Khans Tarkir ABZAN Art

What’s Your Standard Deck Worth?

By: Jared Yost

Something I’m interested in seeing is the value of Standard decks over time, especially in light of the combination of the new setup of blocks/sets and the Standard rotation changes made by Wizards. These changes are happening once Khans block fully enters the Standard card pool and the final core set is released, which is much closer than players realize. What this means is that players will have to budget for Standard accordingly, since block rotation will occur every 18 months rather than every 24 months.

In order to track Standard deck values over time, I would like to see the current Standard decks that exist and then recreate this article in the future on a quarterly basis in order to keep on top of trends for existing and new Standard decks. It would be best to see the information on a quarterly basis to coincide with new set releases, where hype is highest and paying attention to the prices is most important.

Also, I hope by doing this that I point out to players which Standard decks are the cheapest competitive decks of the format, and which decks may feature cards hyped from a set release. My theory is that expensive decks now could be driven down in overall price due to the influx of the new set as players draft it and open boxes. I want to see if I can refer back to this article in the future and see more expensive decks now than in the future.

If there is interest, I could also write similar articles in this series about Modern or even Legacy decks to show players which decks are currently the cheapest to play and which decks increase or decrease in price over time. For now though, I want to keep the scope to Standard because the most widely played format is going to have the most price swings and will need the closest watch to determine the fluctuations of prices.

Scope of Analysis

The scope will include the following to determine a deck’s value:

  • All decks that have been recorded on TCGPlayer (http://magic.tcgplayer.com/standard_deck_hq.asp)
    • For my own sanity’s sake, I am going to take the average of the first five decks that I find that match to an archetype on MTG Top 8, preferably using the decks of the archetype that got 1st place or were PT finishers. I will not use decks that aren’t ranked in the averages, but I will use all decks in the overall count in order to assess the popularity of the deck. There are 19 deck archetypes out there and trying to average each deck of all singular archetypes into one general price is too much work for only slightly more precise averages. Thus I stick with five.
    • Decks will be non-MTGO decks that placed at in-person events like Pro Tours, GP’s, State Champs, etc. since the data is from TCGPlayer and they do not track MTGO. If there is interest, I can track the price of MTGO decks as well in a future article.
  • All prices reflect TCG Mid Pricing
  • The term “deck” for this analysis includes both main and sideboard cards
  • Finally, I realize that there are budget-based decks beyond what is recorded on TCGPlayer and that’s fine. What I am trying to aim for in this article is that if you are playing an extremely budget based deck at an FNM or other tournament, there are other options out there that have already proven themselves as a viable archetype that probably aren’t much more expensive than your deck. Especially if you are willing to sacrifice NM condition and go for cards that are SP or lower.

With my scope out of the way, let’s see which decks are the most and least expensive in Standard right now.

Data Set – Khans Standard Deck Prices

Deck Average Cost Copies Listed on TCGPlayer
Abzan Midrange $708.74 98
Jeskai Tempo $444.77 77
Mardu Midrange $649.46 37
Temur Midrange $537.52 26
RG Midrange $554.87 22
GR Devotion $461.41 19
Monogreen Devotion $475.52 19
GB Devotion $464.10 16
Esper Control $458.40 12
Rabble Red $150.23 11
Sultai Midrange $565.57 10
Monoblack Aggro $254.34 8
Naya Midrange $695.00 7
Mardu Tokens $533.20 7
Naya Superfriends $713.76 6
BW Aggro $309.07 6
Mardu Control $552.85 5
Abzan Reanimator $453.42 5
Jeskai Burn $430.57 4
*Jeskai Combo (Lee Shi Tian) $407.57 1
*Abzan Aggro (Thiago Saporito) $530.06 1
*UB Control (Ivan Floch) $369.64 1
**Sultai Dredge (Christian Seibold) $444.96 1
**Boros Tokens (Brad Nelson) $371.64 1
**Jeskai Control (Justin Cheung) $557.36 1

*PT Khans Top 8, only appearance
**Place highly at PT Khans outside Top 8, no other appearances

Notes about the data set:

  • The copies on TCGPlayer represent the amount of players who are listing their deck – this does not reflect the number of Top 8’s that the deck has received.
  • Average cost represents the average cost of five winning decks (first place), as available – if there were fewer than five winners I picked the next highest placing decks of the archetype for the average. All averages were based on decks in Top 8’s.
  • I included the rest of the Pro Tour Khans Top 8 decks in the analysis, which did not show up in the TCGPlayer top played deck archetypes, to see where the rest of the PT Top 8 was on the budget scale.
  • I also included a few other PT recorded decks that were in the TCGPlayer database in the analysis that did fairly well at the tournament to see where they landed on budget.

