A couple of weeks ago, I got into a debate with a friend about whether or not Griselbrand would get banned in Legacy. I was of the opinion that Griselbrand wasn’t degenerate enough to get banned. He thought otherwise.
"Besides," he told me, "why should I trust your opinion on Griselbrand? You said in your set review that he was going to come down in price." Â
"Not true." I said. "Go back and check againâ€”I pegged him at fifteen bucks. That’s spot on."
"No you didn’t," he replied. "You said to sell."
At this point, the phones came out and we checked the text from my original article. To my surprise, he was right. While I had called $15 as Griselbrand’s long-term price, I had indeed pegged him to drop from $9.99 to $7.99 in the short term. In the two months that passed since I wrote the article, I had completely forgotten about this hedge and had simply remembered ‘correctly’ predicting a value of $15 for the card somewhere in the article. But there it was, published on StarCityGames.com for everyone (with a Premium account) to see. Not only had I been wrong; I thought that I had been right.
Next week, I am going to unleash my M13 financial review article upon the world. Before I do, though, I want to take one more look at Avacyn Restored and see how well I did in predicting the set’s short-term value. Was Griselbrand an isolated incident, or was my last set review a cringe-worthy comedy of errors? Were there any huge mistakes in evaluation that I can fix for my M13 review?
Most importantly, are people making money by listening to my advice?
Most of my writing is hard to quantify, since I believe in analyzing trends and helping people make informed decisions as opposed to blindly telling you which cards I think you should buy. Set reviews are different, thoughâ€”in those articles, my opinions are easy to quantify. So in order to gauge how well I did in reviewing Avacyn Restored, I came up with the following as a grading system:
- +1 point for any card I predicted the correct trajectory for, even if I was off by the amount it rose or fell. If a card rose from $4.99 to $9.99 and I predicted a short-term rise to $5.99, I’d still get a point.
- +2 points for fulfilling the same criteria as above, except I had to nail the current price within a $2 margin of error.
- Â +3 points for correctly calling a major sleeper that no one else was talking about. For example, if I had called Wolfir Silverheart a ‘must buy,’ that would have been a three point play.
- No gain for any $2-or-less rare that is still a $2-or-less rare unless I predicted it would end up being worth more. I don’t want to pad my stats with obvious calls on bulk rares.
- No gain for any rare that moved in value when I had predicted it would stay stable at its release priceâ€”even if I correctly called the direction of the price as my ‘long term’ prediction.
- -1 point for picking the wrong trajectory of a card but staying within a $2 margin of error. If a card started at $4.99, I predicted it would stabilize $5.99, and it actually ended up at $3.99, I’m docked a point.
- -2 points for picking the wrong trajectory and being way off on the final price. Boo me!
- -3 points for making a risky call that bombed horribly. For example, if I had said that Tamiyo, the most hyped card in the set, would have a short-term value of under $10, I would have lost three points for making such an obviously lousy prediction.
At the end of the article, I’ll tally all my points up and see how I did. If my point total is significantly above zero, we’ll know that I am awesome and you should buy me a beer. If I’m sub-zero, well, uh, let’s just say that I’ll be working extra hard not to make the same mistakes for M13.
The Mythic Rares
I predicted that Tamiyo would see a small amount of play in Standard and thrive as a casual all-star. So far, the market has borne out my prediction. While I overshot her price drop by $5, I believe that I was correct in my evaluation that her set of abilities just aren’t that good in the current iteration of Standard. That may change over the next year, though, so Tamiyo’s value is still worth watching out for.
By predicting that this card would drop to $20, I was mostly hedging my bets against the opinion of several Legacy experts who assured me that it was as broken in the format as feared. For my part, I thought there was no way Wizards would allow a card like Time Walk to take over an entire format and thought that it would likely drop much lower than that.
That said, I’m still kind of shocked that Temporal Master has dropped so far so quickly. I thought it would slide a little slower, much like Tamiyo ended up doing. This seems to say a lot about the sway that casual player have on the market. Temporal Mastery isn’t very good in random kitchen table decks, while Tamiyo is excellent. Even though both are somewhat playable in tournaments, the more exciting casual card has the significant premium.
I feel a little bad giving myself a point for this since my review did include the line, "When the dust has settled, I wouldn’t be shocked if little Tibalt is the standout planeswalker of this set." Uh, whoops. In my defense, you could gamble on worse things than a two-mana planeswalker, right?
Regardless, Tibalt seems like a fine buy at $4.99 right now. He still might find a home somewhere, and $5 is pretty much the bottom of the market for planeswalkers in under-printed sets. Sarkhan the Mad is probably a worse card in a set that isn’t legal in Standard, and he’s still worth a solid $5.
So far, you’d have done quite well following my advice on what to buy (nothing) and what to sell (everything)â€”even though I’ve done a poor job at predicting what prices these cards will actually end up being worth. Unfortunately for me, things get tougher the further down this list we go.
I’m kind of shocked that Sigarda, Host of Herons is cheaper than Avacyn, Angel of Hope at this point ; Sigarda is a far better card, and she’s shown up in winning decklists to boot! Much like with Tamiyo and Temporal Mastery, casual play seems to be the answer here. Avacyn appeals to a wider array of spell slingers, and she’s a dominant force in schoolyard Magic.
