Category Archives: Unlocked ProTrader

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Take Advantage of Modern Masters 2015 Emotions

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Emotions can frequently fog one’s judgment in MTG finance. In fact, the same is true for stock market investing. Emotions explain why stocks and Magic cards can be over-valued and under-valued in the short term.

However I am in the camp that the Invisible Hand finds the correct price…eventually. It may take months or even years – but I firmly believe that over a long enough time horizon, fundamentals outweigh emotions. The true value of a stock or a Magic card will be reflected in its price over enough time.

 

Take for example the recent Twitter drama I caused by pointing out the low stock of Promo Command Tower on TCG Player. At the time, there were approximately seven copies in stock across five sellers. I purchased three copies and highlighted to the community how few remained.

Tower

In rapid fashion, the remaining copies were bought out, sending this card’s market “value” much higher. Disgruntled players criticized me for pointing out this shortage of stock, wrongly accusing me of a pump and dump or at the very least, market manipulation. I tried to explain that the true value would be identified given enough time, and that any short term spike was artificial.

Well, here we are a month or two later and Judge Promo Command Towers are back down to $28, only about 15% above where I bought my copies. It took a while, but the Invisible Hand eventually did take action to regulate the market and help identify the right price.

Applying This to Modern Masters 2105

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The above example to me is a classic case study showcasing how markets can overreact due to emotions. The result is a brief moment in time where market inefficiency could be exploited for profits. While I did not make such a greedy move with Command Tower (I still own the same three copies), there are other short term opportunities that are worth considering.

With Modern Masters 2015 on everybody’s mind I thought I would take a look at some reactions to being either included or excluded from the set. In certain cases, we will be able to identify emotionally driven price changes. Perhaps there will be some situations where rampant sell-off could soon generate a buy opportunity. Conversely, cards dodging reprint may have overreacted to the upside creating a chance to sell into hype.

Over-sold?

Let’s start with a couple cards that have sold off dramatically since being spoiled in MM2015. The first card that comes to my mind almost immediately is Leyline of Sanctity. The Core Set rare has dropped nearly 40% since being spoiled in the reprint set.

Leyline

This reprint was a major hit to the white enchantment. But my outlook isn’t such extreme doom and gloom. The card is still a clutch sideboard player in a metagame where Burn is relevant and even dodging Thoughtseizes and Inquisition of Kozileks (two excellent pickups, by the way) is quite handy. That being said, the card went from very low supply to…marginally higher supply? Think about it: will Modern Masters 2015 have a long-term impact on the supply of this card? Could an increase in Modern interest help drive demand, supporting this card’s price in the future? It’s certainly possible. My advice: keep an eye on this one – it’s selling off now and for good reason, but activity over the last day or two may suggest there are buyers at this lower price point. Once it stabilizes, Leyline can be a solid target.

Spellskite is another such example.

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Skite

Like Leyline of Sanctity, this is another highly relevant sideboard card in Modern. After peaking over $30, the card rapidly sold off and crashed down to around $15, only to recently rebound back over $18. This is another example where the market is emotionally over-reacting to news. Will Spellskite’s price continue to drop? Possibly. But much of the drop is likely already priced in at this point. I’d keep a close eye on this one as well because as long as Splinter Twin remains dominant in Modern, this will be a highly in-demand card with plenty of fundamental strength. Don’t give in to short term panic selling if you can avoid it.

At this point you may be thinking only sideboard rares are experiencing this emotional sell-off. Guess again.

Goyf

The most valuable card in Modern, Tarmogoyf himself, is also selling off in light of Modern Masters 2015. While his pullback has not been as drastic, a move from $220 to $171 is nothing to sneeze at. In this case, I suspect the selling may not be over just yet. But the bottom will arrive swiftly. And when it does, it will likely last for only a brief moment. If history is any indicator, we may see Goyf’s price recover almost as quickly as it drops. Let’s zoom in on June 2013, when the first Modern Masters was released.

Goyf2

We can see in the chart above that Tarmogoyf peaked at $180 in 2013, only to drop down to around $110 in light of Modern Masters. Less than a month later, however, the card recovered nearly 100% of its drop. By early 2014, Goyf recovered the full price drop and started to set new all time highs.

Using this data, I suspect we haven’t hit the short-term bottom on Tarmogoyf just yet. But we need to remain extremely vigilant. A major price drop out of fearful selling could generate the best opportunity to make short-term profits. The same theory will apply to other reprinted cards like Noble Hierarch and Mox Opal.   These two cards have also sold off dramatically since being spoiled in MM2015.  A short-term selloff will again be a terrific time to obtain copies. We just need to be very careful with our timing – when the panic selling is over we need to be prepared to acquire quickly. The window of opportunity may be very small.

Over-bought?

It’s no secret a few obvious exclusions were made from Modern Masters 2015. Cards dodging reprint in this set are bound to move higher in price. However in some cases emotions took cards into overbought territory, meriting a short term pullback.

Inkmoth Nexus is the poster child for such overly enthusiastic buying.

