An Interview with the Man Behind the Buyouts

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On the one hand, Craig Berry is a normal Magic player. He enjoys casual games with friends. He has a family he works hard to support. He works hard to be good at the game and his crowning career achievement is qualifying for the Pro Tour. Magic has weaved in and out of his life and relationships for years, and he’s thankful for what it’s given him.

On the other hand, Craig Berry is the man behind the buyouts. He’s the man who spent thousands to pull all the Moats off the Internet, doubling the price overnight and pushing it up hundreds of dollars. He then did the same with Lion’s Eye Diamond, another key card for players trying to break into Legacy. He is the man who made a video announcing his intentions and spreading to the world how he was going to manipulate the current price of cards by buying all the available copies.

For better or worse, it’s been the talk of the community over the past week, and I wanted to see what leads someone to such brazen action. I spent an hour talking to Craig and I’ve transcribed the most interesting parts of that conversation to give the community some idea what’s going through the mind of the man who has been dubbed “Magic’s Shkreli,” after the infamous executive who raised the price of life-saving drugs by more than 5,000 percent.

Craig Berry
24-year-old Craig Berry with his daughter

Q: How did you become involved in Magic and later speculating?


A:
I’m 24 years old now, and I started in the wild west days of 2006-07 when Umezawa’s Jitte was around $25. I was 14 years old and wanted to make a buck, so I figured out I could trade bulk rares for Jittes, and then take the Jittes to dealers — which not everyone had access to back then — to double my money. I started out as a “scummy” trader, but that’s not who I am anymore. I don’t want to “get” people.

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My first spec was Bitterblossom when it was spoiled. I went to Star City, borrowed my grandpa’s credit card and specced on 60-70 copies at $4-6 each. I ended up selling them for $20-25. I paid him back with interest and that reinforced my opinion that there was money to be made in Magic.

Q: So the big question is, why are you doing this?

A: I’d be lying if I said my motivation wasn’t money; it’s most people’s motivation in life. But also it’s just a broken system.

I bought 41 copies of English moats at $375 each. It went up because I bought it out, but it would have gone up eventually because they aren’t printing any more and it’s really good with Eldrazi getting popular in Legacy. I also fully believe that if I hadn’t, then either someone else would have or it would have gotten there in a year anyway. All I did was accelerate the process. And this is something that has been going on for a long time by big stores, it’s just not been done so publicly.

Q: So why are you doing it publicly with the videos?

A: I’m friends with a lot of the grinders and mid-level pros, and some of them look to me for advice. I call up three or four of my close friends before I do a buyout, but then I also make a video because I want to let my friends know what I’m going to do and there’s too many to contact individually.

What’s interesting is that they just caught on. I’ve been making them for a year or so but none of them caught on until Lion’s Eye Diamond, which has something like 9,000 views compared to 300 or 400 for another one of my videos.

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Lots of people think I’m doing a pump and dump [hyping a card only to sell personal copies into the hype] but that’s not it. I’m still sitting at 36 of the copies of Moat I bought. I can’t see a reason to sell them now because the price went up but there’s no reason for it to come back down either.

Now that so many people are following the videos I’ll probably stop doing them, because it isn’t very helpful to my friends at that point.

Q: So tell me about the Moat buyout.

A: Moat before was $375, and now it’s about $600. If you were playing Miracles in Legacy you should have had it for forever. And if you didn’t have it could have gotten it before; all I did was expedite the process.

And it raised the total cost of the deck by a few hundred dollars. So if you were going to pay $2,500 for the deck before, you’re going to pay $2,800 for it now. People are complaining, but they’re still going to buy them. It’s like taxing sugary drinks — people will complain but they’ll buy them anyway. It’s the same with Magic.

Q: For Moat, that makes sense. What about Lion’s Eye Diamond, a buyout that has priced some people out of playing Legacy?

A: I don’t look at Magic as a game, I look at it as a business, and it’s kind of like day trading. I feel bad for anyone priced out personally, but it’s not going to change what the business is. It’s just how the world works.

Magic isn’t really a hobby anymore; there’s so just so much money involved. You walk into Grand Prix Vegas last year, and there’s 46 dealers each spending on average $100,000 to $150,000 with some of the bigger dealers spending up to $400,000. That’s $7 million dollars spent — that’s how big of a business this is.

The people who complain about prices don’t affect the market. They weren’t the ones who were going to spend money from the beginning. With Moat, I’ve never seen so many people complain about a card they were never going to buy. It’s really easy to have trigger fingers and complain about something, but it doesn’t affect the market.

But I do feel for them personally. A friend commented that a kid at his store couldn’t finish his Legacy deck because all he needed were Lion’s Eye Diamonds and now he was priced out of them. That’s one of the genuine cases and I gave him LED’s at pre-spike prices.

Q: But what if there’s more people like that than you can know about?

A: It’s hard to differentiate the genuine cases from the ones for people just looking for stuff. I don’t think that’s the majority; I think the spikes affect very few people and mostly people just like to complain.

Q: So where do your funds come from to do all these buyouts, especially if you aren’t selling right after the spike?

A: I’ve worked hard for my money. I’m full-time in MTG, and I don’t own a store or an online storefront — I feel like I make more money selling to dealers. I make money through buyouts and speculating. I had a daughter in 2014, and I’m working to support my family.

I really got going in 2014 when I was presented with a collection to buy for $5,000 that I knew I could make money on. I didn’t have the money, but I knew it was worth it so I received a loan that I paid back with interest and since then I’ve turned that into everything I have. I’ve grinded really hard, working 14-15 hours a day.

When I buy cards, I don’t buy just a few of them. For instance, I bought 1,000 Rest in Peace at 70 cents apiece, and while a lot of people thought it would be a long grind just to make $2, that card is now way higher and I believe it will be $10. It’s the best at what it does and even non-dedicated graveyard decks like Jund have a hard time with it.

Q: Why Magic? Why not trade something like actual stocks? 

A: I guess my end goal is to get into day trading with the stock market, but I don’t know enough about it. I have a couple of friends who do it who I’ve been talking to, but it’s just a completely different world. I understand the Magic market more than the stock market, and to be honest I think the return on Magic cards is way higher than CDs or mutual funds or any of that.

It helps that I know what to keep an eye on. When there’s a Pro Tour I’m looking at the Constructed decks that went 8-2 or better and spending money based on that — I went deep on Archangel of Thune after the last Pro Tour and then it later spiked. I also watch the market in other countries; Voice of Resurgence for a long time was $35 in Japan and $30 in Italy but only $17 here, so I bought a bunch of them because of that, and then later it went up as I expected.

Magic cards are safer than traditional investments. Look at something like Brexit. It made the stock market plummet, but it didn’t affect Magic at all. If I buy a house I can’t make money off of that money. I think Magic is the best place to put that money to work.

Q: How do you respond to people who call you the ‘Martin Shkreli’ of Magic and say that you are hurting the game?

A: A lot of people think I do it maliciously, but I’m just running a business and the videos are really just to help my friends. I sold a friend a NM Moat for $300 because I want to help out my friends, not just make money from this.

If it wasn’t me doing this it would be someone else. I hate sitting back and thinking to myself I could have make $15,000 in two weeks doing this, but instead I sat back and someone else did it. I used to be very afraid to spend money, and I would tell my friends what to buy and then I wouldn’t buy it and I would watch other people make money on it.

I think that’s just the way this business works. I’m friends with a lot of people in the community, and I don’t think they would consider me a friend if I was out just to hurt the game.

Q: So what’s next for you?

A: I don’t think I’ll be making the videos anymore. I think a lot of the best targets have been bought out. Moat was an easy one not only because of the Reserved List but because of Eldrazi in Legacy and how hard it is for them to beat.

I don’t just buy cards because they’re on the Reserved List — I think that’s a bad plan. Look at something like Thought Lash. It was bought out and the price spiked but what’s the plan now? A card like Moat I can sell over time, but there is no demand for Thought Lash so where are you going to sell them? I only target cards that are going to continue to see play.

There’s a few things that I have my eye on; City of Traitors is one of those. Gaea’s Cradle also should be way more expensive than it is. If Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy ever goes below $26 Mid I’m happy to drop $5,000 on it because that card is insane and people don’t realize just how few there are and how hard it is to reprint, being a double-faced card.

I think the best investment for many people right now is Sliver Hivelord; that card is so underpriced. It’s a 4-5 year plan but if people want to make money they should put it there because it will have a much higher return than any stock you can think of.

Q: Is there anything you want to add?

A: One final thing. I think it’s really easy to hate someone when you only know one thing about them and it may not be socially accepted. You only ever hear about the bad and never the good, andI don’t think people realize how much I’ve done to help people in this game as well.

I’m just like anyone else and I want what everyone else wants. I’ve gone through a lot personally recently —my mom committed suicide last year and I’ve had some other personal things happen to me that have been really rough — so to that there have been some terrible things said about me is hard. When you asked on Twitter what people would ask me if they could, one person wanted to know if I wanted a bullet in the head or the heart. That’s just crazy. I see people making videos condemning me, and if they don’t have something better to do with their time, I moreso feel sorry for them that they have to attack someone than anything else.

