Insider: Shots Fired: Big Game Hunter

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After a few weeks of discussion on up and coming cards that could put your collection in the black quickly we move onto a less risky yet less exciting type of call shot. This week we will be covering the art behind calling a card that is already seeing heavy play and therefore already has a price tag. For an example of such a card I have already covered check out my first call shot article two weeks ago where I discussed Tarmogoyf in depth. In addition to steady calls a great way to produce some income is to speculate on a new format, something I will be covering later in today’s article.

The most important thing to remember when trading for a card that already holds value is to not over-estimate the card based on predictive future price. Most of the cards you will be picking up in these types of trades will not drop below their current value so picking them up at or below the current price means you can always flip them for an even break. When I am attempting to pick up such cards I will usually look for about a ten percent reduction in the current price in trades creating a safety net and a possibility for a larger margin if the card does rise. An example from this past weekend at the Star City Games event in Indianapolis was Dark Confidant. He can currently be acquired in trades around twenty dollars if you play your cards correctly and given the current popularity I expect a steady growth over the summer.

Dark Confidant has been a staple in legacy for years and that doesn’t look to be changing any time soon, making them a safe bet at today’s price and potentially yielding a large return in the future. Watching the stock on certain websites can be a great indicator on whether or not a card could be on the rise. Knowing what to look for can allow you to be ahead of the game. Picking up a card like Bob at twenty or twenty five leaves a lot of potential for gain as the card slowly rises to Tarmogoyf status. Goyf has been cut in recent months for Stoneforge, but very few lists have moved Bob out of their starting sixty. Given that knowledge we can assume the rise of legacy will also raise the tag on this black staple. I have been labeled as a bit of a rogue when it comes to price assumptions. My past calls, however, show I have a fairly good track record, whether it be cards like Knight of the Reliquary, or Mythics like Consecrated Sphinx. Death's Shadow is catching on and has even found a feature on the building on a budget segment at the mothership. Consecrated Sphinx is already seeing widespread play. Dark Confidant is hardly my call but I believe the price tag will reach the forty mark near the end of the summer. I could even see the value higher than Jace, the Mind Sculptor once the big blue walker rotates. Midrange decks with Bob have been placing very highly as of late and I don’t expect the trend to subside any time soon. Given the sold out status Bob Maher has achieved everywhere expect the rise to happen sooner rather than later.

So even if you aren’t privy to such information or just don’t have the time to stay on top of such things how can you stay up to date with the game? The short answer is the Prediction Tracker that recently went live here on With the information provided by the authors here you can stay up to date on all of the latest happenings in the Magic financial world in one place. Investigate further into our predictions and you will find sound evidence behind calls we have made and where we expect cards to be in the future. Follow your favorite authors over the months to see just how close they were and make a good return for yourself in the meantime all in one place.

So where is the next place to look? What great investments do I have up my sleeve? Keeping up with my area of the trackeris a great way to find out, but for now I will talk about the riskiest investment I've made to date, one that can yield some of the highest returns if executed properly. I am talking about the creation of a new format in the near future given the popular demand and WotC’s obvious consideration. Whether it is modern or overextended investing in staples for both is a sound idea which can offer limitless return. What is the ceiling on a Ravnica Shockland if Modern becomes a PTQ format to replace Extended? What if it became a Grand Prix format? If Modern were to take off cards like the shock lands and the above mentioned Dark Confidant could see tremendous gains in a very short period of time. All the signs are pointing in the right direction and if you are willing to take a risk no better opportunity can be found. In this case the risk is small given both the shocklands and Bob are staples whether it be Legacy or EDH but even so the reward is great.

If you are a risk taker you can look further into the depths of such a format and apprehend a makeshift metagame in which you can deduce the cards that perhaps now sit neglected but may soon find a home. Given the banning list we have a solid idea of what decks may be to powerful but some that perhaps were not initially perceived can be used to our advantage. Personally I am looking at Dredge to be the combo deck of choice as nearly every card lost has a replacement. Though not as powerful as the legacy version it appears to still offer a consistent turn three kill making it a deck to look at. Once I deduced this information and looked for possible staples that have gone by the wayside I found cards such as Gemstone Mine and Oona's Prowler to be at the top of the list. Gemstone Mine already holds a five dollar price tag which can be a bit steep if you are looking to pick up any quantity of the card. Oona's Prowler on the other hand looks to still be in most people’s bulk binder, neglected since its days in standard. I again don’t look to trade too heavily for such cards as you are taking a large risk if the format never takes off but creating trades that can allow such cards as throw ins to even out a dollar or two can quickly lead to a decent stock of sleeper cards.

