Jason’s Archives: You Don’t Know What You Got ’til It’s Gone

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To a greater extent than usual, I'm here today to state the obvious.

Oh My God, Keep an Eye on Your Stuff


There were cards played this weekend in Edison, New Jersey. But the biggest story of the weekend is that decks and binders and backpacks were stolen in Edison this weekend. Stuff walked off. I'm not sure if it happened more than it usually does (it will happen at least once an event) or if it happened to the friends of people I follow on Twitter, but it happened.

The gut-punch of having your backpack or binder or stash box or deck grow legs is something I've only felt vicariously, but even then the despair and physical pain are quite palpable. James Higginbottom, who had the unfortunate experience of losing his deck, echoes the sentiment perfectly -- "It's hard not to want to quit." What's the point in going on? Your tournament day is over. You have to think about how much it will cost to get that deck back together. Worse, what if you were borrowing it and you have to pay someone back? Some of those cards may be impossible to ever replace. Moreover, no one is more acutely aware of the exact retail value of their cards than the guy who just finished filling out a police report.

It Can Happen to You

This weekend I was just chilling on the couch listing some items on eBay and watching the X-Files (I party hard on a Saturday night) when I got a call I never wanted to get. A friend of mine called to tell me his backpack grew legs from behind our LGS' table at a gaming event on local Western Michigan University's campus. He gave me a list of distinguishables in case someone tried to sell the collection to me or the store I buy for, and I passed it along to Ryan Bushard in case they tried to fence the stuff in Lansing. If the thief/thieves were sophisticated enough to split up the collection between a lot of different stores we were boned. But if someone brought (easily) 10k in cards to any local store, they would probably not be able to buy all of it and call someone in the network of grinders like myself, Ryan or QS Insider Carter Hatfield. It was unlikely, but it was the only prayer we had of recovering the collection. I advised my friend to call Carter if he hadn't already to widen the net to a 3-hour radius of Kalamazoo and to check eBay for new listings of distinguishables from his collection from the same seller. I was out of advice at this point, and platitudes wouldn't help someone who just had the wind knocked out of him, so I hung up and passed the word on to Ryan to get the word out to his network of stores and players.

My buddy had to go through the mental exercise of inventorying his cards and he realized how much value he was carrying around with him. You may not think your cards are worth a ton retail, but try it sometime. Open up the bag you take with you everywhere and start adding it up. You may not carry power, or duals or Legacy staples around with you on a daily basis, but what about your EDH decks? What about your binder? A bigass stack of $5 cards adds up slower than a stack of FBB Duals and pimp fetches, but it still adds up and you have no idea the sheer volume of $5 cards on you until you put them in a huge, teetering stack. If you do this for more than a few minutes you'll realize what my buddy did filling out the police report -- my cards are worth a $&%^ton! If you had to pay retail to replace your stuff, you would be boned. It would be way easier to quit than rebuild.

Do Something Proactive

Renter's Insurance

I didn't have this the first year I lived in an apartment because I never got around to it. Bad move. I could easily have been wiped out and had no recourse to replace my stuff. Sure, it's just stuff and surviving a break-in or a fire is preferable to perishing in it, but escaping with your life doesn't mean you won't be stuck with the task of replacing your stuff. Which would you rather take with you to the store to buy a new TV and sofa -- the unburned half of your checkbook and whatever you have in the bank? Or a check from your insurance company? No brainer, right? If you don't have renter's or home-owner's insurance, stop doing it wrong. Your cards should be included in your policy and most policies should protect you if you're burgled, there is a fire, or even something crazy occurs like damage from a riot or exploding water heater. These policies are so cheap it's actually ridiculous not to have one. I have a friend who got cut a huge check from his insurance company when he was burgled and he managed to convert an apartment full of stuff he didn't even like anymore into a check that he used to fund a trip to Europe. Personally I'd buy a new sofa and TV, but, different strokes. Make sure your policy could be stretched to cover your car window getting smashed and the thief absconding with your bag. This is the second most common kind of theft suffered by Magic event attendees.

Caveat Emptor -- This will not protect you if you leave your bag under your chair at an event and come back to discover you've been hamburgled. This is the most common type of theft experienced by Magic event attendees.

Insurance Policies That Cover Your Collection

It's possible to just straight up insure your collection. This requires appraisal of the collection, and it requires a heftier monthly premium than would renter's insurance alone, but if you don't have 10-50k lying around to rebuy your stuff, this is an option you may want to explore.

Don't Be an Accessory to the Theft of Your Own Stuff

If a criminal takes your bag from behind a table, under your chair or off of a table because you got six binders out of your bag to do a trade with a ton of people, guess what? He couldn't have done it without you. Congratulations.