In the end, I’m not doing these buyouts to be malicious. All I really want from Magic is to make a good living for myself, have fun with what I do and make great friends. There’s so many people on the Internet making up rumors about me, but I’m not a bad person, I’m a nice guy running a business.

My take

This was one of the more fascinating interviews I’ve conducted, and I want to add a few thoughts on the subject, which I promise to keep brief.

Before I go further, I want to say that I understand the concerns about “giving him a platform.” But the truth is the buyouts are going to happen whether we ignore them or not, and they aren’t limited to one guy. We can learn much more from engaging in serious discussion on this topic than we can by trying to pretend it doesn’t exist.

I believe Craig when he says he doesn’t see himself as the bad guy, and I certainly don’t condone some of the vitriol the Internet has spewed at him. I also think he’s dead-on when he says these things have been going on for a long time by many parties — many of them large stores the community interacts with regularly — but are only now coming to the forefront because of his videos. In the end, Magic is many things but it is first and foremost a business, from Hasbro to Wizards of the Coast to the largest online store to the smallest LGS in your hometown. The line about GP Vegas really stuck out to me — just think about how much money is in that room — and it really drives home the point that Magic, for all its great traits and community inclusiveness (we really do have the best community), is Big Money.

And where there’s Big Money you will have people working to take their share of that money. Craig Berry himself is not the problem — he’s simply become the face of the underpinnings that move the Magic market. So long as Magic continues to be Big Money capitalism dictates that there will be a Craig Berry in the market. Not only is this inevitable, it’s also the business model Magic was founded on 25 years ago. That model hasn’t changed in nearly three decades, it hasn’t changed since you started playing and it’s not changing any time soon. And, from a business perspective, there’s no reason it should. Magic is doing better than ever and we have all benefitted from that success, whether it’s in watching videos on your favorite website, tuning into the Pro Tour on Twitch or competing in a regional 5k in your area.

But capitalism and community make for strange bedfellows, and no matter how Craig or his peers see the game Magic is more than just a money-making vehicle. It’s a community that does incredible things for people every day of every week of every year for the past two and a half decades, and it does thingsreal, tangible things — for people that even the most aggressive mutual fund never could.

That’s why the game is the success it is, and the reason people like Craig are able to make a living off from it. In the end, the question isn’t about whether someone can pull the trigger on a buyout or price spike, it’s about whether you can.

Because there are real consequences to these actions that make perfect sense in an academic world but have real impacts on the average player in the real world. I run a singles store out of a LGS myself, and I have people come to me every week trying their best to make their money stretch as far as possible so they can try to afford that last Tarmogoyf or set of fetch lands and finally play on Modern Night. I see kids give up on even getting into the game because they know they’ll never be able to afford the cards.

That’s why I do what I do in creating weekly Magic content, from TCGPlayer to Brainstorm Brewery and editing this site. People hate the term “MTGFinance” and I understand why — buyouts like this certainly make it look bad. But Magic finance is many things to many people, and to me it’s a way to help more people afford to play this game that I’ve seen do unbelievable things for families. I’m not writing or casting to tell the next wannabe Craig Berry which cards to buy, I’m doing it to help that 16-year-old have just a little better shot at accomplishing what they want to in Magic.

Because, to me, it’s never been about the Magic — it’s about the gathering. I can never stop people from buying out cards to make money and it’s hard to blame them for running their business the way society dictates success, but I can go to sleep at night knowing I wasn’t the reason somebody somewhere isn’t suddenly four Lion’s Eye Diamonds short of finally finishing that Legacy deck they’ve been saving up for months to buy.

I choose community over capitalism. What about you?

 

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148 thoughts on “An Interview with the Man Behind the Buyouts”

  1. There’s just one thing I’d like to add: I wouldn’t be nearly as successful as I am in Magic, if it weren’t for Will Magrann; he’s been a lifelong friend and has also helped me make very difficult financial decisions, that I never would’ve been able to make on my own. He’s very intelligent and is always completely honest with me, when it comes to speculating, buyouts etc. So I’d like to give a big “thank you” to my best friend, Will.

    1. Hi Craig,

      I’m pretty new to legacy and I am trying to figure out which last (expensive) cards to buy. I play Stoneblade (Abzan, 4c), Delver (UR, 4c, Temur), and Maverick/Bant. Like most players, I focused on the cheaper cards first Can you help point out which cards I should acquire soon?

      Here’s a list that I can think of:
      – Chains (legends)
      – Cradle (urza’s)
      – Dual lands (I’m one short one some of them, eg Usea)

      Any pointers would be appreciated.

    2. I’d like to give a big “fuck you” to you on behalf of millions of Magic players everywhere. As someone who can’t find fellow eternal players to save his life, I think you are seriously hurting the game I’ve loved for 20+ years, and I wish you’d find another way to make money instead of exacerbating the problem caused by the Reserved List.

      1. So you hate him because he does what all the big stores do as well? Do you hate him because WoTC created an enviroment which accelarates this behaviour? (I mean if they reprint the cards it’s much harder to get the price up like this)

        I don’t think we should hate this single person for what he does but rather the system itself which is further supported (indirectly or directly) by WoTC

        1. Players should also remember the reserve list was created by Wizards(at players insistence) to protect the secondary market from collapsing when WotC decided to start reprinting cards so that more players could play the game.
          If Wizards starts acting like Konami and does unlimited reprints Magic will suffer as Yugioh did.

      2. I have been playing Magic for 20 plus years, but even back then I never had the money or opportunity to buy some of the older cards that get used in legacy. I am into legacy a lot now and building more decks. I was currently saving money and store credit to pick up a couple moats at my local shop, but in the past 2 weeks I saw it climb up an extra 80 bucks each. now i am going to have to give up on getting them thanks to you. I am a dedicated player but easily getting priced out of what is my favorite hobby for all these years. Go get a real job to support your family like the rest of us and give us our game back.

      3. It’s because of assholes like him that they should get rid of the reserved list, and reprint each and every one in one big set.

    3. Capitalism is a hell of a drug. Thanks for killing one of my longest standing passions.

      seriously, thank you. your buyouts convinced me that magic is not worth playing and ive taken the money i used to waste on cardboard and put it towards learning photography, which has been 10 times more gratifying.

      i havent even looked at card prices in a few months, but checking the LED prices earlier today really solidified that for me. Dredge was the one deck i wanted to play, and now i know, for certain, that that dream has been taken out back and shot.

      1. I find all this terribly amusing. First, I’d like to point out that this a COLLECTIBLE card game. At it’s roots and by design the cards are intended to be collected, traded, and even *gasp* bought & sold. Don’t like your old, desirable collectibles being expensive? Then I suppose you need a different hobby. Try stamps, or even Pogs. Doubt those will be expensive any time soon.

        1. Minor correction there. It has gone underground, but stamp collecting has become almost as big as it was 50 years ago. And though there are vast numbers of 5-cent stamps, there are also untold numbers of stamps worth north of $50 and thousands of stamps worth in the hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands. The most expensive stamp in the world sold for 3.2 million last year and it is just the tip of the iceberg for extremely valuable stamps. It dwarfs Magic in terms of total value, but I collect both because I enjoy it and enjoy the artwork, though I am pretty poor Modern player. Anyway, stamp collecting is fun and stamps are just as awesome as Magic cards.

    4. I wish I could meet you in person. So I could shove my size 13 boot up your ass! Pieces of shit like yourself need to go out, get a REAL job and let a once enjoyable and FUN hobby continue instead of mucking it up and ruining the game in every format. Go die in a pile of flaming shit.

    5. You come across as a narcissistic arrogant manipulative prick. You kind of sound sociopathic as well. Not only that, but you try to justify what your doing just because “someone” else will.. You operate on speculation, which is actually manipulated by your buy outs.. Eventually all that is going to happen is that the community as a whole beside a select few that already have the cards will stop playing legacy and vintage due to cost and cost alone. You can justify it however you want to though. When legacy goes dead, take a long hard look in the mirror and blame yourself since you “love” the game so much. Get a real job and do something productive for your family, community, and the magic community.

    6. I totally understand Craig. It felt wrong at first but after reading this interview and getting to know you I feel much different about it. It took a lot of guts to expose yourself the way you did. Speculating is very common for avid magic players these days. I think the scale of your buyouts is what’s shocking to people. Whether your speculating 4 LED’s or 400 its the same thing.

  2. Borrowing money to sink into a speculation is far too risky for me; I don’t have the balls to take that kind of risk. Lions Eye Diamonds are already down to $150 for MP ones, and I think Moat will slowly come back down too.

    I will say that buyouts are beginning to destroy the confidence for the players and insure that there are no new legacy players. As the player base dwindles, the demand and prices will go down. We saw this when SCG dropped some support for legacy.

  3. Good article, but I have to call BS on you Corbin. It’s nonsense to say that you aren’t doing exactly the same thing; you just aren’t doing it as well. By selling cards at values created by supply and demand, you support the capitalistic system of magic. If you were completely altruistic, “choosing community over capitalism”, you’d be selling everything on your tcg store for a buck. In fact, anytime you sell a card at anything other than 1/15th of the price of a pack, you are taking advantage of the same “supply and demand” system Craig is for the sake of profit. Buyouts suck, but only because the sudden jump in price reminds us that we value tiny pieces of cardboard based solely on how many of those tiny pieces there are, compared to how many idiots (like myself) are willing to buy them. Pricing something like Avacyn at $25 when it exists in the same quantities as any other $1 mythic is still price manipulation. You sell it at that price because you can. Craig sells cards at the prices he sells them at because he can. There is no difference.