Since we have covered the basics and gone a little farther in depth with such call shots you have to be asking yourself: why invest? Why take such a risk when I can just grind sure values all weekend at a Grand Prix or PTQ? Honestly I can’t give you all the same answer, for some it’s the thrill of watching an idea grow, the same as if you were to watch your deck flourish and top eight a Grand Prix. For others it is something as simple as a combo you caught onto early becoming the next big thing. For others it is all about the money. Great margins can be involved when dealing with such calls and if executed properly you can quickly take your collection from a small array of mediocre cards to dual lands and powerful staples. Many though just want the pure joy of taking such a small risk only to watch it grow into something worthy of bragging rights. Everyone wants to be the mind behind the next big thing and this is the place to do it. Getting a reputation can not only lead to profit within the trade world but also within the community. Websites such as need people who are trade savvy to make these calls to keep people interested in the secondary market. Without writers all over the web divulging information, it would be very difficult for some to know where to invest in the game and when to sell out. Such information can be the difference on whether or you can afford to continue playing.

This may sound overblown when you first think about it but the reality is no one woke up one day and was a great trader. We all started somewhere. A great call shot can vault you into the known trade world and if you prove yourself over time you may find yourself writing for a variety of websites such as this one. A few years ago no one knew how widespread backpack trading would be, those of us that were around used a variety of methods to work our way up in the world. Over the course of the game those that have stuck around for any amount of time have learned how to adapt their trades to each new situation whether it be a new format or having to reformat their trade model all together. The key to being a good trader is to stay two steps ahead of the general public, knowing where the market is going can be a tough read at first but once you understand there is a whole network of traders that communicate and share ideas you begin to realize just how similar the world of the Pro Player is to that of the trading community. No one stays on top on their own, only through a network of tightly knit friends and colleagues can you stay ahead of the game.

I hope this article gives you an insight not only into the art of a call shot but into the world of the backpack trader as well. What we do is necessary to keep the cards in circulation and whether you work solely out of your local shop or have moved onto larger events, tools such as these can be great boons to keep you on top of your game. Since I have given you an insight into the large scale trade world I find it only fitting to describe in more detail how working together can create greater profits for everyone involved. Though you can of course grind on your own volition I think you will find that working as a group can create a better trade community as well as a great gathering of friends each time you are able to attend an event. Check out next week’s article as we dive right into what it means to be a trader on a large scale. I will discuss how to approach the subject and how to make sure you have all the tools to stay on top in a metagame that is quickly shifting to smart phones and technology that allows pricing at anyone’s fingertips.

Until next week keep your sights high and your aim steady!

Ryan Bushard

@CryppleCommand on Twitter

7 thoughts on “Insider: Shots Fired: Big Game Hunter

    1. Yep, this was written right after the trip last week except for the end so the prices have since then fluctuated to accommodate you can however get them for 20-25 in trades still.

  1. We don't know. Speculating on reprints is useless. For all we know, they can reprint Rav duals in M12 because Innistrad may be a return to Ravnica, and then their prices would crash and burn all the way to the ground.

    1. Their prices would hold if not rise due to being in standard certainly a large sell for the period when them and fetches are in standard, reprint would actually be nuts for the prices there isnt enough of the old ones to just tank the market specially if Modern becomes the new extended and has a solid following.

  2. I agree with Mr C's first statement, worrying about possible reprints is useless. If you are holding cards long enough to get burned by reprints, then you are either 1) a player so you are holding your cards regardless of the market, or 2) you are greedy and you expected your holdings to appreciate indefinitely.

  3. Dark confidant isn't a card bound by any flavor, invitational cards find their way back into standard all the time (avalanche riders, meddling mage), but I doubt we will see his return. It is far to powerful, some consider it to be the best 2 drop creature ever printed, as it is viable in all of his legal formats, including vintage.

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