Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Vanishing Returns


By: Cliff Daigle

I have two simple questions for you today: First, what is the monetary value of your collection?

We have a tool for this here at MTGPrice; if you’ve entered every card you own into our system you’ll have access to your collection’s value as it fluctuates, as well as telling you what you could get on buylists for your cards.

For me, the value is all in my EDH decks. I’ve added value to them pretty consistently over the past few years, and I’ve got more than one with a retail value of over a grand. You may think that’s bragging, you may think that’s underpricing it, but $10 here and $40 here adds up fast in a 100-card deck. Cubes are another item that holds a lot of value in a small space, especially if you’re someone who spent the money to foil it out.

If you haven’t done so before, take stock of your decks and your binders. Don’t forget about the large boxes of cards that you have somewhere, the bulk that may or may not be picked and sorted.

Depending on how long you’ve been at this, that value could be small, or it could be large, or it could be enough to pay the down payment on a house.

My second question to you: Are you prepared for something to happen to part or all of your collection?

I’m not trying to alarm you. I’m trying to give you an idea of how incredibly fragile these pieces of cardboard are, and how ridiculously simple it is to keep your investment safe.

Three years ago, I was at my old LGS. (Local Game Store) I was upstairs playing EDH as was my wont, when someone came into the store looking to sell some cards. The guy on duty for that was a local L1 judge, who noticed that the cards for sale made up a five-color Sliver deck, and the deck was fully outfitted with foils, duals, fetches, the works. Pretty pricey, even then, and exactly in line with a deck that a store regular had told everyone was stolen recently.

This judge contacted the police, who arrived quickly, and the regular was called in too. The store and the patrons were all paused in what they were doing, watching this unfold. We, the players in the audience, were salivating over the chance to see a card thief get their deserved punishment. The stolen deck was still sleeved in custom sleeves, and apparently there was a picture of the regular, holding up these sleeves. A slam-dunk!


An hour later, the alleged thief was walking out with the deck in hand. No charges, no problem, a simple “Don’t ever come back to this store” as the only punishment that could be given out.

Think about that for a moment. Think about being that guy, seeing your hard-earned and beloved deck in someone else’s hands, and you have no legal recourse.

Our delight in this game is based on mere pieces of paper. These do not bear any identifying marks; no serial numbers, no barcodes, no certificates or proof of anything. If you do decide to mark them, you’re going to depreciate the value considerably. Once your cards are out of your possession, you’re going to have a difficult time proving ownership.

Theft is a huge problem for our game. There are very few Magic players who haven’t experienced theft on some level. I’ve been through it on more than one occasion, once having someone dip a hand into my long deck box and grab a random handful, while my attention was on a game.

There are instances of cards being stolen out of backseats, out of trunks, out of storefronts, and out of binders. It’s a long-standing rule that you don’t let someone else look at your binder while you’re engaged in a trade, because there’s a chance of having a card dipped out of your pages. Letting someone take a look through your EDH deck carries the same risk. I sympathize, as I love showing my cards off, but it’s got the potential to lead to problems.

Don’t forget that other problems can lead to damage to your precious cardboard. Sunlight can melt a binder left in a car. Earthquakes can cause your neatly organized binders to fall out of the bookcase and onto the floor, bending or breaking your cards. Floods and fires can destroy your collection utterly, down to that box of basic lands.

So what’s a player to do? There are some very basic steps you can take.

#1: Renter’s Insurance

You’re required to carry auto insurance by law. Renter’s insurance is far cheaper and will probably get used less, but when you need it, you REALLY need it. Yes, it’s going to require some paperwork and organization, as well as regular updating (Did you just trade for a MP Beta Scrubland? Add it in!) but it’s worth every dollar and every hassle.

I don’t want to link specific companies, but start with your auto insurance company. Call them and ask if they offer renter’s insurance as well. It will not be expensive, unless you have a massively valuable inventory, in which case you really ought to insure it! If you’re willing to spend $100 on Ebay for a Japanese Foil Akroma, Angel of Wrath from Legions, then you should be willing to spend some money on the insurance.


