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Going Infinite – The Secret Shortage And Checking The Levels

Monday, February 28 – The secret about one of the best equipment in Magic is out! What’s happening lately in the world of Magic finance? Jon Medina is the expert you should turn to. Find out the state of the rares in Standard.

I was sitting at the baller table at GP Atlanta with Saito and John Donovan. I had three deals going on at once. The first deal was for two of my foil
Squadron Hawks; I regret trading those now because I recently saw someone trade for foil Squadron Hawks at $8 each! That’s ludicrous when you can buy
them for under $3. The second deal was the big one; I was trading off a piece of power. Someday, I’ll have to write about all the intricacies of
trading away a piece of power; that sounds like a great article topic, but today, I want to talk about the third deal.

In the midst of my tradestravaganza, I noticed that there was a guy hanging out nearby. I always try to ask people if I can be of service, even if I’m
in a trade. I don’t want them to feel like they’re getting the cold shoulder. Once I had a moment, I looked over at him and said, “Hey bro, did you
want to trade too?”

“I’m actually just looking for a Sword of Fire and Ice.”

“I have a foil one up in the room.” I said this without lifting my eyes from the binder that I was looking at.

“I’ll take it.” He sounds less than pleased, probably because he knew that he’d have to pay more for the foil.

“Okay, well it’s going to be a minute. I have to finish these trades before I can go up to the room.”

“Okay, I’ll wait.”

He waited, and waited, then waited some more. Finally, I broke free and made the hike to the room. I ripped through one of my Commander decks, looking
for the shiny Darksteel rare. It was sitting in my Linvala deck. I took it out of the sleeve to inspect for blemishes. I always do this for foils, so
that I can give my trade partner a heads up if there are any issues.

All systems were go! I slid it into my “new trades” box and made my way back down to the hall. I didn’t know the price of the card, so I pondered the
topic, while I rode the escalator down. The fact that the guy waited around through all those other trades told me that he wanted the card badly, and
he probably had already made his way through the venue looking for one.

This illustrates a point that I think is crucial to understand. Every venue is its own self-contained mini-market, and every trade is managed by that
market. If I were one of the only guys in the venue with an available Sword of Fire and Ice, then essentially, I set the price. As I started to
approach the table, I noticed that he was gone.

I sat down and started another trade. I opened my trade partner’s binder to find a host of goodies. I pulled out some pimp cards that struck my fancy.
No more than four pages into the binder, there was a foil Sword of Fire and Ice. I pulled it out and threw it into the pile. It caught Donovan’s eye as
he was working on a trade. He looked up for a second in contemplation; I assume he was asking himself if he could use another one in one of his
Commander decks or something. He reached across and took the foil out of my pile and set it in a new “pile.”

I smiled, “You want that?”

He shrugged, “I’m interested in it.”

Like a true master, Donovan tried not to tip his hand, but I knew better. He really wanted the sword. I set it back into my pile and said “I’ll get it
for you.” Which really means, “You can’t have it without paying a finder’s fee.” Before I could finish the trade, the guy who was looking for the SoFI
came back. I don’t know where he went, but to this day, it still remains a mystery.

He picked up the Sword to inspect it. “Is this it?” he asked. I said, “That’s actually this guy’s.” I pointed to my trade partner. I followed that up
with, “If you want to trade for it, be my guest. I won’t be offended.” He seemed interested, so I scooted my chair over. “Why don’t you guys work
something out real quick, since I’m going to be a while.” They worked out a trade while I talked to Donovan. Before I talk about the fate of my foil
Sword of Fire and Ice, let’s see what we can glean from this story.

Nuggets of Truth

This story is my convoluted way of bringing up the topic of Sword of Fire and Ice. I know I probably should’ve just started with something like “Hey,
how about them Swords of Fire and Ice?” But you know me; I like to talk! Instead of totally wasting five minuets of your life, I was sure to
incorporate some nuggets of truth that you might need to be reminded of.

Everything Is For Trade
– Did you notice that I took the foil Sword out of my Commander deck? That’s right; nothing is sacred. If there is value in trading cards that you
“own,” you should be open to it. Emotional attachment to cards can cost you opportunities.

Don’t Tip Your Hand
– Donavan did a good job of trying to hide his strong desire to get the Sword. The reason that he did this is that he knows that once someone knows
that you need something, it puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiation. It’s like taking your car to the mechanic. The mechanic knows that
you need a safe car to travel in, so they get to charge you outrageous amounts of money for their service. Man, I hate taking my car to the shop!

Keep Your Options Open
– Why did I allow the guy to trade for the other foil sword that I was looking at? It would’ve been easy to trade him my sword or to strong-arm and
pick up the other Sword. Instead, I opted to make everyone happy. The guy who wanted the sword was happy because he got the sword, and my trade partner
was happy because he got to make a deal for one of his cards. This also allowed me to keep my foil Sword to trade to Donovan, who I knew needed it.

Donovan always has bigger stuff that I want, so it was nice to have something chunky to throw in the mix, bonus points for being something that he
wants. I know that if I don’t have something that he really wants, then I’ll have to trade him “value,” which means that I’ll more likely lose money.
So in this case, keeping the Sword was also protection from losing money in the future trade with Donovan.

The Fate of My Foil Sword

Later that night, I said goodbye to my foil Sword of Fire and Ice. It was part of a massive deal, as I expected that it would be, but here’s the twist. It was a total misplay!

