Modern prices after GP Vancouver

Today we will look at the movement of some Modern single card prices and try to extrapolate general advice on how to generally choose the right investment targets from a large pool of potential candidates.

Today we will look at the movement of some Modern single card prices and try to extrapolate general advice on how to generally choose the right investment targets from a large pool of potential candidates.

Modern has been in the spotlight of a multitude of discussions lately. At first a lot of players wanted Modern to be fixed by card bannings, only to start complaining about value losses on some cards the very second Wizards actually swings the ban hammer. On top of that the freshly fixed format seems to be perceived to be just as bad now, and everybody knows exactly which 250 cards to ban next. Naturally everyone who did not perform well on the Modern Pro Tour believes the format to be horrible.

I don't think these negative attitudes are really warranted at all, as we saw a lot of different decks on day 2 and in the top 8 of both the recent Pro Tour and Grand Prix Vancouver. Both top 8s also contained the usual amount of famous names, so the relevance of skill for results in this format seems fine as well.

Either way Modern is always an interesting format to invest into. It has some pitfalls, like reprints and bannings – both of which I will talk about in detail in the future – but it also provides a higher spike potential and larger long term gains than Standard. Once cards have rotated out of Standard, or have at least rotated out of the current draft format, the market is not just going to refill again with new cards, which were opened during recent drafts. The only way extra copies of Modern cards get added to the market, is by rising prices causing players to sell cards, which they would not have sold at the former lower price (on magiccardmarket or anywhere else). This causes price spikes to naturally last longer than for “still in print” cards, and it causes high demand cards to keep on rising slowly but steadily for years until they finally reach most players' acceptance limit.

Therefore we have identified two very good categories of Modern cards to buy into as early as possible:

  1. Extremely powerful cards that are usable in a multitude of different decks (ideally with low coloured mana requirements), which also outclass all the other comparable options at their respective casting costs.

  2. Cards which have not been widely used in other decks before and will likely only fit in exactly this archetype, when they enter the spotlight with a high tournament finish for the first time.

The cards in the first category are the cards you want to use as your long term investments. Unless you anticipate them to get banned or reprinted, you can sit on them for some years, while the price just keeps on rising until it is ten times higher than your buy-in. Typical examples for Modern cards you should have bought early and used as a long term investment include Tarmogoyf, Liliana of the Veil and Snapcaster Mage. Of those three only Snapcaster has a lot of growth potential remaining at the moment, as Liliana is getting reprinted as RPTQ promo and Tarmogoyf is already absurdly expensive and might be in Modern Masters 2015, given that Wizards should want to keep the financial entry barrier for Modern under control. Maybe Tasigur, the Golden Fang will be joining their ranks, once it is out of print for some years. Dig Through Time definitely would have been a great long term investment, if it had not been inducted into the Modern Hall of Fame (also known as the banned list) so early.

The cards from the second category should be your short term investments. They are likely to spike and then slowly return to their former price unless the new deck becomes a major force in the metagame. But you don't need to know whether that will be the case or not. You buy such a card at 2€, sell it for 6€ and never look back. Maybe the card climbs up to 10€, before falling back down to 2€ and you could theoretically have made more profit, but that does not matter at all. Because you could also have missed your chance by waiting too long to sell. You want to just lock in your profit and be free to look for different opportunities.

So let us look at some Modern decks and identify the cards you should have bought as short term investments, or at least picked up fast to get your playset for the next tournament, while they were still cheap.

Infect – Wild Defiance  spiked from 1€ to 3€

U/R Twin – Splinter Twin  spiked from 15€ to 22€

Abzan – Gavony Township  spiked from 1,5€ to 3€

Amulet Bloom – Amulet of Vigor  spiked from 2€ to 5€

Azusa, Lost but Seeking   spiked from 11€ to 18€

As you can see it is not the generically powerful and versatile cards of those decks, like Inkmoth Nexus, Cryptic Command, Noble Hierarch, or Summoner's Pact, which are spiking the most. That makes sense, because many players had bought those cards already long ago – maybe even for different decks.

Obviously the prices of some of the other cards in recent top 8 decks are increasing as well, but right after a big tournament there will always be more demand for the “new tech” – the historically underused niche cards in any of the successful decks. That additional demand combined with generally lower starting prices causes the higher price spike for such cards. Keep that in mind for any future Modern short term investment!

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