Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Sparking Up

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We’ve had War of the Spark in our hands for a couple of weeks, and while a lot of attention is rightfully on the ME3 fiasco, uncut apology sheets, and alternate art, we would be remiss not to take a look at what is making waves in assorted formats.

Unbelievably, we start Modern Horizons spoilers on Sunday, so prepare for two weeks of absolute madness and rushing to buy things before other people realize what’s going on.

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Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.

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Despicable ME3 Distribution

You can name any number of words in the English language to delineate an activity that should be organized but isn’t. The flaw can be fundamental, or accidental, and all those words apply to such a situation.

The sale on Wednesday of War of the Spark Mythic Edition was all of those words and then some.

Let’s recap what happened, and then think about where the prices might go, and toss in a few ideas that clearly no one at Wizards is going to listen to but I’ll feel better for screaming into the void.

 

I knew it would be bad, let’s get that straight. ME1 was atrocious because Hasbro’s site went down every time the SDCC planeswalker sets went up, and that wasn’t nearly the demand of this set.

ME2 was done via eBay, a platform designed to take all the slings and arrows, robust architecture and proven to hold up in the face of Internet swarms.

I hoped that it would be a simple process. Log on at 11:55, cross my fingers that it sold out in minutes and not seconds. The 12,000 promised units would sell out, and I’d get mine or I wouldn’t. Concert tickets are often this way, and while I didn’t like it…it made sense.

What we got was:

The Hasbro Toy Shop crashed as an eBay page. I don’t know which part of the infrastructure failed on that, but it did and I’m sure they are figuring out why.

I had a tab open set to a search for the product with that particular seller, so when it came up, I was ready. I had my order in within 30 seconds.

I got the confirmation screen but no confirmation email.
The product was marked as sold out by 12:03.

Now let’s pause and reflect on how I felt. Disappointed, yes. I’d liquidated my last Ultimate Masters box, I’d moved some other things, I was ready and it didn’t matter. The bots beat me, I guess? C’est la vie.

And then, a few minutes later, courtesy of the MTGPrice Discord, which was full of “I got it…didn’t I?” posts:

With permission from Papa, of course

So it was restocked and I got there on two boxes. Victory!

Five minutes later, orders can still be placed. So I got in there for two more! DOUBLE KILL

Email confirmations arrived, Paypal took my money, and no one paid attention to the page that said 40,000+ had been sold.

Then came Thursday and the waves of RIP and ‘F’ posts as cancellations started flying. I got my cancellation emails about 26 hours after payment went through. I hope you get yours, I truly do.

One more layer to go: the cancellation emails have a quippy bit about ‘Jace and his buddies crashing the internet’ and this is not the time, not with $500+ of product you’re cancelling on me. The other type of email, the ‘We think you’re still getting one, just be patient’ is less gallows humor but still nervewracking.

I said it twenty times yesterday: Nothing is confirmed until it’s in hand.

I truly hope that all of you get what you ordered. I wrote it before, that these are luxury goods and just upgraded versions of cards that exist, but let’s take a moment and examine why this is worse as a customer experience than just about anything else: That rollercoaster of emotions.

It is stressful to have an experience like this. To go from disappointment to euphoria to cautiously hopeful to utterly crushed takes a lot out of someone. We’re all breathlessly waiting for what eBay and WotC are going to give us to make us less outraged, but it likely won’t be on the level of the Box Toppers as with ME1.

When someone is unable to get a thing, they are disappointed and move on without too much fuss. If you give that same someone that thing and then take it away, that’s a whole other level of anger and betrayal.

A metaphor: Imagine a child at the park. Kid sees the ice cream truck go by and says, “I want ice cream!” and sees other kids going to the truck too. You don’t have any cash, so you tell them no, they cry some and you console them, but life goes on.

Now imagine that the kid goes and buys an ice cream sandwich, takes a couple bites, and then like a monster you swoop in, take their ice cream and give it to another kid right there. You’d have a nuclear-level tantrum, and you might get the cops called on you because your child is screaming up a storm in the middle of the park.

