Category Archives: The Gilded Goblin

MTG Market Insight – The Power of Market Leader Information


We have also been “asked” to remove Starcity prices form our site. We have pulled the prices for now.

The reason for removing the prices was simply that it wasn’t worth the time and effort required to keep up with their constant attempts to hide the data and they were almost NEVER the lowest prices vendor so the added gain to our users was very minimal.

On average, Starcity was 12% more expensive than almost every other vendor for almost every other card we looked at. Since each vendor is selling an identical good, sending people to SCG seemed silly.

That being said, some people still want SCG prices for comparison. Since has some funding, we’re fortunate to have some excellent IP and Internet lawyers available to us ( Rough advice from them follows (note: this is NOT advice to anyone else, it’s just me paraphrasing our own personal legal situation):

1. Price information is simply a statement of facts. You cannot copyright it. This is a 1991 Supreme Court decision. Relevant case law is here:

In my opinion, for the C&D author to claim “such action may also constitute an infringement of SCG’s intellectual property rights” implies that one of the following statements is true:

a) They are a terrible lawyer that doesn’t understand basic case law.
b) They are lying.
c) They think the word “may” means “doesn’t in any way”.

2. Terms and Conditions on a website need to be affirmatively agreed to to be binding. If I added to the T&C on “Anyone from that visits this site owes me $1 Million USD per visit”, it would be irrelevant. (Even if they DID agree, it would be unconscionable but that’s besides the point). Importantly, we have been careful to never accept these terms and conditions (which is why we stopped offering buylist prices earlier this year).

3. The recent 3Taps/ Padmapper/ Craigslist ruling CAN make “circumvention” unlawful, however the exact definition of circumvention is hazy. The EFF has a nice writeup of this case here:

For us, we decided that the simplest possible thing to do would be to use Amazon Turk to crowdsource the pricing data. In other words, get real humans to connect to and simply tell us how much they are charging for each card. Using Turk, we estimate that we could get every modern card’s price for less than $10/day. If there is demand for this, we will probably go this route since it both avoids all of the technological measures SCG are using and it’s 100% legal.

Please note: We have repeatedly offered Starcity free advertising for their data. We are also willing to pay directly for it, or to take any reasonable steps needed to limit any server load they may encounter.

Ultimately, we doubt this is about server load. We feel that Starcity simply don’t want people to be able to compare their prices as SCG prices are so frequently much more expensive than their competitors.

This is something we are willing to fight if it’s of benefit to our users. If you’d like to continue to see SCG prices on our site, please let me know at or post below.


By: Jared Yost

How much power does Magic market information have when it comes directly from a market leader? To what extent are we willing to go to make sure that we are getting the best price for the cards that we trade or buy? To what extent are companies willing to go to protect their business data from being used in ways which they may not approve? A controversy has come to light surrounding these questions.

Recently, an interesting post has appeared on Reddit about Starcitygames (SCG) locking down the information on their website. A brief history of dawnglare is as follows. Reddit user dawnGlare created the website, which is a price scraping tool used to display card prices for Magic cards. Some of you may remember the website ark42, which is what Dawnglare is based upon. It was the original Starcity price scraper that was used to quickly lookup sell prices, and was quite popular to boot. The owner of the ark42 website seemed to have a falling out with their local Magic community, which is explained in his monologue that has replaced the original website. I don’t think Starcity had any hand in ark42 shutting down like the current dawnglare situation. It operated for quite a while before it was shut down and it was a shame that such a wonderful contribution to the community is now dysfunctional because of a few bad apples.

Dawnglare is the replacement for the ark42 tool, with both of the websites utilizing similar, if not the same source code to display card names, prices, and mouse-over pictures of the cards. The tool has not been available too long; a few months at most. Like ark42, Dawnglare utilizes Starcity prices, and in addition have stated that their goal is to incorporate TCG mid prices for cards as well. The website is still functioning with only Starcity prices because it appears that the owner is seeking community input before they move forward with either improvements to the service or shutting it down.

