Maximizing Your Opening Hand In Khans of Tarkir Pre-Release Sealed

While I am not a formal “blogger”, or even a fan of the written word, I decided it was time to pay attention to my blog and try to bring some more entertainment to it.  With only borderline grasp of writing, let’s talk about that opening hand at your Khans Pre-Release.

Normally I would tell you “Mulling is for the Weak” but I have begun to soften a bit more in my old age.  After losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars drafting over the past year I have finally learned my lesson. (Even though I am certain that MTGO shuffler has it out for me)

I still haven’t totally looked over all the new cards and potential deck types the various clans will have at the Khans of Tarkir Pre-Release but after seeing the cards played, and learning some lessons in M15 I have a few tips for you.

 

Have Something Meaningful to Do On Turns 2 & 3

rakshasadeathdealer

Whether you have solid 2 and 3 drop creatures, 2 decent low level removal spells, or some combination of the two, when you look at your opening hand it’s going to be time to ship it away if you don’t have em.  In my experience in Pre-Release in general, even playing vanilla creatures on turn 2 and turn 3 is extremely powerful, that is especially true if you are on the other side of things playing a land and saying “go” as your opponent builds their boards.

If you see a longer term play like some sort of board wipe or tempo play, you can risk it and hold on to your hands but it’s really easy to get overwhelmed even by vanilla 2/2’s in this format.

 

Have Enough Land

Many people who have played the set are saying it’s better to play 18 lands in these pre-release decks.  Part of that is many people are playing at least 3 colors and the other reason is there is simply a pretty high curve on a lot of the creatures you are going to want to play.  Any less than 3 lands should make you a little nervous, unless of course you hand is full of 2 and 3 drops so you can continue to advance the board, you have some removal, or a way to ramp.

 

Pumpkin Guts  Have The Guts to Mulligan

This is something I battle with every day, every game, and every opener.  I have also come to terms with the fact that if I want to become a better magic   player, I simply have to mulligan more often.  Dropping down to 6 is a relatively easy decision if you follow the guidelines above.  Having the brass  moxes to drop to 5 or even 4 is something I, as a man, am simply not ready for, however, you should have the guts to if you want to win.

As a general rule, I lower my standards each time I choose to mulligan, with 6 I am looking for 2 lands and a few playables, with 5, I just want the land I need and so on and so forth.  At your pre-release and in some of your upcoming matches start getting used to having to mulligan, get comfortable with it, the odds are in your favor.

One thing I can say, is especially as a new player sometimes people have a tendency to rush their shuffle in between mulligans, thus increasing the chances of having to do it again.  Shuffle well, your opponent can wait. (just don’t take too long)  I usually pile shuffle with 7 or 8 piles, then bridge shuffle my deck a few times and it seems to help.

 

 

I hope this helps set some of you up for more success, especially in your Khans of Tarkir Pre-Release.  What tips do you have that might be able to help someone?

 

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MTGHeadQuarters Exclusive M15 Spoiler

Such a sweet card, fun for limited and likely on the fringes of standard.  Thoughts?

 

stoketheflames

 

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Weekly Update: June 10th-June 17th

Greetings all! This is the start of a formal weekly schedule writing for MTGHeadquarters.com! I’ll be filling you in on tournament results, spoilers and everything Magic the Gathering related so you can be ahead of the game we all know and love.

