Jordan Pollack: Financial Masterpieces

Welcome back to my wonderful MTGFinance world everyone! Today we will be discussing the new hype that broke the internet: Kaladesh Inventions and (to a much lesser extent) Planeswalker decks.

The Inventions, or Masterpieces, or whatever you want to call those beautiful pieces of expensive paper, will be 1 in 144 booster packs. Or, 1 Invention in 4 booster boxes. Yes your case could have 3, or it could have zero. It does add quite a bit of expected value to your case, but the pricing is way too high right now.steeloverseer

They will all gradually come down as the set is opened and drafted more and more. Inventions being in the set will make more people want to open sealed product, which means more Inventions will be opened (funny how that works). Also did you know there are more than 50 of these things across the two sets in Kaladesh block? That’s a lot of reprints. Yes, some of them will be Standard cards made into extra shiny pieces of fire-starters, but some will be awesome reprints.

For pricing, I think we can compare them to Expeditions for now, even though special versions will be in plenty of Standard sets to come. Expeditions were crazy expensive coming out of the gate because it’s something Wizards was testing. My guess is that their Net Income bottom line really liked it. They remembered the hype over the mysterious treasures in Zendikar, and wanted to bring it back. Just in case cracking packs for a mythic rare wasn’t hard enough …

I am a big numbers guy, but Chase Andres from Star City Games said it best:

What if I really want a Masterpiece Mana Crypt? How many packs will I have to open before I’m allowed to complain about not having found one yet?

There are thirty Masterpieces in Kaladesh and twenty-four in Aether Revolt. If your odds of opening a random Masterpiece are 1 in 144, you’d have to open 4,320 packs (on average) to complete the set. That means there’s one Mana Crypt in every 120 boxes of Kaladesh. Assuming you’re paying $80/box, that’s $9,600 worth of sealed product.

Almost $10,000 is a fair bit of currency, so let’s just take a chill pill and wait to find these in trades instead of playing the Magic lottery.

Speaking of trading, your Modern/Legacy/EDH trade binders are in jeopardy. Wizards is clearly chromaticlanternaggressively looking to reprint old cards to flood the market, or at least somewhat drive down secondary market prices. Modern Masters, Eternal Masters, From the Vault, Conspiracy, Commander Decks, Judge Foils, GP foils and now even Standard. I can’t even keep up. Did Deathrite Shaman or Chromatic Lantern need a reprint? Probably not. Is Deathrite coming off of the modern banlist? (I hope so. I own 50+ copies.)

Everyone who was paying attention knew Kaladesh was all artifacts, so look at the Invention cards that are reprints. I was lucky nobody at Wizards knew about Mishra’s Bauble (see below). Chromatic Lantern and Aether Vial will need to be watched closely. They will be the first indication if the Inventions will go up or down.

Overall, Inventions are a big red flag to all of you who think that certain cards won’t be reprinted because of flavor text, or art, or unique ability or keyword, because Wizards covered many bases in the first 30. Obviously EDH cards like Solemn Simulacrum or Sol Ring might not need a reprint, but oooohhh, look, this one is shiny and has a cool border, so let’s start with $100 and see where the darts land.

Modern struck gold with Mox Opal, Aether Vial, Sword of Fire and Ice, and Steel Overseer; swordoffireandicemost of those are way over the $100 mark. Standard was highlighted with the new Titan cycle known as the Gearhulks. Everyone knows that one Standard player that throws money to pimp out their decks. Here, Shiny Joe, have some sweet new foils to spend your money on. Combustible Gearhulk (IMO the best one!) is $5 for the regular copy, $15 for the pack foil, or $40 for the Masterpiece one. All these will decrease in price overall, because right now demand outstrips supply.

The people who spend big money on Standard preorder their cards, so they have them on Day 1 that they are legal. I would be terrified to play against the first person at FNM who had Masterpiece Gearhulks in their decks on Sept. 30. I recommend keeping your eyes peeled for opportunities to get the Standard ones now (yes I said that) and trade them away at their current price to Standard lovers.

 

The others I would wait on, to see how the market shakes out. I think Aether Vial will go up based on demand (Fully blinged-out Modern decks are A Thing), and Mana Crypt will go down, based on that it was just reprinted in EMN, and that set is still relatively new. Get them in trade if you can, but they will come down in price once we see how many are really opened in each case.

Three Swords have been announced so far, so odds are that the others will be in the next set. Sell Swords starting Saturday (or now).

