Grinder Finance – Week One and Capitalizing on Hype

Last week in Chicago we got our first taste of Standard with Magic Origins, and there were 3 G/R Devotion decks in the top 8.  To be perfectly honest, 7 of the top 8 decks were just slight rehashes of existing decks.  In an extreme example of this, Logan Mize decided to cut a whole color from his deck and avoid playing any cards from the last two sets.  It’s unlikely any real metagame shifting changes will happen before the Pro Tour in a few weeks but that doesn’t stop people from going crazy.  What did I spend my weekend doing? Getting rid of cards!



My go-to for getting rid of cards I don’t need is Pucatrade.  It’s a bit of investment to get started but clearly shows it’s advantages upon new set releases.  A lot of the cards from this set are at the highest prices they will ever be and it’s a quick and easy way to earn some value for them.  For those that are uninitiated, Pucatrade is an online trading program that matches users want lists with other user’s have lists.  For the price of a few stamps, envelopes, and toploaders you can send off your unwanted or hard to trade cards for “Puca Points” which are essentially worth 1 penny.  Although they have no cash value, the value of a card is based on an aggregate fair trade price that is displayed in Puca Points that works out to about 100 Puca Points is $1.

That being said, how many of you thought you could get 65 cents in trade for an Outland Colossus?  While most of the cards listed might end up being bulked to a vendor, release week is a great chance to trade them away for non-bulk values.  But there are also some non-bulk cards that are worth selling into the hype.  I’m not a fan of holding onto Goblin Piledrivers right now.  There is too high of a chance that this price is based mostly on nostalgia and not enough on actual power.  The worst case scenario is that I have to pick up a playset in a month for about the same price.  Most standard legal rares have a very hard time staying above $10 even when they’re as ubiquitous as Siege Rhino.  Goblin Rabblemaster is one of the most recent exceptions to the rule because of how flexible it was in many different deck types.  Unfortunately for Piledriver, he requires a bunch of goblin buddies to be good.


What else should we do besides selling off cards we aren’t planning on using for the next two months? Digging out important commons from your pre-release pools is a big deal.  For every playset of impressively expensive Shaman of the Pack you find, you could also save yourself a few bucks by picking out Clash of Wills and Sphinx’s Tutelage too.  There’s a number of powerful uncommons that I would recommend just setting aside for later use.

In no particular order, these commons and uncommons strike me as useful:

  • Bounding Krasis
  • Blood-Cursed Knight
  • Shaman of the Pack
  • Foundry of the Consuls
  • Mage-Ring Network
  • Leaf Gilder
  • Gather the Pack
  • Elvish Visionary
  • Dwynen’s Elite
  • Aerial Volley
  • Sylvan Messenger
  • Nissa’s  Pilgrimage
  • Magmatic Insight
  • Goblin Glory Chaser
  • Fiery Impulse
  • Subterranean Scout
  • Smash to Smithereens
  • Dragon Fodder
  • Enlightened Ascetic
  • Consul’s Lieutenant
  • Celestial Flare
  • Swift Reckoning
  • Chief of the Foundry
  • Artificer’s Epiphany
  • Negate
  • Clash of Wills
  • Sphinx’s Tutelage
  • Eyeblight Massacre
  • Fleshbag Maurader
  • Gnarlroot Trapper
  • Nantuko Husk
  • Read the Bones
  • Thornbow Archer

While some of these you may have from older sets, it’s important to note you can glean $10-20 from picking through your “draft trash” that would otherwise have been spent at a vendor the day of a tournament.  It’s important to note it’s hard to keep a small collection and not lose money by having to rebuy cards you sold earlier.  Ideally we keep an equilibrium of selling cards when they’re high and buying when they’re low but if we can avoid buying cards all together then it’s just a win more.

Investment Hour:

There are a few cards I think that are pretty good to pick up now but you shouldn’t rush out to buy them right this second.  I would keep them on my radar for trades this weekend.



If we ever get to a point in standard where people ask the question “What is the most powerful planeswalker in Standard?” and the answer is not Ugin then we will have a problem.  This guy is at a low point in his life cycle and despite being only a single copy in most decks he still commands a price point over $25.  Fate Reforged is notably better than the last middle set (Born of the Gods) but still suffers from middle set syndrome that makes it scarcely opened product.  Ugin’s life cycle is further increased by his tag teaming with Karn in Tron in Modern.  When you top if off with the casual appeal, it’s hard to ever see him dropping below $20 without a Duel Deck printing.  I think now is a fine time to pick up this dragon Planeswalker in preparation for a new Standard rotation in the fall.

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Mono-red decks have always been popular with casual players because of their low price point.  Recently with the emergence of Atarka Red as a truly powerful force, aggressive red decks have been able to sustain some weird prices.  Goblin Rabblemaster and Stoke the Flames are poster children for aggressive red cards that are worth a ton more than they probably should be.  I believe Exquisite Firecraft is an easy Five Dollar bill for the next year and a half.  Abbot of Keral Keep and Scab-Clan Berserker can tag team some control heavy metagames while also being very reasonably priced aggressive threats.  I’m especially bullish on the fact that Scab-Clan Berserker can often get in 4 damage before paying the Ultimate Price which is significantly better than the very popular Eidolon of the Great Revel.  If red aggressive decks are not your thing then you may want to pass on these but I would get well acquainted with their power level.



