Magic Origins redemption went live after the Magic Online downtime this Wednesday. Which means you could start transmuting those digital objects on Magic Online into tangible, tappable cards. A price disparity between Magic Online cards and real life (which shall be henceforth referred to as ‘IRL’) cards is ever-present due to a multitude of factors. The price disparity could sometimes be exploited to get your hands on cards below market price, especially foils from sets chock-full of eternal staples. (I’m looking at you Khans of Tarkir.)
Today we are going to crunch some numbers to find out if it is worth going through the effort to redeem Magic Origins, for both non-foil and foil sets.
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I think this is an article that’s been written before, but I doubt everyone has read it, so I’m going to write one. An important part of Magic financial fitness is keeping a liquid collection. What does that mean?
Well, a Magic collection is a lot like a plant. If you give it plenty of sun and water it you’ll a pile of soggy unplayable cards, so not in that way. But it’s similar in the fact that with a minimal amount of maintenance it will grow. I assume many of the people that read my articles are not urban gardeners like myself, but there are a few things you can do to grow much fuller herbs. If you give the herb sun and water it, it will grow just fine. If you periodically fertilize and prune the plant it will grow fuller and faster. Pruning a plant promotes new growth and a heartier plant. Your collection acts the same way.
It’s pretty much impossible to grow a collection without adding more money into it, but it is possible to re-appropriate that value to help it grow. It’s important to notice trends and to fertilize properly and prune properly. Maybe I’m talking too much in abstract so let’s use some real world examples from my collection.
I’ve been pruning my collection of Magic Origins cards that have been popular in Standard. The last few weeks have seen many different decks winning top-tier tournaments and have been affecting prices. I play a lot of Magic so obviously I’m not looking to sell pieces of the deck I play but there are cards outside of that I own that I don’t need. In the last month I’ve sold Demonic Pacts, Woodland Bellower, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Ghostfire Blade, Thopter Spynetwork, and Ensoul Artifact.
I’ve also been “fertilizing” my collection with cards that haven’t become a “thing” yet. I got Ghostfire Blades and Abbot of Keral Keep right before they became super popular. Right now I’ve been getting cards that are cheap because cheap cards can become expensive easily but expensive cards don’t get more expensive very easily. Especially with how much Magic Origins product is being opened.
As this is now the weekend after a five-Abzan Top 8, I would recommend watching the movement of the staples for this deck. It’s going to be probably the last chance you have to trade away Fleecemane Lion for literal anything. It’s fair trade value is about $2 and if you can flip it into any of the painlands from MagicOrigins it is really hard to go wrong. Dromoka’s Command is another card that is surging despite its recent reprinting in the Magic Origins clash pack. Fellow MTGPrice writer Derek Madlem suggested last week that Dromoka’s Command was a criminally underpriced card. Given its play last weekend, I’d say he was right. Dromoka’s Command will also survive an extra rotation as Dragons of Tarkir will not rotate with the rest of the block.
But do you know what I really like doing now? Grabbing all of your Khans of Tarkir staples. There really isn’t a better time to buy Rattleclaw Mystic, Mantis Rider, Savage Knuckleblade, Siege Rhino, or Sorin, Solemn Visitor. We’ve already seen an uptick of Sorin in response to the abundant UR Thopters decks and Monored decks. Any card that gives your whole team lifelink and is on the same team as Siege Rhino can be good against aggressive decks. Mantis Rider’s price tag of $1 is a pretty safe bet. After Battle For Zendikar enters the fray we will be losing our only two-mana spell that can kill Mantis Rider. Surprisingly, Mantis Rider is pretty durable when your options for removal are Ultimate Price, Swift Reckoning, Valorous Stance, and Roast. He can still die to Draconic Roar and Foul-Tongue Invocation but that’s a pretty small subset of available spells.
What else do we prune? Card of the week syndrome can hit hard and fast.
Pucatrade has a resource that includes the most popular trades of the last day, week, month, year. Things that get popular quick and fall off are the best choices for a quick pruning. You know what we don’t need to hold with impeding Eldrazi? $2 Sphinx’s Tutelages. No matter how good the deck is now it is unlikely two colorless cards will “share a color.”
Next on our list? Keep an eye on new saplings waiting to be planted. Some cards that pre-ordered at the beginning for a lot are coming down to more reasonable price ranges.
While there is nothing I’m advocating as a buy today, there are a few cards I would keep a sharp eye on.
Sword of the Animist is card that preordered for $5 after being touted by StarCity Games’ Ben Bleisweiss as one of the best cards in the set but now is down to half of that number. Casual appeal should keep this from ever hitting true bulk but with the confirmation of Landfall as a returning mechanic in Battle for Zendikar, this has some legs. It may have some more room to drop but as soon as it turns the corner is the time to buy in.
Harbinger of the Tides was another hyped card. If we are expecting Eldrazi that are large and in charge in the next set I don’t see how this guy doesn’t fit into the resistance. He’s a reasonable body attached to a powerful effect versus cards that might have been cheating into play with See the Unwritten. He also still does a decent job of unsummoning all of the Dragonlords except Dromoka at instant speed. He also may have some space to drop but when we approach $1 there is no real risk in buying in.
What does Surrak, the Huntcaller do? A ton really. He trades with Siege Rhino, he triggers ferocious for See the Unwritten and gives haste to whatever huge fatty you put into play with it. The art of this card may be more telling of his future with Dragonlord Atarka emerging from his shadow to fly in for a kill.
In conclusion, water your collection and leave it out in the sun if you think it’s a plant. Otherwise keep an eye on trends and make sure to move parts of your collection you aren’t using to free up money to invest in parts you will need later down the line.
We’re diving into Pro Tour Origins this week, which should come as a surprise to few. There’s a lot of information to be gathered and understood, and combined with the fact that the early August Pro Tour is the oasis to Magic finance’s barren wasteland summers, it would be irresponsible of me to ignore the event. Some of you may already be over the PT.
“Sig wrote about it on Monday and Danny on Tuesday and Corbin on Thursday and everyone everywhere wrote about it and my wife doesn’t respect me because I’m a spineless manchild.” Yeah well A) you are, and B) even though multiple people will be covering the PT results, it’s all valuable information. I doubt all of us will have the same opinions, and even if we do, that information can serve to confirm your own suspicions about a card. Plus it’s only one week.
What makes this Pro Tour unique among the year’s events is that it is a window into a dead format. While this Standard is what we have until October, Magic activity is at a serious lull this time of year. You’ll see some SCG Opens and a handful of GPs, but for the most part, the Standard format of the moment is not especially relevant. It’s not like this PT sets the stage for the season to come and what decks will follow after. The entire format is going to rotate and all of the archetypes and success we just saw will be wiped clean in short order.
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