Who is Conspiracy and What does He Do?

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I was on record being pretty displeased about Eternal Masters. The set basically threatens to tank a lot of Legacy cards that players had invested a lot of money in while simultaneously making Reserved List cards like Underground Sea unattainable. It won’t make Legacy more accessible but it will drain the value out of most of the cards in Legacy players’ collections and concentrate them in a few cards they may or may not own.

Last week we went over the cards that are EDH-playable and also on the Reserved List which therefore have a lot of exposure to upside. Some of the cards we discussed have started to go up already, namely Null Rod, City of Traitors and Serra’s Sanctum. They went up a lot. Legacy saw people start to jam Eldrazi in that format which is disappointing because it goes to show that WotC learned precisely nothing from the Affinity disaster over a decade ago. Cards that aren’t needed to fight Eldrazi will go up over time because Reserved List cards just tend to do that so I basically wrote an article where every shot I called will go up eventually and some have already spiked hard, making me look like a genius. If I get any better at this, I’ll be able to call cards after they go up and still have people congratulate me. What can I say? I’m that goulah.

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No, I don’t know what the hell he meant

How goulah I am (very) aside, what do I talk about this week? It’s really hard to top an article where you got 100% of your picks correct (you know, eventually) and I don’t want to phone this one in, resting on my laurels. Maybe we should talk about a call I got super wrong. Namely, the time on Brainstorm Brewery (the podcast you should all be listening to every week) that I said Eternal Masters wasn’t really necessary because you could just do a second Conspiracy set this year and put more Legacy reprints in that set.

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Was this not a fair assumption to make? We had alternated Modern Masters -> Conspiracy -> Modern Masters for 3 years and that’s enough data points to consider a trend. The announcement of Eternal Masters seemed to preclude another Conspiracy. After all, how could they do both in the same “slot” that was reserved for the summer set? True, we’re not doing core sets anymore, but we’ll still have Eternal Masters, Conspiracy 2, an FTV, Commander 2016 and Eldritch Moon in the same 3 month period. What are we supposed to buy? Well, Wizards is banking on people thinking “not everything is for me” and only buying what they care about. This is a silly way to stack sets –  so silly that I absolutely assumed Eternal Masters was going to replace Conspiracy 2. And in a way, I think maybe it is.

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What’s Conspiracy going to look like next year? We can start to look at some unsafe cards and shift our money elsewhere and we can start to look at which cards will get cheaper, enabling more people to access certain archetypes. There’s no question that cheaper Exploration helped EDH deck builders, for example, and there are a lot of ripples in the pond we can analyze from that one big splash. Let’s look at some numbers from the last Conspiracy set.

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The last Conspiracy set had 210 cards and I expect a similar number of cards this time around. Of the 210 cards, 65 of them were brand new cards and 13 conspiracy cards. Of those 65 new cards, a whopping 20 of them were rare. Of the 10 mythics, 4 were new cards, all of them pretty saucy including Dack Fayden, a Vintage-playable card whose foil price is pretty bugnutty. If we can expect similar numbers for the next Conspiracy set, we’re in for some great new commanders like Selvala, Marchesa and Brago were last time around. That’s fun but not knowing exactly which new cards we’re going to get doesn’t tell us much. Instead, I want to look at what happened to the prices of the cards that were reprinted last time around to see if we can project the impact of a new Conspiracy set.

Some of the cards were reprinted last time because their prices were out of control from speculation (Edric) or were high because of a ton of EDH use (Exploration) or high because of a decent amount of use in Legacy (Stifle, Misdirection) or for weird, nostalgia purposes (Spiritmonger). Honestly, the set was weird and weird isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

How much Legacy needs to be in Conspiracy 2? They knew they were doing Eternal Masters at the same time they knew they were doing Conspiracy 2 (I have to assume since they’re coming out at the same time and it usually takes a given amount of time to make a set) so they had to know that Eternal Masters could take a lot of pressure off of the Legacy and Vintage cards they’d need to put in Conspiracy. This doesn’t tell us as much as you think because the Commander 2016 sets coming out not long after these two sets will remove some of the impetus to reprint Commander cards. What to make of all of this? Will there be more casual cards that don’t have an obvious home like Spiritmonger and Mirari’s Wake? Will we have a Conpsiracy set that’s very similar in scope and composition to the last one? Will Eternal Masters have any EDH-playables like Modern Masters did or will it focus on Legacy and Vintage staples? All of these are great questions. The only thing I do know is what happened to the cards that were reprinted last time around, so let’s look at those.

