Vintage Buyouts


  • TMD Supporter

    So I am not an expert by any means in the financial world of MTG, but I do okay for fun. I have been intrigued by the recent buyouts of Library of Alexandria and Moat. If you think about it, LoA has been undervalued for quite some time, and have been hovering in the same general price range for almost 10 years. For a key vintage card, this marked an excellent buyout opportunity. Small supply on market, most players will likely keep at least one, a key card for collectors; so not a lot coming up for sale.

    I'd like to start a thread wher we can identify other potential buyout cards, so most of us can get them before it's too late. I know I personally was trying to pick up a Moat, but got greedy trying to find a nice one for $225. Won't have that chance again!

    I think we have to stick with Arabian, Antiquities, and Legends. Too many copies of A/B/U/Revised out there. Moxes haven't moved in price much in the last 5-10 years, and while duals are super hot, it's hard to capture any meaningful percentage of the supply.

    1.) If Mana Drain was on the reserved list this would be an obvious #1, as it's been $100-$150 for almost 10years.
    2.) It surprises me that Bazaar of Baghdad is still in the $400-$500 range, comparatively. This is a key card in a tier 1 deck that you need 4 of. I think the only thing holding it back is that Dredge is considered a budget deck for proxy tournaments, so not as much pressure for a player to want originals. Bazaar is also a component of a few tier 1.5 decks too!!
    3.) I would assume Chains, Nether Void, and Abyss might be next, but these are only marginally playable in Vintage, but important in Old School.
    4.) I think Tabernacle and Workshop are at their realistic peak right now. Workshops has been a top deck for almost 2 years.

    I think at this point, most of the playables are gone. Old School could put some further upward pressure on City of Brass, Juzam Djinn, Erhnam, etc, but I think for true buyouts to make a difference, the card has to be playable too. Moat was fringe on this.

    The most annoying thing as a buyer, however, is that the Collectibles market doesn't operate like other free markets. Past performance IS an indicator of future performance. If a card spikes, it can easily hold that new price for 1-2 years, as often perception is reality. It can hold that new price until enough open auctions over time bring the card back down. Or, it can maintain that "new bottom."

    It's a fun topic. Strange things are afoot in the Vintage singles market! Beware!



  • I think it's all ridiculous. I wish I could be Bill Gates and just buy all the cards and give them to players and not speculators, for free.

    Library from $300 to $800 in a month. Moat from $300 to $600, Tabernacle TCG Mid is $1,500 now??? Even though they are fake values, price memory is ridiculous and now the dealers will raise all their prices.

    The whole reserved list situation just sucks. I wish they could just create some type of legal proxy that would let people play. MTGO isn't enough.. I'll admit, I'm a moderate so I'm in no way trying to say we should "Feel the Bern" with Magic, but it's just becoming too out of reach.

    Long-live Proxy Tourneys I guess!!!



  • @joshuabrooks Mana drain isn't on the reserved list, probably not a good candidate for buyout.



  • I don't know where you got your prices but power is more expensive today than it was 5 years ago, you no longer can find them for a few hundreds. Some of the recent speculation is more based on gaming the tcg midprice as a pucatrade scam or similar. Those cards are still available for sale from other stores. I don't think those will affect long term price for too long because lower prices are still available.



  • I like that this topic has been brought up, as it is a conversation that takes place at my local game stores fairly regularly. My opinion on the "classic" magic collectibles (P9, LOA, Bazaar, Workshop, Expensive Legends cards) is that if you have them, hold on for dear life. While some regular fluctuations happen, these cards have almost all done nothing but appreciate over the past 10 years, and barring some overall MTG market collapse (like someone discovers that 10% of P9 is counterfeit, or something crazy) they should continue an incremental price increase.

    For me, the real business in speculating on MTG comes from playable Uncommons and rares. Can you identify that card that will see play in several formats, will be used in multiples, and that you can purchase in bulk for 15-20 cents a piece that will be selling for 2-3$ on Starcity next month? I most recently picked up about 140 copies of Painful truths for (tops) a quarter each, and managed to sell them in bulk at GP NY for 50 cents each, more than doubling my investment.

    I know, "congrats on your whopping $70!" but with an initial investment of only 30-35$ I did pretty darn good! Everything is relative... I do not have access to 1000's of individual cards like others do. My point is that investing in "classic" expensive MTG cards is like buying a savings bond. Someone somewhere that has had 20 Libraries for the past 15 years is sitting pretty, but that's a small subset of the market. I do not know how many people woke up to $800 LOA and said "WOW BETTER BUY THIS NOW BEFORE ITS $1000!" If you really want to speculate, and frankly gamble, start looking for the next Rest in Peace or Stony Silence.



