Tag Archives: battle for zendikar mtg

A Guide to Black Friday Buying

I remember the appeal of Black Friday. Stuff yourself on turkey (and ham, and potatoes, and deviled eggs, and stuffing, and wine, etc), play games with the family, listen to your crazy uncle and live-tweet what he says, drink more wine and then pass out.

Then wake up at 4 a.m. on Friday and drive to Wal-Mart or Target to begin to camp out for those 7 a.m. openings. If you’re really hardcore you get there even earlier so as to try and get in on the doorbuster sale. You walk away with the fancy TV if you’re lucky, and you probably get a lot of stuff you maybe don’t actually need. Then you go home and sleep.

These days, Black Friday starts on Thursday. At not at 11:59 either. 6 p.m. openings is, frankly, stupid. I get that some people (very few) want to eat and then go shop, the fact is you’re never going to get the doorbusters unless you skip Thanksgiving meal altogether. I’m not a fan of this at all, but it would be fairly disingenuous of me to criticize it too heavily given that it is the natural conclusion of capitalism, and I have a writing gig here and a store to run thanks to that. Still, I hate it.

Luckily, when it comes to Magic, we don’t have to worry about that. You wake up in the morning and begin the crazy Black Friday rush of surfing the Internet in your pajamas. I had originally planned on compiling a big list of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales, but Reddit has beat me to it. Since I can’t imagine making a more comprehensive list than theirs, I’ve decided not to try. Instead, I want to offer some tips on how to plan out your holiday purchases this year.

The Big Ones

Let’s start with Star City Games, the biggest retailer of note. Their Black Friday deals have just been announced, and there’s some big ones. Battle for Zendikar boxes at just $80 is actually insane, given that it’s a full $10 cheaper than boxes available on TCGPlayer. Even the EV of the opened packs comes out to above that — though you’re playing the Gideon lottery here, of course.

Next up is there sale on true collector items: Alpha/Beta and graded goods. While I’m no expert on these prices, there’s certainly a lot to like here if you’re in the market. Rarely do you get the intersection of a truly reputable dealer (and SCG is unparalleled here) with such high-end collectibles. I understand how little of the market this speaks to, but it’s worth checking out. Of course, there’s also the consideration of this being timed just a few weeks after the big announcement of reduced Legacy support. While I’m not drawing any causation here between the two, I imagine others will chime in on the subject in the days to come.


While we haven’t seen all of Channel Fireball’s deals, I have to imagine they will look good as well. Both of these retailers can afford to really jump in with some “loss leaders,” if you will, and that means they’re willing to offer up some of the best deals on the market to get people into their store.

The third of the big outlets, TCGPlayer, has a significantly less exciting offer. Getting five percent of your purchase back in store credit is nice, sure, but it’s not anything to really go deep on. While TCGPlayer is obviously still your best outlet for cheap cards — and if you were planning an order now’s the time to place it — nothing about their deal makes me want to jump in.

Other online stores

Moving down the list, I would also suggest checking out TrollandToad, which has an actually insane deal with $60 Dragons of Tarkir booster boxes. This is a full $20 under TCGPlayer, and essentially half of the EV of the box. I’m not going to say arbitrage is worth your time here, but the truth is that’s just an absurdly low price for a set that’s going to be legal another eight months. [EDIT: SOLD OUT on boxes; that was fast].

Card Kingdom is doing a “spend $100, get $15 in store credit” deal, which again isn’t bad if you’re planning a purchase but not something that draws me in. CoolStuffInc seems to have their actual singles discounted, so if you’re looking into something specific it’s worth comparing there, though I’ll note that their prices aren’t exactly low to begin with, so there’s maybe not a ton to be gained here.

But here’s one that I do consider worth going out of your way to check out: Face to Face Games. The store is located in Canada, but if you’re north of the border or even in the U.S. (sorry, everyone else), this is worth looking into thanks to a 15 percent off coupon code for Black Friday only (code: BLACKFRIDAY2015). If I’m looking to buy a deck or a collection of cards (or spec targets), this is likely the best place to look. In many ways this is the same as Card Kingdom giving $15 on a $100 order, except in this case you don’t have to spend your “savings” on more cards.

Big-Box Stores

These are your Wal-Mart and Targets of the world, as well as some smaller chains. While those two big ones don’t have anything to write home about, Walgreens has 40 percent off, I’ve heard Hastings has buy one, get one deals going on, and you should also be on the lookout for any other price-matching guarantees that stores in your area may float around.

Overall, there’s nothing huge here, but 40 percent off at Walgreens is a great excuse to buy any product you may want either for yourself or the upcoming gift-giving season. I’m not sure if you can grab Commander 2015 product at these locations or not, but this is a great way to get in on those if you can.

Everything’s local

With all of this in mind, remember that “Small Business Saturday” is a newer trend that’s popping up. I know a lot of local stores that are having some big sales, and when you’re done recovering from Thanksgiving food and finished scouring the internet for deals, be sure to go check out your local game store. They almost always have good deals of their own and are highly likely to want to work with you, given that you represent repeat business to them. The typical LGS is a lifeline to all players, and we don’t want to forget them in the rush that is Black Friday madness.


With so many places to look, I’ll stop here. Get out there and find some deals!


Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter/Twitch/YouTube

Grinder Finance – Keeping your Collection Liquid

I think this is an article that’s been written before, but I doubt everyone has read it, so I’m going to write one.  An important part of Magic financial fitness is keeping a liquid collection.  What does that mean?