I want you to seriously think about the value of your collection. If it is very valuable, then you should protect it. Only if you have very low value should you ignore insurance. Most of us will be under $200 a year, and you can think of that as a little more than a draft per month. Different companies will require different levels of paperwork, and your experiences may vary.

This is a simple, cheap, and effective way to protect yourself from any type of loss. When I realized what my decks were worth, I signed up for renter’s insurance. There’s a protection to all of your belongings, not just your cards. It’s not expensive, especially compared to the cost of repair or replacement.

Insuring my cards, as well as my belongings, gave me a strong sense of relief. It’ll make you feel good too.

#2: Basic Security

This weekend is Grand Prix Los Angeles. I am willing to bet a large amount of money that after the event, or even during the event, there will be a Reddit post or a tweet sent out or something where a Magic player is asking for help finding their stolen or lost deck/Cube/binder. It’s guaranteed and it’s mostly preventable.

Don’t have multiple trades going on. Don’t leave extra decks/cards on the table. Don’t leave your bag unattended, and when sitting, wrap your leg in the strap, so in case of someone trying to grab and run, they pull your leg. Don’t brag about stuff in your car. Don’t flash the bling left and right.

It’s helpful to have bracelets and tags to match up the owners of bags, but it’s a matter of seconds to take the cards out and then ownership is difficult to determine. Please don’t have these things happen to you, at GP LA or an SCG Open or anything. If you’re a dealer, have sufficient staff. If you’re not a dealer, don’t bring thousands of dollars of cards and leave it in your car, because cards have been stolen from targeted individuals.

#3: Advanced Technology

There are a number of things that are being sold or developed to deal with the security of your cards. DeckTracker is one, LassoTag is another, and they are designed to help keep things near to you.

This is handy, but not as effective as simple security. I’m pretty good with technology, but I can’t get my car to consistently pair via Bluetooth with my phone. I don’t know how effective these methods are, but they are a backup to the basic ideas.

#4: Community Help AFTER something happens

If, heaven forbid, your deck/cube/binder/bag is stolen, you have some last-minute options. Reddit often has those threads, or Facebook posts, or Twitter, or other social media tools. There’s a chance that you’ll get it back. There’s a chance that Wizards will send you some stuff to make up of some of your loss.

There’s a chance of all that. It’s not for sure.

I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but I am trying to worry you a little. You should be worried if you’re wearing thousand-dollar jewelry, and you would worry if you had $500 in $20 bills kept inside a little plastic box in your backpack and everyone around you knew you put it in there.

Be appropriately concerned, and protect yourself and your investment.

And have fun at that Grand Prix or FNM!


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How to Get Out

By: Cliff Daigle

Two months ago, I shared my longterm binder with you.

Soldier is $3 and Downfall is at a shade over $11. These are in line with the targets I set when I traded for these and when I posted about it.

If you followed along with me, good job! We’ve done it.

…now what?

Well, there’s options. I’m a trader. I don’t often sell to buylists but I could make decent money doing so. I’m not sure what cards I’d target at this moment for buying, but I’ve learned that as a casual financier, once I turn cards into cash, it’s out of the cycle. If I keep my value as cards, then I can increase the value of my collection, not just the money in my account. 

I understand that lots of other people, including my fellow writers, love to make money and it’s totally fine if that’s your goal. If I sell my nine Hero’s Downfall for $8 each, that’s $72. I would likely turn that into a tank of gas and part of a grocery trip. I’ve sold cards before to get monetary gain, I’ll do so again, but I prefer to wait until that’s necessary.

It’s my choice to keep value in cards, so buylisting is out for me.


If I’m not selling, that means I’m trading. I’ve spoken of PucaTrade in the past and this is what it’s best for: selling high on cards. I confess that for me, as a primarily casual player, I want foils and I am as yet unwilling to spend extra money per month to be able to get foils. If I wanted to build up points for the next thing I’ll be targeting, this would work very well. I’m still considering it.

Another option is to utilize buylists with trade-in credit, and I’d do this to get certain cards that I want badly. I’m still looking for a foil Soul of New Phyrexia, and I’m still working on my foil Conspiracy set, plus I need a foreign foil Akroma, Angel of Wrath, etc. There’s a good chance that I do this, so I get exactly what I want. If I am getting a decent trade credit bonus (usually 25%-30%) then I’ll take that for harder-to-find cards.

