Setting Yourself Up For Success

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“Proper planning prevents piss-poor performance.” I’ve heard this from a number of people at a variety of times. However, I’ve found that people usually say this when they themselves haven’t planned properly. For those of you that are slow on the uptake, YOU ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME. If you maintain a Standard collection, it’s time to ship all your rotating goodies. On top of that, it’s time to reconsider any M11 cards that are being reprinted. Standard is about as stale as it can get, and unless you have a Tier 1 deck built, and you need your pieces, start cashing out to prepare for 2 new sets releasing within the next 4 months.

Hopefully, over the last couple months you’ve been dumping as much Zendikar block stuff as you can in your trades. Anything left over should be organized and traded out to a dealer. I recommend taking advantage of any trade-bonus they may offer. Perhaps they’ll give you additional value if you trade cards for cards instead of just selling. It’s a great way to pick up a handful of Legacy cards, with a stack of stuff that will literally have no value in a few months. I recently got rid of a stack of stuff to a local dealer for a Wasteland and 2x Crucible of Worlds. I didn’t get rid of anything worth more than $5, and it included a big pile of draft bulk, like Burst Lightnings, Doom Blades, Andrios, Roaming Explorers and Vampire Nighthawks. Keep in mind, that my actual trade binder was recently stolen, and these longboxes of draft bulk that I save for season-end were one of the few things to survive the loss.

How can you go about setting yourself up for next season? Well, first, clear out your stock like I did, to make tracking and maintaining these bulk boxes simpler. Then, you’ll want to sort all of your Scars block commons and uncommons, by set, and then by color, and then by name. After each draft, filter your deck into these boxes, and pull the notable cards for your binder. Did you know that dealers pay as much as $0.10 for cards like Myr Galvanizer, Arc Trail, and Trinket Mage? My box has over 30 Trinket Mages in it, thats $3. This stuff really does add up quickly. Either use a 5000 count box, using a row for each set, or use a separate longbox for each set. I like to try and maintain at least 4 of every common/uncommon in these boxes, and cards that see even the slightest play, I’ll collect as many as possible in these boxes. Organizing these into longboxes is useful not only to find cards when you need them, but to be prepared to bulk them out this time next year. It also is a great idea to bring them to larger events when a certain uncommon may become the hot ticket, and you’re not the guy saying, “Oh no! I’ve got a stack of those somewhere at home!” I’ve been that guy, it’s not fun.

Track how much you can bulk out at the end of the season. Find out what you’re going to do with that inflow, and how does it fit your trading plan, as I discussed last week. Are you going to put that value back into your trade binder? Will it be for Standard cards that aren’t rotating? For Legacy staples? Will you cash out to place some pre-orders for the upcoming sets? Make a plan. Write it down. Crunch some numbers.

Make a list of any bulk rares from Scars block you own, but are not in your trade binder. Keep it up to date on a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet will allow you to look at things at a glance, when something pops up on the Prediction Tracker, or news pops up at an event. You can often keep all of these separated in a single box. Once the draft format changes at the M12 release, the amount of Scars block being opened will immediately subside. Picking up what seems like junk rares in parts of your trade will likely payoff. Cards like Argent Sphinx, Spikeshot Elder, Scars Dual Lands, Sunblast Angel, Contagion Engine, Massacre Wurm and other rares may not have much value to the drafters around you. Last week I made the following trade:

Steam Vents
Razia, Boros Archangel

3x Argent Sphinx
3x Spikeshot Elder
2x Hive Mind
1x Hive Mind (Foil)
2x Slagstorm
3x Precursor Golem
1x Ezuri, Renegade Leader
3x Etched Champion
1x Blackcleave Cliffs

Most of these rares were literally in a box he had written: “Junk Rares” on. My trade partner is exclusively a drafter, and also plays EDH casually. I know he always has a huge stock of standard rares, and he hoards everything he drafts. He also needs the common EDH staples, and we both tend to have excess of stuff the other needs. This trade is a win-win. As indicated on the prediction tracker, I expect Argent Sphinx to pick up some steam next year, and same to be said for Spikeshot Elder. Hive Mind I want to try and flip as quickly as possible, before it’s delegated back to the $0.10 realm.

I have a friend who drafts with me every week, and he doesn’t keep many of his cards, and doesn’t speculate much on future values. But, man-oh-man, does he grief when he “had so many of those, I can’t believe it’s worth something now...” I’m waiting to rub it in his face when I dump some large number of Argent Sphinxes around November next year. I’m invested in these so cheaply, that any amount of increase will be a sizable profit, and if it sees play in a Tier 1 deck, I’ll be making it rain.

This week on the Prediction Tracker:
As noted above, Argent Sphinx made the list for me this week. Blue is losing the best 4-drop it’s had in ages, and while the Sphinx is certainly no Jace, it is an extremely aggressive creature, at a great spot on the curve. The fact that Lightning Bolt is not being reprinted, makes me like this guy even more. I also added the Commander Pre-con’s to my Hot list. The Commander crowd at my LGS is going nuts for this new product, and I also know that most of them don’t like to buy cards, I don’t see many of them shelling out the dough to buy one or more of the precons, but I know they are all excited to add some of the new singles to their existing decks. Be first to have extras, and pick up trades as quickly as you can. I also moved Karn off the Watch list, and onto my dump list. Karn Liberated didn’t show up at Nagoya, and you may as well get rid of him now. I was hanging on to the one copy I drafted recently, hoping it would pick up a small amount of steam of PT Nagoya, but no such luck. I’ll be trading it for a Koth, I hope. I also added Elvish Archdruid to my watch list. Having been confirmed for M12, his price certainly wont shoot up too drastically, but all the ducks are in a row for a solid Elf deck to roll through a small card-pool version of Standard in the fall, and Archdruid could shoot up temporarily. I’ve been trading for these at very close to bulk levels by using the “It’s about to be reprinted” approach. If people ask me directly, I”ll admit that I think he may see some play, and that I’m speculating on the card. I have no qualms telling people that I’m speculating on the card, but I always emphasize that I’m sticking my own neck out there by gathering them up. This has worked well for me in the past. Sometimes a simple line like, “Yeah, I know it seems like I know something you don’t, since I want a dozen of your Argent Sphinxes, but to be honest, I’m just taking a gamble on these, because I could see someone doing something cool with this next season.” Usually, that’s enough to deter any odd hesitation, and most people aren’t trying to take risks with their trades anyway.

I’d really like to hear from some of you as to what low-end rares from Scars block you think have potential for next season, and we can collect the results below in the comments, or if there’s enough interest, we can start a thread in the forums.

Happy Trading
Chad Havas
@torerotutor on twitter

4 thoughts on “Setting Yourself Up For Success

  1. Moltentail Masticore is criminally low right now and could realistically see a large increase in value if he finds a home. He’s a low end mythic and that leaves room for much growth.

    The only rares I’m gathering right now are the lands. That is a pretty safe investment because everyone needs just to play standard. Also, they always trade well.

    My secret pick was Phyrexian Swarmlord, but now that there will be titans again that’s out the window.

    I’m interested to see what other players will say too.

    1. Agree with Mike on the potential of Masticore. At the present price, it's definitely worth it picking up a few extras. However, with Wurmcoil Engine and the potential return of the Titans, Masticore is somewhat outclassed, so it might never find a home. Therefore, I am not going to sell the farm and load up on this one.

    2. Masticore is a sick pick. He is another sweet threat that couldn't be played with Jace in the format. I can easily see this guy finding a home in a U/W tempo deck, or something. Swarmlord has a high powerlevel no doubt, just not sure what the deck that would run him would look like.

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