Insider: “Way Back” Trade Stacks #2

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In case any newer readers don’t know, when I first started writing for this site almost two years ago, every week I would record the trades I made at FNM and present them here.

I did so for a few reasons. The first was simply a thought exercise for me; to see how well I did trading and how much money I was realistically making a week. This was fun (and pretty helpful), and people seemed to like it. I also used it to show what cards I was targeting in trades and what, if any, techniques I used to complete the trade.

Now what’s more fun than recording and analyzing trades? Why, recording and analyzing those same trades months or years later! I visited this concept here, and today I want to do the same.  If you’re curious as to why this exercise is actually important to you as a trader, and why I suggest you try it out yourself, I suggest you start here. I also wrote a companion piece this week on LegitMTG you can check out for a more recent explanation.

Let’s get started.

Date: Aug. 5, 2010


Twilight Mire ($4.50)

Mystic Gate ($5.50)

Gaddock Teeg ($4)

Rite of Replication ($1)


Ad Nauseam ($1)

[card]Kozliek, Butcher of Truth ($10)

Net: $4



Twilight Mire ($12)

Mystic Gate ($7)

Gaddock Teeg ($5)

Rite of Replication ($2)


Ad Nauseam ($1)

[card]Kozliek, Butcher of Truth ($20)

Net: $5

I find it really interesting that this trade hasn’t changed much at all in the way of net profit even though the value of the cards involved has fluctuated quite a bit. And honestly, looking back at this trade, I’m not positive which side I’d like to be on today. Without checking buy prices, I feel like I’d rather have the Kozilek, simply because it’s such a hot-ticket item, though I’m not sure I would give $5 in trade value to get it.

What I’m taking away from this trade is this. We knew when the three Eldrazi were spoiled that they were going to be big-ticket casual items for years to come. We didn’t know the extent to which EDH would blow up, but still. On the other hand, we didn’t yet know how out-of-print Mythics would fare (very well), and I was trying to pick up cards for Extended season by grabbing the lands, which have appreciated exactly as I expected them to.

Looking at SCG buylist numbers now for this trade, we see the lands pile comes out exactly a dollar ahead. This reaffirms my belief I’d rather be on the receiving end of the Kozilek. When $5 of “book value” equates to just one dollar of cash value (though noted SCG isn’t buying the Rite), I want the high-ticket item. Chances are I would be able to trade down the Kozilek into much more than $1 in cash value if I wanted, or I would have the ability to trade it up as part of a larger trade.

Onto the next one, from the same FNM.

Date: Aug. 5, 2010


Groundbreaker ($2)

Trinisphere ($3.50)

Coralhelm Commander ($3.50)

Phylactery Lich ($5)

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre ($9)

Nevinyrrals Disk ($5)


2x Birds of Paradise ($10)

Sorin Markov ($8)

Net: $10



Groundbreaker ($2)

Trinisphere ($4)

Coralhelm Commander ($3.50)

Phylactery Lich ($1)

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre ($16)

Nevinyrrals Disk ($6)


2x Birds of Paradise ($12)

Sorin Markov ($6)

Net: $14.50

Here I get to be on the receiving end of the Mythic Rare, and we see how much better it worked out for me, as I’m up $4 more than at the time of the trade. But there are a few other interesting things going on here.

First off, in case you’re wondering, I picked up the Groundbreaker to trade to a friend who was looking for it. If I remember right, he never ended up taking it so I got stuck with a Groundbreaker for an undetermined amount of time. Lame.

Another interesting note is that Magic 2010 Birds have actually gone up since this trade was made (more recent ones are $5). The card has been printed, quite literally, a million times at this point, but it can still command a very solid price for a rare. I’ve always moved Birds without a problem when they’re in my binder, so it’s helpful to see that it’s a trend that’s been going on a for a while.

On a related note, Birds at $6?!? I understand we’re using SCG as our price point, so it’s not the lowest price you’ll find, but it is what you hear quoted most often on the trade floor. In my experience these have been trading for $3-4, meaning you can make a good amount of value by simply grabbing a pile of these in trade.

I know Birds isn’t in M13, but the speculation is it will be in Ravnica, since that’s the same trick they pulled last time around (Not in Core set, appeared in original Ravnica). I kind of like this as a target right now, provided you get in at the $3 price point I usually see these going for. These are a solid couple bucks on a buylist, and you can probably finagle even more of a discount when you bring up the fact that it’s “about to rotate.”

Looking at the rest of the trade, we can see how I got burned on the stupid Lich. Scars was about to come out, so it seemed like a safe speculation target. I don’t have it in my binder now, so that means it went somewhere, but I have to imagine I took a loss on it. Also worthy of note is that the Lich is the only one of the cards that was Standard-legal at the time of this trade that has come down in price. Eternal appeal, folks.

