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Jason’s Article: Get Yourself Connected

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Greetings, Sparklers!

I have been buylisting a lot lately.

Best Job Ever

Buylisting is sometimes described as "labor-intensive," but let's be honest with ourselves. Sitting in a comfortable chair in your naturally-cool-in-the-summer basement sipping on a delicious microbrew or a glass of Port while you click your mouse can never be construed as "labor"--not as long as we live on a planet where children manufacture tennis shoes for two fortune cookies a month.

Buylisting isn't sexy or glamorous but it's the best way I know to turn Hymn to Tourach into 25 cents when you have too many to ever sell on eBay or in a case at a retail store. It's a pretty sweet life but it only requires about 30% of my attention and since I grew up in the digital age of instant gratification, I have been watching TV shows and movies to occupy the portion of my brain not involved in the buylist process.

I made it through a good portion of the good stuff--Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Walking Dead, 6 Feet Under, The Wire, Dexter--and decided to kick it old school this time and rock it '90s style with an HBO classic called "Oz."

Lessons to Learn from Oz

For the uninitiated, "Oz" is a far-fetched drama about an experimental unit inside the fictional "Oswald State Penitentiary" called "Emerald City". The experiment is to see if prisoners grouped together with each race represented an equal amount and given more autonomy will help their rehabilitation.

If that actually worked it would be boring, so people get murdered an awful lot, there are riots and no fewer than two prisoners manage to get ahold of a pistol in the first three seasons alone. Misbehavers are threatened with being exiled from Emerald City back into the general prison population--an odd threat considering how often a main character ends up dead on Oz.

It's a strange watching experience sometimes.

Occasionally a new prisoner will be introduced into Emerald City to replace someone who was pushed down an elevator shaft, got a razorblade in the neck or died by prison boxing match, and they're given a veteran inmate to help them get acclimated. The veteran is of the same race as the new inmate to help introduce them to their peer group, which is useful for protecting affiliated prisoners.

Recently (to me) one of the new prisoners was a guy with an exaggerated Italian accent (which comes across like this) who does not wish to be affiliated with the Italian mobsters who might otherwise protect him from the other gangs in the prison. When asked if it was okay to 'intefere with' (murder by stuffing in a washing machine or stab in the neckmeat, probably) this unaffiliated prisoner, the head of the Italian gang said "I don't give a fuck if he lives or dies." "Wow," I thought, "dude should have just joined the gang."

Hence the Article Title?

Actually, my working title was "Oz Didn't Make You a Bitch" but I liked the other one a lot better.

Connections and How They Help

At a glance, this looks like the kind of box you'd find the Holiday Gift Box coming in. Its unassuming, utilitarian design doesn't give many hints about what could be inside. This certainly doesn't look like the kind of thing people would lose their mind over.

Well, this is what it looks like on the inside. These babies are closing at auction on eBay around $400 and the price is expected to climb. The only way to get these (outside of paying $250-$300 on eBay last week and hoping your order didn't get cancelled like 75% of them did) was to stand in line at San Diego Comic Con this last weekend.

If you were there and braved the lines, you won big. If not, you were forced to pay what the secondary market was charging for these mammer jammers.

Lucky for me, I made some beer money the summer after I graduated college by working for a company called Stylin Online which, despite being a company my friend Adam's cousin and his father started off of a card table at a Flea Market, had grown large enough to sport four separate locations at San Diego Comic Con by 2006.

After working that show, I stayed with the company for a few years and traveled all over the country. Most of my wardrobe comes from them, and if you drop my name when you order, you can be told, "No, saying you know Jason Alt does not entitle you to any sort of discount." but you should check their site out anyway.

Hearing there was cool swag given out only to attendees of Comic Con was the impetus for this article. Since I had connections at Stylin and therefore knew people who were going to San Diego Comic Con, I wondered where else having connections could help, and how we could be conscious of our own connections.

Ultimately, no one going to SDCC and working for Stylin would have time to wait on line long enough to snag one of these sets, but I had a better shot than most since a few people promised to try to buy a set off of an attendee. How else could who you know hook you up, I wondered?

More Good News For a Lucky Few

It's a little more obvious what this is, but right now it's even more of a secret what's inside. One thing we do know is that an old friend is coming to the party, and he's bringing the price of this up when he comes.

It wasn't until I looked at this picture just now for the fifth time that I realized there were some other cards off to the right, there.

So what if the expansion symbol looks like something a WOTC intern phoned in on his last day? So what if Ink Eyes didn't get new art for some reason I'd love to hear explained? Who cares if no one could have predicted this because of what a Ziploc bag of dog turds FTV: Realms was? We're getting Jace, the Mind Sculptor in a set we can go out and buy!

Or can we?

Preorders on FTV: 20 were a very conservative $200 on the secondary market, but the announcement that Jace was included made that number skyrocket. The odds of being able to pay retail on this are laughably low. You'd have to be really good friends with a retailer to pull this off...

