Insider: When to Let Go: The Story of a Man, an Underground Sea and a Nintendo 64

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A little note before this weeks article starts. When I tell you to buy a card I mean it. I don't mean watch the price on this card go up and I don't mean watch me buy this card and make money.


Two weeks ago I told you to buy Tower of the Magistrate. I bought 45 and a good friend of mine (Forrest Ryan) bought 30. This card went from 99 cents to $4.99 in one week.

Read the headline of this website:
Learn, Trade, PROFIT!

Whatever profit means to you, whether that's a bigger collection on the cheap or actually making real money, you should take the things I say seriously.

I will not make a call on risk that I am not willing to take myself.

Story Time

In the past I've made both good and bad decisions on ways to spend a Saturday night. This story is one of the good times.

Minnesota has one of the strongest Magic communities you could ask for. Everyone knows each other well and planning road trips, or even just getting enough to cube, isn't difficult at all.

We do a lot of memorable things.

We cube and get together frequently. And occasionally we like to drink.


Maybe a little more than occasionally.

One wonderful Saturday night not so long ago we decided to play a game called Wisest Wizard.

If you've never heard of it, it's a drinking game involving quests and large staffs made of beer cans. Every beer you finish is taped to the bottom of your new beer. As the night progresses, your staff can be used to help you ward off imaginary demons. Or stand.

The drunker you become the "wiser" you are. And games like Wizard's Chess (beepong) are played with more than just pride on the line. Every 3 or 5 beers, whichever number is chosen, you must battle a boss. A boss is a shot of any kind of hard alcohol chosen by your party. You can't fight a boss alone, though. You must have at least one other person in your "party" who is just as "wise" as you.

The person with the longest staff at the end of the night is the champion.

I was determined to be The Wisest Wizard. I would not let a bunch of amateurs like Star City Games two time open champion and invitational Top 8 competitor Patrick McGregor and good friend Dana Kinsella (who wrote a great article here last week) take the "Wisest Wizard" title.

After winning in a double overtime beer pong game and continuing to drink, I decided a little Nintendo 64 gaming was in order. I only need one game for my 64: NFL BLITZ.

Just a little known fact: I am a master at this game and will take on any challengers for any dollar amount.

I booted up the system and, because I was the Wisest Wizard so far, declared, in my wisest voice:

A brave knight robot by the name Martin Lohman took my challenge.

The wager?

If I won he would consume a beer and give me the can to add to my staff. If he won I would help him trade his garbage cards for an Underground Sea. I like taking bets that are completely skewed in the other persons favor. I'm a gambling man that knows when he can win.

As the night progressed, I continued to beat Martin in Blitz. Continued to smash him with 6 beers and 2 shots under the hood. Then 9 beers and 3 shots. I continued to beat him every three beers or so... until one fateful game.

I was very intoxicated by this point. I was leading the Wisest Wizard race.

I WAS the Wisest Wizard.

19 beers and 6 shots under my belt. I told him I would just give him an Underground Sea if he could beat me. He would have to give me nothing in return if he lost. At this point Martin was in a much better state of clarity then I was.

It was a grinding battle. There is video of this event somewhere. We were neck and neck.

[editor's note: Yes. This video does exist, somewhere. It's mostly Mike slurring "maaaarteeen looowwwwmennnnnnn, I'll beeaat you MAAARTEEEN--" and leaning on a giant staff of beer... all while impressively making touchdown after touchdown.]

I couldn't hold my head up and kept having to pause the game when I would drop the controller. I was holding a staff of 19 beers in between my legs and using it as some sort of crutch.

The 4th quarter rolled around and I was leading by 7. Martin got a touchdown. We were tied.

With 15 seconds on the clock and only 2 plays left, I really needed to make it count. I went for the famous "DA BOMB" play.

It was knocked down.

I knew I could just push this game into overtime and strive for a full quarter to take the win.

But, instead, I found myself on the 50 yard line. If I was going to set up a great pass near the 10 yard line and outplay Martin for the last 10 yards.

