All posts by Cliff Daigle

I am a father, teacher, cuber and EDH fanatic. My joy is in Casual and Limited formats, though I dip a toe into Constructed when I find something fun to play. I play less than I want to and more than my schedule should really allow. I can easily be reached on Twitter @WordOfCommander. Try out my Busted Uncommons cube at

Early Movers in Modern Horizons 2

Modern Horizons 2 has been live for a week, and we’ve got some price data to look at. Some things are rising, most of them are falling, and right now, it’s quite possible for a $350 Collector Booster box to yield $600 or more of retail value. There’s always been chances for things like that, but there’s a lot of pricey cards still to go in the set.

Let’s take a look at some of these price movements and see what’s real and what’s illusion, as well as decide what to do about it.

Fetchlands (Down about 20%-30%) – Let’s call up the graph for the least-sought-after version of the least-used fetchland: Arid Mesa from Modern Masters 2017:

Pretty clear stuff. In April, this was $45. Now it’s $30. Perhaps, though, that’s because it’s a reprint, or a non-blue fetchland. So here’s Scalding Tarn, from OG Zendikar.

Also down, but to $60 from $80. I like comparing these because they reflect a trend, one that’s happening to all the ones that look the same except for the expansion symbol: They are on the decline. This is the first large-scale printing of fetches since the allied ones in Khans of Tarkir, and while MH2 is not to that scale, it’s going to cause a big dent in prices. 

I’m not sure what the bottom is for the fetchlands, but I feel VERY confident in telling you to get ready to buy. Forgotten Realms has a release date of July 23, and that’s probably about maximum supply on this set. I suspect most fetches will have fallen a little farther, especially as people try to recoup their $350 by getting what they can as quick as they can. Tarn from this set is available under $50 right now, which looks tempting, but if they can fall to that price, then $40 is an option too. Keep an eye on the new TCG feature showing you the most recent sales, that’s a very useful tool for something like this.

Note that Mesa is currently flirting with $25, and I’m pretty comfortable letting a few of those into my wallet at that price. If nothing else, fetchlands are gold when trading with other people, if that’s something you’re comfortable doing. I respect patience as a plan, but price memory alone is going to keep any fetchland from going under $20. It took being in Khans, and then in a widely sold Clash Pack, as well as being the least-played fetchland, for Windswept Heath to go under $15.

Garth One-Eye (Down to $4 and still falling) – It’s rough to be a mythic in some of these sets, and while what Garth does is pretty cool and potentially powerful, he’s a nostalgic meme. As a five-color legend, he’s quite generic in his skillset and he can never ever get better. Kenrith is a much better choice as your generic 5c Commander because if you had a ton of mana, you could play him, and then use abilities. Garth will have to wait. Poor Garth will be bulk in a month. Stay away until then (and then feel free to pick up a brick of bulk-price mythics).

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer (up to $70 after being down to $55 after being a preorder for $80) – This monkey is leading us all on a merry chase up and down the rankings and the price tables. There’s a whole lot of cool things to be done with Ragavan, and while my impulse is to offer the path of patience, we’ve seen the drop and then the recovery so far. Because of what he offers, Ragavan shows up as a four-of and no one messes around with shaving their one-drops. There’s a variety of decks wanting to use this card, from Delver-style ‘play a one-drop and ride it all the way’ to multicolor aggro builds seeking to abuse Mox Amber. The price dropped early, as expected, but there’s a whole lot of people buying this up for its uses, and probably not Commander players either.

History tells us that this price has to go back down in the next few weeks, but the great unknown is how many packs are getting cracked outside of the big distributors and Collector Boosters. If stores were all open and regular copies were flowing, I’d say this would drop to $40, even as the most popular mythic. There’s too much retail value in this set for it to stay where it is, frankly. If you’ve got an $80 mythic, and a whole bunch of $30 rares, that just will not stay the case. 

There is an event this weekend in Florida, the TCG Con, and that’s the first big in-person event I know about. It’s got a $1000 Modern tournament, but that’s not enough to keep these prices high. I expect Ragavan to come back down to $50, I just can’t say for sure how long that will take.

