Category Archives: Think Twice

The Importance of Organization

By: Camden Clark

It has recently come to my attention how important organization and keeping records really is.

In an abstract sense, many of us would nod our heads and agree that, yes, organization is important. We should all be keeping records too. Few would argue with these seemingly logical standpoints. Many would say “this is basic.”

However, outside of the abstract, how are you really improving your organization to maximize the value you get out of this game?

Let us talk about organizing your cards.

Many of us have that box. That box is the one that has all of the excess cards we have obtained through the years. We rarely know the exact inventory of the cards we have in this box. We fail to keep track of the amount of rares we have in that box, the uncommons, the commons, or what set any of them are from. 

That box could be holding a few Serum Visions or Spell Snares. The easiest thing to do to organize your cards is to go through it in phases.

The first phase involves combing your collection for rares and other money uncommons and commons. If you generally know the era of Magic where your cards come from you can print out a buylist from those sets and look through it before going through your cards.

You may be surprised how much value you pull out. There are lots of cards playable in Modern and Commander that are great to throw in your binder. Even common foils move well. I and many others in the MTGFinance community attest to how many Oblivion Rings they trade away to people who simply don’t want to buy a playset online.

Once you pull out the cards with value, you can organize them into a few different binders. Yes, this means you might be taking apart your current trade binder. Do not fret: this will get you more value in the end.

I like to have three binders:

  1. One for the hottest standard cards. Shocklands, scrylands, and Standard playable cards galore. I generally try to trade into newer sets with this binder.
  2. One for Modern/Legacy cards. Any kind of dual land, Modern and Legacy commons, uncommons, and rares all go here. Commons like Serum Visions trade surprisingly well and are not that difficult to obtain in trade.
  3. One for Casual/Commander cards. This one is typically the bulkiest. There will be tons of foils, Commander staples, etc. that move out of this binder. Keeping this one stocked will net you massive gains from seemingly silly foils and trade you into cards that hold more weight. I might even say this pool of cards will trade the most.

It is easy to gauge who will want to go through which binder first. The guy who is asking you to play a multiplayer EDH game with his Zedruu deck is probably a good target for the Commander staples. Conversely, the guy who grinds PTQs could probably care less about your Sol Ring collection. These are all generalizations but making a good first impression with your first set of cards will make them want to go through the rest of your collection anyways. Having these three binders will allow you to be more organized and trade with a wider variety of people.

After you get through your binders, you should go back to the bulk commons, uncommons, and rares. You should now take out any rares and mythic rares. You can save these in a separate box for bulk at a later date or keep in a dusty old binder in case they spike. This is a good way to utilize MTGPrice’s collection tool. You can input all of the cards that you have in a junk binder and be able to see if any spiked recently. Needless to say, you could make a whole bunch of money. Going forward, if any of them spike, you will be able to see that too.

After you have a box of simply commons and uncommons, you should go through and sort it by format. Which ones are Standard legal? Which are Modern legal? Which are only Legacy legal? From here, it will be much easier to break them up into each set.

From that point, you can comb through to find an obscure card whenever or be better organized to sell bulk if you go to a major tournament.

To many of you this seems basic. Trust me: take a day to reorganize yourself. It is very worth it.

Now let’s talk about the other end of organization, taking inventory.

This is a quintessential part of speculation and should be paid attention to whenever dealing in cards. Generally the advice is: do what the card shops do.

You should know what quantity you are speculating in and how much you bought in for. You should also know how much you spent on shipping. I like to keep this in a spreadsheet.

The above is the absolute basics.

What are you doing with the above information? Other than being able to make an informed decision about when to sell, how does it help you in the future? Where do you learn about the bad decisions that you made and the good decisions that you made? 

I’m a big fan of learning from our past experiences and using statistics to evaluate why things went correctly or poorly. A recent article caused me to think really hard about the essential elements of Magic speculation that many people gloss over. They look at the retail price but fail to see the overhead and other costs involved.

Thus, from the start, you should be evaluating how much the buylist/eBay price is going to have to rise before you make any money at all. You should do a gauge on shipping costs and factor that in to a spreadsheet.