This article is not providing input on whether or not they should keep the website, but rather analyzing the situation and providing commentary.

A summary about the case against Dawnglare:

  • Starcity sent a cease and desist letter to the Dawnglare site admin, which means that they are utilizing legal representation in order to enforce their data policy (in other words, they aren’t playing around once they get lawyers involved.)

  • Starcity quoted their website’s terms and conditions in the letter, which state that ANY type of information on cannot be scraped programmatically

  • This point is important, because information defined here also includes the sell prices of the cards, not only just the buylist prices. Many people on the Reddit post were confused on this point because Dawnglare reads only the sell price, not the buylist for Starcity, which specifically carries a set of terms.

  •’s terms and conditions state that the user must agree to them

  • This is interesting because there isn’t any agreement page that you need to go through before accessing the main website in order to see sell prices, unlike the buylist. However, though this may seem unintuitive, it could actually be the case that just using the website makes you subject to the Terms and Conditions. It could be argued either way.
  • Starcity stated that dawnglare has committed a breach of contract with the website for its automatic scraping

  • Staricty claimed that the sell price data on its website are valuable rights of the organization

  • Starcity gave the Dawnglare site admin until December 2nd, the date of this article publication, to comply with their demands or face legal recourse

  • Starcity mentioned that legal disputes can only be fought in a court in Roanoke, VA, where their physical store is located

  • I’m not sure about state law in regards to the internet, though it would definitely be weird to go to court with this if the Dawnglare site admin is not located in VA

Let me say this now – I am only providing my opinion on this controversy based on the details outlined by Dawnglare on the original Reddit post. I have no idea if the Dawnglare site admin altered the letter Starcity sent them in any way nor do I have any way of knowing if Starcity will continue with their legal recourse for the Dawnglare price tool. I simply wish to start a conversation with players about how far organizations are willing to go to protect their data about real-time card prices, even if the data seems innocuous. Moving forward, this can also lead to implications about access to financial data of cards.

First, let me address one issue at hand – Starcity wishing to protect their data from a technological perspective. As an organization, especially one with a detailed terms of service expressly forbidding certain actions, they have a right to protect their business interests if they feel it will affect them in a negative way.

How can a price scraping tool affect Starcity negatively? A major concern is that external sites could cause a massive strain on server resources for Starcity, such that if several tools like Dawnglare are scraping their website for information it could hamper the website’s response speed. If any of you have used the Starcity deck database search or advanced card search, you can already see that their searches are somewhat slow. It can take quite a while to return a results from an advanced search. With so many users already searching the database, adding a scraping tool that is constantly pinging the database only stands to make things worse.

Of course, you could argue that Starcity should upgrade their servers and increase their bandwidth to the website to eliminate these problems, which would negate the effects from any tool that would also scrape the information (think Google, Amazon,or any other big name retailer – programs scrape their information all the time and it does affect the website’s speed). Unfortunately, Starcity is either not in the position to do this or is allocating their budget elsewhere, which means trying to cut bandwidth costs in other ways.

If Starcity uses legal recourse to cut server bandwidth overutilization rather than put the funds towards upgrading their server capacity, which could be argued to be the cornerstone of their business then there may be other motivating factors at work. This leads me to believe there are business considerations for going after tools like Dawnglare. I am not alone in this analysis of the cease and desist letter.

The other reading of the situation is that Starcity is not only protecting their data from a technological perspective, they are also protecting their data from a business perspective. This issue is centered around whether or not Starcity went too far in persecuting Dawnglare for creating a tool to scrape their prices. From a legal perspective, could you define any type of data on your website as “valuable rights of the organization”? Is the information considered public or private if anyone with an internet connection and the website address can access the information? Whether or not it is public is not up to me to determine, only someone with a better understanding of business and internet law can make that determination. When looking at the website though, anyone can access Starcity’s sell prices- all you need to do is go to and and start typing.

