Casual Demand and Why it’s Important

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By: Jared Yost

This one goes out to you casual players. You’re the heart of the game and the reason why Wizards has continued to become more and more successful as the years go on.

Let’s face it, without casual demand like players buying individual booster packs Wizards would close their doors sooner rather than later. The demand for the game and its cards cannot be sustained by the singles market alone. Sure, more financially minded players realize that it is a losing game to keep cracking packs in the hope that you’ll score at least three Brimaz, but for many players the act of opening a pack, smelling the cards, and going through each one and even sometimes being surprised by a valuable card in the pack can’t be understated. There is a reason that Magic’s de facto comic strip is called Cardboard Crack. We can all be severely addicted to our hobbies and Magic doesn’t escape this phenomenon.

One of the ways I learned to save money playing Magic was to stop cracking packs since it is one of the most inefficient ways to acquire valuable cards for your collection. As a casual player though, finance is the last thing on your mind. One of the main reasons that you play the game is to crack packs. Cracking packs is so awesome that they created the Limited format based on around it, because even binder grinders and highly competitive players need a way to crack packs other than to just open them. Not you. You’re just fine with crackin‘ ‘em open, and the more the better. What I’m now going to tell you is that there is a way for you to still satiate your addiction while not throwing value out the window, but it isn’t for the faint of heart.

As players, we can capitalize on our own addiction by setting aside a booster box from each set we want to purchase and then later sell them down the road at a profit as sealed product. Now, I realize that the temptation of opening that booster box may be too much for some of you, yet a very clear pattern that has emerged from sealed product is that it is bound to go up in value over the years.

Getting Value from Booster Boxes

Sealed product has a proven history of going up in value and booster boxes are the prime example of this. Setting aside a booster box from each set you want to buy is a great way to pay your way forward in Magic. If you’re going to buy two booster boxes when a set comes out and maybe even get a deal then, why not set one aside in your closet and sell it a few years later when it has doubled or more in value? A lot of people even purchase cases though this is too rich for my blood. Why not set aside two booster boxes, even three booster boxes from a case?

Let’s do the math for Innistrad, which is a fairly recent set and follows this trend. These were the preorder prices for Innistrad before it came out September 30th, 2011:

1

If we bought a case:

$519.95 + ~$20 shipping = $539.95 total

$539.95 / 6 boxes = $89.99 per box

If we bought two boxes (closer to an actual causal purchase):

($89.75 * 2) + ~$8 shipping = $187.5

  • This purchase is more expensive per box (~$93.75 per box) but cheaper overall.

It’s now the current day and we loved drafting Innistrad. We want to do a few triple Innistrad flashback drafts of the set. (None of that Dark Ascension nonsense, we’re pure Innistrad only!)

Now that we know how much this would have cost us when preordering, let’s find out how much it would cost us now:

2

Holy moly what a difference!

Case:

$1067 per case (which is the only seller, it could easily jump up in price again.)

+ ~$20 shipping = $1,087 total

$1,087 / 6 boxes = $181.17 per box

Two Boxes:

($169.99 * 2) + ~$8 shipping = $347.98

If you could afford the initial purchase up front back in 2011 two booster boxes of Innistrad today was worth 64% of a case if preordered when the set came out! If you could restrain yourself and set aside three booster boxes, you would have recouped 94% of what you originally spent. Not too shabby for basically doing nothing and still cracking three or four booster boxes.

If you bought two booster boxes of Innistrad back in 2011 and then set one aside in a closet until now you could sell it and reclaim 91% of your initial purchase in 2011. The second booster box has practically paid for the first one.

For the more financially minded, this probably seems pretty obvious. “Duh, the set is out of print, of course I can sell boxes at a premium.” What most people don’t realize however is that this is one of the safest ways to make money from Magic. That’s right, even sealed product like booster boxes isn’t off the table when it comes to picking things that gain value. It might take you a while to find a buyer but this is probably the lowest risk call you can make as a speculator that will guarantee you a return. It’s basically the index fund of the Magic world.

Let’s look at Return to Ravnica, which I’m sure most of you are definitely familiar with and see if the trend holds for more recent sets. Here are prices from September 2012:

3

Back in September 2012, you could preorder Return to Ravnica for basically the same cost as Innistrad (though cases seem to be pricier). I note this because sometimes Wizards will increase their pack price MSRP. The last increase was when packs went from $3.25 to $3.99 MSRP when Time Spiral was released in 2006. Thankfully this has not happened in quite a while, though it makes me feel like they may increase their pack price soon.