Inkmoth

The nonbasic land skyrocketed 100% after we confirmed it would not be reprinted in Modern Masters 2015. I suspect this is driven highly by speculators, although it’s possible that some players held off on acquiring copies they needed in the hopes of a reprint. But you can see how the card over-shot to the high side in recent price action, and since the peak at $25 it has actually dropped 20% back down to under $20. The euphoric buying has subsided for now, but I’d watch this one closely. Another surge back to $25 is not out of the question, especially since the top buy list price hasn’t budged from $15. If we get back to $25 again I’d advocate moving extra copies to take advantage of everyone’s bullishness on the card.

Goblin Guide is another card worth a closer look after dodging reprint.

Goblin Guide

I want to highlight how much more subtle the price jump is in Goblin Guide. He went from $18ish to around $24, only to sell back down to $21. While less drastic, the trend matches that of Inkmoth Nexus. Emotionally driven buying by speculators and players who recognized cheaper copies won’t be entering the market any time soon, followed by an ensuing sell-off. If there’s another surge in the coming months, make sure you’re ready to pounce. Selling into emotional hype is the best way to maximize value from your cards when looking at a short-term time horizon.

The last example I want to cover is Serum Visions.

Visions

When news broke that the blue sorcery dodged reprint it shot up to $11.66. Euphoria was short lived however, as the card quickly pulled back to $9.45, not even $1 above its pre-hyped price. Yet again we see this same trend – overextended buying followed by an immediate pullback.

Should this price behavior happen again in the coming months, I’d be ready to cash out of excess copies. Not only does this net you higher gains, but it also ensures you dodge future reprint risk, such as an FNM Promo in the case of Serum Visions or perhaps a Battle for Zendikar appearance (Goblin Guide? Inquisition of Kozilek?).

Wrapping it Up

In the three examples I shared of cards overextending to the high side, I want to point out one important consistency. In each case, the card value jumped on emotional excitement only to pull back immediately thereafter. However in all three cases, the top dealer buy price did not drop alongside the value. They all jumped up and have so far been able to stick.

If this trend continues and buy prices remain elevated, it will provide very strong support for these cards. Therefore, before cashing out in future price jumps, I’d highly encourage you to inspect buy price trends first. It’s one thing if speculators are getting a little too enthusiastic about a card’s absence from MM2015. It’s a completely different story if dealers also join the fray. In cases where buy prices jump and remain higher, you may be best served by holding for a longer time horizon.

Either way, one must be very observant of trends over the next couple months. There will continue to be rapid price fluctuations as people overreact to market changes. Should prices seem to overextend either to the upside or downside, we need to remain vigilant and prepared to act. If a sell-off becomes overdone, the window to acquire cheaper copies may only be open for a couple weeks. In the case of rampant buying the window to capitalize is even smaller, lasting only a few days.

We’re entering a highly volatile time period in MTG finance. This isn’t the time to sit on inventory complacently. We need to be acting if we wish to maximize value from our collections, adding positions where appropriate and cashing out of others after a spike higher. Perhaps the best strategy shortly after Vegas is to move spiked cards into reprinted cards – selling high and buying low. It may be challenging to move cards that everyone is euphoric about into cards that everyone is dumping. But if you time things correctly you’ll be selling into hype and buying into fear, the perfect trading strategy if you ask me.

Lastly, if you’re truly too afraid of how low prices can go on reprinted Modern staples I urge you to at least consider moving overbought cards into more stable holdings. Cashing out of overpriced Inkmoth Nexus at a dealer, taking trade credit, and acquiring that Dual Land you’ve needed for your EDH deck could be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. This is especially sound advice if you don’t want to actively manage your MTG portfolio throughout Modern season.

No matter what you do, keep your emotions in check. We should use historical data from the first Modern Masters to try and anticipate where prices may go from here. With a little planning, we just may add incremental value to our collections simply by timing things right. Good luck to everyone!

Sig’s Quick Hits

While everyone knows about Inkmoth Nexus and Serum Visions, a few cards that dodged MM2015 reprint have remained under the radar this past week. Here are some cards worth keeping an eye on and possibly acquiring before the hype train leaves the station.

  • While it was printed in the first Modern Masters, there’s no Rift Bolt in MM2015. The result: this $2 common is poised to rise in value as long as Burn remains relevant in Modern. Star City Games has a dozen or so copies in stock across Time Spiral and Modern Masters, but keep an eye on dealer stock going forward. We could see some gradual, more sustaining price increases this summer.
  • There will be no Spell Snare in MM2015. I suspect this will mean stock of this card will be dropping in the next few months. Star City Games currently has just one Dissension copy in stock at $5.59, though they have 17 MMA copies at $5.65. Picking up these – perhaps even in foil – could lead to some gradual price gains throughout 2015.
  • Another solid target due for gradual price increase is Hive Mind. The blue enchantment has seen only one printing, back in Magic 2010. The card is relevant in Modern, and may see some casual demand as well. SCG has 11 total copies in stock, with NM pricing at $4.89. This seems very low for a card played in Modern as a 3-of or 4-of. If Scapeshift can be a $24.15 card on SCG, I don’t see why Hive Mind couldn’t move higher from here.
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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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: The Meta Report 9 – 14 May

By: Guo Heng

Welcome back to another instalment of The Meta Report, where we track the evolution of the metagame week-by-week and its financial implications. This week we would only be taking a look at the Magic Online metagame as we’ve already had a look at last week’s sole paper event, Grand Prix Paris in the previous instalment of The Meta Report.

