Monthly Archives: August 2012

Sunday 8/26/2012: The Cards are Hiding

Despite a few yard sale searches and checking craigslist daily, I did not get any Magic card finds this week. Though in the mean time I did find some interesting links relevant to MTG playing and collecting.

This article from the Wizards of the Coast (WotC) website talks about the proper and improper ways to shuffle a deck of cards. Seems like a rather ridiculous thing to be picky about, right? Until I did some research myself I never thought there would be so much contention about different ways to shuffle. This particular article talks about ‘pile-shuffling’ (the technique of arranging your cards into a number of piles as a means of shuffling) and mana-weaving (a specific type of pile-shuffling that attempts to evenly distribute your resources in your deck). What it boils down to is mana-weaving or pile-shuffling are improper deck shuffling techniques. It seems that the tried-and-true technique of riffle shuffling, if repeated at least 7 or 8 times, is the preferred method.

Deckbox.org is a useful website for cataloging your collection. You can list all your cards, by expansion, value, etc. What really separates it from any other database is that the website helps facilitate trades between players. You can create ‘wish lists’ (cards you want) and ‘trade lists’ (cards you have and are willing to trade). When you look at another user’s page, Deckbox compares each users trade and wish lists, showing what cards can be traded between the players. The method by which you add cards could be better. It does take a long time to enter your cards. My collection currently consists of 2,594 cards total (1,142 distinct cards). A collection of that size took me two or three afternoons to complete to my liking. I suppose starting when you have a small collection and adding as you get new cards is the ideal way to go about it, but having to enter my entire collection was a rough task. The other critique I have for it is that other users seem to use it largely as a way to list their decks (or fantasy decks) and there don’t seem to be as many other users interested in trading commons and uncommons.

The final link I will torture my readers with is the original Alpha rule book (with some Beta updates). For people interested in history or game design this is an excellent find. You get to really see how far the game as come. If you ever wondered what the difference between and interrupt and an instant were, this helps explain it. It also contains the rules of the laughably antiquated rule Banding.

That is all for now. Hopefully next week I will have some more card hunting results to post.

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Sunday 8/12/2012: Zendikar and the Art of MTG Collecting

Sunday six of my friends and I played in a Zendikar booster draft. For those unfamiliar with a booster draft, a booster draft is when players sit in a circle and each open up a booster pack (the smallest set of random magic cards that can be purchased). The player selects one card from the pack and passes it to the next player. The boosters continue being passed until all the cards have been selected. This format of play helps level the playing field among players by making them construct their deck from the same set of cards. It helps eliminate the advantage that players with more cards or more expensive cards enjoy. We each drafted 5 boosters with the prize being the last booster. We repicked rares and foils and overall records would also be used to determine picking order. In the case of ties, the tied players alternated their picks.

I played a mono-green deck (a deck consisting of cards only from the green color, one of five in MTG) and was the only player in the pool not to play a dual-color deck. Thanks to the lucky draft picks of Nissa Revane, her namesake chosen, and the incredibly awesome Quest for the Gemblades I managed a respectable 5-1 record. After a bit of negotiations with the other 5-1 player, I traded a first turn rare pick for the prize booster pack. Thanks to a large number of foil cards, I managed to draft 7! Here’s the breakdown:

84 cards from Zendikar. (2 Mythic Cares, 7 Rares, 25 Uncommons, 52 Commons)

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As always, prices are the medium price listed at tcgplayer.com (on the sideboard) ————>

Day of Judgement: $2.58

Verdant Catacombs: $9.78

Eternity Vessel: $0.79

Arid Mesa: $10.28

Sorin Markov: $6.23

Sea Gate Loremaster: $0.33

Sphinx of Lost Truths: $0.33

Total Spent: $20.00

Approximate Retail Value of Rares: $30.32

While not as efficient as bargain hunting, I did get to enjoy playing the cards and got a handful of commons and uncommons at the same time. I traded some of the Zendikar cards for various other commons to round out a few expansions. All in all I enjoyed the experience and look forward to doing it again!