Data Set – Graphical Representation

Ten Most Represented Decks on TCGPlayer – Average Cost, Ordered by Deck Price

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Remaining Standard Decks and High Finishes at PT Khans – Average Cost, Ordered by Deck Price

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Data Set Analysis

Not surprising is that that the Pro Tour winning deck Abzan Midrange is now the most expensive deck in Standard right now along with being the most popular on TCGPlayer. I believe the prices of several cards in the deck, specifically Siege Rhino, Wingmate Roc, and Sorin, Solemn Visitor are driven by the hype of the win. I expect this deck to go down in overall price over the next few months as the Khans pieces of the deck decrease in price.

Surprisingly, out of the top five most played decks of the format the Jeskai Tempo deck is significantly cheaper than the other top four decks even after the Mantis Rider, Goblin Rabblemaster, and Dig Through Time spikes. However, looking further into the deck we can easily see why. The archetype plays many solid commons and uncommons that the Abzan Midrange and other midrange decks replace with planeswalkers, which are typically among the most expensive mythic rares in the set. Most of the Jeskai Tempo decks only play two copies of Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker as their planeswalker with the occasional deck playing one or two copies of Chandra, Pyromaster along with Sarkhan. The other midrange decks are playing six to seven planeswalkers, which significantly drives up the price of the deck especially if the walkers are Sarkhan and/or Sorin. Keep this in mind if you’re trying to build a competitive Standard deck on a budget – Jeskai Tempo is currently a mid-budget deck that should get cheaper as more Khans product is released and is one of the more dominant decks of the format right now.

In terms of budget decks, there are several options available right now that are around $400 or less. The first that pops out to me is the Jeskai Ascendency combo deck and UB Control deck that both placed in the Top 8 of PT Khans. These decks can currently be had for $408 and $370, respectively. I’ll give you a guess as to what these decks have in common. That’s right, neither deck plays Planeswalkers in either the main deck or the sideboard. This allows the decks to be more to akin “budgetary” decks than the other decks that are showing up on TCGPlayer.

A true budget deck based on the results is Rabble Red, coming in at $150, and Monoblack Aggro coming in at $250. If you are playing Standard, it seems like the minimum amount you will need to spend to remain competitive is about $200 for one of the cheaper aggro decks. However, what surprises me is that Floch’s control deck is among the five least expensive decks in Khans Standard! For about $150 more you could build yourself a competitive control deck if you hate being on the aggro plan all the time and your budget is limited.

To summarize, the five most expensive Standard decks currently are:

  1. Naya Superfriends    $713.76
  2. Abzan Midrange        $708.74
  3. Naya Midrange          $695.00
  4. Mardu Midrange        $649.46
  5. Sultai Midrange         $565.57

I’m certain a few of these decks, like Abzan Midrange, contain several cards that are driven by hype right now and that their average total prices should come down over the next few months. If you can, avoid playing these decks for now even if you don’t have a limited budget since you should eventually be able to play them for cheaper if you wait for more Khans product to be released.

The five least expensive Standard decks are:

  1. Rabble Red            $150.23
  2. Monoblack Aggro    $254.34
  3. BW Aggro               $309.07
  4. UB Control              $369.64
  5. Boros Tokens         $371.64

These are the decks that should allow you to remain competitive at FNM while not burning a huge hole in your pocket. There is even a control option in here, UB Control, if you can’t stand playing aggro decks. Or maybe you just like the color blue!

Middle of the road decks (between $450 and $480) include:

  1. Monogreen Devotion    $475.52
  2. GB Devotion                 $464.10
  3. GR Devotion                 $461.41
  4. Esper Control               $458.40
  5. Abzan Reanimator       $453.42

*Honorable Mention – Jeskai Tempo $444.77

These are the decks that are competitive and generally more consistent than the lowest priced budgetary decks, since they contain more powerful mana fixing or a few more planeswalkers than the budget decks. Keep in mind, Jeskai Tempo is not strictly in the middle five decks however is actually cheaper than all of them and is in many players’ view more a powerful archetype. There are two blue decks here, so again there are options for those players looking to avoid spending $500 or more on a Standard deck while still being able to play blue.

