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If you haven’t already seen it, check out the next Banned/Restricted announcement: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/95b

It contains some pretty stunning changes to the extended format which we are all taking time to digest. Essentially, by the time it is a PTQ format again, Extended will consist of everything from Lorwyn onwards. That means Kamigawa, Ravnica and Time Spiral blocks are going to be leaving us virtually at the same time as Mirrodin does. I don’t think anyone saw this coming, but the move makes sense from a tournament attendance point of view – I know I only played Extended once a year for PTQs, and if more people are going to play this new format I think it’s a good move. My only disappointment with this is that as someone who entered with Lorwyn, I’m never going to be able to play Ravnica cards in a sanctioned format short of Legacy. Ravnica still seems like the best block WotC have ever done.

But that’s beside the point! Change is here, change is now, and the witty trader has to adapt to keep ahead of the game. My collection will be suffering in terms of value  on shocklands and goyfs, but this is prime time for making quick gains as speculation runs wild over this exciting new format. Check out Jon Medina’s post here for his thoughts: http://mtgmetagame.com/r-i-p-extended-july-1st-2010/ and Kelly Reid’s list of speculative purchases here: http://www.quietspeculation.com/2010/06/holy-crap-double-standard.html

As for me, as soon as I got home I got on MODO and bought a dozen Mistbind Cliques and Windbrisk Heights, as well as some Reflecting Pools, Secluded Glens and Gilt-Leaf Palaces. I prefer to speculate on cheaper cards in bulk, as while Thoughtseize and and Cryptic Command have seen massive gains, %-wise my Cliques are thrashing them and I stand to lose less if they don’t go anywhere.

The next big question is when to sell speculative cards? I think there are three possible options:

In the next week: Latecomers will still be buying in and stores will be replenishing their stocks. You can make back your cash and a little bit of a profit, and move onto the next quick trade.

After the EXT pro tour: More risky, as if the deck you are betting on doesn’t do anything in Amsterdam you stand to lose out. There will be a lot of excitement about the format around this time, though, so if you have 100 Sunrise Sovereigns and Giants is the dominant deck at the PT, you will reap the rewards. (Note I do not advocate speculating on Sunrise Sovereign.)

At the beginning of the next PTQ season: The long-term option, this is likely to give the best return however you will have to hold the cards for six months. In season extended cards can fetch four times what they do off season, even recognised staples like shocklands.

I think a mixture of all three is the best course. Faeries cards are super-hyped at the moment, so cashing out of them shortly seems like a good plan. Sell enough to cover your purchases, and you’ll be liquid enough to jump on any other short term opportunities that pop-up. Hold some cards for the PT, and sell any that do well, using the funds to buy into any sleepers that turn up in and around the top-8. With this diverse portfolio you should stand to make a nice profit in January, while keeping your options open elsewhere in the meantime.

One more take-away from this announcement – nothing is guaranteed. Just like BP shareholders didn’t expect their stock value to tank overnight in the wake of the oil spill, so shockland owners didn’t expect this announcement. WotC cares about the health of the game, not the value of your collection, and they will act to ensure that health.* WotC could emergency-ban Jace in standard tomorrow, or reprint it as a normal rare in M11. Magic: The Gathering is not an investment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn a profit in the short term. My advice is stay liquid, keep your eyes peeled for every speck of news, and don’t go crying over spilled milk. Any change is good for speculators. Embrace it.

Anyway, when super-extended arrives you’ll be glad you have all those shocks and goyfs 😉

*(Unless you’re a legacy collector, in which case WotC got your back bro)

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First of all I’d like to thank Monty & the rest of the people working on the mothership for featuring the Twitter Snowball piece in Friday’s Community Spotlight. I’ll do more of them in the future, twitter willing, and I have claim no ownership of the concept so feel free to start your own snowballs rolling! Secondly I’d like to welcome all the first time visitors and I hope you’ll stick around 🙂 Lastly thanks to Jon Medina from MTG Metagame for inspiring today’s post with his comments here.

