Written by: Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns
Hey there! I have returned from Grand Prix New York, and it felt good to say hello to some faces that I haven’t seen since Vegas. Even if you don’t plan on playing in the main event (especially if you don’t plan on playing in the main event), I really can’t recommend Grands Prix enough as your foray into the next level of Magic. There’s just so much to do, no matter what your format. I’m going to delve into my experiences at the event, but first I want to preview what next week’s article is going to be based on a question I got on my previous piece.
If you were really enjoying my Blueprint article last week, then I recommend sticking around for next Thursday when we dive into the above questions and more. While I may not know or care what Standard cards are going to spike, bulk is a niche I can write about. I could have gone into a lot more detail about the sorting process, but we’ll touch on that next week. Until then, let’s do a brief overview of some tips for buying and selling at Grands Prix, because I know I’ve gotten a non-zero number of requests about that and it’s still fresh in my mind.
So let’s start from a pretty basic level. What’s a hotlist? If you follow me on Twitter and hastily scrolled past all my tweets from this past weekend, you probably have the word “hotlist” embedded in your mind. Contrary to what I hope isn’t popular believe, vendors at the event want more than what’s on their hotlist. That whiteboard, chalkboard, or fancy digital screen that they have posted is just to get their foot in the door, and show you the cards that they’re really aggressively buying. A quick skim of the list can usually give you a solid idea of what format that vendor is most interested in, and if a large number of vendors have similar cards on their hotlist then you can use that as a decent indicator for what will be hot over the course of the weekend.
Based on the above pictures, we can make some rational predictions for the cards we want to sell to different vendors. We don’t want to waste too much time selling our cards to seventeen different booths and waiting in line for hours, because we value our time at this event relatively highly. It looks like Channelfireball was really going hard on casual cards, paying damn close to retail on cards like Xenagos, God of Revels, Exquisite Blood, and Death Baron. We see multiple vendors paying $4 on Birthing Pod, which is curious considering how illegal that card is in Modern. Hareruya was at their usual top-tier of competitive staple buy prices, but they don’t really care about EDH or casual cards.
Do Your Homework
If you’re planning on attending these events and you don’t want to wait for people like me to snap pictures on Friday or Saturday, you can certainly email or message the stores beforehand to try to get an early hotlist. This gives you time to prepare and do your homework, so you can bring cards in hand with predetermined buyers on site. Print out that hotlist (or grab a copy of the vendors’ buylist from the table), and you’ll be much more efficient at this than 90% of the people in the room.
Adding to that, I’m going to repeat something I’ve mentioned before, just because its’ important. Those who plan on selling cards at those sweet hotlist prices should absolutely try to get into the convention center as early as possible on Friday, because the vendor prices will go down as they accumulate more of the cards that they’re paying aggressive numbers on. I got to the convention center at around 2pm on Friday, and even then I probably missed out on some good deals in the vendor cases.
So what kind of deals was I looking for personally? Well, other than finding some cards at buylist prices that we’ll get to later on in the article, I was on a mission to complete the foils in my Child of Alara deck. I needed an Expedition Stomping Ground, Breeding Pool, and the cards in the picture below (The proxy is Lotus Cobra, for those who understandably choose not to read my penmanship). I also refused to pay more than the cheapest available copy on TCGplayer/eBay, as you should too. Again, we go back to doing our homework; if you write down the prices you’re willing to pay for cards that you’re specifically trying to hunt down at the event, you won’t have to waste data on your phone looking it up in the display case. I knew I wasn’t going to pay more than 65 for the Breeding Pool, 30 for the Exploration, and 20 on the Reflecting Pool.
Success! I’m still looking for a Reflecting Pool (The cheapest one on site was 23, and there’s one on TCGplayer for 20 right now. I can wait.), but I put a solid dent in the rest of the cards on my list. I’m also looking for a replacement for Westvale Abbey, as that card did not perform well enough in testing to continue sitting in the deck.
I didn’t only go to the GP to pick up cards that I was actually going to play with, though. I also wanted to find some sick deals on cards that i would be able to flip later on, and NM foil Collected Company for 32 at Hareruya seemed like a good place to start. The cheapest copies on TCGplayer right now are $40, so I shouldn’t have too difficult of a time moving these for $37-38 to the right buyer.
I found those CoCos in the display case, but most of the time deals like that will be snatched up very early on in the weekend by other grinders or passerby who happen to notice that a card is underpriced. The real treasures are in the low-end binders, full of EDH and casual garbage that the vendors don’t really care too much about. If you spend a few minutes looking through these binders, you’ll probably find some cards that jumped in price a while ago, but nobody updated them.
Sometimes there will be a bunch of a card that just doesn’t sell very well anymore; Considering Tasigur, the Golden Fang isn’t played in Modern anymore, vendors were in no hurry to hold onto copies. I found twenty-something copies in a binder at $2 each!
Finally, I want to touch a little bit on the whole prize ticket system. After playing in a 2HG Sealed event and going 2-1-1, my teammate and I each received 110 event tickets. The exchange rate is one Standard legal booster pack for 10 tickets, so we can approximately estimate the retail value of a 10 tickets to be $3-4. While my friend and I blew our prize tickets on SOI packs to practice and jam Sealed decks against each other, I want to let you in on a little tactic I wish I had used.
Channelfireball had a lot of Standard legal singles in the display case that you could use prize tickets on, but one of the best values was the option to get Startled Awake for 10 tickets each. Now, you’re probably thinking: “But DJ why would I spend my hard earned tickets on a bulk mythic that no one cares about?” Well, I would tell you that Startled Awake had refused to drop down to bulk mythic status, and that you can still sell these things locally for $3 easy. That whole “double-sided mythic” aspect really takes a number on the supply, when you realize that there are approximately the same number of Startled Awakes in the world as there are Archangel Avacyn. I could have picked up eleven copies of Startled Awake, and sold them locally after coming home to the casual players on Facebook.
Before we close for the week and begin our adventure to the world of bulk, I want to take a couple of paragraphs about Eternal Masters possibilities. I got into a discussion on Twitter a couple days ago about why I don’t expect to see Dredge in the set, considering they already tried it in Modern Masters 2013 and it really didn’t work in the Limited format. I think they’ll try to make reanimate a legitimate strategy, but through means like Faithless Looting effects and not Dredge.
With these predictions, I’m really expecting Golgari Grave-Troll and Darkblast to have significant gains in the next few months. If we don’t see either reprinted in EM but we receive other support in the set (Cabal Therapy, and to a lesser degree Ichorid), I can see both Dredge spells jumping in price because of how easily accessible the deck is other than Lion’s Eye Diamond.
On a similar note, I’m really expecting to see a tribal Elves theme in Eternal Masters. This set allows them to jam Glimpse of Nature and competitive elf friends while relieving some pressure from the casual Lorwyn elves. I’m expecting some combination of Elvish Harbinger, Nettle Sentinel, Wirewood Lodge, Imperious Perfect, and Jagged-Scar Archers to make the cut. I think they want to let you build “Legacy Elves” with a mix of casual and actual Legacy elves, and I don’t believe that Consiracy would let them build that kind of Limited environment.