What We Learned—The Chronicles Effect (June 10)
Last week I took a look at Modern Masters and the prices of existing versions of cards as a predictor of the price of the new set. Well, the set has officially shipped and it’s time to take a look at the impact on the market. The big assumption by most is that the influx of new supply will cause the value of cards to drop. This is based on the only precedent for Modern Masters, which is Chronicles. The effect of Chronicles on the secondary value of cards was massive and in the game’s infancy it led to the creation of the Reserve List as a way to prevent this from happening again. Twenty years later the Reserve List is a relic from an age long past and the time to re-print valuable cards is upon us. Has Wizards learned their lesson or will history repeat itself?
It’s time to employ the scientific method! My hypothesis last week was that the value of cards would dip in the short term, very little for rares and mythics but significantly for commons and uncommons, and that the value would eventually rebound and possibly go up. To test this hypothesis we’ll take a look at some of the numbers from the opening week. What we’ll analyze is the change in the buy-list price on StarCity Games for the original versions of some of the more valuable cards, the price StarCity is selling Modern Masters singles at compared to original printings, and the same price fluctuation over at TCGPlayer.com. From these, we’ll get a look at whether the initial market impact of the set’s release is inline with our prediction.
A week ago, when the full spoiler was revealed, StarCity was buying Mythics for an average of $15.60 and not a single one has changed. That’s to be expected though. Very few people expected the price of the original Mythics to drop. However, is StarCity buying the new versions for comparable prices? The answer is yes. With three exceptions, StarCity will give you the same buy price for every single Mythic in the set. The exceptions are Dark Confidant, Ryusei and Vedalken Shackles. StarCity is buying these for more than their originals. That’s right, the value of the Modern Masters copy of those three cards is worth more to SCG than the originals.
Most rares are also holding at their original buylist value, as predicted. SCG isn’t concerned with whether the card comes from Modern Masters or not as its value remains consistent. As expected though, this begins to get weird is with the uncommons. While many of the original versions of uncommons are retaining their value, some of the MMA versions are slightly lower. Kitchen Finks, for example, are worth $4 to SCG from Shadowmoor but only $3 from MMA. At the same time though, some of them are higher. Lightning Helix is worth $2 from Ravnica but $3 from MMA. Perhaps the change in artwork has led to a change in value.
So the initial reaction at StarCity is clear. The value of these cards is not going to move very much as a result of MMA’s initial release. Perhaps this will change over the next few weeks, so we’ll be sure to check back in, but for now SCG sees no reason to drop the value of any of these cards. In a recent premium-side article, Ben Bleiweiss even talked about how difficult it is for them to keep Tarmogoyf in stock no matter what printing it comes from. Still, for the completeness of the scientific method, we have to wonder whether or not the SCG folks got it wrong, so let’s take a look at TCGPlayer.com’s values.
What I’ve looked at from TCGPlayer is the average value of the previous printing of each MMA card taken on the 3rd of June, when the set was spoiled, and compared it to the average value of the MMA printing as of this past weekend, when the set was released. This will give us a market value with less error in it as TCGPlayer aggregates a variety of secondary market retailers. Firstly, on average, MMA cards are cheaper than their previous printing, but only by a small margin. The average mythic is only worth 50 cents less while the average rare is worth $1.72 less. The difference in commons and uncommons can be counted on your fingers and toes, and is negligible.
However nothing is consistent. Elspeth, Knight-Errant is worth $2 less in MMA but Dark Confidant is worth $2 more. Kiki-Jiki is worth $3 less, but Tarmogoyf is worth $3 more. A handful of rares had significant drops, such as Cryptic Command (-$5), Kira (-$4), and Arcbound Ravager (-$4) to name a few.
What we learned from TCGPlayer is that the market is confused. A lot of people are still guessing what will ultimately happen with the set’s value and its impact on the value of original printings. For now, it looks like original printings should be safe, as should mythics from MMA. Commons and uncommons may actually prove to be much more resilient than I originally expected. The big questions will be with the values of rares. Two major events will likely have impact on the value one more time. The first is Grand Prix Las Vegas which will see another large influx of product into the market. The second will be the next Modern PTQ season. If prices for MMA and originals will come in line, that is when it will happen. Until then, we will keep checking in periodically to see what the trend is.
The Quick Hits
- Hall of Famer Darwin Kastle talks about the having a team to prepare with. [Gathering Magic]
- In the 250th edition of his column, Mark Rosewater finally talks about communication. [Making Magic]
- Doug Beyer compares planeswalkers to ice cream flavors and talks about The Secretist. [Gathering Magic]
- Based on the packaging for Magic 2014, I think I may actually tire of seeing Chandra. [Magic Arcana]
- The new Magic Online client will be forced down your throats again this week. [MTGO]
- Mike Linneman looks for love in all the wrong places. [MTG Lovin']
- Here are some tips on getting value out of your collection by Jon Agley. [StarCity Games]
- If you want a differing opinion, Paul Feudo thinks Modern Masters is overpriced. [LegitMTG]
- The Golden Age of Magic is happening right now folks, according to Abe Sargent. [The Kitchen Table]
- Magic the Gathering + Vans Warped Tour = ??? [Magic Arcana]
- Anyone can now sell cards on TCGPlayer so that may help secondary market prices… not. [TCGPlayer]
- Corbin Hosler shares his harrowing thoughts on the devastation in Oklahoma. [Gathering Magic]
- Some of the cards in Modern Masters really needed new artwork. Here they all are. [Magic Arcana]
- Yet another Chandra pin will be making its way to PAX Australia. [Magic Arcana]
Wallpaper of the Week
While I really do love the new art for Dark Confidant, and feel it holds up as a quality desktop wallpaper, I just can’t get over how Wizards keeps reprinting invitational cards with no nod whatsoever to the original designer anymore.
The Week Ahead
This Monday night, Twenty Sided Store is hosting an Invasion-Planeshift-Apocalypse draft. I haven’t played Magic outside of a pre-release in over six months now, but the nostalgia may draw me back in. You see, even though I’ve been playing Magic since 1994, I didn’t start playing competitively until I got to college in 2001, right when Odyssey was released. As such, I was still able to get in on a lot of Invasion block drafts. I have incredibly fond memories of having an awful five-color deck and being excited to get Cromat and Legacy Weapon in my third pack. Needless to say, my first sanctioned draft did not go very well. Now, 12 years later, I have an opportunity to finally win an IPA draft. Will I do it? Tune in next week to find out!
What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. The goal is to take some of the events and articles polluting the Magic world, strip out the chaff (tournament reports, game theory, economics) and give you our superior opinion. Complaints are encouraged.