Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Neat Tricks with MTGPrice.com

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By: Cliff Daigle

If you’re reading this, then you’re already aware that MTGPrice is the best price tracking site around. We are more than a set of numbers though, and today I’m going to walk you through a half-dozen tricks that will really enhance your experience with MTGPrice.

Trick #1: Price lookup history

If you use MTGPrice on a mobile device, usually while trading, you’ve probably had to look up several cards in a row. It can be quite annoying to have to look up prices a second time, as terms of a trade change. Here’s a tip for making that process faster and easier.

Since we put the price into the title of the page, all you have to do is look at your recent history in your browser. I have an iPhone, so when you go to the Safari history you see the list of cards and their prices in chronological order that you looked them up.

Until we have an official app, this is a really great tool when you’re working with a group of cards at once.

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Trick #2: The Slider

For comparing historical trends, our slider is top-notch. We post our graphs in articles all the time, but seeing the drop from pre-order prices to bulk status reinforces how right you were to sell, sell, sell!

Conversely, you can see long-term trends this way. I know that there are lots of cards that have spiked in the past year, but there’s others on a slow upward trend. The really valuable tool is comparing very similar cards, like the Zendikar fetchlands or the Scars fastlands. While the price of the blue fetches is sky-high, it’s only a matter of time until the other fetches catch up.

#2 – Set Prices

If you look up one card, then you can click on the name of the set that the card is in. That gives you a list, sortable by name, price, and buylist price. This is incredibly valuable information, especially if you’re trying to trade for things that are going to sell easily for good money.

We also get that list ready pretty quick when a new set comes out. I use it as a tool for the early weeks of a set when I want to draft for money or make trades for the future.

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#3 – Buylist comparisons

When you enter the cards you own into your collection, there’s a tool for getting the instant cash value of your collection. I realize it hurts to see the retail value of your collection, and then see that you’d get 60% of that in cash, but that’s the nature of the market.

Beyond that, when you’re looking at the price of an individual card, you click the ‘sell to’ button to show what different vendors are paying for that card. If there’s one vendor you prefer, you can check on them, or see what the trends are for that buylist price. Has it gone up and down a lot? Is it consistent? This will let you know.

#4 – Time Slider

For both the buylist and the value, our sliders can track the past two years. This is long enough to show a trend, a banning, or other spikes/drops. Two years is helpful for tracking the effect that Standard rotation has on the price of a card.

Right now, that means Innistrad block, which rotated a year ago. The most striking example of rotation affecting price is Huntmaster of the Fells. Slide its graph all the way out to 106 weeks, and remember when this was a $40 card.

#5 – Prices even though sold out

Finally, an overlooked feature is the ability to see what prices a vendor had for their card before they ran out of stock. We calculate the Fair Trade Price using what is in stock, but it can be very helpful to know what price was so good that they ran out! Sometimes this reflects a run on a card, or someone trying to run up the price by buying out a store’s stock.

When you click the button next to a vendor’s name, you’ll see what price they had. Again, if you like a certain vendor, you can focus there, or you can make a prediction on what they will restock the card at.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of some of our free features. Don’t forget about the lifetime Pro Trader offer! There’s a few spaces left and it is super cheap for all you’ll be getting!

Track your collection's value over time, see which cards moved the most, track wishlists, tradelists and more. Sign up at MTGPrice.com - it's free!

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Bursting the Bubble

In the last few months, Magic: the Gathering card prices, especially for anything seeing play in Modern, have gone up and up and up.

These have not been steady increases over time, these have been spikes over the course of a few days. The examples are many and varied. Zendikar Fetchlands are now worth more than most of their color counterpart original dual lands!

I’m giving serious thought to this being a bubble of unsustainable growth.

Wizards of the Coast, in its shareholder meetings, has referred to Magic’s growth at between 20% and 25% yearly for the past four years. Each of the big fall sets has broken sales records, and while we don’t get specific numbers of packs/boxes sold, we can look at tournament attendance and see how many more people are participating than ever. 

Can this go on? There are individuals who make a living buying and selling Magic cards. These aren’t even commodities of value, these are collectibles that are used in a game. Counterfeiting hasn’t precisely caught up but it’s a real threat. I’m worried that even without this game becoming a public fad, there’s a real chance that we’re reaching saturation.