I went for the pass. It looked great. My guy was in one-on-one coverage. I pressed B to make sure my receiver jumped to catch it. Martin had apparently also pressed B.


The room erupted with cheers. Martin had a chance! His fingers fluttered on the turbo button so he wouldn't waste too much. He started running back...

The screen at this point was just a blur of color. My hands were not working like I wanted them to. I couldn't keep my head up. I dropped the controller as Martin crossed into the endzone...

Touchdown. With 0 seconds on the clock.

He had won.

Defeated and drunk, I stood up and screamed at him how lucky he was and how I was still the Wisest Wizard. I went behind the couch to watch some of the sober people play Catch Phrase.

I decided laying down was a good idea. I couldn't move. I needed to vomit. I called my girlfriend told her she needed to take care of me and she drove over and did. She watched over my helpless body as my friends took my phone, changed my Facebook status, and continued to drink.

From the floor of his house, I watched my Wisest Rival,--Dana Kinsella--elevate to such a level of wiseness that outclassed me.

I had lost. My dreams were shattered. I continued to vomit into a trash can and black out. I woke up the next day on a couch in a completely cleaned up room with my girlfriend in the chair next to me. I felt awful.

After the true Wisest Wizard awoke, we went out for Olive garden.

I guess the lesson of the day is this: It doesn't matter if you're losing a good sum of cards on a bet or getting too drunk to stand, Magic is still a game. A profitable game. But still a game. Have fun while your playing it.

Onto actual financial content.


Earlier this week I tweeted that you should buy Angel's Grace. This card seems like a great buy as Hivemind gets more popular. It's a great way to battle against the deck, but it doesn't just straight out beat it all the time. I bought a few of these with some friends and plan on unloading them at Gencon. I don't think this card has the reach to climb insanely high, but I do think it will go up a little while the deck is popular.

You should follow me on Twitter @Gamble4Value
. Throughout the week I'll be making calls as I see fit.


This week I am going to talk about the proper time to unload cards.

I hate to say this, but getting rid of cards is all about waiting until you feel the time is right. Every person tries to speculate a card's peak. By the time it starts to drop a little, it's already too late.

I tend to get rid of cards I make a profit on at the first sign of a plateau. For example, I will be selling my extra Tower of the Magistrate's this week.

I'm not saying you should sell them right now, however. I buy and sell quickly to make small financial gains and re-invest. This minimizes chance for loss of profit. Sure, I lose a little profit sometimes when a card continues to climb a bit, but I'm still making a profit margin I am happy with.

I have seen other financial strategies work out great as well. Another local player and friend, Forrest Ryan, sits on cards for a long time and always tries to maximize value. If you can afford to sink a lot of money in at once, this strategy works well as a long term investment. The card demographic is different, however, in it relies less on the waves of the current metagame and more on staple investment and potential key cards.

Week in Review

He once beat Chuck Norris in the Cawblade Mirror.

Mr. Gerry Thompson blows all our minds again by winning both portions of the SCG event this weekend. It's rumored he was given magical powers after he beat Chuck Norris in a Tombstone Pizza eating contest.

Decklists can be found here.

Gerry played Team America. Real Team America. Check out Tyler's article, "The Future of America, Team" on this.

The top this weekend was a full 8 different decks. I write the bulk of my articles before the Legacy portion on Sunday is fully wrapped up and fill it out as the day goes on. I was writing about Pattern of Rebirth and how I speculate this card to climb and BAM! A list made Top 8.

While SCG already raised their price, many sites haven't yet. Buy these while you can at under $4.00.

The card that I'm most excited to see is still somewhat cheap is Pernicious Deed. This card has some room to grow. I would buy a few while you can at around the $13.00 mark. This card could easily go up as time goes on.

Riptide Laboratory has been slowly going up in price. If you can find these for around $.50, then I'd suggest you pick them up. Don't pay more than that.

Not a lot of Hive Mind in the Top 8 due to the amount of Fae running around. But this will pass as Zoo works its way back into the format. It's time for the kitties to start taking down tournaments again.

I don't see any other cards jumping in price from this week's Top 8. If you see anything, don't be afraid to email me and we can chat about it.