Today I want to talk about something that’s been bugging me a lot. I pay a lot of attention to the secondary market as I don’t have the disposable income to drop on a case of each new set, so I like to make smart buys on sleeper cards which I can trade up when they make the big time. Preorders used to be a great way to do this as the prices were usually lower than they would be once the new metagame sorted itself out – Bitterblossom preordered at $7, for example. To me this is the natural state of things – the cards are unproven, they may not even find a deck. There is no reason to take the plunge on an expensive unproven card as its not like retailers will run out of stock, but this state has been upended by the emergence of tournament staple mythic rares.

Future Sight


Jon puts the origin of this change at Future Sight and the ubiquitous villain of the secondary market, Tarmogoyf. Old Goyfy was the mother of all sleeper rares, going unnoticed as a $3-$4 card for a few weeks after the set was released. Then people realised it was broken in half, and the price just kept rising. Past $20, past $30, past $40, to the almost unbelievable price of $50 for an in print, standard legal card. And people bought them by the truckload. Without 4 Goyfs you were really limiting the card power available to you and if you wanted to get on the Pro Tour or just have the best shot at winning FNM, getting Goyfs was a high priority. What is important to this discussion is that the players became resigned to the fact that $50 a card was not an  impossible price for a standard card. Despite not being reprinted Tarmogoyf was a vision into the future of magic – a future with increasingly expensive cards.

The Wicked Witch


Flash forward to M10. Goyf is long gone from standard but we have these new mythic rares to worry about. So far they have been fairly sedate, price-wise, besides the Shards of Alara planeswalkers. Then we see a Serra Angel upgrade – better power, better toughness, better abilities, and a Mythic Rare. SCG put a $15 price tag on it but that was quickly revised upwards as the articles started flooding out about how it was the most busted card in standard, possibly the best creature since Tarmogoyf. $30 seems about right for a top standard rare, based on comparisons with Mutavault, Reflecting Pool and Bitterblossom which were other top cards at the time.

Then Brian Kibler’s team designs the PT:Austin winning extended deck with maindeck Baneslayers, and the crowd goes wild. The set was short-printed, making this mythic rare even rarer, and now Baneslayer is showing up all over the place. The price takes another leap – $50 each, where it has stayed ever since. People are getting increasingly comfortable with $50 cards in standard, and Wizards explain that people misunderstood when they announced mythic rares – all bets are off, and nearly any card can have that little orange symbol.

More Flops than John Travolta

Zendikar spoilers. Mike Flores announces Lotus Cobra, the 2/1 for 2 with the famous name, and pronounces it ‘obviously better than Dark Confidant’. It pre-sells for $30.

Worldwake spoilers. Abyssal Persecutor is hyped out the wazoo. Another $30 card. Even more outrageously Jace, the Mind Sculptor preorders for $60, making it the highest priced card for a standard format it isn’t even legal in yet.

Both of these $30 cards have lost over 50% of their value since that time.

Now. Rise of the Eldrazi spoilers. Kozilek, Butcher of Truth is preordering at $30 and if he is at a higher price than Lotus Cobra/Abyssal Persecutor in 6 months time I will be astonished. Even more ludicrous is Hellcarver Demon for $15. This guy is a bulk mythic without a doubt, and this price is just silly. While there are a lot of awesome cards in the set some of the pricing decisions on preorders are way off base.

Going Forward

So, now that preorders are more expensive than buying the cards down the track and $50 mythics are expected, what can you do? Don’t preorder the hype cards, for one. Everyone is worried about missing out on the next Baneslayer, but when the preorders are already at Baneslayer prices what are you missing? I wrote a piece about why I didn’t get Jaces before Worldwake’s release and I stand by everything in it. Even though he has turned out to be all that and a bag of crisps, his price has hardly changed. If you want to play with the hype cards but can’t afford it, hold off for a couple of months. Most, if not all of them will see a dip as people realise their true worth, and even if they are smash hits they are unlikely to rise much.

I’ll be discussing spoilers this Wednesday over on ManaNation and then after the whole set is revealed I’ll be doing a Financial Value of… piece with a non-BenBleiweiss-plagiarizing title. Suggestions welcome 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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