The Revenue Review – Banking on Bulk

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By this point, everyone and their dog has put out an article about Scars of Mirrodin cards. Rather than tell you for the tenth time that Wurmcoil Engine is good (it really, really is), I’m going to try and take my look at the new set in a different direction, and we have our first “Rate My Trade” of the column!

If you don’t know, Rate My Trade is a section in our premium forums (which I’m told will be live for subscription very soon). It’s a place for traders to discuss and evaluate trades, much like I do in this column most weeks. If you’re trying to avoid Scars of Mirrodin spoilers, you should skip down to the bottom of the column now.

Okay, on to the promised Scars speculation. By now you’ve seen plenty of prices and speculation on cards, and I’m sure Kelly Reid will likely do a full set review. Instead of focus on prices this week, we’re going to look at the new cards that are best classified as “trade fodder.”

As much as some Magic players pretend otherwise, not everyone is a “spike.” A large number of players are less interested in dollar signs than they are in sentimental value or filling a collection. When Scars drops this weekend, the trading game will be hectic, to say the least. While you’re looking to pick up Eldrazi Monuments and Elspeth 2.0, I’ve got some suggestions for some less-marquee cards that I believe will serve you will to have in your binder.

To see all the cards I'm discussing, the visual spoiler is here.

Cat Clerics > ramp decks

I really like the Arbiters as a good pick-up for a few reasons. First, it has a ton of potential against the ramp decks running rampant right now. It also can frustrate any fetchland-using opponent in white weenie decks such as the won that won Pro Tour Amsterdam.

Outside of the competitive scene, this card has even more appeal. Its effect is one that will excite many kitchen-table players who are sick of losing to their friend’s Sphinx Summoner deck. It’s also a card that figures to be important to many budget players who may not have their own fetchlands or Primeval Titans. Pick up as many as you reasonably can, because it’s a card that wants to be played as a four-of.

This card screams “casual player,” and there’s no reason to ignore that voice in your head. It’s not going to be difficult to pick them up off of competitive players for bulk rare prices and trade them off at a higher rate to casual and EDH players.

I’m pretty pumped about this card for a few reasons. It has infinite-combo potential with its mana-producing ability, and it’s a blue lord to boot. I think this has competitive potential down the road, and it’s just a “fun” card on top of it, which means these will drive a high price with players looking for it, and they won’t be hard to find. I don’t know if Myr.dec is going to be good or not, but I know there will be a number of rogue deckbuilders who try to make it work, and they will be looking for your Architects.

There’s never been a lack of players willing to cast Polymorph, so an artifact version will likely have some appeal. I’m not sure how to break it outside of Dread Statuary, but chances are someone will, or at least try. This shouldn’t be difficult to pick up as a throw-in, and if such a deck ever comes to fruition, you will be able to move these fast.

Infecting a prerelease near you

Just about every Magic player in the world is going to try and make poison happen (myself included). Again, I have no idea if poison.dec is going to be real, but this card will be in every version sleeved up, whether that’s in the hands of LSV or Milton from IT. I compare this card with the many Elf lords, in that they have both will have a solid market with casual players and are of occasional use to competitive players.

Basically the same story as the poisonous Hand. Think about any game shop you’ve ever been to. Chances are there’s at least (and probably more than one) player there who you already know wants this card from you.

I was on the fence about whether or not to include this card, because it’s not going to be in the $1-3 area that I’m aiming for. That said, pick up this card now. Like I mentioned above, this slots into every kitchen-table Elf deck ever, and Elves have a lot of tools to make a showing in competitive Standard and Extended. You will be able to find your Ezuri’s a home somewhere, I promise.

Unlikely to see play in Standard, this Kuldotha will be forging some artifacts in many a casual game. One neat thing about prereleases is that they bring out a ton of players who don’t usually show up, whether that’s the crowd coming back to the game after 10 years or the group playing in their first tournament. Both of these camps have a subset of players who play wacky combo decks at home, and the Forgemaster is perfect for these guys. If you can pick these up, I suggest moving them quickly because the market for a card like this is limited. Players who want them are going to be able to get them from plenty of other traders, so make the most out of these if you end up with a few.

