Category Archives: Conjured Currency

Back to Organizing (for the most part)

Written By:
Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

Welcome back, and welcome to last week’s article as well. It’s a little lengthy but I’m proud of it all the same; we went and examined the different pricing metrics of TCGplayer high, median, low, and market price. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback so far, so it’s definitely one you don’t want to miss.

As for this week, let’s finally get back to processing and organizing our collections and bulk stuff. Instead of getting outside and enjoying the sunshine on Memorial Day weekend, my friend Sean Love and I were hard at work in the basement where it was a solid 20 degrees cooler than the heat wave upstairs and outside. I had one more objective that I wanted to make into a reality before I started on the 400k bulk in my closet, so we got to work.

Bad Binders

Up until this point, I’ve had about nine trade binders that were between halfway and completely full at all times. They’re the Ultimate Guard “QuadRow Flexfolio”, which I would not wish upon my worst enemy. I wanted them to be able to hold playsets of cards in a single row, but the quality of the binder was shoddy and the glue holding the pages together would rip all the time even with the simple act of putting a card in or taking it out. I’m no Tolarian Community College Professor, but I would absolutely stay away from this brand of binder and look for something else that’s more structurally sound. I owned the binders for less than four months before they started to fall apart, and I feel like I threw away over a hundred dollars on them.

four five

So where am I going with this segue? Well, I haven’t regularly traveled with binders in almost two years. I don’t have a local FNM that’s less than a thirty minute drive, I don’t have the time to be a Grand Prix backpack grinder, and it’s not exactly like I even “trade” very often anymore (unless you count people bringing me lots of bulk to get “DJ Dollars” in trade credit). A few weeks ago, I asked myself why I’m even still using a binder system to loosely organize my relevant cards. It was a pain to constantly look through the majority of a “Green” binder just to see exactly how many Vengevine I had, and I wanted something that would help me find X card from Y set in under Z seconds. I was already constructing a framework for doing something similar with my Blueprintable commons and uncommons…. why not do the same with my “higher end” cards ($4+) that were worth selling on TCGplayer?

This article is made for those few of you who might not trade anymore, or go to events at an LGS. I recommend continuing to read especially if you have a sizable collection that you want to manage without using binders, sell by piece, or just know where your cards are for deckbuilding. Several of the pieces of advice are extremely similar to other articles I’ve written, so we’ll get set sort and alphabetize everything out of the way early. Netflix helps. I finally got started on Jessica Jones.


Ta-Da! I mean, it obviously took a lot longer than it did for you to check out the picture; roughly about eight hours of Sean and I working to set sort and alphabetize. (A skill that he is much faster than I am at). You’ll also notice that those BCW dividers continue to come in handy, although I’ll have to trim them down by a few centimeters if I ever expect to put a lid on this box and apply any weight to the top of the lid.

Because the long term goal of this inventory box is to have everything listed on TCGplayer by the end of the week (you can see my printed-out and hastily scrawled-on to-do list in the background), we also had to grade every card in the box.

The “Origins” pile. Definitely losing some money on these Abbots here.

Some of you may remember that I sleeve everything over $2, regardless of what box it goes in. While I was using opaque sleeves for the cards in the binders up until this point (penny sleeves can be annoying to fit into binders without crinkling, at least for my personal preference), sorting my inventory into a 5K meant that I could penny sleeve everything to make it uniform. This also helped with grading the cards easier, being able to see the front and back at a glance. If you do find research, you should be able to find 10000 penny sleeves for around $45. Here’s some research.

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Hopefully I’ll manage to list everything by the end of this week, and hopefully I’ll have enough time in the day to ship and pack all my orders. I had my TCGplayer store hidden for the past two or three months while I was working on school, graduation, GPNY and GPCharlotte, so I had forgotten what it was like to have to deal with this:


Now that that’s all settled, we can *finally* begin to work on set sorting this bulk that’s been accumulating in my closet. Phase one (which I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned in a previous article or not) is to make another series of those divider set tags so that each pile of set sorted bulk will be easy to find and alphabetize when the time comes. For now, I’ll conclude this brief article with a prelude of what your basement/living room/bedroom might look like once you get started on this project.


End Step:

Huh, there’s really not much to talk about here. Kind of a dry week, but that’s alright. I’m happy to see Realms Uncharted and Horn of Greed finally going off thanks to The Gitrog Monster, so I’ll be taking my copies out of the spec box and sorting them into my wonderful new inventory system, then putting them on TCGplayer. Until next week!


