Tag Archives: uncommons

Dealing with 150,000 Bulk Commons

I’m not going to talk about Modern Masters 2015.

“But DJ, it’s the hottest ne—”

Don’t care.

“There are a bunch of complaints about the packaging an—”


“This set is going to make Tarmogoyf into a $50 ca-”

No, it’s not. And I said I don’t care.

Maybe that’s a bit of an aggressive opening to this week’s article, but it’s honestly how I feel. I’m not diving in headfirst and buying mass copies of cards that have been reprinted, and I’m not squirreling away boxes of the set so as to gamble on their long-term desirability.

My methodology stays that same throughout this turbulent time in pricing, and that’s, “Buy stuff at or below buylist prices, and then sell it for TCGplayer-low through local individuals, Facebook groups, and on TCGplayer itself.” It’s really that simple, for the most part. If Timmy/Tammy cracks a Mox Opal but was hoping for an Emrakul, I’ll be happy to ship her $20 for it so that shecan grab two more lottery tickets.

…I just talked about Modern Masters, didn’t I? Crap.

That Is Over Now, Though

Actually, this article is supposed to be one that will continue to be useful months and years after MM2015 stops causing a financial hurricane. About a month ago, I purchased a pretty large lot of bulk commons and uncommons: approximately 150,000.
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Thanks to being able to negotiate with a past employer who owns a videogame store, I’m able to have access to a display case and physical retail location where I can buy and sell singles, collections, and bulk lots. My most popular item is definitely a lot of 1,000 randomized commons and uncommons sold in a BCW storage box for $7.


Quick aside: While I used to highly recommend ordering these boxes en masse from BCW itself, its shipping costs have changed since I last ordered from the site.

“Super Saver Shipping”? Not exactly.

If anyone reading this knows of an alternative method to acquire 1,000 count boxes for a cheaper price, please feel free to let me know so I can spread the word. I’d like to know for myself as well.

One of the “Magic Rules of Magic Finance” that I tend to repeat a lot is that I will always pay $4 per thousand on unseen bulk commons and uncommons and never more. If I am already stocked up on tens of thousands of cards and am in no rush to acquire more, I’ll lower my buy price down to $3 per thousand. If the person I’m working with wants to trade for cards out of my binder, I’ll give $5 per thousand. Because a large majority of the cards in this lot were common and sorted by set and color, I ended up giving $500.

Sorting 150,000 Commons

It’s actually a lot more annoying for me to buy collections of commons and uncommons that are sorted methodically by color and/or set, because casual players don’t really want 14 copies of Pensive Minotaur all lined up next to each other. They want one or two of each minotaur from the set, and some supporting cards from other sets so they can build their own 78-card unsleeved minotaur deck akin to how Tony Stark built his first Iron Man suit. The more randomized, the better, and I let people know that before they sell to me.

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The most frustrating part of this buy was effectively randomizing the 100,000 cards from the recent blocks of Return to Ravnica and Theros and mixing them into the older stuff that was among the collection. Ideally, you want a wide mix of cards in every box so that Timmy/Tammy doesn’t feel like he should have just dropped his money at Wal-Mart on two packs of Return to Ravnica and gotten some rares with a chance at a planeswalker.

(Side note: announcing that you threw a planeswalker into one of these boxes may have the side effect of new players ravenously buying out every single box in hopes of being the winner of the Golden Ticket).

Thankfully I’m a college student and have other friends who had nothing to do but pick through my intimidating wall of Magic cards. That plus the promise of food and Netflix helps.

A Barren Landscape


No, we didn’t find a Wasteland or anything else close to that amount of money in a single card. The person that I purchased the lot from had thoroughly picked it of almost everything that I would have set aside, and I was actually more impressed than anything. It was definitely the cleanest-picked collection I have ever seen, so it freed me up to skim through a lot of the sorted cards without worrying about missing anything. However, there were a couple of things that I did end up finding…

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Shadowborn Apostle has gone the way of Relentless Rats, to the surprise of zero people. While buylists only pay around $.15, they’re easily able to be unloaded locally in sets of 20 for $15 to all of those casual demon players or anyone wanting to make a fun EDH deck with Athreos, God of Passage.  Out of dozens of forgotten M14 commons, these guys helped make up for the fact that all of the relevant uncommons were already spoken for.