Most likely, though, I’m trading to other people, via, or MOTL, or in person. I’ve learned that the best thing you can do when you walk into FNM is to have some of what’s good right now in Standard. I have a few specific EDH needs from Khans, but I mostly expect to indulge in value trades: I’ll be trading the currently-high Hero’s Downfalls for non-Khans and non-Theros cards that are more likely to keep value.

I’m avoiding Khans because most of those prices are falling. I’m avoiding Theros because most of that set is already going up in price, Hero’s Downfall being an example.

One other factor must be considered: has the card hit its ceiling? It’s about doubled since I traded for it, so I’ve earned my value no matter what. I might get greedy and see if it hits $15 again. That’s right: look at the chart for Downfall and see that not long after its debut, it was at $20! I think that $20 is overly optimistic, but if it gets to $15, there’s a large margin I’m missing out on.


Keep in mind that Downfall hit its peak within a few weeks of the Pro Tour and the arrival of Mono-Black Devotion decks. Will Downfall be as popular now? I hope so.

I’m certainly holding everything until after this weekend’s Pro Tour. I’m hoping that more of my picks pan out, and if someone debuts a deck featuring 4x Prophet of Kruphix, you’d better believe I’m buylisting that stack. I can trade ten Downfalls, I don’t want to go through the energy of trading more than thirty of Prophet.

Happy trading, and enjoy the coverage of the Pro Tour!


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Hitting and Missing Targets

By: Cliff Daigle

A little more than a year ago, I gave you a list of things to pick up and it’s time to check in and see how I did.

Magic 2013

Checklands (Sunpetal Grove, etc.)
Prediction: $5
Actual: $2

Verdict: Miss. I thought that with a year of new players looking for them, the price would go up. Supply is huge, though, after four printings and they have hardly budged in the past year.

Thundermaw Hellkite
Prediction: $12
Actual: $11

Verdict: Hit! It’s a big, fast, cheap Dragon who clears the way. It’s great in any format, and your eyes still go wide when it’s on the wrong side of the table.

Rhox Faithmender
Prediction: $3
Actual: $3

Verdict: Hit! Easy enough, as lifegain is one of the most fun effects to build a casual deck around. I’m looking to see Felidar Sovereign reprinted soon, maybe even in the coming Commander decks.

Sublime Archangel
Prediction: $10
Actual: $9

Verdict: Hit! Great in token decks, great in Angel decks. Gorgeous art, too, and that never hurts in the long run.


Prediction: $20
Actual: $9

Verdict: Miss. Despite the combo with Enter the Infinite and seeing play in Show and Tell decks, the price has stayed flat this entire year. I remain optimistic, but I don’t know when the bump will arrive.

Vampire Nocturnus
Prediction: $7
Actual: $5

Verdict: Miss. It’s crept up a little in price. Not enough for my purposes today, though.

Elderscale Wurm
Prediction: $3
Actual: $2

Verdict: Miss. It’s gone up to $3 this year, and the spread is getting close to null, meaning that buylist prices are almost the same as retail value. I might need to give it another few months, but today, it’s a miss.

Prediction: $3
Actual: $2

Verdict: Miss. The price hasn’t budged, likely due to the multiple printings.

Prediction: $6
Actual: $2

Verdict: Miss. Ugh. It’s actually gone down in price during the past year, indicating it’s not being used very much at all. Maybe it was just too oppressive in Standard and no one wants to relive that.

Reliquary Tower
Prediction: $1
Actual: $2.50

Verdict: Hit! And then some! These never made it as low as I’d hoped, but if you got them at under $1, they have doubled up in value. If you have any, I’d trade them soon, though, because these are easy to reprint.


Mikaeus, the Lunarch
Prediction: $3
Actual: $2

Verdict: Miss. Another card who was above my target earlier this year, he’s come back down to earth.

Garruk Relentless
Prediction: $10
Actual: $4

Verdict: Mega-Miss. He hasn’t been adopted in Modern, but this is a card that at least will be tough to reprint due to being double-sided, because it’s difficult to mix two-sided cards into a print run.

