Tag Archives: casual

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Prospects of Ixalan

Every set, I like to identify some cards that are going to be awesome in casual formats (unformatted kitchen table, Cube, Commander, etc.) or nonrotating formats and I want to keep an eye on their prices. Ideally, I’ll pick a price and the cards I want will drop below the price I want to pay, so I can get them at that price.

For example: Thespian’s Stage

There were two times, early on in this card’s lifespan, that you could trade for this at a dollar or so, and buy it for fifty cents or so. And I did, as often as I could. I ended up with a stack of them, which I buylisted for $2 each at a GP and had a great time.

If you want a more recent example of this philosophy, how about the foils of Thought-Knot Seer?

My number for that was $20, and I picked up a few at that price, and now I’m trading it away at $35, though I recognize that $40-$50 is in play, considering how popular Eldrazi are in Modern.

With those growths in mind, what looks good in Ixalan at what price?

Settle the Wreckage ($5.50 currently) – This mega-Path to Exile is going to be casual gold, but only if I can get it at the right price. It’s spiked a bit in recent days as an answer for threats like Hazoret the Fervent or The Scarab God, and it can take down Carnage Tyrant too. Where I really love this card is in Commander, because so many people don’t play a lot of basics. This is also a backbreaking spell to cast against Bogles, but that deck is too niche for precious sideboard slots in Modern.

Notice that right now, the foil is only a couple bucks more than the nonfoil. Traditionally, this indicates that Standard demand is very high, and the casual demand hasn’t caught up yet. I’m in on foils at $3-$4, and the plain versions around a dollar, maybe two. A lot will depend on price memory for this card, if too many people remember it as a $5 card then the price won’t have a chance to fall.

Vanquisher’s Banner ($2) – The foils here are about $6, and that feels right for now. The nonfoil is a very huge reprint risk, but considering that we just got the tribal Commander sets, I think it’s safe for a while. Foils are usually safer, but there’s no guarantees. I can tell you that I’d generally prefer to see this than Door of Destinies in my hand, because getting the constant flow of cards is supremely valuable. I’m hoping for this to drop to $1/$3, and I’m optimistic, considering that this was nearly $5 on release.

Primal Amulet ($2) – A couple of special notes about this card: First, it’s got a foil multiplier of five, which tells us that the casual demand for this card is very high. It makes sense, though, because we love doubling our awesome spells when playing at our kitchen table. This has much higher long-term potential than a recent favorite of mine, Pyromancer’s Goggles, because it’s a land and there’s no color restrictions.

The second note about this card is that we have ten rare transform cards, and this is flying in the face of something we were told before: that adding flip cards to a set is logistically problematic. I’ve thought for some time that transforming foils are among the safest investments in Magic finance, because they are hard to reprint in regular sets, but here we are, with a sprinkling of transform. This is something I want to be aware of going forward, as it’s one more sign that nothing is safe, except the Reserved List.

The Amulet is already a $10 foil, and I’d like that to come down a dollar or two. The nonfoil is hopefully going lower, but I’m content to pick these up at $2 in trade.

On a related note, Dowsing Dagger is at a similar price point, and trending downward a bit more steeply. I’m really hoping this is a $6 foil in the next month or two.

Boneyard Parley ($1) – I’m always an advocate for bulk mythics, but the foil being $5 caught my eye. I don’t think this is a good card, but my goodness, this is a sweet card. For seven mana, late in a Commander game, you’re getting the best card in any graveyard, and potentially the best two or three, depending on what you need and who’s choosing the piles.

River’s Rebuke (50 cents) – Cyclonic Rift is going to get banned eventually in Commander, I suspect. I don’t have any evidence or special insight into the Rules Committee, I just despise the card and what it does to gameplay. I’m stocking up on these foils at $2-$3, because the multiplier tells me it’s more popular than the usual foil version of the card. This is a powerful effect, but more fair since it’s just one person being targeted and this is a sorcery. I am looking forward to having a stack of these when we’re done with Ixalan.

Here, have two more that are from recent sets and have the appeal I’m looking for: foils of Eldrazi Displacer at about $10, and foils of Lifecrafter’s Bestiary at around $5. You don’t need me to tell you that these are good cards, but if you want to get some value that’s due to pop, there you go.

Cliff is an avid Cuber and Commander player, and also has a crusade against a few other cards that ruin Commander games. Feel free to drop a message to him and ask for a Cube list, and read his articles every Friday here on MTGPrice.