Dragon’s Rage Channeler (up to $5, foils at $9) – This is an uncommon, and has no special frame, so there’s just two versions to discuss. It’s both better and worse than Delver of Secrets, but the big game for this card is in the first line of text, giving you control over the top of your library every time you cast a noncreature spell. It’s already adopted by assorted UR lists, and I expect this to be in the discussion for Burn decks eventually. Is this Delirium ability better than Prowess, and if not, does the Surveil 1 make up for the loss? As an uncommon, there’s a lot out there, and for the moment, you should sell these as fast as you can. Long-term, I’m likely to move in on foils, since you get two foil uncommons per Collector Booster, but for the moment you should be selling.

Urza’s Saga (Down to $30 from a high of $60) – A really wide variety of decks are trying this out, and it’s going to be popular in Commander for a while too. That’s a formula for success, long-term. The question is, will you be able to get this for $25 or less before the price climbs back up? Banning the card is also in the discussion, considering the impressively broken things it can do. Seeing a list of decks, from Jund to Whir Control to Hammer Time and even Lantern Control…there’s a lot going on with this card. 

I’m going to step out on a limb and say that this won’t get banned before the end of this year, and that $25 will be the floor. Being useful in a lot of different decks is good but not necessarily broken. I think it will get banned in Modern when some other incredible combo piece gets printed, but that hasn’t happened yet and people haven’t abused the card too terribly as yet.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

Becoming a TCG Direct Seller

One of the things that our ProTrader Discord excels at is helping each other maximize returns. I asked our members about how to use TCGPlayer effectively, helping people understand what TCG Direct is and why they may want to be part of that program.

I’ve edited the conversations and posts into more of a how-to guide. If you have questions, come to the General tab and ask away! People here are super helpful.

If you’re intent on reaching TCG Seller Level 4, which unlocks custom shipping options like ‘Free Shipping for all orders over $5’, then focus on flipping lots of EDH staples or other high-demand high-value cards. Note that your level is determined by how quickly you fill orders and your feedback rating. 

Leveling up isn’t terribly difficult as long as you commit to one of three strategies: 1) put the effort into grading strictly 2) don’t do much grading or condition evaluation but accept that you’re going to take some hits along the way, including delays on your seller level 3) list your “NM” stuff at LP.

Once you have a high enough volume of sales (by value, not by number of cards sold) and a thoroughly stocked inventory, you can apply to become a TCG Direct store. This has many benefits, including:

1) Your TCG Direct sales get bundled into a single package you send to TCG. (saving you on postage AND time)

2) You don’t have to deal with ANY customer service issues for Direct sales. This is a huge time saver for you (i.e. not having to email with customers, do returns, etc.)

3) TCG Direct pricing tends to be anywhere from 5% to 30%+ higher than TCG Low. People pay for the convenience of a single package and the cart optimizer favors TCG Direct listings as well.

4) Your non-direct sales (as a Direct seller) will have slightly lower TCG fees than Level 4.

If you’re content to send just $20-$60 cards occasionally, you’re likely better off avoiding Direct. 

Keep in mind that despite higher seller fees on a TCG Direct sale, the upsides more than make up for it.

While a TCG Direct seller, you must be strict with your grading. Be sure to check your cards with good lighting at all angles. For example: You have a card you think is a NM non-foil, with a tiny edge/corner ding or microscopic surface scratches. It should be fine, but they WILL ding you for mild surface issues or minor edge issues, especially before you get to Direct status. Better to be cautious in your grading, as buying a LP card and getting something with only a small ding feels pretty good. Buying something as NM and finding a ding that’s bigger than expected may end up being a return.

The penalty for sending in a card that’s graded to the wrong condition isn’t too terrible: they purchase a new copy on your behalf and charge you the higher of what you charged or what the new copy costs, so your net penalty is basically your fees. They send your misgraded cards back later, so if it’s a hot card, you might also lose out on an opportunity.

