Channeling Emotions

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By: Camden Clark

Emotions are an integral part of investing. They determine how we feel before, during, and after an investment that we make.

When it comes to MTG finance, there are very few articles deciphering the emotions within the context of Magic: the Gathering.

This is especially dire considering the effect emotions have on the game outside of speculation. As card game players, we are all subject to runs of good and bad luck. Respectively, we have ups and downs emotionally. Some people react to luck with superstition, some with rage, some with apathy. Regardless, we play this game that features the interaction between luck and strategy which is balanced quite well.

With investment in Magic cards the same emotions are at play. There are the ups and downs, the fear and bravery.

Except, this time, there is money on the line. It is more important here to be in tune with how you are feeling and how that influences the decisions you make.

Thus, it is valuable to take some time out to explore the reasons we make the decisions we make.

Fear

It is January of 2014. You have a few playsets of Remand but are concerned about a possible reprint due to its conspicuous absence from Modern Masters. Naturally, you fear a possible reprint of Remand which would depreciate the cards price. 

How about another hypothetical? You are on ChannelFireball.com at exactly 9PM PST. Travis Woo’s article is up. It has a new spicy brew that could pick up a lot of casual players. The brew features a card that is virtually bulk at the moment. But what if this deck doesn’t get any traction? Then you are stuck with these one-hundred of these bulk cards.

These hypotheticals are not far from real cases and fears people have. Fear can cause hesitation and lack of confidence. Conversely, fear can cause one to sell out too quickly before making any profit or even “cutting your losses.”

As much as fear is dangerous it is an important emotion to utilize as it provides a filter for all the potentially bad decisions you could make. I specifically use the terminology “in tune” because it quite accurately describes how you need to relate to fear. You need to take into account how fear may drive you away from these bad decisions but also how it could limit your decisionmaking.

One way to channel your fear is to do more research. To take one of the hypotheticals from above, if Travis Woo’s builds always cause a price jump on the cards that he builds around, let that guide your decisions as opposed to blind fear which can make you hesitate. The best antidote will be your own research and experience.

Ultimately, you have to be willing to take the dive or let a bad spec run its course. If you are taking major hits by selling out, choose not to sell out.

It all goes back to channeling your knowledge and experience as a player to determine from case to case where you should suspend your reservations or when it is best to move in.

Euphoria

It is easy to get wrapped up in your successes and feel unstoppable. If you are coming off many successes in speculation it can get difficult to say no to yourself. Investment may become an impulsive activity.

If you just made a whole bunch of money off of Restoration Angel, then Birthing Pod, you might be more likely to invest in the next Nivmagus Elemental. Controlling yourself after coming off a chain of wins is quite difficult and takes an enormous amount of self-discipline.

The best way to channel joy is to let it motivate you. Getting excited and pumped about wins should motivate you to examine what it was that made those decisions good decisions and rolling with those methods. It should influence you to do more work and try to replicate the wins you have just came off of.

However, do not let joy blind you. This is the main pitfall of this emotion. You have to stay rigid and do what works for you or you will get burned hard.

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The best companion to euphoria is a healthy dose of fear. There are two types of stress, eustress and distress. Eustress is the positive type that motivates you to do things. Distress is negative and can cause you to have panic attacks. Channel eustress from fear to counteract the negative effects of getting overconfident.

Anger

How many times have you watched a twitch.tv streamer yell into their microphone and shut their stream off in frustration at the seventh land that has come off of their deck?

I have personally seen it far too many times.

Now how many times have you watched a popular twitch.tv streamer do the same thing?

I’m willing to venture a lot less.

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Randomness is an inherent part of the game we play. We have to take risks and sometimes get punished for them.

Just like in Magic’s gameplay, investment is never a “sure thing.” There is always inherent risk in any investment. Many investments are a promo away from tanking.

It is very easy to get just as wrapped up in failure as in success.

The best thing to do is get some perspective. Take a break from the grind. It will make you a healthier and happier person. After you have taken a break, you will be able to approach everything with fresh eyes and not make rash, emotional decisions. Perhaps you even focus on playing the game you spend time investing in as opposed to only being focused on the bottom line.

It might be a good idea to reconsider why exactly you are into Magic finance when you get angry. The reason most of us get into MTG finance is because we like the game. You should get excited for playing the game and watching the players you like play it. That will reinvigorate you and refocus your efforts as opposed to wallowing in anger.

Complacency

When you are making money it is easy to get complacent. You won’t pursue new avenues to make money or might even ignore great opportunities to make serious cash.

It is hard to determine when you are getting complacent or if it even matters to you. If you are making money it can be difficult to realize the potential of thinking outside of the box and opening up new opportunities for profit.

