Tag Archives: bulk rares

Bulk Rare EDH

I already know what you’re thinking. You clicked on this article because it had “EDH” in the title, and because you thought, “Finally, someone on this website who actually knows what they’re talking about when it comes to the Commander format.” You wanted a benevolent writer who’s not afraid to tell you how much I like your smile, instead of an angst-filled podcaster who’s gonna call you a nerd. I feel you. I understand you. We’re gonna steal some of Jason Alt‘s spotlight for the week, and combine something that I love (bulk rares) with his EDH fetish.

DJ, You Play Magic?


That tweet was posted from #GPVegas, but that’s beside the point. I do actually own five EDH decks and enjoy the slow process of foiling them out through trades. It warms my cold, financier heart to find a foil piece for Savra in a binder when I’m so close to having the deck as foil as possible; it gives me something to actually be excited about when trading.


(If anyone has a foil one of these, I’d gladly trade for it.)

However, some of my decks end up being too powerful for local and new groups that I attend. I’m pretty awful at figuring out whether or not my deck is 75%, but I still wanted to have a brew that could be on a somewhat similar power level to someone who just picked up a Commander preconstructed deck from the Walmart.

I also have thousands of bulk rares that sit on top of my display case and there are some that I’ll never run out of (I’m so glad I have a dozen copies of Sultai Ascendancy). A few months ago, I figured that maybe I could use those… Fate Reforged had just been released, and I wanted to make a Tasigur deck while still being original and having a cool “theme.”


The $30 Deck

I already had Jarad as my mono-dredge deck, so I didn’t want to go down that path with Tasigur. I had Savra for tokens and sacrifice themes, and Nath was all enchantments. I really didn’t want to make a “good stuff” BUG deck with all of the best Sultai staples that were just recurred over and over again, because I like all of my decks to have their own dedicated theme or niche.

While I was pawing through some of my bulk rares in my display case, I had the idea to combine the best of both worlds: what if I made the Tasigur deck, and only used rares that were under a certain price point? It would limit the power level of the deck to the point where I’d be comfortable playing in a lot more environments with casual players, the deck would cost me literally nothing to build (I resolved to only use cards in my $.25 rare box), and I might be able to start a trend in my area. If this building restriction ended up being a ton of fun and took off, then I have a ton of bulk rares to sell to my friends who might make their own bulk rare EDH decks.

These are the rules that I kept myself to during deck construction:

  1. Every card in the 99 that is not a basic land must be rare, and worth less than $.80 TCG mid (most cards above that price end up in my $1.00 box, so I don’t consider them true “bulk rares”).
  2. The general is excluded from this rule, because damn it, I want to play Tasigur.
  3. Mythic rares are not allowed, because those aren’t in my $.25 boxes.
  4. If the card jumps above the right price point, it must be removed from the deck.
  5. I didn’t care if the card had been reprinted as common or uncommon, as long as I was playing the rare version.
  6. No foils, other than Tasigur. That would make the card too expensive to play.

The “Golden” Fang

My first rough draft ended up, well, pretty rough. I learned really quickly that most decent mana fixing was printed at common or uncommon, so Farseek, Cultivate, and even guildgates were out. Any semi-quality rare dual lands are above $1, so I was unable to use stuff like Drowned Catacombs even though it has four printings. As a result, I managed to find Astral Cornucopia and the Ramos rocks as begrudgingly playable. It’s not as though anyone was clamoring to buy them out of my bulk boxes anyway. Ways to fill my graveyard were especially hard to come by, but I managed to pull out Jace’s Archivist and one of those good old Sultai Ascendancies to help cast Tasigur even easier. I even had a cute combo with Laboratory Maniac in the list for a while, but now it looks like I’ll have to remove him. He’s grown up to be a big boy and will move onto the $1 box, so I’ll have to find an additional win condition. My favorite win condition in the deck is definitely Villainous Wealththough: if I can’t cast expensive and powerful Magic cards, I’ll just try to use yours!

After a bit of tweaking a few months ago, this is what I have sleeved up today.


While writing this article, I’m learning that more and more cards that I initially had in the list no longer fit the price requirement that I set. Though I set my number at around $.80, you can pick whatever number you like, which I think is a cool way to adjust the format to your personal playgroup’s budget. Removing commons and uncommons from the equation makes it a sort of “anti-Pauper,” where you put a lot of faith in WOTC’s inability to designate rarities early on in the game’s development. I can take advantage of Persuasion having  a gold set symbol, but I don’t get to play Control Magic.

Advantages of Battling with Bulk

I’m not going to pretend that I play as much EDH as Jason does. I’ve probably only played this deck a dozen times in the six or so months that it’s been together. However, I’ve gotten enough positive local feedback and interactions by using the deck, that I think there are tangible benefits to building one if you’re an individual looking to sell off some of your bulk rares for higher than $.15 a piece to a vendor.

