Tag Archives: spikes

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Pre-Pro Tour Increases

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The Pro Tour starts today!

It’s in Nashville, so if you’re in the USA reading this, the Standard portion is just getting started without any giant lapses or time gaps.

As I’ve said before, I don’t like trying to buy out cards as they get featured, but I love that there’s a wide-open format and there are some card prices I want to look at from this new set.

Many of these prices are still high, as the new set has a lot of packs yet to be opened. It’s only been legal for a couple of weeks, so we will see. I’m highlighting cards that have seen a bump this week leading up to the PT, and even if they climb higher in price, I’m expecting them to fall as more and more copies are opened.

A caveat: This is all pre-Pro Tour. Stuff might be spiking as you read this. I don’t have any insider information, just a good understanding of what trends to check.

Pull from Tomorrow ($4.50): The comparisons to Sphinx’s Revelation are not warranted, though this is a powerful card. What makes it underrated, so far anyway, is how good it is with the counterspell suite available to us. Control players can leave up Disallow and a Censor or something, and if no juicy target is cast, they can draw a bunch of new cards. The counters are good right now too, with Essence Scatter and Negate and Dispel and even Horribly Awry for exiling spells. You can run a range of spells and use Pull to find what you need.

Notice the upward trend on this card, as a good showing on this is going to cause quite a spike. Players are going to run three or four of this per deck, and a quick spike to $10 seems easily done.

Drake Haven ($3.66): I’m going to call it now: By the end of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, we will have seen a Cycling deck do very well. This is a janky, build-around card that is remarkably difficult to deal with. Forsake the Worldly is seeing some play as a card to deal with Scrapheap Scrounger, and that’s about the only sideboard card I’d be afraid of if I was the cycling deck.

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The card has spiked about 50% in the last couple of days, likely on the back of some good results and publicity online, and from being a blast to play. I confess I’m fooling around with this deck, and I think I’m going to be playing Standard with it soon. I would also expect some new toys when Hour of Devastation comes out.

Fetid Pools ($5.74): I think that cycling lands are good. If the deck doesn’t have X spells to cast, or even if they do, these are worth an inclusion. The two that have blue are seeing a little more of a spike than the others, I think because people are trying hard to make Engulf the Shore good. Having the flexibility to cycle these away cannot be overstated, and we can see that people are chasing this one a little more than the other color pairs:

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Not a coincidence that black and blue are the base colors for the cycling decks, and that this would be the most expensive land. Cast Out makes the deck Esper, and Irrigated Farmland could be the next to rise.

Glory-Bound Initiate ($1.93): This is one of the sneakier cards that I’m watching. There is not a turn where exerting this is bad, and it’s got real potential as a Human, or use Always Watching (which has already spiked) to make this a 5/5 lifelink attacker on turn three. It’ll be a four-of in the aggressive decks, and it’s already gone up 30% during this week.

I really hope this card ends up at a dollar or less by the end of Amonkhet, because this is going to be a mainstay of aggressive decks for the next two years.

 

Cliff Daigle has been an avid Magic player since 1994. Commander, Cube, Type 4, he’s never met a kitchen table format he couldn’t get into. Except Tiny Leaders. That sucked.

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Customer Service in #MTGFINANCE

Written By:

Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns
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Let’s say for the sake of argument that you’re new to the whole financial side of Magic. You’ve traded a bit at your local store, you’ve overheard discussions about how X card is worth X price now, and you’ve bought cards on TCGplayer or SCG before. Now you want to become financially savvy, and make the most out of how to sell your cards at their peaks while buying cards at their lows. There’s a whole pile of articles out there to help you do that. One of the more recently published comprehensive guides to selling a card was written by our own Travis Allen, and is a great place to start.

Unfortunately, the card you sold doesn’t just magically disappear and transform into those crisp dollar bills we all know and love. It’s not like all of your cards are double-faced, where the other side holds real (your country here) currency. You have to ship the card to another human being (or store, but for the sake of this article we’re assuming that you will be selling to other people). A person that has hopes, dreams, and emotions. Just like you.

