Artificial and Real Demand

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By: Camden Clark

Let us envision a hypothetical in which you bought 100 Mana Blooms.

They were sitting at a comfortable twenty-five cents before the recent hype. You were lucky enough to get in with the initial hype and got in at this VERY low price. This puts you twenty-five dollars in the hole.

The hype intensifies. More and more copies are falling off the market. There’s a lot of buzz around on Twitter and Reddit. This is shaping up to be a very prolific spec!

Look at the results:

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Wow! Look at that. The price doubled. They are even selling them for a dollar on Channel Fireball! It must be time to sell out.

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Oh… Those buylist prices are low. The highest one is even less than you paid for each of the cards. No matter. We’ll just list them on eBay!

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The above are the completed results for Mana Bloom on eBay. It looks like if you posted them after April 7th (approximately right in the middle of the hype), you lost money or didn’t even make a sale. That’s listing fees out the window, not to mention the overhead of having some money tied into this card. Maybe you could have been that lucky guy and sold four copies to double your money…sort of.

The retail prices are not what you will be able to sell them for. Almost everyone knows this. However, the JUMP in retail prices is also not necessarily the percentage you will make. Buylist prices in most cases will not adjust to the hike in retail prices. In fact, most card shops love it when spikes like this happen. It allows them to clear out stock of cards that would never move. Speculators are more than happy to clean out the retailers of their precious junk rares if there’s some buzz.

This plays into the central theme of my article today: the dichotomy of real and artificial demand.

Differentiating between the two could mean the difference between Birthing Pod and Nivmagus Elemental.

What is artificial demand?

Artificial demand comes from those buyers who are not interested in playing with the cards they have purchased. These are namely card shops and speculators. They are buying purely for profit.

Real demand, in comparison, comes from those buyers who are interested in playing with the cards they have purchased. These are casual players, PTQ players, etc. They want the cards and will keep them.

This shows the forces at work within the market and makes Magic cards easier to predict than stocks. Investors in stocks are purely artificial demand. They cannot consume or make use of stocks (except with dividends, still for profit).

Speculators and investors are inherently irrational and unpredictable. If they are scared that an investment will fall or fail, they will sell out. If investors have decided they have made enough money, they will sell out. If card shops do not need more inventory, they will not raise their buy prices. These are all emotion based and susceptible to the whims of the investors.

Players are simply that: they want to play Magic the Gathering. Many of them spend a large amount of their disposable income on Magic cards. If the cards are being played in the deck they want to build, they will spend for them. Trends, card needs and wants: all predictable.

Let us go back to Mana Bloom to apply this theory.

The hype around Mana Bloom was significant. It was a perfect target for overzealous investors to throw a ton of money at a 25 cent card and hope it rises. Naturally, the card shops adjust their retail prices to reflect the increase in demand.

Let’s be honest: how many of you honestly thought Mana Bloom would become a mainstay of the format like Remand or Cryptic Command or Birthing Pod?

No one did.

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What percentage of potential Modern players would actually put their money into a Mana Bloom deck? I think one percent is generous. Is one percent enough to jolt the demand for this card enough for card shops to want MORE of this card?

Obviously not.

It wasn’t enough for demand on eBay to be generated, obviously. Look at all the listings that had zero bids. Can you imagine not being able to offload the card you just paid twenty-five cents for and losing listing fees?

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That would drive some people to ship it off to buylists. Those card shops are more than happy to accept the cards back for less than you paid for them.

There are other examples of this as well.

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Look at the massive shift in retail price:

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Here’s the not so massive shift in buylist price:

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Retailers were more than happy to let you buy their near-junk cards:

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Speculators were overjoyed to have invested in this soon-to-be legacy staple:

Except it didn’t become a legacy staple. There was just a whole bunch of buzz about the card. Retail prices adjusted, but did anyone who actually plays Legacy want this card?

Exactly.

You are going to get burned if you invest in cards with no backbone. Mana Bloom is not a game changer. Sylvan Safekeeper is not a game changer.

You know what card is a game changer?

Birthing Pod.

This card was ten dollars for the longest time. That couldn’t last. It is in Melira Pod, which is one of the best decks in Modern.

When the spike finally came, it wasn’t unwarranted. There are real live people who play Birthing Pod decks in Modern! They enjoy playing Magic and paying quite high prices for cards that they need for their decks in the future. The card shops realize this, and adjusted their buylist prices to the artificial demand because, down the line, there will be real people buying cards.

I guarantee I will get comments saying “you are preaching to the choir” or “this is basic stuff, everyone knows this.” If that was true, why do people buy into cards like Sylvan Safekeeper? The inventory drops did not happen for no reason, there were people buying them.

You must take a step back from the hype and ask yourself if the card you are about to purchase will be played and bought by players. If it does not pass the sniff test, it is probably not worth your money.

One of the best ways that I have been able to discern whether cards will pick up steam or not is the buylist spread feature in the MTGPrice ProTrader emails. If the buylist prices are going up, the card shops smell real demand that will have significant ramifications on the market.

There are always opportunities. Now, more than ever, as Modern picks up steam into the summer, there will be massive gains from Modern cards.

Here are my picks for the coming season:

Stony Silence

This card has the potential to follow the same trajectory as its cousin, Grafdigger’s Cage. That card nearly doubled. Stony Silence is a white hate card that can be played in UWR and White Weenie decks.

Across the board, white hate cards will have a lot of real demand from players who expect a certain deck at their local Modern tournament. Look into Ethersworn Canonist and Kataki, War’s Wage as potential trade pickups.

Spell Snare

This is an uncommon. However, two drops are quite important in Modern. This card has incredible potential for any blue deck. I really like this card as a pickup, especially since some of the Spikes who play in the PTQ scene like to play control decks.

Electrolyze

Electrolyze is the logical follow-up to the prediction that UWR decks will have lots of play during Modern season. Spell Snare sees a similar level of play and it is almost twice the price. I am planning to move in significantly on this one as it is extremely efficient for any UR deck.