A Sligh of Hand to Take the Invitational

COLUMBUS, Ohio –

theboss

Credit: Star City Games, 2014

This weekend was chock full of tournaments. Starting with the Star City Games Invitational that had some of the top players vying for a spot for the Players Championship and their likeness on a token. After a grueling sixteen rounds of Standard and Legacy, the Top 8 was set with many familiar names. Jared Boettcher continued his absolute rampage of recent tournaments (Top 8ing two straight SCG Invitationals, 10th in Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, 2nd place in Grand Prix DC) with his new take on B/R Devotion. Following the shell that was already around, he chose to add red for Mizzium Mortars, Rakdos's Return, Dreadbore, and a singleton copy of Chandra, Pyromaster. Both Brad Nelson and Alex Bertoncini took Jund Monsters out to successful records, and Reid Duke (after a beautiful match with U/W/R Miracles in the final round of the Legacy portion) piloted UW Control. Ben Friedman earned the support of many viewers by donating all of his winnings to the Mariah Pagliocco FundraiserUltimately though, the event was won by Tom ‘The Boss’ Ross with his extreme take on Mono-Red: Boss Sligh. Running full playsets of such classic draft staples of Dragon Mantle, Titan's Strength, and Akroan Crusader, he had one goal: kill his opponents really, really fast. Throughout the entire Top 8, he played incredibly well and was able to keep the pressure on his opponents and never allowed them the opportunity to stabilize.

Going forward, do not expect this deck to be as powerful as it might seem. This sort of extreme strategy comes with many risks. ‘The Boss’ was able to prey on the fact that his opponents did not have nearly enough removal or lifegain, and had to constantly be wary of the ever-popular Golgari Charm. For the coming events, keep your eyes open for cards like Nylea's Disciple and Drown in Sorrow to start invading sideboards, and plan accordingly!

SCG Invitational Columbus Coverage

Standard 7-1 or Better Decklists

Legacy 7-1 or Better Decklists

Invitational Top 8 Standard Decklists

Invitational Top 8 Legacy Decklists

 

Black is Back…Or Rather, it Never Left

COLUMBUS, Ohio –

Festus

Credit: Star City Games, 2014

Meanwhile, the top tables of the SCG Standard Open were dominated by Gray Merchant of Asphodel, with 20 copies in the Top 8! As opposed to the Invitational, where it seemed as though B/W Devotion was the strongest strategy, B/G and normal Mono-Black were the strongest 75. However, the winner, Festus Resendez, chose to play Mountains instead, and dominated the Top 8 with his Mono-Red Aggro deck, not dropping a single game in the final three rounds.

SCG Columbus Standard Coverage

SCG Columbus Standard Top 16 Decklists

Death and Taxes Outlasts a Delver-Infested Legacy Open

COLUMBUS, Ohio –

During the Legacy Open, one card decided to soar over the opposition: Delver of Secrets. Whether it be BUG or RUG or U/W/R, this impressive bug-man-thing decided to smash life totals all throughout the weekend, with six of the top decks utilizing it.

legacy

Credit: Star City Games, 2014

Only two brave souls decided to fight the wave of incoming 3/2 fliers: Owen Turtenwald piloting U/W Miracles and the eventual winner, Jason Smith with Death and Taxes. We also see the first new Conspiracy card making an appearance at the top tables, with Council's Judgment making a brief one-of in his sideboard to help fight True-Name Nemesis.

 

SCG Columbus Legacy Coverage

SCG Columbus Legacy Top 16 Decklists

The Helix Heard ‘Round the World… Again! at GP Moscow

 MOSCOW, Russia-

GPMoscow

Credit: Wizards of the Coast, 2014

Even though this event was held across the globe from the SCG events, there is a sort of eerie similarity between them. A lone red aggressive player,  Igor Gorbunov makes the Top 8. The rest of the field is riddled with B/x Devotion variants, Jund Monsters, and a pair of control decks. (Given, Efim Kashapov’s 4-color brew is pretty spicy, )

The road to the finals is a pretty fun one to watch, and the finals themselves are epic. Reaching a board stall and each player at or under 5 life, Igor topdecked Warleader's Helix to lock up the win over B/G Devotion in truly epic fashion, rivaling the classic ‘Topdeck Lightning Helix of the Century.’

GP Moscow Coverage

GP Moscow Top 8 Coverage

 

Popping Power on Magic Online

Vintage Masters finally released on Magic Online on Thursday to critical acclaim. Apart from the opportunity to pull a legendary piece of the fabled Power 9 online, the format itself is incredibly fun to play. It was a little awkward watching the MTGO Twitter account pull a Big Brother on us… stalking people that opened foils…

foil Walk

Credit MTGO Twitter

Foil Lotus

Credit: MTGO Twitter

Beware all…. Worth is watching…

 

Some Shameless Speculation on a Black Garruk

Running around the internet has been a photo of a new Plague Wind coming in M15: In Garruk’s Wake.

