2017 was a bit of an odd year for Magic in general, and for Magic finance in particular.
While Standard had some solid moments, it also saw its first bannings since the Caw-Blade era and the most bannings since the Ravager Affinity era. In fact, the last time cards had to be banned in Standard at two different points during the same year was back in 1999, almost twenty years ago. Standard has continued to struggle in the wake of those bannings, and at this point I feel like we can call Kaladesh's energy mechanic one of the bigger mistakes in the history of the game.
At the same time, Modern may have just experienced its best year ever. While some top players have expressed frustration that winning a Modern tournament has as much to do with hitting the right matchups as it does with playing well, the fact that there are literally dozens of Modern decks capable of taking down any given Grand Prix is pretty awesome. The format's top tier shifted a lot this year, with various decks waxing and waning in popularity. If you're a fan of diverse formats, you probably loved playing Modern in 2017.
Financially, it felt like everything in 2017 keyed off the fact that WotC gave us two Masters sets, both packed to the gills with Modern staples. Despite the fact that Modern had a really successful year, the Modern price index is down slightly from the end of 2016. Even though I'm as overwhelmed with the relentless Modern reprinting as anyone, it's hard to argue with those results. If you have an extensive Modern collection, you didn't lose a significant amount of value this year. If you don't, the format didn't get any less accessible in 2017.
Beyond that, 2017 gave us four Standard sets, a Commander set, From the Vault: Transform, and Unstable. It was easy to get overwhelmed with products this year, and there were fewer casual and Commander price spikes as a result. More than ever, the casual Magic community seems willing to either wait for a reprint or just go with a different card. The era of "buy a bunch of cards and wait a few years and then make a killing" has been over for a while, and it shows no sign of returning. We have to spec smarter, not harder.
2017 wasn't without its major financial gains, however. Reserved list cards soared to absurd heights this year, and while some of those spells have dropped off a bit since then, they're all quite a bit higher than they were in 2016. Part of this is a reaction to WotC's reprint crusade-if you're looking to "lock in" your collection value, investing in reserved list cards is a smart call. Herding played a part in these spikes as well-once some reserved list cards began to spike, a lot of people realized that this might be their last chance to snag some of these cards before they were priced out of the old school market for good. I also suspect that Bitcoin's robust year played a role as well. A lot of people made a crazy amount of money on the cryptocurrency exchanges, and turning some of that profit into reserved list Magic cards might end up being a savvy call.
I made fifty specific predictions for 2017 when I wrote this article last year, some bolder than others. Curious how I did? Me too. I'm almost afraid to look…
The Magic Finance market will remain fairly flat in 2017, frustrating many small-time flippers and speculators who used to be able to make easy profits without risk.
I can safely say that this prediction came true. According to MTGIndex.com, the Modern index (one copy of every relevant card in the format) began the year at $2,241 and ended it at $2,184, a drop of about 2.5% and roughly equal to the value lost by Tarmogoyf since the start of 2017.
That said, the reserved list spikes created some absurdly easy profits for anyone who decided to buy into cards from Magic's oldest sets this year. The Legacy index climbed from $7,937 to $11,926 in just twelve months, a gain of about 33%. Almost all of that was due to high end cards like Diamond Valley, Drop of Honey, and City in a Bottle gaining absurd amounts of value.
The trading scene will be somewhat reinvigorated thanks to the relative cheapness of Standard and the lack of sharks.
I'll let you be the judge of whether or not I got this one right. I found it a bit easier to trade in 2017, but I'm not sure it was a big enough sea change for me to call this a complete win. The biggest problem was that Standard wasn't that diverse in 2017 even though it was fairly cheap, which meant that everyone was still after the same small suite of top tier staples. If you weren't giving up a copy of The Scarab God or a Modern staple, you probably weren't getting your hands on Chandra, Torch of Defiance.
Magic will experience significant player growth for the first time in several years.
Nope. While I don't buy the doomsaying theories that Magic's player base has seen a steep decline in recent years, it's pretty clear that there wasn't any sort of significant growth in 2017. I may double-down on this prediction for 2018, though, because I have hope that Arena will be a major hit that will lead to an influx of new blood.