Anyways back to the math:

Case:

$535.99 per case + ~$20 shipping = $555.99 total

$555.99 / 6 boxes = $92.67 per box

Two Boxes:

($89.94 * 2) + ~$8 shipping = $187.88 ($93.94 per box)

Again, boxes are slightly more expensive when bought individually because sellers will charge more for shipping individual boxes.

These are the current prices today:

4

Hmm, they haven’t gone up in value too much. If we go by the lows:

Case:

$565.00 per case + ~$20 shipping = $585.00 total

$585.00 / 6 boxes = $97.50 per box

Two Boxes:

($92.49 * 2)  + ~$8 shipping = $192.98 ($96.49 per box)

From these calculations for Return to Ravnica then and now we can see:

1. It seems like the price has remained stagnant for Return to Ravnica boxes so far since it only went up $3, unlike Innistrad which doubled.

2. Buying Return to Ravnica in case form today is noticeably more expensive than buying it per box if you were to just buy six boxes. Usually individual boxes are more expensive compared to box price per case. I’m predicting this is because the set is currently in a state of flux, where vendors may have lowered their box prices to get them out the door to make room for future product. We can see this with Cataclysm Games, where if you buy six boxes (($92.95 * 6) + ~$10 shipping = $567.7) versus a case ($569.95 + $10 shipping = $579.95) you’re actually saving $12.25.

3. If we preordered a case and saved three boxes, or preordered two boxes and saved one, we have yet to see a significant return on that investment 1 year, 5 months later. We only gained ~$5 per box if we ordered by the caseload and only ~$2.50 per box if we bought individual boxes. This leads me to believe that there is a lot of Return to Ravnica product out there.

We seem to have conflicting evidence. On the one hand Innistrad has gained significant value but on the other hand Return to Ravnica has not. Am I missing something here? Was Innistrad that much more popular than Return to Ravnica? (Well, I do think that triple Innistrad draft is still a popular format at this point and is more popular than triple Return to Ravnica draft (Pack Rat!)). Was Innistrad printed significantly less than Return to Ravnica? Is that two year birthday for a set that important? Maybe a little of all these reasons is why Return to Ravnica sealed product has stagnated.

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One reason I’d venture to guess that Innistrad has climbed up in price so quickly is that it has valuable eternal staples like Liliana, Geist, and Snapcaster. Return to Ravnica currently does not contain as many valuable eternal staples.

My best guess though? Not enough time has passed. Given enough time Return to Ravnica will go up in value. If we use the index funds example, you’re looking just to outperform the market, not become the next penny stock mega winner. (That is, pick up a random $0.20 rare and hope that it spikes to $10+.) There is no doubt in my mind that Return to Ravnica is a very popular set and I am sure in time this will become evident as the price of RtR sealed product goes up. It just looks like hitting that 2nd birthday is the important defining characteristic of the price bump for booster boxes.

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Getting Value from Other Casual Products

Another way you can tell that casual players are so important is because Wizards has been releasing new products on a more consistent schedule than ever before in their history. Back in the day, we were lucky to get a core set once every two years (which everyone hated because it only consisted of reprints) and the three block sets of the year (one big set in the fall, and two smaller sets spaced out through winter). This lead to a lot of stagnant Magic. It was easy to get bored. This created cycles of people leaving the game then coming back later once more unpopular sets rotated from Standard.

These days more people are coming back to the game than ever and they’re staying. Combine this with the addition of all the brand new players per year and you have a recipe for success. Let’s go over some of the ways that Wizards has catered to the casual crowd:

Commander Decks (Commander 2011, Commander 2013)

Here were the price of Commander Decks in 2011 about six months after they came out:

5

6

7

Here are what they are today:

8

9

10

(Heavenly Inferno is currently ending on auctions at anywhere from $90 for non-English versions to up to $200 for English versions)

Very obvious upward trend in prices. Even if you bought the unpopular commander decks at the time (that is, the decks without Legacy staples in them) you still made out like a bandit if you waited to sell. They were all selling for about MSRP even six months after their release.

This is why a lot of Magic financiers recommended for Commander 2013 to even buy the non-Mind Seize decks. Even though the rest of the decks didn’t seem to have much to offer Constructed formats, casuals don’t give two craps about constructed potential. They just want to attack you with their angels, demons, and dragons as fast as possible. I see no reason why the current batch of commander decks won’t also follow this pattern as they age.

