Ancestral Recall: The Wild West

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Jared is on vacation this week, so enjoy this article that originally aired December 23, 2013.

By: Jared Yost

Sometimes it feels like we are in the wild west of Magic: the Gathering when it comes to sudden price spikes and card buyouts that seem to affect the market on a weekly basis. It feels like every week I am hearing that this card or that card was bought out and the price has gone up 200%-400%. Just like a shootout, it seems as if the first person to draw their gun (or in this case, their wallet) and fire (click “add to cart”) is the winner. And it only seems to get worse as time goes on. 

Disrupting Shoal

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Let’s ponder for a quick minute – who the heck is actually pulling the trigger on these calls like Disrupting Shoal and Phyrexian Obliterator (which even seemed to spike twice?) Is it individuals that have amassed enough ammunition (money) and have good enough aim (experience) to hit every single target faster than the rest of us? Are they the Billie the Kids and Jesse James of the Magic market? Is there a domino effect of casual speculators with more money than sense?

The answer is probably yes to both. As the popularity of Magic increases, it looks like the sky’s the limit for the prices on some of these cards when someone discovers that they are undercosted and acts quickly to drain the market. If you are one of these individuals, my hat is off to you. Congratulations. You have done your homework, discovered an undervalued asset, and have capitalized on that asset. I’m not sure if there is any advice I can give you except to avoid the trap of getting in on a card too late, which you’ve probably avoided in 95% of the cases (there is always the potential for the double spike, though it doesn’t happen often – Jace, the Mind Sculptor did it in Standard). Just remember to strike while the iron is hot: those Disrupting Shoals aren’t going to sell themselves.

But It’s not even Modern cards that are experiencing these price hikes. What about cards like Wheel and Deal and Forced FruitionNekusar hasn’t been out for long and isn’t even the flagship commander of the Mind Seize deck, so why did these random cards that only fit into a narrow strategy in a specific causal format go up in value? I might have an idea.

Those holding the bag of cards that spike and then quickly plummet are similar to the penny stock investor, who decided “investing” in penny stock assets would result in a great return. However, the asset in this case is not a random number on a roulette wheel or any single name in a list of penny stocks – the asset is actually something that all of us are emotionally invested in. The first reason that these spikes happen is because players and speculators are both emotionally invested in the game of Magic. Aluren

Everyone that plays Magic is emotionally invested in the game to some degree. Otherwise, why play the game? There are literally thousands of other games that could be played instead, so what makes it so special? The answer is that playing the game is fun, the wonderful community is welcoming and friendly, the feeling of opening packs and sorting a collection can’t be beat, the feeling of chasing a collection and acquiring all of the particular cards you desire is amazing, the great feeling of putting a deck together and calling it your own is the best, and the support by the company that produces the game is fantastic. Without all of these factors, Magic would falter and slowly go away. It is stronger than ever now because all Magic players are able to get emotionally invested through all of these other aspects besides playing the game. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to Magic out there, whether they sell art related to the game (card alters), offer game accessories (dice, tokens, deckboxes, playmats, etc.), or are just reflecting on the community (Cardboard Crack). All of these factors help to cement good feelings in players’ minds about how sweet Magic is.

Right, so what does emotional investment have to do with price spikes? Well, when you get pretty emotional about something, it’s much harder for logic to factor into the equation. Do you want to buy those Disrupting Shoals at $10 because you think they’re cool and there is no way they could go down due to their awesomeness? If this is your train of thought, speculating might not be for you. Speculating requires a certain amount of cold logic and forethought that a lot players don’t want to apply to their favorite past time, which is supposed to be about fun.

Capture

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Besides emotional investing, I believe another reason that these price spikes are happening is due to the rarity of the older cards compared to the newer ones (Wheel of Fortune anyone?). Back when Magic first came out, they had no idea how popular the game would be. They created the reserve list out of a fear of killing the game via reprints, and it seemed to work for a time. Because these cards can’t be reprinted, when a new card is released that synergizes or combos well with an old Reserve List card, that card can wind up spiking in value very fast. Even a rules change or unbanning could do this – Gaea’s Cradle and Time Spiral are examples of these cases respectively. With the Modern format Wizards can better control prices of newer cards, but older cards that are in Legacy and EDH are anyone’s guess. 