    1. Interesting take; I’ll engage. I sell at TCGLow at my LGS because it’s the best possible price we can give and stay in business and players drive in from across the state to work with me – I feel like my reputation here is pretty safe. More to the point, I am reactionary – I buy at one price and sell at market value – I don’t attempt to control that market value myself by buying out TCG. Do you see the difference?

      1. First let me say this wasn’t a judgement comment; I think its all fine. You are a business; you have to make money and as long as people pay for the want (and it is a want, not a need) you aren’t doing wrong. With that out of the way, I get that there is a difference in your business practice, but not in the end goal. You still use market driven flux to make profit. More to the point, you say you buy “reactively” as if it’s different than what Craig does. You see a trend (rising prices or increased play) and buy in. He sees a trend (falling supply and continued play) and buys in. The only difference is that you move less aggressively and on different market signals. But still, if 2000 Corbins all buy one card because they think it might go up and want to make a profit, they will collectively make a Craig. Just because you aren’t AS responsible for driving prices upward, it doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible. Anyone who buys a card specifically to resell (and not to play with) is responsible for making Magic more expensive, and cannot claim to have the community’s best interest as their primary concern. I’m not saying you are doing anything wrong, only that speculative resellers at any level have no right to claim the altruistic mantra of “community over capitalism”.

        1. You might argue that a reseller who does not buy a card for reselling will not be able to offer that card to his community. Someone will have to buy and sell to give a community access to rarer items. In that sense he would be serving the community if there is a demand (AND benefiting from capitalism in the process).

          I don’t disagree with your general message, just don’t believe serving your community and capitalism are necessarily mutually exclusive.

        2. Beautifully written. Thank you for introducing logic in a discussion with other comments such as “hitler couldn’t do it alone either.”

        3. Corbin said “I buy at one price and sell at market value,” so he’s not a speculator. Magic depends on resellers like Corbin, because without them you’d have to spend too much on boosters to get the rares you want.

          I don’t like the buyouts, but you can still have fun playing lots of different Magic decks without worrying about them.

    2. Wow this comment shows an extremely poor understanding of basic economics. While Craig is participating in the capitalization of M:tG, so in that way what he is doing is similar, the price of Avacyn is mostly (theoretically completely, but the big stores intro them at a higher than base price thus creating some unnaturalness) priced on demand. Your comment ignores demand entirely and stated that pricing is based entirely on scarcity. Trash mythics are 1$ instead of the 15 cents trash commons go for, due to scarcity.

      The difference between what Corbin and Craig Berry do, is that Corbin sells at whatever the demand currently is. Craig Berry artificially creates demand, by intentionally increasing scarcity. He says the price would have eventually gotten to 600$ and he is correct about that. Because playable cards on the reserve list do increase continuously as a trend. But through his manipulation, he has caused the cards to now cost 700$ at that future point in time they would have costed 600$. What people object to (for the most part), is not directly the capitalization of Magic, but the intentional manipulation of that capitalization for his own benefit (which in any case but labor is directly to someone elses detriment).

      1. Ian: Actually, I very specifically referenced “Supply AND Demand”, but thats cool. I was a little loose/hyperbolic in my examples to push the point, but I think it was clear otherwise.

  4. Once again, Corbin, you have given us another fine piece of Magic journalism. Putting a face and a personality to one of the “dirtier” sides of magic finance is exactly the type of story I have come to expect from you. You keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

  5. This was very interesting and enlightening. I agree with the fact that people complain regardless of their intention of actually buying that card. I can only speak for myself here: Since I try to collect every legendary card in MTG, I’ve encountered some really expensive cards (looking at you, Tabernacle). I was way too late to get it at a “reasonable” price, but I don’t NEED it right away (or better yet, I may not need it at all). So the only frustrating thing about it is, what I make it out to be.

    The same goes for Legacy-staples… if you REALLY intend to play the format (and not just with friends, because you could use proxies as well), then you either have those cards already or you have to bite the bullet. But there is no logical reason other that you WANT TO play Legacy. You do not HAVE to play Legacy. Get what I’m saying?

    As a father who still tries to wrestle his way into the illustrator market, it would be a relief to have a more or less stable income. And as a small-time-speculator I know how much work it is to track prices and make decisions (spoiler: I’m not very good with those).

    So yeah, the hate Craig received was way over the top for what he actually did. I know, I don’t need Moat and LED in my life, so why bother? And to be honest, the ones at fault are clearly WotC, because without a Reserved List, this would NOT be happening on such a large scale. Those investments are only safe, because there is the guarantee of specific cards never getting printed again.

    That was my two cents for those who are interested 😀

    1. Agreed. The Magic community should be criticizing WotC for the existence of the Reserved List. That’s where the blame belongs.

      1. Yes I was on the fence about the reserved list for a long time since some of those cards are mediocre and not even deserving of a reprint. And although I dont think your basic player is going right to legacy or vintage, they should have that option. Also reprinting in a limited print run set with new art is not going to crash the secondary market for sought after cards

  6. To be completely honest, if I had the capitol I’d do the exact same thing. But I think this is a perfect example of why the reserved list should be abolished. When you have cards that cannot and will not ever be printed again, you will have buy outs and there’s no motivation for the buyers to sell as the cards will do nothing but go up in price because the market is cornered. The only negative side is that this drastically hurts the Legacy and Vintage communities. Wizards of the Coast has clearly shown they don’t give a damn about Legacy and Vintage with the lack of support of events. Eternal Masters can be argued as support, but honestly it was a ploy for them to make money.

    Over infinite time, you’ll end up with no market for these reserved cards as they’ll all be bought out by collectors and investors. And by no market, I mean no one will ever be able to realistically afford cards to play and it’ll just become a collectible with very little play value.

    1. Yeah i think that we see a shift in the prices of reserved list cards being derived from the use from being played to the use as a value container and high denominating currency enabling high value – low volume trades, at least from one side (1 reserved list cards for x modern staples, e.g.)
      This does not necessarily mean that no one will ever play old formats again – just that the amount of new players entering will dwindle hard over time.
      Wizards does not care because there is nothing to gain for them in this process, and their solution to the reserved list and old format availability issues derived from this to make reserved list cards the gold coins in the secondary market which can be accidentally also used by playing.
      I could elaborate, and did already on the video post in the mtgfinance subreddit – if someone is more interested ;).

    2. Yes it should be abolished. But Wizards has made it clear that they have no intention of doing so anytime soon.

  7. I am mostly a collector these days. I have my playset of LEDs so I don’t really care for what is happening there. On the other hand, when Moat spiked I only had 2 copies and was on the lookout for another 2 (I collect playsets). I managed to find me a single Moat at the old price, but I will likely have to pay the new price on the 4th copy.

    As an individual case I am happy to accept that the card has gone up. I can remember when they were about $50 each, I’ve seen Moats rise before and I realized it would happen again. I unfortunately wasn’t in a position where I would’ve been able to get my Moats before this spike and getting the single copy now was a stretch. This happens.

    In general though all these price spikes are getting silly and annoying. Moat’s makes sense and a case can be made for LED too, there are too many cards though, like the Thought Lash mentioned in the article, where it just makes no sense whatsoever. These spikes are frustrating and even someone like me, with insight in the market, finds it hard to accept those.

    So basically: I can respect Craig’s moves as yes, these cards were bound to go up in any case, but I hate that we also see this as a general trend on cards where it just makes no logical sense.

    1. If you pay ‘the new price’ you are a idiot. There are 10’s of thousands of moats and he bought like 100.

      1. There were less than 20k printed in English (https://www.usc.edu/dept/Deckmasters/archive/mtg/printrun.txt). Some will have been lost for various reasons or damaged too much to be interesting to me. Many will be in collections from which they will never leave.

        He bought 41, as stated in the article, which I would estimate is about 25% to 35% of what’s available online at a given time, though perhaps my search skills are not good enough and maybe 10% is closer. In any case, those Tens of Thousands Moats just don’t exist and only a small part of them is actually available.

        If you decide you want a copy you’re going to be stuck paying at least the minimum price that’s being asked for a copy in the language and condition you want. At this point that price is ‘the new price’. Someone would only be an idiot if they paid that price only to see the card drop in price later or if he chooses not to pay it only to see it rise. Right now I feel it’s safe to play a waiting game hoping to snatch a relatively cheap copy, but that’s definitely going to be more expensive than what I paid in the past.

        We can disagree on which outcome is more likely, but until we’ve seen it actually happen please refrain from calling me an idiot.

  8. This guy is part of the broken system and the only people who lose out are other players. You want money – fine, just own it properly without all the faux justification.

    If Wizards changes the reserved list – that would be a great but likely unrelated change. This guy is just creating expense for his local community.