Even this set of questions brings up another question – does this mean that you are already agreeing to Starcity’s terms of service just by executing searches against the information that they make available on their website? Since you don’t have to actively agree to anything in order to just search for the sell prices, this could definitely be contentious when arguing whether or not issuing a cease and desist is the right call.

After considering all the information as we have it, the next issue is whether or not a programmatic search through a tool like Dawnglare, even though it may execute hundreds or thousands of searches per minute, has the same rights and merits as a manual search executed by a single user. It could actually boil down to the rights of the user to access a particular amount of data on the website, measured in kilobytes, which is really the only difference between the tool and a normal website user. If the tool really is causing negative harm to Starcity (for example having them complete extra server maintenance due to all the extra searches from a single source) then there is an argument to taking down the tool – after all, DDOSing a website is a real thing and can wreak massive havoc on any web service.

From the community’s perspective on all this, Starcity does not appear to be operating any slower than usual, so there must be something going on behind the scenes that Starcity does in order to balance out the extra load from the scraping tools. Maybe not though. It could just be that they are trying to protect what they perceive as their business model.

Circling back to the cease and desist, the real issue is that Starcity is trying to stop application scraping of their website through third party applications and whether or not their outlined legal explanation (as per user dawnGlare on Reddit) is powerful enough to stop this type of behavior in the future. Since I a not a lawyer, I can’t give a grounded legal argument for continuing or discontinuing the scraping of information that is outside of the website’s terms of service, but it is interesting at this point in time that Starcity is cracking down on applications. I’m not even sure if Dawnglare is the first site they’ve contacted about this issue. There could be others out there who have decided to shutter their applications once they received the letter.

In addition, I think it is intriguing that Starcity is choosing to enforce their rights against someone who is not just scraping buylist prices, but sell prices as well. I’m not sure why the sell price in particular needs to locked down. In order to access buylist prices for Starcity you need to log into the website and agree to their terms by clicking a specific button. This can easily be linked to agreeing to their terms of service – the terms are on the prompt before the buylist. Whether or not this information should also be heavily protected behind this type of agreement can also be debated, since the buylist information can also technically be accessed by anyone because technically anyone can create an account with Starcity and access the buylist. Starcity most likely put that road block in place in order to easily shut down accounts that were created strictly for applications that intend to scrape buylist information.

The real root question here is why does Starcity care so much about people mining its sell price information? Do they have so much sway that if they change their sell prices it could possibly create a market-wide shift, ultimately interfering with their business practices? I will definitely be following this case in the future to see what happens, because the outcome could have major impacts on the way that people access card price information if other organizations follow suit.

The outcome of the Dawnglare website cease and desist notification will have implications for buylists and possibly more going forward. It might even spark conversation on the power that Starcity wields over the market and the lengths that they will go to protect their market position. It could also mean that in the future other stores may start locking down their website information, which further and further separates the movements of big box Magic stores from the community. I’m personally against restricting access to information, however with private organizations my opinions don’t matter and at the end of the day. It comes down to the fact that an organization should have a way to protect their data.

But how far is too far? I think that is question that everyone is trying to answer, in order to find a happy medium between Starcity operating as a business and other third-party tool creators wanting to use their data in order to create more valuable applications for the Magic community. After all, we all love this game – we all want to see it succeed both through Wizards and the stores that support them. I hope that both parties are able to resolve the dispute amicably and in a way that still benefits the Magic community at large.

Cards on the Move!

By: Jared Yost

This week I would like to take a look at current trends in card prices and determine why spikes or gradual increases for particular cards are occurring.

Fast Movers

Splinter Twin

Splinter Twin

Splinter Twin exploded in value Friday. As of the time of this writing, it is currently sitting around $8 TCG Mid with many vendors selling at that price or higher. Before Friday, the card could easily be had for $4-$5. Players are starting to speculate on Splinter Twin because it is one of the core components of the aptly named Splinter Twin combo deck in Modern. At this point, is it still pure speculation or will the price hold?