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Low, Mid, and High: Then vs. Now

Written By:
Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

Welcome back! I hope everyone enjoyed Grand Prix Charlotte (regardless of the technical difficulties the event experienced) and Grand Prix LA. I personally didn’t play in the main event, instead choosing to hang out in the Command Zone, play two-headed giant Sealed, and draft the day away.  The highlights of my draft were this beauty, which would have 3-0’ed if not for some absolutely terrible whiffs on Pieces of the Puzzle and then flooding out in two games. Oh well.

mono blyue

I also repeated my “Post pictures of vendor hotlists to Twitter”, but we’re not here to talk about that this week. In fact, we’re going to go off on a whole different topic that completely negates my statement last Thursday saying that we could continue in our Blueprinting adventures. Don’t worry, we’ll still be blueprinting and organizing 400,000 commons and uncommons this summer (yay……..), but I had a conversation with a friend of mine in the car during our 14 hour drive to Charlotte and I figured it would make for a great article.


It’s really difficult to not know about “TCG mid” is nowadays. Most Android and Apple phone applications pull API from to make trading a simple and hopefully painless process for everyone. Some apps will also let you adjust the pricing metric that you use to “TCG low” or “TCG high”, or to manually adjust the price point to a number you and your trade partner agree upon. MTG Familiar is an app I enjoy using that also changes the color of the number to green when it’s been manually adjusted, to help prevent one party from swindling the other with some quick hands. But what is TCG mid, and how is it calculated? What’s the difference between TCG low mid and high, and where does each find its’ niche? Answering these questions is the main goal of this article.

tcg mid

TCG mid/TCG median

“TCG mid” used to be calculated as a mean average of the current available listings online. If for some reason there were only two listings on TCGplayer for Snapcaster Mage listed at $55 and $65, then the mid price would average out to be $60. That sounds reasonable at first, until we get outliers that skew the mean away from a realistic price point. If some random guy lists his Snapcasters at $85, then the mean is skewed pretty far away from $60. This is especially problematic when we consider new set releases and how long it sometimes takes for stores to reduce their prices, often due to forgetfulness or laziness.

A couple of years ago, TCGplayer changed their “mid” to “median”. Instead of using the mean average of listings, the median number is taken from one single seller directly in the middle of the number line. If there are two dozen sellers of Snapcaster Mage on TCGplayer and only the last five or six sellers forget to update their prices from when Snapcaster was $90, then the median price is safe from being skewed because the seller in the middle won’t be considered an outlier.

Most of you probably use that number to trade Magic cards with each other, and that’s fine. As long as both parties are happy with the trading metric and don’t try to scam the other out of cards, everyone wins. Even if one person is “value trading” because they care more about buylist prices, the other person is still getting a card they want for their deck. If everyone who trades cards uses TCG median, then what’s the point of TCG low and TCG high? What do these numbers mean, and how are they calculated?


If you freqent the Facebook buy/sell/trade groups that I’ve previously suggested in other articles, you’ve probably seen those groups use TCG low as a pricing metric, plus or minus a percentage. There’s no reason for grinders and players to buy cards from each other at full retail when other grinders and players would be more than happy to undercut SCG/Channelfireball and secure the sale, so TCG low is a more commonly used number to start from when conducting sales between two non-store parties.

The number is generated by checking the lowest NM or LP listing on TCGplayer (without shipping).  The fact that LP (lightly played) is included while MP/HP (moderately/heavily played) are excluded is very important here. If you’re a buyer who wants to pay 70% of TCG low on cards for your buylist and expect NM cards, you might be using the lightly played metric of a card for your NM buylist. Similarly, it’s hard for a seller to generalize and say that they’re selling an MP Underground Sea for a percentage of TCG low, without knowing what the difference between the cheapest MP and cheapest LP listing is.

The second part of that definition is that shipping is excluded in the calculation of TCG low. While that ends up being close to negligible in the Underground Sea case where shipping will be $2-3 for a $250 card, it ends up being extremely relevant when dealing with $3-5 cards like Golgari Grave-Troll.


Looks like the TCG median of Grave-Troll from the duel deck is around $5. It’s crept up from the $3ish it was a few weeks ago, but it hasn’t spiked to a billion dollars. You want to buy into Modern Dredge with the help of the Facebook groups, so you decide to try and buy a set of Grave-Trolls for 10% less than “TCG low”. Sounds reasonable, right?


