Tag Archives: Casual Fridays

What To Pick Up This Weekend

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By: Cliff Daigle (@WordofCommander)

I love this time in a set. Prices are wildly changing as preorder hype dies down and new pieces show up in familiar decks. This is the time to maximize both sides of the adage to “buy low, sell high.”

I remain a firm believer that prices in this set have nowhere to go but down. I’m starting to suspect that Archangel Avacyn may be the outlier, since she’s good in any deck that can cast her, control, aggro, anywhere. Plus, there’s a lot of people picking her up for casual decks, and that makes her supply even lower. Might be my biggest mistake in predicting this set, but we will see.

Avacyn-the-Purifier-MtG-Art

This week, I want to share with you some cards that I want to be picking up, either for the short term (unload in a few months) or the long term (sock them away and don’t think about them for at least 18 months) increase in value.

Some of these you’ve heard before, I imagine, but when great minds all think alike…

Blade of Selves ($9) – Now this carries a certain amount of risk. It’s a card that is popular in Commander, but I suspect that a foil version is lurking. Myriad is an ability that could show up in Conspiracy 2, for example, or this could be a judge printing in a year, as did happen with Dualcaster Mage.

Blade of Selves

That said, there’s nowhere for this to go but up. There’s not enough value in the RW deck to make it worth cracking for the singles, and we aren’t far from a new Commander set stealing the show. Picking these up now at $9, and I’m hoping that in about a year they are $15 or more. Remember that these can’t spike due to Legacy play, as Myriad is multiplayer-only.

Foil Alhammarret’s Archive ($9) – This is a card that will cause Commander players to go green with envy and also draw a giant target on someone’s head. You want these cards in long-term storage, because they are going to slowly creep upward in value. The name also makes it difficult to reprint easily.

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Foil Dark Petition ($7) – This is a hunch of a card, but hear me out. This is a card that only can get better, as the cards around it improve. It’s much like how Birthing Pod got better with each set, as new and improved creatures were around. Dark Petition has potential, and if it spikes in Modern or Legacy, the foils will hit a higher value. If you’re into percentages, the nonfoil is just over a dollar and all you’ll need is one on-camera deck to spike it to $5, if not higher.

Dark Petition

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Wasteland Strangler ($1.30) – Nice Ancestral Visions, bro! At that point, if you’re killing a creature and binning the Visions, that’s about a virtual 4-for-1. The nonfoil is not going to be as pricey, since it was a rare in Battle for Zendikar and not Oath of the Gatewatch, but this is a very good card in the right setting, and it’s cheap to pick up.

Kiora, Master of the Depths ($3) – A general rule of thumb is to pick up some planeswalkers when they drop below $5. This is Kiora’s second card and she’s still doing some very Simic things. I don’t see her spiking in Standard but I do see her growing over time. She’s terrible at protecting herself but awesome at gaining you value.

Foil Bring to Light ($7) – I don’t like the nonfoil as much, since it lacks appeal to non-magpie-type Commander players. It looks far sweeter in foil, too. This is a card that can find so many amazing plays, so many needed plays. Everything from that Hallowed Burial to wipe the board or to find Tajuru Warcaller in the five-color Allies deck.

It’s also worth mentioning that this card has gotten to this foil price just off of casual appeal so far. If it gets used in Modern (or heaven help us, Legacy) then the sky is the limit.

Foil and nonfoil Eldrazi Displacer ($3/$11) – I have to admit, I think this card is amazing in any format where creatures are good. It’s a small-set rare, so it’s got potential, and the possibilities with this card are fantastic. For one, it’s better than the Commander in a Roon of the Hidden Realm deck, and watch out if Training Grounds lands. At that point, it’s better than Deadeye Navigator!

We love our blinkers. I’m a little surprised no one tried to break this with Siege Rhino when they were legal together.

