Welcome back, everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the discussion on the potential for Modern Masters 2 last week, as well as my quick thoughts on the Organized Play changes.
Wizards of the Coast announced the original Modern Masters on October 18, 2012, so if they follow a similar trend for the set’s sequel, we can expect to hear an announcement in about two months. I personally loved drafting Modern Masters when it was more readily available, so I hope that the stars are aligning as WOTC appears to be granting us a second shot. Due to the fact that MM was an experiment (and therefore an extremely limited print run), it’s more likely that MM2 will be more easily available, allowing cheaper boosters and more individuals accessing the Draft format. I don’t care if the set spans from Eighth Edition to Theros, Zendikar to Khans, or whatever. I just want to jam a Limited format like that again.
Speaking of Modern Masters, I sold my sealed box a couple weeks ago. For clarity, it wasn’t because of any of my speculation in last week’s article, and it wasn’t because of anything that I’m going to say this week. I was bored at a friend’s house with several other Magic players, and he was scrolling through eBay on his phone looking up prices for a box because he was itching to do a draft. I half-jokingly offered that I had a box at my house and would sell it for $375, which caused a great stir in his mind and wallet. $300 cash and $75 in buylist value from his binder later, we were on the way to my house to pick up the box and crack it open, enjoying a good night and draft with friends. I lost.
Sealed Product Investments
I’ll spare you the details of the draft (unless you really want to know in the comments), and explain why I sold the box. The simplified version is that I was just following my own personal golden rule of, “If you can sell your Magic cards for full retail, and don’t need them in the immediate future, it’s almost always a good idea.” I can invest that $300 cash towards other collections and singles at buylist value, and sell those singles out of my case. If I put even a small amount of effort in, I’ll make a lot more than the slow and steady creep of the box that was just sitting under my bed for the past year.
After selling the box, I decided to do some checking up on some of the other sealed product I own to see where my investments were heading. You know how the general advice to people when buying sealed product is, “Throw it in a closet and forget about it for X years”? Well, let’s remember what we tried to forget, and see if our investment could have been put in a better place.
From the Vault: Twenty
I currently own five of these. I noticed them while digging past to grab the Modern Masters box in my tote of “sealed stuff to forget about.” I bought them around September of last year soon after they came out, from an extremely good friend and aspiring store owner who sold them to me for a pretty good $100 each. Like all FTV products, there was an extremely limited print run of these, and they include multiple old-school foils like [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] and [card]Dark Ritual[/card], and last but not least, [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card]. There was no way this box wouldn’t be $200 in a year, and I believe I remember Ryan Bushard agreeing with me. I was confident. Easy money: just wait.
Fast forward about five months, to the winter of 2014. The cheapest Buy-It-Now eBay listing was around $140, still approximately the average price of when I bought them. I thought, “No big deal, I just need to wait longer. Forget about them.”
Fast forward several more months, to today. The current lowest Buy-It-Now listing on eBay for a sealed From the Vault: Twenty is $135, free shipping. These have moved zero dollars. At this point, I guess I’m just keeping them sealed to see if I can sell them for that to a friend, or sell a playset of Jaces for full retail if someone needs them.
What Could I Have Done Differently?
In the summer of 2013, a [card]Tundra[/card] from Revised could be found for slightly more then $100. Yeah. Remember that? [card]Underground Sea[card] was less than $200, and the world was full of lollipops and rainbows. I could have easily thrown that $500 toward a set of [card]Tundra[/card] plus a [card]Taiga[/card] and jumped the boat when Tundra hit $200. There’s the real easy money. Those dual lands would’ve also been much easier to sell than a sealed box, which will cost me at least $10 to ship with tracking, and can’t be listed on TCGplayer or buylisted.
I currently have at least five Mind Seize decks under my bed in that tote, and three each of the other four. You can find the non-[card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] ones on eBay (or at your local LGS) for as low as $20, and the Mind Seize no longer towers above the rest at its $60 price tag. Thanks to the en masse second printing (with a special emphasis on making sure casual players could buy the Grixis deck, since it was printed more than the rest), these decks flooded the market until buying them for instant flips was no longer profitable.
