Okay, so that article title is kind of a misnomer, and there's not a typo in there either. It works with the featured thumbnail image of a goat though, so just roll with it.
For those unaware, the acronym "GOAT" has been around for many years, and typically means "Greatest Of All Time." The featured card image is a goat token, because we're going to be talking about tokens and Magic finance.
Though in the spirit of this column, we won't exactly be talking about the most expensive tokens to ever exist in Magic. I'm going to be showing you some tokens that you should be looking out for in bulk, and how to best profit off of them once you've pulled them and set them aside to sell. Here to help us through this discussion is a collection that I conveniently bought the day before writing this article, which had a stockpile of well-organized tokens from a wide range of sets. I took a few minutes to pull out the best value that I know I can probably list on TCGplayer, so go ahead and take a look before we continue.
From the beginning, we can see a lot of casual tribes in full attendance. While this collection unfortunately lacked the Voice of Resurgence and Wurmcoil tokens that most players have come to recognize as having significant value, we've still got a lot of gems that are criminally underrated. I'll ask you this right now: which token out of all these visible do you think is the most expensive, and what do you price it at? Is it the Elves or Rat from the gold mine that is Shadowmoor? We know even commons from that set can be ridiculous due to the petite print run, and Rhys the Redeemed is an obvious Commander that, due to the nature of the card, requires a significant number of Warriors. What about the O.G. Bitterblossom Fae? Astute readers and those who cracked a bunch of Modern Masters 2015 know to scratch that one off the list Fruit Ninja-style because of the MM15 reprint.
Any other guesses? A separate category of Commander-savvy readers might have known the answer from the start. It's the Dragon token. Oh, sorry, are there multiple kinds of Dragon tokens in that picture? So how do you know which one is the best one?
Interestingly enough, Utvara Hellkite has never been reprinted. Its effect is similar to Rhys the Redeemed in a way: every time your turn comes around, you effectively double your dragon count. This one surprises most people I talk to at the shop while buying collections and making small talk, because we've seen pretty much every other six-plus cost red dragon get a reprint at some point, so I get some quizzical looks when I pay nearly the same amount in cash on Utvara Hellkite and its own token. Mark Rosewater has stated and shown us that dragons are the most popular creature type and have been since the dawn of the game. That Dragon token is worth more than half of the individual mythics in Return to Ravnica.
So what's the metric I use for picking which tokens are worth pulling, and which ones should be left in the box to bulk out by the thousand? Well, a lot of it comes down to experience – and reading articles like these. It's similar to picking bulk commons and uncommons, where you just have to get a feel for what a non-competitive or Commander player would need a lot of, while also being aware of a low supply and overall art preference. Let's talk about another type of red token that gets used a lot, in both casual and Commander settings: Goblin tokens.
Here we have nineteen freaking different Goblin tokens. That's not really surprising, goblins are pretty much everywhere in the Multiverse (except Kaladesh, incidentally). But do you know the different arts of all these goblin tokens? Of course you don't. Most goblins look pretty similar from plane to plane: short, ugly, aggressive, gross, mischievous. Most of those words get sent from the art director to the artist when figuring out what WotC wants their goblins on plane X to look like. So when we see a goblin that breaks that mold, it can get... expensive.
Holy hell, what is that thing? The New Phyrexia goblin is something straight out of a horror movie, and players love it. Its $2.50 price tag proves that much, because it was only in NPH. No Duel Deck printing, no Commander reprint with identical art, nothing. Add some unique art, toss in a little bit of a low print run, and you've got yourself a tasty, tasty token.
So how are we making money off these again? Well, we can always audible to the good old SCG buylist.
(Before going any further, here's a quick aside. You know how Magic players use "audible" as a slang for "changing one's mind at the last minute"? I finally looked up the context behind that because I wanted to use it in an article, and apparently it's a football term for a substitution play. I don't follow any traditional sports, so I had no idea where the term originated. If you're like me, now you finally have your answer. That's not really Magic finance tech, but man I had been hearing, "Oh, I audibled to Blue-Black Mill at the last minute before the Grand Prix...," and now I know where the term comes from. Anyway, where were we?)
Oh, right, the SCG buylist. So they actually offer decent prices on tokens, which is helpful if you happen to ship cards to them regularly or felt like bringing a few boxes to an SCG event. I'm sure, however, that most of my readers are here to squeeze every penny possible out of their cards, so most of you aren't just constantly lighting money on fire by selling your staples to SCG. I hear you. What if I told you that you could list tokens on TCGplayer and still profit?
If you listened to the Brainstorm Brewery a couple weeks ago where my pick of the week was the Vampire token from Innistrad, you know where I'm going with this. You can get most of the full value on tokens if you list them on TCGplayer with their namesake card, or even similar cards that make that variety of token.
It's kind of difficult in our goblin token example, because the original beast that creates those hellspawn creatures is Chancellor of the Forge. Yeah, not exactly TCGplayer material. It takes approximately 25 copies of Chancellor of the Forge to even equal one of that dinosaur fossil. This example still holds true relatively well for other mythic and rare token producers that create "unique" tokens.
If you have a relatively deep inventory and have some Rhys the Redeemed at a reasonable rate, you can pull off some really strong margins by throwing up those green-white Elf Warriors at 99 cents each. Because TCGplayer takes a flat 50-cent fee in addition to the 10.5 percent cut (not counting the cost of your shipping materials), you make more money when people buy more cards at once. When Timmy the token player is filling his cart for the Rhys deck, he's more likely to grab your $1 tokens to save on the hassle of ordering several from individual stores one or two at a time. The same holds true for several of the other tokens in the original picture: Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and his blood suckers, Utvara Hellkite and the fleet of $2 6/6s and those gold dragons created by Dragon Broodmother.
I don't really buy "specs" anymore. I usually only find one or two cards every year that I want to buy in any large quantity, and that will be from SCG or someplace I can get 40 or more copies at once. This week, I went a bit strong on my pick of the week from Brainstorm Brewery, which you can find if you listen to the cast. I think it's a strong Commander card with very low reprint possibility, that fits in decks the same way Primal Vigor does. Those are all the hints I'll give without you listening to the episode, though!
I hope you enjoyed my little token rant, and I'm happy to talk tokens further @Rose0fthorns on Twitter!