Last Thoughts

Let me know if you like this type of article. I enjoyed writing it and I hope you liked seeing most of the current deck archetypes and what the prices were. This will show you what you can play for all budget levels. Hopefully this will give new players and existing Standard players a starting point for choosing a deck from a financial standpoint after a Standard shakeup. Standard can be expensive, however many overall deck prices should go down over the next few months as more Khans product is added to the market.


 

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savage

Weekend Tournament Coverage: GP Los Angeles + SCG Worster Open

by James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

10:15pm UPDATE: Daniel Scheid takes down GPLA with G/R Monsters, beating Mono-Red Aggro, and proving that Stormbreath Dragon is far from being obsolete in the new fall Standard format. Daniel reports that he went 7-0 against Abzan during the tournament to nab the win. Anger of the Gods also looks better in the face of a likely upswing in Sligh style decks since it’s already so solid against Jeskai, Mana Dorks and Mardu early plays.

6:30pm UPDATE: Here’s the GPLA Top 8 Decks:

  • 2 Abzan Aggro
  • 2 Abzan Midrange
  • Mono Red
  • Boss Sligh
  • Mardu MidRange
  • GR Monsters

Another week of KTK Standard is nearly behind us and the story is a fairly exciting one. Despite cries of dismay at the possibility of a new binary Standard format composed of Jeskai Aggro & Abzan Mid-Range, this weekend has unfolded across North America with a clear signal of diversity.

Several new archtypes have emerged at the top tables of Grand Prix Los Angeles, including Mono Red Aggro (Eric Pei) and Temur Mid-Range (Brian Kibler).

In terms of the total metagame on Day 2 of the tournment, the promising breakdown was as follows (Decks/Percentage):

  • Abzan Mid-Range: (47/24%)
  • Jeskai Wins: (44/23%)
  • Abzan Aggro: (16/8%)
  • Green Devotion: (15/8%)
  • Mardu Mid-Range: (12/6%)
  • R/W Aggro: (8/4%)
  • G/R Monsters: (6/3%)
  • Sidisi Whip: (6/3%)
  • Temur Aggro: (5/3%)
  • U/B Vault Control: (5/3%)

Sure, the two best decks from PTKTK represented 47% of the field, but the next 40% was broken down across 8 different archtypes.

Decks hunting for Top 8 at the Grand Prix currently include:

  • Temur Mid-Range (Brian Kibler)
  • Mono-Red Aggro (Eric Pei)
  • Jeskai Wins (Austin Bach)
  • Mardu Tokens (Brad Nelson)

Over at the StarCityGames Standard Open held in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Top 8 broke down as follows:

  • 1st: Jeskai Wins (Trevor Humphries)
  • 2nd:  Mono-Red Aggro (Dylan Murphy)
  • 3rd: Abzan Mid-Range (Andrew Boswell)
  • 4th: Jeskai Wins(David Shiels)
  • 5th: Abzan Mid-Range (Scott Robins)
  • 6th: Abzan Mid-Range (Elliot Wolchesky)
  • 7th: G/B Devotion w/ See the Unwritten (Steven Jack)
  • 8th: Temur Mid-Range (Andre Batista)

Regardless of how the GP plays out, the sheer number of different deck archtypes (with many builds varying by as many as 12 cards), mean that we are facing an open season where skill, careful testing and sideboard planning are likely to be rewarded as the weeks unfold.

So where does this all leave us from an #mtgfinance perspective?

Well, despite the broad play seen by a plethora of KTK rares and mythics, the fact remains that the expanding supply from cracked packs should continue to drag down the overall set value as we move closer to the holidays. We’re likely to see mild spikes this week on some of the freshly proven performers this week including Butcher of the Horde, Savage Knuckleblade, See the Unwritten and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, all of which are clearly viable as top tier cards in Standard for the season. Butcher and Knuckleblade can easily hit $4-5 and as undervalued mythics Sidisi and See the Unwritten should be possible to challenge $8+ in the near future, despite only having homes in one archetype.

