Tag Archives: Foils

Basic Land Finance

Written By:

Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

Hey everyone! I hope your summers are all going great. I’ve been selling some Magic cards on Twitter, and trying to save up money to set aside for my first semester of grad school in the fall. It’s been going pretty well so far, but this week I was absolutely swamped with some pretty large collections that I couldn’t turn down. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m going to have to have a relatively quick turnaround on these than what I’m normally used to.

As much as I would love to rinse and repeat that paragraph a few times and hit “Publish” so that I could get back to collection buying, I did actually find something worth writing about while I was piecing out one of those previously mentioned collections.


swamp island

The person who was trading in a bunch of bulk to me had these two basic lands included in the relevant stuff, among great cards like Vampire Nighthawk and Thought Scour. Before you ask, they were not foil. I assumed he had just mixed these in on accident, so I put them in the “stuff I don’t want” pile as I continued to sift through the relevant cards that he was trading up towards a set of Liliana of the Veil. After seeing that I was uninterested, he let me in on this little nugget;


Yep. I mean, I know that the art on a card can affect the price, that’s some pretty basic finance. I’m just surprised to see the price of a non-foil basic land affected to such a degree when it’s not full art. While these are both gorgeous pieces, there’s got to be another underlying reason for such a drastic price difference from all other Lorwyn block lands, right?


Okay, that makes a lot more sense now. Thanks to @thatresolves on Twitter for solving that mystery for us! It makes a lot of sense that Fae players would want the lands that represent where their mischievous little creatures come from, more so than the “traditionally fancy” full-arts from Zendikar or Unhinged. While I really don’t have a battle plan for moving these non-foil $1 basics, it’s certainly nice to have that knowledge for future picks and pulls. Maybe you can throw them in an Ogre box  at $.25 and see which vendor bites once you explain that they’re $1+ retail.


All this thinking about niche basics got me thinking; what other basic lands am I unaware of that are worth money? The value of basic lands can very easily slide under the radar due to the difficulty of actually looking up their value. What app do you use when trading or looking up card prices on the go? I’m assuming a lot of you use MTGFamiliar; a universal free app that also has a life counter, round timer, and card search functionality. While it’s still pulling data from the “TCG mid” metric instead of “TCG Market Price”, it’s still one of the most common smartphone sources of looking up card prices in my experience. Go ahead, try to look up the prices of different basic lands using this app.


Mhmm. In this case specifically, it looks like the app only pulls the data for the first numerical island of the set; it’s looking up Island 286 when 287 is the Glen Elendra one. If we want to see all four of the Lorwyn Islands to compare, we have to go to the actual TCGplayer website and grab a microscope.


Now considering it doesn’t seem very practical to do this for every single basic land. While it won’t be a comprehensive list, I’ve been using StarCityGames’ buylist to easily find a general idea of which art styles will get you more cash.

plains1 plains2 plains33028_200w

scg plains

According to SCG, people really like fields of wheat that include the horizon towards the back of the art. I dunno, I guess that’s popular. Thunderstorm Plains from Odyssey is 10 cents nonfoil and two whole dollars for the foil.  This isn’t even only concerning older basics; one of the foil Mountains from Khans of Tarkir is $1 on SCG buylist.

Unfortunately, this “check the SCG buylist to see if a bunch of other people enjoy the art” doesn’t always work out. If you’re picking through your bulk foil basics and have a hunch, you’ll likely have to do the grunt work of searching for that specific art on TCGplayer. For example, I recently purchased a Kami of the Crescent Moon Commander deck where all of the Islands were matching foils. While SCG doesn’t have a buy price for any foil Mirrodin lands, it looks like they go for at least $2 on TCGplayer for NM copies. The struggle will be finding another player who wants to foil out their deck in that specific way, but I don’t mind waiting.


I wouldn’t be closing out this article unless I talked about being a “local buylist”, and I’m sure some of you are wondering what you should be paying when you’re brought foil basic lands. I personally pay 25 cents cash on all bulk foil basics that come my way, and I trade for them at three for $1. With the new information in this article, I’ll definitely pay a bit more attention to which basic lands I’m picking up, and see if I can increase my buy prices on certain arts that will be easier to move to vendors or other players at an increased rate. As soon as I finish this article, I’m going to go through my own box of foil basic lands, and see what goodies I can pull out that I didn’t even know I had.

These have probably been sitting in my box for at least 4 years.

End Step

I might be biased because I play Child of Alara as a Commander, but I really, really like High Market as a long term pick at sub $1. I know Jason Alt has mentioned this card on the podcast and in his articles in the past couple of weeks, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a long term pick, but I think we see it creep back up to $3 in a year or two.


