Tag Archives: Jim Casale

Grinder Finance – Battle for Zendikar… Fetch lands

Well this news is old by now.  If you saw the earth-shattering announcement from Mark Rosewater:

Source http://markrosewater.tumblr.com/
Source http://markrosewater.tumblr.com/


As you can imagine from the staggering 1,150 notes, there was a lot to be said about this announcement.  No fetch land reprints!?  What is Wizards of the Coast thinking!? Well I will tell you fine Magic playing fellows, they were thinking they didn’t need to be reprinted.  Modern just received a huge infusion of fetch lands that were not even previously legal only a year ago.


I’m going to take a quick second before I continue to urge you to buy your Khans of Tarkir fetch lands.  Don’t finish that one sweet EDH deck you’ve been working on for months.  Don’t buy into the UR Mill deck that just won Grand Prix San Diego last week.  Do yourself a favor and just get your set of lands.  And then go out and tell your friends to get theirs too.  There is no place these cards can go but up.

We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

So yeah, Wizards was thinking that a fall set filled with lands that haven’t been printed since their original release in October of 2002 would be better.  You know, like 13 years ago.  So when you look at it like that ,there really isn’t a reason to complain about the Zendikar lands not being reprinted a mere 6 years later (Zendikar was released in October of 2009).

And then came the announcement that kind of felt like this.  People panicked!  What else are you supposed to do?  They’re not getting printed!  Well a product of nobody being prepared was really just a reasonable price for what Zendikar lands were available.  And then quickly not available as people became prepared.  The buyout was not silent but very deadly.  Over night, as you may have noticed, every Zendikar fetch land has doubled in price.  Is it going to stay that way? Probably not forever.  Is it worth buying them now? Probably not anymore.

What a lot of people tend to forget is how powerful the Khans of Tarkir ones are in Modern.  Many decks don’t actually need enemy colored fetch lands to function.  There are one and a half exceptions to this.  Jund is a deck that is pretty much unplayable without Verdant Catacombs.  The main reason is you need to be able to fetch basic Swamp and basic Forest in order to play effectively around Blood Moon.  But to be completely realistic, there is no way you’re able to afford the spells in Jund and not the lands.  Any deck that plays 4 Tarmogoyfs is generally no longer shackled by the price of it’s lands.

The other land that sees a tremendous amount of play in modern from Zendikar is Scalding Tarn.  This land is by far the most expensive and probably the most widely played.  It’s also pretty replaceable.  The reason fetch lands see such high play is the ability to fetch Ravnica shock lands but also to fetch basic lands to beat Blood Moon.  If your deck has 1 Steam Vents in it then you can play Scalding Tarn, Arid Mesa, Misty Rainforest, Bloodstained Mire, Wooded Foothills, Polluted Delta, or Flooded Strand to fetch it.  If those are you only concerns you have a ton of choices of lands to play!  Unfortunately it is not that simple, you need access to appropriate basics.  As a frequent fetcher of Islands, I can safely say that Scalding Tarn could be replaced with Polluted Delta, Flooded Strand, or Misty Rainforest while only sacrificing tiny percentage points in your matches.  The reality is there is not a lot of situations you want to fetch basic Mountain and therefore any Island fetch land will suffice.  Modern has long been a Steam Vents vs Overgrown Tomb format and the reality is you almost never need to fetch basic Mountain.

Where do we go from here? Just play other Island fetch lands in your decks.  You can play Modern and you will not likely lose to your inability to fetch a basic Mountain.  If you want to play a Green and Black deck, well I have no alternative to offer you other than to buy Verdant Catacombs.  It sucks they’re really expensive but there is truly no other alternative.  Other than you know, the decks that don’t play fetch lands…

Which brings us to our Daily Double


Well if you can’t buy cards, you can always sell cards, right?  Now I think is time to get out of any short term specs you have for Magic Origins. I personally have been selling out of a ton.


You know what to do when you double on a spec?  Get out while you still can!  I picked up 3 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy on Pucatrade for 1500 Pucapoints near release (about $15).  I was able to sell them locally to a player for $30 per copy and plan to buy them back in October during Battle for Zendikar hype.

Demonic Pact

I sold these when the Pro Tour spike was in effect but I don’t think they’re terrible good to hold onto when they have a fair trade price of $9.25.  I think it will quickly drop down to a $5 niche rare until it spikes another tournament.  The risk that these fall before another spike is too high for my liking.