    1. The “broken system”? Really?

      How many copies of Moat are there out there right now? I guaran-damn-tee you there’s more than “36 copies of [English] Moat”. THAT means, Craig spent about $13,000 to buy 36 copies, which went up in value and probably will make him some money. Fine. That’s probably less than 0.3% of all Moats in existence because there’s probably 11,000 English copies of Moat out there right now in existence, which means CRAIG WESCOE JUST MADE 10,964 OTHER COPIES OF MOAT IN OTHER PEOPLE’S HANDS WORTH MORE MONEY.

      Second of all, Craig didn’t touch Italian copies if you want to play with the card. Go get ’em.

      Magic can teach some people a good lesson on financial markets and fiscal responsibility… and they can learn that lesson PLAYING A FREAKING GAME… how cool is that? That’s like me learning about orbital mechanics by playing Kerbal Space Program. It’s cool. Really cool.

      If half the people who whined on here about “broken systems” and asked big daddy Government (er, sorry, big daddy {fill in the blank}) to fix their problems for them, instead took this lesson and said “wow, there’s money to be made in financial markets, I wonder if I can take WHAT I LEARNED HERE PLAYING A GAME and apply it to real life to find ways to make some more money?”, then maybe we wouldn’t have as many idiots out there who think voting for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton (or heck, even Donald freaking Trump) would be such a good idea, and instead would get off their A**ES and fix their own damn life, and this country would be a better place.

      1. Well, if there are really thousands of copies sitting in binders, boxes and bookshelves then the spike will draw them out and bring the price back down…if not then the cards are really just that rare and they were undervalued.

        I have no doubt that many copies are still extant…but the question is are they in collections per se or in boxes in mom’s attic, alone and unafraid, collecting dust? Or worse still…thrown out or otherwise destroyed? Yes, there were X-thousand copies printed…that doesn’t mean they’re readily available.

        Time will tell.

      2. Maybe you shouldn’t give Craig Wescoe bad name here. He’s totally different guy.

  9. Lomg time lurker, first time poster. No one is going to like my 2 cents, but if you can’t afford it, proxy it in or play a format you can afford. I know some of you can’t afford to drop 1000 dollars on cards, which in my opinion is no one’s fault but your own, some of you weren’t even born 2 decades ago, which I can’t help either. Magic is a luxury which like any luxury, can’t be afforded by all. I bought cradles for 20 each, I still have the 10 dollar dual lands I bought 2 decades ago. I would hate to see the reserve list abolished, and watch the value of my years of grinding the trade tables and other hard work go down the drain.

  10. Fantastic article! Some great take always even for those with differing opinions! Thanks!!

  11. Whatever, the mtg legacy market will burst in two or three years. Just like any market it has it’s ups and downs. Thinking that mtg price will only go up is so flawed. As more people believe invest in mtg as a stock equivalent and wizards of the coast distance themselves from legacy events, combined with people wanting to cashout their collections it will inevitably cause a crash of expensive legacy market.

  12. Lots of self rationalization in that interview but what would you expect. The real difference between shkreli and this guy is that no one is forcing you to buy magic cards.

    Love how he wants to portray himself as a good guy for selling a card for the pre buyout price to a select few individuals. Bet you curse wall street favoritism too

  13. This article (which was really excellent, by the way!) will serve as a litmus test for who understands how the Magic secondary market works.

    As a brief aside (TM), I’m tired of the line that kids don’t start playing or give up because they can’t afford [CARDNAME], especially when it is something like Moat, Goyf, or LED. I hear people moaning about the prices of duals and whatnot in my store, yet I couldn’t fire a Legacy or Modern tournament with more than 6 people if my life depended on it. I think most of the time people would rather complain that they are locked out of something by someone else than commit to playing Standard (there are reasons why it’s THE marquee format).

  14. I met Craig at AU in Blue Bell a few years ago…we traded and he was a genuinely nice guy and fair trader. I could sense then his keen following of the Magic market and later understood that the cards I traded to him were all Blue Chip stocks for lower tier casual stuff (which i was good with)…Specifically, I traded him my extra LED (which i pulled from a Coin store bulk box for ten cents) for a foil Consecrated Sphinx…$30 for $30 at the time…filled in a gap in my commander deck…i was happy…but Craig was looking long term even then…very smart! Now, he does it full time to earn a living…I applaud that. The hate on him or the system is people’s opinions…but this is capitalism and markets do self-regulate. Yes, the reserved list almost guarantees long terms returns…so his strategy is very good…maybe some more folks should take a page out of his book.

  15. “Magic cards are safer than traditional investments. Look at something like Brexit. It made the stock market plummet, but it didn’t affect Magic at all.”

    It will, it’s just that the stock market is much more efficient than the MTG market. Magic cards are not immune to macroeconomic events. If people with big collections get laid off and can’t find new work, they will sell their collections to eat. If lots of them do it at the same time, they will compete for suddenly-scared buyers and the prices will fall.

    The real estate bubble happened, in part, because people believed that just because “they’re not making any new land!”, ANY price was a reasonable one for real estate. Don’t make the same mistake.

  16. This is a very good article. I have a couple hings to say. I think it is crazy that he helps his friend profit from this. This is just like insider trading, and if MTG sales were regulated like the stock market he would be going to jail for that. However, it isn’t so that is not the case here. I respect a person trying to make a living. I have been playing this great game since 1995, and do not make money off the game. I play it because I love to compete and love to have fun. I have never sold my collection off unless I already have a play-set of a card I keep it. My best friend who is confined o a wheel chair, and is on a fixed income because he can’t work loves to play the game. In fact he is the one that introduced me to the game. Him and I play when ever I have time and money to take him to play He can not afford o buy cards since he is on his fixed income, and he can not drive because of his disability. I was in the process of buying the last few cards for his Miracles deck so he could play legacy. I get payed on the 5th and 20th every month. The last card that I needed to purchase for his deck was a Moat, and there was one on TCG that was damaged for $250. I was going to buy it with my next paycheck, HOWEVER, the buyout happened the Sunday night before I was paid, and I did not have the money to buy my best friend the card. Now he will not be able to play moat, because at the new prices I will not be able to afford it. So that is the situation that makes me mad. I know he is just trying to make a living, but there are people like myself that have to make a living and can’t afford to spend the $600 on a card that is only $600 because he did the buyout, and because WOTC has a reserve list. Also he claims to help out people that were about to buy it by selling at he pre inflated price, but he will not return my of my messages to either of his 2 Facebook accounts, so I do not believe anything he says. To me he is just out o help his friends and himself profit and he does not care about anyone else.

      1. Jeezus dude. Get the stick out your ass. Not everyone is a grumpy dickhead with money to waste. What are you, Craig’s other account? Mad that people call a spade a spade? Or just a guy that enjoys trash talking kids online? Go back to Reddit, troll.

        Bottom line is that these spikes are frustrating and many players carefully support their hobby and budget for it. This behavior is malicious, and the answer isn’t always “buy Italian.” That does zero to address the issues that let Craig give the big middle finger to players in his quest for some money.

    1. “This is just like insider trading, and if MTG sales were regulated like the stock market he would be going to jail for that.”

      I feel terrible for your friend, and I know there are other stories out there that are similar. I will not downplay this.

      However, what Craig is doing is definitely not insider trading, simply because he’s not an insider. He has the same exact information the rest of us has.

      You would be able to cry “insider trading” if someone from WOTC was buying cards based on unique knowledge they had that the open market didn’t have (like what’s not in Modern Masters, or what cards will be good once the new set comes out based on future league results). I’m sure there are strict regulations within WOTC to prevent this from happening.

      1. this. thanks, Sig. insider trading would be if Craig worked for wotc and knew ahead of time of some impending product release/reprint, and used that info for personal gain. much like the vendorleak fiasco with MM2. Craig simply buying every LED for less than $130 is basically just hoarding, which is not illegal even in the stock market.

      2. Ugh, I hate that I used poor grammar there. Should be “He has the same exact information as the rest of us.” 🙂

    2. There’s a vital part of insider trading that is missing here: inside information. Even if he were trading stocks like this, “I’m about to buy XYZ publicly traded stock because I think it’s going to go up, you might want to, too” is not insider trading. If you do it wrong, it might be unlicensed offering of investment advice in a way that gets you in trouble.

      To return to discussing Magic: if a WotC employee knows that there are new cards coming out that will destroy the value of card A and increase the value of card B, and responds to this information by selling their copies of card A and buying copies of card B, that’s insider trading–an insider is using inside information that their counterparty doesn’t have to profitably trade. If a non-insider, who has access to no private information except their own intentions and valuations, buys Magic cards (and/or sells Magic cards), that’s just ordinary trading. And if they give or even sell the info about their plans and intentions to others, it doesn’t become inside information when their moves are still on the open market and based on public information.

    3. Sorry but what Kind of an excuse is this…just trying to make a living, someone else would replace me. Anyone can say that. Oh I worked in Auschwitz because I needed to make a living and btw anyone else could have replaced me. So why blame me? Redicilous. I know now that I am out of Magic.

  17. My kids and their friends got me into playing Magic a couple years ago. After about 6-8 months, one of their teachers invited me to an adult game, with other 40-somethings that had been playing since college. That’s when I figured out the current state of the game: “kids get the crap cards, adults who can afford it get the good cards.” (with few exceptions like the clash pack with windswept heath).

