Conjured Currency #10: Which Spec is Right For You, Part II

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Welcome back! Last week I briefly discussed how there are different kinds of speculation targets, and why they should be targeted in varying ways depending on factors such as your budget, whether you trade or buy, and whether you’re looking for long-term holds or quick flips. I had planned to go more in-depth and have all of the information be wrapped up into one article, but in the end decided to split it up to include a second piece. I’m going to analyze a couple more card types that you should be looking to pick up, how they’re different, the various methods that you should be using for each, then do a wrap-up summary.

Pre-Spike Buys:

Ghave, Guru of Spores, The Mimeoplasm, Tropical Island

Yes, Tropical Island and The Mimeoplasm are being put in the same pile of related things for the first time since “That Guy” played his $4,000 Mimeoplasm combo EDH deck full of Alpha duals and Japanese foils. I recently stated on Twitter that Ghave was “the next Tropical Island”, and received some questioning and confused responses. Before Tropical Island spiked, its best of friends Underground Seas and Volcanic Island were several weeks ahead of it.

The original Commander product is experiencing a similar situation, where the low supply of cards like Damia, Sage of Stone and Animar, Soul of Elements were realized, and they experienced a price correction. Ghave wasn’t far behind, and those who picked up copies for cheap will be happy they did. These are situations where (budget allowing), it’s a better idea to buy as many as you can afford at retail, and then look for a quick flip to buylists or TCGplayer/eBay. These are a better buy because the evidence supporting the spikes already exists, just look for the signs. Trading for copies is also obviously fine, but cards like these are usually relatively scarce in binders, and their owners may have the same goals as you.

Here are a few cards that I believe fall into the same category:

The Mimeoplasm

Damia, Sage of Stone is an $11 card. The Mimeoplasm is a $3 card. Is there reason for this? No? Ok. There are only three existing BUG-colored commanders in the entire game, and this is the only graveyard-centered one. It also has a T-Rex for an arm. I will be shocked if this card is not $10 within the next couple of weeks.  If you want to play with these, or are willing to buy in to speculate, do it now.

Karador, Ghost Chieftain

Karador just recently got a judge promo printing, but I don’t think that will discourage the original printing from jumping in price in a relatively soon time frame. In fact, a judge promo might be speeding up the process by introducing newer players to the card via the announcement of the promo. These are quickly diminishing in stock across the Internet, and people like casting things from the graveyard, and this is a unique Commander in that aspect.

Long-Term Trades

I was once asked by a player who was just getting into finance and speculation whether Abrupt Decay was a good spec target. When I replied with an affirmative answer, he asked how many he should buy to turn a good profit, and was surprised when I answered “zero.” If you don’t intend on playing with the card, I don’t think you should be spending money on it at all. Instead, I would wait and look for the Ghaves that you can make an easy flip off of quickly. The following are examples of cards that I think are very strong to trade for, but wouldn’t input cash personally (unless I was playing them). Your wait on a significant return will be multiple months, and during that time you will most likely have several other opportunities to make money.

Abrupt Decay

There aren’t a whole lot of Standard-legal $50 foils, but Abrupt Decay is one of them. The reason being is that it’s extremely prevalent in Modern and Legacy over Standard, and players in eternal formats are much more likely to commit to foiling out their eternal decks. However, this isn’t something I would buy into now. Similar to Griselbrand, I think it’s safest to wait until rotation, or right before that, for the buy in on Decay. Even though it won’t drop much, I see it following the trend of “lose a couple of dollars, then slowly trend upward.” However, if you can lock these in during trades, I wouldn’t fault you. As we approach rotation, these may actually become more scarce in binders, because everyone knows that its price is based on eternal playability.

Shock Lands

After Wizards decided to print these to death in Dragon’s Maze, we finally saw the low point on these a few months ago at around $8 (depending on the colors). Did you know SCG is still paying $8 buylist on some of the shock lands? If that doesn’t show dealer confidence in these being a good pickup, I don’t know what does. Unless you’re okay with putting money away for several months, stick to trading away your plummeting RTR cards (Desecration Demon and Jace, Architect of Thought are examples of cards that you do not want to own if you are not playing them) for solid value that won’t budge downward. Pick them up at rotation from Standard-only players.

Deathrite Shaman

This is a card that you may want to target and pick up based on the points I have made in the previous two paragraphs. I mention the elf shaman in this article only to point out that I strongly advise against speculating on it right now. I believe that there are two reasons this card is still $11 after its Modern bannings: the first is obviously that the card is extremely powerful in Legacy, and the second is that people who were speculating on the card before its banning refuse to dump them and accept that the card will take literally forever go go up. If you can trade these away at the price they are at now (or even better, sell them), do it. Even if you are a fan of long-term speculation targets, I would prefer to own shock lands, Decays, or other eternal staples.

Wrapping Up

Keep in mind, there’s not always “the next big spike” that you need to buy into right that moment. Part of MTG finance is knowing when to hold your money, and differentiating the Ghaves from the Abrupt Decays. However, your personal buying strategy should differ depending on how often you intend to resell, and what your outs are. If you prefer quick consecutive flips on faster-acting spikes, then you want to keep your ears to the ground and wait for the next The Mimeoplasm or Tropical Island, depending on your budget. If you can afford the Trop, it’s probably better to buy that over dozens of Mimeoplasms. The dual land will be easier to move to a buyer. When your strategy involves shoving cards into a box and forgetting about them for several months at a time, then you could start stocking up on the well-known multi-format staples, or invest in some sealed product. The most important take-away is that while there are always multiple “good specs” out there, you should take into account the time it will take to obtain your return on investment, as well as your possibility of outing the various cards.

Did I miss anything? Is there a different breed of spec target that acts differently then the ones listed in the past two articles? Drop a comment in the section below, or hit me up on Twitter to discuss anything!

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Douglas Johnson

@Rose0fthorns     -     Email     -     Articles
Douglas Johnson is a 20-year-old MTG player who goes to college courtesy of a scholarship from Gamers Helping Gamers. He is currently found writing a weekly finance column at MTGprice.com, and you can always feel free to contact him on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit.
Douglas Johnson

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3 comments

    • jordan pollack on April 24, 2014 at 12:14 am
    • Reply

    you mentioned one thing i have been stocking up on. sealed product. you literally cant go wrong with sitting on a booster box. people should have the confidence and patience in these. i have boxes of innistrad and new phyrexia that i bought before they went out of print. look at them now. even shitty sets like scars of mirrodin, avacyn, and dark ascension did well for me. dont even get me started on my zendikar and modern masters cases. …….

      • Douglas Johnson on April 24, 2014 at 2:54 pm
      • Reply

      You think SOM and AVR were shitty sets? Wurmcoil, Mox Opal, fastlands, Genesis Wave, Griselbrand, Cavern of Souls, Avacyn, Gisela, Craterhoof, and Restoration Angel would like to disagree :)

      But yeah, I do agree that Sealed product is normally a strong investment. If you have the initial capital to throw at a few boxes of RTR right now at $100 or less, that seems like a perfectly fine tactic. However, it’s not for everyone. For those with less money to invest, it’s probably better to look at the shorter-term specs that will take less than a year to come to fruition.

    • Victor Saini on April 25, 2014 at 11:04 am
    • Reply

    Still sitting on my box of Homelands :(

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