Crackling Doom, Whip of Erebos, Doomwake Giant and Eidolon of Blossoms are all also live to hold or increase value slightly based on their expressed viability.

It’s also possible that inertia and price memory will force a milder curve until they redouble their results at upcoming tournaments.

It’s worth noting that though several new archtypes and their banner cards have proven themselves, Jeskai Wins and Abzan Mid-Range are still all over the top tables and clearly still circling the podium. Heck, even devotion and heroic sub-themes did far better than anyone imagined throughout the weekend. With no clear losers, it will be tougher for the new cards to drain value from fallen soldiers.

Budget focused players will be happy to note that strong finishes by the relatively cheap Mono-Red Aggro deck makes affordable Standard a real possibility for the budget conscious this fall.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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astral

WEEKEND UPDATE FOR OCT 18TH

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Here’s your weekly update on what’s been shifting around in price in the world of paper Magic: The Gathering this week. Overall, with the release of Khans of Tarkir still echoing through a refreshed and dynamic standard metgame, most of the movers and shakers are found in that format.

10 Winners of the Week

1. Astral Cornocopia (Born of the Gods, Rare): $.39 to $.88 (+208%)

Formats: Standard + EDH + Eternal Potential

I would love to claim I saw this one coming based on my 50+ copies, but in reality I only snagged them as a bulk rare with clear combo potential in early summer without any clue they would be playable in the scariest combo deck of the season (Jeskai Ascendancy). The Jeskai combo deck plays this card as a zero casting cost artifact with the slight potential upside of being a mana rock if necessary (it never is). It’s worth noting that the card can easily be swapped out for Briber’s Purse in standard, which should limit it’s short-term price below $3 unless it makes a showing in an eternal format in some random combo deck at a top table.

Verdict: Conditional Sell (on entry points below .$50)

2. Perilous Vault (M15, Mythic): $3.54 to $5.13(+145%)

Formats: Standard + EDH/Casual

Put simply it is the emergence of the U/B Control builds at the Pro Tour that is driving the resurgence in this card.  As a sweeper that can clear the board of everything but lands, the card gives control builds game against both creatures and planeswalkers out of the mid-range deck as well as stray enchantments and artifacts out of Jeskai Ascendancy.  Expect the future of this card to depend on how many control decks keep making top tables over the next few months. A faster field will put it to sleep and leave it as a spec to look at next summer for future EDH and casual interest.

Verdict: Hold

3. Pearl Lake Ancient (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $2.31 to $5.13 (+124%)

Format: Standard

As with Perilous Vault, Pearl Lake Ancient is under the spotlight as a somewhat reluctant finisher in various Jeskai and Dimir control builds for standard. The combination of Prowess, Flash and some resiliency to 1-for-1 removal makes PLA a reasonable top end for decks that can survive to that point. I have been a seller at the new price, having bought in to 20+ copies around $1.50, mostly because I think the card is merely good rather than great, and could easily fade from memory if the format shifts. It has no future in other formats and I wouldn’t want to be caught holding a bunch beyond the peak. On the other hand, if it posts a prominent finish at GP Los Angels this weekend, it does have upside potential similar to Wingmate Roc given it’s mythic rarity. Keep an eye on our wrap up coverage of the major tournaments Sunday night for clues.

Verdict: Sell

4. Rakshasa Deathdealer (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $1.63 to $4.09 (+66%)

Format: Standard

Initially speculators held off this card on the assumption that it would follow a similarly unexciting trajectory to Fleecemane Lion, another solid beater from a fall set that peaked over $10 in Nov ’13 only to fall to the $2 range later that season. Ironically the Deathdealer made a strong debut at PTKTK alongside the lion with both cards offering major coordinated offensive power in Mike Sigrist’s aggro Abzan build.  Despite the flexibility of the Abzan deck builds, I’m a seller of this card in the $5-6 range as we still have a ton more Khans product to be opened and the card isn’t likely to cross the border into older formats.

Verdict: Sell

 5. Dig Through Time (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $8.16 to $12.58 (+54%)

Format: Standard, Modern, Eternal.

