Getting in and Getting out

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If you listen to MTG Fast Finance or read what we all put here every week, you’ll know that we tell you what cards to buy before they get expensive. 

There’s two ways to use this information: Buy what you need while it’s cheap, or buy a whole bunch so that you can make a profit. 

As suggested by discord users mtgPapa and Bacon_Shuffel (who you’d know if you were a ProTrader and kept up on our group discussions), I want to go over how I go about getting in and getting out of a card. This includes amount, places to buy, and how to extract value once you’ve gotten the hoped-for increase.

A caveat: This is my process. I’m not someone who spends thousands a month. Hundreds, if the moment is right, but generally I spend about two grand a year on singles/sealed product. If you have more to spend, you’ll need to scale up accordingly. 

Second, you must keep track of what you’re buying at, and what you’re losing to assorted fees. (More on fees in a second.) I’ve got a spreadsheet I’m happy to share, but if you want to use an app, or format it how you want in Excel, whatever appeals to you.

On my sheet, you have to enter the card name, the date bought at, average price purchased, the number of copies, and then space for the new price (when it gets to the new price). The rest of the columns fill in automatically for you, making it easy to determine what your profit will be and your rate of return. For this sheet, profit percentage is your profit in dollars divided by what you originally spent. Basically, what did each dollar you spent turn into?

When I’m looking at a card, I’m deciding how long I think I’m going to keep it for and what formats it’s relevant in. Last week, I talked about Unbound Flourishing, a card I think is going to go crazy in Commander, especially with the new Hydra commander in Core 2020. 

Plus, I like this as a go-to card for all the shenanigans that X spells can do in Commander. I do not think this will grow quickly, I’m looking at a longer-term hold as people realize how busted this can be. Because it’s a long-term hold, I’m not going to break the bank getting in. I bought eight copies at an average of $8.50 each.

For an example of a larger-volume spec, Let’s look at Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering.

Back on March 12, when I guested on Fast Finance, I picked this card as a growth target. My reasoning was that since you just needed any planeswalker or legend in play, and we’d just found out there was going to be 36 new planeswalkers, I figured that this would be one of the best things to cast. The card was nearly bulk, and I cleaned out TCGPlayer to the tune of 80 copies at about a quarter each. I anticipated being able to sell it within three months, especially because it was going to rotate in the fall.

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Why did I buy so many more? For one, they were cheap. It doesn’t hurt to spend twenty dollars on a spec and miss. You spend a couple hundred dollars and miss, that stings more. The principle applies to all costs, and if you believe in your reasoning the cost shouldn’t be an issue. 

The other reason I bought so many was that I was hoping to sell them all to one buylist, and operating in large quantities makes that process more efficient. If they buylisted for a dollar each, then I could ship one big package and save a lot on shipping. 

As you can tell, they haven’t hit, so they are sitting in a box, waiting patiently. I prefer to think of my box of shame as my box of super-long-term investments, though with these buylisting at fifteen cents I’d lose something like five bucks if I really needed to move on. 

Getting out of a card you bought a ton of requires finding the buylist who wants a bunch, and sending them in. Websites aren’t always helpful for this, it’s not every store who just puts 100 in the possible quantity. It’s better to lose a little per card if you can sell them all at once. 

For example, with the Offerings, let’s say I found three stores that took them for $1.10 each but would only take ten per store, but another store that offered 90 cents but could take them all off my hands. That’s not a hard decision for me: I’m cashing out and moving on with the 90 cents. You have to evaluate the value you’re leaving behind in terms of the shipping costs and your own time. 

For lower quantities, you can sell on TCG or eBay, but there’s going to be costs associated with the sale. Buylisting allows you to move a higher volume and move on to the next card, whereas selling one or two at a time can really eat you up in fees and time. Please use the spreadsheet to calculate what you’re selling for, it’s easy to forget about the associated fees with eBay and Paypal. Generally speaking, given all the hurdles, it’s about 15%.

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Ebay allows you to sell cards as playsets, so if you have 40 of a card you can say you have 10 items and each item is a set of four. That’s a more profitable way to sell a bunch, especially if you price a little more aggressively. 

