In October, 2019, multiple Magic: The Gathering sets will rotate out of the current Standard format card pool. Each fall, a few sets rotate out of Standard to update the format. An article on Card Game Base explains the 2019 Standard rotation. The specific MTG sets rotating this fall are Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, and Core 2019.
In my previous article, I evaluated the investment potential of former Standard set booster boxes. I looked at their historical prices over time to determine growth, profitability, and investment potential. In this article, I will attempt to forecast the future prices and potential returns of Standard set booster boxes rotating this fall.
There are multiple techniques one can use to forecast the future of a product's price and demand. This detailed article on forecasting techniques covers qualitative techniques, time series analysis, and causal models. I did a simple time series analysis to forecast booster box prices over the next year. The data used to predict and analyze rotating Standard booster boxes can be downloaded here. I referenced the worksheet titled October 2019 for this analysis. Data from my previous article is included under the October 2018 worksheet. The data and calculations found on the October 2018 worksheet can be used to establish a basic average growth rate for forecasting future booster box prices.
Evaluating Current Booster Box Prices
Before going into further details, I need to make an assumption that all rotating fall set print runs have ended. While I have no hard proof this has occurred, I believe it is a safe assumption at this time. As long as booster boxes are printed to current demand, their prices will remain fairly stagnant. In addition, this analysis assumes booster boxes were purchased at a low retail price of $80.00. This price is reflective of the cost from a distributor. In addition, some businesses sell booster boxes of Standard sets at their cost to move inventory. There are other methods of buying close to distributor pricing as well. The below graphic shows rotating booster box average market prices on Ebay for August, 2019.
It is interesting how much people are paying for a booster box of Dominaria. The other sets are selling for around the expected retail price of a Standard booster box. Why is Dominaria worth much more money than the other rotating sets? While I cannot provide specific evidence, Dominaria does have a few special qualities. It is considered one of the best drafting sets in recent history. In addition, the nostalgia of the set brought back many former MTG players to the game. Half of the players I spoke with at the pre-release came because they wanted to play with Llanowar Elves, Goblin Warchief, Icy Manipulator, and other iconic cards. I believe these qualitative reasons are reinforced by the lack of expected value (EV) from opening a booster box of Dominaria.
Next, I compared current booster box prices to the EV of each set found on MTG Dawnglare using the default TCGplayer Mid pricing. The set EV and booster box prices do not correlate well. Dominaria booster boxes are selling at two and a half times their set EV. Rivals of Ixalan has the highest set EV and the lowest booster box price. There are other factors beyond set EV affecting current booster box prices.
Forecasting Future Booster Box Prices
I used formulas combining set EV, booster box pricing, and a historic average monthly growth rate to forecast future price movement. First, I divided the current market value of a booster box by its set EV to get a percentage. This basic formula combines the present market prices and underlying value together. For example, Ixalan's booster box price of $90.00 divided by $56.12 equals 60.4%. After establishing the percentages across four sets, I wanted to apply known historical information. I multiplied the calculated percentages by the average monthly growth rate of the six previous Standard set booster boxes. The result from this calculation gave me adjusted average growth rates for each set rotating in October, 2019. As an example, Ixalan's adjusted average growth rate became 1.07% after multiplying 60.4% by 1.78%. Finally, I multiplied the average monthly growth rate by the number of months for the hold period and added $80.00 (price paid for a booster box). The results showed that Ixalan and Dominaria were likely profitable one year from now after applicable shipping and fees. Another point worth noting is that anyone who bought Dominaria booster boxes at $110.00 or less would likely make a profit. However, buying it now at the current market price of $120.00 is a risky bet.
Accuracy of a Forecast
This analysis is just one method to predict future price changes. While the future prices seem reasonable, the model is not without flaws. I am assuming that current market conditions do not change over the course of a year. If there is a global recession in 2020, it could negatively affect future growth rates of booster boxes. In addition, the logic is based on the accuracy of my historical booster box monthly growth rate average. If I wanted to test this number for accuracy, I could add additional data for previous Standard sets to the historical analysis. While my data analysis is not perfect, I hope it provides some insight in understanding forecasting models.
*The information in this article is of my own knowledge and opinion. It is meant for informational purposes only. I am not a registered financial professional or trying to act as one.*
The Queen City Anime Convention is a three-day event centered around anime, cosplay, video games, and other Japanese related themes. This year, the event was held at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel in Charlotte, NC. It took place from August 9th, 2019 through August 11th, 2019. My brother and I attended the convention on Saturday. I was approved to run a Japan travel panel at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday as well. We decided to stay most of the day and attended other panels, special events, the video game room, and the marketplace. According to the event staff, over 4,000 people attended the convention this year.