Without further ado, here’s the table for the most popular decks on Magic Online daily events over the past week.

The Magic Online Metagame for 9 May to 14 May

DeckTotal
Abzan Aggro38
Mono Red38
Esper Dragons34
GW Collected Company Megamorph27
Abzan Control24
Mardu Dragons23
Atarka Red20
Abzan Megamorph13
Jeskai Tokens12
GR Dragons8
GR Devotion8
GW Devotion7
UW Heroic6
Ojutai Bant Megamorph5
Temur Superfriends5
Abzan Reanimator4
Jeskai Aggro4
Grixis Dragons3
Mono Green Collected Company3
UB Control3
UW Control3
Abzan Rally2
GB Megamorph2
Mardu Midrange2
Mardu Aggro2
BR Dragons2
GW Megamorph2
Temur Midrange2
Sidisi Whip2
4 Color Collected Company2
RW Heroic2
Mono Black Aggro2
Abzan Warrior w/ Collected Company1
Sultai Rally with Purphoros1
Jund Dragons1
4 Color Dragons1
Mono Green Aggro1
GR Aggro1
BR Aggro1
Jeskai Tokens w/ Monastery Mentor1
UR Control1
GB Sacrifice1
Temur Aggro1
Jund Midrange1
Jund Whip1
UG Collected Company1
Bant Heroic1
RG Bees1
Caleb 4 Color Good Stuff1
BW Warriors0

The top dogs remained mostly unchanged from last week’s meta, with Abzan Aggro, Mono Red and Esper Dragons retaining their spot as the three most popular decks. However, this week saw Green White Collected Company Megamorph (a rather inelegant name for the Green White Aggro deck which utilizes the megamorph synergy in Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor and runs four copies of Collected Company) and Mardu Dragons gaining traction. As last week’s article pointed out, Mardu Dragons was well-positioned in the metagame and it is no surprise to see the deck nabbing a larger portion of the metagame last week. Mardu Dragon’s rise could also be attributed to it being one of the few tier one decks that is cheaper than the rest: you do not need Dragonlord Ojutai or Deathmist Raptor – two of the most expensive Dragons of Tarkir cards online (and on paper too) for Mardu Dragons.

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Unfortunately the rise of Mardu Dragons has little financial implications as the components of the deck are either cheap or stagnating in price. Soulfire Grand Master experienced a slight bump over the last couple of days but her buylist price remained the same, pushing her spread to 56%. Nothing to see there.

On the other hand, Collected Company is solidifying its presence in Modern. The ongoing Magic Online Championships featured a Modern portion and Collected Company was the only Dragons card to make a splash in the 16-player Modern metagame. Twelve copies of Collected Company were found in three decks comprising of two archetypes:

Jasper De Jong Melira Not So Super Friends
Jasper De Jong Melira Not So Super Friends
Olle Rade's Elf Company
Olle Rade’s Elf Company

My call on Collected Company is still a sell call. I expect its price to remain at its current price of $9.65 or slightly dip in the face of Dragons of Tarkir redemptions hitting the market in a few days. Even if you decide to hold it, I don’t think you would stand to lose much if its price does not grow. I suspect Collected Company would retain a price of $8 – $10 for the next few months, especially with the swap to Modern PPTQs in June.

An old mythic that is seeing a bit of a resurgence in the metagame is Perilous Vault. The online meta last week saw Esper Dragons adopting a few copies of Perilous Vault to combat the persistent Deathmist Raptor and Den Protector synergy. With just a few months left in the meta, I am not expecting Perilous Vault to spike again, but it may be worth holding on to your copies to see if its adoption translates into paper, which could bump its price up by a few bucks as it is a core set mythic.

The Rise of Sarkhan?

Temur Ramp surfaced a couple of weeks when Andrew Cuneo brought the list to the Standard Super League. The deck appeared once or twice in the daily events in the two weeks following it. However, last week saw five copies of Temur Superfriends finish in the money in the daily events.  Below is a list from Magic Online streamer Bahra.

Bahra Temur Superfriends

Temur Ramp features a suite of nine Planeswalkers including a playset of Sarkhan Unbroken. Living up to his name, the new iteration of Sarkhan has yet to be broken. While Sarkhan Unbroken’s abilities will always be a two-for-one, his tricolor casting cost significantly restricted the type of decks that could run him. Temur Ramp, a midrangey Superfriends deck with ramp capabilities, seems to be the shell that fits Sarkhan Unbroken best in the current Standard metagame.  The only qualms I have with the deck is its flavor fail: Ugin would kill Sarkhan with his -X ability.

Sarkhan Unbroken Price

On a downward trajectory since the release of Dragons, Sarkhan Unbroken dipped below $10 briefly and is starting to climb although his buylist remained the same (spread of 38%). However, at $12.76, Sarkhan Unbroken looks to be a superb buy right now. Dragons of Tarkir drafts are going to be drastically reduced in a few weeks’ time and if Temur Ramp ramps up to tier one, Sarkhan could easily be a $20 card. I am putting a strong buy call on Sarkhan Unbroken.

The Last of the Dragonlords (To See Play)

While the most popular decks in the Magic Online metagame remained roughly the same as the previous week, a couple of decks featured a spicy new addition.

