Tag Archives: Corbin Hosler

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: The Next Level of Modern

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Inkmoth Nexus was the first domino to fall.

And, to be honest, it’s not much of a surprise, is it? Mox Opal is reprinted and Inkmoth Nexus is not, that means it should go up, right? Of course. That’s the easy call, and as we know by how quickly this thing disappeared, there’s no money there.

But there is money to made with the knowledge we gained from Modern Masters 2015, and that’s what I’m here to discuss today.

Our experienced staff of writers has done an excellent job breaking down what’s in the set and how they expect the prices on the cards in the set to react over the next few weeks and months. I won’t say much more on this except to expect drops. The whole “But the original Modern Masters increased prices!” line is old at this point, and, more importantly, inaccurate. Yes, a very select few cards rebounded, but the vast majority were either significantly depressed or absolutely crushed of all hope to rebound any time soon (RIP Stonehewer Giant).

The First Wave

As I alluded to above, the first wave is easy to tell. Basically everyone can figure it out, and sometimes those people even go and buy out Inkmoth Nexus. There’s nothing wrong with spotting this low-hanging fruit, of course, and I’d expect nothing less given how savvy the finance community has become over the last few years.

But the way I see it? Let others take this Level One approach. If you’re in early, then great. But if not? Let others chase, and move onto Level Two.

Once the low-hanging fruit is picked, it takes a little more work to find the good targets. And they’re going to, by and large, take a while to pay off. After all, if there was easy short-term money to be made on them, they would be Inkmoth Nexus and already be bought out.

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When it comes to finding targets for something like this, the beauty is in how stunningly simple-sounding it is, as well as how much more difficult it is to actually pull off. Everything I’m going to present to you today can be found by anyone willing to put in the work. As the detractors of “MTG finance” like to claim, it’s not like we’re conducting rocket science here. And we’re not. But sometimes finding opportunity does take some legwork, and that’s not something everyone is either able or willing to do. And even if you have put in the work, you also have to know what you’re looking at, and nothing substitutes for experience in that regard. This list is by no means exhaustive considering just how many cards there are that see some amount of play in Modern, but this is wheat I’m working with over the next few months.

Anyway, let’s dig in.

Affinity

The plan today is to look at decks that will see a surge in play thanks to key reprints in Modern Masters 2015, and then evaluate how that could affect the market.

Mox Opal

Nothing rests higher in that list than Affinity, and it gives us a ton to work with. Robots are notoriously easy to pick up and difficult to master, and with the only truly outrageous card being Mox Opal, there’s every reason to believe we’re going to see a lot of new players picking this up. After all, Affinity has the ability to win plenty of games out of nowhere, even if you’re still new and not good enough to squeeze every percentage point out of the deck like some of the masters.

So, looking at the deck itself, we see a ton of stuff that’s being reprinted. Mox Opal, Etched Champion, Cranial Plating, Darksteel Citadel and even Thoughtcast are all being reprinted, so basically half an Affinity deck is being handed to players in Draft.

A few key cards are left off, though. Arcbound Ravager is already $20, but I have no doubts this could be $30 in three months. It’s already showing growth and is an auto four-of in any build of the deck. Glimmervoid also likely has some upside at $10.

Looking at a few more niche cards from the deck, Steel Overseer could have a little upside at $7 and Master of Etherium could also see movement. Neither are exactly cheap buy-ins, but I expect them to see incremental growth this year.

Next up is a card that has seen a lot more than incremental growth: Creeping Corrosion. The green Shatterstorm, we’re seeing great movement on this recent bulk rare. You can still get these for basically free at your LGS, and they’re easy to pull out of any random pile of rares. But this has $3-4 written all over it, which is great considering your buy-in is going to be under a dollar.

Creeping Corrosion

With Smash to Smithereens reprinted, the next sideboard card that could see some movement is Shattering Spree. A lot less appealing than Creeping Corrosion due to the $5 buy-in, this nonetheless stands to see some gains.

