Tag Archives: bulk rares

Bulk Rares that I Don’t Want

Written By:

Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

Writer’s Block

I’ve got nothing to write about this week. I had nothing to write about last week either, which is why I decided to burn up one of my vacation days and relax while the rest of the internet world burned. I could have just copied and pasted all of my tweets about the Reserved List and shambled together some makeshift satire article, but my heart really wouldn’t have been in it. Two weeks ago I continued on my discussion about in Customer Service #mtgfinance, so go ahead and catch up on those two links if you’re looking for an additional dose of content, while I think of something to write for this wonderful Thursday.

TCG Direct

This would have been a timely opportunity to write about the new TCGplayer Direct buylist that just launched this week, but I feel that I already covered a large majority of the questions that I’ve been approached with so far. That article can be found right here, but it can be summarized in a few points.

  • I’m not worried about the TCGplayer buylist encouraging locals to sell cards online as opposed to bringing me their collections for cash.
  • The conveniences you offer by having cash in hand and being available at odd hours of the day/night more than make up for the slightly higher percentages that TCGplayer’s buylisting vendors will offer.
  • I expect that your ability and willingness to buy “pretty much everything,” including bulk common/uncommons and bulk rares will sway people in your favor who want to get rid of everything in one fell swoop.
  • I don’t think many (if any) stores will be able to offer the competitive buy prices that the Blueprint will offer for your jank common and uncommon buylistable stuff. Thomas is awesome to deal with.

Bullet Points on Bulk Rares

It’s been a little while since I’ve covered bulk rares as a topic, but there are a couple more things I wanted to mention about them that don’t warrant an entire article’s worth of content. I know that I enjoy proclaiming that I “buy anything and everything” as a personal buylist, and I especially enjoy buying bulk rares because of how safe of an investment they are. However, there are a few bulk rares that I actually advocate staying away from and I don’t think I’ve made that clear in any of my previous articles where I suggested you buy dime rares.

  • Stay away from foreign bulk rares. Almost all of the non-competitive players I’ve dealt with will avoid foreign cards that they and their friends are unable to read. As such, non-English bulk rares are extremely difficult to sell in my 25 cent boxes, and I’m always happy to move them for dimes myself just to get rid of them.
  • Stay away from moderately played bulk rares. Maybe this is just a personal preference, but I really like my bulk rare boxes to all contain NM/SP cards. Sometimes I’ll leave in MP cards that have a retail price of $1 to effectively price the card at a quarter, but in reality it’s extremely hard to move played bulk rares. Basically, we don’t want anything that we can’t easily resell to SCG. I have all of my played and foreign bulk rares in a large box that I try to move for 10 cents each.
  • Stay away from non-gold symbol bulk rares. Okay, this one’s a bit more unique. While these are still technically rares, they’re pretty hard to move when the non-competitive players think that you just accidentally left commons and uncommons in the box. Again, if the big-box stores don’t want them then neither do we. Channelfireball states explicitly that they only want gold symbol bulk rares, so feel free to turn away any 5th edition Shivan Dragons. I’d rather pay a dime for a  Necropolis Fiend any day of the week.



Eldritch Who?

If you started reading my articles relatively recently, you might be confused by the lack of attention I’ve paid towards new set releases. I’ve yet to mention Eldritch Moon in any of my articles, and I tend to avoid picking out cards that I think will spike hard in Standard. It’s not that I hate the format, I just don’t trust my own card evaluations well enough to justify putting them onto internet pages for you to read and trust.

What I *am* good at, is picking out cards that most other players will write off as “just a garbage bulk rare”, and letting you know that the buylist is actually five times what you might have thought it was. Let’s grab a handful of cards out of a pile that I paid 10 cents each for, and take a look-see.


There’s a lot of cards in this pile, and you might be wondering “Really?” on some of these cards that are all getting tossed into my “$1 each or six for $5” box.

Colossus of Akros


Yep. This guy is absolutely a $1 card, and I love being shipped  bulk lots off Facebook when I pay 10 cents each for these babies. I don’t know the exact deck this card goes in, which is weird because most casual only cards are pretty obvious where they’re being played. Maybe this is just a cheap alternative to Emrakul for the rampy Timmys? I don’t know, but I’m okay with it.