Dragonlord Dromoka in Abzan Megamorph
Vitorlima’s Abzan Megamorph
Dragonlord Dromoka in GW Devotion
Manwithplane251’s Green-White Devotion

Can you spot the new tech in those decks? Here’s one more list:

Dragonlord Dromoka in GW Devotion 2
Pokerswizard’s Green-White Devotion

Can you see it yet? I guess the picture gave it away. Dragonlord Dromoka is finally seeing some mainboard action. Up till last week, the only time she saw action was as a singleton in a sideboard of Robert Vaughn’s Abzan Megamorph deck which went 9-0 at Grand Prix Toronto.

Dragonlord Dromoka Price

Dragonlord Dromoka’s price has been on the uptick for a couple of weeks.  If Dragonlord Dromoka’s promotion from a sideboard singleton to two-to-three copies in the mainboard of Abzan Megamorph and Green-White Devotion translates into paper, she could very well demand a price tag of $15. While I am confident about Dromoka hitting $15 if the tech above does well on paper this weekend, I am not sure if she could hit $20, with the other Dragonlords, Deathmist Raptor, Collected Company and Narset Transcendent (whose price is also experiencing an uptick) soaking up the bulk of Dragons of Tarkir‘s set value.

Grand Prix Shanghai is going on as of writing and Japanese brewmaster, Makahito Mihara brought a sweet Dragon Megamorph brew that featured the megamorph synergy and a host of Dragonlords including two Dragonlord Dromoka in the mainboard. Mihara piloted that deck to 9-0 on day one but unfortunately, he fell short of top 8 by one or two wins (annoyingly while the top 8 has been announced, the results page has yet to show round 15).

I have been bullish on Dragonlord Dromoka’s ability to make her mark in Standard, and I remain so. She has a throng of useful abilities for just six mana. She is a card you would want to see in your hand against every single deck in the current metagame. Her lifelink and seven toughness makes her exceptional against the aggro decks, and makes her exceptionally difficult for decks without access to Valorous Stance, Abzan Charm or Hero’s Downfall to handle without losing card advantage. Her uncounterable clause and Grand Abolisher clause are useful against Esper Dragons, plus she blocks Dragonlord Ojutai favorably.

I am putting a trade for call for Dragonlord Dromoka. I tend to err on the conservative side in making calls in this column. While I am tempted to put a buy call on her due to her highly favorable position in the metagame right now (and a good chance of exploding into the metagame), $10 is a steep buy-in for a card whose most probably short-term ceiling is $15. Then again, there is a real possibility for Dromoka to hit $20 if she becomes prevalent in the metagame after the supply of Dragons dries up to a trickle in a few weeks’ time. She has a high spread of 50% at the moment, there is time to secure your spec copies in trade.

Oh and secure your own playset now if you plan on playing with Dragonlord Dromoka. Gone are her time below $10.

That is all for this week. Join me again next weekend for another instalment of The Meta Report. Do share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below or catch me on Twitter at @theguoheng.


 

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Decision-Making Strategies for When You Know Reprints Are Coming

After Birthing Pod was banned, I sold most of my Modern collection. I wasn’t even a Pod player, but I lost a lot of confidence in putting resources into the format, especially since I don’t play a lot of paper Magic these days, meaning my cards weren’t even being used.

It wasn’t just the banning, though. By that time, Modern Masters 2015 had been announced, and it was clear to me that if I wasn’t using these cards and they were likely to be reprinted soon, I should probably get what I could for them while I could.

 

I didn’t sell everything, though, and I’d like to go over my thought process with some examples of cards that fit four different categories:

1. Did get reprinted, but I didn’t sell.

2. Did not get reprinted, and I didn’t sell.

3. Did get reprinted, and I did sell.

4. Did not get reprinted, but I did sell.

As I often do, I’m drawing some examples from personal experience, but am also looking for overarching themes and lessons we can all learn from moving forward.

1. Did Get Reprinted, but I Didn’t Sell

There are a few cards in this category, but the two I want to talk about are these:

karnliberated crypticcommand

The main reason I didn’t sell these cards is because I got in cheap, but there are other factors, too.

When Karn rotated from Standard, I traded for three copies at $15 each (how I wish I could say it was 30 copies…). One of those has since been traded out, but the other two reside in my cube and my Maelstrom Wanderer Commander deck.

When considering whether to sell these Karns, I considered it like this:

  • Is the retail price of Karn likely to drop below the $15 point where I previously acquired these?
  • If I buylist these out for $35 right now, that represents $20 profit. Am I likely to be able to purchase reprinted Karns for $20 or less?
  • Do I want to go through the effort of trading these away and then trading back for them after a reprint?
  • Do I want to play with a cube or a Maelstrom Wanderer deck that lacks Karn?

The answer to each of these questions is a solid no in my mind, so I kept my Karns.

I employed the same logic to my playset of Cryptic Command, which I acquired (shortly after Modern Masters was released) in slightly played condition for $70 and a Deathrite ShamanIn Cryptic’s case, I was not as sure that it would see another reprint, but I figured that even if it did, I probably would not be able to beat that deal (they are Lorwyn version, too). Since I’m not currently using the full playset, though, I mitigated my risk by trading out one copy at its peak. As of now, I don’t really have any regrets about trading that one or not trading the others. We’ll see if some other factor changes that.

