Insider: Hidden Value in C14 and C15 “Bulk Rares”

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I've been digging through some bulk rares recently, because it's been at least a couple of months since I dug through some of these boxes. I sell bulk rares for 25 cents a piece out of the LGS where I have a consignment arrangement, and I've accumulated close to around 30,000 of them in the past few years. It helps that no other store in the area is willing to take bulk like I am, of course, but there's obviously a double-edged sword here: that's a lot of bulk to dig through.

When these dime rares sometimes spike (e.g., Dark Salvation) or creep upwards over years (e.g., Magister Sphinx), it can be hard for me to keep a finger on the pulse of every single bulk rare that doesn't belong in that box. I don't have the manpower or income to pay someone to constantly sift through bulk rares and pull out $2 cards that I'll buylist for 75 cents.

That being said, sometimes I do miss out on spikes, but it's all gravy when you factor in the fact that you've been buying or trading for these at close to (or exactly) a dime. With that being said, I think it's been at least a year or two since I've done an article on exactly how to go about buying or trading for bulk rares. Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter if that's something you're interested in!

So let's assume you've got a bunch of bulk rares. Most of us do. While I was picking through these boxes that I created, I noticed a whole bunch of cards that had trended upwards in price. Some of these are pretty obvious, like the Dark Salvation I mentioned previously. We all saw that card tearing up the spotlight on camera, and I'm happy to ship them out at $1 each even if I missed getting out at peak demand. I even found a couple of Cryptolith Rites that I had tossed in there; apparently I had given up on that card at some point, when none of the online buylists were fighting over it six months ago.

I'm sure that several of my customers were able to capitalize on some of my mistakes, and I'm glad that they were able to do so. Customers getting awesome deals equals happy customers, and that means that they'll come back to the store again and again.

Some of the bulk rares that crept up like Magister Sphinx were less obvious. These aren't the staples of the Commander series that Wizards has been pumping out every year without fail, but they've found love in the homes of less competitive players' decks all the same. Did you know that Siege Behemoth is worth $1 to $1.50 on buylists right now? What about Thunderfoot Baloth?

Did you even know what either of those two cards did? I certainly thought they were jank green rares numbers 449 and 450, but I was wrong. Behemoth was a recent spike, and Baloth was growing to approach $1 until it got slapped with a C16 logo. Even then, you can double up on it if you're adding it to a package for Card Kingdom.

We're seeing a lot of Commander 2016 stuff go haywire right now, and we're all trying to be the prophet that calls the tribes and cards in Commander 2017, but I'm really interested in C14 and C15 rares at the moment, because that's where I'm finding several Breaking Bulk picks. Here's a few that have really interested me in the past week or so, especially because their creature types don't exactly line up with what I'd call "popular and interesting tribes."

If you listen to Brainstorm Brewery, you'll know that Corbin, Jason and I are big fans of U-shaped graphs. Reef Worm is a great example of a card that started out at $5 at release, and immediately plummeted to $1. I had thought it went to true bulk, which is why it was sitting in my quarter box.

I'm not sure how many I already sold at 25 cents before I dug through and picked them out myself. I went to to check out the data and see where the card is seeing play and left feeling a bit confused. It sees play in approximately 10 percent of Marchesa, the Black Rose decks as the most popular Commander for it, and I even have a Marchesa deck myself. While the interaction is cute, there are a lot more important four-drops that I think you want in that slot, like Glen Elendra Archmage for one.

Deckbuilding advice aside, even the second-most popular deck that it finds a home in is Jalira, Master Polymorphist: ...not exactly super high on the popularity scale. Maybe that means the card is finding a home in more casual Fish/Kraken tribal decks; the kind that play four Quest for Ula's Temple? I'm not sure. Let me know if you have an answer for this little 0/1's price tag.

Here's another one that I missed the boat on. While I managed to unload a couple $10 playsets after the initial spike in response to the spoiling of Amonkhet cycle lands, I still found several chunks of these littering my bulk rares this past week. Unfortunate.

Thankfully, I can still manage to score a profit by shipping them off to Adventures On for 75 cents a piece as of Wednesday morning, so not all of the hype is lost yet. Maybe they'll get a bit more visibility in my $1-each EDH boxes at the shop, as opposed to being lost in the shuffle in a mountain of bulk rares. There's definitely at least a couple of Omnath and Titania players at our weekly Commander league, and I'm not sure if they've read this card.

Here's a good example of a card I should have paid more attention to. We've seen Howling Mine effects on both ends of the spectrum; some end up being worth nothing (Temple Bell) and some end up being great bulk pickups (Dictate of Kruphix).

I assumed this was the former, but it ended up being the latter. While it doesn't see play in a huge percentage of Nekusar, the Mindrazer decks on EDHREC, we see this kind of effect grow in non-Commander casual decks as well. Kami of the Crescent Moon was a great casual pickup before the Conspiracy reprint, and this appears to end up in the same category. Oh, I also forgot to add that it provides an immediate card advantage, and then successively growing card advantage over multiple turns. Yeah, that probably makes it better than a Temple Bell....


I've also finally been able to use my ION scanner on a more regular basis, now that I have an actual set-up in my own townhouse where I can sort bulk. Prior to moving, I was living on the fourth floor of student housing with no elevator, so it didn't really make sense for me to keep lugging bulk up and down multiple flights of stairs. Now I have an entire office space and can easily just slide cards that I'm curious about underneath the scanner before tossing them into a buylist pile. I certainly don't check every bulk rare, especially when I'm confident enough about most pricing to swiftly go through multiple 1,000-count boxes in an hour. However, there are some cards where I think, "Hmm... Maybe this is 80 cents now that it's gone two years without a reprint," and then I get that sweet eight-times multiplier that Standard players mostly just dream of.

Here's another couple "bulk rares" that surprised even me during the past couple of weeks.

Considering M12 wasn't exactly drafted a whole ton, I don't find these in bulk rares all that often. Maybe that's why it managed to sneak under my radar as a pick for so long, until a customer at the shop specifically requested the card. Pulling off a combo that involves a six-mana planeswalker (Sorin Markov) into a seven-mana sorcery is just the kind of Magic I like to support, and I can see why stores like Card Kingdom and ABU have this on their radar. I'd be wary of a reprint and move these quickly when possible, but I'd also avoid just throwing it into the good old quarter box when you can get four times that.

Let's round out the picks with another casual all-star. This is probably easy to print in an ancillary product, but boy did I find a chunk of these clustered together in a box of forgotten bulk rares. I probably only sold a playset or two in the store at most, but that doesn't mean demand has slowed on this card. Our friends at Card Kingdom are willing to pay over the TCG market price to acquire copies of these, because they sell it at $2.50. Yeah. If you have a store with a 25- or 50-cent rare box, this is something you need to keep your eye on. Doran, the Siege Tower is a wonderful mix of Johnny and Timmy, and the two-mana single-color enchantment version will only continue to creep up until it hits a reprint wall.

End Step

I'm glad I got some positive feedback concerning the bulk picking videos! I'll look deeper into that in the coming week, so be on the lookout for some very special bulk-picking content from me. I don't have much (any) experience with editing videos, so it might take a little while to smooth out all the wrinkles. I hope I was able to make you all some money this week, on cards you either didn't know were worth money or that you'll be on the lookout for in the future. Thanks for reading!

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