Monday: Money Ramp with Zack Alvarado

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Increasing Sales via Inventory Organization

Strategic pairing can improve both cards' sales appeal.
Strategic pairing can improve both cards’ sales appeal.

Eric Froehlich’s Naya Zoo deck was composed of 83% rare or mythic cards, making his deck a perfect example of how expensive it is to be a tier 1 competitor. Most of the cards he used are expensive from the perspective of most casual players, but not so expensive that they could not afford a few if they really wanted ‘em. It is certainly obvious that most casual players will not be playing decks composed so expensively as Froehlich’s. Despite this fact, many MTG retailers stock their singles space with mythic and chase rares that sell for at least $10 each. The problem here is that this makes the majority of the inventory held by retailers geared toward a minority of the market; it means that there is just no way that they are all going to sell, and that many cards will be left sitting on shelves not producing profit.

So, the question becomes, “How do magic card retailers gear their inventory toward a larger portion of the market? And how do they clear the inventory of mythic and chase rares that they already have?” By giving the average player a reason to buy expensive cards. Casual players will not be filling their decks with high-priced cards. The only expensive cards that these players will be buying are those which work best with more affordable cards. As you may know, pretty much all of the chase rares work extremely well with less expensive cards. The problem is that not everyone else does, and the solution is proper organization of trade/sell binders. For example, a casual player opening a binder is likely to see the first few pages packed with chase rares that he already knows he cannot afford, and, having no reason to buy, flips right past them without even stopping to give them consideration. On the other hand, the casual player may open a binder and see a combo build with cards that he most certainly can afford or may already have.

Let’s say your customer has some Spark Troopers, Cloudshifts, or Duskmantle Guildmages laying around in his extras not really being used; then, he opens your binder and sees a Thragtusk that he doesn’t want to pay for, but instead of being surrounded by other cards that aren’t in his buy range – it’s sitting there, right next to a card he can afford: Cloudshift. Hell, he probably already has a playset. It’s a simple, game changing combo that just fell into his lap. The Thragtusk will immediately become more appealing to the customer, and every other customer who looks at that Thragtusk and realizes the potential power it has if used with a card they already own. It’s the same concept a car salesmen will use when selling an expensive car; but, instead of just being a car – it’s leather upholstery, tinted windows, and all the things that contribute to the desire and/or impulse of owning such a luxurious object.

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The MTG salesmen version of leather upholstery and tinted windows are:

In other words – organizing your trade stock in a way that allows customers to realize the potential benefits of chase-rares, in conjunction with easily affordable cards, will increase the appeal of otherwise difficult to sell cards. Instead of letting chase rares sit on shelves, doing nothing other than being drooled at by the occasional customer shuffling by, retailers should be reorganizing their binders and cases in such a fashion that these chase rares become more appealing to customers.

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Other good examples of cards that are easily made more appealing are:

So, you get it – now go out there – put the rubber to the road and make some extra cash!
This will conclude my third installment, thank you all for reading.

Money Ramp Weekly Tip: [Pick up tons of Sphinx’s Revelations]

Until next time,

Zack R Alvarado
zackalvarado@gmail.com
Twitter: Rh1zzualo

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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Thursday: Common Cents with Aaron Dettmann

Sphinx's Revelation. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast
Sphinx’s Revelation. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Pro Tour Gatecrash happened this past weekend, and with it came a bevy of new and exciting Standard decks; and with these new decks come changing card prices and new cards to speculate on. A variety of decks made the top 8, and I’ll take a look at some of the common trends the decks share. The course has been set, so now is the time to be prepared so you aren’t caught unaware of what’s hot, and what’s not, in Standard.

An earlier article by Andrew Smith already covered Boros Reckoner and Falkenrath Aristocrat. I agree with his advice in that column, and thought his analogy comparing Boros Reckoner to Thragtusk was especially apt; both are rares that dominate Standard play, yet will see little use in other formats. Thragtusk peaked at $25 – $30 and stayed there until he was reprinted infinite times in event decks, so Reckoner should remain in that price range as well.

A card I would aggressively trade for is Sphinx’s Revelation. Half the decks in the top 8 of Pro Tour Gatecrash ran Sphinx’s Revelation, for a total of 14 copies. Whenever you see a card that fits into multiple decks that do well, you can expect that card price to go up a lot.

