According to www.dictionary.com, "a self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that causes itself to be true due to the behavior (including the act of predicting it) of the believer." I have noticed alarming increases in card price movement after Internet personalities and websites share Magic: The Gathering speculations publicly. An article on Quiet Speculation, by Sigmund Ausfresser, highlighted the dangers of buyouts and price retracing. My takeaway from his article is that artificial demand, fueled by hype, will not hold price increases in the long-run. A recent MTG finance related YouTube video published by The Mana Source has received over 77,000 views since June 11, 2019. The suggested MTG speculations were not all original ideas. In fact, multiple cards in the video were previously recommended by other individuals. Following the release of the video, I researched price movements for the Return to Ravnica Supreme Verdict and Core 2019 Scapeshift MTG cards. I wanted to see if these card prices were affected each time an online article or video suggested others to buy them. Information from MTG Stocks was used to gather historical data on average price changes for Supreme Verdict and Scapeshift.
Return to Ravnica Supreme Verdict
On May 6, 2019, Travis Allen recommended Supreme Verdict in his weekly article at MTG Price. Allen also co-hosts the MTG Fast Finance podcast. The average price of Supreme Verdict on May 6th, 2019 was $4.80. Two days later, Rogue Deckbuilder's Rogue Roundup #14 also recommended Supreme Verdict as a speculation. His video had over 3,600 views as of June 11th, 2019. The average price of Supreme Verdict remained at $4.80 on May 13th, 2019. Over the next week, the average price increased to $4.93. On May, 26th, 2019, The Mana Source published a video highlighting Supreme Verdict as one of the 10 best cards to buy now. The next day, the average price of Supreme Verdict jumped to $5.06.
One event worth noting is the Star City Games Modern Open in Louisville, KY held over Memorial Day weekend. Two copies of Supreme Verdict were in a Blue/White Control top 8 deck list for the Modern Open and Classic. This deck has been a top contender for some time and commonly plays two Supreme Verdict. In addition, Modern Horizons spoiler season was happening before and after the event. It was common knowledge that the set could dramatically change the Modern competitive landscape. Modern players were waiting for the full spoilers of Modern Horizons before making changes to existing decks. While the results of a large event and spoilers can greatly affect card prices, I believe these events had a small impact on the price of Supreme Verdict.
By June 3rd, 2019, the price of Supreme Verdict increased to $5.49. Later that week on June 4th, 2019, Rogue Deckbuilder published a video where he agreed with The Mana Source that Supreme Verdict was a good speculation target. Prices continued to climb to the current average price of $5.68 as of June 10th, 2019. The average market price for Supreme Verdict increased 18.3% in 5 weeks. Within a week following The Mana Source's video, the average price of Supreme Verdict jumped 12.9% out of the overall 18.3% average price increase during the noted time period.
Return to Ravnica Supreme Verdict Weekly Average Price Movements 5/6/19 - 6/10/19
Core 2019 Scapeshift
On April 11th, 2019, an article published by Quiet Speculation highlighted Core 2019 Scapeshift as a speculation target. The average price for Scapeshift on April 8th, 2019 was $8.24. By the following Monday, the average price increased 8.6% to $8.95. A few days later on April 20th, 2019, a Reddit user posted about Scapeshift on the MTGFinance subreddit. They claimed to have purchased multiple copies of Scapeshift, specifically the Morningtide version, and asked others for input. The post attracted 5 comments and 15 upvotes. On April 22nd, 2019, the average price of Scapeshift had increased again to $9.50. I was unable to find any other mention of the card as a speculation target between April 21st, 2019 and May 18th, 2019. However, the average price continued increasing to $10.54 on May 13th, 2019. By May 20th, 2019, the average price of Scapeshift was $11.14 or a 35.2% increase in 6 weeks.
During Memorial Day weekend, multiple copies of Scapeshift appeared in top 8 decks for the Star City Games Louisville Modern Open and Classic. I believe these event results had a minor impact on the price of Scapeshift for the same reasons mentioned about Supreme Verdict.
The Mana Source published a video recommending Scapeshift as a speculation target on May 26th, 2019. The following day, the average price of Scapeshift was $11.43. Nine days later, Rogue Deckbuilder published his video also agreeing with The Mana Source's recommendation for Scapeshift. As of June 10th, 2019, the price of Scapeshift was $14.43 or a 74.8% increase in 9 weeks. It is also worth noting that the average price of Scapeshift increased 36.0% during the 15 days following The Mana Source’s video.