Planechase / Archenemy / Duel Decks (essentially, all the products that MSRP’ed for $19.99)

Archenemy – June 2010 MSRP $19.99

Today’s prices:

11

Planechase 2009 – MSRP $19.99

 Today’s prices:

12

Planechase 2012 – MSRP $19.99

 Today’s prices:

13

14

 

Duel Decks

Duel Deck

Current Price

Elves vs. Goblins

$200.00

Jace vs. Chandra

$130.00

Divine vs. Demonic

$170.00

Garruk vs. Liliana

$65.00

Phyrexia vs. The Coalition

$32.00

Elspeth vs. Tezzeret

$40.00

Knights vs. Dragons

$50.00

Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas

$43.00

Venser vs. Koth

$25.00

Izzet vs. Golgari

$25.00

Sorin vs. Tibalt

$19.00

Planechase / Archenemy / Duel Decks Price Analysis

Popular casual products are the single-deck sealed products which are Commander, Planechase, and Archenemy. These products offered more than just decks because Planechase and Archenemy have oversized cards (which also have value if you try to sell them individually) and Commander added brand new cards to the existing card pool. On the other hand, Duel Decks seem to be hit or miss. I think this is because they only consist of reprints and that Wizards seems to have been watering down the most recent ones by not including more powerful spells like the ones found in Divine vs. Demonic or Jace vs. Chandra.

In other words, you shouldn’t pick up extra Duel Decks unless there is something special in them (Demonic Tutor and Counterspell with Jace art are good examples). They take the longest to go up in value and the gains factored in with the time it takes are too long for the profits to matter.

If you’re interested in holding on to extra sealed product for value you want to be looking at picking up Commander, Planechase, and Archenemy (if they do Archenemy again) products. All of these products have evidence showing they go up in value over time.

Casual Players Are Important

Without casual players we would have no one to crack individual packs. Without cracking packs booster boxes would never become valuable. We would also have no one to buy other sealed products that Wizards releases because they look cool or add new aspects to the game in a non-competitive fashion. This would make buying the sealed products Wizards releases a complete waste of money if you’re trying to hold them for value. This clearly isn’t the case. We’re lucky to have such an amazing fanbase behind Magic because without them the game would surely go away. From a numbers perspective, we can see that all it takes to capitalize on Magic’s fanbase is to hold onto a few extra sealed products here or there.

Casual players, you may not realize it but buying these products is itself an investment in the game. Even if you are just buying the products to play with, with no intention of wanting to buy extra to sit on them or make money, my advice to you is to buy what you want as soon as you can afford it. Sealed products are never going to be cheaper than when they first come out, no matter if you’re eyeing something like a booster case or even just considering picking up a duel deck. If you ever have the inclination to help your hobby pay for itself, pick up a few extra sealed products and sit on them. Eventually you can cash them out to cover the costs of buying in even if that is a few years down the road. I believe the evidence that I’ve presented in this article has more than proved that in all cases.

The upcoming Conspiracy set is one of the reasons I’m writing this article. I would definitely be looking to pick up as much Conspiracy as I can and holding whatever I choose not to open. It looks like it is going to be another huge casual hit that will certainly go up in value over time.

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Divining the Gods

By: Cliff Daigle

Journey into Nyx will have five more Gods, in color pairs that haven’t gotten their indestructible legendary enchantment creature yet.

Having seen what the first five multicolored gods can do, I feel this is a good time to take a guess on what their counterparts will do in the next set.

The five Gods in Born of the Gods have the following abilities: UW draws cards, UB mills, RG grants size and haste to one creature, RB makes them sacrifice or take damage, and GW ramps. Those seem like abilities natural to that color pair, so I’m taking a guess based on what the other five pairs are traditionally good at.

There is value to be gained in planning ahead here, because if we can anticipate what pairs well with those gods, we will be able to sell into the hype when those cards spike. For example, see this graph for Trostani, paying attention to the spike right around when Karametra’s card was spoiled. Trostani’s price has only come down slightly since.

Capture

These are not going to be long term targets. I am planning on selling or trading most of these right when the hype is at its highest. These are not the only cards that might spike, but I’m looking for ones I can pick up relatively cheap in trade, and then sell when their price goes up.