If we look at the last Modern season, there was also a price spike on Splinter Twin. Once the Exarch/Twin deck made its debut in Modern, Splinter Twin immediately skyrocketed (like many other Modern staples, such as Karn and Fetchlands) and stayed at that price throughout most of the previous season. Since then it has slowly trickled back down to around $4. Now with the recent spike it is currently trending upwards again towards the previous highs of $10+ dollars.

It is entirely possible that without a banning Splinter Twin could see even higher prices than the previous Modern season because a reprint has yet to occur. I am going to keep a close eye on this card moving forward to see if continues to trend upwards.




Let the rise begin! I’ve mentioned Griselbrand previously so I really hope you followed my advice and started picking them up before everyone else realized that he has true staying power, both in Modern and other eternal formats.

Even with all the hype, there could be potential downsides moving forward. Wizards can be very fickle with Modern as a format, since they can and will ban cards at any point. They also can and will print cards as needed to satisfy the increased demand. Even taking these two points into account, I still think Griselbrand is safe for a while from both of these potentialities. Expect this guy to reach Emrakul levels eventually; however you could also take advantage of this year’s Modern spike to cash out early if you felt so inclined.


Phyrexian Obliterator

Phyrexian Obliterator

Here we have a Modern card that has had a major price spike that currently isn’t a format staple. I believe that Phyrexian Obliterator is purely a speculative increase due to unrealized potential in Modern. This is because many people are trying to get Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to work as well in Modern as it does in Standard. With cards like Phyrexian Obliterator, I can see why.

Other cards that could pump up the power in this deck include Garza’s Assasin, Gatekeeper of Malakir, Demigod of Revenge, Geralf’s Messenger, Phyrexian Arena, and even… yes, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, that common that stomped you in limited. Hmm, there might be something to this card after all. Phyrexian Obliterator already has an awesome casual following, which has buoyed the cards price at $10-$15 until recently. However, I can’t justify jumping in at this point because the price has already started to climb as high as $17 per copy. My advice would be to be to sell or trade any copies you are sitting on because this card is too risky for me at this point.


Slow but Steady Gainers

Ajani, Caller of the Pride

Ajani, Caller of the Pride

Did you know that Ajani has currently reached around $8 TCG mid and is sitting at $10 or higher retail? In the shadows, Ajani has been slowly ticking up in price since this summer when he was sitting around $4-$5 per copy.

Why the sudden uptick in price for this version of Ajani? He is only played in about 5% of the current standard decks and at an average of only two copies per deck.

My opinion are twofold – first, players are starting to brew with white aggro decks in Standard more and more, perhaps hoping that Born of the Gods will be able to make the archetype better. Second, Planeswalkers are popular casual cards that derive part of their price from their appeal to casual players.

Considering both these factors, it appears that Ajani is slowly climbing in price as the Standard tournament season is approaching. I’m not sure if Ajani will go up higher or maintain his price because right now it appears to be going up somewhat speculatively since he currently doesn’t have much of a home in many decks. However, this is certainly a card to watch out for moving forward because people are buying them whether for Standard or otherwise.




I believe that Mutavault will continue to be a slow, steady gainer and as we approach Standard season in January. It has been slowly gaining since the middle of October and has gone from around $14 per copy TCG mid to $22 per copy.

It is a popular manland that will continue to be a tournament staple as long as players push devotion with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Even if this strategy falls out of favor, control players will want to play Mutavault because it gives of the utility it provides in the land slot. I would be surprised if Mutavault dropped in price during the Standard PTQ season.


Garruk, Caller of Beasts

Garruk, Caller of Beasts

Garruk was down to around $14 in the middle of October and has since gone up to around $22 per copy. He has followed a similar pattern to Mutavault, which is strange to me because he is a mythic rare. Either he should be sitting at around $25+ due to tournament playability or he should be around $10 like most of the other Planeswalkers in Standard.

