Tag Archives: Modern

Common Cents with Aaron Dettmann

Last week I talked about how better, more accurate pricing information provides an advantage when trading. This week I’ll talk about another method to utilize to get an advantage while trading.

A resource that has been very useful to me has been the ProTrader Daily Market Updates I get from MTGPrice. This daily email update lets me know which cards are rising (or falling) sharply in price, so I can join in on the buying action before all the stores realize the trend and raise their prices. In addition to a card price change update, the email also includes a card stock inventory update, which keeps track of various stores’ supply of a card. If the inventory supply of a card goes down by a lot, that’s a good indicator that demand is high and the price is likely to increase. This information is especially useful on Pro-Tour and Grand Prix weekends, as there are often brand new decks that employ previously overlooked cards that will rocket up in price.

One example of when I utilized the ProTrader Update was the weekend of Grand Prix San Diego (Modern format) on March 16th. I woke up on Saturday morning, checked my ProTrader Update email from MTGPrice, and saw this information staring back at me from amongst the cards of interest:

Percent Price Change of Ajani Vengeant Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I thought these numbers were interesting, as Ajani Vengeant had jumped up in price by almost three dollars, and risen by 50% of its value overnight. Next, I scrolled down to check on the Inventory Change of the card and saw this:

Percent Inventory Change of Ajani Vengeant Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This information let me know that the number of cards available to buy on the market had already been halved, and confirmed that demand for Ajani Vengeant had become very strong.

I was now very intrigued by this card, and clicked on the link to take me to the price graphs on MTGPrice, so I could see the history of what is going on with Ajani Vengeant. When I saw the graph, all the stores had kept their prices the same except for ChannelFireball, who overnight had more than doubled their price by raising it from $5 to $12. They alone were responsible for the increase in price on MTGPrice.com. Now remember, I received all this information on Saturday morning before even the first round of the Grand Prix had been played. Since ChannelFireball had drastically raised their price on Ajani Vengeant, I could deduce that the deck their team planned on playing that day both heavily utilized that card, and that they were very confident in their deck choice. The ChannelFireball team was convinced that they would do well at the Grand Prix, and since the new addition to their deck was Ajani Vengeant, they decided to preemptively raise the price of that card on their website.

Since I now knew that team ChannelFireball was going to play Ajani Vengeant at the Grand Prix, I had inside information to guide my buying decisions. When the ChannelFireball team has a deck that everyone on the team likes and plays, they usually get at least one person into the top 8 of that tournament. I put my trust in the team as well, and started buying up all of the Ajani Vengeants from the websites that still had them at low prices. I bought dozens of copies from stores at $3-$5 (depending on which version I bought), and have now sold most of mine away for $8-$10, a tidy profit of $5 per card, more than doubling the money I put into this investment.

The emails I get from the ProTrader Daily Market Updates are a great tool to keep me ahead of pricing changes on cards. As you can see from the example in this article, sometimes you can even figure out which cards pro players are going to use in their decks before the tournament even starts. Use all the information at your disposal to keep ahead of the change in prices.

Bonus PTQ tip:
I expect a lot of Turbo Fog decks in the online standard PTQ on Sunday; it has a terrific matchup against the current bogeyman of the format, Junk Rites. After Turbo Fog placed 2nd in last Saturday’s PTQ, I faced off against it three times in the PTQ the next day. In addition to that, this past week the best bow-tie-wearing magic player Roberto Gonzalez (9th place at Pro Tour Gatecrash) stated he was pretty sure he was playing Fog in the PTQ, and Todd Anderson wrote an article about the deck and played it in the PTQs himself last weekend. The best ways to beat the deck are with Skullcrack (completely dominates the card Fog) in conjunction with being faster than Turbo Fog can set up its’ defenses, discard (although Turbo Fog does bring in 3-4 Witchbane Orbs), or with Planeswalkers.

Common Cents with Aaron Dettmann

A Season for Selling

Second Sunrise. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast.
Second Sunrise. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast.

Now is the time to sell off all of your Modern cards. Why, you may ask? Two reasons: the Modern PTQ season is near its end, and because Modern Masters will be printed soon.

Most people are aware of the ebb and flow of Standard card prices, rising as States and the Standard PTQ season approaches, and falling as the season finishes. This ebb and flow of prices holds doubly true for Modern, as there are a lot fewer tournaments outside of the PTQs to affect their prices. Virtually every card that has seen play in Modern has gone up in price since the end of summer, many by a significant amount.

Some examples of cards that have doubled or more in prices since the end of summer:

Even the all-star cards you haven’t regularly been hearing about have still gone up in price by a good amount. You would have still made a solid profit if you invested in cards such as: 

My point is that there were very few poor investments when buying Modern cards before the PTQ season started. You could pretty much choose whichever Modern playable cards you wanted to buy, and made a profit on them.

The other reason to sell off your Modern cards now, besides the fact that the PTQ season is nearing its end, is because Modern Masters is soon going to see print. Now, I acknowledge that long term Modern Masters will overall raise the price on Modern cards, as it piques interest in the format. However, some high priced Modern cards will be reprinted in that set, which will increase card availability, decreasing the price on those cards in the short term. Conversely, any cards that aren’t reprinted in that set should see their price remain steady or eventually go up. However, I don’t really feel like playing roulette on guessing which cards will be reprinted, and which ones won’t. Instead, I’ll just trade or sell all of my Modern cards now so I don’t risk them dropping in value if they’re reprinted. And as for the Modern cards I want that aren’t reprinted in Modern Masters, I’ll just trade or buy them back for the same price that I got rid of them (remember, Modern Masters is being released during the slow season for Modern, so there won’t be an immediate frenzied demand for any Modern cards). The net result will be your breaking even on the Modern cards that aren’t reprinted, and saving yourself from losing money on the cards that were reprinted and dropped in price.

Now, with all this being said, in the long term I expect Modern card prices to stay firm or rise yet more, even the ones reprinted in Modern Masters. This is because new players are discovering this game every day, which keeps increasing demand for cards they don’t have. A year from now, I’m confident Modern card prices will be similar to what they are now, or even higher. However, short term, as Modern Masters is released and the Modern PTQ season ends, the reprinted cards will dip in price.

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. (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.


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