Finance in a Flash: Clone Wars

Written by Paul Feudo on . Posted in Finance, Magic Culture

Finance in a Flash: Clone Wars

Paul Feudo

Paul Feudo started playing Magic in 1999 and became fascinated by the financial aspect of the game a few years later. He recently gave up the competitive dream and became focused solely on trends in the Magic economy. Follow him on twitter @plfeudo.

Editor’s Note: Click on the bolded Return to Ravnica cardnames for all your spoiler and preorder needs. 

Did you know?

Woodland Cemetery’s TCG midprice is $12. The Innistrad dual lands have been rising in recent weeks. Combined with the Golgari guild’s exciting previews and the zombie hype, the cheapest land of the cycle has become the most sought after. Depending on the pricing metric, it’s the most expensive.

Quick Hits

1. The Ravnica dual lands will go down. They are not mythic and there is already a pre-existing population. The ungodly amount of Return to Ravnica that will be opened over the next several months will keep the prices at reasonable levels, around $6-10 retail depending on each one’s popularity within Standard and eventually Modern.

2. Collective Blessing is going to be a casual all-star and has the potential to be the finishing move in a GW or GWB token deck. Arthur Halavais (@ahalavais) turned me onto this card’s potential after I had initially dismissed. They’re only $1 at LegitMTG and I expect them to rise to $3-4 if it sees any Standard play. Even if it doesn’t, casual demand will keep this card above the $1 preorder price.

3. I believe in Mizzium Mortars. We’ve never had a Doom Blade/Day of Judgment split card and this is the closest we’re going to get anytime soon. It is very undervalued at the $2.5 it’s preordering for at LegitMTG and will be $5 during its time in Standard.

4. Underworld Connections is sweet. The obvious comparisons to Phyrexian Arena will drive the initial demand, but it’s the differences that make this card shine. Between the Arbor Elf interaction in Standard (and every similar effect in Commander) and the ability not being mandatory, this card is unique and very interesting financially based on its casual appeal alone. I would pick up foils ASAP because they’re likely to hold and gain value for a long time. If it becomes relevant competitively, I could see it being $5-6 retail very easily and potentially even higher.

5. Rakdos’s Return is overrated. The card seems miserable unless it follows a board sweeper in aggressive matchups, and postrotation Standard is usually very aggressive at the start. It seems like a great sideboard card against control and midrange, and will probably see maindeck play if the format shifts to those types of decks. But sideboard and situational maindeck cards in Standard do not sustain $15 price tags.

6. Vraska, the Unseen has gotten the planeswalker preorder price bump, which is unsustainable even if the card sees play. I’m not sure Wizards wants to make $40 planeswalkers anymore, which also means (hopefully) that newer planeswalkers will not dominate the way they have in the past. Vraska’s best comparison at its current preorder prices is Gideon Jura right after Rise of the Eldrazi was released, and that price was not sustained even before he was reprinted. I think the card is good, but it will certainly come down over the next few months. If you can afford to wait, it’s in your best interest.

7. I do not like how Liliana of the Veil appears to be positioned after rotation. Between Loxodon Smiter and Sigarda, Host of Herons (which is still only $6 online), Liliana will have a tough time being played if a GW or GW midrange deck becomes Tier One. I would get rid of her before everyone else feels the hate.

8. Cavern of Souls should be very popular come RTR between the Zombie- and Human-oriented aggressive decks. There’s not much money to be made because the card is already expensive for a rare, but get whatever copies you need because demand will certainly increase when RTR hits.

9. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a Legacy staple from a shortprint set. I would look for foils with an eye for the long term after she’s rotated out of Standard. If she sees more Standard play they’ll go up before then, but you can’tg lose with this card if you have the patience to wait.

10. Now maybe the time to dump Huntmaster of the Fells while looking to pick him up again come December. Gruul isn’t coming until February, and red’s best cards all seem to be sorceries, which makes flipping Huntmaster much more costly. Even though Huntmaster is traditionally very good against aggro and Zombies in particular, new cards like Lotleth Troll and Dreg Mangler interact favorably against it. It’s also not very good in the midrange matchups. where it gets outclassed by Sigarda, Host of Herons and Thragtusk. All that said, the card did see play as a sideboard card in the Player’s Cup, and will likely have a hype-based increase in demand when its guild is released. Be ready to pick them back up in a few months.

Last Word

I bought 55 copies of Clone last week. Sadly, the Onslaught version with the sweet picture was twice as much as the M13 one so my clone army will not be brandishing firearms. Imagine a world where Sigarda, Host of Herons is amazing and dominates the format along with Thragtusk and Geist of Saint Traft. That doesn’t seem unreasonable, right? All those cards are very powerful, and in that format I want to be the person copying legends that would otherwise kill me. All while paying one mana less.

These type of specs are my favorite because they are incredibly low risk (LegitMTG has M13 clones for a quarter) and can provide dramatic returns with even a small demand increase of the card in question. What if during the first two weeks of RTR Standard, a Grixis deck Top 8s a 5k or SCG Open with two Clones in the maindeck? Maybe it goes up to a dollar, which is an incredible gain considering how little you have invested.

That’s all it really takes for your investment’s value to double or triple when you’re buying in that cheaply. If a card you bought at this price range ever hits $2-3, you look like a genius. That doesn’t happen most of the time but the initial investment is so low that there isn’t much downside to trying.

Now is one of the most fun times to speculate on Magic. Everyone is excited for the new set, and half the cards seem completely insane, which makes looking for those bargains a real treat because there is money to be made. Think about what it must have been like to but big on Bonfire of the Damned when it was $6 or Zealous Conscripts when it was $0.50. Or me, who bought Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius at $10 the night it was previewed.

I assumed the retailers would have preorder prices over $20 the next day rather than the $10 they’re at now. I could have waited for the prices to come out, but I thought the card would be $20 a piece so $10 seemed like a bargain. Don’t get me wrong. I still think the new Niv-Mizzet is very good, and will see tons of play, but it’s important to remember that nothing is set in stone, (especially during spoiler season) and it doesn’t always work out the way you think it will.

— Paul Feudo
@plfeudo

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