Insider: Judge Foil Bobs & Maximizing Before Events

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Before I start this week's article, I first want to address a small point of reality. Last week I talked about my rise and fall and the value that I have been able to gain from slinging cards. I want to make it known that my lifestyle is by no means extravagant.

Don't get me wrong, I love what I do. But to be certain that I can always get by, I don't limit myself from occasionally working other jobs.

Some may object to making Magic a full time job, as it isn't as "profitable" as a real job. This game can be lucrative and is a great source of an income, but would I leave a regular 9-5 strictly to play Magic?

No. The lifestyle is too unstable. Just like any high risk venture, sometimes you make money and sometimes you get burned. I have been both fortunate and burned, as you can see from last week's article, but I would say I have come out of this whole process on top--reaping far more reward than the threat of loss could inflict.

The moral of the story here is: Don't quit your day job to shuffle Magic cards because of the success I've had. There is a lot of extra, easily harnessed money to be had from following the financial side of Magic, and I fully endorse doing so. Be real with yourself and wade into the profit from the perspective of it being a part-time endeavor rather than your lottery ticket out of the daily grind.

Anywho. That's enough jibber jabber, onto the article!

Wait, a second before we start...


I don't think this will actually affect the price of the original very much, if at all. It may drop the price of foils a bit, but not enough to scare me off of them. They aren't a threat to your current best creature ever printeds.

The old card border looks sweet. I loved when they did it with Sword of Fire and Ice and I love it now even more. Dark Confidant is a card that has proven itself to be one of the best creatures ever printed and will continue to prove itself as Magic continues.

As of July 25th, 2011, is buying the Foil Judge Promos at $60. They're buying regular ones at $25 and original Foils at $60.

For comparison's sake, they're also buying Foil Judge Promo Sword of Fire and Ices for $50, regular Sword of Fire and Ice at $17.50, and original Foils at $50.

They're selling the FoFIs at $35 for regular and $80 for both the original Foil and the Foil Judge Promo at $80. Dark Confidant sees the same consistency between the original Foil and Foil Judge Promo, both going for $100, with the non-foil original going for $50.

What does this mean? Well, they're currently perceived to be as valuable as it's original foil counterpart. SoFI is, however, typically used as a one-of in decks that play it, where Dark Confidant is a Legacy, Vintage, and (soon to be) Modern staple. People will want a playset of these over a a simple one-of.

Go pick up a set. Or ten. I would snap these up whenever you see them sitting around, as any foil-loving player will want a set of these (despite the silly artwork). The fact that they're going to be sought after as a playset makes them an ideal investment, but I don't think the $100 price tag is worth the cash investment. If you see them for less, however, you're nearly guaranteed to be able to get off of them for $100 somewhere. Or at least $60 from SCG.

Maximize the Amount of Actual Cash

Let's talk about making quick adjustments before a major event in order to maximize the amount of actual cash you will walk out of an event hall with.

I'm talking about that crisp, green cash money.

Unlike most guys on the trading room floor, I am typically less concerned with speculation, more in tune with a quick flip. I move in and out of Legacy cards like there is no tomorrow. When I do, I always make sure I am making a profit.

An Exercise

So, lets say there is a GP this weekend in Minneapolis. You have a solid binder filled with all kinds of goodies you want to sell. These are cards you have been trading for, planning on selling them to a dealer.

Why sell to a dealer instead of grinding it out on ebay? Well, dealers will gladly scoop up your three inch tall stack of staples at (typically) 75% retail value in one fell swoop, whereas ebay requires you to not only wait, but also go through the process of packaging, shipping, insuring, hoping they receive it (or don't claim they didn't), and dealing with the likes of Pay Pal and other virtual money.

When you're looking to turn cards quickly, dealers are your best bet at getting maximum value for your time. You hand them cards, they hand you money. Crisp, green cash money.

So as you prep for the big GP, remember: This is your last chance to increase your binder's cash value.

Your binder contains,

(assume all cards are NM/M)

3x Tezzeret, agent of Bolas
29.99 /15.00

2x (Revised) Scrubland
59.99 /30.00

4x (Revised) Kabira Takedown // Kabira Plateau
59.99 /30.00


You do your research, looking at the buylists and a figuring out who has the highest buylist price. For purpose of this exercise, we will assume that these prices are the highest you can possibly get.

You meet a guy at your local shop with these cards in his binder:

3x Jace, the Mind Sculptor
79.99 /40.00

1x Diamond Valley

2x Karakas

1x Magus of the Moat


He wants all the cards in your binder. Everything in his binder is for trade.
He tells you that if he trades his Magus of the Moat away, he wants a little extra value, since Magus of the Moats are hard to come by.

You have a great opportunity here. In this instance, you able to make a trade that gives him a bit more value, all while making a profit.

What do you do?

Cash and Trade

Okay. So this was probably a little easy.

You trade everything in your binder for his Diamond Valley and his Magus of the Moat. He gains around 30 dollars in retail, but you gain $30 in actual cash at the end of the day, making additional profit while appearing to take a loss.

You also ensure a return customer, since your trading partner gets his extra value. Next time this guy has an extra Magus of the Moat, he will know who to go to.

I've used this "trick" a ton in my Magic career. It allows me to make extra money and maximize my sell value while still being a fair trader and not "sharking". This only works if you are selling cards, though, as it makes your trade value go down. I've done many trades with some loss in order to obtain cards I know I can flip with high cash value.

When I see cards in peoples trade binders, I see a buyllist price.
Not a retail price.

