Why Magic: The Gathering? This is the most popular trading card game to ever exist. It started a revolution in trading card games that every other after it tried to duplicate. Introduced in the 1990’s to a dedicated audience, Richard Garfield’s brilliant game has exploded and is now more popular internationally. Here you will learn why I think Magic: The Gathering Cards could be a great investment and I’ll give you some examples of what individual cards make for great investments.
Why I Like Magic the Gathering as an Investment
Magic: The Gathering has had a large audience since its inception. The cards are still sold at Wal-Mart’s all across North America, which is a sign of its market size. New expansions have come out like clock work since it started with the game being over twenty years old. This is where the catalyst comes in. The game has touched a lot of different age groups and continues to acquire new age groups. Today’s players are mostly twenty-somethings but a great many children play and collect the cards.
Like any other piece of nostalgia, today’s players will reflect back on the game that they grew up playing. They will want to buy cards and show their kids. We see this with all kinds of collectibles or what were everyday objects during someones childhood turn into valuable collectibles. Now, I’m not advocating we should all buy GI Joe or Barbies. Those items are already priced appropriately and in some cases too high. Instead, I’m suggesting you could take advantage of today’s pricing before the game stops print (if it ever does) or before specific kinds of cards get too difficult to get your hands on.
The Best Strategy to Invest in Magic: The Gathering Cards
A lot of seasoned players are going to get mad at me for this because they think that comments like mine unnecessarily inflate the price of cards. Others will call me foolish and tell me I should just park my money in the stock market. Make no mistake, you should not be investing in alternative investments like trading cards, unless you have some extra money that you are willing to take a risk with. If you have not started your retirement you had better read this and take advantage of the opportunity at free money for investing the boring way. That said, here we go!
My first suggestion is to only buy with specific purpose. Although you could make money buying odd lots and old collections and reselling them, it will take a lot of time and you will end up with a lot of cards no one wants. Rather, build up a list of cards or kinds of cards and an absolute highest price you are willing to pay.
A great example would be dual land cards. These powerful cards were first introduced in the first set Alphaand lasted until the Revised set. They are absolutely necessary playing in vintage tournaments and really powerful in casual play. The artwork and aura around collecting them is immense. However they are often quite expensive, around $150 for mint examples.
So, what you will do is write down that you are in the market for dual lands at mint condition. Right down your price as about 50% of what value guides are suggesting. That way you have room to grow and if for some reason the market drops on MTG you will still have some room to recoup your costs.
Now it is much harder to do with the more expensive cards like dual lands, power nine and other broken (a term referring to cards that were way too good and should not have been printed) cards. Thus, my next suggestion would be to use the same principal for cards that are classic, iconic, powerful and are quite affordable.
Yawgmoth’s Bargain is a great example of this. The card was a game breaker when it first came out, is a lot of fun in casual play, features awesome art and one of the main characters of the original story. Mint condition, Yawgmoth’s Bargain sells for about $1.50 on eBay. I would pick up a few playsets (four copies of the card) at that price in mint condition. Another great example might be Hymn to Tourach.
I would avoid cards that are in the current arch, whose prices are reflective of their need in modern tournaments. Once they cycle out they are fair game. I would also avoid most creature cards because as the game has gone on, creatures have gotten much more powerful. Those thought to be game changers in vintage have often turned out to be softies. There are a few creatures that going to be powerful forever and have a wonderful story associated with them like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Dark Depths, but those cards are going to reflect the higher prices and you should only try to pick those up when they are seen way below asking prices elsewhere.
Another type of card I would avoid are plain rare and holographic cards. Because MTG is so reliant on playing a game first and being collectible second, just because a card is rare does not mean it is worth anything special. Very often cards that are printed as “rare” tend to be quite awful in game play and hardly memorable. Of course there are always exceptions.
Considering modern print runs well into the millions, none of the cards are actually going to be rare. The exception though would be those earlier printed sets; cards from Alpha, Beta, Revised, Arabian Nights, Legends and Antiquities make great purchases. Trying to find rares in mint from those sets can be difficult but can also yield many wonderful bargains.
Finally, I would recommend basic lands. I know that sounds absolutely stupid because on the whole lands are the most common cards out there. First of all, they are absolutely essential to play the game so if you’re going to go back for nostalgia and cards are no longer going to be printed you need lands. However, instead of just buying any basic lands, focus on those that have amazing art, are from earlier sets or are holo/alternate art cards. My favorite art for basic lands are Tempest and Ice Age. A lot of people love the full art Zendikar lands. Friday Night Magic tournaments also give away special lands that are hard to get or exclusive to the event. One of my decks has all swamps from Alpha.
I hope this is a great start for you and gives you ideas if you are interested in investing in Magic: The Gathering cards long term. If MTG is not your thing, try to find a catalyst like I have that gives a legitimate reason for something of today to go up in value tomorrow. Is it the future rarity? Is it for the memories of a fun childhood? Is it because the franchise is being rebooted into a movie or television series? My next post on Magic: The Gathering cards will look at 10 specific examples that are in my opinion the best value today.