Insider: Tidal Changes

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I've talked about a trader/player's need to ride PTQ waves, in the past, and as the seasons change we need to reassess where this new season fits our plan. During a Standard season I rely on key uncommons picked up from drafting to fund my events, while Sealed season thrives a bit more on boosters.

Standard PTQ season is now over, and Sealed season is rolling in. There will be a couple months with Core Set PTQ's until Innistrad comes along, and M12 packs will be cracked like wildfire during that time. At my most recent Standard PTQ, dealers were buying Dismembers for $5 each. I have no idea what they were selling for, but I would assume it was at least $8. Of course I had my longbox of uncommons, and had enough Dismembers alone to cover my entry fee to the tournament. This is something to take note of, even though there isn't another Standard PTQ on the horizon. Next year's season, Dismember will still be legal, if they dip in price at all I am going to stash a bunch of them (also to replace the ones I sold at the PTQ). Keep in mind, their value is tied to the viability of the Exarch-Twin combo, and there may not be as much demand for it next year. I still think it will be a desirable removal spell that fits in any deck to deal with problematic must-kill creatures. Next year I hope to have twice as many to sell to dealers.

I do normally try and dump what I can at these PTQ's and Sealed PTQ don't generally have the same benefit. For the most part, prices on cards like Dismember only shoot up so high because people need them that day. For a Sealed PTQ, you're not going to see much of that, so scouring buy lists is your best bet for dumping any rotating cards. For the most part, you're going to find your value at a Sealed PTQ by trading with other players, hopefully a larger pool of collectors than what you see at your LGS. Fresh blood, fresh cards, and new opportunities. The other card to be stashing up for next year is Oblivion Ring. If you do find yourself at a high-profile Standard Event, you should be able to bring some good money on these. Just don't try this tactic at SCG opens, while they seem comparable to PTQ's, corners the dealer market, and they don't have to compete with buy prices of other dealers, gobbling up all that profit for themselves.

So, since PTQ season is over, is Standard all but dead now? While I don't want to exaggerate, it is mostly true. There are still SCG opens, and Nationals around the corner, and of course there will always be FNM, but to the Spike circuit, they are going to be ready to get rid of most of their decks now. This means Zendikar block stuff that I (and everyone else on QS) recommended getting rid of a while ago, they will just now be willing to part with. Most of it you won't want, but some of it you do. Namely the Fetchlands and Jace. If Fauna Shaman dips low enough, I may even try and stash a set of her for Extended play. I dont want to encourage too much preparation for Extended, because its unknown if the new Modern format will replace it, and if it does, how soon. There will be a Grand Prix in my hometown of San Diego, this year, and it's currently slated for Extended, so I'll be watching this develop very closely.

As we sit in the dead center of a limited season, that involves packs that are worth more sealed than opened, boosters from prize support should be saved. If you're the Spike type, you should be using these to Money Draft. Sell sets to opposing teams, and then battle. Not only is it good to get more repetitions working with the cards for Sealed season, but its an instant cash-out of your packs. The other option is always to trade them, if playing limited isn't your thing. Especially so at FNM. There are about 4 players I know always spend any winnings in store credit towards boosters, and I always am sure to let them know when I've got packs. Often times they will trade cards into the store for more packs! This gives you an opportunity to buy their cards at store buy prices, and sell them packs at retail. This is the most profitable way to move your packs, especially ones that aren't that desirable to the financially minded. Hopefully you'll find yourself on the good side of some prize support to take advantage of this.

Also at the PTQ, dealers were selling Shocklands just under $30, and people were buying them. I really don't understand it, because they are not legal for the format, but also running at considerably lower prices online. What this indicates to me, is people have been looking for these, and unable to find them, so jumped on the opportunity, even if they felt they were overpaying. Im hesitant to think the Shocklands are going to shoot up more than they already have, so there may not be much of an opportunity to make money here, but if you plan to pick some up for Modern, you may want to start shopping around Ebay looking for steals. The number 1 way I have made money on Ebay is by searching for misspelled cards. While i'm giving you the most extreme example, I check Ebay each week for "Duel Lands". I once found an unnoticed auction and snagged a Bayou fairly cheap. This isn't going to net you tons of money, but it takes very little work, and you'd be surprised how bad people spell sometimes. While you may not have luck using that search term, there may be some other options for you. I also bought a DCI Promo foil 'Vindicatel' for under $10 about a year ago. You may search around for a while, but you'll likely find some kind of steal this way if you add it to your daily/weekly list of activities.

With respect to my personal business plan, now that Standard season has ended, it's time to focus on extending my collection into Legacy. Force of Will and Wasteland are on my list to pick up first. I already have one Wasteland, and Force of Wills have come back down slightly, so I"m shopping pretty hard on Ebay for both of these, while aggressively seeking them in trades. Once those are tackled, I'll move on to Dual's to form which ever deck I'm going to actually build. Other cards I'm picking up are Mental Missteps, now that NPH is not being cracked as regularly, and also collecting Despises. These are two uncommons that are well worth hanging onto a good number of for a while.

Don't get caught up in the undertow of the changing tide, just be prepared and ride the waves!

Chad Havas
@torerotutor on twitter

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Chad Havas

Chad has been with Quiet Speculation since January of 2011. He uses price speculation to cover all his costs to keep playing. Follow his journey from format to format and be prepared to make moves at the right times.

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3 thoughts on “Insider: Tidal Changes

  1. I know a store owner who has almost 100 Force of Wills and claims he hates the card so much he will burn them when he reaches 100. Sure wish he would make people a deal and sell those all at reasonable prices. I tend to believe he will really burn them as well and that is very unfortunate. You discuss packs… how do you feel about picking up Dissension or Guildpact packs. I found some recently (about a box of GP, 15-20 packs of Diss) at 3.99, obviously boxes are up right now. He wouldn't give a price break for purchasing all of it (Comic store not gaming) do you feel they might be worth it ?

    1. Wade- Sorry i didn't catch this sooner. To put it bluntly, I'm not familiar enough with the older pack pricings to make a reccomendation on this, but I would be wary. If you thing the guy is savvy at all, he may have cracked boxes and used box-mapping to selectively open packs. Further, most of the good money in the Ravnica block is in the initial set itself. I'd look at what you can flip them for online right away, and know you can likely trade them a bit higher than that. M12 (and soon Innistrad) packs will be in demand amongst spikes as they are looking for cheap draft/sealed sets to practice for PTQ's and the like.

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