In-Garruks-Wake-M15-Launch-Promo-Spoiler

Credit: MagicSpoiler.com

Now, while it is perhaps a little overcosted for Standard (Read: it won’t see Standard play), there is something to note about it. In the past with all other cards in core sets that reference planeswalkers, the color of the card matched the color of the appropriate ‘walker. Now, this leads me to believe that Garruk has embraced his dark side in the upcoming set, and that we will see a new one. Does this mean Nissa gets a chance to be in the spotlight? Will Wizards bust out a new character? We will  (hopefully) find out soon!

 

I hope you guys enjoyed the post. If you have any comments, type ‘em below. I always enjoy hearing other perspectives!

Lucas ‘MrLuBuFu’

Twitter: @MrLuBuFu

Youtube: www.youtube.com/MrLuBuFu

Twitch: twitch.tv/MrLuBuFu

 

 

 

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Magic Weekly: May 1-12

I’ve been gone a little while, but we’re back! And since Journey Into Nyx has come out we’ve gotten a few results from Grand Prix and SCG Opens in addition to news on Judge Foils, Vintage Masters, and the return to competitive of Magic of one of the game’s greats. All that and more in The Rundown!

The Rundown

Park Shifts Into Gear in Minneapolis!

credit: Wizards of the Coast 2014

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota – While you may not have expected Scapeshift and Jund to mix it up in the finals of Grand Prix Minneapolis with all of the recent success of Birthing Pod and Splinter Twin in Modern recently, but that’s exactly what happened as Jun Young Park took RUG Scapeshift to victory over Andrew Huska’s midrange menace. Third time’s the charm for Park, who picked up the win in his third Grand Prix top 8 berth.

Also picking up top 8 appearances are defending Pro Tour champ Shaun McLaren, SCG house pro Brian Braun-Duin and former Modern GP champ Nathan Holiday. 15th ranked player Willy Edel added a top 16 to his 2014 resume, while big names Luis Scott-Vargas and Valentin Mackl both did as well.Other players earning Pro Points this weekend include Vidianto Wijaya, Pat Cox, Harry Corvese, Brian Kibler, with two points each and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Eric Froehlich, David Ochoa, Lee Shi Tian, and Josh Utter-Leyton each adding a paltry point to their career totals.

In spite of the finals being a bit of an aberration, the big boys’ presence was still felt: 7 of the top 16 played copies of Birthing Pod, meaning that you should still be anticipating several copies near the top tables of your local Modern events. One interesting development is that the decks can’t realistically be called “Melira Pod” anymore, because many players (most notably Luis Scott-Vargas in the top 16) have cut the last remaining human on Mirrodin from their 75. This is the logical conclusion of a trend that’s been happening for nearly a year of Pod decks moving away from combo finishes and instead focus on becoming resilient value aggro decks. LSV still had access to Archangel of Thune and Spike Feeder if he really wanted infinite life, but the Sylvok Outcast did not make an appearance.

So where does Modern go from here? Well, aggro has not seen a resurgence in a while. Wild Nacatl did not have the comeback that many anticipated, Affinity only put one player in the top 16 and generally hasn’t been dominant since last summer, and fighting through endless swarms of Kitchen Finks isn’t fun for fans of attacking for two such as myself. Add to that the fact that Scapeshift, a deck that has gamebreakers like Obstinate Baloth and Firespout at the ready, just won the most recent GP and it all adds up to les aggro. My guess is Midrange will remain king until a deck can figure out how to trump the value, such as a fast combo deck like Ad Nauseum or an aggro-control deck like Faeries. That means more Jund, Pod, and Junk for the forseeable future. Which isn’t so bad, since all of those matchups are pretty skill intensive.

To read more into the Grand Prix Minneapolis and the news stories therein, check out the event coverage page on DailyMTG.

Grand Prix Minneapolis event coverage

Grand Prix Minneapolis top 8 decklists

Anteri Antes up in Warsaw!