Remand

There has been some significant downward pressure on Remand. I am quite optimistic for its future despite the reprint that is incoming. I would watch this one and pick it up around the time it is expected to see a reprint. This card is played in lots of the blue decks and will be an enduring feature of Modern.

Pyromancer Ascension

The price of this one will start to settle down over the next few weeks. Lots of people love to play Storm. I could see this one going down before Modern season and then picking up steam to be a 20 dollar card. Keep an eye on this one. I’d buy under 7.

Thanks for reading. I’m considering starting a Modern portfolio and investing about 100 dollars and recording where prices go. Would anyone be interested in that? Message me on twitter: http://twitter.com/CamdenClarkMTG

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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Theros Review Review

By: Travis Allen

Journey Into Nyx spoilers are in full swing. In another week or two we’ll have the full list, and at that point I can give you guys a complete rundown of the set and what we’re looking at. In the meantime though, I figured I’d double back to my Theros review and see how I did. It’s been just about seven months, which is plenty of time for us to understand as much as we will about these cards before rotation.

Chained to the Rocks

Chained to the Rocks is poised to be one of the strongest removal spells in the format, especially with how good decks with Sacred Foundry look at the moment. I see it available for about $2.50 on TCG Player as of 9/23/13, which likely is fairly close to its floor. Mizzium Mortars never really sunk below $2 retail, and I think Chained compares pretty well. The ceiling on this card isn’t particularly high though. While it’s quite a powerful effect, you still need to have actual Mountains (and a good deal of them) to use it, not just lands that tap for red, such as Clifftop Retreat. I can’t imagine this breaking $5 for longer than a week or two, if ever. The best strategy regarding this card will simply be picking them up in trade for $1-$2 and trading them away at $3-$4.

This feels like a pretty reasonable read. They’re about $1 to $1.50 low on TCG, which is right about where I expected them to be. My advice on how to trade them seems to have been appropriate to. I’m putting a check mark in the success column on this one.

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Elspeth is still in that Planeswalker honeymoon period of $30+. Given her high mana cost, I anticipate it may take a little longer before she starts showing up in decklists. I’m guessing she may pull a Gideon Jura though, where people are lukewarm at first, playing only one copy, but then adding more and more. I’ll be keeping a close watch on her price and quantity of appearances in T8 decklists. If she shows up as a one-of in the maindeck of a winning list and the author talks about how great she was, expect positive movement. Like most Planeswalkers, if she dips below $15 it is time to start seriously considering picking her up in trade.

I didn’t really give you guys a specific price, but overall I thought she was powerful and relevant. I wasn’t entirely sure if the rest of the Standard community would pick up on that immediately, but in hindsight they clearly did. Overall I think this was a pretty reasonable evaluation, if perhaps a bit prudent.

Fabled Hero

I would expect his price to typically hang out in the $1-$3 range on any given weekend, but spiking an event could jump him to $6+ pretty easily. If Brave the Elements targeted, then we’d be in another ballpark. Even still, I think this is the type of card that can oscillate pretty easily. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him dip, jump, dip, and jump again all within his journey through Standard.

Fabled Hero is about $1 on TCG, which is on the lower end of my expectation. I was a little more bullish on this guy than the rest of the world was, but I also didn’t foresee the format becoming a wasteland of Hero’s Downfalls. I doubt rotation will change too much since all of the excellent removal is in Theros, not Ravnica. I’m hesitant to call this a miss, but it’s certainly not a success.

Gift of Immortality

Intro deck rare. I love the card, but do not buy into this with the intent of profit.

Bingo.

Heliod, God of the Sun

Heliod reads to me as the second weakest of the five gods…The gods are a little tricky financially. They’re almost-sorta a new card type, and subsequently I don’t feel like I have a good gauge for how their casual support is going to be. If I had to take a guess (which I suppose I do since I’m writing this article), it’s that the gods in general will be more popular with the casual crowd than the average decent mythic. I feel like the floor on Heliod – and all the gods – is probably around $5-7…My opinion on the gods, and other cards in general of which I’m not confident in my predictions, is to ship them early and wait until I understand them better.

I was pretty accurate in regards to the power level here, although Heliod is arguably the weakest at this point. I set their floor a tad higher than it turned out to be, but not by much at all. I’m glad to see I advised caution when considering what to do with them early in their life span. I guess my call on the floor was a little high, so I’ll mark this as a miss that I don’t feel too bad about.

Soldier of the Pantheon

Boy, Savannah Lions has come a long way, huh? Remember that we just came out of Ravnica, so “Protection from multicolored” reads a little better now than it will in a year. It will still probably be in discussion for any Modern white weenie deck, so if you can find Craig Wescoe, you know you’ve got a buyer. Other than that, your white one drop has to see heavy, sustained play (think Champion of the Parish) to maintain a $4+ price tag.

I told you that he looks better immediately after a mono-multi block, and then I told you it’s unlikely he would maintain even a $4 price tag. I’m pleased with this summary.

Artisan of Forms

Artisan seems very weak to me. These days, a ton of the value in good creatures is their ETB effect, which Artisan doesn’t get you. You also have to do a lot of work to even get the clone effect. Bulk rare; trade away accordingly.

Spot on.

Bident of Thassa

Release promo. Bulk.

Yep, I completely missed on this one in terms of playability. It is clearly better than bulk, having been in Mono-Blue for the better part of six months. Still, the price is well under a dollar. I was way off on how playable it would be, but still right on the price. Half miss, I suppose.

Curse of the Swine

Bulk, unless they reprint Aether Flash.

Good, good.

Master of Waves

I have a lot of trouble seeing Master accomplish much. Blue token makers are fairly rare, but creatures that die when their Master dies just seem miserable. Given the current state of blue, what permanents do you have in play that give you a healthy amount of devotion that are not already putting the game away for you?