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Before I remind you when Conspiracy 1 was printed, see if you can guess by looking at the graph. I bet you can guess.

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June of 2014. The price drop was pretty profound, which surprised me a tiny bit seeing as how fugly the art on the Conspiracy copies is. Brought down from nearly $50 to its current $13ish, this was a major casualty. Somehow not on the Reserved List (they needed to make room for Zephid and Herald of Serra, I guess) they were free to reprint this card and reprint it they did. This was good for EDH players and good for people who like to sell cards and didn’t have any of these in stock. Reducing the price to a third of its former glory but giving us a foil copy in exchange which is merely twice the cost of the Saga non-foil (could that be the correct multiplier? ) this reprint was pretty bloody but ultimately pretty satisfying for people who wanted to give this a try in EDH. It’s also in Legacy Enchantress but I doubt that was as much of an impetus for the reprinting although overlap is always good for price recovery. I would put the odds of this being in Conspiracy 2 pretty low but nothing would surprise me. Being able to ramp in a 4-player free-for-all can be the difference between life and death.

Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

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This is roughly the same cross-format overlap (although Summer Bloom’s nerfing makes this less applicable in Modern – but did they know that when they made this set?), does roughly the same thing and is at roughly the same price point as Exploration was. Whether they’re going to want to shift the reprint toward spells because they’re printing a lot of new creatures, I can’t say. If I were designing this set, though, I’d probably jam Azusa in there. I doubt Eternal Masters wants a Modern/EDH card like this, I doubt they want a $40 card in the Commander 2016 decks and I doubt I’m right about this being in  Conspiracy 2. Still, this feels analogous and I really wouldn’t be surprised. They’re at their peak in price but not desirability, so this slight chance of a reprint is just reason number, like, 480 to buylist these if you got in before the major jump.

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How did they see this price spike coming? It started basically when they started work on the set and this card got ridiculous before the end. A $50 sideboard card isn’t good for any format and this reprint pulled the pants off of Stifle. A reduction in demand probably had a bit to do with the decline, but this is still a very powerful card. Canadian Thresh decks which basically became RUG Delver were maindecking this card for a while because it was a stone rain against fetches and stopped all kinds of nonsense from their delver flipping to modular to their Jitte getting counters. It’s less useful now and there are a lot more copies out there. Stifle took a beating from this reprinting – you can get the (ugly) Conspiracy versions for like $3.

Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

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This doesn’t do close to what Stile did in terms of how the card plays, and this isn’t a $50 card like Stifle pretended to be for a while, but Bribery is about the price Stifle was when they got to work on Conspiracy. This sees less Legacy play but this is very good in 4 player Limited, it’s great in EDH, it’s not as likely to get printed in Commander 2016 since they’re doing multicolored decks this time around and this card is VERY blue. $16ish isn’t super oppressive in terms of price, but if these were $5 I’d buy $30 worth for my decks and I won’t spend $30 on two of them, now. The price isn’t going down any other way and EDH will always love this card. Again, this is just the card I’d put in if I were making the set. I’m not saying hurry up and sell these if you have them, but the price isn’t going up soon but could go down. I don’t like the risk.

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This was the second reprinting this card got and it was enough. The price was cut in half. I like the original art the best but no one else seems to care as much because the Shadowmoor and Tempest versions are nearly identical in price. This might have climbed some more and seemed to have mostly recovered from the Shadowmoor reprinting. EDH demand is going to increase on this card based on the new rules changes but we’re not expecting to see a jump anytime soon. Besides, this could get another reprinting which basically doesn’t matter at this point.

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Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

This one’s ballsy

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This would likely be thrown in at mythic, but I will be very surprised if we go through Eternal Masters and Conspiracy 2 and don’t see a reprinting of Cavern. It’s a card that needs to be inexpensive and it’s just as good in casual as it is in competitive. This is a card I went after very hard for $20 when it was first printed and expected it to hit $50 and was very pleased when it finally did.

This is a card that needs a reprinting and is going to get one, soon. This is when you sell these and if you’re still holding these when it’s reprinted, you’re going to be sorry. I don’t like holding onto this hot potato and I urge you to ship.