Be vigilant. Take your bag with you when you leave the table "for like two seconds, I swear" to get basic lands (friend got a bag stolen at a PT doing this.). Wrap your strap around your leg and put the bag between your feet while you play or trade. Manage the number of binders you have on the table. I'm sure my friend felt secure with his bag behind the table our LGS had at that event with the store owner and two friends sitting right there. The area behind the table isn't accessible to the public and there were people around. Until the guys sitting there went to sign up for an event and the LGS owner was distracted helping a customer. Why couldn't they split their attention between what they were doing and watching my buddy's bag? Because it isn't their $&%^ing job to watch your bag. It's your job to watch your bag. And when a job pays -$20,000 a second when you screw up at it, you might want to make sure you're actually doing it.

More Than Just Thefts Happened in Edison

There was also the playing of Margical crads.

Edison Open Standard Decks

Is that seven different decks in the top eight? If you're charitable in your definitions (I am) then, yes, it is. Not bad, Standard. Not bad at all.

The big boogeyman of the event was Boros Reckoner -- a card I miscalled severely. In the future, when someone like me says "I can't think of anything I'd rather cast on turn two," and then "This should be a $5 card" in the same review, chances are they're fixating on the post-redemption prices of cards like Abrupt Decay and Armada Wurm (5 dollars, all) and not about short-term profit potential. By the time Reckoner hit $10, everyone realized the card was the bee's knees, and this weekend when a popular site pretended it was almost $20 lots of people payed along. My advice? Snag them for around $9 from eBay before you cite a site (like that?) being sold out at $18. Not every website has to live in the real world because not every site both sells cards and publishes tournament results. People would rather pay $18 in the sidebar of the article they're reading than save $9 by opening a new tab to browse eBay. Why? I don't know, but their laziness is your potential gain. Show people the $9 on eBay when you pick these up and show them the sold out at $18 when you out them and you should have a pretty good day of trading.

When asked by the SCG coverage team how they planned to deal with Boros Reckoner, half the respondents said "I jammed it." Not a bad answer, I guess. With Mizzium Mortars poised to replace Bonfire of the Damned as the sweeper of choice in a world with Frontline Medic (conveniently a human) and Mutilate still failing to materialize, Reckoner is a great guy to have on your side. If their life total is precariously low from a few turns of beats about the face from your creatures, Mortars won't save them if it Chars their own face when they cast it. Reckoner is non-mythic and can't maintain its current price, but for now, WHEEEEEEEE.

Before we cover top eight, look at all the Saito-esque R/G decks in the top sixteen. I am not surprised. The deck punished inconsistent draws from your opponent, but perhaps its own greatest weakness is its inability to survive a mulligan to six against most decks. Even Saito has moved on.

The event was won by a Jund deck with zero Gatecrash cards in its 75. Not even Stomping Ground? Is this the right list?

Osyp got a deck tech playing a deck very similar to the one Chris Marshall piloted to second place. I'd recommend watching it. This is most likely my new FNM because the Ghost Dad deck I liked so much last week needs sweepers and playing a ton of spirits isn't conducive to that.

Naya Zoo and Naya Humans in the top eight. Could Boros Elite be a card? I hope so. I went deep on this guy. 1/1 for 1 is weak, but 3/3's for 1 get banned. Even though this guy is only 3 power sometimes, so is Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration. I hear that card's good. Look into Boros Elite before you buy.

The mono-red Pyreheart decks are splashing a little white. And why not? We have Sacred Foundry and we have Boros Charm. There is literally no reason not to do it if you can afford the mana base. Ok, I'm sure someone can think of a reason. Fine, there is "practically" no reason not to. Happy?

This Junk Midrange deck looks awesome. Jund sometimes wishes it had creatures like Restoration Angel and Loxodon Smiter, and when you cut Olivia and Searing Spear, this is what you get. I like it more than I like Jund because RestoTusk feels like cheating.

Blind Obedience feels poised to spike. It's getting more and more maindeck play in control to stuff haste dudes that could kill the Planeswalker you just tapped out for. Making Ash Zealot a mere grizzly bear for a turn is pretty strong, and taking the Lava Axe effect away from [card Thundermaw Hellkite]Thundermaw[/card] makes your Wraths better. Marcel was all over this card and I falsely compared it to Stony Silence. In the right deck, the Kismet effect is maindeckable. These would have to see a lot of maindeck play for their price to go up, but I think an increase in demand means their price will maintain longer than most cards which I feel are poised to go down --[card Prime Speaker Zegana]Zegana[/card], [card Master Biomancer]Biomancer[/card], [card Aurelia, the Warleader]Aurelia[/card], Aurelia's Fury, [card Obzedat, Ghost Council]Obzedat[/card], Reckoner and having an asset that will maintain its price makes it less risky to go deep.

