Category Archives: The Collector

5 Premium Magic Cards Every Commander Player Should Own Under $20

Bolas’s Citadel Old Border Promo Foil – $5

Bolas’s Citadel is in 105k decks on EDHREC, and 12% of all black decks, marking it as a super staple of the format. As a WPN wide distribution promo this version of Bolas’s Citadel has plenty of copies lingering in the secondary market, which is doing a great job of keeping it’s price in check . The old border treatment is very interesting when paired with a colored casting cost artifact and the mystical art of the citadel looks good in the frame. Add in the classic foil WoTC swoosh and you’ve got a solid version of one of the most powerful black cards in the format. 

Double Masters 2×2 Borderless Foil Bounce Lands – $15/set of 10

Providing ramp in multi color EDH decks and the ability to trigger Landfall or abuse CIP effects on your lands, the gorgeous new borderless bounce lands from Double Masters 2022 are super cheap at $2 or less per foil copy and a great edition to any Commander collection with full sets running for just $15. 

MSCHF x Secret Lair Swords to Plowshares – $16

Despite Swords to Plowshares being the 3rd most popular EDH card of the last 2 years according to EDHREC, it hasn’t received that many premium versions that really draw the eye. The MSCHF x Secret Lair may push the definition of budget given a 5x multiplier vs. regular copies, but it is very unlikely to catch a reprint and should age well as copies steadily drain out of the resale market. If you’re playing white in Commander, you are playing this card, so you’ll never be without a place to rock this unique treatment as your deck collection grows.

Arcane Signet Dan Frazier x Secret Lair: $18

There have been plenty of Arcane Signets printed over the last few years, and there will be plenty more in years to come, but the Dan Frazier x Secret Lair version stands head and shoulders above the rest. During the inventory rush when this drop arrived in vendor hands months ago copies could be had for $10-14, but this retro art style by the artist who handled the P9 Moxen is still a solid deal at $18 for the regular version and even $30 for the foil etched. As the second most played card in the format this will be a coveted collectible for years to come.

Secret Lair Blasphemous Act Borderless: $15

The most played sweeper in Commander is easily Blasphemous Act with the card appearing in 30% of all red decks. By far the coolest version of this perennial red staple is the Secret Lair borderless version featuring a homage to horror exploitation films of the 1970s. With massive eye appeal and ultra low chance of reprint, this sexy sweeper wil draw comments at every table you wipe with it.

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How To Fix Your Dry Curled Magic: The Gathering Foils

By: Jeremy Lee 

One of the most frustrating things for Magic: The Gathering fans in recent years has been the frequent printing of foil Magic cards that seem especially prone to curling beyond the point where they could feasibly be tabled, especially for competitive play. 

The hyper popular set Commander Legends is a fantastic Magic set, full of staples both new and returning.  It’s full of EDH staples and the new etched foils for the commanders look great in my opinion.  However, there is a common complaint about the quality of certain CMR foils, specifically the standard foiling on regular and extended art cards. The major problem is that CMR foils can become dry and curl, especially if you live in a low humidity climate, home or place of business, turning your new cards into the shape of Pringles.  Fortunately there is a technique you can use to revive your curled foils that takes only a few minutes of effort and a little patience.

To uncurl most foil Magic cards you’ll need to raise the moisture of the card which you can do in a homemade “hydration chamber”.  The technique is straightforward:  create a small space with high humidity to rehydrate the card, remove it, then flatten it overnight to reshape it.  

Do keep in mind that foils placed in a higher humidity than they were manufactured will tend to curl in the opposite direction to those which are moved to a dry environment. Cards in this condition require a different technique to dry them out (and is a topic for another article).  You can tell which technique you need by the way the card is curling:  if the sides of the card curl away from you when you’re looking at the front of the card it needs to be hydrated, not dried out.  

It’s important to note that while I’ve used this technique successfully on two dozen cards, you will have to experiment a bit to find the right timing for your environment.  Start with cheap common foils from the same set/box and work your way up to the more valuable cards from the same set/box as you perfect your process.

No one wants their fancy foils to be curled unto unplayability.