If I had to pick a card to be the Snapcaster Mage of Khans of Tarkir, this would be it. Initially overshadowed by the more hyped Treasure Cruise, it was soon revealed that Draw7/Pick2 is actually more powerful than Draw3, especially in control/combo decks that need specific answers or combo pieces to close out games. It’s so powerful, it’s popping up in pretty much any Standard or Modern deck that can cast it and wants the effect, and that’s a lot of them. As a rare in a heavily opened set it will have trouble holding a price point above $10-12 this season, but it deserves the better than average price curve and will be a definite spec once it floats lower on available copy volume heading into spring and summer. As an eternal and EDH gem, I’m holding multiple copies, English foils, Japanese foils, and multiple foreign copies. It’s a card worth trading into and acquiring wherever you find it. The only real question is whether the new delve cards will be too powerful in modern and lead to fresh bannings but we’ve got time to see how that plays out this winter.

Verdict: Sell (Short Term), Buy (Mid-Term/Long-Term)

6. Siege Rhino (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $7.40 to $10.50 (42%)

Here is your leading candidate for the best creature in Standard and a virtual swiss-army knife in the current format. It’s an efficient beater, blocker and de facto counter spell against burn spells. It helped multiple Abzan builds dominate the Top 8 of PTKTK, it reverses starts against Aggro and Tempo that look unwinnable, it tramples over green ramp creatures, and it’s up 40%+ this week as Abzan takes the early mantle as the deck to beat. As a KTK rare it’s current level leaves little room for growth, so I’m a seller, looking to cash out from $4 pre-orders and reinvest for further profit potential elsewhere.

Verdict: Sell

7. See the Unwritten (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $4 to $5.62 (+41%)

This is a card to watch. There is a strong legacy of green cards that leverage early ramp into massive creatures on board, and it’s easier than ever right now to push an early 4 power creature into 2 behemoths given the plethora of ramp creatures and mid-range power creep. The growth this week was based on some Green Devotion play at the Pro Tour leading into Hornet Queen, but with a strong possibility of Eldrazi and/or massive Dragons showing up in Standard later this year, there is definitely runway left for this undervalued mythic. I’m a buyer under $6.

Verdict: Buy

8. Wingmate Roc (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $14.88 to $20.12 (+35%)

Format(s): Standard

With Abzan (WGB) decks dominating the top 8 at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir last weekend, Wingmate Roc has had plenty of camera time lately. The card has more than proven itself as a solid role player in any mid-range deck that can afford the mana cost of 3WW. In a standard format where folks are generally trading 1-for-1 against removal, adding two solid threats to the board for the cost of one can be big game against an exhausted hand. The card’s price is definitely vulnerable to metagame shifts, and it has no future in older formats, but it’s also seeing play in Jeskai Control and Mardu builds so it should be able to hold $15+ for most of the season.

Verdict: Sell

9. Glittering Wish (Future Sight, Rare): $15.99 to $19.36 (+21%)

Easily found for as little as $2 just 6 weeks ago, Glittering Wish was always a strong card waiting for the right deck. As a Future Sight era rare it is basically a Super Mythic, and the 1000% increase isn’t that surprising given the trajectory of other rares from that set in recent years once they found a home. Driving the trend is the pivotal nature of Glittering Wish in the modern version of the Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck where it serves as an extra 3-4 copies by fetching the central combo piece from the sideboard as necessary. So long as it’s Ascendancy rather than Wish that gets banned this winter (a result most consider likely), there is more room for upside here, so long as another deck finds a use for it. Even still, I’ve been a happy seller at this price point, because the upside from here is unlikely to outpace other options.

Verdict: Sell

10. Blood Moon (9th Edition, Rare): $16.24 to $19.49 (+20%)

Format: Modern + Legacy

At a time when many Modern cards are floating lower, the utility of Blood Moon in shutting down the increasingly complicated mana-bases in Modern and Legacy is still gaining traction. The card hasn’t been printed for a while and the recent boost is attributable at least partially to the increased prominence of Burn and U/R aggro strategies in older formats made possible by the emergence of Monestary Swiftspear. This is a card that’s fine to hold if you’re looking to play it and easy to sell if you see a chance to reinvest elesewhere.

Verdict: Hold

Noteable Losers

1. Savage Knuckleblade (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $4.31 to $3.21 (-26%)

Format(s): Standard

The Estimated Value of a box of Khans of Tarkir is still too high at present, and with such a highly opened set, something has to give. Prime candidates will continue to include powerful but under-performing cards like Savage Knuckleblade that aren’t showing up at enough top tables to hold their value. Pending a strong finish of note, this card is headed to $1-2.