The Legacy and Vintage markets could be very interested in some of these to pimp out their decks, but it really depends on the foiling process and if it’s well-liked by the community. I, for one, need to hold something in my hands, or shuffle it with other cards to see how it feels, before I pull money out of my wallet.

To take it a completely different direction, maybe you don’t want to draw unnecessary attentionlotuspetal to your cards. The Legacy Storm players need their Lotus Petal to stick; sometimes they play them the turn before they go off. The Elves players need Cloudstone Curio like I need milk in my cereal (Editor’s Note: If you’re a milk firster, you are so fired). I bet the chances your opponent looks at those cards on the battlefield doubles if you have bright and shiny ones in your deck.

The biggest target market for these is clearly EDH. Those players tend to foil out their decks, because they keep them forever. You can also cycle a Masterpiece Solemn Simulacrum in between all of your decks, because that card goes in everything. Literally everything. Name me a deck that doesn’t play it, and I’ll give you $5. EDH players also got a pimped out Lightning Greaves. Really? That card?

Bold prediction: The Pact Cycle is next to be reprinted. It would be a cool surprise in drafts, and would make for really cool artwork designs. The Titan cycle is another possibility to be next, but those might be too much of a limited bomb. They are all very clear P1P1.

For Planeswalker decks, they are taking a new route, by adding new cards in the deck that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s like the opposite of reprinting cards, because there is only one place to get these. Most of these will be bulk pricing based on the unlimited supply of Planeswalker decks. But I like the card designs a lot, and I think these will be overlooked. If Liberating Combustion or Verdant Crescendo do anything substantial in EDH, they could be good long term investments.

Don’t underestimate the artwork either, as these planeswalkers look really unique. I also really like the idea of the planeswalker decks for kitchen table players, as most people who like Chandra want a deck chalk full of red cards. Boom, here you go for the right price of $15.

Ask the Audience:

First and foremost, let’s go over the Ask the Audience question from my last article.

I asked you avid followers of mine which side of the trade would you rather be on:

A: Receiving Khans of Tarkir Polluted Delta and Windswept Heath or

B: Receiving Mishra’s Bauble.

Eighty-one percent of you made the obvious pick of the two fetchlands. I don’t disagree with your logic here because it’s the safe choice. Its conservative, they are always easy to trade away or sell, and they are used across many formats.

Oh wait, I do disagree with your logic. Go for the home run, investment people! I was actually the crazy one who traded away these two pieces of real Estate for the risky choice of Mishra’s Bauble. At the time, the trade was about even at $25. Today, it’s about the same.

So Jordan, why did you do this? You are going against everything you taught us about lands being like blue chip stocks. Well, ladies and gentleman, sometimes you have to diversify and take risks. It’s the height of modern season and Mishra’s Bauble is in high demand. When I made this trade at Gencon, my LGS was sold out of Baubles, and couldn’t keep them in stock.

Compared to the huge piles of fetches they have, I thought this was worth the risk. This card was only printed once in Coldsnap, an underopened and definitely underprinted set compared to Khans. Even though it was only an uncommon, they are tough to find, and very easy to trade away. If your player base at your LGS was mainly modern based, you would understand too.

Bauble wouldn’t sit in my binder for long, as I knew I could get something spicy for it. Turns out I traded it away to a Standard player who was wanting to get into Modern and build Jund. (Jund plays this card now. Thanks, Delirium.) He had a random SP-EX Engineered Explosives that I received as long as I threw in some other standard rares. Fine by me. Standard prices are ever-changing. With a 17-month window of playability I will pass.

Engineered Explosives just saw a huge price correction to $50 so I think I did great. The key takeaway from this trade is that I would never have done this trade without the Bauble. It’s just one of those cards that guy wanted, and he was waiting to trade someone, because he didn’t want to buy Baubles online.

It gets your foot in the door, like your first job coming out of college. Yes, I lost some good fetches, but they are cheap enough still that if I wanted to buy more, I could today for the same price. Not true for Bauble or EE. This was a tough decision to evaluate so thank you audience for your input. I hope I showed you the light, and sometimes thinking outside the box helps make that bankroll.

This week’s Ask the Audience:

Pack One, Pick One of a very competitive Kaladesh draft. You see dollar signs when you open a Chandra, Torch of Defiance and a Masterpiece Sol Ring.

Jordan Pollack is a Tax Accountant and Magic player from suburban Chicago. He holds an accounting degree from the University of Kansas and is currently pursuing CPA certification. He enjoys watching the Blackhawks and doing manly things like fixing a leaky sink, grilling, and making sure his girlfriend has everything she needs (and wants).

 

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