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Traderous Instinct – Ten Lists of Ten

If you’re a huge fan of fantasy sports, the idea for this column won’t be a new one to you.

One of my favorite writers over at ESPN, Matthew Berry, often writes “ten lists of ten” as a fun, unique way of getting information across. And since good writers borrow and great writers steal, (a quote you can attribute to me if you ever feel the need to use it in casual conversation), I have decided to copy his idea and use it to shout about Magic cards.

As always, these things are based on my opinions and experiences. I do look forward to getting trounced in the comments for missing obvious stuff, like $120 mono-black commanders from a set only distributed in China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

I also warn you that not every list in this column includes Magic: The Gathering financial advice. So if you are a data-collecting robot, feel free to skip the irrelevant sections. Those are only for humans who like fun.

Anyway, onto the lists!

Top Ten Casual Uncommons worth More Than you Thought

10. Energy Chamber ($2.00)
9. Soulless One ($2.00)
8. Fog Bank ($2.00)
7. Daru Warchief ($2.50)
6. Leeches ($2.50)
5. Heedless One ($2.50)
4. Dragon Arch ($3.00)
3. Horned Sliver ($3.00)
2. Mind Funeral ($3.00)
1. Squirrel’s Nest ($3.50)

The cards on this list that surprised me the most were the Onslaught block cards. Soulless/Heedless One weren’t very expensive cards back when Onslaught came out, and as far as I know, Daru Warchief was a bulk uncommon. Also of note from that block (though not on this list) are the uncommon slivers. They were worth a quarter or less back then, and now most of ‘em sell for at least a buck each.

Leeches, of course, made a jump due to casual poison decks while Dragon Arch was always a hit with Elvish Piper fans. Squirrel’s Nest was a “money uncommon” even when Odyssey was legal, but it usually didn’t trade over a buck fifty until recently.

Top Ten Easiest Cards to Trade Right Now

10. Vengevine (Only if you have a set) ($40.00)
9. Sword of Feast and Famine ($15.00)
8. Kalastria Highborn ($8.50)
7. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas ($50.00)
6. Aether Vial ($13.00)
5. Sensei’s Divining Top ($10.00)
4. Force of Will ($50.00)
3. Revised Dual Lands ($38.00 – $86.00)
2. Jace, the Mind Sculptor ($95.00)
1. Zendikar fetchlands ($10.00 – $13.00)

While Jace may be the most desired card on this list, he isn’t actually the easiest to trade. You need to find someone who is willing to properly value him and who has enough good cards to make you a competitive offer.

The Zendikar fetches, on the other hand, are just as good as cash. They’re great in every format from Vintage to Commander, and even players who have their full sets are willing to pick these up because they’re so easy to trade.

After that comes a pile of Legacy staples along with the defining card from the cheapest tier-1 deck in Standard (Vampires) and the hottest new kid on the block (Tezzeret).

Stoneforge Mystic is scorching hot right now too, but you’ll be hard pressed to find people willing to pay you the, uh, wait…he’s going for $25 now!? Insane.

Top Ten Television Shows that Regularly Feature a Spaceship

10. Red Dwarf
9. Farscape
8. Babylon 5
7. Star Trek (Original Series)
6. Battlestar Galactica (Reboot)
5. Firefly
4. The X Files
3. Star Trek: TNG
2. Futurama
1. Doctor Who

Doctor Who is an easy #1 for me. There’s almost 50 years worth of episodes, many of them great, and the current iteration with Matt Smith and Steven Moffat at the helm may be the best yet.

Futurama ‘gets me’ in a way that no other show does. It is like someone took everything that I’ve ever thought was funny and thrown it at a television set. I’ve seen all the episodes (except a few bad ones from the re-boot) many, MANY times.

TNG and The X-Files both get nods over Firefly for longevity, though I’d put the 13 episodes of Joss Whedon’s show up against any 13 episodes from any show in history.

The Battlestar reboot started very well, but loses points for getting squirrely near the end.

Babylon 5 and Farscape may both deserve higher spots, but I’ve not seen enough of either of them yet. I’ve liked what I’ve seen thus far, but I’ll need to marathon through ‘em both at some point soon.

My Top Ten Favorite Cards to Trade For Right Now

10. Kalastria Highborn ($8.50)
9. Wurmcoil Engine ($9.00)
8. Doubling Season ($18.00)
7. Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir ($2.99)
6. Woodfall Primus ($3.99)
5. Duplicant ($1.50)
4. Mycosynth Golem ($12.00)
3. Duel Deck Foil Necropotence ($5.00)
2. Sensei’s Divining Top ($10.00)
1. Zendikar Fetchlands ($10.00 – $13.00)

Three of these cards (Top, Highborn, and the fetches) are on here because they’re on the list of ‘easiest cards to trade.’ You can’t ignore cards that are so liquid.