Austin and I began our day in the parking garage next to the hotel. The convention offered a discounted rate of $5 to park all day. We quickly went through registration and obtained our badges for the day. QCAC improved their registration process from the previous year. I used the Fan Guru event application to figure out where my panel room was located. This app was very helpful navigating the halls and keeping track of events I wanted to attend. After a quick check-in at Con Ops, I was ready for my panel at 11:00 a.m.
My panel was a success with 42 attendees and great questions from the audience. I was able to present and answer questions with five minutes to spare. The only bad part about my panel was the room size. All of the 32 seats were taken. but 10 additional attendees had to stand across the back wall. The room size issue was a reoccurring problem throughout the day.
After my panel ended, we went next door to see if Austin could participate in the speed dating event. Unfortunately, the demand far exceeded the room size and slots for participants. This created confusion and logistics issues for the event. Ultimately, Austin and I left the area to check out the dealer's room. We checked out some of the dealers among a crowd of people. After walking the room one time, Austin, bought a handmade craft for $12.00. I was tempted to buy a t-shirt, but the styles did not interest me enough.
Later on, we attended the Samurai vs. Ninja panel hosted Samurai Dan. This panel was featured a series of questions to decide if you acted like a samurai or a ninja. Dan did an excellent job entertaining and engaging the audience. I could tell why he was a featured guest host for multiple panels. I recommend attending one of his panels at a future convention. After the panel ended, we tried to get in line for the Cosplay Circus Show. Unfortunately, the line wrapped far around the convention hall. When we realized the main event room was too small to hold all of the people in line, we gave up and went to the gaming room.
I got a chance to play the Initial D Infinite 8 arcade machine. I was able to beat the first rivals race before giving another person a chance to play. Austin and I tried to find a fighting game station available, but they were taken by tournament participants. We ended up walking to the Social Media Breakdown for Cosplayers panel. My hope was that we could learn something even though the panel started 30 minutes prior to our arrival. Much to my surprise, the panel either ended early or did not start at all. With nothing else going on, we went back to the main events room to try and catch part of the Cosplay Circus Show. There was still a line of people waiting to see the show. The room was at maximum capacity forcing volunteers to use a one-in-one-out system. Ultimately, my brother and I decided to take a break until the next scheduled special event.
We got in line about 4:20 p.m. to see the None Like Joshua Rap Show. Unfortunately, the Cosplay Circus Show ran almost 30 minutes past the scheduled time slot. While we did see the show, it started close to an hour later than scheduled. None Like Joshua put on a great performance and it was the highlight of our day at QCAC. After the show, Austin and I decided to end our day at the convention. We had planned to meet Ashley for dinner at Sea Level. While our day was met with unexpected demand and delays, we did have a fun and enjoyable experience. My brother and I enjoyed interacting with other attendees and found the volunteer staff extremely friendly. It is exciting that QCAC continues to grow rapidly as a summer convention in Charlotte, NC. Hopefully, I can attend and present again at QCAC in 2020.
Seoul Food Meat Co. is a BBQ restaurant with Korean inspired cuisine. The restaurant is located in Charlotte's Southend neighborhood near the Wooden Robot Brewery. Walking into Seoul Food, you may notice televisions playing K-pop (Korean Pop) music videos. While Seoul Food has a full bar and table seating for customers, they also offer karaoke rooms to rent by the hour. There are four different themed karaoke rooms that can hold anywhere from 7 to 30 people. For my birthday this year, Ashley rented the Rock Star room that will hold close to 30 individuals. Charlotte Five published an article that has more specific information about each karaoke room available.
The Rock Star room at Seoul Food contains a karaoke machine with two microphones. The software on the system is Korean based. You can change the language to English (your room server should do this for you). Songs are found via a large code book or by searching the system with a remote control. You can play songs instantly or queue them for later. While not all songs we searched were in the system, there are plenty available to enjoy singing for hours.
The room also contains three televisions where song lyrics are displayed along with various Korean music videos. While the videos did not match up well with songs we selected, they were entertaining and interesting to watch. I liked having multiple televisions because anyone could sing while sitting in their seat or at the stage.
If you are interested in renting a room, I recommend calling to reserve one in advance. Seoul Food does not require a deposit, but they will let your room go if you are late for the scheduled time. Once a room is reserved, you can stay in it as long as you want. I also recommend not inviting more people that the room occupancy. We had about 23 people in the Rock Star room with a maximum occupancy of 27. The room was very crowded with over 20 people. There is a form that must be signed outlining the terms and conditions for renting a karaoke room. One point worth mentioning is that your server will charge a mandatory gratuity on top of the room rental price. When we received the bill for our rental, this policy added $63.00 in additional gratuity to the bill.
Beyond the additional gratuity charge, we had an amazing time at Seoul Food. Everyone in attendance agreed that they would do it again for a birthday or special occasion. Their meat platters and wings were excellent choices and easier to share among the group. Our server did a wonderful job keeping track of separate orders and billing. I recommend the karaoke experience at Seoul Food for anyone interested in singing the night away.