Because you’ve downgraded your items, or graded very strictly, you’re much less likely to get dinged on condition. Instead you’ll be making sure that your sales are executed as smoothly as possible.

Please note that you can get unexpected “normal” sales when TCG’s inventory runs out, as your direct listings fall temporarily to “nondirect” status. So you can’t completely avoid sending envelopes, and occasionally this results in having to ship a cheap card at a loss depending on your pricing and listing strategies.

When it comes to listing larger quantities of cards, one member suggests: “The ‘single package’ nature of TCG Direct makes it worth listing cheaper cards. Where you draw the line is up to you, but I personally price cards as low as 5c on TCGDirect because it’s more efficient for me to just inventory and list everything from my collection rather than trying to remember which cards are worth selling.”

Once you reach TCGDirect status, take note of their fee structures. Because of how TCG Direct fees work, you should generally never list a card in the $3 to $3.14 range or in the $20 to $22.42 range. You get charged fees that are higher than $2.99 or $19.99 if the card sells by itself.

Also, now that you’re a Direct seller, you want to adjust your pricing as it relates to the TCG Direct low, not the overall TCG Low. These are two different price indicators, and you should change these prices during your transition to TCG Direct. Specifically, reprice cards after you’re approved but before you confirm the change.

If you plan  to apply for TCG Direct, note  that TCG’s invoicing system orders cards by Condition, then by Set (generally newest to oldest standard sets, then supplemental sets), and finally Alphabetically. You can prepare for this as you build your inventory system and start sorting the same way.

Getting to TCGDirect status also unlocks the TCG Buylist. You can fund your buylist account with deductions from your payouts, or you can manually fund by talking to customer service. e.g. TCG holds your buylist money up front.

For TCG Buylist, you add cards similar to how you list cards for sale (i.e. by specific card, condition, price, and the quantity you’re willing to buy. Because TCG manages the inventory, cards always sell to the highest buylist price first, there’s no brand loyalty or any other way to accidentally get your lower buylist price to trigger until all higher prices are filled. Note that you can make a buylist as if you were a customer selling cards and see all of the open buylist offers from competitors. Checking manually can be worth it because sometimes there might be only one or two higher offers compared to yours.  As a result, it may make more sense to lower your buylist offer to increase your chances of capturing a higher sale price.  

For TCG Buylist  the sellers that accept your offer will send cards directly to TCG. TCG will accept the shipments, grade them, and mark your buys as “confirmed” or not (e.g. condition not as advertised / seller didn’t ship) You can elect to pay postage once a month or on request.  TCG will then ship you everything they’ve received up to that point . Buylisters should not expect a flood of cards all at once.  Think of the Buylist as someone incrementally building up a collection for you.

TCG’s fee (in addition to postage) is a flat 10% of the buylist prices, with a minimum 10 cents per card. Please note that this fee may seem small but can really add up on the aggregate.  Luckly, there are no taxes or other hidden fees.

Another thing to watch out for as a Buylister is that if a sale ends up being unconfirmed, your buy will immediately reopen, and you won’t be able to reduce the quantity requested. So say you ask for 10 copies of a card at $10 each, and get 10 buyers taking you up on it, you can’t adjust your “buylist” below 10 qty (and you’ll get no further buys at the time) but then if one of those copies “fails”, suddenly you’re back “on the hook” to buy another copy at $10. So you have to be on top of your buylist prices and make sure they’re prices you’re willing to pay even if it looks like you’re “fully sold”.

Some other quotes from our members about TCG’s Buylist feature: 

“-The great thing about TCG Buylist is that if you have the best price, you’ll get the sale. Sellers cannot pick who to sell to, it defaults to the best price. 

-You’ll get more hits on newer cards. Get your specs in early in the format. Older cards are very random crapshoots, but staples are reasonable odds. (anything someone would think “I should sell this to get some cash”)

– You need to decide whether you want to actively manage your prices and get into bidding wars, or pick a price you’re happy with and let the chips fall where they may.

