Tag Archives: prerelease

Grinder Finance – The Shadows over Innistrad Preorder Article

Hey guys, I’m a little this late this week as I was waiting for the maximum number of cards to be spoiled before putting out this article.  Spoilers for Shadows over Innistrad will end Friday so it is unlikely much will change between then and now.

With every set, the pre-order prices for most cards are astronomically higher than they end up.  There are some exceptions to that rule (I’m looking at you Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy) but the best bet is usually to buy the least amount possible.



I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the rare land cycle.  I think the pre-order prices for these are a little too high to recommend buying them all but I couldn’t fault you for getting the ones you think you are likely to play for the first month.  These should be $2-3 by this summer and then you can finish up your playsets.

Upgrading Old Strategies


Bought into the Eldrazi ramp deck recently? Here are my recommendations for pre-orders:


Deathcap Cultivator easily slots into the same spot as Rattleclaw Mystic and supports a black splash instead of a red one.  That might be the best going forward anyway since Kozilek’s Return doesn’t kill a lot of the new vampires or many older creatures.


Drownyard Temple has a great synergy with World Breaker but I wouldn’t recommend getting a whole play set.  One or two is probably all the deck can support anyway without cutting into Shrine of the Forsaken Gods or Sanctum of Ugin


With the additional ETB tapped lands, I expect ramp will find some mana earlier to use on Tireless Tracker.  It’s obviously a huge favorite to be a huge monster if you play a ton of lands.  It will help with some of the problems of flooding and isn’t legendary like Nissa, Vastwood Seer.  While this card might not be a slam dunk, the pre-order price of $2 or less is not much to lose.


Stay away from this card.  A lot of people are hypothesizing it’s synergy with Ruin in their Wake but the reality is this will often be much worse than Oath of Nissa.  At $4 most places, I don’t want to buy into what is likely to be a bulk rare.


Collected Company more your jam?  It’s likely that a Green/White based deck will be the bread and butter CoCo deck.  There are unfortunately not a ton of great cards to add to those style decks but there are a few that could make the cut.


Collected Company decks are almost always light on removal (the nature of a green/white deck).  Declaration in Stone gives you some more flexibility in removing troublesome creatures cleanly and doesn’t require a bigger creature, like Dromoka’s Command does.


Naturally, Hanweir Militia Captain’s flip trigger works well in a CoCo deck.  Putting 2 Hanweir Militia Captains into play during your opponent’s end step could spell big game.  This one is purely speculative as the next creature.


A deck with a ton of 3 or less drop creatures could be in the market for a reasonably costed flyer to draw some cards.  This one unfortunately matches up pretty poorly against Drana, Liberator of Malakir and Olivia, Mobilized for War so we will have to see how the meta game shakes down.  If we see a ton of Eldrazi Skyspawners and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet (which makes Deathmist Raptor worse) maybe this guy gets the nod.


For the mono-red Eldrazi deck I only have 1 recommendation.


I know it looks like a pile of garbage but the truth is this will be a very important sideboard card against “slower” decks.  Its great against Ramp and it will probably be great against Esper Dragons (or similarly controlling decks).  The worst case scenario is this is a Skizzik (or Ball Lightning, if you prefer that) that can throw off your opponent’s math.  Most of it’s text box is largely irrelevant if you kill them with it.

New Archtypes:

Some cards look deceptively powerful on paper but don’t realize any competitive play.  For the most part, anything over $15 pre-order price is too high to pay unless you are sure it will be good.  Here’s my shortlist of things I have (or would recommend) pre-ordering.


She’s cheap, she’s got reasonable stats, and she turns every spell you play for the rest of the game into an insane return.  Olivia’s ability to curb your flooding while still putting pressure means it won’t be hard for her to find a home.  I’m fine with pre-ordering these up to $15 if you are going to play them.

Archangel Avacyn / Avacyn, the Purifier

This is the best Serra Angel ever printed.  Glowing endorsement, right?  Well if you played with Restoration Angel during the first Innistrad block, you would know how powerful large flash flyers are.  Avacyn is really big, at a great rate, and doesn’t need much help to be effective.  She is largely immune to Reflector Mage.  Combined with Ojutai’s Command, Avacyn delivers the same lose/lose situation as Cryptic Command and Mistbind Clique did.  This is a card I’m not worried that we won’t find a deck for.