One more:

Date: July 24, 2010


Birds of Paradise ($4.50)

Steel Overseer ($5)

Leyline of the Void ($4)

Grave Titan ($35)


Leyline of Sanctity ($6)

Kargan Dragonlord ($14)

2x Textless Bituminous Blast ($5)

Net: $23.50



Birds of Paradise ($6)

Steel Overseer ($3)

Leyline of the Void ($1.50)

Grave Titan ($7)


Leyline of Sanctity ($5)

Kargan Dragonlord ($4)

2x Textless Bituminous Blast ($2)

Net: $6.50

Talk about taking a beating. This just goes to show how you can “win” a trade at the time you make it, but still totally understand why the other person made said trade. I can only hope I got rid of that Titan quickly. And seeing that Dragonlord was $14 is a trip, since these days I look to pick it up as a near-bulk Mythic since that’s how most people value it.

Also, it makes me incredibly sad these textless cards are just a dollar apiece. I get that it’s not played in anything, but all these Player’s Rewards cards just look so cool! And they obviously aren’t being reprinted in that form. Just makes me want to buy up all of these that exist on the Internets.

Next week I plan on having an event primer, since I’ll be at GenCon next week!

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter


13 thoughts on “Insider: “Way Back” Trade Stacks #2

  1. More trades please! 🙂 I honestly believe this Insider worthy if we continue to revisit it from time to time. It helps to get better in trades, discover long time trends, find some logic, … But we should see it more frequently. Please? 😉

  2. Have to side with Dave on this one, not insider material, especially when you give away equivalent examples on LegitMTG. I expect more from payed content.

  3. My two cents: I would LOVE to see MORE articles like this, from several different writers, as long as they DO NOT replace more traditional content. it's something that is relatively easy to churn out, interesting, and moderately informative. i think it would also help fight the one major complaint i (and i assume others) have… Not enough articles/content.

  4. Thanks for the feedback everyone. I see the reactions are mixed. I see your points, and I tried to go more in-depth here than just "get rid of Standard cards," as the majority of the cards in these trades were all in Standard together, which makes for a much more interesting vantage point than "trade Primevals for Goyfs."
    The reason I moved away from this type of article as a weekly thing two years back was that it can become repetitive, and I understand that. We're also in a relatively slow period of MTG finance, and this certainly isn't going to replace the in-depth traditional analysis I, and other writers here, provide. That said, a lighter article (when done sparingly), can be an enjoyable read for many, and it's not like this was totally bereft of analysis. I'm sorry if not everyone enjoyed this article, but as you can see from the comments, it's something that appeals differently to different groups.

  5. The issue I have is not with the article itself which is useful and fun, but rather that I am paying for it. This does not feel premium at all which is part of insiders selling point.

    1. It's useful but not worth paying for? I'm not sure I understand. I would consider something that has a use to have a value as well. And even gaining enjoyment from reading something makes it useful, in my opinion. Intellectual Property and all.
      Do you have any suggestions on how an article like this could better "feel premium?" or is the entire concept unacceptable? I appreciate the feedback, want to be able to revisit this in the future and keep it fun while still satisfying what you guys want.

  6. Perhaps it doesn’t feel serious enough? Honestly I’m not sure how to make it feel ‘premium’ which means I am of little help, but my initial reaction when I finished the article was to go see what the premium article was for the day as I had assumed I clicked the free first by mistake. These types of articles have a place and a purpose certainly, but they are also something I feel like I could find for free on most major sites, I have no idea if that’s true but that’s how it feels to me. When I signed up for premium this is not the type thing I expected though it is also possible I had the wrong impression.

    1. I understand. If you don't mind me still pestering you with questions, is something like this something you don't mind from time to time (considering you're paying less than .50 for it?) and can enjoy with that in mind alongside the more traditional content I put out week to week, or would you rather I just stick to that stuff?

      For what it's worth, I actually found the process of reviewing these trades (and then writing about them) to be well worth my time. For instance, the lesson about the Eldrazi is something that will stick out in mind the next time a similar thing comes up, and I hadn't even realized that SCG had raised the price of Birds up so high (thought it was still 4ish), nor did I realize exactly how far the non-Emrakul Eldrazi have gone up. Did you? That alone is going to make/save me money this weekend at GenCon, and it's not something I would have noticed (or brought to your attention) without going through this exercise.

  7. It's never pestering, it's good you're willing to listen to your readers. I think from time to time this type of article is reasonable, although personally I would focus more on the trends represented in the price changes you examine over time more so than the specifics of the individual cases you highlight, teach a man to fish etc. One of the other problems may have been on my end as I just got insider and read something like 1.5 years worth of content in a couple of days so these articles may seem more frequent to me without that necessarily being the reality for anyone else.

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