I lump these two cards together because your local Red mage wants both of them, and in multiples. They are going to find homes in red decks for the next year to come, and there seems to be a never-ending line of RDW players. I don’t think I’ve had any card move faster in the last year than Ball Lightning, and I expect those same traders to want to pick up these cards.

Fun times in EDH. Need I say more?

I haven’t heard a lot of buzz about this card yet, which is just criminal. This is a beating, and fetchable with Trinket Mage. It will fill any spot on your curve and plays pretty nicely with Proliferate. I imagine it will find its way into a number of decks in the next two years, and if you can pick these up before they realize their full potential, you’re going to be glad you did.

I know it’s hard to keep up when we have 249 new cards entering circulation on a single day, but doing your homework early will pay off in the end. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – there is NO better time to be a competitive trader than set rotation. Knowing which cards are worth picking up as throw-ins in trades is almost as important as picking up big-ticket items like Koth of the Hammer. Luckily for you, there’s a whole team of writers here at Quiet Speculation to help you do just that. I encourage you to share in the comments if there’s any other gems you think I’ve missed.


Reader Trade of the Week:

Our first reader-submitted trade comes from Luke Sonnier, a CPA from Louisiana. He’s been a reader of Quiet Speculation since the days when it was Kelly’s personal blog. [He also stopped by my store once!  Heya Luke!] Here’s the trade in his words:


Primeval Titan (Foil) $79.99


Sun Titan (Foil Promo) $7.99

4 Verdant Catacombs $47.96

Birds of Paradise (M11)$3.99

2 Hoarding Dragon 1.98

4 Ancient Hellkite (Foil Promo) 5.96

Glacial Fortress (M11) 4.99

2 Mass Polymorph 2.98

Eldrazi Temple 3.99

Pretty much break even.  I'm guessing the Primeval Titan won't maintain the status he has recently so I figure I'll trade him away at his peak.

This trade could have been better but it's tough when trading with close friends who are aware of value and check everything on the phone while trading.”

I love this trade because it’s a picture-perfect example of what you can gain by trading down. Noah Whinston wrote a great piece of when to trade down here, and Luke executed that plan perfectly.

The Primeval Titan isn’t going to go any higher than it already is, so now is pretty much the best time for Luke to cash out. In return for a high-dollar card rotting in his binder, Luke’s picked up a ton of trade goodies that he’ll be able to trade up in the weeks to come. Fetchlands aren’t getting any cheaper, and the Eldrazi Temple is probably going to appreciate moving forward. While these are the cards that really stuck out to me, the rest are all solid additions to his binder that will open a number of doors with other traders.

While some quick math shows that Luke came out pretty much even, I think it’s safe to say he is on the much better end of the deal here. The Primeval Titan will basically be a nobody once it rotates from Standard, but the fetchlands are going to retain a ton of their value. Add in the opportunities Luke will have to trade the other cards up and it works out a very nice trade for Mr. Sonnier.

For those of you interested in submitting your own trades, I’m told our premium subscription will be open to everyone by the end of the month, and part of that is access to our forums, where we are able to provide real-time updates and communicate directly with our readers.

Until next week, may you avoid a slow death to Poison!


Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

24 thoughts on “The Revenue Review – Banking on Bulk

  1. Awesome to see my trade included in the very first Rate My Trade! Thanks Corbin [and hey Kelly].

    Great article as always. I like the Leonin Arbiter recommendation. That's an interesting "off the beaten path" type rare that I think you may be right about. I would not have given it too much thought otherwise.

  2. Fetchlands are going to rotate, so I would imagine they'll get cheaper then. They certainly haven't been going anywhere but down recently. Most of that trade is crap; realistically, by ebay prices, he traded a $45-50 foil Mythic for $50 or so worth of stuff. The fetchlands are good, but the rest is junk, especially stuff like Mass Polymorph and Ancient Hellkite. This is why dealers love people who think they know card values.