WARSAW, Poland – Just like Park, Fabrizio Anteri also reached his third career Grand Prix top 8 this weekend, and he also added a win to his resume in Warsaw. The format was Theros limited with Journey Into Nyx, the first such GP, and the Italian took it down in style behind some heavy hitters like Mistcutter Hydra in the top 8. Other notable top 8ers in Warsaw include 2014 GP Paris winner Javier Dominguez and Slovakian pro Ivan Floch.

credit: Wizards of the Coast 2014

After that, the remaining results are a little spartan when it comes to notable names, thanks to a lot of the European pros making the early trip to the US in anticipation of the Pro Tour. Former PT champ Stanislav Cifka clocked a top 16, and Magic writer Frank Karsten, Japanese all-star Tomoharu Saito, and PT finalist Joel Larsson added top 64 notches to their bedposts.

I have played Journey Into Nyx sealed twice now, once at the prerelease and once at last weekend’s Las Vegas PTQ (won by none other than Kenny ‘The Dragon’ Hsiung), and I have gleaned a few things that also made themselves apparent in Warsaw. The biggest is this: whereas TTT and BTT draft used to often come down to who could make the biggest baddest Voltron, that is no longer the case. Not only are there a plethora of new and efficient answers, such as Feast of Dreams, Hubris, Akroan Mastiff (and those are just a few commons), but the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Zord plan is also not helped much by Journey. There are a total of zero common bestow creatures, and the Boon-style auras like Armament of Nyx are not nearly as impressive on offense as on defense.

This is particularly evident in Anteri’s deck. He has a total of two bestow creatures, one of them being the instant speed Boon Satyr that gets around most of the new (and old) ways to punish bestow. Cards like the Emissary cycle or Celestial Archon are still very good, but they aren’t the flashing “Game Over” screen they used to be.

I will be very interested to see if this dynamic changes and how the draft metagame adapts to this sudden reversion to, y’know, normal average everyday draft games rather than Pacific Rim style battles.

For more on the first limited Grand Prix featuring Journey Into Nyx, there’s coverage courtesy of DailyMTG on the Wizards of the Coast homepage.

Grand Prix Warsaw event coverage

Tenjum, Nystrom Win in Cincy!

credit: Star City Games, 2014

CINCINNATI, Ohio – The first Standard and Legacy events with the third set of Theros block came and went, and… well what do you know? Mono Black remains on top.

This time around it’s the green splash that was popular towards the end of last year before everyone realized that Golgari Guildgate just doesn’t cut the mustard in a format where Temples exist. But now that AJ Sacher’s hometown Temple of Malady is in the format it’s fair game to start running Abrupt Decay! SCGINVI finalist Andrew Tenjum is the first big winner of the new format using the new green splash, as he took down fellow Open Series regular Eric Rill in the finals. It was a power-packed top 8, with Dan Musser, Jeff Hoogland, and Michael Belfatto also making the knockout stages.

credit: Star City Games, 2014

It can’t really be gleaned from these results whether Journey made a huge difference. While U/W/R Control and Junk Midrange weren’t huge players before and both made top 8 in Cincinnati, Mono-Black Devotion and U/W Control decks still featured highly. We’ll have to get a few more weeks of results to see whether Big Black can be dethroned.

The following day, Per Nystrom became the second European-born player ever to take an Open Series trophy, after Michael Bonde won last year in Providence with Junk Aristocrats. And like Michael, Per is a big fan of Death & Taxes… which he used to go from the 8-seed to the winner’s circle. Journey Into Nyx did not have much of an effect on the Legacy Open, but Nystrom’s deck has both Spirit of the Labyrinth and Brimaz, Hero of Oreskos so it’s safe to say that Born of the Gods certainly has made its presence known.

Plenty more where that came from in the coverage from SCGCIN, so check out the coverage page on Star City Games’ website:

Open Series Cincinnati event coverage

Open Series Cincinnati top 16 decklists, Standard

Open Series Cincinnati top 16 decklists, Legacy

Schneider, Winn Winners in Knoxville!

credit: Star City Games 2014

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee – A week later the Open Series made a trip down to Tennessee, and there ain’t no place I’d rather be. Neither would Tyler Winn, who used a R/W Burn deck to take first prize in the Standard Open. Eidolon of the Great Revel was a major piece of the puzzle, and was particularly good in the finals against his opponent Jaime Arnold’s Brave Naya deck. Who would have guessed that a deck full of cheap creatures, shock lands, and Mana Confluence would have trouble versus the new Pyrostatic Pillar?

