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 http://www.cubetutor.com/viewcube/76330

Trades from the Time Capsule

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I have espoused my love of deckbox.org in a previous article, and today I want to share some trades I’ve made in the past nine months. These are trades I either made for a card to go into an EDH deck, or trades I made in order to buy low and/or sell high.

I show these to you in order to demonstrate how a little time can drastically change values, especially when rotating sets are involved. Trades such as these are why you want to trade into the hype, and not worry too much about extracting every possible dollar.

All trades were equal value at the time of completion. Deckbox’s trade screen makes it hard to lose much value, based off of TCG mid.

Let’s start with my first trade ever on Deckbox.

 

Master Biomancer

Feb. 12, 2013
My: Garruk Relentless & Restoration Angel
Their: Master Biomancer (Foil) & Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Today: about $13 each side.
Explanation:  My Experiment Kraj EDH deck loves having a foil Biomancer. The Ajani was just to even out the value. Garruk and the Angel were both higher than they were now, but their value had already started to taper downwards.

 

domri

Feb 22, 2013
My: 2x Hellrider, 2x Frontline Medic
Their: Domri Rade (Foil)
Today:$10 vs. $40.
Explanation: I aggressively traded away Hellrider at its peak. Small set or not, I knew that price was unsustainable in the long term and I never wanted to hold onto these for long.  Foil Domri was about where he is now: $35-$40 or so.  Hellrider was in the $12-15 range, about to hit his peak, and Frontline was in the $3-$5 range. Meanwhile, I have a Jund EDH deck with 60 creatures that Domri is perfect for.

I bought the Boros event deck and immediately shipped everything in there, as all the rares were, pardon the pun, red-hot.

 

Cavern of Souls

March 4, 2013
My: Morningtide Mutavaut
Their: Cavern of Souls (foil)
Today: About $20 for the Mutavault, $30 for the Cavern.
Explanation: Around $40 each, this was a trade I hemmed and hawed over for a week. I needed the foil cavern for an EDH deck, so I gave in. A month later, the price for Mutavaults tanked when it was spoiled.

 

Domri Rade

March 7, 2013
My: Falkenrath Aristocrat, 2x Knight of Infamy, Slaughter Games
Their: Domri Rade
Now: $7 vs. $26
Explanation: Domri had dropped quite a bit, but was just starting to rebound.  I knew I wanted to get rid of Aristocrats ahead of the curve, so I grabbed the Planeswalker. As of late, Domri has made this look even better.

 

Vraska the Unseen

April 2, 2013
My: Bonfire of the Damned x2
Their: 2x Domri Rade, Vraska the Unseen, 3x Thespian’s Stage
Now: $18 vs. $65
Explanation: I had acquired a set of Bonfires for a Rakdos control deck that wasn’t working out.  So I moved on.  I didn’t let them go at quite their peak but I still got good long-term value.

 

Jace, Architect of Thought

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April 22, 2013
My: 2x Sunpetal Grove
Their: Jace, Architect of Thought
Now: $6 vs. $26
Explanation: I was looking for Jaces around $10 and I found one for trade.  Simple enough.

 

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ipad4_2

(Perhaps my favorite trade ever)
July 29, 2013
My: 4x Deathrite Shaman, 4x Snapcaster Mage, Vendilion Clique (Morningtide), Arid Mesa, Marsh Flats, 2x Badlands, Scrubland, Plateau (all duals were Revised, NM-)
Their: Factory sealed 16GB iPad 4
Explanation: Believe it or not, this was the third iPad this person has traded through Deckbox. I missed out the first two times, but grabbed him for the third. I’d been looking for an iPad for a while, and was prepared to go through Craigslist or perhaps purchase a refurbished one, so to get full retail value on my cards for something that I wanted–badly–was a real winner. I wasn’t happy about ripping out the best part of my Kaalia deck’s mana base, but that gives me something to work on now.

(Just for fun, read this article from two years ago, about trading for retail items at buylist prices: http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/finance/22886-Going-Infinite-An-Epic-Trade.html)

 

Abrupt Decay

Here’s a recent trade of mine, made with this same eye on what’s hot vs. long-term stability.

October 1, 2013
My: 4x Jace, Architect of Thought
Their: 4x Cavern of Souls, 4x Abrupt Decay, Deathrite Shaman
Explanation: With this trade, I’m cashing in on Jace’s rising price and getting things which I feel will go up.  I’ve spoken of my love for Cavern, and if $13 is the floor, so be it. I’ve been patiently waiting for Cavern to hit bottom so I can put it into my EDH decks, and now I’m finally moving in. This trade proved quite amusing to me, as we finalized it on a Friday when Jace was at $22, and then by Monday he was up to $30. I’m behind right now, but in a year (the Caverns are going into EDH decks, the Decays into my long-term binder) I expect to be far ahead.

I hope you’re able to make some similar trades for their long-term value. I’m not sure exactly what those cards are yet, so stay tuned!

