Category Archives: Entries

10/3/2012: Guilden memories

This weekend I attended three Return to Ravnica events. One at midnight Friday, one at noon Saturday, and another at noon on Sunday. What guilds did I play you ask? Rakdos all three times. I went 2 and 2 on Friday, but split the final round’s prize boosters. Saturday was a bit better going 3-1 but again splitting the prize boosters. Sunday I went 3-1 again, but this time the individual matches went better. My three wins I won in blowouts and the games I lost (only 2!) were nail biters. Since I played a friend during the final 3-1 round I again split the prizes. For a total of 3 guild boosters, 15 regular boosters, and 7 prize boosters. Not a bad haul.

This was my first experience playing the Sealed format. For those who don’t know, Seal is when players are given a set amount of boosters (between 4 or 6, though I suppose you could use more). Players must make a deck using only those cards. It is a limited format similar to drafts, but instead of passing packs around and choosing cards (allowing for more of a focus on colors you want to play and a meta-game involving figuring out what your opponents are playing or competing for cards), you do not pass any cards to other players, you must build a deck from exactly what you opened, for better or for worst.

Compared to draft, I liked that in sealed I had an idea of the entire pool of cards before building my deck instead of trying to build a cohesive deck on the fly like during a draft. On the other had, you have to make the best of what you got instead of being able to hopefully grab something awesome that someone else picked. I’d like to experiment with the sealed format sometime again.

After a bit of trading, here are the Return to Ravnica rares I acquired this weekend. Heres the breakdown:

Angel of Serenity: $16.03

Cyclonic Rift: $3.93

Search the City: $0.52

2 Sphinx of the Chimes: $0.90

Wild Beastmaster: $0.53

3 Desecration Demon: $10.62

Pack Rat: $0.77

2 Underworld Connections: $3.74

2 Chaos Imps: $0.82

2 Abrupt Decay: $40.20

Archon of the Triumvirate: $0.46

Carnival Hellsteed: $0.42

4 Promo Carnival Hellsteed: $1.68

Corpsejack Menace: $1.25

Dreadbore: $7.55

Jarad’s Orders: $1.27

Rakdos, Lord of Riots: $8.14

2 Lotleth Troll: $20.42

Wayfaring Temple: $1.16

Cryptborn Horror: $0.63

Volatile Rig: $0.39

Total value of Rares: $121.43

For a $90 investment, I was happy to turn a 33% profit. Not to mention the fun time I had, experience I gained, and memories i made with my friends. I can’t wait for the next pre-release!

My Rakdos deck features Rakdos, the Desecration Demons, the Chaos Imps, and the Carnival Hellsteeds. The latter two are a bit expensive, but the 4 mana cost demons help get some 6/6 muscle much earlier than enemies will be able to handle. I have my eyes set on a foil Desecration Demon to round out my playset. I have playsets of many commons and uncommons. Not drawing a single shockland was a bit lame. But getting two Abrupt Decays and Lotleth Trolls helps me towards getting a playset of some of the more expensive cards.



9/27/12: Foooooooiiiiiiillllllllll

Went to another Magic2013 draft tonight. Drafted a blue/black removal+evasion deck. Pretty handily creamed my opponent the first game, got schelacked the second game, and lost the third due to terrible play on my part. After we determined the winner of that game we played some for fun and crushed him three times in a row. Wish I had had those wins earlier!

Anyway, rares i drafted weren’t bad. Heres the breakdown:


Xathrid Gorgon: $0.37

Captain of the Watch: $1.00

*FOIL* Sands of Delirium: ~$2.00

So only about $3.50 from rares. Not to crazy about that. Saved again by valuable uncommons like Talrand’s Invocation, Oblivion Ring,  Fog Bank, and Jace’s Phantasm save the financial day.

Here is an interesting podcast for those looking to play Return to Ravnica (particularly limited).

Looooooooooong as podcast about the strength of commons and uncommons. Worth listening to.


Speaking of Return to Ravnica, I will be attending 3 pre-releases this weekend. So expect a large post early next week recapping the events.


Saturday 9/8/2012: Stupid Sexy Sentinel Spider

Long time no post. Luckily I have much to post about. I will start with my experience at Magic Celebration on September 8th and will follow this shortly with two posts about some more card finds I had.

Magic Celebration was September 8th and was help in many locations all over. I went to my former Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) in Delaware, Days of Knights. For those who were unaware, the format of Magic Celebration was as follows. You are given 3 of each basic land (15 cards total) and are given a single booster pack of Magic 2013. You shuffle the entire booster together with your 15 lands to make a deck of 30 completely random cards. This is about as limited as Magic gets. The format was exciting since you had no idea what your deck consisted of. The format also underlines the difference in skill quality between players. With such limited cards and an unknown deck, any decision, no matter  how small is very important.

After the first round, the winner receives another booster pack. From this round forward, players were allowed to construct their deck with the cards they got between the two booster packs. The only restriction was that the deck had to be a minimum of forty cards. With so few cards (15 basic lands, 30 random cards from boosters) there are few decisions to make when constructing your deck. Every subsequent round the winner would receive a new booster and continue refining their deck, until they made it to the top of their bracket. Getting to the top and winning the final round usually resulted in a booster pack as a prize.

The boosters that were used were supplied by Wizards of the Coast and most stores ran a single-elimination tournament, with the winners receiving the free booster packs. At the store I went to the losers were allowed to enter a losers bracket and continue playing and receiving free booster packs. Thing was above and beyond what I could have suspected. It created a fun atmosphere for all involved, even for the players who would normally be knocked out the first round.

My first round I drew and excellent rare, but the booster pack was weak overall. Akroma’s Memorial provides your creatures with excellent keywords and abilities, but if your creatures do not have much power or toughness to back it up, the keywords are wasted. My opponent drew stronger creatures than I including the namesake of this entry. After two quick loses I found myself in a loser’s bracket. Round Two went well. I grabbed a victory my first game thanks to these two guys. I lost the second game due to constant attacks from flyers and my inability to get out Silklash Spider. Third game I won handily thanks to Vedalken Entrancer decking my opponent. My second opponent was a pretty cool guy, giving the the cards from his booster pack after winning, since he didn’t collect magic cards, but just played. Third game I again went 2-1, destroying my opponent with larger creatures like these two brutes. My final round I went 1-2. The final round was quite a nail biter, with my opponent gradually wearing my down with Staff of Nin. The booster my opponent won did not contain any particularly expensive cards, so I wasn’t let down by the close loss. Heres the breakdown of what I won:


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

Akroma’s Memorial: $5.52

Silklash Spider: $0.55

Fervor: $0.45

Hamletback Goliath: $0.34

Mutilate: $3.28

Total Spent: $0

Approximate Retail Value of Rares: $10.14

All in all I had an excellent time at Magic Celebration. I would love to try that format again. The uncertainty of what you will be playing with is quite exciting, but I can see why it would not appeal to some people. It is also a format I would not want to do everyday.

Till next time

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. 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.

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)



As always, prices are the medium price listed at (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, 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


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.


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.


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.


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!