Ask Kelly – Snapcaster Mage, Restoration Angel and Fostering Healthy Trading Communities

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In this new series, Quiet Speculation founder Kelly Reid dips into the reader mailbag and brings answers that come from his Magic expertise, business experience and writing at Forbes. He answers questions on specific cards, general trends, the Magic lifestyle and more.

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Q: With the titans rotating out of Standard, do you foresee any 5+ drops making it big?

- Ben from Singapore

Kelly: The titans were absurdly powerful for their cost. 6-cost cards need to be really game-breaking to see constructed play, and the Titans were all good enough to suit.

Primeval Titan was clearly the best, but that was due to interactions outside the card itself. Without Valakut, Inkmoth Nexus and Kessig Wolf Run, Primeval Titan got a bit less scary.  That said, the whole cycle was innately powerful because it affected the board immediately, both with the ETB ability and the 6/6 body.

That's generally the standard to which I hold a high cost card - how heavily does it affect the board when cast?  The first card that comes to mind is Sigarda, Host of Herons.  She meets all the criteria - the Sacrifice clause has a direct impact on the game since a lot of the best removal is based around the "edict" mechanic and she's a 5/5 flier for 5 mana.  While she is not nearly as devastating as a Titan is, she comes down a turn earlier, flies, and is far harder to kill once on board.

Griselbrand has already proven that he's a beast, but not in the traditional hard-cast sense.  A lot of the fatties in Standard will enter via Unburial Rites rather than the tapping of lands and paying of mana costs, so I doubt there will be many that make the cut as frequently as Titans did.

Q: What do you think about speculation on sealed mtg products like displays, FTV and Commander Decks?  What are the pros and cons compared to single cards? Can you get more money with the same cash invested?

- João from Portugal

Kelly: Sealed products are a really interesting gamble.  It's rare that you'll get a big return on investment. Even the most valuable sealed products don't do more than double up in a few years.  Considering there's no real guarantee they'll appreciate, nor a guarantee there will be a market for them, I'm not big on the strategy.

That said, I am a professional seller and not a casual player, collector or investor.  I'm much more interested in a quick 15% rather than a long 50%.  Booster boxes are usually fine to throw in the closet for a few years, especially from popular sets or short-printed sets.  I know I'm fine sitting on a case of AVN for a while since it was one of the most popular sets in recent memory and is PACKED with great cards.

On the other hand, I may end up cracking those boxes for singles since, in the short term, I can turn over all the singles with ease for a quick margin.  It comes down to your personal goals and timelines.  Single cards are more versatile, but more work since you have to sell each card individually.  A box can just go up on eBay and you're done.

This Week's Winner:

Q: What can a person do to help foster a new store's trading community?  A local store has just started FNM and gets 12-20 people, but no one seems willing to trade. Last FNM, I sat at a table with a binder open and no one even came to look or ask if stuff was for trade. Is there anything to do to show people trading is fun/ok?  I know they need cards, as the store doesn't have a good selection yet.

- Jim from Pittsburgh

Kelly: First, spread the word about QS!  Hopefully you brought our M13 Cheat Sheet to your prerelease, but, if not, bring  one to the Launch Party.  The more people that feel comfortable trading, the better.

Second, don't be "That Guy" who tries to value-trade everyone with dealer prices.  People aren't dumb and they hate people who do that, since it doesn't foster a trading community at all.  The problem I see is that you sat with a binder open, but you didn't ask anyone if they wanted to trade.  Trading favors the proactive.  Most people are not proactive, so you need to be the one to initiate the trade interaction.

Trade to trade, not to profit.  I find that working on a Cube or Commander deck is the best way to trade for fun, since slinging Standard staples is basically just a value-grind for me.  Have a list of stuff you need so people know what to do when they trade with you.  A lot of people just don't understand the idea of trading for its own sake, and, if they do, it might just not be their style.  I have seen a lot of people stop trading because of wanna-be sharks and "value" traders, so be especially sensitive to this.

If the store has a poor stock of singles, it will benefit everyone if you become a go-to guy for the stuff they need for FNM.  Give people your contact info and tell them to hit you up if they ever need anything.

Above all, be personable, friendly and approachable.  You can make your margin while trading pretty fairly, but right now focus on transactions just to get people opening up their binders.


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Q: What is your opinion on Snapcaster Mage? It seems that it's power level will be much weaker come rotation, should we be dumping them now and picking them up when the price settles?

- Felix from Chicago

Q: Kelly, where do you see Restoration Angel's price going after Birthing Pod rotates? Do you see Delver sticking around with Seachrome and the Swords gone?

- Pete from Ohio

Q: If you could unload any card en masse right before Columbus, what would you want to trade away/sell?

- Michael from Miami


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Kelly Reid

Founder & Product Manager

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Posted in Ask Kelly, Free

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