Burn

Nothing huge included in Modern Masters 2015, though we do get Lightning Bolt at uncommon. Goblin Guide is a huge hole, but I’m not sure how much upside there really is considering that Burn has been the best it’s ever been the last few months and already taken cards like Searing Blaze on a ride up.

That said, Goblin Guide has been moving, and is up to $22. This is one of those Level One cards I was talking about, and I’m not sure how much this is chasing at this point. Could it be $30 soon? Sure, but when you’re buying in at $20+ it may be better to park your money in other options.

Molten Rain is an interesting option, and could be a $4-5 common in six months. On the other hand, it could also fall out of favor and languish at $2. Considering its recent stagnation I think it may be too late on this one, though you should certainly keep an eye on for this one laying around.

Infect

Noble Hierarch makes this instantly more available to play, and several other Phyrexian Mana spells being included makes it that much easier to put together. As we already know, Inkmoth Nexus gained big, Spellskite is being reprinted and Might of Old Krosa continues its crazy run from bulk three years ago to $7 today.

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Is it worth buying into at that price? While it’s likely to continue climbing for awhile still, I’d rather sink my money into other pieces of the deck.

Two of them in particular, that is: Glistener Elf and Blighted Agent.

If you haven’t seen Glistener Elf as a money card yet, I hope you’re ready to change your mind. It’s well on its way up, and has doubled since 2015 began. Yes, we’re only talking about going from a quarter to 60 cents, but this is exactly where Serum Visions began. Where Gitaxian Probe was a year ago. Where Might of Old Krosa once was.

Glistener Elf

Glistener Elf will be our next $3-4 common, and Blighted Agent will trail a little behind. The promo version of Glistener Elf is likely the best buy at $3-4 given how very few there are in stock on TCGPlayer, and this could easily be $10 this summer.

The last piece is Wild Defiance, which has already seen astronomical growth. I don’t mind picking these up at $3, though I suspect it won’t go much higher than $5-6.

Elves

This doesn’t benefit so much from Modern Masters 2015 as it does from Collected Company. That said, we’re seeing the little green men popping their heads up all over Modern, even if it’s flown under the radar a little.

We actually saw large parts of this deck reprinted in Commander 2014, which limits the upside on some pieces like Joraga Warcaller (which despite multiple printings probably is still a safe pickup at its current $3).

But there are some pretty good picks here. One is Chord of Calling, which is super cheap since its reprint and is extremely good in these decks. While we’ve sometimes seen Elf decks go the combo route with Cloudstone Curio, the latest builds have been more of the face-smashing type. Craterhoof Behemoth and Regal Force are too expensive at $15 to be super attractive, but Heritage Druid is going to move from $5 to $10 very quickly. Even better could be the near-bulk Nettle Sentinel, which again is more of a volume play than anything else given it’s available at 50 cents a copy and 0 cents a copy in bulk bins everywhere.

There are, of course, plenty of other cards in Modern that see play that haven’t been reprinted. Restoration Angel, for instance, sees play across archetypes but hasn’t moved in price for awhile. But I believe giving too much information can be as paralyzing as too little, and naming every card in Modern that might go up isn’t particularly actionable. Instead, I tried to hit upon some of the cards that are impacted by recent events and are on my shortlist of cards to keep an eye out for at my store. Remember, when everyone else is worried about Modern Masters 2015 you want to be the guy worried about what isn’t in the set.

What do you think? Anything along these lines that is also a great target right now?

 

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

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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The Things We Do

The day starts at a dark and early 4:30 a.m. I stagger out of bed and stumble to the bathroom, trying hard to not wake up Marianne but doing so anyway thanks to the dogs going crazy, thinking it’s time for breakfast.

A few curses and a stammered apology later, I’m sleepwalking out the front door, the porch light guiding me to the car. A weary drive to the card shop only to wait on the inevitable oversleeper, and the day finally begins.