Every Pro Tour in 2017 will be Standard, but there will be serious talk about bringing back the Modern Pro Tour in 2018 thanks to the fact that two Pro Tours will be won by the same deck.
I'll call this a partial victory. I nailed the easier half of this prediction (we're getting a Modern Pro Tour less than two months from now!), but a different deck took down each of 2017's four Pro Tours. Who knows what would have happened if WotC hadn't started banning cards, though? I feel like I got the spirit of this answer right at least.
At the end of the year, your collection will still be worth a tad more than it is right now.
This prediction came true for everyone with extensive Legacy collections. If you're deeply invested in reserved list staples, you're probably pretty happy with how this year turned out. Otherwise, your collection is probably worth a little bit less at the end of 2017 than it was at the end of 2016. Blame the fact that we got two Masters sets and a sub-par Standard season.
Most of the gains will happen in select Frontier staples and whatever Modern cards aren't in MM17.
Remember Frontier? That was a fun 2-3 months. A bunch of the Modern cards that weren't reprinted this year did gain value, especially the staples from the original Modern Masters set, but this gain was offset (and then some) by Iconic Masters this fall.
Become Immense will be banned in Modern.
This was a common prediction last winter (seriously!), but Gitaxian Probe and Golgari Grave-Troll got the axe instead. I was right that WotC would target Infect, I was just wrong about which card they decided to whack.
Infect will remain a tier one deck despite this.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor will be unbanned in Modern.
We didn't get any Modern unbannings in 2017, and the format thrived anyway! Here's hoping for a sweet one in 2018, but I don't think it'll be Jace-blue sees quite a bit more play in the format than it did a year ago, and I feel like it would give tempo, not control, an unfair leg up right now.
This will lead to a blue control deck that can finally hang in Modern's top tier.
One of the most popular decks in Modern right now features both Logic Knot and Cryptic Command, but it's not really a "true" control deck. U/W with Sphinx's Revelation and Gideon of the Trials is carrying the flag proudly.
A Goryo's Vengeance deck will also break into Modern's top ten.
You can make a reasonable argument that Through the Breach is the centerpiece of a top ten deck right now, but Goryo's Vengeance is still fundamentally a rogue strategy. I was right that Modern's top ten would be shaken up considerably, though.
Damnation will be reprinted as a promo, but not in any more accessible form.
Damnation was reprinted as a promo, (an Amonkhet invocation, actually), but it was also one of the marquee reprints in Modern Masters 2017. In other words, I got this one dead wrong.
The Zendikar fetchlands will be reprinted in Modern Masters 2017.
Ding! Thank goodness-I was on a heck of a losing streak there. A lot of people were adamant that we'd get these fetches back in Amonkhet or Ixalan, but I don't think WotC is anywhere close to unleashing these in a Standard set again.
Tarmogoyf will also be reprinted in that set, and it will finally fall below $100 retail.
Check and check again. Tarmogoyf finally saw one reprint too many, and you can pick your copy up for just $65 right now. The last time this card was under $100? December of 2012.
Engineered Explosives will not be reprinted, and it will hit $80.
Engineered Explosives wasn't reprinted in 2017 (the Kaladesh invocation was already out by the time I made that prediction), but it didn't hit $80, either. EE was a $50 card when I made the prediction, and it ended up peaking at $65 in mid-May. You can pick them up for $45 now. I was right that the card would continue to climb, but I overestimated its peak and underestimated its decline.
Ditto Chalice of the Void, which will break $60.
Here's a big win. Chalice of the Void was selling for just $40 last December, and it spiked as high as $100(!) in the spring. It's still a whopping $85 now. Expect it to be reprinted in 2018.
And Koth of the Hammer will spend most of the year over $20.
Woof. Koth spiked to $20 right before I made that prediction, but the price has kept dropping and dropping since then. I wildly overestimated recent results when I made this prediction, and I should have sold this one into the hype.
After the Eternal Masters second print run debacle, fewer players will pre-order and hoard boxes of MM17. You will be able to buy packs off the shelf at retail well into the fall.
