Thanks for tuning into the last Lotus article; I promise I'll shut up about that particular card. Now that the dust is settled there, let's swing the pendulum to the other end of the spectrum, a subject you're probably more used to reading about every Thursday: the juicy 10-cent cards that make up the bulk of my Magic card inventory, and which occasionally make their owners a nice profit after a spike. We saw this happen with a few formerly bulk cards recently.
We had Swans of Bryn Argoll show up a week or two ago thanks to the helpful push of SaffronOlive and Corbin Hosler, and then Splendid Reclamation quadrupled up from its bulk rare TCGplayer market price to the $2.00 it presently rests at. While it's relatively difficult to make a direct profit on these individual cards as singles, the power of bulk is in quantity over quality. If you bought one Food Chain a month ago and now want to list it on TCGplayer to make a profit, you'll see a lot more gains than if you do the same with a single Splendid Reclamation.
However, those numbers start to change as you get into the habit of being the bulk rare person – the one who's willing to take all of the jank at the table while trading out Walking Ballistas and Chandra, Torch of Defiances. If you're getting multiple playsets of Reclamation over time, then it becomes worth your costs to cash them all out at once while buylisting to ABU Games or another vendor on Trader Tools.
This is essentially the boat I've found myself in. Dave Schumann gave me a nice shoutout in his recent bulk article yesterday, so I'm not going to reiterate his well-stated points. Instead, this is sort of a follow-up to the first part of his piece on bulk rares.
Once you can establish yourself as someone in the community known for wanting bulk, it's not too terribly difficult to grind your way up. But how are we going to pick out those Hardened Scales-type bulk rares so far in advance? What specific sets and cards should we be considering when we're pulling out certain bulk rares to set aside for later? I'm not looking to go deep on TCGplayer and buy any number of these. In fact, living less than an hour away from the TCGplayer headquarters means that I pay an additional eight-percent sales tax on anything I buy from the site, making speculation less of a sexy option when I'm looking to pick up cards en masse.
One of the key cards I've been picking out as bulk rares get traded to me is Key to the City. Presently worthless in everything but the janky and niche Metalwork Colossus deck, it's a cheap artifact with low downside and some reasonable upside. This isn't a Heartless Summoning-style pick where it gets a brand new facelift with the help of Modern and ends up at a 1000 percent multiplier, but I can see this fitting into the same price graph as Splendid Reclamation. Pure hype from future discard and cycling synergies could drive this up to a home of $1 or $2, at which point we buylist 20 or so at 50 cents a piece to Card Kingdom to pay for our next draft entry at FNM. While artifact synergies are sooooo three months ago, this seems like a semi-obvious discard outlet plant that WotC intended to make work in Standard with some other pieces from Amonkhet. Far-fetched? Maybe, but paying 10 or 12 cents a piece on a card can give you a lot of freedom to make decisions like this.
I shouldn't really need to elaborate on this next card. It's one of the five Story Spotlight cards in Aether Revolt, and there's a zero-percent chance that we go through this block without seeing the next incarnation of Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. I want to own 100 of these over the next three months, although I wouldn't target them too aggressively just yet. I don't expect to see Bolas in this set, instead expecting him in Hour of Devastation. We're seeing a recurring trend of villains in the current two-set block paradigm showing up in the second set: Emrakul in Eldritch Moon, Tezzeret in Aether Revolt... Again, even if Grixis control never manifests as a competitive option in Standard, I think you'll be able to ride a hype wave of a small-set rare up to the $2 retail range, cashing out on buylists at $1 easily as the weeks prior to Hour of Devastation approach.
Lastly, I want to focus on another rare from Aether Revolt that got a lot of hype upon being previewed but quickly dropped to bulk rare status. Saffron gave us a preview of what the Modern deck involving Scrap Trawler might look like, but we all know that's not enough to push a rare from the most recently printed set into the financial spotlight. However, if this deck takes off on camera at a higher-level Modern event (and yes, I understand that "higher-level Modern events" are becoming rarer than uncommons from Eventide), I think we could see the same kind of miniature bump from Scrap Trawler. This is the card I'm the least confident in out of the three, but I find it very hard to emphasize exactly how low-risk bulk rares are. As long as you can find another interested party who agrees with the stuff I'm saying in the article, dumping Scrap Trawler at 25 cents for a double-up shouldn't be difficult, either. Seocnd Sunrise-style decks aren't the most popular archetype due to the complexity of the game states and the game knowledge required to play them, so I'd go looking for Keys or Intimations before Trawler.
What do you all think will be the next Swans or Splendid Rec? While Necrotic Ooze isn't exactly a bulk rare, it's definitely a pet card of mine that's gotten some new love in the form of a mana dork to pair with Devoted Druid. Channeler Initiate lets you go infinite mana in Modern, although I'm not exactly sure that a Bolt-able and Path-able 4/3 is where you want to be for combo.
On the other hand,a blue mythic was spoiled today that lets you cast Restore Balance. I don't need to say anything else.