Dedicated readers of this column will remember that I sell some of my cards in a case at a local gaming store that doesn't have the time or expertise to sell their own singles. Paying a percentage for the rental is a lot better than paying the overheard to own the store myself and occasionally the owner treats me like a pseudo-employee which has its own perks.

What kind of perks? Being able to buy booster boxes for near cost is one. Being able to order old, out-of-print boxes from his distributor is another. But the most relevant perk to this discussion would be my better-than-the-average-bear ability to get a From the Vault: Twenty at all, and for under MSRP--a price that will never be charged for this set--to boot.

How Likely Are We to Get That Deal?

Okay, so before people start rolling their eyes, let's recap how I got into the situation I'm in. This didn't fall into my lap, after all--it came about because I recognized an opportunity and took the simple step of proposing it. He could easily have said no, after all.

I get a lot of benefits from my symbiotic relationship with my LGS, that's true. That doesn't mean I'm in a unique position by any means. QS' very own Corbin Hosler decided to work a similar deal at an LGS near him, and if you do what I keep saying you should and follow him on Twitter, you'll know he is happy with how it's working out.

Sure, you may not be able to find an LGS that is somehow simultaneously still in business but neglecting singles sales of the most popular card game, but does that mean you can't do anything? Have you ever approached the owner about selling on consignment? Have you ever sold to their buylist, offered to organize an event or brought in new players?

If you're just another player to them (and if you're finance-inclined you might not even buy cards from them) how likely are they to hook you up? Maybe you don't care about your relationship with your LGS owner, but having connections can't hurt, can it?

I'm not saying a good relationship with people who travel to lots of events and with your LGS owner will save you from getting knifed in a prison shower, necessarily. I'm just suggesting it couldn't hurt.

Another GP-less Weekend

Fear not, we doubled down on Star City events this weekend so let's go directly to town. I don't want to spend too much time on this section--today is my anniversary and when I'm done here I'm going to go upstairs and make my wife do something she's been dreading all week.

I meant play EDH, you sick bastards. That's my wife you're talking about!

It's My Article

And I'll cover the SCG Classic in Lansing before the SCG Open if I want to because I'm Boss Hog around here.

SCG Classic Lansing Decklists

James Newman's winning list looks very similar to a deck I've seen out of RIW Hobbies in Livonia, Michigan, except with no red.

Did you pick up Advent of the Wurm when they dipped? Block play seemed to indicate the card would be strong, but when it didn't do much in Standard, it fell off a bit. However, people are brewing with the future in mind, and Advent seems like it could be a player. It's cheap now on TCG Player, and the spread is a laughable 8%. If SCG is willing to pay $4, don't tell me you're not willing to pay $4.35.

Ryan Bushard was at the Classic and watching Newman's and other similar decks perform saw him go deep on Scion of Vitu-Ghazi. Even when Ryan is wrong he still manages to make money, and I think he's onto something here. I love to populate, but Trostani is already way up--Did you buy them at $3 like we said to? Congrats on making $5 a copy--so there is more growth potential in a card like Scion, which worst case scenario is a Cloudgoat Ranger.

Populate Shenanigans will run rampant, and these shenanigans could buoy the Archangel of Thune, a card I didn't really like but which isn't likely to tank as fast as I predicted, and decks which put a lot of tokens into play are one reason why.

I like Ryan Archer's list a little better than the winning list.

It seemed like every single card printed in M14 was the next four-of in Bant Hexproof according to the "experts" on facebook and reddit. However, the deck didn't manage a Top 8 here, and the best-finishing deck, 13th place, didn't run any Witchstalker or any other nonsense offered by M14.

M14 did give us Burning Earth, which just made Jund better and that's annoying. I predicted Burning Earth would hose control more than Manabarbs ever did since it's easier to play around, and my facebook feed was blown up by people asking for Burning Earth. The card is still too cheap at $2. Compare to the price trajectory of Rest in Peace and invest accordingly.

Kalamazoo hero Tristan Woodsmith is still too young to see an R-rated movie but he's crushing on a local level. When he's older and can travel a lot more, expect to see big things from him. His deck is noteworthy mostly because it contains no M14 cards. Go with what you're comfortable with, I guess. Congrats, Tristan.

This list keeps popping up and R/G lists are starting to evolve a bit by adding M14 cards. But there isn't much financial opportunity since decks like this aren't running a ton of new cards beside Garruk, which I recommended you try to pack rather than preorder. It's maintaining its price with some play but doesn't appear to be climbing. Just win some packs and get them that way.

Not too many Kalonian Hydras in the Top 16 here. Not too many at all.

I decided to spend this weekend at home rather than make it up to the Classic, but Ryan assures me he took care of the public's trading needs and I shouldn't worry. He's a good friend like that.

AJ Sacher is My Hero

SCG Open Richmond Top 8

AJ Sacher got there, which makes me happy. He did it jamming a full playset of Xathrid Necromancer, which makes Mike Lannigan happy. Mike has been saying for weeks that this card is the real deal. Did you buy them when they cost nothing? You didn't? Well, they're $8 now; that's Mike vindicated.

