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Insider: Understanding the Mind of a Casual Trader

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As speculators, our instinct is to watch tournament results for quick money on cards that suddenly gain popularity. However, there are also cards that slowly rise. I'd like to delve into those a bit, and instead of pointing out the cards that are on an increase, I'd like to discuss something that makes for great random trade targets: casual and EDH cards.

The first thing you have to do is spot them. This can be tough. Many of us are competitive players, or at least have a competitive mindset. Yet, we need to look at cards and decide which ones are β€œfun”.

These cards are AWESOME!
Seriously. These are worth money.

Now, if you don't run into casuals often, this week's article may not be for you. But if casual players are at your FNM, and you need to fill in trades, look here for ideas. These cards may creep up a bit as stock lessens, but we won't see many huge increases in price.

There are a few important things to look for, which I intend to outline in this article.

Awesome Keywords

Doubling –- Casual players love doubling things, especially when it stacks. 4x Parallel Lives and 4x Doubling Season on the board? Lingering Souls gives you 512 Spirits. Tell a casual player that, and he will want to build this slow and terrible deck right away.

Great Standard Examples: Primordial Hydra, Parallel Lives, Curse of Bloodletting, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, Boundless Realms

X Spells –- Casual players love things that don't have a limit. Ivy Elemental can be a 1,337/1,337- and what nerd doesn't love that? Biomass Mutation could be a casual all-star also, and I can't keep Diabolic Revelation in my binder.

Great Standard Examples: Biomass Mutation, Bonfire of the Damned, Clan Defiance, Devil's Play, Diabolic Revelation, Entreat the Angels, Increasing Confusion, Mikaeus, the Lunarch

Mill -- β€œTarget player mills X,” as it probably should say, is also a popular strategy among casual players. The majority of people don't run Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in casual lists, so this is fairly viable. Instead of using combos to do it (I'm looking at you, Helm of Obedience), they tend to use efficient mill cards such as Increasing Confusion.

Great Standard Examples: Mind Grind, Increasing Confusion, Nephalia Drownyard

Indestructible -– Yeah, nice Murder, bro. Is that a Wrath of God in your hand? That's cool, you can't kill this... Casual players drove [card]Predator Ooze up to a few bucks far before Brian Kibler decided it was the only deck in existence.

Great Standard Examples: Angelic Overseer, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Boros Charm, Frontline Medic, Phylactery Lich, Stuffy Doll

Creature Types

Casuals often have particular creature types they prefer. Some types are quite common, however I have run into odd collectors, for example a guy who collects Kobolds (yes, he collects Kher Keep too). I would like to go over a few of the notable types. Importantly, these usually buylist for more. I have heard legends of stores auto-offering $.25 each on bulk angels and dragons. Which brings me to my first point...

Angels –- People love angels. They are often undercosted for their abilities. When they are, they shoot up fast, and the foils shoot up further. Legendary angels often make good EDH generals, and the foils can be 250-700% of the nonfoil. Take Sigarda, Host of Herons, for instance. It is on a price dive at about $9.5, but the foil is $24.94. One more note –- I have seen guys building angel decks for girlfriends, which may increase some that otherwise would be bulk.

Great Standard Examples: Angel of Glory's Rise, Angel of Jubilation, Angel of Serenity, Angelic Overseer, Angelic Skirmisher, Firemane Avenger, Serra Avenger

Dragons –- Guys love dragons. Specifically the type of guy who things those keywords above are so awesome. They will snap-trade for big, scary dragons with awesome abilities. Many cards you may have bulked in can be traded at a $1 rate to these guys, and they are amazed that you only want a buck for it.

Great Standard Examples: Balefire Dragon, Moonveil Dragon, Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius, Slumbering Dragon, Thundermaw Hellkite, Utvara Hellkite

Elves –- People often like these just for the lore, but elves as a tribe work very well. Just ask Riley Curran, the guy from one of my LGS who recently took down a Legacy Open with Elves. Casuals love even the bad ones, and the lords are huge. Buy these cheap and stock your binders, as they will fly right out.

