PROTRADER: Under the Radar

Social media has transformed the MTG finance pastime. What used to be a mysterious field of insight and connections has since evolved into a public event. The “group think” nature of MTG finance leads to rapid price corrections and manipulations, manifested in the form of buy-outs and price spikes.

Sometimes these moves make sense – World Breaker received positive camera time at the SCG Open in Atlanta yesterday, and it sent the card higher. The flow of logic is simple: players witness the card on camera, talk about it on Twitter and Reddit, players blindly follow suit, and the card jumps in price. The fact that artificial scarcity is at play here on this brand new mythic rare only means the price can shoot even higher before enough product is opened to meet surge in demand.

Other times the move makes little sense to the community. Mindslicer was a recent example, and this morning I woke up to another perplexing jump: Battle Screech.

Battle Screech

While I will confess I’ve played Battle Screech in a casual Birds tribal deck for over a decade now, someone’s going to have to explain this sudden movement to me.

But the story and catalysts are still the same here, regardless of root cause. A card gains traction, earns some discussion (wouldn’t surprise me to see someone ask about this on Twitter today), and drives the price higher in a matter of hours. The fact that this was the number one Interest on only means this move will get even more attention.

The Old and Obscure

It may come as a surprise to you that some price spikes actually occur under the radar, despite all the openness of social media. It’s actually quite impressive when you step back and consider this notion. Cards can still gradually or rapidly increase in price without taking the notice of the hive mind in MTG finance. Despite our best efforts, a card can still move in value without our knowing. I guess with over 10,000 unique cards, this really isn’t that hard to believe, is it?

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11 thoughts on “PROTRADER: Under the Radar”

  1. > Perhaps someone knows the motivation behind these moves and can share in the comments section?

    I think it might be related to this deck that was making the rounds:

    It’s the same Jeskai Ascendency shell that you are familiar with, but includes Monastery Mentor for a beatdown backup plan and prominently features Visions of Beyond. It went 5-0 in several modern events, which is why people were talking about it. AFAICT, only one pilot has had any success with it though.

    1. Thanks Kihashi for the insight! I don’t pay close enough attention to MTGO results, so I completely overlooked this list. Looks really interesting – I wonder if there’s anything to it. I definitely love the idea of chaining a ton of 1 drop cantrips :-).

  2. Foil Summoner’s Pact has one of the lowest multipliers of non-foil to foil that I’ve seen in a long long time.

    1. You know, I find Modern Masters reprints have pretty poor foil multipliers in general. I think it’s because there’s a foil in every Modern Masters booster pack and so more exist from a non-foil to foil ratio basis. What do you think of this hypothesis?

      Also, who wants to invest in a Modern-only staple in foil when there’s always a risk of a ban or reprint? Not me.

  3. Battle Screech, and I believe Chainer’s Edict, are rising because of Pauper exposure.

    1. Yay birds!!! I should check out this Pauper format then, since I have loved Battle Screech in a birds deck for years. Battle Screech + Soulcatcher’s Aerie is a beating.

  4. Thanks for the article Sig, great points about finding your niche! I think I found mine: G/W foils that have multiple format crossover!

    Keep a CLOSE eye on G/W (Selesnya) Modern decks in the next couple of months. The power vacuum left by recent bans is about to be filled by a few decks. I’m betting on Eldrazi Ramp and various forms of G/W Aggro, Hate Bears, Company, Death and Taxes, etc. Some of the G/W lists run NO fetch lands and instead run 4 copies of Ghost quarter and some copies of Tectonic Edge as well (hint, hint!). Might want to keep an eye on Horizon Canopy (ouch), Razorverge Thicket and Temple Garden as well.

    I don’t know about you guys but I am really excited about the new bans! I love playing “tempo” type magic and I love casting creatures with unique abilities. The G/W “creature-based” decks use a lot of the same cards so if you get enough pieces you can essentially have 3-4 Modern decks by swapping out a few creatures, spells and lands. Bans be damned!!!

    Now that Splinter Twin and Amulet Bloom are no longer going to be skewing the format… I am confident that G/W decks will see a lot more Top 8 success (at least top 16/32). And from a player’s perspective, as you build your collection you can move from G/W aggro to decks like Zoo or Abzan Company when you you add in some more expensive cards like Goyf and fetchlands. Or you can go the other direction and play something like Infect or Boggles.

    Another note: A TON of 4cmc and 5cmc cards that were thought to be “too slow” for Modern should be revisited (especially in ramp style decks). We should speculate on the trends and directions that WotC is moving towards… Not what the hottest thing is right now. Sorry to all the people who just built Splinter Twin!!! But I’ve been slowly picking up green and white staples for over a year now!