Languish Nissa


If you own these and don’t play Abzan there is not really any reason to keep them.  Nissa is a $25 Borderland Ranger in a deck that is clogged at 3 more than a toilet at a frat party.  With Hero’s Downfall, Deathmist Raptor, Courser of Kruphix, Abzan Charm, Anafenza the Foremost, and more at 3, there is little reason this will see enough copies to maintain it’s price.  Similarly Languish has been described in Patrick Chapin’s podcast as a “Poor man’s drown in sorrow and a poor man’s crux of fate”.  The reality of the spell is it’s unlikely to get played in huge enough numbers to continue to hold it’s price tag that is 4 times as much as Crux of Fate.

mtg ghostfire blade

This card isn’t worth much but it’s worth more than nothing.  It takes a lot for a card to be more than bulk in Khans of Tarkir due to the fetch lands taking up so much of the set’s value.  Enjoy this short boost in value by trading your copies out.

Bull Market


There are some cards I think are still good pickups right now and have been acquiring them myself.


Low mana cost flexible mythic rare from a small set?  This is practically the textbook definition of “could be worth a ton.”  With the rotation of Elvish Mystic there is a real premium on good 1 drops that aren’t Red.  It’s unlikely Abzan is going anywhere and with the rotation of Fleecemane Lion there are a lot less good things to do on turn 2.  There are a lot worse places you could put your money than on this sub $4 card.


So this card is pretty close to bulk and I don’t foresee that staying that way in the future.  The big difference between this and a lot of similar effects is that YOU choose everything.  Is your best guy better than their worst guy? That’s pretty good because that’s the board state after this card.  At a fair trade value of $0.69 there is little to lose by buying in now.  It’s picking up a ton of steam on Pucatrade too.  That has been a fairly good indicator that players value the card more than it’s current price.  I also think the foil at $2ish is probably a good pickup as it does similar things to an EDH game.

And with this extra long edition of Grinder Finance I hope you all did great at Game Day and are ready for our first taste of Battle for Zendikar spoilers.  I expect we will see some big reveals August 28-31st at Pax Prime.


Grinder Finance – Are you a Rick or are you a Morty?

*burrrp* I’m going to preface this article with a belch, and the fact that I’ve just finished binge watching Rick and Morty.  If you have not watched Rick and Morty, I’m sorry to hear that.  You’re doing a great disservice to yourself and your Rick.  I assume if you’ve not watched the show, you’re probably still a Morty.  It’s okay though, I’m here to help you blossom into a beautiful (if you can call it that) Rick.

I’ll assume if you’re still reading that you haven’t stopped to binge watch Rick and Morty.  It’s a shame but I suppose I will need to briefly describe the dichotomy of their relationship.  Rick and Morty are a lot like Batman and Robin, except Batman is a time-traveling genius and Robin is a naive, gullible child.  Okay maybe that wasn’t the best description and it doesn’t quiet fit what I’m trying to explain here but bear with me.  Rick is a quick decisive thinker that analyzes all outcomes of a scenario before proceeding.  Morty is a whimsical character that often goes through life flying by the seat of his pants.  Whenever Morty decides that something that Rick is doing is immoral, unfun, or stupid, he challenges Rick based on some very loose ideas.  Rick is not the kind of guy who cares enough to prevent Morty from failing so many of these adventures end adversely for Morty.  In Magic finance you want to be a Rick.  You want to be able to call your picks early while having sound information to back up your claims.  If you are a Morty and wait for other smarter people to figure out you end up the greater fool.

If you read James Chillcott’s article this week, you may have noticed my pickups were pretty solid given the weekend’s events.  I was definitely a Rick last week and upped my Rick game this weekend.  I was reading Twitter (as I am known to do) on Sunday night and Mtgprice.com writer, Travis Allen, posted this pertaining to the stock of Demonic Pacts on TCG Player.  It was a card that I’d personally played with and it was powerful but it didn’t make the top 8.  I quickly browsed through remaining copies and there were only a handful of sellers with the card in stock.  I noticed ChannelFireball had listed theirs at a whopping $20 per copy.  My acquisition price was a mere 425 Puca Points (which are like not even real dollars, right?) so I was cautiously optimistic about listing my copies for $15.  It seems like a no-brainer to list the cards but I am also a player of the game.  If this card breaks out and becomes really popular in Standard there is a chance of it being worth big bucks and I will need it to play.  The reality of the situation is that in my testing it always felt like you had to jump through too many loops to make your deck able to play the card.  It will be fringe and it might be good for a weekend but it’s unlikely to be an all-star $40 mythic for it’s lifetime in Standard.  The opportunity cost to rebuy the cards later is unlikely to be more than the amount I would get for them now.

