Selling to Buylists At Events
From my past experiences, the Grand Prix event site is usually a depressing empty room on Friday night. Grand Prix: Richmond was the exact opposite. Players who compared the recent Grand Prix in Richmond and Vegas to a Magic version of Woodstock are definitely conveying the situation realistically. The hall was crazy. Every dealer had twenty players waiting to buy or sell cards and there were lots of other players jamming side events all night. Grand Prix in general are amazing and super fun time, but enormous record breaking events like Richmond and Vegas are epic experiences of a lifetime.
While I was at the GP on Friday night, I sold a lot of cards. I had recently purchased two collections and needed to move most of the cards that I was not able to sell individually. Even if you don’t like buy listing your cards online, give it a chance in person. From my perspective, and in the opinions many other Finance people I know, there is a vast difference between in-person and online. The most crucial difference revolves around condition grading and your ability to say "no". When you sell your cards online, I have found that the graders tend to be much harsher because they don’t have the owner sitting there right in front of them to say no to an awful offer on a card. In person, you have the chance to decline their offer or try to negotiate a higher buy price. Typically the more you are selling them, the easier it is to negotiate on a couple key cards you are trying to unload. ( Just don't be That Guy; the one who argues over quarters on every card. Be reasonable. )
One question I get asked a lot is, “Who should I sell to?” I think the only answer that matters is that you should sell to whomever you feel comfortable with. Prices may vary between merchants, but it will mostly even out in the end. Rather than give you a list of who you should sell to, I want to give my broad opinion. I prefer to sell to smaller companies for most of my cards because they have the power to offer you any amount of money. The big online retailers tend to have a rigid buy list that they must adhere to, so negotiating doesn’t really happen. The large stores are good for moving stuff that no one else wants, so don’t dismiss them.
Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open
While I was waiting at various dealers trying to buy and sell, I listened and observed some price trends. Although I don’t think it will transfer over to a permanent increase in price, players and dealers were going crazy for Anger of the Gods. I Most of the dealers had them priced between $4 and $7. Even though I thought those prices were crazy, players were still buying them. In addition, the entire hall was sold out of foil versions of the card. After searching for three hours, I finally tracked down a dealer that had bought some. Because the card was so hot, I was able to flip two of the three copies to another dealer five minutes later for more than what I paid. So, even though you can buy a foil Anger of the Gods on TCG Player today for around $6, I was able to sell my copies for $12 each. There are many financial opportunities like this at Grand Prix. You just have to look for them.
The next trend I noticed was how much Modern staples have risen in the last few months. Now, I know that many other authors on this site have talked many times about specific cards spiking, but that’s not exactly what I am saying. Everything is increasing in price. Every time I turn around, my Modern collection is worth more money. After being surprised to see the prices on some cards like Splinter Twin, I looked up many more to get a better sense of the trajectory of the market. Here are some of the more interesting ones.
They're Worth HOW Much?
[cardimage cardname='Splinter Twin'][cardimage cardname='Birthing Pod']
[cardimage cardname='Thrun, the Last Troll'][cardimage cardname='Tarmogoyf']
[cardimage cardname='Celestial Colonnade'][cardimage cardname='Grove of the Burnwillows']
[cardimage cardname='Scalding Tarn'][cardimage cardname='Misty Rainforest']
[cardimage cardname='Verdant Catacombs'][cardimage cardname='Arid Mesa']
[cardimage cardname='Marsh Flats'][cardimage cardname='Sulfur Falls']
[cardimage cardname='Living End'][cardimage cardname='Fulminator Mage']
[cardimage cardname='Ensnaring Bridge'][cardimage cardname='Serum Visions']
[cardimage cardname='Noble Hierarch'][cardimage cardname='Cryptic Command']
[cardimage cardname='Spellskite'][cardimage cardname='Bitterblossom']
[cardimage cardname='Batterskull'][cardimage cardname='Phyrexian Obliterator']
Let’s Play some Modern
Modern is one of my favorite formats because it covers all the cards from the time I have been playing the game. When it was announced that Modern would include all sets back to original Mirrodin, it was like they created the format just for me. I had an immediate connection with Modern because I have been playing competitively since Mirrodin's release. Modern may be much more powerful than Standard, but it is also more balanced and Wizards is doing a great job keeping it that way.