Well, a Magic collection is a lot like a plant.  If you give it plenty of sun and water it you’ll a pile of soggy unplayable cards, so not in that way.  But it’s similar in the fact that with a minimal amount of maintenance it will grow.  I assume many of the people that read my articles are not urban gardeners like myself, but there are a few things you can do to grow much fuller herbs.  If you give the herb sun and water it, it will grow just fine.  If you periodically fertilize and prune the plant it will grow fuller and faster.  Pruning a plant promotes new growth and a heartier plant.  Your collection acts the same way.

It’s pretty much impossible to grow a collection without adding more money into it, but it is possible to re-appropriate that value to help it grow.  It’s important to notice trends and to fertilize properly and prune properly.   Maybe I’m talking too much in abstract so let’s use some real world examples from my collection.


I’ve been pruning my collection of Magic Origins cards that have been popular in Standard.  The last few weeks have seen many different decks winning top-tier tournaments and have been affecting prices.  I play a lot of Magic so obviously I’m not looking to sell pieces of the deck I play but there are cards outside of that I own that I don’t need.  In the last month I’ve sold Demonic Pacts, Woodland Bellower, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Ghostfire Blade, Thopter Spynetwork, and Ensoul Artifact.

I’ve also been “fertilizing” my collection with cards that haven’t become a “thing” yet.  I got Ghostfire Blades and Abbot of Keral Keep right before they became super popular.  Right now I’ve been getting cards that are cheap because cheap cards can become expensive easily but expensive cards don’t get more expensive very easily.  Especially with how much Magic Origins product is being opened.

Dromoka's Command by James Ryman
Dromoka’s Command by James Ryman

As this is now the weekend after a five-Abzan Top 8, I would recommend watching the movement of the staples for this deck.  It’s going to be probably the last chance you have to trade away Fleecemane Lion for literal anything.  It’s fair trade value is about $2 and if you can flip it into any of the painlands from Magic Origins it is really hard to go wrong.  Dromoka’s Command is another card that is surging despite its recent reprinting in the Magic Origins clash pack.  Fellow MTGPrice writer Derek Madlem suggested last week that Dromoka’s Command was a criminally underpriced card.  Given its play last weekend, I’d say he was right.  Dromoka’s Command will also survive an extra rotation as Dragons of Tarkir will not rotate with the rest of the block.

Mantis Rider by Johann Bodin
Mantis Rider by Johann Bodin

But do you know what I really like doing now? Grabbing all of your Khans of Tarkir staples.  There really isn’t a better time to  buy Rattleclaw Mystic, Mantis Rider, Savage Knuckleblade, Siege Rhino, or Sorin, Solemn Visitor.  We’ve already seen an uptick of Sorin in response to the abundant UR Thopters decks and Monored decks.  Any card that gives your whole team lifelink and is on the same team as Siege Rhino can be good against aggressive decks. Mantis Rider’s price tag of $1 is a pretty safe bet.  After Battle For Zendikar enters the fray we will be losing our only two-mana spell that can kill Mantis Rider.  Surprisingly, Mantis Rider is pretty durable when your options for removal are Ultimate Price, Swift Reckoning, Valorous Stance, and Roast.  He can still die to Draconic Roar and Foul-Tongue Invocation but that’s a pretty small subset of available spells.

What else do we prune?  Card of the week syndrome can hit hard and fast.


Pucatrade has a resource that includes the most popular trades of the last day, week, month, year.  Things that get popular quick and fall off are the best choices for a quick pruning.  You know what we don’t need to hold with impeding Eldrazi? $2 Sphinx’s Tutelages.  No matter how good the deck is now it is unlikely two colorless cards will “share a color.”

Next on our list? Keep an eye on new saplings waiting to be planted.  Some cards that pre-ordered at the beginning for a lot are coming down to more reasonable price ranges.


While there is nothing I’m advocating as a buy today, there are a few cards I would keep a sharp eye on.

Sword of the Animist by Daniel Ljunggren
Sword of the Animist by Daniel Ljunggren

Sword of the Animist is card that preordered for $5 after being touted by StarCity Games’ Ben Bleisweiss as one of the best cards in the set but now is down to half of that number.  Casual appeal should keep this from ever hitting true bulk but with the confirmation of Landfall as a returning mechanic in Battle for Zendikar, this has some legs.  It may have some more room to drop but as soon as it turns the corner is the time to buy in.

Harbinger of the Tides by Svetlin Velinov
Harbinger of the Tides by Svetlin Velinov

Harbinger of the Tides was another hyped card.  If we are expecting Eldrazi that are large and in charge in the next set I don’t see how this guy doesn’t fit into the resistance.  He’s a reasonable body attached to a powerful effect versus cards that might have been cheating into play with See the Unwritten.  He also still does a decent job of unsummoning all of the Dragonlords except Dromoka at instant speed.  He also may have some space to drop but when we approach $1 there is no real risk in buying in.

Surrak the Huntcaller by Wesley Burt
Surrak the Huntcaller by Wesley Burt

What does Surrak, the Huntcaller do? A ton really.  He trades with Siege Rhino, he triggers ferocious for See the Unwritten and gives haste to whatever huge fatty you put into play with it.  The art of this card may be more telling of his future with Dragonlord Atarka emerging from his shadow to fly in for a kill.

In conclusion, water your collection and leave it out in the sun if you think it’s a plant.  Otherwise keep an eye on trends and make sure to move parts of your collection you aren’t using to free up money to invest in parts you will need later down the line.