Casual Gains #1: Evaluate

By: Houston Whitehead

One evening, after work, I received a text saying, “They’re here.  Want to come over?” It was from my future roommate letting me know his dad’s Magic cards from California had arrived.  All he told me about was, “They’re f*%&ing old.”  That’s more than enough to get me excited to go digging for buried treasure.  After picking through the collection I found a few competitive gems, like both Sword of Light and Shadow and Sword of Fire and Ice, but most of the value settles in multiple playsets of Glimpse the Unthinkable and Doubling Season. Keep in mind this was 2013 so Doubling Season was $30+ and Glimpse the Unthinkable was $25 (lower than it is currently).

glimpse the unthinkableStacks of other “casual” cards were quickly turning this collection from hundreds to thousands in less than a half an hour.  After we finished he said, “I bet you need a lot of this stuff, don’t you.” I replied, “To be honest, just the two swords.”  After a confused expression was thrown my way I tried to explain the best I could.  “Card value doesn’t always reflect the tournament playability of a card.  Sometimes less competitive formats can have just as much demand.“  I talked more about the limited amount of MTG financial knowledge I had and explained the effects of reprints (or lack of), bannings, unbannings, and the varying stability of different formats.  It sounds impressive when I list it like that but I promise it wasn’t.  I still had a lot to learn as well.


I didn’t give casual card value anymore thought until I started working at my LGS.  Valuable Commander cards and casual cards many times overlap, but the growth of Commander was starting to apply more pressure on our inventory. I made or filled up all the $1, $2, and $3 binders with these styles of cards and had a hard time keeping a few cards in stock.  I went even deeper by placing cards like Dream Twist in the case for .50 next to Traumatize and Mind Funeral.  This experiment also brought some success.


quicksilver amuletLast week I thought about what qualifies a casual card.  The closest place to find kitchen table decklists is TappedOut but we don’t have a place to see how those players deckbuild. It’s doubtful they have trends and meta changes cause every kitchen table is different.  Most of the time you play with what you opened in packs and buy a few more to make it a little sweeter.  I wanted to find a way to find those extra cards.  Single sales is probably the best way to determine but I don’t have access to online retailer’s sales statistics. Closest thing I thought of was buylists.  When I was at GP Nashville I saw “Quicksilver Amulet” for $3 on a buylist.  I had a bunch in a box at home but never thought adding them to my backpack for the day would make me money.

Any financier understands the value of a buylist but I doubt that will unlock all the casual desirable since each inventory varies by retailer. So, I attempted to breakdown each theme that qualifies a potential gainer inside the casual market.

*Keep in mind these strategies can overlap but are predominantly satisfy one type of theme*

Committed Themes – Cards that are good at one thing and help achieve a basic/simple goal. These decks are built with cards that revolve around this commitment.

  1. Art credit to Breaktheframe.com
    Art credit to Breaktheframe.com

    Lifegain – Gain life until to you make a 10 min. game into a 5 hour game.

  2. Mill – Forcing your library into your graveyard until you can’t draw a card.
  3. Burn – Cheap spells that deal damage
  4. Douchbaggary – Strategies that deny your opponent the ability to play Magic.
    • Land Destruction – You can figure this one out.
    • All Counters – Counter everything you play without having a game plan to actually win the game.
    • Over Taxing – Effects, permanents, or creatures that make casting spells cost an additional amount of mana or require paying mana to allow your creatures to attack.

Synergistic Themes – Cards that require assistance from other cards to achieve a more complex goal.

  1. Art credit to Skyline.org
    Art credit to Skyline.org

    Tribal – Any card that cares about a creature type. Goblins, merfolk, and elves, Lorwyn Block, slivers, wizards, rebels, etc.  Usually involve “lords” that grant abilities or extra power and toughness while they are on the battlefield.

  2. Combo – Usually three card infinite combos or combos that do creative but not game-winning things. Ex: Soul’s Attendant + Leonin Relic-Warder + Phyrexian Metamorph = Infinite Life
  3. Tokens – Creating a wide token army combined with equipment or enchantments with “lord” effects.
  4. Alternative Win Con – Winning without reducing your opponents life total or milling until they cannot raw cards. Ex: Helix Pinnacle
  5. Counters (the non-blue kind) – Placing a large amount of +1/+1 counters on your creatures or -1/-1 counters on your opponents creatures. Also includes effects to increase the amount of counters or give abilities to creatures with counters on them. Ex: Doubling Season

 Identifying the most popular archetypes was my first step in identifying the casual cards with the most gain potential.  Desired commons and uncommons can hold foil value like the Foil Invasion Heroes’ Reunion ($2.50) or Foil Hedron Crab ($8).  These are prices an everyday player or store might not be aware of. Sadly, gaining value on casual cards takes patience but at least they’re the easiest to pick up.  Adding potential casual cards to your mental list of cards to pick from collections, might surprise your wallet later.  I actually have a thousand count box to place these investments in.  My Non-Standard binder isn’t shy of casuals like Isochron Scepter and Browbeat either.  I practice what I preach.

In Casual Gains #2: Identify, I’ll talk more about specific cards and prices inside each theme.

As always thanks for reading