Cathars’ Crusade


This one is a bit more obvious. Everyone loves Tokens, and this card is a Commander gem in strategies like Ghave. Even though it was thrown in the mono-white deck in 2014, its’ shaken off that reprint and continues to creep upward, while more competitive Spikes blissfully throw it into boxes to sell for a dime.

Desecration Demon


Oh, how the mighty have fallen. That graph gives me a chuckle, because people are always surprised when I buy their Desecration Demon for more than double what they expected before I throw it into the dollar box to sell off later. While I was initially confused as to why this didn’t drop to true bulk after rotation, I have a working theory that the demand from this card comes from being one of the few demons with converted mana cost of 4 or less that actually fits into “Demon tribal”, before you get into the big and scary demons where you have a lot more options on the curve.

Malakir Bloodwitch


This one might be a bit more known because of its’ strong applications in Commander…. Oh wait, it probably wouldn’t. I recently played against an Olivia deck that ran this card, and I had to read it twice to make sure it was as good as they said it was. Yes, you drain each opponentand you gain all the life that you stole. It’s Gray Merchant for people who like Vampires, and there’s a lot of people who like Vampires. This card has been a dollar for a while as you can see from the graph,but its’ gained some recent traction from being a seven year old vampire with no reprints, while having a random protection that ends up being very relevant.

End Step

  • I really don’t care about Eldritch Moon. I likely won’t care until a bunch of the cards in the set drop to bulk rare status, so I can start picking them up for a dollar (plus 20 cents) a dozen.
  • It’s very unlikely that Arachnogenesis goes any lower than the $2.50 that it currently sits at. I’m not saying it spikes, but I’m also not saying that there wasn’t just a Legendary Spider made that people have been waiting for.


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Dimes to Dollars 102

Written By:
Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

It’s no secret that I absolutely love bulk rares. I’ve written multiple articles on the subject, and I pride myself on having a pretty solid niche in a community with so many prolific writers. If you’re interested in a couple of primer articles on what I’ve already talked about before we delve deeper down the dime ditch, you can find a piece on “Bulk Rare EDH“, and one on the difference between what I’ve deemed to be “true bulk and fake bulk.”  We’re going to touch on a little of both today, in addition to another project that I’m going to be undertaking.

Building with Bulk

The last time I wrote about Bulk Rare EDH was almost exactly one year ago, and I’ve since taken apart that Tasigur list. It ended up being too frustrating trying to play three colors with next to zero playable mana fixing, since we were locked out of effects like Cultivate and Chromatic Lantern. Half of the deck’s games were lost to mana or color screw, and most of the other half were lost because I was spending the first six turns casting cards like Eye of Ramos and Into the Wilds just to try and find a certain color of mana.

I still loved the concept of Bulk Rare EDH though, even if I found out after a quick google search that I wasn’t the designer of the format.


So what to do now that Tasigur was a dud? Well, I decided to cut my old rule of excluding the Commander from bulk rare status. That was only a personal exception because I wanted to build banana-man anyway. I also decided to clean up the cut-off point for cards at $1.00 TCG mid, for consistency’s sake; I just promised myself that I wouldn’t use *too many* cards from the dollar box, whatever that meant. So this time, the goal was to focus on a deck with only one or two colors, for consistency’s sake. Thankfully, one of my “Maybe one day” Commander prototypes on Tappedout.net was already being led by a bulk rare, Heartless Hidetsugu. While I didn’t exactly have anyone else who was following my personal rule restrictions, I still wanted the deck to be able to scale with the level of the playgroup to some extent. Hmm… I should definitely trademark that. Maybe call it 76% or something like that?

Anyway, this is the first draft that I ended up coming up with:


Heartless Hidetsugu Bulk Rare EDH 1.0

Ruination is right beneath Red Sun’s Zenith in the sorcery section.

We can punish those richy-rich folk who want to crack fetchlands thanks to Ankh of Mishra, and Burning Earth will barely affect me considering I’m playing 30something Mountains and only a select few nonbasics. I think my favorite combo will end up being From the Ashes with Ankh of Mishra to kill someone outright after a Hidetsugu activation. While some might complain to me that ending games on turn 6-7 isn’t in the “spirit of Commander”, the upside is that we get in three times as many games! The curve is kind of awkward at the 3-4 drop slots, but c’est la vie.

