a feel-bad when we buy cards only to watch them tank in price due to reprinting. Therefore, I suspect players and speculators held cash on the sidelines waiting for Modern Masters 2015 to be fully spoiled. Only then would there be high confidence in which targets would be safe to buy into.

Well, last Friday we received the complete spoiler from WOTC. Various absent cards created quite the surprise – namely, Tron lands, Serum Visions, Aven Mindcensor, Blood Moon, Inquisition of Kozilek, Azusa, Inkmoth Nexus, and more. It’s no surprise that many of these cards are on the move as players and speculators acquire copies for the upcoming Modern season.

Inkmoth

In rapid-fire fashion, everyone is infusing cash into the MTG economy as they scoop up copies of the “safe” cards. This pseudo-stimulus is a combination of self-fulfilling prophecy and pent-up demand. Now that speculators know what cards are likely to further increase in value, they can invest with confidence. After all, what better place was there to invest funds than something like Inkmoth Nexus once we were certain it wasn’t in MM2015?

Now Inkmoth Nexus is a $20 card, and it will likely climb higher in the coming months. As speculators cash out on the movement they’ll have additional funds with which to work. What are they going to do with all their newfound profits?

MTG Stimulus: Part 2

I’ve got a couple ideas of where this money will go. First of all, there will likely be some great buy opportunities on my radar once MM2015 hits the market: namely, the popular reprinted cards. The Modern staples of the set are likely to sell off a bit in the coming weeks, due to both panic and the increased supply. The same thing happened with MMA on a card like Cryptic Command.

Cryptic

Modern demand sent this card up to around $45 in Spring 2013, but the MMA reprint caused a rapid decline back to the $30 mark. But about eight months after the sell-off, Cryptic Command rebounded like never before, shooting up to $70.

Now once again, we’re seeing a rapid sell-off. The blue instant is already back down to $50, with momentum suggesting this could go even lower. But this begs the question: will history repeat itself? Will Modern grow in popularity even more, sending Cryptic’s price right back up to new highs in eight months? It’s certainly not impossible, and I’d wager this was WOTC’s plan. They are hoping to support and stimulate interest in the Modern format with these Modern Masters sets, and time will tell how successful they will be with round two.

Either way the reprinted cards in MM2015 are bound to sell off, but eventually they’ll bottom. When that happens, we as speculators should recognize the buying opportunity screaming at us. And with their newly-minted coin from the recent movement in non-reprinted cards, they’ll buoy the MTG economy into these headwinds.

If you’re not bullish on the Modern format, or if you’re concerned about further reprints in other sets, I have some good news. MM2015 reprints aren’t the only solid buys once the dust settles.

As players discover their Inkmoth Nexus and Serum Visions are suddenly worth a bunch more, they’ll be likely to sell/trade excess copies away. Additionally, [lucky] players will suddenly come into all kinds of money when they pull Goyfs, Cliques, and Bobs in their MM2015 packs, not to mention a lineup of Eldrazi. What will the lucky ones do with their valuable pulls?

While it’s true some players will determine that opening a Goyf is the perfect motivator to sleeve up Abzan Midrange in Modern, I suspect many others will be cashing out of their valuable pulls. After all, if we are assuming the Modern Masters 2015 reprints are likely to lower prices, that means the market must see increased supply. That’s natural supply & demand logic – for the price to drop, demand must drop (not likely) or supply must rise. If supply is rising, that must mean people are selling more copies. Likely this will mean their newly-opened copies…after the initial panic, such as what we’re seeing in charts like Cryptic Command and Noble Hierarch.

Hierarch

As players cash out of their Modern staples, what do you think they’ll look to buy? I saw a well-phrased tweet last weekend from an individual I have high respect for in the MTG finance community.

Tweet

I can’t vouch for Pucatrade specifically, but I condone his overall strategy 100%. Judging by all the favorites this tweet received, I can tell we’re not alone in this sentiment. Moving high-dollar Modern cards into equities on the Reserved List is a brilliant strategy. You’re basically capitalizing on short-term price fluctuations in the Modern market by moving into cards that will never see reprint again. Even if Inkmoth Nexus does rise to $30 during Modern season, we know it will see reprint eventually, right?

Meanwhile, Tropical Island will never see reprint.

Trop

This particular dual land has been out of favor for months now, but perhaps the recent stimulus of MM2015 is just the catalyst needed for movement. Although not on the Reserve List, Wasteland is another Legacy staple that could use some stimulus – the Nonbasic land has stumbled over 50% from its highs.

If high-end Legacy staples aren’t your forte, then picking up other Reserve List cards may be a more optimal strategy. We just saw Ragnar jump in price on Tiny Leaders speculation; why not grab a couple Lady Evangela? I hope to in Vegas, in fact. Or better yet, pick up a couple Old Man of the Seas (Old Men of the Sea?). These have been gaining traction lately. I even see casual stuff like Divine Intervention and Island of Wak-Wak show up on the MTGStocks Interests page on occasion. Not only is this on the Reserve List, there’s really nothing else like it. I have a sneaking suspicion Wizards will never again print a card that forces the game to end in a draw. And what casual Reserve List discussion is complete without mention of my favorite Magic card of all time, Shahrazad?

Shahrazad

You’ll never see a sudden buyout of this card, but it’s worth noting how the top buy list price has gradually been on the rise for the last 2 years.

No matter your personal preference, moving out of spiking Modern cards or recently-opened MM2015 goodies and into Reserve List favorites is a tried-and-true strategy I recommend. It’s a great way to lock in profits and reduce risk at the same time.

Wrapping It Up

A significant amount of money is going to exchange hands this summer. Speculators will rampantly acquire non-reprinted Modern cards. Players will be opening high-dollar cards left and right. This will lead to a sudden surge of value in the MTG economy – a type of stimulus.

My prediction: this stimulus will be just what the MTG economy needed for the past few months. Modern interest will jump and demand for Legacy and casual staples will go higher as well. If you want to get ahead of the curve, consider moving into cards on the Reserve List now, as Xemit suggested. I’ve provided a few sound suggestions, and I’m sure there are many others worth considering.

The tide will rise once more, lifting all ships. Therefore it is a great time to have exposure to MTG assets. My portfolio is currently the largest it has been since I sold out of Legacy over two years ago, and I look forward to seeing my holdings appreciate in value in the coming months thanks to this unofficial stimulus.

Sig’s Quick Hits

  • If you have a large quantity of Modern stuff to move, one sound acquisition target is Bazaar of Baghdad. In fact in the last couple weeks Star City Games increased their price on the Vintage staple from $399.99 to $449.99 for NM copies. It’s a steep price of entry, but you can be confident in this long-term investment’s prospects should MTG continue to grow.
  • One Modern/Legacy card that is not seeing nearly enough buzz is Slaughter Pact. The card managed to dodge reprint in MM2015 (unlike in MMA), meaning we’re not getting any new supply of this rare. Every time I search for the card on SCG’s site, it is out of stock. Today is no exception, and the $10 price tag is almost guaranteed to rise as we head into Modern season.
  • Lion’s Eye Diamond gets very little buzz in the MTG finance community, but the Reserve List card has been a Legacy staple for years. Currently SCG is sold out of this one as well, with a NM price tag of $86.29. There are probably a few more exciting pick-ups to target with newfound profits, but no one can argue with the low risk of LED. The card is off its highs much like other Legacy staples, and this stimulus could help rekindle interest.
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