Right? The price of the winning deck at the SCG Standard Classic in Cincinnati was $555. Two of the decks in the Top 8 cost about $200 and weren’t a red aggro deck, so we’re making some progress. But that’s not what people are really up in arms about anymore.
It feels like everyone is all of a sudden surprised that cards started going up in price again. With the announcement that SCG Cincinnati was the LARGEST Open in the history of SCG with over 1,000 competitors, I’m not surprised. Oh, it was also a Modern Open. Sorry Legacy fans, I don’t think this is your year.
Why calling price increases a buyout is bad
The reason cards go up and stay up in price is almost never due to buyouts. It’s so impossibly hard to buy enough copies of a card to control the market price due to sheer volume.
Nobody is getting rich off of artificially inflating the price of cards by buying a large amount of the market. Eventually you have to find someone to sell them or you might end up just losing money. The reason cards are increasing in price is either due to increased demand or dwindling supply. Let’s take a look at some examples and figure out the difference.
Steady as she goes then boom. If you have been keeping up with the Eldrazi in Modern, this has been a “deck” for like a month. Some people won’t buy in until they see it on camera so you had time to get in cheaply. Actually even very recently. I don’t buy cards to get a quick buck but I had identified this as a problem early.
Let’s take a look at the 10th place finisher at the SCG Open this past weekend here. Oh hey a deck that plays more than 1 Eye of Ugin and a full set of Eldrazi Temples? The deck is also fairly cheap if you don’t include the $200 spent on the two (theoretically unnecessary) Liliana of the Veil. Hell there is an even more budget version of the deck (here) that plays a mono-black shell and some more Standard legal bulk rares to beat people with the power of Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple. The reason we’re seeing spike here is due to REAL demand. If a few thousand players buy 3-4 copies of Eye of Ugin and 4 copies of Eldrazi Temple people will notice and prices will increase. It’s clear vendors feel this is a real price increase because buylist price jumps follow almost immediately.
But what happens from here? Well other cards are going to get more expensive in the deck as people start to build and play it. I’d recommend working on the harder to find cards like Inquisition of Kozilek and Relic of Progenitus and then getting the cards with Standard demand (like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Oblivion Sower). But please don’t go on twitter and decree that MTG finance is the reason why you can’t build the deck for pennies on the dollar now. If anything it’s MTG finance that is keeping the retail stores on their toes and keeping the market fluid. We may see a drop in price in the next few days as more copies enter the market but I don’t see a return to pre-spike prices and that’s okay.
These are not buyouts. They’re not caused by a nefarious group of people trying to make Séance happen. It’s clear from the graphs that multiple months of increasing buy and sell prices has just hit the “bubble” where a small increase just doesn’t get the product flowing. Both of these cards are from Lorwyn Block and Glen Elendra only had a tiny reprint in Modern Masters. Eventually vendors or TCGPlayer reach a breaking point where they will violently increase both prices because the market is demanding it. This can look like a buyout because if there are 12 copies on TCG player and none in stock at retail stores it causes people to panic buy. The reality of these spikes is they will be back down a little in the next few weeks but they will never be their pre-spike price. This sort of price correction is really the wakeup call that leads a lot more supply to the market and is generally healthy after the first day of markups.
How to react to these price increases
Don’t panic. Please whatever you do, don’t panic buy cards. If anything goes up over 200-300% in one day it is so hard for it to stay that high. Just wait a few days for the cheaper copies to reach vendors and then you can pick up your copy for less than the buying frenzy prices. If you buy into hype you only become the greater fool and end up losing the most money. That’s pretty much the definition of anti-value, so don’t do it!
If you’re trying to save money for cards then watch price trends. Standard cards flat line in December and then pick up again at the beginning of the next year. If the card you’re watching is going up $0.20-$0.30 per day (which is hard to really see) then you are better off buying in sooner. Sometimes there is buyer’s remorse if a card gets reprinted but you stand to lose so much more money by waiting that it’s silly to wait too long in a lot of cases.
Cards to keep an Eye on
- Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger had 12 copies in the top 32 of SCG Cincinnati. That’s a lot of a Standard Mythic at a Modern event. Ali Aintrazi (affectionately known as Ali Eldrazi) even went so far as to play three Ulamog and zero Emrakul.
- Spellskite is 100% going to be an “oh shit I wish I bought this card earlier” card this year. It’s only gone up since the reprint in Modern Masters 2015 and I don’t see it getting printed again soon.
- Literally anything in Modern. There is another Modern Open in Charlotte next weekend and then three weeks later is the Modern Pro Tour. This hype train has a long track ahead of it to gain steam before more things explode in price like Scalding Tarn.
- We may see some weird prices on the weekend with no events. There is no event (GP or SCG Open) the weekend after the Pro Tour. It will be interesting to see what happens to cards that weekend.