Overarching Strategy: Consider the price you got in at, the profit you could make, what you expect the post-reprint price to be, how much you risk you’re willing to take, how much use the cards are currently getting, and any other relevant factors to determine if you should sell a card you anticipate is getting a reprint soon.

2. Did Not Get Reprinted, and I Didn’t Sell

I admit, I was skeptical of everybody immediately assuming that Innistrad was not included in Modern Masters 2015. The text in the original announcement was vague, stating, “Modern Masters 2015 Edition takes players back to some of the most remarkable planes from recent history, including Zendikar, Mirrodin, Ravnica, Lorwyn, Kamigawa, and Alara.” By contrast, the first Modern Masters announcement set a very specific range: “Cards are reprints from Eighth Edition through Alara Reborn.” I don’t think I was wrong to think Innistrad cards might be included, but luckily for me, I eventually got on board with what the community at large.

As a result, I didn’t sell my Snapcaster Mages (thank heaven, it’s nearly doubled in the last six months) or Geists of Saint Traft (I don’t own Lilianas). But Innistrad cards were easy.

Other than Innistrad cards, the main category of cards I held onto were lands. The first Modern Masters didn’t have a cycle of rare duals, and while it was certainly possible for Modern Masters 2015, seeing fetches in Khans made me feel basically safe holding everything I owned. So I did, and none of it got reprinted. Phew.

Overarching Strategy: Consider the information that is official, compare it to past situations that are similar, listen to trusted community members, and draw your conclusions.

Just like you shouldn’t marry the first pick of your draft, though, you shouldn’t cling to your early conclusions just because. If I had stuck with my immediate thoughts regarding Innistrad‘s inclusion, I would have sold off my Snapcasters and Geists for a (relative) pittance and would now be looking at sharply increased prices should I be wanting to reacquire.

3. Did Get Reprinted, and I Did Sell

This is, of course, where I was hoping to be most successful, and I did okay.

I sold my Emrakul, I believe before it was officially spoiled, but not because I necessarily thought its price would crash—more just because I wasn’t using it. There are three big cards that I sold or traded specifically because I wanted to avoid a big crash:

splintertwin noblehierarch spellskite

Each of these cards was pretty obviously going to be targeted for reprint, and although I could see a world where Wizards would print these at mythic, their earlier rare printings suggested otherwise.

The nice thing is that I got great deals on each of these cards, too: each was acquired at 10 to 25 percent of its current retail price. However, Cryptic Command aside, a reprint at rare does a lot more to crash a card’s value than a reprint at mythic, and I wanted to make sure I locked in profit on these while I could. I did keep a single Splinter Twin and a single Spellskite for my cube, but Noble Hierarch got proxied—I’m not playing a $70 mana elf in a casual format when I could triple up instead. Good thing, too, because it’s already down to $50. Expect it to drop more.

Then we have commons, uncommons, and casual rares, which I anticipated would just get wrecked, even compared to the above three cards. In this case, I sold off my Smash to Smithereens (reprinted at common and has already dipped from $5 below $3), Remands (keeping a couple for Cube and Tiny Leaders, because this is honestly one of my favorite cards), and Mirran Crusaders (which I still had around from Standard rotation and clearly weren’t going anywhere). I feel quite good about selling these. Remember what happened to Spell Snare after the first Modern Masters?

Overarching Strategy: Of the cards you most expect to get reprinted, consider which ones are most likely to get hit hardest. Those are the ones you should most prioritize trading or selling, as you want to lock in any profits (or minimize any losses) as soon as possible.

It’s important to note that if I had been actively playing Splinter Twin in Modern tournaments, I would have eaten the anticipated loss and kept them. It really all comes down to how much use the cards are seeing versus how much money you expect to lose based on the reprint.

4. Cards I Did Sell, but Didn’t Get Reprinted

I always knew this would be the most painful category, once I could identify the cards that were in it. I traded out my last set of Serum Visions, and I’m still having a hard time believing it’s not in the set. Again, though, I’m not playing Modern right now, and Visions is only good in that format, so I’m not feeling too much regret. The best part? I pulled three or four sets out of five-cent bulk bins back in the Avacyn Restored days, so I made plenty of profit off of this card. I can always rebuy for the stupid $10 price if I feel the need.

Inkmoth Nexus is where most of my regret lies. I got in on about 10 or 15 copies of this at $5 or $6 each a while back, and had been anxiously watching for it to go up ever since. This seemed like a likely include for this set, given Infect’s perpetual-if-not-dominating presence in the Modern metagame, but a reprint was not to be. Now Inkmoth is sitting at a retail price of $20, while I’ve sent all my copies out on PucaTrade for 1000 to 1200 points. If Infect wins an event or two in the next year, I expect it to go up even more.

Overarching Strategy: Considering this is the “screw-up” category, maybe it’s not wise to recommend anything here? Then again, it’s not like I lost money on my Inkmoths or Visions. I don’t mind a cautious approach, and I don’t think you should, either.

Too Few To Mention

You know what? I feel like I made a lot of good calls in anticipation of Modern Masters 2015, and even if my decisions regarding Serum Visions and Inkmoth Nexus were ultimately incorrect (and disappointing in hindsight), I don’t think my thought processes were wrong, nor do I regret taking a cautious approach.