In your spreadsheet or somewhere else you should also write a serious evaluation of why you bought in to this card and what trajectory you expect to see. I say this not to cause self-doubt but rather to evaluate the decision making calculus and thought process. We are not sterile computers, we have off days, we make mistakes. However, we can come closer to understanding everything that causes us to make our decisions. By gathering as much data as possible we can make better decisions in the future.

Thus your spreadsheet should have the following things:

  • The name of the card you are speculating in
  • The amount you bought
  • The lump sum price you paid to acquire all the cards
  • The lump sum of shipping you paid to acquire all the cards
  • Average out a total price per card including shipping

Then for the eventuality of selling

  • The shipping you will probably need to pay per card
  • A formula box that shows the price each card will need to reach to make any money

And finally you should include an explanation for why you bought the card.

I will be creating a template for a spreadsheet on google docs to share with you. If you are interested in getting this, follow me on twitter:

Spreadsheets are invaluable tools for keeping yourself sane-ask any accountant.

As a supplement to your own tracking, a great way to find out where the cards in your collection are at is the collections feature on MTGPrice. I use this one to find out where the price of all my cards are at and see how they compare to the price I need to be at. I really like seeing which cards have increased in value recently and you should too. That can be an invaluable way of not having to look up every card individually. When you are ready to sell, it’s quite easy.

Using Google Docs (Drive?) Spreadsheets and the MTGPrice tools in conjunction I have most of the information available to me that I need to trade. When I am at an event, I can pull up the spreadsheet of the cards I am speculating on and seeing if I can pick up any more copies at similar prices minus shipping.

I really like the spreadsheets for when I am watching coverage of major events as well. I can quickly plug in the expected prices of a card and find out how much it would have to go up in order to make any money at all.

Now that we have organization out of the way, I plan to create a Modern portfolio that answers a question I see all the time on /r/mtgfinance: “What should I invest one-hundred dollars into?” This portfolio will take the lessons from this article into account and document the picks I plan to make with such a small sum of money.

Thanks for reading. Does this portfolio idea sound interesting? What organization methods do you use? Respond in the comments.

The Future of Modern

By: Camden Clark

I talked two weeks ago about the picks I made and how the Pro Tour set the metagame that will go into the Pro Tour Qualifier season.

I was and still am really optimistic about the future of Modern in both the short and long terms. There are a lot of people who really enjoy this format. Wizards has been throwing so much at this format to make it work that Modern will not fail.

With Modern there are so many more copies of each card in print than, say, Revised. There are simply more copies of Verdant Catacombs than Bayou out there. Herein lies the genius and the pitfall of Modern. Wizards could decide to reprint a popular Modern playable, crashing the price but significantly increasing accessibility. As the reserved list prevents Wizards from printing more copies of Bayou there will be no room for more players to get in and the floor will only get higher and higher.

Although there is the potential for these pitfalls (see Remand) overall the trend for Modern has been up. This will only continue into the summer and beyond.

I want to avoid proselytizing the death of Legacy. However, the huge Modern GPs show the inevitable adoption of the Modern format as a semi-eternal format that has higher accessibility. Star City Games has a LOT invested in Legacy cards. They will not stop doing major Legacy events. The recent spikes of dual lands worries me for the future of the format. There are quite a few people who have their Legacy card collection from buying the cards years ago. These players do not grow the format unfortunately. The players that grow the format are ones who buy into the format. If decks cost six thousand dollars or more, who will pay that just to play one event a year?

Decks that are $1,000 to $2,000 are much more reasonable.

This is the main reason why I like investing in Modern in the short term and long term. There are huge opportunities to make money on commons, uncommons, rares, and mythic rares. I would like to elaborate on the short term picks that should rise going into the summer.


I am a huge fan of this card right now. It has a major role in most URx decks that are not Storm. Lots of spikes who will play in the PTQs love to play their control decks. Many of them will choose these decks. Electrolyze is really strong against almost every deck in the format. It even has utility against Storm as it draws a card while killing one of their enablers, Goblin Electromancer.

The effect on this card gives it major utility even in matchups where it is dead. If you are leaving up a counterspell, and they pass the turn, you can play Electrolyze to draw a card. This makes a huge difference in the playability of this card. I can’t see this not going up and it will be a major staple of trade binders going into the summer.

All of the Fetchlands

Players will pay ANYTHING for the fetchlands.