Because of the fees, selling via social media is an option that allows you to price cards a bit lower and generate more interest. Our discord is lively with offers and purchases, and there’s Twitter, Facebook, Craigslist, and other apps/sites for buying and selling. If I don’t know someone that I’m buying from online, I’ll always pay the 3% fee that Paypal charges for goods and services. Sending via gift gives you no protection at all. Most commonly, when you’re looking to sell via these methods, start at the TCG low minus about 10%. The buyer is getting the card for less than they would spend anywhere else, and you’re getting more cash than you would via buylist, with no fees! Winner all around.

One method of outing cards that doesn’t work for me as much is vendors at a GP or local store. I’m on the West Coast, so there’s a real lack of big events and stores here, but at a vendor’s booth you can often go in and move a ton of cards for cash in hand. Feels phenomenal, but be aware of the security risk when someone else watches you sell a grand worth of specs.

Some other time, I’m going to go over the two types of spikes, but generally speaking, sell when everyone is agog over a card. Hopefully you got in while it was cheap, and if you sell while it’s going up you’re getting your value back and if you sell too soon, that’s okay because you already made your profit! Don’t hold on too soon, because you’re going to take that profit and move it into the other specs you’ve identified. 

Bonus pick: Echo of Eons. It’s another Modern Horizons mythic that is aching to be broken. You get to cast it twice, note that the first cast doesn’t bother exiling itself. You can get in around $11, don’t bother with the foils at $60ish unless you’re getting it for your Commander deck. The nonfoils are going to go up, but probably not soon. We’ve seen Wrenn and Six spike hard, and I think Echo of Eons will pop to over $30 when it gets hot.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Physical Cardboard

Readers!

The prerelease is over, people have physical copies of cards in their hands and things are shaking out a little differently than people expected. Let’s take a look at some data and see if we can glean any info. I mean, you do what you want, but that’s what I’m doing.

This is the top of last week’s top commanders section on EDHREC. Core Set 2020 was in the database but wasn’t nudging any of these older cards out of the top spots. Let’s take a look at the Top 10 now.

Quite a shakeup. I expect Windgrace and Edgar still because they got new cards in Core 2020 and people are updating their decks, but Muldrotha and the new cards that deck got are making a big impact. I think Yarok goes in basically every Muldrotha list and Muldrotha goes in basically every Yarok list. Both cards do what the deck built around the other does. Casting a dead Eternal Witness using Muldrotha? You’re going to want Yarok out. Got a dead Acidic Slime in Yarok? Cast it from the yard, son! Muldrotha is a very historically popular deck.

VERY popular.

There is a lot of overlap between Yarok and Muldrotha and a dedicated Muldrotha player may or may not build a Yarok deck. Yarok (or Risen Reef, good grief that card is spicy) may make people who never had Muldrotha build that. Either way, staples in both decks, which overlap, should have some upside and are worth watching.

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The good thing about Yarok is how OBVIOUS it is. I clicked on the EDHREC page and the deck looked… solved. Does that make sense? I didn’t look at anything and say “Wow, that’s sweet tech, never would have thought of that!” like I did looking at Feather lists. Yarok feels like it already knows what cards go in it. That’s good. You have a card pool of like 100 non-lands versus like 200 or 300 to choose from which means that that the cards in the deck theoretically will end up in twice as many decks since there are half as many options. Those numbers are not meant to be a quantitative measure but merely to illustrate that the more obvious a deck is, the higher its staples go.

Etb creatures were already good but having access to a second Panharmonicon in the value deck colors is new and I think cards in the deck have some upside. Speaking of which…

You’re running out of time to snag these under $10. Kaladesh cards are just going nuts because they are so good in so many formats and there was never a good time to get them because they were good in Standard, too. Artifacts are better than non-artifacts since color identity matters in EDH. It seems obvious but it bears repeating – pay special attention to artifacts and mono-color cards – they’re way easier to slot in than 2-color cards or more.