1000% Growth (kind of)

While I was fishing through my bulk boxes to find cards for Hidetsugu and my cube, I decided double up by also pulling out all of the MP, HP, and damaged cards. Some had imperfections that I didn’t notice when putting them in the boxes, but others were damaged by customers not taking very good care of my cards when rummaging through the boxes. I have a setup where I can’t keep an eye on people because my bulk rares are at the shop, but I highly recommend doing so if you have a fat pack or so that you let people skim at FNM. There’s also the whole “theft protection reason”, but if you’re stealing bulk rares than you probably need them more than you need to read this article.

I also happily found a large chunk of cards whose prices had increased from the dime and quarter status into the $1, $2, or $5 range. I hadn’t really pawed through this bulk in the past six months (at least), so I was happily surprised that there weren’t any finance hungry sharks who stripped it clean on a weekly basis.

I know that the subheading says 1000% growth (implying that I bought all of these at 10 cents each and would sell them for a dollar each), but that’s not always true. It’s not exactly like I plan on being able to sell a dozen copies of Conjurer’s Closet over the next week at $1 each, even if I jam them in my dollar box. Most of the readers of this column don’t have a display case-esque situation, so those readers will likely be hoping to buylist the cards in the below pictures. Even in that situation, you’re still making 300-400% as long as you stuck to the rule of “Buy or trade for English, Near Mint bulk rares that have a gold symbol for ten cents each”.

dollar stuff
$2-$5 stuff


Mentor didn’t exactly have a singular reason to go up, it’s just that people like drawing cards for cheap; mana and money. When a bulk rare lets you flood the board with tokens, use up extra mana, and draw cards, that card usually doesn’t stay bulk for long. While you might be mentally responding to this paragraph with “something something Bygone Bishop, I’d still stay away. Remember that Mentor took multiple years to pick up, it works on Tokens, and you only have to pay one mana per draw. I don’t actually like Bishop (Well, I like every rare at a dime, but some I like better than others.)


I personally play Dark Impostor in my Marchesa, the Black Rose list and am usually satisfied with how effective he his in the late game. Stealing activated abilities is usually just icing on the cake, and the +1/+1 counter subtheme helps with Marchesa. However, I expect the real demand to be coming from casual vampire tribal, where players are always happy to steal abilities from other creatures and where removal is more scarce.


Zombies. Innistrad. Return to Innistrad. Zombies. Need I say more? Oh, right. Mill. Three things combined into one card. Tokens. Four things. While I’m happy selling these out of my dollar box, I don’t fault you for wanting to eek a few more pennies out if you feel like throwing playsets in the spec box and waiting a while.


While Mayor of Avabruck was the main Werewinner out of the SOI release (and one that I’ll always feel a pang of regret about when typing), several of the other previously bulk rare Werewolves suddenly transformed into $1 bills.

Shape Anew

This jumped a few months ago from a silly Modern deck that tried to put Blightsteel Colossus into play. It didn’t work out, but Modern brewers will always tinker (heh) with this kind of effect, and we could see some interesting new artifact mechanics out of Kaladesh. I’m happy with my large percentage jump, but there’s very low risk in holding onto these.

End Step

  • River Kelpie‘s movement has become much more vertical than the previous week’s MTGstocks interests have been showing. While it finally joined the dollar rare club, I don’t think this is a card that continues to sit at $1 for much longer. It’s main use is in Marchesa lists like my own, and there’s the looming likelyhood of a new Marchesa in Conspiracy 2.  Read River Kelpie a few more times and tell me why it’s not already $4-5.
  • I didn’t get the chance to write about my other bulk rare project, but don’t worry. Next week, I’m going to focus more on my experience foraying into building my first Cube! You get one guess on what the theme is.



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Bulk is Like Play-Doh

Does anyone else remember playing with Play-Doh when they were younger? That stuff was a child’s best friend. You could live out your wildest six-year old imaginations from the highest chair in the house, while Mom watched out for the four-year old brother crawling around beneath ready to eat up any of the delicious clay that fell to the floor.