The main way to get out of a complacent mindset is to read what others have to say about Magic finance. Try something new. Do something that looks interesting or groundbreaking. Make sure you are recording your efforts efficiently and with a focus on learning. The best thing about evading complacency is the opportunity to learn something.

This extends to what you’ve already been doing. If you fail to gather valuable data and stretch the limits of the methods you are already doing you have gotten complacent. Learn more and you’ll achieve more.

 

Many people will think that these ideas and concepts are rudimentary. However, there is value in exploring them.

The game of Magic itself is a card game. It is a game of strategy. However, it is also a game of chance. Emotions run high in a game of chance. The same people who are attracted to games of chance are attracted to using that game as an investment platform. We are all victim to our emotions at one point or another. 

Just like playing Magic, we have to use strategy to mitigate chance in the finance aspects of the game. You should be reorienting your strategy constantly in order to maximize your profit.

The key is being cognizant of the fact that we are humans. We have emotions. We act and don’t act based on those whims. Once you have awakened this self-awareness you can be more effective and objective in your analysis.

The end all be all is that you have to focus on analyzing what it is that makes you successful or not successful. You cannot be an emotionless robot. You can use your emotions to make better decisions or try something new. Even anger can be channeled into something positive.

I have become enamored with a sort of meta-analysis of the investment actions we take. It is necessary to question the preconceived notions that we have in order to get better at what it is we do.

What experiences have you had with emotions running high or low in your investments? Leave it in the comments. Thanks.

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Something Clever About Scry 3, the Future, and the Block Pro Tour

By: Travis Allen

This is going to be one of those rare weeks where I teach you guys something actually useful that you can apply yourself to situations down the road. The Block Pro Tour in Hotlanta just happened and we’re going to separate the signal from the noise. These PTs are important because they are a possible sign of things to come. The future can be changed, but it isn’t always. Even when things don’t shake out quite like this, the role players are still typically big parts of the story, just in a different costume.

Let’s start with what’s worth noticing. In the first instance of someone winning their first Pro Tour after being inducted into the Hall of Fame (I’m too lazy to find out if this is true), Chapin took home a well-deserved trophy. He played Spirit Jund, aka “a three color pile of the best cards in the format.” It just happened to show up in BGW this time around.

Manabases at a PT are a little tough to evaluate because they’re so constrained by lack of options. I’m sure if Pat had access to shocks his mana would look a little different. Even still, that’s a full-on set of Temples and Mana Confluence. The Temples are well-worn at this point and should surprise nobody. They’re all good, trade for as many as you can, etc etc. Four Mana Confluence is the bigger deal. Mana Confluence is unquestionably powerful, but it comes at a great price. When Overgrown Tomb comes into play you pay your two up front and you’re done. Drop your envelope full of money on the gift table as you come in and hit the open bar as many times as you want. Mana Confluence is a cash bar though, and it’s not cheap. After two drinks you’ve paid the same as the guy playing Overgrown Tomb, which means if you play it on turn one you’ve lost more life by the time you tap it on turn three. There’s a good chance you’re going to have to tap it a few more times as well. That Pat would play four of them means he’s really, really in the market for hitting his drops on schedule and doesn’t mind paying a butt-ton (that’s a real unit of measurement look it up) to do it. The format has been a little cool on Confluence relative to expectations, but it looks like we may be in for more of it in the future.

There hasn’t been a more “well dang better grab a set of that” card at a Pro Tour than Courser of Kruphix in possibly ever. There were twenty-eight – TWO EIGHT – copies in the Top 8, of a maximum thirty-two. Seven out of eight lists ran the full set in the main deck. It probably won’t be this heavily represented once we get M15 and #MTGKTK, but dang that is a lot of centaurs. It’s easy to say the metagame was weird and CFB represented a big part of the Top 8 and blah blah blah. Courser has been holding his own in Standard already so we know this isn’t just a flash in the pan.

Boros Reckoner was a solid $20 at his height and Courser looks like he could pull the same thing. That price was mostly a spike, but Reckoner easily hung between $10 and $15 for months at a time and climbed into the $18 range more than once. Courser will have increased by several dollars at least by the time we hit November barring some catastrophic metagame.

There’s a similar saturation of Sylvan Caryatid and Hero’s Downfall, but those are Theros rares and are therefore far less likely to be financially noteworthy. Remember the 6:2:1. Courser is that 2, but Caryatid and Downfall are the 6. Much tougher to see huge spikes. They are still going to be a big part of the Standard landscape in the fall, but there will be better places for trade equity.

