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Insider: Top 10 Better-Than-Bulk Specs

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I am constantly surprised how much I’m learning from owning a store. Through my articles, I’ve been trying to include some of my experiences so I can share my perspective with everyone. Every business has their own policies and procedures. I’m sure I will go more in depth in the future about how these differences are relevant, but today I want to discuss one of my business practices.

The main topic of conversation today is the idea that there are better-than-bulk rares floating around out there. In our mythic rare and Expedition landscape we know that most rares, if they don’t start there initially, drift downward to bulk status. This is just the normal flow of opening packs and the supply exceeding the demand. What you may not know is that many of these rares that the internet designates as bulk don't really fall in that category. For my shop, this is the $1.50 group.

These cards tend to be casual favorites or frequently played bulk rares that move well. Because of the demand for this level of cheap, yet effective card, I need to buy at a higher rate than bulk and that overflows into a price change as well.

Take Icefall Regent as a perfect example. After its initial price hop up to $2.50, the Regent plummeted to its sad bulk status. The key point here is that I never dropped the price below my $1.50 mark. I’ve been buying and selling this dragon at this price point for a year because it’s a card players want to be good.

Now it’s at that point again where players are starting to adopt Icefall Regent once more. I wanted this card to make the list but I don’t think it’s truly bulk so I mentioned it here instead. If you can find them for bulk, Trader Tools tells us that you can sell it as high as $0.68! I’m sure you could get more in credit, amounting to close to the full price of the card.

Today I will share with you my list of better-than-bulk cards as well as the cards that I think are poised to rebound in price. If you take some time, you can try to identify these types of cards too and hold them as potential gainers. I usually have a stack of these types of cards from each set. After you remove the good cards that are valuable, separate your bulk into potentials for growth and disregard the rest.

One card that should have made my cream-of-the-crop bulk pile was Brain in a Jar. This former low-end card is now $3 and has followed a trajectory similar to what I am describing. As with any of my Top 10 articles, let’s start with the cards that just missed the list. There were surprisingly a lot of candidates.

Honorable Mention

Take Your Oath

Maybe not at your store, but at mine, the Oaths are quite popular. I’ve been working a lot with the Naya Oaths to form variations of planeswalker control decks to some success. It’s unclear how well positioned this strategy will be with the metagame shifts from the Pro Tour. Even if it doesn’t become a frequently played deck, this cycle still sells well as bulk and could be a good long-term interest.

Commander Gold

Many times, bulk rares might be bulk but you can still trade them at a dollar, or as a dealer sell them at a dollar. These are cards like Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen, Zendikar Resurgent, From Beyond and Dragon Tempest.

Eternal Playables

Some cards that are playable in older formats never get enough play to move them up from bulk. I’ve consistently been surprised how cheap Bring to Light and Evolutionary Leap have been.

Both cards have seen play in Standard and Bring to Light gets some play in Scapeshift. We could even see Evolutionary Leap in Melira Combo as a sideboard option. I also like Vryn Wingmare as a possible addition to Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in Death and Taxes-style decks. These three cards have potential that they have not been living up to so far.

Vile Redeemer


The other green Eldrazi is a pet card of mine. Most players would think of World Breaker as the green Eldrazi but don’t forget about Vile Redeemer. This creature has the makings of greatness hidden within his bulk rare borders.

He has the right combination of abilities; the problem is that he has no home. Redeemer is wandering aimlessly through life right now with no application. Even Collected Company decks don’t really want him, even though he seems like a perfect fit for that type of deck.

From Under the Floorboards


I’ve seen a lot of players working on brewing with this card. I’ve been selling From Under the Floorboards consistently at a dollar but I haven’t seen any evidence that the card is good enough to actually see a lot of play in Standard.

The best case for this card is that it’s your last spell, you have a discard outlet, and you can make a bunch of zombies. The problem is that most of the time it’s just a clunky X spell that sits in your hand instead of proactively progressing your board state. It’s on my watch list though, so if you can get some copies as throw-ins, I’d suggest it.

Eerie Interlude


Some players have utilized Eerie Interlude in small doses in Standard. The problem with cards like this is that they require ideal circumstances to be good. You need to have an established board and most likely be ahead in the game for this interlude to be eerie enough to give you an advantage. In those situations, you were probably already winning anyway.

Lantern Scout


Lantern Scout was the last card I cut from the list. It’s on my watch list right now as a card that could jump to $1.50 or higher but it’s not quite ready for that top spot just yet. I’m happy selling these guys at a dollar for now.

Top 10 Better-Than-Bulk Specs

Up next, is the Top 10 Bulk Specs! The best part about this list is that each of these cards has proven themselves though sales at my shop. All of these cards are currently priced at $1.5 in my inventory. Some of them just got that bump this week, while others have been at that price point for a while now. These cards are great targets to identify in trades as throw-ins or to grab cheaply with some extra store credit. Let’s dive right in!

10. Prized Amalgam


Despite some initial hype, Prized Amalgam has fallen quickly to bulk status. Due to how well we’ve been moving them, he never made it that far for me though. I love this card because I think it’s great on its own but in the right deck it could become busted. I thought the same thing about Despoiler of Souls, but I think this is closer to Narcomoeba. If we see this in a Standard Zombie deck, it will break out as soon as next season. Otherwise, it might take a little longer but this is a sleeper for sure.

9. Epiphany at the Drownyard


Many writers have been quite critical of Epiphany at the Drownyard, comparing it unfavorably to Fact or Fiction. The truth is we probably won’t ever get a card like that again. Steam Augury is a great example of the type of card we are more likely to see printed. What you need to know is that Epiphany is better than Augury.