Welp. That’s a big ol’ stinky miss. I completely under-evaluated how powerful slamming even two or three tokens into play would be, much less five, six, or even more. What I should have said was that for four mana you get a bare minimum of two 2/1’s, one of which has a very relevant protection, and that the rate isn’t embarrassing at all when you consider how well he scales up. Instead, I focused on how little blue was playing to the board at that point and made a sweeping generalization. I understand why I said what I said, but clearly I need to be a little bit more welcoming of powerful effects that I don’t see an immediate application for.

Prognostic Sphinx

THE TEEF will never be a four-of. I’d say $2 at his absolute best.

This is satisfactorily a success.

Thassa, God of the Sea

I believe Thassa is quietly the best god in the set. Purphorous and even Erebos are getting a lot of chatter, but most Thassa discussion has been less high-energy. However, I believe this is due in part to people underestimating the power of scrying every upkeep. In discussions with other players, the common opinion seems to be that the fair yet still playable cost for an enchantment that was just the upkeep scry would be 1U. That effectively means you’re getting the entire rest of the card for one colorless mana. Not competing with Jace or Supreme Verdict on the mana curve is also a great position to be in. When you finally do get Jace down, all it takes is UU somewhere to suddenly be within range of closing the game out fast. Notice that Thassa is capable of making herself unblockable.

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Of all the gods, Thassa is the one I’m most interested in financially. If she ever does get below $10, I’ll start grabbing as many in trades as possible. I think it will take time for the format to begin including her, so there will hopefully be a window where she’s under-priced.

I feel pretty good about this one looking back at it. I was basically completely correct, with the sole exception that I was hoping she may get cheap before people realized she was the real deal. What in truth happened was that she hadn’t really gotten much cheaper than maybe $18 when the Pro Tour happened and she skyrocketed to something like $25 or $30.

I didn’t really give you a long-term plan on her, but I don’t feel too bad about that. I knew she would go up, and after that it would be all metagame. In any case, I think I gave a pretty good evaluation overall. I’ll take this success and be happy with it.

Agent of the Fates

This card seems fantastic to me…Agent of the Fates is $2 on TCG Player while I write this, which is almost low enough for me to just start buying copies. If he gets under $1, he will be a major trade target, and under $.50 I’ll start in with cash.

Hot off the heels of my great Thassa prediction is my rather shameful outlook on Agent of the Fates. I was clearly wrong about this, as he’s done nearly nothing since the format’s inception. There are indeed copies on TCG for around $.50 and I’m not rushing out to buy them, so I certainly am not as big a fan as I used to be.

There’s a silver lining here, and that’s that Agent of the Fates feels like a victim of the metagame. Mono-Blue and Mono-Black just poop all over his face for a variety of reasons, but he’s still rather powerful in a vacuum. Wizards gave us all sorts of great BW heroic things such as Hero of Iroas, Nighthowler, and Herald of Torment, the latter two having already proved their mettle in battle. I’m not purchasing any today, but I’ll be keeping my eye out to see if he pops up anywhere before rotation. I was wrong up until now, but I’m keeping a candle lit for this one.

Erebos, God of the Dead

Erebos has been the second most popular god so far, and I’m pretty sure that is due entirely to people not realizing how high of a cost his draw is. Two life is not an insignificant amount of life to pay to draw a single extra card. Yes, it’s repeatable, but the toll adds up fast. The ability is strongest late in the game, when both players are already limping. I don’t think the ability worthless, but I get the impression people read the words “draw a card” and ignored everything to the left of the colon. On top of that, his static anti-lifegain clause goes from “highly disruptive” to “niche ability” with Thragtusk rotating.

Erebos seems poised to see a pretty heavy drop off in demand. I’d get out now and not look back.

Erebos was an easy $12-$15 at release, and he’s a weak $8 today. The absolute best circumstances for him has been realized with Mono-Black being the best deck in Standard, and he’s still only a one or two-of. I’m happy with my review of this, especially in noting that the card draw ability isn’t as strong as people thought it may be.

Murderbore

Domri Rade is going to find himself on the business end of a minotaur hoof frequently in the coming months. Hero’s Downfall will be a major factor in the forthcoming Standard landscape. Murder was always “almost,” and adding ‘Planeswalker’ to the card text will definitely push it over the edge. That said, I don’t see much of a reason for this to deviate from the Mizzium Mortars/Dreadbore path. I expect it to spend a very stable life hovering in the $2-$5 range. Your profit here will be trading for them at $2 and then trading them away at $4. If black ends up being the best color in Standard, the top end here may be as high as $6 or $7. (There is also no chance I call this anything other than Murderbore for the next two years.)

I was completely right that this would be a major player in Standard, although I was way too prudent about the price. In my defense I don’t think we’ve ever seen rare removal get that expensive before. It’s down to $4-$5 now after a few months well over $10. I was right about how playable it would be, but wrong about how expensive it could be. I’ll take this as a miss I’m ok with, and be well aware of just how expensive Standard rare removal can be these days.

Nighthowler

Possibly playable card that I doubt will ever crest a dollar. I bring it up because it’s the Game Day Top 8 promo, and it looks super sweet. The promo will likely hold value better than it’s playability would have you believe because of this.

Nighthowler is still under a dollar, but he’s been creeping up for the last week or two. Regardless of where he ends up in the next year, I think I was a bit too shy on his power level. My comment about his promo copy being a harbor of value was accurate though, with copies easily over $6 right now. If Nighthowler does indeed break out harder, the promo will just keep on moving up.

Thoughtseize

There’s really not too much to say here. Thoughtseize is and will be a Standard, Modern and Legacy staple. Expect Snapcaster-esque prices for the next two years.

I was clearly right on the power level. I’m not entirely sure how much I like my financial prediction, as Thoughtseize has gotten cheaper than I probably would have guessed it could in September, but I suppose Snapcaster behaved quite similarly. This is a success, but perhaps not as strong as I would have liked it to be.

Whip of Erebos

Cool card that’s in an intro deck. If it hits the Standard scene, don’t look to profit on this, but rather the other cards it will be dragging out of graveyards. And yes, it does work as well with Obzedat as you’d like it to.