We have attempts at market manipulation. The subreddit for mtgfinance is cracking down on such behavior. TCGPlayer has long been influenced by a ‘race to the bottom’ price philosophy. In the current state of things, one site moving their price means that lots of others jump in as imitations. You may not agree with Starcity’s prices, but when they increase their sale price, others have followed suit before long.

We have more places to play and more formats to play. We have amazing choices for customizing our accessories and languages to play in. I don’t think that it’s all going to come crashing down, but I’m concerned enough that I feel it’s time to sell some stock. I’m cashing out some of my EDH decks, because some of the cards have gone high enough that I’d rather have the cash, instead of a deck I only play once every few months.

The casual formats have seen increases in value, but it’s Modern that has me most worried.

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Wizards has more of an interest in keeping Modern healthy than it does Legacy or Vintage. Modern is a format that will not supplant Standard, but instead, they will work together. When your sweet cards are no longer Standard-legal, you’ll try to make them work in Modern. Wizards has put a lot of effort into this format, making it accessible to a range of strategies, and they use the banlist with an eye towards the health of the format.

What is not healthy for the format is the cost, and that cost has gone up much higher, much faster than I believe they anticipated. I’ve talked about reprints before, and with the recent price explosions, Wizards has to be thinking about reprinting lots of things. Chronicles was too much; Modern Masters was not enough. It’s anyone’s guess how long it will take to get these reprints on the market, but there is a consensus of thought that it will happen eventually.

So I’m selling some of my cards. I am cashing in on some enormous percentages. I have a Gaea’s Cradle that I got in 2011 for $60 in trade. I have a Bitterblossom left over that I got for $20. I have a lot of $10-$20 cards that I got for significantly less, and I’m moving out of them.

I’m not trying to cause a panic. I’m stating my opinion that casual players aren’t going to be able to hang with these decidedly not-casual prices. Just in the past couple of years, the cost associated with building a high-level Cube or foiling out a deck has gone up tremendously as more people chase that same goal.

I’m advocating that if you have put a lot of money (or at least, a lot of energy that has become monetary value) into a set of cards, you should think about how much you could get for it. How often do you play with your all-foil Cube? Would you rather have a new (used) car? Would you prefer to use that money as the security deposit and first month’s rent on a new place to live? Perhaps it’s enough to pay the down payment on a mortgage.

We want you to maximize the return you get on playing Magic. We want you to gain the most value possible.

It’s time to think about what that value can get you.

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The Big Show

By: Cliff Daigle

GP Richmond is this weekend, and in case you hadn’t heard, it’s going to be the biggest Constructed event ever, and possibly the biggest Magic event ever. It’s closing in on the 4500 set this past summer at GP Las Vegas! That’s a ton of people coming to play, and if you’re going to it or some other large event, I’ve got some helpful ideas.

I’m always on a budget. I want to be on a budget for everything that isn’t cards, so I can go forth and buy the card that catches my eye. For instance, that sweet French Foil Angel of Despair, pimping out my Kaalia deck just a little bit more.

When you go to a big event, there’s a few tricks to keeping things at the right price, allowing you more time, money, and energy for playing Magic. Some of these are going to be self-evident, others might be things you haven’t considered. I offer this advice in the hopes that casual and competitive players alike can maximize their enjoyment.

Tip #1: Pack lightly.

If you’re going to a mega-event, the chances are that you’ll be there all day. You’re going to be hauling your backpack/duffel/luggage around for hours on end, so don’t overload yourself. Keep the binders and decks to a minimum. Unless you’ve planned to meet up with seven other people, leave the Cube at home. Bring three EDH decks, tops.

I’d also suggest that you make sure the things you need to play are easily accessible. Separate compartments, top-level organization, whatever method you use. Don’t be that person who sits down and then needs five minutes of digging to find your deck box for this event.

Tip #2: Bring your meals and drinks.

At GP Sacramento, the food inside the venue was around $8 for a sandwich and $4 for a bottle of water that is sold in packs of 36 at grocery stores. Large sodas, heavy on the ice, were $6.