– You will be charged to ship your purchases, and it happens automatically after a month of no POs. So you want at least enough quantity of buylist so you don’t pay $5 to be shipped one copy of Deathrite Shaman.

– In a similar vein, you’ll want to load up your withholding as you add more cards. When I go on a buylist spree I generally have to up my withholding to 100% for one or two payments to load in more cash. I’ve never had them directly deposit money but I know that’s also doable.”

“- remember that you will be charged 10% fee for each buylisted card, 10c minimum. (so price accordingly) But the shipping per PO is the only other meaningful cost. No tax. They’ll grade the cards as part of the process, and I’d say they’re 98% accurate but not perfect.

– I strongly recommend putting in a price for LP variants as well. You can often put in a lower price, and if someone sends in a NM card they deem LP, you might get a cheap auto-buy from the downgrade. Conversely, often people send in as LP to be safe and the cards are totally NM viable.”

One more member testimonial about their numbers for 2020:

“- TCG Direct fees were 26.5% of my total sales. (all fees divided by all sales, so bigger sales count more here)

– Fees on non-direct sales were 12.3%

– Adding in shipping costs, 17.9%

– Adding in materials costs as well, 18.4%

So TCG Direct all-in upfront cost is about 8% more expensive than a traditional non-TCG Direct sale. However,my Direct items regularly sell for at least 10% more than non-direct and often closer to 20%. The increased sale price and the time saved by using TCG Direct are huge. 

Also note that the non-Direct sales would be +1.3% in fees if I wasn’t a direct seller, so if you’re doing a strict comparison to decide whether to make the jump, it’s 26.5% Direct vs. 19.7% Level 4.”

If there’s things that you’d like to contribute to this guide, drop into our Discord and let us know. This is by no means the definitive, all-encompassing guide, but the distillation of many members’ input and experiences.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

MTGO and Modern Horizons 2

Magic Online gets a lot of crap for being a crap program. There are oral histories and big retrospectives on why the program is the way that it is, and the succession of issues that made it into the behemoth that it is. I don’t like the program personally, finding it clunky and irritating, but it has a big impact on Modern, Legacy, and even Vintage play, because that’s the only place people can play those formats online, and for real prizes. 

Modern Horizons 2 is now legal on MTGO, and has made prices shift in some remarkable ways. Let’s dive in and see what has happened online, and what might happen going forward as prereleases happen in person and packs start to get opened for paper play.

Granted, this is only the first week, but MTGO tends to set the trends and try for a more ‘solved’ metagame. There’s a LOT of new fun things going on with this set, and this is not going to be a comprehensive list. Sadly, this will also be obsolete in a month, but if you’re looking to unload what you open at the prerelease or adjust your pre-orders, this is the spot.

Urza’s Saga (Up $25) – The preorders were for about $20, and I wouldn’t expect that price to hold given how much product is about to be opened…except that multiple decks are already using this as a four-of, and that’s before we get to the Commander applications. Amulet Titan loves the idea of a tutor for Amulet that can’t be countered and just happens to have the Amulet show up on turn 3, and then it’s Prime Time.

Affinity decks are hopelessly in love with this card too, and Affinity is going to put more cards on this list. All the steps in the Saga are great for Affinity, and don’t overlook that you’ll get two bites at the “make a robot” ability at step 2. Go find the Welding Jar, or the Signal Pest, or the Pithing Needle you need. It’s pretty silly.

For Commander players, the obvious play is to use it to find the Sol Ring or Mana Crypt, but pair it with Power Conduit and you get to search OVER AND OVER again, finding all of the trinkets you put into the deck. Yes, that works. Put the step 3 ability on the stack, and then use the Conduit to take a counter off. The ability resolves, and when it checks to destroy itself, it’s only at two counters. 

Right now there’s a lot at $45 on TCGPlayer, and we’re still in preorder phase until the 18th. I expect to see more lists with Urza’s Saga this weekend, but this is a rare, not a mythic. It won’t hold at $45 once boxes are being opened, especially because there’s a lot of talk about it being banned. If I knew it wasn’t going to be banned, I’d be a buyer at $20 or even $25, but with that hanging over my head I just can’t do it. In six weeks, it might be as low as $20 again.