Eldrazi Displacer

Foil Zendikar Resurgent ($3.50) – I love this card so very much. I’ve expounded before on my love for decks that are heavy on creatures, and this solves one of the biggest problems with Soul of the Harvest: You run out of mana before you run out of creatures. I can only imagine the hijinks that are going to ensue with this in an Animar, Soul of Elements deck.

Foil Jori En, Ruin Diver ($3.50/$9) – This was in Todd Anderson’s U/R deck that also caused a spike in Pyromancer’s Goggles, and there’s a lot of potential here. The ability to tack ‘draw a card’ onto the second cheap spell each turn, particularly removal spells, is really good in Constructed formats.

Unsurprisingly, it’s also really good in Commander and Cube, which is why the full-art version is rather high as those promos go. It’s a color combination that can be played a lot of ways, and it doesn’t take much to be pure profit.

 

That’s all for this week, see you next Friday!

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

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Coming Back to PucaTrade

Back in December, I wrote about how I was scared of PucaTrade. I was worried about how point buying influences this economy, and recently Travis wrote about what Puca is good for.

I am here, hat in hand, to say that I was wrong. PucaTrade is worth using.

However, it’s not as easy as the developers want to make it sound.

What they want you to believe is that you send off cards, and then you get the cards that you want. For many people, it is exactly that.

However, Puca also offers an interesting look into some of our buying and selling habits, as well as providing some fascinating insights.

So what are the ideas I’ve come around on?

#1: You can get expensive cards, it just won’t happen by itself.

James Chillcott and I had a great conversation on Twitter a few weeks back, about building a network on Puca and being the one who has points available for any card. I scoffed, wanting to keep my free account, but I broke down and got the upgrade to Uncommon so I could offer a bounty on the Gaea’s Cradle I wanted so badly.

Even with my name changed to “10% on Cradle!” I wasn’t getting what I wanted.

Then I saw on Twitter that someone had gotten a new Cradle and wanted to sell it. I asked if he was interested in selling it for points (it was not NM) and we agreed on a price. Done. Now my token deck is ready to rock again.

There’s a lot of people on Pucatrade offering bonuses for their wants, for Power, for foils, you name it. Having the points is very good, but doing the work and making those connections will pay off as well.

#2: Spikes are still handled badly.

In case you like your life under a rock, lots of cards had a spike in price this week after the Banned and Restricted announcement. Several cards on Puca were taken off of want lists by administrators, because the price went very high without a lot of warning.

The example I want to use is Time Sieve.

timesieve

 

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Time Sieve is pretty amazing with the Thopter/Sword combo. Five mana gets you five life, five tokens, and an extra turn. Quite the loop and tough to deal with.

Naturally, this card has seen a spike this week, from being about $2, up to $20, and now about $13. PucaTrade, after several cycles of dealing with these spikes, has instituted a system where cards are flagged, and when they are flagged enough, they are not allowed to be traded anymore.

Their reasoning is like this: For every one person who says “2000 points to get a Time Sieve! Awesome!!” there are at least five people who had Time Sieve on their want list when it was 200 points, and did not want the card at the spiked price.

Yesterday, Thursday, I saw that someone had just added Time Sieve to their want list and I clicked to send it, only to have them request a cancellation two hours later because they didn’t want it at the current 1400-point price. Hellaciously annoying.

#3: No system for less-than-NM conditions or foreign languages.

This is more of a problem that you might think, especially considering the number of people who want older cards. It’s next to impossible to find Alpha or Beta cards in NM condition, just because of how things were. Playing in penny sleeves is awful, and I remember the summer when the first ‘black backs’ came out.

So on Pucatrade, someone has to be paying for Uncommon level or more, so that some points can be exchanged. I send a card, and when I get the points transferred, I have to send some points back. Or they send me the card outside of the official trade system, and I send them an agreed-upon number of points as a gift.

Same thing with foreign editions, or signed cards, etc. It’s not unmanageable, but it is sort of a pain.

#4: It’s a fantastic way to turn old cards into new cards!

I kid you not, I carried a playset of Flying Men around in my binder for years. Years! I knew one day I’d meet someone who wanted them.