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Fifteen Bulk Rares Per Pack

Written By:
Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

I hope everyone had a great weekend of Eternal Masters releases! I’m currently crying over the insane amounts of value I lost with the release of the set. I was speccing so hard on a certain spec target, and I lost all my spec money when they reprinted my speculation into the speccing ground. Ugh.


Jokes aside, I had a pretty solid weekend. I was literally the only player in my 8-man pod drafting blue, so I ended up with this monstrosity of a deck on Saturday. The Counterspell and Peregrine Drake are foil, for added value. (After some advice on Twitter, I ended up playing 3x Plains and the Swords+Faith’s Fetters to a 4-0 success). You’re not here to hear my tournament report though, so let’s talk a little finance.


While we’re on the subject of Eternal Masters for the first time ever in this column (We probably won’t come back to the set unless we get to talk about bulk rares), so let’s discuss foils for a quick minute.


Remember that foil Peregrine Drake? While it was great at stealing games in the sky, it was also worth drafting for value because I don’t hate money. I quickly skimmed the TCGplayer website while I was building my deck, and glanced at the median price. $12 bucks looks pretty sweet for a foil common, right? Even if we look at the article written a few weeks ago by a certain handsome #MTGFINANCE person, we can safely assume that the Median is a slightly incorrect way to determine the true value of a card. Pretty much every card we normally look at with a TCG median of $12 can be realistically sold for around $9…..


Oh. I guess that’s a thing. (In case you were wondering, yes that’s a foil Peregrine Drake listed on TCGplayer for $.29 by Adventureson. Someone made a tiny mistake). Other than that minor outlier, we’re still looking at a ridiculous spread difference between the TCG median and the lowest available buy price. If you find someone on the hunt for EMA foils, you’re definitely better off trading at TCG median for cards that aren’t Eternal Masters foils. There are people out there who will revere TCG median as their bible, so it’s technically possible if you can actually find other human beings to trade with. I personally haven’t traded cards out of a binder for other Magic cards in multiple years, but you do you.

If you’re really lucky (or using some sort of Pucatrade bot), you might be able to ship out a copy for Pucapoints but you’ll be dealing with a significant amount of competition from everyone else who cracked a box and wants to fufill the dream of getting all their money back.

On the other hand, this is a great situation if you’re in the market for EMA foils. While we’ve mostly passed the all-time low (I paid $20 for a foil Maze of Ith on eBay, and it felt good, you’re still not in a terrible spot to buy foils for you cube, Commander decks, or long term speculation. While the TCG median is an arbitrary number that we can’t technically attach a real market value to, it still feels really good paying 25-40% of that number when so many sellers are desperate to recoup their value from Pandora’s Booster Box.

DJ, You Said Something About Cube

Oh, right. Last week I talked about Bulk Rare EDH, and this week I’m gonna talk a little bit about my adventures of building a cube by picking through thousands of bulk rares. I set a few rules for myself similar to the EDH restrictions, but I couldn’t find a way to realistically only use rare non-basic lands that were all under $1.00 without the cube being a pile of garbage. I mean, the 360 card list will still probably be close to garbage value-wise but I do want it to actually be fun to draft repeatedly. It’s for that reason that I ended up taking out the Land Cap and friends cycle, which I’m sure my drafters will forgive me for.


If anyone’s interested in looking at the list and telling me how I did, it can be found by clicking this link. The rules are:

  • No Commons, Uncommons, or Mythic rares
  • Rares have to be less than $1.00 TCG median (even after we got done discussing how it wasn’t an optimal pricing structure, I know)
  • Lands are exempt from this rule, because nobody I know wants to be forced into mono color decks. I couldn’t really think of a ‘hard limit’ for lands, but I’m trying to cut it off at the $3 range for higher end cards in cycles like Temple of Epiphany. No shocklands or Innistrad buddy lands, or anything like that.
  • There are  a few cards in the cube that currently break the second $1.00 TCG mid rule, because I’m expecting them to rotate or go down in value sometime soon. Stratus Dancer and Hidden Dragonslayer. I don’t expect this cube to be finished or drafted until a couple months from now, so I’m trying to lock the list down for then.

Protecting These $.10 Cards

Every cube needs sleeves. With the amount of shuffling, table sliding, and flicking these cards are going to get, it’s important to get a set of long lasting sleeves that will protect the cube for an extended period of time. Even though almost all the cards in my cube are near-worthless, I’d prefer to avoid having them ground to powder and having the HP cards be indistinguishable from the NM ones. Speaking of condition, another benefit of building a cube was that I got to use up a ton of the MP and HP bulk rares lying around that I couldn’t put into my $.25 bulk rare boxes. Most of my non-competitive players don’t like beat up cards unless they’re getting $5 Gilded Lotuses off me, so my damaged bulk ended up gathering dust in a 1k box.