    This is Hasbro’s big problem, and why I believe speculators like Craig are actually hastening their own end game. Hasbro wants/needs the kids, for the future. They need their buying base to expand AND scew younger, not bounce over to YuGiOh or play Halo instead. They want/need more kids in tournaments. Things like PT will eventually scew younger too. Eternal is the next logically step, cause kids don’t sell after Ravnica or Khans. They are either going to have to change scarcity or go all in on a successful online strategy or both.

    Reminds me of when I worked in the mortage industry in the early 2000s. “Everyone’s doing it” was the mantra for those high risk, no money down home loans, and look what happened. I know a bunch of folks in Wall street that simply quit around 2007-2008 and went into another profession.

    Keep speculating while you can Craig. I sincerely hope you find a better profession, both for yourself and your family.

    Regards,
    David

    P.S. My son has been asking for a Jace Vryn’s Prodigy since it came out and I’ve been waiting for it to drop under $30 so I could buy one for him.

  18. I think the obvious solution for Wizards to keep their promise to the reserve list, but make all the newer players happy is to simply create a new Eternal format that just bans all the reserve list cards. This way new players can buy packs like Eternal Masters 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. and get all the staples of the format but not have to worry about needing to buy $800+ cards to stay competitive. If this format becomes more popular than Legacy, it will flat out lower the demand for the reserve list cards and thus lower the price. Thus discourage people like Mr. Berry from buyouts that manipulate the market. If the popular format is a format where any card can be reprinted, then it reduces the risk of players being turned off from over inflated prices.

    This is why I feel there are soooo many more Modern players than Legacy, because by comparison it is way more affordable (though not cheap) and kept in check by the fact that any card can be reprinted.

    Legacy players will still have their format, but by creating a new format that eliminates the reserve list but still opens up the option to use older cards like Force of Will, Sneak Attack, Vampiric Tutor, etc, then new players can choose which format they want to play in.

    1. That’s been speculated for a long time. Here’s the main reason why it wouldn’t be a hugely substantial improvement over Modern: dual lands.

      On the other hand, FoW is what Modern really needs so they can unban a ton of great cards…

    2. No, that’s not the obvious solution. The obvious solution is to do exactly what they are currently doing: print more cards that compete with or offer alternatives to Reserve List Staples.

      WotC has done this with varying levels of success. In the area of countermagic, there is enormous competition (Flusterstorm, Mana Drain, Force of Will, Mental Misstep, Spell Pierce, etc) that are all situationally better or worse than each other. In the area of unique hate effects from older sets, they’ve done well, too. (Null Rod => Stony Silence; Chains of Meph. => Spirit of the Labyrinth; etc)

      In the area of mana bases, WotC hasn’t ever quite managed to crack into something that competes with original duals, but there’s no reason they can’t. Someday, we’ll see a supplemental, legacy-only product that prints something that competes with Revised duals. I’m not even talking about cop-outs like making them Legendary. Just slap a mechanic on it, like “When this enters the battlefield, each player Scrys 1” that makes them situationally better or worse.

      Bear this in mind when complaining about the reserve list.

    3. Mark and Andy, these are about 2 of the only legitimate comments I’ve read. Not the only 2, but yes Magic needs a new format to bridge the gap between Modern and Legacy and that will solve a lot of the “players can’t afford Legacy” problem. If Modern is put back on the Pro Tour when we get another Modern Masters set I wouldn’t be shocked if we got a Pro Tour the following year after Eternal Masters 2 is released (speculation) and we have a Reserve List Free Eternal Format. Modern needs FoW, Legacy needs more access by new players (though some would argue against this), so a new format bridging the gap would make the most sense. And since all the cards in this format would be reprintable WotC can make their money selling new boxes and packs for a GP or Pro Tour.

    4. Then everyone will be complaining that tarns and deltas are $100-$200.
      Yeah yeah they can be reprinted. But blood moon has been printed many many times and no where near used as fetches and still are $40. Fetches will be in the place of the duals and will explode. And then hear comes the complain wagon once again.
      Be careful what you wish for.

      1. People, especially Magic players, are always going to complain. Dig is too strong it should be banned, Dig is good but not broken, it shouldn’t be banned. Tarmogoyf shouldn’t be over $100, they need to print more. Goyf is going to lose too much value if they keep reprinting it, they need to stop. Why is Bloodbraid Elf still banned? etc etc. Tarns WERE over $100 until the Khans fetches were printed. And technically yes there are more fetches played across constructed magic than any other land. Difference is there are now “infinite” Khans fetch lands in circulation and that should keep the cost of mana bases down for several years…and eventually the Zendikar fetches will get reprinted…and the people who have them will bitch and complain about how much money they are losing by having them reprinted while many others will be thrilled to buy and Scalding Tarn for $20 😀 It unfortunately is the atmosphere of Magic, complain and continue to complain. No solution ever makes EVERYONE happy, in Magic it really seems magnified.

  19. This is why I created my “perfect cube” and sent out to a Chinese printer to get 10 made.

    Playing with proxies has never been more fun, no need for sleeves or fear of food/drink residue.

    Events like this are going to make all the cards worthless as counterfeits get more sophisticated. Are they going to chip and scan cards at sanctioned tournies?

  20. I think everyone is looking at this the wrong way.
    I understand it’s a good thing for a player base to have modern and legacy events but what would happen if only standard was a thing. All of these cards would be worthless. Look at all of the card prices pre modern era. They were worthless. If people want to play magic and spend as little as possible at one time stick with standard. Yes I know it’s a rotating format and you have to buy new cards every quarter but no one would have to buy $600 moats. No one would be priced out. If you want to play magic and not be part of the finance world stick with standard and play as much as you want and don’t worry about collector items being priced to new heights every day.

    1. This is NOT the correct way to look at this for numerous reasons

      1. Prices on reserved list would not drop entirely, even without legacy. Anything that won’t be reprinted has potential for value in the eyes of collectors.

      2. Recommending Standard to Legacy players is like recommending a Honda Civic to someone who drives a Lamborghini. We play the format because other formats can’t compete with the diversity, skill intensiveness, and strength that we feel it creates.

      3. Saying Standard is cheaper since you don’t have to buy expensive cards is incorrect. Most legacy and modern cards retain value or go up. You’re almost always guaranteed to be able to sell Legacy and Modern for at least base value of not for profit. Prices fluctuating on standard cards is often unstable, so unless you are incredibly skilled at spotting playable value fast (and what formats it will be good in), then Dumping standard cards for profit right before rotation is a toss-up. Perfect example is Nahiri.

  21. I didn’t take the time to read the comments yet, except the first two, but what I say is based off of comparing Craig Berry to the douche bag that raised the price of LIFE SAVING DRUGS.

    There is no comparison.

    I may not like everything that Mr. Berry has done, but dang, he made many good points in his argument. To be fair, the real enemy is the reserved list, not the people making money off of WotC promise.

    1. Aside from that every argument he makes is an argument we’ve heard from big corporations trying to justify price gouging.

  22. Craig keeps saying that he’s “running a business.” He’s not. He’s a leech. He’s buying up supply, creating artificial demand, and trying to profit purely from speculation. Does he pay taxes on his gains? Probably not. Definitely not a business. He’s a speculator. He literally provides nothing to the community. This is the same thing that oil speculators did when they created an artificial market screwing everyone else with inflated prices, and they didn’t care because they made money. If this becomes a widespread practice, bad things are definitely coming. Retailers and the community need to crack down on this toxic crap, either by banning accounts/shipping addresses/IPs or limiting purchase quantities. Players can do their part by refusing to pay these prices, or pressuring for new formats that ban these cards entirely, otherwise people will leave the game, leading to significantly less demand across the board, extreme volatility, and widespread losses.

    1. In the old days, value traders and speculators could defend themselves by saying that they were getting more cards out of the hands of isolated local communities and into the general available pool of cards online. That’s no longer true; any card is always available, for a price. Craig is taking cards out of circulation online and planning to put them right back in the same place.

      In his interview, the only positive thing he says is that if he didn’t do it, someone else would. That’s absolutely true. Whether that means he gets a pass on choosing to be the agent of forcing a card to the maximum the market will bear…? That’s a moral judgment for each person to make.

  23. Craig’s view summarized:

    (1) I think the market could bear a higher price on card X.
    (2) Eventually, the card will therefore reach that price.
    (3) I can force it to reach that price right now.
    (4) If I do so, I will make money.

    And that’s all perfectly true. That’s life. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE RESERVE LIST because this kind of nonsense happens to cards that are not on the list all the time. It’s the result of perfect information and perfect card availability.

    What I find interesting is how he gets defensive about the morality of doing this. He starts to talk about how, hey, SOMEONE is gonna do this, it’s inevitable, so it’s not really my fault. That’s pretty lame. Just because you think someone is going to steal candy from that helpless baby doesn’t absolve you from judgment if you happen to be the one that decides to steal it. He admits he is accelerating a process that does damage to the community. That’s a Bad Thing.

    At the end of the day, “Shut Up Corbin” is actually spot-on with his conclusion: This sucks, but it is life, so the best we can do is read these articles and listen to the Brainstorm Brewery so at least we can tread water while the financiers keep making more waves.

