By Mike Lanigan
I am fascinated with the concept of going infinite, but there are a variety of ways to accomplish this goal. One of the most fun is on MODO. All you have to do to achieve an infinite stream of Event Tickets is to win more than you lose, and then you can almost draft for free, after of course your initial investment. This is a great concept and a ton of fun if you can manage it. If you find this interesting, I recommend trying the 4-3-2-2's because then the impact is less if you don't do quite as well, especially until you get good enough or know the draft format well enough to be wrecking the 8-4's.
This is supposed to be a financial article so I guess I should move on. Magic is expensive. If you play the game at all you know this to be true, now in many ways more so than ever. Also true, Magic players are often poor, or at least often don't have a ton of money to be buying all the hot new Mythic Rares. We revisit this problem frequently as authors write articles complaining about what the Mythics have done to the game and how it is too expensive for many people to play. I'm sure you have read one of those articles and they are great… this is not one of them.
Don't get me wrong, I do love the financial content to death and literally read every financial article I can get my hands on anywhere on The Internet, but we need an actual way to deal with the rising price of Magic cards. How can we actually stop focusing on the problem and figure out a workable answer? Well, I have it for you today. For the past year I have been playing competitive magic on a budget, playing top-tier decks, and doing it with almost no money. You're still with me, right? Good.
Now that I have your attention, let me share this little secret with you: First, you need to save enough for your initial investment. This needs to be at least one hundred US Dollars. Usually, given enough time, this is not going to be much of a problem, but you can always supplement by selling cards (we'll get back to that shortly). What is this first one hundred dollars for? Well the truth is, it would be nice if the investment were larger, so feel free to increase the amount of dollars to however many hundreds you are capable of. OK, so you have your investment ready to go, what now? Go preorder boxes of Magic cards: one if you saved up one hundred dollars, more if you were able to save up more than that. But how are we going to make our money back? Well, you have to be willing to sell some cards! If you have never done this, have some faith. Most sites online are reputable and are great to do business with. Any of the big sites are a good place to start, but talk to your friends and try to figure out where they have sold to before if you are skeptical. If you are reading this, you most likely have a handful of places you have sold cards to, or even regularly sell to. Though this article is geared toward the budding financial expert, it should be pertinent to everyone.
Right, so now we have received our box(es). This is the best part: Open them! Isn't it a great feeling, searching for that money Mythic in every pack? How exhilarating! Now that you have opened your box, sort out all the Rares, Mythics and even Uncommons you think you can sell or trade. An example of good Uncommon would be Arc Trail or Memnite from Scars of Mirroden. Now here is the real problem, what do you keep? Well, that's a difficult question to answer. You need to start by planning what decks you are going to be playing this season, and that can be really difficult to do. For me, I saw Koth of the Hammer and knew that I wanted to be playing that card. The Venser the Sojourners, Elspeth Tirels, Molten-Tail Masticores, etc. were not a priority for me. You can always trade for most of these cards later if it turns out you want them. If you don't open any of the Mythics you are looking for, that's actually better for you, so don't feel bad. Continuing to use Scars as our example here, let's say you opened an Elspeth Tirel and a Venser the Sojourner, but you were looking for that Koth just like I was. You are in luck, do you know how much the other Scars of Mirrodin Planeswalkers were being bought for originally from dealers? Over 30 dollars each!
Whatever online store, real life store, eBay, or person you know that you decide to sell to, make sure that you make them give you some amount of bonus store credit. Did you know that many online retailers offer up to an additional 30% store credit just for selling cards to them? If there is a store that offers more than that, message me in the forums because I will do my business there instead! That bonus store credit is our bread and butter. It's the oil that makes this machine continue to move. Keep in mind that you need to compare the actual buy prices of the cards too because they can differ quite a bit between sites, but you really want to settle on one dealer and send them all of your cards.