Nekusar, the Mindrazer

In addition to Reserved List cards that are never getting reprinted, cards that could also receive a reprint but have not gotten one yet are also targets for spikes. Specifically, cards in sets that are post-reserved but pre-Modern, like Masque’s (Rishadan Port), Invasion, Odyssey, and Onslaught – these blocks were printed in a time where the Magic community was only a fraction of what it is today. If a card from one of these sets is discovered to be very synergistic with a new card it, it will spike out of nowhere because the amount of copies that exist are marginal compared to the demand it will see from interacting well with a newer card. It is very hard to keep on top of all the potential combinations that exist without a good grasp on the community resources available to discover these interactions. So I will state that card rarity is always a factor in a spike, because even uncommons (Remand) can become grossly expensive without a reprint.

Just because because a card is rare or hard to find does not mean that its spike is warranted. Aluren would be a good example of this – it’s a card that has a legacy deck to its name and is a casual favorite that a lot of players remember having tons of fun with. It never sustained its price, though, because the deck failed to put up enough results compared to other currently existing legacy decks. Due to the lack of demand, it then dropped down close to the original price from which it spiked. In order to avoid buying high into potential scenarios like Aluren, you want to make sure you pick up the card before it has seen a massive increase in price, you want to make sure that it can fit into a deck that has proven results backing it up, you want to make sure that even if it isn’t tournament playable that it can be popular with casual and EDH players, and you finally want to make sure that it is from a set that had a relatively small print run compared to current sets (like the post-reserve list sets I mentioned above).

So in summary, the combination of emotional investing and card rarity are a recipe for a card spike. Whether the spike is real or whether it will ultimately become a bust can be hard to spot without extensive knowledge of the current tournament scene and correctly identifying the casual appeal of a card. With time comes experience, and I’m sure we’ve all made mistakes in the past in regard to cards and spikes – I certainly have. All we can do is to keep working at it and make sure that the characteristics of a card match up well with the reasons a card could spike. It can sure feel like the wild west at times with all of these card spikes, but realize that many of them can’t sustain those prices for very long and are mainly driven emotional investing and card rarity.

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Weekend Update for 8/9/14

By: Jim Marsh

Every week, some cards from Magic the Gathering increase and decease in value based upon a number of factors.

Let’s take a look at some of the cards whose values have changed the most and the factors behind why those changes have occurred.

10 Big Winners of the Week

10. Slaughter Pact (Modern Masters)
From $5.87 to $6.83 (16.35%)

Slaughter Pack is a modern darling. This past weekend was an excellent example of that.

The SCG Modern tournament in Dallas on 8/3/2014 winner was a Golgari Midrange deck that ran two copies of Slaughter Pact in the main deck.

Six of the Top 8 decks had Slaughter Pact either in the main deck or sideboard. There were a total of nine copies played in those six decks so most were using one or two. That still means that a sizeable chunk of the metagame wants a have a few copies handy.

This can take the form of Jund, Pack Rat Black, and Junk (Abzan) decks that utilize it.

The reprint in Modern Masters made it take a hit last year but I see these continuing to rise over the long term. Free removal is something we do not see very often after all.

9. Avenger of Zendikar (Worldwake)
From $5.42 to $6.37 (17.53%)

Avenger of Zendikar was around $10 before it was reprinted in the Jund Power Hungry Commander 2013 decks.

It is a casual favorite that creates a swarm of chump blockers that turn into game ending threats fairly quickly.

It is starting to creep back up but the recent flood of copies in a deck you can still pick up at a local Target or Walmart near you makes me think this has a ceiling of around $8. It will take a long time to recover if it ever does.

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If you just want to move them, you can purchase these as low as $4.01 and sell them for $4.39.

8. Fauna Shaman (M11)
From $6.86 to $8.07 (17.64%)

Fauna Shaman is a fixture of Commander decks, Cubes and casual decks that run forests and creatures. There are an endless supply of creatures to tutor or reanimate.

It sees some play in Modern Kiki-Pod variants and has a nearly unique effect. It is certainly easier to pick up a few shamans than a few copies of Survival of the Fittest.

I see this one continuing to grow over the long term.

7. Porphyry Nodes (Planar Chaos)
From $4.24 to $5.35 (26.18%)

It is still astounding that only six months ago this was a bulk rare.

Control decks use it to keep a leash on Zoo and other aggressive decks. If it kills a single creature it has paid for itself.

Modern UWR (Jeskai) Control and UWR Delver both have a pair in the sideboard. The deck consistently appears in Top 8s.

However a sideboard card out of a single deck is no place to park your money.

I would trade for Keranos, God of Storms out of the same deck. You can buy them for $5.00 and sell them for $5.23.