Most everything has been leading to my belief that there will be no fetchlands in M15 or Conspiracy. M15 will still have shocklands for a brief period of time. Wizards is not going to let fetches and shocks in at the same time in Standard. It’s pretty clear Conspiracy was designed to be a beginners set at this point and it is quite unlikely that fetches will be in that set.

All this means is that our investments are secure through the summer. There is only an infinitely small chance of a reprint before “Huey.”

With that confidence, if you want to play with or invest in fetches, buy as soon as you can. You will never get a better opportunity than the one that has been presented right now.

I especially like Scalding Tarn as a choice. This card will probably reach one hundred and fifty dollars in the height of PTQ season. As I said earlier, the people who need these cards REALLY need them. And they want a playset. Stock up on these. You can sell them for hilarious premiums on eBay later in the summer. If you just want to play with them, you won’t get a lower price than now heading into PTQ season. After you play with them, you sell out again. Fairly straightforward.

The other fetchlands have not dropped in price as much. However, they are still great pickups. If you have the money or trade, put it into fetchlands. There is little risk here going into the summer.

The only fetchland you should be concerned about is Marsh Flats. This one might be getting a reprint in a pre-con. Be wary. Do your research.

Gifts Ungiven

Lots of players have been trying to make this card work. There are quite a few Gifts decks out there. 4c Gifts and UW Tron are playing this and use it for massive value. There aren’t too many copies of this card out there. There will be people who want to play this in casual formats and Modern. I do not see this going any lower especially since it was in Modern Masters. This is an easy card to move in on.

Rest in Peace

This one will probably stay stagnant until someone decides it is too low and buys it out. After it is bought out, the price will double or triple. I would not want to miss out on this spike. There would be no warning. It seems almost inevitable at some point.

Let’s move on to more long term picks.


As PTQ season and Standard winds down, there will be a massive dropoff in demand for Thoughtseize. The price of the card will drop off immensely. That’s the time to pick it up. It will still have a year in Standard and an infinite time in Modern. This card is a pillar of the Modern format and will rise to the unreal prices it had before the reprint. Look to move in on these after selling out of your Modern picks.


The price of these will also dramatically decrease in the double loss of cycling out of Standard and PTQ season ending. Your window here will be very small. Moving in on this one would get you some nearly assured profit in a year or two. Trade for these, buy them on eBay, whatever you have to do. You will not regret this decision when the PTQ season far in the future hits.

It is worth mentioning the power of foils here. Many will be very interested in foiling out their decks. Take a look at the graph for foil Stoneforge:


I predict the exact same thing will happen with Modern. People will want to invest into making their decks look awesome. In one year the price quadrupled.

The price graph of foil Steam Vents is shown below:


Bold prediction: next year, in April, a foil Steam Vents will be 90 dollars. There is very little to stop the price of these from skyrocketing. I would trade for and buy these aggressively. If your bankroll can handle it these cards are amazing.

I now want to talk generally about the future of Modern and its relationship to Legacy.

Three things could happen:

  1. Modern could fail and Legacy remains the major eternal format
  2. Modern and Legacy coexist
  3. Modern becomes the major eternal format and Legacy goes the way of Vintage

The first option won’t happen. Wizards has invested too much into this format for it to die. Modern Masters’ popularity showed the interest in the format. The Pro Tour and GPs have cemented that interest and proved that Modern is here to stay.

Three is quite unlikely in the near future. Star City Games will support the card market for Legacy. They have quite a bit invested into this specific market. There will continue to be Legacy events ran all around the country.

Two is the most likely. Modern does not spell the end of Legacy necessarily and will merely substitute it for less serious newer players.

What this does mean is that Modern is here to stay. There is no ceiling on the cards in this format anymore. Who could have predicted hundreds of dollars for a dual land? If you did, you’d probably be rich. Now, we have empirics for how eternal formats can drive prices sky high. Foils are even crazier. Modern is where the money is and will be for the next two years at least. Buy in cheap while you still can.

What do you think the relationship between Legacy and Modern will be going into the future? Hit me up on twitter:

Thanks for reading.

Artificial and Real Demand

By: Camden Clark

Let us envision a hypothetical in which you bought 100 Mana Blooms.