As for the tokens, I’ve previously written about how tokens are often forgotten about and can be free money. While not all of them will be worth $.50 to $1 on a buylist, they’re easy ways to add a little bit of value to a trade here and there. At the absolute worst, I like to use them as throw-ins when I sell their associated card on TCGplayer, to practically guarantee a positive feedback review. As a general rule, a token will become more expensive as its associated card increases in price. If SCG will pay $.25 a piece for Young Pyromancer tokens, you can get at least $.50 to $1 from the actual players who want to use them.

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Eventually, I ran out of uncommons to ration appropriately throughout the 1K boxes. What I had left were 50,000 or so commons without additional uncommons, so I decided to label and price them differently without waiting to get my hands on more uncommons. As you can see in the picture, the “1,000 commons and uncommons” boxes are labeled “1K”, and the ones that have zero uncommons are labeled “1KC”. You can’t see in this picture, but I have the labeling explained on the top of the boxes as well. I’ll be selling the ones with just commons for only $5 per thousand, and it’ll be a nice experiment to determine whether the casual players who shop at the store are more attracted to having uncommons in their boxes or the lower price tag associated with removing them.

Moving 150,000 Commons

Thankfully, I have more than one out for these. In addition to having a passive source of income at the store, I’ll be making a Craigslist ad for these once I get back from Vegas now that I’m home for the summer.

I’ve even seen a bit of interest on Facebook for buying lots of 5,000 cards for above my usual sell prices, which helps take shipping into account. The sentence, “I just want to have a bunch more cards to add to my collection, kind of like opening a much less expensive booster box,” is music to my ears, so I’ll be looking into Facebook in the future to not only sell singles, but bulk lots that have been customized to have rares and mythics included.

Overall Evaluation of my Experience

I’ve seen multiple other articles where at the end of the exercise, the author will break down and calculate exactly how much money he made through buylisting the picked singles, selling the bulk, and determine an hourly rate that he basically worked for. I’m not going to do that. I already know that I probably made less than minimum wage during the time that I was randomizing these cards, boxing them up, moving them into the store, making advertisements to sell them, etc. However, I’m also a college student who didn’t have a whole lot else to do other than work on school papers, play League of Legends, and watch Netflix.

I don’t need to be told whether or not it was worth my time, because I understand that not every collection earns you $300 an hour because you happened to find a playset of Forces in the small box labeled “old blue commons.”

End Step

I forgot to mention this last week, but thankfully I haven’t really seen anyone mention it since. While everyone else was complaining about the higher-end cards that weren’t in Modern Masters 2015, I saw that Spell Pierce had also been omitted. I don’t think that it has too high of a power level for Standard, so I wouldn’t be completely shocked to see it in something like Magic Origins or in the next Zendikar block. I think selling these off is the call for now.

I had a local casual player ask me if I had any Archenemy schemes, and I was surprised to see that some of the random ones I had that were collecting dust were actually worth a decent amount of money. If you have schemes or Planechase planes from the multiplayer sets, I recommend doing an inventory and seeing if any are worth buylisting or throwing up on eBay/TCGplayer. Hint: the Time Walk one is worth something.

Anyone have personal stories of buying massive amounts of commons and uncommons? Find anything cool, or was it cleaned out like mine? Let me hear your stories! I’ll be in Las Vegas for the Grand Prix as of this past Tuesday, so hit me up on Twitter if you want to find time to hang out!

Picking Berries (and Other Cards)

Yep. We’re going with a food-themed title every week until it’s literally impossible for me to correlate Magic: The Gathering finance to food. Deal with it.

Last week, I went in a different direction than in my first two articles. Instead of force feeding you a list of various cards that I believed would be trending in either direction, I went about explaining one of the processes that I use to find cards that I think will start moving, as well as why it’s a good idea to do so.

If you’ve been a long-time follower of my writing, then you might know speculating is not my favorite method of making money from Magic (accidental alliteration is awesome! [Editor’s note: this seems like a comment should have put in]). I prefer a steady grind through buying collections and singles at buylist prices, looting through bulk commons and uncommons, then using a combination of buylisting and selling locally through my display case and word of mouth.