Let’s start off with a standard combo I might actually sleeve up:

R/W: Iroas

Spec: Aurelia, the Warleader

Backup: Assemble the Legion

Aurelia plus the Boros god is a combo I can’t wait to play, and it doesn’t matter what the god’s static ability is. Aurelia does 80% of the work for devotion, and the only thing better than attacking with an indestructible creature is doing it twice in a row. Aurelia has that magic fourth toughness, meaning Bile Blight or Lightning Strike won’t cut it. I suspect that Iroas will cost four, but if it’s at five because of an awesome ability it creates a sweet five-into-six mana curve.

My guess is that this God will grant a bonus to attacking creatures, à la Orcish Oriflamme. Iroas has been called the God of victory, though, so there may be some kind of bonus when you destroy somebody else’s creature, or something with fighting.

G/U: Kruphix

Spec: Prophet of Kruphix

Backup: Prime Speaker Zegana

Before Born of the Gods was spoiled, I was telling you to pick up Prophet at two dollars. It’s gone up nearly 50% since then. I’m still on board for picking it up around three dollars.

I devoutly hope Kruphix will do something with +1/+1 counters, like double the counters on target creature at the beginning of combat. It’s more likely to do something tricky, like tap or untap a permanent at the beginning of each upkeep something along those lines.

Prime Speaker is not the combo you wanted to be. Because its ability checks as it comes into play and the god’s devotion checks only after the permanent is in play, Zegana will not draw cards from the god’s power. That’s not going to stop people from wanting to try the cards together, though, and you should be ready to move a few of them when there is demand.

R/U: Keranos

Spec: Ral Zarek

Backup: Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius 

This color combination likes spells, but we haven’t seen much to give us a frame of reference. Ideally, it would be cheap and give a bonus to spells. If it cost 1UR and made all instants and sorceries cost 1 less, that might be too good in Modern Storm. We haven’t had many copy effects; maybe this one will be three mana to copy any instant or sorcery.

I would really like to see something amazing, like having it deal damage to a creature or player.

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I suspect that this card will be a bit more control-oriented, and in a slower deck Ral and Niv-Mizzet might be quite the thing. History tells us that spell-centric decks (outside of Delver) aren’t usually good enough in Standard, and so this is the speculation I’m least enthusiastic about.

G/B: Pharika

Spec: Lotleth Troll

Backup: Vraska the Unseen

We don’t know much of what she will do. It’s likely that there will be interactions with the graveyard, my guess is that we will see something that brings back creatures from the graveyard to the hand. It’s a reasonable combination of these colors, and not an overpowered effect. Pharika might also do something that echoes being the god of gorgons, perhaps destroying anything that blocks one of your creatures.

Lotleth is heavily dependent on which ability Pharika has, because pitching cards to the troll and bringing them back is an insane loop. It’s a very cheap pick up right now so you’re unlikely to lose. This card would be a lot better if Detention Sphere were not seeing heavy playing in most Azorius builds. With the addition of the G/B scryland and Pharika, people are going to want to build those decks and take advantage of Vraska, as well as Abrupt Decay, a card I like to go up a lot over time. Be prepared.

 W/B: Athreos

Target: Obzedat, Ghost Council

Back up: Whip of Erebos

A lot is going to depend on how much this god costs to cast. If it is four, then the Ghost Council is going to blow up. There’s already a combo with the Council and the Whip, and it seems like Athreos will fit right in.

My prediction on this god’s ability is that it is a reprint of Sanguine Bond, only better in multiplayer. I think it will cost five though, and that will make it slightly more awkward to cast on a curve. An ability of “Whenever you gain life, each opponent loses that much life” would be very strong in casual and constructed alike. Another strong contender for Athreos’ ability would be Syphon Soul on upkeep, very straightforward and again, scaling well in casual play.

I do not think that Blood Baron will go up significantly, regardless of Athreos’ ability or cost. It’s already fairly high-priced, mainly because of the set is in.

There you have it, a set of three-month targets. I’m looking forward to seeing what these Gods do, and seeing how close I was to the finished product.

Happy Trading!

Looking Back (And Forward) On the Pro Tour

By: Camden Clark

As most of you know, the Pro Tour was last week.

I, unfortunately, missed a lot of the coverage. It was kind of a busy weekend for me.

However, what I did see, I was kind of disappointed by. Most notable was the lack of Magic finance possibilities. The day three coverage (which I did watch) had almost no new archetypes, with the same pillars of the format being represented, especially in the finals.

There were the typical cards that everyone hyped around for a few hours/days on Twitter and other media outlets.

