Tag Archives: casual pickups

Wherewolves and Whywolves

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I Have Returned

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So, I’m back. It’s been a while since I’ve actually had the chance to sit down and write, so let me explain. If you don’t give a crap about my personal life and explorations, I don’t hold a grudge against you for skipping ahead to the bold heading a few paragraphs below that reads “Finance Starts Here”. I promise there’ll be an entire article’s worth of content down there. I’ll start by saying I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks, and we have a hell of a lot of content to talk about. WordPress decided to mutiny and failed to publish my article (the one that was published last Thursday) on time, and Corbin wasn’t able to catch it because of a battle with the flu. Therefore, the article that went up last week was supposed to go up the week  before that on the 11th, and I didn’t catch it because I was on a 15 hour drive. Mistakes were made by multiple people on the team, and we apologize.

Okay, so remember that trip to Georgia I was talking about a few weeks ago? Remember how I said I was going to shopcrawl? Well, I didn’t get the chance to. I had a bunch of stores picked out, and our plan to leave at 3AM from upstate NY was in place weeks in advance. While Oswego is normally known for its’ incredible levels of snowfall and cold weather, the weeks leading up to our trip had left us with zero snow whatsoever.

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Unfortunately, the powers that be were saving up all of the snow over the past month, and felt the need to dump it all on us on the evening before our trip was scheduled to begin. When we braved the storm outside into the campus parking lot, we learned that we were completely trapped until the snowplow came through so that we could shovel ourselves out.

Except that it never happened. It wasn’t until 9AM that we managed to give up on the plow coming through, and tried to dig ourselves out and use tracks that someone else had made, so we were six hours late on the start of our journey. No shopcrawling, as we needed to actually make it to the hotel in time. Alright, fine. I’ll just shopcrawl on the way b–

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Nope. A deadly combination of a personal emergency on Sunday night combined with another ridiculous snowstorm up north meant that we had to put the bulk buys on hold as we rushed back to NY on Monday. One small vehicle collision on I-81 at 12:30AM later, and my fiancee’ and I were stranded at a motel for another day in Pennsylvania while we waited for information on a rental car from the insurance. Thankfully we’re both okay, but it was certainly a stressful event overall.

Finance Starts Here

Remember that trip to Georgia I was talking about a few weeks ago? Contrary to what you may have thought, I didn’t drive all the way down there to unload pricey staples, post-spike Modern cards, or anything like that. The real treasure here was the fact that Card Advantage’s buylist is one of the deepest in the entire country. In the pictures below, ignore the first three categories. Then, convert the numbers into cents.

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These are the real treasures of #mtgfinance, because it’s impossible to lose while buying bulk. While we spent almost an entire day pricing out everything and settling the final cash number, it was made much easier by the fact that everything was alphabetized beforehand. I’m sure some people reading this will take this photo as a humble brag, but it just goes to show that with a good network and the willingness to pick the dimes and quarters, you can walk away with a lot of cash that nobody else will even care to sneeze at.

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The Next Spawnsire?

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So for the past two weeks or so, I was planning to write about how Mayor of Avabruck was a darn fine spec target at his current $2. I had this whole repeat Spawnsire argument planned, and how werewolves are a slam-dunk casual tribe that were going to receive new support in Shadows over Innistrad. I was going to advise you to buy into the puppy lord so that we can all revel in his future $5 price tag together. Part of my argument included the SOI checklist card that was leaked a few weeks ago, and how Mayor was obviously not going to be included.

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That argument fell apart about ten minutes ago, when I actually put a little bit more thought into the comparisons between Spawnsire of Ulamog and Mayor. As you can see in the linked picture above, Lars on Twitter said that the possibility of receiving a Legendary werewolf this time is 99%. I thought so too, until I actually read all of the names on that checklist card. Tell me, out of all the double-sided cards that are in this set, how many of those feels like a name they would use for a legendary werewolf?

None of them. We don’t even have a character name on the sheet. Unless this is only one checklist card of two in the set (You’ll notice that we can see CH1/297 in the bottom left corner of the card), then we’re not getting a legendary werewolf. In fact, it looks like there’s less than ten werewolves in the entire set. This is a whole different level of archetype support than Eldrazi were receiving in Battle for Zendikar. None of the other rarewolves have moved an inch over the past four and a half years. If you want to, it’s still extremely easy to build a werewolf deck for less than twenty or thirty dollars because all of the pieces are literally pure bulk, and the supply is plentiful.

Because of these factors, I honestly don’t think Shadows over Innistrad will spark a surge of werewolf demand like BFZ did with the Eldrazi. While the buy-in is certainly cheap and you’re running a very low-risk operation, I think you’ll at least have to wait until more news about Eldritch Moon before we can expect returns on Mayor. or any of the other werewolf creatures.