I locked in value on all kinds of cards that got reprinted, successfully managed to not fire-sell cards that I want to own and don’t believe will lose anything on, and correctly identified cards that were not at all likely to be reprinted. There are too many variables to say how much money I “made” or “saved,” but I know that it’s more than what I “lost” by selling my Inkmoths and Visions for a smaller profit than I might have otherwise gotten.

So what are the big lessons here?

1. Think things through critically.

2. Have a reason for each of your decisions.

3. Don’t second-guess incorrect decisions that were made for the right reasons.

4. Don’t dwell on decisions that didn’t work out, especially if you made a bunch of decisions that did!

5. I made a lot of presumptions in making these decisions, and you know what happens when you presume, right? It makes a pres(ident) out of (yo)u and me! Yep, I’m pretty sure how that’s how the saying goes. Presume away, folks.

Presidential-Seal-300x300

That’s it for this week. Have questions or comments? You know what to do.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Foil Redemption Finance: The Numbers for KTK, FRF & DTK

By: Guo Heng

With the full spoilers of Modern Masters 2015 unveiled last Friday, it seems criminal for an mtgfinance writer not to write about Modern Masters. Believe it or not, there is something else I am more excited about this week. Plus, my fellow MTGPrice writers wrote about Modern Masters extensively over the past few days. Jared Yost (@gildedgoblin) talked about the ups and downs of Modern Masters 2015, Travis Allen (@wizardbumpin) discussed the financial implications of the cards present in the set and listed a few cards to pick-up, Derek Madlem (@GoingMadlem) wrote about the potential impact of the set on individual reprints and yesterday Corbin Hosler (@chosler88) has some interesting things to say about adopting a next level approach to pinpointing which Modern staple could be the next Inkmoth Nexus.

I am excited because Dragons of Tarkir redemption has finally begun.

 

After last Wednesday’s Magic Online downtime, players could finally purchase redemption orders for Dragons of Tarkir sets. I have only hopped on the redemption bandwagon a few months back. The first set I ever redeemed was redeemed a Khans of Tarkir foil set to get my hands on foil fetchlands and shiny UR Delver components like Monastery Swiftspear and Treasure Cruise (this was prior to Treasure Cruise sinking under the weight of the banhammer in February). In March, I redeemed a foil set of Fate Reforged to get my copy of foil Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (whose price was adamantly high) and a plethora of EDH and Tiny Leaders generals and goodies.

And this Wednesday, I’ve placed a redemption order for a foil Dragons of Tarkir set to get my foil Dragonlords. After waiting for more than a month – a new set can only be redeemed a month after the set’s release on Magic Online – foil Dragonlords and a host of other DTK dragons would be flying to me in about ten days (on a FedEx plane of course).

Since I discovered the resoundingly large difference between digital and paper foil set prices, I’ve been using redemption to get my hands on eternal and EDH foils rather than hunting them down individually. It is a time-efficient method compared to procuring individual foils in trade or trying to snipe eBay auctions. But how much extra value do you gain from redeeming foil sets to get your expensive foils as opposed to trading for them or buying them straight from vendors? After all, when you redeem a foil set, you are paying for the other 200 or so cards in the set that is chaff (but shiny chaff).

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In January, I advocated using redemption to get foil fetchlands on the cheap. Is that opportunity a one-off disparity between the intangible Magic Online foil market and the paper market? Or do we actually make a profit in foil redemption for the majority of sets?

Today’s article is going to crunch the numbers from the sets in the Khans of Tarkir block to answer those questions and give an idea of the value to be made, or lack of, from redeeming foil sets. This article will only cover foil redemption as the margin for redeeming non-foil sets are much smaller, especially after the handling price for redemption increased from $5 to $25 per set.

The Numbers

 Price of Set in PaperTotal Buylist Price Price of Set on Magic OnlinePrice of Set on Magic Online Including Handling Fee
Dragons of Tarkir$762.62$445.84$332.00$357.00
Fate Reforged$577.58$224.35$210.00$235.00
Khans of Tarkir$766.44$362.13$461.00$486.00

The total price of the set in paper and total buylist price were calculated using MTGPrice’s browse set tool. The price of the set in paper is the total price of each foil in the set based on their fair trade price. The total buylist price is the total price of the best buylist price for each foil in the set.

The price of the set on Magic Online was calculated using Goatbot‘s prices where available, with any missing prices (Goatbots does not show the price of a card if the card is out of stock) filled in using MTGOWikiprice. If possible I prefer to assemble a complete set from a single bot or bot chain as the smallest denomination for Magic Online event tickets is 1 ticket ($1) and the remainder from any trades or purchases with bots that is smaller than 1 ticket will be kept on that bot or bot chain as bot credit. For example, if you buy a card priced at 22.42 tickets, you would be giving the bot 23 tickets and the bot would register the remaining difference of 0.58 tickets as bot credit, which would go towards future transactions with that bot or other bots in its chain. If you assemble your complete set using multiple bots, you could end up using more event tickets.

This price of the set on Magic Online column does not include the handling fee of $25 and shipping fee which is $2.99 if you are redeeming to an address within the United States and $29.99 if you are redeeming to an address outside the United States.

