City of Traders: Transparency

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By Travis Allen

When I’m learning something new, I always find it extremely helpful to view examples. Seeing a concept or skill in action really helps cement the learning process for me, whether it’s finding a derivative or changing the oil on a motorcycle. So in light of that, today I’ve decided to show you exactly what I am personally holding on to. You’ll see every single card I’ve got stashed away in my “not trading” box. These are cards that for whatever reason I’ve pulled out of trade binders and sale lists and am squirreling away until they rise in price.

This type of transparency will not only act as an example of speculating, but provide total insight into exactly where I’ve chosen to put my Magic dollars. Recently I’ve started posting my shopping carts after I make a purchase on my personal Twitter account over at @wizardbumpin. This is an extension of that visibility. There is no liability when sitting in a lofty throne proclaiming things a worthy purchase, but it’s entirely different to put your money where your mouth is and show people exactly what choices you yourself have made. I hope through my increased visibility I will have to be more accountable to the public, and consequently myself.

Many of these cards were traded for rather than purchased outright. It’s important to diversify, so you’ll see a large number of piles but some are of very few cards. I would like, for instance, more Omniscience, but I just haven’t seen enough in binders to acquire more. It’s also not an entirely exhaustive list, as personal playsets are not shown, extras in decks at the moment, cards I’ve lent out, etc. Let’s hop in!

 

Standard

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We begin with one of my safest holds. I’ve got roughly 60 spare Shocklands across the 10 varieties. These guys have already bottomed out, and it looks like they may start to make their move pretty soon. They’ll all see their day in the sun at $15 or more, and as each one pops into my trade binder they will go.

 

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This is a card I wish I had more of. Zegana has an awesomely powerful effect, and is dirt cheap right now.

 

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Special promos like this plains occasionally creep up, and this one seems to have already started. I recall grabbing them for $1 back around the time they came out, and they’re up to $3 now. If they don’t climb though, I’m not losing much by having a few dollars’ worth of cards hang around.

 

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Temporal Mastery is kind of a miss for me. I picked them up when they were a bit more than they are now, anticipating them seeing play once more before rotation. It’s obvious that opportunity came and went, so now they’re a long hold. Time Walk effects are still pretty awesome, with Time Warp and Time Stretch each being $5. Temporal Mastery has the added benefit of the miracle trigger, which has a non-zero chance of becoming playable in Modern. If that ever happens, it will probably hit $15+.

 

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I was snatching up Vraska at $4-5 wherever I could. If she sees play in Standard, awesome. If not, I wait 6 months after rotation and trade them away for $10.

 

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Scavenging Ooze isn’t done rising yet, and I’m reasonably confident all copies will end up above $20 at some point. The only reason I don’t have more is that it’s tough to buy in at $14 for maybe $6 in profit on each.

 

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Deathrite Shaman and Scavenging Ooze make Angel of Serenity a little less exciting than she was before. I may hold onto her for a little while, but if she still hasn’t made a move by the first of the year, I may just go ahead and toss her in the binder.

 

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I’ve spoken before about Exava with Kalonian Hydra. She’s under $1 right now, so there’s no real reason to trade her yet. I’m hoping for $3-5 each before I let her go.

 

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Plasm Capture is a $.70 Mana Drain. I just ordered 17 more. The worst case scenario is I buylist them for $1 at some point down the road.

 

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Easy casual fodder, and with Standard likely slowing down significantly after rotation, Master Biomancer may have time to shine.

 

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I’m not sure where all of my copies of Griselbrand got to. I think someone is borrowing them. In any case, $10 feels like this guy’s floor. He sees too much play as a combo piece in both Modern and Legacy to not start creeping up.

 

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Armada Wurm is an absolute face crusher, and is only $2-3 to boot. The upside on this guy is so high I’m willing to take the risk that he doesn’t move.

 

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I started picking up Mizzium Mortars when they were under $2. Their ceiling is probably $5, but with Bonfire gone there’s a lot more room for this card to grow.

 

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Blood Baron, despite experiencing relatively minimal Standard play, has absolutely refused to drop in price. That means there is another factor here keeping him afloat, likely casual demand. I don’t feel like I can really lose much holding onto him to see if he does more post rotation.

 

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A lonely Progenitor Mimic, he’s in the same camp as Master Biomancer.

 

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Rakdos’s Return has seen a reasonable amount of Standard play so far, and a slower format bodes very well for this card.

 

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Loxodon Smiter is another card I wish I had a lot more of. He can currently be had for under $4. Meanwhile, he’s seeing heavy play in Standard right now, was absolutely everywhere in the Block PT, shows up occasionally in Modern, and even splashes into Legacy occasionally. I’m tempted to go buy a few. Hundred.

