Insider: A Fortune in Foil! (Part 2: Profit)

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Last week, in Part 1 of this series, we looked at factors that affect foils and give them value, which can be read here: A Fortune in Foil Part 1: Identify.

Today we will be looking at more foils of exceptional value, where to find lists of the cards we should be looking for, and strategies to move them to the right players. In order to cover all our bases, we will again be evaluating the cards following the four major groups we identified:

  1. Commander/EDH
  2. Vintage & Legacy
  3. Cubes
  4. Casual

1) Commander/EDH

Gotta catch 'em all!
The best resource I have found to find high value commander cards is in the MTGSalvation forums where there is always a HUGE Commander discussion underway. One link in particular is of interest to me in this case: The Top 50 EDH Card List!  

You’re going to want to print and/or memorize the cards on this list, as they are the most popular cards played in EDH and therefore the cards that are in the highest demand. Not all of these are available in foil, as some are very old, but all of them that CAN be foiled will have a Commander player clamoring for trades with you.

This is also a valuable resource because many people will just outright copy those lists and try and fill their deck with the aforementioned cards since the community says they’re good. This is the same kind of mob mentality that can be attributed to “net decking”, as when a deck does well and everyone jumps onboard, wanting the same cards. This list has basically created demand for the cards within it!

It’s interesting to me that I am able to position the EDH cards that I have for sale/trade by actually referencing the above article as one of my trading strategies. When approaching a trade for Commander foils, it’s beneficial to say something along the lines of: “Say, I think this card could really help your deck… it’s even in the top 50 list!”

Of course, it really does need to help them, but those cards are there for a reason and were decided upon with much community debate. Not EVERY deck will use them, as different strategies require different cards, but like they say: Good card is Good.

As with last time, I’ll be offering a few examples of cards in foil as well as their non-foil counterparts to compare. I couldn’t resist adding the Decree/Expedition Map since there was so much discussion about it last week.

(* = Special Factors such as Judge foil/reprints in effect. Base card set used for pricing.)

Card Name Non-Foil Value Foil Value % Difference
Decree of Pain $5.00 $25.00 500%
Expedition Map $0.25 $5.00 2000%
Dust Bowl $3.00 $45.00 1500%
Eternal Dragon* $4.00 $16.00 400%
Crucible of Worlds $20.00 $50.00 250%

2) Vintage & Legacy Playable Foils


U Jelly? I'm not... just filled with rage!
The meta is always shifting, but staples will always be in demand no matter which deck is on top at the moment. Hopefully we all know about the major cards like Misdirection, Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant, but almost ANYTHING that even shows fringe play in these formats will command a hefty premium.

I always check the newest tournament results here:

This is a great website that has basically replaced the old for tournament results. I’ve linked the Legacy tournaments results since that’s what we’re discussing, but it has tabs for ALL formats. Reviewing the latest results keeps you on top of the changing meta and ahead of the curve when it comes to picking up the hottest breakout cards. Combined with our Insider email alerts, you’ve got all you need!

Positioning foils to Legacy & Vintage players can be difficult due to their value, but are fairly easy to move provided you know how to market them. The whole blanket statement: “Legacy cards retain their value better than Standard cards” applies to Legacy foils as well! The problem isn’t so much moving these cards as it is finding the right buyer for them. Everyone knows that Legacy foils have value, but few people aside from the collectors are willing to pay it.

Card Name Non-Foil Value Foil Value % Difference
Dryad Arbor $2.50 $17.00 680%
Ichorid $5.00 $20.00 400%
Delver of Secrets $0.25 $5.00 2000%
Goblin Guide* $3.00 $9.00 300%
Knight of the Reliquary* $8.00 $20.00 250%

I wanted to include a few of these selections for a special reason!  The Knight of the Reliquary price was affected by its foil reprint in Knights vs. Dragons, but we can still see that its Alara Reborn version carries a nice premium.

As far as Goblin Guide goes, he will be the new GP promo for 2012, so it will be interesting to time stamp his price here and see what happens to him when the GP promos start getting widely circulated.

As an aside, Dark Confidant & Vendilion Clique's prices were literally unchanged when their Judge foils were released, so the limited quantity of those floating around does not (seem to?) have a huge impact on price.

If, however, they decided to print a card that was previously unavailable as a foil (a la Xiahou Dun, the One Eyed) THEN we have a perfect storm of limited quantity and high desirability that is sure to cause a price explosion. (I’m thinking a lot about the possibility of Force of Will getting this treatment sometime soon… scary!)

3) Casual Appeal

There is no site that will tell us what cards are going to be valuable to individual people when we’re talking about casual appeal.

Everyone has different wants, needs, and desires. As such, the value of certain cards is directly related to the personalities of the people who want to trade for them. There is always that one Vampire player in the room, or the “Elf Guy” who refuses to play any other tribe because, to them, it’s not about winning or losing, but about having fun and getting in with team Edward or the little green men.

This creates a very limited but profitable environment to trade casual cards, as people trade for them with their heart, not their head. So when you do find the right person to trade your foil Goblins to, you can expect to get value since you’re filling a need, not just a want to that player.

