The Finance Article That Reddit Wants

So my articles are tossed out into the wild of the internet for all to see on Thursdays, right? Well, that means I sit down to write them on Tuesdays, usually at 11:00 p.m. in a hurried rush so that I can get enough sleep for class the next morning.

On Wednesdays, the /r/mtgfinance subreddit posts an AMA thread where new players and budding financiers can post questions relating to card prices or market trends, no matter how specific or weird. I’ll link you to the one from September 9, 2015, right here. I have a tendency to browse through the thread every week, often trying to find something that I can configure into an article, unless I already have something at the ready.

I’m assuming that you guys don’t really want to read yet another installment of, “Here’s this collection I bought, this is how I’m going to organize and process the whole thing, and this is how I plan on selling all of the different pieces of it.” I mean, if you do want to read more of that, then please let me know. It’s kind of my niche on this website, while Jason pleasures himself to the number 99 and Travis buys out the internet of Dragon Whisperer (hint: there’s still time to buy that card, and there’s a reason that SCG is sold out at $3 right now).

Assuming that you didn’t want to read more about my collection-buying exploits, and recognizing that Reddit is a good place to search for ideas, I went fishing. The thing is, I couldn’t find one specific question on the subreddit’s weekly AMA to constitute writing an entire DJ Johnson article. I’m determined to make this work, though, and I noticed that there were a decent number of cold, abandoned, answerless questions lying around on the thread. I’m going to use this week to answer several of those inquiries to the best detail of my ability, and then message this article to those Redditors who asked the questions.

Can You Make Change for a Canadian 20?


Yeah, I ran into this problem a while back. No, not being Canadian. Why would you assume that being Canadian is a problem? Canadians have way better healthcare than we do, although apparently that doesn’t prevent them from falling into the same trap as us Americans. I’m saying that I bought a bunch of FTV:20s a couple of years back at the set’s release, thinking that it would be a slam-dunk long-term investment. I had a hook-up with a shop owner so I only paid $100 USD each, and I was fully prepared to reap my rewards a few years down the road. Welllll…


Yeah, that didn’t exactly turn out well. If I sold them right now, I wouldn’t even make any money after shipping costs and eBay fees. That’s a really mediocre two-year investment. About six months ago, I actually ended up just deciding to crack all of the boxes and sell the singles, because a local player wanted to buy a couple copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor off me, and the only ones I had were locked inside their sealed-product prison. As it turns out, the contents of the box are more valuable cracked than they are sealed, according to MTGPrice’s Fair Trade Price list:


Even if we ignore the garbage towards the bottom, we still make out better by moving the top five or so cards through TCGplayer, Facebook, or a similar out. You’ll almost certainly pay less in shipping as well, with Jace being the only single I would ship with tracking in a bubble mailer.

To answer your question, Hiroshimarc1, I wouldn’t sit around expecting FTV:20 to continue to grow in value. You’ll waste a lot of time sitting on gains that don’t exist, or you’ll suffer from very, very small marginal increases at best. I recommend cracking your FTVs and selling the singles inside. The higher-end stuff will move a lot faster, and you can ship the cheaper stuff to buylists to recoup the cost. We both lost on this one, but it’s better to try and recoup your losses instead of sitting on dead weight.

Guide Me to the Delta


Thanks for the question, Farsho! As of right now, the total Puca value of what you have is 6150 points, and the 3 Polluted Deltas will run you about 7122 points. I hope you have some extra points to push towards the Deltas, otherwise you won’t have enough. I definitely support trading the two Guides for three Deltas, for multiple reasons other than it just being a good trade for value.

Right now, you’re not using the Goblin Guides for anything else (at least I assume so from your post). Even if the lack of a recent printing means they will marginally increase in value by a couple of dollars over the next month or so, is that really worth not being able to optimally play your UR Delver deck with the Deltas? If you’re a player, there’s an inherent value in actually being able to, well, play your deck. Even if the Guides were $37 each and beat out the Deltas in pure TCGplayer mid value, I’d recommend trading cards you’re not playing for cards that you will play. Neither card will see a reprint anytime soon, unless WOTC really surprises us.

Hedron-Shaped Box


Well, hey there, gravitygroove. By the time you’re reading this article, your comment will be at least four days old. Getting a case at 540 seems like a perfectly fine deal, considering we’re seeing a lot more hype for whole cases with this set. We can give thanks to the Zendikar Expeditions lottery for that, bringing approximately one golden ticket to every six boxes of BFZ.

Personally, I really don’t think you want to hoard them. I went over a few of the reasons that sealed product is problematic back in the first question, and sealed booster boxes are even more of a pain to move than From the Vault product. They weigh more, and it’s harder to find that one guy looking to crack them for drafts a few years down the road. In addition to that, we really haven’t been seeing the returns on sealed product that we used to.

My colleague Sigmund Ausfresser can tell you a lengthy story about his first-hand battle with Innistrad sealed product, and how it was an absolute nightmare for him to move. While those eventually ended up being a slam-dunk, it’s the last booster box to ever take off like that, and we have the dynamic duo of Liliana of the Veil and Snapcaster Mage to thank for it. Boxes of Return to Ravnica really hasn’t seen any signs of growth at all. In fact, we can still pick them up for $90 with free shipping on eBay:

RTR boxes

Remember that Expeditions cards will likely water down the rest of the set, simply by flooding the market with non-Expeditions stuff. Vendors will be cracking hundreds and hundreds of these cases, looking to complete playsets of those full-art lands. You’re one small case in a large ocean of vendors, so these cards will be on the market for years to come. I really don’t think there’s any value to be gained on stashing a $500 investment that also takes up a non-zero amount of closet space, when we don’t see clear signs of significant returns down the road.