Alright, so we have these two Mythic Rares we opened, and really, they could be anything that fetches some significant amount of money. Let's estimate the buy prices for both cards at close to what they were, even though they are much lower now. That gives us $30 each, so that's $60, plus an additional $18 from our bonus 30% store credit. That gets us $78, so we need to add a couple other cards like maybe that Sword of Body and Mind you know you probably will never play, a couple lands for $2 each, and a playset of Memnites because you already traded for your set at the Prerelease. Now we have $60 for the 2 Planeswalkers, $10 for the Sword, $4 for the two new duals and $6 for the 4 Memnites. That gives us a total of $80 plus $24, since we are choosing bonus store credit, for a grand total of $104. Selling just 3 Mythics, 2 Rares and 4 Uncommons out of our box, and we are ready to afford another box.
What if you want to go all in? Sure, have at it. Sell every card the site will buy from your box(es), and typically this will double your investment. Wait did you hear that? DOUBLE your investment. Using this method will allow you to repeat this process every time a set comes out to continue buying your boxes.
Alright, so where's the catch? Well, there are a couple things you have to watch out for. The most important thing that you have to realize is that you have a limited window of opportunity. You cannot falter on your plan otherwise you stand to lose a ton of your investment. The sooner you sell, the better. Open a pricey Mythic you don't need at the Prerelease? Put that sucker on eBay when you get home and you could make more money than you thought was possible. A good example here is the foil Scalding Tarn I opened at the Zendikar Prerelease. It sold for I think $45 or $50, and you would be lucky to get half of that now. The important thing to remember is that your window is open for about two weeks once the set is released. After that the majority of the cards in the set drop significantly, or at least stabilize as demand goes down. Usually they do not show a dramatic increase. The exceptions are cards that financial experts highlight as cards to watch for or to invest in.
What does all this get me? Well, if you were like me, I always had to trade for even the Uncommons I needed for my decks, but that is now a thing of the past. It's basically the same with regular Rares now too because they basically cap out at $10 and are usually much less. Also, what about all the rest of the cards you didn't sell? Talk about increasing your trade binder. You would be surprised how much of the stuff you can't sell but that you can actually trade away. Players want all kinds of crazy cards for all kinds of crazy decks so make sure you put all those extra cards in your binder. If you're not into that you can just bulk them out to increase your investment a little more.
Another thing you can do with the extra cards is to sell them as repacks. A lot of players in my area will buy repacks, with these junk rares, for a dollar each. You can draft with them, practice sealed decks, or just buy them if you're short on cash. I have been having a lot of success with my repacks, just make sure your shop owner is OK with it.
Once you trade a bunch of the cards left over for cards you actually need or can then resell, you can increase your investment for the next set that comes out. With most sets you won't want to reinvest your money right away, you will want to hold onto it so you can buy more boxes of the next set. This is not always true though. There have been two sets in the past year that have been extremely profitable for me and you need to watch out when sets like this are printed. The two sets have been M11 and Rise of the Eldrazi. These two sets broke my “Don't sell after the initial two weeks” rule. I ended up buying six boxes of M11 and eleven boxes of Rise. That's a ton of boxes if you consider that my initial investment was just that one hundred dollars I advocated at the beginning of the article. I did add another one hundred dollars later on, but that's about it. If you think about it, this system may just revolutionize the way you buy and sell Magic cards. The thing with those two sets was that the Mythics were so in demand that, even after the two weeks was over, you could just keep buying and selling cards from your boxes because so many people wanted the cards. It's a hard thing to spot, and even though I should have continued with M11 in particular to buy and sell even more, it was still quite a profitable ordeal. After all, you can just keep the money as profit instead of buying cards that you need, but then what are you going to play with?
Now you know my secret. It's been working for me for a year and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. If you plan to use this method, make sure you keep your Magic money separate from the rest in your wallet, you need to still have it when the next set is up for preorder. My four boxes of Mirroden Besieged are ordered already, are yours? I hope it has helped you see just another way you can go infinite.
Next time, we'll take a look at what else we can do with all our extra Rares and try to improve our investment a little more through trading.
It's an exciting time to be playing magic, selling cards, and having fun.
shadowrunner11 in the forums