Of course, it was never actually anything like the picture above. That was a cold, hard, sweet-smelling lie; similar to Play-Doh after it hardened because you didn’t touch it for like five minutes. The real stuff wouldn’t mix without turning into grotesque colors, ruining your idea of a rainbow or multicolored house. Other than that though, it was a wonderful blob of molding clay that you could turn into anything your heart desired.

I find bulk to be a lot like unused Play-Doh. I mean, it’s a lot harder to make rainbows and ice cream out of Magic cards, but the core concept is still there. You can mold it into any number of different shapes and sizes to fit the needs of your customer base. While the majority of competitive players don’t really care about the Suture Priests or Jace’s Erasures of the world, we can be thankful that the invisible and silent majority of players really could care less about bulk. In fact, they’re one of the main sources where we’ll be acquiring the recent bulk. I’ve mentioned this in previous articles so I won’t go too into depth on bulk acquisition this week, but phase one is just putting your name out there in the local scene and being “that one person” who wants to fill their house/apartment with Magic cards.

My Preference

If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you know what I’ve been molding my bulk into. I pick through it for the Rancors and the Blood Artists, even snatching out the Ajani’s Pridemates. Those were alphabetized, while the remains were randomized and packed into 1,000 count BCW boxes (Disclaimer: These actually hold approximately 1,200 cards, so don’t pack them to capacity if you’re trying to sell 1ks). I sell those out of my small display case in town for $7 per thousand, and continue to be surprised at their enduring popularity.


This method certainly doesn’t take a whole lot of effort, but you can scale the amount of money you squeeze from a thousand cards up with the amount of effort and time you want to put in. For those of you who are true masochists  grinders and actually enjoy sorting cards by set/alphabet, there are a few select buylists out there that will pay you handsomely for your Netflix+sorting multitask skills.

If you’d rather not turn down the dark road of becoming a real “Magic Financier”, then don’t worry. We have some other options available that involve a significantly lower time investment. If you can set up a consistent stream of “old” bulk from NPH or later, certain stores like Coolstuff are willing to pay a solid amount of coin.

Sorting of old/new


It’s a lot easier to sort rarity colors and set symbols than letters in the alphabet, so this might be up your ally if you get all of that NM Revised bulk that has been stripped of all its’ dual lands. I’ve also found CSI helpful when I bought bulk that was already sorted by common/uncommon, and I didn’t feel like randomizing it or increasing my volume of 1K boxes at the shop. Once you pick out all the Mindcranks and Vapor Snags, Coolstuff will take the scraps without you needing to put in a whole ton of brain power or effort.

My Future

While I pick relatively thoroughly, I don’t pick down to the nickel. At least, I didn’t before visiting Card Advantage in Athens, GA. After having a few conversations with the owner, I am now (well, I will be over the summer when I actually have time) a certified Blueprinter. What the hell is a Blueprint? Just one of the most extensive buylists for common/uncommon picks that you’ve ever seen, created by some of the most amazing people in the industry. (Disclaimer 2: Thomas Dodd did not pay me or MTGprice for this advertising space; my high recommendation of them comes only from my own personal experience). While this style of buylisting is certainly not for the faint of heart, you can pick your bulk absolutely bone dry with methods like these, then ship the rest off to CSI.



Oh, you didn’t know that you can get almost a dime a piece for common Sludge Crawlers? That’s twice as much as an uncommon Retreat that actually sees play in the Modern deck. If you thought Sylvan Scrying was dead after the reprint, you’re dead wrong. Card Advantage will pay you a dollar for five of these things, which later equals ten more bulk rares in your pocket when you buy someone’s collection. See where I’m going with this? Once you get used to the extensiveness of the buylist and the types of cards that people on Amazon buy, it will only get easier and faster.

Sylvan Scrying

Let me repeat this for those who are going to scroll to the bottom and write an angry message about how I’m wasting my time sorting cards for pennies on the hour. This industry pays off depending on how much time you put into it. People like Ryan Bushard built a full-time job out of bulk, and there are some people out there who actually enjoy sorting cards. If you want to go out and find the next underpriced Shadows Over Innistrad Standard staple, I think you clicked on the wrong article.