  24. #mtgfinance community has been building a very serious bubble over the last 5 years or so. When counterfeits require a loupe to detect their realness (which will happen), we will more than likely see a mass exit on expensive cards, following many bubbles popping. To those who find it funny, I can only imagine their lack of knowledge on this sort of behavior in unregulated markets. I would also mention these acts fall under unmoralistic business practices, so I am not sure why anyone is suprised that people are upset. If I have a business and I upset my customers, or do something scummy behind the curtain (legal or not) there will be outcry and a response. It is cowardly to point at something else as an excuse for crude behavior. Another point that is rarely mentioned, the current price guides and their system-which is upheld by TCGplayer and then #mtgfinance clowns. Price alga-rhythms on TCGplayer, MTGgoldfish, MTGprice (especially), etc. When these guys buy 100 copies of a card the price should not go that high, there are at least 50,000+ copies of Lion’s Eye DIamond out there. The card is in 5 languages. There are multiple factors going on here, but I can asure that the final outcome is not positive. As a someone who strictly plays Legacy and Vintage this is not good for players either.

  25. He’s clearly making the videos to promote other people to buy out cards with him in a panic, thus further increasing his profit.

  26. I think it is sad that there are actually a number of people who take this game so seriously that they legitimately equate the capitalistic venture of individuals here to the scummy practice of either oil investors, which gasoline runs the modern world (cardboard cards do not), life saving drugs, (cardboard cards do not), or anything else that truly impacts the quality of life of the cat majority of civilization.

    1. So there’s a line where it’s acceptable to hurt people in order to make money you could make some other way?

  27. When looking at all of this in a global context, it’s pretty disgusting that we spend any amount of money on cardboard. Remember, a single pack of standard Magic is well above what a great portion of people on earth live on. I mean, it’s cardboard. CARDBOARD. Yes, albeit with pretty pictures, but its intrinsic worth is negligible at best. The fact that we value something so devoid of practical function screams volumes about what capitalism is: The asshole of the human spirit. Devoid of a brain, unpleasant to be around, and full of shit.

    1. What do you spend on cable?

      What do you spend on Starbucks?

      How much have you spent at restaurants in your lifetime?

      How much did that shiny smartphone cost you? (and not $0, look at what you’re really paying for that amortized into your cellphone contract). Do you really need it? Really? I mean, do you REALLY need the brand spanking new smartphone? Or any smartphone at all? Would a flip phone with buttons do you just as good for what you really “need” to do?

      You don’t like Capitalism? Fine. Throw away your cellphone. Throw away your computer. Never eat at another restaurant again. Don’t ride in a car, never fly in a plane, don’t buy groceries from anyone other than an Amish farmer that delivers his stuff by horse and buggy.

      THEN you’ll see what the world without capitalism, that “a**hole of the human spirit” as you call it… is like… you moron.

      1. Aw.. its so cute seeing how much energy and time you spend on these incredibly witty comments.

        No really, you get a 4/10 because this is just pure genius:

        “THEN you’ll see what the world without capitalism, that “a**hole of the human spirit” as you call it… is like… you moron.”

        That awkward pausing, as you call it… is like… you moron. Did you say that out loud? Sounds twice as clever then.

        You sure as shit showed him, bet he is crying in a corner somewhere, awed by your gifted wordplay.

        1. Aww, it’s cute how you hide behind your fake internet nickname, named after me no less… calling me names because I happen to present FACTS to you. Go back to playing in the high school cafeteria with the rest of the Bernie Sanders fans.

  28. When I first started collecting I could not believe anyone would pay $30 for a black lotus, it was outrageous! I mean, I could get 3 mana in just three turns. As I began to appreciate it however, it grew in value, when it reached $300 I thought the same thing, who would pay $300 for that! As I have grown older and my income has grown black lotus has stayed out of reach. But that for me was the awe inspiring part of playing MTG. Whenever I would see a lotus hit the table a part of me would just go ‘wow’. If black lotus were say $1, if all magic cards were suddenly affordable then where would we be? It would be like a video game with a cheat code. Fun at first but long-term dull. Inevitably in all collections some cards go up in price and that always earns a bit of a smile. You look longingly at sets you missed out in but don’t appreciate the sets you did manage to get in on (and trading off my mox ruby for 3 counterspells seemed like a good trade at the time). That was always the fun part of the game for me, balancing what I could afford with what I wanted. It’s a little unsettling that one person can manipulate prices to this degree (and exactly as people have pointed out there are plenty of copies of Moat out there so it really is artificially inflated) but if you had a Moat, yay for you. If I didn’t have to earn the cards that I have, if I didn’t have that sense of accomplishment in saving and purchasing them, they wouldn’t mean nearly as much to me. (It’s still crazy to me someone can get such expensive cards out of some packs, I thought a $15 Jester’s cap was a crazy good card to get out of a pack when ice age came out)

    My favorite card? The Gauntlet of Might that I bought for $60 back in 2002, I was in college at the time living hand to mouth and I opted not to buy the textbook for a class to get my Gauntlet of Might. The reset of the semester I remember borrowing other peoples books and making hand written notes because, you know, copies were $0.10 each and that was really a bit much for my budget. This year I am putting together a 93/94 green deck, it’s a labor of love and I have been saving my lunch money (33 years old and I ration myself to $4 a day) so that I can afford a beta Force of Nature at the end of the month. But I’ve never considered it an investment. If prices tanked tomorrow I might sigh regrettably but it’s not going to wreck my world.

    1. If every card were worth a dollar, it might not be fun for you, but it’d be a lot of fun for people who actually enjoy playing the game. The fun isn’t in collecting cards. In fact, that’s kind of a pain in the ass. Requires a lot of storage space and organization. The fun is in being able to create and play with decks to outmaneuver the field. The fun is in metagaming and then piloting a deck to a good record.

      But see, that’s the thing. That’s what I found fun about the game. I understand that’s not what everyone finds fun. Some people like collecting all the angels. That’s fun to them. Or all the legendary cards like someone who commented higher up. I recognize that different people find different things worth spending their time on.

      Maybe you could get out of your own head long enough to consider what other people enjoy.

      Personally, it makes zero difference to me. I quit playing years ago because of pricing. Had a few friends drag me back in for a bit loaning me decks, but I got sick of being tethered to incomplete collections and not being able to run cards that I wanted and quit again. I don’t even judge anymore. While there are a lot of decent people that play casually, there are a lot of people like you, and I think you’re an asshole and don’t want to associate with you or people like you. I worked Vegas because it was too lucrative to pass up and then promptly got the fuck out of the game entirely. I still see MtG related stuff from time to time on my feed that friends have posted, but I look at people getting butthurt over things like this and I just shake my head. Glad I got out and never looking back. It’s a fun game, but it’s not worth the money it takes to be competitive. I can play golf for $10 a round, I can go fishing for about $5 in lost lures, I can play Diablo 2 an unlimited number of times for the $20 I paid for it or I could drop $30,000 on a collection that would let me play Legacy the way I want. Not hard to do the cash math on that one.

  29. For those who want a summarized version of what Craig said his argument for doing what he did is: 1) I’m motivated by money and so are most people 2) I did it so easily 3) I think prices were going to increase over time anyway 4) Someone else would have done it if I didn’t 5) Other people did it first 6) It’s okay because my friends and 1 other guy I took pity on weren’t affected 7) You will still buy them 8) Magic isn’t a game to me, it’s a business and that’s just how business works 9) Lots of magic cards cost lots of money 10) Seriously what’s the problem I’m a nice guy 11) Did I say I’m a business? 12) Also you should feel sorry for me

  30. My impression of Craig:

    “I have a new baby daughter now, so I better prepare for her future. BUY MAGIC CARDS!”

    1. Oh my:

      “My mother commit suicide, last year, so I need to cope- BUY MAGIC CARDS!”

      1. Grow up you child… really… if the price isn’t real, then the other 11,000 people who own a Moat out there will sell theirs for less than what they’re currently priced at. If it’s real, then what are you whining about? Because someone bought them before you got off your lazy *ahem* and bought your copy?

  31. “If you were playing Miracles in Legacy you should have had it for forever.”
    But MTG isn’t a game where the players are fixed: its player pool is constantly changing and growing. The players that started now, who wanted to play legacy, might have to give up because of Corbin. It’s true that the price might have went up without Corbin: but that’s a maybe. This might sound extreme to many, but it might happen to some players.
    I had plans for legacy: but thanks to the price spike, I guess I’ll stay at Modern.
    Those cards bought out might be replaceable, but the problem is that someone abused the system. Just because someone might have done it instead of me doesn’t give you the right to do it instead. So I hope Wizards go back on their word and reprint those cards that have been bought out. In fact, I hope they fall as low as a dollar.

  32. I propose a new format:

    All reserved list cards and bullshit spikes, caused by Craig, are not legal. I dub this format: Craigless Masters.

    1. Not done. Here’s another shot:

      Craig probably spends more time, thinking about the future of magic singles, than he does over his daughter’s future.

