All posts by Douglas Johnson

Beaten by Kruin Outlaw and Kitchen Finks

By: Douglas Johnson

Everyone knows sequels are always better than originals, right? Right? There has certainly never been a time where the creator of a movie/book/article thought, “You know what? The second iteration of this will clearly be worse than the first. I should stop now while I’m ahead.” Do you know why? Because winners make sequels.

Here’s a sequel for you. Sequel to what? This right here.  There’s no time (or word count) to waste, so let’s get started!



What Gets to Stay?

Maybe I’m crazy, but I think Vicious Shadows is absolutely absurd in any R/B/X deck that causes lots of creatures to die. You can insta-kill someone for playing a Wrath effect, assassinate planeswalkers with ease, and create a political nightmare just for having a Wrath or sacrifice outlet of your own at the ready. Sure, it’s a seven-drop, but it’s seen zero additional printings and is from Shards of Alara, which stopped being opened quite a while ago.  Normal copies are definitely less attractive than foils, but it’s something that I’m setting aside whenever I get additional copies.

Aggressive Mining might just be a symptom of my addiction to Loam, but this card has got to be broken eventually, right? Maybe it’ll be a dumb combo enabler in five years, or maybe it’ll help mono-red decks fire off those last few points of damage… I don’t know. Nobody’s going to pick them out of my bulk rare boxes for the moment, so I might as well hoard them until I get to be that mad scientist who runs through town screaming, “I TOLD YOU SO!!!”


Meanwhile, Crucible of Fire is anything but a crazy longshot. This card is pretty much everything I ever want in a spec: cheap, consistent, and proven. It managed to creep up to $5 before getting shot down to bulk rare status after the reprint and has been slowly climbing up ever since. I can definitely see this hitting its previous ceiling, and maybe go even higher with the new influx of dragon players. You’ll be waiting a little while for this one to take off, but you don’t have to cross your fingers and hope you’re right. These are easy trade targets at a dollar, and I mental fist pump every time someone else bulks them out to me.

What Has to Go?

Alright. The time has come. I’ve been waiting for this for a few  years now. I’m finally taking these stupid werewolves out and jamming them into my $.25 boxes. When they  first dropped down to near-bulk rare status back in Innistrad Standard, I correlated these to the recent trend of vampires that had increased in price due to casual appeal, like Captivating Vampire. Surely there would be a number of players who start playing in a couple of years who want to go back to the days of werewolves in Magic, right? Well, maybe not. I’m finally willing to face reality after seeing these for the first time in about a year, and I’m ripping off the scab. I hope these make some casual player happier for $.25 than they made me for $.50 to $1 each.

I definitely thought that Slobad would be a lot more popular than he appears to be, especially with how easily he slides into the relatively popular Daretti deck.

Aside: I just looked up Daretti on in order to link the card page to this article. I saw that a certain vendor that rhymes with Schmoll and Schmoad had thirteen copies in stock for $2.89, and ships for free if the value of singles is over $25. I just bought all of those copies, because the only planeswalker who should sit under $5 is named Tibalt.  If you can find cheap copies of Daretti, buying in now is probably not as bad as buying thirteen copies of Tibalt.

Foils of Kurkesh probably aren’t too bad at $2, but you have to expect to sit on them for a while. If I had to choose between those and foil Vicious Shadows, I’d go with the seven drop that can win the game with a small bit of assistance. On the other hand, the ship already sailed with foil Slobad. I definitely wouldn’t buy in now.



What Gets to Stay?

Alright, so maybe I’m wrong to judge the financial applicability of cards based on how much they destroy me in my casual games of EDH. Then again, I’ve lost almost every single game where Bane of Progress has been cast, either because it destroyed all of my permanents or it wiped someone else’s entire board and then got thrown at me for a ridiculous amount of damage. While I would love a foil copy, I think this is one of the few cards from Commander 2013 that is worth looking into as a single-card spec. If you can still find these for under a dollar or need them for your decks, I think they’re a fine pickup. I feel like I’m losing out every time I sell one out of my case for $1.50.

See the Unwritten used to be available for bulk mythic pricing, until Battle for Zendikar was announced. It shot up to $4 to $5, and has been hovering there ever since. Personally, I see no reason to get out now. If it can jump by $2 just from the set being announced, I’m willing to take the risk of holding onto them until the spoilers start coming in. If we get Eldrazi reprints, there’s no way this doesn’t go to $10 on hype alone. I’ll be glad to sell for $8 into that hype and cash out as soon as I see the opportunity. I still think these are excellent trade targets, and I’d buy in under $4.

You looked at Realms Uncharted on that list, and you knew what this paragraph was about to be composed of. It’s a Gifts Ungiven, but for lands. As WOTC tests the waters and continues to print interesting non-basic lands for us to play with, I continue to hoard these up at bulk rare prices with the hope that the card is one day broken by a brewer in Modern.  Battle for Zendikar is also more likely than most other blocks to have silly non-basics, thanks to the land subtheme. I actually wanted to buy a ton of these from the SCG Spring Sale, but someone else had beaten me to it and they were all sold out.