Verdict: Sell

2. Rattleclaw Mystic (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $5.85 to $4.64 (-21%)

Format(s): Standard

Despite showing up as a four-of in the Jeskai Ascendancy standard deck, the Mystic is largely unrepresented compared to stronger rares found on the upswing this week from Khans of Tarkir. As such, expect it to settle in around $4 and look to snap copies up quickly if it posts a strong finish, since a metagame shift could easily see this come back up in the $6-10 range.

Verdict: Hold

3. Empty the Pits (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $5.34 to $4.30 (-19%)

Format(s): Standard, Modern + EDH/Casual

The power isn’t in dispute, but it’s unclear whether Empty the Pits can find a home in a powerful graveyard centered deck in Standard that can put up great results. Even when it shows up, it’s often just a 1-2 of. As a long-term pickup this card has strong potential as a mythic in the $5 range that could easily hit $15-20 in a few years.

Verdict: Buy

Quick Hits:

  • Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Surrak Dragonclaw and Butcher of the Horde are all down 15%+ this week because they aren’t showing up in top table decks yet. All three can easily reverse course on better news. Keep an eye out for bargains, especially on the mythics.
  • Fetches have been a “sell” since the pre-release and will continue to be until they fall under $10-12 broadly as befits their status as fall set rare dual lands that are only seeing limited play in standard. Look to buy a ton of these next summer during fal set discount season.
  • I recommend selling boxes of Modern Masters which can be unloaded in the $360-400 range right now. Unknowns around the potential release of Modern Masters 2 as a global release make possible reprints from the 1st set a distinct possibility I don’t want to hang around to see proved wrong. The profits are solid for a 16 month hold, so I’m all out, saving only one box for way down the road.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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xcx09asa2f_art

Vanishing Returns

By: Cliff Daigle

I have two simple questions for you today: First, what is the monetary value of your collection?

We have a tool for this here at MTGPrice; if you’ve entered every card you own into our system you’ll have access to your collection’s value as it fluctuates, as well as telling you what you could get on buylists for your cards.

For me, the value is all in my EDH decks. I’ve added value to them pretty consistently over the past few years, and I’ve got more than one with a retail value of over a grand. You may think that’s bragging, you may think that’s underpricing it, but $10 here and $40 here adds up fast in a 100-card deck. Cubes are another item that holds a lot of value in a small space, especially if you’re someone who spent the money to foil it out.

If you haven’t done so before, take stock of your decks and your binders. Don’t forget about the large boxes of cards that you have somewhere, the bulk that may or may not be picked and sorted.

Depending on how long you’ve been at this, that value could be small, or it could be large, or it could be enough to pay the down payment on a house.

My second question to you: Are you prepared for something to happen to part or all of your collection?

I’m not trying to alarm you. I’m trying to give you an idea of how incredibly fragile these pieces of cardboard are, and how ridiculously simple it is to keep your investment safe.

Three years ago, I was at my old LGS. (Local Game Store) I was upstairs playing EDH as was my wont, when someone came into the store looking to sell some cards. The guy on duty for that was a local L1 judge, who noticed that the cards for sale made up a five-color Sliver deck, and the deck was fully outfitted with foils, duals, fetches, the works. Pretty pricey, even then, and exactly in line with a deck that a store regular had told everyone was stolen recently.

This judge contacted the police, who arrived quickly, and the regular was called in too. The store and the patrons were all paused in what they were doing, watching this unfold. We, the players in the audience, were salivating over the chance to see a card thief get their deserved punishment. The stolen deck was still sleeved in custom sleeves, and apparently there was a picture of the regular, holding up these sleeves. A slam-dunk!

An hour later, the alleged thief was walking out with the deck in hand. No charges, no problem, a simple “Don’t ever come back to this store” as the only punishment that could be given out.

Think about that for a moment. Think about being that guy, seeing your hard-earned and beloved deck in someone else’s hands, and you have no legal recourse.

Our delight in this game is based on mere pieces of paper. These do not bear any identifying marks; no serial numbers, no barcodes, no certificates or proof of anything. If you do decide to mark them, you’re going to depreciate the value considerably. Once your cards are out of your possession, you’re going to have a difficult time proving ownership.

