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The Buy/Sell Question


I read a lot of comments on a lot of articles, threads, facebook posts, etc. I see a ton of the same questions asked. In this article I hope to bullet point some frequently asked questions because I think the value of making this decision on your own vastly outweighs asking the internet. The two biggest questions are "should I buy this?" and "should I sell this?" Let's take a look at how I approach those questions.

Should I sell this?

Nobody knows enough information about this except you. When I decide to sell cards I consider some criteria and hopefully by sharing it with you, you can make you own decisions about when to sell.

Am I playing this card?

Don't sell cards you play with. That's counterproductive.

Am I going to play this card in the near future?

This might seem a little obvious but I've seen a lot of people make pretty poor decisions because they don't consider this. What are your goals going forward? Are you looking to build an Arclight Phoenix deck in Modern? If so, you probably shouldn't sell your Arclight Phoenixes even though you're not playing them at the moment. The cost to re-buy cards you were going to use but sold is often not worth it. This counts double for Arclight Phoenix because most of its demand isn't even from Standard. It likely won't drop much or at all when Standard rotates.

How long can I afford to hold this?

Ah yes, the ole "hold that card, it will retain value forever" argument. I see this most commonly with reserve list cards. People ask if they should hold or sell these insanely expensive cards. The argument I hear from people is "hold it, it will always go up" and while that's true, you have to consider how long you are willing to wait to get rid of it. The price trajectory of reserve list cards is generally up but if something falls out of favor or Legacy is supported less at the highest levels then the cards will drop. If you can sell an Underground Sea for 90% of the value you could sell it in two years, is it worth it? How many years do you want to hold something?

Is there a reason this card might go up soon?

This is a pretty simple one. Is there a Mythic Championship, Grand Prix, or StarCity Open that is likely to feature the card I'm looking to sell? Can you wait until it's going on? It's very unlikely that cards will fall when they get featured on camera but it is extremely likely they rise. People like to panic buy after seeing success on camera. The next Mythic Championship is Modern and will be during the pre-release weekend. That's not that far away so if you had Modern cards you were thinking about selling you have actionable reasons to wait.

Should I buy this?

One again, this is another question that is better if you answer yourself rather than ask others for opinions.

When will I play the deck that needs this card?

A lot of players get caught up in "but what if I need this?" thoughts. I know that's not a very scientific way of explaining but you know what I'm saying. This point often comes up most when on the eve of a new set release. How much do you need to have cards the day the set is released? I don't typically, so I won't rush to pre-order them or buy them on release day. Are you playing in a high stakes tournament soon after the set is released? You may want to pre-order them then. It's okay to overpay to make sure you have the best deck you could play that weekend. The other time this question is important is for Modern. Do you regularly play Modern? Are you just building a deck to play the MCQs during Modern season? If you don't play it a lot there isn't a lot of reason to buy cards too ahead of time.

Is there a high chance of reprint in the near future?

This point is a little subjective. When Modern Horizons was announced people assumed Scalding Tarn was a card that could have been reprinted. This kept the price of Scalding Tarn fairly low (relatively) because people weren't buying it aggressively for fear of a reprint. When it was announced that this Modern only set would not include any cards currently legal in Modern, there was a huge spike. This was what people were waiting for. When thinking about how you are looking to build your Modern or Commander decks you will need to consider how future sets will affect the prices of your cards. If there's a key card for Humans in Modern Horizons it could cause a spike in the other cards in the deck. If I was looking to build the deck I would think most about the low supply cards that aren't going to get reprinted and secure them now.

How much are you willing to spend to play Magic?

Maybe that's a little vague but that's basically the question I would ask myself. How much are you willing to spend on Magic? If you get to play Standard twice a week for 3 months, what is that worth to you? If your Standard deck is worth $100 less after that time frame, is it worth the same to you as two video games? You're basically paying $100 for 24 tournaments. That's the average number of times you can play between set releases. You definitely can't go to 24 movies for $100. Based loosely on current movie prices near me, it would probably cost $300 to see 24 movies. Now let's add another $200 for new cards every set. You're looking at probably $300 per set release to keep playing Magic. Is that something you're willing to do? If it's not, then don't buy the cards. You can definitely save a lot more by purchasing cards from the same block (Four-color gate ramp deck is a great investment now because it won't largely change until it rotates in fall 2020) and playing a deck for a long time.

When did this card last change in price?

Cards that are spiking or have recently seen price increases are much more likely to become cheaper in the coming days. There is always a supply and demand curve that becomes sated eventually as people sell copies they don't need anymore and players stop buying at the higher price. Generally speaking I would recommend waiting until the Tuesday or Wednesday after a card sees a significant increase to purchase my copies if I need them. It gives stores a chance to restock and a work day or two for stores to resupply themselves from people that weren't paying attention over the weekend. I like to refer to the post spike price as the "weekend" price because it almost never stays past then. Unfortunately this is the price that often gets quoted to players as the new "going rate" and causes more panic purchases.

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions or at least points you in the direction of figuring it out for yourself. Ultimately nobody can predict the future and you can only make decisions based on the best information available to you. You may make a decision that may not work out in the long run but it's important to not let results oriented thinking make you feel like you made a mistake.

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