Modern Warfare

"Modern's extended legacy of rumors will be blocked by it's limited appeal."- Forrest Ryan

Did you catch his use of format names?

Unlike most people, I am not impressed with Modern. I think Wizards "moving forward" with Modern will mean it will get support on MTGO. And that's it. I think the price flux that is happening is actually completely ridiculous.

If Modern becomes real, like an actual paper card format, shock lands will get reprinted. If you bought shock lands cheap and have made a profit on them, that's great. But I wouldn't hold onto them for too long.

The best thing that could happen if Modern becomes real is it becomes the New Extended. It will cause cards to jump in price for three to four months at a time. And then they will fall again.

I am personally not investing in the format and will continue to ignore it. I would rather bet on lesser known Gambles then invest my time on something everyone has already become aware of. But I do encourage you to take advantage of the virtual flux in price of Modern-possible cards if you find it's something worth your time. It's obvious that some cards are jumping in price. Just be weary of missing that plateau.

If you disagree send me an email and convince me otherwise:

On the road again...

I will be at Gencon with a ton of Modern dual lands from for trade. A friend of mine is selling out and has a full set with extras. Flag me down if you see me, as I should always have them along.

I will be driving out of MN with my crew on Wednesday and will be there all weekend. Don't be shy. I would love to meet you all and would love to trade. I will be playing Vintage Champs, and probably Legacy Champs too, so stop by and watch me do battle.

I would also be more than happy to help evaluate your collection and assist in the grind that is selling cards.

Onto the checklist.


(fireworks, explosions, etc.)

Pernicious Deed - $14.99 on SCG

For a format staple, this card is still very cheap. I would expect this to someday hit the $25+ mark.

Leyline of the Void - $.99 on SCG

With the recent reprints of this card, it has plummeted in value. Pick up some foils of either version. With Innistrad coming up we may see some great new graveyard-based cards make an impact in Legacy.

Pattern of Rebirth - $3.49$5.99 on SCG

As Natural Order continues gets better, this becomes Natty five through six. It's also a sweet combo in a Protean Hulk deck (which was at GP:RI). I like this card and it's not worth a whole lot right now, at least not as much as it could be. NOTE: I initially wrote this Sunday evening. It's jumped up in price as a deck that used it took Top 8. That list wasn't optimal and I feel like this card could still go up even higher. Be cautious though--find them at a non-SCG inflated price.

Adrian Sullivan's Beta Underground Sea

On SCG live coverage of Legacy on Sunday. Eli Kassis fetched for a Beta Underground Sea and Adrian said "If that black-bordered Underground Sea is English, I wouldn't be surprised if it's worth $100-150."

Just think about that.

Until Next Time…

Have fun in this game. Enjoy every moment and keep your mind sharp.

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


6 thoughts on “Insider: When to Let Go: The Story of a Man, an Underground Sea and a Nintendo 64

  1. Great article, love the drinking game, granted only for a select audience but still seems enjoyable. I have to agree with you on Modern, I have been picking up staples when I can find them cheap but by no means am I jumping on the bandwagon. The big chance to profit is over really, cats out of the bag.

  2. This was an insanely good and enjoyable article, and I LOVE me some N64 and still play regularly. This drinking game will be making an appearance soon at a party near me. Also, Sub Zero is where it's at on Blitz. I would challenge you, but it's been far too many years since I've played to put up a real fight. Now, if you want to talk Mario Party 2…

    Also, as for actually financial content, I agree that pitching Shocks now is probably the right play.

  3. I played Wisest Wizard frequently, except that my group calls it Wizard Staff. If you have a few people who play RPGs around, hilarious spell names come up. At my last wizardmoot, we had Magic Circle Against Sobriety at level 5 and Delayed Blast Vomit at level 9. At level 12, you get to cast Mordenkainen's Magnificent Drunk Dial.

  4. I promise you I can hold my own in that game. If you show up in Indy with a N64, it's on. The games themselves are swingy, but I rock the minigames (outside of Mecha Marathon)

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