Insider: Don’t Forget The Foils!

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All too often, I see a foil nonrare card gain 300-600% in price. Rarely, however, do I hear speculators discuss them. You will see us jump for joy when Angel of Glory's Rise doubles to $2, but when Syncopate foils went from $.50 to $5 in a few days, right before the release of RTR, no one seems to notice.

The Gains Can Be Huge

Foil commons and uncommons can be worth 10-25x the nonfoil card’s price. Look at Pillar of Flame, which is a perfect example. You can get these for $.25 on TCGPlayer nonfoil, and the cheapest Foil is over $3 shipped, over 12x the original price. As a note, these were also printed as a promo, which is sold out across the net and is worth over $5.

I can't help but notice the lines don't match up on the entire site.

They Make Great Speculation Targets

You may have noticed that I mentioned Syncopate. When RTR was being spoiled, I initially assumed Dissipate was simply better. But the meta has since disagreed with me, and Syncopate has skyrocketed in popularity. I had considered the card due to the lack to good counterspells after Mana Leak was removed from the format.

Syncopate foils went up to $4-$5. Even now, they are $3+ anywhere you look, but during the spoiler season, I found some Odyssey ones for $.50. In fact, they never got more in stock or updated the price. I could have made massive gains selling these in $18 playsets on eBay.

There were 8 of these in stock when the card was respoiled.

Foil commons and uncommons rarely spike this high, but identifying the $2 foils early can be a great way to make a bit of cash. Popular new decks that dominate the metagame frequently drive up the price of foil staples.

The rare and mythic foils, however, are often 150% the regular price or lower if they aren’t Legacy playable. That is why we focus on the commons and uncommons with foils. I would rather have 10 nonfoil $10 cards that hit $15, than 10 foils of the same card that go from $15-$22.50. It is harder to unload foils to buylists, dealers, or sell into hype quickly.

Where Have We Seen This Recently?

Let’s use a few recent deck examples. Bant control and B/R Aggro were popular decks in the meta for a while. There are still a few cards from these decks that are just terrifyingly expensive. Some of these cards shot up when spoiled, and there wasn't much chance to speculate, but we can still profit on any card by buying them at buy list, or trading bulk into them.

Bant Control:

  • Syncopate: $3
  • Azorius Charm: $6 (no kidding)
  • Farseek: $6
  • Think Twice: $3 INN/$5 TSP
  • Feeling of Dread: $3-6 (I've only found 7 copies in stock online, 4 of them are $6)

B/R Aggro:

  • Diregraf Ghoul: $2
  • Knight of Infamy: $3
  • Vampire Nighthawk: $3, with 2 printings and a promo!
  • Brimstone Volley: $2
  • Pillar of Flame: $3.50
  • Searing Spear: $2, with a promo!

Also, Izzet Staticaster was a $.50 foil, look at it now!

The List Continues To Go On!

I have seen people ignore this. People are amazed to find out what some foils are worth, and, although they often skip them when you quote prices, you can sell them on online pretty easily. Low supply, high demand, because no one wants to trade their foil Searing Spears. Then they’d have to play with normal ones, and really, those aren't nearly as shiny.

Even on our forums, I have seen people make posts about a common or uncommon. They are quickly informed that the card may go from $.07 to $.30, which wouldn't be wise for the speculator.

In fact, when I decided to write this article last week, I wrote something else and performed an experiment first. I wanted to show that these can go up quickly, with only slightly increased demand.

Nightshade Peddler: An increasingly popular card in Standard. It isn’t just for Humanimator decks anymore. I’ve seen it alongside First Strikers, giving them the ability my roommate calls “Deathstrike”. So, I went and bought up foil copies, at an average of $.40 each shipped. Check out the current prices, one week after buying the reasonably priced copies:

It gets better, these are all individual cards!

The prices more than doubled. It seems that you can’t get a copy below $1.36 shipped anymore. Now, you might think that “buying out TCGPlayer” of a recent common foil was a huge purchase.

It was three playsets.

I bought every copy below $1, putting it down to 3 copies. It replenished, but the price was higher.

Now, I am definitely not advocating the manipulation of the market, but let’s say this card entices a mere three people who wish to foil out their Standard deck. They each go buy their playset, the card goes up. When this happens, you can make some money, even if it just improves your binder. I'm sure you're wondering just that - are they just binder fodder? Well, I'll tell you.

What Can We Do With Foils?

For starters, foils trade very well, at least where I'm from. And people often reference SCG to price foils and using TCG to price nonfoils. If you can't trade them, you have a few options.

The first option is eBay. Generally, do not sell there unless you have a playset. Single nonrare foils can sell for low prices and may not even be worth it. Try to pick up playsets, or at least 2-3-ofs before selling here.

The next option - and I have some experience with this one - is TCGPlayer. If you have received an invite, try it out. Consistently selling cards, you'll get payments every Monday. Foils can sell here for a fair percentage of retail. Having multiple copies helps aswell, but isn't necessary. You can also save some money by having a lot of foils for a particular deck. If people buy the foil deck from you, you save a ton on $.50 transaction fees.

The Moral of This Story:

Don’t discount foils. They may make you a lot of money. My hot picks for Foils right now are Nightshade Peddler, Flinthoof Boar, Thespian's Stage, Ghor-Clan Rampager and  Burning-Tree Emissary.

The Boar and Emissary will likely go into Aggro decks (they kind of complement each other), while Peddler is simply too cheap. Rampager is the best pump spell in Standard (and possibly Magic as a whole), and Thespian's Stage has EDH written all over it.

Also, watch  for reprinted foils like Syncopate. The originals are often cheap and may go up a bit. I don't believe Gatecrash will be bringing of these, but we may see some in Dragon's Maze. If we do, I'll be making a post on the forums and likely mentioning them in an article.

Until next time, remember to look for the shiny!

3 thoughts on “Insider: Don’t Forget The Foils!

  1. We need an MTGStocks for foils ;).

    You make a very good point, but it’s very difficult to get a good overview. I do sometimes get in cheap on foils if I come across them, but it’s hard to actively keep track of them.

    1. At least in my area, people love shiny things. I know of a few players with foil or mostly foil decks. They are not quite the hot commodity that Legacy staples are, but they are certainly a big deal to some players.

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