    Also, you said:
    "The Primeval Titan will basically be a nobody once it rotates from Standard"

    Yeah, in how many years? I mean, obviously a lot of cards go down when they rotate, but I don't see how that's relevant now, especially since it's going to be hot for the foreseeable future.

    Long story short, if you're trading down a hot foil Mythic, you should be getting stuff other than has-been fetchlands and a pile of miscellaneous crap.

  3. Great to see that the first rated trade was a fair trade, where the trader gained value because of his knowledge of market evolution and trading down practice and not because his trading partner was grossly misled about a card's value. Good article!

  4. Lets use real world pricing for this trade:


    Primeval Titan (Foil) $55


    Sun Titan (Foil Promo) $6

    4 Verdant Catacombs $32

    Birds of Paradise (M11)$3

    2 Hoarding Dragon 0.50

    4 Ancient Hellkite (Foil Promo) 1

    Glacial Fortress (M11) 3

    2 Mass Polymorph .20

    Eldrazi Temple 3

    Seems like he lost value on this card. Those promo hellkites are nothing, same with the mass polymorph. This is where using SCG pricing will hurt the trader in the end.

    @Corbin: Titan will not rotate out for another year, so saying that it was good to trade it now was kinda not good advice.

  5. Thanks for the feedback guys! Nice to read over while I'm laying in bed after a quick hospital visit.

    @Ben – They've been basically flat for the last couple months. As far as being cheaper when they rotate, remember they are heavily played in every other competitive format the game has.

  6. An important thing to remember is this trade was about building a trade binder, not cashing out the cards. Just because you and I know the Mass Polymorphs are bulk does not mean they are tradable only at that price. It's highly likely Luke can find a trade partner who will give him $2-3 non-bulk rares for those cards. You hinder yourself as a trader if you evaluate every trade on buy prices alone. There are benefits to having "trade fodder" in your binder. It's pretty difficult to find someone to help you "trade up" a Titan, but you can trade up many times over with the other cards. In addition, you're in a good position if any of them pick up play, whereas the Titan, if not peaked, is not far off from doing so.

  7. Sorry for the multiple comments here, but wanted to address Stu's concern.

    The Titan won't be gone for a year, yes, but since I see the card as pretty near its peak now is as good a time as any. I find it much more likely that WOTC releases cards that decrease its value, rather than increase it, in the next year.

  8. He is however losing a significant amount on this trade to the point where it would be better to A) just sell it for cash or B) look a little longer for a trade.

    I had to sell/trade 7 pieces of power in a weeks time, and I managed to unload all but 1 within 4 days. That being said, if you need to move a card for at least cost, if not more to make profit that it can be done if just being patient.

  9. Se,, the problem is that it's completely unrealistic to use book values when trading. While you might get $3 for a Mass Polymorph, that will be insanely hard, considering the median price is 86 cents. The lowest is 50 cents, therefore it should be valued as bulk. Same for the hellkite. Birds of Paradise can be had as low as $2.44.

    Whereas the Titan has a very high demand right now.

    Your reader did a horrible trade, and could have gotten way more.

  10. despite the trade being a good example of trading, i don't feel that the reader got nearly enough for his cards. like others have said, the only things easily tradeable from there are the verdant catacombs. when trading down, it's critical to get stuff you know you will be able to trade again

  11. While I don't approve of the trolling tone of most of these comments (don't read the guy if you think he's that bad), I think they really provide a good insight into the cornerstone of tradings: different people value cards differently. If everyone agreed whether a trade was good or bad, nobody would ever make the trade. You really can't judge a trade in isolation, you have to judge how a trader behaves over the long-term, which includes many factors, including the trading strategy as well as who they have access to as trading partners.
    If you are trading with only spikes, the trade listed is not very good. If you are able to turn around and trade your ancient hellkites to the "dragon guy" (the one I know values Broodmate at $5 currently), it's a very good trade.
    When it comes down to it, if 3 weeks from now, Luke has turned his 4 Verdant Catacombs into another foil primeval titan, and still has the other "worthless" cards, then you can be confident he has made successful trades.