I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out that these swords are quickly becoming short in supply. I recently found this out when I wanted to
acquire two of these for the Legacy Kuldotha Forgemaster deck, a deck that I have affectionately named ROBOTS! I thought that finding these swords
would be an easy task, since it always seemed like people had them in their binders, but when I came down to actually getting them, I was sorely
disappointed.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t own every card; when I need cards for a deck, I’ll send out a couple of emails to people who I know will give me
sick deals. They’re always pretty well stocked. I call ’em my suppliers because calling them makes me feel like a Columbian drug lord. I’ve always
wanted to be a Columbian drug lord — but like a good one. Not one who is good at being a drug lord, but one who’s like Robin Hood. The hero of
Columbian drug lords if you will. Anyway, my suppliers got back to me with similar responses.

“I’m all out of those.”

Does Anyone Have Swords!?

This worried me a bit because if they don’t have them, then something is up. I started to make the digital rounds. The first place I checked was
StarCityGames.com; if they didn’t have them in stock, then probably no one would. They were out of stock at $19.99 (FYI, they have a handful of SP ones
in stock now). I also searched MOTL (Magic Trading League) Sales and Auctions and Find Magic Cards. There were no swords for sale on MOTL, and Find
Magic Cards only had a handful of vendors with them. The shortage was real! I was excited because I knew what I’d talk about in my column, but I wasn’t
excited because I still needed swords. I hate needing things, damnit.

I play the Forgemaster deck in a local legacy tournament. I replaced Sword of Fire and Ice with Sword of Feast and Famine. Just so you know, it’s not
the same. Anyway back to the shortage.

If you think about it, it makes sense that these would start to dry up. You have an army of Commander players who run these in each of their Commander
decks. There’s also the population of Legacy players who need one or two to go with their Stoneforge Mystics. This is a beautiful thing; we caught the
trend before the supply completely dried up. This means that there’s a window to capitalize on these Swords before the supply gets eaten up. Of course,
this article is going to accelerate that process.

You’ll also find the same phenomenon with Sword of Light and Shadow. Check out the closed eBay auctions; these are averaging $20 dollars with foils
selling at $45-$50. If you can buy either of these swords at $15 or less, you should do it without question. Trading for them at $18 is reasonable, and
I feel like the foils of these swords will be undervalued. My recommendation is to make a move on these swords ASAP.

Checking The Levels

This week has been pretty insane for MTG finance. I wanted to take this opportunity to check the levels on some of the things that we have been
watching in this column. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking about the Tezzeret and Stoneforge spikes. Where are they at now? Let’s take a
look.

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

A couple of weeks back, I said that the ceiling for Tezzeret was $75. Some people interpreted that to mean that Tezzeret would reach $75 before going
down in price; that’s not what I meant, and it’s not what happened. Tezzeret seems to be on a downward trend now. This could change with the results of
any StarCityGames.com Open, but eBay auctions are currently ending between $37.50 and $42.50. Star City still has them sold out at $49.99, but other
vendors have adjusted their price down from $59.99 to $47.99.

Stoneforge Mystic

This card had seen a lot of love in the last few weeks. It’s still performing well; copies are selling for $16 and up on eBay. I expect the trend to
start working its way down soon, but I don’t expect them to go lower than $12. The idea is to be shipping them while they’re high right now and then
pick them up when they go back down. The market is currently being flooded by people who are selling them, so it’s only a matter of time before the
price comes down.

Knight of the Reliquary

This will be reprinted as a foil in the Knights versus Dragons Duel Decks. I talked about this card quite a bit last week, and I labeled it as an Elite
Rare. The news of the reprinting stirs up some questions about where the price is going to end up. This is all uncharted territory because Elite Rares
have only been around for a short period of time (since Mythic rares), and we haven’t seen a lot of reprints in that time. Goblin Guide and Knight of
the Reliquary are some of the first. In a couple of years, we’ll know what effect these reprints have on the Elite Rares, but for now, we can only
guess.

The good thing is that we know the factors involved here, which can allow us to make decisions on the fly. We know that the trend will be downward for
these reprints initially because more will be on the market from the reprints and from people trying to sell them and preserve some of the loss in
value.

The question is what will happen after that? I think that Magic is growing too fast for these Elite Rares to really suffer from reprints. More people
are playing Magic than ever before, and that’s going to propagate with every new player. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’ll be picking up
Knights and Guides on the cheap right now, from people who fear the value loss. I think this fear is creating an artificial price, and when everyone
goes to get these cards back, they’ll be restored to their correct price.

Magic Online

A couple a months ago, I wrote an article called The MTGO Renaissance. In this article, I talked
about investing in Legacy cards because I thought that the format would grow. I wasn’t surprised to find that Force of Will is now selling for 110
tickets on Magic Online; that up 30 from the price it was when I wrote about it in the article (80 tickets). This is only the beginning; I expect
Legacy and other formats to become more popular on MTGO. You haven’t missed the boat for making some investments, so I’d recommend that you start
looking into some opportunities sooner than later. Legacy is a great place to invest, and I’ve noticed more pros and community
figures becoming interested in Legacy online.

That’s all I have for this week. Have an awesome week, and I’ll be back with more financial goodness next week! Thanks for reading.

Jonathan Medina

Mtgmetagame
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