Instead of focusing on bulk today, I’m going to try and go over one of the oft-forgotten aspects of this whole #MTGFINANCE thing; customer service. We’re going to look at some common mishaps and situations that sometimes occur when a buyer purchases a card from a seller, and then talk about some solutions and practices that each party can remember to help approach a resolution. I’ve been on both sides of these situations, and can understand how frustrating it can be.

Situation 1: Cards Lost in the Mail

This is one of the more common things that will cause a buyer and seller to interact with each other when working through a platform like TCGplayer, eBay, or Pucatrade. These websites generally allow the seller 6-8 business days before the buyer can take action, to account for sometimes slow service by the USPS. Sometimes time passes, and the card still hasn’t shown up. So what do you do as a buyer? What do you do as a seller?

You might already be thinking that almost every situation where this has happened can be preemptively solved by shipping with tracking, and you’re not wrong. Shipping securely in a bubble mailer with a PayPal shipping label for $2.45 is a (relatively) cheap way to increase the probability that the package will reach its’ destination. Unfortunately, that’s not always economically viable for either party. If I buy an Overgrown Tomb from a local player at $4 and then ship it to someone over Facebook for $7, there’s literally zero point in me putting tracking on that card alone unless I pass those shipping costs onto the buyer. In that case, the buyer will gladly purchase the shockland from some other venue where he/she can avoid paying close to 30% more.

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My personal rule is that I provide free tracked shipping for any order totaling $25 or more. My margins are safe enough at that point to make it worth tracking, and it encourages the buyer to purchase more cards to hit that number. For orders totaling $24 and under, I ship in a PWE (Plain white envelope) with a stamp. There are a bunch of other articles out there on how to ship a Magic card safely and securely, so we won’t spend anymore time on that here.

As a Buyer

If you’re purchasing cards from TCGplayer or eBay, remember that the expectation is on the seller to get you those cards in that 6-8 business day window. If you order cards on a Saturday and they’re shipped out Monday morning, it’s not the fault of the buyer if those cards don’t arrive in time for your Friday Night Magic (unless you specifically agreed to and paid extra for expedited shipping, but TCGplayer doesn’t allow this). Give yourself that window of at least a week and a half for the cards to arrive, or be ready to pay the extra shipping cost.

Okay, so now it’s been 9 business days and your Grafdigger’s Cage that was shipped in a PWE still didn’t come in the mail. You’re not happy. I get that. However, it’s not exactly going to reflect well on you if you use the TCGplayer/eBay/Puca messaging system to immediately berate the buyer and demand a refund, or by leaving scathing feedback. Our USPS system is far from perfect, and sometimes stuff gets lost. This is the part where you politely message the seller, and let them know about the situation. Your card(s) didn’t show up, and you waited the appropriate amount of time. If the seller knows what they’re doing and takes the actions that I’ve detailed in the next few paragraphs, they’ll make it right with you because they don’t want to lose your trust (and your future dollars) as a seller.

As a Seller

We all dread this email (or Twitter/Facebook) message. Some variant of “My cards still haven’t shown up yet..” While the dollar value isn’t going to be too high if you’re using tracked for high-end orders, it’s still annoying to think that you might have put the wrong address on the PWE when mailing out those orders. So what do you do?

First of all, don’t accuse the buyer of stealing or lying. That’s not going to get you anywhere close to a positive feedback review, and it doesn’t help to resolve the situation. If you do feel like something is sketchy, I would absolutely send a report to the real customer service representatives at TCGplayer or eBay (although I highly doubt eBay will do anything to help the seller). At the very least, the platforms can keep track and see if the buyer forms a pattern of making the same claim to other sellers on a regular basis.

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Secondly, don’t just immediately apologize and refund the order. This is a big mistake that I’ve heard happens a lot. Most players will still want that card instead of just their money back, because then they have to go through the process of finding another copy for the same price. If you do own another copy of that Grafdigger’s Cage, just ship it to the buyer. Double Triple check the address and name on the PWE, and take extra care to make sure that it’s being dropped off at the post office instead of just leaving it in your mailbox and risking it getting stolen.