I’m still kicking myself over this one, especially because I predicted a long-term price of $15 for Griselbrand and said this about the card:
"I fully expect Griselbrand and Sigarda, Host of Herons (not to mention Avacyn herself) to switch places on this list. Griselbrand is one of the best cards in the set, and his price will soon reflect that. While Griselbrand is arguably even narrower in application to Sigarda, Host of Herons, he’s also quite a lot more powerful and I’d be shocked if he doesn’t see at least a little Legacy play. Drawing seven cards immediately is outstandingly good, and the fact that you can do it right when Griselbrand comes into play makes him a premier reanimation target Expect Griselbrand to walk a similar line to Iona, Shield of Emeria. He’ll come down a bit while the set is being drafted and supply outstrips demand, but I expect he’ll settle in as one of the five best cards in Avacyn Restored down the line."
While I expected Griselbrand would see Legacy play, I didn’t expect him to immediately start dominating the format while also being an excellent role-player in Standard. Sigh.
I’m absolutely floored that Gisela, Blade of Goldnight is one of the few mythic rares not to fall in value. If you had asked me before the set came out which of my mythic rare predictions I was most confident about, this would have been right near the top of the list. Again, casual appeal trumps playability, and I seem to have underestimated this across the board so far. She’s also not a bad Reanimation target herself, but she’s overshadowed by Griselbrand’s awesome power.
Phewâ€”I’m back on track just in time. While I only get one point for this call, I did say that I felt Entreat was better than Temporal Mastery and one of the four or five best cards in the set.
If you picked your playset up on the strength of my recommendation, you’re probably pretty happy right about now.
Much like with Griselbrand, I was far too conservative with my short-term predictions. I called $15 long term for both cards, and both rose in price much quicker than I had anticipated.
For years, red mythics and rares have constantly underperformed in terms of value. Shockingly, Bonfire of the Damned is tied for the most expensive card in the set, and it shows no sign of slowing down. This card is likely to be a dominant force Standard for the year to come.
The ‘red-ness’ of this card is what cautioned me from predicting bigger things, and I modified my prediction from $9.99 short term/$15.99 long term down to $6.99/$9.99 right before I submitted my article because of this. I still take solace in the fact that I thought this card was massively underrated and bought a set for myself before the price went up. Hopefully you did too.
This Angel tanked even harder than expected, mostly because you need to build a deck around her for it to be good at all. While casual Boros players can slot Gisela into all of their existing decks, Bruna requires you to play a lot of aurasâ€”not the most popular type of permanentâ€”to get any benefit out of her ability. I should have predicted a bigger drop, but I figured that her status as an Angel would keep her out of bulk mythic territory.
So far, the biggest mistake I seem to be making in my set review is lacking the confidence to predict big gains and losses. Magic prices move very quickly nowadays, and most of my long-term predictions are more accurate today than what I had pegged as their short-term movement. Next time around, I will stick to my guns and make riskier predictions that involve swingier price movement in both directions.
Now we’re talking! My first two-point play on a card that many thought would spawn a sweet new combo deck along with Food Chain. That didn’t happen.
I thought this card would see some play as a two-of finisher in Standard ramp decks. For a brief period of time I was right. This card was sold out at $3.99 and was a hot commodity on the trading floor thanks to an appearance in a few Standard decks at SCG Open Series events.
Unfortunately for my prediction, other cards ended up filling this niche a little better and the Behemoth is heading back toward bulk territory.
Malignus / Primal Surge / Descent Into Madness
No gain or loss for me here. I didn’t think any of these cards would pan out, and none of them did. Not a shocker.
At the end of the mythic round, I’m up five points total. Most of my gains have been on the strength of predicting correct trends, where I nailed nine of the twelve non-bulk mythics. Of the three I missed, one was a card I correctly predicted was a long-term gainer and another was a card that was briefly hot. The thirdâ€”and my biggest missâ€”was Gisela.
My first dead-on price prediction! I called Cavern of Souls as the best overall card in the set regardless of rarity. While it seems a foregone conclusion now, a lot of financial experts were predicting that this card was overexposed and overrated. I still like this card to maintain a $25+ value long term, and anyone who likes tournament Magic should get themselves a set sooner rather than later.
Much like Griselbrand, this was another instance of me not backing up my conviction with correct numbers. I was such a believer in this card that I ranked it as the second best rare in the set and said that it had a long-term value of $6.99. The problem is that I overestimated the effect of the FNM release promos and assumed that the market would experience a short-term saturation. Not so. As the band Devo once said, "Later is now." By hedging on the short-term price, I undercut my belief in the card and it cost me.
I can pretty much copy the Restoration Angel paragraph and paste it here. I knew this card was going down (I predicted a long-term value of $9.99 and falling), but I thought the massive hype would keep the price inflated through the release of M13. Nopeâ€”people realized the truth about this guy pretty quickly, and his value plummeted.
It turns out the horde of 1/1 flyers didn’t need a guy that costs 1WWW to help them out; they were up to the task by themselves.