Elspeth was expectedly a big part of the Top 8 as well, although not quite like manhorse. Even though she’s from Theros, just as Caryatid and Downfall are, I like her much more than those two. Why is that? For one, she’s a mythic. Even though she’s a 6 in 6:2:1, there are still roughly 1/8th as many copies as any given Theros rare, meaning the total number of absolute copies is on the much lower end of the scale. She’s also a planeswalker, which comes with an automatic demand multiplier. While Caryatid and Downfall are (conceivably) replaceable by something else, it’s very unlikely something will come along and be better at what Elspeth does than Elspeth. She sees roughly the same amount of play as Domri Rade does/did, and Domri went from $10-$15 to $20-$25 at rotation. Elsepth is still just about $20 and isn’t dropping much/at all this summer, so she should be a solid $30+ come September or October. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her crest $40 if the format shakes out in her favor. (Did you know she died at the end of Theros? I found out yesterday. Good riddance.)

Kiora popped her head in a few times which tells me she’s still going to be a reasonable option in the fall. She’s a lot less reliable than Elspeth is in terms of playability, but she’s certainly capable. I’m not as hot on her jumping as significantly as I am Elspeth, but she’ll definitely see a rise. If she’s around $15-$16 right now, then I fully expect $20+ with the best case scenario being $30 or so. Go ahead and trade for copies now, and if they get down closer to $12 trade for every single one you see.

Bringing up the rear are Ashiok and Xenagos. They saw the least play but I like them the most out of the four. They’re dirt cheap right now, scraping the price floor of playable Planeswalkers. If you trade for these  guys one of two things will happen in the fall: They’ll see no play and rise a little bit, or they’ll end up being awesome and rise a ton. Plan accordingly.

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Thoughtseize is still good. It only stands to gain. Yawn.

Now we get to the part where I get to actually teach you something worthwhile. Block Pro Tours are a great look ahead, but there are always a few cards that look like they’re going to be a big deal in the fall and then fail to pan out. Anyone remember the four Devastation Tide and Tamiyo in Hayne’s Block-winning list from PT Avacyn? Finkel’s Dungeon Geists? Wescoe’s winning four Advent of the Wurms a year later? No? Not surprising. They were all nearly entirely absent from the following Standard. I got burned by the Advents but managed to dodge the rest. How?

The biggest factor in determining whether a break-out Block performance is sustainable is how well the card will fare when you add 500 more to the format. Let’s apply this concept to a card that was a big part of of the Top 8 that I didn’t talk about yet. How about, oh, Prognostic Sphinx. There were plenty of people out there on r/mtgfinance and elsewhere that were discussing it as a spec option. It was closing games on coverage and looking good doing it.

Prognostic Sphinx is a terrible spec.

Let’s start by looking at what other options the CFB team had for filling out that slot. They needed something that could close games, preferably with evasion, and it needed to do well in a grindy, slow Block format. Blue would be preferable, because they want access to Ashiok and Kiora.

What were their options besides Prognostic? Well, there’s Arbiter of the Ideal, a card that may do something for you the third turn it’s in play. You’ve also got Celestial Archon, which is expensive to bestow and doesn’t fit as well with the controllish GB shell they’ve got going. There’s also…Chromanticore? Medomai? Maybe one of the seven-drop black demons?

Prognostic Sphinx isn’t a bad card at all. In a Standard format with miracles it would be amazing. But in Theros Block, it’s just the best of a bad situation. What do you think the odds are that both M15 and Khans won’t bring a more powerful closer? They aren’t looking for the core of a deck here; they really just need a creature that get the job done. If Aetherling were legal, it absolutely would have been that. Hell, I’m fairly confident that Morphling would have been played instead of Prognostic if they had the option.

It also didn’t really have to be blue either. They were glad it was because it meant they got Kiora and Ashiok, but those may not be the right option in the future either. The core of the deck is clearly GB, and the third color could feasibly be anything, as evidenced by Chapin taking down the whole thing with GBW.

Furthermore, as card pools grow larger the decks tend to get cheaper and more aggressive. You can’t build a competitive aggressive sixty card deck with only twelve playable cards at two mana or less, but when the card pool doubles and you’ve got access to twice as many your deck gets lower to the ground and meaner. More cards smooths out mana curves as well. As a rule of thumb, the more cards you put in the pool the cheaper and faster the decks get. Need proof? Look at the speeds of Vintage, Legacy and Modern. What does this matter here? Prognostic Sphinx is slow. It’s on the pricier side of the mana curve. The conditional hexproof requires you to discard, meaning it’s probably going to take more time to kill your opponent. Scrying every turn sets up future turns, but it doesn’t actually put cards in your hand. It’s a slow, grindy creature at its best in a slow, grindy format.

