Insider: Casual Hits from M13 & Return to Ravnica

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Quick question. How much is Parallel Lives worth? How about Adaptive Automaton? Asceticism?

Chances are, the prices might surprise you. But they shouldn’t. As any trader worth their salt knows, these cards are all $2 or above, even though you frequently get them in bulk rare piles or find them in collections, or even as leftovers at the draft tables. And you do want to earn your salt, right?

The “Casual Hits” series is one I like to revisit from time to time because sometimes knowing what to target for those “throw-ins” to complete a trade can pay off big time. While it’s nice to pick up the above cards as throw-ins so you can later sell them off for a buck or two to a dealer, there’s even more opportunity than this.

You should definitely not be scared to hoard these cards to sell to dealers later (along with all the Darksteel Plates you can find), but I find the most profitable reason to pick these cards up is at the trading tables. Now, while you’re at a big event like an SCG Open or a Grand Prix, you’re likely to be trading with tournament players who aren’t interested in your Primordial Hydra ($4), I think it’s safe to say many of my readers do more than that.

As with anything, the saying “everything is local” rings true with trading. The PTQ grinders don’t want these cards, but they will trade like crazy back at FNM. Cards like this are easy, in my experience, to make money “on both the ins and the outs.”

What this means is that when trading for something like a Primordial Hydra at a big event, you’re likely to get it for a dollar or so in trade from a tournament player who writes it off, netting you some value “on the ins.” On the flip side, when you take that card home and find the EDH player who wants one to fill out a deck, you’re likely to end up getting a $5-7 card for it without much work. Not a bad deal for what’s likely to be filler in a larger trade, especially when you consider how fast this sort of thing adds up.

Of course a major lesson here is understanding that you have to be able to appeal to many different interest groups, from the hardcore grinders to the kitchen-table wizards. This means developing relationships with as many people and/or groups as possible to increase the amount of outs you have for any given card.

With all of that in mind, let’s take to M13 and Return to Ravnica to see if we can’t find some good trade bait or a few legitimate medium-to-long-term sleepers.

Akromas Memorial

This crazy-powerful artifact used to command a much more hefty pricetag than the $3.50 SCG sells them for now. M13 had a lot of casual reprints that dinged the value of the originals, but it also means there’s some more on the market to stock up for the future. For this and other EDH cards, foils are especially good as pickups, and are likewise more likely to be undervalued on the trade floor.

Jace, Memory Adept

Another card whose price was on the way up before the reprint. Players are in love with milling, so the Glimpse the Unthinkable part of Jace is going to keep him popular for years to come. That said, there’s no telling how much they’ll reprint him in the core sets to come.

Primordial Hydra

As I touched on above, this guy is insane in those Mono-Green big mana decks that everyone loves to play. $4 now, though you’ll likely pick these up much cheaper than that.

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

This guy seems criminally underpriced to me at $5. There was a day not that long ago when the Conflux version of this easily fetched $20. I don’t think those days are coming back any time soon, but he’s also going to have a hard time going lower than this.

Gilded Lotus

Another card I really like the foil play on, since it goes into many Cubes and just about every EDH deck ever that wants mana.

Reliquary Tower

Another big EDH card that took a huge dive with M13. It’s going to take a little while for it to climb back up in price, but I suspect it will at some point, and you could scoop these up off draft tables just a few months ago. These days, you’ll probably be able to get them as free throw-ins in trades.

Chromatic Lantern

Now that we’re getting into the Ravnica stuff, I want to say that prices on these aren’t bottomed-out yet. So I’m not suggesting pay “full retail” on these in trades, but be on the lookout for these if the deal is right.

As for Lantern, not only is it fringe-Constructed playable, it’s mostly certainly a winner in EDH, providing another “cheap” way for people to mana-fix and providing a boost in mana along the way.

