I have a confession to make: I don’t know that much about economics. I can’t explain stock market trends or retirement investments portfolios – truth be told, I don’t even balance the books in my own house; my wife does that. I figured why not let the person with the degree in accounting deal with the money? It seemed like the right play. This raises the question: without intricate knowledge of finances, how in the hell did I become one of the Money Men of Magic? It’s because I understand people.
Money doesn’t have a mind of its own. It doesn’t have a will or a personality. It has no preferences and no opinions; people on the other hand, they have all these things. People are the ones that control the money. This may seem like an obvious statement, but a lot of people don’t get this. Many people have this idea that card prices come from some ultimate source of truth, which is false. Prices come from people. This means two things:
You can set any price if you can convince people it’s worth it.
People’s perceptions create the market and create room for investment.
These are the two things that I want to talk about today. The first of the two has little to do with the bigger topic, but it’s something I want to cover while we’re on the topic of gaining value from people’s perceptions. The bigger topic is this idea of watching people to read the market; I’m going to talk about this with regard to Legacy, but first let’s talk about perception in a smaller sense.
After scrubbing out of the Kentucky Open last weekend, I decided to hit the trade tables. There were a lot of people looking for Extended cards for the Winter King tournament that was going on the next day. I was kicking myself because I left my Merfolk uncommons at home. Luckily for me, I ran into a guy who was building a red deck, so I actually had some cards that I could offer. We talked about options for his deck as he pulled out the typical staples: Figure of Destiny, Hellspark Elemental, Flame Javelin, and so on. After about ten minutes of shopping the binder, he stacked the cards up and said, “I think that’s it. Can you think of anything else that would make my deck better?”
This is where some people fail at trading; it’s when you need to switch gears from binder tour guide to salesman. For every salesman, it’s important to know your product, and Magic is no different. This is why knowledge of different formats is so important because you have to be able to “sell” a card based on its strengths. I searched my mind, and I flipped through my binder. I remembered that Fulminator Mage had seen some play in Extended last year and in Lorwyn Standard. I checked my inventory box and then offered him the option. This is how the conversation went.
Me: You might want to try Fulminator Mage; it blows ups non-basic lands so you can keep you opponent off their splash colors. Not to mention it beats.
Him: Do you think it’ll be good? (At first he doesn’t buy it.)
Me: Murmuring Bosk defined the format at the Pro Tour. I assume that this would be really good; imagine screwing your opponent out of casting their Doran or their Kitchen Finks. (Did you notice that I used examples of cards that red players hate to see?)
Him: How many do you have? (He’s buying into it, but he doesn’t want to trade for just one. This is why I check the inventory before offering.)
Him: How much do you want for them?
Me: Three dollars each. (I remembered seeing them for $1.50 on
a week before this trade when I was doing Extended research.)
He struggled with the price a bit, as he should, since they sell for less than $2 retail. The advantage that I had was that it was the night before the tournament. Typically this advantage is really effective when you’re talking about a card that’s necessary for the deck, but how did Fulminator Mage become necessary to the deck? Salesmanship; I’d convinced him that he needed this card for his deck.
By mentioning Murmuring Bosk, I capitalized on something that is typical for Magic players’ “Best-Case Scenario Thinking” otherwise known as “the Conley Woods syndrome” (see Magical Christmas Land). Magic players want to believe that their cards are going to exist in the best-case scenario. Even I’m susceptible to this kind of thinking; all I want to do is kill someone with a Necrotic Ooze and Gigantomancer. We know what’s really going to happen is that I’m going to end up with a four-Gigantomancer hand with no Oozes and no discard outlet. Even though we know that best-case scenarios aren’t practical, we still want to believe in them.
Using these scenarios is a great way to generate excitement when “selling” a card in trade. The more that your trade partner believes in the best-case scenario, the more value you’ll be able to get out of your cards. This concept becomes further solidified if a bystander joins the conversation to support the idea of the best-case scenario. That’s what happened here, and before long, my trade partner was picturing blowout games with his new MVP Fulminator Mage. After our conversation, he was more than happy to trade for the Mages at three. It’s all about perception.
Two: Legacy Perception
On a bigger scale, you can see perception affecting the prices of cards in Legacy. This is why I always make a point to talk to people about different formats and different cards. Because it’s the guy next to you and how he votes with his money, that’s going to affect the market. The perception of the general audience right now is that Survival is the most important card in Legacy, and the price of Survival is through the roof. People are in a
paralytic state about what to invest in. A couple of weeks back, I talked about Survival of the Fittest in
In case you didn’t get the memo, here it is.
Don’t invest in Survival right now; wait until December 20 for the banned and restricted announcement.
Since all eyes are on Survival at the moment, this gives us an opportunity to pick up the cards that people are not focusing on, cheap. Here’s a list of cards that I see as solid investments.
– Since this card rotated out of Extended, people have been undervaluing it. This card is necessary in both Storm and Enchantress in Legacy. Most of the time you can offer $10 on this card and get it, and it’s easy to move at $14.
– This is an uncommon, but it’s everywhere! Everything from Counterbalance decks to Survival of the Fittest decks are running it. Since artifacts and enchantments are a big part of Legacy, I expect this to continue to appreciate in value. Not to mention it’s a great EDH card.
– This card has a long but unnoticed history. It started to see play in Mono-White Stax as a draw engine with Crucible of Worlds; then it snuck into other decklists like, Zoo, Survival, and New /Dark Horizons. I expect this card to slowly rise in price as the popularity of Legacy grows. Pick them up now while they’re under $4.
– If Survival gets banned, this will be the go-to spell to get your Vengevines into the graveyard. This card also spikes in value whenever 42lands.dec is popular. Right now, it’s in one of its low periods, so it’s a good time to pick them up.
– The Affinity deck is pretty close to being good in Legacy. It gained Mox Opal and Memnite from Scars of Mirrodin, and I have a feeling that a combination of the upcoming BR announcements and Mirrodin Besieged may make room in the meta for Affinity. If that happens, then Null Rod will start to see more love in sideboards. The card has already started to see some play in sideboards of decks that want to turn off Tormod’s Crypt and other graveyard-hate artifacts.
Show and Tell
– I, like many other Legacy players, thought that this deck was too cute, but the time for doubt has passed. I expect this deck to be a player in the Legacy metagame, and as a result, Show and Tell will maintain its value. Depending on the popularity of the deck, we might see a small price spike. This will also affect the price of Ancient Tomb.
– This was one of my favorite cards when it was in Standard. It goes in a Legacy deck called Team America; the deck focuses on tempo plays with cards like Sinkhole, Thoughtseize, Daze, and Force of Will. It wins with one of its Future Sight fatties. Team America recently
a StarCityGames.com Open, and I expect some interested to be generated in this deck again.
That’s it for this week. I hope you all have a rocking Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for your readership and for this great opportunity to write on SCG. See you next week!