Never count a good card out. This was showing signs of life following the Commander 2014 reprinting and then the 2015 reprinting brought it to its knees. And yet, if we’d been greedy in 2015 when these were $2, we’d be in great shape now. Card Kingdom has them at $7 but they’re as cheap as $4.50 on TCG Player and I like that price a lot on a future $7-$9 card if current trends hold. This card with Yarok and Gray Merchant wins the game on the spot just about and you have Eternal Witness to get it back, and ways to flicker creatures, ensuring Witness can snag this over and over. If Yarok gets play, and it will, this is stupid good.

As exciting as Yarok is, it’s not the most played deck in 2020.

Kykar is obvious, too. Obvious is good for our purposes as much as it bums me out as a deckbuilder and EDH writer. Still, no one is forcing me to reinvent the wheel when it comes to my finance picks so boring is good in a volatile field like finance and my pain can be your gain. Good thing I like both.

2 reprintings since that spike in 2016 have brought this quite low, below $5, but I think Kykar decks can absolutely make use of this, especially with mana spells like Mana Geyser in the format. You can generate a ton of mana, play a Bonus Round and dump your whole yard and generate enough birds to kill them with Purphoros, or sac those birby bois to get even more mana. Don’t forget, Kykar is a built in Phyrexian Altar for one of the most common types of 1/1 token. Sac any spirit – not just the 1/1 tokens Kykar makes. If you’re going a combo route or the beatdown route, those birbs are basically treasure tokens with razor sharp beaks and they work for both.

If you’re not going combo, here’s a card that exists.

This was in the Jumanjis of Ixalan board game and while the spell cast by its intersection of weird scarcity and speculation about the tribal themes in Commander 2017 has been largely broken, this also hit its bottom and began to trend up. This has good trajectory and it’s actually just kind of stupid in Kykar decks. They’ll continue to make tribal decks and this just KOs people. I think this is a $10 card soon.

Whenever a card is cheaper on Card Kingdom than it is on TCG Player, I take notice. I like EDHREC putting the prices side by side like this and I think it’s unlikely cards on TCG Player, with more competition and faster sales, will decrease in price to match CK, especially since it’s so easy to buy CK out. This is a $1 card and you can get them for 60% off, on a site that gives you like 70% of retail in store credit when you trade in hotlist stuff. Do the math. This rules. Want to know another card I saw was $0.75 on Card Kingdom and $1.50 on Tcg Player earlier, causing me to buy 20 copies on Card Kingdom at a time until they stopped restocking? This card.

CK has them for $2, now and they’re $3.50 on CFB. Not bad.

I don’t think it’s perfect, but I think you should take notice of CK lagging behind market sites where the prices update more often. Mana Geyser is a $1 card, for now.

That does it for me this week. I’ll be at GP Detroit if you want to say hi or play some EDH or buy me a beer or have me autograph your baby or whatever. Until next time!

The Watchtower 7/8/19 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.


None of us should be too surprised to have seen Bridge from Below get the axe this morning. Hogaak was running rampant in Modern, and even without Ian’s statistics to back it up, it didn’t take long on MTGO to get a feel for how dominant the deck had become. Altar of Dementia and Hogaak are both new to the format courtesy of Modern Horizons, so it would be surprising to see Wizards remove brand new cards that have existed for barely a month. Bridge from Below, on the other hand, has been a key component every time Dredge has been a problem before, likely because it’s so unlike most other Magic cards. It’s a smart choice, and I’m happy they made it, since we’ll get a new era of graveyard decks that previously had no point in existing so long as Bridge was around.

Of course, it’s a lot tougher to make picks based around a ban than an unban, so nuts to that.

Allosaurus Rider

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $20

Hogaak and Altar of Dementia are still legal, but significantly weakened. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they maintain a significant presence in a revamped shell, especially Altar. That is not a fair Magic card. For the meantime though, the metagame has space to breathe, and some of the marginally-less-degenerate decks will get their opportunity to annoy the hell out of everyone. I was skeptical at first, but the Neoform deck has been posting results since it hit the block, and in conjunction with the pros getting a little hand-wringy over it, I suspect there’s more to come.

I’ve mentioned before that this was a tricky deck to find opportunity in. At that time, I was considering it still a fringe strategy that was unsafe to throw too much money at. My opinion has shifted since then, to the point that I’m willing to think about Allosaurus Rider itself. This is It, the single key piece in the strategy. This deck does literal nothing without Rider, and it’s important enough that beyond the core play set, Summoner’s Pact is typically present as a four-of in order to provide redundancy. Additional iterations and refinement to the general concept may shift numbers of other components, but it’s tough to imagine how you could play anything resembling the Neoform deck without a set of Riders.