So Arlinn is definitely very good on paper.  Probably the best planeswalker in the set.  But I don’t think she will find a home.  Be on the lookout for when she drops.  I can’t imagine she stays anywhere over $20 in a month.


Don’t buy these cards.  They’re too hyped and probably won’t be good enough to maintain their price tag for more than a month.



All of the Planeswalkers have the Planeswalker tax.  Anguished Unmaking is fine but it’s also the Game Day promo and I’m not sure it can be played as a 4-of like Hero’s Downfall. Sin Prodder is a glorified Boggart Brute.  It’s “fine” but on average it will draw you less cards than Abbot of Keral Keep.  Thing in the Ice is purely an eternal card and as such will drop like a rock.  It’s unlikely to see too much play in a Standard format that has Ultimate Price, Grasp of Darkness, Silk Wrap, and Reflector Mage.

Post-Prerelease Panic

We’re back with more of a Finance 101-style topic this week, so don’t expect anything too revolutionary or mind-blowing. Just a lone 20-year old rambling about certain Magic: The Gathering cards that I believe will go up, down, or remain stagnant as bulk rares for the rest of their miserable existences. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. I do kind of have a theme here. I want to wedge in a little bit of discussion about the best ways to out your prerelease bananas.

Tasigur the Golden Fang by Chris Rahn from artofmtg.
Tasigur the Golden Fang by Chris Rahn 


You know how bananas only last like three hours at a maximum before they turn black and gross and banana-bread material? That’s pretty much what 95 percent of the rares and mythics in Battle for Zendikar  are going to end up doing, too. You might look them up on your phone or tablet when you open them at your local prerelease and exclaim with pure joy: “Oh, golly me! My Undergrowth Champion is selling for a whole $10 American dollars on eBay! I ‘made’ money by adding up the value of all of the mythics, rares, and uncommons in my pool!”


We all know what happens next. I’m very guilty of it myself. We go home, let that Champion sit in our binder for the next two FNMs, but nobody points it out as a trade target. Suddenly the card is only worth $3, and we buylist it for $1 because we’re sick of looking at it, and you know it will never see Constructed play. You only got like one slice of that delicious banana bread out of that deal, when you could have been fast enough to trade off that ripe banana for some apples or carrots. Those don’t go bad quickly, right? I don’t know. I’m not Gordon Ramsay over here.

That Zada, Hedron Grinder (which is one of the more stupid names that I’ve heard for a card in a while) is pre-selling for $2 now, but you and I both know that it’ll be a bulk rares in about two weeks. If you didn’t know that the legendary hedron grinder (ugh) will be a bulk rare, then consider it something you’ve learned from this article.


So how do you get rid of stuff like that? Ob Nixilis Reignited is preselling for $15 on eBay (which is one of the lowest prices we’ve seen for a planeswalker preorder in a long time), but you won’t be able to set him free on TCGplayer until the set’s official release date. Selling on eBay yourself is an option, but the fees are too high for my personal tastes, and the customer service is weighted heavily against you as a seller. There will also be a large number of people at your FNM who read articles like mine, telling them to stay away from  your precious Ob Nixilis like it’s the plague, until it’s a paltry $7. If you really want to move that demon buddy now, then I’ve got a couple of suggestions that you may want to pocket.

Like Dis If U Sell Evertim


Facebook is one of the best way to move new cards. Actually, I’m coming to a realization that I mention this in pretty much every damn article I write. And you know what? I haven’t been convinced that I’m wrong yet, so I’ll keep saying it. I wrote in detail here about selling a picked-through collection via Facebook, but I want to emphasize this here: most non-competitive players don’t go to your LGS. They’re not sitting across from you at FNM, or scanning through the spoilers every single day like we are. They don’t have eighteen different sources of price-tracking info coming into their brains, but most of them will have a Facebook page.

