MTG Fast Finance Podcast: Episode 56 + CardSphere Interview (Feb 24/17)

MTG Fast Finance is our weekly podcast covering the flurry of weekly financial activity in the world of Magic: The Gathering. MFF provides a fast, fun and useful sixty 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: Feb 24, 2017

Segment 1: Top Card Spikes of the Week

This week we had a fairly calm pattern of card price increases, with many of the top movers resulting from new or updated decks doing well at the modern format showcase GP Vancouver.

Noxious Revival

Noxious Revival (New Phyrexia, Rare)
Start: $1.80
Finish: $4.00
Gain: +$2.20 (+122%)

Sudden Shock (Modern Masters, Foil Uncommon)
Start: $3.50
Finish: $7.50
Gain: +$4.00 (+114%)

Dimir Signet (CMD, Common*)
Start: $2.00
Finish: $4.25
Gain: +$2.25 (+113%)

Death’s Shadow (ONS, Foil Rare)
Start: $7.50
Finish: $15.00
Gain: +$7.50 (+100%)

Tangle (INV, Foil Uncommon)
Start: $7.00
Finish: $14.00
Gain: +$7.00 (+100%)

Paradise Mantle (MMA, Uncommon)
Start: $1.80
Finish: $3.50
Gain: +$1.70 (+94%)

Basilisk Collar (WWK, Rare)
Start: $10.00
Finish: $18.00
Gain: +$8.00 (+80%)


James’ Picks:

Mana Drain

  1. Mana Drain (Judge Promo, Foil Mythic)
  • The Call: Confidence Level 9: $110.00 to $160.00 (+50.00/46%) 12+ months)
  • Note: Source from Europe to snag at mentioned price

2. Hangarback Walker (KLD, Masterpiece Invention)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $40.00 to $60.00 (+20.00/+50%, 0-12+ months)

3. Hardened Scales (KTK, Rare Foil)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $10.00 to $20.00 (+10.00/+100%, 0-12+ months)

Travis’ Picks:

  1. Seshiro the Anointed (COK, Rare)
  • The Call: Confidence Level 7: $3.00 to $10.00 (+7.00/+233%, 0-12+ months)

2. Patron of the Orochi (INN, Foil Rare)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 6: $4.00 to $15.00 (+11.00/+275%, 0-12+ months)

Disclosure: Travis and James may own speculative copies of the above cards.


Segment 3: Topic of the Week

James & Travis interviewed two members of the CardSphere team, discussing their forthcoming project intended to compete with Pucatrade as an alternate trading and sales platform for Magic cards.

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

11 thoughts on “MTG Fast Finance Podcast: Episode 56 + CardSphere Interview (Feb 24/17)”

  1. Great interview. I suspect that in retrospect the Cardsphere guys wish they’d talked to you offline for an hour and done the podcast after having some time to mull over that conversation.

    I’m interested. I never used pucatrade — its currency model was terrible from the start, and the fixed price structure on the system is silly. In making that decision, I obviously missed out on some opportunities early on. Its collapse has been (so far at least) very gradual — more gradual than I expected.

    I’m not sure how big the “refused to touch pucatrade” crowd is, but Cardsphere’s potential user base is a lot bigger than that: in particular, the disaffected smaller pucatrade users who’ve largely abandoned that platform. They’ll be skeptical and need to be made to understand the differences here. I’m very concerned that the Cardsphere team lacks the people to make that pitch well.

    The proposed fee structure seems to fall mostly on those who pull out cash, and secondarily on those who receive points for cards. There might be an opportunity here (given a stable currency) to put in a couple hundred bucks, set up a broad want list, with high quantities, at a little below market prices (but above buylist prices) and use this as a buying platform. Anyway, I’ll probably sign up once they allow the public to do so and give the site a shot.

    1. In retrospect I think the interview just had a “tell us why mtg finance hawks would use the site” angle that I wasn’t really prepared for, because I’m not really sure what the various ways were that they used to use PucaTrade. I can happily elucidate on the site’s features and how we would expect the economy to work, but yeah in terms of making an actual pitch for why certain market segments should invest in the site that’s not really something we’ve discussed – as we see it we’re just trying to make investment in the site low-cost, not tell you that with Cardsphere you’ll never have to sell another card on TCGPlayer again. It might be poor marketing but I don’t feel like we should have to oversell the platform.

      1. Hey Peter. With due respect I would argue that we covered a lot of ground, including plenty of analysis that was more specific to the necessary elements of a succesful startup, as opposed to simply MTGFinance factors. The project remains compelling if you can execute on your stated goals and attract the critical mass necessary to get it off the ground, and I look forward to staying in touch to help move things along.