While you’ll find there’s several printings of Allosaurus Rider out there, all are old and of limited distribution. There’s maybe 20 playsets of Rider left on TCG at this point? And that’s probably quite high. Before this morning this was already reasonably poised, and with today’s changes, is looking even better.

Dark Petition (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

The other news that I didn’t cover in the intro was the EDH changes: out with Paradox Engine and Iona, Shield of Emeria, and in with Painter’s Servant. Anyone lamenting Engine’s departure was never truly your friend, and you should disassociate with them immediately. Iona is a bit puzzling, but really, not exactly a card that exemplifies EDH’s intended game experience. If you’ve got an issue with it, take it up with Sheldon. Painter’s Servant is the real story, and while I’d love to give you some great picks based on it, that list is short, and was picked clean within ten minutes of the announcement. All the cheap Servants are gone, as are the Grindstones. Beyond that, what’s left? If you know the answer to that, well, you probably just made a few hundred dollars.

Instead I’m picking through Yawgmoth here, since he’s quite popular at the moment. A lot of his bread and butter cards simply aren’t quite popular enough yet, like Nest of Scarabs, or are surprisingly popular, like Pitiless Plunderer. Dark Petition is hiding out further down the page, and while it’s not exclusively a Yawgmoth card, it’s still great, and the fact that it isn’t a Yawgmoth card proves that it’s just a generally good black card. It’s essentially Demonic Tutor in EDH, where the five mana up front is typically trivial, as is the spell mastery condition. In fact, one could even look at the mana cost as a minor upside, as it gives you the ability to filter colorless or useless colors into black mana. Is Demonic Tutor popular in EDH? Well, Doubling Season, perhaps the face of EDH, is found in 10% of all green decks. Tutor is in 30% of all black decks.

Anyone looking for foil Dark Petitions can only look to Magic Origins for now, meaning supply is aging and limited. There’s maybe 30 vendors, between original and pack foils, with copies below $8 (and there aren’t too many above that either). At an entry of $6 to $7, I’d anticipate a solid 100% return in the next few months, maybe a year.

Aetherflux Reservoir (Foil)

Price Today: $18
Possible Price: $35

Magic 2020 brought several new wedge commanders, and rather surprisingly, Kykar is in the lead as the most popular by slim margins. Most would have expected Yarok I’m sure, and while he’ll take over eventually, it looks like veterans of the format are trying to spread their wings with Kykar’s more novel play style. 

Casting as many spells as you can is the name of the game with Kykar, and while that’s hardly a new goal in EDH, the requirement that they’re non-creature, and the payoff of building your own mana engine is something new. It’s not often that players sit down to the EDH table with a deck full of cantrips and their ilk. In a build like that, where does one turn to get rewarded? Well, it looks like the answer is Aetherflux Reservoir. Reservoir will certainly be a staple in Kykar decks, since it provides a pseudo-line of defense in a deck that may have trouble softening an opponent’s offenses, and more importantly, turns into a gigantic cannon that will one-shot players if given some room to flex. 

Reservoir is from Kaladesh, an absolutely stacked set with a pile of staples for Modern, EDH, and the kitchen table. Even still, Reservoir is the third-most popular EDH card in the set, beyond Inventor’s Fair, a colorless land, and Panharmonicon, another banner EDH card and effect. Foils are priced as one may expect, with an entry point around $18. Prices climb into the mid-twenties rapidly, and then supply runs out, with only 28 copies total available on TCG between pack foils and promos. This is on a timer regardless, and with Kykar adding additional demand, you’ll be able to sell these for over $30 by the time school is back in session.


Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


Early Movement in Core 2020

There used to be a lull at this point in a set.

Time was, prices didn’t go anywhere until after the prerelease, and people got frantic to have four copies of the new card in time for the first weekend of new Standard legality. Prices didn’t change much because people didn’t have the chance to find out what was good via testing or gameplay.