When I cast Sudden Spoiling to ruin someone’s entire army of dragons and make blocks that devastate their board, one of the responses of the opposing players was, “There’s no way that’s a bulk rare. It’s way too powerful.” That conversation quickly turned into, “How many extras of those do you have that you would sell me? I need one in every black deck.” By displaying powerful bulk rares that can stand up to higher-tier decks, you can show them first-hand that building a deck that I can only accurately describe as “not that bad” can be surprisingly cheap.

I mentioned this earlier in the opening, but it’s worth going over again. If you or your playgroups find this type of idea to be fun (I mean, it’s probably cheaper and more fun than Tiny Leaders, if you’re an EDH player who tried that format out), then it’s easy to buy into, challenging to build, and allows for constant adjusting of your deck. I’ve had the deck together for less than a year, and I’ve already been forced to remove at least 7 cards from it because they slowly crept up in price. If I played enough Magic to know for sure, I’d guess that changing your deck up little by little over time manages to keep it fun, refreshing, and exciting to play. These types of decks are also fantastic to show blossoming EDH players who have just purchased their precons, or who have no idea where to start.

While we’re on the subject of comparing this to Tiny Leaders, I have to make the amusing observation that it’s impossible for this “format variation” to warp the market like TL did. I’m not suggesting that this will ever actually be as big as TL was, but if a card becomes powerful enough and demanded just because of its efficiency in bulk rare decks, then it no longer becomes a bulk rare. When that happens, we remove the card from our decks until it goes back down to where we want!

One final advantage that I want to aggressively push at you about this variant of EDH that I created, is that talking about it is actually getting me to feel and care about spoilers again.

I’m actually excited for Gilt-Leaf Winnower to drop down to a bulk rare so I can try it out in this deck. Is it going to be good enough? I have no idea, but I want to try it. I’m going to end up paying $.10 for one eventually anyway, so I might as well take it for a run. I’m even crossing my fingers hoping that Managorger Hydra becomes a bulk rare to supplement the +1/+1 counter subtheme that the deck has slowly evolved into.

End Step

Am I crazy for thinking this is an actual fun tweak on EDH/Commander? I’ve had a blast playing with my Tasigur deck against other relatively low-power decks. If you’re a fan of 60-card pauper or pauper EDH, I think this is something you’d enjoy a lot. As someone who never used to enjoy actually building decks, I enjoy keeping this one up to date, and writing about it has revived my fervor for sharing it with the world.

Let me know what you think in the comments section, on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, email, whatever. You know the drill. Thanks for reading!

The Dime Dealer

Nobody’s going to argue that hitting on a personal spec target isn’t one of the best feelings in our little micro community. Seeing that 200-percent increase on Boros Reckoner the week after release or reminiscing on when you bought out the internet of Tasigur at $2 each feels great, and it’s one of the biggest reasons players try to dip their toes into the world of Magic finance. Seeing your $3 preorder hang out at $9 for its entire Standard lifespan is something that will always hang on your mantle as a brag story for years to come, especially if you went all-in on dozens or hundreds of copies.

Today, I’m not here to teach you how to do that. My ability to evaluate pre-order cards is less than stellar, considering I called Rabblemaster “hot garbage,” and claimed it would be a bulk rare soon after the set release. You don’t want me to tell you what card to pick out of Origins to be the next Deathmist Raptor, because that’s not what I’m good at. What I am good at, is making money off what I thought Rabblemaster would turn out to be: bulk rares.

What is a Bulk Rare?

As we’re all well aware, not every gold- or red-symbol-bearing card in the rear end of a booster pack lives a privileged life of playability and power. Some are cast aside and forgotten by the Spikes of our realm, left to rot in the dregs of trade binders for years, thrown into boxes of bulk and forgotten about, or left on draft tables to be thrown away. For the purposes of our discussion today, a “bulk rare” will be any card with a gold set symbol and a TCGplayer mid price of under $1.00.

I’m going to separate the types of bulk rares into a couple of different categories. First, we have “true bulk.” These are the rares that can literally never be seen as anything other than $.10 to $.12, depending on what vendor you talk to. These are the Dragon-Style Twins of the world, which have a TCGplayer mid price of $.35, are acquirable as throw-ins during trades (if you play nice during the transaction), and have never seen any sort of play on a camera. You are not happy when you open one of these in a booster pack. Ever.


Next up, we have something that I’ve patented as a “fake” bulk rare. While vendors at a Grand Prix will treat true and fake bulk rares to be one and the same, you have room to make more money off them than their bottom dollar counterparts. Let’s take a look at Increasing Savagery:


Compare that to the graphs for Dragon-Style Twins and Deathbringer Regent. With a Fair Trade Price that most people would round up to $1, this set of scary window teeth is worth trading straight across for Delver of Secrets or Brainstorm. And the best part is that anyone who cares about casting Delver or Brainstorm is more than likely willing to dump Savagery at a bulk rare price while they’re trying to finish their set of Snapcasters.