Till next time.

Saturday 8/11/2012: First Blood

On Saturday morning my glorious assistant Charles and I went out on my first hunt for magic cards. The plan of attack was as follows.

  1. Check out a local church rummage sale at 10am.
  2. Try a thrift shop two blocks away for cards.

We arrive at the rummage sale as they are opening. After browsing the section with toys, games, and knick knacks it seems apparent that there were no magic cards donated. It was a shame, since they are drastically under pricing their products like only a church sponsored rummage sale can. While I am not a fan of the TV Show Heroes, 6 dollars for 3 seasons worth of dvds almost made me a fan. I did picked up Stephen King’s Song of Susannah, The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes, the Far Side Gallery 4, and The Star Wars Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels for $2.00 total, so our visit wasn’t a complete waste.

The visit to the thrift shop started off like the rummage sale. We checked the first half of the shop, looked in glass cases (protip: small steal-able things like Magic cards are usually kept in these glass cases), and looked back near electronics. We found nothing. We checked the other half of the thrift store, hoping for some better luck. As I checked the glass cases with dvds, video games, and jewelry, my assistant Charles checked  the board games / card games section. I came back to find him and what do I see? He is handling two deck boxes of cards! I recognize one as a promo deck that Wizards  of the Coast (WOTC) prints every few years as an intro deck. The other box is one of the ubiquitous Dragon Shield boxes. Upon further inspection of these cards we find that they are from the New Phyrexia expansion.  There are no price tags or stickers on them. Only the numbers 19 and 121 written on the boxes with marker. What do these numbers mean? 19 Dollars? 121 Dollars? I ask the cashier, she gives me a look saying “I have no idea?.” She decides that these mysterious numbers translate to $0.19 and $1.21. I say ‘yes’ and throw money at her as quick as I can, hoping that if there was a mistake made, I will be long gone before she realizes it.

I get home and start sorting the cards, eager to find out what I have found. Heres the breakdown:

125 Cards from New Phryrexia. (2 Mythic Rares, 7 Rares, 29 Uncommons, 87 Commons)
27 M2012 (3 Uncommons, 24 Commons)
1 Promo
1 Scars of Mirrodin (Uncommon)

Myr Superion is best Superion

Myr Superion, Soul Conduit, Jor Kadeen the Prevailer, Norn’s Annex, Phyrexian Ingester, Xenograftt

Promo Art is best art

Game Day Promo Treasure Mage, Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, Elesh Norn Grand Cenobite, and Bludgeon Brawl

The Promo Treasure Mage is a nice find. Not terribly high valued ($0.98 to $3.08) but a rare find. The real grab here is Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. The 154 commons and uncommons are nice. I paid a total of 1.72 for all the cards. This brings it out to a little bit more than $0.1 a card. An excellent price. Here are the middle prices (as shown on tcgplayer.com, link of right) of the 9 rares and promo card I bought.

Treasure Mage:  $1.71

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger: $3.03

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite: $13.66

Bludgeon Brawl: $0.30

Myr Superion: $0.96

Soul Conduit: $0.31

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer: $0.35

Norn’s Annex: $0.58

Phyrexian Ingester: $ 0.33

Xenograft: $0.32

Total Spent: $1.72

Approximate Retail Value of Rares: $21.55

I was particularly happy that these were New Phyrexia cards since I owned none before. There were only a few playsets within the commons and uncommons I found, but it is an excellent start to that expansion. Not a bad haul for a first day!

The Beginning

Intro

For my first post I figure I should explain who I am, what this blog is for, and what I intend to do with it. I used to play Magic back when I was in middle school. Playing only among friends, things like drafts, competitive play, net decks, and Friday Night Magic were foreign to me. Recently my friends have gotten back into playing MTG through drafts, casual play, and some competitive play. I enjoy collecting things and collecting magic seemed like a great way to spend time with my friends. Trading cards, searching for a bargain, and haggling are all other aspects of this venture that I know I will enjoy.

