Category Archives: Extras

MTG Financial Fundamentals: The Myth of Pack to Power

Trading Magic cards is a practice that has been going on since their invention in 1993.  When in its infancy, Magic was just as much about collecting as it was playing.  Before the Pro Tour, card values were driven mostly by casual playability within localized gaming circles.  This is how Craw Wurms became 1$ cards and Shivan Dragons closer to 10$.  The lack of complete information, namely before internet was widely used, was a key driver of this phenomenon.  As a result, trading became about the cards.  I had an extra of a card I didn’t need, and so I would trade that card for something I could immediately place into my deck.

As I have discussed in previous articles, times have changed drastically.  Some traders even took the practice to a whole new level.  By taking a page out of Kyle MacDonald’s book, they decided they could take a single booster pack of Magic: the Gathering cards and through a serious of numerous trades, obtain a piece of the Power 9.  I, too, decided to embark on this arduous journey.  But 40 trades in, I’ve discovered the secret of the endeavor, and this article is inteded to reveal that secret. Read the rest of this entry

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The Commander’s Chair – The Redemption

Earlier this year I helped a kid at the local store build a Caw-Blade deck. Jace, The Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic were dominating the format and he was having a tough time getting all the pieces together. I was only able to get him the cards he needed with the help of the online community. As a result, my collection got jostled around in a major way. I ended up losing some value, which was both expected and not a big deal. I did benefit in one way; I ended up staring at a Japanese foil Doubling Season.

This card has been sitting in my I-am-never-going-to-trade-these-cards binder for several months without finding a home. I was talking to a good friend of Red Site Wins, Chas Andres, about his highly impressive cube. You all probably know who Chas is. He is one of the big name financial writers over at Channel Fireball. If you do any sort of trading, I suggest reading his articles. He is also the reason many of you are reading this article today. Chas wrote about my experience with the kid and trade sharks in the shop. As a result, our overall readers doubled overnight. Back to the story, Chas and me made a trade in which I received one of the single coolest cards I have ever seen. This week in the mail I received a Japanese foil Tooth and Nail. Hallelujah!!

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Perilous Research 06: Scars/m12/Innistrad Standard

Every fall there is a magical time when a whole block and core set worth of cards rotate out of standard and a brand new large set is introduced to the environment. The change is the largest one to happen to Standard each year and with it comes lamentations, joy, and brewing. This time around we are forced to mourn the loss of Valakut, Splinter Twin, Allies, and the Eldrazi. These are the decks that are solidly lost with rotation. All the other decks are still playable in some fashion with new cards to replace the ones that are rotating.

With the rotation we also see a few Block decks become stronger and must also consider them for the new environment. Puresteel and Tempered Steel were already making decent finishes in Standard before rotation, they will only be better after. Koth Red and Tezzeret decks are other strategic areas from Scars Block that are worth exploring for the new Standard.

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You’re a Designer, Harry! #17 – Basic Adventuring Party

Hello again, readers, to You’re a Designer, Harry!, a column where my readers’ feedback impacts the public process of designing a Magic: The Gathering set. I started writing with the idea to do a column like this because it was pretty fresh idea compared to what I’m used to seeing (non-design, non-collaborative Magic articles). And this column started strong, were hopes were high and comments were abundant. …And where are we now? Sputtering ever behind! This must be fixed!

Ever since the Great Designer Search 2, thanks to the collaborative nature of the competition and the use of Wizards Community wiki, a Magic design community had grown as strong as ever. It’s still ever-thriving as websites devoted to Magic design had sprung up: Goblin Artisans, Designer Fun on Channel Fireball, and many from the #mtg Twitter community (I’m trying to get #mtgdesign to be the official hashtag for Magic design, but it seems that tag is too many characters, especially considering the nature of tweeting about Magic design. #GDS2 is long over, too). This column had been a result of the GDS2, with me being a former Top 101 candidate. Read the rest of this entry

Basic Fundamentals

You sit at your table or on your floor cards spread about you in some manner. You slowly start picking up small piles that lay in front of you and add them together. Thirty-four spells. Well, you are playing control so Twenty-six lands is about right. You add in the obligatory dual lands and utility lands and see you have room for about twelve basic lands. Running some quick statistical calculations (or in my case, guessing) you decide how many of each basic land you want. Now you reach for you stack of Islands and Plains.