We thought we had this, and it’s been taken away. That’s the terrible customer experience, and it’s the first thing to avoid.

How could this be done better?

Well, lots of ways. First off, improve the web experience so that we don’t get sold-not sold-sold-not sold loops. That’s basic level.

We can do better, and frankly this is a topic that has been explored more than once on MTG Fast Finance: Wizards has a trove of data about customer habits but can’t/won’t use that data. The only thing you get from looking at your DCI history is a set of points worth approximately as much as a Schrute Buck.

Because this is exactly what PWP are worth now.

I apparently have to accept that Wizards isn’t going back to the Magic Player Rewards system, but why not use our data in good ways? Let us link online accounts to physical DCI numbers. Reward us with one free Arena draft for every five live ones, or vice versa.

The best idea came from our own Travis Allen:

Are you following him on Twitter? You should be. Me too, while you’re at it.

Everyone who’s played in an event in the last six months is automatically entered and given a chance to buy ONE box. If they don’t reply to the congratulatory email within 48 hours, move on to the next person till they are all sold.

Know what makes this great? You draw out the experience. Rather than everything happening today, you get a week or two of people exclaiming their good fortune AND you get an extended rollout of people opening their product. Instead, next week, we’re going to be treated to the sight of some extremely lucky people all getting it within a day of each other. Sigh.

Let’s pick ourselves up here. We didn’t lose anything but future nebulous profit or a chance to play with some of the sweetest versions of awesome cards…I’m not helping you or myself. Let’s move on.

There was a LOT of money chasing this set. 12,000 at $250 each, but let’s be conservative and say they accidentally oversold that to the tune of 24k. Could easily be more, especially if eBay’s counter said 48k, either way that’s a boatload of money. Will Wizards print more next time? Possibly. Twelve thousand sets in in line with the other ME editions.

The price trajectory on this is going to follow this pattern: In a week, people will be dumping their copies in the $450 range, to make the quick buck. Selling one in that price just about pays for two, leaving the second box to appreciate or be opened. I would be a buyer if I saw copies at $400. Very unlikely.

I think a lot of collectors, not speculators, are going to push this high, though. The first wave will sell fast and you’re going to see a few $550-$600 sales in about 10 days. I’m much less sanguine about buying in there, because you’re going to have quite a wait to get to flip that box.

I’m a much bigger fan of moving in on the individual planeswalkers. Ugin and Jace are going to get all the attention, and you’re going to see a glut of the lower-end ‘walkers as people crack a set, keep the ones for their Commander deck, and sell the rest.

I don’t want to use the current sales data to predict prices, as the waves of cancellations impact the downstream resellers who aren’t getting a set after all, but two weeks ago I talked about this exact topic.

If you got cancelled on, take a breath, put the money aside for War of the Spark specs, or the many goodies that are coming for Modern Horizons. Buy the planeswalker singles you want, they are solid and should hold value.

Be pissed, be upset, leave some godawful feedback and then take a breath. And try not to loathe the still-lucky ones.

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Prerelease Pricing

Here we are it’s War of the Spark prerelease weekend!

It’s also a Mythic Championship!

It’s also a Grand Prix-level Prerelease event!

The set was released on MTGO and Arena on Wednesday!

How many exclamation points can one writer use!

Preorder prices have settled down, and while there is some movement, there’s already a couple of cards that reek of value…and some that reek of overpriced hype. Let’s get in there!

Dreadhorde Invasion ($3) – Underpriced

Bitterblossom it ain’t, but this is a better card than it looks. I liked it even more earlier this week when it could be had for $2 on eBay, and at $3 I’m still interested. It’s a card that will be played as a four-of in the decks that want it. I like this to have an early bounce above $5, so if you want to play with it while the format is young, get it now. The price will come back down slowly, but I hate that feeling of “This playset was $10 cheaper last week, why didn’t I buy it?”