Is It Worth Redeeming for a Quick Flip?

Let’s assume we are redeeming sets off Magic Online and then buylisting every single card in the set, which is actually better off than selling the factory-sealed box on eBay. Recent completed sales for Fate Reforged and Khans of Tarkir foil sets sold for lower than the buylist total. I’ve compiled the vendor with the best buylist price for the expensive foils in the set and it appears that you would only need to buylist to two to three different vendors and at most four vendors to get the best buylist price for your foils. So at most I’d imagine the cost of packing and posting the foils to vendors to cost no more than $20.

Vendors

Redeemed cards come in a factory-sealed box and are usually in near-mint condition (or Marcel-mint), so grading should not be an issue. In theory at least. Of the three redemptions I’ve done, all the cards were in perfect condition, save for Ugin, whose left border was slightly worn, probably due to shipping. The rest of the cards in that box was surprisingly in pristine condition.

If you live in the United States:

Profit = Total buylist price – Price of set on Magic Online + Handling  + $2.99.

Dragons of Tarkir Profit: $85.85

Fate Reforged Profit: -$13.64

Khans of Tarkir Profit: -$126.86

If you live outside the United States:

Profit = Total buylist price – Price of set on Magic Online + Handling  + $29.99.

Dragons of Tarkir Profit: $58.85

Fate Reforged Profit: -$40.64

Khans of Tarkir Profit: -$153.86

Currently, it looks like the only foil set that will be profitable to redeem and flip is Dragons of Tarkir. Even so, most of the buylists are only buying a few copies of the higher end foils, so at most a redeem and flip could only be repeated a few times, unless you have an outlet to liquidate the cards at retail value, say if you own a shop.

What about keeping the foils in the set that are of interest to you and buylisting the rest to subsidize the cost of obtaining those cards that you keep? Let’s have a look at the individual sets to ascertain the value of doing so.

Khans of Tarkir Foil Redemption

Khans of Tarkir Foil RedemptionWhen my article about redeeming foils went up in January, a complete foil set of Khans of Tarkir could be assembled for $431. The price of putting together a foil Khans of Tarkir set has increased to $461 since then. The supply of Khans foils, especially the mythics dropped drastically after the switch to Dragons-Dragons-Fate draft on Magic Online. While researching this article, Goatbots ran out of the ten most expensive Khans mythic and I have to pull their prices from various other bots, though I rounded the figure up to get a closer approximation to that you have to pay shall you decide to assemble a full foil set of Khans right after reading this article. When I was assembling my foil Khans sets last December and this January, there were only a couple of mythics that cost more than 30 tickets. Today, there are nine mythics that cost more than 30 tickets, and two of them cost 40 and above.

Khans of Tarkir Foils

Besides the rise in cost to acquire foil Khans mythics on Magic Online, the buylist price for marquee cards that used to used to make up a good portion of the set’s total buylist price dropped significantly, notably the Planeswalkers. When my previous article advocating redeeming a foil set of Khans and selling the other money cards to subsidize the cost of the foil fetchlands went up in mid-January, Treasure Cruise was still legal in both Modern and Legacy, and besides contributing to the total buylist price its presence also propped up the buylist price for Monastery Swiftspear.

Assuming that you redeem a foil Khans set solely for the fetchlands and buylist the rest ($139.99), taking into account postage to the vendors ($20) you would be getting your foil fetches for $366.01. The total fair trade price for the fetches is only $317.15. It looks like the window to get foil fetches on the cheap via redemption has closed.

I am pretty new to redemption, having started only last December. This is the first time I am observing the price pattern of foil sets on Magic Online and one thing I’ve learned is that the best time to piece together your foil set online is when the set is both being drafted and paid out as prize. Although a set could be redeemed up to two years after the set rotates out of Standard, the window to get reasonably-priced foil sets is small, mainly due to the scarcity of foil mythics after the set stops being drafted and handed out as prize. This does not seem to apply to non-foil sets as non-foil Khans sets are still aplenty on Goatbots.

Fate Reforged Redemption

Fate Reforged Foil Redemption

While the price of a foil set of Fate Reforged on Magic Online has not changed much compared to its figures in mid-March when Fate Reforged first became redeemable (I recall paying just slightly more than 210 tickets for my foil set), the total buylist price for the foil set tanked. On 21 March, I posted in the ProTrader forums about getting a foil Ugin, the Spirit Dragon without having to pay his exorbitant foil price tag by redeeming foil Fate Reforged and selling off everything else. At that time, the total buylist price for a foil set of Fate Reforged was $301.17, and by redeeming and buylisting everything else except for Ugin, you could get your foil Ugin at a cost of $0.91, not including the postage cost for buylisting to vendors.

Unfortunately, the total buylist price for a foil set of Fate Reforged has dropped to a paltry $224.35 today. Nearly all foil Fate Reforged mythics and rares except for Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Monastery Mentor and Tasigur, the Golden Fang tanked in April, probably due to the influx in supply from redemption. Those three cards retained their foil price on the back of eternal and casual demand. 
Fate Reforged Foil Set

Is it still worth it redeeming a foil Fate Reforged set to get your hands on a foil Ugin whose is stubbornly retaining a price close to $100 three and a half months after Fate Reforged‘s release?