Here is a solid starting point for most rehydration operations:

  1. Grab an old to-go container or Tupperware tub (any glass or plastic box, preferably something with a see-through lid)
  2. Lightly wet a single paper towel until it’s damp and line the bottom of the box with it
  3. You’ll need to make or find a platform for your card – I use the plastic top off a pencil case.  The only requirements are that the platform is flat, waterproof, and preferably has a lip around the sides so the card can’t slide off  
  4. Set your platform down in the middle of the hydration box, put your card on it, and close the lid
  5. Wait 30 minutes and check on the card.  If it’s in a halfway curled/uncurled state (ideally it will look a little wavy) that’s the sweet spot I’ve found.  If it’s still curled give it another 30 min
  6. Be mindful that your lid isn’t dripping water on the card – it shouldn’t be so humid that water is condensing and dripping from the top.  Once you’ve used the hydration chamber a few times (or opened and closed it a lot) you might need to rewet the paper towel
  7. Depending on how dried out the card was it’s hard to give exact times, but I’ve never had to wait more than 60 min.  Your climate may differ and take more or less time.  Note that It won’t look “perfect” in it’s rehydrated state, it will look wobbly but the flattening comes later.  If you overhydrate the card and it starts to curl towards you – the opposite of what you were trying to achieve – don’t panic.  Even in that state you should be able to leave it out for a while until it loses enough moisture to proceed to the next step
  8. Once you’ve gotten it to a state that’s somewhat flat and wavy, leave it out for about 10 minutes so it can acclimate a bit to your air (definitely let it “dry” if the surface of the card looks damp) then slide it in a sleeve and press it under a heavy book overnight
  9. Note: If you notice that your cards begin to curl the other way, you’ve gone too far, and will need to dehydrate the cards instead, a process we will cover in a future article.
  10. Note 2:  If you find yourself needing to hydrate a lot of cards – or that you need to do it frequently – you should consider investing in some humidity control packets used for cigar humidors.  These last a few months each, cost less than $20, and can be found online.  Same approach applies to the steps above, but replacing the towel for the humidity control packet and waiting a day or two instead of an hour

Here’s a quick video of what my hydration chamber looks like: 

After this method and a night under a heavy book your foil should be as flat as the day it was printed!  Now get it into another sleeve and into a perfect fit sleeve, penny sleeve and a hard plastic toploader so it stays that way. 

Major thanks to fellow ProTrader Alexis who suggested this technique!

Delving Deeper: Getting into Older Formats Part 2

Hello everyone! In my last article I talked about the first steps to getting into older formats. If you found yourself wanting to elevate your Magic experiences as well as level up your game, you’ve come to the right place. There are countless resources out there to find decklists and new tech for formats like Modern, Legacy, and Commander. But how is one to acquire the cards for these decks? That’s what I will be discussing today!

There are some general philosophies for picking up cards, like what type of cards to pick up first, but those sometimes operate under the assumption that you are going to be changing decks/playing more than one deck at once. Some decks have a high concentration of expensive cards among 4-8 cards only. Others have a more even distribution of expenses throughout the deck.

Generally, your landbase will be the -most important thing. This means picking up ABU dual lands, Ravnica shocklands, and Onslaught/Zendikar fetchlands. Your manabase, along with major format staples should be priority number one.

Budgeting will always be a personal matter. It varies from person to person how much money they have at their disposal. Do you have more money up front to get started? Do you have a little money able to be set aside each week or month? This all depends on you and your specific situation. Just adjust the advice in this article to fit your exact needs and financial situation.


There are a few excellent selling points to Modern:

  • It is cheaper than Legacy and Vintage
  • It has no reserved list cards in it
  • It has more frequent needed reprints
  • There are more Modern tournaments than Legacy and Vintage
  • You can build a very strong deck relatively cheaper than Legacy and Vintage

For Modern, there are dozens of decks, and many of them can be quite strong. Select the deck that you want to play, not based on its price, but based on how much you like the deck. Borrow the deck and proxy it up first to get a feel for it. You certainly don’t want to spend time and money assembling it only to find out you’ve made a mistake.

Most top tier decks in Modern have expensive staples in them. Rather than dismiss these cards for budget alternatives or looking at another deck, work towards acquiring them first.