Black Devotion fans do not despair however, as three copies of the new hotness made their way into the playoffs too. A bunch of Junk and Jund decks also made it into the top 16, proving that Temple of Malady might be the most important card to come out of the new set after all. From a points perspective, Cam Adkins and Alex Bertoncini both picked up top 8s in the Standard Open. Both players find themselves ranked in the top 16 of the Players’ Championship race for this season, so the finishes certainly help.

credit: Star City Games, 2014

On Sunday, Andrew Schneider did something few people ever even get a chance to do: win three Opens with the same deck. The U/R Burn aficionado added the trophy to his mantlepiece by defeating Arthur Reynolds’ R/U Painter deck in the finals. Andrew’s feat is all the more impressive considering the fact that, well, basically no one else even plays the deck anymore! Legacy is a format nearly devoid of true aggro decks, so the tricky aggro decks are the closest things we have. If Goblin Guide needs Force of Will to back it up to make sure 2/2s for one are playable, I’m all for it!

Tyler Wilkerson added another nice finish to his 2014 campaign, this time with a R/W Painter deck that I supplied the list for! Also earning points were 9th place Eric Rill and 12th place Alex Bertoncini, with both players in the hunt for byes and SCGPC points.

There’s always another Open around the next bend, so be sure to check out all of the coverage and archived footage from Knoxville on SCG.

Open Series Knoxville event coverage

Open Series Knoxville top 16 decklists, Standard

Open Series Knoxville top 16 decklists, Legacy

Judge Foil Mania!

The MTG community let out a collective, “finally!”

RENTON, Washington – Perhaps the most exciting announcement of the past few weeks came not from an event, but in the form of the new Judge Foil packets. Every year, Wizards of the Coast chooses popular cardsfrom Magic’s past and present to give the foil promotional treatment, sometimes with special art, in order to thank the Magic Judge community. And this year, there are some big ones. And there’s one massive one:

Foil promotional Force of Will is finally here!

Yes, among the promos being sent out is Force of Will, featuring the art by Matt Stewart originally commissioned for the 2011 Legacy Championship. Those promos are not in the normal judge packet, but rather the Forces are being shipped out to special members of the judge community who helped register new judges over the last decade or so to grow their ranks to an important milestone reached this year: 5,000 DCI-registered judges worldwide!

The other promos include Riku of the Two Reflections; Greater Good; an old bordered version of Sword of Feast and Famine; Oloro, Ageless Ascetic; a version of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite written in her native Phyrexian; Nekusar, the Mindrazer; and Hanna, Ship’s Navigator featuring the popular art from Terese Nielsen originally used for Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013.

The announcement came from Trick Jarrett last week, so be sure to check out the article provided and maybe look into becoming a Magic judge yourself!

Celebrating the Judge Program!, by Trick Jarrett

Vintage Masters (and Power 9) is Coming!

RENTON, Washington – Speaking of long awaited releases finally coming to fruition, the Power 9 is finally coming to Magic Online!

The set symbol for #MTGOVM

In a move originally announced way back when the Powered MTGO Cube (aka Holiday Cube) first came out, MTGO is finally ready to bring the original Power cards to Magic Online. Those cards, for those unaware, are Black Lotus, Mox Pearl, Mox Sapphire, Mox Jet, Mox Ruby (hey, that’s me!), Mox Emerald, Time Walk, Ancestral Recall, and Timetwister. These cards will have ‘Special’ rarity, which is explained as being even more rare than mythic.

The Power will be released as part of Vintage Masters, which is a MTGO-only expansion set to be released June 16, 2014, with the prerelease events coming the weekend prior. 325 cards will be a part of the set, including Necropotence (spoiled on DailyMTG by Mike Flores) and several of the cards from the upcoming Conspiracy expansion (like Dack Fayden) that wouldn’t have been able to be released online otherwise.

