If they had a Clue, you’d be the Last to Know: Bullshit Financial Advice

Posted on July 28, 2011

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by Greg Hatch

[Note from the Editor: I wanted to published a piece making fun of all the ‘financial analysis’ quackery that’s been gaining popularity in recent months.  I tasked my friend Greg Hatch with writing it since I know he actually makes money buying and selling Magic cards.  He isn’t a dealer in the traditional sense.  He doesn’t make money by buying from consumers and jacking prices up selling to other consumers, he just buys low and sells high to and from dealers (mostly on MODO), and he’s very good at it.  This is the guy you want writing financial analysis articles, but as he suggests below, why would he give his secrets away for $50-100 per article?  Fortunately, the jokes he gives away for free.  -Matt Sperling]

Recently there have been many people on strategy sites giving what they call “financial advice.” This ranges from “buy Stoneforge, it’s obvious” to “Don’t rip up money, if you can avoid it.”  What’s even more unbelievable is that they are willing and eager to give away this advice which could make anyone thousands of dollars (if accurate) for about $50 an article.

Here’s a few excerpts from Johnathan Medina’s recent SCG article on M12 cards, with my comments below.

                        Angelic Destiny $7.49

As a control player, I would never play this card. I have fewer than ten creatures in pretty much every deck that I play (except my Commander deck). I really don’t like this card personally, but its power cannot be denied. I only get about halfway through when reading the text before I cringe; it sounds like this…

Creature gets +4/+4…

has flying…

and basically I’m dead.

This is the kind of card that can just take off if it finds the right deck. It really helps you get the most out of your value creatures, and if you pair it with Squadron Hawk, then things can get ugly for your opponent.

Popularity: Mid-High
Perceived Value: High $8
Synopsis: If it finds the right deck, this card can easily hit $15. If you play aggro, then you should pick these up at $7.
Action: Engage

Holy shit. I just had an aneurism.  I’ll just start listing issues:

1)      Its a God damn creature enchantment

2)      Its in a format with 3 very playable swords of x and y…

3)      …and two very playable Swords to Plowshares (Dispatch and Dismember)

4)      Bolt and O Ring two for one you

5)      Spellskite fucks you, as does anything else geared towards SplinterTwin

5)      I wouldn’t play this even if it was a 4/4 flying first strike creature that comes back when it dies.

6)      Karn is $15.

7)      Into the roil is played commonly in blue decks of all types.

8)      This card costs 4 mana.

9)      It doesn’t even give lifelink?

The card is not even close to playable.  Financial advice regarding a new set starts with understanding Magic in general.  There’s probably a reason you don’t see articles about Standard deck construction by Jonathan Medina or Ben Bleiweiss or Brian Grewe or others, so why would you trust their take on new cards with values largely dependent on their impact on Standard?

Moving right along…

                        Jace’s Archivist        $2.49

Windfall is such a powerful effect, and I’m surprised that they put it on a creature. This card is flexible because it can be used in a mill strategy, a graveyard strategy, or a control strategy to help refill your hand. He doesn’t fit right into any current decks, but this is definitely a card to keep an eye on.

Popularity: Low
Perceived Value: Low $1
Synopsis: I am not sure what this card is going to do, but I like it. You can pick them up at a dollar, and I recommend that you do.
Action: Engage

Typical of successful investment coaches, a lead is given with no substantial thoughts regarding its long-term or short term gains, along with no idea why the hell you would even want it.  Beyond just not really providing much insight into why, he does even less to provide the how.  Do I pick up just a playset?  Buy a ton?  Hold on to them forever?  Wait for it to double?  Who knows, and in reality its irrelevant because this card is obviously not going up.  But on the bright side, he does provide “I like it” .

                        Rites of Flourishing         $0.99

I was riding the fence about sticking this card in the bulk section, but then I reminded myself that Valakut is still in the format for another three months after M12 drops. There was a Standard deck in the past that ran this card, and I think it’s a reasonable consideration even after Valakut cycles out.

Popularity: Low
Perceived Value: Accurate $1
Synopsis: Get in there and get these at fifty cents!
Action: Engage

Referencing a deck that doesn’t and would never want this effect as a reason for an unplayable reprinted rare to jump from .50 to $1+ is just silly. And then what? You buy them and turn them for profit? Its an accurate $1 price, so get them for $.50.   Hmm.  Doesn’t this apply to thousands of $1 cards that you can get for $.50?  Have you really gained money if you buy 100 of these at $.50 and its “worth” $1?  How are you going to sell them?  Are you just buying them on the .01% chance you use them in a deck?  Just wait and pick the playset up for $4 if that ever does happen.  Holy shit this pisses me off.

                        Skinshifter       $3.99

I have a really tough time believing that this is a four-dollar card. Maybe my evaluation skills still need to mature, but it seems like this card is going to see a ton of play. As a control player, I wouldn’t mind having this guy on my team in Standard, and I’ll even go as far to say that this could see Legacy play. Yes, I realize that it has to compete with Tarmogoyf, but this thing flies. OK, maybe that’s just Crazy Talk, but I already said it, and there’s no going back now.

