Tag Archives: Casual Fridays

Money in the Box?

Well, Shadows over Innistrad is here, and while I have been wrong about a lot of things, I want to look at one of my most cherished ideas and see if that’s even applicable this time around: Not opening packs/boxes.

There’s 59 rares and 18 mythics, and that counts the double-faced cards. There’s not any strong or official information out there regarding the relative rarity of the double-faced mythics as opposed to regular mythics, but since two of the three double-face mythics are two of the three most expensive cards in the set, maybe there’s something to that.

Shadows over Innistrad

It’s time look at some cold numbers.

Here’s all the cards currently that have a Fair Trade Price over $2.50. I’m using that as a general cutoff, that means the box price is $90. I know you can beat that price, but that is a pretty optimistic box price.

Just in case you’re curious, though, I’ll note when we pass the MSRP of $4 and when we get to $3, which puts a box at $108, a better price than stores will give yet slightly higher than TCG.

Card Name and Fair Trade Price

Archangel Avacyn $57.49

Sorin, Grim Nemesis $23.99

Arlinn Kord $23.64

Declaration in Stone $17.99

Jace, Unraveler of Secrets ">Jace, Unraveler of Secrets $13.73

Westvale Abbey $12.73

Thing in the Ice $12.35

Relentless Dead $12.05

Olivia, Mobilized for War $11.85

Nahiri, the Harbinger $11.60

The Gitrog Monster $8.23

Tireless Tracker $7.23

Thalia’s Lieutenant $6.98

Mindwrack Demon $5.64

Ulvenwald Hydra $5.64

Anguished Unmaking $5.58

Startled Awake $5.14

Foreboding Ruins ">Foreboding Ruins $4.53

Sigarda, Heron’s Grace $4.38

Traverse the Ulvenwald $4.19

Port Town $4.17

Under MSRP

Only 21 cards at $4 or more, two weeks into the set. Now let’s see what’s under MSRP in value.

Game Trail ">Game Trail $3.98

Always Watching $3.97

Fortified Village ">Fortified Village $3.97

Goldnight Castigator $3.73

Sin Prodder ">Sin Prodder $3.60

Cryptolith Rite ">Cryptolith Rite $3.59

Choked Estuary $3.51

Descend upon the Sinful $3.04


Eight more cards have the average value of a pack. So if you happen to win a cheap eBay auction or something and get your box for $90, there’s an additional pair of cards that are worth the price of a pack:

Drownyard Temple ">Drownyard Temple $2.73

To the Slaughter $2.51

At the most optimistic price, you have a 31/77 chance of making the value of a pack. That’s 40%. Ouch. Not great but not awful? Would you push all-in on a 60/40 hand?

If you get your packs at the TCG price of $108 or so, then you have a 29/77 chance, and that’s a slight decrease to 37%, and at the full MSRP on boosters, it drops further to 27%.

Further Explanation

There’s a couple of flaws with my admittedly basic methodology, and it’s worth addressing them.

First of all, I don’t have any way to account for foils. That’s a random event and a nice bonus, but nothing that can be counted on. For every box with a foil Archangel Avacyn, there’s another box with no foil rare at all. If you get it, great! If you don’t, well, better luck next time.


Second, the distribution of double-faced cards is a little wonky, and you can have a double-faced mythic and a double-face uncommon in the same pack. That’s a weird way to go about collating the boosters but hey, that’s not my job. If this is the price we pay to no longer have box mapping be a thing, I’m all in favor of it.

With that said, though, I have to say that the value is just not there for me. Opening a box is a rush, one I know well. Pack after pack of potential, of going slowly to drag out the anticipation or just tearing into it all in a flurry of Mylar. It’s a great feeling…until it’s gone.

I am obligated to point out that not all mythics are equal. Three of them (Seasons Past, Geralf’s Masterpiece, and Wolf of Devil’s Breach) don’t even make this list. That’s not a surprise in the abstract, as we all know mythics can be powerful and yet still inexpensive, but with so little time in retail stores and draft settings…that’s a lot of value gone and fast.

We have a potential spike in front of us, though, with the Pro Tour starting today.This will begin the dance of ‘who will follow through with orders?’ and ‘I can’t sell this fast enough!’ and the popular ‘oh god the card spiked and I had it on my want list…’ and that’s all an extra layer of price complexity. What cards will be popular? Who will run the table with an unforeseen and effective metagame call?
Still, the advice remains solid: Don’t buy packs. Don’t buy boxes. Don’t buy cases. At this point, you’re going to be lucky to open even equivalent value.

What To Pick Up This Weekend

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.


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.

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

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!

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.



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.

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.


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.


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.


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.