Spoiler alert: I never did.

However, I did find lots of people on Puca who wanted the playset, or a Goblin General from Portal: Second Age, or my leftover Collective Voyage, or either of my Awakening Zone, or so on, and so forth…

I’ve gotten to turn those into the aforementioned Cradle, lots of EDH foils, and standard specs. Standard cards are incredibly easy to get with PucaPoints, I’ve been looking for a foil Future Sight Graven Cairns for three months now, but when I wanted playsets of Radiant Flames and Painful Truths, those were in my hands within a week.

Pro Tip for foiling out a Commander deck: Get your foil version, and then send the nonfoil out for more points.

#5: Patience, when getting or giving cards.

I don’t remember how long ago or which writer here said it, but they said that one of their screens at work had a Chrome tab on 30-second refresh, checking all day for cards to be sent. I remember reading that and having a lot of reactions, but the main one was, “I can’t check it all day! I can barely check once every 48 hours!”

You don’t need to maximize the refreshes that way, just log in once a day and check on what’s needed. Puca has gotten big enough that cards or points rarely languish.

Same thing with your wants. Have your want list, let it sit. Be patient. Make some connections. Ask people, talk to them. Puca does tell you how many people have a card on their Have list, though as far as I know, you can’t find those people directly.

I’d love to hear your experiences with Puca. Tell me the good and the bad. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and I can absolutely see a day when I stop using it. I admit, I’ve spent a lot more on stamps than I ever thought I would, and I’ve even had to buy extra toploaders! So let’s hear your thoughts, here in the comments or over in the forums.

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Casual Standouts of Shadows Over Innistrad

The full spoiler is out, and last week I went over every Mythic. This week, I’m being a little more selective, and going over the rares (and a couple of uncommons) that will be worth your time to trade to Cubers, Commanders, and other non-Constructed players.

Hanweir Milita Captain – There’s a few creatures that have this power and toughness based on how many you have overall, but none that make their own buddies turn after turn, and this is a two-drop! Not going to be expensive, though higher than bulk.

Thing in the Ice – It’s gotten a lot of the preorder hype and people are dying to build around this card. It’s neat and all, but it’s fragile and time-consuming. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, but that is a risk I’ll be willing to take. I will be surprised if this is more than $3 in the long term.

thingintheice

Geier Reach Bandit – This is an interesting card. Three mana for a hasty 3/2 has a place in some aggressive decks, and the ‘transform your Werewolves’ ability is pretty neat, but this is niche at best and will top out at $1.

Autumnal Gloom – All told, this is four mana for a 4/4 trample hexproof. Some people I know are making noise for this in Modern, but as an uncommon, the foils are the only place to make money. I’d take foils at $2 or less to start out with.

Hermit of the Natterknolls – Very intriguing card. Is this sideboardable in Legacy? I’m eager to play this in Commander, I have to admit. I think this will be a $4 foil.

Sage of Ancient Lore – I’ve played Multani, Maro-Sorcerer in four-player games and it was chump blocked every time. This can transform and have vigilance and trample, but is fragile as heck. Plus, Commander has an easy time flipping Werewolves back and forth. I’m expecting this to be about $4.

Westvale Abbey – Lands that make creatures have a certain pedigree to them. This doesn’t require mana of a certain color, making this a cheaper Urza’s Factory, and one with the potential for transforming into a total beatstick. Instant-speed exile or bounce are necessary to deal with this, and even one hit is a big life swing. I think these have great long-term potential, though I don’t want to get any right now when the price is highest. I will be looking to get these at $1 or less, and the foils are a great Commander target.

westvale abbey-500x500

Always Watching – I’m not sure this is good in EDH. I can get more and not pay much more, and the nontoken restriction is a real bummer. Likely bulk.

Bygone Bishop – I think Clues have some potential but this one is a bit lame. Fifty cents.