We can see a similar price chart in the more recently printed Flamewake Phoenix.


While the card isn’t as bulky as Dragon-Style Twins, it certainly hasn’t made any flamewaves in Standard (yet.) This is a card that I’m extremely happy to pick up while trading for or buying bulk rares at $.10 to $.12 each to set aside with my fingers crossed for post-rotation. I definitely keep cards like this and Increasing Savagery away from my “true” bulk, and either trade them out at $1, buylist them online for more than a 100-percent profit, or speculate at a negligible cost.

Why Should I Care?

Excellent question, voice in my head. When you deal in bulk rares, you get to bridge the aether between the hardcore Spikes and grinders who only care about pureblood Snapcaster Mages and the casual kitchen-table player who will lose his freaking mind over how awesome it will be to windmill slam a Dragon-Style Twins against his friend and then pump it with Increasing Savagery. While it’s a rare occasion to sell massive amounts of bulk rares and reap in huge loads of cash at once, they are one of the most stable assets in Magic.

If you looked at the price of Underground Sea a year ago and given me the choice of one NM Revised Sea or 3,300 bulk rares, I would have taken the 100 duck-sized horses instead of one horse-sized duck. In the past 365 days, Sea has actually depreciated by a decent percentage, while my army of dimes wouldn’t have moved an inch. Unless Magic as a whole collapses, I can’t see the price of bulk rares ever going down past the dime—casual players just love the game too much. While you sometimes end up having to buy Gallows at Willows Hill, those are the ones that you pass off to the highest bidder at your next Grand Prix.

Bulk rares also have the advantage of randomly spiking six-million percent every now and again. Nourishing Shoal was sitting in my bulk rares box before it suddenly became a $15 card, so that dime saw a higher percentage increase than Deathmist Raptor could ever hope to dream of. Older bulk rares from the blocks of Mirrodin, Kamigawa, and Future Sight are harder to find than modern-day bulk mythics, but have infinite more upside just due to the explosive popularity of a deck being on camera. Guess how quickly I listed my Quickens after this past week. While some people say that I’m insane for holding onto all of the copies of Plunge into Darkness that I pull from collections and bulk buys, I’m confident that it only takes one camera match or new card printed to shoot the Fifth Dawn rare into overdrive.

How Do I Pick Up Bulk Rares?

Thankfully, there are a lot of players who aren’t as interested in these penny stocks as we are. Competitive tournament grinders are (in my experience) often happy to grind their dusty bulk rares into Cryptic Commands, especially when you point out the fact that no one else has wanted or will want these cards other than yourself.

Proper etiquette here is to gently approach the subject, and ask if your partner is interested in moving any or all of their NM bulk rares. You let them know that they’re free to decline any card in particular for any or no reason at all, and that you won’t be offended. Set a price beforehand (I like to use $.10 as a cash baseline and $.12 in trade), and one of you can start pulling and making small piles of 10. I also take any mythic at $.25 to help people not have to look at their copies of Archangel’s Light anymore. Even if they don’t exactly have 300 bulk rares to equal the Cryptic they were looking for,  it certainly helps cushion the blow by reducing the number of their own staples that they have to trade out towards completing their deck.

Alternatively, I used to find success with a “two for one” box. While I don’t use it anymore due to keeping my bulk rare boxes on a glass display case in a storefront, it was a very effective method of grinding sheer quantity of bulk rares during our college gaming nights. The general rule is that you have a large box of at least a few hundred rares, preferably ones that have a degree of casual and Commander appeal. While I’m not sure this is something you want to start while playing at your LGS (it always had kind of a “vendor” feel to me, so I always reserved it for casual events at our college), it’s a great way to make a bit of value on the side, and remove the stress of searching through someone else’s binder for some random rare that you don’t care about anyway.

The key to picking up bulk rares goes back to my article “Nothing is Sacred” from a couple weeks ago. Be flexible, and willing to buy (almost) anything. While I’ve personally drawn a line of not accepting MP or lower bulk rares anymore, I don’t care what NM rares I’m buying. As long as the price is a dime, I’m perfectly willing to pick up binders and binders full of bulk rares. Even though I own more than 30 copies of Daxos of Meletis, I’ll still buy the next one at $.10. In the absolute worst-case scenario, I’ll need to unload it at the next Grand Prix I travel to and break even. The best case is that I make $.03 off of it. The best, best-case scenario is that there’s the next Nourishing Shoal in the same pile as that thirty-first Daxos, and that I help someone complete a deck by taking the cards that she doesn’t need off her hands.

Moving Bulk Rares

It would be really awkward if I closed this article without going over the best ways to sell and trade your newly acquired penny stocks, but I’ve already actually sprinkled those methods throughout. Let’s go over it to recap.