The shipping is almost as much as the card itself! Even if you’re trying to grab LP copies on a budget, the “low” was calculated by looking at the “item price only” filter in the top right of the above picture, instead of “item price + shipping”. Most of the facebook groups that I’m involved with won’t take kindly to what they perceive as your “lowball” offer of close to $3, especially when changing that filter to item price + shipping shows us that the cheapest LP Duel Deck Grave-Troll can’t be purchased for less than $5.25.

If you still want that set of Grave-Trolls, you’ll probably have to offer around $4.50 for each copy and be willing to take LP. That’s pretty interesting, considering how close it is to the median price. It also shows that any copies that have been listed closer to the visible “low” price are being snatched up, and that there’s real demand for the card.

TCG High

Now we get to the final metric, TCG high. As you may have guessed or already known, the “high” is measured by the highest ‘item only’, NM/LP listing for the card on TCGplayer without counting shipping. This number can often vary wildly, for the same reasons I stated that TCGplayer shifted from using a mean to a median calculation for their “average”. When a seller forgets to update their prices or neglects their inventory, we get relic prices from weeks or even months ago.


Here we have the pricing information for Prized Amalgam, a $1 card from Shadows Over Innistrad. Cards from SOI (or whatever the most recent set is) are usually great examples of how skewed the TCG high price can be, simply due to the drastic price decrease most cards experience over a short period of time. Hell, Prized Amalgam only presold at $5 for a couple of minutes before dropping down to the $2 range in the weeks of release. Unfortunately, there’s still one seller who’s either very lazy or extremely hopeful that someone will stumble across his $5 (plus .99 shipping!) copy. I even had to scroll through over a dozen pages of listings just to find their copy, hidden among several foils.

History of TCG High

So… what’s the point of TCG high? Why would anybody use that as a metric for determining the value of their cards when low and median exist as options? Well, I had the same question until I got a phone call a few weeks ago. A player had gotten one of my business cards, and was looking to sell an Arlinn Kord they had opened from a booster pack. They said that they looked up the value of it online, and came to understand that it was worth $35. They would be happy accepting $20 because they knew I had to make money off it, and was wondering if I was available to meet up today. Before you ask, the card was not foil.

After my initial confusion subsided, I quickly looked up the value of Arlinn. Did I miss something over the weekend? Had Arlinn skyrocketed to $35 when I wasn’t paying attention to Standard results? What could they possibly be using to get that number? Then I saw it; TCG high for Arlinn Kord was $35. I explained to the man that the number online was not an accurate representation of the true price point, and spent a few minutes teaching him the same thing I’ve been explaining to you in the past several paragraphs. Thankfully he was receptive and understanding, ending up selling me the Arlinn for $10 when I told him that the median price was $20 and that I would probably sell it for $16.

While that story had a happy ending, I have to imagine that he’s not the only one out there using the high to try and figure out what his cards are worth. Other vendors or traders might not react as rationally to his misconceptions. With no real value being provided by TCGplayer listing the “high” price point, I got curious as to where the origin of the low/mid/high system came from, and used a little bit of #kiblergoogle to determine the source.

As it turns out, that three price point system originates from back when Scrye and Inquest were the premier methods for determining the values of your cards. We were even able to have one of the editors for the old Scrye magazine chime in and provide exact details, which I thought was pretty cool:






So back in the old days, there was no SCG or TCGplayer to quickly check prices. If a card had a low of $2, a mid of $5, and a high of $7 in Scrye, you were less likely to trust that $5 number because you knew that it varied pretty widely. On the other hand, a spread of $2-$3-$4 was safer and you were confident in the $3 being a middle ground. The high had a relevancy, especially since prices weren’t so quick to change over the course of a single night or weekend. When TCGplayer opened their business as an aggregator of stores that could all grow their storefronts through a more visible marketplace, they ported over the system that Scrye had been using.


While that may have worked for several years in the past, I’d like to suggest that TCG high is no longer relevant towards market pricing today and actively misinforms some newer players as to what their cards are worth. In a world where cards can jump from $.25 to $10 overnight, the high metric only serves as a reminder of what a card used to be worth at some point in time. At worst, newer players could stumble across it and believe that their Arlinn Kord is worth twice the retail, or that their Prized Amalgam is worth $5 the true market price.

