All posts by Jason Swistoski

Legacy Hero #11

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Magic is hard.

I forgot how fast the Standard format can change. I had my Jeskai Heroic combo deck (http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/04-11-14-heroic-combo/) sleeved up and ready to go. I probably should have checked the meta game or at least updated my deck with some Fate Reforged cards. Not that there are any Fate Reforged cards that would’ve helped me.    I miss the days of Caw Blade or UW Delver. I tried to play in FNM this past week. 0-2 drop isn’t something I have had hanging over my head in a long time. I tried to rebound from the crushing blow of the 0-2 with some trades, but sadly that just wasn’t in the cards.

I’ve stopped bringing my personal trade stock into the local game store in an effort to try and focus on the Legacy Hero grind. In the Spirit of fairness, I don’t trade with myself either. The local players are starting to realize what I’m doing but the new people that walk in the door don’t seem to get it.

The story always starts the same way. New guy (let’s call him Richard) asks me why I’m not playing and I explained that I managed to rack up a quick 0-2 record and quickly dropped. Richard quickly asked if I had any trades with me. I slid over my binder for him to take a look at.

Quick aside here. I’ve had a lot of wannabe “Sharks” try and grind me for value. When I called them out on it, they’ve always knocked off the shenanigans and played it straight. There isn’t anything wrong with trying to get that value, it’s about how they try and do it. You don’t push anyone around. You don’t berate them for having bad cards that you’re ‘willing to take off of their hands.’ I could go on… I’m sure you get the idea.

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I don’t think Richard got to the second page of my binder before he started in on me. “Where are your good cards at?” “I thought you said you had some cards for trade?” This guy tried every trick in the book. Insulting my prices, knocking my conditions, insulting my collection, insulting my knowledge of mtg finance and my ability to play this game. Funny thing is that while he’s doing this, he’s pulling out cards he wants but that didn’t stop him from offering me $100 cash for everything since I’m “too old for this game”. I just turned 32 on March fifth. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t old enough to drink. I haven’t been berated like that since my ex came to my office to yell at me for trying to sell some cards I picked up for someone that drove 2 hours to meet up with me, but that’s another story for another time. I tried to ignore it and focus on my goals. Sure, he was picking my stuff apart but he had some stuff in his binder that wasn’t priced correctly that I was hoping to pick up. I ignored my instincts. I should have packed it in and moved on but I haven’t had much luck trading lately so I was determined to make something work. I laughed at his banter. I asked him if he’s had a lot of luck with his approach after all I was a grizzled old man who didn’t have a lot of luck. That led him to say one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. “You should watch me trade at a big event. I’m one of the best traders you’ve ever seen but I don’t have time to teach you, unless you want to pay me.” Seriously. That happened. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Jason Alt but at that moment in time I wanted to be able to snap my fingers and have him appear and explain to this kid why he was wrong.  I laughed and asked him how he compared to the other titans of the trade floor. He didn’t answer me, instead he insulted the condition of my foils and offered to get them for $.10 each in bulk since, you know, they’re pretty beat. As I was asking him if he was serious, one of the locals came up and asked me why I was bothering trying to trade with this guy. Richard said “You should be asking me why I’m bothering trying to trade with him.” This was my cue to start picking up my cards and putting them back in the binder and move on. I was done ignoring my instincts. Richard had the gall to grab my hand, with MY cards in it, and tell me “We aren’t done yet!” This was my breaking point. I’ve let this kid berate and insult me long enough. I kept myself from losing my temper completely but I explained that he was exactly what was wrong with magic finance. He was the walking reason why normal players are intimidated by traders and he needed to evaluated his life and grow up. I was only putting up with his toddler antics because I was working on a project for a website and if I wasn’t I would have sent him packing in the first 3 minutes. My tirade wasn’t nearly this nice or watered down. I might have used language that isn’t suitable to print here but I didn’t resort to name calling. I’m still asking myself what he was expecting to gain by treating me like that?

I was able to salvage the night with an amazing Innistrad, Innistrad, Conspiracy draft. Innistrad is by far my favorite draft set by a large margin. How can you make the best draft set better? Adding Swords to Plowshares and Fact or Fiction is a great start! I was lucky enough to open a foil Brainstorm (taken over a Brago, King Eternal) and a Geist of Saint Traft. Easy 4-0 with the UW aggro deck. Playing with a pair of Doomed Traveler from Conspiracy instead of Innistrad was the talk of the table for some reason.

