Alright, we’re laying off of the forced food titles for now. And don’t worry, this isn’t an EDH “bad beats” story about how I lost to a deck that contained both Avacyn, Guardian Angel and Ixidron. Instead of analyzing the Pro Tour that took place last weekend (several of my fellow writers already took care of that before me), I’m going to be digging through my metaphorical closet, and checking up on some of my spec boxes.
I’m sure you’ve heard this common piece of Magic finance advice thrown around at least once or twice: “Just put in a box and forget about it for X years.” I’ve given that advice to countless people about many different cards, and used the logic myself to justify holding certain cards or product. While that mentality might occasionally help you from getting cold feet and selling out earlier than you should, it also has the downside of potentially forgetting to check on the card for significant periods of time. I may or may not have missed out on significant profit margins by neglecting to actually flip through this box as often as I should, and the “tl;dr” of this article could basically be summarized as “do that.”
However! You want more than a synopsis of two words, right? I know that I’m definitely guilty of leaving cards in my spec box for much longer than I should, when I would be much better off cutting my losses and dumping some of this stuff back into my binders, TCGplayer inventory, display case, bulk rare boxes, or PucaTrade haves list. This week, I’ll be doing an exercise where I go through a bunch of the cards currently sitting “in the closet,” and decide whether they stay or go. I want to go over why I tried to forget about them in the first place, where I thought the cards were heading, and whether or not it’s worth throwing them back in the box for now. This time, though, when I throw them back into the box, I’ll (hopefully) make a better mental note of what my game plan is, and you’ll (hopefully) close out of the tab with a better idea of what you might want to hold onto for the future.
What Gets to Stay?
Seance, Faith’s Reward, and Retether all have a special place in my heart. While Retether has slowly crept up to $1.50 over the past year or so, none of the others have moved much, and I’m going to keep hoarding all of them until somebody breaks them all in Modern (unfortunately, they probably won’t be in the same deck.) I feel that each of these cards just needs one or two more cards printed to send them over the edge into value-rare status.
Preeminent Captain is the younger, less appreciated brother of Crucible of Fire. Both were casual all-stars, but then everything changed when the reprint nation attacked. They both were reduced to bulk rares, but I am a firm believer that both of these cards will rise from the ashes and slowly climb back to their former glory.
While I’ve long given up on the non-foil printing of Lingering Souls (really, Wizards? Did you really need to reprint it three times?), I still like the foil versions at $5 if you’re trading for them. The FNM promo recently spiked to match the pack foil, so I think there’s a decent shot at this version slowly creeping up to maintain its advantage over the promo.
What Has to Go?
- Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile
- Marshal’s Anthem
- Avacyn, Guardian Angel
- Heliod, God of the Sun
- Restoration Angel
- Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- Leonin Arbiter
Now for the fun part. where I get reacquainted with some of the cards that taste like regret. Seriously, though, I don’t remember putting any number of copies of Brigid in this box. I don’t know why I made that decision to pull them, or what made me think that they would go up in price. Whatever. Back to the bulk boxes you and Avacyn go.
Marshal’s Anthem was actually a card I was really bullish on—the card is an absolute monster in my EDH experiences, with the multikicker allowing it to be flexible at any point in the game. Unfortunately, when double checking its price tonight, I learned that it was in the Commander 2014 deck. Whoops.
As for the rest of the cards that see actual Constructed play, I picked up the Restoration Angels back when they were $5, and should have sold into the spike for $10. I got greedy, though, and wanted to hold out thinking that they would hit $15. At this point, I’m better off just adding them to my inventory elsewhere and getting full retail for them instead of watching them gather dust. I didn’t lose money on them, but I didn’t make anything either. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the same as losing money.
What Gets to Stay?