Give a Player a Fish… 

Instead of giving you  lists of  my personal picks from the most recent sets, I want to take a similar approach to last week. Today I’ll be teaching you about a couple of the better methods for picking (and there’s our title) your own collections of common and uncommon bulk.

As I’ve mentioned before on Brainstorm Brewery, these aren’t going to be the cards that earn you massive profits. These are the dregs of draft tables, the stuff from unpicked 5K boxes in basements, and the cards that you get asked about six months after Khans of Tarkir comes out when Johnny really wants to make a tribal warrior deck after coming back into Magic. If none of the players at Johnny’s first FNM had the playset of Chief of the Edge that he desperately needed, so you get to be Johnny’s goddamn hero for just one crisp American dollar.

…Or Cast Mystical Teachings

That’s how the old saying goes, right?

Anyway, moving on. When people used to ask me this question of, “DJ, how do I learn exactly what to pull out of these common and uncommon lots?” I used to just tell them one word: “Experience.” After all, it’s not exactly intuitive to think that five copies of the M11 version of  War Priest of Thune would be worth $0.15 each to Troll and Toad on a buylist. The card sees one-of sideboard play in Modern at most, and isn’t exactly exciting or casually appealing to Johnny.

Now I’ve realized I can add an additional two words to “experience” to make it much more fun: “and research.” Even if you’ve only been playing competitive Magic for a year or so, the tools on the internet still exist to provide you with the information that you need to have a pretty comprehensive list of commons and uncommons that you want to be picking.


Different Types of Berries

The first thing you want to do is base your picks on a set of rules. You should probably make up your own determination of what you consider to be “significant,” so that picking through bulk commons and uncommons is actually worth your time. My personal cutoff is a dime, and I make exceptions for cards that I have experience with being requested often even if they’re not on a buylist. While not every card will buylist for a significant number, copies can still be kept on hand for situations like my Chief of the Blade example above.

You can also adjust that personal number based on the amount of bulk that you deal with. If you’re just pulling out picks to make your binder look a bit more buff, you probably don’t need to waste your time dragging out every single guildgate and Selesnya Charm. You’d be better off focusing on the $.50 to $1.00 cards that are actually worth putting into a trade binder—ones that competitive players will be needing for Standard and Modern decks. On the other hand, those who follow the path of Ryan Bushard and deal with 100,000 cards on a weekly basis should probably try to squeeze every ounce of value that they can, due to the fact that you’re shipping en masse to multiple buylists at once all the time.

If you can notice a theme of what cards have been picks in the past, then you can use that information to determine what types of cards you’re picking from the latest sets. I’ve made a lot of money pulling Crumbling Necropolis and its cycle of friends from Shards of Alara bulk, as well all of their respective reprints in the Commander and other supplemental products. Tri-colored decks are popular in both EDH and casual circles when given a common theme, like a mechanic to build around (I’ve helped players build something as simple as an “unearth” deck before). From this, we can make an educated guess that the Nomad Outpost cycle of KTK will continue to be worth separating from your bulk, even if the increase in print run means that the cards will be somewhat negligible to buylists in the short term.

Multicolored charms are another favorite of mine (even the bad ones like Gruul Charm). They represent versatility, and lean towards a specific clan or guild to provide casual players with a solid word or mechanic to lean on when building their synergistic decks. Even though some of the KTK charms will probably never see competitive play, I still enjoy setting them aside for later casual demand. Sometimes you’ll even get lucky and be able to buylist these for significant value. I just happened to be able to ship off a couple dozen Azorius Charms for a dime a piece to a buylist a few weeks ago, even though the card is long gone from competitive play.

Mill and discard have held strong casual ties over the past several years, and most players know that the prices of casual rares reflect that. There’s a reason that some mill cards are worth ridiculous amounts, and the powerful commons and uncommons that fit into these strategies have proven to be worth picking, even when faced with reprints. While I don’t recommend pulling out 50 copies of Tome Scour, pulling strong uncommon classics like Jace’s Phantasm won’t let you down.