One teachable moment that featured this kind of progression is the Amulet of Vigor spike.

There were very few people playing the Amulet of Vigor deck. However, I believe it was featured on camera. Considering there were about 20,000 people watching, this one was bound to get some buzz. There was a lot of talk on Twitter. Promptly, speculators bought out a ton of copies on TCGPlayer.

I really never want to get caught up in this kind of frenzy.

A card like Amulet of Vigor is extremely narrow. What other decks do you honestly ever see Amulet of Vigor being played? Very few.

Very quickly, players realized that this deck wasn’t putting up real results and weren’t hot on buying a copy.

That got awkward quickly for the people who bought out copies of today’s Nivmagus Elemental (Now with less playability!).

In contrast, there were cards that started a slow climb and weren’t instant buyouts. Cards like Past in Flames and Pyromancer Ascension saw HUGE upticks. Let’s take a closer look.

These ones had little buzz until very late, when we saw them go up by huge margins as people started to take note of the standings that storm was placing.

But how do you discern what are good opportunities and vacuous hype?

It’s a matter of artificial and real demand.

Artificial demand is generated by speculators who jump on a card to make a profit. They only want the card to be able to turn it around and sell it quickly. There are TONS of cards in history that have seen increases after artificial demand from speculators grab up copies raising the price extremely high.

The trouble is, who are you going to sell to?

Card shops rarely increase their buylist prices on narrow cards after a buyout for this reason.

Because there are merely speculators buying out these cards, there is no way for you to liquidate. After the hype dies down, the prices go back down and you are stuck with a junk-ish card that sees little to no play.

This exact scenario happened with Amulet of Vigor. 

There was a mass buyout and tons of people bought into the hope that there might be a high-placing deck to generate real demand. Rarely does this happen with a narrow card like this.

When there was no real demand, the price tapered off and the hype was gone.

Cards with real demand are what you really want to target. These cards have REAL players who are not simply looking to buy in to sell-they want to play with the cards they are buying. This means they will buy AND hold on to the cards, rather than buying to sell.

Therefore, you have opportunities to get out of your positions and make money.

There is virtually no ceiling on cards with real demand like Past in Flames. There is such a huge ability for these kind of cards to simply skyrocket as PTQ players will pay any cost to play a deck that placed well a pro tour.

How do you identify cards that can generate real demand?

It comes from your sense as a player.

The knowledge that you gain from being a magic player is not discarded in the world of Magic finance. In fact, it is the most overlooked skill of speculators.

I went over in my last article about what to do during the Pro Tour. If you were paying close attention to what people were playing, you would have noticed the LARGE group of players that were placing with Storm decks. You would have been able to make the call on buying those storm staples and making a profit on them.

It’s all about being in tune with your skills as a Magic player and applying those to making (or saving) money.

When I speak of real demand, it’s also encyclical. Many PTQ grinders or simply ones who want to play in their local PTQ either don’t have the foresight or can’t capitalize on it to see what their needs are going to be in the future.

But you can and should see beyond this.

I don’t think Wizards will change the format at the next B&R announcement. You should take this format as it is. Even if there is a B&R announcement when Journey into Nix comes out, you will still be set if you run with format staples to invest in. 

The Pro Tour provided the foundation for this new format. Pro players will look back to THIS point to analyze what cards and decks are good, opposed to which aren’t. Moreover, this is a guidepost to the format staples that you should be looking at.

This is the breaking point for Modern. Before, very few people would play this format. However, with PTQ season approaching, more and more people are going to want to play these powerful decks. They will want to bling them out. That is REAL demand.

The best opportunities in modern are going to be long term. This is the starting point. This is where you enter into the market and make the decisions to invest in the cards that have a VERY low chance of going down.

That’s investing that we can all get behind.

What format staples are examples of this?

Restoration Angel

I feel like I’m beating a dead horse on this one. It’s too low. It won’t go any lower. Even if it stays the same price, it’s easy to liquidate and is an extremely popular card. It has playability in the UWR Twin deck, Kiki-Pod, and a few other decks. You can move in on this one now.

Cryptic Command 

At the bottom of my previous article I staunchly defended that Modern staples have little ceiling. I will still defend this, and now with a little proof.

Take a look at that increase going into the Pro Tour. There might be a quick price decrease as the hype from the pro tour dies down. That’s when you want to move in on this card. I still think 50 dollars is a conservative estimate; this could see 60 dollars.