Sphinx's Revelation as of Feb 20, 2013
Sphinx’s Revelation as of Feb 20, 2013

Sphinx’s Revelation has already seen a small price bump since the Pro Tour, but I think it has even more room to grow. Remember, Thragtusk and Boros Reckoner are only rares, yet they reached the $25 – $30 threshold; as a mythic, Sphinx’s Revelation could soar past even that price point. There were only two fewer copies of Sphinx’s Revelation than Boros Reckoner in the top 8, so Sphinx’s Revelation is essentially just as oppressive as the Reckoner.

One card I would sell off as soon as possible is Hellrider. Its price has almost doubled in the past month, with much of the reason being due to Saito tweeting the Gruul and Naya decklists that utilize this card. However, those decks generally did poorly at the Pro Tour, and Hellrider in particular had a very poor showing at the Pro Tour with only one deck playing it in the top 8. There were multiple Jund and other decks in the top 8 that had the option to use this card, but chose to go in a different direction instead.

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Hellrider as of Feb 20, 2013
Hellrider as of Feb 20, 2013

Because of the low turnout of this card in the top 8, I expect Hellrider to go back down to the $8 – $10 range that it was at prior to the lead up to the Pro Tour.

One last note for now: Stomping Ground and Sacred Foundry have gone up to $20 at Starcity, so be aware that they’re currently worth $5 more than the other Gatecrash shocklands. If you don’t need them immediately for a deck, these two lands are also cards I would sell right away, as once supply increases, I fully expect them to fall in line with the $8 – $12 price point of the Ravnica lands.

Pro Tour Gatecrash and Card Demand

By Andrew Smith

This past weekend a couple hundred of the best Magic: The Gathering players in the world descended on Montreal to compete in Pro Tour Gatecrash. Three days of Standard and booster draft to crown the newest Pro Tour champion. And perhaps more importantly, set the direction of post-Gatecrash Standard. Without a doubt, Standard will continue to evolve in the coming weeks and months, but there are some conclusions we can draw based on the PT results.

Boros_Reckoner_lg
Boros Reckoner. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast

A Reckoning

Let’s start with what is now obvious: Boros Reckoner is for real. The week after the release I was suggesting the $15 price tag was the ceiling for this card and it continues to skyrocket. Today the average price is nearly $30. I certainly misjudged the number of decks that want this card. It has its place in aggressive decks, midrange decks, and serves as a great anti-aggro card in UWR control decks.  Four of the Standard decks in the top 8 ran four copies of Boros Reckoner. Last time I compared him to Deathrite Shaman, but it’s evident that Thragtusk is a better comparison. He’s going to be an important card in Standard for the foreseeable future. Even without Modern or legacy play, Thragtusk has shown us it’s possible to be a $25-30 Standard rare for quite a while.

Another card making big moves out of the PT: Falkenrath Aristocrat. Only one deck in the top 8 played the big hasty vampire, but it was the deck that won it all. And that matters, a lot. Falkenrath has already seen a 25% increase since taking down the PT.

Falkenrath Aristocrat as of Feb 19, 2013
Falkenrath Aristocrat as of Feb 19, 2013

If you can find someone trying to trade theirs off, this is a pretty safe investment. She reached $25 on some stores prior to Gatecrash when B/R Zombies was a tier 1 deck. No good reason to expect anything different this time.

Speculation

My speculation choices for this week are Abrupt Decay and Crypt Ghast. Abrupt Decay has settled in around $7 right now, but it’s getting more Standard play than ever before. Obviously, Boros Reckoner has a lot to do with that. Decay is one of the best cards to take out the Reckoner. It is also seeing an increasing amount of play in Modern and Legacy. Crypt Ghast, on the other hand, was key to Conley Woods mono-black control deck that had a winning record in Standard at the PT. While it didn’t dominate, there are a lot of people out there that love playing mono-black. Currently the average price is just over $3, but can be picked up on eBay for about a buck. If nothing else this is one card to move from your junk boxes to your trade binders.

Friday: Managing Your Inventory with Igor

One of the most essential parts of being a successful floor trader is knowing how to manage your inventory. This is especially important if you are a small scale grinder, since your smaller inventory is more exposed to large value swings of a few singles. There is nothing worse than your entire trade stock depreciating 10% or more due to lazy inventory management. I want to focus on the importance of paying attention to the behaviors and preferences of players and what’s “in season”.

