MTG Fast Finance: Episode 2

by Travis Allen (@wizardbumpin) & James Chillcott (@mtgcritic)

MTG Fast Finance is a new weekly podcast that tries to break down the flurry of financial activity in the world of Magic: The Gathering into a fast, fun and useful thirty minute format. Follow along with our seasoned hosts as they walk you through this week’s big price movements, their picks of the week, metagame analysis and a rotating weekly topic.

Show Notes: Jan 29th

Segment 1: Top Movers of the Week

Battle Screech (Judgement)
Start: $0.50
Finish: $3.00
Gain: +$2.50 (+500%)

Treasure Hunt (Magic Player Rewards)
Start: $1.25
Finish: $6.50
Gain: +$5.25 (+420%)

Boom/Bust (Planar Chaos)
Start: $2.50
Finish: $7.00
Gain: +$4.50 (+180%)

Palinchron (Urza’s Legacy)
Start: $11.00
Finish: $25.00
Gain: +$14.00 (+127%)

Flagstones of Trokair (Time Spiral)
Start: $13.00
Finish: $26.00
Gain: +$13.00 (+100%)

Seedborn Muse (Legions/9th/10th)
Start: $13.00
Finish: $26.00
Gain: +13.00 (+100%)

Ghost Quarter (Various)
Start: $1.00
Finish: $2.00
Gain: +1.00 (+100%)

Segment 2: Cards to Watch

James Picks:

  1. Harbinger of the Tides, ORI (Foil): $6.50 to $15+ (+130%, 6-12+ months)
  2. Goblin Piledriver, ORI (Foil): $5 to $10+ (+100%, 12+ months)
  3. Painful Truths, BFZ (Foil): $11 to $20+ (80%, 6-12+ months)

Disclosure: James is holding several Harbinger of the Tides foils.

Travis Picks:

  1. Delver of Secrets (Foil): $12 to $25 (110%, 0 – 12 months)
  2. Kozilek, the Great Distortion (Foil): $60 to $80 (33%, 6 – 12+ months)

Disclosure: Travis is not holding either of his picks at present.

Segment 3: Metagame Week in Review

The guys highlighted the successful showing for Merfolk as the 2nd, 3rd, and 12th at the  #SCG Modern Classic last weekend as a deck that keeps slipping under the radar despite doing well. Goblins was also noted as the winner of the Legacy Classic at the same tournament.

Segment 4: Topic of the Week: Is MTG Too Expensive?

The guys discussed the average cost to play Magic: The Gathering, and the many ways players have to mitigate those costs in their favor.

James Chillcott is the CEO of, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

29 thoughts on “MTG Fast Finance: Episode 2”

  1. You make a very bad point saying that the game isn’t expensive. Sure you can claim that WotC isn’t at fault but remember that they can reprint staples as many times as they wish. The secondary market show in the prices of staples that there is a demand and yet WotC has continuously failed to meet the demand thus driving the prices sky high. 4 pieces of carton should not be worth someone’s entire weekly paycheck for a hobby.

    This issue seems to be absent in other card games such as Pokemon or YGO who control the market very well.

    Finally, if they wanted to harmonize modern and standard and increase sales, instead of printing low quality underpowered cards they should print more high quality and on-par cards with their sets.

    1. P, I respect your concerns, but there’s a lot of faulty premises underlying what you’re saying.

      WotC can reprint staples as many times as they wish, which is a solution — in the short term. Long term, this is disastrous for the game, and a reprint policy similar to what you’re envisioning would have Magic going out of business within a handful of years.

      YGO has one of the most hilariously awful economies imaginable, with cards losing hundreds of dollars of value overnight. To put it in Magic terms, they would print a card with the rarity of a foil mythic in one block, and reprint it as a common a block or two later.

      Finally, trying to make Standard cards all fit into Modern would send power levels through the roof, and within a few years you’d end up in a place where Ancestral Recall seemed reasonable, which is also extremely unhealthy for Magic as a whole.

      1. You ignore the simple law of the market: the demand exists and the secondary market tries to fulfill it at high cost. The reason the prices are so high is because the demand is higher than the quantity available (among other factors such as speculators, buyouts, etc).

        If your objective is to make money off of magic, then yes, we are in disagreement. My objective is to play the game in an affordable manner.

        Your criticism of YGO does not stand from that point of view: they make a card high in demand and then reprint it to meet the demand. The players win because they can get the card for cheap and the company wins because they can sell more products. The only loser in this whole relationship is the secondary market. But it is neither the consumer nor the company’s responsibility to cater to the secondary market.
        Additionally, you are speaking against a massive loss in value for goods while praising massive rises in value for goods.