Reddit is already in full "Yea, well AJ's opponent in the finals kept a loose seven game three" and all the other bullshit that people blurt out when they can't come to grips with having underestimated a card they never bothered testing. Sure, AJ's opponent kept a loose hand. AJ also beat people all day to make it to the finals.

A whopping five cards from the maindeck are not rotating (4 Necromancer and 1 Orzhov Charm) so it's possible a deck that abuses Necromancer won't come along for a while. If you want to sell out for $8 now, that's probably an okay move. Still, these presold for approximately nothing for a long time and there was plenty of money to be made.

Jund loves Scavenging Ooze. Ooze being a reprint and a promo made it tank, but it's already back up to $20. Naya, Jund and Junk midrange decks are all going to want this guy.

LOL Wut

This deck may be the only deck that wants Imposing Sovereign right now, but Brad Nelson said it was a good card on twitter, and as you know, when Brad Nelson says a card is good, it's at least going to get bought and tested with. $4 seems a safe buy-in, but I'm not personally going to bite.

A whole raft of Bant Hexproof decks finished just outside the Top 16, and the ones that did better were running Gladecover Scout, something the deck was missing. No Witchstalkers in evidence, but the Scouts may be what the deck needs to finally make Top 8.

Esper Control had all it needed before, but I'm sure it won't sneeze at a few Ratchet Bombs. If nothing else, they make you feel less terrible about countering their spells when they have a Voice of Resurgence in play.

Get Off My Lawn!

That's all the news that's fit to print, kids. Join me next week where I'll talk a bit more about being connected. I could even call the article "Underworld Connections." Wouldn't that be neat? Because it's the name of a Magic card, also, but we're talking about connections. It's like naming a site for speculators "Quiet Speculation" because it is a card with "Speculation" in the title.

I was going to use this last paragraph to make fun of Sigmund's article this week where he started putting bullet points at the end he's calling "Sig Bits" but honestly that title is beyond reproach. It sounds just dirty enough.

On that note, I bid you a fond farewell.

27 thoughts on “Jason’s Article: Get Yourself Connected

  1. Ohhh My God. For the first time in an articel, Jason did not whine! Way to go!

    Although, he did manage to toot his own horn more than once… which is obligatory, of course…

      1. I got the point. You wanted us to know how great you are. I’m not sold.
        You’ve tried the whining thing, and the bragging thing. Maybe next time a combination of the two?

      2. “Get connections, guys. I got connections. check out all the shit i got from my connections”

        honestly, you telling corbin to shut up, i find to be the ultimate irony.

        1. That\’s great feedback. I\’m going to write my next article about a subject I have no experience with because if I give an example of something going badly for me, I\’m whining and if I give an example of something going well for me, I\’m bragging. Either that or I will continue not to care what a couple of trolls say.

        2. That\’s great feedback. I\’m going to write my next article about a subject I have no experience with because if I give an example of something going badly for me, I\’m whining and if I give an example of something going well for me, I\’m bragging. Either that or I will continue not to care what a couple of trolls say.

    1. I never said it was a good card. I think it\’s narrow and it\’s blind obedience but easier to kill. However, Brad Nelson said the name of the card on Twitter and that means it\’s going to go up, irrespective of playability.

  2. I enjoyed this write up. Forget all the haters – they just want the cheap jace. There are a number of ways to get noticed by your lgs. I think customer aquisition is the best route if single card sales is already taken. Remember that you don’t have to posess money in order to make it work for you. If you can pass a judge test, lgs will give you privalages based upon how active you are.

    There are many ways to gain trust. If you see a hole, grab a shovel

    1. Passing your rules adviser test and/or your judge test is a great way of ingratiating yourself with the LGS. I\’m a little disappointed in myself for not thinking of that. That\’s an excellent way to make yourself useful to the store and the community.

  3. Try not being smug every time you’re right about a card and whining every time you’re wrong and maybe you wouldn’t get so much hate

    1. You sound like such a wife beater right now. \”Here\’s how you can avoid making me hit you next time\”. You can always not take the time out of your day to whine in the comment section of articles you profess not to like.

      1. I like your articles but… every time i read you talk about “why didnt you buy so and so card before it spiked like i said you should”… and then a week later see you cry about how a card hasn’t gone up in value like it should have… i get douche chills

  4. Jason, to use the term “wife beater” so nonchalantly is very immature. Spousal abuse is a very serious issue. Magic the Gathering…not so much. The two don’t really go hand in hand…

    Grow up, smarten up, or people will start calling you worse things than bragger or whiner…

  5. Wow. So i’ve paid for premium on this site for two months, and not finding a whole lot of value in the tools. I do like some of the articles.

    But i will gladly double what i pay you if you can filter out these 5th grader flame wars that seem to permeate the comments. I have 2 teenagers. I certainly don’t need to come here for annoying bullshit.

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