  12. Another point, that I made in the QS forums (which will be open for subscribers soon, when that is rolling) is that a foil Titan is not that liquid. You have demand from EDH players and people who like shinies in their FNM decks, but tourney players usually stay away from foils, especially if it's the only one in their deck.

    Now ultimately, he could have sold it – as Wu-Tang says, cash rules everything around me. But, if he wants to deal in cards, he gets a lot of movement with what he has. Catacombs will likely see play in Double Standard, since Jund is a Real Deck in the format. They're fine as a medium-term hold. Birds are always tradeable, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him make some value on those. We've got this ingrained idea that Birds are $8-10, especially older players, and I could see him getting $5 on them in trade – they're desirable for just about every kind of player. The rest of the stuff is junk, but if he can press his Birds and Fortress, he can see similar benefits to just having sold it, with some bulk padding his binder along the way.

  13. just moving a foil titan at a decent price is tough. and i sell cards for a living…

    anyway, just because the Mass Poly isn't a big rare doesn't mean its "bad". I can trade those things so damned easily, for 2 bucks each, if i want to (like if i'm floor trading not at the store or something).

    Now lets look at Luke's trade. He gave up the foil Primeval Titan, which can go from anywhere between 55 and 70. lets just assume low 60s.

    I like the 4 fetch lands in this trade. I find those things are getting tough to locate…so right off the bat i think he's alright. i'd consider a nonfoil Titan worth a hair more than 4 fetch lands right now. I move wayyy more fetches than titans, and this one is foil….i do't care for the Sun Titan foil at 8, maybe 6 or so. The BoPs are cheap and easy to get now, and the rest of the trade is wasted value (who really needs those cards?)

    However it is not an awful trade. Especially when dealing with high end standard foils, they can be a pain in the ass. I had a foil Jace sitting around for a while…that took effort to move at a decent price. I'd much rather have seen just a straight 7+ fetch lands for the big guy, it's not a terrible trade. i'd not make it again, but he could've done worse.

    Sun Titan (Foil Promo) $7.99

    4 Verdant Catacombs $47.96

    Birds of Paradise (M11)$3.99

    2 Hoarding Dragon 1.98

    4 Ancient Hellkite (Foil Promo) 5.96

    Glacial Fortress (M11) 4.99

    2 Mass Polymorph 2.98

    Eldrazi Temple 3.99

  14. Wow. That trade sure has sparked a lot of conversation. Corbin I'd say your idea to do a trade of the week in your articles was a good one.

    I realize that value-wise this isn't the best trade in the world. I kind of expanded on that in my original forum post. This was a kitchen table trade with a buddy who is a stickler for pricing out every card in the trade on He's a close friend who I play Magic with at least three days a week. I'm not looking to get one over on him. He almost exclusively plays green, does not give a shit about foils, just wants to power out giant fatties and wreck shop with titans.

    I'm not an aggressive trader who camps out at my local store looking for people to trade with. I make trades when I can, where I can. Because I can't spend a huge amount of time hanging out at the shop, moving a foil Primeval Titan is a pain in the ass. Granted, I could have sold it, but I'd rather having more trade-stock than the cash at this point because I'm trying to read the plethora of info that is hitting the internet on this site and others about trading right now. I'd like to have more cards in my binder to facilitate more trades with more people so that I can apply some of the lessons being taught here and elsewhere in the real world. A trade like this helps get me closer to having a binder that other people are at least interested in flipping through. I guess you could call it a baby-step.

    That's what this trade was about. The trade was really: my Primeval Titan for his four fetches and a Sun Titan. My hope is to trade the fetches away to someone at my local store and to gain enough value on them that it makes this trade better for me.

    Everything else in this trade was me picking over the best stuff in my buddy's trade box to just try to even come close to getting fair value out of the titan. Most of it is worthless, but like someone above mentioned….you may come across someone who wants these cards.

    Stu55, can you post some of your trades that have made you such a bad-ass? Between trolling here and I've seen you talk some serious shit about everyone else's trades but haven't seen any of yours yet. I'd like to know how it's done. Like I said above, I'm here to learn.