Theft is a huge problem for our game. There are very few Magic players who haven’t experienced theft on some level. I’ve been through it on more than one occasion, once having someone dip a hand into my long deck box and grab a random handful, while my attention was on a game.

There are instances of cards being stolen out of backseats, out of trunks, out of storefronts, and out of binders. It’s a long-standing rule that you don’t let someone else look at your binder while you’re engaged in a trade, because there’s a chance of having a card dipped out of your pages. Letting someone take a look through your EDH deck carries the same risk. I sympathize, as I love showing my cards off, but it’s got the potential to lead to problems.

Don’t forget that other problems can lead to damage to your precious cardboard. Sunlight can melt a binder left in a car. Earthquakes can cause your neatly organized binders to fall out of the bookcase and onto the floor, bending or breaking your cards. Floods and fires can destroy your collection utterly, down to that box of basic lands.

So what’s a player to do? There are some very basic steps you can take.

#1: Renter’s Insurance

You’re required to carry auto insurance by law. Renter’s insurance is far cheaper and will probably get used less, but when you need it, you REALLY need it. Yes, it’s going to require some paperwork and organization, as well as regular updating (Did you just trade for a MP Beta Scrubland? Add it in!) but it’s worth every dollar and every hassle.

I don’t want to link specific companies, but start with your auto insurance company. Call them and ask if they offer renter’s insurance as well. It will not be expensive, unless you have a massively valuable inventory, in which case you really ought to insure it! If you’re willing to spend $100 on Ebay for a Japanese Foil Akroma, Angel of Wrath from Legions, then you should be willing to spend some money on the insurance.

I want you to seriously think about the value of your collection. If it is very valuable, then you should protect it. Only if you have very low value should you ignore insurance. Most of us will be under $200 a year, and you can think of that as a little more than a draft per month. Different companies will require different levels of paperwork, and your experiences may vary.

This is a simple, cheap, and effective way to protect yourself from any type of loss. When I realized what my decks were worth, I signed up for renter’s insurance. There’s a protection to all of your belongings, not just your cards. It’s not expensive, especially compared to the cost of repair or replacement.

Insuring my cards, as well as my belongings, gave me a strong sense of relief. It’ll make you feel good too.

#2: Basic Security

This weekend is Grand Prix Los Angeles. I am willing to bet a large amount of money that after the event, or even during the event, there will be a Reddit post or a tweet sent out or something where a Magic player is asking for help finding their stolen or lost deck/Cube/binder. It’s guaranteed and it’s mostly preventable.

Don’t have multiple trades going on. Don’t leave extra decks/cards on the table. Don’t leave your bag unattended, and when sitting, wrap your leg in the strap, so in case of someone trying to grab and run, they pull your leg. Don’t brag about stuff in your car. Don’t flash the bling left and right.

It’s helpful to have bracelets and tags to match up the owners of bags, but it’s a matter of seconds to take the cards out and then ownership is difficult to determine. Please don’t have these things happen to you, at GP LA or an SCG Open or anything. If you’re a dealer, have sufficient staff. If you’re not a dealer, don’t bring thousands of dollars of cards and leave it in your car, because cards have been stolen from targeted individuals.

#3: Advanced Technology

There are a number of things that are being sold or developed to deal with the security of your cards. DeckTracker is one, LassoTag is another, and they are designed to help keep things near to you.

This is handy, but not as effective as simple security. I’m pretty good with technology, but I can’t get my car to consistently pair via Bluetooth with my phone. I don’t know how effective these methods are, but they are a backup to the basic ideas.

#4: Community Help AFTER something happens

If, heaven forbid, your deck/cube/binder/bag is stolen, you have some last-minute options. Reddit often has those threads, or Facebook posts, or Twitter, or other social media tools. There’s a chance that you’ll get it back. There’s a chance that Wizards will send you some stuff to make up of some of your loss.

There’s a chance of all that. It’s not for sure.

I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but I am trying to worry you a little. You should be worried if you’re wearing thousand-dollar jewelry, and you would worry if you had $500 in $20 bills kept inside a little plastic box in your backpack and everyone around you knew you put it in there.

Be appropriately concerned, and protect yourself and your investment.

And have fun at that Grand Prix or FNM!


 

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