Tag Archives: sorting

Dimes to Dollars 102

Written By:
Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

It’s no secret that I absolutely love bulk rares. I’ve written multiple articles on the subject, and I pride myself on having a pretty solid niche in a community with so many prolific writers. If you’re interested in a couple of primer articles on what I’ve already talked about before we delve deeper down the dime ditch, you can find a piece on “Bulk Rare EDH“, and one on the difference between what I’ve deemed to be “true bulk and fake bulk.”  We’re going to touch on a little of both today, in addition to another project that I’m going to be undertaking.

Building with Bulk

The last time I wrote about Bulk Rare EDH was almost exactly one year ago, and I’ve since taken apart that Tasigur list. It ended up being too frustrating trying to play three colors with next to zero playable mana fixing, since we were locked out of effects like Cultivate and Chromatic Lantern. Half of the deck’s games were lost to mana or color screw, and most of the other half were lost because I was spending the first six turns casting cards like Eye of Ramos and Into the Wilds just to try and find a certain color of mana.

I still loved the concept of Bulk Rare EDH though, even if I found out after a quick google search that I wasn’t the designer of the format.


So what to do now that Tasigur was a dud? Well, I decided to cut my old rule of excluding the Commander from bulk rare status. That was only a personal exception because I wanted to build banana-man anyway. I also decided to clean up the cut-off point for cards at $1.00 TCG mid, for consistency’s sake; I just promised myself that I wouldn’t use *too many* cards from the dollar box, whatever that meant. So this time, the goal was to focus on a deck with only one or two colors, for consistency’s sake. Thankfully, one of my “Maybe one day” Commander prototypes on Tappedout.net was already being led by a bulk rare, Heartless Hidetsugu. While I didn’t exactly have anyone else who was following my personal rule restrictions, I still wanted the deck to be able to scale with the level of the playgroup to some extent. Hmm… I should definitely trademark that. Maybe call it 76% or something like that?

Anyway, this is the first draft that I ended up coming up with:


Heartless Hidetsugu Bulk Rare EDH 1.0

Ruination is right beneath Red Sun’s Zenith in the sorcery section.

We can punish those richy-rich folk who want to crack fetchlands thanks to Ankh of Mishra, and Burning Earth will barely affect me considering I’m playing 30something Mountains and only a select few nonbasics. I think my favorite combo will end up being From the Ashes with Ankh of Mishra to kill someone outright after a Hidetsugu activation. While some might complain to me that ending games on turn 6-7 isn’t in the “spirit of Commander”, the upside is that we get in three times as many games! The curve is kind of awkward at the 3-4 drop slots, but c’est la vie.

1000% Growth (kind of)

While I was fishing through my bulk boxes to find cards for Hidetsugu and my cube, I decided double up by also pulling out all of the MP, HP, and damaged cards. Some had imperfections that I didn’t notice when putting them in the boxes, but others were damaged by customers not taking very good care of my cards when rummaging through the boxes. I have a setup where I can’t keep an eye on people because my bulk rares are at the shop, but I highly recommend doing so if you have a fat pack or so that you let people skim at FNM. There’s also the whole “theft protection reason”, but if you’re stealing bulk rares than you probably need them more than you need to read this article.

I also happily found a large chunk of cards whose prices had increased from the dime and quarter status into the $1, $2, or $5 range. I hadn’t really pawed through this bulk in the past six months (at least), so I was happily surprised that there weren’t any finance hungry sharks who stripped it clean on a weekly basis.

I know that the subheading says 1000% growth (implying that I bought all of these at 10 cents each and would sell them for a dollar each), but that’s not always true. It’s not exactly like I plan on being able to sell a dozen copies of Conjurer’s Closet over the next week at $1 each, even if I jam them in my dollar box. Most of the readers of this column don’t have a display case-esque situation, so those readers will likely be hoping to buylist the cards in the below pictures. Even in that situation, you’re still making 300-400% as long as you stuck to the rule of “Buy or trade for English, Near Mint bulk rares that have a gold symbol for ten cents each”.

dollar stuff
$2-$5 stuff


Mentor didn’t exactly have a singular reason to go up, it’s just that people like drawing cards for cheap; mana and money. When a bulk rare lets you flood the board with tokens, use up extra mana, and draw cards, that card usually doesn’t stay bulk for long. While you might be mentally responding to this paragraph with “something something Bygone Bishop, I’d still stay away. Remember that Mentor took multiple years to pick up, it works on Tokens, and you only have to pay one mana per draw. I don’t actually like Bishop (Well, I like every rare at a dime, but some I like better than others.)