- Battlefield Thaumaturge
- Trade Routes
- Archive Trap
- Snapcaster Mage
- Skill Borrower
- Gather Specimens
- River Kelpie
- Swan Song
I really wanted there to be an Archive Trap deck in Modern. Don’t judge me. It was going to be really cool, where they would crack a fetch land (I picked these up in response to the KTK fetch land spoiling), and you would cast Trapmaker’s Snare in response in addition to Archive Trap, and mill them for 26 at once. This was going to be awesome with Hedron Crab and Glimpse the Unthinkable. You know what? I think it still could be awesome. There’s the added benefit that Archive Trap is a mill card, and that automatically means it’s going to maintain its value, as long as it doesn’t see a reprint.
Thaumaturge, Trade Routes, Skill Borrower, Gather Specimens, Inexorable Tide, River Kelpie, and Swan Song all fall under my favorite two-word category: bulk rare! These are some of my favorite cards to pick out of the bulk lots that get sold to me on a regular basis, although I like the cards for a variety of reasons. Thaumaturge, Routes, and Skill Borrower are in the same boat as Retether, where I think they’re extremely close to being broken in Modern and being the next Glittering Wish, depending on what gets printed in the future. Gather Specimens and River Kelpie seem way too good in EDH to be bulk rares, and even bulk foil rares. Our resident EDH finance specialist would know more about those than I would though.
What Has to Go?
- Curse of the Swine
- Jalira, Master Polymorphist
- Deadeye Navigator
- Ixidor, Reality Sculptor
- Inexorable Tide
For some reason, I thought Jalira would be a popular mono-blue commander, so I set aside multiple copies (both foil and non-foil) while picking through M15 collections. Not the best idea. Even if she does end up being popular (which she didn’t), there were dozens of other better opportunities (like buying infinite copies of Crucible of Fire for $.30) to make money. I should have been selling these to buylists for $1 when I had the chance; now they’re going to sit in my $.25 and $1 boxes respectively forever. The same goes for Deadeye Navigator, which I thought would be an EDH all-star by now. Whoops. Sorry, Curse of the Swine: no matter how many Pongifys you are, the fact that you’re sorcery speed and have a bulky cost makes you terrible, and a bulk rare.
I started pulling Ixidor and Ixidron after morph was announced, thinking that it would spark an interest in a casual 60-card morph deck that also utilized some of the older cards with the mechanic. While the foil of Ixidor jumped to $80, I figured that the non-foil could at least show a bump to above bulk-rare status. I was quite wrong. I also didn’t realize that Ixidron was even in the Commander 2014 lists, so that is definitely a red flag that I need to scour the lists of supplemental products more carefully, even if I don’t intend on buying any of them. I managed to avoid buying Junk Diver because I actually looked at the red deck, back when I wanted to examine the Nekusar Effect.
What Gets to Stay?
- Plunge into Darkness
- Dictate of Erebos
- Necrotic Ooze
- Heartless Summoning
- Soul Spike
I’ve already talked about Nyxathid extensively in my past two articles, and I just managed to sell off the rest of my foils copies after those spiked. Interestingly enough, the non-foil still hasn’t caught up, lagging at around $3 or $4. I think that the non-foils can still creep up to $5 or $6, so I’m holding on until then and then unloading. I’ll make sure to catch the exact moment when I sell on this one, because I’ve kept my finger on the pulse of the card so readily.
Plunge into Darkness, Necrotic Ooze, and Heartless Summoning are the black versions of Retether and Trade Routes here. They’re bulk rares (except for Ooze, which hangs out at around $1), so there’s not much to be lost by picking them out whenever you see them lying around in collections or on sale somewhere. Necrotic Ooze and Skill Borrower probably even go in the same deck eventually—I just think it needs one or two more broken activated abilities to protect itself form Bolt and get there. If there’s ever a combo deck with any of these cards, expect the price to spike hard and fast.
Meanwhile, Necroplasm seems like a perfectly fine place to be with the slow rise of Tiny Leaders. While the foil has crept up ever since the format gained traction, the non-foil has stubbornly remained a bulk rare. The card was only ever printed in the original Ravnica, and is a powerful sweeper of token strategies that just never dies. Is it going to be $10 tomorrow? Probably not, but i’d rather pick them out of bulk and wait instead of getting $.25 a piece for my copies. I don’t think foils are a bad play at $3, either.