They were sitting at a comfortable twenty-five cents before the recent hype. You were lucky enough to get in with the initial hype and got in at this VERY low price. This puts you twenty-five dollars in the hole.

The hype intensifies. More and more copies are falling off the market. There’s a lot of buzz around on Twitter and Reddit. This is shaping up to be a very prolific spec!

Look at the results:


Wow! Look at that. The price doubled. They are even selling them for a dollar on Channel Fireball! It must be time to sell out.


Oh… Those buylist prices are low. The highest one is even less than you paid for each of the cards. No matter. We’ll just list them on eBay!



The above are the completed results for Mana Bloom on eBay. It looks like if you posted them after April 7th (approximately right in the middle of the hype), you lost money or didn’t even make a sale. That’s listing fees out the window, not to mention the overhead of having some money tied into this card. Maybe you could have been that lucky guy and sold four copies to double your money…sort of.

The retail prices are not what you will be able to sell them for. Almost everyone knows this. However, the JUMP in retail prices is also not necessarily the percentage you will make. Buylist prices in most cases will not adjust to the hike in retail prices. In fact, most card shops love it when spikes like this happen. It allows them to clear out stock of cards that would never move. Speculators are more than happy to clean out the retailers of their precious junk rares if there’s some buzz.

This plays into the central theme of my article today: the dichotomy of real and artificial demand.

Differentiating between the two could mean the difference between Birthing Pod and Nivmagus Elemental.

What is artificial demand?

Artificial demand comes from those buyers who are not interested in playing with the cards they have purchased. These are namely card shops and speculators. They are buying purely for profit.

Real demand, in comparison, comes from those buyers who are interested in playing with the cards they have purchased. These are casual players, PTQ players, etc. They want the cards and will keep them.

This shows the forces at work within the market and makes Magic cards easier to predict than stocks. Investors in stocks are purely artificial demand. They cannot consume or make use of stocks (except with dividends, still for profit).

Speculators and investors are inherently irrational and unpredictable. If they are scared that an investment will fall or fail, they will sell out. If investors have decided they have made enough money, they will sell out. If card shops do not need more inventory, they will not raise their buy prices. These are all emotion based and susceptible to the whims of the investors.

Players are simply that: they want to play Magic the Gathering. Many of them spend a large amount of their disposable income on Magic cards. If the cards are being played in the deck they want to build, they will spend for them. Trends, card needs and wants: all predictable.

Let us go back to Mana Bloom to apply this theory.

The hype around Mana Bloom was significant. It was a perfect target for overzealous investors to throw a ton of money at a 25 cent card and hope it rises. Naturally, the card shops adjust their retail prices to reflect the increase in demand.

Let’s be honest: how many of you honestly thought Mana Bloom would become a mainstay of the format like Remand or Cryptic Command or Birthing Pod?

No one did.

What percentage of potential Modern players would actually put their money into a Mana Bloom deck? I think one percent is generous. Is one percent enough to jolt the demand for this card enough for card shops to want MORE of this card?

Obviously not.

It wasn’t enough for demand on eBay to be generated, obviously. Look at all the listings that had zero bids. Can you imagine not being able to offload the card you just paid twenty-five cents for and losing listing fees?

That would drive some people to ship it off to buylists. Those card shops are more than happy to accept the cards back for less than you paid for them.

There are other examples of this as well.


Look at the massive shift in retail price:


Here’s the not so massive shift in buylist price:


Retailers were more than happy to let you buy their near-junk cards:


Speculators were overjoyed to have invested in this soon-to-be legacy staple:

Except it didn’t become a legacy staple. There was just a whole bunch of buzz about the card. Retail prices adjusted, but did anyone who actually plays Legacy want this card?


You are going to get burned if you invest in cards with no backbone. Mana Bloom is not a game changer. Sylvan Safekeeper is not a game changer.

You know what card is a game changer?

Birthing Pod.

This card was ten dollars for the longest time. That couldn’t last. It is in Melira Pod, which is one of the best decks in Modern.

When the spike finally came, it wasn’t unwarranted. There are real live people who play Birthing Pod decks in Modern! They enjoy playing Magic and paying quite high prices for cards that they need for their decks in the future. The card shops realize this, and adjusted their buylist prices to the artificial demand because, down the line, there will be real people buying cards.

