Insider: Penny Stock Picks with Kelly

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In the stock market, penny stocks are cheap, probably-junk securities that you get on the hope that they move up a few cents and show you a profit. They're an alluring strategy in the stock market because you can get a big volume of them. For one share of Apple, you could score well over 5,000 shares of a junk medical-science company that may be on the verge of a huge patent. If your shares go up, they go UP. We look at penny stocks in Magic the same way; these are the gambits that you stock up on with hopes of big payoffs.

I don't normally pick up these kinds of cards, because I use The System and only grab things that I can resell for... something. Kelly, on the other hand, has a butchness when it comes to buying up big quantities of junk cards. He's been proven right enough on enough small cards that it's worth paying attention to him. This week, I've consulted with him and I'll be presenting a list of cards that we think are worth picking up on a long shot. Some articles are "teach you to fish" articles; this one is just a bushel of tasty mackerel. These are the cards we predict will see appreciation in Standard and Block.

Avacyn's Collar

1 is the right cost for this card, especially with Trinket Mage skulking around. This card is contingent on there being a Humans deck, but if there is, oh wow is this sharp. You can play this on the first turn, play someone from the Kingdom of Man on the second turn, then equip and attack. Vigilance and the extra point of power mean that your guys hit harder and they can sit back on defense, too. Do you trade your 2/2 for their 3/2, knowing they'll get a Spirit token out of it? Do you let it hit you, even though the Vigilance means that you can't profitably attack back? These kind of situations are great for the Humans player. Even if they trade out, they can put the Collar onto the Spirit token and make a 2/1 Vigilant flier.

This kind of reminds me of Basilisk Collar because it's a huge stack of value in a cheap Equipment. It dissuades people from blocking and really messes up combat.

Mentor of the Meek

In Block, the Mentor has seen play in R/W token decks. Casting Gather the Townsfolk with enough to get this through for drawing is great. It turns that Doomed Traveler into a lategame draw spell. Kelly and I both like this card, especially when Scars isn't part of the picture any more. The best draw for Mentor right now is that it's super cheap to buy.

Ghoulcaller's Chant

Zombies is a real thing right now and it will continue to be a real thing, both in Block and Standard. While Gravecrawler comes back on his own, there are enough other zombies that you'll want to pull back with this. Diregraf Captain is a must-kill and this brings him and a friend back when you need them. Kelly says that the hot pickup on this card is the foil version, and I'm inclined to agree. When we take a broader look at things, Zombies are going to be here for years to come. People want recursion and this is a great element of a zombie deck. Zombies is also a really cheap deck to put together and people love to foil out their cheap decks.


Kelly is more interested in this than I am, but it is a solid attrition card for Zombies. Since Gravecrawlers can come back on their own, this is more likely to grab something big - something like Diregraf Captain or Geralf's Messenger. If you look at it another way, it's a 2/2 for 1BB that draws another monster. You have a little bit of control over it, since you can craft your graveyard to a small extent. I think this is one of the more long-shot calls, but we'll see on it.

Thraben Heretic

It doesn't look like much, but it's a bear in a relevant tribe that also nerfs Gravecrawler recursion. It also controls Undying monsters, meaning that you can turn it sideways to make Strangleroot Geist stay dead in response to the trigger. Humans is, and will continue to be, a deck.

Faithless Looting

This was the first card from DKA that we knew about and we've been in love with it ever since. Faithless Looting is just simply great. It's good in control decks; it's good in reanimation and dredging decks; it's even showing up in R/W aggro as a way to filter through lands later in the game. It's good to get your copies of these now; Careful Study was $1-2 for a long time and this is much better. While it doesn't slot easily into a Madness deck the way that Careful Study did, this represents a lot more card value than the blue Sorcery could muster.

I'll also note that this is great in conjunction with Noxious Revival. I'm pretty sure we'll see some sort of Noxious Revival/Miracle deck coming along, and it will run these if it has space.

Tragic Slip

This is the Mortarpod of the set - the card that designers had no idea how dominating it could be. Getting to Morbid is as easy as it comes. Threatening a Morbid trigger makes for some great games. If I attack my 1/1 into your Dungeon Geists, will you block and turn on my Tragic Slip? Will you give me a free pass for extra damage? It gets even better when you've already killed one of their guys in combat and you can ride this to another kill. This even removes Ulamog!

Inquisition of Kozilek was a great card, but people didn't click into it early enough. Tragic Slip isn't as good as IoK, but it's very respectable and very cheap.

Thought Scour

Kelly picks this as a good call for Modern Pyromancer Ascension decks, as well as a great element of the Miracle deck that we'll undoubtedly see. You can use it to trigger Miracles on the opponent's turn and it can dig through for the Noxious Revival setup on your turn.

Tracker's Instincts

Talk about a killer Impulse! This self-mills and draws to bomby cards. It's in the right colors for some really riotous plays. How crazy? Let's play this, grabbing a Snapcaster Mage. Didn't see one the first time? We'll flash it again and get Tiago on board. Now we'll cast him, flash back our Noxious Revival and put a Miracle on top. The crazy thing about this card is that it puts your filtered cards in the graveyard. That makes it much better than Impulse ever was if you have creatures worth sifting for.