 

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Omniscience is another one I’ve mentioned in a past article. I believe $20 is very possible, so I’m waiting for a while to get there. I don’t think it will take too long.

 

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I have all of these Niv-Mizzets because I was grabbing them for $1. I figure I’ll wait and see if he goes anywhere, and if not, I should be able to at least buylist them without loss eventually.

 

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Jace, like Loxodon Smiter, was absolutely everywhere in the Block Pro Tour. It’s hard to imagine him not cresting $20 at some point.

 

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My verdict is that this will behave just like Jace and Loxodon Smiter.

 

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At $1 in trade, I like Gyre Sage. It’s a nifty card that could pretty easily be $4.

 

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I like Scion simply because of how cheap it is. I just picked up 25 at $.37 each. Someone on camera is going to cast Advent of the Wurm at end of turn, untap, then cast Scion, and they will make me some money when they do it.

 

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Lotleth Troll has seen play in all three formats, and he’s $1. It’s basically impossible to lose, so why not?

 

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Detention Sphere has a lot going for it in Theros. First of all, it’s a more powerful Oblivion Ring. Second, it’s an enchantment, which means we may be able to get paid for it. Third, it’s great against Tokens, which may be rather relevant in the coming Standard. Fourth, it deals with Indestructible Gods. Fifth, it…

 

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Deadbridge Chant is basically comparable to drawing a card every turn (ala Staff of Nin, which saw standard play), but occasionally comes with big mana savings. You can also adjust your odds with Scavenging Ooze. Could easily break $10, but even if it doesn’t, a few dollars seems possible.

 

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While Duskmantle wasn’t $1 when I grabbed him, they were still pretty cheap. It’s hard to imagine him going through all of Theros without seeing play. There are also a lot more ways to punish your opponents drawing cards/having hands in Modern, so it’s possible his break may come there instead.

 

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Similar to Vraska, Gideon is a cheap Planeswalker that could see play in Standard, and even if he doesn’t, will jump down the road due to casual demand.

 

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Another member of the $1 “why not” brigade. Bonus points for possibly being better than Griselbrand in a Through the Breach deck that doesn’t run Fury of the Horde.

 

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I don’t think I need to say anything about Deathrite that hasn’t already been said.

 

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Trostrani was a solid pickup before the Block PT when she was $3 or less. After that she doubled so I’m less aggressive about trading for her, but $10-15 is still totally viable. I’ll probably put them in my binder a week or two after rotation.

 

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I’m pretty sure I paid $.25 to $.50 each for these foil Lay of the Lands. If they see no play, it cost me a few dollars. If they do, each one is worth $4.

 

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I grab these as throw-ins where possible, since they’re unique cards that someone will be willing to pay several dollars apiece for at some point in the future.

 

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Ah, Havengul Lich. I was vacuuming these up for $3-4 when I was hoping they would spike in Standard. Like Temporal Mastery that door never opened, but I have faith (perhaps misplaced) that he will one day be $10+. Regardless of how long that takes, I will feel like a genius (unjustifiably) when it finally happens.

 

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Vorel and Renegade Krasis travel together. At less than $0.50 each, they’re fertile ground. Casual players love lords and counters, which these two have in spades. I don’t need to see much of a jump to realize a profit here, and if any form of Zvi’s BUG list shows up, they’ll likely be a part of it.

 

Modern

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I snatched up Jin-Gitaxis back when he was under $2. Since then Griselbrand was printed so Jin-Gitaxis is less of a premium reanimation target than he was, but he’s still climbed to $5 in the interim. Once he’s firmly in the $7+ range, I’ll probably move him to the binder.

 

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Regular readers of my article (all three of you) will remember me talking about Horizon Canopy a few weeks back. I ended up with a foil playset for myself, and these spares left over. If I bring a binder to GP Detroit, they will be in it.

 

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Liliana of the Veil is poised to be more expensive in 6 months than she is now. Her price is driven almost exclusively by Modern and Legacy. She may see a dip right after rotation before she hikes it back up again, and if she does, I encourage you to trade aggressively. I will be.

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Both Arcbound Ravager and Kiki-Jiki I was picking up for good numbers in trade a few months ago when they were a tad lower. I’m not too worried much about them being reprinted prior to the Modern PTQ season, so I’m just letting them hang out until then.