One theory for Scapeshift maintaining an upward price movement between April 21st, 2019 and May 18th, 2019 is if Modern Horizons spoiler cards were leaked early. Content creators and online personalities received spoiler cards for Modern Horizons before their assigned reveal date. If this information was shared privately, it could give someone an advantage on buying copies of a relevant or synergistic card. One theoretical example could be leaked information regarding Wrenn and Six, a Planeswalker revealed on May 25, 2019. The card has some synergy with Scapeshift. Individuals with early knowledge of Wrenn and Six could buy copies of Scapeshift before new demand drives up the price.
Core 2019 Scapeshift weekly Average Price Movements 4/8/19 - 6/10/19
Analyzing and Interpreting the Data
Both Supreme Verdict and Scapeshift have some inherent demand as competitive MTG cards. Each card is used in established Modern decks. In addition, the cards see play in the Elder Dragon Highlander multiplayer format. Prices will naturally change over time based on player demand and speculation. Players do purchase cards found in top deck lists after major tournaments such as Magic Fests, Mythic Championships, and Star City Games Opens. However, the dramatic price increases over a short period of time appear to be driven by additional factors.
What stands out to me most about the historical price movement is the velocity of price increases. The largest average price increases for both cards from one week to the next occurred after The Mana Source published a speculation video. While I am unable to know the amount of people that read written articles, it is clear how many views a YouTube video receives. If 0.5% of the 77,000 views for The Mana Source’s video resulted in 1 purchased copy of Scapeshift, that would equate to 385 copies leaving the market. On June 13th, 2019, TCGPlayer had 252 copies of Scapeshift for sale across all sets and editions. If all 252 copies were bought on TCGPlayer, regardless of price, a triggered price spike would likely occur. TCGPlayer’s copies only account for 65.5% of the demand for 385 copies. Players would have to search other online vendors for any remaining copies to purchase. I believe this simple example illustrates the amount of influence a YouTube channel can have on MTG Finance when they amass as many subscribers as The Mana Source.
Rogue Deckbuilder’s videos received thousands of views as well. Based on the price trends, I believe that a non-zero number of viewers purchase his recommended speculations. The same logic can be applied to the articles found on MTG Price and Quiet Speculation. Any time someone with an audience publishes their speculation targets, there is a chance that a viewer will purchase a recommended card. The sample size presented is small as I highlight only two examples of card price movements. However, the price movement related to online videos and articles is compelling. My conclusion is that as audiences grow for an individual's MTG related financial content, there is a possibility that a self-fulfilling prophecy could occur.
Risks Associated with Self-Fulfilling Content
There are risks associated with following the advice given by others regarding speculation targets. As seen in the price movements for Supreme Verdict and Scapeshift, the individuals buying cards after information becomes public risk paying an inflated market price. Those who already own cards prior to a price spike have the best opportunity to maximize profits. If any of the individuals that published content surrounding the mentioned cards held copies prior to Memorial Day, they would have made double-digit profit margins selling copies in June. In addition, they would likely have the first chance to sell or buylist at the highest price because of already owning the cards. Other individuals that buy recommended speculations from online vendors must wait for their cards to arrive in the mail or visit a local hobby store. I personally assume any time a content creator or individual publicly recommends an MTG speculation target, they already own multiple copies of that card and want to see it increase in value.
There is additional risk for buying cards after a price spike due to price retracing. The individuals who bought and sold the cards last have a higher likelihood of losing money. I touched on price retracing surrounding the buyout of Queen Marchesa in a previous article. The average market price for the card prior to its buyout was $19.99. After the buyout, the average price moved to $38.97 on April 8th, 2019. Any individuals who already owned the card could have sold it for a healthy profit or buylisted to Card Kingdom for $24.00. As of June 13th, 2019, the average market price of Queen Marchesa is $28.08 with a buylist price of $12.00. When factoring 20% of the sale price as fees and shipping, the net price for selling a Queen Marchesa online now is $22.46. This means that any copies purchased for the average market price after April 6, 2019 will lose money when sold today.
*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.*