In Garruk’s case, I think the majority of his price is due to the role he plays in the mono-green or R/G devotion strategies. Domri Rade seems to be played side by side with Garruk when he is paired with R/G, and with mono green devotion there is no better Planeswalker than Garruk. This slow but steady gainer should maintain his price throughout Standard season. He could spike if mono green devotion somehow becomes a Tier 1 deck but I think his price will still rise anyways because he is the most powerful green Planeswalker in Standard.


Sliver Legion

Sliver Legion

I’m not sure a lot of people realize this but Sliver Legion’s average price is around $35! Similar to Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, that is a ton of money for a purely casual card. Not that he has spiked recently – the card is a slow, steady gainer that yields results. Last year Sliver Legion was hovering around an average price of $25 and has slowly crept up from there.

Moving forward, I can’t see how this card will ever go down in price barring a mass reprint in a Commander product or other type of deck that Wizard’s releases. Definitely keep an eye out for this card at the trade tables, because if you can pick them up for your undesirables, or if you can trade them into Modern of Legacy eternal playables, you won’t go wrong.

Filling in the Gaps

By: Jared Yost

A great deal of new Standard decks will be available once Born of the Gods is released. Why is is this? Because another chunk of mana fixing will have become available. Once the rest of the the Theros block Scrylands are printed, those color pairs that were lacking critical mana fixing will see help. As soon as these pairs have better mana, new strategies will open up for deck builders to take advantage of less used color combinations.

Which Scrylands have we yet to see?

– Golgari (G/B)
– Selesnya (G/W)
– Izzet (U/R)
– Azorious (W/U)
– Rakdos (B/R)

We aren’t exactly sure which lands we’ll be getting in Born of Gods and which will be in Journey into Nyx. That doesn’t stop us from planning ahead, though. Based on these missing Scrylands, I am going to offer my insight into what cards could benefit the most once once their respective fixing is available.



Gaze of Granite

Gaze of Granite

Gaze of Granite is a powerful removal spell that could see play in B/G control shells that might start popping up once the mana is available to support it. I like this card as a target because it is from Dragon’s Maze, a set that wasn’t opened a ton. I’ll be keeping my eye on this card once the spoiler season for Born of the Gods comes along.


Lotleth Troll

Lotleth Troll

My colleagues and I at this website have discussed Lotleth Troll from time to time and I still think that he has a bit of room to grow. Especially since Kibler has this zombie on his radar, I think it is safe to say that it can be a powerful card in Standard. $1-$2 is still a cheap price for him.


Reaper of the Wilds

Reaper of the Wilds

I’ve mentioned Reaper of the Wilds in my set review for Theros and it looks like Kibler and a few others have played with this card since then. I’ve seen some other builds online that put this card into both a control and aggro shell.

I’m not sure if the fit for Reaper is an aggro or control yet. Depending on the match-up  the card can be good in the mid-game as a blocker against an aggro deck, and can also be useful if played on turn six with two mana up to activate hexproof against removal-heavy opponents.


Varolz, the Scar-Striped

Varolz, the Scar-Striped

I really wanted Varolz to take off in price, but he never did. I feel like as more cards enter Standard the potential synergies for Varolz will only increase. Exava is being played alongside of Xathrid Necromancer, so I don’t think it is too far of stretch to see Varolz in these builds once better mana fixing is available.



Advent of the Wurm

Advent of the Wurm

I really like Advent of the Wurm and will be watching the card moving forward. This is another card that I’ve been watching for a while because I feel that Selesnya decks have a lot of synergy and power in Standard. What they are currently lacking is mana fixing, and once the G/W Scryland comes out, a lot more players will be comfortable slinging the more powerful Selesnya spells.


Armada Wurm

Armada Wurm

Armada Wurm packs a lot of raw power. Unfortunately this just isn’t enough to make it good in Standard. The synergy with other similar effects, like Populate and mana fixing, must exist to complement the power. In addition to being a possible tournament staple, Armada Wurm will be a popular casual card in the future which is another reason I like picking them up.