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.

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Being a Casual Financier

I’ve spoken before about my perspective on Magic finance, and it boils down to this: I do not want to spend cash on cards. I want to have a trade binder full of things people want to get from me so that when I see a card I want or need, then I can get it from them. sol ring

We use stock market terms all the times in Magic finance. One that I like is use of “frozen” and “liquid” assets. My EDH decks are frozen assets: I am not getting rid of them, short of a dire occurrence. I have got multiple $100+ cards in those decks, and they would make fantastic trade bait. But what could I want more than those?

My trade binder is liquid assets. Everything in there is fungible, though I admit that it is a little bare at the moment. I moved a lot of product for shocklands and I’m just starting to trade those away now that they are at $10-$15, since I do not think they will make it much higher. But when the cupboard is bare, what is a casual trader to do?

Since I despise buying cards and I refuse to buy packs just to crack them, I am limited to these two paths:

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  • Limited events. I love drafting and I enjoy Sealed tournaments as well. Packs are still expensive but there are prizes and skill involved. I may not be going infinite on Magic Online, but I’m a pretty good drafter, mainly because I’ve been doing it for years and years. Drafting is also a way for me to increase my take-home of cards without spending additional money on more packs. I’m not above picking up a $3 card with my 6th pick.
  • Strategic trading. I’m all for planning ahead; I have posted the list of cards I’ve targeted for guaranteed growth down the road. I am not skilled at predicting what will be good in Standard in three months, but I can feel pretty good about forecasting long-term prices on more casual-oriented cards. I made a ton on Darksteel Plate and Asceticism; I got them both for $1 or less in trade all over the place, and within a couple of years, I traded them away for $5.

I’m never going to be a high-volume speculator. I’m married with an infant daughter, and I’m a high school teacher. I simply don’t have the time or spare funds for speculating on cards.

dark plate

 

Perhaps you’re in the same boat, or perhaps you have the time, energy, and money for
buying and selling lots of cards. Either way, I’m here to help you capitalize on the casual market. There is far lower volatility, but it does require more patience. I’ve traded for 25 Thespian’s Stage since Gatecrash came out, and I’m still snapping them up when I find them in binders. It seems like easy money that these will be $5 lands before long, entirely because they are the best utility land you can be playing in Commander.

My tip for this week is to stay patient on Theros cards. Lots of them are still coming down in price as more and more get opened. If you have to have it right away for a deck, so be it, but remember that feeling of “I MUST HAVE THIS” when it’s worth 50% of the current sticker price in a couple of weeks.

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Atheism

I am going to come out and say it: The five gods of Theros make terrible commanders.

I have been playing EDH for a few years now. I’ve had 15 decks at one point, though I am down to 9 now.  I have a combo deck, an all-creature deck, several tribal decks, goofy theme decks, and foiled-out goodstuff decks. Yet I can’t see myself ever making one of the five gods my general. I would be fine with adding them to some of my decks, certainly, but allow me to explain why they are not very good for what they do.

Each of the gods is cheap, I will give you that. Their static abilities have a constant effect on the game so long as they are in play, they are indestructible, and when you are properly devoted,  they can really shine. Nylea, God of the Hunt

That is precisely why they are underwhelming as a general: the devotion requirements.

Each of them adds one to your devotion. That means you are likely going to need at least two, more likely three permanents with in play. (Remember that with a God as a commander, you are restricted to a single color.) Two permanents with two of the mana symbol will get you there, and four other single-symbol permanents is the minimum.

I have an unpleasant truth for you: It is going to be the rare game where you get to attack with the God of your choice more than twice. It is too easy to wipe the board in Commander! It is not tough for your opponents to make sure the other permanents you need are not on the field. Let us not overlook how permanents such as Darksteel Forge and Blightsteel Colossus have taught EDH players the necessity of exiling or tucking (putting them on the bottom of your library,) so do not start thinking that indestructibility is truly invulnerability.

You do not want your Commander to be an accessory. Your Commander is the theme, the defining keystone of your deck. When you choose to be mono-color, you are giving up a lot of the color pie, and it needs to be a worthy tradeoff. Korlash, Heir to Blackblade

If one chooses to take the thematic path of Zombies, there are a range of legends to use. Thraximundar, Sedris, and Lord of Tresserhorn offer all three colors, Grimgrin is two colors of goodstuff, with Korlash, Heir to Blackblade and Balthor the Defiled providing mono-black choices. Each of those legends has an appeal and offers abilities as well as their colors. I went with Balthor because I like reanimating over and over again, but the deck would surely like to have Rhystic Study and Deadapult. 

To choose one of the legendary enchantment creatures is to focus on one color, and the abilities you get for having those Gods in play are notable, but not overpowering. Erebos, God of the Dead is the best, with the card draw almost always useful and the ‘your opponents can’t gain life’ clause is often not irrelevant. He at least can refill your hand and find more gas, but you are going to be spending a lot of mana and life to get there.

