How Do You Handle Standard Cards for Casual Play?

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I draft a lot, and I maintain a cube and a Maelstrom Wanderer EDH deck, but I do not play Standard. As a drafter, I open a lot of Standard staples that are often good in Cube and/or EDH. As a financially minded mage, I don't like my cards to lose value to rotation, but I also want to play them in the casual formats I enjoy. This presents me with a dilemma.


Some cards are easy. Stuff like Thoughtseize, Abrupt Decay, shock and fetch lands, and Dig Through Time may lose a bit at rotation, but ultimately, these are good long-term holds that I don't mind just hanging on to through rotation and for years to come.

Other cards aren't so simple, though. Something like Elspeth, Sun's Champion will likely never break through in Modern or Legacy due to its six-mana casting cost. While it's at $30 retail right now, by this time next year, after rotation, the card could be as low as $5, and I would be surprised if it was over $10. But I want it in my cube. I don't want to proxy it for a year until the price goes down, and I don't want to just remove it from my cube until that point, either.

I know some players who don't worry about card prices at all. They're looking to get the cards they want from the new set, and once they have those cards, they're permanently a part of those players' collections. On the other end of the spectrum are the players who are constantly pulling cards from decks to trade away because they just can't handle not getting full value for their cards. Both of these positions are defensible, but it's hard to say if one is right.

I fall somewhere in between these two extremes on the spectrum, largely based on how much trading and/or selling I feel like doing in a given season. Elspeth and a bunch of her Theros friends are on my mind lately, and I honestly don't know whether I feel like going through the effort of trading and then reacquiring later. But it's also distasteful to consider losing large amounts of card value that I could have gotten back with just a little bit of effort.

I'm not the only one who has this inner debate, am I? How do you handle situations like this? Do you err toward maximizing dollars or minimizing work? And what do you do about playing with a card in between selling at its peak price and re-buying at its post-rotation price? Let me know your thoughts on this issue in the comment section below.

3 thoughts on “How Do You Handle Standard Cards for Casual Play?

  1. My buddy has a cube and he doesn’t pick up new cards for it until they’ve rotated out of Standard (assuming their prices are tied to seeing play in Standard).

  2. As someone new to the finance side I understand your position completely. I actually went through this dilemma last week as I looked at cards I could buylist or sell on TCGPlayer and sent 2x Elspeth and 3x Jace to buylists because I wanted to get the most out of them and didn’t think I would be playing in any standard tournaments for a while so I could trade back into them once prices came down. Well it turns out my weekend opened up and I could play in the gameday. So I rebuilt the deck without either planeswalker and noticed several times where I would have won if I had either. I still think I got the value out of them I wanted but it emphasized to me the importance of having extra copies that I don’t mind trading or selling away so that I can still play with the ones I need.

  3. I buy 1 boosterbox from a small set and 2 boosterboxes of a large set, other than that I tend to only rarely pick up Standard cards. Sometimes because the person I’m trading with has nothing else, sometimes because I feel they are a good pick up (Temples), sometimes because I want a card for an EDH deck and regularly through trading for bulk where they just happen to be among the cards I get in.

    Otherwise I pretty much ignore Standard cards until they rotate. Most of them will drop and I usually identify the few that won’t in time. Also surprisingly many get in as bulk eventually anyway.

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