Fear and Finance

By: Cliff Daigle

I have extolled my viewpoint as a casual financier before, but to summarize, I don’t like to buy cards. I like to trade for my EDH cards, and I have had a string of a few years where I’ve slowly built up the value of my collection this way. I don’t speculate on cards in the sense that I will go buy a stack of them, but I will trade for them when the price is right. I like to plan ahead, trading for things when they are cheap and trading them away when they aren’t.

I’ve rung the bell for Thespian’s Stage and Prophet of Kruphix over and over. Both of those are buylisting for a lot more right now than they were early on. I should know–as part of selling out some Commander decks, I got $2 for Prophet and $1 for Stage.

Over the past few months, I’ve traded for 50 Prophets and 40 Stages. Non-foils, at least. I’ve got a couple of each in foil but those are in decks and not part of my plan. I’m expecting those cards to grow in the next year, dip a little, and begin a long-term increase in value because they are amazing in casual formats.

But if these are casual cards, what happens if they get the EDH ban?

What about if I had a playset of foil Deathrite Shamans, and now they aren’t Modern-legal? It was going to spike so hard eventually! What if I trade for 20 Birthing Pods, and when Journey into Nyx comes out, Wizards bans that card from Modern too?

Welcome to the fear.

There is always a chance that your plan doesn’t work. This is true in any setting, Magic or not. The unexpected will happen. Your car will break down. You will have an injury. Someone else’s bad day will turn into your bad day.

There is not much you can do to prevent the unexpected, but managing your fear is a necessary part of financial planning. Your can’t-miss spec…will sometimes miss.

If you’re feeling the cold grip of fear, there are two ways to stay warm:

#1: Diversify

Here at MTGPrice, you’re going to get all sorts of tips and tricks. You don’t have to take all of our advice, it’s up to you. But you should do more than zero in on one card and buy only that card. You want to have a few things lined up, stored away for when their price increases. 

The amount of diversification you do is proportional to the amount of money you’re comfortable spending. There are people with the bankroll to decide on a card, and then spend $50, or $100, or what they want to. My policy was simpler on these two cards: I’d take all that someone wanted to trade.

I do think there’s a chance that Prophet gets banned in Commander within the next year. It’s not overtly overpowered, as it is a creature, and enables creatures, but in effect, you’ve got multiple Time Warp effects. You get to take a turn every time someone else takes a turn. You get to cast creatures and instants, with all of your mana, on each of your opponents’ turns. While that isn’t much of a strategy in and of itself, it doesn’t take much to get out of hand. Perhaps most obnoxious about the card is the time factor, since one player’s extra turns means that much more time that player has to do things, the more time other spend waiting.

Just imagine you have Prophet out, with a Sprout Swarm in your hand. Everyone is going to want you dead, simply because you’re spending more and more time playing with yourself and building an army.

So if Prophet of Kruphix gets the Commander ban, the long-term prospects take a dive. I wouldn’t try to hold the card past Christmas 2014.

Thespian’s Stage is a card I feel is also dripping with long-term potential, but it’s quite unlikely that it gets banned in EDH. This is my way of managing my risk. I don’t have all my money tied up in Prophet, so if something goes wrong with one of these two, I have other options.

#2: Consideration

This is not an action to take, it’s more of mindset to have. When you choose what cards to buy in on, you do so after some amount of thinking about it. 

That reflection should also be present when you’re worried about those choices.

Remind yourself that seemingly every card that is ever played in Modern is $5. And it could go up higher! Tell yourself that Deadeye Navigator, Kiki-Jiki, Palinchron, and a host of other cards aren’t banned yet in Commander either!

This is also when you make ‘just-in-case’ plans. For instance, I’m going to be content to sell most of my Prophets during the next block, minimizing my risk on the rest. Or if it gets banned before I sell, I’ll be able to look at other cards and feel not-quite-as-bad. Even Primeval Titan is still retaining value, despite not making Constructed waves and getting banned in EDH.

I hope you’re able to stock up on cards with less anxiety, and if you need some tips, I’m a believer on these two cards.