Removing the High

Thankfully, we also live in an age where I can tweet to the wonderful people at TCGplayer and let them know my feelings on the matter. I really appreciate that they were so receptive to my initial feedback, and that they were able to make a step towards eliminating TCG high from the pricing metric. I’m looking forward to them continuing to remove it from other areas of the site as we move forward, so that archaic sellers from two months ago aren’t cluttering up the real finance data that we all crave.

TCG high


You’ll also notice in that image that ‘high’ has been replaced with a different number, labeled “Market Price”. Instead of trying to give a complete description in my own words, I’ll let TCGplayer give you their definition of what this new pricing metric is, then try to elaborate on how it can help you avoid overpaying for something.

market price

So basically, market price will tell you what people have actually been paying for a card instead of what the card is currently being listed at. You might remember a few months ago when I suggested opening a TCGplayer seller account (which I still recommend doing), but for the purposes of checking the “last sold listing” measurement tool to gauge whether there was real demand for a card. Market price will be a less precise, more accessible addition to using that tool. So why add this in? What benefits does it provide that median and low do not?

Well, it should do a decent job of showing the true value of a card immediately after a spike occurs. While there might be one seller of a card for $14 post-buyout, the market price will show what people are really paying for the card. If nobody adds their copies to the market to race to the bottom and the market price remains at the old number for an extended period of time, then its’ pretty clear that the single person who bought out the cards and relisted them for higher won’t be making any money, at least on TCGplayer. Market price will show that players are only paying the old price.


As evidenced above, Shelldock’s market price hasn’t been running to match the current median price on the card. If we go another couple of days without data to suggest that Shelldock has been purchased consistently at the new price point, we can safely assume that it’ll go back down as more and more people race to the bottom and outnumber the demand sparked by the mill deck at GP Charlotte.

On the other hand, you can use market price as an entertainment tool to look at numbers and think “someone paid that? Really?” steamfl

Another human being paid actual dollar bills for Steamflogger Boss. Really? According to fellow writer Travis Allen, someone actually paid $5.99 when he checked the TCG last sold listing through his seller portal. I guess the demand from speculators is enough to continue pushing the card above $2, where those of us who own zero copies will get to laugh at those who bought out the internet.

End Step

TCG’s pricing system is definitely solid, but it has some nuances that you need to look into before using their metrics as a blanket rule for your buying and selling. If you want to buy at “TCG low”, you need to specify per condition and whether or not shipping costs are taken into account. If you want to trade at “TCG mid”, you need to determine whether or not you’re talking about market price or median price. If you plan on buying collections, you can’t realistically throw out rules such as “50% of TCG mid”, because then you get screwed one way or the other when the spreads vary wildly on different cards. I promise that we’ll get to blueprinting in the next couple of weeks, but this topic was too good to pass up on. Until next time, and thanks for reading!


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Blueprinting 102

Written By:
Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

Next Semester’s Lesson

I find it just a little bit ironic that I’m naming my articles after college entry level courses immediately after I graduate. Anyway, let’s get right into the finance stuff. We skipped a week of blueprinting to talk about the financial tips and tricks for your next Grand  Prix, and I hope that I’ll see several of you at Grand Prix Charlotte to take advantage of some of the suggestions I provided in the article. I’ll be on site Friday morning doing the same thing I did last time, so be sure to click the twitter link at the top of the article if you want to stay on top of the finance game this weekend.

On a semi-related note, here’s the list of vendors that are going to be on site at Charlotte: Hareruya almost always pays the best on NM competitive staples, and Tales of Adventure is where you want to bring your casual eight costing rares and mythics that are worth money because Commander players say so. I’ll be posting hotlists and such on Twitter as well!


Alright, now back to the bulk. We had a really great series of questions from TheBrownNote about the specific details of my setup, and I’d like to get all of those uncertainties cleared up before we start sorting and organizing everything.

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Screenshot 2016-05-11 at 4.03.42 PM

1. How many BCW trays do you need to sort by set? Did you group duel decks together as one?


This is my current setup downstairs, although it’s not quite complete. All of the boxes on the top shelf are empty (otherwise I would probably be buried alive in cards right now), and you can see each of my set sorting trays spread out across the lower plastic tables. I used about six trays in total to cover all of the sets, from Unlimited until Shadows over Innistrad. This year I’ll need to have room for several more products that were announced on Monday, but you can read anyone else’s articles about that. Here are some close-ups of the chronological order of each tray, with Duel Decks and supplementary products earning their own trays.