There is also the possibility that UWR or RUG (Temur) standard decks will be using them soon.

6. Pithing Needle (Saviors of Kamigawa)
From $2.50 to $3.48 (39.20%)

You may recognize Pithing Needle from half the sideboards in legacy.

Just this last week at the SCG Legacy Open in Dallas half the Top 8 had a copy in their seventy five.

That may sound like a ringing endorsement but it is a trap. There have been four printings of the card. The most recent version was Return to Ravnica. In a few months all of the standard players that have held onto a few copies to use in their sideboards will be unloading them. Most decks only need a single copy.

I would get out before the market gets flooded.

You can still buy these as low as $1.79 and sell them for up to $2.25.

5. Legion Loyalist (Gatecrash)
From $2.92 to $4.18 (43.15%)

Rabble Red received quite a bit of attention this past week. It was a quick and aggressive deck which is usually a pretty safe game plan right after a shakeup in the metagame.

It got a lot of attention on day 1 but failed to Top 8 on day two. Twenty two of the cards in the deck are rotating soon.

The amount of buzz will cause other players to want to put this deck together and try it out. I would take this price bump and run.

4. Galerider Sliver (M14)
From $2.92 to $4.94 (69.18%)

Speaking of rotating rare cards next we have Galerider Sliver. This is sometimes used as a flying one drop in Mono-Blue Devotion but that is it so far as the competitive scene goes.

Modern Slivers still does not appear to be a thing and standard slivers is now definitely not a thing.

Get out. Sell your Galerider Sliver and buy Galerider Sliver.

The regular copies are $4.94 but the foils are only $5.31.

You can even find the foils for as low as $4.94!

These are the copies that people will want in their sliver commander decks so I say upgrade to foil and wait for slow steady growth.

3. Flames of the Blood Hand (Betrayers of Kamigawa)
From $2.44 to $4.11 (68.44%)

Flames of the Blood Hand is played in every flavor of modern Burn decks.

Boros Burn has become popular as well as Rakdos Burn which recently got in the Top 16 in the 8/3/2014 SCG Modern tournament.

I do not think that an uncommon is going to get much higher than $4. I think it is time to cash out of them.

2. Boom // Bust (Planar Chaos)
From $1.25 to $2.16 (72.80%)

This card is essentially a bulk rare.

It does see play in a fringe Modern Restore Balance deck as a play set in the sideboard but that is about it.

I really cannot find much reason to recommend it but you can buy these as low as $0.66 and sell them for up to $1.10.

That should make someone happy.

1. Goblin Rabblemaster (M15)
From $0.94 to $3.41 (262.77%)

Here is the biggest swing this week. Everyone was talking about Rabble Red but it did not put up the results to justify its spike.

A lot of standard players are going to want to get their hands on it to brew and I say let them have it. M15 is still being drafted and so move them as quickly as you can.

You can buy them for as little as $0.89 and sell them for up to $1.01. If you were able to get a lot of them cheaply then I say now is your time to strike.

5 Big Losers of the Week

5. Blood Baron of Vizkopa (Dragon’s Maze)
From $5.11 to $4.37 (-14.48%)

Standard Orzhov Control performed admirably at Pro Tour Magic 2015. Two of the Top 8 decks were Orzhov Control.

That is the only thing keeping this about $3 right now. It will be $2 come September.

Rotation is looming and no other format cares for the Blood Baron. You may have a friend who wants one for their commander deck or lifegain deck but that will be it.

Get these out of your bind and trade them while someone still wants them.

4. Commandeer (Coldsnap)
From $3.26 to $2.74 (-15.95%)

90% of the time Commandeer is just a much worse Misdirection. It is legal but not playable in modern. Most spells you want to redirect probably have a single target.

This used to be the budget card you played in Commander because you did not want to spend $20 on Misdirection.

Now you can pick one up for $5 thanks for Conspiracy so who needs Commandeer?

3. Extirpate (Modern Masters)
From $3.69 to $3.08 (-16.53%)

Extirpate is a sideboard card in several fringe legacy and vintage decks.

It is not the kind of effect that most casual players are interested in.

The reprint in Modern Masters increased the supply but the demand remained stale. This is a recipe for price deflation.

You can still turn this around if you are stuck with a few copies.

Vendors are selling them for $1.46 and some are buying them for $1.82. That is probably the best deal you are going to.

2. Battlefield Forge (10th Edition)
From $5.06 to $4.06 (-19.76%)

Battlefield Forge is going to be used a lot over the next year. Any Boros, Naya, WUR (Jeskai) or RWB (Mardu) decks will want to run a few copies.

