Tag Archives: basic lands

All About Basics

Written By:

Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

Hey there! Last week, I wrote a quick overview of obscure (at least to me) basic lands that are worth more than you might expect, and why those basic lands can be a subtle way to get some more value out of your collection. I wanted to continue on that thread a little bit more, and review one of the more popular basic land types that a lot of people speculated was going to increase in price over time.


Unfortunately, the time has long past when you could pop a pile of BFZ basics in your trade binder, and use them as throw-ins or even out a trade by valuing these at $.50-$1. The market has flooded enough over the past year that it’s almost impossible to find a vendor who will take them at more than a nickel a piece, and that’s for NM copies.

Remember last week, when I suggested using SCG’s  buylist as a general rule to determine the price of abnormal basic lands? Well, I’d like to rescind that recommendation when it comes to the Battle for Zendikar full-art lands in particular. If you’ve been looking up the prices on your own abnormal basics on SCG’s buylist for yourself, you might already have a good idea as to why I’m suggesting this.


Yeah. I mean, I didn’t expect anyone reading this article to suddenly start buylisting their full arts for literal pennies; you all are smarter than that. I don’t fault SCG for basically saying “no thanks” to any additional full-arts either, as I’m sure they have tens of thousands of each version. Still, there’s got to be a better metric for determining both what you should be paying as a local buylist, and what you should be trying to get if you’re unloading BFZ full arts for maximum gain.

BFZ non-foil full arts are in a weird spot. On one hand, you can find a seller on eBay moving them in pars for $.99 with free shipping. After eBay fees and a stamp, this seller is making less than $.25 per copy, but that’s still actually a reasonable profit margin based on the current retail buylist prices. The problems that arise from trying this method, of course, would be competing with all of the other sellers on eBay who have the time and patience to list all of their BFZ full arts.

The fact that some stores sell these for the “old” price of $.50 to $1.00 can also make it difficult for you to try and reason with a potential seller who expects *you* to be able to resell for that much. If Timmy does a quick eBay search for his ten full art lands and sees the below picture, he might ask why you can’t give him 25 cents a piece; after all, you’re literally doubling your money!


If you do have that time and patience to sort, grade, and list all of your full art lands, then I could actually recommend listing them on TCGplayer, depending on your situation. If you have a large enough inventory to support players making purchases of larger varieties of cards, it could be worth listing them all at approximately $.25 each, and hoping that buyers add them into their cart while purchasing other cards that makes it worth your while I’m sure the venn diagram of TCG Direct sellers and people who read my article has a minimal amount of overlap, but sorting into 25 piles is easier than some of the other sorting us dedicated sellers have to do. In fact, a BCW sorting tray makes it pretty simple overall, it’s just grading that might be a little tedious.

I think I just talked myself into trying that out while writing this article. I’ll try listing a bunch of BFZ basics on TCGplayer in conjunction with my relatively large inventory, and see if I can get any sales that beat out the buylists by a significant enough margin. I’ll get back to you on that.


Another way to sell these off might just be my favorite method of buying and selling Magic cards in general; local Facebook groups. If you can find a newer player who missed BFZ and Oath of the Gatewatch and started with Shadows Over Innistrad, you can help them get their sets of full art lands on the cheap at around 15-20 cents per card.


Buylisting Basics

If SCG is paying a penny each, and we’re trying to get $.15-20 per land on a good day, that doesn’t leave us a whole lot of wiggle room for determining our own buy price. I checked out a couple of the other more competitive buylists (the ones that were easy to search, that is), and here are a couple of my findings.





cfb basics

Okay, so the average buy price is around $.05, with CK bringing in some really odd outlier numbers depending on the art. I guess you should check your basic full arts if you’re ever already in the process of creating a buylist card to Cardkingdom, because you might be able to get a ridiculous multiplier on trading in your dime lands for real cards. Just be careful to check the limit on how many they’re willing to take, and remember that they have a reputation for grading harshly when it comes to condition.

On the other hand, CFB has a “bulkier” approach, just paying 5 cents flat on every NM BFZ land that walks through the door. Personally, I like this approach a lot more; I’ve been paying 5 cents each on BFZ basics for the past few months whenever I pick up collections, but I haven’t really had an “out” for them other than specific requests from customers. I tried leaving a box of unsorted full art lands out next to the display case at 20 cents each, but my customer base would rather pick out five bulk hydras and dragons for a dollar instead of five basic lands that don’t devastate their opponents in casual and Commander games.

End Step

There’s been a significant increase on a bunch of Commander 2014 singles lately. Some of them make sense, but I’m curious as to why the rest have been creeping up lately. Maybe that’ll be what I write about next week, but here’s some graphs to keep your minds sharp while you’re scouring trade binders or picking up specs this week.


Shadows over Innistrad, Zombies, Gisa. No brainer.
Shadows over Innistrad, Zombies, Gisa. No brainer.
I, uh... hmm. There's a few "equipment matters" cards throughout the block, but most are red.... I've got nothing.
I, uh… hmm. There’s a few “equipment matters” cards throughout the block, but most are red…. I’ve got nothing.
This one *kind of* makes sense with The Gitrog Monster
This one *kind of* makes sense with The Gitrog Monster
Hmm… Call the Gatewatch? It seems like a stretch, but I’ve got no other ideas.


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Basic Land Finance

Written By:

Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

Hey everyone! I hope your summers are all going great. I’ve been selling some Magic cards on Twitter, and trying to save up money to set aside for my first semester of grad school in the fall. It’s been going pretty well so far, but this week I was absolutely swamped with some pretty large collections that I couldn’t turn down. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m going to have to have a relatively quick turnaround on these than what I’m normally used to.