This is entirely non-committal and really tells you very little, so I’ll call this a miss. For Journey Into Nyx, I’ll try to provide a little more concrete expectations.

Anger of the Gods

Possibly a better Slagstorm depending on what you’re in the market for, and an effect we have been desperately in need of. (Take that, you lousy Burning-Tree Emissary decks.) This has bonus points for being impactful in Modern. I see no reason to expect much price behavior different from Murderbore.

While I was correct about it being a strong card, even in Modern, I was definitely wrong on the price. Why? Well, for starters, I come back to the metagame. Both Mono-Black and Mono-Blue shrug this card off entirely, meaning it’s seen more play in Modern since it came out than Standard. Between my expectations that this would see more play than it does and my failure to predict $15 Murderbores, I gave you faulty pricing information. Sorry guys.

Firedrinker Satyr

Maybe it’s because I’m not a Jackal Pup kind of guy, but I really don’t care for this much at all. I’d ship these fast and avoid down the road. People tend to remember old cards, or new cards similar to old cards, a little too fondly in vastly different formats than when they were originally good. Remember when Nantuko Shade was like $8 preorder or something?

Currently at about $.50, I feel good about this one.

Hammer of Purphoros

Solid looking card, but falls into the Koth trap of mostly being only good in really heavy red decks. Even if the card is fantastic, how many Hammer of Purphoros decks can there really be? I wouldn’t take the risk of trying to make money here; there’s better places to put your gaming bux.

I’m pleased with this as well. I correctly identified that the mana cost was going to be far too prohibitive for meaningful growth.

Purphoros, God of the Forge

I will say right now that I am less enthralled with Purphoros than many others are…I wouldn’t be surprised to see him alongside Boros Reckoner and Stormbreath Dragon in the near future…I don’t doubt that he’s very powerful, but $25 will be a very difficult price tag to maintain amidst a lot of other very competitive-looking mythics such as all three Planeswalkers, Stormbreath Dragon, and Thassa…In any case, I’d be trading these away ASAP. The odds that he loses a lot of value are far greater than he gains any. If he slips towards $10, feel free to start grabbing them, because someone will probably give him a breakout performance at some point.

Overall I’d say I did pretty well here. I was correct that he didn’t end up being as powerful as others thought he would be. My recommendation was that he couldn’t maintain his price, and to get rid of them. I told you to come back around once he got down to around $10, and I would still be comfortable telling you to trade for them today now that he’s around $7. I think in general I expected the god’s floor to be a bit higher than it has been, but on the whole I think I did a good job with Purphoros.

Stormbreath Dragon

This card is the real deal…As I see it, Stormbreath is poised to step in and assume Thundermaw’s role without missing a beat. Preorders have jumped from $15 to $25, and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable number for him to hang around at. Thundermaw hit $50 for a period, and if Stormbreath comes out of the gate terrorizing heros, I would expect no different. At this point he’s too expensive to buy into to spec on, but if you want a set, I wouldn’t hesitate to trade for him. I doubt you stand to lose much, and his upside is very high. If he dips below $15 again, I’d start snatching them wherever possible.

I was quite bullish on Stormbreath. Perhaps a hair to bullish, I admit. He has managed to rule the skies since Theros though. Dodging Archangel of Thune and Detention Sphere has in fact been relevant, and I can’t help but think he would have been even better than he has been if it weren’t for the menace of Blue and Black. I think I was afraid of telling you he’d “only” be $20 and looking timid when he hit $50, so I left the door open on that. I suppose I could have tempered this prediction a little bit more. He maintains a solid $20 price tag though. I like where I left you with this one.

Boon Satyr

Even though there’s a lot of chatter about Boon Saibot, he’s still only $2 right now. Keep in mind that Loxodon Smiter has seen significant play in Standard and has even broken into Modern yet is still currently only about $4. There’s a real limit to how expensive an in-print rare can be. It will be tough for Boon Satyr to maintain a price over $4-$5 while he’s in the current set even if he’s seeing excessive Standard play. However, if he is consistently putting up results over the next year or is prevalent at the Theros Block Pro Tour, look to start snatching them up next summer when he’ll be at a low.

I was right that he would have a heck of a time maintaining a price upwards of $4, but I didn’t tell you just how cheap he could be. I don’t feel like my prediction was wrong, but I didn’t give you enough information. I’ll call this a miss.

Nylea, God of the Hunt

Nylea is widely considered to be the weakest of the gods. I’m not entirely convinced that is true, but she certainly has an uphill climb to prove otherwise. On the one hand green decks that will want trample are likely to be strong devotion enablers, and she’s a solid beater herself. The activated ability feels very weak to me however. She’s $9 right now, and I expect that to start slipping very quickly. I’d say $4 is her absolute floor though, so if she gets that low don’t be afraid to grab a few sets. Even if she never gets there in Standard, it’s likely the gods will always maintain solid casual demand.

This was spot on. She managed to show up just a little bit in a heavy green deck, but it faded away in the face of darker devotion decks. The $4 floor prediction was perfect, with several of the cheapest copies on TCG at exactly that number. Homerun.

Polukranos, World Eater

Polukranos is a powerful card that is going to be responsible for a lot of dead 2/2s and 3/3s. He’s in the Duel Deck though, so his price has a firm ceiling. While I’m seeing copies under $5, I’d guess is floor is around $2.50. If he slips under $3, there’s a lot of room for potential profit there with little downside. I also wouldn’t hesitate to trade for a set now for personal use, as again there isn’t that much to lose.

And then I come crashing back down. While I was technically correct that his price had a ceiling, I was thinking he would be much cheaper than he ended up being. I guess I didn’t explicitly tell you he would be $3, just that if he got that low you should grab some. At the end of the day this feels like a miss though.

Sylvan Caryatid

[Exposition about Buy-a-Box promos]…A lot of people expect Caryatid to be a major part of the standard landscape, and I agree. She (?) is currently right around $5, which sounds a tad high. Like Daniel Boone, I expect there will be money to be made on Caryatid next summer.