Soul Spike already, well, spiked, up to $3 from bulk. However, I missed the opportunity to sell out on all of my copies, because I literally forgot that I owned them. The hype is over for now, and the deck that caused them to spike certainly didn’t stick around very long. At this point, I’m going to wait and see if it pulls an Amulet of Vigor at the next large Modern event; I’ll keep a much closer eye on it this time.
What Has to Go?
- Pain Seer
- Crypt Ghast
- Army of the Damned
- Ob Nixilis, Unshackled
- Toshiro Umezawa
- Palace Siege
- Lim-Dul the Necromancer
- Sudden Spoiling
- Baleful Force
Some of these don’t even need explanations—they’re just obvious failed specs that I need to rip out of there and throw into the quarter box. Pain Seer, Baleful Force, and Palace Siege were all duds. Crypt Ghast got hit with a reprint in Commander 2014, stunting its growth and forcing me to settle with letting them ship out of my dollar box every now and then. Sudden Spoiling and Army of the Damned are both extremely powerful cards in Commander, but it looks like the degree to which the Mind Seize deck was overprinted is too much for them to handle, and I need to suck it up and just let them go for $1 each instead of hoping to strike it big. Lastly, Ob Nixilis is an extremely powerful card, but I don’t think non-foils are the place to be. I’d be happy swapping these out at a 5:1 ratio, and putting the non-foils in my dollar box for casuals to become addicted to, while waiting for the foil to creep back toward the $10 range.
Meanwhile, I did manage to win out on Toshiro through Tiny Leaders. From $.25 to $2, I plan on buylisting my copies to CCG House for $1.50 and calling that a closed case. It probably would have been nicer to be on the foil end of that spectrum, but oh well.
I might sound crazy for saying this, but I feel like Tamanoa might actually be worth something eventually. It’s an obscure, niche rare from Coldsnap with zero reprints, and foils are only $3. Not being legendary is obviously a pain, but weirder cards have spiked. I’m not buying any and I don’t currently own any copies (as shown by the fact that there are none in the above pictures), but it’s definitely something I would set aside in my spec box if I ever came across them in a collection or bulk lot.
The foil Bladewing sitting in my box is actually one I picked up yesterday during a trade when I was looking for a few dollars to close out a deal. I was surprised that it was only $7 and that its price graph had been so flat, considering the massive spikes of older dragons surrounding the latest set’s release. Bladewing has reprints in Commander and From the Vault: Dragons, but both of those were the first supplemental products of their kinds, so the print run wasn’t exactly high. The FTV foil is even cheaper than the Scourge foil, which is very interesting. If you’re one of the EDH dragon players, this seems like a fine pickup while you have the chance.
I’m not a huge fan of sealed product, but I felt that $90 boxes of Conspiracy were too good to pass up, especially with free shipping and a small return via eBay bucks. If you’re interested in a similar price, ChannelFireball has a bunch for $90 before shipping costs. I only picked Conspiracy because it’s something that I am confident I can liquidate to any number of players in my local area for at least $90 to $100 if I absolutely have to. The prices on the foils in these boxes are absolutely absurd, and even the bulk rare foils can have as high as a 120-times multiplier. If you’d rather stray away from sealed product, I can get behind picking up foil singles from the set that you think you can see yourself using in the future. At the very least, they’re very safe trade targets.
So, when was the last time you went through your spec box and analyzed every single card? I think I’ll save “throw it in the closet and forget about it” for discussions on sealed product and harder to move large-scale items, but you should always be keeping an up to date finger on the pulse of your “spec” box, especially when you’re waiting for the cards inside it to hit a target price so you can sell for maximum value.
I didn’t plan on making this article a two-parter, but I have too much random stuff in my spec box to go over without boring you to death, in addition to the above finance notes that I wanted to take care of this week. Next week, I’ll revisit the rest of the spectrum of my spec box, and go over how it’s been reorganized for proper maintenance!
Until then, let me know how you handle your own spec boxes below.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!