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Traveling Back to the Digital


Fleecemane Lion
A while back now, I covered my personal experience with Magic Online and how I was using the program to still keep up with the game while on a strict schedule that does not always allow for me to play in large events. Since then, the Magic economy has undergone some drastic changes, and I was able to take advantage of this time to cement myself as not only a casual drafter in the digital world but also a Block enthusiast.

For those who have been out of the loop, there was a particular weekend when Magic Online took a ton of flak for multiple crashes during major events, prompting a bit of a social media outrage. This led to the suspension of events and, in turn, crashed the economy with cards dipping below half of their values in some cases. With my decision to move into Magic Online for my hobby fix, I decided to dive deep in and buy the rest of Theros while it was underpriced. The Magic Online economy has a built in failsafe for the economy, as the cards can be redeemed for physical copies. This allows you to move in on cards in bulk, knowing that overall the values will still even out. This, of course, is fairly irrelevant news now, as the economy has all but recovered, and deals are hard to come by. That does not mean, however, it is not in some people’s best interests to move into the digital version of the game we love.

As all of this information is merely my story, that does not mean it is irrelevant to the common player. Yes, I was fortunate to buy in when I did. That does not mean that delving into Magic Online is a bad thing even now; you just need to be more careful on how you invest. When I first started, I put about $20 in when Theros first released and bought into any cheap rares that I felt had potential while their prices plummeted as everyone opened packs for the release. With these few investments and a solid Limited streak, I managed to amass a number of packs and cards that I then sold to finish my set when the price drop hit. This same model can be used to set yourself up in any set, but you just have to be more aware of when to buy in; that information can be obtained by watching the market or by checking in on real world trends. Watching results from events when they go live in the next few weeks will also give you a good idea of what is making waves in the digital world. With all of this information, you can make some smart buys and obtain most of a set for very little considering how cheap most rares are. With the knowledge that these cards can be redeemed, it gives you a strong end goal that can also fuel your real-world habit if you choose.

Snapcaster Mage
I have been treating Magic Online as a savings account of sorts with the realization that the cards are worth a particular value when in a complete set and ensuring that I spend less than that to complete them. If you let the cards sit for a while—as not all of us have time to play constantly—they will hold value as a whole since the price of a complete set will probably dip very little through the course of Standard. As long as you either redeem your cards or trade them off before redemption is cut off for a set, they are fairly sound investments.

The online market offers a number of amenities we do not have access to when moving physical objects. One of these perks that I enjoy the most is the ability to move cards immediately. This means if you know something is falling from favor, you can probably snag a good price for it still, as the transfer is immediate. In the physical manifest of the game, you have the chance to not only be conditioned on cards—which is another added benefit of the digital realm—but you also have to wait to be paid and hope that whomever you sold to will honor the price if it drops before the transaction is completed. This peace of mind means you can spend far less time researching the market to make sure you dump things immediately and enjoy more time playing the game. No one who is using Magic as a game for his or her hobby wants to spend countless hours figuring out when exactly to sell a card among dozens of major sites while still attempting to play the game.

With Magic Online, you also have the option to “lease” cards. What I mean by this is that though you may not want to buy a set of cards to sit on, there is nothing preventing you from buying them the morning of and selling them immediately following the event. In the real world, it can take weeks to ship anything, and weeks again when reselling. On top of the weight, the average loss on Magic Online is less than 10%, a far cry from the 40$ to 60% we see on the physical market. This also means when you go to sell out, it does not take nearly as much momentum to make money on a card. If you were only going to take a 5% hit when reselling in real life, there would be a ton more investing, even on smaller cards that neared bulk. If you buy a bulk rare on Magic Online, at three to five cents, you have a much cheaper initial cost than the quarter or more we see on publicly-traded sites—or even higher for retail. That means even if the card hits a quarter online, you can easily turn that into twenty cents, each making for a much better margin than buying for a quarter to sell for fifty cents if it hits $2 or more.

This is not to say that the only people who should look to Magic Online are people with too busy of schedules and not enough time to keep up with the market. I am treating it this way mainly to have an outlet to still play, but you can just as easily make a great deal of profit using these same methods while keeping a keener eye directly on the market. I know a number of people who have gone so far as to start a network of bots and some who just casually target cards when they are too cheap. After talking to some of them, I began asking, as a player, what I should be looking for—a bit unreal for me, honestly, to be asking about the market from someone else, but it’s a good feeling nonetheless.

Hinterland Harbor
With everyone’s concentration on the Standard market, we have seen a number of cards that have recently rotated go by the wayside. When the market crashed, we saw an even larger gap come between a number of these cards that still have yet to recover in some cases. To name a few cards I have been picking up lately, we have Snapcaster Mage at a measly $3 and each of the Innistrad lands at a quarter or under. While the market may be down now, it seems that it’s the perfect time to get in on these Modern and Eternal staples while you can—supply will probably not spike again soon. I was also going to move in on some Modern Masters cards, as they have taken a bit of a hit, but with the rerelease of the set this week, I believe I will wait until supply has hit its peak over the next few weeks. I am not even sure if I want to get into Modern, though, as I am leaning back toward competitive play, it seems I likely will. Regardless of whether I choose to use these for myself, buying them makes sense, as they will all probably spike by that point, and in the worst-case scenario, I will sell out to invest deeper into Standard or Block.

I have found a number of people who have helped me and a few resources lately that have been invaluable as I make this transition, so I hope to bring you some interviews and insight into the Magic Online market from some of the pros soon if people are seeking that.

That is all I have for this week. I know my knowledge may seem a bit fragmented and hard to comprehend now, but as I gain more and expand my card pool, I will have more to teach. If anyone else has recently gotten into Magic Online or can remember what helped in the beginning, please feel free to comment below or hit me up on Twitter. I am looking for an expansive database of knowledge, and even the small tips can make or break a market for some people. Over the next few weeks, I will be bringing you a closer look at a helpful tool for those looking to snag some cheap cards—as well as another article covering trade groups and how to cater to your crowd. Until then, enjoy the holiday season and try to stay warm!

Ryan Bushard


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