What should I buy? When? And how many?
Winter is coming
Tomorrow will be the release day of Iconic Masters. What should you do to prepare yourself if you are looking to buy specific single cards?
For one, you could start tracking the listed amount of copies of those cards. For example, right now there are approximately 450 copies listed of most rares, and 250 to 300 copies of most mythic rares. These numbers should go up significantly once everybody receives their boxes. These are just presale numbers though. Not only will professional dealers soon know their actual stock numbers, but players will open a lot of boxes as well and they will list all their unwanted cards soon. The first few days will be defined by falling prices as sellers undercut each other to move their cards fast. This makes a lot of sense for the cards which are expected to not have a large audience of potential customers. How many buyers will be rushing to get their hands on Nimbus Maze, or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, or Necropotence with the wrong artwork???
"If you don't prefer this artwork, then talk to the hand!"
The number of buyers will be small compared to the number of copies which will be added to the market tomorrow, which means that you will have to try to sell them at a low price or keep sitting on them for a long time.
The opposite is true for the most sought-after cards usually seeing play as 4-ofs in Modern. Sellers will be more reluctant to undercut each other, and the number of interested buyers will be large enough to consume the number of freshly listed copies much faster.
This is where tracking the current price and the number of listed copies on a daily basis (or even more often) can be helpful to find the local minimum price. There are a lot of people waiting for the prices to reach their lowest point for any given card. This means that once they are convinced that a price won't fall any further a lot of people will strike at the same time, causing a temporary spike directly after the perceived lowest price point. Not paying attention to the price history for multiple days could cost you a bunch of Euros per play-set.
A case for cases?
Just by looking at the display and booster prices buying Iconic Masters by the case looks really appealing. Compared to former Masters boxes, boxes are selling at really low prices, but by now you should understand why that is the case.
Let's look at some numbers. If you add up the rares and mythics at their current low prices, here is what you get:
15 mythics: 147,25 € total / 9,82 € on average
52 rares: 239,15 € total / 4,51 € on average
Mythics prices vary between 0,58 € and 57,99 €
Rare prices vary between 0,02 € and 32,94 €
By opening the ideal 121 packs you would have exactly two of each rare and one of each mythic, resulting in a value of 625,55 €. You would also open one foil mythic and seven foil rares providing you with another 136,41 € on average. This would translate to 762 € from 121 packs, or 6,30 € per pack just from foil and non-foil rares and mythics.
15 foil mythics: 404,19 € total / 26,95 € on average
52 foil rares: 828,64 € total / 15,63 € on average
Foil mythics price range between 6,95 € and 170 €
Foil rare price range between 0,44 € and 87,90 €
With pack prices falling as low as 6 €, opening cards worth 6,30 € on average sounds great – and we even ignored all the foil commons and uncommons, and all the Mishra's Baubles we will be opening. I also used the current starting prices. You might expect to sell at considerably higher prices than that if you are offering play-sets on an excellently rated professional seller's account.
"These are the Foils you are looking for."
What is the problem then? First of all, prices are going to go down tomorrow. Then there is the problem of variance. The values of Foil Mana Drain, Ancestral Vision, Flusterstorm, Thoughtseize and Horizon Canopy are on a completely different scale than most other foils, and there is a similar diversity for non-foil cards as well. This turns opening “small amounts” of packs like 5 displays into a serious lottery once again. While this is irrelevant for large scale operations, it is relevant for players considering to buy boxes. Opening hundreds of displays will negate most of the variance but it comes with its own problems, as you will have trouble to sell hundreds of all those Commander and casual cards, you will open in the process of digging for more Aether Vials.
Obviously, if you are a store owner buying boxes at even lower prices per pack the math works out much better for you.
Whatever your plan might be, I wish you success in your Iconic endeavors!
...but make sure you share your plan with your fellow readers below!