Situation 2: Condition Disputes

This is the other common issue I’ve run into, as both a buyer and a seller (Not that I run into this often as a TCGplayer seller….). Different people are taught how to grade Magic cards differently, and those opinions can clash when one party receives a card that they believe is in a worse condition than what they ordered. Even some of the superstores like SCG, Channelfireball, and Cardkingdom have different grading scales; I’ve bought cards from SCG at “Moderately Played” and immediately sold them back to Cardkingdom where they were graded as “Slightly Played”.

As a Buyer

This might start to sound repetitive, but the first step is to contact the seller without exploding in a fit of rage. Sometimes there’s a mark on the card that was only visible in a certain light, and sometimes two cards from inventory get swapped on accident so someone gets MP and the other person gets NM. It happens, we’re all human. While not an absolute law, it’s a good rule of thumb to follow that an LP card (in place of NM) gets a 10% partial refund, MP gets 15-20%, and HP is 30-35%. It helps if you have pictures of the card that you received to help make your case, although TCGplayer doesn’t allow buyers and sellers to send images between each other so you’d have to provide email addresses or imgur links.

This is not an excuse to go around and complain to every seller you buy cards from, and think of yourself as a “super harsh grader”, which is something I’ve heard before from a buyer. There are some buyers out there who think they can get 10% off every single purchase just by claiming LP on the cards they buy, expecting a discount. This behavior is absolutely kept track of by TCGplayer and Pucatrade, and crying wolf will leave you helpless when you actually get sent a MP card when you wanted NM.

As a Seller

Grade your cards realistically before listing them. I’ve heard a lot of people say “Oh I’m a conservative grader like SCG” or “I grade dual lands differently because they’ve been around for 20 years, so this one is actually LP ‘for its age'”. No. None of that. @ZachSellsMagic summarized card grading in a single tweet that I’ve since taken and started using in my conversations with sellers who disagree with me when selling me cards. (Also, Zach is absolutely worth a follow on Twitter.)

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Look at the card from multiple angles of light to see if it has any markings that are invisible from only one perspective. Water damage, scratches, and grime are all more elusive forms of wear that go unnoticed without proper grading, and it’s always better to get that customer feedback that says they expected a worse for wear card rather than the dreaded email saying that their NM card was actually LP. Grade what the card actually is, instead of what you wish it was. This is especially true for foils, where a buyer of a NM foil is much more likely to be more critical.

End Step

I spent way more words than I expected to while writing this, but I think that’s fine. If this gets a positive response, I’ll write another one next week where I go over more niche and advanced scenarios involving customer service to ensure that even strangers come back to you for repeat business. I still believe that this is a hugely under-reported aspect of this #MTGFINANCE banner that’s all the rage right now, and some people are going to get in over their heads.

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This is your goal.
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My TCG store, CardGarden

On a closing note, remember that as a TCGplayer/Pucatrade/eBay salesperson, you are your own Public Relations person. SCG, CFB, CK, ABU… They all have a person specifically trained to deal with situations like the ones stated in the article. When you decide to become an independent seller, all of that burden goes to you and you only. Even if it looses you a few dollars on a transaction when you have to give back 10% to someone who you didn’t think deserved it, that customer service will make them more likely to come back to you again and again.

 

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What’s Good?

If you want to pay less than $15 for a Reiterate right now, you can’t. Copies began disappearing from the internet at the beginning of the weekend, and it may be surprising to some people what the catalyst was. Those of us at MTGPrice who are familiar with EDH figured it out.

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I have been about that EDHREC life for a while, and it’s been paying dividends. Ideally, we’d like to use these tools to predict these things before they happen, but the first step toward predicting future spikes is analyzing past spikes and finding out what occurred. In this case, someone decided that Reiterate was very good and decided to buy out the internet. The card is played in enough decks and is explosive enough in decks built around the new Izzet commander, Mizzix, that they felt a new price would stick. I don’t expect the $25 I see people trying to get to stick, but I bet the new price is around $10. The card was roughly $3 to $4 before, but I frequently got them shipped to me as “bulk” rares, so I expect copies to come out of the woodwork now and the supply will far outstrip a modest demand. Still, Reiterate is really good in Mizzix as well as Chandra and Jaya and Wort and the other commanders Douglas mentioned in his tweet.