I had the foil Brainstorm for less than 5 minutes before it found a new home. I traded the foil Brainstorm ($60) for a judge promo Command Tower ($25 this was before the spike) a Stoneforge Mystic ($30) and a playset of Jace, Architect of Thought ($8). I’ve been picking Jace, Architect of Thought up since I noticed it in some of the Pro Tour decks and in Caleb Durward’s BUG deck he’s been streaming and writing about. At two to three bucks a copy I feel like it can only go up. Have I ever mentioned that I’m a sucker for penny stocks?

I planned on keeping the Command Tower for my judge promo collection until I saw the price spike after someone was nice enough to post on twitter that there was only five copies left on tcgplayer.com. I traded the Command Tower ($45) and a pair of Conspiracy Swords to Plowshares ($5 for the pair) for a playset of Polluted Deltas from Khans. This is a trade that I plan on looking at in a year from now. I bought a judge Survival of the Fittest sometime around Return to Ravnica for $85 and now it’s almost $300. I doubt Command Tower will see that kind of jump but these promos always seem to surprise me. Khans fetchlands are pretty much the cheapest they’re going to get right now. It will be interesting to see how fast they go back up in price considering Khans was the most opened set in Magic’s history.

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I finally had the chance to spend my store credit with Channel Fireball. They’re having a month long Yard Sale and some of the deals were okay. I had $189.15 in credit and here is what I picked up.

  • Judge Promo Flusterstorm $79.99
  • Textless Nameless Inversion x5 $4.95
  • Judge Promo Doubling Season $31.49
  • Flooded Strand (Khans) x3 $41.97
  • Wooded Foothills (Khans) $9.99
  • True-Name Nemesis $19.99

The judge promo Doubling Season is interesting because it was cheaper than the set foil. It is the new art but it shouldn’t be that way. I think there is a lot less Judge promos then there are set foils but I don’t have the data to verify that.

My pick of the judge promo Flusterstorm looks like I really know what I’m doing with this finance stuff but in reality I just got really lucky. I’m a sucker for promos and the price gap wasn’t enough to scare me away. That decision made me roughly twenty dollars in value. I will try and move this promo for a normal, non foil version and use the gained value to help with my deck. It isn’t worth leaving the value on the table in this instance.

Textless Nameless Inversion was a flier based on some combo I read about for Modern that I can’t even remember. They can always sit in my trade binder. New players always seem to enjoy the textless cards as a throw in and they were a buck each.

As for the rest, I was able to complete my two playsets of fetchlands (Flooded Strand and Wooded Foothills) and pick up a True-Name Nemesis for my deck.

Originally I wanted to use my store credit on speculation targets but I felt that sitting on the credit for too long was a waste of resources. Titania dropped $3 a copy but Chalice went up to $10. I haven’t looked at the entire order again to compare but a quick glance at a couple cards showed enough. I feel that I made more without waiting. I will compare everything and show you guys next week.

That’s it for this week. It looked bleak for our hero but in the end it worked out pretty well. Some great trades have really helped lately. I’m super excited to finally have the time to get back to the grind here. I’m thankful that this site gives me the platform to share it with you guys. The feedback I get really helps too. Keep it coming!

mtglegacyhero at the gmail

@somethingsays on twitter

Shout out to my friend Reynaldo Rivera for the sweet art. Check him out at rtype1.net

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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Legacy Hero #10

I’m back. I don’t know how many people have been waiting for my next update but work got in the way. So much has happened in the magic world since I’ve been gone. The time spent away has taught me really how fast the finance market changes. Without much opportunity to trade lately I wanted to give a recap of where Legacy Hero stands and what I’m going to try and do in the near future.

I’ve had the chance to read a few things magic related while waiting to board a plane but generally, I needed the sleep more than the in-flight wifi. I missed pre-ordering any Fate Reforged but I’m not too upset about it. I try and avoid pre-ordering things in general. The Jace effect is real. (If you’ve not heard this term before, then: remember Jace, the Mind Sculptor? It wasn’t always such an expensive card. In fact, at release you could pick up copies at prices that now seem unbelievably low. But of course once people figured out how good Jace really was (coupled with being a second-set mythic with reduced supply from drafting due to A) the following third set being standalone and B) ZEN/ZEN/WWK being a miserable draft format), the price went through the roof. A lot of people felt very foolish for having sold Jaces so low. And so now, out of fear of missing “the next Jace”, pre-order and release-day prices of planeswalkers tend to be significantly inflated, with planeswalkers who have even a hint of play-ability being ludicrously inflated.*) Looking at the spoilers of Dragons of Tarkir so far I want to believe that the new Narset is going to fall into the same trap, but I’ve been wrong plenty in the past.