Correct that she (?) would see Standard play, but too prudent on the price. $5 is the lowest Caryatid has been, and she even hung around $7-$10 for awhile. Part of my read was that they would get destroyed much more frequently by sweepers, especially Anger of the Gods. With Anger not being too common in the format, it meant there was not a lot going on that could punish Caryatid. I was correct that the card would be frequently played, but wrong about the price. I’ll take my lumps here.

Ashen Rider

Probably won’t be too expensive, but foils will command a premium. If it ends up being a 4-of in Obzedat’s Aid/Erebos’ Whip type decks, the price could quintuple very quickly though.

Sounds about right. There’s still a 5x multiplier on the foil too.

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

Many players I’ve spoken to are not wild about Ashiok, but I am quite confident Ashiok will be a part of the Standard landscape…Ashiok is still rather pricey at ~$18. I anticipate Ashiok cratering pretty quickly, as it may take time for Ashiok to find Ashiok’s way into lists. Once the number is below $10, I will gladly start picking up Ashiok in trade.

Hrmph. I was a big fan of Ashiok, and I guess I still kind of am. She’s shown up here and there, but not enough to move the price much. To be quite honest I’m a little mystified here. Ashiok seems like she would be playable in variations of Mono-Black or even Esper. I like trading for her right now as well. I suppose this isn’t a miss per se, but certainly not a success. I’ll just say the jury’s still out.

Daxos of Meletis

If a single thing on this card was missing, I’d be proclaiming it bulk. As is though, Daxos seems to have a lot of intriguing puzzle pieces…At $2, I’m not interested. If Daxos slips below $.50 though, I’ll definitely consider acquiring aggressively depending on if he’s appeared in any results. When a card ends up below $.50, the risk is just so low and the profit potential so high.

Another victim of the metagame. He’s powerful for sure, but Pack Rats and Frostburn Weirds just stonewalled him entirely. I do trade for them were available though, so at least I’m following my own advice here. Like Ashiok, this doesn’t quite feel like a either a miss or a success.

Fleecemane Lion

This could end up being the most overpriced card in the set. We already have something better than Watchwolf at the moment (Call of the Conclave) and nobody is playing it. The monstrosity clause is almost surely better than the state of being a token, but is it by any meaningful amount? Decks that play Watchwolf want to put guys into play and attack with creatures like Stormbreath Dragon, not spend their turn five mana to do one extra damage in a format full of good edict effects. There will be games where the monstrosity wins the game, but plenty more where you’ll wish you had just played Scavenging Ooze instead. I sold mine at the prerelease; I recommend you do the same.

Fleecemane has done better than I thought it would, but the price has still been pretty lousy. Remember that during prerelease season this was around $10, so my call to ship them at the prerelease was golden. I admit that the monstrosity clause has been better than expected in a format full of spot removal. All in all I’m pleased with how I called this, although I recognize that it could be better than I originally anticipated six months from now.

Medomai the Ageless

Nifty card that is almost surely unplayable in Standard. Foils will be worth a bunch for EDH.

Bulk, yes. Foils are maybe $5-$6, so is that “a bunch?” Relatively I suppose it is.

Polis Crusher

Potentially great card but he’s in an intro deck. It’s possible someone will manage to make money on him, but it won’t be me.

Likely to be a much more relevant card in September given what we’ve seen of Block, I’m taking this opportunity to revise my previous dismissal. There is a LOT of enchantments floating around now, and it looks like the density of enchantment creatures has gone up in BOG and JOU. Given how good he’s been in Block decks, he may overperform at rotation. The intro deck thing is still very real, but I’m seeing copies under a quarter. I don’t like him at more than $.50, but if you can get them below that, I think you’re probably safe.

Reaper of the Wilds

This card seems to have a great deal of financial potential. There were only two other creatures in RtR that had three activated abilities: Deathrite Shaman and Lotleth Troll…I don’t think this card will necessarily be a major player in Standard for two years, but I do think it will see enough play to warrant a several dollar price tag at some point. Like Daxos, if this slips under $.50, consider me a buyer.

My evaluation of Reaper was strong, so I’m pleased with that. I identified the fact that it wouldn’t be a major player in Standard for a long stretch of time, but that it may be good enough for a period to be worth a few bucks. MTGPrice is telling me it hung around $2 for awhile, which is on track. The printing of JvV has completely derailed any opportunity for profit this fall though, so my long-term prospects have fallen off. No way to predict that though, so overall I think this was a good one.

Underworld Cerberus

Cerberus is one of those cards that has a lot of disconnected moving parts that makes him tremendously difficult to properly evaluate. Cards like this are notorious for being misunderstood early on because of their complexity, only to shoot up in playability (and price) once people realize just how powerful they are.

Woofy is the only mythic rare in the set that has a real chance of seeing a considerable and sustained rise from his prerelease price, and the only mythic I’ll be trading for at FNM this week. I’m not sure exactly if he’s good enough, but I know his ceiling is higher than his floor is low.

I was cautiously optimistic here, and “cautiously” was a wise decision. Despite my reserved expectations, Cerberus has done exactly nothing. There’s still another whole year, but at this point it’s completely fallen flat. I don’t think I’m wrong when I say his ceiling is higher than his floor is low, but I suppose that doesn’t matter if we’re sitting there on the kitchen tile wondering where it all went wrong.

Xenagos, the Reveler

My initial reaction to this card was quite poor. He read like a four mana satyr generator. As spoiler season marched on though, I began to see potential…Xenagos won’t even be the best GR Planeswalker in Standard, but he’s not as bad as I expected early on. His success will hinge largely on the playability of monstrous and monstrous-esque creatures. Expect Xenagos, Polukranos and Stormbreath Dragon to be best buds this fall. A safe price to trade in at will be $12 or so. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him follow Chandra’s price curve.