Thought Monitor (Up to $6.50 from $4) and Nettlecyst (Up to $3.50 from $1) – Affinity is playing a creature with actual Affinity for Artifacts! Stop the presses! There have been versions in the past that played Thoughtcast, but this is just amazing, getting a 2/2 flyer AND two cards for a single blue mana on turn three or four. Nettlecyst is not showing up as a four-of, but it does a credible job of being additional copies of Cranial Plating. 

Nettlecyst has synergies with UW artifact builds that play Stoneforge Mystic, being another great target after getting the first Batterskull. In the right deck, with the right board, I can easily see Nettlecyst being a bigger threat than Batterskull. I even found an Emry deck that used Sai, Master Thopterist and Retrofitter Foundry (which Urza’s Saga can find!) to churn out the 4/4 tokens.

Territorial Kavu (Up to $5 after being less than $1) – With fetchlands, shocks, and Triomes, having this attack as a 5/5 is easy enough. The new Zoo lists aren’t playing Nacatl, but are making use of General Ferrous Rokiric as well. Bloodbraid Elf has never been so at home, and this deck alone might keep Scion of Draco from being a bulk rare. If the Kavu is a 5/5, the Scion is a 4/4 flyer for two that gives all sorts of bonuses to the rest of your creatures. The deck looks like a blast to play, and I want it to be good.

There’s also a few cards that have fallen hard.

Subtlety (down to $30 from a high of $70) – The ability to counter creatures is good, but there’s a lot of decks that aren’t willing to pay the two-card cost. Combo cards are rarely creatures, but there’s a chance this climbs up if the two-mana plays of Territorial and Scion really take off. This is mythic, and at full price it’s awesome to counter a spell and get a 4/4, but control decks aren’t going to play a lot of these when they could just be patient and cast Supreme Verdict.

Cabal Coffers (down to $40 from $80) – Coffers had spiked recently, and that really set the preorder price high:

However, this is going to rebound very well. I’m anticipating that it’ll sink down to the $20 range, and that’s when I’ll be getting as many copies as I can afford. We know how good the card is, and this is the first time it’s been available in large amounts. Whenever this stops falling, that’s your buy-in price, and like I said, I’m hoping for $20. Should it fall farther, I’m in for that many more copies, as this is casual gold.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

Too Much, Too Soon

If there’s one thing I wish people would stop doing, it’s pre-ordering cards. 

The prices right now for Modern Horizons 2 are incredibly high due to hype and lack of certainty, two factors that combine with the recent price spikes of older cards to lead to a real ‘What on earth is going on?!?’ sort of feeling.

I’m here to tell you to calm down, to not buy anything yet, and be patient. Let’s talk about some current examples of preorder pricing and examine why these are such bad ideas.

First of all, today’s focus is on the regular frame, nonfoil versions of things. There are some scattered preorders for special frame/special foiling versions of MH2 cards, but frankly, we don’t have enough to support a trend. Most vendors are content to sell what they open, and not over-commit to what’s coming and what’s going to be opened.

Second, most of my pricing is taken from eBay, which makes it relatively easy to find numbers for sold items.

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer (multiple sold at $80 on eBay) – Is this a good card? Absolutely. Is it overpriced because people are talking it up as a new Dreadhorde Arcanist in Legacy? Partially. Having the Dash ability does make this resistant to sorcery-speed removal, but this price is ridiculous. 

It’s not going to hold a price above $50 unless this is literally the best red creature ever printed. I’m going to go out on a limb and forecast that Ragavan will be available for under $20 within six weeks. (I actually think it’ll go even lower, but a 75% loss is already a big drop)

Subtlety ($45) – Force of Negation premiered in the $40 range, hopped up briefly, then settle back down into the $30-$40 range as blue players gained a greater and greater need for the card.