I personally play Dark Impostor in my Marchesa, the Black Rose list and am usually satisfied with how effective he his in the late game. Stealing activated abilities is usually just icing on the cake, and the +1/+1 counter subtheme helps with Marchesa. However, I expect the real demand to be coming from casual vampire tribal, where players are always happy to steal abilities from other creatures and where removal is more scarce.


Zombies. Innistrad. Return to Innistrad. Zombies. Need I say more? Oh, right. Mill. Three things combined into one card. Tokens. Four things. While I’m happy selling these out of my dollar box, I don’t fault you for wanting to eek a few more pennies out if you feel like throwing playsets in the spec box and waiting a while.


While Mayor of Avabruck was the main Werewinner out of the SOI release (and one that I’ll always feel a pang of regret about when typing), several of the other previously bulk rare Werewolves suddenly transformed into $1 bills.

Shape Anew

This jumped a few months ago from a silly Modern deck that tried to put Blightsteel Colossus into play. It didn’t work out, but Modern brewers will always tinker (heh) with this kind of effect, and we could see some interesting new artifact mechanics out of Kaladesh. I’m happy with my large percentage jump, but there’s very low risk in holding onto these.

End Step

  • River Kelpie‘s movement has become much more vertical than the previous week’s MTGstocks interests have been showing. While it finally joined the dollar rare club, I don’t think this is a card that continues to sit at $1 for much longer. It’s main use is in Marchesa lists like my own, and there’s the looming likelyhood of a new Marchesa in Conspiracy 2.  Read River Kelpie a few more times and tell me why it’s not already $4-5.
  • I didn’t get the chance to write about my other bulk rare project, but don’t worry. Next week, I’m going to focus more on my experience foraying into building my first Cube! You get one guess on what the theme is.



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Back to Organizing (for the most part)

Written By:
Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns

Welcome back, and welcome to last week’s article as well. It’s a little lengthy but I’m proud of it all the same; we went and examined the different pricing metrics of TCGplayer high, median, low, and market price. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback so far, so it’s definitely one you don’t want to miss.

As for this week, let’s finally get back to processing and organizing our collections and bulk stuff. Instead of getting outside and enjoying the sunshine on Memorial Day weekend, my friend Sean Love and I were hard at work in the basement where it was a solid 20 degrees cooler than the heat wave upstairs and outside. I had one more objective that I wanted to make into a reality before I started on the 400k bulk in my closet, so we got to work.

Bad Binders

Up until this point, I’ve had about nine trade binders that were between halfway and completely full at all times. They’re the Ultimate Guard “QuadRow Flexfolio”, which I would not wish upon my worst enemy. I wanted them to be able to hold playsets of cards in a single row, but the quality of the binder was shoddy and the glue holding the pages together would rip all the time even with the simple act of putting a card in or taking it out. I’m no Tolarian Community College Professor, but I would absolutely stay away from this brand of binder and look for something else that’s more structurally sound. I owned the binders for less than four months before they started to fall apart, and I feel like I threw away over a hundred dollars on them.

four five

So where am I going with this segue? Well, I haven’t regularly traveled with binders in almost two years. I don’t have a local FNM that’s less than a thirty minute drive, I don’t have the time to be a Grand Prix backpack grinder, and it’s not exactly like I even “trade” very often anymore (unless you count people bringing me lots of bulk to get “DJ Dollars” in trade credit). A few weeks ago, I asked myself why I’m even still using a binder system to loosely organize my relevant cards. It was a pain to constantly look through the majority of a “Green” binder just to see exactly how many Vengevine I had, and I wanted something that would help me find X card from Y set in under Z seconds. I was already constructing a framework for doing something similar with my Blueprintable commons and uncommons…. why not do the same with my “higher end” cards ($4+) that were worth selling on TCGplayer?

This article is made for those few of you who might not trade anymore, or go to events at an LGS. I recommend continuing to read especially if you have a sizable collection that you want to manage without using binders, sell by piece, or just know where your cards are for deckbuilding. Several of the pieces of advice are extremely similar to other articles I’ve written, so we’ll get set sort and alphabetize everything out of the way early. Netflix helps. I finally got started on Jessica Jones.


Ta-Da! I mean, it obviously took a lot longer than it did for you to check out the picture; roughly about eight hours of Sean and I working to set sort and alphabetize. (A skill that he is much faster than I am at). You’ll also notice that those BCW dividers continue to come in handy, although I’ll have to trim them down by a few centimeters if I ever expect to put a lid on this box and apply any weight to the top of the lid.