I’d like to think this was reasonable. He has seen play alongside Polukranos and Stormbreath, but perhaps not as much as I thought he would. That again comes back to green being the worst color in the meta. It looks as if he’s $10-$11 right now, which seems to be about what I anticipated. I’ve been trading for them, and I’m confident he’ll at least make $15 before fall of 2015. All in all I’d like to call this a win.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

You need at least three devotion to break even on tapping this land, which is not a trivial hurdle. I can’t imagine this having much of an impact in standard. Even if it does make it into Standard, what are the odds it shows up in more than one list? Due to EDH, I see this as a $1-2/$10 nonfoil/foil split. Even if EDH drives up the nonfoil price, it will take years to happen. Get rid of all yours, pick up a foil one for EDH, and don’t look back.

Hah, well, this is certainly wrong. The pile of Nykthos next to me tells me I changed my mind awhile back. I don’t remember how many weeks it was after I wrote this that I came around, but it was probably after the Pro Tour when I saw Mihara’s GR list using Nykthos to great effect. I’m a big fan of Nykthos now, and I’ve been stockpiling them for some time. I was completely and absolutely wrong here though; sorry about that. I don’t know why I didn’t look at this and realize that it’s a land that taps for more than one mana. Lands that do that are really worth paying attention to, especially in Standard, and especially when there’s a card that says “untap target land.” Lesson learned!

This was my first real set review. It wasn’t perfect by a long shot, but I’d like to think that except for a just a few, most of my misses weren’t too far off the mark. Nykthos and Master of Waves were obviously real bad, but for the most part I just didn’t commit enough to a price or was a bit too prudent. I don’t feel too bad about that because advising caution is never going to be catastrophic. You won’t make buckets of money being cautious, but you won’t lose hundreds of dollars on failed specs either. At the end of the day, I’d like to consider this a reasonably successful first set review. I’ll be looking back at this as I write up my Journey review in short order and try to learn from my mistakes here, for my benefit and yours.

The Most Expensive Deck in Magic – The Odyssey Continues

By: Jared Yost

When I first attempted to cover the most expensive deck in Magic, I got chewed out pretty hard by the MTG elite who happened to read the article. I don’t own any of the P9 or other high end cards that I researched. Regardless, I tried to get my head around the costs of some of Magic’s high end staples in order to demonstrate how collectible some of cards have become over the years. Laughably, I tried to use eBay to determine a lot of the prices for things like foil Russian Jace, the Mind Sculptor. It didn’t take very long for the real experts to let me know how bad I did.

I’ve now attempted to update the wrong information that I bestowed upon the Magic community when I tried to identify the most expensive cards I could include in a tournament playable Vintage deck. After the initial Twitter feedback form the first article @SonodaMTG was my first stop for soliciting advice. With his direction I was able to correct many of the prices of foil Japanese cards found in the deck. Also through him, I was able to make my way to the Magic: the Gathering Misprints and Oddities facebook group. Here I was able to solicit feedback from members on finding more accurate prices for the rarer cards in the deck.

One of the lessons I’ve learned from this endeavor is that for extremely rare versions of Magic cards such as Summer Underground Sea there isn’t a book price or concrete source that you can refer to as a price guide. Websites like TCGPlayer, MTGPrice, MTGStocks, as well as eBay and many other MTG vendors will not have prices for these types of cards. The only exception I found to this was ABUGames, which is where I found my initial source for Summer Magic Cards. Problem was, they were outdated and I needed to get a more accurate estimate for their worth.

Since there wasn’t a central posting of the card values, almost all of my price revisions I’ve included in this article are updates based on word of mouth and crowdsourcing on the misprints and oddities Facebook group. Don’t get me wrong, these prices came straight from the horse’s mouth. These are all people who not only play Magic but collect these rare, valuable cards as a hobby. They generally only buy and sell from each other, so it can be hard for the community in general to guess at the price of some of these cards without having prior experience dealing with cards this collectible.

Though the group helped me tremendously, I still had to approximate the values of a few foil Russian cards because I didn’t get feedback from my first article on the price. I wanted to wait a while before posting an update in order to have enough time to solicit feedback from the community. At this point, I feel like I have enough information to provide a better estimate.

In order to estimate the unverified cards, I used the updated estimates I got on cards like foil Russian Jace, the Mind Sculptor and foil Russian Dark Confidant in order to create a more accurate multiplier for other Russian foils that I did not receive verification. This multiplier was essentially an average of all the multipliers I had for existing prices. Again though, it is hard to estimate a price on some of these cards unless you are a collector who specializes in finding and pricing these types of foils or other rare oddities.

I am not saying that this is the final list again, by any means. I’d like to keep this going as a community project because I thought the original idea was pretty awesome. I’m sure there are cards on this updated list that probably need to be revised again. I was told that the list should clear $500K but even after correcting some of my biggest mistakes I still haven’t come close to this. Please, if you have a better estimate for something let me know!

On to the updated list:

The Most Expensive Deck in Magic – Update as of 04/14/2014 6am EST

(Please see the references spreadsheet link below this table for specific card price sources.)

 

Card

Estimated Cost REVISED

4x Scalding Tarn FOIL Russian Zendikar

$8,000.00

3x Underground Sea Revised SUMMER MAGIC

$60,000.00

3x Polluted Delta FOIL Japanese Onslaught

$5,835.00

2x Volcanic Island Revised SUMMER MAGIC

$40,000.00

1x Swamp Guru Land MISPRINT

$2,000.00

1x Island Guru Land MISPRINT “Drowning Man”