If Birds of Paradise doesn’t end up being included in Magic Origins, then we have a shot at Rattleclaw Mystic going up. If BOP does end up being included, then, well…. let’s not talk about that. It makes me sad. Either way, I’ve been trading for these at $1 when my partner wants the hot Standard staples (and when there’s not any nice Crucible of Fires to take off of his or her hands). It’s not my optimal choice of spec due to the Standardness and unreliability, but it’s better than nothing.

What Has to Go?

Creeping Corrosion managed to creep itself out of the “Pure Bulk rare” pile, into the $1.50 pile. GET HYPED. I don’t think this is as universally applicable as Torpor Orb  as a sideboard card, though, so I’m comfortable selling out after effectively doubling up after I buylist these. Anyone need Creeping Corrosions?


I picked up a large number of Scavenging Ooze promo packs a couple of years ago as part of a deal for buying out the inventory of a failed LGS, and I didn’t manage to sell all of them before they hit rock bottom at $5. I’ve had them in here ever since, hoping that they made a slow climb upward. Unfortunately, that never happened. I’m going to try and start liquidating some of these, as Ooze’s time in the sun for Legacy, Modern, and Standard has passed for now.

Eidolon of Blossoms and Trail of Mystery were both obvious failed and meager attempts to shoot for the moon and wish that a keyword themed deck appeared in Standard and became tier-one. The difference is that while G/B Constellation was actually a deck, Eidolon did practically nothing, and the G/W Morph/Manifest deck didn’t care about searching for land as much as it cared about gaining four hundred life with Mastery of the Unseen.  Look away before your eyes burn out from my shame.

Pulling up the rear, we have Thelon of Havenwood, or as I like to call him: “Another card that I should have picked up foils of instead of regular copies in order to sell into the currently intangible Tiny Leaders hype.” Foils would have been a very nice play a few months ago, but I don’t think the non-foils go anywhere. Into the bulk boxes they go.



What Gets to Stay?

Alright, there’s lots of stuff in here that I haven’t looked at in several months. Let’s get cracking at the easy ones of Beck // Call and Breaking // Entering. I picked up all of these during the Dragon’s Maze fiasco, while everyone was complaining that the set was utter garbage. Thankfully, they were mostly throw-ins, but I’m still firmly in the camp that maybe these will eventually be broken in Modern (or scarce enough when the nuclear war starts and destroys 99 percent of the Magic cards on the planet).  However, there is at least one Dragon’s Maze card here that I think has potential. My fellow writer Ross Lennon convinced me to go in on foil copies of Plasm Capture, which can be found for less than the cost of a pack of Dragon’s Maze.  Mana Drain comparisons aside, I really like this as an EDH foil pickup.

Speaking of EDH foils, am I the only one who considers Deathbringer Thoctar to be absolutely absurd? He keeps the board clear of X/1s by himself, while providing death triggers and being capable of machine gunning the board (or a player) down when things start dying. While the non-foil got reprinted in the Commander 2013 set, I don’t think this card deserves to be a bulk rare foil. If you try him out in your R/B/X Commander deck, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. In fact, I think you’ll want to go out and get a foil one.

Other than Keranos, I like the rest of the gods with the new tuck rule for EDH. While Ephara and Iroas are probably the two worst of the ten to lead a deck, selling UW gods for $1 still makes me wince. Phenax seems like he would normally be ahead of his brethren (and… sistren?) due to the fact that he has his mill casuals helping to buy him, but I’m liking these as trade targets that won’t be dropping anytime soon. Turning Standard cards into gods seems like a smart move, especially since these can still be found in binders.

The low for Sliver Hivelord was $4, which was where I picked up my copies. I’m going to hang on for a little while longer, and wait for them to hit $12 to $15 before I sell.  Every other five-color sliver lord is at least $15, and I don’t think Hivelord deserves to be half the price of his buddies.

Even though Treasure Cruise got hit and the metagame has shifted a bit, I refuse to quit making money on Jeskai Ascendancy. It’s drifted back down to $1.50, which I think is a fine place to start buying back in. It’s an enabler in such a wide variety of decks that I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it in either Modern or Standard, and it could definitely jump back up to $4 on a new list that proves itself in a higher level event.

Lastly, Angel of Despair is three times more expensive than Ashen Rider. Just think about that for a minute. I’ll concede the point that Angel of Despair is an angel, but other than that? I really like Rider at bulk mythic pricing here. I don’t see where you can lose very hard.

What Has to Go?

I have literally no idea what I was thinking when I put Mishra, Stonebrow, and Impromptu Raid in here. Maybe I was hoping there would be silly Modern decks at one point? I don’t remember, but I certainly think that my head is clearer now, and they don’t deserve the space. I can’t imagine a list where it’s worth it to Raid in an Emrakul instead of just using Through the Breach.  Into the quarter box with all of you, with no supper.