With the Planechase: Anthologies  and Commander 2016 sets coming up, I’ll need to make some room. I have a few spare trays leftover, so I’ve got some wiggle room. Just don’t order *exactly* enough trays to cover all the sets and supplemental product, then be sad when you don’t have enough sorting trays to cover the next set.

2. Do you sort out NM vs Played when you initially sort? You said you pulled damaged cards, wasn’t sure if this was a category you made for all NM.

You probably noticed that I left the four deep pockets in each of the sorting trays blank. You can customize them to be whatever you want, but I like to leave those four slots on each tray open for sorting random foreign cards, foils, basic lands, or damaged goods. If it’s a non-NM card that’s complete bulk (Grizzly BearsVampire Noble, etc), then I just put it in a pile to throw away. I don’t like putting MP true bulk in my boxes that I sell to casual players, because I try to keep them looking as professional as possible. While it’s okay if a few of the cards have a little bit of wear when selling on Craigslist or something similar, I try to avoid serious marks or damages.

On the other hand, we have non-NM cards like BrowbeatBlighted Agent, or Piracy Charm. Cards that are technically still worth something to someone, but we can’t in good conscience ship them off to a buylist due to significant wear. Personally, I usually just keep them in the same lot as the rest of the NM cards up until the point when I’m actually shipping out the buylist, at which point I make sure they’re not getting shipped out. Remember that once this project is done, ALL of our bulk will be set sorted and alphabetized, making it much easier to fill orders for locals who want to build decks. Being able to find the playset of HP Browbeats and sell them for $2 total instantly is better than the ten cents you’ll get from any other buylist.

3. Noticed your BCW order had the tall card dividers, these only work on the 2 piece boxes, right? since 1 piece boxes are horizontally loaded instead of vertically.

Yeah, you’re correct. These dividers won’t allow the 5k boxes to be completely closed with their original lids. The box lid will still cover the cards, but I wouldn’t put any pressure onto it with other 5k boxes filled with cards. You can still leave the box open though, and the dividers will leave enough room poking out for you to be able to see what you wrote/stickered them with. I’ve actually considered trimming up the bottom of some of the dividers with scissors to see if I could get them to fit inside the 5k while being able to close it completely with its’ original case, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. If you don’t need to write the set/block names on the dividers and you’d rather just color code or something, that might be a solution that works for you. Here’s an example of what one of my current boxes looks like.


If you’d rather not order a thousand dividers and you’re planning on working a smaller operation, the dividers that come from the holiday gift boxes are an almost identical height, just a couple millimeters taller and wider with rounded corners on all sides. If you buy and sell collections even semi-regularly (or if you have friends and family who buy you a holiday gift box), then you probably have some of those dividers kicking around. In short, I don’t think you’ll need to buy nearly as many as I did, if at all.


4. Was debating a card tower from BCW, seems like a waste of money though. What do you think the best card quantity boxes to purchase based on my collection size?

Hmm. I’m not entirely sure what you mean by a “card tower”. This is the closest thing I could find on BCW, and it’s not something I would really ever be interested in buying. The only thing close to that I have is a card house from BCW, and it holds 12 of the 1K boxes that I know and love. I really only use it to house the cards that don’t get touched very often, but it’s stuff that I want to have close by just in case someone wants to pick through it. BFZ/ZEN full art lands, my spec boxes, bulk foil commons and uncommons, that kind of stuff. You might be able to make use of one, but I wouldn’t buy the one on top because it just looks way too bulky. The bottom picture is what you’re looking for.  Just one at most should be fine, since you said that you’re only working with around 10k in cards.



5. Thoughts on the foam partial box fillers BCW has?

Hmmm. I’m not really sure what you’re referring to here either. I wouldn’t personally spend more money on foam filler just to make sure the cards are stable, as there are a bunch of other ways to do that without spending money. Tissue paper works fine, as does using a much smaller BCW white box for the remaining cards so that there’s no wiggle room. This question actually reminded me that I have a ton of pick/pluck foam in my basement that came included when I bought my Pelican luggage case, so I might end up using that one day if I really need to make sure some cards are perfectly set up in a box without room to move. Overall though, I wouldn’t spend money on foam.

Anyone want to buy some foam?

Hopefully that cleared up some of the lingering questions from before. I’m always happy to answer more on Twitter or Facebook, and I’ll see some of you at Grand Prix Charlotte! I won’t be playing in the main event, but I do hope to play some Commander in between the finance stuff. Thanks for reading!

