Grinder Finance – This Week in Magic: The Gathering

It’s the week before the Pro Tour and all through the Internet, not a pro player was stirring, not even Tomoharu Saito.  After a grueling tournament, two decks that only feature two colors battled it out in the finals of the Star City Games open in Indianapolis. This week we won’t be teaching any lessons.  I’m going to go through the news with you.

zen fatpack

The Great Fatpack Gouging of 2015

People are up in arms and truly enraged that stores would charge more than MSRP for anything.  The Professor (content producer under the Tolarian Community College youtube channel), had some especially fierce criticism for stores that chose to raise their prices to above MSRP.

fatpack tweets

I respect him a great deal for his huge contributions to the community (seriously if you haven’t checked out his videos I highly recommend them), but I don’t think he, like many people, have considered all of the options.  Most stores sell almost every Magic sealed product for under MSRP.  The exception is usually with limited print run stuff like From the Vault products and Modern Masters.  The only reason to raise prices is because you will sell out of all your product.  Large online stores can’t afford to be out of anything.  If a customer comes to your website expecting to be able to buy a product and you can’t provide that product, they will buy from competitors.  If that competitor has products in stock that you do not multiple times, you will lose that customer.  What this means is that prices have to rise to curb demand.  Stores are still in the business of selling product but the reality is they need to keep something in stock.  You have the option of going to Walmart or Target and trying your luck at picking up a Fat pack but that’s not an option for everyone and the convenience of an online order is worth the $10 to some people.

The other unfortunate problem with selling them at MSRP when in high demand is that people will buy them solely for the purpose of reselling them on auction sites like EBay.  At this point the card store doesn’t get the extra money and it’s pocketed by people who don’t help grow the game.  I’d rather a store get the money if people are going to pay that much.

100 jace

The $100 Man

Saturday afternoon I looked at TCGPlayer and noticed there were only 29 total listings for Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.  Granted there is not usually much supply added on the weekends (stores generally don’t ship/list on weekends because they’re off), it was still unusual to see such low stock.  Ten hours later there were three non-foil copies listed.  While I don’t think this was a targeted buyout (because there weren’t a ton of copies listed by a single seller), it is indicative of future growth.

jace VP graph

He’s pretty much been on a steady rise since he came out.  The small divets in his price are mostly due to small supply gluts.

liliana HH graph

Compared to Liliana, Heretical Healer (the early frontrunner for best walker), Jace seems invincible.  Liliana has seen some minor success and continues to fall.  Even Nissa — who sees almost as much play as Jace in Standard — has been flat.  Why is this?

Well, Jace is a multi-format all-star blue spell that costs two mana.  While being a good blue spell in Standard doesn’t always equate into a hit, it almost certainly does in Modern and Legacy (more blue-friendly formats).  Jace passes early tests for mana cost and raw card power and continues to over perform in those formats.  This card will likely mimic Liliana of the Veil’s pricing for the near future as it will be the most popular Planeswalker in Modern.

Where does he go from here?  There’s pretty much nowhere to go but up.  Even though we have now seen Mythic rares in Event Decks, it is extremely unlikely we will see this Jace in the near future.  The fact that Jace is a flip card makes him cost so much more money to produce so his chance of being in a sealed product are very low.

Starcity Games Open in Indianapolis

dual command

I’ll assumed you’ve seen who won but, if not, congratulations to Brian Demars for his win including several turn 4 blow outs.  People really like to underestimate the power of the red deck in week 1 and they paid the price.  No, not the Ultimate Price, which would have been spectacular versus Demars.


Ultimately it looks like the price will be paid to play these super multi-colored decks.  I don’t know if Standard will be as expensive as the all Mythic rare decks from the Doran deck days, but it’s showing here how much the price of Khans of Tarkir fetch lands is having on deck prices.  As you can see here, the mostly mono-red deck still plays 10 fetch lands in it’s 21 land mana base.  With the rotation of temples, people have to resort more to fetch / battle mana bases which will put more strain on already expensive Khans fetch lands.

Trading Up

Pucatrade continues to be my #1 way to move cards.  If you haven’t signed up already, you can use my referral link here.  It has some useful tools for pruning your collection and predicting the future.

puca popular 7 day

As of my writing, these are the top traded cards in the last 7 days.  It’s pretty clear people want to finish their mana bases asap and I don’t blame them.  But does that mean that these are the most popular cards?

pucatrade popular

With some searching and filter magic you can see the most requested cards are actually basic lands.  Unfortunately these filters are only available to Uncommon tier of support.  From this we can see there is a large discrepancy in the number of “wants” vs the number of “haves.”  Generally when the “Wants” exceed the “Haves” it means that people value the card more than the currently listed Pucatrade price.  From this we can determine either the card is over valued by players or it is poised to go up.  While I don’t believe this will last long with these basic lands, it is an easy avenue to move large numbers of lands that will be worth a lot less in the coming months.

The Final Act

In closing, this week has been hectic and we will see more shifts as the ebb and flow of the Pro Tour.  Will another red aggressive deck win it?  Will a Dragonlord spread it’s wings over the Pro Tour?  Will See the Unwritten break Ulamog out of his shell?

Credit to this goes to Ty Hill

Or will Siege Rhino win another one?  We’ll find out soon and hopefully have some great things to talk about.

6 thoughts on “Grinder Finance – This Week in Magic: The Gathering”

  1. I agree in part with your comment about fat packs, and stores are entitled to sell at whatever price they want. Selling packs at 69.99 and up though is price gouging, you have increased the price due to the high demand, and you want to maximize on the limited inventory you have. Any excuse for a hike that large excuses the practice of price gouging across the board.

  2. credit to the image most certainly does not go to “Mark Nestico” or SCG in any way. I made this image for a friend, thank you very much. I dont care that you’re using it, I actually hate it and only spent like 5 minutes on it but for real, credit goes to this guy, thanks.

  3. I just want to say thanks for highlighting that feature. I had access to it but never knew I could see what are the most wanted cards on Puca trade.

    Not earth shattering but still a little cool.

  4. I already posted about the fat packs under Yost’s article, but this is supply and demand, NOT price gouging. Nobody NEEDS a fat pack. You can live without it. This is simple supply and demand, same reason Underground Sea is $300 and Plateau is around $60…it isn’t price gouging in the least. It’s a great example cause there should be exactly the same number of Plateaus and Seas created by Wizards. There may or may not be the same number of fat packs released for Origins or Dragons or Khans, but demand alone is pushing the price up. And for the times stores lose money on fat pack orders for sets like Dragon’s Maze, Born, Journey, etc they are allowed to make up for it now. I doubt people complain when LGS’s and online stores sell boxes for less than MSRP (likely cause the demand is low) so they shouldn’t be mad when stores sell above. After all, it’s a SUGGESTED price.

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