Modern Horizons is a special Magic: The Gathering set that was designed for the Modern format. The set is unique because it includes 209 brand-new cards playable in the Modern, Legacy, and Commander formats. It was released on June 14th, 2019 for around $200.00 per booster box. A booster box contains 36 packs of trading cards with 15 individual cards inside each pack.
This new MTG set has already made a large impact across constructed formats. Modern was warped by Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis until its banning on August 26th, 2019. Wrenn and Six have quickly become a premier card in multiple Legacy and Modern decks. Multiple creatures such as Plague Engineer and Giver of Runes are found in the MTG Goldfish top 10 most played Modern creatures list.
Where to Begin Forecasting Modern Horizons
Modern Horizons (MH) is a tricky set to forecast future pricing because there has never been something like it before. The set changed the Modern format landscape and created new deck builds such as Bant Soulherder and Four-Color Whirza. Since MH was released just over 3 months, historical booster box pricing is stagnant. Also, the set is still in print with no official word on a potential end date currently.
To find a baseline for calculating future pricing, I looked at weighted averages and growth rates from my previous booster box forecasting articles. While MH is not a Standard format set, this data could provide some insight into how prices change over two to three years. The data I used for this article can be downloaded here.
Establishing Current Market Prices for a Non-MSRP Product
MH was released without an advertised MSRP for physical booster boxes and packs. However, the pricing for digital packs on Magic Online (MTGO) was set at $6.99. Next, I looked at current physical prices for MH 3-pack blisters sold at mass retailers like Target and Gamestop. Their pricing for this product was $21.00 or $7.00 per pack. Since the digital and retail pack prices were at $7.00 each, I used this information to establish a real MSRP. I set an estimated MSRP per physical pack of MH at $7.00. Multiplying $7.00 by 36 equals $252.00 per booster box.
To figure out a current market price for MH booster boxes, I calculated the average sale price of 84 sold English listings on eBay. The sales ranged from August 13th, 2019 to September 2nd, 2019. I thought it was important to include booster box sales before and after the Hoogaak banning. The reason I chose 84 sold booster boxes was that it was enough to calculate a reasonable average price. The final average price per booster box sold was $179.25. I decided to use this number as my buy-in price per booster box of Modern Horizons. As a comparison, the TCG Player market price per pack and booster box of MH was $5.10 and $183.51 respectively.
Calculating Projected Growth Rates
Once I established an MSRP and buy-in price per booster box, I could begin trying to understand future growth opportunities. For this analysis, I disregarded the current set EV from MTG Dawnglare. I did this because subtracting the set EV by online selling fees of 12.9%, plus shipping costs, would cause a financial loss on average. My target sell date was set to December 2021 (30 months after release). This was close to the average hold period in my previous financial articles on Standard booster boxes. I also wanted to get an estimate for December 2020 (18 months after release). My assumption was that booster boxes of MH would stop being printed by Christmas, 2019 (six months after release). Historically, specialty sets were printed in shortened periods as well. I shortened the estimated printing time frame to six months due to the fall product release dates of Throne of Eldraine and Brawl decks. It would not seem realistic for Wizards of the Coast to continuing printing a specialty product long past these two product releases. If I was a business owner, I would want to focus my advertising dollars and attention on newness for the holiday season.
In the analysis, current booster box prices fell between $179.25 and $252.00 (estimated retail). By averaging the booster box prices on eBay, TCG Player, MTGO (36 packs), and Target (12 blisters of 3-packs), I calculated a price of $216.57 or $6.02 a pack. At the current point in time of September 2nd, 2019, a player could spend $36.00 ($1.00 per pack) above or below the average booster box price depending on the retail outlet.
I decided to calculate a low, medium, and high estimate instead of one future market price. The reason for this is because the historical data of similar products was lacking. For the low estimate, I assumed a customer was willing to pay the estimated retail price of $252.00 per booster box now and after printing ends in the future. This assumption was based on the pricing for MH packs on MTGO and at mass retailers. To hit a target price of $252.00 per booster box from $179.25 in 30 months, the average growth rate would need to be 1.35% or $2.43 per month. This percentage is close to the calculated average growth for predicting future booster box prices of Standard sets rotating in October 2019.
To calculate a medium estimate, I used a weighted average of the holding period and average monthly growth rate for all standard booster boxes in my previous prediction articles. The MH Data tab of the analysis contains the math used to calculate an average monthly growth rate of 1.65% or $2.95. Multiplying the dollar amount by 30 and adding it to $179.25 results in an estimated future booster box price of $267.79 or $7.44 a pack. If the target date to sell was December 2020, the estimated future booster box price is $232.37.
To calculate the high estimate, I used the same method as the medium estimate except I only looked at Dominaria, Kaladesh, Aether Revolt, and Eldritch Moon. These were the top growth rates over time among the analyzed Standard set boxes. The weighted average of the best performing sets over time resulted in an average growth rate of 2.99% per month or $5.36. The estimated future box price after 30 months came to $339.96 or $9.44 per pack. After only 18 months, the estimated booster box price is $275.68.
Analyzing Future Booster Box Price Predictions
Averaging the three future pricing predictions for December 2021 results in a booster box price of $286.58 or $7.96 per pack. At $286.58, MH would appreciate 59.9% over two years and 6 months since its release date. After the estimated transaction and shipping fees, this would result in a profit of 32.1%. If MH appreciated only to its estimated MSRP of $252.00, it would appreciate 40.6% in the same time period. The profit after estimated fees and shipping would be 15.3%.
If a booster box was bought at $180.00, the estimated break-even sale price is $221.35. When looking at the predicted future booster box prices for 18 months, the expected break-even point would be December 2020. In other words, buying at the current average booster box price of $179.25 in September 2019 would require a hold period of 15 months to break-even.
There are other outside factors that can affect future booster box prices such as the print run, drafting, and collectability. While this analysis does not cover these outside influences, it tries to incorporate them by using data from previous forecasts and history of other booster boxes. Another way to forecast MH is using previous Masters' booster box price changes instead of older Standard set booster boxes. A third way could be combining Masters' booster box historical pricing and Standard set booster box historical pricing. Ultimately, a forecast is a future prediction based on historical data and other available information.
*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.*
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