End Step

  • Golgari Grave-Troll took off, to the surprise of that one guy living under a rock. TCG mid hasn’t quite updated yet, but the cheapest NM copies online are $6 at the time of writing this article, an easy double-up from less than a month ago. If you know me, I’m a fan of cashing out and enjoying the sweet gains while I can. Even if the card caps out at $10, I don’t want to be one of hundreds fighting to race to the bottom, or risking the desk not putting up anymore results.
  • Steamflogger Boss is a Magic card. Someone bought a Steamflogger Boss for $5 and change on TCGplayer. Yep, that actually happened.steamflogThe “argument” for it is because Kaladesh has been shown to be a steampunk/artifact plane, so why wouldn’t Wotc go back to Future Sight and develop an entire set or block mechanic around a card that is literally a joke? Apparently this is what #mtgfinance is nowadays, and I personally find it hilarious. While this is another tally mark for the “Buy bulk rares” club, I don’t actually own any Steamfloggers, nor do I own any Contraptions. Do you really need my advice to sell these?

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Live from Grand Prix: New York, one week later

Written by: Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

Hey there! I have returned from Grand Prix New York, and it felt good to say hello to some faces that I haven’t seen since Vegas. Even if you don’t plan on playing in the main event (especially if you don’t plan on playing in the main event), I really can’t recommend Grands Prix enough as your foray into the next level of Magic. There’s just so much to do, no matter what your format. I’m going to delve into my experiences at the event, but first I want to preview what next week’s article is going to be based on a question I got on my previous piece.

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If you were really enjoying my Blueprint article last week, then I recommend sticking around for next Thursday when we dive into the above questions and more. While I may not know or care what Standard cards are going to spike, bulk is a niche I can write about. I could have gone into a lot more detail about the sorting process, but we’ll touch on that next week. Until then, let’s do a brief overview of some tips for buying and selling at Grands Prix, because I know I’ve gotten a non-zero number of requests about that and it’s still fresh in my mind.


So let’s start from a pretty basic level. What’s a hotlist? If you follow me on Twitter and hastily scrolled past all my tweets from this past weekend, you probably have the word “hotlist” embedded in your mind. Contrary to what I hope isn’t popular believe, vendors at the event want more than what’s on their hotlist. That whiteboard, chalkboard, or fancy digital screen that they have posted is just to get their foot in the door, and show you the cards that they’re really aggressively buying. A quick skim of the list can usually give you a solid idea of what format that vendor is most interested in, and if a large number of vendors have similar cards on their hotlist then you can use that as a decent indicator for what will be hot over the course of the weekend.

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Based on the above pictures, we can make some rational predictions for the cards we want to sell to different vendors. We don’t want to waste too much time selling our cards to seventeen different booths and waiting in line for hours, because we value our time at this event relatively highly. It looks like Channelfireball was really going hard on casual cards, paying damn close to retail on cards like Xenagos, God of Revels, Exquisite Blood, and Death Baron. We see multiple vendors paying $4 on Birthing Pod, which is curious considering how illegal that card is in Modern. Hareruya was at their usual top-tier of competitive staple buy prices, but they don’t really care about EDH or casual cards.

Do Your Homework

If you’re planning on attending these events and you don’t want to wait for people like me to snap pictures on Friday or Saturday, you can certainly email or message the stores beforehand to try to get an early hotlist. This gives you time to prepare and do your homework, so you can bring cards in hand with predetermined buyers on site. Print out that hotlist (or grab a copy of the vendors’ buylist from the table), and you’ll be much more efficient at this than 90% of the people in the room.

Adding to that, I’m going to repeat something I’ve mentioned before, just because its’ important. Those who plan on selling cards at those sweet hotlist prices should absolutely try to get into the convention center as early as possible on Friday, because the vendor prices will go down as they accumulate more of the cards that they’re paying aggressive numbers on. I got to the convention center at around 2pm on Friday, and even then I probably missed out on some good deals in the vendor cases.