Enemy Checklands (Clifftop Retreat, Sulfur Falls, etc.)
Prediction: $8
Actual: $4-$7

Verdict: Miss. They have ticked upward, but not as much as I’d hoped. They aren’t seeing much Modern play, something I overestimated.

Geist of Saint Traft
Prediction: $25
Actual: $15

Verdict: Miss. While his price did hit $30 earlier this year, it’s trickled back downward in the months since. Having this as the WMCQ promo didn’t help at all.

Gavony Township
Prediction: $2
Actual: $2

Verdict: Hit! I was close on Kessig Wolf Run, but the Township was dead on.

Dark Ascension

Increasing Devotion
Prediction: $2
Actual: $0.50

Verdict: Miss. The price has stayed flat. There are just so many good token makers to choose from!


Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Prediction: $8
Actual: $4.50

Verdict: Miss. But to be fair, when she hit $9 around Easter, I got rid of all of mine. Hope you did too!

Geralf’s Messenger
Prediction: $5
Actual: $3

Verdict: Miss. Awesome Zombie or not, he just isn’t seeing play.

Prediction: $6
Actual: $5.15

Verdict: Hit! Or close enough. he was a cheap pickup at rotation and has paid off nicely. Remember, I’m not looking for huge gains in one card, I’m always trying to increase the overall value of what’s in my binder.

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Prediction: $7
Actual: $9

Verdict: Hit! He’s actually the most valuable card in Dark Ascension. I don’t think he’ll be in the Commander decks this winter, since we’re already getting Gisa herself. There’s a chance this breaks $12-$15 by Christmas.

Drogskol Reaver
Prediction: $1.50
Actual: $1.75

Verdict: Hit! It costs seven, but it’s so darn amazing! It’s nice that I was so close on the value here.

Huntmaster of the Fells
Prediction: $10
Actual: $4.50

Verdict: Miss. I thought he’d see more Modern play, but just getting value isn’t good enough in that format.

Vault of the Archangel
Prediction: $4
Actual: $1

Verdict: Miss. I was wildly optimistic here. The price has stayed flat, so my many copies are just lounging around.

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Prediction: $20
Actual: $7

Verdict: Miss. The duel deck reprint hurt. I think he might be around $15 if it wasn’t for the extra printing.

Avacyn Restored

Avacyn, Angel of Hope
Prediction: $25-$30
Actual: $30

Verdict: Hit! And for all the reasons I laid out. I’m warning you now, though, I’m pretty sure she will be in the white Commander deck this winter, at which point her price will take a hit.

Cathars’ Crusade
Prediction: $2
Actual: $1.50

Verdict: Hit! It’s almost buylisting for my prediction of $1 now. Wait a little longer, and you’re there.

Entreat the Angels
Prediction: $10
Actual: $9

Verdict: Hit! It’s not blowing up Legacy (though $50 for the foil is a result of the Miracles deck) but it’s powerful and flavorful.

Prediction: $7
Actual: $3.50

Verdict: Miss. But to be fair, it just got reprinted in FTV: Annihilation, which has kept the price down.

Deadeye Navigator
Prediction: $1
Actual: $.75

Verdict: Hit! I’m calling it a hit because he’s been at $1.50 as recently as three weeks ago. There’s a lot of EDH players who want this card banned because of the combo shenanigans it enables, so watch out for that.

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Prediction: $20
Actual: $15

Verdict: Miss. The philosophy of picking up planeswalkers while they are cheap is sound, but Tamiyo just hasn’t grown enough in price…yet.

Temporal Mastery
Prediction: $5
Actual: $6.50

Verdict: Hit! Yup, extra turns is good, no matter how much mana it is to cast. It’s important that you just get the extra turn, without any extra hoops, such as Savor the Moment.

Zealous Conscripts
Prediction: $3
Actual: $0.50

Verdict: Miss. Still an awesome card, but not even seeing play with Kiki-Jiki.


Craterhoof Behemoth
Prediction: $5
Actual: $10

Verdict: Hit! I didn’t think he was good enough for Legacy Elves, but the results don’t lie. Cast, bang, dead. Awesome in any format where eight mana is an option. (Watch out for some Modern decks with this too.)