As much as I would love to rinse and repeat that paragraph a few times and hit “Publish” so that I could get back to collection buying, I did actually find something worth writing about while I was piecing out one of those previously mentioned collections.


swamp island

The person who was trading in a bunch of bulk to me had these two basic lands included in the relevant stuff, among great cards like Vampire Nighthawk and Thought Scour. Before you ask, they were not foil. I assumed he had just mixed these in on accident, so I put them in the “stuff I don’t want” pile as I continued to sift through the relevant cards that he was trading up towards a set of Liliana of the Veil. After seeing that I was uninterested, he let me in on this little nugget;


Yep. I mean, I know that the art on a card can affect the price, that’s some pretty basic finance. I’m just surprised to see the price of a non-foil basic land affected to such a degree when it’s not full art. While these are both gorgeous pieces, there’s got to be another underlying reason for such a drastic price difference from all other Lorwyn block lands, right?


Okay, that makes a lot more sense now. Thanks to @thatresolves on Twitter for solving that mystery for us! It makes a lot of sense that Fae players would want the lands that represent where their mischievous little creatures come from, more so than the “traditionally fancy” full-arts from Zendikar or Unhinged. While I really don’t have a battle plan for moving these non-foil $1 basics, it’s certainly nice to have that knowledge for future picks and pulls. Maybe you can throw them in an Ogre box  at $.25 and see which vendor bites once you explain that they’re $1+ retail.


All this thinking about niche basics got me thinking; what other basic lands am I unaware of that are worth money? The value of basic lands can very easily slide under the radar due to the difficulty of actually looking up their value. What app do you use when trading or looking up card prices on the go? I’m assuming a lot of you use MTGFamiliar; a universal free app that also has a life counter, round timer, and card search functionality. While it’s still pulling data from the “TCG mid” metric instead of “TCG Market Price”, it’s still one of the most common smartphone sources of looking up card prices in my experience. Go ahead, try to look up the prices of different basic lands using this app.


Mhmm. In this case specifically, it looks like the app only pulls the data for the first numerical island of the set; it’s looking up Island 286 when 287 is the Glen Elendra one. If we want to see all four of the Lorwyn Islands to compare, we have to go to the actual TCGplayer website and grab a microscope.


Now considering it doesn’t seem very practical to do this for every single basic land. While it won’t be a comprehensive list, I’ve been using StarCityGames’ buylist to easily find a general idea of which art styles will get you more cash.

plains1 plains2 plains33028_200w

scg plains

According to SCG, people really like fields of wheat that include the horizon towards the back of the art. I dunno, I guess that’s popular. Thunderstorm Plains from Odyssey is 10 cents nonfoil and two whole dollars for the foil.  This isn’t even only concerning older basics; one of the foil Mountains from Khans of Tarkir is $1 on SCG buylist.

Unfortunately, this “check the SCG buylist to see if a bunch of other people enjoy the art” doesn’t always work out. If you’re picking through your bulk foil basics and have a hunch, you’ll likely have to do the grunt work of searching for that specific art on TCGplayer. For example, I recently purchased a Kami of the Crescent Moon Commander deck where all of the Islands were matching foils. While SCG doesn’t have a buy price for any foil Mirrodin lands, it looks like they go for at least $2 on TCGplayer for NM copies. The struggle will be finding another player who wants to foil out their deck in that specific way, but I don’t mind waiting.


I wouldn’t be closing out this article unless I talked about being a “local buylist”, and I’m sure some of you are wondering what you should be paying when you’re brought foil basic lands. I personally pay 25 cents cash on all bulk foil basics that come my way, and I trade for them at three for $1. With the new information in this article, I’ll definitely pay a bit more attention to which basic lands I’m picking up, and see if I can increase my buy prices on certain arts that will be easier to move to vendors or other players at an increased rate. As soon as I finish this article, I’m going to go through my own box of foil basic lands, and see what goodies I can pull out that I didn’t even know I had.

These have probably been sitting in my box for at least 4 years.

End Step

I might be biased because I play Child of Alara as a Commander, but I really, really like High Market as a long term pick at sub $1. I know Jason Alt has mentioned this card on the podcast and in his articles in the past couple of weeks, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a long term pick, but I think we see it creep back up to $3 in a year or two.


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Lately, all we’ve been able to talk about is lands. Lands and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Expeditions consumed the collective Magic consciousness ahead of Battle for Zendikar’s release. How rare would they be? How much could they be worth? Would they look cool? Are they ruining Magic? Then the set released, and the questions changed while the topic stayed the same. Are they more common in prerelease boxes? Why are they sometimes damaged? What do I do when I open one? Are they going to rise in price or drop?

For the most part, these have been fair questions. Expeditions lands are attention-grabbing. They’re visually exciting, get the people around you talking, and they’re worth enough to often buy you an entire second box of BFZ. Of course people are thinking and talking about them.

At the same time, Fat Packs have grabbed a lot of attention lately as well. When players realized that fat packs aren’t print-on-demand, but rather only have a single print run, big box store inventory dried up quickly and local stores were raising their prices. Star City Games was charging a whopping $80 for them—nearly the price of a booster box itself.

Quick aside: First of all, “price gouging” only refers to raising prices on essential goods and services, and almost always during an emergency situation where markets are extremely localized. Charging $30 for a $3 gallon of gas in the middle of a blizzard that prohibits travel to other vendors is price gouging. Charging $80 for a Fat Pack with an MSRP of $40 isn’t price gouging, it’s capitalism, for better or worse.

I had written a whole bunch more about this at first, but it was discussed very well on Monday in Sigmund’s article and in the comments. Go read it there.

Alright, where were we. Ah yes, the basic land packs contained within the contentious Fat Packs.

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