Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

Magic finance 103: Standard

In 101 I talked about the basics, and in 102 I looked at price drivers in an holistic way. Magic’s formats are diverse, and it’s worth looking at the more popular formats individually.

I’ll start with Standard.


Four times per year, a new Standard set is released, like clockwork. One per season, or to be more accurate, one per quarterly reporting season.

Cards enter Standard, and to avoid the format becoming stale, cards leave the format 18-24 months after printing. This is called rotation.

When the Q3 set enters standard (late September or early October) the oldest four sets leave. Standard thus fluctuates in size from 5-8 sets at any given time.

This constant rotation allows cards to shine that previously were overlooked or simply could not compete in the environment previously. This means selling opportunities.

With Standard, the time to buy the card is when it’s not being played. The time to sell is when it is.

Finding opportunities


The chart for Hostage Taker, a card in standard as I type this, shows an interesting story. The card was initially overlooked (buying opportunity!), and then rapidly gained in favour and price (selling opportunity!). Over the next few months the card declined again in price and is now roughly where it began on its release.

Buying and selling Standard format cards is only for those people happy to trade frequently. You need to be prepared to act fast when you see an opportunity, and react quickly when a selling opportunity presents itself.

Anyone who has held Hostage Taker since release has gained nothing. Those who sold into the spike made out nicely. Those who bought into the demand spike… this is something to avoid.

Avoiding hype


Hype has a real effect on card prices in Standard, making it important to keep a level head. The Scorpion God above shows a fairly typical price curve for new mythic rare cards in standard. When the card is spoiled, people get excited. This could be the next big thing. This price gets bid up and people begin preordering the card like crazy.

Then the card hits, and reality sets in. This card is not going to be a player in Standard. The price falls, often quickly, and does not rise again.

Don’t be the person who buys expensive cards on release, thinking they will somehow go even higher.

Reprints are real

New standard sets are printed in a high volume, but the format is popular enough that playable rare and mythics will fetch prices that make trading in and out of positions profitable. It is possible for a card to be printed again while it is still in Standard. Duel Decks or the new Challenger decks are one such reprint risk. The risk is low, but not absent.


Sell out

At rotation, when a card leaves Standard, its price will fall, usually hard. Sell your Standard cards at least 6 months before they are due to rotate out. Demand will slump as rotation gets closer, so don’t get left holding the bag, when the bag is full of cards that just rotated out.

Once a card has left Standard, only the Modern or Eternal formats can hold up a card’s price. Join me for Magic Finance 104 where I look closer at the Modern format.

3 comments on “Magic finance 103: Standard

  1. Bookstooge
    January 14, 2018

    Simply too much work. Heck, even playing standard is too quick for me these days. By the time I’m comfortable with some mechanics, not only is the set itself not new, but the whole block is gone and something else is edging in.

    Standard makes me feel really old and I’m not. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Particlebit
    January 16, 2018

    Might also be worth a mention that Standard staples can be impacted if the set is printed with Masterpieces. Amonkhet’s rares and mythics took a hit compared to Ixalan, with some of that loss attributed to the higher value Masterpieces pushing the prices down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • davekay
      January 17, 2018

      Masterpieces are interesting, they act like collectables even though they *could* be reprinted. I want to talk about them separately, though you’re right they often seem to take the edge off mythic and rare prices.

      Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on January 14, 2018 by in Magic the Gathering, MtG Finance, Tabletop, Writing and tagged , , .
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