  15. I also want to give a shout-out to Matthias and his comment above. I agree that not every single trade is going to be a blowout where you are just reaming someone who either doesn't care or doesn't know about prices.

    I agree with a lot of the comments left here. A more savvy trader than me could have walked away with better value. If not better monetarily, with better tradeability, but they can't all be winners.

    I plan to take the advice and feedback I'm getting here and bring them with me to the trade tables the next time.

  16. @ Luke: I will forgive your ignorance as to who I am and why I say what I say. Everyone else here knows I am one of the best traders around. However, there are 2 key differences between you and me. 1) I don't lose money on trades like you apparently do, and 2) I deal more in cash than trades.

    The only time I trade is to move stale inventory, and even that is to just sell it in the end. I don't need to post brag threads how I got the sickest deal in the world, people mostly just assume I am doing good and they are right.

    Being a writer/was a writer (no idea what is going on actually) for this site, I won't make fun of you too much, but why call me out when everyone else basically agreed with me too, like Ben and Mr.C? Seems like you are barking up the wrong tree.

  17. @Stu
    I respect your trading/selling business, but I would appreciate it if you didn't come off as quite so demeaning to someone who is, admittedly, here to learn. I understand the need to defend yourself, but a link to your (excellent) article on this site probably would have done just as well.
    Luke didn't post a "brag thread" about his trade. He posted it to learn and hear (respectful) advice about his trade.
    Not everyone deals in cash. I would venture to say that the majority of time when trading a typical partner will agree to pricing bulk rares at 50 cents to a dollar, even though they know it doesn't sell for more than bulk rates.
    I think Mark Conkle hit the nail on the head with his comment. Everyone values cards differently. You don't know Luke's target market, so you have no idea what traders value Birds at. They trade for ~3-4 in my area, and my analysis of his trade was based on the market I know, which I believe exists to some extent everywhere. Price guides are a nice way to track trades, but they are not the end-all, be-all.

  18. Corbin, granted I am a bit "harsh" with people at times, but when some comes and basically calls me out, I am going to not really hold back that much. Now, I respect majority of writers on this site as they at least know what they are doing, but when several people tell a person he lost value, and I am the one he calls out, it isnt going to be pretty.

    Luke needs to realize that trading for stuff like Mass Polymorph at $1.50 per trade is not going to increase his collection value, because if he ever wants to sell out, he isn't getting $1.50, but $0.10 and that is something a lot of the readers here don't understand by you guys using SCG pricing.

    I do think all of the writers here need together and figure out a pricing structure for their articles so that when some one makes a trade, and they do need to sell their cards, they aren't going to be surprised by getting 50% of their supposed value for the cards. I had 2-3 people come up to me at the pre-re this weekend and we discussed online trading and this site in particular.

    I obviously don't hate the writing here if I am taking my time to read the articles and reply occasionally.

    Let me do this, if anyone has a problem or question about anything, they can contact me on AIM @ stoopskoo15 and I will gladly chat about whatever with them, readers and writers alike.

    I am not here to be the bad guy, I am just a bit more blunt then others.

  19. "Luke needs to realize that trading for stuff like Mass Polymorph at $1.50 per trade is not going to increase his collection value, because if he ever wants to sell out, he isn’t getting $1.50, but $0.10 and that is something a lot of the readers here don’t understand by you guys using SCG pricing."

    See this is the kind of constructive criticism that I come here for. If you guys are among the best traders and dealers in the world then I want to get advice from you. No doubt. That was helpful and I'll take that lesson into my next trade in order to make it better than this one.


    Stu I didn't mean to come off as singling you out for no reason. I did read your article here on QS and did enjoy it. I guess I just didn't make the connection for some reason when seeing your handle around, despite your introduction in the article. You're right, other commenters left sentiments similar to yours and in no less brash fashion. I'll admit I was bringing in baggage from other sites where I've seen you respond just as harshly to other guys in my spot who are just getting started trading and are really just looking for a place to talk about trading as an active topic and a part of the MTG lifestyle…not get ROFLstomped by a stranger for no real reason.

    Anyway, I look forward to more articles if that's going to happen.

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