At least I got this one completely correct, allowing me to keep my head just above water. I actually think Terminus has a little room to grow still, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see it hit $7.99 next season.
Again I refused to follow my instincts, and again I got burned. As I stated in my review, my first impressions of this card were negative and I was turned around by people predicting good things for storm in Modern. Of course, there hasn’t been a Modern season since this was printed, so it’s possible that no one has innovated much with it yet, but the early returns haven’t been promising. So far, though, this was a big miss.
I’m docking myself the full two points on this one because I predicted the Lighthouse would go up in the long term, which was clearly wrong. Even though this card is powerful in the right deck, it simply proved too narrow to be worth much.
Myth confirmed: Chas overvalues utility lands.
If the Mythbusters were triple checking to see if I overvalued utility lands, this is the part of the episode where they would put a lot of dynamite on my collection and blow it up while laughing at me.
A pertinent question: why don’t I read what I write before predicting prices? "This should be a $5 card at least," I wrote in my article. Then I predicted a short-term price of just $3.99. I think I must have been engaging in some type of elaborate self-sabotage.
Again, I was too conservative with my prediction on a card I believed in. I called this one at $2.99 long term (and I called Silverblade at $4.99 long term), so I clearly have a sense of where these cards are heading. I’m just bad at, uh, figuring out when they’re heading there.
This card still seems terrible to me. Unlike with Vexing Devil, however, the power level of this spell seems to have overcome the curse of the punisher mechanic. Killing Wave has some staying power, and it might even be underrated at the moment.
This is another surprising card that I liked, but not enough to predict a real value increase.
To be generous, I did rank this as the 21st best rare in the set and said, "Twelve power for five mana is just a bonkers amount of power. It’s no higher on the list because it’s nothing more than a big green monster, but sometimes that’s enough. Don’t be shocked if this is finally the guy who makes a card like this good."
All of the other cards on the list were predicted to stay at $2 or below. All of them have, so I’m leaving them well enough alone for the purposes of this article. Predicting that a $1.00 card is going up to $1.50 or down to $0.75 isn’t very useful to anyone.
At any rate…let’s see how I did:
Final Score: 0 Points
Yuck. In the end, my set review broke even. That came as a shock to me; I felt like I had done better than that. Were my predictions really that far off? Did my misses really even out my hits?
Before putting this review to bed, I decided to use a different method of evaluation. This time, I went through and only looked at the cards I predicted would go up in value over the short term. Assuming you bought four copies of each of those cards when my article went up and sold them today at full retail, here’s what would have happened to your money:
Value at Purchase: $107.64
Value at Sale: $289.64
Profit Made: $182.00
That number looks a whole lot prettier than zero, doesn’t it?
I only recommended a few cards as short term gainers: Entreat the Angels, Bonfire of the Damned, Craterhoof Behemoth, Terminus, Silverblade Paladin, Ulvenwald Tracker, Devine Deflection, Devastation Tide, and Zealous Conscripts Â Of those cards, only two went down in price: Craterhoof Behemoth and Ulvenwald Tracker. Both only dropped by 50 cents each. A third card, Devastation Tide, stayed stable at $1.50.
The other six cards went up in price.
If you had extended your purchasing to cards that I had predicted would go up in value over the long haul, you’d have hit on Restoration Angel and Griselbrand as well. Of course, most of my other long term predictions have yet to bear fruitâ€”there are a lot of casual cards (like the utility lands) that I still think have a solid shot to rise when the set goes out of print.
Overall, only eleven cards in Avacyn Restored have had significant increases in value since they were released. While I may not have done well in pegging how where there prices would end up, I did a fine job in identifying which cards in the set were worth investing in.
Lessons for the Future
In reviewing my review, a few main things stood out to me in terms of what I can do better.
I am too conservative when it comes to predicting what value each card will settle at and when. Many times, I assumed that cards would end up within a buck or two of their presale value even though I had a strong opinion about them one way or another. Next time, I will try to avoid anchoring my predictive prices so closely to prices at release.
In addition, I overestimated the price of cool, narrow cards that aren’t likely to have much demand. Desolate Lighthouse might be awesome, but it’s a rare, not a mythic, and it can only go in decks that run both blue and red. The law of supply and demand should have been hitting me over the head when I was predicting this would settle in the $3 range.
I also forgot to factor in recent history when evaluating casual cards. For example, Gavony Township is a wonderful casual card that was easy to find at $0.49 for quite a while. A year later, it’s up to $1.99. While casual mythics like Avacyn and Gisela stay higher than expected, the rares often aren’t worth more than bulk prices for their first year of Standard playability; there are more than enough to meet demand while the set is being drafted. You don’t get that, "Wait, this is worth how much?" reaction until at least a year down the line, if not more. I got too cute in trying to predict these kinds of cards, and so far it’s cost me.
Overall, though, I am happy with my Avacyn Restored set review. I bought sets of each of the three mythics I thought had room to grow, and I know several other people who did the same. Those people all made a substantial amount of money or got significantly closer to their post rotation deck.
Of course, you’re only as good as your latest picks. Join me next week, when I tackle M13!
Until next time—