Maybe you’re interested in losing an hour or two of side events and trading to leave the event and find a meal. Maybe you want to get away and take a break. Get a soft sided lunchbag, add a couple sandwiches, and go to town.

Preparing food and drink ahead of time is going to save you a lot of money and a lot of time. At a big event, every place within walking distance will have packs of players filling the lines and increasing wait times.

Tip #3: Security

Wall of Denial

It’s been said before and it bears repeating: you will have ZERO recourse if your cards are stolen. Unless you mark your cards with your name, Magic cards are less traceable than cash.

Everyone knows that Modern prices are going up across the board. It used to be that only Legacy and Vintage players had high-value cards, but pimped-out Commander decks have all sorts of goodies too.

Thieves know when they see a good target. When you play that foil Gaea’s Cradle, or flash a binder full of fetchlands, the mark is set upon you. Don’t engage in multiple trades at once. Don’t trade while playing a game. Don’t just hang your bag off the back of your seat.

It is cheap enough to look into renter’s insurance, especially through your auto insurance company. It’ll probably be less than $50/month, and you’ll need to update your card inventory regularly, but this is the only form of protection available.

Also: your car is not protection. There are many cautionary tales on various forums, Reddit and Twitter about thieves who broke into cars just for the cards. When one Modern deck can be worth $1000 or more, understand that a lot of people get very unscrupulous.

Tip #4: Pre-register

On-site registration is being phased out for GP-size events, but signing up ahead of time is a worthy option for many GP Trials and PTQs. You’re going to be doing a lot of waiting during events. Spare yourself the line at the beginning of the day.

Related to that is filling out your deck registration sheet ahead of time. It’s printable, available all over, and an easy way to prevent game losses due to sloppy paperwork.

Tip #5: Plan out your side events

I’ve never made Day 2 of a Grand Prix. I’ve made the Top 8 of a PTQ exactly once. So I’ve had a lot of chances to play in side events.  Organizers will usually publish the schedules ahead of time. You will be able to plan out how many sealed events, drafts, or other constructed events will be available to you.

The scheduled side events are always notable for the prizes, and the formats. This is where you can randomly win a Commander’s Arsenal, or black Comic-Con planeswalkers, or uncut sheets.

There are also occasions where it’s just good value. Channelfireball has done this at the last two Limited GPs, running a ‘second chance GP’ sealed for $20. It’s hard to argue with a good price.

I am addicted to any event where $10 drafting is available. I will rare draft like a fiend at these, no matter the deck or format. It doesn’t matter to me if the prize is packs or a free draft, it’s the most fun way to open packs.

Tip #6: Buylisting

I always browse the buylists of vendors before big events. I will be interested in unloading old cards, or accessories, or picking up/dropping off orders.

At this weekend’s GP, prices are going to move a lot. This may be a time for you to cash out, or perhaps you want to listen to Travis and actually pick up more Modern pieces.

I’m not good enough with this format to tell you what to do, but seeing all these prices go up, it’s hard for me to look at my EDH decks and not think about selling some pieces.

At a minimum, think about buylisting things you open in drafts and the like. If you do several drafts in a row, you can make back most of the cash you spent, or choose store credit and snag that sweet foreign foil you’ve had your eye on.

I hope these tips help you enjoy your GP, be it Richmond or anywhere!

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Divining the Gods

By: Cliff Daigle

Journey into Nyx will have five more Gods, in color pairs that haven’t gotten their indestructible legendary enchantment creature yet.

Having seen what the first five multicolored gods can do, I feel this is a good time to take a guess on what their counterparts will do in the next set.

The five Gods in Born of the Gods have the following abilities: UW draws cards, UB mills, RG grants size and haste to one creature, RB makes them sacrifice or take damage, and GW ramps. Those seem like abilities natural to that color pair, so I’m taking a guess based on what the other five pairs are traditionally good at.

There is value to be gained in planning ahead here, because if we can anticipate what pairs well with those gods, we will be able to sell into the hype when those cards spike. For example, see this graph for Trostani, paying attention to the spike right around when Karametra’s card was spoiled. Trostani’s price has only come down slightly since.

