Category Archives: James Chillcott

MTGFinance: What We’re Buying & Selling This Week (Sep9/15)

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By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

One of the most common misconceptions about folks involved in MTGFinance is that we are constantly manipulating the market and feeding players misinformation to help fuel achievement of our personal goals.

It has occurred to us at MTGPrice that though we dole out a good deal of advice, most of you ultimately have very little insight into when and why our writing team actually puts our money where our collective mouths are pointing. As such running this weekly series breaking down what we’ve been buying and selling each week and why. These lists are meant to be both complete and transparent, leaving off only cards we bought for personal use without hope of profit. We’ll also try to provide some insight into our thinking behind the specs, and whether we are aiming for a short (<1 month), mid (1-12 month), or long (1 year+) term flip. Here’s what we we’ve been up to this week:

Buying Period: Sep 1st – 7th, 2015

Note: All cards NM unless otherwise noted. All sell prices are net of fees unless noted.

James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

BOUGHT

  • 3x Monastery Mentor @ $13

SOLD

  • 28x See the Unwritten @ $7.50/per (Cost: $3/per)

Monastery Mentor is a Legacy and Vintage playable card with an absurd power level that hasn’t quite found it’s deck in Modern. Once it does, I fully expect the card to top $30 as a small set mythic that was supplanted by Dragons of Tarkir on shelves only 6 weeks after it debuted. I’ll be acquiring more copies under $16 accordingly.

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See the Unwritten was already seeing play in versions of Green/Red dragons in Standard when it spiked off late summer Battle for Zendikar Eldrazi hype. I’ve been selling through a variety of channels, and the price has been sliding but I’m still coming out up over $10/set on average, with additional upside on my remaining 20+ copies if the card finds a deck in the new standard or an obvious search target appears.

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Douglas Johnson (@roseofthorns)

BOUGHT (Pucatrade)

  • 15x Spawnsire of Ulamog via Pucatrade at 329 points each

SOLD

  • 3x Shaman of Forgotten Ways at $6/per

Douglas says:

“At only $3, I really like Spawnsire of Ulamog as a pickup. It has dodged being reprinted so far, it makes a lot of mana dorks, and the last activated ability is perfect for both Timmys and Johnnys to get excited about. The annihilator 1 is pretty irrelevant, but who cares? We’re casting every Eldrazi ever. Spawnsire gets a whole lot of new tools with this set, and I don’t think he needs to see competitive or EDH play to get up to $6 or $7 on casual demand alone. SCG is out of stock on NM copies at the moment, but has plenty of SP/MP. eBay is practically dried up of non-foil copies, and there are still quite a few on TCGplayer. Maybe this doesn’t pick up until casual players start cracking packs and building decks, but this is a card I’m very bullish on. You don’t see me pick out spec targets very often, but this is one of them.”

So there you have it. Now what were you guys buying and selling this week and why?

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

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MTGFinance: What We’re Buying & Selling This Week (Aug 31/15)

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

One of the most common misconceptions about folks involved in MTGFinance is that we are constantly manipulating the market and feeding players misinformation to help fuel achievement of our personal goals.

It has occurred to us at MTGPrice that though we dole out a good deal of advice, most of you ultimately have very little insight into when and why our writing team actually puts our money where our collective mouths are pointing. As such running this weekly series breaking down what we’ve been buying and selling each week and why. These lists are meant to be both complete and transparent, leaving off only cards we bought for personal use without hope of profit. We’ll also try to provide some insight into our thinking behind the specs, and whether we are aiming for a short (<1 month), mid (1-12 month), or long (1 year+) term flip. Here’s what we we’ve been up to this week:

Buying Period: Aug 21st – Aug 31st, 2015

Note: All cards NM unless otherwise noted. All sell prices are net of fees unless noted.

James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

After completing the research for my new series, MTG Finance Growth Stocks, I put my money where my mouth is and dove in on a few of the specs that seemed most likely to pop sooner or later. Some of these cards were already on the move, but the exposure this week seems to have helped push foil Jace and Hangarback up to the next plateau.

