Grinder Finance – Not Everything is for You

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Man, does it feel like there is a lot of stuff coming out this year?  I immediately realized after tons of announcements in a very short period of time, that we’re in for an exceptional year of Magic.

How exceptional?

mtg calendar

As of right now, this is this year’s release calendar.  This doesn’t include a 2nd duel deck and a From the Vault set [announced to be FTV: Lore].  FTVs usually come out in August so I have no idea where it will be now [Ed note: it still will].  It’s clear based on this release schedule that Wizards of the Coast is trying to release more products that appeal to more niche groups.  A lot of players have already realized “not everything is for me” but this summer will have some of the toughest choices for players in a long time.

eternal masters

Eternal Masters

This sets off a 3 month period of back to back set releases.  Obviously Wizards wants to lead with this one because it has the highest MSRP.  If it sells out (which it probably will) it will be great for their parent company.

Without any kind of spoilers it is hard to tell who this set is really for.  If you assume based on it’s name its to support Legacy and Vintage players with some reprints then it makes a lot of sense.  The reality of those players is the vast majority of them have already owned their deck and the cards needed for a long time.  I think this set is the biggest trap and biggest potential for people to waste money.  If your LGS supports a large community of Standard and Modern players (which is most common around the US), then this set will likely not provide a ton of value to those players.

There may be some overlap cards that are good in both Eternal formats and Modern (ie Cavern of Souls, Chalice of the Void, Tarmogoyf, Cursecatcher), it likely won’t include very many in the interest of including format staples that are generally outside of Modern (Wasteland, Force of Will, Ancient Tomb, Cabal Therapy, etc).  The reality of the reserve list is even if you buy a case of Eternal Masters you’re probably no closer to making a Legacy or Vintage deck than you are just spending that money on a Modern Burn deck.

Leading with the set is obviously a play by Wizards to try to get as much of your impulse spending money as possible.  It will be hard for people to resist buying booster packs that could contain a Foil Force of Will, which will assuredly be a few hundred dollars.

Eldritch Liliana

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Eldritch Moon

I am calling it now.  This set will have the most expensive new cards all year.  This set will not sell nearly well enough to keep the best cards in Standard low enough.  It’s being sandwiched between two presumably exceptional draft formats.  Oh yeah, 3 draftable sets in a row, which one do you think people will skip?  Has Wizards solved the second set by jamming two sets worth of playables into it?  Is Oath of the Gatewatch setting the standard for small sets of the future?  There are a lot of questions but there is also some precedents we can look to.

Show of hands, how many people bought a ton of Magic Origins? No?  Why not?  Did you perhaps by too much Modern Masters 2015?  I have a feeling this same problem will happen again.  Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon will occupy the same slots as Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins did last year.  Did you know a box of Dragons of Tarkir has the highest EV of any set in Standard right now?  Magic Origins is only a few dollars behind Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged booster boxes which can contain the most powerful lands in the game.  The reason DTK and ORI are so expensive is because those two sets are the bun that surrounded the  Modern Masters 2015 Hamburger.  Their short draft time has lead to supply problems with some of the most popular cards in the set.

If Eldritch Moon is another set of similar quality to Born of the Gods then we might not have a lot to worry about.  On the other hand, if we get another Oath of the Gatewatch then we will have some really expensive cards.  If you play a lot of Standard this will be the best set to invest your money in.  I can’t see a world where the player base opens enough of this set to satisfy competitive players.

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conspiracy take the crown

Conspiracy: Take the Crown

I’ll start out by saying I’m the most surprised by this set coming out this year.  I don’t know how Wizards got the resources to test 3 different draft formats all for release on the same summer but more power to them.  Due to the fact that this is a draft heavy format I don’t expect a ton of valuable cards to come out of it.  It won’t be used to hold any Legacy or Vintage style reprints (since those will help sell Eternal Masters).  It probably won’t contain a lot of reprints from Conspiracy because the set is only 221 cards.  With that in mind, Conspiracy 1 only had 210 cards but without a bigger breakdown of the number of uncommons, rares, and mythics we won’t know where the extra cards went.  What I will expect from this set is very expensive foils and Commander cards.

My short list of the Commander style of cards that can probably be in Conspiracy:

What I don’t expect is actual the actual legendary creature printings in foil because they have been doing those as Judge foils.

The point of all this

Be careful this summer.  There are a lot of Magic sets being released this summer, a lot more than usual.  Make sure you realize which sets are for you and spend your money appropriately.  Really take a hard look at what you’re buying because if you end up needing stuff from one of the other sets it will be very expensive.

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5 thoughts on “Grinder Finance – Not Everything is for You”

  1. This is a great article. Up here in Canada with our dollar so low compared to the US we have been paying a lot to play. I’ve never seen so many people calling it quits and selling their entire collections. we’ve had 1 LGS close down in my city and several others hurting because people simply can’t afford to be playing regularly anymore.

    For those of us struggling to keep enjoying the game, we are always looking for ways to stretch our money a little further and get the best value:enjoyment ratio possible.

    i’m going to be picking up singles from EMA and staying away from conspiracy entirely as far as cracking packs goes.

    1. I always try to take a step back and remind people of the big picture. I practice MTG finance to make the game cheaper to play not to make $$$.

  2. Great article Jim.

    How do you evaluate EV of a pack of cards from any set? This is a science I have never been able to understand. Are there tools/sites out there that will constantly update a sets EV?

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