  • @p3temangus said:

    My point is that investing in "classic" expensive MTG cards is like buying a savings bond. Someone somewhere that has had 20 Libraries for the past 15 years is sitting pretty, but that's a small subset of the market.

    Its more like the stock market only without rules and regulations from the SEC to keep greed and underhanded tactics in line. I said in another post and I'll say again here - I absolutely don't mind market driven price changes. I have a few moxen, some drains, duals and if something happened and their prices were cut in half tomorrow I wouldn't mind. I don't have any flusterstorms and if something legit happened and their price doubled tomorrow - I wouldn't mind.

    But what happened recently with Library and Null Rod and to a lesser extent Moat I absolutely loathe. I believe 100% of the price changes on library and null rod (remember that price spike a few months back?) were artificial and manipulated (for the record I think moat prices started moving because of the use of the card again but the degree to which it moved I think was artificial).

    If price manipulation like this happened in stocks or other regulated markets there would be arrests. The same principles that make it illegal there should hold here in our community. I don't mind investors. I don't mind speculation. But when that speculation turns into manipulation I'll call a rat a rat.

    Its unacceptable and I just wonder when the collector and player community finally step forward and take a stand against the investment community.



  • @Khahan Out of curiosity, what kind of stand would you propose?

    To me, the best you do is simply not buy cards at a value you do not think they are worth to you. If everyone agrees, then the market will correct itself.


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  • TMD Supporter

    What I think is crazy is just how quickly the market accepts the new price. A week ago, a Legends English Moat auction would go bidless at $300-350.

    Now, a few days later, it will have 26 bids up to and over $450. Is this all panic buying?



  • @themonadnomad said:

    @Khahan Out of curiosity, what kind of stand would you propose?

    To me, the best you do is simply not buy cards at a value you do not think they are worth to you. If everyone agrees, then the market will correct itself.

    Like you said, the best is that we simply don't buy the cards when we see these price fixing issues going on. It would be nice to have it be a public, organized stand so the rats doing the price fixing get the picture.

    @joshuabrooks said:

    What I think is crazy is just how quickly the market accepts the new price. A week ago, a Legends English Moat auction would go bidless at $300-350.

    Now, a few days later, it will have 26 bids up to and over $450. Is this all panic buying?

    I'm sure some of it is panic buying based on the artificially inflated price. This is information we'll never get but I'd love to see what the price on those auctions would be at if we didn't have this price bump in the past weeks. Would people even be bidding at all? Would there be 5 bids instead of 25 bids?

    The way to sell a card is create a demand for it. You can do that in a few ways:

    1. wait until the card is needed. That is what is happening with Moat. People have been suggesting it for a while and there is an actual demand for the card now. So I'm sure there is more action on it now than say 5 months ago

    2. Lower the price - people like me who collect for the sake of collecting but have price limits are not in the market for moats at $300 or power at $1.1k. I may trade out portions of my collection but I'm not just stopping by a store or a website and plunking down a grand on a card. Get the price down to a range that more people are comfortable with and you have a larger demand

    3. Raise the price - yes this seems counter intuitive. But you don't need 100 buyers or even 1000. You only need 1. If a card price has stagnated then investor types will ignore it. If its stagnated at a price that collectors feel is too high collectors aren't buying it and investors/speculators aren't buying it. But if the price suddenly goes up and there is a general belief that what comes up wont come down, then investors will start to buy it here and there. If the price jumps from $300 to $500 and speculators believe it will only keep going up, they'll grab it at $500 hoping to sell it at $800. So you artificially manipulate the market to get that pool of people into the bidding. For a seller, whether its 3 bidders or 10 bidders on a single card, the result is the same - a sale at a price higher than it could have been w/out the fake pricing.

    You can raise the price a number of ways. For one, you can simply set the min bid higher and see if it sells. You can list a few auctions with strawman bidders to get the price where you want it. You can set the price at the normal price and create your demand, "Hey guys, human stompy, eldrazi, mentor are all becoming popular. Moat beats all these cards, I have one for sale right here!"

    Some of the ways to increase the price are perfectly fine. Others are sneaky, underhanded, unethical and considered illegal in regulated markets. Its those methods I believe we are seeing often in the secondary MtG market.

    A healthy market will see all 3 methods of creating demand for a product. Unfortunately the secondary market is not healthy. We in the high end vintage community rarely see #2.



  • This isn't topical at all, so I apologize in advance if this disrupts to flow of the thread. But I'd like to humbly point out that the existence of the reserve list is what allows for the potential to corner the market on cards like this. I can't believe that when the reserve list was created, it's intent was to allow speculators to make runs on cards like this.



  • My two cents...

