Trades, Trades Everywhere!

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Hey all, and welcome back to Whinston’s Whisdom on this week, we’ve got a bunch of from this week’s FNM. However, as I’m writing this article the day before States, I can’t give you any information on that unfortunately. But rest assured that next week’s article will be chock full of States goodness.

This week introduced a new development for me. Two other players, Hans and John, who are planning to open a store of their own as a hired trader took me on. They supply the cards, I supply the trading, and I get 30% commission of my profits. This is especially useful for me because I don’t need to invest a large amount of my own liquid assets in trading stocks, and while it does reduce my profits, it also drastically reduces my costs. So that’s what most of the trades in this article will be, me trading on behalf of these two players, though I will distinguish between ones where it’s my trade stock vs. theirs. Finally, we have our very first Pack to Power trade and the definition of the rules.

Trades for Hans and John:

Trade #1-


3 Iona, Shield of Emeria (3x6=18)

$18 total


2 Fauna Shaman (2x10=20)

1 Inferno Titan (8)

1 Gigantomancer (1)

1 Leonin Arbiter (3)

1 Tunnel Ignus (1.5)

2 Obstinate Baloth (2x5=10)

$43.5 total


A nice way to start the night. I had thought this trade was much more even because I thought Iona was still at $10 apiece, but thankfully it’s dropped considerably. I essentially traded off Mythics with casual and Eternal appeal for some great Standard cards, which I should be able to move at States.

Trade #2-


3 Eldrazi Monument (out of stock at 14, value at 15, 3x15=45)

$45 total


M11 Prerelease Sun Titan (6)

2 Razorvenge Thicket (2x3=6)

1 Mystifying Maze (1.5)

3 Stoneforge Mystic (out of stock at 6, value at 7, 3x7=21)

3 Timeshifted Lord of Atlantis (3x4=12)

2 Joraga Warcaller (2x2=4)

1 [cardPyromancer Ascension[/card] (2)

1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth (10)

1 Genesis Wave (2.5)

1 Wurmcoil Engine (20)

$85 total


Once again, I made a big trade with some mid price Mythics. While not as expensive as Planeswalkers, Eldrazi Monument is one of the more valuable Mythics in print, comparable to Lotus Cobra and Wurmcoil Engine. At the moment, it seems like everyone is trying to get their hands on Monuments, but nobody has any for trade, making them much more valuable. My big gains from this trade came from valuing Mystics at $3.5, Kozilek at $5 (another mid-range Mythic that is often under priced), the Lords at $2, and Wurmcoil at $15. I slightly overvalued the Sun Titan, trading for him at the regular price of $8 rather than the promo price of $6, but I still made a good chunk of change on this trade.

Trade #3-


1 Elvish Archdruid (5)

$5 total


1 Textless MPR Harrow (2)

1 Gigantomancer (1)

$3 total


I really messed up here. Both of use valued the Archdruid at $2, and I had no idea it was worth so much. I suppose with Elf Combo in older formats and Monument Green in Standard, it might be getting a price boost, but I never expected anything this expensive. Hopefully I’ll be able to capitalize on this during States to find some others who undervalue it.

My Trades:

Trade #1-


2 Grand Architect (2x5=10)

1 Talus Paladin (1.5)

$11.5 total


1 Fauna Shaman ($10)

$10 total


I’m perfectly willing to take a slight loss here. 3 cards that see no play for one archetype staple? Sounds fair to me!

Trade #2-


1 Verdant Catacombs (11)

4 Drowned Catacombs (4x5)

$31 total


1 Stoneforge Mystic (7)

1 Chinese Stoneforge Mystic (6.5)

1 Leonin Arbiter (3)

1 Foil Ezuri, Renegade Leader (8)

$24.5 total


Another trade where the net loss doesn’t accurately reflect the value of a trade. Frankly, Drowned Catacombs sucks. Black is the worst color in Standard right now, and if it does see play, its’ certainly not getting paired with Blue. I valued the Catacombs at $2 during the trade, and I wouldn’t even change that now that I know differently. They are just not playable, and don’t trade for them at any more than $3.