It has been reprinted a lot though so I expect these to drop over the next few months while triple M15 is the draft format of choice. I would trade away or sell any you get in the short term.

You should be able to pick them up even cheaper right before rotation hits.

1. Spirit Mantle
From $2.56 to $2.00 (-21.88%)

I really enjoy Modern Bogles but it is in a strange spot. It has a strong presence in online dailies but not in paper tournaments. You never see it even make Top 16.

Without results the prices are not going to have much movement.

If you are tired of sitting on Spirit Mantle you can still sell them for $1.50.

The Planechase 2012 version is even better. It was printed in smaller quantities for you can purchase them for $1.50 and sell them for $1.80.

Reprints That Hurt

By: Cliff Daigle

Case: Avenger of Zendikar. Maelstrom Pulse

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about cards in Standard that I feel are going to go up.

As someone who plays a lot more EDH than Standard, I can tell you that there’s some cards that have a value that’s purely based on their scarcity and age. Cards printed more than a couple of years ago were printed in noticeably smaller quantities. Wizards is stingy with precise numbers, but it’s been reported that each of the large fall sets since Zendikar in 2009 through Return to Ravnica in 2013 has been Wizards’ best-selling set ever. I can’t find that quote for this year, but I’m still looking!

One of the things that we have to be aware of is reprints. With three Limited Grands Prix scheduled for next May, it seems Modern Masters 2 is on the horizon. Some reprints will go up, some will maintain value, and some will go down.

Today, I want to go over some cards that I think would go down in value if printed in Modern Masters 2, a supplementary set (like Conspiracy) or a product like a Duel Deck or Commander.

Two examples of cards that lowered in value:

Avenger of Zendikar: As a mythic from Worldwake, there’s not a lot of these around. It was around $12 before being in one of the Commander 2013 decks, which lowered its price down to $6. The Commander version, with the same art and text but a different set symbol, is priced at half of that.

Capture

 

Maelstrom Pulse: This was in the $25 range as a rare from a small third set, and that wasn’t affected much by being a Grand Prix foil. When it was put into Modern Masters, the value fell to $10, and it’s not seeing as much Modern play since the introduction of Abrupt Decay. That swap for the cheaper mana cost has lowered the price on Pulse just a bit farther.

Spell Pierce: If I could go back in time to 2009, I would buy up all the foils of this card when they could be had for ten cents. The regular wouldn’t be a bad investment either. A reprint in MM2 seems quite likely, but the nonfoils won’t hold any value. Get out soon.

Splinter Twin: Another likely reprint, as the price has just gone up and up and up and up this past year. It’s $20 now, due to the set it was in, a large set with a short run and a high degree of popularity in Modern. Keep the ones you need, get rid of the rest.

Leyline of Sanctity: The new Leyline deck in Legacy has caused a rise in this price and other Leylines, but this is an incredible sideboard card against Storm and Burn, and will see a reprint tank its value. Remember, the playerbase has more than doubled in the four years since it was printed.

Cavern of Souls: The price on this has been creeping steadily upwards since its rotation out of Standard. It’s in demand from every format, and is another strong candidate for MM2. Expect the dip in price when it does, and pick up all you need for Cubes and EDH then.

Worldwake man lands: Celestial Colonnade especially, but all of them are worth reprinting in a cycle, either in MM2 or some other set soon.

The Eldrazi: Kozilek, Ulamog, Emrakul, and even It That Betrays. There’s always going to be a high demand for huge colorless creatures, and a reprint of these is going to happen soon.

Avacyn, Angel of Hope: She’s $30 purely due to casual demand. I will be very surprised if Avacyn or Linvala aren’t in the white Commander deck (Can I hope for Serra?) this fall.

Mana Reflection: We love doubling our mana. I played a game of EDH with a mono-Forest deck, with Rofellos on turn 2, this on turn three, and Genesis Wave for 14 on turn four. Good times.

Khalni Hydra: Sure, it can be free if enough stuff is already in play, but this is another that has a high price merely due to scarcity, not Constructed demand.

Maelstrom Archangel: Small set mythic, popular tribe, fun effect. Expect this to get cut by half when it gets another printing.

Sigil of the Empty Throne: This has already seen a minor bump due to the presence of enchantments in Theros making casual enchantment decks better. It got reprinted two years ago, and this is one of the cards where both versions have the same value.