BOUGHT

  • 1x Hangarback Walker (Foil) @ $25
  • 4x Hangarback Walker (Foil) @ $30
  • 2x Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy (Foil) @ $50

BOUGHT (PucaTrade)

  • 11x Hangarback Walker @ 1793 points
  • 2x Hangarback Walker (Foil) @ 3050 points
  • 3x Evolutionary Leap (Foil) @ 1200 points

Hangarback Walker is exhibiting many of the early signs of a multi-format superstar, showing up in a myriad of Standard decks and enjoying early experimentation in Modern, Legacy and even Vintage. As a colorless creature with a flexible casting cost and synergies with +1/+1 counters, artifacts, sweepers and resiliency against point removal, the card has the potential to show up in a ton of decks moving forward. A strong role player with little reason to ever be banned, Hangarback was one of my top picks for Modern foils likely to gain value ahead of the market average. The card has now gone through a buyout and seems to be settling between $40-50 for the time being.

Like Walker, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy has taken the Magic world largely by surprise and it has proven value in both Standard and Modern with hints that it may even see play in Legacy or Vintage. As a summer set mythic that is exceeding expectations, targeting the foils was a no-brainer from my perspective. Now that the card has spiked feel free to unload for value if you can, or simply hang around for a year and hope for further gains.

Evolutionary Leap foils are a pet card I expect to end up in the $30-40 range within a year or two when someone figures out how to break the card in Modern or Legacy and wins a tournament with it.

 

Danny Brown (@dbro37)

BOUGHT

  • 4x Whisperwood Elemental @ 653 PucaPoints each = $4.57 each
  • 3x Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker @ 519 PucaPoints each = $3.63 each
  • 8x Wingmate Roc @ 282 PucaPoints each = $1.97 each
  • 2x Gilt-Leaf Winnower @ 103 PucaPoints each = $0.72 each
  • 1x Monastery Mentory @ 1606 PucaPoints = $11.24
  • 1x Soul Fire Grandmaster @ 899 PucaPoints = $6.29

Danny says:

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“Whisperwood Elemental was the most promising mythic I found in my review of Fate Reforged this week. I tend to like buying cards even less expensive than this, but I like the card enough to speculate on a playset.

Getting additional Sarkhans is representative of my ever-increasing belief that this card will get somewhere above $10 this fall. There are still more on my list and I hope they get sent.

I was on the fence about Wingmate Roc, but Travis’s commitment to the card this week convinced me to pick up a couple sets. Thanks, Travis.

I only discovered Gilt-Leaf Winnower wasn’t $5 like ten minutes ago. I threw a playset up and two were committed before I even finished drafting my section of this article, so there’s some additional content for you. Supply of Magic Origins won’t be high and this is a really good card. I like it quite a bit at under a dollar and may go deeper.

Monastery Mentor and Soul Fire Grandmaster are both cards that are a little too expensive for my speculative tastes, but I needed these both for my cube. Now, if they spike significantly next season, which is not outside the realm of possibility, I’m certainly willing to turn them into profit and wait until rotation to make them a permanent part of my list.”

So there you have it. Now what were you guys buying and selling this week and why?

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

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MTG Growth Stocks: 5 Magic Cards You Should Be Buying Right Now

By: James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

In my ongoing series Digging For Dollars, I try to identify Magic: The Gathering cards in the weeks leading up to the release of each new set that may be undervalued versus their true potential. Most of the time, this prognostication falls short of reality, but occasionally we throw up an early flag on a Tasigur or an Ojutai. DFD is a fun exercise aimed at helping the community think outside the box, but given the long-shot nature of the critique, it’s definitely not the best option if we’re looking to lock in a basket of profitable specs for reliable growth.

By contrast, this new series will attempt to call out a more reliable set of opportunities for our readers interested in generating a consistent and profitable return on their MTG finance activities.

In the stock market world, we talk often about blue-chip stocks, the companies that represent the most reliable combination of profits, longevity, and market leadership that signal a safe harbor for investors seeking reliable long-term growth. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and IBM all fall into this category. The equivalent in the Magic world is cards like Black Lotus, Mishra’s Workshop, and Time Walk: the best cards of all time that are bound to offer modest but reliable annual returns so long as the game continues to grow.