Your number-one outlet is casual players. If you don’t know any casual players, try to find some. I’m not talking about Commander players who understand that Steam Vents is a quality Magic: The Gathering card. Your homework for this week is to meet a casual player who gets excited when they consider putting a Tidal Force into an unsleeved, 78-card deck. Help them experience Christmas in July by giving them a box of sweet rares to look through that are only $.25 each. That’s, like, $3.75 less than a booster pack!

End Step

So yesterday, I learned this:


Even hardened financiers like myself can slip up sometimes, and it makes me wonder exactly how many copies of Endless Ranks of the Dead I’ve thrown into my quarter box for the past year and a half. If you have someone local who does what I do on the scale that I do, there’s a damn good chance that they messed up at some point, or haven’t gone through their thousands of bulk rares in god knows how long. I remember pulling Gavony Townships out of other people’s bulk boxes back when the card was $1.50, so it’s your turn to do the same. Do some research and go make money off of people like me. Preferably not me, but other people like me. Go buy their Endless Ranks for a quarter. Leave mine alone.


Beaten by Kruin Outlaw and Kitchen Finks

By: Douglas Johnson

Everyone knows sequels are always better than originals, right? Right? There has certainly never been a time where the creator of a movie/book/article thought, “You know what? The second iteration of this will clearly be worse than the first. I should stop now while I’m ahead.” Do you know why? Because winners make sequels.

Here’s a sequel for you. Sequel to what? This right here.  There’s no time (or word count) to waste, so let’s get started!



What Gets to Stay?

Maybe I’m crazy, but I think Vicious Shadows is absolutely absurd in any R/B/X deck that causes lots of creatures to die. You can insta-kill someone for playing a Wrath effect, assassinate planeswalkers with ease, and create a political nightmare just for having a Wrath or sacrifice outlet of your own at the ready. Sure, it’s a seven-drop, but it’s seen zero additional printings and is from Shards of Alara, which stopped being opened quite a while ago.  Normal copies are definitely less attractive than foils, but it’s something that I’m setting aside whenever I get additional copies.

Aggressive Mining might just be a symptom of my addiction to Loam, but this card has got to be broken eventually, right? Maybe it’ll be a dumb combo enabler in five years, or maybe it’ll help mono-red decks fire off those last few points of damage… I don’t know. Nobody’s going to pick them out of my bulk rare boxes for the moment, so I might as well hoard them until I get to be that mad scientist who runs through town screaming, “I TOLD YOU SO!!!”


Meanwhile, Crucible of Fire is anything but a crazy longshot. This card is pretty much everything I ever want in a spec: cheap, consistent, and proven. It managed to creep up to $5 before getting shot down to bulk rare status after the reprint and has been slowly climbing up ever since. I can definitely see this hitting its previous ceiling, and maybe go even higher with the new influx of dragon players. You’ll be waiting a little while for this one to take off, but you don’t have to cross your fingers and hope you’re right. These are easy trade targets at a dollar, and I mental fist pump every time someone else bulks them out to me.

What Has to Go?

Alright. The time has come. I’ve been waiting for this for a few  years now. I’m finally taking these stupid werewolves out and jamming them into my $.25 boxes. When they  first dropped down to near-bulk rare status back in Innistrad Standard, I correlated these to the recent trend of vampires that had increased in price due to casual appeal, like Captivating Vampire. Surely there would be a number of players who start playing in a couple of years who want to go back to the days of werewolves in Magic, right? Well, maybe not. I’m finally willing to face reality after seeing these for the first time in about a year, and I’m ripping off the scab. I hope these make some casual player happier for $.25 than they made me for $.50 to $1 each.

I definitely thought that Slobad would be a lot more popular than he appears to be, especially with how easily he slides into the relatively popular Daretti deck.

Aside: I just looked up Daretti on MTGPrice.com in order to link the card page to this article. I saw that a certain vendor that rhymes with Schmoll and Schmoad had thirteen copies in stock for $2.89, and ships for free if the value of singles is over $25. I just bought all of those copies, because the only planeswalker who should sit under $5 is named Tibalt.  If you can find cheap copies of Daretti, buying in now is probably not as bad as buying thirteen copies of Tibalt.

Foils of Kurkesh probably aren’t too bad at $2, but you have to expect to sit on them for a while. If I had to choose between those and foil Vicious Shadows, I’d go with the seven drop that can win the game with a small bit of assistance. On the other hand, the ship already sailed with foil Slobad. I definitely wouldn’t buy in now.



What Gets to Stay?

Alright, so maybe I’m wrong to judge the financial applicability of cards based on how much they destroy me in my casual games of EDH. Then again, I’ve lost almost every single game where Bane of Progress has been cast, either because it destroyed all of my permanents or it wiped someone else’s entire board and then got thrown at me for a ridiculous amount of damage. While I would love a foil copy, I think this is one of the few cards from Commander 2013 that is worth looking into as a single-card spec. If you can still find these for under a dollar or need them for your decks, I think they’re a fine pickup. I feel like I’m losing out every time I sell one out of my case for $1.50.