Most of those non-competitive-but-on-social-media players most will have liked a Magic: The Gathering page at some point in time of their social-media lives. If that page allows the buying, selling, and trading of cards, this is where you want to be. You want to ride just under the prices they’re seeing on eBay and TCGplayer, because these are the impulse buyers of Magic. They want their sweet new cards, and they want them as soon as possible. Timmy Incarnate behind his computer screen has been waiting to add that Desolation Twin to his Eldrazi deck for weeks now, and you’re going to help make it happen. How much is it going to cost Timmy? $2? That’s it? Bam. Easy. And it saved you from sullenly sliding that Twin into your bulk rare box a month from now. Everyone’s happy. Sell those $12 copies of Ob Nixilis, $13 Kioras, and ride that prerelease hype wave as far as you can surf, until those 8/8 octopuses turn all of your hard-pulled cards into gross little bulk rares.

Alternatively, you can test how fast your fingers can click and try your hand at PucaTrading those new treasures away. Trader be wary though: everyone is going to be looking at the same target here. If you thought Standard cards were difficult to move on PucaTrade as just an average Joe user, you’ll be disappointed to learn that cards straight out of the new set are on another level. Everyone wants to get that sweet, uncut value.

Traps in Battle for Zendikar

I mean, there aren’t any actual trap cards, like Archive Trap and whatnot, but I do believe there are a couple of other trap cards from Origins that I believe I’m in minority of rallying against. Everyone is up in arms about these two tricks of Nissa’s being near-guaranteed landfall spec targets, but I’m not seeing it.


Both of these cards are hovering around the $3 point right now, and they’ve each crept up to that point relatively recently. I don’t think you want to pay four total mana to play and equip Sword of the Animist just to get a landfall trigger every turn, especially when your guy could just get bolted in response. If we’re equipping a creature and attacking with it, I want to win the game very soon after. I just don’t feel like Sword of the Animist has the power level to do that. Even if it does see play in a Standard list, how many do you play? Probably two at most—I can’t see you wanting three copies. You’ll draw too many at that point. So do you expect this to go to $6 or $7 in a set where there’s already a $20 non-mythic holding up a substantial portion of the set’s value? I’m just not buying it. Literally. I’m not buying this card, unless I get it at buylist prices.

As for Animist’s Awakening, I feel like it’s way too much of a gamble to be investing that much mana into crossing your fingers and hoping for more ramp. If you’re trying to abuse this with Omnath, you should be able to end the game off of two or three more landfall triggers, fueled by fetch lands and maybe a single ramp spell, not casting this for seven or eight mana and hoping that you have 50 power on board. While I play it (and absolutely love it) in my Child of Alara EDH deck, that’s a completely different environment, and I can’t see this being run as a four-of in any particular landfall deck. It sees $3 off of two things: hype for the new set and mechanic, and people like me who jam it in EDH. If you’re holding onto either of these cards at $3 and hoping they jump, my recommendation is to sell off now into that hype.

End Step

Did you know Hardened Scales is a $2 Magic card? I mean, I knew it was pretty good in EDH, but I didn’t think it would be more expensive than a Prophet of Kruphix. I’m pretty sure I have several copies of Scales in my bulk-rare boxes right now; or at least, I’m pretty sure I used to. Some smart reader out there probably realized that the card was worth more than I was selling it for, and pulled it out to make money off of me. Good for you, if you did that.


Dragon Whisperer is the same price as Hardened Scales. Now, that can’t be right. I know my friend Travis has written about this card extensively, and put his money where his mouth is. I can’t say I blame him, and I’m tempted to dump a reasonable chunk of change to follow suit. There are a lot of abilities on this card, and it fits perfectly into the curve of the mono-red deck that we all know will exist post-rotation. Writing this paragraph and looking at this price graph is slowly convincing me, so you’ll probably see me in What We’re Buying and Selling This Week on Saturday with my pile of Whisperers that I bought for two freaking dollars each.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for this week. I got a little bit side-tracked, but that’s alright. I didn’t have too solid of a topic anyway. Let’s talk about Magic cards in the comments below. You’re probably more likely to get a quick response if you use Twitter or Facebook, though. Fair warning. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Financial Five: Magic Origins

By: Houston Whitehead

I might say it in every Financial Five article, but they just keep getting better and better at pricing cards.  Though I applaud them, I think I still found some potential gems in Magic Origins worth speculating on.