As a relatively young investor with a high risk tolerance, I’m not holding a lot of blue-chip stocks in my stock portfolio. Rather, I tend to focus on growth stocks, or the companies that are growing revenues, earnings, and/or market share the fastest relative to the market at large. These companies tend to be younger and they carry more risk because they haven’t yet proven their long-term value to the market. When they get there, though, they tend to do so in a big way, providing 20- to 100-percent returns in just six to 24 months. Companies such as Tesla, Facebook, and GoPro would be reasonable recent examples of companies that have demonstrated this profile in recent years.

If you’re looking to invest a significant amount of money and kick back for a few years before bothering to check up on the results, blue-chip cards may be for you. If, on the other hand, you want to yield returns above comparable investments in stocks or real estate (with an average of roughly 10-percent annual returns), you may want to consider MTG growth stocks. In past years, cards such as Zendikar fetch lands, Liliana of the Veil, and Snapcaster Mage all represented such opportunities in the Magic community. In identifying cards in this category, we’re generally looking for the following qualities:

  • Multi-format all-star beyond Standard: Playable in at least two or three of Modern/Legacy/Vintage/EDH/casual.
  • Played as a three- or four-of: Multiple copies useful in hand or in play.
  • Played in multiple decks: Often due to being easily splashable and by offering flexible lines of play and a generally high power level.

So what are we hoping to get out of these MTG growth stocks?

Well, typically, I’m looking at this class of cards to provide 25- to 50-percent returns per annum, within a six- to 24-month time horizon. This also implies a focus on raw dollars versus a percentage increase in consideration of the value of our time as measured by the range of our hourly wages (e.g., a 100-percent return on $1 is generally much worse than a 50-percent return on a $30 card when you consider time spent and selling costs).

With all that on the table, here are the five cards I believe you should be buying right now instead of trying to jump on the latest spike:

  1. Jace, Vrynn’s Prodigy (Foil): $50 (Target $80+)

  

In my Magic Origins Digging for Dollars article, I dismissed the youngest Jace as an overpriced card that needed to find a deck in a hurry to hold its price, but boy did it prove its value! Apparently, a Merfolk Looter with upsides that offer sweet synergies with fetch lands, sorcery-speed spells, and graveyard creature recursion is good enough all the way back to Legacy.

Remember, this is an iconic, mythic planeswalker from a summer set with limited sales, often played as a two- to four-of, viable in Standard, Modern, Legacy, and EDH/casual. The non-foils are going for $35 to $40 or so, and what foils I could find are available around $50, representing a significant discount versus the typical multiplier of two for English foils. Did I mention that there seem to be less than 50 foils available anywhere online and MTG Origins is pretty close to reaching peak supply? I see foil Jace hitting $80 to $100 within the year, and there’s a decent chance this is the next foil Liliana of the Veil. Get if while you can.

Note: In the day it has taken me to write this article, this card is already signalling a strong move upward, with copies under $60 now very rare indeed.

2. Hangarback Walker (Foil): $30 (Target $50-60)

Here’s another tier-one card that almost everyone missed on the first pass. Hangarback has already demonstrated value as a multi-copy slot in a variety of Standard decks from UR Artifacts to Abzan to Jeskai and is likely to be a staple heading into the fall metagame. More importantly, it showed up in top decks all the way back to Vintage at Eternal Weekend last week, having been featured on camera in an innovative Shops/Robots deck. Not that you care, but I’m also testing it with Bitterblossom, Lingering Souls, Evolutionary Leap, and Siege Rhino in Modern, and I suspect it will find plenty of homes in Modern within the year.

As a colorless creature with a flexible mana cost, resiliancy to non-exiling kill spells, synergy with +1/+1 counters, artifacts, sacrifice effects, and creature buffs, Hangarback Walker now looks like the very definition of a card set up to be a long-term multi-format staple. And as a rare from a Magic Origins, a low-supply summer set, chances are good that it can beat average returns and grow in a big way as more and more decks are uncovered that want to use it. Also in it’s favor is the fact that, like Snapcaster Mage, the card is powerful without being utterly broken, making deflation through banning(s) a low-risk scenario. There are very few foil Hangarback Walkers left available online at $30, and supply is dwindling. I fully expect this card to hit $50 to $60 before the end of the year.