I don’t really play standard so I don’t have a pressing need for any of the new cards for a deck. However, I always manage to draft. A lot. Drafting gives me a great chance to get the cards I want without having to spend the money on singles.Spending the $12 on a draft that is going to entertain me for the day is great. My regular draft group doesn’t even play constructed. A couple of them play EDH but that doesn’t change the opportunities available for me to make a little profit. Having this kind of play group gives me a little bit of an advantage since (financially speaking) they’re only looking for another draft. But that only helps me if I’m there.

I haven’t played a game of magic in a while. I don’t know how many of you travel for work but if you do and you find yourself with a couple hours to spare, don’t try and use the Wizards Store Locator. It’s terrible. I tried chasing down a couple of stores but they either didn’t exist or Google Maps is the worst creation ever. Could be both. I did manage to stumble across one bookstore that used to sell magic but it had fallen out of favor with the locals. Normally, this is the opportunity that I would pay for. Being able to dust off a stores collection that hasn’t seen the light of day in god knows how long is how urban legends are born. This isn’t one of those stories. I spent an hour sifting through 8th and 9th edition bulk without finding even a Choke or Kird Ape. (In hindsight I passed on some Summer Blooms but Amulet Bloom hadn’t surprised at the Pro Tour yet) I did find something that was pretty neat. The older guy behind the counter said he had a small box of loose booster packs. He had a couple packs of Planeshift, a pack of Apocalypse, two packs of Betrayers of Kamigawa, and a open starter deck (but the cards were still sealed) labeled “Rattennest.” I don’t speak German but I knew that this was the theme deck that had Umezawa’s Jitte in it. His asking price was $40 for the box of packs. After a little negotiation I walked out of there paying $25 for

2 packs of Planeshift

1 pack of Apocalypse

2 packs of Betrayers of Kamigawa

1 theme deck ‘Rattennest” (German)

I can probably sell the theme deck on eBay for $50 and the packs I should get an average of $7 each for a total of $85 so roughly $50 profit after fees. I need a Jitte for the Stoneblade deck but I prefer to play competitive magic using non foil English cards though, so I will be selling the deck as a whole. That way I can profit and hopefully trade for a beat up English one.

Originally this article was going to be sort of a State of the Union type article because of the time I’ve been away until I reviewed my last few articles. Seems like they cover things pretty well. I mentioned that I was going to talk about trading outside the US but after looking over my notes, I realized that the topic is too deep for this installment.  It really deserves it’s own article entirely.

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I was asked a few times recently about how I make ‘money’ with this and how I expect to trade up for the expensive cards like dual lands and such with ‘specs’ and nickel and dime stuff. I even received an email telling me that this whole Legacy Hero endeavor is a big waste of time. I’m not going to paste the whole email here but I will address a few of the legit points that were raised. I’m paraphrasing the points to clean things up.

“By the time you get the cards(if you even do) the deck you’ve built isn’t going to be relevant to the meta.”.  This would be a legitimate issue if I was married to a specific deck list. I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned before that I’m building a specific archetype, not a specific list. The archetypes in legacy are pretty consistent. The core of the decks are the same. Of course I will tune the deck based on the current meta. Yes, the original deck list(s) that I’ve posted are outdated due to the banning of Treasure Cruise but that is okay. Stoneblade isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“What makes you an expert?” I’m not an expert. I don’t earn my living buying and selling cards. I’ve been subsidizing my personal magic endeavors using ‘magic finance’ since I met one of the best in the business, Ryan Bushard  some years ago and listening to what he had to say. He introduced me to the very core of of mtg finance and that foundation literally changed my world. I don’t think I can ever thank him enough for everything he’s done for me. I could probably write an entire article singing his praises but you guys aren’t interested in that. That chance meeting led me to the man I call the Godfather, Jonathan Medina. I didn’t get to pick his brain nearly as much as Ryan but he really drove home the lesson of ‘Take your money now’ instead of the natural impulse of waiting for that last dollar. The tips, tricks, and tools these guys showed me a side of things that gives me an edge over the average guy in the shop but I don’t hold a candle to the true experts.