See the Unwritten used to be available for bulk mythic pricing, until Battle for Zendikar was announced. It shot up to $4 to $5, and has been hovering there ever since. Personally, I see no reason to get out now. If it can jump by $2 just from the set being announced, I’m willing to take the risk of holding onto them until the spoilers start coming in. If we get Eldrazi reprints, there’s no way this doesn’t go to $10 on hype alone. I’ll be glad to sell for $8 into that hype and cash out as soon as I see the opportunity. I still think these are excellent trade targets, and I’d buy in under $4.

You looked at Realms Uncharted on that list, and you knew what this paragraph was about to be composed of. It’s a Gifts Ungiven, but for lands. As WOTC tests the waters and continues to print interesting non-basic lands for us to play with, I continue to hoard these up at bulk rare prices with the hope that the card is one day broken by a brewer in Modern.  Battle for Zendikar is also more likely than most other blocks to have silly non-basics, thanks to the land subtheme. I actually wanted to buy a ton of these from the SCG Spring Sale, but someone else had beaten me to it and they were all sold out.

If Birds of Paradise doesn’t end up being included in Magic Origins, then we have a shot at Rattleclaw Mystic going up. If BOP does end up being included, then, well…. let’s not talk about that. It makes me sad. Either way, I’ve been trading for these at $1 when my partner wants the hot Standard staples (and when there’s not any nice Crucible of Fires to take off of his or her hands). It’s not my optimal choice of spec due to the Standardness and unreliability, but it’s better than nothing.

What Has to Go?

Creeping Corrosion managed to creep itself out of the “Pure Bulk rare” pile, into the $1.50 pile. GET HYPED. I don’t think this is as universally applicable as Torpor Orb  as a sideboard card, though, so I’m comfortable selling out after effectively doubling up after I buylist these. Anyone need Creeping Corrosions?


I picked up a large number of Scavenging Ooze promo packs a couple of years ago as part of a deal for buying out the inventory of a failed LGS, and I didn’t manage to sell all of them before they hit rock bottom at $5. I’ve had them in here ever since, hoping that they made a slow climb upward. Unfortunately, that never happened. I’m going to try and start liquidating some of these, as Ooze’s time in the sun for Legacy, Modern, and Standard has passed for now.

Eidolon of Blossoms and Trail of Mystery were both obvious failed and meager attempts to shoot for the moon and wish that a keyword themed deck appeared in Standard and became tier-one. The difference is that while G/B Constellation was actually a deck, Eidolon did practically nothing, and the G/W Morph/Manifest deck didn’t care about searching for land as much as it cared about gaining four hundred life with Mastery of the Unseen.  Look away before your eyes burn out from my shame.

Pulling up the rear, we have Thelon of Havenwood, or as I like to call him: “Another card that I should have picked up foils of instead of regular copies in order to sell into the currently intangible Tiny Leaders hype.” Foils would have been a very nice play a few months ago, but I don’t think the non-foils go anywhere. Into the bulk boxes they go.



What Gets to Stay?

Alright, there’s lots of stuff in here that I haven’t looked at in several months. Let’s get cracking at the easy ones of Beck // Call and Breaking // Entering. I picked up all of these during the Dragon’s Maze fiasco, while everyone was complaining that the set was utter garbage. Thankfully, they were mostly throw-ins, but I’m still firmly in the camp that maybe these will eventually be broken in Modern (or scarce enough when the nuclear war starts and destroys 99 percent of the Magic cards on the planet).  However, there is at least one Dragon’s Maze card here that I think has potential. My fellow writer Ross Lennon convinced me to go in on foil copies of Plasm Capture, which can be found for less than the cost of a pack of Dragon’s Maze.  Mana Drain comparisons aside, I really like this as an EDH foil pickup.

Speaking of EDH foils, am I the only one who considers Deathbringer Thoctar to be absolutely absurd? He keeps the board clear of X/1s by himself, while providing death triggers and being capable of machine gunning the board (or a player) down when things start dying. While the non-foil got reprinted in the Commander 2013 set, I don’t think this card deserves to be a bulk rare foil. If you try him out in your R/B/X Commander deck, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. In fact, I think you’ll want to go out and get a foil one.

Other than Keranos, I like the rest of the gods with the new tuck rule for EDH. While Ephara and Iroas are probably the two worst of the ten to lead a deck, selling UW gods for $1 still makes me wince. Phenax seems like he would normally be ahead of his brethren (and… sistren?) due to the fact that he has his mill casuals helping to buy him, but I’m liking these as trade targets that won’t be dropping anytime soon. Turning Standard cards into gods seems like a smart move, especially since these can still be found in binders.

The low for Sliver Hivelord was $4, which was where I picked up my copies. I’m going to hang on for a little while longer, and wait for them to hit $12 to $15 before I sell.  Every other five-color sliver lord is at least $15, and I don’t think Hivelord deserves to be half the price of his buddies.