I guarantee I will get comments saying “you are preaching to the choir” or “this is basic stuff, everyone knows this.” If that was true, why do people buy into cards like Sylvan Safekeeper? The inventory drops did not happen for no reason, there were people buying them.

You must take a step back from the hype and ask yourself if the card you are about to purchase will be played and bought by players. If it does not pass the sniff test, it is probably not worth your money.

One of the best ways that I have been able to discern whether cards will pick up steam or not is the buylist spread feature in the MTGPrice ProTrader emails. If the buylist prices are going up, the card shops smell real demand that will have significant ramifications on the market.

There are always opportunities. Now, more than ever, as Modern picks up steam into the summer, there will be massive gains from Modern cards.

Here are my picks for the coming season:

Stony Silence

This card has the potential to follow the same trajectory as its cousin, Grafdigger’s Cage. That card nearly doubled. Stony Silence is a white hate card that can be played in UWR and White Weenie decks.

Across the board, white hate cards will have a lot of real demand from players who expect a certain deck at their local Modern tournament. Look into Ethersworn Canonist and Kataki, War’s Wage as potential trade pickups.

Spell Snare

This is an uncommon. However, two drops are quite important in Modern. This card has incredible potential for any blue deck. I really like this card as a pickup, especially since some of the Spikes who play in the PTQ scene like to play control decks.


Electrolyze is the logical follow-up to the prediction that UWR decks will have lots of play during Modern season. Spell Snare sees a similar level of play and it is almost twice the price. I am planning to move in significantly on this one as it is extremely efficient for any UR deck.


There has been some significant downward pressure on Remand. I am quite optimistic for its future despite the reprint that is incoming. I would watch this one and pick it up around the time it is expected to see a reprint. This card is played in lots of the blue decks and will be an enduring feature of Modern.

Pyromancer Ascension

The price of this one will start to settle down over the next few weeks. Lots of people love to play Storm. I could see this one going down before Modern season and then picking up steam to be a 20 dollar card. Keep an eye on this one. I’d buy under 7.

Thanks for reading. I’m considering starting a Modern portfolio and investing about 100 dollars and recording where prices go. Would anyone be interested in that? Message me on twitter:

Lessons on Modern Picks

By: Camden Clark

I’ve been a writer at MTGPrice for about two months now. In that time, Magic has seen a Modern Pro Tour and a couple of Modern GPs.

I am going to take a break from my Magic Online series to do a recap on the wins and losses and go over every card that I have made predictions on (this article gave me the idea ). I have always been a major fan of learning lessons on the decisions and predictions we made and learning on them for the future. Thus, this article is the natural progression as I make predictions heading into the PTQ season (I talk a lot more on Twitter too)

I have mostly talked about Modern as that is where the energy and motion in Magic is. I have never been a big fan of Standard, while most of the Legacy market eludes me. Thus, Modern has become one of the places of progress in Magic for the past few years.

There is SO much room in this format, which means there are new opportunities all the time.

Let’s take a look at the previous opportunities that I pointed out and see what lessons those can teach us.

The Wins

Restoration Angel
Predictions: 1 ; 2 ; 3


This was a fairly major win. Restoration Angel spiked by huge margins due to its playability in some builds of UWR, UWR Twin, Kiki-Pod, and a few other fringe decks. This card wasn’t seeing a ton of play initially, but with the new changes I knew there would be some changes to the metagame. My predictions weren’t exactly correct (no Restoration Angel + Bitterblossom deck); however, I was not disappointed by the outcome. You easily could have doubled your money here on a quite cheap spec.

This teaches us to look for cards that see some play but can easily be thrown into the spotlight. Moreover, this card had price and play memory in the infamous UW Delver deck of INN-SOM standard. This is an important lesson.

Mistbind Clique
Predictions: 1


Although this card saw little play at the Pro Tour or the Grand Prix, is still saw massive gains after the initial hype died down. You could still have gotten this for five at the time I wrote about it, and you could have tripled your money.

I don’t know what the lesson is here. I didn’t exactly make a prediction to buy this, especially if it saw little play. Nevertheless, it went up. I am at a loss for how this card saw the massive gains it got.