The move is intended to bolster Vintage online, which hasn’t really been possible since several huge pieces are simply not available. Well, not anymore! This is truly an exciting time to be entering drafts, and players will be crossing their fingers harder than ever in the hopes of maybe, just maybe, opening a foil Black Lotus.

I’m getting all hot and bothered just thinking about it.

I have compiled a few resources below for your reading pleasure concerning Vintage Masters and its inclusion of the Power 9.

Vintage Masters Product Information

Introductiong Vintage Masters!, by Mike Turian

Necropotence, by Mike Flores

GerryT’s Back, & in the Booth!

I missed that grin.

ROANOKE, Virginia – You may have heard on Cedric Phillips’ podcast CEDTalks that one Gerry Thompson is back from beyond the pale. Well, it’s true… but there are a few snags. You see, Gerry, one of the game’s preeminent deck designers and personalities, went off to see the Wizards for an internship at Wizards of the Coast but has since returned to play. Some of the terms of his return include the fact that he is unable to enter tournaments right after sets are released… like Pro Tours. Daggers.

But Gerry’s loss is SCGLive’s gain, as the official coverage team of the StarCityGames.com Open Series gets to include the dulcet tones of one Geraldine Thompson, Esq., for two special weekends later this summer. Gerry will be commentating at SCGDC in late August and at SCGATL a few weeks later. I for one am very excited to hear what Gerry has to say whenever he speaks, and putting him in the booth for hours and hours on end talking about Magic is can’t miss TV for anyone who considers themselves a Magic fan.

Of course, don’t expect to only see Gerry behind the table in the booth when it comes to the Open Series. He’s been known to enter the feature match area a few times in his day as well.

Check out the news item on the topic below.

Gerry Thompson is comingto the SCGLive broadcast booth!

Well I tell you what, that does it for me this week. Thanks for putting up with my absence, as I am still settling in to my new digs and trying to get my job situation sorted out. I’ll be back on the same bat channel at the same bat time next week, so until then remember: don’t feed the trolls!

Reuben Bresler

@MoxReuby

Twitch.tv/moxreuby

 

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The Ins and Outs But Mostly the Ins With a Vengeance

Welcome back!

The last few weeks have been spent discussing how to make money on cards by buying crazy, unsorted, random stuff from sellers who are motivated to get rid of the cards, allowing you to pay well below retail. Paying well below retail is awesome. You can make money selling at retail. You can even make money selling at slightly below retail. Heck, most of the time when I buy these collections, I make a lot of money selling at buylist and all of the stuff goes quickly and leaves me with plenty of money to play the ponies with.

In fact, I am eventually going to write a few articles about how to get rid of the stuff you bought for well under retail, but in the mean time, you’ll manage. If you buy in cheap enough, you almost have to try on purpose to not make money. In the mean time, I don’t want you to pass up on certain opportunities because they are not so skewed in your favor that you’re not sure if you can make money. There will be a lot more buying opportunities where your margin looks razor thin and if you’re not set up to sell for retail you may think there is no possible way you can make any money if you pay retail. I am here to tell you that in most cases that sort of instinct is going to prevent you from putting yourself in a situation where you sit on a lot of stock and watch it depreciate. That’s bad. Don’t do that. You either take a big loss or you sell to cut the loss and take a little loss, which is technically a victory- a hollow, hollow victory- the kind of Pyrrhic victory that makes you re-evaluate why you even tried to make money off of cards in the first place. You sell everything and use the money to take a trip to somewhere tropical so you can have some time to get your head right. One night you leave your drink unattended for just a second at the wrong bar and you wake up in a bathtub full of ice with a bunch of dirty gauze where your gallbladder used to be. Don’t do that.

Do This

I have a few techniques that will allow you to pay retail and still come out way ahead. Paying retail is only bad if you sell for the same amount or less later on. As long as we don’t buy stuff that will be less later on, we’re OK paying today’s prices.