Declaration in Stone – So 1W to exile a creature at sorcery speed isn’t too bad. Worse than Path to Exile or Swords to Plowshares, but those are more expensive. This will be less, but it’ll be commonly played in Standard, I suspect. Two dollars or so.
Drogskol Calvary – If this were not one of the Intro Pack cards, I’d be intrigued. It’s a plan all by itself, and even claws you back from the edge of death while taking over. Unfortunately, it is, and it’s never going to be valuable.

[mtg_cardEerie Interlude[/mtg_card] – Ghostway is $8, and not too long ago was $14. This is strictly better, but it’s going to be far, far more common than Ghostway. I do like foils to hold a price, but probably not more than $5 for a while.

Image

Open the Armory – This is one mana more than Steelshaper’s Gift, but has more flexibility and foils are the way to go. Pick them up cheap and store them away for a bit.

Engulf the Shore – I don’t think the number of decks that want this will ever be very high, and this will be bulk.

Manic Scribe – It’s been said to death that casual players love their mill decks. It’s why Hedron Crab is a $3 card. I am going to be looking to get these foils and save them for a while, because four cards a turn is a clock.

Asylum Visitor – Nath of the Gilt-Leaf has a new bestie. Go for the foils, though, as this is otherwise unimpressive, even as a 3/1 for two mana.

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Diregraf Colossus – My man! This is going to be one of the cards that gains value faster than you think it will, and rightfully so. It’s dependent on a Zombie tribal deck, but that is a feature, not a bug. It’s good early, it’s good late. I want to pick these up but this will never be more than a $3 card during its time in Standard, unless a Zombie deck gains heavy traction.

From Under the Floorboards – I want this to be good, very badly. Madness X gives you a real benefit for including discard effects but even the foils will struggle to be more than bulk.

Triskaidekaphobia – This might be the best card ever. I have to think about games within games that are more fun to play. I think foils on this are going to be expensive and stay that way, and I’m going to be bold: These are going to be $10 foils right away, and only start ticking upwards.

Sin Prodder – Something has to be worth money, right? I think this card is not good in Commander, or anywhere. Please, understand that when your opponent gets a choice, it’s always going to be bad for you. I think misguided people play this to a $3 value.

[mtg_card]Cryptolith Rite[/mtg_card] – This enables so many things, it seems like it can’t help but be good, especially as you have tokens begetting tokens, and on and on. It’s already pumped on presale up to $5, and I think that’s about right.

Second Harvest – Heck yes! This is an effect that is one-sided, instant-speed, and relatively cheap. You have my blessing to go forth and double up on tokens as much as you want. This will have a high foil split, probable something like $1/$7.

Altered Ego – Go for foils, those will be about $5 or so. Really great Clone effect, but the nonfoils will be bulk rares.

Anguished Unmaking – Our comparison is Vindicate, and missing out on killing lands might be a problem. Also, this is the Game Day foil promo, so that’s a factor. On the other hand, this might be the best removal spell in Standard. I’m guessing this is a $4-$7 card.

I know I didn’t cover them all, but how many times can I say “Bulk or nearly so” before you were bored? Come to the forums or leave a message to tell me who wrong I am.

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Four Simple Rules

I have been trading magic cards for 20 years.

It pains me to say, but I’ve made some terrible trades in my lifetime. TERRIBLE. Like, Onslaught fetch land for brand-new-shiny-mythic bad. I was 33, it’s not like I was a teenager who didn’t know better. (The teenage trades were more “my Tropical Island for your Lord of the Pit and its new best friend Breeding Pit.” Sigh.)

Today, I want to share with you four simple rules that if you follow them, you will never lose money at Magic. These are my safe rules, rules that will prevent you from losing significant value. I’ve never been one to speculate on cards or act in fevered response to results.

Rule #1: Trade all opened cards away at a pre-release or release event.

I have mentioned this rule in the past, but it remains a basic tenet of my philosophy. Supply is at its smallest, demand at its greatest. People lack the patience necessary to save money, all they see is the new hotness.