Anyway, sleeves. Right. So a few months ago, I knew that I wanted to build a cube but I was too busy with school stuff. I also had to resleeve all my EDH decks, so I wanted to buy a large quantity of high quality sleeves in bulk. After asking around and doing a bit of research, I was determined to try out the Hareruya sleeves I had been hearing about. I dropped the money required to order two cases from Japan (enough to sleeve five Commander decks and a large sized cube, with enough leftover to sell to friends who couldn’t attend Grands Prix). It ended up coming out to $4 per pack of 50, which is a better deal than any $10 packs of 100 Dragonshields that I’ve been using for the past couple of years.

I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the quality of the sleeves, although I can’t speak to their endurance when used for 5-6 hours a week at lengthy events. While I bought these back in April, you can still find them readily available by the pack at a Grand Prix for $5 per pack if you don’t have plans to drop a hundred dollars on sleeves.


Sleeve order

End Step

  • River Kelpie continues to creep up. It’s a low-stock Shadowmoor rare with no reprints, so I guess the supply is just bottoming out. I bought 30 from SCG at $.50 each, and I’m accepting that it’ll probably take a while to unload all of these to 30 Marchesa, the Black Rose players.
  • Thought Lash is a really terrible card that you can give to your opponent with Zedruu the Greathearted, but it’s a $4 card now. Thankfully it’s on the Reserved List so we don’t have to worry about a reprint in Kaladesh crashing the price of our beloved enchantment.
  • Apparently Day’s Undoing is being tested out in the mono blue prison deck in Standard. I agree with Travis Allen that this is a solid long term hold because it seems like something that could be broken later on when Wizards forgets that those two cards interact. Either way, I’m happy to sell into any Standard-fueled spike instead of waiting around.


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Foil Modern Commons

Because I was sitting in my bedroom at a loss for something to write about this week, I reached out to the Twitterverse as an attempt to stir an idea. Thankfully, @PhillyB322 had a great suggestion for a starting point to kick things off.

Screenshot 2015-12-15 at 8.35.30 PM


At this point, you’re probably thinking; “Really? Literally no store has foil Blighted Agents? Pshhhh.. Hyperbole at its’ fin-”

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Wow. Huh. I literally cannot find a single foil Blighted Agent on the U.S. market. No beat up copies, nothing on eBay, ABU, CK… Wow. After some further research, I managed to find the European market stocked with a few copies, if you A) really need them for your own Infect deck or B) are convinced that these can jump to $25 or $30.

Screenshot 2015-12-15 at 10.59.58 PM

So what’s the reasoning behind the vanishing act? It doesn’t look like someone bought out the entire internet recently with the intent to make a profit. If they did, I think we would have seen players and store owners coming out of the woodwork: digging their copies out of bulk, swapping them from decks, and listing them online to start a race to the bottom. If we check the MTG Stocks foil graph, the only recent movement that the foil has shown is a slight bump from $14 to $18 in the past month or so.

Screenshot 2015-12-15 at 11.08.45 PM

So What’s the Takeaway?

So what’s our battle plan with this information? Do we go narrow within the deck Blighted Agent sees play in, and pick up other foil Infect stuff? I can’t really think of anything else in the deck that has a similar multiplier that’s ready to jump. We missed the boat on Groundswell foils (well, I did; I sold mine on TCGplayer for around $4 if I remember correctly. You might have made a bunch of money buying my copies, and would be laughing at me right now), while the non-foil continued to be pressured into the ground by the reprint that it received in Duel Decks: Zendikar vs. Eldrazi.

Screenshot 2015-12-15 at 11.39.42 PM

Some of you know that I’ve been on the Glistener Elf train for a while; I still firmly believe that holding non-foils of Elf and Agent are the correct play (buylisting them at $.10 and $.25 seems criminal while Deceiver Exarch is chillin’ like a villain at $3.50, even with the aid of a reprint in the Commander 2013 set. If you have the privilege of picking NPH bulk, I’d hesitate on shipping those Modern common/uncommon pieces, at least until the end of winter.

