Sunday, December 9, 2018

Ultimate Masters: Anatomy of a Train Wreck.

There is a panic going on with UMA singles on release as sellers rush to dump a very large supply of singles as the most saturated market for Magic singles (or any TCG singles) ever plays out. Here are some pictures of the train wreck. Here are 40 listings of UMA Liliana of the Veil.

Channel Fireball listing 20 copies at $69.99 (giving you the price to make it easy for you to find their listing above) does not mean they have only 20 copies. It most likely means that they are listing 20 and have more that they have pulled. Regardless, this is a large supply of the highest value non-foil, non-Box Topper in UMA.

It's simple math as to why UMA is a bad investment for singles sellers:

1. It's a ratio and not an absolute value. It doesn't matter if the box has an EV of $20,000 when it got mega-hyped, it's about what that EV will be when you list the cards to sell versus what you paid for the box. If you bought the box for $10,000 and sold for $9,999, you lost money, period. UMA is like that: if you are paying $200 at mega-wholesale, and the singles crash, and you sell on average for $199, you lost money. This is what seems to be happening to UMA.

2. Supply and demand: if many LGSs are cracking boxes in the hundreds, that is a very large supply. Legacy and Vintage are dead formats (there is not one million players for each waiting to buy singles). You are selling to Modern and Commander, and collectors who don't care about formats. If those three groups don't have enough capital to pump the price of the singles, anyone who bought into UMA either unloads at a loss now, or sits on it for at least one year hoping none of these singles make it into some other reprint.

3. If many of the entities (LGSs, private individuals) who bought large numbers of boxes bought them on credit, they need to unload the product to make bank. This one is the scary one. Can UMA take down an LGS? We will not know this soon.

Multiple factors have played into the panic:

1. Product saturation: the three buying groups (Modern players, Commander players, and non-format collectors) have already been carpet-bombed with Masters (reprint) sets, beginning Summer 2016, when Eternal Masters was issued.

Eternal Masters (6/10/16)
Modern Masters 2017 (3/17/17)
Iconic Masters (11/17/17)
Masters 25 (3/16/18)
Ultimate Masters (12/7/18)

2. Market timing: this one ties in to product saturation, but also with UMA getting dropped as a Christmas surprise after many players had already allocated and/or spent their play money on something other than UMA. I am one of these players. No matter how much I may dislike the gigantic cash grab that is UMA, I would have still gotten a few singles, especially Demonic Tutor. But Ultimate Masters was announced AFTER I had spent all my play money for the year. If I buy any UMA singles (which I probably will, I am not Mother Theresa, I will buy cards when I need them, even if they were printed in what I think is one of the most unethical products I have seen issued in a while), I will have to wait until January 2019, when my next budget kicks in.

January UMA singles are going to be awesome. I already have my buy list ready. These are hype prices, and only for general reference. Let's see what the actual prices are in January 2019.