Even though Treasure Cruise got hit and the metagame has shifted a bit, I refuse to quit making money on Jeskai Ascendancy. It’s drifted back down to $1.50, which I think is a fine place to start buying back in. It’s an enabler in such a wide variety of decks that I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it in either Modern or Standard, and it could definitely jump back up to $4 on a new list that proves itself in a higher level event.

Lastly, Angel of Despair is three times more expensive than Ashen Rider. Just think about that for a minute. I’ll concede the point that Angel of Despair is an angel, but other than that? I really like Rider at bulk mythic pricing here. I don’t see where you can lose very hard.

What Has to Go?

I have literally no idea what I was thinking when I put Mishra, Stonebrow, and Impromptu Raid in here. Maybe I was hoping there would be silly Modern decks at one point? I don’t remember, but I certainly think that my head is clearer now, and they don’t deserve the space. I can’t imagine a list where it’s worth it to Raid in an Emrakul instead of just using Through the Breach.  Into the quarter box with all of you, with no supper.

Savage Knuckleblade, Deathdealer, and Lotleth Troll are all migrating into the $1 bin. I actually bought copies of Deathdealer before the spike, but didn’t manage to move them in time before the hype died down. If I sell for $1 then I technically broke even, but that’s still losing money in my book. As for Knuckleblade, I’m still shocked that a 4/4 for 3 with those abilities couldn’t swing it in today’s Standard. It just goes to show that no matter how good a card is, it actually needs a deck.

My Geists and Dorans have finished appreciating, but I was too busy “forgetting” about them to maximize on my value, so I missed out on selling into the hype. I can still jam them onto my TCGplayer store for a nice profit,  but it’s not as nice as it could have been.  As for Kitchen Finks, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to buy a bunch of these for $2 each from someone who was selling off a relatively large Modern collection. While it was a nice deal, I’ve had trouble liquidating all of the copies for a decent profit. I can only move so many Finks, so I jammed some copies in here to forget about. I should have just buylisted them and saved the space and cash for other exciting opportunities.

End Step

I’m glad I did this exercise. First of all, I learned that I should actually check the status of the cards in these “spec” boxes more often. While it’s great that Geist, Doran, and several other cards jumped while they were in the box, I only make money if I actually take them out of the box, and then put them in someone else’s hands while taking money for them. Every time I put something in or take something out, I think I’m going to do at least a quick skim through to see if anything’s changed or if I need to do some adjusting to the contents of the box.

Secondly, I fixed the organization method of my spec box. While the majority of my collection is sorted alphabetically, my spec box was primarily sorted by color, similarly to the pictures above. I broke down and took the time to alphabetize all of the cards in the box, utilizing my new sorting tray that I got from BCW Supplies. This will make it much easier to categorize things and keep track of quantity instead of just jamming new copies of Necroplasm into the black section of the box, and having a rough estimate of how many foils I have left.

You’ve certainly noticed by now, but my favorite types of specs are the ones like Realms Uncharted, Aggressive Mining, and Plunge into Darkness. There’s such a low buy-in and such a potentially high payoff. You literally can’t lose when you buy bulk rares for $.10 each, and these are the gems to set aside and keep your fingers crossed over.

So what are your thoughts on these two articles? I’ve talked my hands off about what I’ve been letting go of and holding onto, and I’m interested to hear if there’s anything that I could have missed or should just be letting go of. Thanks as always!

Beaten by Avacyn and Ixidron, Part 1

Alright, we’re laying off of the forced food titles for now. And don’t worry, this isn’t an EDH “bad beats” story about how I lost to a deck that contained both Avacyn, Guardian Angel and Ixidron. Instead of analyzing the Pro Tour that took place last weekend (several of my fellow writers already took care  of that before me), I’m going to be digging through my metaphorical closet, and checking up on some of my spec boxes.

I’m sure you’ve heard this common piece of Magic finance advice thrown around at least once or twice: “Just put in a box and forget about it for X years.” I’ve given that advice to countless people about many different cards, and used the logic myself to justify holding certain cards or product. While that mentality might occasionally help you from getting cold feet and selling out earlier than you should, it also has the downside of potentially forgetting to check on the card for significant periods of time.  I may or may not have missed out on significant profit margins by neglecting to actually flip through this box as often as I should, and the “tl;dr” of this article could basically be summarized as “do that.”

However! You want more than a synopsis of two words, right? I know that I’m definitely guilty of leaving cards in my spec box for much longer than I should, when I would be much better off cutting my losses and dumping some of this stuff back into my binders, TCGplayer inventory, display case, bulk rare boxes, or PucaTrade haves list. This week, I’ll be doing an exercise where I go through a bunch of the cards currently sitting “in the closet,” and decide whether they stay or go. I want to go over why I tried to forget about them in the first place, where I thought the cards were heading, and whether or not it’s worth throwing them back in the box for now. This time, though, when I throw them back into the box, I’ll (hopefully) make a better mental note of what my game plan is, and you’ll (hopefully) close out of the tab with a better idea of what you might want to hold onto for the future.