Trade #3-


1 Foil Ezuri, Renegade Leader (8)

1 Leatherback Baloth (.5)

2 Tajuru Preserver (out of stock at .75, estimate at 1, 2x1=2)

3 Sylvan Ranger (negligible value)

$10.5 total


1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence (out of stock at 8, estimate 10)

1 Terastodon (1)

$11 total


Just an article full of textbook cases today! Here, we’re swapping some very narrow cards for ones that see significantly more play. While Foil Ezuri might be a casual player’s dream pull, you’re not going to get much from tournament players for it. As such, I was perfectly willing to value it at $6 in return for getting Linvala at $7. Linvala should be seeing universal sideboard play as an answer to mana accelerants, as well as techy guys like Cunning Sparkmage. Terastodon is also played in Eldrazi Ramp sideboards for the mirror.

And now, on to…Pack to Power


1)   All trades must be personal trades, with other players, for cards. No trading for store credit or cash. No MOTL or Ebay. Just good old fashioned swapping of cards

2)   I will be attempting to go for the cheapest Mox, Mox Pearl

3)   Not setting a deadline at the moment, but I may later on depending on how the project goes.

4)   We’ll be using pricing for all the cards

And with that, my very first Pack to Power Trade (you can see the contents of the pack in last week’s article)


Ratchet Bomb (10)


Stoneforge Mystic (sold out at 6, estimate 7)

Celestial Colonnade (5)

Lux Cannon (sold out at 5, estimate 6)


Not a bad start at all! Ratchet Bomb is seeing a decent amount of play in UW Control and Eldrazi Ramp decks, and should be holding a steady price. But a steady price is not what we want for our Pack to Power binder. Instead, we picked up a different U/W card, Celestial Colonnade, as well as a Stoneforge Mystic, which is seeing a ton of action in White based aggro decks. Finally, we got a Lux Cannon. While not immediately appearing very playable, there have been multiple control decklists floating around, both mono Red and UW, using Proliferate alongside Lux Cannon and Voltaic Key. Lux Cannon also gains value from being a casual favorite. Because it has a lot of potential to skyrocket, Lux Cannon was a good pick for me, as I’ll be able to trade it off for 50+% profit to someone who really needs it.

I should have plenty more of these for you next week after I’ve been able to play and trade at some bigger events, but meanwhile, I hope you all enjoyed your States tournaments, and check back again next week for more trading goodness.

Running out of envelopes to ship cards in,

--Noah Whinston

Arcadefire on MTGO

NWhinston on Twitter

Baldr7mtgstore on Ebay

13 thoughts on “Trades, Trades Everywhere!

  1. I assume you're talking about an M10 archdruid (though $5 still seems a little high unless you're using SCG prices)? If you're talking M11 Archdruid though, that is definitely too high.

  2. According to TCGplayer (which lists nearly every online store), you didn't do as well on the tradedowns. I really have to wonder what you're using to price your cards, because it is overvaluing the lower end stuff. I'm guessing SCG, since you mentioned it for the Pack to Power.

    Wurmcoil Engine is not 20, its 13.
    Kozilek is 7.
    Fauna Shaman is 7.

    I don't give a crap if SCG is paying your bills. This is misinformation, and you're nickel and diming yourself. It's so bad that I would have happily been on the other end of almost all your trades.

    This is why I let other people use SCG when I'm trading up. They're shooting themselves in the foot and I'm profiting from that. However, you guys are supposed to be the authority on trading, and you're falling for beginner crap like this.

    The best way to value a card is "what would I have to pay to get this card by next week?" That means the minimum price from a store. Not the mid or the high (SCG).