Three more (The foil Necropotence, the Golem, and Doubling Season) are on here because they are wildly undervalued or overvalued by nearly everyone except me and people who read this column.

Three more (Teferi, Duplicant, and Woodfall Primus) are the commander staples I find that I can get the cheapest and move the fastest.

Wurmcoil Engine is a pet card of mine that keeps on seeing more play.

Top Ten Undervalued Cards in Legacy

10. Mox Opal ($18.00)
9. Progenitus ($12.00)
8. Goblin Welder ($10.00)
7. Grim Monolith ($20.00)
6. Null Rod ($10.00)
5. Sensei’s Divining Top ($13.00)
4. Peacekeeper ($8.00)
3. Show and Tell ($20.00)
2. Aether Vial ($13.00)
1. Mangara of Corondor ($0.50)

I’m not saying go out and buy these at retail now, but there are compelling arguments that all of these cards will go up in value.

Mangara is the best bargain of the bunch, as he’s a previously bulk rare that finished third at Indy. If the deck gains popularity, this is $5 easy.

Aether Vial and Sensei’s Top are arguably the two best (and defining) cards in the format right now – they should be worth a cool $15-$18 each before long.

Mox Opal, Goblin Welder, and Grim Monolith are all gainers if the MUD deck from Indy takes off. Null Rod is a gainer in that case, too, since that card basically shuts off that deck as well as Affinity and assorted pieces of graveyard hate.

Show and Tell is showing up more and more, and is sold out pretty much everywhere at $20. You can still find it for trade at that price, though. Progenitus is showing up more as well, and you can usually get him for less than $10. I can see him hitting $15 in the right circumstances.

Peacekeeper is a card that took years to discover, but is well positioned in the metagame right now. He sure was a surprise out of the maindeck against me at the San Jose open, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he started becoming more and more popular. Many decks simply don’t have an answer to him.

Top Ten Bears in Magic

10. Grizzly Bears (Alpha)
9. Bear Cub (Portal II)
8. Forest Bear (Portal 3 Kingdoms)
7. Pale Bears (Ice Age)
6. River Bear (Portal II)
5. Razorclaw Bear (Portal II)
4. Spectral Bears (Homelands)
3. Ashcoat Bear (Time Spiral)
2. Striped Bears (Weatherlight)
1. Wearbear (Odyssey)

Wearbear is clearly the best bear, since he is a druid that gives you mana in the early game and beats for four once enough of you stuff has died. Striped Bears come in second, because they draw you a card. Then you get Ashcoat Bear, who is kind of a sweet combat trick if there’s a non-evasive 1/1 or 2/2 beating you down. .

After that, you get a rash of bears that aren’t the worst providing you’re playing against the right color, and then a pile of mediocre Portal II bears.

Bear Cub gets the nod over Grizzly Bears, because how awesome is it that a bear cub is ALREADY the size of a Grizzly Bear! What is it, some kind of super bear?

Top Ten Overvalued Cards in Standard Right Now

10. Consecrated Sphinx ($6.00)
9. Massacre Wurm ($7.00)
8. Hero of Bladehold ($8.00)
7. Basilisk Collar ($6.00)
6. Kargan Dragonlord ($12.00)
5. Skithryx, the Blight Dragon ($10.00)
4. Vengevine ($40.00)
3. Knight Exemplar ($7.00)
2. Gaea’s Revenge ($5.00)
1. Thrun, the Last Troll ($20.00)

Thrun is a good card, but it is legendary and seems strictly worse than Vengevine. I would rather just have Troll Ascetic back. I just don’t see a world where this is worth more than Molten-Tail Masticore.

Vengevine is fantastic, but it doesn’t see enough play right now to warrant a $40 price tag. He may have his day again, though.

Skithryx is good, but his game plan seems in opposition to what most poison decks are trying to do. Sphinx and Massacre Wurm seem obsoleted by better mythics at the same CMC and are being buffeted by nothing but hope right now. Knight Exemplar won’t hold her price due to casual value alone – she needs a knight deck to make a splash. Ditto with Hero of Bladehold.

Basilisk Collar is still great, but it is only a 1- or 2-of in the decks that run it. Considering it is a non-mythic in a set with many other high value cards, $6 seems too high.

Kargan Dragonlord just doesn’t seem to have a great home right now. And those that do build mono-red often don’t like shelling out premiums for their cards.

Many of these cards COULD go up in value, but most of them are being propped up by hype and hope. Without results, they’ll end up as the Lux Cannon or Admonition Angel.