$2,000.00

1x Tolarian Academy Korean Urza’s Saga

$152.00

1x BGS-8.5 Library of Alexandria Arabian Nights

$419.00

4x Dark Confidant FOIL Russian Ravnica

$8,000.00

2x Snapcaster Mage FOIL Korean Innistrad

$935.00

1x Myr Battlesphere FOIL Russian Scars of Mirrodin

$30.00

4x Force of Will German Alliances

$540.00

3x Lightning Bolt Chris Rush Textless

$13,500.00

2x Spell Pierce FOIL Russian Zendikar

$400.00

2x Mana Drain English Legends

$500.00

2x Mental Misstep FOIL Russian New Phyrexia

$200.00

1x Yawgmoth’s Will Korean Urza’s Saga

$205.00

1x Tinker FOIL Japanese Urza’s Legacy

$75.00

1x Demonic Tutor Revised SUMMER MAGIC

$4,000.00

1x Time Walk Alpha

$2,575.00

1x Vampiric Tutor Judge Gift Program

$60.00

1x PSA-10 Ancestral Recall Beta

$5,500.00

1x Brainstorm Mercadian Masques MISPRINT

$20,000.00

1x Mystical Tutor MISCUT

$50.00

1x Merchant Scroll FOIL Japanese 8th Edition

$430.00

1x Hurkyl’s Recall Revised SUMMER MAGIC

$2,000.00

1x Gifts Ungiven FOIL Japanese Champions of Kamigawa

$120.00

3x Jace, the Mind Sculptor FOIL Russian Worldwake

$40,000.00

1x PSA-10 Mox Emerald Alpha

$3,717.00

1x BGS-9.5 Mox Sapphire Beta

$5,000.00

1x PSA-10 Time Vault Beta

$1,700.00

1x Sol Ring Revised SUMMER MAGIC

$3,000.00

1x Mana Crypt Book Promo MISCUT

$400.00

1x Beckett-5 – Mox Pearl Beta CRIMPED

$1,900.00

1x PSA-6 – Mox Ruby Alpha

$1,045.95

1x BGS-10 Black Lotus Beta

$100,000.00

1x Voltaic Key FOIL Russian M11

$30.00

1x Beckett-8.5 Mox Jet Beta

$1,000.00

SIDEBOARD

******************

3x Grafdigger’s Cage FOIL Korean Dark Ascension

$135.00

1x Mountain Guru Land MISPRINT

$2,000.00

4x Ingot Chewer FOIL Russian Lorwyn

$276.00

3x Yixlid Jailer FOIL Russian Future Sight

$60.00

2x Surgical Extraction FOIL Russian New Phyrexia

$250.00

1x Strip Mine psa-9 graded

$33.00

1x Toxic Deluge Commander 2013 MISCUT

$90.00

GRAND TOTAL

$338,162.95

References – Google Spreadsheet Listing

In this spreadsheet you will find all the specific sources for each card that I used to quote their price. A lot of the prices were copied over from my first article. Those sources have stayed the same and I have indicated that in the price column. A few cards still do not have a source because I have not received a price quote for them. I used the average multiplier for foreign foils to come to a best guess for a price if I still didn’t have a source. As you can see, the misprint / oddities Facebook group helped me out tremendously – thank you guys!

Updates Going Forward

As I receive more price updates, I will add them to a separate tab in the spreadsheet and then consolidate them into the existing list when I can. Keep checking the spreadsheet to see the most recent updates. You can also send me a tweet @gildedgoblin if you want an update included.

Again, thank you to all those who helped me update this list!

Weekend Recap 4/12/14

By: Jim Marsh

Every week, some cards from Magic the Gathering increase and decease in value based upon a number of factors.

Let’s take a look at some of the cards whose values have changed the most and the factors behind why those changes occurred.

10 Big Winners of the Week

10. Exploration
$36.81 to $43.93 (19.3%)

Exploration leads to explosive starts in the Legacy Lands deck. The varied power and abilities of the lands it plays make it unexpectedly powerful.

It can take full advantage of Life from the Loam and Intuition to find exactly what it needs, dump it into its graveyard and play it.

It also has the combination of Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage for a powerful 20/20 Indestructible Marit Lage token.

What the deck really needs are results.

It made Top 16 this weekend, but a few Top 8s would go a long way to justifying the large strides that Exploration has made in price recently.

9. Leonin Arbiter
$2.99 to $3.57 (19.4%)

It’s good to be the king! Or at least respected. Leonin Arbiter is one of only a couple of creatures in Modern GW Hatebears that use the full playset.

The other are Flickerwisp and Noble Hierarch. That should speak of its power.

It cripples Modern mana bases that rely upon Fetchlands to search out Shocklands. It slows down Birthing Pod.

I expect them to continue to climb to around $6 before Modern season has ended.

8. Disharmony
$5.00 to $6.24 (18.6%)

Disharmony is the purely defensive version of Ray of Command.

It is a rare from Legends and is on the Restricted List.

It is not played in any competitive deck so its value is tied strictly to low supply and casual use.

It is a $5 card that occasionally flirts with being a $6 or $7 card and then goes right back to $5.

Since it is used so little, I would just try to get them as toss ins on trades from people that have them stuck with their budget rares.

7. Karakas
$120.00 to $149.99 (25.0%)

Sneak and Show decks have been doing well in Legacy recently. They made up half of the semifinals on Sunday, April 6th.

Karakas helps play defense against Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. If you keep bouncing their creatures you can keep your permanents and your life total safe.

It is a land, so it can be used in a wide variety of decks such as Lands, Death and Takes, UWR Miracles, ANT, Junk Depths and anything else that wants it.

It is a rare from Legends which means it is in quite small supply. It is unlikely that Wizards of the Coast will ever reprint it outside of its Judge Promo. I do not see the price coming down.

6. Hurkyl’s Recall
$2.98 to $3.73 (25.2%)

This card keeps picking up steam. It is a powerful sideboard card in both Modern and Legacy.

It is commonly used in Merfolk, Ad Nauseam and BUG Delver decks to keep Affinity decks at bay. Since Affinity is the one of the most aggressive decks in Modern, I don’t see this falling out of favor any time soon.

The one unfortunate thing about hate cards is that if they do their job too well then the decks they are fighting will fall out of favor. This makes the sideboard slot less useful.

It’s a terrible cycle and gives Hurkyl’s Recall a ceiling which I believe it will hit soon. It will then plateau around $5.

5. Sigil of the Empty Throne
$1.79 to $2.32 (29.6%)

Journey into Nyx previews are upon us and that brings us to the new Constellation mechanic.

It is featured on several enchantment creatures that have an enters-the-battlefield effect which triggers every time an enchantment enters the battlefield under your control.