Purphoros is especially frustrating, as red does not have enough ways to take advantage of his ability. Thassa gives you that unblockability and scry, but the scry is underwhelming in a format with fewer upkeeps and rampant card draw. Nylea gives your team trample and a very expensive pump effect, while Helios is basically a more expensive, indestructible Mobilization. Heliod, God of the Sun

These are effects that you can put to very good use in Commander, don’t get me wrong. I am planning on adding several of them to assorted decks and kicking some butt. As a general, though, they are not going to be nearly as good as you want them to be.

One quick tip: If you open one of these in foil, don’t be afraid to demand a premium in trade. These are going to be highly sought-after foils, along with their weapons. The card frame in foil is gorgeous, and the casual players who love shiny are going to be clamoring for these cards, so be sure to capitalize on that during trades.

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Where’s the Price Drop?

A few weeks back, I posted a list of cards I expected to get low in price, then creep back up as casual demand increased.

Some of those cards did not drop quite as much as I expected, and I want to talk about why I think that is. Ring of Three Wishes

I’m going to focus on Primeval Bounty as one example. While I was right about many of those cards, the Bounty is still $7! Now that we’re in Theros season, less M14 is going to be opened and the price on Bounty might start creeping upwards, which would really run contrary to my expectations. I expected Bounty to bottom out like Ring of three Wishes or Rise of the Dark Realms, and it has not.

So why was I wrong about this? I thought it would hit bulk prices, and it’s been far above that!

In case you don’t know, I’m a teacher and I take this responsibility seriously. After I give a test, if the whole class misses one question, then it is probably my fault. So what are the potential reasons for me to misdiagnose the card this badly?

 

Reason #1: Casual appeal

Demand for Bounty has stayed high enough to keep this price where it is. It’s that good in casual formats, and playing with it is just value all over the place. It gives life, creatures, and counters, all for doing stuff you would do anyway.

This is a card that people open in an event, realize how powerful it is in play, and immediately run home and add it to a deck. I confess I tried adding it to my two creature-centric EDH decks and it was underwhelming to me. I expect a lot out of cards in my decks, after years of tweaking to get each deck where I want it. I underestimated the appeal of this card.

For someone as focused on casual formats as I am, I might have allowed my personal experience to influence my thinking too much.

 

Reason #2: Standard

There have been decks using this card in Standard, though it is not getting a ton of attention. It has been just popular enough to nudge its price up a few bucks, and I did not see a six-mana enchantment with zero immediate effect being good enough in Standard.

This is likely because I do not play enough Standard to make the assessment of how good such a slow card can be. Next time, I will consult with some other players who can give me a better outlook on the speed and nature of the format.

 

Reason #3: Burnout

Wizards of the Coast does not release specific sales information. We do not know how much of each set gets sold, and that is probably for the best. Specific information on how many copies of a certain card exist would be prime information for speculators and those seeking to artificially raise prices. What we do know is that Magic has been consistently growing and breaking its own sales records, though.

However, the Core Sets are not the biggest sets in terms of sales. Ideally, they should move a lot of product because it’s summertime. Kids and parents have more free time, and many game stores have extended summer hours. The fall blocks usually sell more packs though because of their story lines  flavorful worlds, and unique prerelease experiences. (The Helvault, the Guild Packs, The Hero’s Path, etc.) 

The Hero's Path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This summer there were two factors working in concert to overshadow M14:

1)    Modern Masters came along a month before M14 was released. Not only did that eat into the usual buildup and spoiler season, it took a lot of budgets with it.

2)    Theros was getting teased and spoiled all through the summer, taking attention and excitement away from the Core Set.

Granted, these factors haven’t stopped the Ring of Three Wishes from being a touch over a dollar, or Rise of the Dark Realms from being $2.50. But I do believe that there’s been less M14 opened, and that in conjunction with larger demand than I anticipated, might be enough.

 

Reason #4: Redemption

This was brought to my attention by those who take the time and energy to collect and redeem a full set on Magic Online. It’s gotten significantly more expensive to redeem a set, from $5 up to a whopping $25, which does not even take into consideration the costs to acquire all of the cards. Anyone who runs a trade bot will find it is not too difficult to pick up complete sets, and redeeming them for $5 plus shipping was an easy choice. Now at $25, the margin for profit is much smaller, which likely has led to many less redemptions.

It’s worth mentioning that set redemption for M14 has only been available since the beginning of September. It is possible we haven’t seen the full impact of the MTGO redemptions, which may still reduce the price of M14 cards like Primeval Bounty.

I was wrong about Primeval Bounty, and several other cards in M14. These are four potential reasons that may have occurred, but it may be something I haven’t thought of. It’s not easy to look back and admit when I’m wrong, but it’s a necessary part of making predictions. Self-evaluation is a necessary process for us financial types, as it keeps us credible and gives both us and our readers an opportunity to learn from mistakes.

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