Insider: 10 Core Set Cards You Didn’t Know Were Valuable

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With Modern season winding down, Standard more or less figured out and Legacy waiting to make an appearance this weekend, I figure now is a pretty good time to run this particular column.

It’s an idea I did a while back, and one Doug has been exploring for more than a year in his columns, the very straightforward look at older sets to highlight the money cards. While Doug’s series does a great job of looking at the expansion, the core sets don’t show up as often, so this week I want to highlight some cards from these sets you may have forgotten about. I’ll be focusing on the more recent core sets since that’s what you’re most likely to find in binders nowadays.

An easy way make dealers pipe up a few bucks

10. Elvish Piper

A perennial favorite of mine, the old Piper shows up in binders fairly regularly and is often mistaken as bulk by many people, when in fact the opposite is true. You can get $2-3 from dealers for the Piper and trade for it at a third of that price. I’ve spoken before about how I make the bulk of my profit in trading from getting stuff like this, and this is an easy target to look out for.

9. Chandra's Phoenix

I include this card simply because many people don’t realize how much it has risen. I hadn’t either until I randomly noticed last week that this thing has moved up to $8 on Star City Games, fetching $3-4 from dealers.

Using this knowledge I picked up a few of these at FNM last week, and nearly everyone pegged them at $4-5. Take advantage of this mistaken price perception while you can and cash in.

8. Captivating Vampire

Much like another card that will make an appearance on our list, this guy is expensive for a number of reasons. Oh wait, he’s a Vampire Lord? Never mind. That’s the only reason he’s worth $4 on SCG and an easy $2 to a dealer.

It’s easy to miss cards like this, but the rule of thumb of “tribal lord = good” holds true more often than not. That one line of reasoning has been very good to me over the years and I expect it will continue to be. Even those guys trying so hard to be “legit traders” often miss on small cards like this, and perfect knowledge of every Modern staple in the world won’t stop them from bleeding their profits if you don’t know this side of the market as well. Just look at [card]Adaptive Automaton ($4).

Honorable Mention

I want to mention Sanguine Bond since we’re on core sets here, but I hit on this one in the first piece of this series, so I’ll just give it passing mention here. A solid $2-4 to dealers, by the way.

7. Serra Ascendant

This little guy got hot a few years back when Conley Woods broke out Soul Sisters on an unsuspecting Nationals audience. Ascendant sees a little bit of Modern play, but I have to think it’s the EDH crowd keeping this thing as expensive as it is. You can get $2-3 dollars from dealers for it and it will trade all day long at that price, netting you easy profits every time.

6. Jace, Memory Adept

It's Jace. And he Mills. Enough said.

Everyone knows this guy is worth money, but a surprising amount of people know realize exactly how much. This guy sees very little play in any format, and that means people don’t look in on him often. Because of this, people don’t have a solid idea what this guy is worth and, in my experience, most will guesstimate $8-12.

Truth is, this thing moves on SCG at $15 and you can get $8-9 from dealers for it.

Also of note is that I only see this going up over time if it isn’t reprinted because it’s a huge Mill card. That said, I think the chance of a 2013 reprint is fairly high, so be careful holding onto these for too long. You’re better off picking them up on the cheap for other Standard cards that don’t have as good of a buy/sell spread and unload these.

If you want to make the longer-term play, trade expensive Standard staples for them now and you’ll be on the much better end of the deal a year from now after rotation.

5. Grave Pact

People can underestimate the value of this card since it’s strictly an EDH card and was reprinted in the Commander expansion, but this recurring edict pulls $5-6 and will net you $3-4 from a dealer, numbers that any grinder can get behind.

Since it’s likely to come up, I’ll tell you the Commander version is $2 cheaper on SCG and is bought by dealers cheaper in accordance. Still grab these as throw-ins if you can, but don’t go hard after these unless they’re from a core set.

4. Lord of the Undead (and friends)

All Zombie cards have gone up in price since Innistrad, and this is no exception. While you’re more likely to find Cemetery Reaper in binders (which is still a good throw-in target), the real treasure is finding Lord or Death Baron. If you see anything resembling a Zombie from the last five years, it’s time to go hard for it (assuming you’re getting the right price, which you usually will).

3. Elvish Champion

Remember what I said about Tribal lords? Sure enough, that principle applies here, and the Champion will get you $2-3 from a dealer.

This particular lord has been reprinted a ton, yet every version (even the Dual Decks version) is worth at least $2 on SCG. The prime target is the 10th Edition, which goes for $6, but grabbing any of these on the cheap will pay off.

I love these kinds of cards because even those people who consider themselves in the know and realize these type of cards aren’t valueless don’t always know how much they’re worth. For instance, I knew Champion was worth money, but before looking it up today I probably could have been convinced to trade it at $3 or so, and someone who’s read this article would have doubled up on me.

The more you know.

2. Master of the Wild Hunt

This guy was definitely the stones back in the day (like two years ago), when he was tearing up Standard and got poor Charles Gindy DQ’ed from Worlds for screwing up what he could do with it.

Of course, that’s pretty much all I could think about when I played him at GP Dallas last year and rolling his face with my Caw-Blade killer Elves list (crushed CawBlade but lost hard to Lotus Cobra). Anyway, I beat the former Pro Tour and Nationals winner but missed Day 2 by five spots while going 6-2-1, beating CawBlade five times and RUG once, losing to RUG twice and drawing with Valakut (somehow).

Back to the Master. SCG sells him for $6 despite not seeing any play these days (though he seems like he would be good in creature mirrors in Modern). If you’re lucky enough to spot one in a binder, try to grab it.

The point illustrated by Master and many cards both on and not on this list (Time Warp, sells for $1-2), Mythics from the core sets since 2010 have retained value very well. All of these core sets are only opened for a short amount of time, but the early ones (mostly M10) were criminally underprinted, which creates some really nice trading opportunities.

1. Vampire Nocturnus

Tearing up kitchen Tables since '09.

This is pretty much the Holy Grail of Core Set Gold over the last few years. This guy was a Prerelease promo but still holds down a $20 pricetag. This is pretty much “the” Vampire Lord of the last five years, and the price on this guy is going to stay strong for a very long time.

I’ve seen dealers offering up to $15 on these, and you should never accept less than $10 if you can get ahold of any. For what it’s worth, even the prerelease card has held its value really well, sitting at $15 today. Almost makes me feel bad for giving away mine to my buddy for his casual deck.

In Other News

I’ve been lucky enough to get off work the next two weekends, so I’ll be at SCG: Dallas this weekend and GP Nashville next weekend! I know I’ll be looking for all the cards on this list, and hopefully you’re able to use this yourself to boost your profits. If you’re going to be at either event the next two weeks, let me know and come say hi!

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler
@Chosler88 on Twitter

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