Ding ding ding. Eternal Masters changed the way people viewed these sets, and I can still buy boxes of both MM17 and Iconic Masters for much less than the $10/pack MSRP. It's hard to believe now, but people were paying $300+ for boxes of the first Masters set!
The Theros Gods will be reprinted as Masterpieces in Amonkhet block.
Nope. WotC continued to tie its Masterpieces directly to the flavor of their respective sets, which meant that Heliod and friends were off-limits for Amonkhet.
The fall 2017 block will be loosely enchantment themed and will feature enchantment Masterpieces.
Yeah, no. Not only was Ixalan not even vaguely enchantment-themed, it didn't even have Masterpieces. I'll give myself partial credit because the Search for Azcanta cycle ended up being such a major part of the set, but that's stretching the kudos.
It will also feature multiple legendary Merfolk.
How did I get the last one so wrong and get this one so right? Kopala, Warden of Waves and Tishana, Voice of Thunder both count, so Ixalan totally has multiple legendary Merfolk. Too bad they're not, y'know, actually good.
One of the big flavor reveals of Amonkhet? Nicol Bolas has started an "evil Gatewatch." It will include Bolas, Tezzeret, and Vraska. Potential future members? Garruk and an undead Elspeth.
I'm going to punt this prediction into 2018 since Bolas' latest master plan hasn't been revealed yet. I'm giving myself a couple of points for calling the fact that he ended up recruiting Vraska. Maybe we'll get an evil Gatewatch after all.
Frontier will become much more popular in the first half of 2017. There will be a series of Frontier-related buyouts in February or March, frustrating format advocates who wanted it to stay cheap.
It seems like ancient history now, but this did sort of happen for a couple of weeks in January. Cards like Dig Through Time and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy both spiked just after New Year's, and Frontier excitement was indeed responsible. I'm not sure there were any articles written about format accessibility, but my Twitter feed was pretty miffed that their dirt cheap format was starting to balloon in price.
And then…nothing. When was the last time you thought about Frontier? Exactly.
Frontier will lose steam once the format is "solved" shortly after that. It will mostly be forgotten by the time Modern Masters 2017 comes out, though some of the cards will retain their post-spike value in hopes that it can be fixed or a different format will come along soon enough.
The first part of this prediction certainly came true. Frontier sputtered out fast, and it was old news by the time we were opening fetchlands and moaning about Death's Shadow in May. While some of its staples have retained their value, it's been thanks to Modern and Commander, not the hope of another Frontier-ish format.
By this time next year, we will have a different Modern-alternative format to obsess over.
This hasn't really happened yet, though I wouldn't be surprised if the first set released on Arena becomes a new suggested starting point for a post-Modern format. That'll be far in the future, though, and in the meantime, we're dancing with Standard, Modern, and Legacy.
The most surprising teams in football next year will be the Tennessee Titans (will win 10+ games) and Arizona Cardinals (ditto).
Oh, come on! After years and years of picking the Jacksonville Jaguars to break out, they finally start to play well and I went with the stupid Titans and Cardinals. I guess the Titans are somewhat better than they were last year, but they were a sexy breakout pick by the time the pre-season rolled around and they're no lock to hit ten wins (they're 8-5 as I write this). The Cardinals lost their star running back and starting QB, though they've looked okay at times despite that.
Current Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will win at least five games next year as somebody's starting QB. Cleveland?
New England really should have traded Garoppolo to Cleveland last winter. Instead, they gave their third stringer Jacoby Brissett to the Colts for mediocre WR Philip Dorsett right before the start of the season, only to see him become a competent NFL start with a significant amount of trade value. Then they traded Garoppolo at the trading deadline anyway, only getting back a second round pick in return. I can't criticize the greatest coach of all time for much, but this was a frustrating series of moves.
Of course, I still have an outside shot of getting this prediction right. San Francisco gave the reigns to Garoppolo with just five games to go in the season, and as I write this he's already won his first two. I doubt he'll run the table, but you never know!