Knight of the Reliquary
Predictions: 1


Even though Zoo put up abysmal results at every tournament, this card still went up. The niche playability in Legacy and fun factor of this card ensured it would see play somewhere. This card was REALLY cheap for being somewhat playable in a few formats. Brian Kibler will always toot Zoo’s horn. I think that’s the main reason this saw movement despite Zoo’s failure. I would sell out now if you still have them.

Cryptic Command
Predictions: 1 ; 2


It is kind of funny I hit this one right on the head. I stated at the time “this card could see sixty dollars.” Unbelievably, it hit sixty dollars.

The lesson here is that there is little roof on the staples of this format. Wizards has too much invested in Modern for this format to fail. Would you have predicted hundreds of dollars for a single dual land like Underground Sea? Although there is no reserved list, these cards will get more and more expensive.

I can’t remember who to attribute this to, but I’ve heard a saying: “the best time to buy eternal staples is now.” You should keep this in mind, it will save you a whole bunch of money going into the future.

Birthing Pod
Predictions: 1


This is probably my most triumphant success. I have no idea how this card wasn’t forty dollars from the get-go. Melira Pod and Kiki-Pod have had showings for at least two years. It was inevitable for this to see a huge spike. I’m really glad I put people on to this and you all made a whole bunch of money.

The lesson from this is that there are cards that seem like they have seen a ceiling but can still rise.


Predictions: 1 ; 2

This card has seen no price movement despite being in a deck that won a Grand Prix.

I overestimated the amount of people that were playing this card and the amount they were playing in their decks. Unfortunately, this means that there was no money to be made here. I think this card has reached a personal ceiling and won’t go above it for a while.

Deathrite Shaman

This one has been all over the place. There were no short term gains, but this is a long term pick, like I outlined in my prediction. I have no fear that this will go up in the long term. It has significant Legacy play and somewhat of a casual appeal. Hold your copies if you didn’t unload them after the bans.

Splinter Twin

Although there has been a small gain here, it wasn’t significant enough to call this a “win.” I would hold on to these copies as we head into PTQ season. You will not be disappointed by this investment once it is easier to move copies and there is more demand.

There is huge potential for this card. It sees tons of play in the Splinter Twin deck which is currently No. 2 in the meta on Magic Online. I have no doubt this will go up.

Huntmaster of the Fells
Predictions: 1 ; 2

This one is quite hard to tell. All of the major retailers are all but cleaned out of this card. There is little data for how much this card has moved up or down.

I looked on TCGPlayer and there are still quite a bunch of copies. I don’t know how to feel about this one. However, the buylist on this card isn’t very good. I’d hold if/when this sees some real play.


 1 ; 2

Unfortunately, after my predictions, a reprint was announced. It’s pretty annoying that this was announced in the weeks after my prediction. However, this was the only loss to speak of. There wasn’t even that big of a loss; here’s a picture:


I think this card will eventually go back up. If you still have copies and don’t need the capital, I would hold on to this. It is a staple in Modern and will see invariably see play in this format.

The lesson from this card specifically is the inevitability of randomness in your speculations. You can’t always be right. You can’t avoid having unexpected announcements or reprints in your catalog eventually. You have to take the good with the bad. This should be a lesson to never invest too much in one card. If that card falls or stays put, you are out all of your overhead such as shipping and spread between buying and selling.

From my perspective, the value that you could find in my articles was fairly good. My predictions, for the most part, have panned out or at least stayed the same. So far, I’ve had amazing triumphs and some disappointing losses but Modern was quite prolific. I hope I’ve displayed to you that there’s some value in my decisionmaking and choose to take the ride with me into the PTQ season where the swings will be massive and decisive.

I don’t think Mana Bloom and Amulet of Vigor type cards with niche applications are a good way to profit. However, that is mostly my style of investing (although others think the same way) It is too easy to get burned if you are playing with hot coals. The upside could be major, but staying out of these one-off cards is a great way to stay objective and not get carried away.

Despite my warnings, you should be as optimistic as I am about the Modern format. There is so much excitement and energy that surrounds this relatively new way of playing Magic. That excitement is only beginning. The Pro Tour set the stage for the run into PTQ season. You can ride the excitement to major profits if you time it right. There are still opportunities, don’t miss them.