Card Name Non-Foil Value Foil Value % Difference
Jace, Memory Adept $10.00 $27.00 270%
Doubling Season* $15.00 $30.00 200%
Vampire Nocturnes* $12.00 $20.00 167% <- Fail?
Yosei, the Morning Star $5.00 $30.00 600%
Sarkhan Vol $7.00 $18.00  257%


4) Cube Foils

To trade Cube foils you need to find someone with a Cube, which can be a challenge unto itself.

But once you find that person you’ll be able to make a reoccurring trading partner out of them! Make a few mental notes about who the Cube owners are and the people who play that Cube are and approach them to ask about the style of Cube that they’re playing. Many people, just like when we talked about EDH, use a standard Cube list and modify it to taste, so there is, once again, a list of most of the “desirable” Cube cards that we can use to memorize and reference.

This time let’s mix things up and head to a Star City article written by the one and only Evan Erwin, who is a huge Cube enthusiast and probably one of the major reasons the Cube has met with the success it has. His article describes some of the common builds that get included in Cubes as well as the top 50 Cube cards per color.

That article can be found here: StarCityGames: The Cube 2.0

A link to Evan's main Cube site can be found here, which is also written and moderated by Evan Erwin:

I actually have a copy of his Cube that I play with, so I can certainly confirm that many other people would use his advice and lists as well. The reason why I use his Cube list is because it puts everyone at the same level. If you’re playing with an “unknown” list, it gives an advantage to those who have used the Cube the most since they will know what cards are within it, whereas a new Cuber would not have any kind of information on what archetypes are built in and what cards they can expect to see.

Because of this, myself and others like to use Evan's list because it allows everyone before a Cube session to see the cards and prepare themselves accordingly. A standard list puts everyone on the same level “informationwise”, but not “skillwise”.

Card Name Non-Foil Value Foil Value % Difference
Absorb $2.00 $15.00 750%
Trygon Predator $2.00 $15.00 750%
Vindicate* $22.00 $70.00 318%
Stoneforge Mystic $6.00 $25.00 417%
Eternal Witness* $2.50 $15.00 600%

Coming Down the Pipeline! :O

I had a brief contact with The Big Bosses regarding a suggestion for a new script that would really help identify all the foils that meet certain value criteria. In the future we plan on having a script/program in place that will search through sites like StarCityGames and display the foils having a certain % difference between them and their non-foil versions.

I’m thinking that a 200%+ price difference should get the major cards pulled, but there is not yet an estimate on when this will be completed. Just wanted to let you know that we’re thinking about it and planning on its implementation at least. Perhaps hand in hand with Project Condor?

Trade or No Trade? THE CONCLUSION!

 Last week I posted this trade and asked you to evaluate it. Let’s see what today’s values are for those cards to see if it was a good or bad trade in the monetary sense:

<< TRADE 1 – Foil or Folly? >>
2x Garruk, Primal Hunter $16x2=$32
2x Elspeth Tiriel $16x2=$32
1x Liliana of the Veil $25
1x Primeval Titan $12
1x Garruk Relentless $17
1x Underground Sea (VG+) $90
1x FOIL Garruk, Primal Hunter $30
1x FOIL Batterskull $22
1x FOIL Geist of Saint Traft $24
1x FOIL Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas $28
1x FOIL Chandra, the Firebrand  $19
1x Scavenging Ooze $16.00
1x Tropical Island (NM+) $90+
Total = $208.00 Total =$229.00

Based on eBay completed listings, this is what we came out with.

I’ll bet this surprises a lot of you, doesn’t it?

I valued the VG+ sea and the NM+ Island the same, even though I feel the Island is actually worth a little more for being pristine. Flawless dual lands are almost impossible to find these days, so their value to collectors is huge. It’s not surprising to me that when we’re talking about foils that cross into all of the areas we've discussed that their value woulld be almost double that of a regular's.

Not only that, but if we look back up at the values for Sarkhan Vol and Jace, Memory Adept, we see that both before and after, they have grown to many times that of their non foil equivalents. Of Garruk, Primal Hunter, Batterskull, Geist, Tezzeret & Chandra, which do you think will likely follow suit when compared to their non foil brethren?

That’s right, all of them! So, if we were to pick the foil pile, not only would we post gain on the monetary realm, but we would do so in such a way that we’ve invested in cards that will (should) retain their value!


If you’ve taken anything from this article, I hope it’s to not just dismiss everyday foil cards. Although it takes practice to identify them, there is a fortune in foil out there to be had.

Happy Holidays!

Carl Szalich

7 thoughts on “Insider: A Fortune in Foil! (Part 2: Profit)

  1. Great conclusion, Carl, though I guess my trained eye took the fun out of the cliffhanger since I wouldn’t have touched the left side of that trade. 🙂

  2. Another great article. I just want to mention that another factor keeping Knight of the Reliquary's foil price price from being insane (yet) is that it was included as a set-art foil in a precon for the set.
    Keep up the awesome work!

  3. Correct, Duel Decks: Knights vs. Dragons, but it's FOIL.
    A lot of players around here don't like that version due to the "art", hence non-foil Conflux versions are more searched after then those Duel Deck foil versions!

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