6 thoughts on “Grinder Finance – Week One and Capitalizing on Hype”

  1. Hey Jim,
    Thanks for the enjoyable and informative read and the heads up.
    I also had a great weekend, dumping drafted rares and foils, while picking up a little investment on my own:

    5x Goblin Piledriver (FOIL) @ €17.76/ea (around $19.28)
    5x Harbinger of the Tides (FOIL) @ €12.45/ea (around $13.52)

    I’m thinking that there will be some people trying out Goblins in modern, now that everyone is hyped that they reprinted Piledriver, adding him to the list of great playable goblin finishers. Maybe they will even splash blue to play Day’s Undoing… we’ll see.
    And Harbinger is just a neat card to supersede Tidebinder Mage (maindecked of course!). In around 9 out of 10 cases, Harbinger is a better choice, e. g. giving Splinter Twin back their Exarch while destroying the enchantment and also stops a Primeval Titan dealing lethal damage.

    What is your opinion on that matter? 🙂

    Best regards from Germany,

    1. I’m not in love with buying foils you aren’t planning to play with. It seems like too much could go wrong and tank the price. If there is a gradual acceptance of a card then you will see signs that the foil price is due to go up before it does.

      1. Richard (from Germany), I humbly disagree with Jim on the topic of foils if you expect them to be played in an Eternal format. I like your 2 targets and the prices you got them at, though I am a little more concerned with the Piledriver spec. Early acquisitions of Tasigur and Collected Company foils paid off huge dividends. Even when Gurmag Angler was in Chapin’s Grixis deck that was a failure (I believe it was a Pro Tour) his foil went up to “only” $2.50 and once the deck was tweeked Angler foils jumped to around $10 and used to be slightly higher. And look at Treasure Cruise foil prices upon release and then with UR delver explosion before the banning. Ditto on Dig pricing except the foil is still around $25 and finally supply is drying up.

        However, cards like Spirit of the Labyrinth (foils over $20 upon release) and foil Humble Defector ($6-7 upon release) and numerous others are reasons to be cautions. I think it’s one thing to hope and pray a foil makes it into an eternal format like CoCo (which upon release foils were a bit of a gamble), but Harbinger as you said very specifically slots into an established deck and is a solid upgrade to an already existing card. In general I agree with Jim to wait for foils and all card prices from new sets to drop. But as we’ve seen with the communication age sometimes you gotta take a few risks and jump in early cause specs become known quantities very quickly.

        Hope this makes you feel better about your specs 🙂 Again, be cautious with foils and all cards upon set release like Jim said but if the price is right and you feel strongly enough go for it. Any foil Rare approaching $20 like Piledriver is a bit risky regardless of the brokenness, cause if it’s that broken it will probably get banned and foil rares going up to $30 is infrequent as well.

  2. Hey Jim, disagreed with you about Richards’ foils but I enjoyed your article. A friend built a mono Red burn type deck for Standard utilizing Swiftspear, Eidolon, new Chandra, and the Scab-clan berserker (Abbot was too slow and didn’t make the main board). In play testing it was amazing, but at a recent SCG IQ he didn’t do well. The Berserker was great in testing but on the draw vs. Coursers, Raptors, morphed Den Protectors, and Siege Rhinos he wasn’t good. Even Caryatid and Satyr Wayfinders were road blocks to the Berserker on the play or draw. I initially loved the spec on him as well, maybe he’s like Eidolon and is better suited for Modern. or when Caryatid and Courser are gone he’ll be able to trade more profitably. So against the Bar Setting deck of Standard in Abzan he wasn’t a success. Against Control, Mardu, and aggro decks he was fine. Oh he also wasn’t good vs Draggon Fodder and Outburst tokens.

    Flip Chandra was fine vs decks not running Draconic Roar, Ultimate Price, Bile Blight, Dramoka’s Command, and Hero’s Downfall…or Courser, or Rhino, or Sorin (you get the idea lol). Basically my friend and his burn/red deck got obliterated by Abzan. Firecraft isn’t Stoke, it’s just not that good although it might have to be played by certain decks. Only sideboard vs control…3 mana for a Sorcery that deals 4 is pretty bad, even for standard. If Craters’ Claws can’t stay out of the bulk bin and it adds a shock to itself if you have ferocious Firecraft is not going to be $5 (although the supply of the 2 cards will be tremendously different). Plus if casual Red players need it they aren’t going to pay/trade more than $0.50 for the card. $2 max, maybe $1, but I think close to bulk.

    Take care man, keep killing it on Puca

    Oh Infinite Obliteration is a very real card in Abzan sideboards or it should be. In the mirror it’s back breaking. It’s great vs tons of decks if you cast it anywhere in your first 4 turns. And Control has to counter it.

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