Savage Knuckleblade, Deathdealer, and Lotleth Troll are all migrating into the $1 bin. I actually bought copies of Deathdealer before the spike, but didn’t manage to move them in time before the hype died down. If I sell for $1 then I technically broke even, but that’s still losing money in my book. As for Knuckleblade, I’m still shocked that a 4/4 for 3 with those abilities couldn’t swing it in today’s Standard. It just goes to show that no matter how good a card is, it actually needs a deck.

My Geists and Dorans have finished appreciating, but I was too busy “forgetting” about them to maximize on my value, so I missed out on selling into the hype. I can still jam them onto my TCGplayer store for a nice profit,  but it’s not as nice as it could have been.  As for Kitchen Finks, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to buy a bunch of these for $2 each from someone who was selling off a relatively large Modern collection. While it was a nice deal, I’ve had trouble liquidating all of the copies for a decent profit. I can only move so many Finks, so I jammed some copies in here to forget about. I should have just buylisted them and saved the space and cash for other exciting opportunities.

End Step

I’m glad I did this exercise. First of all, I learned that I should actually check the status of the cards in these “spec” boxes more often. While it’s great that Geist, Doran, and several other cards jumped while they were in the box, I only make money if I actually take them out of the box, and then put them in someone else’s hands while taking money for them. Every time I put something in or take something out, I think I’m going to do at least a quick skim through to see if anything’s changed or if I need to do some adjusting to the contents of the box.

Secondly, I fixed the organization method of my spec box. While the majority of my collection is sorted alphabetically, my spec box was primarily sorted by color, similarly to the pictures above. I broke down and took the time to alphabetize all of the cards in the box, utilizing my new sorting tray that I got from BCW Supplies. This will make it much easier to categorize things and keep track of quantity instead of just jamming new copies of Necroplasm into the black section of the box, and having a rough estimate of how many foils I have left.

You’ve certainly noticed by now, but my favorite types of specs are the ones like Realms Uncharted, Aggressive Mining, and Plunge into Darkness. There’s such a low buy-in and such a potentially high payoff. You literally can’t lose when you buy bulk rares for $.10 each, and these are the gems to set aside and keep your fingers crossed over.

So what are your thoughts on these two articles? I’ve talked my hands off about what I’ve been letting go of and holding onto, and I’m interested to hear if there’s anything that I could have missed or should just be letting go of. Thanks as always!

Beaten by Avacyn and Ixidron, Part 1

Alright, we’re laying off of the forced food titles for now. And don’t worry, this isn’t an EDH “bad beats” story about how I lost to a deck that contained both Avacyn, Guardian Angel and Ixidron. Instead of analyzing the Pro Tour that took place last weekend (several of my fellow writers already took care  of that before me), I’m going to be digging through my metaphorical closet, and checking up on some of my spec boxes.

I’m sure you’ve heard this common piece of Magic finance advice thrown around at least once or twice: “Just put in a box and forget about it for X years.” I’ve given that advice to countless people about many different cards, and used the logic myself to justify holding certain cards or product. While that mentality might occasionally help you from getting cold feet and selling out earlier than you should, it also has the downside of potentially forgetting to check on the card for significant periods of time.  I may or may not have missed out on significant profit margins by neglecting to actually flip through this box as often as I should, and the “tl;dr” of this article could basically be summarized as “do that.”

However! You want more than a synopsis of two words, right? I know that I’m definitely guilty of leaving cards in my spec box for much longer than I should, when I would be much better off cutting my losses and dumping some of this stuff back into my binders, TCGplayer inventory, display case, bulk rare boxes, or PucaTrade haves list. This week, I’ll be doing an exercise where I go through a bunch of the cards currently sitting “in the closet,” and decide whether they stay or go. I want to go over why I tried to forget about them in the first place, where I thought the cards were heading, and whether or not it’s worth throwing them back in the box for now. This time, though, when I throw them back into the box, I’ll (hopefully) make a better mental note of what my game plan is, and you’ll (hopefully) close out of the tab with a better idea of what you might want to hold onto for the future.



What Gets to Stay? 

Seance, Faith’s Reward, and Retether all have a special place in my heart. While Retether has slowly crept up to $1.50 over the past year or so, none of the others have moved much, and I’m going to keep hoarding all of them until somebody breaks them all in Modern (unfortunately, they probably won’t be in the same deck.) I feel that each of these cards just needs one or two more cards printed to send them over the edge into value-rare status.

Preeminent Captain is the younger, less appreciated brother of Crucible of Fire. Both were casual all-stars, but then everything changed when the reprint nation attacked. They both were reduced to bulk rares, but I am a firm believer that both of these cards will rise from the ashes and slowly climb back to their former glory.

While I’ve long given up on the non-foil printing of Lingering Souls (really, Wizards? Did you really need to reprint it three times?), I still like the foil versions at $5 if you’re trading for them. The FNM promo recently spiked to match the pack foil, so I think there’s a decent shot at this version slowly creeping up to maintain its advantage over the promo.

