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Insider: Casually Thinking

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You may be wondering if this is another article telling me I should pick up Doubling Season because it’s a good casual card. Don’t click back on your browser just yet. Hear me out.

Introduction

As a small preamble, my name is Valter, otherwise known as Mr.C online, and I’ve been making some pocket change with Magic since 2002 when I found out while living in Brazil that I could make a ‘ton’ of money by using principles of arbitrage.

You see, back then Brazilians hated old cards and gave them away for cheap. Think $3 duals. Vintage was picking up steam in the US, and that was a golden opportunity. Then when Legacy was created, I started stocking up like mad on staples and decided I loved trying to guess what’s going to be good.

Unfortunately, since I’m not really a tournament player, I’m bad at spotting obvious playables (Deathrite, Goyf, even Snapcaster). So why am I even writing an article for QS you ask?

Why should you care?

Well, I happen to be reasonably decent in spotting good casual cards, and even better keeping up with what’s being played on the kitchen table. For example, did you know Vampiric Dragon buylists for $2.50, even though it’s been reprinted and is not actually good?

Or how about that Dragonspeaker Shaman buylists for $1.50, even though it’s been reprinted three times? But perhaps you know that Exquisite Blood, although a dollar rare, actually sells for three or four times that in stores that cater to casual players?

Do you have any idea how sick Havengul Lich is in a casual UB Zombie deck?

Better than it looks!

It's better than it looks.

Probably not. If you’re like the majority of grinders, value traders and speculators, you don’t generally pay attention to this kind of stuff. I'd like to help you learn how cards like how Inkmoth Nexus is, at the time of this writing retails for $5 on SCG, yet is finishing auctions @ 24 per set on eBay. Or how Venser, Shaper Savant has recently doubled in price.

Makes sense. I mean, what everyone really cares about are what cards are doing well in tournaments, right? Right?

Not quite. Casual players are the bread and butter of Magic, and they are excellent people to trade and sell to. Unlike tournament players, they are less likely to haggle on purchases and trades and tend to not care what the card is going for on eBay, if its rotating, or whatever. One of my LGSes sells Exquisite Blood consistently for $4.

That’s four times retail and they can’t keep them in stock.

Now what?

With that in mind, how do you spot a good casual card? A good start would be to pay attention to what the casual players are actually using and talking about at your local store. In my case it’s easy because I actually play casual. I have decks ranging from a 75 card Enchantment “tribal” deck to UB Zombies to RG Beasts and so on.

Build yourself a janky casual deck. Join in some games. You’ll make friends and make a killing on sales of cards you’d otherwise have to buylist.

Here are some examples of good, overlooked casual cards from recent sets:

Parallel Lives: Last June, I had a standing offer of $1 cash for Parallel Lives. It’s pretty obvious, really. A half-Doubling Season, and yet value traders and grinders were shipping me them like no tomorrow, to the point I stopped buying them (I cap myself at 12 playsets, just in case I’m wrong).

 Here's 9... the other 3 are decked 🙂

Mimic Vat: It has a 31% spread on mtg.gg. Really. Cardkingdom buys it for $1. It’s a solid EDH card, very solid in 60 and 75 card casual decks, goes in everything, and every casual player loves killing their buddy’s best creature then getting to bash face with it!

Deadeye Navigator: It’s pretty much worthless right now, but it’s picking up steam in our local group. Blink on a stick? Are you kidding me? It’s nutty, just nutty with anything with a CITP effect. Acidic Slime, Tusk, things that make tokens, things that put counters, things that take control of other things. Just insane.

So many possibilities...

So many possibilities...

Sanguine Bond: This should be obvious by now, but worth mentioning because many players are willing to sell cards at 70% or 80% of whatever the posted price on SCG is, which is $10 right now. StrikeZone buys it at $8.09, giving it a 31% spread on mtg.gg. Not much to say about it, other than it’s also nuts in casual, especially when combine with…

Exquisite Blood: The other half of the combo. I keep saying this, but this is insane in black. It triggers for all opponents. In multiplayer, one opponent attacks another, you gain life. In black, where you otherwise have no decent lifegain, it’s golden. The fact that it’s a 2 card "ping-you-you’re-dead” combo with Sanguine Bond is just gravy.

The card has quadrupled in retail value due to the spoiling of Vizkopa Guildmage. Gonna be kind of hard to get it in bulk now… Another reason to pay attention to casual cards!

Lurking Predators: It buylists for $1.40. 11% spread. I bet you have a bunch sitting in your 10c box. I know I did. I like to be able to flip a Terra Stomper off the top of my deck when my opponent plays anything. Casuals also like that. It’s a slow grower, and can still be easily had as bulk. Free money.

Last but not least, Training Grounds: 34% spread. Buylists for over $1, which is even better than Mimic Vat. I love reducing the costs of my abilities. It’s better than the previous card used for that, Heartstone, because it doesn’t affect my opponent and only costs {U}. A perennial favorite in anything that uses blue. A local has a pretty nifty deck with Deadeye Navigator and this, with a bunch of CITP creatures. End of turn blink my dude seven times, do crazy things.

Therefore...

So casual cards are important and can be solid money makers. 90% of the people with trade binders don’t even blink when you offer bulk rate for most of the listed cards, yet they can be sold to stores for a very high percentage of their retail value. I’d go out on a limb and say that if you’re looking to trade down into things that you will ship to buylists for some quick cash, it’s worthwhile looking at the casual cards almost before looking at staples. You’ll make way more money that way, guaranteed.

Until next time,

Valter

Mr.C on MOTL, MTGSalvation, and pretty much everywhere else

valter.cid@gmail.com

3 thoughts on “Insider: Casually Thinking

  1. Nice first article, Mr. C. Casual Magic is definitely an area I’m lacking when it comes to MTG Finance. This is often because my definition of “casual” is very different from other people’s. If I’m going to play a casual game, I want to play the silliest and most entertaining cards (think Psychic Battle). If I want to be cool and try out a combo, usually my combos require multiple pieces and are just not feasible in real life. The last time I tried this I used Words of Wilding, Intruder Alarm, a mana elf, and Archivist. Yeah – that rediculous.

    Of course I managed to buy list my Intruder Alarms for decent change years later, so I guess that did pay out haha.

    Anyways, great article and I hope to read more from you.

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