Graveblade Marauder (TCG Mid $1)

graveblade MI understand at first glance his stats are underwhelming. What justified his inclusion in this weeks FF can be wrapped up with one word. Deathtouch!  Almost any creature in the format would laugh at a 1/4, but deathtouch puts the fear in both Dragonlord Ojutai and Silumgar, the Drifting Death. Though his ability begs to be built around, it’s really not that hard in Standard to put creatures in the graveyard.  He even works well with Fleshbag Marauder and Satyr Wayfinder.  The only roadblock I can forsee in his future is Deathmist Raptor. The dino’s synergy with Den Protector would be the only leash holding back Standard play. If you couldn’t already tell, this is my favorite card in the set. He’s currently at $1 but is begging to gain value if Deathmist decreases in play.

Funny sidenote: Did you know Graveblade is a font? Here’s proof.

Herald of the Pantheon (TCG Mid $3)

We are familiar with constellation decks from Theros block.  G/B constellation was a tier one deck for a while and I think this will at least encourage some great minds to test this cards potential with that theme.

heraldofthepantheonPlayable discounted creatures in Golgari: Boon Satyr, Courser of Kruphix, Herald of Torment, Master of the Feast, Nyx Weaver, Spiteful Returned

All of the gods, but more so, the following; Athreos, God of Passage, Pharika, God of Affliction, Erebos, God of the Dead, Nylea, God of the Hunt

Currently at $3, it’s already pulling a small amount of hype in its direction.  Gaining life ‘enchantmentfall’ shoudn’t be overlooked.  The obvious combination with Courser is sweet, but the 2/2 body is its clearest drawback.  Assuming you’re starting with the old G/B shell, Eidolon of Blossoms is a four of, but more importantly, another playset of 2/2’s.  Blocking profitably is not going to happen often so finding a way to win without taking dragons to your face is the first puzzle you have to solve.   On the surface, it seems too slow for Heroic decks. Plus, Hero of Iroas lines up better with the decks goals.   With the Pro Tour Origins kicking off on July 31st, I’d say all it takes is a deck tech to double it’s price.

Priest of the Blood Rite (TCG Mid $1)

priest of the blood riteIf Satyr Wayfinder isn’t enough fodder for you Sidisi, Undead Vizier or Fleshbag Marauder? I present to you, fodder and a Dragon-destroying Demon token (except Atarka, of course). Unless you’re playing FNM, Encase in Ice is the only ‘Pacifism’ effect in the current competitive Standard meta.

Since you’re already playing Wayfinder, what else goes well with self-mill strategies? Whip of Erebos! Whip takes away the drawback, adds lifelink to your 2/2, and leaves behind a 5/5 flying demon.  Together, they block Whisperwood Elemental and it’s first manifest creature well.  My only concern is the number of copies worth playing in a list. It clearly works best in the self-mill decks (Golgari or Sultai) but at a non-mythic rarity, it’s hard to expect a large jump even after heavy play.  Current price is $1 so a $4-5 price could come true if a whip deck finishes well in the next 2 months.

Hallowed Moonlight (TCG Mid $3.5)

hallowed moonlightThis was actually the hardest card for me to add to the list.  When it was first spoiled, It seemed way to narrow for my tastes and would end up being a meta call sideboard choice.  It’s grown on me the more and more I think about it’s potential.  It’s easy to think about when cards are good but will it be good more times than the times it’s bad.  The fact that it’s a cantrip takes most of the sting out, but did keeping two mana up on your opponents turn put you behind?  Probably not.

So what are the good times? It prevents reanimation, tokens, manifest, blinking, unearth, and Splinter Twin combo. Modern and Legacy benefit the most but Standard could justify a few sideboard slots.  I feel U/W/R modern decks benefit the most.  With Preordain and Ponder banned, these decks rely on cantrips to keep their hands full.   Most of these strategies also play most of there spells at the end of the opponents turn.  Problem is, rarity and lack of main deck potential turns this card into a long term spec.  Think of it to take a similar financial path as Shadow of Doubt.  $3.50 is the current price but I’d say you can pick them up off standard players for less during the Prerelease and release weekends.

