Going Infinite – MTGO Check In And Modern Speculation

Jonathan Medina is an MTG financial expert and talks about the finances of Magic Online and adds some speculation on the new Modern format by Wizards. Is it right to speculate on the format now?

It’s been a busy week for me. I’ve been organizing the TTT and working on my MTGO bot. Since we talked about the TTT last week, this week
we’re going to talk about MTGO, and then I’ll squeeze some thoughts about the possible new format in at the end.

I recently bought two MTGO collections. The thing that sucks about buying MTGO collections is that it’s a lot of work to find out if you can or
will make any money on it. You spend a lot of time with the CSV of the collection, pricing things and calculating margins. I know that the pros of the
industry are reading this and laughing at me, since I’m sure that they use an automated process to price collections and calculate their margins.

Thankfully for you, the pros won’t share their trade secrets with me, so you get the benefit of my sorting through hundreds of MTGO card prices.
As I go through these collections, I come across cards that feel underpriced to me. Here are some Legacy picks that I’d recommend picking up on

Llawan, Cephalid Empress 3.5
– This is currently up a ticket from a month ago. It’s currently sold out of the big name bots, and it’s getting tough to find.
Merfolk will inevitably be a contender in the MTGO metagame. It’ll happen either when Submerge gets printed or even sooner when Dismember gets
printed. Once Merfolk becomes a respectable deck on MTGO, then the demand for this card will be crazy high, and if they’re sold out now, then the price
is going to skyrocket.

Chrome Mox 5.95
– This card is sold out at $15 on StarCityGames.com, which is a good indicator of the paper market. It’s important to note that MTGO does
not mirror the paper market. The first reason is that cards are not lost or destroyed on MTGO (though set redemption does affect the supply in a small
way). The second reason is that card prices are driven heavily by tournament results. This is why I like Chrome Mox as an investment. Chrome Mox has
always sporadically shown up in different Legacy decklists, from Enchantress to Ad Nauseam Tendrils; recently, it’s shown up in the Tezzeret
Control list that Drew Levin was running. The deck seems pretty solid in the meta, which is saturated with Mental Misstep, and if it ever becomes the
deck to beat, these will be in high demand.

I’m not big on speculation, so for situations like this, it’s always nice to have a backup plan. In this case, the backup plan is the slow and
steady rise of all Legacy cards on MTGO. Legacy is growing in a big way. You can see this in the price of Force of Will (150) and Lion’s Eye
Diamond (110), which until a couple of weeks ago were impossible to get. As more people buy into the format, the supply will dry up, and the prices
will rise.

Horizon Canopy 3.75
– This card is currently below the radar in Legacy, both in paper and MTGO. It has been used in Zoo, Stax, New Horizons, and even some control
decks with Crucible of Worlds. This has proven itself as a format staple, and the supply will continue to diminish. Pick these up if you can find them;
after checking the MTGO bots, you’ll see that these are hard to find. The key concept to understand here is that because this card is under the
radar, the scarcity in supply is a natural scarcity. The bots haven’t been raided by all the speculators yet, but when they are, then you can
expect a price bump.

Peacekeeper 4.75
– This card is already hiking in value, and if it finds a solid place in the sideboard of Landstill, then you can expect silly things from this,
pricewise. The other thing that affects card prices on MTGO is how much the set is drafted. Weatherlight is a good example of a set that was
under-drafted. If you look at other solution cards from the same set (Null Rod, 38), then you can see the ceiling for cards like this. I’m not saying
that this is going to be 38 tomorrow, but there’s a lot of space between 4.75 and 38, and there’s a lot of potential for growth here; the paper version
is already at $10+.

These are the pickups that I recommend on MTGO. Go and raid those bots! Before I get out of here for the week, I want to talk about the news that has
everyone in the MTG community talking.


For those of you who don’t know, Wizards of the Coast announced a new format for the Community Cup tournament. You can read the official announcement here. This format will be a Constructed
format that includes 8th Edition to M11 and Mirrodin Block to Scars of Mirrodin. Needless to say, with all the hate for Extended out there, this format
stirs up a lot of hope in people who would like to see Extended replaced with something better. Naturally, wherever there’s hope, there are


I could do what I’m sure a lot of financial writers will do and give you a list of cards that would be good pickups for the Modern format, but
I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to go against the grain here and say, “Don’t speculate on Modern. (But if you do, see
below.)” I’ve always said that “one bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush.” There are two reasons why I follow this

The first reason is that a window will always exist. In other words, there will be a time between when Modern is confirmed as a paper format (if this
happens) and when it’s fully adopted by the community. In that time, the price of singles will still be unaffected. This is the perfect time to
swoop in and pick up the Modern staples that you think will make a splash in the format. The problem here is that the window is small, and it gets
smaller as the information travels.

The second reason that I follow the logic above is because we don’t even know whether Modern will be a format that players will be able to
access. It’s possible that after the Community Cup tournament, WotC might just discontinue the format. It’s also possible that they make
the format an online-only format. If either of these things happens, then buying up modern stock in paper puts you in the unfortunate situation of
having stock that you can’t move.

How to Respond to Modern

If you like to “let it ride” or like to see things decided by the roll of the dice, then you don’t have to totally abstain from
speculating on Modern. I’m choosing not to, but I still understand the urge to be a cowboy and try to catch lightning in a bottle. The best that I can
do is to show you the safe way to speculate. If you do speculate, it should be as described below.

1)   Trade for cards that you know you’ll move anyway. You have to be careful here because most things that are tied to the new format
will have a speculation premium attached. This means you have to know last week’s prices of the cards that you want to pick up. A good example of
the type of cards that you should be looking at is Ravnica Shock duals. These can be traded to cube makers, Commander players, and other Modern
speculators. Another one is Dark Confidant; this one is really hot because of Legacy, but he’ll also be insane in Modern.

2)   Use MTGO to bid on low-ticket cards that you can pick up in bulk. My buddy Sam Stod did this with Hypergenesis. He picked up a couple of
hundred at .08 each. He invested 16 tickets into something that can pay off in a big way. I don’t encourage this kind of stock play, but I cannot
deny their ability to make you money if you hit them right. MTGO speculation is much safer than paper speculation in this case because the format will
most likely come to MTGO first, and the stock is easier to move if the speculation doesn’t pan out (you can just dump to bots.)

The important thing to understand here is that the speculation on this format alone will do funny things to the market. Be aware of this and navigate
it. Instead of speculating, I used this opportunity to sell a bunch of stock that has been otherwise unmovable. Moving that stock is worth more to me
then the money that I could get if Modern becomes a format, and I could be back to square one if the Modern stuff doesn’t pan out. This is
definitely the safer route.

I hope that this look at speculation has helped to put things in perspective for you. Here are a couple of paper cards for which you should know the

Stifle $18
– On site at SCG Open: Louisville, these were selling at $22+. They are sold out at $18 on SCG, and it seems that people are still shipping them
at $12ish.

Mental Misstep Foil $50
– This is sold out at SCG at $40 and sold out on FindMagicCards.com. The TTT shipped six of these at $50 on Saturday at the SCG Open in
Louisville. This is easily $50 in trade, maybe more when Mental Misstep goes up again.

Beast Within Foil $15
– Yeah, I didn’t realize that this was that high either. Keep a look out for these; people ship them at $2-$3.

Thanks for reading, see you next week.

Jonathan Medina
Twitter: http://twitter.com/mtgmetagame