Moar Standard!

There was an SCG Classic in Memphis and the results were... unexpected. Get it? Because of the Unexpected Results deck that got 7th place. You haven't clicked the link yet, have you? You just have no idea what I'm talking about. Well, go on! Click the link! Click click click click. Come on! I want to talk about this deck!

I can't believe this deck got top eight. It has no tutors, no stacking effects (UeR shuffles first, anyway) and little mana ramp. What it does have is the ability to hit Omniscience or Enter the Infinite off of Unexpected Results and then lol all the way home. This deck reminds me of the Brilliant Ultimatum/[card Emrakul the Aeons Torn]Emrakul[/card] deck I loved so much, but that deck had tutors and stacking. Clearly this deck can go to an event and win more than it loses though, so give it a try. If you're a fan of "Woo brews" this is at least a fun deck for FNM. Also top eight of an SCG classic.

Memphis may not be aware that Gatecrash is out by the look of the rest of the top eight. These look like pre-Gatecrash decks with a few new cards. Still, these archetypes got there and they're at least tried and true builds. Congrats to all competitors.

SCG Open Edison Legacy Decks

Legacy surprised me a bit. After taking a month or two off, Sneak and Show put two dudes in the top eight. Not bad. I keep wanting to tell people Esper Stoneblade isn't a deck (because I hate it) but it always manages at least one top eight. And no Merfolk deck in the top eight means Corbin will likely podcast this week. He's kind of like Punxsutawney Phil like that.

Between Modern and Legacy (the 12-Post deck ran an astonishing four), Oblivion Stone shot up recently. I don't know whether this is a real price or not, but there you have it. I like this 12-Post build a lot. Could we see 16-Post with 4 Thespian's Stage? No, don't be an idiot. (I made a categorical statement like that because if someone does make it some day and points out I was wrong about this, I will laugh until I lapse into a coma from hypoxia. I have never wanted to be wrong more in my life.)

Elves pushed all the way to 16th? Not good for anyone with a huge stack of Deathrite Shamans (All of QS' insiders, for example). I expected more Deathrite Shamans in the top sixteen, but any given Sunday...

I love that BUG is running both [card Shardless Agent]Agent[/card] and [card Baleful Strix]Strix[/card], and not just because I found a ton of Planechase decks at $20 each recently. I think it's a nice cascade chain is all. Strix certainly keeps aggro at bay (who wants to trade a Tarmogoyf with a cantrip?) and the card draw and flying are very nice. If you miss a Strix and hit Abrupt Decay instead, I'm sure you'll live. I don't play decks like this, but I like that BUG is doing well, and not just because I have a pile of Bayous to trade out.

No real surprises here. Not a ton of Gatecrash cards, not much new actionable intel, just a solid Legacy top eight. I like that Sunday afternoon is Legacy day and I'm sad to see it go from every event.

One Last Thing

One story has a happy ending. My buddy was talking to his girlfriend and she suggested he go looking in dumpsters and trash cans for his bag. After spending all day looking in every receptacle on campus, he reached into a trash can and pulled out his entire backpack. Someone swiped a bag containing $10k in cards and a TI-84 calculator. They took the calculator and jammed the cards in the trash.

Since this wasn't a Magic event but rather an informal gaming "convention" on a college campus, the thief was likely hoping to snag a backpack containing a laptop or at least some expensive text books. What he got instead was a backpack full of "useless" gaming accessories which he jammed in a garbage can on his way to sell the calculator for $30 to a pawn shop. My buddy is the world's luckiest lucksack, and he almost doesn't deserve the elation he's feeling to have his cards back after having the worst night of his life. After all, he practically handed his bag off to the thief by leaving it unattended. If your bag goes missing at a GP or SCG event or even a prerelease, don't expect the thief not to recognize the value of his haul. He's targeting your cards and you'll never see them again. Be vigilant, be smart and for the love of God, don't be an accessory to your own burglary. There are enough bad beat stories in this game as it is.

Until next week!

7 thoughts on “Jason’s Archives: You Don’t Know What You Got ’til It’s Gone

  1. Another good article that I really enjoyed. I’m glad your friend got his cards back. I also agree that Oblivion stone is WAY over priced right now, so if anyone has them unload.

    1. I believe they are overpriced, but, I doubt they will drop back to their former price. I got mine for €2.5-€2.75 and I don’t see it going below about €4-€5 again unless there is a reprint.

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