  • Affinty needs a playset of Mox Opal and Arcbound Ravager
  • Jund needs a playset of Tarmogoyf and Liliana of the Veil
  • Grixis Death’s Shadow needs a playset of Scalding Tarn and Snapcaster Mage
  • Eldrazi Tron needs a playset of Chalice of the Void along with two Cavern of Souls and two Karn Liberated
  • Merfolk needs a playset of Cavern of Souls
  • Counters Company needs a playset of Verdant Catacombs
  • TitanShift needs a playset of Scapeshift and sometimes Through the Breach

The list goes on and on. If you want to be as competitive as possible and find pleasure in winning games, do not look for budget alternatives. As cliché as it sounds, nothing good in life comes easy, and most players can find a way to obtain these staples. It’s all a matter of how serious you are about obtaining them.

Start by obtaining the expensive cards first.

It may be difficult to front the cash to buy these cards on or but there are other ways to get the cards. You can try trading for them. If your local LGS doesn’t have a good trade-in system or local players don’t have the cards you need, scour on Facebook. It’s free! Join several groups, local and not, and start setting up some trades. Chances are great that you have some extra cards lying around that other players want. Note that if you are picking up expensive format staples you may have to trade up a little, which is fine. Generally speaking, a $100 card is better than 10 $10 cards. Don’t be afraid to take small hits if it’s for cards you know you will use. Especially if the alternative is paying cash for them.

Look for deals online.

Ebay has sales all the time, usually in the form of $15 off of $75 or $10 off of $50 coupons. These sales are a great way to expend your wallet further in exchange for a little patience. If you have more than one PayPal account, you can even reap the benefits from these coupons more than once per cycle. It’s like free money if you use it on cards you had to buy anyways.

Additionally, offers the option to sort cards by condition. This is great because you don’t necessarily need Near Mint copies of a card. If a card is priced at $20 for a NM copy, but $16 for a MP version, just go for that one. When it comes to Modern staples, I am certainly not an advocate of condition mattering. Your goal isn’t to flip them to a dealer or store or anything. Your goal is to play with them. Sure, let them be a little messy, nobody is going to care if its a shuffle creased Ugin or a $110 Ugin’s Fate Ugin that wipes their board.

Have a little Clairvoyance.

Oh, if only it were that easy. What I mean by this is look to the near future for the possibilities for reprints. With From the Vault: Transform coming out, right now is the last time I would be purchasing cards like Huntmaster of the Fells or Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Also look for cards that are severely undervalued at the moment or that you think may increase in price sharply. This pertains more to Reserved List cards as they are prone to the occasion price spike, but this can also mean cards that seem way too cheap for their supply/demand.

Once you have picked up the expensive staples for your deck, all that’s left is to flesh out the remainder. Trade for cards that you run across or save up something like $10 a week. You should have the mid and low value cards knocked out in no time. LGS usually have a good supply of cards in the $1-$10 range, so don’t be afraid to check them out for singles (as long as they are well priced). If they are priced above TCG mid, spend your money online instead. There is no reason to overpay if you are on a budget.

Jumping into Legacy

OUCH. Legacy prices are pretty crazy. There is no way around it, Legacy is expensive and takes a serious commitment and a determined mind to jump into. Luckily, there is very little volatility in Legacy, and your cards should always retain their value. If anything, your cards will only go up over time, and for that reason, it is one of my favorite formats to invest in.

Let’s take a look at the recently banned miracles deck. If you had purchased all the cards for this deck a year ago, only to have it banned earlier in 2017, you would surely be frustrated. By how many of those cards lost value? Counterbalance’s price has been slashed and Sensei’s Divining Top’s price has barely diminished due to its popularity in Commander. That’s it. Predict has doubled in price. Tundra has gone up 15%. The rest of the cards have been unaffected and see play widely across the format. If you don’t want to play with the cards from the miracles deck anymore, just trade them for other staples that you need for a different Legacy deck. Just don’t run to a dealer booth in disgust and haste.

Start with Reserved List cards.

I don’t want to start a discussion on the Reserved List as they tend to go nowhere fast and have little merit when the time comes to spend your money. As an investing Legacy player, you should work under the assumption that the Reserved List is here to stay. Work around it by acquiring the cards you need from it sooner than later.

When it comes to Legacy, there’s no way around it. Completing your manabase will be your most expensive and daunting task. Should you pick a deck that has fewer dual lands in it…

Well if you read my last article you know the answer depends on other factors. Don’t take the easy way out and play a deck that you feel will suit your wallet. You wallet is an inanimate object, don’t let it speak for you. Pick the deck that will suit you best. One that you won’t outgrow or get frustrated at when it doesn’t place well in tournaments.