I want this whole series to show people that an average guy can do the things you read about on social media or hear about at the IQ. I want to show that I can grind my way into a legacy deck and you can too. Medina’s FNM Hero series is where I got the idea for this project. I was talking with another legend of the past, Mark Sun once upon a time about getting more people into legacy and his idea was to showcase budget legacy decks but I thought that the Legacy Hero concept was the way to go. Showing everyone the that the grind is possible will get more people on the bandwagon.

“If you already have the cards, why are you trading for them again? Why would anyone trade with you to help your legacy deck? ” I guess this is as good of a place as any to tell everyone that when I sent in my original submission to mtgprice.com I had planned on giving the deck and leftover trades away to someone that deserves it. The details of this will be announced later on but just know that this whole project will end well. It isn’t about me here.

That’s all I have for this week. Thanks for all of the feedback. I like to think that I was missed but I won’t be taking any extended breaks in the foreseeable future. This weekend will be my first visit to my local shops since I’ve been back. I hope to have some awesome trades to tell you guys about next week. I will be spending my store credit with Channel Fireball this weekend so I can try and turn that into some value. Anyone interested in buying/trading for a German Rattennest Theme deck, give me a shout.

Thanks again for reading!

@somethingsays on twitter

mtglegacyhero at the gmail

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Legacy Hero: I’m back

I’m back. I don’t know how many people have been waiting for my next update but work got in the way. I haven’t been in my own bed in close to a month.

I wanted to drop this note and just let everyone know that I’m still here. I’m working on sorting all of my notes from the past few weeks and putting them together into something you guys actually want to read. I’ve made some progress with the trade binder. I have some exciting stuff to share as soon as I finish getting it together.

Check back later for Legacy Hero #10. I’m excited to share some of my experiences with Magic finance abroad. I don’t know how many of you guys have traded either outside of the country or with people from other countries at a GP or something but it’s a completely different experience.


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Legacy Hero #9

Legacy Hero #9

    I know everyone is interested in the trades I’m making to get the deck done. I don’t know how many of you are actually reading my articles for the other topics but I was asked an interesting question this past week that I felt needed to be answered. “How do you get people to trade you legacy staples? How do you trade your legacy staples?” I never really put much thought into it. Cards are cards right? Most of the people I asked the question to said that their legacy cards are a lot harder to trade out of their binder. That response seems like the opposite of what you would expect if you have been following the progress I have made so far with Legacy Hero.

When I first got into the finance part of magic I was told that as long as you are able to get some value it doesn’t matter what you’re trading. When it comes to this project that statement is only half true. I need to increase the value of my trade binder while adding cards to my deck. If I trade out my binder for a pair of revised Tundras, it’s game over. Finding the balance between building the deck and building value is extremely hard. I think a lot of it depends on the opportunities that are offered. Your average trade partner isn’t going to have a stack of dual lands to trade for the standard stuff you don’t want anymore and even if they did, are they going to find the right cards in your binder to make the trade work for them? The struggle is real folks.

When you buy list your cards somewhere you are taking less for your card but getting cold hard cash or at least 20% extra in store credit. I’ve gotten a little lucky so far with my trades. I stumbled into someone that was willing to part with a pair of Force of Will and another trade partner that cut me a great deal for two cards that were going to get buy listed. That is the exception, not the rule.

Let’s look at Show and Tell for an example of a Legacy Staple. The card has had two printings, Urza’s Saga and a Judge Foil. It’s been pretty consistent in price. It sees play in a couple tier one decks and the 12 post deck. I don’t know what the exact print run of each version was but I’m going to focus on the Urza’s Saga version for this example. The lowest price is you see on mtgprice.com is on tcgplayer.com, but that is deceiving. There is only one copy at the $48.99 price and it is moderately played. Looking at the other sellers (assuming you want to get four copies) it would cost you just under $210, assuming you’re getting the same condition from the available sellers. Looking at ebay completed sale prices you’re going to pay an average of $55 a copy. What about a major retailer like Channel Fireball? They have 12 near mint copies for $69.99 and 3 slightly played copies for $62.99. Where are you going to get your copies from? Channel Fireball. I can buy list them roughly $196 ($202 including shipping) in cards, use the 30% store credit bonus and that is like paying $49 each. Granted, this isn’t taking into account the time spent on acquiring the cards to send them, the buy listing process on their site, packing and shipping the cards, etc. I like to send a buy list order at least once a month. It is nice to have the store credit waiting for a great sale to pop up, to get some cards my local players are asking for, grab a box of something to draft with my friends, or even to snag the last couple cards I need for a deck.This just shows how buy listing works in your favor. That 30% trade in bonus can come in handy if you’re smart about what you pick up and when you buy list.

