Five for now, and five for later

Today is kind of momentous for me. Five years ago, almost to the day (was actually the 12th of July) I published my first piece on this site. It’s kind of embarrassing, not least because we didn’t even put my whole last name in there, but mostly because it details one of my worst trades ever, the details of which I cannot bear to restate.

In five years, Magic finance has come a very long way. We’ve seen several trading sites show up, we’ve gotten one of the biggest assets ever for Commander finance in EDHREC, and Twitter has taken over the earth.

Today, I want to share with you some predictions about Magic finance for the summer of 2023, and then some early returns on Core Set 2019.

Magic in 2023

#1: The Reserved List will still be around.

A softball. The RL is never going away, I’ve got that phrase muted on my Twitter timeline and I couldn’t be happier. Yes, it’s dumb, but that’s not the point. Wizards isn’t going to flinch on this, though an upgraded set of duals (something like ETB untapped if your life is 30+) is surely a possibility.

#2: A Revised, NM copy of Underground Sea will retail for two grand or more.

Travis said a few months ago that judge foil Gaea’s Cradle would hit $5k and I think I called him crazy. I’ve come around. There’s a lot of factors contributing to the rise in prices, and they will all still be having that effect in five years, when Legacy and 93-94 players are cackling. I am unwilling to predict what Alpha/Beta/Unlimited prices will be.

#3: Either Magic Arena or Magic Online will be gone or going.

Wizards is not a digital company, though they badly wish they were. Magic is, I think, too complex and too much fun socially for it to be as fun online as it is in person. They will be badly served to divide their digital resources, ending with one of the programs folding. I think MTGO would be more likely to be wound down, though there’s a lot of programming and a lot of shifting that’s going to go on.

#4: The Pro Tour will have taken one of two directions: It’ll be dead or the structure and payouts will have been overhauled and massively upgraded.

I’m not sure about this one either. Wizards wants to copy Hearthstone’s income and success, especially considering how much of Magic is in Hearthstone. But you can’t get there as an esport if you’re paying pennies like our current system does. If you want people to do well, on a regular basis, they need to spike tournaments AND have successful side gigs, be it coaching, streaming, or other content.

Let me give you a scenario: Before a Pro Tour, the high-level teams meet up a one to two weeks ahead of the event, to groupthink and practice and discuss gameplay. It’s useful and great, and I’d love to see that.

Elite League of Legends players will live in the same house for the whole season, getting sponsored enough to not need a day job, even to the point of having catering staff do meals for them.

#5: Judges will have unionized and be officially employed by WotC.

Being 25 years old, there’s a number of things Wizards got into early and is still capitalizing on, with the whole judge structure as one of them. Doesn’t it seem insane that the people responsible for ensuring enforcement of the game’s rules are, in 99% of cases, not employees of the company? Only a couple of the bigger names are, the big regional organizers and such. All the rest work for cards, as contractors. It’s a huge win for Wizards, who has to pay very little for this service. Judges work tirelessly and do so for not a lot of gain. They are doing it out of enthusiasm, but deserve actual compensation. Something will happen, most likely some event that goes bigger/longer than anticipated, and a group of judges will get organized.


Core Set 2019 Release!

Crucible of Worlds (now down in the $20 range): There’s not a huge market for the card, and while price memory is a thing, there’s about to be a whole lot more supply than demand. I don’t think I would even buy this at $10. Who’s going to buy them off of me?

Graveyard Marshal ($2.50): I think you should buy these now. A playset at $10 is a snap buy in my mind, as adding this to aggro decks seems pretty sweet. There’s going to be a window where you’ll be able to unload these at $5/per. Be ready.

Cleansing Nova ($2.50): See above, and this is especially true with Fumigate rotating out. This is the sweeper of choice in three months, and I want you to be able to lock in some profits right now. This is a strong candidate to spike up to $10 around Christmas.

Remorseful Cleric ($2/$5): I picked up a playset of these foils already, in case the Spirits deck gets real in Modern, or hatebears come back into vogue.

Sealed Product: Don’t you dare think of keeping boxes of this set around. It’s very top-heavy, with Nicol Bolas, the Ravager being the top end and a giant pack of bulk rares and mythics chasing him. Even Resplendent Archangel is not going to stay too high, because only the most dedicated Angel decks will want the card. Keeping boxes is only good if you have unlimited storage and a ready supply of people who want to win the lottery.

Here’s to five years, and five more to come!

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. He’s the official substitute teacher of MTG Fast Finance, and if you’re going to be at GP Sacramento, look for the guy under the giant flashing ‘Cube Draft’ sign and he’ll have you drafting in no time!