Hit Up Wally World

Wrong Wally World. I mean Walmart and stores like it. It doesn’t have to be Walmart, in fact. Target and Walgreen’s have been much better in my experience. If the stock is moving relatively well then there will be few opportunities. You’ll encounter $4 Born of the Gods booster packs, a big pile of Deckbuilder’s Toolkits and, oddly enough, at a few Walmart stores I found t-shirts. If product moves relatively well at the store you won’t find much of anything, although I have shown up on the days where they restock the Commander decks, and getting Mind Seize for MSRP is a win, even these days. This love of scooping product for retail started during the Betrayers of Kamigawa days where you could buy Rat’s Nest for $12 and get a $25 Umezawa's Jitte and a foil basic land. Buying sought-after sealed product like Mind Seize is one reason to go.

My favorite reason to hit up a Walmart, Target, Walgreen’s etc is that if product is not moving well, they may be sitting on old stuff. A few of my Magic buddies work at local stores like this and one time I came in late at night to buy a cucumber for a salad so I grabbed some KY Jelly and Duct Tape to freak the cashier out. My buddy started telling me that they found a box of New Phyrexia packs (the kind with the shoplift-resistant cardboard backing) in the back. Sure enough, the next day the packs were on the shelf, priced at $4 apiece. This was real good for New Phyrexia boosters. Into my cart they went. Another trip saw me find a booster box of Innistrad on a shelf for $100. It was covered in a lot of security devices but still relatively intact and with the Wotc shrink wrap, so I swiped that, too. It’s sitting in a closet.

Walgreen’s occasionally does sales with deals like “Buy one, get one free” on Booster packs. $4 booster packs are not great. $2 booster packs are great, and it barely matters what set they’re from. You have to buy by the case to approach $2. Coupons and discount cards reduce the price per pack even further, and a helpful Walgreen’s sales associate will be more than happy to walk you through the process of obtaining a discount card.

Yes, you sure didn’t need to be told that it’s smart to buy stuff for half off. What I might suggest is that you may have needed to be told to check. Knowing to buy $4 packs of New Phyrexia doesn’t help a man who’s sitting at home playing League of Legends in Spaghetti-O-stained boxer shorts not knowing there’s a BOGO sale 2 blocks away. Have you ever asked a stock manager to check the back of the store for Mind Seize decks or ancient packs? Talking to people is scary. But what’s the worst that can happen? He says no? Actually, the worst that can happen is that he becomes enraged and gives you a Colombian necktie with his boxcutter, but then they have to change the “Days without an accident” sign to 0 and now everyone’s out of a pizza party. Your neckmeat is probably safe. Spend a lazy Sunday cruising the big box stores in your area.

Target especially has a third party stock their Magic cards. This third party boxed 2 preconstructed decks and some sleeves in a plastic storage box and sold them for $30. Not a great deal when the decks are Scars of Mirrodin precons with a foil Hoardsmelter and like one other rare. This is a great deal when the decks are a Counterpunch and a Political Puppets. Paying $15 for a Power Hungry and an Eternal Bargain is going to feel good if this happens again. Keep an eye out. Cruise by the Magic card display every time you go into Target, which seems like it’s every week because your wife wants to look at the nail polish even though she already has so much nail polish that she bought filing cabinets to hold all of it and you can’t say anything, really, when you have your cards strewn all over the whole house, so you smile and nod and pretend you can tell the difference between Hunter Green and Vermillion. Don’t you hate when that happens?

 Other Shops, Too

I have had good success in buying things from stores that do not specialize in Magic:the Gathering but carry the cards. I have had a lot of bad luck as well, but I think it is worth doing. Stores that almost exclusively sell comic books have a tendency to have bought into Magic because it is popular, but without anyone on staff who knows anything about it, they lose interest in keeping on top of it. A lot of times the singles prices are out of date and they may even take a blanket offer on everything. The smaller the town and the lower-traffic the store the more likely you are to find good deals, but I have had success finding cards in towns that are quite large but which have a lot of stores where people hang out to play cards and therefore the players don’t frequent shops where there are no events. Either way, it is easy to look up comic book and collectibles shops online and pop in quickly. Any time I am in a new town I try to find somewhere that sells singles for the wrong price. Flea markets are also a good target. You’re not going to find good cards for cheap in places with a large player base and a lot of foot traffic- the best deals I have found have been from stores that never sell cards to anyone and want to be rid of them. Buying an entire store’s inventory can seem daunting, but when you’re getting it all for a few hundred bucks, it’s easy to make money and they’re glad to be rid of the burden in one fell swoop. Not every store is amenable to someone offering on their entire stock, but again, what’s the worst that can happen? They say no? Well, the worst that can happen is they get offended, lock the doors and try to re-enact the gimp scene from Pulp Fiction and you just have to pray you’re Bruce Willis and your buddy is Ving Rhames.