Because the long term goal of this inventory box is to have everything listed on TCGplayer by the end of the week (you can see my printed-out and hastily scrawled-on to-do list in the background), we also had to grade every card in the box.

The “Origins” pile. Definitely losing some money on these Abbots here.

Some of you may remember that I sleeve everything over $2, regardless of what box it goes in. While I was using opaque sleeves for the cards in the binders up until this point (penny sleeves can be annoying to fit into binders without crinkling, at least for my personal preference), sorting my inventory into a 5K meant that I could penny sleeve everything to make it uniform. This also helped with grading the cards easier, being able to see the front and back at a glance. If you do find research, you should be able to find 10000 penny sleeves for around $45. Here’s some research.

Screenshot 2016-05-31 at 2.49.45 PM

Hopefully I’ll manage to list everything by the end of this week, and hopefully I’ll have enough time in the day to ship and pack all my orders. I had my TCGplayer store hidden for the past two or three months while I was working on school, graduation, GPNY and GPCharlotte, so I had forgotten what it was like to have to deal with this:


Now that that’s all settled, we can *finally* begin to work on set sorting this bulk that’s been accumulating in my closet. Phase one (which I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned in a previous article or not) is to make another series of those divider set tags so that each pile of set sorted bulk will be easy to find and alphabetize when the time comes. For now, I’ll conclude this brief article with a prelude of what your basement/living room/bedroom might look like once you get started on this project.


End Step:

Huh, there’s really not much to talk about here. Kind of a dry week, but that’s alright. I’m happy to see Realms Uncharted and Horn of Greed finally going off thanks to The Gitrog Monster, so I’ll be taking my copies out of the spec box and sorting them into my wonderful new inventory system, then putting them on TCGplayer. Until next week!


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Growing Pains

Some of you might remember this article, where I discussed how I got to where I am now as a small-time buyer and seller of Magic cards. One of the biggest points I wanted to emphasize in that article was how flexible I am with what’s on my buylist and how willing I am to buy pretty much anything if the price is right. While I’m definitely not always paying the highest prices in my local area, my trump card has been availability and versatility. From duals to bulk, I’ll take it all.

Cornered Market

One of the clear results of this “buy everything that taps” theory is how I ended up accumulating a reasonably sized collection over time, both in bulk and more relevant staples. The days of “bring your trade binder to FNM” have been over for a while with me: the sheer volume of cards that I would have to lug around means it’s just not worth it. I don’t enjoy dragging my luggage case into local stores anyway, so I have to play a process of elimination game as to what gets left behind whenever I make a trip to vend a local EDH event, meet up at a halfway point for a Craigslist sale, or decide what’s getting unloaded to the vendors at the next Grand Prix.

Because I enjoy being able to find specific requested cards at a moment’s notice, I’m always trying to figure out new ways to optimize how my collection is organized. I want it to be easy for me to find things, easy for my customers to find things, and simple to buylist when I occasionally force myself to sit down and do that. (I hate online buylisting.) If you’ve been reading my content for a while now, the following article might seem a bit familiar.  However, hopefully there’s a big enough difference in my setup now as opposed to nine months ago, and maybe my writing will even have improved a bit.

Unfortunately, I can’t stay at college over the summer without spending unnecessary money and taking unnecessary classes. This means that once summer break comes, I pack up everything and move back into my father’s house to spend two months sorting, selling, buying, and binging on League of Legends. On the plus side, I don’t have to worry about going to class or having a social life  during these months, because I’m out in the middle of nowhere. This means I’ve been able to focus entirely on grinding those dollars, and writing about the process.

The Big Picture


Unfortunately, those 5,000-count boxes you see in the far right corner are not filled with cards. Those are all empty  boxes that I’ve just accumulated from buying collections, and I use them for when I unload mass amounts of common/uncommons or bulk rares to vendors. Everything else is full of Magic: The Gathering trading cards, and this week we’ll go through what goes where, how I use different selling strategies to move differently valued boxes, and where I get some of my supplies.


We’ll start off with the more relevant stuff, or at least what most competitive players consider to be relevant. I try to keep my binders clean of any lower-value stuff and move cards that are worth less than $4 to other separate long boxes. Personally, I have a binder for each color, although if you’re a Standard or Modern grinder who wants to have a gauntlet of everything, I might recommend using a binder for each block.

It might also help to have your binder colors match the respective material inside them. It’s too late for me now, but there’s still time for you to save yourself from the confusion.

“Where are your Garruks, DJ?”

“In the ‘green’ binder.”

“This one? It has a bunch of white cards in it.”