I listed my copies and took a non-proverbial poop.  I returned to my computer to continue chatting about the exciting Pro Tour results and I found a bite.  A greater fool had rushed to purchase their copies and snatched up my playset.  While you won’t always sell your cards in a single night, or poop (like in my case), but there you always have the ability to be in the right place at the right time.  It takes a real Rick to known when an opportunity has come along and pounce on it.

Ok Morty, enough talk about being a Rick.  We’ve got some card prices to briefly talk about.  Unfortunately, as I have mentioned before, articles are an extremely slow way to relay information.  If you waited for this to come out to get advice about pickups over the weekend then we’re far past that point.  Fortunately, a lot of people had been banging pots and pans and shouting from the rooftop about what cards to pickup before this weekend.  If you don’t have a twitter account you’re really doing yourself a disservice and probably costing yourself a lot of money.  Twitter, like most social media, is a very social platform that people talk about their interests on.  While you may think it’s a place for mostly pet pictures or food pictures there are some people who would rather talk MTG finance.  You can quickly browse the #mtgfinance hashtag but I find it extremely difficult to glean any real useful information from it.  All of the writers here at MTGPrice have a twitter account that post great up to the minute information.  But sometimes you have to deal with Jason Alt tweeting @Midnight hoping to become funnier somehow when they hopefully retweet him.  If you had been following me, however, you may have been able to be the smartest Morty around! In between the all the “I called it”s, I posted this innocuous tweet.  Now I’m not saying you should follow me for my insightful tweets, but I’m not saying you shouldn’t.


Now is the part where I drop a little Rick insight into you about what I think are great pickups this week.


Modern Masters 2015 foils have begun to rise.  Much like non-foil Modern Masters 2015 cards, a rising tide will lift all boats.  I think the product for this has stopped being opened and with Modern purchases pretty much bottomed out there is no where for this card to go but up.  It is unlikely people will need less of them with the constant threat of Tron and Bloom rearing their ugly heads.


Windswept Heath (more specifically the clash pack if you can still find them under $25) is a fickle beast.  It took a huge hit with it’s inclusion in the clash pack but this is not Bloodstained Mire.  Arguably one of the best fetchlands in Modern, it’s hard to see this ever command a sub $10 price tag ever again.  If you don’t own a set there isn’t really any incentive to wait any longer.

dragonlord atarkathunderbreak

My last pickups are a pair of red dragons!  Dragonlord Atarka is the clear standout among the crowd of Elder Dragons right now.  This card has the biggest upside if See the Unwritten becomes popular with some Eldrazi in Battle for Zendikar.  Thunderbreak Regent is a card that will become a lot more popular in red mirrors because of it’s huge size and punishing trigger.  It’s even a fringe Modern playable card.  I don’t expect to see any more dips in it’s price as we get closer to rotation when there become less good four drops.

Grinder Finance – Pro Tour ++

So I’m sitting here drinking a coffee channeling my inner Jace, wondering about a lot of things.  No, not who’s going to win in Vancouver.  I’m thinking about next year!


While this Pro Tour is going to be pretty great because Wizards of the Coast finally decided to purchase a globe (A summer Pro Tour in Canada makes a lot more sense seasonally), but it also is going to lead us into a huge announcement for the following year.  According to Helen Bergeot (Director of Global Organized Play for Magic), the 2016 Grand Prix schedule is going to be announced at Pro Tour Magic Origins (Source).  This is a great time to start planning for next year’s fun but it also entails another announcement.

For the last eight years, Wizards of the Coast has been giving out a free promo card to everyone who enters the main event of a Grand Prix.  The first two promo cards were nostalgic at best.  Call of the Herd and Spiritmonger are two great green cards from “back in the day” but have aged poorly in today’s standards.  The next two kicked it up a notch and currently sit on the Modern ban list.  Chrome Mox and Umezawa’s Jitte are definitely powerful cards but Wizards missed the mark again.  The next card is one I’m not terribly familiar with at the time it was released. I had taken a break but I can only assume a new art Maelstrom Pulse was well received by players.

The year of 2012 was a deviation from the old promo schedule.  Two promos would be released that year and got an approximate even number of GPs.  Clearly the limited amount of these promos caused them to not positively affect the price of the cards.  Goblin Guide promos sit at almost even footing to the pack foil.  This is typical of under printed promos that are in high demand (similar to pack foil Tasigur vs pre-release Promo Tasigur).  Another year of this weird split schedule had Primeval Titan splitting a year with All is Dust.  Both of those promos I’d consider bargain bin despite their phenomenal art as they were once again paired in Modern Masters 2015.