All of this means that buying Prognostic Sphinx is just a complete waste of money. Remember that it’s a rare from Theros. Even if you got them at $.50, what’s your goal? What has to happen for you to make a reasonable amount of money? How many do you need to buy? Take a look at my article about my experience with Ghaves a few weeks ago. Even if you get in on Prognostic at $.50 each and it quadruples to $2, you’re probably barely making $10 an hour, if you even manage that.

Courser of Kruphix, Sylvan Caryatid, and Thoughtseize are powerful, inexpensive cards that can fit nearly anywhere. Planeswalkers are very powerful permanents that warp board states. Cards like Prognostic Sphinx are high on the curve and easily outclassed by other options. You can learn to identify the flashes in the pan by asking yourself directed questions about the metagame, the quantity on the market, and how easily it can be replaced in a larger format. Was there a weird Block meta that resulted in an odd card being well positioned? How many copies of the card in question are in the format? Was it printed in the large fall set, or the under-drafted third set? Could you imagine easily replacing the card with a card that’s legal in Standard right now? Is there casual demand? Are people likely to play it as a complete set?

Hopefully this walkthrough will give you the tools needed to make informed decisions when evaluating cards that show up at Block pro tours, and perhaps even speculating in general. It can certainly be tricky – the stack of Advent of the Wurm on my desk will testify – but at the very least, you should hopefully be able to dodge the obvious pitfalls.

And if you’ve got thirty or forty Prognostic Sphinx in your TCGPlayer order history, well, my condolences.

In Defense of Risk

By: Jason Alt

“In order to manage risk we must first understand risk. How do you spot risk? How do you avoid risk and what makes it so risky? To understand risk, we must first define risk.”
– Seinfeld Episode 140 “The Fatigues”

Did anyone see that episode? The whole point of the story arc was that George had to read a book about risk for work but he hated the voice inside his own head so he got a book on tape to make it less boring. The guy reading the book on tape sounded just like him because the Seinfeld universe is really wacky. I think that was the episode where that Jurassic Park guy said “Hello, Jerry.” It was a great show.

If it were me, I wouldn’t need another person’s voice to distract me from boredom to read a book about risk. Risk isn’t boring. At all. Risk is the least boring thing ever. Not risk is boring. “Not risk” is investing 4% of your paycheck into a company approved 401K investment plan because your company matches you dollar for dollar. Risk is e-mailing a picture of your buttcrack to everyone on the company’s e-mail distribution list, telling your boss you want to get a new job as a racecar driver and taking your life’s savings to Vegas to bet it all on black. Russian Roulette is risky. Skydiving is risky. Not wearing a condom is risky. What could be more exciting?

The Risks We Take

Not pictured – my bedroom

I’m not a millionaire. Shocking, right? I don’t have all of the money there is on the planet. Despite experiencing a high degree of success both in picking the correct specs and lucking into some opportunities in the community, I’m not the richest person on earth. That’s because 100% of my specs are not fruitful. (Edit-100% of readers are not able to figure out that I am not saying 100% of my specs are wrong, but that fewer than 100% of my specs are fruitful. It’s a confusing wording, I’ll grant you that.) Sometimes I bet on the wrong horsey. Sometimes the winds shift, the metagame changes, new cards are printed or a card gets banned and a pick that made sense last week is suddenly a poor bet this week. Sometimes you make the right call but you misjudged demand and you end up like Travis Allen did this year. Speculation is hard. You can nail a spec like Travis did and still not make a ton of money on it. You know how often a card quadruples in value? Not often. You know how often a card quadruples in value and someone from the finance community is far enough ahead of it to take advantage of scooping copies? Less often. Much, much less often. We’re not psychics, we’re just keen observers of patterns, holding on by our fingernails, hoping there wasn’t an important variable we missed. If you “hit” on a spec, you feel amazing. And you should – you accomplished something rare and wonderful.

Why We Should Go Deep

I hate myself in the worst way possible, so I spend time in the finance subreddit. Wait, I didn’t think that through at all. Someone’s probably going to link this article there and people are going to read it and be all “say WHAT?” Should have planned that better. Anyway, YOLO.

YOLO? Really Jason?

Yeah, it’s annoying when people say “YOLO” isn’t it? It was supposed to be the next generation’s “Carpe Diem” but it’s turned into a phrase that more often means “Oh, did I make a terrible decision? Oh well, no sense crying over spilled milk. Or, you know, learning.” I don’t see a lot of people saying the literal phrase “YOLO” on reddit. Not that literal phrase. However, I do see that same sentiment reflected and it was the impetus for today’s article.

