Insider: Count your Commons

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Quiz time. How much is a Rupture Spire for? How about Wild Nacatl? Ashenmoor Gouger?

The answers might surprise you.

Gouger goes for a quarter, as does Manamorphose. Spire goes for 10 cents (and probably more soon due to Commander precons). Nacatl is good for a nickel.

Remember Journey to Nowhere? The card you threw back on the table after a Zendikar draft? Sells for a quarter. Its big brother Oblivion Ring will get you up to 50 cents.

I realize I am talking about literally nickel-and-diming your way to profits, but any good grinder knows this is where you guarantee your margins. Everyone knows Kitchen Finks and Mental Misstep are worth some money, but how many people realize that Countersquall is being bought at a quarter or that Mind Funeral is being bought at two dollars?

One of the most common things I hear from QS readers is that they want to be able to demonstratively prove that they made back their subscription fee in any given month. If you’ve been playing for any amount of time, I have very simple way for you to do just that – Dig through your old boxes and pull out cards. I know most of us have already done that (a number of times) but I think you’ll find that there’s a lot more value hiding there than just the Path to Exiles you were looking for.

I have a pretty keen eye for non-bulk cards, but even I was surprised by how much I found when I began actively searching my collection for such gems as Shield of the Oversoul ($.10) Ardent Plea ($.25) and Voracious Hatchling ($.20). The fact that you just had to read those cards again to remember what they do shows how little most people know about these cards. Does it give you more options when trading to know that Blasting Station ($.50) is worth more than a ton of rares from the most recent set?

I understand that it’s not easy to find these cards, because most people don’t carry them around. How, then, to make use of the lack of knowledge regarding these commons?

The two primary ways you’re going to come across these is when buying collections and when digging through completed drafts.

We’ll start with Drafts. Mediocre grinders know that Memnite is a solid dollar bill, but are you also grabbing all the Spell Pierce ($.05), Contagion Clasp ($.10), Memory Sluice ($.10), or Relentless Rats ($.40)? If not, you need to be.

I didn’t for the first few years I played Magic. Even so, I still managed to pick up random stuff like Bramblewood Paragon ($.50), and I’m willing to bet you did too. Spend a Sunday afternoon digging through your boxes and I guarantee you’ll come out with something to show for it. I even managed to come across a few Cranial Platings ($.50) and Hedron Crabs ($.25).

When buying collections, these things are going to pad your margins much faster than you’d expect. Most people will overprice their rares to an extent, and it’s in the commons and uncommons that you will make that back. Don’t stop digging just because you’re past the Splinter Twins and have started running into the Mercy Killings ($.10).

I want to direct you to this list. While it’s not perfect (since not every card on there is actually bought at a nickel or above), it’s an incredible resource to keep handy when cleaning out collections, either your own or one you’ve acquired. Pull out the cards on this list, price them out, and be happy for the $20 bill you got for “free” when purchasing a collection (not to mention the occasional Senseis Divining Top).

I’ll be back tomorrow with an update to the Prediction Tracker, and I’m going to try and address some of the more frequently-asked questions regarding it.

Until then, keep the commons coming.

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

6 thoughts on “Insider: Count your Commons

  1. I completely agree. It's not necessarily worth having a binder full of .10-.50 cards, but it is well worth your time to toss the valuable ones in a separate box for that sole reason.

    I tend to prefer to sort my cards like such:

    High-dollar rares and Legacy staples go in my Monster Protectors 9 Pocket binder. If you don't have one of these binders, you're truly missing out. You find them retailing for anywhere between $25 (at big events) and $40 at your local store. I would definitely snag yourself one for those cards you want protected.

    Dollar rares go in a bigger, traditional 9 card binder. Although this is harder to keep up to date (and sometimes I simply default to tossing them in a box…) it can be nice to have for when trading with casual/edh players who want those fun timmy cards you secretly want to play. It's nice to say "I value anything in this book at a dollar" and then let people pick out 5 cards to trade for $5 in value. You can always throw in a few extra to keep everyone extremely happy, since it's likely your dollar rares aren't all actually worth a full dollar.

    It's really nice to keep these cards separate for the sake of trading efficiency. If you find nothing but a couple dollars worth of cards in another person's binder, it makes little sense to hand them a book full of dual lands and dark confidants.

    Then the extra box full of valuable commons/uncommons. It's fun to bring around to dealers at an event and watch them make piles of cards they want while hardly picking anything out of the dollar rare book. These cards will move and you can be confidant a stack of them will go for a reasonable number added up.

    Anywho. Those are my strategies.

  2. Thanks for posting this list! I just was looking at my collection from when I was a kid the other day thinking I would just give them away since I'd pulled all the money rares. Now I recognize a lot of the cards on your list and will have to take another run through. I'm pretty sure you just paid for my subscription for the next few months!

  3. Question, considering I have a metric crapton of cards like this sitting in my bulk…

    what on earth do you DO with them? take them to event after event hoping to get a nickel? Memory Sluice, for example, sells for a quarter…but neither SCG or CFB will buy 'em from you. So what good is it? Certainly can't go on eBay, it's just not worth it.

    Honest question. I'd LOVE to squeeze more value out of my thousands of bulk cards.

  4. With the exception of very few of the cards I listed, all of the buylist prices quoted came from CFB. To my knowledge, they honor the same buy prices in person as online, so I would expect to get those prices when I sold. I would suggest doing something like this on the Friday before a GP, so they still have plenty of cash and time. It also helps to know what you're going to get price-wise going into the deal, because something like that has a very small EV for the dealer, so you want to make it as quick and painless as possible.

    1. Along with that, it can be a good strategy to sort cards like this by the buy price prior to heading to an event. That way you'll know you're getting what was offered and the buyer doesn't have to sift through it all. If you portion off the box you bring it in with separators and whatnot (.05, .10, so on), you would do both you and your buyer a favor.

      And selling cards on Friday is always the best idea for big events. They'll have money and will want to pick up cards they know they'll someday move. On top of that, they'll hopefully be full of energy and you can banter up some fun conversation. 🙂

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