This will hopefully bring an evolution to modern Mono-White Prison and Azorius Control decks.

We have not seen many of these cards yet, but if they have powerful enough effects, we could see the birth of new control decks that take advantage of a cornucopia of free effects that bury your opponent in card advantage.

The card has only been printed twice. The first time was in Conflux and the second time was in the Planechase 2012 decks.

Supply is short and the buy in price is low. I think that this card could easily hit $4 or $5 or more if the right cards line up. I’d grab mine while they are still budget rares.

4. Negate (Textless Magic Players Reward Card)
$8.50 to $11.35 (33.5%)

Negate is used as a sideboard card in several Standard and Modern control decks.

Pimping decks with foil and promo versions of cards is the hallmark of an eternal format, as no one wants to invest the extra money into a deck that has an expiration date.

Last week we looked at Negate’s rise in price, and while it did get to $13 briefly, it has already begun its descent.

The decks that want it only want one or two copies and even those mostly reside in the sideboard.

I still feel this will settle in the $8 to $10 area.

That is great news if you bought in at $4 a couple of weeks ago but not so great news if you want to buy in now.

3. Ichorid
$7.42 to $12.01 (61.9%)

Ichorid has long been a staple of Legacy Dredge decks, both vanilla Dredge and Manaless Dredge.

When graveyard hate begins to become lax it makes a powerful (and relatively inexpensive) metagame choice. This Sunday was just such an occasion, as Manaless Dredge was able to make its way into the Top 8.

I have long thought of Ichorid as a card that is primed for a jump in price, but I think that this was a little too much, too quickly.

I think the card will settle down to the $10 area, but it will hold steady after that.

With the price of dual lands skyrocketing, it is no wonder that people are exploring ways to play Legacy that skirt around the greatest price barrier in the format.

2. Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
$1.10 to $3.27 (197.3%)

The Standard Golgari Dredge deck has been a darling for many after what had been a rather stale Standard environment over the past few months.

I think this deck will gain a lot with the printing of the Green/Black Scryland and a god.

However, the important thing to not is that this price spike is for the printing from Duel Decks: Izzet vs Golgari and not the Return to Ravnica mythic rare.

This smells like someone trying to corner the market on the card.

I would have no problem trading for these at $1 to $2, but with rotation looming and a new set coming out, I would be wary of a card tripling in value on one version but not the other when they came out so close together.

I would sit this one out.

1. Edric, Spymaster of Trest
$4.28 to $23.0 (437.4%)

Eric Rill singlehandedly made this happen! On Sunday, April 6th he took down the Milwaukee SCG Legacy Open with his Four Color Delver Deck.

In a format as powerful as Legacy every card matters. A few attacks from Insectile Aberration and Haste-y Elemental Tokens can really make a difference.

Young Pyromancer combined with many powerful one mana spells, including Ponder, Brainstorm and “free” spells like Daze and Gitaxian Probe to keep the beats coming.

Edric, Spymaster of Trest was only available in the original Commander decks and Commander Arsenal so supply is hard to come by.

If you have been holding onto these and don’t want to play with them, I would move them quickly. This spike is based off of one week’s results and now this deck will be a known entity.

I would certainly never buy in on a spike like this, but if results continue then $20 could become the new price.

5 Big Losers of the Week

5. Sensei’s Divining Top (FTV)
$48.94 to $45.80 (-6.4%)

This is regarding the printing of Sensei’s Divining Top included in From the Vault: Exiled. It is among the Top 20 Most played cards in Legacy.

Its effect is simple but strikingly powerful with Delver of Secrets, Counterbalance and Entreat the Angels.

Its efficient cost makes it ideal in nearly any deck.

I would look at any momentary lapse in price as a discount. There is no way that these do not continue to increase in value over time.

4. Twilight Mire
$30.45 to $26.99 (-11.4%)

Twilight Mire is still on an upward trajectory. It has just stumbled a little in its rise from $16 to $32.

Jund has been been slipping from the Modern standings, but Green/Black Obliterator is the new flavor of the month and uses the Eventide rare as well.

It helps set up mana for Kitchen Finks into Phyrexian Obliterator which is no easy feat.

I would still consider this as a great card to pick up in trade on its way to $40.

3. Xenagos, God of Revels
$13.81 to $12.00 (-13.1%)

Xenagos, God of Revels may be upsetting the pantheon on Theros, but he is failing to keep steady results in Standard.

The decks that play him, Naya Midrange and Jund Midrange tend to only play one or two copies.

He has been slipping steadily since he was printed. He is from a second set, so he will continue to be opened at the same rate with JOU-BOG-THS drafts as he was before. Supply will continue to increase at a steady pace throughout the summer.

His cost of five mana makes him awkward in quick, aggressive decks and there are usually better cards to play if you are trying to go over the top.

I think as we get more gods in Journey Into Nyx, he may find himself replaced in both Jund and Naya decks.

This will continue to go down. I would keep any eye on it and try to catch a few when it hits $8. Casual appeal of a god will make sure that it never gets too much lower than that.

2. Ancient Tomb
$49.51 to $36.00 (-27.3%)

The release in From the Vaults: Realms got up to almost $50 before coming back.

A month ago this card only $12. The Tempest copy jumped up around the same time and has been staying strong at $24.

Keep in mind that this is the only foil copy of the card. I think it should be more than just 50% more than the vanilla version.

I will not be surprised when it gets back to $50.

I don’t think its ever going back below $35, especially with the strong showings from Sneak and Show.

1. Silent-Blade Oni
$9.75 to $5.05 (-48.2%)

This card actually jumped all the way to $15 before sinking to $5. Sometimes when I think of what the value of this card has been doing (based on almost nothing so far as I can tell) I think someone is just punking the Magic finance community.

However, I think $5 is a terrific price and would gladly snatch it up at that price.

Wait a day and sell it for $9.

Wait for it to go back to $5.

Rinse and repeat.

MAGIC: THE GATHERING FINANCE ARTICLES AND COMMUNITY

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