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One Part Finance, Three Parts Standard

As someone who concerns himself with Magic finance, I have learned a few tricks of the trade along the way. I love the finance side of the game nearly as much as competitive play, but not enough to give up trying to qualify for the Pro Tour.

For a while in my life, knowing the value of cards and how to trade effectively was not just something I did for fun. Being a good trader was an essential part of being able to compete. While I was in college, I was what you would consider a poor Magic player. I did not have tons of spare money to throw at the game to insure I had everything I needed for a deck. Instead, I needed to plan and trade for cards ahead of time.

Back then, there were no financial articles to read online so I had to figure things out on my own. Luckily it worked out for me and I figured out quickly what I was doing. All it took was one player ripping me off (my $20 card for his $2 card), for me to commit to figuring out how to trade fairly but also such that it benefited me.

Bulk Box!

Over the years, one concept I adopted was keeping my own bulk box. Often finance players will unload their bulk rares to dealers early and often so they can keep their binder filled with all the good cards. There is nothing wrong with this line of play but I would suggest that there is a better way.

Instead of frequently bulking out your rares for meager profits, throw them all into a box together. Shops and dealers do this all the time. You can walk into any reasonable shop and you will likely find a box or binder labeled $1, or maybe six for $5, etc.

As finance grinders, we are prone to digging through these cards to find the hidden value. Oh look a $2 card in the dollar box! Occasionally, there are some drastically mispriced cards in these places and you can really strike gold. If you are not checking the store’s bulk box, you should start.

In the months before Innistrad was released, I wanted to take finance to the next level in my life. Of course I had been speculating successfully on and off for a couple years as well as developing mad action trading skills, but I wanted to kick it up a notch. I wanted to move from trade grinder to dealer.

The shop I was playing at semi-regularly did not have singles and he already had a policy in place that allowed players to sell cards to each other for a minor cut. This seemed like an ideal opportunity and I worked out a deal with him to sell cards in his store.

It was amazing. I had so much fun managing my inventory, deciding on buy prices for Standard cards, and dealing in his store. That unfortunately ended after about six months but I learned more in that time than in the decade I’d been playing before that.

One key concept I learned during that time was that it doesn’t matter how big your business is, you too can have a bulk rare box. At first, mine started small, but then players kept bulking out their cards to me and it grew rather quickly.

In no time at all, I needed to expand out of the thousand-count box to a five-thousand-count one. My suggestion is to limit your box to five thousand and bulk out the twenty extra copies of some cards to another dealer. If you expand beyond that size, players most likely won’t take the time to dig through it.

Getting back on topic, by keeping your own bulk box, not only can you get full value out of a card when a player trades you bulk rares for it, but often it can be even more profitable than that. The reason this idea came to mind this week was because I struck gold in my own bulk box!

There are a number of reasons that your bulk box can benefit you.

The first reason the bulk box is an amazing finance tool is because sometimes you will be able to trade those rares at between $.50 and $1 up for basically any other card players might want. It’s easy to see how quickly your collection can increase if you trade for a card at $.15 and then trade it away for $1. In the dealer world, this is common practice. If you can adopt this practice, the value of your cards will increase as long as you have an outlet for low-end cards like this.

Even if you don’t have players who will trade for bulk rares, like the Commander crowd, you can still profit from building your own bulk box. We all know that players bulk cards that are worth more than bulk, so there will be a small amount of value to be had just by committing to bulking players that want to bulk.

The real gold is when a card jumps in value that you have in your bulk box. For example, over the weekend there was some talk about Forced Fruition going well with the new Grixis commander, Nekusar, the Mindrazer. What used to be a junk rare from Lorwyn is now $4-5.

Pulling five copies of this card from my bulk box was like hitting the lottery. I was able to sell all five copies into the hype at the current $4-5 price point and make a quick profit. So, what are you waiting for? Get to bulking!

Stale Standard

Fear not competitive content readers, I bring you news of new decks to spice up your holiday season. While it may seem like Standard is going nowhere fast due to the dominance of the devotion decks and Esper Control, some players are making a stand and trying out new strategies.

I still love the Bant Hexproof deck I have been working on and I think hardly any players will be prepared to face down creatures they can’t target, but other options are available.

Players like Reid Duke are forging the way with new decks like Bant Control. Kibler is doing his normal aggro thing with Golgari Aggro too. There are unexplored strategies lurking in the shadows of Standard waiting for someone to spot them. Here are the two pros decks in case you have not seen them yet.

Prophet Bant
by Reid Duke
As written about here

G/B Aggro
by Brian Kibler
As written about here

Neither of these decks are exactly what I want to be doing in Standard right now, but they are close.

If you have been reading my articles you most likely saw similarities between Reid’s Bant deck and the BUG deck I’ve been working on. They both try to control the game by abusing the untap ability of Prophet of Kruphix. I would prefer my midrange control deck to have black mana for all the things that color has to offer rather than white, but they are similar in design and game plan.

After watching the videos of Kibler playing Golgari, I was not very impressed, but I think the idea is solid. I think what he is lacking is a more aggressive mana curve of creatures to start attacking his opponent earlier in the game.

The two main cards that concern me are Elvish Mystic and Boon Satyr. Both of these seemed to have little impact on the games I saw. Granted, he was only able to showcase a small sample size of games, but I think the deck would be better served by playing Tormented Hero as well as his own Pack Rats.

Finally, he mentioned a number of times how much the lack of a green and black temple was hurting his consistency. It’s possible that at strategy like this cannot be successful right now due to the absence of this land.

There is one more deck I want you guys to take a look at today.

W/U Devotion
by Brian Grimm

That is definitely not your typical White Devotion deck, that’s for sure. What I love is the ability to use the huge mana generation of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to generate a huge advantage on the board. That concept is the main reason I think the Green Devotion deck is underrated. The huge mana gives both decks this explosive capability so that your opponent can’t possibly keep up unless they plan to clear the board.

All it will take for you to be hooked on this deck is casting Angel of Serenity in Standard again. Your opponent is not prepared to face a giant angel that clears their board, I can tell you that for sure.

Don’t forget about the sweet sideboard plan where the deck boards out twelve creatures and turns into a makeshift U/W control deck. Spear of Heliod in a control shell is actually a huge beating. You can take some damage and then kill their creature. Then, when you revelation, you can replenish your life total. Overall, the deck is a solid aggressive deck with plans in case the game goes long.

No matter what you are doing in Standard, there are a lot of options for you. What sweet decks are you guys playing right now?

Until Next Time

Unleash the Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter
Jedicouncilman23@gmail.com

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Mike Lanigan

Mike Lanigan

Mike Lanigan is high school math teacher by day and a shop owner by night. His tournament grinding may have slowed a little, but his love of the game has not. Mike's goal is to bring you a mix of perspectives from shop-owner insights to finance tips to metagame shifts and everything in between.

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3 thoughts on “One Part Finance, Three Parts Standard

  1. You’re 100% correct with your bulk box. I too am known in my area as “the bulk” guy. I’ve got deals with several stores in which I will accept their bulk rares at certain prices and I’ll trade them the hot standard cards or legacy cards (dual lands/zendikar fetches are especially desirable) for bulk rares. I wrote my article this week after going through my bulk boxes and pulling out 125 cards (of which I essentially paid $12.5 for and sent them in to 2 different buylists for $50 – my shipping cost of about $6). It’s a great feeling and it usually refills itself when you allow people to pull cards out of it if they put 2 in for every 1 they take out. This keeps stock rotating and while you might miss out on 1 or 2 of those recently jumped cards you’ll often have people put not bulk back in.

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