Insider: Drafter’s Dilemma – What Do I Do With All These Cards? Part 1

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Being a dedicated drafter presents some interesting conflicts as a Magic player. In my case, I play very little Constructed Magic, but Draft at my LGS at least once a week. This leaves me with several hundred new cards each month, and most will likely never be played (by me) again. It can be time-consuming and overwhelming to figure out what to do with all of them. In this two-part article, I’d like to discuss some of my strategies to help you maximize value from not only the Draft, but also the Draft leftovers.

There’s No Shame in Rare Drafting

Look, I want to win every Draft I enter. Does this mean passing a Sphinx's Revelation I may open because it’s off color? No way! Opening a card with significant value is winning the Draft, as far as I’m concerned. And when it really comes down to it, no one pick (or even two) makes or breaks one’s Draft, no matter how good a playable is passed. If your deck is bad, it’s for more reasons than the on-color Stab Wound you passed for a shock land you’re not playing.

I should say that the heading of this section isn’t completely true, you shouldn’t just blindly pick every rare you see. Make no mistake: there is great shame in picking Biovisionary over Drakewing Krasis. But don’t let players at your LGS convince you that taking a card for its monetary value is wrong. These players are misguided at best, or at worst, trying to get you to pass money rares to them.

For me, I always consider things from thing angle: will I be kicking myself more for passing the money rare or passing the playable? It’s not feasible to set a rule-of-thumb dollar limit, because each situation is unique. For example, if I open Loxodon Smiter (online mid at $4.28) and I’m drafting Izzet, then I’m windmilling Frostburn Weird or Annihilating Fire and not worrying about the $4. But if my options are more on the level of Runewing or Pursuit of Flight, that $4 card starts to look pretty appealing. Sometimes a playable is worth giving up a few bucks, but I personally can’t imagine ever passing a card worth more than $10. That’s almost the cost of entry!

Bulk Rares Need Love, Too

Bulk rares are sweet. They’re a dime at minimum, and dimes add up quickly. Late in packs when pickings are slim, I will happily take that very same Biovisionary about which I shamed you earlier. I will never take it over a playable that will make my deck. But I will take it over marginal sideboard cards like Naturalize or Shielded Passage, and I will take it over off-color playables (yes, even Drakewing Krasis). It’s generally accepted that hate-drafting is not really the most advantageous way to Draft, and if I’m given the choice of adding another bulk rare to my collection or keeping a fellow drafter from getting a stupid vanilla six-drop, I’ll probably just take the bulk rare. I’m not likely to face that six-drop, and if I do, it’s not like I auto-lose to it. In the meantime, I just turned the half-penny value of a bulk common into a dime, profiting 9.5 cents. Now if I could just do that three or four million times…

Winning is Everything

If you play at a store that accepts pack-ins for Draft (providing packs instead of paying cash), there is virtually no excuse to opening any prize packs you win. Have some patience and save those suckers for later. I paid cash for two Dragon’s Maze pre-releases and have drafted all but one week since without spending another dollar (except on candy, beverages, sleeves, etc.—it’s important to support your LGS). If I had opened my prize packs, I would have ended up spending more than twice than I have so far. And to what end? To maybe open Voice of Resurgence? Think of it this way: you’re probably going to take any money cards you open, right? So you get those either way. But opening a card like Stolen Identity is great in a Draft and disappointing when you’re cracking for value. Don’t you want to be happy with your packs more often? I know I do. Save your packs for drafting, people.

Turn Off the Lights, the Draft is Over

Many drafters sell their money cards back to the store at a deep discount, throw away the uncommons and commons, and don’t think about it past that. I’m not going to say this is an incorrect practice. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it offers immediate results. But it leaves a lot of value on the table.

I will happily pick up abandoned Draft decks (always confirming, of course, that the cards really are unwanted). Sometimes you’ll find constructed-playable uncommons or bulk rares. Most of the time it really is just junk, but that has value, too. I’ll even pick up the abandoned basic lands within arms’ reach. Why not? Many sites pay more for bulk basics than for standard bulk commons.

Let’s Sit Down and Sort This Out

Some people might consider how many cards I end up sorting a downside to this system. That’s a valid point if you generally don’t have the patience to manage your collection, but I’m the type who finds an unreasonable amount of joy in organizing things, so I actually like this part.

Still, it takes a lot of time to organize hundreds of cards, but there are ways to make it happen during normal downtime. Watching the Daily Show? Sort some cards. Waiting for an MTGO round to finish or a load screen on League of Legends? Sort some cards. Spending the weekend marathoning the newest season of Mad Men on Netflix? This leaves plenty of time to sort some cards, not to mention go through the junk mail that’s piled up, do some pushups, and pay your bills. I like to double-task, but your mileage may vary.

When going through my Draft leftovers, I have several categories I sort into:

1. Cards to go in the trade binder

These are rares, foils, or valuable uncommons that I believe are currently overpriced or at peak price. These are usually in-demand Standard or Commander staples so they are not hard to move quickly. I slot these into my oft-used and always-handy trade binder.

2. Cards to hold for future trading

These are cards I am unwilling to trade at current prices because I believe they are too low. I throw cards like these into a box (please don’t put cards that aren’t for trade in your trade binder) until they rise in price to a level at which I feel comfortable trading them. Many of these are bulk rares and mythics that don’t ever pan out, but given the already-low price point on these, I’m not losing much value by sitting on them.

3. Bulk rares and bulk foil commons/uncommons

Cards I have no faith will ever be more than bulk are thrown into a bulk box. I consider bulk foil commons/uncommons to be on the same level as bulk rares and keep them all in the same box. This also includes foil basic lands.