Goal:

My goal is a simple task, but will be difficult to achieve. My goal is collect a playset of each Magic: The Gathering(MTG) card ever printed. For those unfamiliar with MTG, a playset is a set of four cards. Four cards is significant because when constructing a playable deck in MTG, you are (usually) limited to 4 copies of any individual card. Sounds simple, right? Well there are a couple qualifiers.

  • I consider cards printed in different expansions and editions as separate. For instance, I need to collect four copies of Llanowar Elves from each of Alpha, 7th Edition, Magic 2012, etc.
  • For older cards that were printed with alternate art, I need to collect four of each image. As an example, I need to collect a total of 16 Homarids from Fallen Empires because the card has three alternate card images.
  • While I prioritize foil vesions of cards over regular version cards, I do not need to have four foil versions of a card for a set to be complete.
  • I will strive to collect promotional cards and cards from specialty sets (Deckmasters, Portal, Beatdown, Duel Decks, etc). I will not count them against a complete collection of Core and Expansion Sets (As of 8/2012 consisting of, Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Revised, 4th Edition, 5th Edition, 6th Edition, 7th Edition, 8th Edition, 9th Edition, 10th Edition, Magic 2010, Magic 2011, Magic 2012, Magic 2013, Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, the Dark, Fallen Empires,  Ice Age, Homelands, Alliances, Mirage, Visions, Weatherlight, Tempest, Stronghold, Exodus, Urza’s Sage, Urza’s Legacy, Urza’s Destiny, Mercadian Masques, Nemisis, Prophecy, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalpyse, Odyssey, Torment, Judgement, Onslaught, Legions, Scourge, Mirrodin, Darksteel, Fifth Dawn, Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa, Saviors, of Kamigawa, Ravnica City of Guilds, Guildpact, Dissension, Coldsnap, Time Spiral, Planar Shift, Future Sight, Lorwyn, Morningtide, Shadowmoor,  Eventide, Shards of Alara, Conflux, Alara Reborn, Zendikar, Worldwake, Rise of the Eldrazi, Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Beseiged, Innistrad, Dark Ascension, and Avacyn Restored).
  • While misprints, playtest cards, and other oddities (such as the Blue Hurricane) are interesting, they are not required to meet my goal.

Strategy:

This could be easily accomplished if I had thousands of dollars and an afternoon to myself. As someone who does not have thousands of dollars, this will take considerably more time than an afternoon. But as they say, it is all about the journey. All magic cards are divided into one of four rarities:

  • Commons: As the name would imply, these are the most abundant magic cards on the market. The vast majority of these cards cost between $0.1 and $0.4 cents. Commons from Alpha, Beta, and Arabian Nights are worth a bit more, closer to $0.25 cents to $1.00 a card. Using the distribution of modern booster packs as an approximate guide, 73% of printed cards are commons.
  • Uncommons: A little more rare than commons, but still generally not worth much. There are exceptions to this of course. Library of Alexandria, while an uncommon, can fetch 200+ dollars. Uncommons comprise about 20% of printed cards.
  • Rares: These cards are going to be the most difficult to acquire. While one can find commons and uncommons in bulk on ebay for low prices, rares are the most expensive and usually the best cards in the game. Rares start at about $0.10 cents each and can go high as thousands of dollars. Rares comprise only about 7% of printed cards.
  • Mythic Rares: Starting with Shards of Alara, 1 in every 8 rares is a Mythic Rare. Usually a quite powerful card these cards usually fetch at least $1.00.

A dollar you say? Is that all many of the rarest cards cost? Collecting them should certainly be no problem. In the Core editions only there are 4,820 cards! Therefore I am focusing on buy in bulk, at thrift shops, flea markets, garage sales, and anywhere else I can get a good deal. Buying retail is not a productive way to accomplish my goal. Many cards will be marked up considerably and the first rule of collecting is to never pay retail.

Outro

I’ll be updating this blog whenever I catch a good find, get some new cards, or find a new article or resource. I’ll be discussing the cards I find and tips on collecting yourself.

Till then!