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
Prediction: $10
Actual: $12

Verdict: Hit! This is why I’m so confident in Aurelia, the Warleader getting big over time as well. It’s worth mentioning that she was at $20 for a while this year.

Sigarda, Host of Herons
Prediction: $6
Actual: $6

Verdict: Hit! Do I know my casual Angels or what?

Bruna, Light of Alabaster
Prediction: $5
Actual: $2

Verdict: Miss. I mostly do, it seems. She is only good to build around, not add to other decks, and that’s important to remember.

Alchemist’s Refuge
Prediction: $2
Actual: $0.50

Verdict: Miss. I love this land, I do, but it just hasn’t been in demand. We’ll see if Khans changes that, with all the new blue-green good cards.

Cavern of Souls
Prediction: $20
Actual: $18.50

Verdict: Hit! It’s been much higher recently and this is one of the cards that has really grown for me. It hit a low of about $10, and I traded for as many as I could at that price.


Slayers’ Stronghold
Prediction: $3
Actual: $0.50

Verdict: Miss. Wow, I really was wrong about the lands, aside from Cavern.

There you have it! I was right on 42% of these (16 out of 38) and that would be closer to even if I counted the ones who beat their prices earlier this year. Lots of cards spiked in April and have trickled down since.

Overall, it’s clear I was too optimistic on two types of cards: lands and Planeswalkers. I now know to not go too crazy on the lands, and to lower my expectations when it comes to the planeswalkers. This is something to think about, especially with Jace, Architect of Thought being at sub-$5 along with Vraska the Unseen. Instead of expecting them to double in a year, I might instead think they will grow to a more moderate $7.

I also note that reprints and promos were a factor for some of these. This is a risk we’re going to run with everything not on the Reserved List, you need to be prepared for reprints to affect the price of non-foils.

It’s also reassuring that only a couple of these went lower than the price I recommended them at. I didn’t lose my shirt to any of these. Yet, anyway.

Thanks for sticking with me for this past year. I hope you’re tracking some of your predictions too!

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My Long-Term Targets

By: Cliff Daigle

Disclaimer: I haven’t read Jared’s twopart piece on this, and I won’t until after this posts. I like my impressions to be my own.

It’s rotation time! I’ve written recently about the cards that I’ve picked up from Theros block, and now I’m going to share my list of things to trade for to fill my long-term binder. Most of these cards are popular in casual formats, and I’m looking to pick these up and sock them away for a year or two. If they aren’t reprinted (this is always a concern) then their value will slowly creep up over time.

The example of this is Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. When Avacyn Restored rotated out last year, she could be had for $8-$10 as she was traded away from control players. In the year since, she’s climbed to nearly $15, while seeing not much play in Modern. She’s very good in Commander and deserves consideration in Cube.


So my goal is to identify the cards that are cheap now, but have good room for growth in the next couple of years.


Garruk, Caller of Beasts (Now $7, aiming for $10+)

This is the easiest call of all. M14 was under-opened due to Modern Masters, and Garruk hasn’t had a chance to shine in Standard. He’s got a shot in Modern, I’ve seen some ramp lists that use his minus ability to drop Progenitus onto the battlefield, but it’s in casual formats that he makes his hay. It’s a plus ability that will likely draw you 2-3 cards, and action cards at that!

Getting him at $7 is a steal. The growth won’t be fast, but it will grow. It’s unlikely that this will be reprinted in the coming Commander product, making it one of the safest bets on this list.

Scavenging Ooze (Now $5, aiming for $8+)

This was $40 at one point, when it was in a single edition of the 2011 Commander decks. It’s got a promo version hanging around, and it is one of the best ways to deal with graveyard shenanigans in casual formats. You can exile anything, but you only get bonuses if it was a creature. Every Commander deck needs a way to interact with graveyards, and this is one of the best.

Kalonian Hydra (Now $7, aiming for $10+)

This ticks two boxes on the ‘makes casual players giddy’ list: it’s a Hydra, which is a surprisingly expensive tribe to build. It is also a counter-doubling card, and it is amazing at that. Its price has been slowly ticking downwards, and it might get to $5 in the next few weeks, but I’d be comfortable getting in at $7 and then just being patient. Anyone building a new Abzan Commander deck is going to want one of these in the worst way.