For some players the story ends here. They count out eight Islands and six Plains and sleeve up their deck to battle. But these players are in the minority. The other 95% of us, myself included, reach the step where you add basic lands to your deck and are faced with a new challenge: Which basic lands do I use? You probably already know which basic lands you like to use. Most of us do. So really, that isn’t the question I’m looking to answer here. It’ll come up though, don’t get me wrong. We all love our own versions of the five cards you essentially need to play Magic. But, the more important question is Why do we use the basic lands we choose?

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Plainswalkin’ #4: Realm of Illusion Review (Part 1 of 3)

Welcome – to a new deck, a new expansion pack, and a new GP (where fellow writers Luis Acosta and Amanda Stevens battling it out, which as of this writing Luis is 4-1 and has triple Aether Adepts).

Before I start this article, I would like to touch on two important points. First off, sorry for being a bit late. The new Expansion Pack kinda sucked me in there for a while. The second point is a comment @AuranAlchemist left. Lets see if I can do the twitter impression of a comment…

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You’re a Designer, Harry! #16 – Nonblack Vs. Nongreen

Welcome back, brave adventures of four-color Magic design! Last time, I went back over all the comments that had yet to receive a reply from me among the first fifteen articles. It was interesting to go back to some old comments to see what was suggested and forgotten, especially with how the set has evolved since the time of those comments.

This week, we go over the (perhaps embarrassingly so) first playtest of this four-color set. I had a testing session with Jules Robins of Quiet Speculation. We tested out a couple of the factions’ mechanics (or lack thereof): The nongreen faction’s “lego-bot” mechanic (which was previously concepted as lurk for the nonwhite faction) and the nonblack faction’s use of tokens.

The nongreen faction is blue-and-black-centric. Given the nature of how the “lurk” mechanic assembles creatures under other creatures, granting them extra abilities to make one super creature with several hiding under it, the mechanic felt more right existing with this faction rather than the red-black faction. It feels like that mad scientist flavor that currently exists in Innistrad. Besides, with how lurk had transformed and the other mechanic options for red-black faded away, the randomness, the recklessness of red was lost. “Lurk” feels more calculating now (Do I hardcast, or do I “lurk?”). Read the rest of this entry

The Exiled of Modern by Alaric Stein


 We all got hit by the bombshell of a banned list for Modern last week. Was Wizards of the Coast overzealous with this list? Maybe. Did they want a very different format? Yes. It’s possible that WOTC will change the banned list after PT Philadelphia if they want to use it as one of the formats at Worlds. Read the rest of this entry

Perilous Research 05: GenCon And Getting Back On Track

Hello, Readers. I’m sorry I haven’t posted any articles lately but since I’ve gotten back from GenCon things in my life went from being hectic to downright crazy. When I got back to work from my trip I found out that they moved our inventory forward a month, giving us only 3 weeks to prepare. On top of this three of our employees decided to quit. Fun times in the line of Retail. But, no one wants to hear about this. You’re hear to read about Magic! Let’s get to it.

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You’re a Designer, Harry! #14 – Lurking, Prowling, and Hiding

Welcome to the latest installment of You’re a Designer, Harry! Last time, we talked in detail about the inclusion of a vanilla faction in the set and the implications of doing so along with the reasons why we should do so. Today, we’ll be talking about its neighboring faction, the nonwhite faction. More specifically, about three different possible mechanics in detail.

Some of you may know Jules Robins as @JulesRobins from Twitter, as Jules Robins on Quiet Speculation, or as Jules Robins when he comments frequently on this design column. Well, I met up with him in-person recently, and we talked design. It was pretty much a syncing up of the latest design efforts on the set, and we last left off in our conversation (we ran out of time!) of wanting to playtest Lurk.

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