      1. How about “Brendan is a child that does nothing but whine about things because he was too lazy to buy the cards he wanted in the first place, and instead expected everyone else to sit on them in their inventory doing nothing until he was ready to play with them so he could buy them cheap”

        1. My main point isn’t about the price of the cards. It’s about an irresponsible father that sank tens-of-thousands of dollars into a trading card game, instead of his daughter’s future. I’ll take being the whiny bitch about excess card prices any day, over becoming someone like Craig.

          1. Yeah, you have no clue how to run a business. Remind me to never ever ever hire you for anything other than flipping burgers in any of my businesses.

        2. Damn guy, you are on fire. Asserting your superiority across the comment section of blog.mtgprice.com. If only your mum and dad could see you now, forget your shitty work at McDonalds, you are sniping kids left and right on here, with some of the wittiest comments ever commented in the history of the world. You are like a Sith lord of these comments, curb stopping one kid after another with painfully insightful comments like “Brendan is a child that does nothing but whine about things …” Damn dude, I wouldn’t hire Brendan either, thanks for educating him and these other peasants.

  33. I have a couple of modern and legacy decks. Just reprint the damned things. The system needs to be fixed so that the eternal format can grow and Hasbro can.make.money.

  34. So if he says he approaches it like a business and doesn’t consider it a game… does he pay taxes on his profits? If not… I’m pretty sure that’s called tax evasion…

  35. I’m a 15 year old kid who has been booted out of a format of magic by you. So have many of my friends. I sincerely hope you think of the magic community before you fuck me and my friends over any more asshole. Buying out cards does not mean your a good player, it means your an asshole with money. You’re probably going to respond with this “It’s just business bullshit” but it’s not. It’s trying to make money by making things harder to access for the rest of us. But your not thinking about that. Sell your fucking cards and go into fuckibg stocks. The magic community hates you and for good reason. You say you can’t go into stocks? Stop being a pussy, you had to start buying out fucking LEDs some how. Get the fuck out of this great games market. I don’t give a fuck if you keep playing. You do that. But don’t be surprised if a bunch of magic players tell you at your next event to go fuck yourself.

    1. You’re a 15 year old kid and you talk that way? Seriously?

      Learn a thing or two about the real world from this kid… things cost money. There’s RISK involved in not owning things you feel you need… that’s why businesses pay 5% more for a guaranteed price on thousands of tons of Aluminum, Steel, Coal, etc at a future purchase date. They need them to run their business, but don’t need them just yet, so they buy a stock future to reduce their future risk in the event that the global market for Aluminum goes through the roof, they can still operate their business and adjust gradually while everyone else scrambles to catch up.

      Oh, and clean up your language kid, the real world doesn’t appreciate it. Learn that lesson now before it catches up with you when you get older, and you end up another idiot voting for Bernie Sanders because you have ten trillion dollars in student loan debt with a useless arts degree you spent too much money on, and can’t find a job because you never learned a thing about the real world when you were 15 and supposed to be learning those lessons.

      1. “Clean up your language kid, cursing at teenagers and insulting strangers is only allowed if your username is mdeminico. Don’t look at adults for examples of how to be a civiluzed human, just shut up, sit down and get the fuc* out my way so I can trash talk some more kids.”

    2. Hey bend over and kiss my ass and thank me for playing and buying this game the last 23 years. Without me you wouldn’t have the game to play.
      Your a 15 year old entitled punk. Why do you think your entitled to cards made 8 years before you were born??
      I want a 56 mickle mantle rookie card but that don’t mean that the 80 year old man down the street is a asshole for having one. Save up trade up or shut up

      1. aaaahahahah!!! THAT was a classic one Crash… so true. I grew up dreaming of owning a Nolan Ryan rookie card… nope, wasn’t going to happen. Heck, I wouldn’t mind having a Honus Wagner sitting around in a display case somewhere… how dare those bastards that have them pay millions of dollars for them just to collect them? Don’t they know I want them?

  36. Question:

    Is this guy paying taxes? In Europe this wouldnt be possible without having a properly registered business.

    1. Did… did Corbin just destroy the world of MtG:Finance?

      I think so.

      From here on out, we must all remember this dark day when Corbin’s article caused Real World Money to flood in and destroy Magic.

      Let’s all have a moment of silence.

    2. Guessing Shkreli googles himself constantly and found out about magic finance through this. On the upside if magic is destroyed maybe one guy will learn a valuable life lesson.

  37. Good new Craig. You don’t have worry about being called the “Martin Shkreli” of Magic. The real Martin Shkreli has joined the Magic Market.

  38. Literally 1 LED away from finishing my legacy deck. My friend had 2 and started building the deck, I picked up a third, and after months of trying to sell bits and pieces of other decks to pick one up, the day I have the money, they spike. I had one left, and I tore apart an entire modern deck to try to get this last Lion’s Eye Diamond, and they’re sold out and almost doubled in price in a matter of hours.
    That just hurts. I’m just a kid trying to get into legacy. That really hurts.

    1. Sebastian, if you are trying to build Storm I truly feel badly for you that you can’t afford an LED. However, I buy most of my cards off of ebay and save a minimum of 33% off what Star City or my LGS is selling a particular card for. Try EBAY my friend, and good luck. I found played LEDs on there for $130 earlier today.

    2. This is a valuable life lesson in PATIENCE.

      LED prices will come down back closer to Earth. And if you really need one, my LGS has (well, had last week, I haven’t been back) one for $120 in SP (eBayers would be happy calling it NM) condition.

  39. The difference between what Craig is doing and “real” playing in the market is there are anti-trust laws that protect the “citizens” from monopolies so no-one has exclusive control of a good or service (at least that’s the idea). In the MTG community, thanks to the reserve list, that’s not the case. Craig deserves most of the vitriol sent his way, but WOC is also responsible. Ultimately, the only real answer to this is not to play–find something better to do with your money. If MTG dies, it dies and something else will take it’s place. Otherwise, get rich or get out.

  40. well if you don’t have money to buy moat, don’t buy moat.
    missing lion eye diamond for your legacy deck, ask your LGS if you can print proxy card for it.

    legacy buyout is stupid, just let them play with themselves. if there is no demand for it the price will plummet or at least they will be forced to take loss if they sell the card.

    if you say wizards don’t approve proxy card in a legal tournament then just do an unsanctioned tournament. they can’t do anything to stop it.

    the underlying tone is just have fun. if more people like Craig shows up and buyout all the relevant cards in reserved list then we can totals say goodbye to already dying format.

  41. I can’t have a Picasso because he isn’t making any more of them. Fuck everyone who has ever bought one and made them too expensive for me! I want a Picasso at 1940’s prices goddamn it.

    1. That’s just as disrespectful to the player-side of the equation as people saying “everyone involved in MtG:Finance are a bunch of greedy asshats” is to the dealer-side. It’s like when Jason (S)Alt bristles at people being “entitled.” Dude, they’re upset that a Magic Card Game For Babies now costs more than most consumer electronics. That’s not an unreasonable feeling to have.

      As an aside: Magic isn’t like a painting. I am not aware of “art tournaments” where only people who can construct a stack of famous artwork are allowed to compete. The better comparison is a luxury sports car, because at least then there actually ARE tournaments you can’t enter without the vehicle.

  42. Went on ebay today and LEDs for under $150 USD, some near $130. Amazing how LEDs flooded the market after a buy out and people r racing to the bottom to sell theirs.

    And to you few people claiming you can’t play Legacy because this one guy bought out Moats and LEDs, do you have any clue how many different decks you can play in Legacy? LED is in 2 decks that I know of, Dredge which hasn’t done well in a while and Storm. I haven’t seen Moat in a top 8 list in forever, same with Chains of Mephistopheles which if it hasn’t been bought out is likely a target. I can’t play Lands because I won’t spend $1,000+ on a Tabernacle and I could have gotten one for $500 less than a year ago…that’s life.

    When someone buys every dual land then you have the right to be pissed off about not being able to play a format. Search SCG Legacy deck lists, it’s on the right side of the page and you click the little “Legacy” tab. Karakas was reprinted so Death and Taxes got a little cheaper. Karakas and Top and Force were reprinted…they all go into Miracles (even Entreat and Terminus were in FTV printings). Not freaking Moat, and not LED. Or how about a Delver deck?? Grixis Delver is kicking ass right now (along with Miracles) and it’s NOT because it’s the most expensive. Except for Dual Lands and Force I don’t think anything else is more than $10.

    Dredge isn’t a fun deck and your friends won’t want to play with you, Storm is somewhat more interactive but not by much; those are the 2 LED decks. I can’t imagine the “kids” of the world are saving up all their money to buy LEDs for Dredge!! Find a deck you can afford, there’s 50-100 on SCGs site in their top 8 section. I started with UR Delver in the Treasure Cruise era because all I could afford were Volcs and Forces for a deck. No one is buying out Lightning bolts or Eidolon of the Great Revels, so BURN is ALWAYS an option and honestly it’s better than LED Dredge and is just a small step behind Storm.

    FYI: FETCHES WERE REPRINTED IN KTK…any idea how much that dropped the overall cost of a Legacy deck?? A minimum of $200 decrease, a lot of people were financially hurt by it. A lot more people like myself got to play a new format!!