I know the retail price, but if you aren't sure, don't be afraid to look things up. If your goal is to make money, always think about to maximizing cash value. Worry less about your trade value, especially since you're getting rid of them anyway.

This Week In Review

Lets talk about this week's Legacy SCG 5k.

Okay, an aside:

On Saturday night I decided a little drinking was in order.

After going to my girlfriends house, I realized that writing this while hungover sounded terrible.

But I drank anyway.

I now regret that decision.

I'm tired, and my head is throbbing.

As I watch the coverage, I saw a lot of attention given to the Final Fortune, Sundial of the Infinite deck, mostly in the early rounds.

I don't think it has the potential to make a impact on the format.

If anything, it will make the price of Final Fortune go up a little bit, but I'm not saying that people should sink a ton of money into this card. It has the slight potential to go up a few dollars and could be a quick flip if you have a lot of Timmys in your local area, but this deck hasn't proven itself enough to justify a large price jump.

In the Top 8 I witnessed Jesse Hampton cast a terrible Brainstorm at the end of his opponent's, Jesse Roberts, turn 1.

Jesse Roberts cast Mental Misstep, targeting the Brainstorm, and Hampton responds with a Misstep of his own.

Roberts thinks for a minute and casts another Misstep.

Hampton then Force of Wills the final Misstep and resolves his Brainstorm without a shuffle effect.


I told everyone I wouldn't get into strategy in these articles, but come on people!


If you haven't read this article, then read it right now.

After watching Ben Swartz play Brainstorm masterfully in the Top 4, restoring my faith in the Magic community, the prevalence of Natty Order decks struck me as a very real trend.

Pick up your Natural Orders. They will continue to go up. I promise you.

I love this card. It is simply awesome and will continue to be played for a long time, turning Ignoble Hierarchs and Dryad Arbors into 10/10 pro-everything Keeper of Progenituses. I wouldn't be surprised if it took a 25% price hike in the next few months.

Hive Mind had a strong showing in Top 8, with three of the eight decks being so.

If you don't own a set of Hive Minds, then pick them up for personal use, although I don't think this card has a whole lot of room to grow, price wise.

It may top out at around $5 a few years down the road if the deck continues to be as popular and successful as it currently is.

But the real money is in Pact of Negation.

It's becoming hard to find and will be in even higher demand after players find out about Hive Mind taking three of the Top 8 spots this weekend, eventually taking the whole thing down. That's some hype. Pact of Negation is one of the cards central to the deck's operation.

Very important trends are emerging.

As the Legacy metagame evolves, we see that equipment is getting better.

Having a powerful creature isn't enough unless it has protection from everything. Barring that, it has to be holding a sword of some kind.

Affinity has been falling of the map. Don't crucify me for saying this, but I personally think the deck is basically garbage. Garbage made out of shiny things. Like a dumpster full of washing machines.

Wizards has made sure to print plenty of artifact hosers. I wouldn't sell my extra affinity stuff quite yet, though. Hold on until Affinity shows up in a major tournament's Top 8 and then swoop in and trade for other staples. Tier 1 and 2 decks will always make occasional impressive showings in larger tournaments, but recognizing whether or not those are anomalies or trends is important. Affinity is trending out.

I love what is happening to the game. The dynamic formats keep new decks emerging every week. In many ways this means Magic is a growing game and the large GP schedule next year will continue to help increase the number of players.

What this means is that card value will continue to increase while more and more new cards are going to become available to Legacy players.

Protect your binder's staples and put little energy into picking up the cards that are still Standard legal.

With that said, let's head to the...


(ECHO, Echo, echo...)

As a reminder, the purpose of this weekly list is to help you invest in a solid portfolio of Legacy cards. These cards are always worth having in your binder, as there are always players looking for them and their prices will continue to rise.

This week I want you to obtain some of my favorite cards.

Horizon Canopy - $6.99 on SCG (out of stock)

This card is showing up in more lists and has been slowly increasing in value. I know you can pretty easily pick these up at 3 to 5 dollars, and they are bound to continue going up in the long run.

Sylvan Library - $9.99 on SCG (out of stock)

This card has maintained its value for a long time. As green starts to show its face in Legacy, this card may start climbing even higher. It's a great addition to any collection and is getting harder to find. I recommend finding the black bordered versions as they have the most room to gain.

Knight of the Reliquary - $9.99 on SCG (out of stock)

Knight has made a major impact on Legacy, allowing you to tutor up silver bullet lands like Karakas, Bojuka Bog, and Wastelands. This card has been outclassing creatures for awhile now and its price tag seems just a little too low. This one feels like more of a long term gain than the other two cards on the checklist this week. If she never gets another reprint, the price tag will surely climb despite her alternative art reprint in the Knights vs. Dragons deck (which is worth less then a regular, only $7.99).

Until Next Time...

Remember to grow your Magic Social Circles. Networking is a great aspect of this game, so be sure to meet new people and be friendly.

And remember to have fun.

If you're not having fun, you're not risking anything.

Feel free to post question in the comments or email me.

Until next time,
-Mike Hawthorne
Twitter: Gamble4Value

5 thoughts on “Insider: Judge Foil Bobs & Maximizing Before Events

  1. Another solid article, and I think the Legacy calls are spot-on. Obviously the biggest play on Knight right now is pack foils, since as the regular's price goes up, the foil price is likely to go up at an even faster clip.
    Keep up the good content!

  2. Excellent article. You probably want to emphasize that the Sylvan Library price you quoted was for the white bordered version and not the Legends one. 🙂

  3. great article sir, you are quickly becoming one of my favorite writers on here, you and Corbin put up some great content, hope to see you in Indy/Pitt/Philly

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