Even stores with a lot of foot traffic can provide you with opportunity if you know where to look. Buying stuff that is “correctly” priced right now but which is going to be “incorrectly” priced later on is a win. This topic warrants its own article, and I can’t wait to really dig in. Essentially, buying at retail now and hoping to cash out for more later is speculation. I don’t want to go into that too much in this article since we’re on such a nice roll talking about other ways to make money without having to “guess” so let’s continue.

Stores, even stores that look everything up on Star City when you take the cards to the cash register, can afford you opportunities. One of my favorite opportunities is stores that are having sales. The Holidays are a great time to go shop hopping because there tend to be sales on singles, and cards with a low spread are very tempting targets when they’re 20% off. Don’t buy everything, mind you, you have to be deliberate about it, but if you target the right cards you can do well. One technique I have used to great effect is to offer to pick up rare, expensive cards for people who don’t want to buy them online. You get to examine the card and beat the seller up about condition and if there is a sale, your percentage is built in. If a local tells you he will pay $650 for a Tabernacle (he’s getting a played one for that, and he knows it) and you find one in a case for $700, normally you’d have to pass. However, you can talk the seller down a bit based on condition and if there is a 20% off sale, you make may some decent money flipping the card. Is this a common scenario? No, not really. But I have plenty of people back home who let me know they are looking for a set of shocks for a deck, or some fetches for Modern, or a goyf. Even if you buy the card originally priced at exactly what the person said they’d pay, the percentage discount is your margin. 10% on a Breeding Pool may not be worth it, 20% on a Mishra's Workshop is. Don’t buy a card you won’t make money on, but don’t pass up an opportunity to make some money on a card that is priced at retail just because you lack creativity.

Finally, stores that price their cards periodically (or very infrequently) may have some cards that are priced incorrectly. You never know until you take a look.

The Point

Don’t mind me, I’m just bein’ all bulk

Look, this article isn’t about insulting your intelligence. You don’t need to be told to buy cards for less than their retail price. You know that already. This is designed to get you to broaden your scope of places you look for opportunities. I’ll tell you a story, quickly.

Ryan Bushard and I were on a shop crawl in Florida and while we had a lot of success early in the morning, the afternoon was a bust. We spent a lot of time driving around to a lot of shops, and it was all fruitless. We walked into the third store in a row with no prices on the cards in the cases and we knew what it meant. No prices meant that the clerk was going to look the card up on the internet, probably on Star City, and charge us an up-to-the-minute price. We knew within seconds we should leave. Still, I’d spent half an hour driving to this place and it was the last stop for the day. I decided to invest an hour looking since we had nothing planned for the rest of the night. We found a set of Goblin Lackey priced at the flat uncommon rate instead of tagged with a sticker with a price on them like other non-bulk uncommons. We found the special “Mirrodin Pure” promo Pristine Talisman in regular bulk commons from New Phyrexia. We found they had Counterpunch priced at the same rate as the other EDH decks despite that particular deck being worth more on the secondary market at the time. We also found several cards worth $1 or more in the bulk commons and uncommons and several EDH staples worth $5 or more in the $1 rare box. Even in a store where it looked like we would strike out and could tell that standing in the doorway, we managed to find some opportunity. After that, I was much slower to dismiss potential shops and I went back to stores in my area and gave them much more scrutiny than I had before.

Widen your scope a bit. Next week I’ll talk more about how to pay full retail and still come out ahead. Thanks for joining me once again.

 

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