Rise of the Dark Realms (Now $3, aiming for $7-10)

We aren’t lacking for ways to clear the board in casual formats. This is a very unique spell, requiring only nine mana, as opposed to Liliana Vess’s ultimate or the buildup of Grimoire of the Dead. Since you get everyone’s creatures, all it takes is one effect granting Haste and it’s over. This is one that I’m afraid of getting a reprint, since it’s so thematic with Liliana.

Dragon’s Maze

Progenitor Mimic (Now $2.50, aiming for $5)

The mythics from this set are what you really want to watch, as the maze runners were intro pack foils. Progenitor Mimic is the neatest of the bunch, offering tokens and copies together.


Shocks at $8 or less (aiming for $12-$15+)

There is a huge supply of shocklands out there. If you needed them for Modern or Cube, you already got what you needed. I cannot overstate the supply of these cards, and there’s a good chance that lots of people have saved a few shocks for decks that are yet to be built.

With that in mind: We’re at a floor for these cards. They are not going to go up quickly. They are probably not going to be printed in Modern Masters 2 next summer. I don’t know when they will get printed again, but they will get a new print run eventually. The key is then to get them now, cash them out in a year or two, and move on.

Foils are a different matter, being in the $30-$40 range right now. I am aggressively trying to trade for these, as foil prices are never going to be this low again. Even if they are in a new Conspiracy set or the like, that won’t be for a long while and these foils will be at least $10-$20 more within a year.

Master Biomancer ($3, aiming for $6)

I think that it’s only a matter of time until this and Beck//Call blow Modern open into a combo deck. Until then, this is very low-risk to sit on.

Aurelia, the Warleader ($5, aiming for $8-10)

I’ve spoken of her before. Case in point: Gisela, Blade of Goldnight is $11 now. Aurelia will be there in a year or two.


Enter the Infinite ($1, aiming for $5)

This even sees some Legacy play in some OmniShow builds! Getting a stack of these at near-bulk is a fun bet, and at this price, even a modest increase can pay off big.

Be wary of trying to cash out a bump all at once: what Travis has referred to on Twitter as ‘pulling a Ghave’ in reference to his article.

Thespian’s Stage ($1, aiming for $3)

I don’t need to repeat myself again, do I? I’m keenly aware of the ease of reprinting this card, but the huge gap between regular and foil ($1 vs. $13!) tells me this is one to watch.

Return to Ravnica

Shocks at $7 or less (aiming for $10-$12+)

See above, but RtR shocks are slightly lower in price, perhaps more of it was opened than Gatecrash? If only we had real numbers.

Sphinx’s Revelation ($7, aiming for $15+)

It’s seeing Modern play and I’d need a very good reason not to play it in Commander or Cube. I’m not going to go too deep, but having a playset or two will be very nice in a year or so.

Chromatic Lantern ($4, aiming for $7)

That’s right: This is the 9thmost valuable card in Return to Ravnica at this point. It’s casual gold and it’s only going to get better from here on out. You’ll never see a spike, but you will see incremental growth until it gets reprinted.

That’s a ‘when’ it gets reprinted, not an ‘if’. I wouldn’t be surprised if Modern Masters 2 had all ten filterlands, plus this, in order to support a heavily multi-color set. There are a couple of cards out there that are better at helping a five-color deck (Prismatic Omen, Joiner Adept) but they aren’t artifacts.


Rest in Peace ($1, aiming for $5)

This is another card with a striking foil price. Part of that is Terese Nielsen, who does consistently fantastic work, but this is a big card in Modern and Legacy sideboards. I like regular versions at $1, but the foil seems like an easy pick to be $20 (up from about $11 right now) in a year.

Ash Zealot ($1, aiming for $3)

So Eidolon of the Great Revel is a four-of in Burn decks? Ash Zealot is a fine follow-up to Goblin Guide if you want to do a lot of damage quickly. (No, really: three damage from them fetching into a shockland, then you GG and Zealot, and they are at 11 when they start turn 2.) Eidolon may be the new guy tearing up the charts, but Zealot was there immediately and will keep seeing play. Keep some around and just wait.

Enjoy release weekend!



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