Lord of Extinction: Purely a casual card, and one that would take a huge hit at its second printing. I’ve got one foil in one EDH deck and I sent all the others packing.

PreTQs, PTQs, and PTs: QQ

By: Travis Allen

Did you catch Pro Tour Magic 2015 this weekend? It was Standard (inexplicably), and UW came out as top dog. The experience of watching the later rounds with Ivan Floch may have been familiar to those who watched Cifka win the Modern PT a year or two ago with Eggs, in which he had “won” the game but it was going to take ten to thirty minutes to execute the actual kill. Overall the entire thing was clearly defined by Sphinx’s Revelation and Thoughtseize. We didn’t learn too much useful information about what Standard will look like post-Ravnica, although it looks like Nissa is pretty legitimate. Ichikawa ran the full set with only nine forests in his deck to great success, so apparently the floor on how many forests you need for her to be good is quite low. Yet the biggest news of the Pro Tour wasn’t the cards or the decks, but rather, Organized Play announcements.

Helene Bergeot and the Organized Play (OP) team often use Pro Tours to roll out changes to the OP program, and this weekend’s Pro Tour was no different. The OP program encompasses things likes Grand Prixs, Pro Tours, Pro Tour Qualifiers, etc. This is the team that determines how many slots the PT has, how many pro points should be distributed on average at GPs, what constitutes silver/gold/platinum player levels, etc etc. At PTM15 there were changes made to GPs, PTs, and PTQs, with the PTQ change having the widest, most immediate effect on the most players.

Splitting the Baby

If you’ve been to a PTQ in the last year you’re probably aware they’ve been getting out of control. Qualifiers in Toronto have been easily clearing 200 players, and last year there was one that cleared 346 players or something obscene like that. Early GPs would have been easier to win than some PTQs are today. Clearly, a solution was needed. WOTC has decided that the way to tackle these monstrosities is to divide PTQs into two components, a local PTQ qualifier (PreTQ), and invite-only regional PTQs. Without just copy/pasting the article on the topic, the general idea is this:

  1. Any local store that could run a GPT can now run a PreTQ once per season.
  2. If you win a PreTQ, you qualify for a once-per-season regional PTQ. (There are sixteen in the US).
  3. If you top four (or top eight if there are >128 players) a regional PTQ, you win an invite to the PT and the airfare to haul you there.

The local grinder is going to find themselves in a situation where they’re attending three to maybe nine or ten PreTQs a season, depending how many stores in their area are able to run them and how far the player is willing to travel. Keep in mind there are sixteen weeks each season. Between SCG events, GPs, GPTs, and the new PreTQs, the dedicated player could be competing in competitive REL events nearly every weekend of the year.

On a side note, for the first time ever, I’m personally finding that instead of my quantity of play being gated by the frequency of events I can/want to participate in, I’m instead concerned about the entry fees of so many events. PreTQs will likely be $20-$40 depending on whether they’re constructed or Sealed. Between ~$30 PreTQs, $40 GPs, $80 SCG weekends, and the expenses of travelling to all of them, playing Magic is getting brutally expensive. If you’re good enough to be regularly winning prizes at the events you should be able to come out ahead, but that isn’t going to be the case for the majority of players.

In conjunction with the frequency at which players will be able to participate in PreTQs, there’s another important component to this. PreTQ seasons are not tied to specific formats. That means that any time a store runs a PreTQ, they have the choice of making it Sealed, Standard, or Modern. Aaron Forsythe has said specifically that if they find the distribution does not line up with what they’d like they will take the reins of PreTQ formats, but for the time being it’s up to store owners to decide which format is best for their store.

Regional PTQs will still have their formats locked in by WOTC, but financially this is far less relevant than the free-form PreTQs. Because store owners can choose whichever format they like, there will be Competitive REL events in both Standard and Modern all year round. Gone is the Standard/Modern PTQ season and the increased scrutiny/prices they demand from the market. Instead, there is now going to be a much smoother demand for format staples year round.

If any random PreTQ can be Modern at any point, grinders are going to need to keep decks together and updated at all times. Instead of trading/selling singles out of season, they’ll be forced to keep them. Format staples like Snapcaster and Tarmogoyf aren’t quite as vulnerable to seasonal changes as role-players, but those role-players should become much more stable. You can see Spellskite’s price bounced around over the last two years as a banner role-player. With constant demand, these rollercoaster prices should be less frequent for well known quantities. You’ll still see wild price rides on flavors of the week that spike and drop drastically, but the cards everyone is already aware of should be much more stable.

spellskite

Standard will see this smoothing as well, although less so since FNM and SCG events ask players to keep cohesive decks together with more regularity. The effect will be most pronounced in Standard after the spring set is released. During the months of May through August (aka now) Standard prices take a real beating for a variety of reasons, one of which is that there’s no real reason for most players to keep up on Standard decks just a few months before rotation. A handful of Standard PreTQs during the summer months will incentivize a lot more players to keep their important rotating staples. It won’t completely shore up drooping interest and rotation fears, but it will help alleviate it.