  43. I started to play this game in 94-95. I played with friends.. I played at my LGS. Back then, their were magazines that told us how much cards were worth. But, at our level, only one place sold singles in my town, and I only remember Alpha cards being over 50 bucks. Duel lands were 10-20 a piece. Most people I knew, thought that was silly (why buy 1 card for 10 bucks, when I can buy a pack of 15 for 1.50. That is 90 cards for the price of one.) I am sure some people thought about price guides, they were out there (I even bought a few inquest and scry myself), But I bought them mostly for the articles. Not prices. Trades were done, you have this card I like, I have this card you like.. we trade.

    Then came Rarity Symbols. So, same rules applied… Common for a Common, UC for UC.. Rare for Rare. No one really worried if they were getting screwed.. no one cared about how much a card was worth. I wanted to build this deck, my friend had the cards, I saw if I had cards he needed. OR I bought more packs.

    I don’t know when magic suddenly got dumb. I don’t know when it became a business model. I don’t know when kids started to say “I can play and trade magic for a living” like many people I have met at local and regional tournaments do now. I went to pre-releases or FNM’s back in the day… people talked about the cards they had, spit idea’s at one another, traded, hell some of my old collection was people just GIVING cards away because they had 1000’s and I was just starting out and only had a few hundred (for standard). I go to pre-re;eases now, it isn’t about the game, or having fun… it is “I hope I get these cards so the 30 bucks I spent is worth it” or “I got these cards, I made 300 dollars!”. Half the time, those people don’t even PLAY the game, they just take their cards, find out if their is any money in them, and leave. A few stay, in hopes of getting the prize pool so they have more to sell.

    One kid at my LGS was made at me and my bro, cause we beat him in a EDH game. His rebuttle was “Well, you guys suck anyway. How much money have YOU made at magic?” I looked him dead in the face, and laughed, before saying. “Before you were a thought in someones mind, I was spending money on this game. Had I known 16 years ago, that this could be a business oppertunity and I could make a living off it, I wouldn’t have been giving away worthless pieces of Cardboard for Halloween candy…” He called me a loser and walked away.

    I loved magic once.. I still enjoy playing it.. but it has become a money sink. I have a collection of over 100’000 cards… I probably have a LED somewhere… but my brother is more into prices and shit then I am. I play the game, I have fun… but I am not sure I want to keep playing.. (Shadows set.. I missed the Pre-Release, and have bought a grand total of 3 packs for it). Most the time, I go to a pre-release, play 1 or 2 sealed events, and then I don’t buy another pack till the next pre-release. I have given serious thought to just hawking my collection, because I have other shit I could do with that money. BUT, I have been collection this game for 20 years +. So I am still on the fence…. but the game isn’t what I loved about it… and I don’t blame WOTC for it. Not mostly… I blame the Secondary Market. WOTC makes the cards, but don’t set the prices… other companies do that.. other people. They are the ones to blame for every Planeswalker to start at a minimum of 20 bucks. They are the ones that perdict based on spoilers (a terrible thing), what cards are probably going to be played, and buy/sell cards based off those assumptions. They are the ones that upped the charge of the Original Modern Masters to stupidly expensive. I was friends with Card owners… and getting a pack of MM was not more expensive then a normal release pack… but because of the ‘high valued cards’ MOST places upped the cost of packs to make more money. MM2, Wizard upped the price of the boxes.. and I am sure part of that had to do with the fact MM1 got so expensive.

    So, the Secondary Market is what causes these problems… as does the stupid people who spend retarded amounts of money on said pieces of cardboard. I take advantage of it… I do not have loads of High Cost cards from the modern era… because I sell them. Someone offered me 100 bucks for my Mox Opal foil… it was sold. I used that money to fund the rest of Gencon (Food, parking, Magic Vanguard cards). Expedition lands? Turned them around soon as I got them. When RtR came out and Vraska was 50 bucks? Me and my brother pulled 2 of them… and sold them, because we knew it wouldn’t stay that high.. and we were right.. Vraska went way down, and now she is like… 5 bucks. If someone offers me a large amount of money for a card, I will usually sell it without hesitation. Because to ME, they are not worth that much. Most i have spent on a single, I believe was 10 bucks, and that was because I got In store credit of 10 bucks, and I wanted the card for a deck.

    All in All, Magic didn’t use to be about money… it used to be about having fun. Sure, WOTC needed to charge for it, and packs were 1.50-2.50 in some places… and it used to be a nice reward for doing housework and getting my allowence.. going to the comic book shop, and picking them up. Now packs going anywhere from 4-5 dollars a pack, it isn’t the same. I have a hard time justifying buying cards now.

    1. I don’t want to diminish anything you’ve said; you articulated the player side of the equation well, and I think that’s valid.

      I would point out, however, that play-test cards (not counterfeits!) allow you and your family / friends to go right back to that 1993 style of play. You won’t be able to compete in sanctioned events, sure, but you can play exactly the same way you used to, for the prices you used to, by just making or hiring someone to make fun looking stand-ins for the cards.

      At the basement level, this is just sharping a basic land. To get better looking cards, get blank cards (either use acetone to blank draft chaff or buy the World Champion blank cards from eBay) and draw or print your own unique version of cards too expensive to get. As long as they’re clearly not real, you can trade em and use em in your casual groups everything is just as it used to be.

      The point is this: if you don’t want to be affected by Magic: The Businessing, then you don’t have to be.

  44. I ordered a few hundred counterfeits from China that cost me pennies on the dollar, literally. They play just fine, especially the duals which are near indistinguishable from genuine.

    As magic increases in price i just sell a couple expensive ones to pay for more counterfeits. Life goes on.

    1. No. No, no, no, no, this is the worst thing you can do. If you fund the counterfeit market, you’re just fueling a problem that is going to lead to suspicion among players and grind the peer-to-peer nature of magic card sales and trading to a halt. If counterfeits become a big part of the ecosystem, then you’re giving established retailers with ways to guarantee authenticity an excuse to charge a huge premium for this guarantee.

      Play-test cards are what you want. Just get cards that look good and stand in for real cards without it being possible for any reasonable player to mistake them for genuine in any circumstance.

  45. Hahaha, peasants complaining about prices. Presumably there’s a significant overlap between these people and those that campaigned for Bernie: plebian masses with no grasp of supply-side economics.
    Craig- I applaud you, and encourage you to continue doing what you’re doing. It takes guts to invest (and make no mistake- there’s a significant amount of risk, especially in Magic), and I’m glad it’s been working out for you. I hope you and your family continue to do well in both investing and in family life.

  46. If counterfeits are good enough it will not matter if they are a large section of the market. Once you can’t tell they are counterfeit they are as good as the real thing. I’ve seen a bunch more dual lands in mint condition being circulated in my locale. I doubt they are all real, especially considering i live in a very depressed area. When the counterfeits get that good then we will all eventually have them. This is why WotC is smart to make money now off Etm, but not smart to continue the reserved list. Also they are very aware of the counterfeit market.

    I have givin some of my counterfeits to friends for use in EDH with full disclosure and they were all well received. I guess you can add this to the risk of investing in magic. Risk aside, power to those willing to make the gamble. Life would be boring without risk.

    1. That’s depressing.

      We seem to have this flood of people who refuse to use Playtest cards, even for stuff like EDH, because they really, really want WotC to break the promise they made in the Reserve List.

      I don’t usually agree with people complaining about the “entitled” masses, but when someone chooses a counterfeit card over a perfectly nice playtest card, I do think that person has made a decision that their own interests trump what’s good for the game. It’s just as bad as what Craig did.

      Stop being part of the problem and just use cool-looking PLAY TEST cards in your EDH and Cube decks, not COUNTERFEITS.

  47. Hi guys. I think the market is to blame. I´m not mad at Craig for using the marktet to his favor. Every reasonable man should do so if he has the possibility.
    A solution could be that WotC offers a online catalogue where you can choose directly to buy cards through them. And they would print them on demand. I`m working in the publishing industry. It should be no problem going this way and also not expensive. In my opionion no card should be pricier than 3 – 5 Dollars.

    1. The same could be said of Martin’s buy-out and mark-up of HIV drugs. He legally can buy a company and change its prices. Does that make it blameless?

      Obviously, there’s a big difference between life-saving drugs and Magical Card Games. The point, though, is that just because someone CAN do something doesn’t mean they’re absolved from moral judgment if they do.

  48. The mtg community is filled with fuckboi’s who just want to complain all the time. It’s absurd to attack this guy in any way.

    Craig I wish you the best. As for everyone else, take a logical look at this situation. There’s no way what he’s doing provides an income that is desirable to anyone. I used to underbuy collections and make a few k off of them on the resale. But each collection would take 1-2 months worth of work to fully flip. Even if we DOUBLE THOSE NUMBERS, what are we talking about? A 40k/year salary at best?

    Guys, wake the fuck up. This “big money” talk is small as fuck.

  49. Yeah, counterfeiting is something that catches on in my area as well, it makes total sense you would buy an entire deck for a couple of bucks than to throw money out the window to make some speculants rich.

    To quote from your boy Craig, at some point someone will do it so you can buy the cards from China yourself and beat other to it no? And yes the fakes are getting better and better so soon enough they will indistinguishble from real ones. Who cares beside WOTC, SCG and “investors” who put their money in a game?

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