Since I have been participating in every Modern PTQ season, I have played many decks in the format. This not only gives me a lot of knowledge about the format, but it also helps me when it comes time to decide on a deck to play for an event. While preparing for Grand Prix: Richmond, Birthing Pod had been my leading deck choice. I chose to play Kiki-Pod, as I have had much more success with it than Melira-Pod. In addition to significant play experience with the deck, I also had strong theories about how to improve it. This is the version I brought to battle in the largest constructed Grand Prix to date.
There are some major differences from previous versions that I have played. The one that sticks out the most to me is cutting down to only one copy of Voice of Resurgence. In my experience, Voice has been unimpressive. Even though other versions of Kiki-Pod have run three copies, I felt this deck only needed a single copy to fetch with Birthing Pod. The second noteworthy addition is Domri Rade. There's no better way to abuse this Planeswalker than with thirty creatures and 8 fetch lands. He did not disappoint. Domri certainly has a higher potency in Modern Pod decks than he does in any Standard build.
[cardimage cardname='Domri Rade'][cardimage cardname='Voice of Resurgence']
Finally, I included a couple silver bullets in my starting 60 that many players either leave in the sideboard or omit entirely. Both Avalanche Riders and Thrun, the Last Troll are amazing cards for a deck like this. I will always advocate keeping Avalanche Riders in the main deck because he is good against every deck in the field. Even in matchups where it might seem too slow - such as Affinity - I have won games simply by casting him and then flickering him with Restoration Angel. Thrun was definitely good, but he could easily move back to the sideboard.
I had a two-round bye, so my tournament began in round 3 with a sterling 2-0 record.
Round 3: Melira-Pod
Kiki-Pod gains major appeal due to its strength against Melira-Pod. You have a much easier time completing your combo, and your opponent has a harder time disrupting it. Their best avenue for beating you is by resolving Linvala, Keeper of Silence or hoping you can’t combo because they can legitimately beat you through attacking. Game one, my opponent successfully did both of these. He not only presented an aggressive attacking force, but also cut my deck to no Birthing Pods all while having Linvala in play.
[cardimage cardname='Linvala, Keeper of Silence'][cardimage cardname='Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker']
Even with a game 1 loss, the match can still easily be won. Game 2 started out as an aggressive battle with me leading the charge. The problem is, if the Melira deck taps out to continue their aggressive onslaught, you can combo them out with no fear of disruption. He tapped out and promptly lost the game. In game 3 my opponent missed a land drop, then Deceiver Exarch into Restoration Angel into Restoration Angel kept him from ever recovering. 3-0
Round 4: Affinity
Affinity is one of the more popular archetypes in Modern. Considering there were 4301 players at the event, that means a lot of Affinity players. As it turns out, Affinity was one of the most popular and also successful decks at this Grand Prix. Sometimes Affinity has an unbeatable draw where they use every card in their hand, including double Galvanic Blast, and kill you on turn four. That was exactly what happened to me in game 1. Had I drawn a Birthing Pod I might have won the game, but that is the case the majority of the time. I did not, and so I lost.
[cardimage cardname='Arcbound Ravager'][cardimage cardname='Cranial Plating']
Game 2 was odd. It featured my opponents Blood Moon and my Kiki-Jiki + Avalanche Riders combo to keep him off lands until I could find Zealous Conscripts to win the game. As a note, Darksteel Citadel under Blood Moon is not indestructible. Good to know. Game 3 seemed well within my reach. Even though I did not have much disruption nor the combo, I was successfully winning the race until he top decked a Cranial Plating to defeat me out of nowhere. I was disheartened to lose this match because I felt extremely unlucky with my draws in all three games. Affinity is a fast, unforgiving deck that can win games out of seemingly nowhere, so even tiny play errors and poor luck can be amplified. 3-1
Round 5: Living End
I was immediately concerned because my opponent had an early Living End in game 1. It turned out to be okay because he only had one creature in his graveyard to bring back. Once I clawed my way back into the game with my Birthing Pod, he was forced to Living End again and I was able to get my whole graveyard from the first time back in play. All I needed was an untap step to win the game. Untap, Upkeep, Die.