Capture

These are not going to be long term targets. I am planning on selling or trading most of these right when the hype is at its highest. These are not the only cards that might spike, but I’m looking for ones I can pick up relatively cheap in trade, and then sell when their price goes up.

Let’s start off with a standard combo I might actually sleeve up:

R/W: Iroas

Spec: Aurelia, the Warleader

Backup: Assemble the Legion

Aurelia plus the Boros god is a combo I can’t wait to play, and it doesn’t matter what the god’s static ability is. Aurelia does 80% of the work for devotion, and the only thing better than attacking with an indestructible creature is doing it twice in a row. Aurelia has that magic fourth toughness, meaning Bile Blight or Lightning Strike won’t cut it. I suspect that Iroas will cost four, but if it’s at five because of an awesome ability it creates a sweet five-into-six mana curve.

My guess is that this God will grant a bonus to attacking creatures, à la Orcish Oriflamme. Iroas has been called the God of victory, though, so there may be some kind of bonus when you destroy somebody else’s creature, or something with fighting.

G/U: Kruphix

Spec: Prophet of Kruphix

Backup: Prime Speaker Zegana

Before Born of the Gods was spoiled, I was telling you to pick up Prophet at two dollars. It’s gone up nearly 50% since then. I’m still on board for picking it up around three dollars.

I devoutly hope Kruphix will do something with +1/+1 counters, like double the counters on target creature at the beginning of combat. It’s more likely to do something tricky, like tap or untap a permanent at the beginning of each upkeep something along those lines.

Prime Speaker is not the combo you wanted to be. Because its ability checks as it comes into play and the god’s devotion checks only after the permanent is in play, Zegana will not draw cards from the god’s power. That’s not going to stop people from wanting to try the cards together, though, and you should be ready to move a few of them when there is demand.

R/U: Keranos

Spec: Ral Zarek

Backup: Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius 

This color combination likes spells, but we haven’t seen much to give us a frame of reference. Ideally, it would be cheap and give a bonus to spells. If it cost 1UR and made all instants and sorceries cost 1 less, that might be too good in Modern Storm. We haven’t had many copy effects; maybe this one will be three mana to copy any instant or sorcery.

I would really like to see something amazing, like having it deal damage to a creature or player.

I suspect that this card will be a bit more control-oriented, and in a slower deck Ral and Niv-Mizzet might be quite the thing. History tells us that spell-centric decks (outside of Delver) aren’t usually good enough in Standard, and so this is the speculation I’m least enthusiastic about.

G/B: Pharika

Spec: Lotleth Troll

Backup: Vraska the Unseen

We don’t know much of what she will do. It’s likely that there will be interactions with the graveyard, my guess is that we will see something that brings back creatures from the graveyard to the hand. It’s a reasonable combination of these colors, and not an overpowered effect. Pharika might also do something that echoes being the god of gorgons, perhaps destroying anything that blocks one of your creatures.

Lotleth is heavily dependent on which ability Pharika has, because pitching cards to the troll and bringing them back is an insane loop. It’s a very cheap pick up right now so you’re unlikely to lose. This card would be a lot better if Detention Sphere were not seeing heavy playing in most Azorius builds. With the addition of the G/B scryland and Pharika, people are going to want to build those decks and take advantage of Vraska, as well as Abrupt Decay, a card I like to go up a lot over time. Be prepared.

 W/B: Athreos

Target: Obzedat, Ghost Council

Back up: Whip of Erebos

A lot is going to depend on how much this god costs to cast. If it is four, then the Ghost Council is going to blow up. There’s already a combo with the Council and the Whip, and it seems like Athreos will fit right in.

My prediction on this god’s ability is that it is a reprint of Sanguine Bond, only better in multiplayer. I think it will cost five though, and that will make it slightly more awkward to cast on a curve. An ability of “Whenever you gain life, each opponent loses that much life” would be very strong in casual and constructed alike. Another strong contender for Athreos’ ability would be Syphon Soul on upkeep, very straightforward and again, scaling well in casual play.

I do not think that Blood Baron will go up significantly, regardless of Athreos’ ability or cost. It’s already fairly high-priced, mainly because of the set is in.

There you have it, a set of three-month targets. I’m looking forward to seeing what these Gods do, and seeing how close I was to the finished product.

Happy Trading!

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