Quick quiz – Name the three most expensive cards from the following list:
- Lavaclaw Reaches
- Sensei's Divining Top
- Spell Snare
- Malakir Bloodwitch
- Aether Vial
- Sunpetal Grove
- Mistbind Clique
- Celestial Purge
- Destructive Force
- Siege-Gang Commander
All right, finished? An astute trader would immediately recognize that the three most valuable cards on the list are Sensei's Divining Top ($8), Spell Snare ($6) and Aether Vial ($14!). None of the others run more than $5. The other thing distinction our top three cards all share? They are uncommons, not rares.
What this example is meant to demonstrate is the value that uncommons can hold. Mythics take all the hype and a Birds of Paradise will still run you about $5, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made in uncommons, without even getting into older uncommons like Imperial Recruiter, which are upwards of $150.
If you didn’t catch the uncommons right away, don’t worry, I’m here to help.
The real value to trading for uncommons is that most people just don’t realize the potential and importance of these cards. Most players don’t include them in their trade binder, even when some of these uncommons outprice many of their rares! If you learn some of the money uncommons of each format, you can gain a lot of ground a little at a time.
Looking at Standard, the few uncommons that stick out are Path to Exile, Bloodbraid Elf and Tectonic Edge. These cards aren’t something you want to actively trade for (in most cases), but they are a great way to fill out trades. If your trading partner isn’t willing to pony up a few extra rares to satisfy your requests, and he has a pile of uncommons on him, it’s usually worth your time to thumb through it. You aren’t going to become rich picking up cards like Merrow Reejerey ($3), but it’s a lot better than having a rare like Hoarding Dragon ($.75) thrown in.
It’s habit for a lot of players to leave their commons and uncommons on tables after they draft, and I look at these piles as lottery tickets. You might waste five minutes of your life digging through them, but you might also snag a few Celestial Purges ($.80), Voltaic Keys ($1) or even a few Mana Leaks ($.75).
But how to profit on these marginal pickups? There are a few easy ways. First, and usually the most profitable, is to make them available in your trade binder, particularly at events such as PTQs and Grand Prixs. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as being one or two uncommons short of completing a deck list for events like these.
Trust me, if a player is looking for another Celestial Purge for their sideboard, you are going to be glad you took the time to dig through that pile of “trash” after last week’s draft. I suggest aiming for a $2-3 dollar rare in these type of trades, particularly something with casual appeal such as Archive Trap. It’s possible that you’ll be able to flip that Trap into something like a Stoneforge Mystic later on down the road, and the process of trading up continues from there, originating from a dollar uncommon you got thrown in a trade.
Another way to liquidate these cards is to a dealer. Power uncommons carry a higher buy price than their bulk counterparts. This isn’t likely to be very profitable, but getting another five dollars in dealer credit for a pile of uncommons isn’t the worst, especially when it’s required such little of your time and effort.
Though this is by no means a definitive list, here are some other semi-recent uncommons to be on the lookout for.
- Eternal Witness ($6)
- Lightning Helix ($3)
- Knight of Meadowgrain ($2)
- Remand ($3)
- Hellspark Elemental ($2)
This list barely scratches the surface of the uncommons worth trading for. It’s more of a jumping off point to demonstrate the possibilities that are there for the shrewd trader. Please post your additions to this list, and note any cards you think I missed!
I’ve got some more trades to share with you this week. Let’s start with the largest trade of my career!
2x Linvala, Keeper of Silence ($16)
Ball Lightning ($4)
Raging Ravine ($4)
Destructive Force ($3)
Stoneforge Mystic ($4.50)
Prerelease Sun Titan ($8)
Great Sable Stag ($2.50)
Steel Overseer ($5)
Mine: 2x Hellkite Charger ($2)
2x Malakir Bloodwitch ($10)
2x Gelatinous Genesis ($1)
2x Promo Elvish Visionary ($6)
2x Mordant Dragon ($2)
2x Disaster Radius ($2)
2x Blood Tribute ($2)
2x Abyssal Persecutor ($26)
Celestial Mantle ($1)
Oracle of Mul Daya ($4)
This was a great trade for me. I made off with the better end of it value-wise and also traded off a number of cards that I’m unlikely to use (though seeing off the Persecutors hurt a bit).
Besides the obvious big-ticket items in the Grave Titan and the Fauna Shaman, there are some other pieces here that really made this trade attractive. The Ball Lightning will be gone in a week or two, and with value – I think it’s safe to say Red Deck Wins cards are traded easier than a pack of cigarettes at the local penitentiary. The Steel Overseer, Destructive Force and Great Sable Stag are cards with some nice upside as well, making this trade potentially even more lucrative in six months than it is today.
Eldrazi Monument ($10)
Reflecting Pool ($8)
Foil Lavaclaw Reaches ($5)
Mine: 2x Master of Etherium ($6)
Swans of Bryn Argoll ($3.50)
Kinsbaile Cavalier ($1)
Knight Exemplar ($7.50)
Verdant Catacombs ($12)
And here we are trading for one of the uncommons we discussed, the Sensei's Divining Top. A good deal of my profit in this trade came from the fact that my partner valued it at just a few dollars, an easy mistake for even veteran traders to make. It’s pretty difficult to keep track of the price of uncommons in addition to your normal assortment of rares, but it can pay off when you do.
I’ve traded for upwards of 10 Reflecting Pools in the last few months, and I cannot wait for Extended season to roll around. In addition to being my favorite format, I’m ready for the price of my Extended collection to start tracking north so I can realize some of the income I’ve gained in these trades.
Most of the cards in this trade are pretty cut-and-dry, and unlikely to move much in price, though the fetch will likely slowly appreciate. The only possibilities for me are the Joraga Warcaller and the Eldrazi Monument. The Monument has seen a decent amount of play and will probably continue to do so after rotation, but it’s too niche to move much past $15.
I’m only mentioning the Warcaller because it is currently so low. If the Extended Elves deck becomes a reality and uses the Elf to call his brethren to war it could tick up a few dollars, but it’s not really going to make many waves financially. On the other hand, Elves are always great trade bait and I’ll probably be able to find him a nice home eventually.
Thanks for reading!
@Chosler88 on Twitter