Am I going to be spending the next week working on my Blueprint with the 150k cards in my dorm room? No, I don’t have time for that. I will, however, use my last summer break before starting graduate school to grind value out of this, learn the .03 cards to pick, and practice speeding up the process of set sorting/alphabetizing while watching Netflix or professional League of Legends streams. While the remains that didn’t get Blueprinted won’t be up to par to be sold as 1k boxes in my display case (I don’t think my non-competitive customers would appreciate if half the cards in the set were missing), those leftover Play-doh droppings can be molded into cash dollars from another vendor like Coolstuff, and be sold as true bulk.

No, those are not World of Warcraft cards.

End Step:

Can someone explain to me why the pre-release foil of Lotus Bloom is the same price as either non-foil? I feel like there are only a couple dozen people in the country who went to a Time Spiral prerelease, and Lotus Bloom certainly isn’t getting another printing anytime soon considering they pumped out Suspend a few years ago and it’s extremely high on the Storm reprint scale. Do people not like the Christopher Rush artwork on the promo? Someone help me understand.

Screenshot 2016-03-16 at 3.14.24 PM

Started from the Bulk and Now We’re Here

So has anyone found interesting lots on Facebook as a result of last week’s article? I’m curious to see if anyone found some nice decks, piles of staples, or anything else at a significant discount while using the methods I described.  That article was a sort of flashback/addition to one from almost six months ago, so I figured I might as well repeat the trend. Does anyone else remember this personal anecdote that I wrote up back in June? I wanted to explain my evolution from “random high school student and FNM grinder” to “that one guy who buys all of your Magic cards and has most of what you need for your deck.” I felt that it was successful in doing so for the most part, but it lacked in a pretty significant area that I’m surprised nobody called me out on.

Starting from (Almost) Nothing

I never really actually explained anything in detail with hard numbers about how much cash flow I started out with, how I used that initial cash flow to get cards, and the methods that I used to recycle that money into more cards and money, then into more money and cards, and slowly build a house of some sort. Almost like a house o—oh, forget it. I actually got the idea to write this article thanks to @LengthyXemit on Twitter, who just recently  put out a floor report of GP Madison for us. The afterthought at the end is actually what sparked this for me: what would you do with $100 if it was all you had to start your MTG finance portfolio?

Bonus Question:
If you had $100 to start your MTGFinance portfolio what would you buy?

“Collection at buylist” – Ogre
“Original Zendikar Lands at a quarter or less” – Ryan Bushard
“Bulk Rares at 10 cents as long as I had an out”- CoolStuffInc Buyer
“Bulk C/U at 3 per K” – Floor Grinder.
“A collection from a local player” – This editor

“Most of the above.” –Douglas Johnson

Personally, I’d try and diversity my investment a little bit, but my answer incorporates most of the above responses. I’d want some bulk commons and uncommons at $3 per thousand, a good chunk of bulk rares at a dime a piece, and a couple of small starting local or Facebook lots at approximately  buylist prices. I disagree with Ryan on the Zendikar lands, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Now let’s hop back in that time machine to when I was an FNM grinder in high school. I was lucky and had literally zero bills to pay, so any income from my unpleasant job at Kmart went straight into my only hobby.

Let’s say for argument’s sake that I only had $100 to spend on cards back then, and was starting from absolutely nothing.  We have to try and grind this $100 into $200, while keeping both cards and cash liquid at all times. Nothing loses a returning customer faster than the phrase, “Sorry, I don’t have cash at the moment. I can’t buy that.”

If we start at $100 cash, then we want to stick to getting as much bang for our buck as we can. We might not want to jump in the big pond by buying Force of Will from a local higher-end player for a buylist of $70 (even if he needs the money)—that runs the risk of the same guy coming back with another Force or equally high-end card while we have almost all of our initial hundred tied up in a single card. While there’s a chance that  we could flip the Force for $90 on TCGplayer (or more likely, Facebook) for instant return, I think it’s much more wide to go wide instead of tall with our initial investment.