Evidently someone at Wizards noticed the boom of players was having a really big impact on the price of mythics from the previous years.  Batterskull was announced as the promo for entirety of 2014.

bskull norm


Despite being announced as a promo and falling significantly, eternal play brought this card up to $30 before a price dent was really made.  Although some of the price points on this are a little messed up, you can still compare it to today’s promo price.

bskull promo


The promo price is almost exactly in lockstep with the regular non-foil.  This clearly demonstrates that the saturation level has been met.  The sheer number of competitors at Grands Prix have been able to saturate the market with just enough Batterskulls to cut the price to something bearable.  Now, the price could also be influenced by Stoneforge Mystic decks falling out of favor in Legacy and Kolaghan’s Command popularity in Modern, but that is likely more of a factor for it not increasing.  It’s been almost a year since Batterskull was the GP Promo and it’s price hasn’t wavered since it’s low.


What did Griselbrand do?  Pretty much the same thing as Batterskull.  After reaching peaks of $40, Griselbrand has been on the steady decline to a more managable $20.  It is another small spring set mythic (printed an entire year after Batterskull) that was quickly climbing out of control.  What we can see from this is there really is no upside to holding anything that becomes a Grand Prix promo unless you really like the art.

And now to my point, with the announcement of next year’s Grand Prix schedule, we’ll also probably get an announcement with the year’s Grand Prix promo card.  It’s important to consider how this will affect your collection and what you should do to prepare.

The trend has been pick a successful tournament staple Mythic from the last set of the block that rotated out of Standard 2 years ago.  If the pattern of the last two years of Grand Prix promos is to be followed, we will get a card from Dragon’s Maze.  Unfortunately, Dragon’s Maze is a miserable set.  For argument’s sake, there are really only two cards in the whole set really worth discussing.


As much as I would personally love an alternate art foil Ral Zarek, I doubt he will be the Grand Prix promo.  He’s not a competitive card and Wizards has shown reluctance to use those as Grand Prix promos.  Voice of Resurgence would make sense as a Grand Prix promo.  At a fair trade value of approximately $25, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit $30 before being the promo.  It would be a very similar trajectory to Batterskull.  But that alone doesn’t make him a slam dunk.  Really it’s anyone’s guess but I have a few theories on what may happen.

Return to Ravnica block was opened in such huge quantities it’s hard for anything in the set to truly command a high price.  The 10 shock lands take a lot of the value away from other cards.  It’s possible to keep Voice of Resurgence’s price from tanking completely that they do another split year of promos with Ral Zarek and Voice of Resurgence.

Another possible outcome is another card from Innistrad.  There are many possible reprint targets at rare like Snapcaster Mage and Cavern of Souls and mythics like Huntmaster of the Fells, Liliana of the Veil, and Craterhoof Behemoth.  I’d say your Liliana’s are likely safe as they are the RPTQ promo.  Snapcaster Mage might be the prize they save for the next Modern Masters.  So really, what I’m trying to say, is it’s really anyone’s guess.  Just don’t get caught with your pants down.

But what about the Pro Tour!?  Well this is kind of a stale Pro Tour.  There is probably money to made by speculators but there’s not a real reason to invest in a ton of cards that might not be good in a few months.  The Rally the Ancestors deck looks good now but after they lose temples, Satyr Wayfinder, and Mogis’s Mauraders, how good is the deck anymore?  Even Thopter Spy Network and Hangarback Walker have room to fall when Darksteel Citadel rotates out.

My suggestion to you is to buy cards that you know are good.  Siege Rhino and Den Protector decks probably aren’t going anywhere.  If you don’t own those guys now I’m not really sure when you’re ever going to buy them and not regret it.  To quote Patrick Sullivan all last weekend, “I wish I picked up my Jaces last week.”

Grinder Finance – Week One and Capitalizing on Hype

Last week in Chicago we got our first taste of Standard with Magic Origins, and there were 3 G/R Devotion decks in the top 8.  To be perfectly honest, 7 of the top 8 decks were just slight rehashes of existing decks.  In an extreme example of this, Logan Mize decided to cut a whole color from his deck and avoid playing any cards from the last two sets.  It’s unlikely any real metagame shifting changes will happen before the Pro Tour in a few weeks but that doesn’t stop people from going crazy.  What did I spend my weekend doing? Getting rid of cards!