    You know the best part about green and white cards? Foils are usually extremely popular in Commander as well and there is a TON of crossover between “staples” in those two colors. The number one point is this: I can justify buying a foil Kitchen Finks or a Foil Voice of Resurgence or a Foil Knight of the Reliquary because those cards are played in not only Modern decks but a HUGE percentage of Commander decks. If the card doesn’t “make-it” in Modern… it will have steady growth for years from Commander demand. Can you say the same for your “Modern-Only” foils?

    Format Crossover and Deck Crossover should be a huge consideration when buying cards, whether speculating or building your collection. Pro Tip: Don’t just use MTGPrice or MTGStocks paired with Top 8 results when speculating on cards. Make sure you are looking at MetaMox and EDHREC as well. By the way… the community has made it clear that first printing FOILS are where you want to be speculating right now (or the rarest version). Reprints and bans are making it extremely hard to park magic money into anything else these days.

    Thanks Again to everyone at MTGPrice who taught me how to research cards for myself instead of blindly following trends and decklists!!! All of the articles you guys have written over the past year have been invaluable. (Sig is definitely in the Top 3 but I don’t want to make the other guys jealous! **Jason scowls and flips me off, Corbin chuckles**) Consider this my official Pro-Trader Endorsement. Keep up the good work everyone!!!

    1. To prove a point: My “best” spec of 2015: Picking up 35 Silk Wraps for 28 cents each over the summer and unloading them as playsets in December/January for $2-$2.50ea, essentially turning 8 $1 playsets into 8 $10 playsets. Can’t beat those percentages and just how easy it was to move them. God Bless Standard Demand?

      But my “favorite” spec of 2015 was picking up 6 non-foil Voice of Resurgence at $14ea and 2 foil Voice of Resurgence at $50ea early in the year. I Unloaded the 2 extra non-foils for $30ea and the extra foil for $75 just recently. A “profit” of around $50 which essentially paid for my original playset that I am going to keep for Modern. I jammed the foil into my Selesnya Rhys, the Redeemed Commander deck and couldn’t be happier! Now that is how you weasel your way into Modern as a Commander/Casual player my friends!

      I’m going to try and follow this varied approach to MTG speculation again this year. Big money is spent on established cards that have multiple format demand that haven’t “popped” yet (i.e. Voice of Resurgence). Penny stocks will likely be removal, ramp or creatures that fit into any Standard deck (i.e. Silkwrap, Den Protector, Hangarback Walker, etc.).

      I will be honing in on my new personal “best” specs of 2016 in the next few months. It should be very interesting when KTK/FRF rotates, shaking up Standard, as well as the potential for a new Modern Metagame due to recent bans.

      If anyone else is interested in finding a Niche in the speculation game, just start with what you know and what you play! If you play commander, don’t jump right into speculating on the Modern Metagame. Start out by speculating on Commander Foils that have crossover into Modern. At least if the card doesn’t “pop” in Modern, you still have a good long-term Commander spec!

      And now my two comments have turned into an article of their own… Who knows, maybe I’ll be writing for MTGPrice in 2017. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m more than happy to share my journey with people! Good Luck in 2016 everyone!!!

    2. Thank you very much for the testimonial :). I’m thrilled to see that our thought processes and suggestions are paying dividends for our readers.

      As for your bullishness on G/W – are there MTGO events or large tournaments you can reference where G/W plugged up the vacancy of Twin/Bloom bannings? Part of me actually expects Twin to just become a Kiki-Jiki deck, perhaps with a few more controlling elements. The deck plays blue, after all, so finding ways to stall the game and combo out seems possible. Alternatively, I could see Kiki-Chord becoming the new combo deck of choice since it was already nearing Tier 1. Notice how Restoration Angel has been climbing lately?

      As for foils, I would definitely agree that original set foils are the way to go AND try to find foils that also play well in other formats. A Modern-only foil like Splinter Twin is a recipe for disaster, and the upside just won’t be as great. Your points are well made there.

      I think bottom line is we will have to watch the PT VERY closely to see how the metagame evolves. There will likely be many buying opportunities throughout the weekend, and those who jump on trends fastest will be most rewarded. Good luck!


      1. I completely agree about Kiki-Chord taking spots in the Top 8. As for G/W… I was talking more about the “invisible” aspect of demand. These aren’t the decks the pros play on camera, but they are the decks a handful of people are playing at your FNM.

        Because of all the bans lately, I’ve seen a lot more people “settling” for Tier 2 Modern decks because they aren’t that likely to be messed with by WotC. A lot of people are weary of hopping to the next best Tier 1 deck just to have it banned! Therefore… I’m liking that people are paying attention to T2 decks now and prices are increasing accordingly.

        Pro’s can create a ton of demand in a short time frame and make speculators some money. But the “Invisibles” that want to play Modern create demand as well and newcomers tend to shy away from complicated or expensive T1 decks.

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