Such a sweet card, fun for limited and likely on the fringes of standard. Thoughts?
Such a sweet card, fun for limited and likely on the fringes of standard. Thoughts?
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 -
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 Fundraiser. Ultimately 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!
Black is Back…Or Rather, it Never Left
COLUMBUS, Ohio -
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.
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.
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.
The Helix Heard ‘Round the World… Again! at GP Moscow
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.’
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…
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.
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!
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!
Park Shifts Into Gear in Minneapolis!
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.
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.
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.
Tenjum, Nystrom Win in Cincy!
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.
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:
Schneider, Winn Winners in Knoxville!
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.
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.
Judge Foil Mania!
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!
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!
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.
GerryT’s Back, & in the Booth!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Like Arnold Schwarzenegger or that thing that baby’s got, I’m back. Last week I rapped at you about how to find collections on places like Craigslist and I briefly touched on how to avoid becoming the unwitting star of a Human Centipede sequel by taking a buddy for backup if you meet a seller somewhere other than a well-lit, public parking lot. This week I think it’s a natural transition into talking to you about how to avoid a fate nearly as bad as winding us as so much taxidermy.
I want to talk to you about the worst thing that can happen to you buying a collection.
I know what you imagine the most (non-getting-murdered) thing to be. Here’s the scenario.
You browse Craigslist in your undypants one day even though I said you didn’t have to because that’s how I do it and you’re trying to emulate me. There are a lot of Magic Chef microwaves for sale and not much else and you’re about to give up hope. Suddenly, you spot it – a Craigslist ad that seems perfect. The seller has a lot of recent cards but a decent mix of older stuff, they don’t want too much, they’re willing to meet you halfway, and you are overjoyed. You contact them, they don’t seem insane or violent and you arrange to meet them in a local coffee shop in front of dozens of witnesses.
You arrive at said coffee shop and pop a squat at a table. They arrive with a shoebox stuffed full of cards and you ask to take a look. The collection looks picked over. There are rares, but mostly bads. There are quite a few foil rares like Hoardsmelter Dragon that lead you to believe they bought a lot of the preconstructed decks. There are some cards that look slightly different as if they’re from a deckbuilder’s toolkit. The “older stuff” mentioned? Mostly Fallen Empires. He explains that he played back during Revised (then where are your Revised cards, man?) and quit during Fallen Empires, not that you can blame him. You look through the entire box but there is nothing much worth having. All told, the collection is worth maybe $30 on a buylist, and that’s being generous with respect to condition. There are a few cards you want, but even putting them at retail price, you’d still be overpaying on the collection. When you try to get him to budge on the price, he balks, citing all the money he has invested, the sentimental value of the cards and the fact that the ad said the price was firm. You try and get him to move a bit, but he won’t. Dejected, you deal with the situation the only way you know how.
Between a half an hour and an hour of your time are totally wasted. You don’t get the cards and drive home empty handed. Two days later, the seller e-mails you.
U said my collection was only worth about $20 dollars but i sold them to a guy he paid me the $200 bucks i asked for what a rip-off u are. i am going to tell everyone on line how u rip-off people off trying to offer them $20 dollars for $200 bucks of cards u suck
Is that the worst-case scenario you had in mind?
I’m here to tell you that it can get so much worse. You know the only thing worse than that?
You pay the $200.
When dealing with collections, there are a lot of things you can’t control.
You can’t control what’s in the collection.
You can’t control whether they took care of their cards or not.
You can’t control whether they have an unrealistic view of how much the cards are worth.
You can’t control much.
I want to talk to you about the one thing you can control, and how it’s the most important thing about buying a collection.
You are in control of how much money you give them in exchange for the cards.
No, really. Think about it. The only way to lose money on a collection is to pay too much, right? Even if the collection is 2,000 copies of Fog , if you pay $2 for the collection, you can make $8 selling the cards in bulk for $5/thousand. If you pay $200 for 2,000 copies of Fog, you’re going to eat a fat one. So…don’t.
Do you understand what great news that is?
You control the only part of the equation that determines whether or not you overpay. You can’t change what cards are in there or how much they will take for the cards before they say “I won’t sell them for that cheap” but you do have control over whether you give them too much money. You have the option to say “Yeah, this collection is dildos” and just nope out of there.
Is it the worst thing that can happen to just shake hands and part ways? You are more likely to insult someone if you berate them about their insistence that their box of pewp is worth $200 bucks. You waste their time if you decide, upon scrutinizing the collection, that you’re not interested, and you waste some of your own time to boot, but you were never obligated to buy the collection, were you? It can be a little disappointing to “no sir” their price and fail to come to an agreement, but you don’t lose money not overpaying, do you?
So how do we avoid overpaying? The best way to avoid overpaying is to know exactly how much you can get out of the collection.