If you’re someone who wants to throw a few dollars into the ring for fun, I can think of a couple cards that I expect to stay under the radar for a while longer. While neither of these are cards you want to buy from the internet at full retail, I’ve been stocking up on these for several years in slight hopes of a casual resurgence. I had the opportunity to move them to Card Advantage for a fair 8 cents a piece, but I quickly declined.

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As I said before; I really don’t expect demand for werewolves to spike significantly enough from SOI to put a dent in the current supply. When we look at the amount of stock that stores have below, it’s hard to expect commons and uncommons like this to move any meaningful amount.

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What we can do, however, is hold onto the cards with the hopes that we can network and make connections with non-competitive players at the prerelease, managing to get “full retail” (and by full retail, I mean the full 50 cents a piece) for our five year old commons and uncommons that have dodged reprints up until now. Putting playsets of Moonmist in your trade binder at the SOI prerelease will go a long way towards shaving discounts off the new Standard staples that you’re hunting for in the set.

End Step

While we’re still on the subject of double-sided cards, I want to talk for a minute about Delver of Secrets. Once heralded as the Nacatl of the skies while terrorizing eternal formats, Delver’s wings have been clipped for a while now, and we haven’t seen him show up recently in any sort of high-level event. What I have seen, is a group of people advocating picking them up at their current $1.50, and foils at $10, as a result of the checklist card from before confirming an absence of reprints. I honestly don’t think that alone is enough to cause demand for Delvers to increase, so I would personally away away. As a matter of fact, I sold every single Delver that I owned to Card Advantage back in Georgia for $1.00 each (which is also an example of how strong their buylist is).

 

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It’s Not About the Pro Tour (Okay, I Guess it is)

Okay, it’ll probably contain a lot of stuff that pertains to the Pro Tour. What I mean is I’m not going to try to perform some fancy analysis of the decklists and then tell you to sell Eldrazi Mimics, Eye of Ugin, and Chalice of the Void. That should be fairly easy to figure out, and it’s probably too late to capitalize on the maximum possible value by the time you’re reading this. You should be aiming to sell on Saturday Night and Sunday, after the top 8 lists get posted. I sold Chalices at $50 on Saturday night, but I also sold Simian Spirit Guides at $6 each while I slept. Oh well.  Anyway, today I’ve got sort of a hodge-podge list of things I want to talk about, to bear with me as we skip around a bit throughout the article.

I’d like to start out by thanking those who defended me last week, and those who contributed thoughtful and rational disagreements without resorting to ad hominem. I appreciate all of you for reading my content, and constructive criticism is always welcome.

Let’s revisit Spreading Seas, and see how that card ended up after last week’s article. The minuscule supply of foil copies on TCGplayer and SCG finally ran dry in the couple of days leading up to my article’s release, and the card has been sitting comfortably at $20 for the past few days. Interestingly enough, Seas didn’t have any effect on the Pro Tour; it was far too slow to contest with a swarm of turn 2 kills through combat damage. While I would love to list mine on TCGplayer so I can try to sell before the race to the bottom, I’m putting my inventory on ice for my trip to Georgia this week.

If you own any foils, I suggest selling out now to anyone who is brewing a list to try and wash away the Eldrazi menace. You made your money if you bought in a week ago, so start racing to the bottom and cash out now while the card is still appetizing as a way to hate on Eye of Ugin.

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Non-foils managed to stay under the radar, and the TCG mid price has managed to avoid moving by more than a few cents. However, if you dig a little bit deeper into the actual listings, you’ll see that there are very few copies left at the $1 that the TCG price would have you believe; SCG has about 150 at $1.50, and I’m keeping a close eye on that count in preparation to sell mine on Facebook. A large majority of the listings are for at least $2-3 for near mint, and I don’t suggest buying at that price whatsoever. Let me make this clear. I DO NOT SUGGEST BUYING THE MAGIC: THE GATHERING CARD FROM THE ZENDIKAR EXPANSION PACK, FOR OVER $1.00 USD IF YOU ARE ATTEMPTING PURELY TO LATER SELL THE CARD FOR A PROFIT. (Danny: this sentence feels really weird to read to me, not sure how to fix it)

If you’ve been hoarding Seas for the past few years and setting them aside from collection picks, bulk trades, or being your own buylist in the community and picking them up at $.25, this is our chance to shine If the retail on Seas “officially” hits $3, you’re going to want to open the floodgates. A lot of the desire to include this in the current meta comes from Eye of Ugin being a big bad wolf, and any targeted bans at the deck also hurt the financial potential of Seas. Move ’em now, and be happy if you can get $2 retail on local Facebook groups or $1 buylist eventually.