What Has to Go?

Now for the fun part. where I get reacquainted with some of the cards that taste like regret. Seriously, though, I don’t remember putting any number of copies of Brigid in this box. I don’t know why I made that decision to pull them, or what made me think that they would go up in price. Whatever. Back to the bulk boxes you and Avacyn go.

Marshal’s Anthem was actually a card I was really bullish on—the card is an absolute monster in my EDH experiences, with the multikicker allowing it to be flexible at any point in the game. Unfortunately, when double checking its price tonight, I learned that it was in the Commander 2014 deck. Whoops.

As for the rest of the cards that see actual Constructed play, I picked up the Restoration Angels back when they were $5, and should have sold into the spike for $10. I got greedy, though, and wanted to hold out thinking that they would hit $15. At this point, I’m better off just adding them to my inventory elsewhere and getting full retail for them instead of watching them gather dust. I didn’t lose money on them, but I didn’t make anything either. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the same as losing money.



What Gets to Stay?

I really wanted there to be an Archive Trap deck in Modern. Don’t judge me. It was going to be really cool, where they would crack a fetch land (I picked these up in response to the KTK fetch land spoiling), and you would cast Trapmaker’s Snare in response in addition to Archive Trap, and mill them for 26 at once. This was going to be awesome with Hedron Crab and Glimpse the Unthinkable. You know what? I think it still could be awesome. There’s the added benefit that Archive Trap is a mill card, and that automatically means it’s going to maintain its value, as long as it doesn’t see a reprint.

Thaumaturge, Trade Routes, Skill Borrower, Gather Specimens, Inexorable Tide, River Kelpie, and Swan Song all fall under my favorite two-word category: bulk rare! These are some of my favorite cards to pick out of the bulk lots that get sold to me on a regular basis, although I like the cards for a variety of reasons. Thaumaturge, Routes, and Skill Borrower are in the same boat as Retether, where I think they’re extremely close to being broken in Modern and being the next Glittering Wish, depending on what gets printed in the future. Gather Specimens and River Kelpie seem way too good in EDH to be bulk rares, and even bulk foil rares. Our resident EDH finance specialist would know more about those than I would though.

What Has to Go?

For some reason, I thought Jalira would be a popular mono-blue commander, so I set aside multiple copies (both foil and non-foil) while picking through M15 collections. Not the best idea. Even if she does end up being popular (which she didn’t), there were dozens of other better opportunities (like buying infinite copies of Crucible of Fire for $.30) to make money. I should have been selling these to buylists for $1 when I had the chance; now they’re going to sit in my $.25 and $1 boxes respectively forever. The same goes for Deadeye Navigator, which I thought would be an EDH all-star by now. Whoops. Sorry, Curse of the Swine: no matter how many  Pongifys you are, the fact that you’re sorcery speed and have a bulky cost makes you terrible, and a bulk rare.

I started pulling Ixidor and Ixidron after morph was announced, thinking that it would spark an interest in a casual 60-card morph deck that also utilized some of the older cards with the mechanic. While the foil of Ixidor jumped to $80, I figured that the non-foil could at least show a bump to above bulk-rare status. I was quite wrong. I also didn’t realize that Ixidron was even in the Commander 2014 lists, so that is definitely a red flag that I need to scour the lists of supplemental products more carefully, even if I don’t intend on buying any of them. I managed to avoid buying  Junk Diver because I actually looked at the red deck, back when I wanted to examine the Nekusar Effect.



What Gets to Stay?

I’ve already talked about Nyxathid extensively in my past two articles, and I just managed to sell off the rest of my foils copies after those spiked. Interestingly enough, the non-foil still hasn’t caught up, lagging at around $3 or $4. I think that the non-foils can still creep up to $5 or $6, so I’m holding on until then and then unloading. I’ll make sure to catch the exact moment when I sell on this one, because I’ve kept my finger on the pulse of the card so readily.

Plunge into Darkness, Necrotic Ooze, and Heartless Summoning are the black versions of Retether and Trade Routes here. They’re bulk rares (except for Ooze, which hangs out at around $1), so there’s not much to be lost by picking them out whenever you see them lying around in collections or on sale somewhere. Necrotic Ooze and Skill Borrower probably even go in the same deck eventually—I just think it needs one or two more broken activated abilities to protect itself form Bolt and get there. If there’s ever a combo deck with any of these cards, expect the price to spike hard and fast.

Meanwhile, Necroplasm seems like a perfectly fine place to be with the slow rise of Tiny Leaders. While the foil has crept up ever since the format gained traction, the non-foil has stubbornly remained a bulk rare. The card was only ever printed in the original Ravnica, and is a powerful sweeper of token strategies that just never dies. Is it going to be $10 tomorrow? Probably not, but i’d rather pick them out of bulk and wait instead of getting $.25 a piece for my copies. I don’t think foils are a bad play at $3, either.