Foils of Glistener Elf might also be a play at $4 to $5. I’ve been holding onto these for almost a year now (I think), but I keep holding off on selling them because I think it’s absurd that such a hard-to-reprint card that sees play as a four-of in a Modern combo deck could hang out at $4 to $5. I know that it got an FNM promo a few years back, but still…

Going Wide

Alternatively, we could jump over to other Modern decks with commons and uncommons with foil multipliers that appear to be criminally low. You’d be surprised at how little Modern play a card needs to see to be worth money: my friend Izzet Staticaster from back in my Kiki-Pod days is now a $10 to $12 foil, even though it basically only sees play as a one-of in the Grixis Control and Grixis Twin lists. Is this also a common Cube card that I’m not aware of? It’s from a more recent set than the Infect twins, sees less play, and yet the foil has still been holding its own at the post-spike price for about a month now.

Screenshot 2015-12-15 at 11.37.47 PM

Hmm…. So what’s an example of a highly played, foil, Modern common that hasn’t already spiked? Well, maybe this little guy here:

Screenshot 2015-12-16 at 12.12.18 AM

While he does have a Gateway promo from back in the yonder days, I’m definitely surprised to see this little flier so cheap. Is this the next Izzet Staticaster? It certainly sees enough play as a consistent four-of in Affinity, ruining the lives of mono-red players everywhere. It’s hard to reprint again with that good, ol’ Phyrexian mana, and you can pick up a playset of either version for around $10. While I’m not one to normally speculate on cards at full retail, I definitely like Vault Skirge foils going forward into Modern season.

Is there anything else from Affinity that we can look to in the relatively under-appreciated commons and uncommons? While most of them have been reprinted into dust, the pack foil of Signal Pest has been lagging behind its promo version. Whether that’s simply due to an art preference is open to debate, but if you’re looking to foil out an Affinity deck, I would start with these two aggressive and cheap (in both senses of the word) one-drops.

Screenshot 2015-12-16 at 12.21.18 AM

End Step

  • SCG gets a bad reputation sometimes for having overpriced cards. That’s literally the only complaint you can honestly make about the store, and it’s not even their fault for charging prices that people are willing to pay. However, their holiday sales are definitely worth checking out. Here’s what I just recently picked up from the $1 sale:
  • Screenshot 2015-12-16 at 12.01.59 AM
  • Unfortunately, a lot of the cards that I was originally going to buy didn’t make it to the end of the checkout process. I was going to get away with 43 SP copies of Boundless Realms at $1 each, but someone else sniped them before I could finish my purchase. The same goes for those other 10 copies of Heartless Summoning, and about 15 more Mimic Vats.
  • The Seize the Day are for an arbitrage attempt, so we’ll see how that goes. My experience with SCG’s grading has been extremely positive, and most of the SP cards that I’ve ordered from them have been NM by my and my customers’ standards. I’m hoping that MP will basically be my SP, so that I can still make a few dollars by just shipping out most of those Seizes to another store, even after the dust is settled with grading.
  • As a closing statement, I’d like to remind you to check out as soon as possible when you find a great deal like those Boundless Realms that I missed out on. I got greedy by putting them in my cart, and scanning through the rest of the $1 sale to see if I wanted to add anything else to my cart beforehand. If I had locked in that order of 43 Boundless Realms first, it would have been well worth paying the shipping costs for separate orders by making sure nobody else could snipe them out from under me. Misplays were made, and lessons learned!


Lately, all we’ve been able to talk about is lands. Lands and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Expeditions consumed the collective Magic consciousness ahead of Battle for Zendikar’s release. How rare would they be? How much could they be worth? Would they look cool? Are they ruining Magic? Then the set released, and the questions changed while the topic stayed the same. Are they more common in prerelease boxes? Why are they sometimes damaged? What do I do when I open one? Are they going to rise in price or drop?

For the most part, these have been fair questions. Expeditions lands are attention-grabbing. They’re visually exciting, get the people around you talking, and they’re worth enough to often buy you an entire second box of BFZ. Of course people are thinking and talking about them.

At the same time, Fat Packs have grabbed a lot of attention lately as well. When players realized that fat packs aren’t print-on-demand, but rather only have a single print run, big box store inventory dried up quickly and local stores were raising their prices. Star City Games was charging a whopping $80 for them—nearly the price of a booster box itself.

Quick aside: First of all, “price gouging” only refers to raising prices on essential goods and services, and almost always during an emergency situation where markets are extremely localized. Charging $30 for a $3 gallon of gas in the middle of a blizzard that prohibits travel to other vendors is price gouging. Charging $80 for a Fat Pack with an MSRP of $40 isn’t price gouging, it’s capitalism, for better or worse.

I had written a whole bunch more about this at first, but it was discussed very well on Monday in Sigmund’s article and in the comments. Go read it there.

Alright, where were we. Ah yes, the basic land packs contained within the contentious Fat Packs.

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