Travis’ piece about his spec only going up $0.75 was a cautionary tale about a scenario where a spec can “hit” but there are no buyers at the higher price because there was no demand. His piece wasn’t written as a response to the same sentiment I’m responding to, but it does address it. I’m referring to a mentality I see applied to low-risk specs.

Hypothetical Scenario

I see a lot of people say something like “I think Prognostic Sphinx is a good spec. It was everywhere at the Pro Tour so I bought a playset.” A discussion starts. Inevitably someone will point out that the Pro Tour was block so Sphinx probably shined because there was a smaller card pool. Someone else might point out that block is a decent predictor of future standard, but not always because Khans of Tarkir could give us something to invalidate the card completely, similar to the way that Dungeon Geists really fell off after that block Pro Tour despite a very impressive showing by the geist deck from players like Jon Finkel.

“But Prognostic Sphinx was only a quarter. If it goes up, I profit, if it doesn’t, oh well. I only bought a playset. I won’t lose anything.”

Sure but if you only bought a playset, you don’t gain anything if it goes up, either.

“YOLO”

  Stop Saying “YOLO”

I speak very highly of low risk specs all the time. The closer to “bulk” you buy in, the lower your risk is. Bulk rares spike up all the time due to changing circumstances. Ryan Bushard, famously, made money off of Death’s Shadow spiking up from a dime to a few dollars not once, but twice. If Death’s Shadow hadn’t done anything, he could have held onto it for as long as he wanted. There is a cost to that- the opportunity cost of having your money tied up in a busted spec. Then, if he wanted to get out, he could sell them as bulk rares. Presuming he got in for a dime, he could get out for a dime with his only breakage being shipping and processing costs. Worse things have happened. With such low downside it made sense for him to buy a playset, right?

WRONG.

If he’d bought a playset and the spec ended up busted, he’d be out a small amount of money, so why not risk it? If the spec had hit, he’s be in… a small amount of money. Practically nothing. Let’s play with made up numbers.

4 copies at $0.12 = $0.48

Shipping = $2.39

In cost – $2.87

After sitting on the cards for a week or so, the spec pays off! Either Sam Black wins a Pro Tour with 4 copies of Death’s Shadow in his deck, or Travis Woo says something that rhymes with Death’s Shadow on his stream. Either way, the card is going to be worth $5 by Monday!

You hope on TCG Player but it’s jammed with people trying to sell their copies for $4.35 and it’s ticking down. Still, Star City upped their buylist price to $1 each! Wow! That’s 10 times what you paid! Cash in, you lucky so-and-so.

Buylist order

4 copies at $1 = $4

– 3% Paypal fee = $3.84

– $2.39 shipping the cards to SCG = $1.45

$1.45 – $2.87 = -$1.42

Congratulations. You correctly predicted a price spike of 5,000% – a jump that only occurs once every year or so. Your reward for having the foresight to see a 5,000% increase coming is you profited negative $1.42. Time to call your boss and tell him to suck it- beers are on you tonight!

Think about it. If you had bought 40 copies instead, what are we looking at?

Your cost is $7.19 instead of $2.87. Not much difference.

Your profit after shipping to the buylist and paying your initial cost is $29.22. That’s still not worth the effort, and we’re buying in ten times the “YOLO” order.

Buy 100 copies and your initial cost is $14.39 (exactly twice what 40 copies costs-thanks shipping!) and you make $100 on the buylist, lose $3 to fees, $2.39 to shipping and actually profit $80. $80 is not a bad payday, but you’re paying yourself minimum wage, probably.

I like these low-risk “penny stock” picks like Death’s Shadow, but what people need to realize is that if you’re not going DEEP on the spec, you’re not making money. 100 copies is not deep unless you have a better out for the copies than the buylist. Can you sell 100 copies on TCG Player while competing with everyone else trying to capitalize on the price spike? eBay?

Like Tahiti, “locally” is a magical place

How about “locally?” This is another thing you’ll read a lot. “I’m not going to sell to a buylist, I’ll just sell these locally and not pay any fees.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not able to walk into my LGS with 100 copies of Death’s Shadow and walk out with $500 cash. This “sell them locally” response is bandied about more often with respect to small quantities; a playset or two. You don’t pay shipping or paypal fees or take the big hit buylisting if you just sell them “locally.” I guess? Let’s say you have local buyers in place. If you bought a playset of Death’s Shadow and your cost is $2.87 and you get $20 for the playset, that’s pretty good. It’s very good! You can make even more scaling that up. How many local buyers do you have? What’s your plan for the rest of the copies? You’re going to buylist all buy a playset or two, most likely. You profit $20 or $40 extra. Even if your only plan was to buy a playset or two to sell at the shop and you get full SCG retail, cash, no fees, how well did you do? Percentage-wise, you CRUSHED it. Still, you made, what, $40? If you could do it every day, that would be great. But how often is a card going to go from a dime to $5? Once a year? Less? And you correctly predicted such a rare event- you deserve more than $40.