      2. I agree with James here. Economics in theory v. in practice are very different things and the business side of the house needs to be fleshed out more as the good faith argument is not compelling enough.

        Everything that the software engineer said really makes me believe they are trying to do something good and sinking their own money in to make it happen. In terms of the business side of the house I would say they need someone with a bit of real world experience as opposed to expecting this to run on good faith.

        Cardsphere@ I’m interested in your project and feel free to reach out to me if you need help building out the business side of this project. I have plenty of real world experience professionally especially in tech and magic has been a hobby for me for 15 years so I’ve seen it grow up so to speak.

      3. I think what strikes me as odd about the tenor of these discussions is that I would totally understand why these would be valid concerns if we were trying to, say, raise venture capital.

        Why they’re valid concerns for a prospective user is less clear to me. If you’re afraid that the site will suddenly vanish with whatever you’ve invested in it, that’s one thing and we’ll try to address that. But an implicit sentiment of “I’m only going to sign up if you can convince me that you’ll have 10k users in 3 months” or something along those lines seems less justifiable to me. Yes, network effects exist and are important but we’d rather address those by making the site cheap and attractive to use than to focus on having a glitzy marketing push.

        Michael Baranov, one of the site founders, puts it better than I could here:

      4. Peter, the reason that VCs focus on team, product and plan up front is because they want to make sure that vision, capability, economic sensibility, growth potential, and market size are all present and accounted for in a new company. To pass off detailed long term planning aimed at protecting the viability of the market place as unnecessary or irrelevant does both the product and the potential users a disservice. When you open the doors and ask people to get involved, you are making an implicit promise that you will grow, make money and innovate as you iterate. If you have a healthy bottom line there is a much greater chance that my commitment to the platform will be rewarded because all of the incentives will be lined up to keep your exec team engaged when the going gets tough and the project is more of a slog/job than an exciting new venture. When you refer to things like a “glitzy marketing push” like they don’t apply to you, it sends all the wrong signals. As a potential user I want your team to be deeply knowledgeable about what it takes to grow a business, and a strong marketing mix is a truly essential part of that knowledge base.

        Side note: one of the biggest things I’ve having trouble wrapping my head around is this. A platform without a currency loses the benefits of allowing users to turn cards into cards without ever dipping into their pocket books, creating friction in the system. (You also dodge currency inflation spirals, and that’s great, but another matter). In your system, many people will be willing to send cards, because, wow! they get real cash. Thing is, they can also do that on Ebay and TCG and Amazon at similar cost of sales, while leveraging a large active user base. And to be able to send any cards at all, another group of users has to a) decide that they are willing to pay for them up front (by purchasing credit in the system) and b) wait for someone to fill that order before they get impatient, pull their cash from the system and buy them somewhere else. As such, it is unclear to me what the core motivations (needs being uniquely fulfilled) are here vs. traditional e-commerce.

      5. ” If you have a healthy bottom line there is a much greater chance that my commitment to the platform will be rewarded because all of the incentives will be lined up to keep your exec team engaged when the going gets tough and the project is more of a slog/job than an exciting new venture.”

        But I would prefer you use the site because there is an immediate tangeantial value to either sending cards over it or having cards sent to you, not because we’ve sold you on the idea that in 6 months or a year you’ll be thankful for having been an early adopter. Again, my point is not that a marketing push or whatever cannot help the site – but that it’s unclear to me why an individual’s incentives to use or not use the site in its early stages will be deeply contingent on its really taking off in the medium term. I supposed if pressed I could imagine some user stories here but I’d much rather focus our energies on providing users for short-term incentives to use the site since I think that dovetails with having a better core product regardless of what our conversion rate is.

        “As such, it is unclear to me what the core motivations (needs being uniquely fulfilled) are here vs. traditional e-commerce.”

        Well, I did mention my personal pet idea – allowing users to have “floating wants” that only require buy-in when a potential sender is identified.

        Beyond that, the goal is to have:

        (a) A more user-friendly experience than ebay/tcgplayer/amazon. I think mtg finance people may underestimate how hostile these platforms are to casual traders. But I imagine you don’t have these traders in mind with your comments.

        (b) A lower-cost experience. Again, the 10% cashout fee should not be equated with a 10% transaction fee unless you are following a particular strategy that you really don’t have to follow. If you’re using the site to both send and receive cards you can avoid it entirely.

        (c) The push model offers a different and (hopefully) complementary experience to using the pull models available on other platforms.

        If you have any thoughts on how this model could be improved I would be happy to hear them.

  2. Doesn’t recognize me as a protrader on mobile, in terms of the new fast finance podcast. Everything else sees me fine.

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