My go-to for getting rid of cards I don’t need is Pucatrade.  It’s a bit of investment to get started but clearly shows it’s advantages upon new set releases.  A lot of the cards from this set are at the highest prices they will ever be and it’s a quick and easy way to earn some value for them.  For those that are uninitiated, Pucatrade is an online trading program that matches users want lists with other user’s have lists.  For the price of a few stamps, envelopes, and toploaders you can send off your unwanted or hard to trade cards for “Puca Points” which are essentially worth 1 penny.  Although they have no cash value, the value of a card is based on an aggregate fair trade price that is displayed in Puca Points that works out to about 100 Puca Points is $1.

That being said, how many of you thought you could get 65 cents in trade for an Outland Colossus?  While most of the cards listed might end up being bulked to a vendor, release week is a great chance to trade them away for non-bulk values.  But there are also some non-bulk cards that are worth selling into the hype.  I’m not a fan of holding onto Goblin Piledrivers right now.  There is too high of a chance that this price is based mostly on nostalgia and not enough on actual power.  The worst case scenario is that I have to pick up a playset in a month for about the same price.  Most standard legal rares have a very hard time staying above $10 even when they’re as ubiquitous as Siege Rhino.  Goblin Rabblemaster is one of the most recent exceptions to the rule because of how flexible it was in many different deck types.  Unfortunately for Piledriver, he requires a bunch of goblin buddies to be good.


What else should we do besides selling off cards we aren’t planning on using for the next two months? Digging out important commons from your pre-release pools is a big deal.  For every playset of impressively expensive Shaman of the Pack you find, you could also save yourself a few bucks by picking out Clash of Wills and Sphinx’s Tutelage too.  There’s a number of powerful uncommons that I would recommend just setting aside for later use.

In no particular order, these commons and uncommons strike me as useful:

  • Bounding Krasis
  • Blood-Cursed Knight
  • Shaman of the Pack
  • Foundry of the Consuls
  • Mage-Ring Network
  • Leaf Gilder
  • Gather the Pack
  • Elvish Visionary
  • Dwynen’s Elite
  • Aerial Volley
  • Sylvan Messenger
  • Nissa’s  Pilgrimage
  • Magmatic Insight
  • Goblin Glory Chaser
  • Fiery Impulse
  • Subterranean Scout
  • Smash to Smithereens
  • Dragon Fodder
  • Enlightened Ascetic
  • Consul’s Lieutenant
  • Celestial Flare
  • Swift Reckoning
  • Chief of the Foundry
  • Artificer’s Epiphany
  • Negate
  • Clash of Wills
  • Sphinx’s Tutelage
  • Eyeblight Massacre
  • Fleshbag Maurader
  • Gnarlroot Trapper
  • Nantuko Husk
  • Read the Bones
  • Thornbow Archer

While some of these you may have from older sets, it’s important to note you can glean $10-20 from picking through your “draft trash” that would otherwise have been spent at a vendor the day of a tournament.  It’s important to note it’s hard to keep a small collection and not lose money by having to rebuy cards you sold earlier.  Ideally we keep an equilibrium of selling cards when they’re high and buying when they’re low but if we can avoid buying cards all together then it’s just a win more.

Investment Hour:

There are a few cards I think that are pretty good to pick up now but you shouldn’t rush out to buy them right this second.  I would keep them on my radar for trades this weekend.



If we ever get to a point in standard where people ask the question “What is the most powerful planeswalker in Standard?” and the answer is not Ugin then we will have a problem.  This guy is at a low point in his life cycle and despite being only a single copy in most decks he still commands a price point over $25.  Fate Reforged is notably better than the last middle set (Born of the Gods) but still suffers from middle set syndrome that makes it scarcely opened product.  Ugin’s life cycle is further increased by his tag teaming with Karn in Tron in Modern.  When you top if off with the casual appeal, it’s hard to ever see him dropping below $20 without a Duel Deck printing.  I think now is a fine time to pick up this dragon Planeswalker in preparation for a new Standard rotation in the fall.

127 143160


Mono-red decks have always been popular with casual players because of their low price point.  Recently with the emergence of Atarka Red as a truly powerful force, aggressive red decks have been able to sustain some weird prices.  Goblin Rabblemaster and Stoke the Flames are poster children for aggressive red cards that are worth a ton more than they probably should be.  I believe Exquisite Firecraft is an easy Five Dollar bill for the next year and a half.  Abbot of Keral Keep and Scab-Clan Berserker can tag team some control heavy metagames while also being very reasonably priced aggressive threats.  I’m especially bullish on the fact that Scab-Clan Berserker can often get in 4 damage before paying the Ultimate Price which is significantly better than the very popular Eidolon of the Great Revel.  If red aggressive decks are not your thing then you may want to pass on these but I would get well acquainted with their power level.