Because dual lands are so expensive and sought after, you may have a hard time trading for them online. In the instance where you need to purchase them I suggest scouring online stores,, and Ebay for deals on played versions of them. Other than purchasing them, you can also get lucky if your LGS picks them up. In this case, you can trade in cards towards them and slowly build the store credit to buy the card. Most store owners are happy to work with you in this regard, as it would be in their interest to have their customers able to play more events there.

Once you pick up dual lands, if your deck requires them, pick up your Force of Wills and Wastelands. These cards see play in dozens of decks and if your goal is to become a long-term Legacy player, chances are good that you will need to have access to a playset of these at some point. Get them as soon as you can.


For the majority of Magic players, entering a new format will mean one thing. Sacrifices must be made. That will vary from individual to individual, but I can give my best general advice.

  • Skip a draft or two. Drafting at the shop is always a blast. But sometimes you need to save up a little for a constructed format. If you aren’t confident in your ability to turn a profit drafting (which is hard to do at most LGS), the maybe postpone your drafting. Save the $10-$15 towards getting a few staples for your deck.
  • Sell that awesome Masterpiece. Did you open a sweet Masterpiece card from a booster pack? Got lucky on a prize pack did a trade with a friend? Get rid of it! I don’t care if it looks nice in your EDH deck, if you need the funds to get into another format, that’s a perfect, and quite liquid, access to turn into cash. I’m of the belief that these lottery cards were inserted into Standard booster packs specifically to help newer players hit it big, and perhaps trade it into something to help them on their deckbuilding journey. Open an Invocation Force of Will? Congratulations, that can fund almost an entire Standard deck. Or three Tarmogoyfs. Or a Bayou. Get to work!
  • Spend time looking for deals and trading. This isn’t necessarily the most fun thing in the world to do, I will admit. But if money is tight, then use the next best thing, your time. Make the time to look online for deals. Take the time to do some trades at your LGS and even offer it slightly in the other person’s favor if you are trading up. As a general tip, try to trade up.

That about wraps it up. There are obviously dozens of other tips and tricks when it comes to finding cheap cards, but that is best saved for an article of its own. Just remember, older formats are a huge investment. You will need to make sacrifices. This isn’t for everyone. If you’ve assessed that you want to take your game to the next level, then these tips should help immensely on your journey. Are you fired up? What has helped you delve into older formats? Let me know in the comments and thanks so much for reading!

Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast. 
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.

Delving Deeper: Getting into Older Formats Part 1

Do you remember when you first started playing Magic? I know I do. It was at a friend’s house I watched for a few minutes as they played Standard against each other and then they asked me to take a seat and try myself. I was handed a deck with Stoneforge Mystic, Batterskull, and Jace, the Mindsculptor in it. I was instantly hooked and here I am today, writing articles and totally immersed in all forms of Magic: the Gathering.

Despite the highly competitive nature of the decks, Standard was the format I was introduced in. I would wager that with the number of events as well as the Pro Tour featuring it primarily, most player’s first forays into Magic also involve Standard. However, Standard just makes up one portion of the competitive scene of this vast game. There are dozens of fan-made and casual formats that exist. If you look around the world and on Magic Online you will find a plethora of competitive formats to dabble into.

“Alright, cool. I have been playing Magic at FNM and locally with friends for about a year now. I always hear about other formats like ‘Modern’ and ‘Legacy.’ I want to check that out, and learn more about other ways to enjoy this awesome game. Let’s check out some decks…”

Ok, so by this point many players are immediately turned off at this thought. Spending _____ on a card game sounds ridiculous right? Well to those who are just looking to Magic as the most casual of a hobby, I agree, the prices of these decks are astronomical and should rightfully push some away.

The price of top tier decks in formats like Vintage, Legacy, and even Modern are staggering! It isn’t easy for most folks to just jump right in and build a top tier deck on the fly. Forget about it if you change decks or want to build a gauntlet. I will never sugar-coat the financial struggle there is to getting involved in Magic’s older formats. Playing this game competitively is extremely expensive and I don’t want to underplay that.