I’m serious: Modern is here to stay. Wizards is putting too much effort in this format for it to fail. It’s time to ride the ride with WOTC.

Snapcaster Mage

The price of this card is bonkers right now. It’s worth talking about though.

I didn’t pick this card last week, and I’m not sure why. In hindsight, this is one of the best possible picks. It’s a pillar of the format and widely playable. Look for the hype to die back down and buy in. This card will never go down because it sees legacy play.

Birthing Pod

It’s not too late for this one – the prices have stayed relatively the same. I don’t really know why, and I think it has something to do with the real demand being absent. This seems like so much of a no brainer to speculators that they fail to invest in it. This card isn’t getting any lower, you should definitely be in the market to pick these up.

Splinter Twin

Splinter Twin isn’t going away. There were 12 copies in the top 8 of the Pro Tour. I’m a buyer under 20, it’s hilariously cheap.

Even though these are my main picks, there are tons of other opportunities. You have to do your own analysis and determine what YOU think as a player are the hot new cards. I can’t tell you what all the best cards are and see into the future, but we can have a chat on Twitter. I love talking about Magic; if you have any questions, feel free to hit me up.

So long for now, and good luck going into Modern season in the next few months.

What’s New is Old Again

Another Pro Tour in the books, another slew of results to digest. The coverage team did a commendable job this time, and the abolishment of the “I think I’m stylish but I still want the world to know I love videogames” blazer and t-shirt combo made sure everyone looked professional. There were still a few holes – the lighting in the coverage booth was dim and and I’m convinced Rashad hasn’t played Magic in several years – but overall, it was a noticeable improvement to previous PT coverage. And a special thank you for keeping Sheldon out of the booth.

You’re going to notice a trend in this article. I’m going to mention frequently that you should be holding copies until the Modern PTQ season, which starts in June. Without getting too far into it, holding 95% of Modern cards between now and then is just a Good Play. There’s very little room for the cards to fall, with plenty of upside between now and the summer. 

The Top 8 was fairly familiar, but not without cause for discussion. First is the seventeen of a possible thirty-two Snapcaster Mages. Deathrite Shaman had been doing a great job keeping Tiago at bay, but now that the graveyard is relatively safe again he’s flashback. Prices have reacted accordingly and Snap is now more than double what he was heading into the weekend. $30 is the real price. There’s a chance we could see him in Jace vs Vraska three months or as a judge promo, but neither of those will have enough supply to really ding his price. There’s even room for upward growth before the end of this PTQ season. I wouldn’t feel bad holding my copies until June, or even later if you aren’t in a rush. Sub-$25 prices aren’t on the horizon until this sees its third or even fourth printing.

Hand-in-hand with Snap is Cryptic Command, which saw nine copies across four decks in the Top 8, or 28% saturation. Cryptic reacted similarly, with very few copies left under $45. The next time someone complains that Modern Masters didn’t do anything, feel free to point out that this would be more than Force of Will if not for that printing. Cryptic, like Snapcaster, has found a new home at $45+. Some finance types are doubling down, buying large quantities at $40 in anticipation of what PTQs will do to the price. If you don’t own any right now, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab them, and feel free to trade aggressively for spares as well.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure what the more amusing Sideboard Spike® of the event was – Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir from $7 to $20+ as a 1-of, or 2-of Porphyry Nodes, from $.30 to $8.

Birthing Pod had a strong showing but remains rather obstinate at about $10. I don’t think this has finished growing yet. We don’t have to worry either, as its performance wasn’t oppressive enough to warrant banning. I’m holding my copies for the PTQ season, but I’ll get out then regardless.

The three Razorverge Thickets in Jacob’s list are a good sign, and at ~$3, these are gold in trade. Gavony Township was a 2 or 3-of in every Pod list and is right around $1 right now. You may even be able to get them for free in trade. The ceiling on this isn’t too high, but I could see this buylisting this for $1.50-$3 later this year. Mostly, Pod was reasonably stock.

Affinity did what Affinity does. Mox Opal is now $50. June will be time to sell those unless you’re trying to cast droids yourself. It shouldn’t be able to climb much higher than that with basically only one deck in Modern casting it, and the Legacy demand isn’t great either. We’ll see a reprint before this thing goes much higher. Inkmoth Nexus continues to grow, weighing in at over $10 today. The price memory on this is definitely lower than that. It could easily climb to $15+ in the coming months, but it’s fair game for every non-expansion set. Holding this is akin to a (slow) game of chicken. 