Four hours in the car, slowly waking up to watch the sun rise over the horizon: a new day filled with new possibilities for a car full of hopefuls. Every passenger is hoping to hit it big. Sweet new tech, a new sideboard card, still more new tech—it’s all a part of the journey, a never-ending grind that doesn’t feel that way when the sun is blazing red and the radio is blasting Eminem.

allsunsdawn

I’ll watch that group today. Check in with them before rounds. Share in their successes, sympathize with their bad beats. Blame the variance of the game when the deck yields one too few or too many lands, and wish them the best as pairings are announced.

But I’m an outsider. That’s their game, not mine. And mine doesn’t give me a break in between rounds.

The adrenaline is working, or maybe it’s the Red Bull. Either way, I sit in the middle of a veritable maelstrom, binders changing hands as quickly as the cardboard cash around me. A Tarmogoyf hits the table, and a stack of fetchlands follow. During a small break in the action, a newcomer approaches the table with a request that doesn’t seem so odd anymore. The next thing I know, an entire foil Affinity deck is sitting on the table for the taking, provided you have the chops to claim it.

I watch it all around me, and what is most striking is that this scene doesn’t strike me as unusual. There was a time when I was the guy anxiously checking the pairings board and praying that the next round is the matchup I need. Instead, I’m moving hundreds of dollars, making it work and working to make it. A dollar here, a throw-in there, a unique piece that I hope to move back home—it all enters my memory as quickly as it leaves their binders.

lilianav

The day finally ends and we meet at the bar, winners and losers alike. Those who made the money or those who scrubbed out after two rounds: it’s all the same to the bartender, that great equalizing force of the world who doesn’t care if you’re out on your 21st birthday or there for your 21st anniversary. The usual awkward “What are you in town for?” follows, and then she asks how the tournament went for us. Mumbles all around, and then she looks at me.

“How did you do?”

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That’s the question, isn’t it? Why do I do this? For all my work, all the cards I moved, what exactly did I accomplish? Sure, I probably made a few dollars, loaded up on a spec for the future, or on a good day, found a new foil for my Merfolk deck, but why did I go through all that to deal with jerks trying to shark me just to find one or two good traders?

If you stop to think about it, this “MTG finance” thing we all do is a little absurd. We all ostensibly got into this game because we enjoy playing it, and here we are taking advantage of others playing the game but not as often partaking in it ourselves. Buying a card at a dollar and watching it go to $3 is certainly enjoyable, but is it really better than taking down a Friday Night Magic tournament? Is it better than trying to strike gold at a PTQ and find yourself on the pro tour?

The answer, for me, is yes.

I haven’t been involved with Magic for nearly as long as many of you. I was introduced to the game around the time Shadowmoor released, and I started really playing around Shards of Alara. In the finance world, that’s ancient times, but in terms of how long I’ve been around Magic, I can’t hold a candle to many of you.

But I do know the finance game. When I began playing, I wanted to make the pro tour, but I ran into a few obstacles. For starters, I have an annoying habit of finishing second at big tournaments. But another problem was that I was often pigeonholed into decks because I couldn’t afford the $50 walletslayers of the day.

cheapass

But like many of you, I found a workaround: trading. I’ve gone into details before about my journey into the niche world of Magic finance, so I won’t rehash that here. Suffice to say that I quickly found that I enjoyed the financial aspect of the game more than playing. Trading was more fun than playing, and building my collection was better than buying packs.

I decided to try my hand at writing about it in the summer of 2010, right in the infancy of “Magic finance” writing, and the rest is history. I found I liked it, and I kept at it. Heavy trading became buying and selling. Today I work as a member of the Wizards of the Coast coverage team and I have a solid business selling cards out of my LGS.

All of that is great, but reading some of the other authors on this site I began to ask myself that same question I’ve heard more than once from a stranger at the bar.

Why do I do this?

Everyone has their own reasons. Sigmund’s is to fund his son’s college education, and he follows daily movements closely, taking the highs and the lows of small specs way more seriously than he should. And he does it all because he knows exactly why he’s doing this, and he’s invested in the outcome. Derek Madlem is pretty far on the other end of the spectrum, focusing much more on the long-term than the quick flips. It’s a different skill but something that takes just as much work as tracking the daily movements, and he does it gladly because it helps him to accomplish his goal of having everything at his disposal.

