Insider: Foiling Your Deck

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I love foils. I slowly foil out my cards even when I tell myself I won't, and I know tons of others who have finished foiling their decks out completely. It is a great accomplishment when you get that final card, and can say you have a 75-card foil deck.

Now, some people might just go out and buy the entire deck in foil. I think I'll go out on a limb, and say those people are the minority. Most of us slowly trade for or buy pieces as we find deals, or see them in trade binders and dealer cases. Picking the deck up slowly allows us to get everything for the best price.

Often, I see people picking up the cards in that fashion--and they always go either for cards in trade binders, or they start buying the cheapest card first. I am here to tell you that there is a better way.

Obviously, this is much different from getting an entire deck in non-foil--you pick up as much as you can, at the best prices, and usually you have a deadline (that GP in June, or that Open in August). However, some of these strategies could be used to initially pick up a deck.

For this article, I will use Modern Jund as an example, as that is a deck I know well.


First, you should split all of the cards you need into a few categories.

  • Core deck cards: These are the cards that everyone who plays your deck will absolutely run, in every list.

  • Semi-Core Cards: These are the cards that are probably run, but which not every list contains.

  • Optional Cards: These are the cards that make it into some lists, but not particularly the majority.

  • Sideboard Cards: The cards in your 15-card sideboard--the most likely place for your list to change.

Ideally, you'll want to pick up cards in that order. Core cards first, then semi-core cards, followed by the optional and sideboard cards. This prevents you from picking up random meta-call cards (I'm looking at you, Darkblast) and not needing them a week later.

Making the most popular cards the highest priority not only keeps the purchases within reach, but it gives you the highest gains should the cards spike in the future. Future Sight Tarmogoyf foils are now $850, and I won't be buying them anytime soon.

Know the Market, and the Cards

Let's look at a recent spike: Terminate.

The card itself went from 75 cents to a whopping 4 dollars--but the Planeshift foil did much more. It went from about $4 up to its current mid of $60. Even the Alara Reborn foil--despite being in foil Alara block packs--is at $13.

This was a hard one to predict but it was creeping up slowly for a while. You could buy them at a fifth of their current price even right before the spike, but days after we already knew it would happen. If you watch your cards through a list of foils on a system like QS's Trader Tools, you will know when your cards are moving, and hopefully will have time to pick them up.

Watch if a nonfoil is moving as well--if the foil is slowly reducing in available copies, it will increase or spike soon. Many of you use this process daily to profit on spikes, but this is more about saving money.

Keeping an eye out on event coverage is important as well. Knowing that your deck is popular at an event can be key to predicting spikes on your cards. At Origins this year, during the Saturday Open, I asked every dealer if they had foil Blackcleave Cliffs. They all were sold out of even nonfoils. I managed to pick up a foil Olivia and a few other cards during the tournament and the day before, securing those cards at a far lower price.

If the card is trending upward, figure out a way to get it now.

Look for Deals

This one sounds self explanatory, but there are a few tricks you can use to find the foils on the cheap, or get them in trades.

  • Post on Facebook groups and pages.
  • Set up eBay alerts on the mobile app for specific search terms (Future Sight Tarmogoyf +foil).
  • Post in the QS forums, in the Exchange.
  • Show off the deck, and list to everyone the foils you need--someone will eventually tell another player to contact you about a card.
  • Watch TCG Low - Some people list cards to move; make sure they move to you.

Are any of you trying to foil a complete deck? Feel free to brag in the comments. I'm sure many of your purchases are better than my $19 foil Olivia Voldaren.

One thought on “Insider: Foiling Your Deck

  1. I finished foiling mine while MM2 was still being opened. Now I am considering selling all of the foils that have doubled since I got in and just going back to regular copies. Seems like a better move to buy into something else than to have 1 expensive deck.

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