As one would guess, Storm made the Top 8, although amazingly not at the hands of Finkel. He was playing it though, as was Kai Budde. Don’t gloss over this: the two best Magic players in the world were playing Storm. My guess is that Deathrite wasn’t actually too problematic for the deck, but a high percentage of Thoughtseize and Liliana decks was. With those two cards considerably less represented than they have been in the past, as well as a heavy presence of Wild Nacatl, often a prey of grapes, Storm was much more viable this weekend. I have no reason to doubt that Storm won’t be a meaningful percentage of the Modern metagame in the future. The internet agrees with me: Pyromancer Ascension has tripled to $9, and Box of Failures worldwide rejoiced to find their Past in Flames were now $5. These two I would actually sell right now if you have them. If Storm comes anywhere close to taking over the format Wizards will not hesitate to axe a few more rituals, and in the meantime there won’t be enough demand to sustain the post-PT highs. Sell them now, be happy with your profits, and have a plan to beat piles of goblins at your next PTQ.

One of the more unique decks of the Top 8 was Dickmann’s Tarmo-Twin. His revolutionary innovation of “take a good deck and shove Tarmogoyf into it” served him well all weekend. This list reminds me of the Twin Blade lists from the twilight days of Jace and Stoneforge, where your plan was to beat your opponent in the face with creatures, and while they attempted to deal with that you were always threatening to kill them at the end of their turn. Tarmogoyf’s reign as the best blue creature continues, and his price follows. Even Modern Masters copies are $150 these days, with Future Sight a solid $10 to $20 ahead of that. At this rate I don’t think $200 is out of the question this summer. A full 20% of the 18+ point decks played him, and every list had the full four copies. Combined with his continued Legacy performances, Goyf is not going to slow down anytime soon. If there was a banner card for how badly we need Modern Masters 2, this is it.

Remand was all over the place, in 62.5% of the Top 8 and 20.7% of the 18 pointers. I tweeted a few days ago that this is the card I most need to own for play purposes, but least want to for finance reasons. As the illustrious @plfeudo pointed out recently, JvV is prime for a Remand reprint. This will put a pretty serious damper on its price, since Duel Decks are always bountiful. Conspiracy will be hot on JvV’s heels as another avenue. It’s a bit risky, but I think the right call here is holding off if you don’t own any, and shipping if you do. I wouldn’t blame you if you disagreed though. Remand was confirmed as reprinted in JvV a few hours after I submitted this to go live. Their new ceiling will be around $8-12. Sell yours aggressively now.  This will also crush the price of Reaper of the Wilds in Standard for anyone that was thinking about going down that route.

The darlings of the tournament Blue Moon and Summer Bloom each had their own effect on the markets. Main deck Blood Moon was an excellent call, and now sits at nearly $15 as a result. Aside from the hilariously overbought Teferi, nothing else in the deck was really an unknown quantity.

Summer Bloom, on the other hand, did a bunch of financial work this weekend. After a strong showing on Friday, Matthias Hunt drove Amulet of Vigor upwards from a dollar and change to where its now settled at around $6. He didn’t have a hot day two so the card didn’t stay over $10, but I think $4 is the new floor here. It’s not the first time this card has spiked hard, and people may see Bloom as the new Eggs, with a slow rise in demand as PTQ season approaches. Primeval Titan is now also around $20 after proving that a six mana 6/6 is good enough in Modern. Without a reprint I think he could slowly keep creeping upwards towards $30. As long as they keep printing sweet lands he keeps getting more and more attractive. 

One card that didn’t react much from Bloom’s success that I think should? Gemstone Mine. Aside from being one of the best broken-combo-enabling lands in the format, it’s shown up in SCG Legacy events eight times already just this year. There aren’t that many copies around, and $5-$6 for a land this powerful is incorrect. $10 is completely plausible before the PTQ season is over, and if its well represented prices closer to $20 aren’t unreasonable. I’ll be looking to trade for these in every binder I see them in.

Pulling back a bit from the Top 8, what are some of the larger trends across the eighteen pointers? Spellskite was in a whopping 42% of lists. He’s about $13 right now but I’m guessing that rises to $20 this summer. Nearly every person playing Modern needs copies, and we have exactly one printing.