3. Kolaghan’s Command (Foil): $18 (Target: $30+)

Initially dismissed as a middling card at first reveal, Kolaghan’s Command quickly caught the attention of Jund and Grixis players in Modern earlier this summer, and is now seen as one of the defining spells in the format and a lynch-pin of decks looking to abuse the extreme flexibility of the card’s four (!) relevant modes. Consider that this card has the ability to perform any two of the following tricks for three mana:

  • Knocking key permission spells out of opponent’s hands.
  • Returning a Jace, Vrynn’s Prodigy from your graveyard.
  • Killing an early attacker.
  • Slowing down Affinity’s explosive starts.

With that kind of power, this spell has quickly risen to become one of the top 15 spells by play rate in Modern. Dragons of Tarkir is almost certainly at peak supply by this point, there are only about 50 to 60 easily available foil copies out there under $20, and heading into Modern season in the spring of 2016, I would find it hard to believe that this hard-to-replace instant won’t top $30 as more and more players gravitate towards the powerful synergies of the Grixis builds.

4. Thoughtseize: $20 (Target: $30+)

Thoughtseize is quite simply one of the best discard spells of all time, and a key one-mana play in formats all the way back to Legacy. The card ranks at number seven of the most-played spells in Modern (and number 16 in Legacy) with 35 percent of Modern decks playing the card with an average of two copies being played in the main deck. Also of note is the fact that Theros, despite being a high-sales fall set, lacks key eternal-playable lands that will weigh down the non-land rares and mythics. With the gods and other targets from the set likely to take a couple of years to rise, there is very little preventing Thoughtseize from regaining a $30 t o $40 price tag as supply of Theros dries up over the next year.

Note: Foils around $50 are likely also a solid pickup.

5. Evolutionary Leap (Foil): $10 (Target: $25)

Evolutionary Leap is one of the more unproven picks on this list, but I see a card whose true potential is still under the radar. With a low casting cost, easy splashability, and the ability to contribute to both combo and grindy, value strategies seems to balance well against its lack of immediate board impact. At the GP Charlotte Modern tournament last weekend, Chris VanMeter started off 6-0 with his G/B Elves combo deck before fading from contention. The deck was running four copies of Leap and amply demonstrated the ability for this card to lead to big plays. As I mentioned above, I’m currently testing the card as a way to trade tokens for reliably powerful creatures like Siege Rhino in Modern, but I have confidence that a better player will find even more exciting reasons to be running this subtle enchantment as new cards appear on the horizon. At present, there are over 150 copies available online around $10 or $11, so the entry point on foils is attractive if you agree that this is a future pillar in at least one good Modern or Legacy deck. I’m targeting a three- to 12-month window for this one to top $20.

Honorable Mentions

This is a four-of in Modern Merfolk, a deck that recently won a Modern GP. As yet another Magic Origins rare that will see Modern play and has some degree of casual appeal, this has a decent shot of doubling up within the next two years.

So long as Splinter Twin doesn’t end up banned (and so far signals are good it won’t be), the rare should easily rebound above $20 next year. The one warning ping in the back of my mind is that Modern Masters 2016 might be a thing (25-percent chance?), which would threaten all Modern staples that might be reprinted into the ground. Assuming that doesn’t happen, the fact that the Twin combo just jumped the wall into Legacy bodes well for future demand.

Heading into a landfall-based Battle for Zendikar set, and with the news that we won’t see the ZEN fetch lands until at least February 2016, there is a decent window for the KTK fetch lands to show solid gains this October and November as a supply crunch driven by vendor hoarding meets increasing demand. The best play here was actually picking up Delta and Strand below $12 at peak supply last winter, but Mire and Heath could easily end up pushing $20 or more if the metagame shakes out right. Keep in mind that ZEN fetches in the winter set could knock back the value of fetches across the board, so the window may be brief or even non-existent, depending on how much Standard actually needs the fetches once we’ve seen the new land template at rare.