Soul Spike already, well, spiked, up to $3 from bulk. However, I missed the opportunity to sell out on all of my copies, because I literally forgot that I owned them. The hype is over for now, and the deck that caused them to spike certainly didn’t stick around very long. At this point, I’m going to wait and see if it pulls an Amulet of Vigor at the next large Modern event; I’ll keep a much closer eye on it this time.

What Has to Go?

Some of these don’t even need explanations—they’re just obvious failed specs that I need to rip out of there and throw into the quarter box. Pain Seer, Baleful Force, and Palace Siege were all duds. Crypt Ghast got hit with a reprint in Commander 2014, stunting its growth and forcing me to settle with letting them ship out of my dollar box every now and then. Sudden Spoiling and Army of the Damned are both extremely powerful cards in Commander, but it looks like the degree to which the Mind Seize deck was overprinted is too much for them to handle, and I need to suck it up and just let them go for $1 each instead of hoping to strike it big.  Lastly, Ob Nixilis is an extremely powerful card, but I don’t think non-foils are the place to be. I’d be happy swapping these out at a 5:1 ratio, and putting the non-foils in my dollar box for casuals to become addicted to, while waiting for the foil to creep back toward the $10 range.

Meanwhile, I did manage to win out on Toshiro through Tiny Leaders. From $.25 to $2, I plan on buylisting my copies to CCG House for $1.50 and calling that a closed case. It probably would have been nicer to be on the foil end of that spectrum, but oh well.

End Step

I might sound crazy for saying this, but I feel like Tamanoa might actually be worth something eventually. It’s an obscure, niche rare from Coldsnap with zero reprints, and foils are only $3. Not being legendary is obviously a pain, but weirder cards have spiked. I’m not buying any and I don’t currently own any copies (as shown by the fact that there are none in the above pictures), but it’s definitely something I would set aside in my spec box if I ever came across them in a collection or bulk lot.

The foil Bladewing sitting in my box is actually one I picked up yesterday during a trade when I was looking for a few dollars to close out a deal. I was surprised that it was only $7 and that its price graph had been so flat, considering the massive spikes of older dragons surrounding the latest set’s release. Bladewing has reprints in Commander and From the Vault: Dragons, but both of those were the first supplemental products of their kinds, so the print run wasn’t exactly high. The FTV foil is even cheaper than the Scourge foil, which is very interesting. If you’re one of the EDH dragon players, this seems like a fine pickup while you have the chance.

I’m not a huge fan of sealed product, but I felt that $90 boxes of Conspiracy were too good to pass up, especially with free shipping and a small return via eBay bucks. If you’re interested in a similar price, ChannelFireball has a bunch for $90 before shipping costs. I only picked Conspiracy because it’s something that I am confident I can liquidate to any number of players in my local area for at least $90 to $100 if I absolutely have to. The prices on the foils in these boxes are absolutely absurd, and even the bulk rare foils can have as high as a 120-times multiplier.  If you’d rather stray away from sealed product, I can get behind picking up foil singles from the set that you think you can see yourself using in the future. At the very least, they’re very safe trade targets.

Cleanup Step

So, when was the last time you went through your spec box and analyzed every single card? I think I’ll save “throw it in the closet and forget about it” for discussions on sealed product and harder to move large-scale items, but you should always be keeping an up to date finger on the pulse of your “spec” box, especially when you’re waiting for the cards inside it to hit a target price so you can sell for maximum value.

I didn’t plan on making this article a two-parter, but I have too much random stuff in my spec box to go over without boring you to death, in addition to the above finance notes that I wanted to take care of this week. Next week, I’ll revisit the rest of the spectrum of my spec box, and go over how it’s been reorganized for proper maintenance!

Until then, let me know how you handle your own spec boxes below.

Picking Berries (and Other Cards)

Yep. We’re going with a food-themed title every week until it’s literally impossible for me to correlate Magic: The Gathering finance to food. Deal with it.

Last week, I went in a different direction than in my first two articles. Instead of force feeding you a list of various cards that I believed would be trending in either direction, I went about explaining one of the processes that I use to find cards that I think will start moving, as well as why it’s a good idea to do so.

If you’ve been a long-time follower of my writing, then you might know speculating is not my favorite method of making money from Magic (accidental alliteration is awesome! [Editor’s note: this seems like a comment should have put in]). I prefer a steady grind through buying collections and singles at buylist prices, looting through bulk commons and uncommons, then using a combination of buylisting and selling locally through my display case and word of mouth.

Give a Player a Fish… 

Instead of giving you  lists of  my personal picks from the most recent sets, I want to take a similar approach to last week. Today I’ll be teaching you about a couple of the better methods for picking (and there’s our title) your own collections of common and uncommon bulk.

As I’ve mentioned before on Brainstorm Brewery, these aren’t going to be the cards that earn you massive profits. These are the dregs of draft tables, the stuff from unpicked 5K boxes in basements, and the cards that you get asked about six months after Khans of Tarkir comes out when Johnny really wants to make a tribal warrior deck after coming back into Magic. If none of the players at Johnny’s first FNM had the playset of Chief of the Edge that he desperately needed, so you get to be Johnny’s goddamn hero for just one crisp American dollar.

