I love watching Magic content. I can devour an awful lot of content, especially with Cubes, unusual decks, and high-level play. YouTube is a fantastic resoucrce for me to learn about new innovations, to see how cards get played correctly, and other ways to move a beat ahead of the market.
We are living in a time where some people are capable of influencing card prices just based on ideas they have had and they don’t even need to win a tournament. The phenomenon of ‘net-decking’ is nowhere as evil now as it was before, and ignoring data is a flaw in your approach to the metagame.
What I want to look at today is a few ways that individuals online have swayed prices significantly. The decks played don’t even need to do well, because all it takes is the attention and the cards begin to spike.
Let’s look at some recent examples.
The Professor and Pauper
In case you weren’t aware, there’s a YouTube personality called The Professor, and he’s in charge of the Tolarian Community College. You might not think it’s important, but he’s got almost as many subscribers as the official Magic: the Gathering video page (295,000 to 315,000, if you want to know the specifics). The Professor has had a quest for a while now, one that’s recently bore fruit: To take the online format of commons-only called Pauper and translate it to the paper world.
GP Santa Clara was the first time it happened, and they drew a hair over 200 people. GP Indy had a similar experience, and Pauper events are going to be at most GPs going forward, since the same company is in charge of all the GP-level events.
As a result, a lot of people are taking up Pauper in paper events. Stores are starting to hold Pauper events, and with the growth in interest comes the growth in prices.
I freely admit that I don’t know enough about Pauper’s best decks or the metagame. There’s some awesome interactions, such as Grapeshot and Storm the Warrens being banned but Storm lives on with things like Thermo-Alchemist as the win condition. With that in mind, some prices are really fascinating.
Battle Screech is now $6, but it jumped from bulk to $4 back in January of 2016. It popped again recently when it was shifted to common in Vintage Masters online, because paper events all use that same banlist.
As a result of all this, pauper cards have gone absolutely mad. If the appeal of the format is that the cards are all common, and therefore cheap, there’s some $8 Ash Barrens that would like to have a word with you. Even if it’s cheap now, it won’t be for long.
It’s a format with an interesting (and non-rotating!) card pool, which means it’s likely to stay around. MTGO has been incubating the format for a while and that means it’s probably not going to get newly broken as a new pool of players takes it up, and event accessibility is probably still an issue for many stores, but I think it’s here to stay.
What this also means for us from a financial standpoint is that your bulk just got a bit more valuable. Every new set is going to offer a stack of new cards to add to the format, and new chances for old cards to become worth a lot more.
SaffronOlive and MTGGoldfish
With 125,000 subscribers, this is not one of the top channels in terms of numbers, but what this channel does offer is a continuous stream of oddball decks trying to play weird cards in new ways. Most of the time, that means a card or two gets highlighted, the deck does badly but has one or two really epic games, and we move on with our lives.
Occasionally, though, Seth (better known as SaffronOlive) hits upon a deck that is unexpectedly powerful, and a few cards can really take off. The most recent example of this is a B/R deck featuring Hollow One, Flameblade Adept, and a couple of commons that allow for mega-discarding: Burning Inquiry and Goblin Lore.
Those commons have gone from pure bulk to selling from $3 each. Buylists haven’t caught up yet, as stores have a lot of bulk to sell off and I’m not sure how many people are actually buying at this price, but the effect is real. This deck has had some staying power, putting up good results on MTGO Modern events, so these particular cards are not going to go down in price for a while yet.
To be clear, there are a lot of streamers out there, making a lot of content, but a lot of them aren’t trying new things every single week. LSV isn’t going to show his newest deck that will break the Pro Tour, he’s going to show you how to play a deck more effectively than you’ve been doing. Streamers using new cards in new ways offer a new avenue for us to gain value in our collections.
Cliff is an avid Cuber and Commander player, and has a deep love for weird ways to play this game. His next project will be a light-up sign for attracting Cubers at GPs, so get his attention @wordofcommander on Twitter if you’ve got ideas or designs.