In game 2, I punished my opponent with a mana deprival strategy. I used Deceiver Exarch to tap a land, then Avalanche Riders and Phantasmal Image to kill 2 more. I even took a turn to pay the echo cost! This combo is quite potent and most opponents are not prepared to play against it, especially not from the Kiki-Pod deck.4-1
[cardimage cardname='Phantasmal Image'][cardimage cardname='Avalanche Riders']
Round 6: Melira Pod
Matching up against Melira-Pod again was great luck for me but just like the first time, I couldn't seem to do anything against my opponent in game 1. I took down game 2 through disruption and aggression and I straight combo'ed off to win game 3.5-1
Round 7: GB Rock
After starting off 5-1, I felt like I was gaining steam and charging ahead. That continued right on into game one of this match against this almost-Jund deck. This was the only game all day when I drew Thrun, the Last Troll and he was useful. He was not just useful; he was amazing, providing ample pressure alongside a few flying creatures. I was able to quickly cut my opponent's life total down.
[cardimage cardname='Phyrexian Obliterator'][cardimage cardname='Torpor Orb']
Unfortunately, the rest of the match did not go so well. The second game featured my opponent drawing Phyrexian Obliterator plus enough removal spells to kill everything I played. The third game was a train wreck. My opponent cast Torpor Orb while I was choked on mana. That combo plus a couple of powerful creatures on his side of the board was enough to kill me quickly.
In addition to being in a tough spot, I made a play error. Since I actually had Birthing Pod (but really no creatures to sacrifice), I paid six life to get Thrun in play. This would have been a perfect play except I was at six life and he had six power on the board. What that meant was that I had to block his Tarmogoyf or die, making the Pod play I made completely pointless. Even though I don't think there was any sequence I could have played to help me win this game, that one was definitely wrong. 5-2
Round 8 – Burn
When my opponent plays a basic Mountain on turn 1 late on the first day of a Grand Prix, I jump for joy on the inside. I have never lost to Burn in a Modern tournament before and I don't believe Burn is a competitive archetype in the format. I'm quickly proven wrong in game 1 when he opens with Goblin Guides on turns 1 and 2. In addition, I drew the clunky half of my deck so I was nowhere near fast enough to beat him.
[cardimage cardname='Goblin Guide'][cardimage cardname='Lightning Bolt']
Game 2, I was able to sideboard Thragtusk. In the right situations, he is still king of the hill. After I gained my five life, I had plenty to feed to the Birthing Pod in order to combo kill him. Somehow I won the second game through not one, not two, but three Goblin Guides. Thragtusk is that good.
Game 3 was a sad end to my day. I ate 4 damage on his first turn after I chose to put Vexing Devil in his graveyard. He followed up with a pair of Goblin Guides on turn 2. Hopefully he drew one that turn though because if not, he missed out on a free two damage. Even though he had another sick start, I was still hanging on and devised a line of play that would win the game on turn 6. I didn't get a turn 6; My empty-handed opponent drew a burn spell to kill me from exactly 3 life a turn too soon. Sometimes Burn actually has all the burn spells. For as many Goblin Guides as he played, it's no wonder he only had one loss on the day. 5-3
At the end of the event, I reflected on my play throughout the course of the day. It's important to think about what possible mistakes you made to try to improve your game. Other than the bad Birthing Pod line against GB and a couple minor other things, I was extremely happy with my play throughout this event. I felt I played well and did everything in my power to win my matches. As you know by now, this deck did also win the whole event, so I was on the right page in terms of deck choice.
When we were walking out of the hall to leave, I was telling my friends about how I wanted to change my deck for the next time I got to play Modern. Most of the changes I proposed were actually represented in the deck that won the event with the exception of 2 Scavenging Ooze. I have not liked that card in Kiki-Pod but with where the format is right now, I think they would be a solid choice. Since none of us made day two, we did the only reasonable thing left to do. We grabbed a couple beers and played Commander all night.
Until Next Time,
Unleash the Force on Modern!
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