        You misunderstood what I meant by that standard-into-modern clause earlier; take a look at blocks such as Theros or BfZ. Almost no card sees play in modern or legacy and the reason isn’t because of a big bad boogie man. It’s because the power level of those cards are abysmally low. If they made cards on par with modern standards or at least at an ulterior standard period such as zendikar/scars of mirrodin (the cards not the format) then they would probably stimulate more sales.

        I’m not advocating for free cards. But affordable ones. One of your colleagues wrote a wonderful article on the price of consistency in modern and it reaches the high thousands. Considering that the game wasn’t that expensive 5 years ago, it has now become very expensive.

      2. So don’t play. Really… I mean, collecting is part of the game, it’s what makes it interesting. It gives it a whole other aspect behind the scenes. Sitting down and trading with people, you know, face-to-face… it’s the aspect that I miss the most now that virtually nobody trades in person anymore.

        You want “cheap” cards, play on MTGO, it’s a whole lot cheaper. Or play with your friends with proxies, whatever. Or play on Cockatrice or something, that’s “free”.

      3. I wish everyone followed your advice and stopped playing and thus stopped buying cards. The market would plummet and your precious collection would be worthless. People want cards to PLAY them. Not to shove them in a shoe box and wait until prices rise. Most cards are expensive because they are PLAYED a lot.

        You’re complaining about people not trading anymore? What kind of hypocrite are you?! If the value of the cards becomes too great, people will be more reluctant to trade rather than buy directly when the prices cheapen.

        If you want to collect things so badly, turn to stamps or coins and stop undermining a GAME. Turn the mirror on yourself; you’re the reason a GAME designed to be PLAYED in different formats is becoming more expensive for PLAYERS. Maybe if you had spent more money on an actual primary school education you’d have greater reading comprehension as you haven’t understood jack from what I wrote.

      4. P, you really don’t understand do you? What world are you living in where “the price of all cards rise” results in “people will be more reluctant to trade, and instead will buy”? Really?

        And you claim I needed to “spend more money on a primary school education…” Oooookay kiddo.

    2. what if wizards sold any card not on the reserve this for $20. That would effectivly make them a ton of cash, but also keep prices eternally in check. Would eliminate people spectating and buy outs etc. If $20 is too low then $30 or whatever. This would open modern and standard to tons of players. If they find a price point that allows players to still crack pakcs why not?

      1. This would seem to come down rather hard on the LGS, especially the ones catering to smaller populations.

    3. Holy crap P, you sound like a Bernie freaking Sanders supporter… “It’s not FAY-IR… everyone deserves whatever they want…”

      This is a COLLECTIBLE card game. Get it? Collectible. Which means you have some stuff that’s in demand, and that makes it interesting. It should teach you a thing or three about life… something like “it feels good to find something you would like to have, work hard, and… you know… EARN IT” Something a generation of Bernie supporters sorely need to understand.

      1. Can we please keep politics out of this forum. While I agree that the proposal Joe makes is not well founded, personal attacks and political jabs do not advance the discussion. Thanks. Nice pods guys. Thanks for providing this content!

      2. Yes, actually, they do. One of the most important things we can talk about in this world today, and everyone whines when someone brings them up… politics and religion. “Oh, I don’t want to talk about that here… I don’t want to talk about that there… I would rather just sit in my nice cozy dream world and self-medicate…”


      3. Sure he is Anders… just like his ideas worked in Greece. er… no, wait… in Venezuela… er, no, wait… Ethiopi…. um, Cuba? Vietnam? East Germany? USSR? Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary prior to the 90’s? I don’t know… I’m having a hard time thinking of one.

      4. Why bring Bernie into this? I support him but I disagree with P. Don’t make blanket statements like that.

  2. So I’m not holding any foil harbinger or the tides but I am holding Japanese copies, how do you think these will fair?

    1. Ryan, I would expect this will be largely tied to how well the card does in general, and in part whether Merfolk increases in popularity as a Modern deck in Japan.

  3. P,
    The problem I see is this. There are affordable decks in modern: burn and affinity (that is unless you wait until the very last minute to build the deck) and there are the expensive decks (anything with tarmogoyf in it). If you want to play modern, then pick a deck that is in your price range and start picking up the pieces you need in the off season. I’m building a Eldrazi deck and currently have right at $400 invested. I picked up: 4 Ulamog, 4 urborg, 4 eldrazi temple, 4 eye of ugin, 4 cavern of souls (these take up $160 of the cost), 4 matter reshaper, 4 reality smasher and 1 crucible of worlds before they spiked. Did I get lucky? Yes and no. I saw that Eldrazi had been played on MTGO and had put up good results, it looked fun and it was in my price range so i picked them up. I cannot afford the ultra tier 1 decks but this introduced me to modern. I got 4th in a Modern tournament last night, even though the deck is not quite done. Even got to land look tron with ghost quarters and crucible of world’s (that’s living the dream). Good luck building your deck.