This new world of constant PreTQs doesn’t seem like the best scenario for those of us looking to capitalize on markets in flux. The old PTQ system rewarded the types of people that kept on top of the cycles and the best strategies to profit from them. In other words, me and you. Annual repetition has been one of the best ways to make profit on MTG if you have patience. Pick up rotating cards, grab staples during the off-season, then ship them when demand rises. With PTQ cycles gone it will be tougher to generate value in that way. It will still happen, of course. Standard staples like the Temples are dirt cheap right now but will assuredly climb in the fall. But those types of opportunities going forward will be less obvious, less available, and riskier overall.

Mirrorweave

Another large change in the OP we need to care about is the standardization of Pro Tours. Or should I say the Standardization. Going forward, all Pro Tours will be Standard.

I find this upsetting on multiple levels. Nothing but Standard PTs means that one PT to the next there will be far less diversity than we have in years past. The decks that do well at the Dewey Pro Tour will look an awful lot like the decks that do well at PT Khans. Does Thoughtseize crush PT Khans? Don’t expect Dewey to change that much. If all four Pro Tours last year were Standard, you can bet your sweet cheeks that Sphinx’s Revelation would have been in the Top 8 of all four. If you hate tier one Standard cards now, you are going to loathe them in short order.

Another facet to all of this is that we won’t be seeing superteams trying to break Modern once or twice a year. Putting twenty guys in a house for two weeks with a singular goal of finding the best deck in Modern is good for the format in moderation. They set the format, identify the pillars, and show the rest of us what to do. Then the general public tweaks the big decks over the following months, trying out new cards in their established decks until the next Modern PT when the pros reassess what the last few sets added. Even if it hasn’t felt like it lately, Modern PTs definitely have an impact on the format. There are eight cards on the Modern ban list that weren’t there at the formats inception, and all eight bans can be traced back to their respective performances in a PT. PTQs aren’t getting cards banned and changing the format. Without a Modern PT, the format is going to be considerably more stale, which will lead to less interest and less breakout cards. 

The most financially troubling part of all this is that we lose the Block Pro Tour. The Block PT has always been an odd duck, as it’s the only high level event that normal players never encounter. As removed as it is from the general player, watching it is a lot of fun and the information it provides is invaluable. Seeing what succeeds at the Block PT is a huge indicator of what the format will look like post-rotation. Without Block, we’re going to have trouble identifying which cards are the true key players in the upcoming Standard.

To see why this matters all we need to do is look back a few days. There were only a handful of unique M15 cards that showed up in the Top 8, and the painland cycle makes up roughly half of them. What M15 cards will matter beyond the lands and Nissa? PT M15 certainly didn’t tell us. If PT Journey had been Standard, we’d have no idea what this coming Fall would look like. PT Journey put Courser of Kruphix, Sylvan Caryatid, Kiora, and more on the map, giving us insight into what would be good once Khans hits. Obviously nobody expects those Block decks to translate, but it allowed Theros stars to shine without being drowned by Sphinx’s Revelation.

Without any of this information it’s going to be much more difficult to identify the fall pillars through the noise of the old set. Next year we are going to be a lot less sure about which Khans cards are going to be big role players once Theros rotates than we are sure about the Theros staples that will be good as Ravnica rotates. The silver lining here is that if you’re very good at predicting power levels you’ll be able to identify the Coursers when they’re only $2 and make an absolute killing when they inevitably hit $15+. Of course this is exceptionally difficult, and even the best don’t manage to identify the pillars consistently. Those that can read the format well will make even more money than they have been with fall rotations, but it will be much tougher for the average player to wring value from Block results.

The new PTQ system smoothes demand curves, removes annual price cycles, and obliterates many small vendors, leaving them with no good way to buy and no good way to vend. The PT change means we have less overall interest in Modern, less top Magic pros working on finding awesome Modern decks, and less information about fall metagames. Overall I’d say PT M15 was pretty bad for those of us interested in making money on cardboard.

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