Most of those commanders aren’t new, so the only thing that is new here is the card has demonstrated how busted it is in Mizzix and someone has decided that we’ll pay five times as much for the card from now on.

Maybe they’re right. After all, there are probably a lot of cards that are busted in the new decks. Reiterate has the distinction of being oldish (Time Spiral), not having reprints, having a keyword ability (buyback) that means it’s less reprintable than a card without such an ability, and did we mention it’s super busted in Mizzix? When you don’t have to pay colorless mana for it, it’s dumb and you  can copy every spell you play. Who doesn’t want that?

Can we pick out the next reiterate? We don’t all get the benefit of a buyout like we saw here, but we can have copies of similar good cards and be ready if a buyout does happen, or the inevitable march of progress pushes cards that are used frequently in decks that people are building this month up in value. Commander 2015 came out close enough to Christmas that I expect people to get these as presents, and the effect of the new generals to be spread out a bit so we have some time to get ready. Why not use the same website that we used to justify the reiterate spike to see what else is good?

Mizzix

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There are a lot of reprints in the “top cards” for this deck. And why not? Since it’s a brand new commander, a lot of people who build the deck are going to use a lot of cards that came packaged in the same precon Mizzix came in, and a few of those cards are very good in the deck and that’s why they were such obvious reprints in the deck. Still, there might be a card or two worth watching.

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This has demonstrated the ability to hit $10 more than once in the past. It’s a two- to four-of in Legacy, and it is very good in a deck where the cards in your graveyard will have their mana cost reduced. I like this at its current price, and with retail plateauing and buylist price creeping up, movement may come sooner than later.

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All Is Dust isn’t getting cheaper. I expect it to rebound from the reprinting it got in Modern Masters 2015 this summer, and that this is the cheapest it will ever be. In two years, when this is $12, everyone is going to look at this graph and say, “Wow, when was it ever that cheap?” and not be at all surprised it went back up. Modern Tron isn’t going away and this being a zero-mana wrath in Mizzix. It’s a good target. It’s not Reiterate good, but it’s solid and at its floor.

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I think it will take more than EDH to push Spell Burst up from a quarter to a price you will be glad you bought in, but the foils look juicy, even at $5. Spell Burst is dumb in Mizzix, also.

Let’s go looking at other Commanders.

Ezuri

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We should be able to find some gems when we look at what people are playing with Ezuri. I took all of these cards from the EDHREC page for Ezuri unless I state otherwise.

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This is a no-brainer. With enough experience counters, Ezuri can dump enough counters on this that you can set up and infinite turn loop. Foils of this haven’t even moved. I realize this isn’t as old and rare as Reiterate, but it’s also dumb and cheap and stupid, and if someone else starts buying aggressively, how obvious this is with Ezuri should start an avalanche. At under $2, it should be easy to trade for every copy of this in your LGS and buy a few to fill your spec box.

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This may get a few cents cheaper, and I would wait to see what happens as more copies of the Golgari deck are opened, but this card and Ezuri go together like peas and carrots (or like exaggerated caricatures of the mildly mentally handicapped and Academy Awards). They put it in the wrong deck but you can always go back and put it in the right one. Mycoloth is always going to be nuts in EDH, but it’s especially nuts in Ezuri decks. Left unchecked, you will just make a trillion saprolings a turn, and it’s hard to lose at that point.

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Being from a recent set doesn’t help much, but being from an under-bought core set offsets that to an extent. I think this is one of the best decks for Skulker and I always thought this was just dumb in EDH. Lots of UG decks played Lorescale Coatl already, and this is just better. Wait, he triggers Ezuri and gives him experience counters when he dies or gets bolstered when Ezuri is handing out counters? Sign me up.

Kalemne

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This deck is pretty boring and a lot of the cards that are appearing in a majority of the decks and therefore triggering a high correlation rating in EDHREC are in the precon. Still, I think there are a few gems.

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This isn’t going to get cheaper and it’s actually stupid good in Kalemne. You are playing bigger creatures than average, so giving them a boost plus lifelink and first strike is going to make combat fairly miserable. Even if your opponent is chump blocking, you’re going to gain so much life they will struggle to kill you unless they just play Magister Sphinx like a dirty piece of trash.