Do you have a TCG Player or eBay account? Do you have space in a case at an LGS to sell cards? Pucatrade? MOTL? Facebook contacts who buy cards at retail? Because if the answer to this is “no”, what’s your plan for outing these cards? If you don’t plan to out them, I guess that’s still kinda MTG Finance. Sitting on stuff forever is a strategy, and trying to get stuff for cheaper is making money by saving it so, sure, that’s finance. Still, for most of us, we’re picking up the collection with the hopes of flipping it for more money. We are willing to do work that the seller is not willing to do and we are going to be compensated for it.
There is an entire article series in the specifics of how to maximize the value you’re making off of the good stuff, but let’s keep it simple for the purposes of this piece. You want to be selling the good stuff for as close to retail as you can because if you’re buying at buylist and selling at buylist, I’m not sure where you plan to make money. You could sell at buylist and buy at “way, way below buylist, to an extent that is physically repellent to a person with scruples” but I wouldn’t count on everyone who wants to sell you cards falling off the back of a turnip truck clutching a box of dual lands. Since we’re not likely to make a name for ourselves pulling people’s pants down, nor can we count on sellers being totally ignorant in the age where wristwatches have the internet, why not do what I do and pay decent prices? Your margins are smaller but you can sleep at night.
People usually know which cards are worth a ton of money (though not always) and will likely look them up. I love when people look their stuff up on Star City’s retail site, because I say “I would love to use Star City numbers” because I navigate to their buylist and just pay those numbers. Anything they have pulled out and set aside as special, you just pay buylist numbers on. If you have an out at retail, you’re making the same margins as professional dealers. Even if you break even by selling to the same buylist, you’re likely to do well on the rest of the collection.
I can and have written about bulk this week as Quiet Speculation Insiders will know, but briefly, you can almost always sell bulk for $5/thousand cards. If you pay $5/thousand cards when you buy collections, you are very unlikely to break even. This is because people make mistakes picking bulk, and if you’re good at it you will find those gems. I don’t look through bulk. It wastes a ton of time, you have no obligation to pick someone’s collection for them and pull out expensive cards that they might sell to someone else and there might be nothing there. If they have no idea what any of their cards are worth, you may have to thumb through, but if they pulled out good stuff and have the rest of the collection just kind of in boxes, offer $4/thousand cards and see what they say. It’s the market rate on a lot of sites, you will make next to nothing if it’s pure bulk and most people are just glad to be rid of the stuff they deem worthless. People tend to leave foil non-rares in their bulk and they tend to leave pre-Exodus rares in as well. Picking treasure out of chaff like this is literally the best part of buying a collection. Making blanket offers on the “bulk” after they pick out what they deem is the stuff worth looking up is going to save you money and time and give you something fun to do later. It’s the actual best.
There is as much art as there is science to knowing what to offer on a collection. Have a realistic understanding of how you will out these cards. Will you sell to a buylist? Then your margins will be very low and your offer might be insulting. Will you sell on TCG Player or eBay? Then you can comfortably pay buylist numbers on the obvious good stuff. Knowing precisely how much money you will be able to get when you put the work into selling the collection your way comes with experience, but it’s the single most important factor that goes into knowing what to offer.
Is there nothing pulled out? Do they have no idea what the cards are worth? Quickly figure out how many cards there are. If they don’t know, quickly estimate. A stack of 200 magic cards is the same height as a card is wide (along the top or bottom edge). Use a card to quickly measure how many cards there are per row and multiply by how many rows. Offer $8-$10 per thousand cards. If that is a 20th of what they were asking, they’re likely to balk. You have two choices- bail or go through and see if there is anything in there to make it worth your while. Both of those options suck. Luckily, in most of my encounters, making a blind, blanket offer on the collection has worked. You can lose money paying $10/k if it’s pure bulk and jammed full of damaged cards and basic lands, but that’s part of the fun.
One last piece of advice is to not lose your temper and to be very patient. I will tell you a story about a time I was (uncharacteristically) patient.
A local guy made a Craigslist ad saying he wanted to sell his cards. The jewel of the collection was a Legacy Merfolk deck with 4 Force of Will. He was unwilling to accept even buylist – it had to be full retail on nearly everything. We’re talking near retail on his binder. He refused to budge at all. I made a blind offer on the bulk and offered to let him keep the deck. He said no because he didn’t know how much the bulk was worth. It was hot, I had driven 45 minutes and I was going to go home empty-handed. I was not happy.
Still, I decided not to call him a jackwagon and flip him the bird as I peeled out of the parking lot. I decided to give him the phone numbers of a few of my contacts who bought collections. Store owners, other people in my position; competitors, essentially. If one of them wanted to pay his number, that would prove what I was saying was a lie. If they told him what I told him, he’d know I was being straight with him. Sure enough, a month later he called me back, agreed to drive to my house and sell me the collection for the number I quoted earlier. I managed to talk him down even lower.
If you’re straight with people, patient and helpful, it can work out for you. I buy collections all the time, but how often do people sell the only cards they’ve ever owned? They don’t know what’s going on, so make it a pleasant transaction. I let a collection go and it came back to me because I was honest with the guy and even gave him a way to verify what I was saying. He was so thankful that he drove to me and let me pay less. He even agreed to take his payment in the form of a check.
I bounced it and closed the account. Screw that guy.