How To Get What You Deserve

Put yourself in a position to actually benefit from a card’s price spiking. Predicting price spikes is HARD. Make sure you’re rewarded for being correct. It’s not easy to do and you can’t count on it happening often, so treat each spec opportunity like it’s once-in-a-lifetime.

Buy enough copies to actually make money if the card’s price goes up. I can’t emphasize this enough.

Don’t spec with money you can’t afford to lose. Most of the time this isn’t a stock market, it’s a slot machine. Gamble responsibly.

Make sure you diversify your investment portfolio. Don’t jam all of your eggs in one basket. Have a nice mix of long and short-term specs. Turning those short-term specs over means you can have some money liquid to buy into new opportunities as they arise. You don’t want to sell your long-term holds prematurely for practically what you paid for them to have the money to buy into something else that comes along. Bankroll management is bankroll management whether it’s with money or specs.

Final Thoughts

You’re risking your money when you speculate. If it were a sure thing, I’d be a millionaire. Even if I were only going to make $0.75 a copy like in Travis’ sobering scenario, if I knew 100% that I would make $0.75 a copy, I would just take out hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans and just print myself a fortune $0.75 at a time. There are limitations to the amount we can spend, the number of copies we can get in, process and sell. There are limits to the number of copies any given person or buylist will take off of our hands. But if you believe in your spec, go deep! Have fun- speculation is fun, so treat it as entertainment and you’ll be less gun-shy about investing. Remember- this is hard to do and being ahead of a spec doesn’t happen every time. You made an intelligent play by getting ahead of a spike, so make sure you make it worth your while.

The State of Legacy

By: Jared Yost

Let’s take a look at the state of Legacy over the recent weeks to see if there is opportunity included in decks that have done well recently.

StarCityGames.com Legacy Open – Knoxville

1. UR Delver
2. Painter
3. Storm
4. Stoneblade
5. UW Miracles
6. Pikula (This is a BWg version of Maverick)
7. Painter
8. Merfolk

Starcitygames Open Series: Cincinnati

1. Death & Taxes
2. Canadian Threshold
3. Reanimator
4. Canadian Threshold
5. Elves
6. Stoneblade
7. Patriot Aggro
8. Sneak Show

Bazaar of Moxen Legacy Main Event (Europe)

1. Loam
2. Shardless BUG
3. Death & Taxes
4. Elves !
5. Death & Taxes
6. UW Miracles
7. UW Miracles
8. UWr Miracles

Starcitygames Open Series: Detroit

1. Canadian Threshold
2. Shardless BUG
3. BUG Threshold
4. Maverick
5. Canadian Threshold
6. True Name BUG
7. UR Delver
8. Storm

Super Legacy – Arcanis 20k (Spain)

1. BUG Aggro / Midrange
2. Dredge
3. Reanimator
4. Sneak Show
5. UW Miracles
6. BUG Aggro / Midrange
7. Omni – Show
8. UW Miracles

Total Decks 40

Distinct Decks 21

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Top 3 Decks

UW Miracles

UW Miracles is the most popular control deck in Legacy over the last month and it is putting up the most Top 8 results to back up this popularity. It is doing 33% better than Canadian Threshold, 50% better than Death and Taxes, and 67% to 83% better than the rest of the field.

One card that sticks out to me right away is Counterbalance, the focal point of the deck. Outside of Dark Depths and Zur the Enchanter, Counterbalance is the third most expensive card from Coldsnap sitting at around $9 retail. Sensei’s Divining Top, the other piece to the lockdown, is priced around $28 retail. How can Counterbalance be a $9 card when Top is more than triple its price? Clearly, Counterbalance only has demand in competitive eternal formats but what if one day Wizards decides to unban Top from Modern? Counterbalance could possibly be a real force in Modern in addition to the Legacy play it sees. Even outside this potential unbanning (which is really just a pipe dream at this point) I feel that it being a key piece to the deck means that we should be keeping a close eye on the card.

The next cards that stick out to me are the namesake of the deck, Terminus and Entreat the Angels. Terminus probably has the most growth potential as it clearly is a good sweeper in casual formats like Commander in addition to being included in Miracles lists as three or four copies. Non-foils are currently priced at $4 which I believe is lower than the demand it is seeing. Foils are $25 and even though this is a high entry point I also think foils are a good pick up right now. Terminus has a good chance of seeing another price increase within the next year.