Loxodon Smiter as of Feb 14, 2013
Loxodon Smiter as of Feb 14, 2013

Seasonal Behavior

When I talk about season, I’m referencing the Pro Tour Qualifier Season (PTQ). The format for the qualifiers has a huge impact on price outlooks. Intuitively, it seems obvious that a highly played format will lead to higher demand of cards in that format (especially staples). Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of months, you are aware of the rapid and sharp growth Modern cards have seen. Almost any card that saw play, even briefly, increased in price. Let’s apply this information to something that happened very recently.

The recently released Gatecrash is a game changer. It has been a while since a set had this much impact on Standard. A fresh format is always popular with players, but this format has proven to be particularly aggressive. The talk of the week has been Boros Reckoner.

This guy preordered for $3.99! He is reported to be the real deal. But let’s discuss the price. $25 for a Standard rare from an in-print set makes me skeptical at first. This guy is no Snapcaster Mage.  If we look at precedents, the only other cards to hold that price point have been Cavern of Souls, Snapcaster Mage, and Thragtusk (until recently).  But my opinion on this card is that the $25 price point is most likely sustainable for the next month.  Pro Tour Gatecrash is coming up on February 15th and the format is Standard. If he sees a strong showing at the Pro Tour I can see him sustaining that price for a longer period.  This guy is good in a wide variety of decks, and the way the format looks now, he is going to be delivering the beats. Overall, there is no reason to not benefit from the hype at this point; just take your money and walk away. We’re probably seeing Boros Reckoner’s peak anyway. But don’t feel that you need to be rushed to move your Boros Reckoners.

Modern Masters

As the PTQ season comes to an end, prices should start to come down slowly to what they were pre-bubble (cards like Wilt-Leaf Liege, Thoughtseize, Tarmogoyf, Venser). It’s important to remember that Modern Masters is coming out this summer, and everything before Alara Reborn is fair game. This can be an enormous opportunity to make (and lose) a lot of money.

Wilt-Leaf Liege as of 2/14/2013
Wilt-Leaf Liege as of 2/14/2013

First, I recommend liquidating anything that has a chance of being in Modern Masters, before the end of the PTQ season.  I would not want to own cards like Thoughtseize, Tarmogoyf, or Vendilion Clique. It’s going to be a while until prices get this crazy again.

Now is the time you should be focusing on picking up Modern cards. Between the end of the PTQ season and Modern Masters is when prices are likely to be at their lowest; Modern Masters will significantly increase the demand for Modern cards. Making the format more accessible draws more players in, which means they are going to need more Modern cards when Modern PTQ season rolls around again. Targeting cards that are guaranteed to not be printed in Modern Masters is a relatively safe investment. If Modern Masters causes significant price drops to the cards that were reprinted, I would be targeting those very aggressively. I will be paying attention and keeping you guys updated in my articles on when is the best time to pick up certain Modern cards – so stay tuned!

Gyre Sage. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast
Gyre Sage. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Trade Targets:

Gyre Sage – This lady is seeing play in a Naya deck alongside Boros Reckoner and friends.  Saito has also been talking about her. She is sold out on a lot of websites at $2 and should be $4-6 relatively soon. Great trade target this weekend.

Domri Rade – Another card in the Naya deck.  He is currently $25. If this guy sees play in the Pro Tour, expect him to hit 40-50 for a few weeks.  Being a mythic from a set that hasn’t been opened a lot has it’s advantageous.

Obzedat, Ghost Council – This card is popping up in some Esper lists. Again, a strong showing at the Pro Tour can lead to a significant spike.

Loxodon Smiter – This pachyderm has the most upside. Being only $2-3 he has a lot of room to grow. Another 4-of in the Naya deck.

Boros Cards (Ash Zealot, Champion of the Parish, Stromkirk, Hellrider) – Boros is becoming one of the most popular decks. The window to pick these up is getting smaller. These cards should be fairly liquid within the next few weeks.

Remember to pay attention the Pro Tour results and coverage. Stay ahead of the curve. Thanks for reading!

Igor Shapiro

Twitter: IgorFinance

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