Popularity: Medium
Perceived Value: Accurate $4
Synopsis: This card has a lot of potential, and it’s worth picking up. I could see this hitting $6 pretty easily.
Action: Engage

Yep, he said it, no going back now.  No way to change it, because he’s  broadcasting this article live. Its super busted across many formats, and yet its an “Accurate $4” value.  Does he roll dice when coming up with the “Perceived Value?”  Fauna Shaman is good, and saw play across formats and in casual EDH decks and in every cube, and it started at 10 and dropped ever since.  Is that worth mentioning?

                        Grim Lavamancer        $5.99

This is one of the more exciting reprints. It’s going to breathe new life into Mono Red, give aggro decks an edge, and give a tool to control decks. If this card wasn’t printed in the Fire and Lightning decks, then I think it would have had a lot more room to grow. I see Lavamancer being in high demand, but the price may only see a minimal bump.

Popularity: High
Perceived Value: Accurate $6
Synopsis: I’ve had a lot of people asking for this. Pick up as many as you can.
Action: Engage

He doesn’t think it will rise in price. He admits it was released in a pre-con, which will stunt its growth.  In short, buy as as many as I can. Wait, what?

                        Dungrove Elder   $2.99

If it weren’t for the new Garruk, then this would be in the bulk list. Before Garruk, Primal Hunter, this guy was the only incentive to play mono-green. If you have this guy in play when you drop Garruk on turn five, you’ll be drawing six cards the next turn (after making a Beast). It feels like the pieces of a solid mono-green list are coming together (also see Skinshifter).

Popularity: Low
Perceived Value: Low $1-2
Synopsis: The price is low enough that you could take a chance and trade for a handful of these. The worst-case scenario is that the card sucks, and you can ship it to casual players (i.e. little kids) for the price that you picked it up.
Action: Engage (but not too many)

Not that this advice is really that bad, but I just wanted to point out that the primary exit strategy he is advocating is to sell these to ignorant children.  Always have a backup plan I guess.  The “mono-green aids” deck he is suggesting only tarnishes his credibility even further.

                        Adaptive Automaton       $4.99

This card has it all, casual appeal and tournament viability. There are some recent Merfolk lists that are running Phyrexian Metamorph to copy their lords. You get a little more benefit out of the Metamorph because you can use it to kill legendary creatures (ahem Progenitus), but you can play the Automaton on an empty board, which lets you stay aggressive.

Popularity: High
Perceived Value: Low $4
Synopsis: I could see this being an $8 rare [sic], especially if it sees regular play in Standard.
Action: Engage

I added the “[sic]” into the excerpt because this may be a typo.  The pricing is that bad.  There is NO TRIBAL THEME IN STANDARD. HOLY CHRIST. $8 dollars?!?!  This card couldn’t see play in a high-school drama class.  The fact that this card is colorless isn’t going to help anything, you still need a tribe.  Yeah yeah sure EDH etc, its not gonna drive a new set non-mythic rare to over $8. Point me in the direction of any rare creature this price in the last year, least of all this card.  The card he compares it to (which is better, WAY better) is currently going for $6 on starcity. But maybe when he says he “could see it being $8” he means it more theoretically, like “I could imagine top8ing an FNM with mono green skinshifter”

                        Chandra’s Phoenix $2.99

People are excited about this card. I like the fact that getting it back from the graveyard doesn’t cost anything. I could see this playing a similar role as Hellspark Elemental in red decks. It’s a repeatable source of damage, and it’s a really bad target for a counterspell. In the late game it helps to refuel a red deck’s hand.

Popularity: Medium
Perceived Value: Accurate $3
Synopsis: This will see play in Standard. It’s the buy-a-box promo so it could have a similar pricing trend to Surgical Extraction. This means that it would trend down at first and then see a small upswing when it starts to see play.
Action: Engage

Just what mono red needed, a way get additional value from a 3 mana 2/2 by using mana on turn 8 to do 2 extra damage. In a format with Condemn, Oblivion ring, Celestial Purge, and at least Journey and Oust for now, I can’t imagine not playing this card for additional staying power in mono red. Fuck. If this isn’t the most obvious ploy to sell these from starcitygames inventory, I don’t know what is.  It’s not that this card is COMPLETEY unplayable, it isn’t.  I mean, it won’t see almost any play in tournaments, but its kind of cool, I guess.  But yeah sure pick up a bunch at $3 and sell them easily for $5 in 6 months.  I don’t see any problem with this. (I had a hard time even writing that sentence.)

Summing things up, the guys who write dedicated financial advice articles are kind of like the people who write sports betting advice columns, horse racing advice columns, stock market advice columns, etc.  When someone claims to have knowledge that would be very valuable to actually possess, they are either wrong, lying, guessing, only providing common sense information you could have figured out yourself, or selling you yesterday’s news.  My advice to aspiring traders and collectors is to look for indicators of what people are actually doing, rather than what a few blowhards are saying.  My advice to the blowhards is to please STFU.

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