If you’re looking for a quick flip, you might have some luck selling individual boxes locally at $100 to $110 each, especially if your LGS runs out of product on the weekend of release.  That would net you a $60 or $70 profit with almost no work involved—you would just get to be the middle man. However, if you’d rather get that high from cracking packs and sitting in a pile of bulk commons/uncommons, tokens, and booster pack wrapping, there is a third option.

Cracking everything and moving it as soon as possible is a way to get value, but it’s obviously a gamble. Opening that $200 (or more?) Expeditions Scalding Tarn cushions your case cost by a significant margin, but opening one of the new BFZ duals will leave a bad taste in your mouth. If you’re fast and efficient with how quickly you move a lot of the mythics, rares, and uncommons before they plummet to their bulky graves, it’s not out of the question that you could recoup 80 or 90 percent of the value of each box, or even come out ahead in the long term.

Fed Up With Standard and Looking for Something More, Ahem, Modern


Nice, a two-for-one!

Users bananaderson and Marcoox here are both on the same page, and are wondering what the likely price trajectories are for Eidolon of the Great Revel and Thoughtseize, once they leave Standard and head off into the world of eternal-only play. For cards like these, I like to use the good old analogy of Snapcaster Mage.


Snapcaster didn’t plummet at rotation. He may have dipped by a dollar or two if my memory serves, but he certainly held his value as he made the transition to the world of eternal. Everyone knew already that he would find homes there, so a large majority of Standard players kept their copies because they knew that they would continue to find use for them. Thoughtseize and Eidolon will likely follow a similar pattern: they’ll barely (if at all) drop when they rotate out of Standard, and will continue to hold their own or increase as time goes on. If you need either card for a deck, either now or in the near future, I recommend biting the bullet, taking that shock to the face, and buying in or trading for them right now.

End Step

Some of these questions had a bit more of a “Finance 101” feel to them, but I think that’s alright. I enjoy answering these questions, because it reminds me that while it might seem “easy” or “obvious” to me, there are still newer players and growing financiers who are still just starting to explore the world of Magic finance that I discovered several years ago.

Maybe I’ll turn this into a semi-regular thing, using the Reddit thread as a solid crowdsource for specific finance questions that I can answer in an article. At the very least, it gives me something to write about every week. Hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit if you want to talk, suggest a topic, or provide constructive criticism. Oh, and the comments section exists, too. Use it.


12 thoughts on “The Finance Article That Reddit Wants”

  1. There are currently over 200 wants for polluted delta on pucatrade. Even if you have the points for them, you are highly unlikely to get them without offering a substantial bounty. Bad idea to out the Goblin guides that way if Delta is the only card he is looking for

    1. Maybe, but at least the card is traded an average of 10 times per day. It’s not like a Reserved list card or ABU dual that’s only traded less than once or twice per day. The other alternative is selling your Pucapoints on the secondary market for $.70-.75 a piece, and buying the Deltas over Facebook at around TCGlow.

  2. Awesome! You answered my question with a ton more depth then i probably deserved for impulsively going in on a case as a complete mtg rookie. My initial zeal to snag a case was from the expedition hype and starting to notice boxing mysteriously going from 90 to 109 or more all over the net, so when i found a local place that was doing 90.. i figured it was a slam dunk. I figured, open the cases, pray for a hail mary (a 150-200 expedition) and end up getting half to 1/4 of the cost for my entire case. I understand that is a pretty risk proposition now. How about leveraging the sealed product for staples that have high value instead? I have to assume the allure of a shiny sealed box might be easily tradable for value to the right people.. like trading a box for say, a playset or close of Jace Vryn’s prodigy? Would this be a possible alternative strategy for me? While i love the idea of sitting in a pile of cardboard severely drunk and weeping about my Special-but-god-i-hate-you expedition tango, maybe there is a better way. X-D Thanks again for the info.


    1. Who in their right mind would do that? You would get two Jaces at max or have to find a complete idiot. Move 5 of the 6 Boxes for 100+ and crack the last one for fun. Found an expedition? Awesome! Found none? Nevermind, it was free.

      1. I didn’t realize he was up to 40 already! Thought he was still 30 from the last one i traded for. Figuring 30×3 plus Maybe another 20 to 30 in value might have been a doable thing, but if he’s 40, then no way. But you get the general idea.

    2. Have to concur with Fuquan. Ask yourself the question in reverse. if you have a set of Jace VP and someone asks if you’ll trade them for BFZ sealed box, you’re going to say..? If the answer isn’t “no”, we’re done here 🙂 If you wouldn’t make the trade in reverse in cases like this, then why would anyone else make the same trade?

      Fuquan’s strategy of sell 5 for average 108 each, rip one for free is absolutely spot on.

      1. That is likely what i will end up doing. I have a small bi monthly group that likes to draft but never is prepared or has boxes on hand, i think they would be thrilled to take em off my hands to get draft with a more casual crowd with the latest set.

  3. Im glad you pointed out RTR boxes. I currently have two sealed boxes gathering dust. Guess its time to crack them

Comments are closed.