So then what is the point of writing this? I am here to tell you that it is possible to accomplish this and show you how to do it. In this two-part article series, first, I will give general advice on picking out the right path to take. I will ask key questions that every player must ask themselves before undertaking this journey. The second article will discuss specifics on how to acquire expensive cards and help you reach the end goal. The advice I give here may not be for everyone, as each person’s situation and experiences are unique, but I will do my best to give the best advice regardless.

Before embarking on this quest, you must first ask yourself a few questions. These are general questions that will act as the knowledge used to form your action plan.

  1. What do I want to get out of Magic?

Another way to look at this question is what do you want Magic to be for you? If you want to play older formats but do so more casually then you are in luck. The internet is going to be your best resource for discovering new strategies and fun combos that can be built on a budget. Legacy, Modern, and Commander aren’t as daunting when you can use budget card choices, after all.

However, many players want to play competitively. Whether they plan to play in weekly/monthly events at their local LGS or travel to a Grand Prix or large event, if the goal is winning, things certainly get more expensive.

There are hundreds of high-level Standard events happening across the country every weekend. If you want to win at those events, you will need $200-$300 to purchase one of the Tier 1 Standard decks. There is a plethora of coverage and articles all over the internet to read and observe to elevate your Standard game. Keep up to date, study tournament results, and practice. That’s about all there is to Standard.

So what happens when you want to do the same with Modern? If we look at recent top performing decks, while there may be some variance in prices, most decks are going to cost from $700-$1500. That is a LOT of money to shell out and a significant step up from the price of a Standard deck.

Once you’ve determined the degree to which you want to play Magic, the next logical step becomes…

  1. What deck should I play?

Everyone’s budget is different, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s just assume that the average person can purchase one top tier modern deck (even if not all at once) and that replacing/changing decks often is not feasible. Under this fair assumption, selecting the right deck is crucial. Choosing a sub-optimal deck that doesn’t successfully align with your answer to question #1 can spell disaster for a player working on a limited budget. Usually it will mean reselling your cards to a store, where you will at best recover 50% of your investment or selling online which can be risky and time consuming. Neither option here is desirable, so choosing your deck correctly the first time is important.

A common pitfall I see many players fall into involves purchasing/trading for a deck that they will outgrow. Let’s pick on Legacy for this example. When I see players who are interested in Legacy, if their goal is to be competitive and to win events, I will do my best to steer them away from introductory or tier 2 decks. Decks like Burn, Dredge, Merfolk, and Eldrazi are all capable of winning games, but they lack the long-term staying and winning power of top performing decks in Legacy. In other words, there are significantly more instances of other decks winning matches and events than these decks winning.

Again, I would like to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with these types of decks. They are just not decks I would recommend to players who answered question #1 with anything along the lines of “wanting to win events” or “playing top tier decks to improve as a player.”

Many players choose to play decks like Burn or Dredge in Legacy due to monetary concern. Other decks play Dual lands and various expensive staples. So naturally it follows that decks without Wasteland, Force of Will, and Dual lands seem like an excellent budget alternative. Don’t be fooled, though. Lower power decks in Legacy ARE alternatives, just not tournament winning alternatives for those who wish to win the most matches. In part 2 of this article series I will go over the best ways to invest and pick up cards to build your way into more expensive formats like Legacy and Vintage.

So, to reiterate my point, if you are looking to enter an older format competitively (where winning is the primary goal), you should aim to purchase/trade for a top tier deck. This may involve acquiring dual lands or other expensive format staples that you would have otherwise wished you could have avoided. Do not buy into a deck just because it is an excellent entry-level deck for the format, as you will likely outgrow it and lose money on turning around and selling it.

To sum up this article (which will be two parts total):

  1. Ask yourself what you want out of Magic.
  2. Pick what deck you should play.
  3. If you want to be competitive, do not settle for something less.
  4. Don’t buy into a “budget” or introductory deck to a format.

These questions and my advice may seem somewhat intangible, but stick with me for the next article where I put it all to practical use.

Dabbling into older MTG formats is more of a journey than a case of instant gratification. If you can afford the top tier deck you want just like that, excellent. You are luckier than most. If you don’t need a top tier deck to have fun with and enjoy the format, that is also excellent. Your wallet will thank you. One of the most beautiful parts about Magic is that it has so many ways to involve and include individuals of various backgrounds. No matter what type of player you are, or the extent of your budget, there is a format in Magic for you. Go out there and experience it!

Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast. 
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.