[CEDitor's Note: Jimmy Jesus got those five wins and the 49ers have hope. Cleveland went 0-16 and the city is having a parade celebrating this major accomplishment. All is right in the world.]
The New England Patriots will defeat the Dallas Cowboys and win the 2017 Super Bowl.
The Cowboys made it deep into the 2017 playoffs, but the New England Patriots ended up beating the Atlanta Falcons instead. I'll give myself half credit for correctly calling the champs.
The most surprising teams in baseball this year? The New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners.
The New York Yankees were the most surprising team in baseball, making a deep playoff run during a rebuilding year thanks to out-of-nowhere performances from young players like Luis Severino and the brilliant Aaron Judge. The other surprising teams last year were Colorado, Milwaukee, Arizona, and Minnesota. The Mariners had some flashes, but never really performed beyond their expectations. Half credit once again here.
Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez will out-pitch the rotation's big three of Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and David Price.
Eduardo Rodriguez got hurt in spring training and ended up having a frustrating, lost season. He looked good in flashes, but Drew Pomeranz ended up being the surprising member of that staff once Price got hurt and Porcello regressed.
The Los Angeles Dodgers will beat the Houston Astros in six games to win the 2017 World Series.
Not bad! Last year, I called Chicago over Cleveland in Game 7, so I'm currently on a four for four streak when predicting the teams in the World Series. Maybe I should do baseball finance from now on? Regardless, LA couldn't close the deal in Game 6, and Houston ended up taking home the trophy in the end. Good for them.
Google Glass may be dead, but some variation of a digital heads-up display will make major waves in the tech community next year.
There are still a few companies trying to make this work, but we're pretty far from "major waves." Much like VR has made a massive comeback in the gaming community despite being left for dead back in the nineties, I still think that wearable HUD-style tech is going to break through at some point. It hasn't happened yet, though.
Emrakul, the Promised End will break $30 and touch $40 at some point this spring.
I have no doubt that this would have happened had Emrakul, the Promised End not been banned in January. Instead, the card cratered almost immediately after getting the axe and has yet to recover. It'll creep up at bit at some point thanks to casual demand, but I'm not sure it'll ever hit $40.
Smuggler's Copter will hit $25.
Smuggler's Copter was banned as well, of course. I'm glad both of these oppressive cards got what was coming to them, but your portfolio took a pretty serious hit if you bought in back in December like I suggested. I really didn't think WotC would actually start banning things in Standard again after so many years of silence.
Aetherworks Marvel will hit $20.
And here's where I went three for three in nailing banned cards. Hooray for me, I guess? Of course, Aetherworks Marvel didn't hit $20 even though the card got plenty of time to shine before being banned, but I feel like that speaks to just how colossally broken the Standard format was last spring.
At least one of the intro deck planeswalkers will show up in a good Standard brew and we'll all have to run out to Target in order to try and buy them out.
Not only hasn't this happened, there haven't really been any close calls. I still feel like WotC is going to vastly under-test one of these cards at some point, though, and I want to be ready when they do.
The new Nicol Bolas Planeswalker will show up in a tier one Standard list despite being less overtly powerful than the last one.
Close, but not quite. Grixis Control was a thing for a couple of SCG Tour® Opens right when Amonkhet came out, but it was pretty close to a non-factor by the time the Pro Tour rolled around. Nicol Bolas popped up here and there since then, but never as a tier one deck. What a disappointment.
Yahenni's Expertise will be The Card That Launches A Thousand Price Spikes, but it will ultimately disappoint in Modern. It will, however, be a tier one playable in Standard.
People forgot about Yahenni's Expertise pretty fast. Did you even remember that this card existed? It's still Standard legal, even! Oh well.
Chandra, Torch of Defiance will never find a home in Standard. It will be under $10 by this time next year.
The irony is that I vividly remember making a totally opposite prediction and was smug all year about how I was at least going to get one of these things right because Chandra broke through and I called it. That's why it's important to write down your predictions, kids-we're all a lot more wrong than we think we are.
WotC will take their foot off the pedal a little next year. There will only be one supplemental set release in 2017 - Modern Masters 2017.
These were my worst two predictions. Here they are, back to back. Look upon them and despair.