  4. Merfolk is a Legacy deck as well as Modern, not quite tier 1 but better than tier 2. FOIL JAPANESE cards that are played in Legacy CAN have increased value and a solid multiplier. You just have to find the right buyer or sell on Ebay. Regular Japanese cards are a little more expensive than English but not by much, but FOREIGN FOIL LEGACY cards are what you would want (Russian is the most expensive non-English language, Japanese and Korean also more expensive than English). Check Star City for some of their pricing to get an idea, they usually have a few foreign cards to compare prices.

  5. James I missed out on an opportunity,

    I was going to buy 8 copies of CoCo from Card Kingdom at $11.99 Sunday after seeing the 3 StarCity Deck techs all being Coco decks and with the Modern Pro Tour upcoming. I talked myself out of it as I have enough copies and haven’t dealt with CK enough to know how their condition grading fairs… Well Card Kingdom still has 8 copies but now they are at $14.99. #MissedOut

    1. Spencer, why not just buy the clash pack and crack it?

      Coco, Windswept, and a promo foil Rhino. Plus you get to keep Anafenza, Valorous Stance, and some other nice pieces

      1. I actually did that already. I traded everything in the clash pack EXCEPT the Coco’s to a friend building Abzan and I had used store credit to get the clash pack so it was a profitable trade. The promo Rhino is ugly though and doesn’t seem to be very popular, Windswept Heath is losing value. It’s still solid Value but not like it was. I think Warden is also in it, is Hangarback Walker??

  6. There is no one correct answer to a subjective question such as the one of expense. To those who want to, but can’t get their hand in the same cookie jar that other people are getting into, it’s too expensive. To those who are able to at least near a break even point, it’s not too expensive. To me, as a collector, yes, its expensive, but what fun would collecting be if you could just throw down a few hundred and own 99.9% of the library of cards.

    If we surveyed every person involved in the handling of paper MTG, we would come up with a dozens of different arguments with hundreds of slight variants. There will never be a one size fits all answer. Any ruling or course of action, or even just keeping a status quo, is going to piss someone off.

    As such, we get rather bizarre rants that are filled with absolutist thinking and emotionally charged tunnel vision stuck in between a few of the most basic economic principles, which are included in an attempt to lend credibility to their argument.

    The game may be only experiencing single digit numbers in growth, but that’s still growth. We can’t expect the monumental growth numbers from around the beginning of the decade, every year. My vote would be, regardless of my opinions or feelings on expense, that status quo should be maintained. WotC and other influential entities like SCG, got us to this point, I feel like trusting them to steer the ship going forward, even if they do make unpopular decisions sometimes.

    In the end, it doesn’t really matter who’s fault it is. Even if WotC reprints itself into the grave, even if the boogey man speculators go away, the game will never be all inclusive financially. If MTG only cost $100 a year, it will still be too expensive for an amazing amount of people, and we would still be getting the same arguments, but from a much weaker position.

  7. While the ultimate price of cards will be a function of how much people are willing to pay and how fast vendors need to move them, the current Magic market is materially different than it used to be and I don’t hear either side of the argument pointing this out in a precise way.

    Specifically, there are more people in the secondary market now, more people teaching other people (players and dealers) about the secondary market, information flows insanely fast, and cards can be purchased worldwide at almost the same speed.

    All of these factors has come together to change how much Magic costs. It’s not that it is making things cost “too much,” exactly; it’s just that the market is now very, VERY good at very, VERY quickly ensuring each card is selling for the maximum it reasonably can. So, a player has a much rougher time looking for deals on cards compared to, say, 2010.

    It’s not that speculation and the subsidary industry (like finance podcasts, this website) are making cards more expensive — they’re just making cards reach their maximum (correct?) price faster than ever before.

    1. P.S. I actually think there’s a very good case to be made that some economies, particularly those involving a leisure activity, work better when the flow of information is not perfect. Anyone who reads this, can you remember trading cards back in the 1990s versus trading now? How often did you trade before you had perfect price information at your fingertips? How much fun did you have in the process?

      That said, the genie cannot be put back into the bottle, obviously, so it’s a pipe dream to want to return to that time.

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