Top Ten Best Draft Formats Ever

10.Odyssey/Torment/Judgment
9. Onslaught/Legions/Scourge
8. Shards of Alara/Shards of Alara/Shards of Alara
7. Time Spiral/Planar Chaos/Future Sight
6. Shadowmoor/Shadowmoor/Eventide
5. Mirrodin/Darksteel/Fifth Dawn
4. Champions of Kamigawa/Champions of Kamigawa/Betrayers of Kamigawa
3. Invasion/Planeshift/Apocalypse
2. Rise of the Eldrazi/Rise of the Eldrazi/Rise of the Eldrazi
1. Ravnica/Guildpact/Dissention

RGD and triple RoE are my clear top picks here. RGD is the most complex draft environment ever, and it required a massive amount of planning in order to set up for the guilds in packs 2 and 3. Triple RoE is amazing because of the variety of strategies available. Both formats are unique in how wide open they are. You can make nearly any color combination work if you have a synergistic enough deck.

IPA needs no introduction, and I think CoK/CoK/BoK was quite an amazing format. The Dampen Thought deck from triple Champs got significantly nerfed with the addition of Betrayers, but there wasn’t a pack of Saviors stinking up the joint yet.

I prefer OLS to LLM mostly for nostalgia purposes – it was the first set I drafted significantly, and I still have flashbacks to Mistform Skyreaver beating me in the face.

Top Ten Annoyingly Hard-to-get Cube Foils

10. Rishadan Port ($100.00)
9. Kor Haven ($20.00)
8. Trygon Predator ($20.00)
7. Dust Bowl ($30.00)
6. Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary ($60.00)
5. Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir ($12.00)
4. Venser, Shaper Savant ($16.00)
3. Yawgmoth’s Bargain ($30.00)
2. Bribery ($25.00)
1. Treachery ($20.00)

The cards near the top of the list form the holy trinity of hard-to-get cube cards:

– They’re from old sets where foils were scarcer and fewer survived.

– They haven’t been played en masse in tier-1 tournament decks, so Legacy/Vintage grinders & pimpers haven’t spent significant time collecting them.

– They are beloved casual cards.

This means that very few people have them, and those that do usually aren’t willing to trade them. All of the foil prices are from SCG, but every single card is sold out there. So if you want to try and trade for them, you’re pretty much at the whim of what the card’s owner wants to get.

Some of the cards near the bottom of the list (Predator, Port) see significant play in eternal formats, but that only means that their prices went through the roof over the last six months. Most of the extra foil copies of these were snapped up and went straight into decks.

Top Ten Undervalued Cards in Standard

10. Slagstorm ($4.00)
9. Bonehoard ($1.50)
8. Seachrome Coast ($4.00)
7. Gideon Jura ($25.00)
6. Squadron Hawk – Foil ($4.00)
5. Sword of Feast and Famine ($15.00)
4. Sword of Body and Mind ($10.00)
3. Mirran Crusader ($4.50)
2. Mox Opal ($18.00)
1. Day of Judgment ($3.00)

This list was hard to make because I don’t think there’s anything that undervalued in Standard right now. Contested War Zone was undervalued, but now it’s $5-$7. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas was undervalued, but now it’s $50. Stoneforge Mystic was surprisingly undervalued at $11, but now it’s over $20.

Day of Judgment may have been in two large sets and had two promo printings, but it’s also seeing quite a lot of play right now. This should be a $5 card.

Mox Opal is starting to pick up, and should hit $25 once enough people realize that it sees real play in both Standard and Legacy.

Mirran Crusader was fairly popular in the top 8 at Paris, and could hit $6-$7.

Both Swords are seeing tons of play, and will hold casual value for years to come. They’re relatively risk-free pickups with room to grow.

Squadron Hawk is a dynamic force right now. Pick up foil copies when you can.

Gideon was in two of the top 8 decks in Paris, and is wont to occasionally see-saw back up to $35+. Seachrome Coast is becoming one of the more popular Scars duals, and should be trading around $5 now.

Bonehoard and Slagstorm have started to see minor play, and their prices should be monitored accordingly.

Pickup Of the Week

 

Stoneforge Mystic 

Seriously, this is a truly unbelievable card right now. If you are going to be at any large events, make sure you bring along a couple sets of these to trade away to players looking to finish their decks. While I highly doubt Mystic will keep its $25+ price tag for long, it should be stable at $15 – $17 AT LEAST until Standard rotates next fall.

If so, that makes Stoneforge Mystic the first non-mythic rare to have a value this high since Maelstrom Pulse. I guarantee you that you will find people at your FNM who won’t believe that this is possible, and you’ll be able to snag their Mystics for less. It’s not a card you should go out and buy from stores, but keep an eye out for them in trade binders over the next few weeks.

That’s all for now! Join me next time for more Commander fun.

– Chas Andres

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