Insider: Banned! or How to Make 200 Tix in 5 Minutes [MTGO]

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I recently returned home from the Star city Kansas Open, which was a hell of a lot of fun.  I won’t go too deep into how much non-Magic fun I had, as it has already been covered in other articles, but, suffice to say, I found the bathroom at Jack Stack very accommodating for all of my drunken vomiting needs.

I did learn a few useful things about Magic though.

  1. Mirran Crusader is one of the best cards in Standard right now.

    He is absolutely the best thing you can be doing against infect and wolfrun, and he has protection from the only removal color (sans o ring) that anyone is playing right now.  The fact that red has been doing very poorly (the only color good against him) makes him what you want to be doing if you are not playing wolfrun yourself.

  2. Grove of the Burnwillows  is going to be insane in Modern and is now showing it has legs in the current Legacy format.  Gerry T’s Top 16 list below is a house against the current glut of Stoneforge and tempo decks.

RUG by Gerry T


4 Senseis Divining Top


3 Grim Lavamancer
4 Tarmogoyf


4 Counterbalance


4 Brainstorm
1 Counterspell
2 Dismember
3 Force of Will
3 Punishing Fire
3 Spell Snare

Legendary Creatures

2 Vendilion Clique


3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor


2 Island
1 Mountain
1 Cascade Bluffs
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
3 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Tropical Island
1 Underground Sea
3 Volcanic Island
2 Wooded Foothills


3 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Flusterstorm
1 Force of Will
2 Krosan Grip
1 Lightning Bolt
4 Pyroblast
2 Thrun, the Last Troll

It kills Stonforge Mystic, Noble Hierarch, [card Vendillion Clique]V-Clique[/card],[card Dark Confidant]Bob[/card], Delver of Secrets, and snapcaster Mage, as well as just maiming both Merfolk and Goblins.  It also makes a late game Jace pretty much a non-issue. 

Shock has never been so powerful.

I can't say enough about this card right now.  It went up to 18 or 20 during the Modern hype online and is currently down to 8-9.  It will be a huge player this season.  In a format where Wizards is doing their best to kill combo, a recurring removal and burn spell is where you want to be at.

I would pick these up at 9 while you can.  If you are going to play them, you are going to play 4.  As a splash of this, Cascade Bluffs and Flooded Grove  will also be worth more due to being able to cast your Blue spells while using Grove for removal.

Onto the Article!

One of the biggest price fluctuations in Magic comes from the banning of cards.

It is different from new cards being released because there are no spoilers.  There is often a lot of conjecture by various strategy writers, but nothing concrete until that fateful midnight when the Wizards groundhog comes out and we find out if it’s 3 more months of combo winter.

Besides breathing life back into whatever stale format the bannings were a result of, there is quite a bit of quick money to be made from this.  Below are the main ways to take financial advantage of this somewhat rare occurrence in Magic.  Some of the information will be universal to paper and MTGO while the rest will be strictly MTGO.

What To Do When a Banning Occurs:

1) Buy all of the cards that get better by the banning.

The money making process starts far before the night of the bannings.

It starts once legitimate chatter begins about cards being too good.  This does not mean people whining in random forums.  Generally, several writers are talking about how a strategy is too good, or it just dominating for a long time.  If both Gerry Thompson and Patrick Chapin are saying something is wrong with standard chances are the jig is up and you need to start planning what to do.

First, make a list of all the strategies the cards (or deck) in question has oppressed.  Look at the effect the cards had on the format and plan accordingly.  If the banned cards pushed control decks over the top, then aggro and combo will generally have been oppressed.  If the card was some sort of degenerate engine ([card Survival of the Fittest]Survival[/card], [card Mystical Tutor]Mystical[/card]) it probably pushed all of the slower decks that could not cope with a format that turned the format into a “race this deck or play this deck” mentality.

Dear Wizards. Please do not reprint me or my brothers in the next core set. Well maybe frosty, he is a little slow.

A hypothetical case of this is Vengvine decks in Standard.  People were very excited about all of the neat interactions, but, inevitability, it quickly became apparent that none of the tricks were relevant when you could do nothing about getting Valakutted out.

I didn’t really expect Valakut to get banned, but I was still was ready at my computer every time a new ban list came out (just in case) so I could pounce on the angriest [card Vengvine]vegetable[/card] ever conceived.

A real case came when Stoneforge Mystic and [card Jace the Mind Sculptor]Jace[/card] were banned.  This broke Caw Blade's choke hold on the format and allowed oppressed decks that simply couldn't compete back into the limelight.

In Caw Blade's case, the oppressed individual was Valakut.

Valakut was a pillar of the format before [card Jace the Mind Sculptor]Jace[/card] married [card Stoneforge Mystic]The Little Kor that Could[/card].  The clock and disruption just came online just a little too quickly when you were getting clocked and forced to discard, so Valakut's traditional plan of going over the top of control just didn’t work anymore.

This meant that prices on Primeval Titan and [card Avenger of Zendikar]Avenger[/card] were very low. 


These were at the top of my buy list.