This is especially true for the brand-new mythics. The price on everything is going to go down (more on that in a moment) and even the bad mythics have a certain number of people who have to have the card. Fill that need for them. Trade them a bad card for the current premium price.

My personal experience: The Return to Ravnica prerelease. I opened a Vraska the Unseen, and within ten minutes of the end of the event, I’d found someone to trade me a Guildpact Stomping Ground and $15 in cash for it, since the planeswalker had a price at the time of $30.

Current example: Arlinn Kord. If you’re able to trade this away at $35-$40 or so (its preorder price) then you’re going to be far ahead. Only one planeswalker has kept that sort of price recently: Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Arlinn has the chance to be good, with tokens and targeted damage as only two of her five abilities, but as history shows, she’s more likely to be $20 in a couple of months.

Rule #2: Never pre-order cards.

This is closely related to Rule #1, because no one wants to lose money on a preorder. What people remember is the one that got away, the Jace, the chase mythic, the surprise rare. Our memories are not as good at recalling the mistakes, the ones we bought at too high a price and did not make money on. Somehow, mentally, we accept those mistakes but tend to fixate on the opportunities we didn’t take advantage of.

I’m here to tell you that because almost all prices drop over time, there’s no financial benefit to preordering cards. Their prices are going to go down. Look at Oath of the Gatewatch. Kozilek was preordering for more than double his current price. Oath of Nissa was $8, now it’s a little over $2. You might hit it big on the one or two that are more expensive, but mostly, preordering will leave you in the red.

My Experience: Thespian’s Stage. I bought ten of these at $4 when it was first revealed, and I traded for them at $6…and then at $4 again…and then at $2…and then at $1…and now it’s finally back up to $2, three years later. Don’t be me!

Current example: Thing in the Ice. $15-$20 for this card is just silly. It can’t protect itself, and Reflector Mage is going to make you so very, very, very sad. Don’t preorder this. Don’t trade for this. Just wait. Please.

Rule #3: Do not buy singles until at least one month has passed.

This is one of the simplest concepts to get: Cards are most expensive immediately after release, and they are going to trend downward after that. Even when Standard cards spike, it’s rare that they maintain that spike, especially for a rare. Here’s Eldrazi Mimic:

Mimic

Even as a four-of, even in the hottest deck in Modern, this has not been able to keep its price. Ten dollars that weekend, and trailing downward since. The vast majority of cards are going to lose value as more copies are opened. If you have to have a card for the new deck you’re playing, understand that you’re paying an extra premium for it. If you needed Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in the first month, you had to pay $40 or more! Now it’s down to $20, a more reasonable and manageable price.

My Experience: Prophet of Kruphix. I picked up a lot of these at about $4 soon after it came out, because a card this good just had to eventually find a home. It never did, and they went into long-term storage, where the Clash Pack and then the Commander ban keep shoveling dirt on my dreams.

Current Example: Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. He will have a big initial price, because his abilities are very strong. As time passes and more are opened, he’s going to drop. No one is going to play four of a Jace that costs five mana. Even the Jace, Memory Adept version was a one- or two-of in control decks as a finisher, and this Jace is defense and card advantage.

Rule #4: Stock up on things at the end of their block.

This is the time to buy stuff from Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch. It’s no longer going to be opened at Grands Prix, at Preliminary PTQs, or even at Friday Night Magic. There’s a new set getting all the attention and now is the time that the supply is at its greatest. This is when supply is highest, value is at the lowest, yet the power is the same.

My Experience: Jace, Architect of Thought

Look at this graph for that Jace.Jace Aot

During the time of Dragon’s Maze and Magic 2014, you could get him for $10. When Theros came out and devotion to blue became relevant, his price spiked hard to $30. Picking up cards when they are moving on to a new set is the perfect time to build value to be released later.

Current Example: The Battle for Zendikar lands. Especially because no one is playing this as a playset, they are primed to go up when fetch lands rotate out of Standard. You have been given a fair chance to get it cheap!

These are my rules, but come to the forums and share your financial rules!

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