 

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Goryo’s Vengeance was a favorite of mine a year ago, but now that we have Deathrite and Ooze, I’ve had to step away. Through the Breach is the next cheaty card in Modern, and it feels like it’s hovering right on the edge of popping. Goryo’s went from $3 to $11, and I don’t doubt this would see similar movement. The only thing we’re missing is some form of reasonable fast mana, a way to cheat on splice costs, or something else I haven’t thought of.

 

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Glittering Wish showed up in what may actually have been only a single MTGO event last season, but it immediately jumped from chump change to $2+ after a bit of chatter. It’s the single legal Wish in Modern, and will only get better as more gold cards are printed.

 

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I started grabbing Pod where I could as SOM rotated, as I could see it having appeal long-term. The fact that many were reluctant to trade them only confirmed my suspicions. Frankly, I’m surprised this card is still only $5. I would expect $10-$13 really at any point between now and the PTQ season.

 

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Spellskite broke $10 last season, and it’s only been seeing more play since. It would be difficult to reprint due to the Phyrexian mana, and even if it was, it would be in some form of supplementary product, so it wouldn’t be in large volume. Recently I came across some data that says Spellskite is the second most played card in Modern! (http://www.mtggoldfish.com/format-staples/modern) I haven’t been buying above $6, but I snap them up below that.

 

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I grabbed Shadows right before the spike. I’m in no rush to get rid of them, so once the PTQ season rolls around I’ll ship them to someone desperate.

 

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GSZ is an old pickup, back from before it was banned in Modern. I really liked it at that time, too. I suppose I should probably move this to the trade binder. With the recent printing of it in FTV 20, we are a long ways off from seeing any more action on this card.

 

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Should Bitterblossom ever become unbanned in Modern, or even another real faerie enabler be printed, I expect Mistbind to be very popular. It’s basically a Time Walk stapled to a 4/4, and it plays exceptionally well with Restoration Angel. I’m not sure how a deck wins after getting Cliqued, then Resto bouncing Clique.

 

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Ancestral Visions were obtained before an early Modern Banned/Restricted list update, when I was expecting it to be unbanned. Here we are some two years later, and I still have them. On the one hand, if it was unbanned, I’d make some money. On the other hand, it would be legal in Modern, which if Gerry T is to be believed, would be miserable for everyone involved. I’m not sure what I prefer here.

 

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Whoops. I’d move these to the trade binder, but what’s even the point?

 

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Moving along.

 

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I picked these up before they showed up as an FNM promo, and I was pretty excited about it. They were the chase uncommon for an underdrafted set, and were seeing play in every single format. Path to Exile was a $5 uncommon, so why couldn’t this be? To be honest, I’m still not sure why it never climbed much higher. At this point the demand is low, so I may as well sit on them to see if the price goes up.

 

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The SOM Fastlands, along with Birthing Pod, were cards I was grabbing as much of as possible after rotation. They were dirt cheap and had been showing up in Modern. They’ve all ticked up a bit since then, particularly Blackcleave Cliffs. Eventually these are going to pop, and I’ll be quite happy when they do.

 

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I’ve discussed these a few times, but the short version is that with the move of the Modern PTQ season, I’ll likely be selling them after the first of the year.

 

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I can probably move these to the trade binder at this point; I don’t think they’re going anywhere.

 

Legacy

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It’s a land that makes a lot of mana and it’s on the reserved list. I haven’t been hunting them, but when I come across them in a collection, I’ll set them aside.

 

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Honestly, I should have sold these when they last spiked, but I was out of town at the time. Now I have to wait again.

 

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I’ll be covering Mind’s Desire probably next week, when I talk about Banned/Restricted changes.

 

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Like Mind’s Desire, I’ll speak to these next week.

 

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Also a B&R card.

 

  • Serra’s Sanctum has quietly been sneaking up since the Legend change, and is now $40. I hope you grabbed yours already.
  • Thassa feels like the strongest card in Theros as of 9/2/13. An enchantment that had Scry 1 on every upkeep would be fair at 1U, so you’re basically paying 1 mana for the entire rest of the card. Preorders are $17 which is a pricy gambit, but I’m watching this like a hawk.
  • Ensnaring Bridge is quietly one of the best cards in Modern right now. I’m not sure how much it could really peak with three printings, but it may not have finished climbing yet.
  • Foil Nimbus Maze is all but gone from TCGPlayer, SCG, and eBay.
  • As soon as I saw Magma Jet as a probable reprint, I grabbed 6 Fifth Dawn foils at $5.50 each. I now don’t see any available at less than $10, and if it starts out seeing play in the new Standard, it could go as high as $15.

Edit: I originally forgot to include all of my sealed product, so here it is at a glance:

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