What Gets to Stay? 

Seance, Faith’s Reward, and Retether all have a special place in my heart. While Retether has slowly crept up to $1.50 over the past year or so, none of the others have moved much, and I’m going to keep hoarding all of them until somebody breaks them all in Modern (unfortunately, they probably won’t be in the same deck.) I feel that each of these cards just needs one or two more cards printed to send them over the edge into value-rare status.

Preeminent Captain is the younger, less appreciated brother of Crucible of Fire. Both were casual all-stars, but then everything changed when the reprint nation attacked. They both were reduced to bulk rares, but I am a firm believer that both of these cards will rise from the ashes and slowly climb back to their former glory.

While I’ve long given up on the non-foil printing of Lingering Souls (really, Wizards? Did you really need to reprint it three times?), I still like the foil versions at $5 if you’re trading for them. The FNM promo recently spiked to match the pack foil, so I think there’s a decent shot at this version slowly creeping up to maintain its advantage over the promo.

What Has to Go?

Now for the fun part. where I get reacquainted with some of the cards that taste like regret. Seriously, though, I don’t remember putting any number of copies of Brigid in this box. I don’t know why I made that decision to pull them, or what made me think that they would go up in price. Whatever. Back to the bulk boxes you and Avacyn go.

Marshal’s Anthem was actually a card I was really bullish on—the card is an absolute monster in my EDH experiences, with the multikicker allowing it to be flexible at any point in the game. Unfortunately, when double checking its price tonight, I learned that it was in the Commander 2014 deck. Whoops.

As for the rest of the cards that see actual Constructed play, I picked up the Restoration Angels back when they were $5, and should have sold into the spike for $10. I got greedy, though, and wanted to hold out thinking that they would hit $15. At this point, I’m better off just adding them to my inventory elsewhere and getting full retail for them instead of watching them gather dust. I didn’t lose money on them, but I didn’t make anything either. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the same as losing money.



What Gets to Stay?

I really wanted there to be an Archive Trap deck in Modern. Don’t judge me. It was going to be really cool, where they would crack a fetch land (I picked these up in response to the KTK fetch land spoiling), and you would cast Trapmaker’s Snare in response in addition to Archive Trap, and mill them for 26 at once. This was going to be awesome with Hedron Crab and Glimpse the Unthinkable. You know what? I think it still could be awesome. There’s the added benefit that Archive Trap is a mill card, and that automatically means it’s going to maintain its value, as long as it doesn’t see a reprint.

Thaumaturge, Trade Routes, Skill Borrower, Gather Specimens, Inexorable Tide, River Kelpie, and Swan Song all fall under my favorite two-word category: bulk rare! These are some of my favorite cards to pick out of the bulk lots that get sold to me on a regular basis, although I like the cards for a variety of reasons. Thaumaturge, Routes, and Skill Borrower are in the same boat as Retether, where I think they’re extremely close to being broken in Modern and being the next Glittering Wish, depending on what gets printed in the future. Gather Specimens and River Kelpie seem way too good in EDH to be bulk rares, and even bulk foil rares. Our resident EDH finance specialist would know more about those than I would though.

What Has to Go?

For some reason, I thought Jalira would be a popular mono-blue commander, so I set aside multiple copies (both foil and non-foil) while picking through M15 collections. Not the best idea. Even if she does end up being popular (which she didn’t), there were dozens of other better opportunities (like buying infinite copies of Crucible of Fire for $.30) to make money. I should have been selling these to buylists for $1 when I had the chance; now they’re going to sit in my $.25 and $1 boxes respectively forever. The same goes for Deadeye Navigator, which I thought would be an EDH all-star by now. Whoops. Sorry, Curse of the Swine: no matter how many  Pongifys you are, the fact that you’re sorcery speed and have a bulky cost makes you terrible, and a bulk rare.

I started pulling Ixidor and Ixidron after morph was announced, thinking that it would spark an interest in a casual 60-card morph deck that also utilized some of the older cards with the mechanic. While the foil of Ixidor jumped to $80, I figured that the non-foil could at least show a bump to above bulk-rare status. I was quite wrong. I also didn’t realize that Ixidron was even in the Commander 2014 lists, so that is definitely a red flag that I need to scour the lists of supplemental products more carefully, even if I don’t intend on buying any of them. I managed to avoid buying  Junk Diver because I actually looked at the red deck, back when I wanted to examine the Nekusar Effect.



What Gets to Stay?

I’ve already talked about Nyxathid extensively in my past two articles, and I just managed to sell off the rest of my foils copies after those spiked. Interestingly enough, the non-foil still hasn’t caught up, lagging at around $3 or $4. I think that the non-foils can still creep up to $5 or $6, so I’m holding on until then and then unloading. I’ll make sure to catch the exact moment when I sell on this one, because I’ve kept my finger on the pulse of the card so readily.