Dreadhorde Arcanist ($5) – Overpriced

I’ve been trying to find someone who plays a lot of Delver or Shadow in Legacy or Modern who likes this card, and I can’t find those people. Those seem like the best home for this card, so that cantrips can be reused or you can Thoughtseize again, but no one is impressed. I feel like it should be good. It ought to be good. It’s oh-so-tempting in assorted Phoenix decks. I’m staying away and if my pals are wrong they are gonna hear it from me.

Liliana, Dreadhorde General ($20) – Properly Priced

I can’t argue with this, because I love everything about this card for Standard and for Commander. I’m quite relieved that she’s not in the Mythic Edition that’ll be released on the first of May, that would be another $100 card in that set.

It’s been a while since we had a six-drop planeswalker that dominated Standard. In a lot of ways, this Liliana is a weaker Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. Sure, Esper Control decks are going to add one or two copies, but that’ll be it.

Tamiyo, Collector of Tales ($2) – Underpriced

Tamiyo’s ability is predicated on searching for one specific card that you really need, a card that will get you out of the situation you’re in, a card that is more likely to be present the less cards you have. So what could she be looking for?

Oh, right.

I don’t think this is a deck that’s going to set the world on fire but I do think it’s going to be a hot hot flavor of the week at some point. A surprising number of decks have a key card to look for, and she digs like hell for it.

God-Eternal Rhonas ($7) – Overpriced

It’s possible that this is as close to Overrun as we’re ever going to get, but this doesn’t boost toughness and your stuff still dies. Yes, you leave a big deathtoucher behind and five mana for a 5/5 is never something you’re sad to do, but the disappointment factor is high. This will come down.

Nissa, Who Shakes the World ($4) – Underpriced

I’m feeling pretty good about this card. I am not sure if it’ll happen right away or in a couple of weeks, but this level of mana acceleration is just a thing of beauty. Do note that her plus ability untaps the now-animated land, so it’s good for mana too.

What I’m not sure about is what these decks want to ramp into. Maybe just all the green monsters? Also, keep in mind that her bonus mana works with green shocklands, since the word ‘basic’ is quite noticeably missing from the static ability.

Someone’s going to do really well with a ramp deck on camera or at some event, and Nissa will jump to $10+. Hopefully you lock in your copies before then.

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries ($3) – Underpriced

Considering that there’s now eight ways to win the game by having an empty library, I’m surprised at this price. Laboratory Maniac got shifted down to uncommon in UMA, so that price is doomed forever, but Jace is impressively cheap to buy right now.

I feel like this is a $5 card in time, but that time isn’t now. While you could make a small profit by getting in now, you’re better off waiting. He’ll trickle down to $1-2 and that’s when you want to vacuum up loose copies.

Narset’s Reversal ($3) – Overpriced

While I’m super in love with this for Commander, I am going to be patient on this card. Foils are preselling in the $12 range on TCG and that’s a very reasonable number. Commander players are the ones who cast Genesis Wave for ten, or Insurrection, or a mega Decree of Justice. I would love to see this popping up in control decks, or even Modern, where you can hit Cryptic Command with it and feel quite on top of the world.

Spoiler alert: I’m going to add this to every Commander deck I can, and I’ll be content to copy a Cultivate, stoked to cast my own Demonic Tutor, and just in heaven when I hit a Blatant Thievery.

Sarkhan the Masterless ($2.25) – Underpriced

Finally, the true answer for the question that all superfriend decks ask: How am I going to win, now that I’ve sucked the life out of everyone else?

I don’t think Sarkhan is going to make more than an occasional appearance in Standard, but he’ll be impressive on a 3-4-5 curve of planeswalkers. I think he’s a slam duck in the decks that are Deploying the Gatewatch at every opportunity and I welcome that. Watching people play with six dice on five planeswalkers gets old fast, and each one hitting for four damage is an awesome and fun way to answer other planeswalkers! It’s a win all around!

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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ME3 and Me!

I was having a relatively normal preview season, enjoying the story aspects, reading through cards and looking forward to the War of the Spark novel, when they dropped the Mythic Edition 3 bomb on us.

Frankly, I haven’t recovered.

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.

To learn how ProTrader can benefit YOU, click here to watch our short video.

expensive cards ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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