…Or Cast Mystical Teachings

That’s how the old saying goes, right?

Anyway, moving on. When people used to ask me this question of, “DJ, how do I learn exactly what to pull out of these common and uncommon lots?” I used to just tell them one word: “Experience.” After all, it’s not exactly intuitive to think that five copies of the M11 version of  War Priest of Thune would be worth $0.15 each to Troll and Toad on a buylist. The card sees one-of sideboard play in Modern at most, and isn’t exactly exciting or casually appealing to Johnny.

Now I’ve realized I can add an additional two words to “experience” to make it much more fun: “and research.” Even if you’ve only been playing competitive Magic for a year or so, the tools on the internet still exist to provide you with the information that you need to have a pretty comprehensive list of commons and uncommons that you want to be picking.


Different Types of Berries

The first thing you want to do is base your picks on a set of rules. You should probably make up your own determination of what you consider to be “significant,” so that picking through bulk commons and uncommons is actually worth your time. My personal cutoff is a dime, and I make exceptions for cards that I have experience with being requested often even if they’re not on a buylist. While not every card will buylist for a significant number, copies can still be kept on hand for situations like my Chief of the Blade example above.

You can also adjust that personal number based on the amount of bulk that you deal with. If you’re just pulling out picks to make your binder look a bit more buff, you probably don’t need to waste your time dragging out every single guildgate and Selesnya Charm. You’d be better off focusing on the $.50 to $1.00 cards that are actually worth putting into a trade binder—ones that competitive players will be needing for Standard and Modern decks. On the other hand, those who follow the path of Ryan Bushard and deal with 100,000 cards on a weekly basis should probably try to squeeze every ounce of value that they can, due to the fact that you’re shipping en masse to multiple buylists at once all the time.

If you can notice a theme of what cards have been picks in the past, then you can use that information to determine what types of cards you’re picking from the latest sets. I’ve made a lot of money pulling Crumbling Necropolis and its cycle of friends from Shards of Alara bulk, as well all of their respective reprints in the Commander and other supplemental products. Tri-colored decks are popular in both EDH and casual circles when given a common theme, like a mechanic to build around (I’ve helped players build something as simple as an “unearth” deck before). From this, we can make an educated guess that the Nomad Outpost cycle of KTK will continue to be worth separating from your bulk, even if the increase in print run means that the cards will be somewhat negligible to buylists in the short term.

Multicolored charms are another favorite of mine (even the bad ones like Gruul Charm). They represent versatility, and lean towards a specific clan or guild to provide casual players with a solid word or mechanic to lean on when building their synergistic decks. Even though some of the KTK charms will probably never see competitive play, I still enjoy setting them aside for later casual demand. Sometimes you’ll even get lucky and be able to buylist these for significant value. I just happened to be able to ship off a couple dozen Azorius Charms for a dime a piece to a buylist a few weeks ago, even though the card is long gone from competitive play.

Mill and discard have held strong casual ties over the past several years, and most players know that the prices of casual rares reflect that. There’s a reason that some mill cards are worth ridiculous amounts, and the powerful commons and uncommons that fit into these strategies have proven to be worth picking, even when faced with reprints. While I don’t recommend pulling out 50 copies of Tome Scour, pulling strong uncommon classics like Jace’s Phantasm won’t let you down.

If you can put yourself into the shoes of a casual player who just wants to put together a 78-card unsleeved mill deck, then go through your next set review with those eyes. If you can spot an uncommon gem that would go in those decks, that’s your signal to pick it out and wait for that person to show up on your local MTG Facebook group asking for those cards.

ProTrader Privileges

If you’re subscribed as an MTGprice Pro Trader, you can make life a lot easier, especially if you’re a budding financier looking to get into processing collections and picking bulk. You can head over to the Full List drop down under the Pro Trader section, and customize a search to pretty much whatever you want by hitting “Create a Filter.” For the purposes of this article, we’re going to want to exclude all of the rares and mythics, use a price filter that goes from $.10 to $1 billion dollars (for those foil, Phyrexian-language Tops that are just lurking in those bulk lots), and then add sets based on whatever collection you’re sorting through. That last part obviously gets much easier if you already know what you’re looking at, but asking the previous owner of the collection a few simple questions can help narrow that down for you: “What years did you play? What kind of cards and decks did you have? Do you remember what the names of the sets were when you played?”

Full List List

full list results

I searched for commons and uncommons from Innistrad block that were valued from $0 to $4, then filtered them by price. As expected, Blood Artist is a pretty obvious casual all-star, and it helps that it’s so ridiculously strong in EDH. However, we can also see all of the uncommon lords on this list, and some of the heroes of past Innistrad Standard. These are all cards that I still pick regularly when searching Innistrad block bulk, and it’s something you might want to consider if you plan on cranking up your volume. Getting $0.11 per Unburial Rites adds up over time, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of common and uncommon picks to make a month of Pro Trader worthwhile.