I expect Subtlety to follow a similar path, but I don’t want to be buying right now. If at all possible, I want to be waiting and buying copies in about two months. Remember that Forgotten Realms is due out on July 23, so the hype is going to move and what stores draft will change. (If your LGS is even open!) I think this has a lot of potential in the long term, but $45 for the regular nonfoil is too high a buy-in when I’m expecting a whole lot of this product to be opened.

Grief ($60) – Interesting. Thoughtseize needed less than a year to hit $75, getting near $100 as it became one of the most common spells in Modern. Repeated reprints have made it cheaper than ever, too:

But now we have a no-mana variant, Unmask in a different form, and it offers some truly backbreaking potential turn 1 with Ephemerate (three cards!!!) or even Cloudshift. We know what Thoughtseize can do, financially, but we don’t know how popular this will be. Thoughtseize broke $60 as a rare, and Grief might be worth it at $60. 

My thought, though, is to let the hype settle down and get to the $30-$40 range if you’re thinking about playing with the card. Most prices are going to fall, and this will be no exception. If the card is real, and if paper play is back, this will shoot straight to the moon.

Dauthi Voidwalker ($40) – If Grief is a big player, this will come along too. It’s an excellent aggressive followup to turn one discard, having a 3/2 unblockable that will sometimes be able to cast their huge spell is a winner too. This is also quite overpriced, though, and I’m expecting this to fall by at least half, and more likely to $15 as a rare.

Damn ($15) – The only sweeper that can kill both Thrun, the Last Troll and Gaddock Teeg, this is a phenomenal card. Being able to kill one or kill all is a really potent combination, even if the BB mode is also sorcery speed. This flexibility is going to lead to this seeing a lot of play in both Modern and Commander. I think this will make it back up to $15, given time, but in the meantime it’s going to fall as far as $5-$7.

Now let’s talk about some of the reprints, and where those will be heading.

Fetchlands (3 at $40-$50, 2 in the $30 range) – We’re about to get a lot of fetchlands. Granted, a big chunk of the fetches opened by individuals will be slotted right into decks, but every Collector Booster box is going to come with 3.3 fetchlands, on average. Keep in mind that these are regular rares, and if we’re cracking a ton of product to run drafts at newly-reopened stores, that’s a large amount entering circulation. Flats and Mesa will be under $20, and I think you’ll have a chance to buy Tarn, Misty, and Verdant at under $30. Make sure that you end up with enough fetches for your current decks, and set aside a few extra to sell or trade when they climb back up again.

Cabal Coffers ($60) – Let’s see what the graph looks like for a card that helped get Prime Time banned from Commander, yes?

This hasn’t had a reprint since Planechase in 2009. Twelve years of Commander players getting more and more insistent that they need the big mana, and of them paying bigger and bigger bucks for that big mana.

Coffers is one of the biggest reprints in this set, and it’s a mythic. A lot of money is going to chase the borderless and the borderless foil, and picking these up in regular nonfoil seems likely under $30. I’m going to try and be patient on this one, but it’s going to rebound from this reprint pretty easily.

Patriarch’s Bidding ($16) – I can see why people want to get this at $16. It’s a $40 card from Onslaught. NINETEEN YEARS they waited to reprint this card! Again, a lot of copies are going to get kept by the people who opened them, which will cut off circulation a little, but there’s generations of players who are clamoring for this in whatever tribal deck they are playing. It’s only good for those tribal deck, though, and only the ones with black as a color. As a result, I think this will fall pretty far…all the way to $5 and if I’m lucky, lower still. If it got to $3, I’d buy them all.

Mirari’s Wake ($17) – Another casual star with minimal reprints, Wake got to its cheapest point when it was reprinted in Conspiracy, followed a couple years later by a Commander reprint. This gave a big window for prices to be down and stay there:

The card is too good, though, and as you see, the price has come roaring back. With this printing, we’re going to see a lot of copies circulating, and that’s going to lead to a race to the bottom. I’m sure it will drop to under $10, but I’m not certain how much lower it’ll go and how many copies it’ll take before I have had enough. If it’s $7, don’t you feel buying it all up is the right play, even for the regular frame nonfoil?

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.