If you can put yourself into the shoes of a casual player who just wants to put together a 78-card unsleeved mill deck, then go through your next set review with those eyes. If you can spot an uncommon gem that would go in those decks, that’s your signal to pick it out and wait for that person to show up on your local MTG Facebook group asking for those cards.

ProTrader Privileges

If you’re subscribed as an MTGprice Pro Trader, you can make life a lot easier, especially if you’re a budding financier looking to get into processing collections and picking bulk. You can head over to the Full List drop down under the Pro Trader section, and customize a search to pretty much whatever you want by hitting “Create a Filter.” For the purposes of this article, we’re going to want to exclude all of the rares and mythics, use a price filter that goes from $.10 to $1 billion dollars (for those foil, Phyrexian-language Tops that are just lurking in those bulk lots), and then add sets based on whatever collection you’re sorting through. That last part obviously gets much easier if you already know what you’re looking at, but asking the previous owner of the collection a few simple questions can help narrow that down for you: “What years did you play? What kind of cards and decks did you have? Do you remember what the names of the sets were when you played?”

Full List List

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I searched for commons and uncommons from Innistrad block that were valued from $0 to $4, then filtered them by price. As expected, Blood Artist is a pretty obvious casual all-star, and it helps that it’s so ridiculously strong in EDH. However, we can also see all of the uncommon lords on this list, and some of the heroes of past Innistrad Standard. These are all cards that I still pick regularly when searching Innistrad block bulk, and it’s something you might want to consider if you plan on cranking up your volume. Getting $0.11 per Unburial Rites adds up over time, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of common and uncommon picks to make a month of Pro Trader worthwhile.

I actually just recently learned about that Full List feature while I was in the process of doing research for this article, and I have to say I like it a lot more than the Trader Tools version on Quiet Speculation (I have been a paying member of both websites for multiple years now, and have always used Trader Tools for my buylisting processes). Even if I wasn’t writing for this website, now that I’ve found it, I prefer the greater versatility of the MTGprice tool. The only downside is that it doesn’t show the highest buylist price for every card on the list, but I’ve requested for that feature to be added. Here’s hoping!


End Step

Before I sign off for the week, I’m going to take a bit more time on this “End Step” than I normally do. If you’ve been keeping an eye on MTGstocks foil Interests page, you’ll see that this…


…happened. The few remaining foil copies of Nyxathid on eBay and TCGplayer were bought, and somebody decided to start relisting at $15. While the price almost immediately plummeted from that down to $10, I did manage to sell off a few copies at around that price.

I’d like to personally announce that it was not me who decided to buy out the few copies that were most readily visible on the internet in an attempt to cause an artificial spike in price on foil Nyxathids. Nor did I maliciously intend to encourage any readers of my article to buy all of those dozen or so copies. As shown by our weekly breakdown of what we’ve been doing in the market, I picked up multiple playsets through the PucaTrade website, but didn’t spend any cash “buying out” TCGplayer of the few that remained.

Nyxathid interests

Now that the foil version of the card spiked, I do not advocate buying any additional copies at the “new price” of $8 to $9. I am curious to see what happens to the non-foils, though. The non-foil copies showed up on the MTGstocks weekly Interest page at a 14 percent increase instead of two percent, so I think you should pick up non-foils if you need them for the near future—I don’t think the card is going to be getting any cheaper. Whether the non-foil follows suit to its foil counterpart is debatable, but I wouldn’t wait if you plan on playing with copies for Modern/EDH/casual/Tiny Leaders.

On another note, the Urzatron lands have been showing up repeatedly on the Interests page almost every week, and are now at least $2 across the board. While I didn’t mention these in my Hot Potatoes article, they’re a screaming candidate for Modern Masters 2015. If you’re not using extra copies, I recommend buylisting them or selling them locally.  Unless you plan on keeping the deck together until the set releases—and getting large amounts of value from playing the deck in the meantime—the time to jump ship was yesterday.

If any of you have thoughts or opinions on this week’s article, I’d love to hear them. I’m easily reachable on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and in the comments section below. I also usually take requests for article topics if the subject is broad enough and I’m knowledgeable enough on the subject. Thanks for reading!