Closing Window

Tasigur is likely to be a one- or two-of in Modern, Legacy, and even Vintage decks for a long time to come. It’s recently jumped from $25 to $30 to having very few copies available anywhere under $45. As a small set rare already past peak supply, Tasigur should easily hold a $40 to $50 price tag in foil with the potential to top $75 if it ends up in a strong deck in Modern or Legacy that runs three or four copies instead of the usual one or two. That being said, I think the window has mostly closed here for reliable returns.

Full disclosure: I am holding copies of most of the cards on this list.

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

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MTGFinance: What We’re Buying & Selling This Week (Aug 24/15)

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

One of the most common misconceptions about folks involved in MTGFinance is that we are constantly manipulating the market and feeding players misinformation to help fuel achievement of our personal goals.

It has occurred to us at MTGPrice that though we dole out a good deal of advice, most of you ultimately have very little insight into when and why our writing team actually puts our money where our collective mouths are pointing. As such running this weekly series breaking down what we’ve been buying and selling each week and why. These lists are meant to be both complete and transparent, leaving off only cards we bought for personal use without hope of profit. We’ll also try to provide some insight into our thinking behind the specs, and whether we are aiming for a short (<1 month), mid (1-12 month), or long (1 year+) term flip. Here’s what we we’ve been up to this week:

Buying Period: Aug 11th – Aug 20th, 2015

Note: All cards NM unless otherwise noted. All sell prices are net of fees unless noted.

James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Coming off of my tour of lovely Bulgaria and Turkey I haven’t been in buying mode, but I did pick up a few things here and there.

BOUGHT

  • 1x Hangarback Walker (Foil) @ $25
  • 1x Russian Magic Origins Booster Box @ $109

Hangarback Walker expanded its horizons this weekend at Eternal Weekend showing up in the finals of the Vintage Championships in a Workshop deck. The card has now demonstrated viability in almost every relevant format and I’m happy to pick up more foils anywhere under $25 since Origins will ultimately have lower sales than a major fall set and the card is often a 4-of wherever it pops up. I see this is as a mid to long term hold with a $40+ target.

The Russian Origins box is my vote of confidence that Origins may actually end up producing more than a few Modern and Eternal relevant cards (Hangarback Walker, Dark Petition, Jace, Vrynn’s Prodigy, Evolutionary Leap, etc) that may be highly desirable in Russian foil down the road. This is a long term hold, targeting $200+.

I’ll be posting my report on Magic in Bulgaria and Turkey later this week, so watch for that.

Travis Allen (@WizardBumpin)

BOUGHT

  • 35x Dragon Whisperer @ $2/per
  • 9x Shaman of the Forgotten Ways @ $2.25/per
  • 23x Tasigur, the Golden Fang (foil) @ $30/per
  • 8x Whisperwood Elemental @ $5.50/per
  • 14x Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker @ $4/per
  • 30x Wingmate Roc @ $1.50/per
  • 8x Woodland Bellower @ $4/per

“Dragon Whisperer is an extremely cheap mythic red two-drop from a third set. Power level is high. She’s only made a splash so far, but red is saturated right now. Come rotation she could easily be the best red two in the format.”

“Shaman plays well with the coming Eldrazi, and is a third-set mythic. Could break $10.”

“Re: Tasigur, a while ago I noticed that foil Abrupt Decays were about $30. The nonfoils were around $7 – $10 at the time. My suspicion was that $30 was too cheap, especially for how much eternal play they saw. I picked up two extra playsets. Within two weeks, they had spiked to $80, and I was wishing I had bought more. With Tasigur’s ubiquity across formats, I’m not making the same mistake again. He’s possibly the best black creature in Standard, Modern, and Legacy. While a non-foil reprint would harm his price, foils are going to be quite safe. I’m looking for this one to at least double by the spring of 2016.”

“Whisperwood Elemental was $15 not that long ago, and all the cards that make him good (Den Protector, Deathmist Raptor, and Mastery of the Unseen) are all sticking around through rotation. I’d like to buy more if he ends up under $4.”