    In the scheme of things, do price fluctuations matter? Proxy and non proxy vintage events are likely to continue to exist, at least in the near future. There will always be players that are willing to pay for cards, and those who are either unwilling or unable to do so. The notion of cardboard crack exists for a reason: there will always be someone who is willing to pay.

    I have always lived in cities with high housing costs. I would love it these costs were lower. Unfortunately, it is difficult to proxy a house, and a cardboard box on a street in not a viable substitute. I can imagine my wife's reaction... I have choices about where and how I live.

    Vintage is different to housing. It is a game, and is difficult to categorise as a life necessity, when compared against housing. If individuals are able to drive prices upwards, in order to turn a profit, kudos to them! Over the years, I feel like I have come to accept that whilst I would love for as many people as possible to play and understand the fun of vintage, it is not fiscally viable. I am certain that there are many other hobbies out there that are not viable due to financial reasons. Unfortunately, that is how the world works.

    If you want to buy a card, there are few options outside of buying it (i.e. you buy it; or you don't). You then need to find a copy of the card at a palatable price point. This has a loose correlation to the reserve list, but really only insofar as the total number of copies of a card in circulation. Don't get me wrong, I would love for the reserve list to go away, but even if it did, it would be highly likely that any reprints would require a significant amount of time to appear, and you can guarantee that WoTC would be sensitive to trying to ensure the dollar value of the original cards. I guess that I translate this to: printing more copies of cards may not actually help. Judge foil Mana Drain?

    I regularly remind myself that if I were just getting started in Magic today, I would not be even contemplating paper vintage: the costs are high. I look back now at paying a few hundred dollars for a lotus many years ago, which was a lot of many for "a piece of cardboard", as my wife liked to put it. I do not expect WoTC to even try to regulate the secondary market.

    My main hope is that people are able to find their way to vintage, then discover a way to play that is right for them (i.e. within their means).



  • @rbartlet said:

    I agree with all of your points - one thing i would like to add regarding the following:

    If you want to buy a card, there are few options outside of buying it (i.e. you buy it; or you don't). You then need to find a copy of the card at a palatable price point.

    ...is that you do not necessarily need to buy a card in order to have access to play that card. As an example, the current vintage champion took down the crown with borrowed Power. Borrowing cards and ownership collectives might end up being a bigger part of the future of sanctioned paper Vintage as we move forward.



  • So you need to be rich or have the right friends to play? Still a very exclusionary environment.
    There is a new business opportunity here though. Renting power for a tournament.



  • The last two major Magic purchases I made were apparently timely. I bought 3 Moats last year, and two Tabernacles about 3-4 months ago (I already owned 1). I wanted them for Old School Magic, but I'm glad I did.


  • TMD Supporter

    @Smmenen said:

    The last two major Magic purchases I made were apparently timely. I bought 3 Moats last year, and two Tabernacles about 3-4 months ago (I already owned 1). I wanted them for Old School Magic, but I'm glad I did.

    I made the mistake of going after Abyss before Moat....but I'm sure it will be joining Moat soon enough in the over $500 club.....sigh



  • @benjamin_berry that is actually a great idea, you could even go so far as to rent out staples of the format and maybe even whole decks if you wanted to.



  • @letseeker said:

    @benjamin_berry that is actually a great idea, you could even go so far as to rent out staples of the format and maybe even whole decks if you wanted to.

    I'll tell you what I'll comp your entry fee if the morning of the tournament you come listen to my presentation on investing in card time shares. /s



  • TCG mid is a serious problem. Vendors rely on uninformed buyers who look at TCG with their quick phone apps and see a giant number that legitimizes a price. They know the cash value is lower, but when some kid shows up to the trade tables with a binder full of highly liquid standard and modern staples wanting to pick up his first power, or some old Legends card, that arbitrary price means he gets taken to the cleaners. Vendors look at $1500 Tabernacles as an opportunity to take in $2000 in buylist which they can flip for cash faster than the one kid looking to build Lands. It's not malicious; they're just being good stewards of their own inventory and looking to turn a profit. Business is business.

    In many ways, we were better off in the days of Scrye. Internet sales were supposed to pinpoint the true value of cards, but in reality it has just become an unregulated market for speculation. The tools we have available are too easily manipulated. I wish a popular site like TCG would start calculating mid prices as an average over time, rather than a snapshot of a single moment. If it took 30 days to drag the needle up on old cards, it would be a lot harder for people to spike a card and cause a panic.



  • Which deck(s) have started running Moat and The Abyss? These both sound extraordinarily slow in the modern Vintage metagame.



  • I've seen Moat a time or two to deal with Eldrazi. It's catching on in legacy more as a Miracles strategy for the spaghetti monsters.

    Personally I think Bridge and Humility are just as effective.


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