Collective Blessing

This still hasn’t taken off like I thought it might in Standard, but Anthem effects are always popular casually and this should trade well to that crowd. I’m not suggesting going super-deep on these, but again, it’s hard to lose if you’re just filling out a trade with one or two of these.

Pack Rat

People play Relentless Rats decks. It happens. While this doesn’t necessarily fit into that mold, this is essentially a do-it-yourself Rats and slots into Rat EDH decks. While this is a small niche, it’s something that will trade when you find the person who wants it. Not to mention that this stupid thing wrecks just about any Limited game it’s played in.

Slaughter Games

This card is better than you gave it credit for, I promise. One of the major reasons against bringing cards like this in from the sideboard is that the decks you want to resolve it against will usually just counter it and then win while you’re tapped out.

Not a problem any longer. This card already pops up in Standard (where it’s very good), to Modern (where it’s insane in the matchups you want it), and I expect it to start showing up in some Legacy sideboards too. Seems good for $1.50. Don’t expect too much, since sideboard cards rarely see huge spikes, but I don’t think it’s going to stay under $2 forever.


Okay, so you’re never going to score huge with these. I get that. But once these stop being opened supply will diminish, and there will still be some people who need them. These could easily be the Tezzerets Gambit of the set, and Gambit hit buylist prices of up to a dollar last year.


That’s everything that caught my eye as I perused the spoiler for this article. This type of analysis leads me to picking better “throw-ins” when I’m trading, and I’ve made a not-insignificant amount of money over the last few years by stocking up on some stuff like this.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler


4 thoughts on “Insider: Casual Hits from M13 & Return to Ravnica

  1. You think Akroma\’s Memorial will be undervalued on the trade floor? Come on, man. You more than anyone talk about the concept of \”Price Memory\”. If Akroma\’s Memorial was a $15+ dollar card that was a $50+ dollar foil at one point, it seems like a terrible pickup because it\’s $2 on the buylist and the foil retails for like $10.

    Now if you\’d said \”Buy these stupid things at like $2.50 on TCGPlayer because they\’ll be overvalued by casuals in trades\” I could see that. Price Memory can work in your favor, and the reprint brings down the value of the Future Sight copies, which can make those the better pickups to trade to people who care about that sort of thing.

    Also, I wouldn\’t advise trading for a card like Collective Blessing that hasn\’t gone anywhere yet when you can buy a whole damn stack of them for a dime each.

    So I guess what I\’m saying is that you\’re 100% right about the potential of those two cards, I just don\’t agree with your context. But Akroma\’s Memorial is card I can OUT very well, to the extent that you may not be 100% wrong about them being good pickups because if someone insists on checking on their smartphone and seeing theyre $3-$4, you can pick them up for just that and trade them out to someone who \”remembers\” the card being worth more. I just don\’t think ANYONE will undervalue a card like this.

    Nitpicking aside, these all seem like solid targets, especially Primordial Hydra which I get in bulk constantly.

    1. I think something like this varies quite a bit depending where/what level you’re at. Here at home I get people all the time who give me stuff like Memorial for super-cheap because they either don’t care about EDH in the first place and didn’t know, or they think it’s come down even farther than it has because of reprints.

      But in general, this particular series is more long-term focused. These are the cards I stock up on now while getting them cheap in trades and then just let them float around the binder for a few years. It worked with Reliquary Tower the first time around, and it will again.

    2. FWIW, Collective Blessing is already insanely popular with casual players in my area. I’ve had real trouble keeping copies of it in my binder.

      Also I love these Casual Hits articles; these cards are a). Easy to acquire, and b). Popular with casual players who will under-value their competitive Standard cards. So I greatly appreciate the tips 🙂

  2. I’m really hoping people start respecting Pack Rat as you mentioned. I’ve been hording them for the last few weeks and have close to 100. At this point people in my local are just handing them to me because they know it’s a thing I have. Here’s hoping they take off. Even if they hit $2, I’m bound to make money.

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