Fleecemane Lion

Fleecemane Lion

I predicted that the Lion would dip heavily once more Theros was opened and it looks like that is the case. There hasn’t been much financial chatter about Fleecemane since his debut except the advice of stay far away. However, I feel like now that the Lion has dipped down into the $3 range that he could be a good pickup. Will the G/W Scryland make this card better? Will it only be a casual hit? Either way, $3 is pretty low for a strictly better Watchwolf.


Loxodon Smiter

Loxodon Smiter

I feel like at this point Loxodon Smiter should have taken off if it was supposed to. When he is played, either in control or aggro, there are always three or four copies. There have been plenty of decks that have top-eighted or won that featured three or four copies of the Elephant. At $2 this still feels undervalued to me.



Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice

Trostani has had an interesting financial life. Having started out near $20 in October 2012 and then falling to $4 in the spring of 2013, this mythic rare took quite a tumble. She went up to $8 this summer, and now Trostani is back to the $4 range.

A card that fluctuates this much in price is definitely one to keep an eye out for. Clearly, there is potential here for her to be a tournament staple and also to be a casual all-star hit. Once the G/W Scryland is printed it could be enough to really push Trostani’s price up until the end of her standard life.



Ral Zarek

Ral Zarek

Ral Zarek is my only pick for U/R that could see a big price increase once the new Scrylands are available. Ral Zarek is kind of insane with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx – tapping down an opposing blocker whilst untapping my Nykthos? He might find a home in some sort of U/R devotion.

Unfortunately, Ral Zarek is currently my only pick for U/R because there aren’t a lot of powerful spells at rare and mythic rare in Standard for Izzet. U/R seems to have fallen out of a favor as a color combination utilized – Born of the Gods could change that.



The Azorious Scryland will only add to the power of the existing W/U Control deck that exists in Standard. All of the staples of that deck from a financial perspective have already reached their peak values. I do not believe that the Azorious Scryland when printed will affect the price of any particular W/U rare or mythic in a significant way. The only change I could see it making is increasing cards that mesh well with Esper control lists, such as Obzedat, Ghost Council.



Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch

Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch

Exava was able to take down a GP, so there is clearly a lot of power in her ability to strike fast and hard. Since she was printed in a preconstructed deck there is a cap on the price she will be able to command. Despite this, I could easily see Exava creeping up to $5 or $6 once more Rakdos builds are available when the new Scrylands are released.


Rakdos's Return

Rakdos’s Return

Rakdos’s Return is a powerful spell that hasn’t been given a lot of love lately. It appears from time to time in Standard decks but that hasn’t been able to earn it more than a $6 price tag. Rakdos’s Return could be a good pick for the future because once more B/R is played.


Tymaret, the Murder King

Tymaret, the Murder King

Tymaret represents a lot of what “could be” in Standard. It only needs a few more pieces (and better mana fixing) to really make him take off and become the centerpiece of a Standard deck. Since he can only hit players, the deck would need to be focused around a lot of graveyard recursion or token generation in order to really maximize the effect of sacrificing creatures. From a financial standpoint, Tymaret is currently bulk and can be had as a trade throw in. Not a lot of downside and a lot of potential upside if more support is added.


Underworld Cerberus

Underworld Cerberus

Could my speculation on Underworld Cerberus actually pan out after all? I have been seeing a lot of buzz online for the power of Cerberus, and it will only get better once more optimal mana fixing is printed for the Rakdos. It has gotten super cheap to pick this card up, so it could very well be a huge winner when the new Scrylands are revealed.



There is a lot of unused potential in Standard because of the missing Scrylands. There is still plenty of opportunity abound for the savvy trader or player to pick up cheap copies of spells before they potentially spike. Once the new Scrylands are printed the landscape of Standard will change, and currently underutilized cards may see a huge surge in play.

MTGO vs Paper Magic – Why Choose One Over the Other for Finance?