While we’re swimming around in the original Zendikar block, let’s take a look at another couple of enchantments that caught my eye.

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Both of these are enchantments from the good old Stonesculptor set, which was released six years ago (You might remember that as the year Inception and Toy Story 3 were released). They both appear to have significant casual appeal at first glance, because players will always want to build Megrim and Kraken decks in kitchen table land. I’m going to predict that one of these cards will probably be $5 in a few years, akin to Sigil of the Empty Throne before it got throat-punched with a double-reprint. The other will continue to stagnate and be mostly forgotten about; even without a multiplayer reprint product. Will it be the discard win condition, or the fish finder?

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Here’s my theory; Quest for the Nihil Stone, even though it appears to have a casual appeal, will be ignored by casual players because it doesn’t beat out The Rack, or Liliana’s Caress (by the way; the fact that Caress has gone this long without a reprint is astounding, and I wouldn’t be holding onto these any longer than you have to) in the casual and competitive Rack decks. The deck has enough win conditions without Nihil Stone, and I’ve never actually sold one out of my dollar box even to the people who play discard religiously. While “people I’ve met” isn’t exactly the most statistically relevant sample size, I have never met a single non-competitive player who actually gives a crap about Nihil Stone, and I hang out with a lot of kitchen table players.

On the other hand, Quest for Ula’s Temple makes a great argument for a “why is this card $5” a few years down the line. If you pick up Magic and you want to smack nerds around with giant sea creatures, you need this card. You need four of this card. Nothing else drops free sashimi onto the field like some good old Ula’s Temple. With Kiora still alive and swimming after getting beaten by the Eldrazi harder than a Pro Tour competitor, it’s entirely possible that we see her again later on in the story. With more Kiora comes more big fish, and a few more people itching to make the sea monster deck.

Even with the world-specific name, the casual appeal of this card makes it very easy to jam into a supplemental product. To be honest, I was surprised that it wasn’t in the Commander 2014 mono-blue deck until I actually double-checked my work. While it obviously won’t see a reprint in a standard-legal set due to the time-specific setting of original Zendikar, it could possibly be jammed into a duel deck or Commander product along the way.

“But DJ, doesn’t that mean foils are the easy long term play here? A foil version wouldn’t be printed in a supplemental product, so it would avoid the price drop of a reprint entirely.” 

Not exactly. While Modern and Commander staples are generally strong foil targets, the pure casual crowd wants to stay away from foils almost entirely. These players just want the cheapest version of the card to help make their zombie deck come to (un)life, and the foil multipliers on cards like these with minimal Commander appeal are extremely low. One of my favorite examples is Lich Lord of Unx;

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Other prime candidates for low foil multipliers are Captivating Vampire and, that’s right, Quest for Ula’s Temple.  While foil copies are likely to avoid getting hit by the Yu-Gi-Oh! hammer, they’re just as unlikely to be going up in price at the same ratio as the non-foil. They’ll also be just as hard to get rid of; you’ll probably have to sell them off at the same price as non-foil just to get the kitchen table players interested.

End Step

Remember how I mentioned that Laboratory Maniac was suddenly a $4 card, and I didn’t mention why that was? I was scrolling through my Facebook feed last week, and I saw someone in the casual Magic group wanting to build a deck with Lab Maniac and Inverter of Truth. While this isn’t exactly going to go head-to-head with the Pro Tour lists, it’s definitely another Leveler-esque shenanigan that will usually give you a couple of extra turns left to put the Maniac on the board and win. They curve into each other well enough, and the Inverter can bring back a Maniac that you milled earlier while digging with Thought Scour. Both of those sentences are what a kitchen table is going to tell you right before they buy your Lab Maniacs for $4 each.

 

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PROTRADER: A Cheapskate Casual’s Guide to the Last Three Years of MTG

With Modern prices going crazy lately, now seems like a reasonable time to review some cards one might want to acquire before they too increase in price. As Jason Alt often tells us, a rising bite lifts all toads (or something), so there’s reason to expect that a lot of Modern stuff that is also played casually is going to increase soon, too.

If you’ve been waiting on picking up something from the last three years, now may be the time. Let’s go through in detail and see what seems primed for an increase, compared to what should be avoided at all costs.

Disclosure: While I have a couple Commander decks, Cube is my main interest when it comes to casual MTG. So I’ll try to touch on some Commander staples, but my knowledge base and interest is much more Cube-centric. Additionally, a lot of these cards are also good in eternal formats, so we’ll be looking at quite a few competitive cards today, too.

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