Plunge into Darkness, Necrotic Ooze, and Heartless Summoning are the black versions of Retether and Trade Routes here. They’re bulk rares (except for Ooze, which hangs out at around $1), so there’s not much to be lost by picking them out whenever you see them lying around in collections or on sale somewhere. Necrotic Ooze and Skill Borrower probably even go in the same deck eventually—I just think it needs one or two more broken activated abilities to protect itself form Bolt and get there. If there’s ever a combo deck with any of these cards, expect the price to spike hard and fast.

Meanwhile, Necroplasm seems like a perfectly fine place to be with the slow rise of Tiny Leaders. While the foil has crept up ever since the format gained traction, the non-foil has stubbornly remained a bulk rare. The card was only ever printed in the original Ravnica, and is a powerful sweeper of token strategies that just never dies. Is it going to be $10 tomorrow? Probably not, but i’d rather pick them out of bulk and wait instead of getting $.25 a piece for my copies. I don’t think foils are a bad play at $3, either.

Soul Spike already, well, spiked, up to $3 from bulk. However, I missed the opportunity to sell out on all of my copies, because I literally forgot that I owned them. The hype is over for now, and the deck that caused them to spike certainly didn’t stick around very long. At this point, I’m going to wait and see if it pulls an Amulet of Vigor at the next large Modern event; I’ll keep a much closer eye on it this time.

What Has to Go?

Some of these don’t even need explanations—they’re just obvious failed specs that I need to rip out of there and throw into the quarter box. Pain Seer, Baleful Force, and Palace Siege were all duds. Crypt Ghast got hit with a reprint in Commander 2014, stunting its growth and forcing me to settle with letting them ship out of my dollar box every now and then. Sudden Spoiling and Army of the Damned are both extremely powerful cards in Commander, but it looks like the degree to which the Mind Seize deck was overprinted is too much for them to handle, and I need to suck it up and just let them go for $1 each instead of hoping to strike it big.  Lastly, Ob Nixilis is an extremely powerful card, but I don’t think non-foils are the place to be. I’d be happy swapping these out at a 5:1 ratio, and putting the non-foils in my dollar box for casuals to become addicted to, while waiting for the foil to creep back toward the $10 range.

Meanwhile, I did manage to win out on Toshiro through Tiny Leaders. From $.25 to $2, I plan on buylisting my copies to CCG House for $1.50 and calling that a closed case. It probably would have been nicer to be on the foil end of that spectrum, but oh well.

End Step

I might sound crazy for saying this, but I feel like Tamanoa might actually be worth something eventually. It’s an obscure, niche rare from Coldsnap with zero reprints, and foils are only $3. Not being legendary is obviously a pain, but weirder cards have spiked. I’m not buying any and I don’t currently own any copies (as shown by the fact that there are none in the above pictures), but it’s definitely something I would set aside in my spec box if I ever came across them in a collection or bulk lot.

The foil Bladewing sitting in my box is actually one I picked up yesterday during a trade when I was looking for a few dollars to close out a deal. I was surprised that it was only $7 and that its price graph had been so flat, considering the massive spikes of older dragons surrounding the latest set’s release. Bladewing has reprints in Commander and From the Vault: Dragons, but both of those were the first supplemental products of their kinds, so the print run wasn’t exactly high. The FTV foil is even cheaper than the Scourge foil, which is very interesting. If you’re one of the EDH dragon players, this seems like a fine pickup while you have the chance.

I’m not a huge fan of sealed product, but I felt that $90 boxes of Conspiracy were too good to pass up, especially with free shipping and a small return via eBay bucks. If you’re interested in a similar price, ChannelFireball has a bunch for $90 before shipping costs. I only picked Conspiracy because it’s something that I am confident I can liquidate to any number of players in my local area for at least $90 to $100 if I absolutely have to. The prices on the foils in these boxes are absolutely absurd, and even the bulk rare foils can have as high as a 120-times multiplier.  If you’d rather stray away from sealed product, I can get behind picking up foil singles from the set that you think you can see yourself using in the future. At the very least, they’re very safe trade targets.

Cleanup Step

So, when was the last time you went through your spec box and analyzed every single card? I think I’ll save “throw it in the closet and forget about it” for discussions on sealed product and harder to move large-scale items, but you should always be keeping an up to date finger on the pulse of your “spec” box, especially when you’re waiting for the cards inside it to hit a target price so you can sell for maximum value.

I didn’t plan on making this article a two-parter, but I have too much random stuff in my spec box to go over without boring you to death, in addition to the above finance notes that I wanted to take care of this week. Next week, I’ll revisit the rest of the spectrum of my spec box, and go over how it’s been reorganized for proper maintenance!

Until then, let me know how you handle your own spec boxes below.