Personal Hunt

So what kind of deals was I looking for personally? Well, other than finding some cards at buylist prices that we’ll get to later on in the article, I was on a mission to complete the foils in my Child of Alara deck. I needed an Expedition Stomping GroundBreeding Pool, and the cards in the picture below (The proxy is Lotus Cobra, for those who understandably choose not to read my penmanship). I also refused to pay more than the cheapest available copy on TCGplayer/eBay, as you should too. Again, we go back to doing our homework; if you write down the prices you’re willing to pay for cards that you’re specifically trying to hunt down at the event, you won’t have to waste data on your phone looking it up in the display case. I knew I wasn’t going to pay more than 65 for the Breeding Pool, 30 for the Exploration, and 20 on the Reflecting Pool.


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Success! I’m still looking for a Reflecting Pool (The cheapest one on site was 23, and there’s one on TCGplayer for 20 right now. I can wait.), but I put a solid dent in the rest of the cards on my list. I’m also looking for a replacement for Westvale Abbey, as that card did not perform well enough in testing to continue sitting in the deck.

Other Finds


I didn’t only go to the GP to pick up cards that I was actually going to play with, though. I also wanted to find some sick deals on cards that i would be able to flip later on, and NM foil Collected Company for 32 at Hareruya seemed like a good place to start. The cheapest copies on TCGplayer right now are $40, so I shouldn’t have too difficult of a time moving these for $37-38 to the right buyer.

Binder Grinding

I found those CoCos in the display case, but most of the time deals like that will be snatched up very early on in the weekend by other grinders or passerby who happen to notice that a card is underpriced. The real treasures are in the low-end binders, full of EDH and casual garbage that the vendors don’t really care too much about. If you spend a few minutes looking through these binders, you’ll probably find some cards that jumped in price a while ago, but nobody updated them.

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Usually the binders will range from $1-10 cards, and contain random EDH/casual/cube/old school gems
There were over 20 copies in the binder, but several of them were SP. Still though!
There were over 20 copies in the binder, but several of them were SP. Still though!

Sometimes there will be a bunch of a card that just doesn’t sell very well anymore; Considering Tasigur, the Golden Fang isn’t played in Modern anymore, vendors were in no hurry to hold onto copies. I found twenty-something copies in a binder at $2 each!

Banned in Modern, but still easily playable in Commander!
I paid $1.50 each for the top row, and $2.50 each for the bottom row; all foil!

Finally, I want to touch a little bit on the whole prize ticket system. After playing in a 2HG Sealed event and going 2-1-1, my teammate and I each received 110 event tickets. The exchange rate is one Standard legal booster pack for 10 tickets, so we can approximately estimate the retail value of a 10 tickets to be $3-4. While my friend and I blew our prize tickets on SOI packs to practice and jam Sealed decks against each other, I want to let you in on a little tactic I wish I had used.

Channelfireball had a lot of Standard legal singles in the display case that you could use prize tickets on, but one of the best values was the option to get Startled Awake for 10 tickets each. Now, you’re probably thinking: “But DJ why would I spend my hard earned tickets on a bulk mythic that no one cares about?” Well, I would tell you that Startled Awake had refused to drop down to bulk mythic status, and that you can still sell these things locally for $3 easy. That whole “double-sided mythic” aspect really takes a number on the supply, when you realize that there are approximately the same number of Startled Awakes in the world as there are Archangel Avacyn. I could have picked up eleven copies of Startled Awake, and sold them locally after coming home to the casual players on Facebook.


End Step

Before we close for the week and begin our adventure to the world of bulk, I want to take a couple of paragraphs about Eternal Masters possibilities. I got into a discussion on Twitter a couple days ago about why I don’t expect to see Dredge in the set, considering they already tried it in Modern Masters 2013 and it really didn’t work in the Limited format. I think they’ll try to make reanimate a legitimate strategy, but through means like Faithless Looting effects and not Dredge.

With these predictions, I’m really expecting Golgari Grave-Troll and Darkblast to have significant gains in the next few months. If we don’t see either reprinted in EM but we receive other support in the set (Cabal Therapy, and to a lesser degree Ichorid), I can see both Dredge spells jumping in price because of how easily accessible the deck is other than Lion’s Eye Diamond.

On a similar note, I’m really expecting to see a tribal Elves theme in Eternal Masters. This set allows them to jam Glimpse of Nature and competitive elf friends while relieving some pressure from the casual Lorwyn elves. I’m expecting some combination of Elvish HarbingerNettle SentinelWirewood LodgeImperious Perfect, and Jagged-Scar Archers to make the cut. I think they want to let you build “Legacy Elves” with a mix of casual and actual Legacy elves, and I don’t believe that Consiracy would let them build that kind of Limited environment.