The reasons we get involved in Magic finance are as numerous as the reasons we got into Magic in the first place. The guy managing a collection for friends. The player who sells his hand-crafted Commander decks to pay for emergency surgery for his beloved pet. The brother who sells his collection to help raise money for his sister in an emergency. The guy trying to better his son’s future.

These are all reasons I’ve seen people engage in what is colloquially known as “Magic finance.” I know and hate the stereotypes that it’s all about making a few quick bucks and screwing over players in the process, because every day I see the opposite.

And that brings me back around to the reason you’re reading this article in the first place. This is my first piece for MTGPrice, and it will be the first of many. In the future you’ll find from me an assortment of theory articles, hot pick-ups for the weekend, set reviews, analytical pieces, and anything else even tangentially related to this field. I’m as plugged into Magic finance as you can get, and I’m not going anywhere. I’ve written for both free and paid audiences before, and I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to have my work be made freely available to as many people as possible.

freeforall

I enjoy writing, and to be honest, I enjoy seeing my name at the top of an article. But none of those things answer the question burning on my mind as I write this.

Why do I do this?

I don’t have a great answer. I’m not socking away anything for my future childrens’ benefit. I don’t have a goal bigger than myself, and having the cards to play any deck I can dream up doesn’t appeal much to me.

The answer is constantly changing. At times I’ve done this to eat lunch in college. I’ve done it to save money to buy Marianne an engagement ring. I’ve done it for the recognition. I’ve done it to foil out my Merfolk deck. And yes, at times I’ve done it for the money.

I don’t know that I’ll ever have the luxury of having an easy answer at the ready. But today I can say this.

I do this for all of you: those who take the time out of their days to read what I write. You’re making a conscious decision to click on and read my article, and that’s something I don’t ever want to lose sight of. I’ve ended every article I’ve ever written with “thanks for reading,” and I’ve meant it every time.

I do this because Magic has given me a lot in my life. When I needed friends, it gave me an avenue to make them. When I needed a break from stresses in my life, it gave that to me. When I wanted to pursue my professional writing dreams, it gave that to me.

And that’s something I want to share. Everyone deserves the same gifts this community has given me, and that’s why I’m a part of this community. Sometimes, a large part of that is offering financial advice that hopefully helps my readers save money or even make a little bit of it on cards.

But I couldn’t still do this after five years if it was all about the calls. Writing is not a job: it’s a part of who I am. Magic is not a game I play, it’s a lifestyle I live. Keeping the two separate is impossible.

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback over the years, both good and bad, but I’ve never received a single piece of feedback more meaningful to me than the time a reader who I had never interacted with before told me, “This article doesn’t make me just care about the cards you wrote about; it makes me care about your life, and I wish you all the best on your way.”

That comment is never far from my mind when I write. I believe good writing is about making connections, and the reader will always be able to tell if you’re truly invested in what you write about. That’s why I’ve always tried to stop myself from holding back, and it’s why I do my best to always respond to every message or question I receive, even if it takes me some time to get to everything. It’s worth it. If someone takes the time to reach out to me, I owe it to him or her to respond.

Because at the end of the day, it’s not about Magic. It’s not about the spiking cards, the reprint risks, or the best way to squeeze out some EV from a box.

It’s about you and me. It’s about the middle schooler learning to play the game and the PTQ grinder with that fire inside and the old pro who is used to playing for world championships. And to me, it always has been.

Great Magic writing is just like great sports writing is just like great news writing. It’s about the people. That’s the view I’ll always hold, and it’s something I’ll never forget when I write, whether I’m doing a story about a high school football game, a set review on the podcast, a deck tech on the mothership, or an off-the-cuff 5:00 a.m. introductory piece on a Magic finance website.

Today, that’s why I do this.

What about you?

 

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

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