The argument of tying up your money in store credit versus spending immediately to continue making you more money is another topic that would take up my entire article and then some. Ultimately you have to do what works best for you. I have a full time job that takes up a lot of my time. I’m not paying my bills with my profits. I love the finance aspects of the game but I’m just trying to minimize the cash I spend on the game. That’s what this article series boils down to really. Maximizing resources to minimize the cash you’re spending on the game. And well, grinding value can be really, really fun.

Now what if you’re trying to move your copies of Show and Tell? Are you going to list them on tcgplayer.com? How long do you let them sit there? How many times are you going to price them down just to make a sale? Don’t forget about the fees you’re paying when they finally sell. You can always list them on Ebay. What if the winning bid didn’t break $50? You can always try and trade them out but how many people have asked you about Show and Tells? Do you try and trade them out for $75 worth of modern and/or standard cards? How long are you going to let them sit in your trade binder? It really depends on how much you value your value. Why do people ask for value when trading their legacy staples for your modern or standard cards? The best answer I can come up with is because they can I have mentioned before that you should try and find a trade partner that doesn’t charge you for trading down. Well, I was kind of wrong. Sometimes you have to sacrifice value to get what you want if you don’t want to wait for the right deal. If you’re not in a hurry and you trade with enough people you will find the right deal but as always cash is king.

Turning cardboard into cash isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Two of the best floor traders (they have a really good podcast) in the business showed me once upon a time at the Return to Ravnica pre-release that trading out eternal staples for standard stuff is the way to go. It is easier to trade standard stuff. It is easier to liquidate standard stuff. Plain and simple, the demand is much higher. When you can sell into the hype you have the potential for more value before the bottom falls out of the cards.

When it comes to trading, I believe in transactions. The more trades you do, the more potential value you can acquire. How many times have you tried to put together a big dollar trade and have the other person walk away at the last minute? How many times have you had someone flip through your binder, pull out a couple cards and walk away happy in less than 10 minutes? I will take the 10 minute transactions all day long. I can play a game of EDH and trade while the game is going on. I can trade in between rounds at FNM and go home with some value in my binder.

I haven’t pulled the trigger on anything with my store credit at Channel Fireball yet. I was hoping for a little more input from readers and better sales. I was tempted to jump on the speculation bandwagon and buy up a whole bunch of Ancestral Visions and Bloodbraid Elves. I didn’t see the sense in it. I’m working with limited resources and didn’t want to buy into the hype and end up without anything to show for it.

Here is what I have for the Stoneblade deck so far

  • Force of Will x2
  • Sensei’s Divining Top
  • Brainstorm x4
  • Ponder x4
  • Spell Pierce x2
  • Treasure Cruise x4
  • Daze x2
  • Young Pyromancer x4
  • Swords to Plowshares x4
  • Stoneforge Mystic
  • Batterskull
  • Flooded Strand x5
  • Council’s Judgement
  • Supreme Verdict x4
  • Baneslayer Angel

 

One of the Flooded Strands and the Sensei’s Divining Top are going into the trade binder along with at least 2 copies of Supreme Verdict. I’m focusing my efforts on finishing the set of Stoneforge Mystics and Force of Wills. The Tundras are going to be a challenge. The price has come down on them. I’ve been watching ebay and there has been a handful that have sold for less than $130.

 

I was hoping to have some exciting trades from my adventure in Chicago but sadly I wasn’t able to put a single one together. The crowd was great. There were opportunities but just couldn’t come to terms. This was the last chance I had to travel for magic for a while because of the amount of work I have coming up with my day job. To add even more salt in the wound, I didn’t even get to play in the event. Lesson one of the weekend was that Uber isn’t always the best way to get around the city.They like to think they have a better way to get to where you’re going but in this instance, they were wrong. Lesson two was to make sure to double check that your power cable for your laptop is in your bag BEFORE you checkout of the hotel. All in all I was extremely disappointed with the whole magic experience. On the plus side, I was able to drown my sorrows over a Portillos Italian Beef sandwich.


That’s all I have for this week. Next week I will be able to go over any financial fallout over the banned and restricted list and I will go over what I bought with my store credit. I can’t promise any trades. I won’t have any time to go to my local stores but I will try and find something. As always you can find me on the gmail at mtglegacyhero and on twitter @somethingsays. Thanks!

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