menu

Winning the Zendikar Prerelease – Part 1 of the Incomplete Guide

Are you a Quiet Speculation member?

If not, now is a perfect time to join up! Our powerful tools, breaking-news analysis, and exclusive Discord channel will make sure you stay up to date and ahead of the curve.

As of today, 122/249 cards have been spoiled, and we have a good idea what the world of Zendikar will look like. The hype surrounding this set has already surpassed any set in recent memory due to the inclusion of a new Wrath of God, Enemy Fetch Lands, and apparently there's some sort of Mana Snake involved that people seem to like. Whatever the hype may be, it is our job here at Quiet Speculation to ensure that no matter how awful your sealed pool, you walk away with more "prize support" than the people who win the day. Other sites can tell you how to build your deck, play your matches, and win your games, but on this site, it's all about the art of the deal.

Before we get to the specific cards, it is important to understand the absolute chaos that is a pre-release. Normally sane people will be driven into a wee jackanape frenzy, backstabbing eachother on trades and all. This can be used to your advantage, especially if you've got a good rapport with people at your event. If you have a reputation for being an easy, fair trader, people will go to you first.

The other thing to realize is that people trade very loosely at these events. "Book value" hasn't really been set, and many people don't even know what things are pre-selling for. Knowledge is power! Spend an hour on eBay looking up what pre-sales have closed in the last day or two, and jot down the average prices of the cards you care about. Pre-sales are nothing more than speculation, and should be treated as such, but more often than not they are a fantastic indicator of early demand. That is not to say that strong pre-sales guarantee a card's success, but if a card is pre-selling for 20 dollars, chances are it will be selling for 20 dollars for a few weeks at minimum.

There are 4 kinds of cards when a set comes out. Good Cards, Sleepers, Crap Rares, and Overhyped. Everyone knows what Good Cards look like - Day of Judgment, Fetch Lands, etc. Sleepers are cards like Emeria, the Sky Ruin and Lullmage Mentor, which are priced low but have tremendous upside. Crap Rares are cards that everyone kind of agrees aren't all that exciting. Overhyped cards are simply cards which the masses believe are Good Cards, but may not be as good as advertised. The best strategy revolves around trading away the Overhyped cards and acquiring Sleepers in great quantity. This is why the term "rocket fuel" is used so often around low-cost rares. A $1 card that suddenly finds itself the crux of a tier 1 deck will easily increase 5-fold in price. Should the card stay at $1, your losses and risk are minimal. If you identify a sleeper and are confident with your pick, commit fully to that choice and maximize your profits.

Identifying and categorizing these cards is always the most difficult part of preparing for a pre-release. There is always a margin of error, but this can be minimized by using a "brain trust" of sorts. Before discussing your picks with your friends, have them go through the spoiler and classify each card according to the four categories above. The cards you agree on should be ones about which you can feel confident, and ones about which you disagree should be discussed. One person simply cannot make a proper evaluation alone. Once this is done, you should have an idea of what your "buy list" for the event will look like. Trade accordingly, and it will be difficult not to leave the event with a truckload of value.

One last bit of advice for pre-releases: many people keep their trade binders disorganized, or full of commons, or otherwise poorly maintained. Fix that immediately. You will have limited time between rounds and after the event to make deals, so your binder should only contain rares and some choice uncommons and they should be sorted to some degree. Usually, separating cards from Standard will be sufficient. If you usually keep a section of your book for "stuff not for trade", throw that idea out the window. People make ludicrous deals at these events, so be willing to break your playsets for the right deal. That's the idea behind value trading - as long as your trades are always adding value, breaking a playset should never be an issue.

In just a little while, we'll begin our evaluation of the rares and Mythics we've seen so far. All evaluations are being made using the MTG Salvation spoiler, and we cannot be held responsible for fake, inaccurate or otherwise poor information derived from said spoiler. Always be careful pre-ordering cards until the set has been fully released on paper.

Kelly Reid

Founder & Product Manager

View More By Kelly Reid

Posted in Uncategorized

Have you joined the Quiet Speculation Discord?

If you haven't, you're leaving value on the table! Join our community of experts, enthusiasts, entertainers, and educators and enjoy exclusive podcasts, questions asked and answered, trades, sales, and everything else Discord has to offer.

Want to create content with Quiet Speculation?

All you need to succeed is a passion for Magic: The Gathering, and the ability to write coherently. Share your knowledge of MTG and how you leverage it to win games, get value from your cards – or even turn a profit.

Join the conversation

Want Prices?

Browse thousands of prices with the first and most comprehensive MTG Finance tool around.


Trader Tools lists both buylist and retail prices for every MTG card, going back a decade.