Great Standard Examples: Elvish Archdruid, Gyre Sage, Master Biomancer, Yeva, Nature's Herald

Other Examples

Beyond keywords and creature types (although the lists above are far from all-inclusive), many other things can make casual players go insane. Here are a few examples for you:

Vraska the Unseen –- Three 1/1 Assassin tokens? I don't even care about the Vindicate ability, I just want to kill someone with those tokens. Many casual players agree, and this could be a $10 planeswalker down the road. However, I've never kept one in my binder through an FNM.

Stuffy Doll –- It was in the list earlier, but this card is really fun. Your opponent doesn't like to attack, you ping them for one every turn, and Blasphemous Act becomes amazing. Trample is tough, but casual players don't think about that until it happens. Stock these, trade them, make money.

Curse of Stalked Prey –- Just about everyone on these forums knows that an Ash Zealot is a better two-drop in 97% of situations, but casuals love trying to blow you out with Red Deck Wins packing 12 enchantments. You will see it played by the lower end of the FNM bracket, and it will finally deal 20 damage on turn eight.

Havengul Lich –- Oh, the potential. I played the Heartless Summoning combo deck with this, and it was pretty fun. That deck has gone, but this card will be in casual decks for years to come. I have also seen it in a large number of U/B EDH decks, and if I had one, it would be in there too.

Biovisionary –- Try to have four for trade. Someone will want to try it. It may even be semi-viable in Standard, and hit Tier 1.5 status. It is very win-more, but casuals will love the bragging rights of the Biovisionary kill.

Keeping Cards on Hand

There are tons of other cards to consider, but the main point is that it's beneficial to keep EDH and casual cards available for trade. I have given away a stack of bulk rares for a few $10-$20 cards more times than I care to count. Sure, you want to have expensive and overpriced cards in your binder, like Thundermaw Hellkite and Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells, but these casual cards are often worthless junk that you would rather get rid of.

So, remember that casual players exist, and you can make money trading with them without ripping them off. You probably have a pile of bulk that they want, and they have that Snapcaster Mage they never even use. Get out there, fill a binder with junk, and make some money!

7 thoughts on “Insider: Understanding the Mind of a Casual Trader

  1. Good insights. At least 5% of the players at my stores are casual. Funny how three of the cards you mentioned in your article I heard mentioned by a newer casual player at the LGS I play at. He was itching to get the needed Stuffy Dolls for his deck. And when he discovered I opened a Hellkite Tyrant in a Gatecrash draft, he immediately offered to trade for it. I saw him make a trade in which he handed a player $20 worth of cards for $5 worth of crap rares. When he looked through my binder full of type II playables there really wasn’t too much that excited him that he could afford. He mentioned he was looking for Vraska and was going to trade away a Gatecrash shock land to someone in the store who had one. I felt bad that he was bleeding the value of his collection away so told him he probably wanted to get two Vraskas for it. Of course I had to give away my draft garbage to this guy because few appreciate it more than this type of player. I had almost forgotten casual players exist until I met this guy.

    1. Yep, this is pretty common place actually. As much as SCG and others want people to think it’s the competitive players that make magic thrive..it’s the casual guys..these are the ones who open packs and trade away the rare lands for cool flavorful cards and are thrilled to get 5-7 cards for a high dollar competitive card. It’s very important to be honest with these guys and I too always give away my draft leavings to the newer guys…nothing makes a new friends like free stuff (especially when you have no use for it anyways).

      1. Even giving away a random bulk rare that you value at $.10-$.15 can make you a casual friend for life. They will often find a pile of stuff they want that you have no use for, and have something you’d prefer.

    1. I usually put good cards next to bulk/$1 cards that have good/interesting synergy. I get rid of an extra buck or two in a trade, and I’m happy. 4 trades an hour, extra $8? seems good.

  2. Nice article! I don’t know if this is a fluke, but I had a pretty huge trade start out with a casual who was looking for some Five-Alarm Fires, so maybe there is some casual appeal there. Also, Utvara Hellkite doesn’t last long in my binders and its mythic rarity causes people who want it to overvalue it, but competitive players see it as crap and I can get them as throw-ins.

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