If I’m a young teenager with a hundred dollars in a pool full of larger fish with big pockets, I want to attack a smaller market that they’re not bothering with. Don’t be the guy chasing after everyone else’s Expeditions lands. There are tons of competitive players with thousands of commons and uncommons sitting in their basements from sets and blocks in the past. Does your LGS even buy bulk rares? What about bulk commons and uncommons? These are common blind spots of some tournament grinders, because they just don’t want to take the time and effort involved in picking, piecing, and sorting out their cards. There’s a physical space constraint on bulk, as well, and some significant others don’t take kindly to their living rooms being full of white boxes of cardboard.

This makes bulk one of your more attractive options when starting from a low cash level. Instead of sitting on your hands for four months waiting for your Mantis Riderto jump from $.50 to $3, you could be processing thousands of cards over and over again.

Immovable Object

Another reason why we’re sticking with bulk is that there’s really no risk of it ever going down in price. Unlike buying singles, a thousand bulk commons and uncommons literally cannot go down in price. The invisible non-competitive players out there outnumber us financiers and grinders on a scale that’s probably somewhere around 10:1. Those players just want a bunch of cards to jam decks with, and you can be the one to help them do that.

How much bulk can you get for $100? Well most larger vendors at Grands Prix only pay $3 per thousand, so you’re going to want to beat that to at least be an attractive option. I personally pay $4 per thousand as long as it’s a mix of commons and uncommons, mostly English, and near mint. I know, I’m a stickler for details. If you have an out ready and waiting, you can pay $5 per thousand, like Xemit, in order to aggressively accumulate as much bulk as possible. At that point, though, people will start bringing you more bulk than you can handle. Remember that we’re on a budget here and only want as much as we can handle without having infinite number of people try to overload us. Let’s stick to $4 per thousand.

So that’s 25,000 cards, assuming we do decide to burn all of our allowance on non-rare bulk. What do we do with that many cards? Well, first, we pick them. I’m not going to go over how to pick because that’s another five articles by itself, and a lot of picking ability just comes down to first-hand experience. I will go over one of my favorite ways to get rid of bulk though, and that’s the ever so useful Craigslist.

Easily Movable Objects


The above picture is my personal listing, which reminds me that I need to update it because it’s about to expire. My rules are very clear, and my customers knows exactly (well not exactly, because it’s 1000 randomized cards, but you get the point) what they’re getting. I realize now that I’m writing this that if you want to mirror my strategy exactly, then you need to invest a bit more in additional 1000-count boxes, but you don’t really have to use the white BCW boxes. You can use old Fat Pack boxes (they hold around 600 cards each), empty cardboard booster boxes, or even make your own out of scrap cardboard.

Did you notice that my binders, pick boxes, and that 12K-count card house are in the picture? That’s not on accident. Non-competitive players who buy your bulk commons and uncommons want to make their decks better, and you can use your own personal collection to sell cards out of to help them with that goal. This is why I believe combining bulk rares with your C/U is ultimately the best starting point, because you give your customers so much more cards per booster pack than they would have experienced at Wal-mart, and they even get to customize their decks before dropping the cash.

Alright, so let’s say that instead of buying just 25K in bulk, we only found 15K and spent $60. We also picked up a hundred or so bulk rares from BFZ and Khans block and spent $10, leaving us $30 or so for random cheap singles that we might happen to come across. We throw up a Craigslist ad and get a hit, someone looking to return to the game with three other friends without breaking the bank. If we sell them 10K of the bulk and 30 of the rares, we get $76 assuming we sell bulk rares at five for a dollar, like I do. Now we have $106, 15k left, and 70 or so rares, and that’s assuming we picked the bulk clean and found literally nothing. Simple math aside, you can see where we start to ride the value train and grow a collection. If we rinse and repeat this process several times, we can start grabbing singles that are worth selling on eBay, Facebook, and TCGplayer.

End Step

While we’re on the topic of bulk rares, sometimes you end up getting lucky once a rotation happens when you re-dig through your boxes of cards you once paid a dime for several months ago. I managed to find seven copies of Hidden Dragonslayer in my white bulk rare box, and that’s a multiplier you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. The same thing happened with Crackling Doom and Mantis Rider, so be on the lookout for potentially playable bulk rares from BFZ that could do the same. I certainly don’t hate buying Blight Herder or Felidar Sovereign for dimes if you can find competitive players looking to pawn off the remnants of their non-Gideon lottery tickets to support trading for your fetch lands.