That’s no longer the case. Both Magic Arena and Magic Online have had Core Set 2020 be legal for Standard brewing all of this week, and even with a holiday in the way, there’s some very interesting early returns…

Before we get to what’s gone up or down in price, a rule I have is that I will trade everything that I open away at a prerelease if someone wants it. Almost everything in this set is going to lose value, and in some cases, a lot of value. I know that trading them now, at the moment of smallest supply, is a real winner, especially for people who just want to get that card for a Commander deck because they need the new hotness!

Omnath, Locus of the Roil (Was $7, now about $10)

Omnath v3 is quite a lot of value for four mana, but people are really going haywire over what Risen Reef represents, and with very good reason. Risen Reef’s text translates to “When this or another Elemental comes into play, draw a card. If that card was a land, put it onto the field tapped.”

I realize a lot of you haven’t played with the first card that has this text: Coiling Oracle. Rest assured, this is a very powerful ability, and very much worth building around. Omnath gives two different bonuses to decks that are heavy on Elementals or on having lots of land, and fits very well as a follow-up to the Reef. Draw a card, ping something for two. Yikes indeed for a turn four play.

A rise this fast before the first paper games are played indicates that a lot of people are buying up copies, though we don’t know the optimal number yet it’s a mythic and IF the deck is real, I won’t be shocked at $15. I wasn’t interested at $7, and even less so at $10. There’s going to be some level of demand, but not enough to push Omnath much higher than $15.

Along those lines: Risen Reef has, well, risen to being $3. Please, keep a playset for yourself if you want but I’m shipping copies out as fast as I get them. It might get back up to $3 later, but it’s about to fall pretty hard. 

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame (Was $5, now about $8)

If the Reef stays in play, this version of Chandra is a backbreaking followup. Two tokens means that at worst, you’re drawing two and playing those lands immediately.I am highly doubtful that this rare will stay this high in price, and again, I’m an immediate seller if I open any in prerelease events. I love the range of abilities on this planeswalker, and being only three mana is a very nice touch.

Chandra, Awakened Inferno (Now $18, was $14)

That emblem is a plus ability and people are going to have a tricky time adjusting to this super-powerful planeswalker. Jumping $2 in a week is heady stuff for a six-mana card in this environment, but it’s incredibly flexible and capable of solving almost any problem she may encounter. This is more expensive than I’d prefer, but it’s still going to be the chase mythic and the face of the set. Marketing will play a factor here, I think.

Leyline of Abundance (Now $5, was $2)

Lest we forget, we are still in the time of Llanowar Elf, and their triple-cousin of Llanowar Tribe. This Leyline is capable of being completely bonkers with the right combination of mana dorks, and we also have Nissa, Who Shakes the World! That’s a lot of additional mana and the question always degenerates to “what am I going to do with a boatload of mana?”

My favorite answer is currently Hydroid Krasis, but you fill in your big-mana card of choice, or just use the built-in mana sink to get the team bigger and bigger.

Lotus Field (Now $13, was about $16)

This has taken a real beating, having once presold above $20 and now tanking fast. People just aren’t playing it as much as hoped for. It’s good with a lot of different cards and Commander strategies. Unfortunately, even having protection from the opponent’s effect doesn’t seem to make up for the cost of two lands leaving play. As I’ve said, I’d really like for these to get cheap, and they are well on their way.

Lots of cards have fallen by a dollar or two as Arena and MTGO players start to define the metagame, and even with the rises and falls, there’s one Elemental I’m especially paying attention to:

Yarok, the Desecrated (Now $8, was $13)

If Risen Reef is good, how about doing it twice? There’s lots of ways to abuse this, but with Sultai already being popular, I think we’re going to see some lists running a couple of these plus a Muldrotha or two on ‘help you get out of the graveyard and start busting heads’ is going to be a frightening team.

Foils of Muldrotha are already Commander-expensive, but if you have a stomach for risk, Muldrotha might pay off well. Problem is, Muldrotha rotates out of Standard this fall. Being the commander is definitely not the way to get your card to be expensive, but the two Sultai are going to go together like peanut and jelly for a couple of months.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

MAGIC: THE GATHERING FINANCE ARTICLES AND COMMUNITY

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