Despoiler of Souls (TCG Mid $1)

despoiler of soulsI can’t help but look at devotion potential when I see this little guy.  Grey Merchant of Asphodel (Gary) is one of my favorite cards from Theros block.  Bloodsoaked Champion and D-Souls will obviously have great aggressive potential for Mono-Black Aggro, but the ability to bring back creatures to keep devotion high could lead to some explosive turns.

On top of those, Erebos’s Titan might not come from graveyard to battlefield but with devotion high, recasting him should be easy.  D-souls easily fits in two known archtypes, encourages you to play with a playset, and is currently prices at $1.  This price baffles me just as much as Graveblade Marauder. Yet another card that can only go up from here.

Wrap Up

If you can’t tell, black is my Magic Origins sleeper color.  If I though other cards in other color had more potential, my article would be a bit more colorful.  Alas, black is receiving additions in a variety of strategies and deck styles.  Cards that support these strategies could also see a rise but I wouldn’t underestimate what Liliana’s newly tainted necromancy will bring to the next two months of Standard.

As always thanks for reading


Prerelease: Keep or Trade?

We are thrilled to introduce Cliff D! Cliff has managed to foil out an EDH deck on a budget and maintains a blog at wordofcommander.blogspot.com. Welcome Cliff!

My name is Cliff, and I’m a Magic addict.

I tell you this because as a husband and a father, it’s a big deal to have a hobby like Magic. It’s got the potential to be a very expensive hobby, and I’ve spent years figuring out how to spend the least and get the most of what I want.

Today I want to share one of my best tips with you, something that has kept me from spending too much on this game I love a little too much.

In one sentence, here it is: Trade everything you open at the prerelease.

This goes against everything in my nature as a casual player. I have nine EDH decks, and with every new set, there’s some maintenance I have to do. So my urge, and probably yours, is to get things as soon as possible, to get that upkeep done and the decks finished. Don’t do it!

There is evidence, all over this site, of cards that opened big and didn’t ever get more expensive than they were the first week. That week is now, and you need to cash in.

For example: At the Return to Ravnica prerelease, I opened a Vraska the Unseen. After tearing up matches with it, I traded it for a pair of Abrupt Decay and a Guildpact Stomping Grounds. Now, I’d be even trading the Vraska for a single Decay.

Vraska the Unseen. Oct 2012 - June 2013.
Vraska the Unseen. Oct 2012 – June 2013.

If you have to have four of a card for that following FNM, so be it, but let me tell you, you don’t want to be the guy trading super-hard for Rise of the Dark Realms at the prerelease. Almost everything in this set, and every other set, will go down in price within a couple of weeks. Our most recent example is classic: Dragon’s Maze has very few cards worth more than the cost of a pack at retail, so I hope you got rid of them all when you opened them.

Magic 2014 looks to be similar. There’s a lot of awesome casual cards in this set, and most of them will be at or near bulk pretty quickly. It will not be long before you hear someone groan at opening “another stupid Primal Bounty?!” This is the only weekend where people will be actively trying to get this card; trade it to them accordingly.

My exception might — MIGHT — be Scavenging Ooze. This is going to be interesting. If I had to pick a card to go up in the long term, this would be it, because it seems like it will be good in all three Constructed formats. I’m aware that it is a Duels promo, so anyone who wants to buy the game in Steam can get a foil of this for $10. I’d still be willing to trade it away this weekend, though.

If you want to keep the sweet foils you open, do so, and I understand completely the urge to GET IT NOW WOW!! But you’re now making the informed choice to keep it, when you could sell at the probable top of the market. I jumped at the chance to trade for a foil Aurelia, the Warleader at the Gatecrash Prerelease, and I got it plus a regular for my Polluted Delta.

Let me leave you with the graphs of those cards, and I’ll let you decide which side you want to be on, just a couple of months later.

Aurelia, the Warleader. Foil. Jan - June 2013.
Aurelia, the Warleader. Foil. Jan – June 2013.
Aurelia, the Warleader. Non-foil. Jan-June 2013.
Aurelia, the Warleader. Non-foil. Jan – June 2013.
Polluted Delta. Non-foil. Jan - June 2013.
Polluted Delta. Non-foil. Jan – June 2013.