4. Bulk uncommons/commons

I have a shoebox that I consistently fill with cards, with two columns for commons and one for uncommons. When it gets full, I out the cards (discussed in detail in part two of this article).

5. Basic lands

Another shoebox is filled with basic lands. This box fills slower than the commons box as I really only end up with five to ten new lands per Draft.

6. Tokens

Tokens also get tossed in a box. Ones worth a few bucks, like Planeswalker emblems, are put in my trade binder.

So Now You’re a Legitimate Expert

Now that you’ve read this, your next Draft night should go like so: get in there, open one or more money cards (completely within your control if you just believe), draft awesome cards when available, and snatch up bulk rares and foils when the pickings are slim. After you win the Draft (surely inevitable), make some trades. At all costs, save your prize packs to pack-in to the next one! When you have a moment in the next few days, sort your cards into your exquisitely and intuitively structured collection.

Then join me in our next installment where I will discuss strategies for maximizing value out of your neatly sorted Draft leftovers, including which types of cards to trade into and out of, best ways to out bulk, and more.

11 thoughts on “Insider: Drafter’s Dilemma – What Do I Do With All These Cards? Part 1

  1. How come rare-drafting is still so popular?

    We removed the “rare-drafting” experience from our drafts completely in order to have players only concentrate on the “correct” pick.

    We include the mythics/rares into the price support pool afterwards, so the better you end up in the draft, the more chance you’ll be able to pick that rare you would have rare-drafted otherwise…

    Since that moment players love drafting more and more (as it doesn’t hurt to pass that Sphinx’s Revelation when you should have taken the on-color Stab Wound).

    1. I can see the sides from both camps (I’ve rare-drafted before) and played at a store that redrafts all rares at the end of the night (as the prize). Rare-drafting definitely tends to make everyone have a weaker deck, though there are plenty of “bulk rares” that don’t really count. However, I’ve also been the guy to pull the $40 mythic from a pack only to get 2nd in the draft and have someone take it from me leaving me with the second best card @15..and it doesn’t feel good.

      1. Re-drafting the rares is the best way to go period. Any store that doesn’t offer re-drafting of rares just doesn’t get it. The goal should be to draft the best deck, and not have to worry about passing a money card that isn’t going to be in your deck. Re-drafting of rares teaches players to evaluate cards on playability not on monetary value, which should be the goal of everyone playing magic- to get better.

        1. I would probably not draft at WeQu’s place. I have picked lesser valued rares that were in my deck over considerably more expensive ones in a re-draft just to get the cards I’ve grown attached to while playing in the tournament. I have also not been able to get those cards when I happened to draft a valuable card because others would pick them before I had a chance.

          In many cases I would find a better use of my time than a draft with a re-draft at the end. The disappointment just doesn’t work for me. I realize it’s not that common to run into people who feel this strongly about this, so maybe for your group re-draft is indeed the best option, but, do realize there might be some people your choice is scaring away.

          I personally don’t care much for card evaluation or getting better, I’m there to have fun. My goal in playing Magic is to see my strategies work out (the more off the beaten path the better), I really don’t care whether I win or lose as long as my deck did what it was supposed to do. Not everyone has the same goals and nobody’s goals are better than others.

          1. I’m with Pi on this one…I understand where you’re coming from Jason (and I definitely agree it makes for better draft decks), but wait till you pull the foil Voice of Resurgence and then lose it because you didn’t win the whole event…If you’re goal is to be a competitive player on the PT circuit, sure re-draft…if you’re goal is to have fun and just enjoy opening some packs than it can really suck.

            1. Re-drafting leads to disappointed and dissatisfied customers. It rewards your hardcore competitive players and punishes your casual crowd. Limited events appeal to many casual players precisely for the fact that it puts them on a “even” field as the other players.

              Rare drafting is a way for a casual player to get value from their event. If you aren’t intent on hitting the PTQ/GP circuit then you probably don’t need to obsess over perfect draft technique.

              One of the biggest problems some of the readers here have is they only look through these issues through their own perspective. We are not the everyman, we are the outliers, those who obsess to the point that we grind value in our dreams.

              Source: I’m an LGS Owner.

    2. I have a group of 10 or so new players i know who refuse to go to drafts cos they know they won’t win and they don’t want to lose expensive cards.

  2. I\’ve also had situations where people walk out with their draft deck after going 0-2, not realizing that they also took two valuable Mythics with them when they left…

    For an excellent draft experience, you could get seven friends together (which is an ordeal in itself) and have one person buy a box. Then you just draft all of those cards and give them all to the person who bought the box at the end of the night. It\’s a \”free\” draft for everyone.

    On topic about what to do with all those draft leftovers, be aware of what\’s sellable out of them! Remember that you can go to the new beta version of Trader Tools, here:

    And sort by SET with filters. I saw that Spike Jester, Unflinching Courage, Sin Collector and Putrefy are all buylisting for 10-25 cents. Did you know you can get 60 cents on Ghor-Clan Ravager? A quarter on Wight of Precinct Six? These things add up very quickly. It pays to ask fellow drafters if you can burgle their draft uncommons. They probably don\’t want or need Experiment Ones or Rapid Hybridization. That can add up to a tidy little buylist order every few weeks.

  3. i draft where i do on friday nights because we redraft rares+. this means, over time this is better than random and i don’t need to make choices of deck versus money cards.

    so yeah, redrafters remember opening liliana and losing her more than winning their 5th shockland in five weeks but that is psychology.

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