The main difference is the options the X spell gives you. Casting it for two mana cycles for a card in the early game but late-game you could have two piles of four! It’s fine in the mid-game as well but you really want to think about it similar to a powered-down Sphinx's Revelation.

There definitely is downside because your opponent will always give you the pile they think is better for them. That’s why you want to pair this card with more card draw or at least some card manipulation. Something as simple as Anticipate can work.

We have been selling this rare really well. Lots of local players are utilizing it in a variety of decks. If we see any bigger names trying out this card, the price should jump quickly because blue mages really want it to be good and are itching to try it out.

8. Shrine of the Forsaken Gods


Temple of the False God has now seen six printings and is still $0.50. Shrine of the Forsaken Gods is a similar style card that most Commander players will adopt as an automatic inclusion in nearly every deck. I’m in the process of picking up a stack of these lands because they are long-term gold. Without a reprint, I’d expect this to be close to $5 in a couple years.

We also have Standard ramp decks helping the price point of this card. It has ticked up a bit due to this increase in play, but it hasn’t gone up much so far.

7. Fevered Visions


Would it surprise you if I told you Fevered Visions was one of the only cards from Shadows over Innistrad I was having a hard time keeping in stock? Players love their mill engines. In this case, this new Izzet enchantment is both your Ebony Owl Netsuke and your Howling Mine. Turbo Fog players are relentless with trying to build this archetype too.

Just this week, I bumped this to $1.50 in my inventory and started buying it above bulk to meet the demand. Many of the players who are buying this build-around-me card are the same ones buying Epiphany at the Drownyard too.

6. Conduit of Ruin


Conduit of Ruin is a great tutor for casual players but it also has some applications in Standard. What’s holding this card back is that there are many variations of ramp that are viable right now. That limits the number of competitive players that are looking to pick up this card. It does happen to be quite a popular Commander card though.

5. Fall of the Titans


It should be no surprise to see Fall of the Titans on this list. There are now three different decks sporting the Pyromancer's Goggles-plus-Fall combo to burn out their opponents. First we had UR that also looked to Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror for backup. After that we got WR, an evolution of the Eldrazi deck. Finally, Brad Nelson utilized this combo in his GR Ramp deck that he piloted to Top 8 the Pro Tour.

We have a long time with this card available in Standard and there are even more options to pair with it. Great time to get in before it continues its upward trend.

4. Tragic Arrogance


Tragic Arrogance was one of the main reasons that I decided to write this article. After I updated Fall of the Titans and Fevered Visions to their new price this week, I was watching some videos and noted how often the sweeper popped up. Many decks are now playing this card as a sideboard strategy. I think we could even see Arrogance become a maindeck way to break through some of the most popular decks in the format.

A card like this that starts seeing tons of sideboard play compares to Hallowed Moonlight. At its height, that sideboard card was nearing $4 and I could see the same trajectory for this one as well.

3. Diregraf Colossus


After starting presales at $6, Diregraf Colossus’s price tanked quickly. Again, this card never dropped below $1.50 and has been selling well at that price. The difference between Colossus and others on this list is that I expect this card to break out in Standard before its time is over.

Wizards has been spacing out their archetypes over multiple sets and I think that’s what’s happening with this one as well. Zombies might not have all the tools yet, but between Eldrich Moon and the new Fall block, I would be surprised if there weren’t some cards to pair with this enabler. With a couple more cards to go with Diregraf Colossus and Relentless Dead, we’d have a Zombie deck in no time.

We also have Risen Executioner waiting in the wings in case we get the cards we need this summer. I would guess this is the lowest we will see Diregraf.

2. Bygone Bishop


I may be overestimating the power of Bygone Bishop but I think it’s on the verge of breaking out. This spirit is the flying cousin of Tireless Tracker. It may not get the power boost that Tracker does, but it has some much-needed evasion. I think this creature can fit into multiple decks in Standard. White is so good right now and this is another threat for any white deck to consider utilizing.

I just picked up a playset for myself because I want to try it in a Collected Company deck. I’m not the only one to have this idea either.

1. Sanctum of Ugin


The number one Standard bulk spec is Sanctum of Ugin! TCG Mid is already above a dollar on this one but you can still buy this land for cheap at most places. That won’t be true for much longer.

Joe Lossett has already adopted this land into his second place Tron deck from SCG Milwaukee and the rest of the Tron community should follow his lead. Having played against Joe at the SCG Invi recently, I can tell you that this land is exactly what the deck needed to jump back into the metagame after the banning of Eye of Ugin.

You could even say that in one respect, Sanctum is even better than Eye because you don’t have to spend a turn to tutor for your card. It’s true that you have to sacrifice the land so you can’t tutor multiple times, but usually one tutor effect nets you the win.

What pushed this card over the top for me was not only seeing it played in two formats, but also observing that it can be activated from casting Karn Liberated. Having only seen the land being sacrificed in Standard, I only noted it was activated from creatures. Being able to get another threat after a Karn is huge.

Tron is limited in what lands it can run in addition to their mana combo, but I could even see players adopting more than two copies of this card in that archetype. Many Standard players utilize the full four copies and I could see Tron getting to that point as well.

We have very little time left to get in at this low price. When you have a card that applies to so many groups of players, it’s an obvious hit for future price increases.

Wrap-Up

Normally I like to focus on bulk mythics like Disciple of the Ring, but there are so many good rares that look poised to pop anytime now. The great part about these specs is that your investment is low. So, if you pick up some copies of these cards and they don’t pan out, you won’t be losing much. If they hit though, you could be set up to make some solid profits.

Until next time,
Unleash the Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

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