Full disclosure – I only play paper Magic. I have played Magic in other online formats, such as Cockatrice and other free software platforms, though my main focus is on paper Magic. I have considered trying MTGO in the past, and in the future I may give it a shot. Underworld Cerberus

From a financial perspective, MTGO markets are a much different beast than their paper counterparts. When comparing the two markets to each other, I have noticed that trends in MTGO change much quicker than paper when new decks hit the online scene. For example, both Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch and Underworld Cerberus have seen an uptick in price in MTGO but have not moved much in paper Magic.

I am going to outline the pros and cons of both formats to determine which format is better for certain types of players.


Magic: The Gathering Online (MTGO)


  • Great for limited players – Play Magic anytime, anywhere. There is always a draft to be had
  • Flexible availability – The ability to hop into constructed matches on-demand is excellent for more serious players, as they are able to jam a lot of games and get much more testing done than if they were playing in person. This isn’t necessarily perfect preparation though, as the MTGO metagame often does not accurately mirror that of Grand Prixs or SCG tournaments. Your mileage may vary if you utilize MTGO for paper tournament testing.
  • Easy to offload cards  The prevalence of bots on MTGO makes turning your unused/extra cards into useful resources a breeze. Many bots run on very slim margins, which means it doesn’t cost much to turn 75 into an entirely different 75 without losing much value. Doing this in paper means either you go the fast route and trade the cards in at a store, accepting a massive loss in value, or you trade the pieces with other players, which is likely to be incredibly time consuming.


  • Keeping track of prices across both formats is confusing and time consuming – The difference in prices between the online and paper version of a card can sometimes be quite staggering. For instance, Snapcaster Mage on MTGO can be as low as 7 tickets (1 ticket = ~$1), while paper copies have never gone below $18.

  • It costs the same amount of money to play MTGO as it does to play paper Magic – This has always really baffled me and is one of the reasons why I haven’t tried MTGO – Wizards has even chosen to set the MSRP for MTGO boosters the same as paper boosters! I understand the convenience of being able to play at any time is very enticing, but I am surprised that MTGO is popular and profitable for Wizards at the same price point as paper cards. However, my incredulity is apparently unfounded – the past has shown that this is a profitable strategy for Wizards, as a large percentage of their revenue comes from MTGO sales, and the online format is as popular as ever. It appears that MTGO caters to a crowd that has no problem with this current price structure.

Paper Tiger

Magic: The Gathering – Old School Paper!


  • Playing paper is more social – The social aspect of Magic is one of the reasons why the game has stuck with me, and many others, throughout the years. Having a lot of friends that you can get together with to play on a given evening or weekend is really awesome. From a financial standpoint, having a social environment to trade or sell cards away is good for the savvy trader because there will always be opportunities for trading and buying.

  • There is value in sealed product – Sealed product tends to appreciate in value over time. Look at Innistrad booster boxes for a recent example. If you play paper magic, being able to pick up booster boxes at market prices (or even things like Commander decks and Duel Decks) can be a solid opportunity. With MTGO you can only purchase packs of cards or singles.


  • Time Intensive – If you play paper magic, a lot more time is involved with trading and playing the game in general than MTGO. Without a computer, you have to sort all of your cards manually, as well as do things that mostly don’t even occur on MTGO such as buylisting to stores, going to events, sleeving and desleeving decks, etc.

  • Potential for card loss or destruction – In real life, things happen. Cards get lost, stolen, or destroyed. With MTGO, the only thing you have to worry about is unauthorized access to your account. The chances of this happening are significantly lower than having something happen to your physical cards.

Financial Implications

With MTGO, your avenue for profit is smaller. You are relegated to basically two options: Convert cards into tickets, and then attempt to sell the tickets, or redeem sealed sets which you take to eBay. These aren’t necessarily worse methods of profit, but there aren’t nearly as many options for converting resources into cash as with paper Magic. It’s not to say that MTGO is a worse market to function in, but rather considerably different.

In the future I might decide to delve into MTGO. It is certainly fun, and a great utilization of your available Magic-playing hours. From a financial perspective, I still feel that trading and buying with paper can be much more profitable, mainly due to the number of outlets you have to trade and sell cards.