Entreat the Angels has already jumped up in price earlier this year, doubling from around $5.50 retail to its current price of $11 retail. This makes me less hesitant to go after it like I would Terminus, yet the potential for another price increase isn’t out of the question as Avacyn Restored ages like a fine wine.

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While this card is not as awesome as Terminus in casual formats and is included in fewer copies than Terminus in UW Miracles (mostly two copies per deck is the norm), I still would keep a close watch on Entreat the Angels for any further movement. Casuals do love angels, so maybe I am even underestimating the casual appeal of the card. Foils are around $40 which aren’t moving downward any time soon – if you want your foil copies get them before they go up even more.

In addition to the key elements of the deck, I think the following cards should be watched closely moving forward:

Jace, the Mind Sculptor – The deck usually includes three copies and this is the best planeswalker ever printed. The FTV hype has died down a bit, and I remember before FTV:20 was released he was around $125 retail. I would expect non-foil WWK copies to go up again to this price and eventually surpass it.

Flooded Strand – Until a reprint, this fetchland could trend up and match Polluted Delta’s price of around $120 retail. It is currently sitting at $95 retail. Not a lot of growth and very risky considering the imminent reprint of fetchlands to make Modern more accessible, however for a short term flip it could be possible to make a profit if Miracles keeps seeing a ton of success.

Vendilion Clique – Along with its popularity in Modern, Clique has a good chance of going up in price during the summer. It may already be too late yet if you haven’t I would suggest picking up your copies of Clique if you want to play UW Miracles. Modern will only continue to drive the demand for this card moving forward.

Rest in Peace – Both foils and non-foils of this card will continue to be in demand as time goes on. Though it is a very reprintable effect, I can still see this going up in time until that reprint happens. Pick up foils if you want a card that will keep its value over many years.

Wear // Tear Foils – These are hovering around $9 right now. Fuse cards are extremely hard to reprint, so getting in on foils of these will be especially good for your portfolio a year or two down the line. Between Modern and Legacy this is a very widely played sideboard card so I foresee it continuing to be in demand. Even non-foils of this card under $1 are a good pickup in my opinion.

Canadian Threshold

A Legacy classic. Canadian Threshold has been around in some form or another in Legacy ever since Nimble Mongoose was printed and Threshold became a mechanic. It has gone through various changes over the years however the backbone of the deck is still the same – an aggro tempo deck that utilizes cheap spells to manipulate the library and out-tempo the opponent.

Unfortunately, since it has been around in Legacy so long there aren’t many financial opportunities within the deck. Many of the cards are commons or uncommons, and their foil prices are already outrageously expensive. Let me give you a breakdown of these common and uncommon foil prices:

Delver of Secrets – $16
Nimble Mongoose – $55
Daze – $124
Lightning Bolt (M11) – $9
Brainstorm (FNM) – $125
Ponder (M12) – $19
Spell Pierce – $47
Spell Snare (MM) – $13
Gitaxian Probe (FNM) – $12
Fire / Ice – $8.50

Not a lot of opportunity there considering Bolt and Ponder both have several printings in foil. Delver of Secrets foils, however, have room to grow. $16 is rather cheap compared to the rest of the foils in the deck and I can only see them getting more valuable as time goes on. Being a double faced card means that it will be harder to reprint than other cards which makes it even more awesome to pick up your foil Delvers sooner rather than later.

Other than foils the deck doesn’t really have anything that stands out to me. The rest of the deck’s components will continue to be affected by the popularity of the Legacy. Legacy has been very popular over the past several years, and I foresee it continuing to be popular for quite a while yet.

Death & Taxes

Death and Taxes has been talked about quite a bit before but there is still opportunity. It is the second most popular aggro deck in Legacy behind UR Delver and has already had a substantial impact on prices in the Legacy format. Cards like Rishadan Port, Karakas, Wasteland, and Stoneforge Mystic have all seen incredible price increases due to the popularity of this deck (Wasteland and Stoneforge also being bolstered by their general utility in Legacy).

The card that sticks out the most to me in this deck is Phyrexian Revoker. Its currently around $3.50 retail and foils are going for about $22. For now, I don’t think there is much opportunity with foil copies though regular copies will most likely see a bump in price soon. It is an important component to the deck that you can cast off of colorless lands and allows the D&T player to shut down many important activated abilities in the format.