I actually just recently learned about that Full List feature while I was in the process of doing research for this article, and I have to say I like it a lot more than the Trader Tools version on Quiet Speculation (I have been a paying member of both websites for multiple years now, and have always used Trader Tools for my buylisting processes). Even if I wasn’t writing for this website, now that I’ve found it, I prefer the greater versatility of the MTGprice tool. The only downside is that it doesn’t show the highest buylist price for every card on the list, but I’ve requested for that feature to be added. Here’s hoping!


End Step

Before I sign off for the week, I’m going to take a bit more time on this “End Step” than I normally do. If you’ve been keeping an eye on MTGstocks foil Interests page, you’ll see that this…


…happened. The few remaining foil copies of Nyxathid on eBay and TCGplayer were bought, and somebody decided to start relisting at $15. While the price almost immediately plummeted from that down to $10, I did manage to sell off a few copies at around that price.

I’d like to personally announce that it was not me who decided to buy out the few copies that were most readily visible on the internet in an attempt to cause an artificial spike in price on foil Nyxathids. Nor did I maliciously intend to encourage any readers of my article to buy all of those dozen or so copies. As shown by our weekly breakdown of what we’ve been doing in the market, I picked up multiple playsets through the PucaTrade website, but didn’t spend any cash “buying out” TCGplayer of the few that remained.

Nyxathid interests

Now that the foil version of the card spiked, I do not advocate buying any additional copies at the “new price” of $8 to $9. I am curious to see what happens to the non-foils, though. The non-foil copies showed up on the MTGstocks weekly Interest page at a 14 percent increase instead of two percent, so I think you should pick up non-foils if you need them for the near future—I don’t think the card is going to be getting any cheaper. Whether the non-foil follows suit to its foil counterpart is debatable, but I wouldn’t wait if you plan on playing with copies for Modern/EDH/casual/Tiny Leaders.

On another note, the Urzatron lands have been showing up repeatedly on the Interests page almost every week, and are now at least $2 across the board. While I didn’t mention these in my Hot Potatoes article, they’re a screaming candidate for Modern Masters 2015. If you’re not using extra copies, I recommend buylisting them or selling them locally.  Unless you plan on keeping the deck together until the set releases—and getting large amounts of value from playing the deck in the meantime—the time to jump ship was yesterday.

If any of you have thoughts or opinions on this week’s article, I’d love to hear them. I’m easily reachable on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and in the comments section below. I also usually take requests for article topics if the subject is broad enough and I’m knowledgeable enough on the subject. Thanks for reading!

We Are The Two Percent (Not Milk)

Hey, everyone! I’m continuing to receive a lot of positive reactions to my first couple pieces here at MTGPrice, and I really appreciate it. I’m glad that my words have been able to help so many people, and I’m always willing to accept requests for upcoming articles if you have a general or specific question about Magic finance that you’d like me to address.

While the titles to my last two articles were oddly food-related, I want to assure you that this week’s teaser does not have anything to do with different milk-fat percentages. In fact, I’m talking about the Interests page on, and the Biggest Gainers/Losers page on These pages are two of the cleanest and most efficient ways for a single person to check what happened over the past 24 hours in MTG finance, at least in terms of single cards spiking or dropping in price.

I highly recommend you bookmark one or both of these pages and reference them at least once a day. It will help you to be aware of what to value your cards at for FNM, when to update your inventory on TCGplayer or eBay, and what cards you need to put your cross hairs on for the purposes of your own trading and buying. While my last two articles focused on specific cards that I think you should get rid of or pick up, this one is going to attempt to teach how to spot those cards on your own, which I believe to be a much more valuable skill in the long run.

I Got 99 Percent Problems (or Something Like That)

One of the biggest mistakes that I used to indulge in back when I thought I was a hot-shot financier was using the recent price spikes to my advantage once they had already happened.

While this would help me out in the short term while trading at FNM or occasionally finding unchanged listings on eBay or CardShark, I wasn’t finding a way to stay ahead of the game; in fact, I was lagging behind it and feeding off of the scraps of others. I would find a card that had changed in price by at least 99 percent (we’re sticking to that number so my subheading joke works), such as Tempered Steel, when it jumped because of that silly mono-white aggro deck back when it was in Standard. Wow, I feel really old talking about that, even though it was only a few years ago. Anyway, I would trade for them at their “old” price, and try to find stores that hadn’t updated their prices. Usually, this would result in me owning a card that had already spiked, and having no way to get rid of it. While I had technically gotten the card at its pre-spike price, I was on a short timer to dump it at the inflated number before the hype wore off.


Although I have long since realized that this is ethically in a gray area and pretty inefficient nowadays, there are a lot of people who don’t recognize that. They check the “Biggest Gainers” and “Weekly Winners,” helped by the fact that the cards are sorted in such a fashion to show you the cards that already spiked. While this is helpful if you own the cards that are listed at the top of the page and want to know what cards to immediately try to sell out of, it doesn’t directly benefit you if you’re trying to find the next target days before it actually rises to the top of the page.

