Legacy Hero #1

My name is Jason Swistoski. I’m not a professional magic financer and I am in no way a professional Magic player. I’m just a regular guy that’s been playing Magic since 1994 and loves value. When I sit down at my LGS, the locals always want to paw through my binders. Why? The usual response is “I just want to see all of these cool, expensive cards.” When I tell them that I will be happy to trade them whatever they want I get a look of horror.

“I can’t afford those cards,” or, “I can’t get into Legacy. It’s WAY too expensive.”

How many times have you heard that phrase at your local game store? If your store is anything like mine, the answer is a lot! This got me thinking… why can’t the normal player let their cards and time work for them? Let the cards get them what they want.

I remember my first dual land (Unlimited Taiga) and my first Mox (Beta Mox Jet). Back then, they didn’t mean as much as they do now. You used to trade those cards for Shivan Dragons. Now, I see the look on the kids faces when one of the youngins at my local game store opens the small binder of mine and see the duals, goyfs, bobs… It’s something to be proud of. But that moment when they realize that I will trade anything in my binder for anything they have as long as everything matches up value-wise. Knowing that I get to make some value in the trade AND they get to get a crazy card they’ve only dreamed about… Whatever it might be that gleams in their starry eyes. That’s something special to me. It shows them and anyone else they play with that you can, in fact, get those cards.

I try to explain to anyone that asks about legacy that they can play it if they want. All anyone has to do is try. I point out how much they are spending on their standard or modern decks. I try to point out decks they can build using cards they already have in their binder. It doesn’t usually click. I get the same old response. “Legacy is too expensive.” This response was starting to frustrate me.

I remember being in their shoes. I remember having to sell my collection after a particularly nasty divorce. The person I sold my collection to told me point blank, “Are you sure you want to do this? You know you will be back. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.” Of course I told him that I was done but I still kept my EDH deck and a handful of cards to build that new EDH deck I’ve been working on. Now, looking back, well… he was right. To put a little perspective on this, he was the person who got me interested in the finance side of Magic. The first time we met, I dropped from an IQ to hangout with him while he went through my cards I brought with me that day. I had to have that altered Library of Alexandria! After that I dumped a ton of my stuff on him for dual lands, a German Foil Zur, Imperial Seal, etc, etc, etc. He was always there to take whatever I had for him. I never had any trouble finding stuff I wanted. He never had trouble finding stuff he wanted. It was perfect. It moved into taking orders from my locals for stuff I didn’t have instock and calling him to get it sent over for the next FNM. I would always ask him questions about the finance side of things. I would take his advice and snag those cards we talked and then trade them out when they went up in price as expected. I would try and buy collections. I would use his buylist in my local area to try and grind out some profits. When his podcast started, I would listen religiously, looking for the next tip. He always made sure to tell me that my ideas about a given card were right, because I wouldn’t dare suggest something to him without doing my research first. He was the expert. He was the professional. He was an idol and a mentor. One of the things that stuck out to me was his reputation in the community, and how many foil Thorn Elementals he had in his binder.

When I got back into the game, as we all knew I would, I thought about all of those conversations we had and I thought about all of the conversations I would have in my local shop. Those conversations led me to this project.

“How can I teach people that they can play legacy.”

I want to show everyone that they can afford the cards; however, it will take time and effort to get to the end result. Jonathan Medina, a legend in the finance community, had FNM Hero, “The journey of a new player.” Legacy Hero takes it to the next step. I’m chronicling the journey of an established FNM Hero getting into Legacy and becoming a Legacy Hero.

In the beginning we need to assume that the player is at least of novice level. In the interest of fairness, we are going to assume that I have been grinding FNM like a champ, have a Tier 1 Standard deck, a reasonable trade binder, and a little store credit.

What tools do I have to use? How am I going to make this a reality? I plan on taking advantage of buying and selling on Ebay, TCGplayer, buylisting, value trading, mtgprice.com’s ProTrader (arbitrige), specing, and of course the profits of winning local tournaments. For example, If I had bought/traded for 20 Jeskai Ascendancy at release (.99) and buylisted them to Channel Fireball at $4 each on the Monday following the Pro Tour, that’ would have been a quick $60 in cash (less expenses) or $104 in store credit. Now what if I took that credit and bought a few things that I expected to increase in value? Then that is a quick and easy example of success.

Over the course of this series I will document the trades, specs, and everything else I do to become the Legacy Hero. This project is community driven. I will ask for a lot of feedback and look to you guys for the major decisions. Everything I will talk about here is something that anyone can do. The goal is to show, in detail, that mtgfinance isn’t something to be afraid of and it is something anyone can do if they put their mind to it. I will include pictures of transactions and a monthly state of affairs assessing the value of the Legacy Hero’s portfolio and a recap of how close we are to the goal.

Let’s recap what tools our Legacy Hero will start with:

  • 1 Tier one standard deck (Jeski Tempo)
  • Trade binder equaling $300-$400 in value
  • “Store credit” in the amount of $50

Let’s get started! What Legacy deck am I going to build? Click on the strawpoll and cast your vote for your favorite deck!


Next week we will go over the results and go over the plan of attack.

I want to give a shout out to the Godfather, Jonathan Medina here. He said his ego was dying so I need to offer some more CPR. I miss you man. We all miss you.

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10 thoughts on “Legacy Hero #1”

  1. Love this idea. After I finished Modern Hero for Hipsters of the Coast I considered doing Legacy Hero leading up to GP NJ. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to devote to a weekly Legacy deck tuning.

    I think there’s a lot going on here and I would be really interested in seeing what it takes for the “average” Standard player or Modern player to make the move to Legacy.

  2. Cool idea. I look forward to reading it. I would encourage new Legacy players to not lock themselves into a very narrow archetype. Building something that contains staples for other types/styles of decks allows you a lot of flexibility. I started with Merfolk because it had Wastelands and Forces and branched out from there.

    1. The staples will be covered in the next article. I wanted to show that you don’t have to restrict yourself by starting cheap.

  3. This is great. I am very much guilty of “I can’t get into Legacy.”

    Those manabases make my unborn children cry

  4. Thanks for your post it was awesome, I’m a married man with no much time to devote to magic and I found standard to rotate so fast that I cannot keep up with the changes . Luckily MTGO released vintage master which helped me a lot to acquire a collection online to follow the trends, but at the end there is nothing like owning a good deck IRL. I was pursuing that goal when Modern was announced as a format and I luckily sailed on that ship early.
    One of the more interesting things I learned from magic in the last year was that it is even more important to not loose money instead of just making profits. For example the Fetchlands showed several possibilities for being reprinted, also when Mutavault got reprinted it was obvious that thoughtseize would follow the same path. I got lucky to sell my playset at that time for 60 each, but it was important to listen to the trends.
    Hope you can discuss more about your Journey into legacy, luckily enough we have in Fetchlands in standard

  5. Love this idea! I hope the deck I voted for (stoneblade) wins! I’d like to get into either that deck or a legacy hate bears deck myself.

    1. Thanks! I can’t say that I share your enthusiasm for stoneblade but it looks like I will learn to love it. I was hoping for 12 post…

      1. I was really hoping MUD would win out against all odds, I just finished building it (through trades/store credit/ebay) and I’ve been having a blast. I think people get so hung up on cost and don’t realize with a little patience they can have a legacy deck.. the harder part is playing it right

  6. What’s up, every time i used to check blog posts here in the early hours
    in the dawn, as i like to gain knowledge of more and more.

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