There is also a Dredge deck that makes a respectable presence in Block. It uses this card, lots of other Looting effects and then cards like Gnaw to the Bone to get a lot of value from a big graveyard.

Witchbane Orb

What card is showing up as 2-4 copies in every block deck? The Orb is relevant for two reasons: it shakes of Curse of Death's Hold and it protects you from Brimstone Volley killing you too quickly. Many Block decks are also running Devil's Play for extra reach. Witchbane Orb is a fixture in Block and if the Brimstone Volley plan comes into Standard, I expect to see the Orb make its presence there. This is a great value call because Orb is so cheap right now; things like Torpor Orb hit $2-3 or more when it was the answer to Twin. The potential for profit here is enormous.

Altar of the Lost

Kelly is hot on this card because of its applications with a hypothetical control deck. One of these out and you're casting most of the Flashback cards for free. Two of these and you've got a good shot at flashing Forbidden Alchemy for not-infinite mana. This sounds like a long shot but people played the heck out of Honor-Worn Shaku in Kamigawa Block. When your goal is to cast stuff out of the graveyard, then the Altar is going to be a driving force. It'll turn on all of those Faithless Lootings into straight 2RR - Draw 4 kinds of cards.

Desperate Ravings

I know we're all hoping for a home for this. The rational explanation of why you should run it looks so good on paper. It doesn't always work out in practice, though. If we're going to see a good Flashback deck, it really depends on whether Avacyn Restored and Return to Ravnica want to support milling strategies. There are good flashback cards right now, but there's nothing that screams "if you build around me, I will win the game for you!" The uncomfortable part is that Burning Vengeance is a great card for the flashback deck, but you can't really be blasting through your deck with Tome Scours because there's no way to bring back the Vengeance. If there's a Flashback deck to be had, I think Desperate Ravings will be at the forefront. This card also has a lot of Modern potential with Past in Flames decks.

Noxious Revival

I've been talking about this all article long. This is the way you're going to set up sick Miracle plays. This recurs the red Miracle that eats a quarter of the opponent's life for a single mana. That's huge. This and Snapcaster mean that you can just keep reusing miracles. We both love Noxious Revival for the short and long term. This is a card that has a lot of guts to it in Modern, and Standard brewers are going to run to this. Remember how expensive Gut Shot got! This won't be a Gut Shot price, but this will be more than it is right now.

Feeling of Dread

Do you remember what a blowout Activated Sleeper was in limited? Sleep let you sail through the opponent's guys all day long. Feeling of Dread is half of a Sleep, twice. We scoff at tempo cards but we've got to remember that people play Vapor Snag for the bounce, not the burn. This is two whole turns of locking down Inferno Titans and other looming monsters. It's a Moment's Peace that lets you get in two unimpeded attack phases. I love this card and I expect that U/W will adopt it when Vapor Snag rotates.

Tallying it up

How much is all of this going to cost you? I'll present the answer, derived from TCGplayer lows, in a box form. Consider it like an index purchase - if you bought one of each of these, you can see what they'd be worth later by consulting the box prices in the future. It works the same way a mutual fund's price does in that the value is an aggregate of other prices. When some cards (or stocks) go up, others go down. This is called "covariance" and ideally, you've got a portfolio worked out so that whenever something goes down, something else is going to go up.

The Box:

Avacyn's Collar 0.04
Mentor of the Meek 0.35
Ghoulcaller's Chant (FOIL) 0.10
Ghoulraiser 0.02
Thraben Heretic 0.02
Faithless Looting 0.09
Tragic Slip 0.05
Thought Scour 0.04
Tracker's Instincts 0.03
Witchbane Orb 0.22
Altar of the Lost 0.02
Desperate Ravings 0.02
Noxious Revival 0.25
Feeling of Dread 0.01

This comes out to $1.26 per "lot" that you buy at this time. If you stock up on these cards, you'll end up with 50 of something that you just can't get rid of, but you're also likely to hit the cards that a dealer is paying 25 cents for. Big dealers with sophisticated buylists like Strikezone or the aggregate of Bidwicket are good places to check for dumping these cards.

The other thing I love about buying a portfolio bet like this one is that you know the relative value of any card in the portfolio as compared to the whole. If you buy this whole packet, each card cost you nine cents. Thus, you can figure out what kind of a rise you need to get to cover the whole price of the lot. You might toss out the lot idea and just cherry-pick things like Avacyn's Collar. This is fine, just like it's fine on the stock market, but if you're going to do it, get a few cards alongside the one you're dedicated to. It's an easy hedge.

And seriously, get your Noxious Revivals.

Until next week,

Doug Linn

3 thoughts on “Insider: Penny Stock Picks with Kelly

  1. Love Witchbane Orb. They're SO cheap, too, especially considering their EDH application (Shroud for colorless?) and how they show up in Legacy MUD lists as a Leyline that you can actually cast.

    Good calls. I think Noxious Revival is pretty spectacular.

  2. This kind of buy is my absolute favorite. It is inexpensive to enter and offers a chance at high reward while allowing you to spread out your risk. Remember to consider your exit strategy so you don't get stuck. Getting rid of 100 uncommons quickly is pretty easy in a short amount of time. Not so easy to move 1000 at once when you're ready to cash in.

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