At this point, I think I’m just in it for the long haul with all of the decks. I obviously should have dumped the Mind Seizes at $50 when I had the chance, but I decided to be greedy and am paying the price (metaphorically and literally). Plan A is now to wait and cross my fingers, hoping that the other four decks that initially went under the radar begin to be noticed as casual gold mines. The Jund one looks especially nice with [card]Ophiomancer[/card] and [card]Primal Vigor[/card]. Still, buying every single deck at release with the intention of waiting for an extremely long time was a pretty large blunder. Let’s rewind the clock and see where changes should have been made in my battle plan.
What Could I Have Done Differently?
With Wizards having announced the release of a new Commander set every single year, I should have realized that stuff like [card]Sol Ring[/card] would not just be a $10 card every single year. That alone negates a lot of the safety of the future value of these decks. Also, Mark Rosewater warned us at the start that they were 100-percent willing to reprint these until they had enough to bury a dead horse with. They did just that. After seeing the community turn into [card]wild nacatl[/card]s and [card]raze[/card] through the Wal-Marts and Targets, the hindsight play is to wait until that promised reprint, and start grabbing $15 Power Hungry decks for the long-term instead of paying that $30 on release day.
Cracking Mind Seizes and immediately dumping the TNN to get a free other 99 cards looks like it was the correct call (speaking of which, [card]Army of the Damned[/card] is a $1 card. Even though it was printed in Mind Seize, that does not seem right to be at all). Want to see a Legacy staple that was criminally underpriced during the winter of Mind Seize?
During the Commander release, this card was approximately $60. In hindsight, a Legacy staple with very few reprint possibilities seems like a safer place to put money than two pre-confirmed reprintable sealed Commander decks. I don’t like to put all of my eggs in one basket, and I don’t even like buying staple singles for the purposes of long-term speculation, but it would have worked out much better in this case for me. Ports sit at $115 now, where they’ve [card]plateau[/card]ed for several months. To be honest, I can see them hitting $150 in a few months, unless Wizards does something weird like put them in the mono-colored Commander decks this year.
A Bit About Booster Boxes
I currently have two booster boxes each of Dragon’s Maze and Avacyn Restored sitting on the top of the armoire in my dorm room. Weird choice? Yeah, kind of. I didn’t exactly buy them for speculation purposes: they’re remnants of a store’s collection that I bought out a little over a year ago, and I just haven’t put a whole ton of effort into selling them (by the way, if anyone’s interested in buying DGM boxes at $80 or AVR at $130…*cough cough*). Just like in the previous situations, they’ve both sat at this price for the entire time that I’ve owned them, and they could and should have been sold immediately for the profit, or transformed into a more safe and more liquid asset of singles.
The Time of Sealed Product has Come to an End
Well, probably not entirely. Things that are explained to be experimental, have a very low likelihood of being reprinted, and are enjoyable to draft are still probably safe investments, especially if you want something that you don’t have to micromanage. If Modern Masters 2 rears its head, picking up sealed boxes is probably safe if you have the change to spare. Just be aware that dual lands also exist, have zero likelihood of being printed again, and will always be in demand. The number of sealed products that can be shoved into the closet and aged for free money is becoming extremely small.
The Reserved List combined with playability in EDH and/or Legacy are powerful weapons for the financier, and I trust them more then the next new, shiny toy that Wizards drops into our playpen. I think most people got the hint not to hoard boxes of Conspiracy, because WOTC made it loud and clear that the set was designed to be drafted [card]ad nauseum[/card] and not to be taken advantage of. The next time you’re about to hoard something away in your closet and forget about it for a year or more, consider all of your options and the other places you could be putting your money.
It’s getting to that special time of the week when I should wrap up here before I start to bore you, so let’s take the conversation elsewhere, where you can provide your own input! Hit me up in the comments section below, the Reddit thread for the article, Twitter, or Facebook (feel free to add me, just message me beforehand explaining that you’re a reader). I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read my thoughts and opinions on Magic finance once again. Until next week!