Riding PTQ Waves

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.

Tournament play causes the greatest fluctuation in card price, over short intervals of time. It should be no secret to you that staying up on the current hot decks and hard to find cards is important to trading. I’ve found far too many people ignore the PTQ season factor, especially if they aren’t a PTQ’er themselves. Riding the easily predicted waves of seasonality, allows you to capitalize on both overvalued and undervalued cards.

Now that the craze for the release has ended, it is time to refocus our trade efforts. There are two key factors to be considering for the upcoming weeks and months. In case anyone forgot, we’re smack in the middle of a Standard PTQ season, and rotation is about 4 months away. This creates a unique tension in what type of cards you want to be trading for and trading away. First we’ll talk about a general gameplan to follow, then we’ll dig in to a few cards specifically.

PTQ’s are a huge opportunity to pick up some value off of your trade binder. There will be players who need to finish off their deck, and the immediate necessity allows you to cash in, often above the already inflated pricing. As for any PTQ, having a longbox with your playable commons and uncommons stocked is going to win you more trades than your binder of rares. Organize a box like this if you don’t already have one ready to go before the next PTQ. Showing up early is important to capitalize on this. If you plan to play in the event, arrive early and register your deck as quickly as possible, so you can walk around the room looking for people who need anything.

Before the event starts, you want to sell any cards that you were unable to trade, before the dealers lower their buy pricing. They want to be stocked up on anything they are short on, and will keep their buy prices higher on certain cards early in the day. Find out what they are over paying on so you can trade for it early, and dump any extras you may have.

I plan to get rid of every copy of Splinter Twin I own at the PTQ this weekend. It certainly doesn’t have much room to shoot any higher, and a PTQ is where there’s a market for this card, more than anywhere else. The Splinter Twin - Deceiver Exarch deck can only get worse due to hate, so the time to cash in on this card is now. It’s price has inflated to absurd levels, so if you’ve managed to load up on any of these, it’s time to get out. It’s likely the dealer booths at the PTQ’s will pay decent prices for these, so any you can’t get great trade value for before the tournament starts, I’d go ahead and sell to a dealer booth. Keep in mind, this card rotates from Standard in 4 months, and even Aaron Forsythe the director of Wizards R&D said that the Pit didn’t think it was a real deck. I only see this card dropping from here.

In general, the time to get out of Zendikar block cards is approaching. Anything that has any amount of Standard demand, but is set to rotate soon, is a good option to consider dumping. PTQ season is keeping prices up a bit, and PTQ players and dealers are the best way to get rid of them at maximum value. Gideon Jura fits in to this category, even though he’s suspected to be reprinted by appearing in the Magic 2012 preview trailer.The fact that he can’t be a 4-of in any deck, keeps his price relatively low compared to what one might expect for such a popular planeswalker, and a reprinting will certainly hurt his value. selling or trading these at a PTQ will give you good value, and you can likely replace them in just a couple months time for half the price. Lotus Cobra is another card I’d look to get rid of. While it has applications outside of Standard, it’s value is just about maximized in the RUG deck and the few remaining Valakut variants.

Primeval Titan is expected to be reprinted because there are promo cards announced for 3 of the 5 Titans. Whether it is reprinted, or not, I’d expect Primeval Titan to continue its steady decline. The rotation of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, will make Primeval Titan a less than exciting 6/6 Trampler, and the Eldrazi will rotate too, removing the other fringe application of the Jolly Green Giant. While the best time to get out of this card has passed, it’s certainly not going to get any better, so these are getting a prominent slot in my binder, hoping to off them to a needy gamer.

I’ve heard lots of talk about Mono Black Control being a real deck now, and while I have my doubts, I expect people to still be clamoring for the cards for such a deck. I’ve been actively turning rares from M11 into cash like Phylactery Lich, and Nantuko Shade. It’s likely that neither one of these cards is a factor in any MBC deck that pops up, but while people are tinkering with it, I”m happy to get rid of mine while I can.

Part of the dumping of cards facing rotation, is moving into cards that will be around for a while. Hopefully, most of you are already trading for some of the rares Kelly has been recommending. I have a nice stack of Precursor Golems, Etched Champions, Ezuri, Renegade Leaders, both varieties of Crusader, and Slagstorms. As the upcoming year approaches, these cards have little downside, and their playability has already proven itself. Trading into more and more of these doesn’t seem wrong, especially when you’re trading away overvalued rotating cards.

Per Kelly’s recommendation, I’ve also been trading into Consecrated Sphinx, but also the other Mythics of the block, like Venser, Tezzeret, and Koth. While Koth is in high demand at the moment, the other planeswalkers are not, and after Jace rotates, blue players will need a planeswalker to drive their control decks. Collecting a good number of these now, will likely pay off not too far down the line.

In my experience, being well ahead of the rotation is a huge leg up on cashing in at the peak, and Standard PTQ season is the best time to do it.

On another note, Corbin has proposed the idea of a results tracker, and I know Chris has already begun work on implementing it. I’m excited for this idea, and I know you guys will love it. I’m looking forward to both a friendly competition and an amazing resource that will be added to the content here at QS. It’s a convenient time for me to look at some of the predictions I made coming into NPH and see how they’ve done. While it may be too soon to tell on some of my predictions, I’m extremely happy with the calls I made in my recent article about Mental Misstep. While I think I nailed the long term mark for this card at $3-5, two of the cards that I expected to take a hit, have already begun to reflect it. Aether Vial and Candelabra of Tawnos have both dropped significantly at Star City Games buy pricing, and while Time Spiral hasn’t dropped there yet, it’s started to drop on EBay. Candelabra now sits at a buy price of $175 on SCG, and Aether Vial at $8, these are both down 20% since I made that prediction. I look forward to the results tracker because it gives us writers a good chance to be critical of ourselves, and force us to make calls on cards we would otherwise be reluctant to comment on. I really think it will be a great resource.

Best of luck transitioning your trade binder into cards that will be relevant long term, and cashing in on cards that are set for rotation. Hopefully this weekend will not only bring me some profits, but also a blue envelope.

I’ll now be writing weekly, feel free to leave suggestions or feedback here in the comments or over in the forums. Happy Trading!

Chad Havas
@torerotutor on twitter

3 thoughts on “Riding PTQ Waves

  1. @Wade

    A good reason to pick up Venser is identified in the article; the only potential is for the card to go up. Venser is selling on eBay for $10 – $12 dollars despite not seeing play in Standard. The rotation will only open up space for the card to go up in value. There isn't a reason to think the card will drop below the $10-$12 mark post rotation since its in standard, is a plansewalker and it isn't seeing play now(AKA the status quo). As the article identifies, the presences of Jace (and Stoneforge Mystic as a strategy) are so dominate that there isn't an incentive for Blue decks to play other strategies that would utilize Venser or Tezzert. If anything, you can pick up copies now and make some money when rotation happens based on speculation alone. In the event Venser show up in any top eights, the price will obviously go up.

  2. I understand what you are saying and what you said in the article. The concern I have is most planeswalkers that see a lot of play do something that really turns the tide of the game when the use a singular abiility and typically cost 4 mana (excluding Gideon) and I just was curious if you think for the 5 mana he can truly do that when Jace is gone. I feel Tezzeret (after playing him a lot) is the most challenging planeswalker to play because of his potential upside/downside with the top 5 ability. After playing Venser I mostly play him in random (non format specific) decks with cards like Reveilark where he really maximizes value. I really never use that unblockable ability in that color set up.

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.

Quiet Speculation