Once the banning hits, the goal is to buy up as many of the mythic rares (and to some extent the normal ones) as possible.  In Primeval Titans case, he went from 9-11 to 16-18 in the 24 hours after the banning. The nice part is that most of the bots will still be full of the card, so chances are you will get to snap up copious amounts of it in a short while.  Others will also be doing this, so you have to act quickly.

After you have all these newly mint mythics you have to make a decision on when to get out.  Generally the hype will drive the card up very high before any major tournaments occur.  I sell at this point because the prices do not usually go much higher, even if the card is tournament worthy.  However, if it turns out that it was all hype and the bannings did not kill the dominant deck, the bubble will pop quickly and send the cards back down to their previous prices.

The next source of profit comes from buying up the card that actually got banned.  This sounds insane, but is actually very profitable.

2) Buy banned cards:

Yo Dawg, I herd you like brainstorms, so I put brainstorms in your planeswalker so you can draw while you draw

Most people on MTGO go completely insane when a banning occurs.  Fear of losing value lends people to start trying to get rid of their newly banned cards as quickly as possible.

People will just start posting in the classifieds at a price that is generally too high and slowly lower the number as their cards don’t sell.  A lot of people use major bot selling prices or just look at similar classified sales.

The way to make a profit on this is through capitalizing on people's laziness in not looking at bots' updated prices.

Bots do not get the luxury of reading articles or knowing things are banned.  They go off of a simple supply and demand equation.  All of the well-known bots will change their buy prices very quickly, as the vast majority of people will sell to them.  Cardbot is not where you are making your money with bannings.

Start out by making a bot list.  A bot list is a quick reference sheet that can be used when you need to either buy or sell a large amount of cards in a short period of time.  It should guide you in your transactions to figure out who will most likely have good prices and stock of the card.

Make a spreadsheet of various bots, specifically chain bots (bots that let you use credit at multiple of their stores).  Note their card availability, buy amounts (4 of or as many as you have), what formats of cards they carry (Modern, Legacy, Standard), their prices compared to the major bots, and their general margins.  Try to hit bots that are not mainstream.  This process can be time consuming depending on how in depth you want your bot analysis, but is definitely worth it in the end.

Here is an example of what it would look like for cardbots buying and selling accounts.

Name Type Accounts Format Sell amount Update Price
Cardbot Selling 5 All 4 Quick Very good
Name Type Accounts Format Buy amount Update Price
Cardbuyingbot Buying 4 All 4 Quick Very good

Now you are ready to take advantage of some banned cards.

Start by typing the name of the card into the classifieds and see who is still advertising buying or selling it at the old price.  Once all those avenues are filled, use your previously created bot list to see if you can find some hidden bots that have not updated.

It may take a little time, but you can typically find a bot still buying at the old price.

Once you find a bot that is buying at the old price, you have to determine if its buy price is significantly different from the average classified sell price of the Chicken Littles trying to sell by posting in the classifieds.

If a significant difference exists, start buying up copies. Then immediately sell them to the bot.  For [card Jace the Mind Sculptor]Jace[/card] I was buying for between 50 and 55 and selling at 60.  This netted between 5 and 10 tix per transaction, totalling about 200 tickets after I ran a 3 account bot out of 2400 tickets. 

I wound up stopping after this because I had to wake up early the next morning, but I have no doubt I could have kept at it and netted hundreds of tickets from even more bots.

3) Tips for buying up cards when a banning occurs:

Do not try to undercut people by too much.  I saw people advertising buying [card Jace the Mind Sculptor]Jace[/card] at ten tickets.  The card was set up to be a possible pillar of Extended, Modern or Legacy, as well as the most iconic card in Magic. If there was hidden information of some sort, then maybe a ploy like this would work, but when you are offering 10 for a card and others are offering 30-50, don't even waste your time.

Turn the cards around immediately after getting them from people.  You do not want to do a mass buy of the banned cards only to be followed by having no buyer because all the bots have been updated.

If the banned card has multiple application outside of the format it was banned from, watch it.  When the Jace market dropped off and the bots filled up, people foolishly begun trying to get rid of their [card Jace the Mind Sculptor]Jaces[/card] at any cost.  It was still (hypothetically) going to be a huge card in Modern, so it was a good buy if you could get them for less than 20.

In Review: The Main Points

  • Make a list of cards that will increase in value because they are no longer being kept down by the newly banned card.
  • Make a bot list so you will be aware of bots who hadn't gotten the memo.
  • Act quickly.  For every hour after the banning, more people will have flooded the bot market with banned cards, making it less likely to find a bot still buying at old prices.
  • If the card in question has applications outside of the format it was banned from, snatch them up if they go low enough.

I hope this helps some of you uncover the profitable things to be done when Wizards slams down the ol bannhammer.  This will be relevant in a few months when Modern gets its legs, as Wizards has been going ban crazy in that format.

Thanks for reading!

Pat McGregor

2 thoughts on “Insider: Banned! or How to Make 200 Tix in 5 Minutes [MTGO]

  1. Nice article. I also think it's important to listen to what R&D is saying about the potential banning of a card. They were incredibly transparent leading up to the Jace and SFM ban, so there was plenty of time to make a move on this information.

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