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Insider: Casually Investing in Innistrad

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Happy Black Friday! While obviously Turkey Day is more exciting for most people, Black Friday is practically a(nother) national holiday for shopping soccer moms across the United States.

I’ve personally scored some great deals on Black Friday (including a gaming computer I’m buying this week with MTG profits from this year), but for me, Black Friday is all about the competition. No, it’s not winning a Pro Tour, or even FNM, but it is really satisfying to rush a store and beat out hundreds of other people to a particular item.

Anyway, there are more than just TVs on sale this year. How does this relate to Magic? Well, Innistrad is flooding the market as we knew it would, and it’s begun to drag prices down across the board, if Snapcaster Mage is removed from the board anyway. I think we’re going to have to wait out Snappy in the long-run here. It will come down, just give the market time to work its magic. There are still many months of Innistrad ahead of us, don’t get antsy and pull the trigger too soon. It’s holding steady at $21 on BlackLotusProject (Ebay), and I expect the drop-off will come after the holidays, when people are done buying themselves a Magical Christmasland gift.

But what the market will do to Tiago, it’s already done to a large number of the casual and Commander cards from Innistrad. Technically speaking, now might not be the scientifically perfect time to move on these (they’ll bottom out a few quarters more in a few months), but people are already treating these like throw-ins, so you should take them as such while you can.

Before we start, let me note that this is not a breakdown of the Worlds decks, as that is old news at this point and has been covered very well on QS already, nor is this a rundown of the next breakout Standard card. Unlike making big bets on Standard sleepers, this is guaranteed to make you money.

What we’re looking at today is a group of cards that will pad your margins in the long run, as long as you are patient. While these may not look sexy now and might not even six months down the road, remember that you need to carry both short-term and long-term stock. Trading casual/EDH cards has always been about finding the right buyer, and that’s the principle we’re working with. Find these as bulk now, trade them away in six months or a year or two at higher prices. You can also get the same value out of these in a shorter term when you find the random EDH guy who needs them.

Everyone loves to trade up for value, and a lot of that happens with the casual/EDH crowd. I’ve had more success with cards like these than the typical Standard-playable Rare that goes constantly in and out of favor. To sum this up, we’re dealing with lower-risk cards here.

Let’s begin.

Parallel Lives

It’s not like this card was secret casual tech when the set was spoiled. Everyone knew it was Doubling Season all over again, and traders were slinging it around for $5.

These days, you can find these in anyone’s binder and get them as bulk. They are still massively popular with the right crowd, and I know that they do sell at a robust pace around here. This was illustrated by a funny comment made to me last week by the local shop owner that “I would be proud of him because only a shop owner would rare-draft a Parallel Lives over a playable draft card.”

Angelic Overseer

While not exactly just a casual card (it has some fringe Standard applications), most people don’t realize this thing actually commands more than $3 a pop on Ebay. You can get these at $2-3 in trade all day long right now, and it will certainly rise over time.

Oh, yeah, it’s also a Mythic and an Angel. There’s that. I hear it’s like catnip.

Foil Curiosity

EDH applications all over here, yet almost no one who comes across this in a draft is going to realize that it’s a dollar Uncommon that is worth a heck of a lot more than that to the right person.

Army of the Damned

There’s no shortage of people who love Zombies, regardless of whether they are Standard playable or not. Army is pulling $4 on Ebay, something that, as with most cards on this list, the typical FNM Standard-playing trader doesn’t know offhand and will give up for $2-3 in trade.

Endless Ranks of the Dead

While not quite as good as its Mythic big brother, Endless Ranks still hits that Zombie theme and is worth much more than bulk prices. It also has the coolest art in the set, so it’s got that going for it either way.

Essence of the Wild

The quintessential “big dumb Green dude” of the set. Mythic and pretty popular with casual players means that it still pulls more than a dollar in cash on Ebay. Spike will pitch this without much second thought, and it’s a free dollar bill for you.

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born

Continuing the trend, Mythics retain value. Big surprise. Still, Grimgrin is worth a couple of bucks, so picking him up at $2 in trade is a fairly safe medium to long-term move.

Grimoire of the Dead

People just plain forget about this card until it beats them in Limited, but it’s worth about $3. Even those who don’t value it at bulk are still likely to trade it for $2 or less, and that’s a great deal for you.

That pretty much does it. I know it’s not a ton of cards, but the truth is I’ve  had all of these thrown into trades for nothing, and it’s literally handing out dollar bills. I know it’s not sexy dealing in these cards over hot risers like Garruk Relentless // Garruk, the Veil-Cursed, but it quickly adds up to net you real money, not to mention that trading for cards like these is a lot easier than making trades for the marquee cards of the set. Even if your profit margin is the same in the end, you’ll save yourself some headache.

That said, I certainly don’t advocate trading down a Garruk for a pile of these cards just because the buylist value might be slightly higher. Treat these cards for what they are – dollar bills that you can easily pick up “for free” from people. It doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, it builds up fast. Some people look down on floor traders for combing through draft leftovers or boxes, but we know this is essentially a “free” source of income. In the end, it’s not always about having the “pimpest” trade collection – it’s about making money. Don’t forget that.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

2 thoughts on “Insider: Casually Investing in Innistrad

  1. I always try and pick cards like these up. Slow-burners are just super awesome. It's silly not to pick them up when they are valued next to nil. Good article. Good traders aren't about having/moving tons of the best mythics that's just not possible most of the time. You'll make so much more off just picking up stuff like this over many trades.

  2. I liked Army of the Damned a lot, especially since QS's Peter Knudson debuted Horde Magic.

    I've actually been toying with it in EDH. Makes a great Buried Alive target, alongside Dread Return and the fatty. 🙂 Years of casual want is in store for that card.

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