Order // Chaos

Anyway, I also suggest picking up some type of labeling system for every single box, binder, or whatever item you use to carry cards around. I used a crude method of business cards and price stickers, but a Sharpie works just as well. Labeling your cards (well, not the actual cards) with your personal information gives you a shot at having them returned if you misplace them, and stickering the contents of the binder helps EDH players save time so that they know not to open up the binder labeled “Standard Staples” before the trade starts.

Sleeve Marking

One of the biggest obstacles I used to run into while trying to keep my collection organized as a single entity was maintaining a divide  between the inventory that was listed on my TCGplayer store and the stuff that wasn’t in my online inventory. I had to keep the TCG cards separate, because I needed to remember to scribble down a note whenever I sold or traded one of them away through an outlet that wasn’t TCG. That way I could remove it as soon as I got the chance. The downside to this used to mean keeping an entire separate binder or two labeled as “TCGplayer” and then sorted by color itself. If someone asked about my Avacyns, I had to keep track of whether or not they were in the TCGplayer binder white section or the non-TCG white binder.


As you can see in the picture above, I eventually had a (painfully obvious) idea that I should have come up with a long time ago. As a fairly strict grader, I mark the condition of every card that comes into my personal inventory before I sleeve it by using a trusty, fast-drying Sharpie. The condition is written on the sleeve to help quicken the listing or trading process further. I also note any language differences with short abbreviations to highlight the difference to any potential buyers. If you have miscut, misprinted, or foreign cards that you’re trying to move out of your binders, it’s a great way to make them stand out a little bit more.

To fix the “separate inventory” problem, I started writing “TCG” on the sleeve of any card that was currently listed on my online store. While a certain number of you probably already do this or consider it so obvious that I should have been doing it all along, the idea just never really clicked until recently.


I’ve had this card house ever since my casual Yu-Gi-Oh! days, and I think it’s a great investment for anyone with a large enough collection to fill up at least ten of the 1,000-count boxes. The house itself will run you about $10 to $15 depending on where you look, with Troll and Toad being one of the cheapest I can find. Be careful ordering from them, though—they’ll probably try to fit it into a single envelope and forget the top loader.

Sorting the $1, $2, and $3 cards by price and alphabetically means that it’s still easy to find a specific card in a short period of time, while still allowing you to watch casual players pull out big, splashy mythics with prices that blow their minds. “Kresh, the Bloodbraided is only $2?!”

Most competitive players don’t really bother looking through those boxes of cheaper cards, but they’re easily sorted and accessible for me to pull out their playsets of Electrolyze and Manamorphose.

Another benefit to having all of the cheaper cards laid out in a box like this is that it’s much easier to buylist out of at a Grand Prix. You take your box of $2 cards from vendor to vendor and ask them to pull out anything that they’ll pay $1 on, or whatever number you want to go with.  I’d much rather bring my $1 box to the next Grand Prix and have a vendor pull out Utter Ends for $.25 to $.50 each instead of having them sit in that box until they rotate.

I usually don’t bring the bulk foil common/uncommon boxes or the bulk foil rares unless someone specifically asks me in advance to drag them along. Most vendors don’t care about bulk foils if you’re at a large event, but sometimes you can find a local guy who’s trying to foil out a common cube. Hell, if you have enough bulk foils, build your own foil cube!

Relevant Commons/Uncommons


Most of my articles mention picking through bulk common/uncommons at some point. It’s one of the most consistent returns that I have in this business, and I’ll forever advocate buying bulk commons/uncommons until I can make an actual house out of them.

This is where all of those “picks” that I’m always ranting about end up. All of the Nettle Sentinels (before they got upgraded to the $3 box), all of the Glistener Elves (which will eventually go in the $3 box, and I highly advise buying into this now instead of looking for the Moby Dick of Origins finance), and all of the Vampire Nighthawks end up here. The fact that there are six boxes there is a sign of my laziness and unwillingness to sit down and buylist a bunch of it, but I absolutely love these storage case boxes. They hold a little over a thousand cards each, and are relatively compact enough to fit a couple into a backpack. Whatever you do, don’t buy them from Amazon on that link I just gave you. I got all of mine through a combination of gifts and Wal-Mart, where they were $5 a piece.

End Step

Lord of the Void is a $3 Magic card.

Seriously, though, $3?

Anyway, let me know if this was interesting or helpful. I’ve received positive feedback in the past about explaining and snapping pictures of my own personal organization process, so hopefully this had something useful for someone. Let me know in the comments if there’s anything specific you’d like me to cover in the future!