by Josh Kaufman

Hi, you may know me as Josh Kaufman, and well, that is my name. I was introduced to the stock market and trading when I was eight years old, and was able to run my own hedge fund at 19. I have now taken that information and translated it directly to Magic: The Gathering, since it is basically the same in terms of trading, prices, and lots of math that I am bored just thinking about. I have a spreadsheet of every card I track and it is updated automatically so I can see trends. It allows me to predict everything from price fluctuations to the future metagame. For example, I could have told you the exact decks that were going to be played at the last Star City Games Open in Salt Lake City based just on card prices.

There are multiple forms of trading, be it value trading, speculative trading, or safeguard trading.

  • Value trading is trading for cards that are either cycling in or out of Standard that you know are good, but are at a low price and you pick them up cheap. Or sometimes it’s trading for an underutilized card that you think will be very good post-rotation.
  • Safeguard trading is trading for cards that won’t go down in price. It is very similar to buying a bond from the US government. They are things that are always going to see play and you won’t lose money trading for these cards since they do not cycle and/or are on the “WOTC promises they won’t reprint this” list. Things like dual lands, Force of Will, Jace, the Mind Sculptor—oh, too soon?
  • Speculative trading. Speculative trading is exactly like speculating on a stock. You even use the same terms, like “buy the rumor, sell the news.” You take in all the information you can, be it rumors from forums online, forums/interviews from Wizards of the Coast itself, or looking at the overall cards being released previously and seeing a trend. This is what I want to talk about this week.

We know nothing about Theros, the next block after Return to Ravnica, but we have been given clues from the Mothership. They said that Theros would be an enchantment-based set building off what was released in M14. Quag Sicknesses for all!

So you have to look at cards that this would directly affect. You can do this from memory, talking to people who know Magic history, or using Gatherer. This isn’t a new tactic, though, and the cards I will discuss are cards people are already picking up in anticipation for the next set of previews. Some cards have really exploded, while some just have the potential to do so.

Idyllic Tutor (Morningtide)—$9.10

I believe this is the highest price ever for this card. And it sure has some interesting new targets. It is a tutor for enchantments, and there are already enchantments that are worth tutoring for. But if Theros brings us some pretty nutty stuff, this could become a staple of Modern decks—and even some fringe Legacy decks. Based on the chart, this card has about $1 to $2 left to go up until it stabilizes, but it is not a terribly risky pick-up. If there is something game-breaking in Theros, it could easily double.

Serra’s Sanctum (Urza’s Saga)—$23.22

This card is currently at the highest price I can get data for. This card says, “Add one white mana for each enchantment you control.” Keeping with the enchantment theme, this card will have nowhere to go but up—and could be a white version of Gaea’s Cradle. The chart suggests this card isn’t dropping anytime soon, and thus it seems like a relatively safe pick-up.

Daybreak Coronet (Future Sight)—$14.86

This is more known across Modern tables as “that g*ddamn Bogle deck.” The price increase at the current moment is due to Reid Duke doing well at the Players’ Cup, playing the only deck that wasn’t Jund or RWU. But if there are new enchantments that make the deck better…. Well, I would still wait for the excitement to die off a little bit. I don’t see this as a solid pick-up. I see this dropping and my next card going up.

Kor Spiritdancer (Rise of the Eldrazi)—$3.87

This card has the most potential to do well if enchantments get pushed hard in the next block. It is the best card to pair with enchantments without building a straight Bogle deck. This is a card I would pick up in bulk, and I have even picked up foil versions of the card from dollar binders at GPs.

Threads of Disloyalty (Betrayers of Kamigawa)—$5.84

This is a fairly underutilized card, but it made sense when the only two-drop to steal was Tarmogoyf. But with the introduction of Scavenging Ooze to the format, this looks like it may just be a must in—at minimum—sideboards of decks that play blue and like their graveyards safe from exile.

Fun Fact of the Day: If you have a Control Magic in play like Threads of Disloyalty, and then you use Flickerwisp on it, you can take control of a creature your opponent controls with hexproof.

OK, now that my speculation part is done, here are my top five biggest gainers, losers, and WTF cards of the week:

Top 5 Gainers of the Week

  1. Domri Rade: +23%
  2. Burning Earth: +48%
  3. Shadow of Doubt: +76%
  4. Horizon Canopy: +76%
  5. Souls of the Faultless: +170%

Top 5 Losers of the Week

  1. Jace, the Mind Sculptor: -2%
  2. Thoughtseize: -2%
  3. Kalonian Hydra: -5%
  4. Archangel of Thune: -7%
  5. Fulminator Mage: -7%

Top 5 WTF Cards of the Week

  1. Fulminator Mage—Since the release of Modern Masters, this card has gone from $11.70 to $27.50. The chart suggests a drop of another $4–$5, but damn. It hasn’t even shown up in any new decks or pro articles. It is still used in the board of Kiki/Melira Pod, and Living End. It’s also in the board of “The Rock,” but that is more than a 150% increase for a sideboard card.
  2. Bonescythe Sliver—Just this week it is up 41%. I guess Slivers are hot right now because…
  3. Toxin Sliver—This card is now $10.49 in paper? Do you see yourself playing Slivers? Because…
  4. Galerider Sliver—This card is up 9% on the week, and all three Slivers went up just today alone, so this may be a trend. I guess Esper Slivers are a thing.
  5. Souls of the Faultless—Before I wrote this, I had no idea this card existed. If you know a use for it, or why it is up 170% this week alone, please let me know.

Now for my personal opinion section. (These comments aren’t necessarily the opinions of Hipsters of the Coast.)

OK, Wizards of the Coast. Twice this summer you have worked people over for the sake of making money for distributors. First you did it with Modern Masters, and all that did was make Modern’s “Most Wanted” list more expensive—and the cards that got cheaper only were forgotten about when other cards, fetch lands, went up. Your goal, as stated when you announced you were releasing Modern Masters was to lower the price of Modern to make it more playable. But if you want to play top-tier competitive Modern, it now will cost you now twice as much, because blue shocks have hit $50 and are going up, and the best cards in the format (Tarmogoyf, Dark Confidant, and Vendilion Clique, to name a few) are nearly unaffordable for people who want to use their new Modern Masters cards.

Then you hit us over the head with your “Celebration of Magic’s 20th Anniversary,” AKA From the Vault: Legacy/EDH, for the low, low, low price of $39.99 MSRP. Then you showed us a foily Jace, the Wallet Sculptor and all of a sudden it was $250 minimum.

If you wanted to help the player, how about over-printing? Print Modern Masters like it is paper—oh wait, it is. Make Tarmogoyfs affordable for everyone, allow every kid to play with a Dark Confidant. And if you really wanted to celebrate Magic, sell From the Vault: 20 directly to consumers so that it can be bought at MSRP.

These two things have not helped the game. All they have done is once again widen the gap between the players with money, and the ones without. I can guarantee you that there are players out there that are better than any pro could ever hope to be, but they just don’t have the money for the best cards in the game—and by making them more expensive, the best players are based on their wallet size and not their play skill.

Allow me to reintroduce myself my name is HOV—err, I mean Josh Kaufman from Brooklyn, NYC. I have collected Magic: The Gathering since Alpha, and played from Mirage to Apocalypse. I then quit for a while and returned at Dark Ascension. I don’t want to say too much about myself, so I’ll keep it simple: I am the greatest there ever was and ever will be. I am also very modest and insanely attractive.

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