Outside of Revoker, I see that Spirit of the Labyrinth has become an important component to the deck at least at the Bazaar of Moxen tournament where two D&T decks placed in the Top 8 running copies. Regular copies aren’t moving in price for a long time, since she is in Standard and not that great in that format, but foils are currently sitting at $15 which is pretty appetizing to me. At Bazaar of Moxen, one D&T player had four Spirits in their deck – a clear sign that it could become a staple in Legacy’s future.

Eventide Flickerwisp foils are $10 each, which is a pretty decent price for a card that is played as usually three copies in the deck. Leonin Arbiter made a showing as a playset in one D&T player’s main deck. In addition to his popularity in Modern Hatebears, for $3 nonfoil and $13 foil it could be a good pick up either way. There were three Serra Avengers in the winning deck at SCG: Cincinnati and at $1.30 retail for M13 copies and only $13 for Time Spiral foils this could also be a juicy pickup.

Other cards to watch from D&T include:

Aether Vial – Since this is already at $25 non-foil and $40 foil, I don’t think there is much room for growth. It does see marginal Modern play in about 7% of the decks yet I’m not sure if this is enough to make it spike during the Summer PTQ season. Picking these up in trade is always good but I would be hesitant to go too deep on them.

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Thalia, Guardian of Thraben – I still think Thalia will continue to go up in the long term. She has already doubled in price since January, though without a reprint this year I think she could go higher still. Don’t buy these in cash; I feel that similar to Aether Vial they are good trade targets. Foils are already at $40, which is rather high but I wouldn’t want to be that guy who wished he would have bought the foils one year from now at this time.

The Field Outside the Top 3

In this section, I want to talk about outlier decks that you can see in the bar chart above that put two copies in the past month’s Top 8’s to see if there is potential for a card to see a substantial price increase.

Painter – This deck put two people into the Top 8 of SCG: Knoxville. One version opted for Imperial Recruiter while the other opted for only Goblin Welder and Painter’s Servant and instead went for the Intuition package win.

First off, Imperial Recruiter will have a hard time going up any more in price. The judge foil is already approaching $200 so unless you’re Rich Uncle Pennybags this “investment” is best avoided. Imperial Recruiter will continue to go up in price due to sheer collectability, especially the P3K version, but judge foils are mainly impacted by the popularity of Legacy. Only pick this up if you are seriously considering playing Painter. You won’t make too much money sitting on these for a year and there is the slight chance it could be reprinted in a supplemental product.

On the other hand, Painter’s Servant, Goblin Welder, and Intuition could all go up in price suddenly over the next year. They are sitting at $12, $9, and $35 respectively at retail value. If the non-Imperial Recruiter version of Painter becomes popular due to its recent success than all three of these cards could see a substantial bump. However, I would caution that this is more a pet deck than a really popular deck at this point. It may be hard to offload the cards at the new price if there isn’t a surge in popularity of the deck.

In addition to the card’s mentioned above, Grindstone could also take off if Painter rises in popularity. Its price history has fluctuated and it currently stands at $18. The demand of the card waxes and wanes with the popularity of Painter. With the resurgence of Painter, though, it could see the $25+ highs that it was at two years ago.

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One caution against this is that Grindstone is not on the reserved list, so it could be reprinted in a supplementary product at some point. However, Intuition is on the reserved list and is played in more decks.

Shardless BUG – Shardless BUG has been talked about a lot, but I want to mention that the deck’s namesake Shardless Agent is sitting around $15 retail right now. That price could easily go up past $20 if the deck becomes more popular. Liliana of the Veil and Toxic Deluge should be watched for any price changes – I can see these going up more and more as time goes on as they are both great Legacy cards.

Also, don’t forget about Deathrite Shaman and Abrupt Decay – the popularity of these two cards can’t be stated enough. Like Stoneforge Mystic, I feel that once Deathrite and Abrupt Decay rotate out of Standard and become harder to find their price will only continue to creep upwards.

Elves – Elves is another deck where I expect cards in the deck to rise. Glimpse of Nature, Natural Order, Wirewood Symbiote, Heritage Druid, and Green Sun’s Zenith are all on an upward mobility path in regards to price. I’ve already talked about elves before so refer back to my other article to understand why I feel this way.

Community Input

I’ve harped plenty in this article on Legacy staples I’m focusing on – which ones are you focusing on and why? Are you looking to pick up foil or non-foil versions of cards? Let me know in the comments.

People say that Legacy is dying. These prices seem to say otherwise. I’m looking forward to the exciting future that is in store for Legacy, both through cards released in Standard sets and supplementary products. Will Dack Fayden become the next big thing?

MAGIC: THE GATHERING BLOG, ARTICLES, AND COMMUNITY

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