“Nice card, Steve, real fair, no, leave it in the deck, leave it in, it’s a cool card. I mean you played Praetor’s Grasp and Bribery on me this game, so why not just make my life total ten with your stupid cheat sphinx? I know you drank one of my IPAs when I went out to get pizza, too, and speaking of pizza, I want the seven bucks you owe me for pizza, Steve, you dick. I’m playing Maelstrom Wanderer next game.”

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Sure, the reprinting hurt this guy, but he is on the rebound and it’s a good time to buy. Blade of Selves is a card we are very interested in tutoring up, and this guy does just that. He can also get Sunforger and other equipment which is handy. This is a good card and EDH decks will always want him.

Meren

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This deck is all about value, bringing creatures back from the dead over and over. Let’s see if it’s about the other kind of value, also.

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Is this card a good buy around $1?

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I dunno. You tell me.

Awakening Zone has shrugged of multiple reprintings to still be the price it is today, and with From Beyond being situationally a much better card, I can’t imagine we won’t see a similar price trajectory. I plan to jam about 100 copies in my spec box, mostly from trading, and see what happens in two years. Not as many reprints as Awakening Zone got, that’s for sure.

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If loving this card is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Can you believe it hit 50 cents? I couldn’t either, so I bought lots of them. I traded for a lot more. I used dealer trade-in bonuses to turn other cheap rares into copies of this card. If this never hits at least $4, I will be really surprised. I realize it’s a recent non-mythic, but come on, read the card. It’s more expensive than Grave Pact but also easier to cast, especially in a three-color deck like Prossh. This card is nutty in Meren and Mazirek as well as other decks it was already good in.

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This will probably not be unbanned in Modern for a while, if ever, but it’s still A+ tutelage in EDH and still has some Legacy relevance, to the extent that Legacy is relevant. Is this done falling? I hope not. I want lots and lots of these the closer if it gets to a dollar. Gimme!

Daxos

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This is going to be fun, but it’s also going to take a minute for any cards here to spike because these will all have very high correlation values for Daxos, as a lot of these cards aren’t super useful elsewhere. It will be up to Daxos to be popular and push these cards up, but I think it can do it.

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If Daxos takes off, this is a $50 card or EDH has zero influence on prices.  There is no in-between. This card just needs a nudge and its non-zero relevance in Legacy can help justify the new price to people. There are very few copies of this online, and if you can get these with a trade-in bonus rather than taking cash when you buylist to a site that has a few copies, do it.

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I expected a little bit of a dip at rotation, but as this card’s price was never really predicated on Standard, it shrugged off that chance to dip in price. This is stupid with Daxos and with Sanctum, and I talk about that a lot but that’s because it’s true. This is a $5 card in a $3 card’s body and it will figure that out. The real question is how long will it be $5? I don’t know how high this can get, and it certainly can’t ever be as much as Purphoros or Xenagos, two ridiculous EDH commanders that are at home in a lot of 99s. This card is tied to one commander in general, Daxos, and that’s a lot to ask of a single commander. Still, this card is likely to go up because of how dumb it is with a good commander, so if you can trade for these with a Standard player who forgot to dump them at rotation or something, snag them.

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This is way more playable than Heliod, replacing Greed, replacing “players can’t gain life” effects, and being a strong commander as well as 99-inclusion. The stark difference in playability is not reflected in a stark difference in price.

Yet.

I really feel EDHREC can work both ways for us. Not only can we use it as a tool to say, “Well, it’s no wonder this card spiked,” after a card goes up in price seemingly irrespective of playability in the formats that people who think they know a lot about Magic pay attention to, I think we can predict things, or at least see which card’s prices are tied to a specific general and which are format staples.

While we’re at it, this happened.

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Can you think of any additional stats that would be helpful to you? Dream something up and leave it in the comment section for me to pass along, or you can message EDHREC directly. They’re willing to develop metrics that finance people will find useful, and we’d be insane not to take them up on it. I have a few ideas of my own, but I want to see what you come up with, The site is very useful as-is, but I bet we can come up with something great.

Until next week!

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