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This was a brutal reprinting and no one ever really talked about the price trajectory here. We saw a profound drop over 6 months but it seemed relatively unperturbed initially so everyone thought this wasn’t quite the slaughter it ended up being. P Deed is around $5 which is great for EDH players and bad for people who had money tied up in P Deed. Are you good with the amount of analysis I did here?

Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

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This is already on its way down, but it’s still a little pricey for EDH players for what it does and it could be a staple removal spell because it solves every problem. Ayli and Daxos are very popular EDH Commanders right now, and a $5 Vindicate seems good. Unmake is getting play and Vindicate being a sorcery hurts it a bit, but being able to get rid of Reliquary Tower or Serra’s Sanctum seems worth it. P Deed is an old school card that solves EDH problems and Vindicate feels like it could get that spot. The declining price of Vindicate right now is as much an impetus to sell quickly as the reprint risk, however. I’m just picking analogous cards, not trying to tell you how to manage your collection.

Conspiracy 2 is going to be a good set. It’s going to give Cube players nifty cards that affect the way players draft, which is amazing. It’s going to give us new EDH generals and staples, which we appreciate. It’s going to reduce some high-priced cards the way the first Conspiracy did. Most of all, it’s going to give my critics another thing I got wrong to point to. I’m fine with all of that

 

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18 thoughts on “Who is Conspiracy and What does He Do?”

  1. come on guys, this broken image thing is getting ridiculous. I cant even tell what most of the cards being talked about in this article are because they’re not listed underneath

      1. Might be worth tweaking the article to make it clear which cards you are talking about incase the images stay broken?

  2. Yeah can’t see the images here either. Just having the names of the cards under them would at least make the article readable.

  3. It’s working fine for me and i’m reading it on my phone. Conspiracy 2 is a confirmed set release??? Dealers still have tons of boxes lying around or the first release and I stopped following the price per box as it’s never gone up, I’m quite surprised there’s a second one this soon.

    1. If Conspiracy 2 is run enough to draft, people who weren’t actively playing 2 years ago may go looking for Conspiracy 1 boxes. Might help the stagnation a bit.

  4. Lol, my LGS recently found a box of Conspiracy..Charging $4 a pack and there are not even enough to draft.

  5. Jason, while I dont want to rain on your parade of credit for predicting a mass reprint of Legacy Cards would lead people to invest heavily in cards that were not going to be reprinted, have you looked at the data concerning the spikes to see how it happened?

    It seems to me that the spikes were so sudden and massive — null rod in particular — that this appears to be someone making a classic buyout to inflate the price and test just how much the market can bear. That’s not the same as players gradually bidding up the price, and it also is the kind of thing an article by a popular writer like yourself could easily have helped prompt in the first place

    More evidence that this is the work of finance nerds trying to determine the max price for cards is availing each day as more cards keep spiking. Freaking SCORCHED RUINS is being pumped and dumped.

    The machine is really working overtime to max out reserve list prices.

    1. Whether players bought the copies or dealers did isn’t super relevant. They used the same logic we did in that article to figure out which cards to target so it was predictable. If we predict a card will go up and it goes up, do we then say “no, doesn’t count, the wrong guy bought it?”

  6. It’s not that it does not count, it’s that the tail absolutely wags the dog in MTG Finance.

    If you define the “correct” price to be “the maximum the market will bear,” which I think is your take on it, then there are two ways to get there. Steady growth from dealers upping prices in response to demand, or massive sudden spikes by dealer-side (probably just individual Captains of Industry willing to bet some money) that quickly find that maximum.

    Finance articles like those here, but certainly not limited to those here, encourage the latter more than they do the former, I suspect. When I see you plugging a card that is logically vulnerable to a sudden price increase, I know it’s likely to happen not just for the reasons you explain, but also simply because you (and others) have published it.

    It’s a good thing your podcast is fun to listen to most of the time, otherwise I’d be angry that I feel like I’m locked into tuning in for pick of the week or else I’ll be blasted into orbit on the next month’s buyout attempt.

  7. From what i heard this print run will be about 2/3 the print run of mm2 ,so i don’t think a lot of prices are gunna dip that low for very long unless they’re super casual cards.
    just my opinion ,no facts just opinion.

  8. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like there are too many sets announced right now to confidently make any purchases. I’ve stopped buying cards for the time being. I don’t dare invest to see a reprint tomorrow. I see this as the flip side to your article, Jason. Why would I buy any EDH staples at this point? Vindicate has dropped in price, but that makes me more leery. Just throwing my opinion out there.

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