2.5 Percent Is All It Takes

I’m here to tell you that what you should be really looking for are the cards that consistently show up with a two percent, or similarly small percentage, next to their name, week after week. In the case of MTGstocks, two percent is the smallest price increase that justifies showing up on the daily Interests page, and it’s usually only an average jump by a number of pennies.

Sometimes, these minuscule percentages are incidental and overall pointless. “Oh boy! The average price on Luminous Angel from the Duel Decks: Anthology increased from $2.01 to $2.07! That’s so relevant to everything and you should buy them because DJ said that cards with a two percent change are going to spike!!!”

No. Let’s not have that mentality. Instead, let’s take a look a card that I think actually portrays what I’m trying to talk about.


Do you see it? Can you guess on what card I think is an excellent sleeper for this type of “two percent” creep? Fine, I’ll give you a hint.

Nyxathid changes

(One of the lesser-known benefits of me writing this article is that I can now actually spell out the name Nyxathid without having to check back at the card image page six times. Anyway, let’s look at the actual graphs for this thing and see what’s up.)

Nyxathid graph

Alright, so it’s been slowly trending up from a low of $1.50, and it’s approaching $3.00 rather steadily. I’ve noticed that this guy has been towards the bottom of the daily Interests page, hovering between two and four percent at least a few times a week. I’ve also received at least 12 copies from my Pucatrades Want list, as you’ll be seeing on our Saturday article,  “What We’re Buying and Selling This Week.” I say this for full transparency, as I believe that the card has real potential to spike to at least the $6 to $7 range.

It sees a tiny amount of Modern play in that Eight Rack  deck, it’s a casually appealing card in a synergistic archetype (in my experience, discard is somewhat close to mill in terms of casual appeal), and it’s legal in Tiny Leaders, for whatever that’s worth. While it’s obviously not a format staple, it certainly appears to be powerful in the Varolz deck, where you can scavenge it into something evasive like Phyrexian Crusader and just kill your opponent before he or she can react. (I’m no Tiny Leaders expert, though, so I’d appreciate those that are chiming in and telling me if I’m an idiot for saying that.) Lastly, I’d like to put a cherry on top and mention that it’s never been put in any supplemental product ever. The only Nyxathids that exist are the ones that were cracked from Conflux packs around seven years ago.

Is Nyxathid going to be the next four-of in a Modern pro tour maindeck? No, of course not. Even if it does spike, I don’t think it will stay at $10, and I don’t think foils should be $15 or $20. What you can do, though, is wait until that two percent creep reaches a breaking point, and keep an eye on the changes in supply on sites like TCGplayer, SCG, and eBay. Even if it spikes for a stupid reason, you can have copies in your hand to immediately make money off of, that you’ve been holding onto ever since you saw that card repeat itself on the bottom of the Interests page.


In my opinion, the best part about this type of speculation strategy is that you’re far ahead of the game. If for some reason the card suddenly spikes, you’ve already been keeping a pulse on the card for weeks, by making mental notes of the cards that appear repeatedly near the bottom of the two percent section of the Interests. You get to savor the moment while everyone else scrambles to do what I suggested that you don’t do in the first few paragraphs of this article. While everyone is buying copies during the spike and chasing the hype, you get the opportunity to casually sell into that hype and make your money before the dust even starts to settle. If you can sell copies of your spec while they’re climbing up to the people who think it’s going twice as high as they’re buying for during the hype, you’re golden.

Oh, was that a link in that last paragraph? Did I just happen to accidentally mention the name of a certain card in order to demonstrate how you could’ve anticipated a certain price spike that happened just a week ago? Sure, let’s go with that. If we go back in time seven days (well, at least from when I’m writing this), we find this:


I’m certainly not blaming the person who posted this picture on Facebook for causing the spike. That’s not what I believe happened at all. I just want to use this recent example to show how you could have been in on this card at bulk rare pricing as early as this past December. Savor the Moment crept up, penny by penny, every few days. From $1.00 to $1.04, to $1.21… ever so slowly. These types of miniscule changes are tracked on the Interests page, and allow you to get in early before the card happens to skyrocket in price because someone decided to spend less than $100 on TCGplayer to force something to happen.


End Step

Did you know that there’s an Interests page for foil cards on MTGstocks? I recently learned that there were a large number of people who didn’t know this; that’s probably because the only way I can figure out how to access it is to add on “foils” to the normal URL of

In a world where we’re constantly hearing about X or Y card being bought out on TCGplayer, it’s important to know that there are ways of noticing tiny trends ahead of time, and jumping on them weeks in advance before anyone else catches wind of the card.

Have you noticed anything that’s oddly similar to Nyxathid or Savor the Moment over the past few weeks? What do you think is the next two-percent spec?  Let me know in the comments section below, or on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. You all know the drill by now. Thanks for reading!