Modern buyouts surrounding MM17 will be fast and furious. Staples that aren't reprinted in that set will double overnight. This spring/early summer will be rough for buyouts (Modern Unbannings, Frontier, and Modern Masters) but the rest of the year will be fairly light.
There were plenty of Modern spikes last spring thanks to MM17, but no buyouts on the level I had predicted here. Instead, the buyout brigade mostly focused on reserved list cards.
The From the Vault series will be discontinued entirely.
This didn't happen either. I like From the Vault: Transform well enough, but I still think that this outdated series should be put out to pasture. It has no real place or identity in our current reprint-saturated world.
Commander 2017 will feature classic allied color pairs. Partner Commanders will return.
Neither of these predictions came true, though I'd argue that Commander 2017 is the best release of the entire series. After a few years of doing these supplemental casual sets, I feel like WotC has finally struck a good balance between power level and flavor.
Grim Tutor will be released as a judge promo.
I've been pretty good about nailing these judge promo calls in recent years, but I whiffed this time. It'll happen sooner or later, though!
The next Star Wars installment will be good...but it will NOT be the highest grossing film of 2017.
Unfortunately, I'm writing this article before I've had a chance to see The Last Jedi. We're also not going to be able to measure its full box office returns for at least another couple of weeks.
Right now, Beauty and the Beast was the biggest winner of the year (yes, really!) coming in at $504mm. Rogue One beat it last year with $532mm, and The Force Awakens made 936mm(!) in 2015. At this point, I have no doubt that The Last Jedi will make at least $600mm and take home the top BO score of 2017. Another swing-and-a-miss for me.
Moonlight will upset La La Land for the Best Picture Oscar.
Yes! This happened in the most dramatic way possible, and it was awesome.
Either Netflix or FX will take home more Emmys than all the broadcast networks combined.
Broadcast networks won Lead Actor Drama (Sterling K. Brown,This is Us), Directing for a Variety Series (Don Roy King,Saturday Night Live), Reality Competition Series (The Voice), Supporting Actor Comedy (Alec Baldwin,Saturday Night Live), Variety Sketch Series (Saturday Night Live), and Supporting Actress Comedy (Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live).
Netflix won TV Movie (Black Mirror, San Junipero), Writing for a Limited Series (Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror), and Writing for a Comedy Series (Master of None).
FX won Lead Actor Comedy (Donald Glover, Atlanta), and Directing for a Comedy Series (Donald Glover, Atlanta).
So Broadcast TV still beat both FX and Netflix this year, though all but two of those awards are for the absurdly funny run that SNL had right before and right after the 2016 election. Regardless, HBO and Amazon were the two biggest Emmy winners of the year by some pretty wide margins.
Game of Thrones will win Best TV Drama.
Unfortunately, Game of Thrones wasn't eligible to be nominated for any Emmy awards in 2017. That said, it was a much-maligned season (even though I disagree with most of the haters) [Get off the internet. -Ed.] and I doubt it would have won Best TV Drama regardless. We'll find out in 2018!
WotC will announce a launch date for their Hearthstone competitor/MTGO replacement digital client, which will simplify the rules of Magic to a frustrating degree. People will worry that it will be the end (or at least the dumbing down) of the paper game. It won't be.
I was pretty sure that Magic: Arena would be a far worse program than it's shaping up to be, though people are still worried about its impact on Magic overall regardless. If WotC really can create a Hearthstone-style client that can successfully replicate the rules and flow of paper Magic, it'll be the best way to ensure that the game has a long and successful future in both the digital and paper realms.
We will have to face down many demons, both in reality and on the battlefield, but 2017 will be better than 2016.
There were only five Demons printed in 2017, though one of them (Razaketh, the Foulblooded) certainly did manage to beat me in a couple games of Amonkhet Limited.
I'm not sure that I can fully call 2017 a better year than 2016, considering most of the big problems of 2016 followed us right into the new year and have refused to relent. It's been an exhausting year, certainly, but I really do feel like I have more hope for the future than I did a year ago today. That doesn't count for much, but it does count for something.