Redeeming a foil set of Fate Reforged will cost you $235, not including delivery. Buylisting the set without Ugin would rake you $158.11. Crossing off $20 for postage to vendors, you would be securing your foil Ugin at $96.89, which is the same as a foil Ugin’s fair trade price. If you live in the United States, add an extra $2.99 to the figure for redemption delivery. If you live outside the United States, pop on an extra $29.99 instead. You would be better off buying a foil Ugin regardless of where you reside.

However, if you are keeping the foil Ugin, Monastery Mentor and Tasigur, the figures look slightly better. The rest of the cards would buylist for $109.50 and taking into account the $20 for postage to vendors, you would be getting your foil Ugin, Mentor and Tasigur for $145.50, which is $33.32 cheaper than the total fair trade price for those three foils. Note that this figure is only worth it if you are living in the United States as the $29.99 redemption delivery would wipe out nearly all of the $33.32 in saved cost. To be fair, it’s quite a bit of effort too just to get those three foils at $33 cheaper than fair trade price (the extra delivery cost from buying those three cards from a vendor negates the extra $2.99 for redemption delivery within the United States).

To be honest, the trouble of going through redemption and buylisting just to save $33 on the trio of eternal playable Fate Reforged foils is probably not worth the effort for most people. I personally don’t recommend doing so. As for myself I kept all of my Fate Reforged foil set I redeemed the set to get my hands on foil EDH goodies, and if I were to sell or buylist off the remaining non-eternal, non-EDH playables, the sum I get is not worth the trouble. I prefer to keep them as my collection. After all, even unassuming uncommons like Temur Sabertooth could one day be broken in EDH.

Dragons of Tarkir Redemption

Dragons of Tarkir Foil Redemption

By the virtue of being a new set, the redemption math for Dragons is different from its predecessors. As shown in the earlier segment of this article, it is profitable to redeem and buylist all of the cards in the set, even after taking into consideration the $20 postage fee to vendors. Just to reiterate, I would not recommend doing so as the high value foil mythics are wanted by the vendors only in small quantities.

As Dragons of Tarkir a new set, the buylist price for foil Dragons of Tarkir mythics are still in the higher stages of its price cycle and foils of rares that recently spiked like Collected Company and Den Protector are still commanding a good price.

The profitable redemption process is a good opportunity to get foil EDH and casual golds on the cheap. While Dragons of Tarkir does not have that many eternal playables as Fate Reforged and Khans of Tarkir have to offer, Dragons is a set chock-full of EDH and casual goods. I would say Standard as well, but I tend to shy away from Standard foils.

Dragons of Tarkir Foil Set

If you are looking to redeem a foil set of Dragons just for the Dragonlords, you would be getting your foil Dragonlords for a total of $34.89 if you are living in the United States, and $61.89 if you are residing outside, both of which are significantly cheaper than the $171.42 total fair trade price for foils of all five Dragonlords.

Both figures are inclusive of the estimated $20 in postage cost to send the other buylist cards to vendors.

The figures are $107.38 for United States residents and $134.38 for non-United States residents if you keep both Planeswalkers as well, though I would advice against so. Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker and Sorin, Solemn Visitor are currently buylisting for under $10, and while I don’t think Narset Transcendent and Sarkhan Unbroken would be tanking to such lows due to Dragons destined to be opened way less than Khans, they certainly would not sustain their current buylist price of above $30. On the other hand, the Dragonlords are seeing Standard play and on top of their casual and EDH demand, I am confident their buylist price would not drop much.

It may be better to ditch the foil Planeswalkers and retain the foil uncommon eternal playables like Rending Volley, Anticipate and Silumgar’s Scorn together with the Dragonlords. EDH mythics like Clone Legion and the cycle of rare dragons may also be worth keeping.

Do note that if you plan on redeeming foil sets of Dragons, it may be prudent to do it soon, before buylist prices for foil Dragons starts to drop.

Redemption Window

A few pointers I’ve picked up from assembling my four redemptions on the optimal time to assemble your foil sets:

  • On Goatbots, it seems that foil sets of the latest set is cheapest a week or two after redemption becomes available and it seems to remain so for a couple of weeks as the new set is still being drafted. I acquired my Fate Reforged foil set for around 220 tickets but it is going for 200 tickets today. I’ve compiled the figures in the table above on Wednesday, and today (Friday) Goatbots is selling a foil Dragons set for just 319.99 tickets, compared to the 332 tickets listed in the table.
  • If you are looking to ship of some of the high value foils in the set to subsidize the foils you are interested in, keep in mind that the buylist price starts to tank a few weeks after redemption begins. The buylist price for foil Fate Reforged mythics started to tank from beginning to middle of April. Fate Reforged redemption begun in the middle of March.
  • Foil sets become increasingly expensive to assemble once the set stops being drafted on Magic Online (as in not the primary draft anymore. You can still draft Khans on Magic Online, but the majority will be drafting Dragons), due to the scarcity of foil mythics. I resented having to fog up 12 tickets for Ugin’s Nexus when I was assembling my foil Khans set. You’d be hard-pressed to find one for under 35 tickets today.

I hope that this article answers any questions you have regarding the value of redeeming foil sets on Magic Online. Feel free to share your thoughts or questions below or ping me on Twitter @theguoheng.


 

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