Vendilion Clique, by virtue of being blue, is now firmly $55. There really isn’t any ceiling in sight for this flock of faeries. They have similar availability to Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant, whose prices are considerably higher. And as with these two, Clique does quite well in Legacy. What can we expect here? Well without a reprint, I don’t think it’s impossible these will be close to $100 this PTQ season. At the very least, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them catch up to Dark Confidant.

Aaron Forsythe did a little digging himself, and the results are fairly interesting. There were a whopping eighty-seven copies of Anger of the Gods. People were scared of Wild Nacatl alright. That is a butt-ton of angry gods. This isn’t especially actionable, but it will help flesh out our expectation of the format’s progression.

Kitchen Finks were nearly as represented, but this issue is much more complex. @Chosler88 pointed out a few weeks ago that it’s a great pickup, as Modern Masters cards aren’t incapable of rising, and it looks fantastic in a world of Wild Nacatls. On the flip side of that, if Anger of the Gods is absolutely everywhere Finks looks a lot worse. $4 is pretty cheap, but the splash damage may harm their potential. I think our perspective ceiling is around $7 or $8 right now, but that is susceptible to change. I don’t think I’m a buyer but I’m happy to grab them in trade. One thing to consider: a huge percentage of people in the room are going to be either casting Wild Nacatl, Kitchen Finks, or Anger of the Gods. 

Forsythe also reported 55 copies of Splinter Twin. Twin has broken $15, but that still feels a little underpriced. I think $25 is closer to this guy’s real price, especially with the other half of the combo being a nickel.

Zoo was 10% of the 18+ field, which sounds about right. Nacatl showed up in various forms of Zoo, but never without our good buddy Goyf. The more aggressive flavors of Zoo and RG aggro were better represented than I would have guessed, and Goblin Guide has hiked it up to $12. I could see him continuing on to $15, and from there you’re in a position where reprints are quite possible and would be a bit of a beating on the price. Selling in June is the safe play here.

As expected, Geist of Saint Traft showed up in the Domain Zoo lists alongside a flurry of burn and Snapcaster Mage. Turn three Geist, turn four double Tribal Flames is just savage. Geist is $25 up from $15 just two weeks ago, and could easily float towards $30 by June. Hold now, sell later.

There were a few things I found were considerably under-represented compared to what I was expecting. For one, only a single 18+ had a copy of Gifts Ungiven. That’s wild, especially since Gifts is one of the best combo-enablers in the format with Unburial Rites. It also costs four and is in blue, which are conveniently hallmarks of Cryptic Command. Imagine playing a fair deck sitting across the table from four untapped lands that make blue. Do you attempt to add pressure and hate against the combo right into Cryptic mana, or do you hold your threats and end up facing down Iona, Griselbrand or Elesh Norn?

Gifts Ungiven is a powerful enabler that’s even breaking through to Legacy. $4 is just too cheap for a card that does this much. The Modern Masters printing is going to keep this from hitting $30, but $10+ seems so viable. It didn’t have a hot performance this time around, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it either.

Other cards that basically didn’t appear? Vengevine. Bloodghast. Life from the Loam. Raven’s Crime. Seismic Assault. Demigod of Revenge. Lotleth Troll. Windbrisk Heights. Restore Balance.

A lot of people – myself included – were anticipating some hot graveyard action with Deathrite’s departure. Instead, we just got a ton of UWx and Wild Nacatls. I’m not entirely sure why that is. Perhaps nobody stumbled across a list they liked? Just because nobody broke it this time, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen. There’s definitely a deck in there somewhere, and we just haven’t seen it yet. Vengevine and Bloodghast are already $20 and $13 respectively without any results. Don’t sleep on your chance to pick copies up before they really do make a splash. 

Unlike graveyard strategies, Faeries did make a go of it. They only put up two eighteen or betters though. In spite of the fervor that ensued at Bitterblossom’s unbanning, many were doubtful that they were capable of keeping up in a more powerful format. Those naysayers appear to have been right. At this point, I would sell all of your fae and Bitterblossoms while there’s still reasonable demand. Even if Faeries do manage to do slightly better than we’ve seen so far, it’s highly unlikely it will be enough to sustain these prices.

Whew! That is a lot of results to chew through, and we really only scratched the surface. With GP Richmond on the horizon, we’ll get to see how the field adjusts in light of the Pro Tour. One thing I can’t help but notice is how relatively familiar the successful decks looked this time around. That doesn’t tell me the format is solved, it just means that nobody has found some of the more wilder combinations. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to keep you all apprised of the spicy stuff I see coming through the pipeline.

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