“Sarkhan is a $4 Planeswalker with a solid power level. He’s mostly been pushed out of Standard by Stormbreath Dragon, but that guy is leaving us soon.”

“Wingmate Roc used to be $15-$20. He’s at bulk mythic pricing now, and could certainly be a major Standard player again later this year.”

“Woodland Bellower demonstrated notable power during the Pro Tour. With no price movement so far, a breakout performance could send this skyrocketing.”

Jim Casale (@Phrost_)

BOUGHT

  • 4x Anafenza, the Foremost @ $3.50/per
  • 4x Tragic Arrogance (foil) @ $3.00/per
  • 4x Abrupt Decay @ $8.00/per

Jim says:

Anafenza, the Foremost is down to $3.50 from $7.00 before the release of Dragons of Tarkir. It’s also 12 tickets on MTGO which is usually a good indicator of play. There are some other factors at work (mythics command a larger portion of a set’s price due to redemption online) but I think this card is going to be one of the few cards to rebound during BFZ. 

Tragic Arrogance is the real deal in standard and it is also quite powerful in EDH. I decided to grab foil copies to play with as they will likely retain more of their value as time goes on. The spread on foil and non-foil copies is closing pretty quickly so this may even see a price correction in the near future.

Regarding Abrupt Decay, I found a player that wanted to sell some cards for quick cash. I offered him more than local buylist and he accepted. Hard to pass up this kind of deal.

BOUGHT (PucaTrade)

  • 4x Ghostfire Blade @ 175 Pucapoints/per

Jim says:

“The Eldrazi will probably all be “colorless” despite costing colored mana. Ghostfire Blade was pretty good with thopters so I can’t see it getting worse with more colorless creatures.”

SOLD

  • 3x Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy @ $30/per
  • 1x Creeping Tarpit (foil) @ $30/per

Jim says:

“Jace was sold to a local player looking to play the Majors/Cuneo mill deck this week. The price included no fees so its hard to pass up a deal this good. I think I will likely be able to buy them back in a month or two for $20 or less.”

“Creeping Tarpit was sold to a player (so no additional fees) and I’m pretty sure the manlands will be reprinted sometime in the next year or two and there is no real reason to keep this.”

SOLD (Puca)

  • 8x ghostfire blade @ 112 pucapoints/copy

Danny Brown (@dbro37)

BOUGHT

  • 20x Narset, Enlightened Tutor $1.24/per
  • 4x Sarkhan, the Dragon Speaker @ $5.40/per
  • 8x Dragon Whisperer $2.25/per
  • 1x Daretti, Scrap Savant $3.44/per
  • 1x Outpost Siege $1.08/per

Danny says:

“I discussed Narset in my article this week, and all 20 copies I requested were sent pretty quickly. I also discussed Sarkhan and wasn’t sold at that time, but I pulled the trigger on a playset and will probably try for another couple.”

Dragon Whisperer is a mythic that may be forced to step up if mono red continues to be a thing in Standard. I think this has enough casual appeal that it could be a slow gainer in the long term, as well. It reminds me of Kargan Dragonlord in many ways, which is $7, so I think the risk is low. One copy will probably go in my cube.”

Daretti is a great pick-up right now and people seem to know. I think I had 16 on my list and only one got sent.”

“The Outpost Siege is for my cube, though it’s likely starting in the on-deck binder until/if I decide to expand or switch up some strategies. Some Standard play and a spike could turn this into a (very) minor spec, though.”

 

Jared Yost

Here is my buying for this week:

  • 10x Polluted Delta @ $21.00/per
  • 10x Flooded Strand @ $15.78/per
  • 10x Bloodstained Mire @ $18.71/per

“I found some great deals through Amazon, and using some of my Amazon points that I’ve been accumulating I thought I would put them to use by picking up some much needed Fetchlands for my portfolio. I really needed Strands and Deltas, as I’ve been steadily trading for Heaths, Foothills, and Mires over the summer to build up a nice stockpile.”

So there you have it. Now what were you guys buying and selling this week and why?

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

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