  3. Bleachy –
    A quick check of some of TCGPlayers prices shows that they are not always up to date. It may be that TCGplayer updates weekly, I'm not sure, but the market is most volatile when a set first comes out. If your source of pricing info is inaccurate, then as a trader, you are "up a creek" so to speak.
    Looking up Wurmcoil Engine also brings a list of sites that most people might have never heard of. SCG is SOLD OUT at $20, and they are also a reputable dealer. That being said, I will certainly be trying out some of these sites, since everyone at my local store agrees with the $20 dollar price tag, seems like a nice way to make a quick buck 🙂
    Furthermore, if he uses the same source for all of his prices, however inflated you believe them to be, they are at least consistent.

  4. Do you guys find the MOTL price lists to be reasonable in pricing your cards? It's based on completed Ebay sales, which is the only site I know of that tracks post-transaction prices (as in, actual sales) versus pre-transaction prices (as in, wishful thinking on what something is worth):

    For high-turnover cards, do you suggest we implement MOTL pricing on this site as a standard? I'd like to hear back from you guys on what sites you use to accurately price your cards.

    1. Oh, hai Doug! I would say Ebay is the most fair pricing method for reporting gains and losses because you can actually buy and sell at those prices multiple times. The more heaving sold a card is, the more reliable the pricing is. MOTL is pretty good at this, but there are a few issues with it. One, their price guides aren't updated every day. I don't know what it is, but I think it's like once a week or something. Trends can happen pretty fast. 2, and this is against Ebay too, is that it's unreliable on cards that are not sold or traded often. For example, I looked up an Ice Age rare, Formation, and MOTL listed it as $1. The card is obviosly complete trash and only valueable to ppl looking to complete a set, and Ice Age isn't hard to come by like Arabian Nights and to a lesser extent Legends. It was listed at $1 because only 1 auction happened, and someone actually paid a dollar for it for some reason. Naturally, I didn't ask for that card to be valued at a dollar.

      As long as the card is traded or sold with at least a little frequency, I think Ebay and MOTL are the most fair ways to price your cards.

  5. So we're up to about 4 articles now, and I guess this will be my review. Unfortunately, I don't find the series helpful at all. I try to ask myself "what did I learn" from each of your articles, and it's stone cold nothing. Each article just showcases how you ripped someone off by overvaluing your cards and undervaluing theirs. This isn't news, it's called being a shark, or put nicely "trading for value".

    Also, your pricing system is crazy. While it seems balanced if you overvalue both sides, it doesn't always work out that way. If you view things as a percentage, you'll see why. Drowned Catacombs @ $5 is easly 100% increase. Verdant catacombs @ $11 is only a 10% increase. Most of the online stores overcharge more on the cheap stuff than the expensive stuff. For instance, many of their $1 – $3 rares are really only worth .50 on an open market like Ebay or MOTL, making them 100% overpriced, but Vengevines for $40 is only 12.5% overprice if they actually go for $35. The most fair pricing is Ebay since that is what you can buy and sell them for anytime you want. If some of the websites end up making a mistake, you can make some $ by arbitration, but Ebay is the most accurate pricing system for showing gains and losses because that's usually the best price you can cash out at.

    If you want to write something valuable, show us how you are getting people to agreeing to those trades. Show us your methods and reasoning behind them. Tell us why you chose a particular card of theirs to trade for instead of the others you had to choose from.

    One last thing. One of the factors SCG base their pricing on is how many copies of the card they have in stock. I've seen them sell out of a card at one price and raise the price of the card while it's sold out. That is probably what they did with Wurmcoil Engine. That's also what they did with Mox Opal at one point.

  6. I am not against using MOTL as the default price reference on this site. I prefer TCGPlayer because I am . . . biased towards eBay and Paypal. But MOTL is certainly more accurate than SCG.

  7. The TCGPlayer prices are updated quite frequently, from what I noticed. I tend to use their low prices in trades. Makes it very accurate, although I can trade at SCG if someone demands it. Just means I'll be getting $1 for my Tajuru Preserver, instead of $.32 🙂

  8. I agree with the other thehordling's review of this column – there's no actual insight or even data to mine. Instead, it's just a list of trades with you gloating about how you sharked someone. I can also gain $50 on a trade if I shark newer players and overvalue the worth of my proceeds.

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