Insider: Finding Gems

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So, again we find ourselves "in the window" between Pre-release and Release, meaning you can get some of the highest values for your packs and cards now, than you will ever again. Taking advantage of this can be fairly straight forward by trading into stable priced stuff, or selling off boosters. At our LGS someone brought prize packs, and had a really bizarre 5-pack draft in which he charged $25/person. I didn't play, but this guy converted 35 packs into cash at $5 a piece! This is my jealousy raging. Smart move, and I'll try it next time myself! My sealed was a 0-1 disaster, with no valuable rares to trade, so I haven't gotten my hands on much Innistrad product myself, but I'll be hitting the trade tables hard this weekend.

Before I talk about Finding Gems, I want to thank Sean again for helping us all out with last weeks article, and for those that missed it check it out. Sean also answered some follow up questions in the comments recently.

This week, I'm going to address the resources I personally use, to keep my eye on constructed cards from Innistrad. Firstly, keep your eye on the QS Innistrad Resource Center, as it has a collection of all Innistrad related information.

Standard Gems:
Standard is always going to be the primary driver of most of the prices of a new set. Of course some cards are going to find homes in other formats, but Innistrad makes up one of 5 legal sets, so certainly some of this stuff will see play. Keeping on top of what people are doing in Standard is always important, and you can find this sort of information at all the usual sites,,, and among others. More importantly, you need to know who the "Johnny's" are at your LGS. The Johnny's are already brewing up crazy decks with these new cards, and they are going to not only need pieces, but also raise the stock of certain cards in your store. I'm a Johnny, and all the other Johnny's at my store want to show me their latest brew, and vice-versa. Knowing what the few different Johnny's are doing, will give you an idea of what people are talking about at your LGS. Especially after a long day at a release, the LGS becomes an isolated existence, where people forget about what happens outside those walls.

Everyone talks about Snapcaster Mage, and it's undoubtedly going to impact Standard throughout its Legality, but I'm not so sure how long it will take to start to stabilize in price. Once the dust settles, it may come as low as $10, but there's a lot of dust, and it may take several months to clear. This is certainly a Standard Gem, but won't be easy to get at reasonable value.

Other decks I've seen around my LGS include U/W Geist (similar to what Corbin had suggested), G/B ramp (featuring Army of the Damned), U/R Snapcaster decks, U/W Snapcaster decks, and Mono-W Humans. Just know what cards are getting additional hype and exposure at your LGS and position yourself accordingly.

EDH Gems:
One of the things I do when I first walk into my LGS is head right to the EDH games. I'm not an EDH player, but am friends with most of the guys who play. I always look at the crazy interactions, and be sure to ask, "So, what Innistrad cards are you guys most excited about?" Even though each of them will only need one copy of the cards they want, knowing what cards are desirable to EDH players, tells me which ones to hang on to and stick in the binder for trades. Creeping Renaissance is one that I've heard more than a couple EDH players talk about, same with Kessig Wolf Run. And of course, Snapcaster Mage. Each store will have a different feel, depending on how competetive people are, and what colors are most popular.

At my store, EDH and Standard compose most of the demand for cards, but be aware of any cards that may see play in other formats. Not to be a broken record, but Snapcaster Mage, will likely appear in older formats too. This is why I feel it may take some time for his price to equalize, but assuredly it will. If you need them for a deck, you'll need to pay the high values, as I don't see it coming down right away.

My last tip to finding Gems is Twitter. I'm on there (@torerotutor) as are most of the QS staff writers, but so are a majority of strategy writers, and finance writers from other sites. Twitter is a place where people bounce ideas off of 15 walls at once, and discussions of theory and speculation run wild. Make sure to use your best judgment and keep in mind most things posted on twitter don't have much forethought behind them. Twitter has been a huge asset to me, both in finding random cards for sale at good prices, a tip on a hot card before it was too late, or links to important articles that I may have missed. Not to mention there is a rich MTG community there that is welcoming and full of good resources for you. A fun thing to do when you are bored is to surf the #MTG hashtag and see what all types of players globally are talking about.

Having your ear to the buzz, and not letting yourself get clouded by what you consider to be "playable" is not going to affect everyone. Be aware of what's going on around you, and capitalize on it when possible.

Where's your business plan at now? Over the last couple months we've talked about a variety of areas you can focus your 'business' that is your portfolio. Hopefully, by now, you've got a handful of activities that will give you ways to gain value each week, and goals and expectations for where you want it to go from here.

Until next week, happy trading!
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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