Penny Stocks

In one of the most intriguing finance articles in recent memory, Chas Andres throws down a crazy number of potential breakout cards from Magic’s history! If you’re looking for dirt cheap speculation targets, it doesn’t get any better than this!

The US stock market, if played conservatively, isn’t all that risky. Despite all of the high profile financial crises that have taken place over the years,
investing in established, blue chip companies has been the safest way to make real money over the past hundred years or so. Capitalism doesn’t work unless
the global economy keeps growing, after all, and the richest people in the world are hell-bent on making sure that it does.

That sort of measured investing requires a lot of capital and patience, though. Apple stock is at $125 today, so a $1,000 investment in the company
wouldn’t even net you ten shares. You might have to wait a long time to make any real money, too-Apple has one of the most meteoric stock charts I’ve ever
seen, but if you’d bought your shares in September of 2012, you’d have had to wait until this past August before being able to cash out for a profit.

For the risk-takers among us, however, there is an alternative-penny stocks. Penny stocks are publically traded companies that are either very small or in
some kind of bankruptcy or liquidation state. Their share prices are under a dollar in most cases, and sometimes they’re available at small fractions of a
penny per share. If I wanted to buy 10,000 shares of Hangover Joe’s Holding Corp, (this is a real company with a real stock price, go look it up!), it
would cost me just $2.

The problem with these types of investments is that they are very prone to becoming worthless. I don’t know much about Hangover Joe and what I’m sure is
his totally legitimate holding corporation, but I’d be surprised if my 10,000 shares would still have any value by close of market today. There are people
who make money trading penny stocks, but they put in a lot of time and absorb a ton of risk to do so.

Magic has its own version of penny stocks-cards that linger in bulk rare boxes before being shoved six-at-a-time into penny sleeves and left in the back of
the closet. The acquisition cost is higher than a share of Hangover Joe, but the risk profile is very different. In Magic, the worst case scenario is the
$0.10 that Star City Games is willing to pay for a NM bulk rare. With that factored in, it becomes easier to think about penny stock speculation as buying
into the future of the card for the acquisition price minus $0.10 each. In some cases, especially when buying in large quantities, you can shave that
number down as low as a cent or two.

I am of two minds about penny stock investing in Magic. I’ve made many of my worst spec purchases this way. After hearing about the results of a European
Legacy tournament, I picked up about a hundred and fifty copies of Sylvan Safekeeper between $0.30 and $0.60 cents. Not only did the card fail to catch on,
but it was reprinted in Commander 2014 shortly thereafter. Daybreak Ranger and Nivmagus Elemental were two other high-profile busts in the $1-$2 range,
both of which cost me serious cash.

On the other hand, I’ve profited massively simply by keeping around a large collection of mediocre rares. A few years ago, I sold most of the valuable
cards I wasn’t using in order to pay for a new car. Instead of bulking out the low end rares, I threw everything that was $2 or less into a box and forgot
about it. I went through the box every six months or so and never failed to pull out a fat stack of $5+ cards.

I’ve made some serious dough on bulk rare specs that I was ahead of the curve on, too. Wild Defiance, Nightveil Specter, Disrupting Shoal, Spellskite
those cards and countless others were readily available for less than a buck before jumping to profitable heights. Much like with the stock market, you
need patience, diversity, a good nose for research, and a little bit of luck if you’re going to make money on the penny stocks of Magic.

What makes one card jump in price while another stays at 49 cents forever? Here are some of the qualities that I consider before making a penny stock buy:

Age –
All pre-Zendikar rares are basically super mythics at this point. You want Savor the Moment to be a $5 card? It doesn’t take much actual demand for a
successful buyout to occur. Any pre-Zendikar rare that is even remotely playable in a competitive format should be looked at very closely because of this.

Of course, the older a card is, the longer it has already gone without finding a home. If a card has been around since Tempest without ever seeing play,
the chances that it’ll break out now are slim to none. The older your penny stock card is, the greater the upside, but the worse your chances are of seeing
a meaningful return.

On the other side of the age spectrum, I’m skeptical about everything from Return to Ravnica onward with the exception of Conspiracy. These sets were been
printed in much greater numbers than those that came before them, and the RTR block Modern price spike that I expected to happen this spring never amounted
to anything. The player base finally appears to have stabilized, and RTR block appears to be the cutoff. There are a few cards from this era that I like,
but in most cases, it’s better to focus on cheaper (but still above bulk range) casual mythics.

– Cards in unpopular or short-drafted sets like Conspiracy or M15 are better specs in a vacuum than cards in an all-time best selling fall set like Theros
or Khans of Tarkir. This is especially true for recent sets, where the print run disparity is still influencing supply.

Uniqueness –
Check out Ward of Bones. Why is that card up to $4.19 after having been a bulk rare forever? Because nothing else in Magic does what it can. All it takes
is a little bit of hype for something kind of wonky and cool to spike enough for you to make a healthy profit. A card that gives all creatures first strike
or whatever is much more replaceable.

– The phrase ‘combulk’ was coined by a Magic finance writer whose identity escapes me. Unfortunately, a search for the term didn’t turn anything up. At any
rate, it’s a concept I really love. Combulk is any bulk rare that might help enable a combo-Polymorph, Primal Surge, Hive Mind, Pyromancer Ascension, Time
Stretch, etc. Johnnies will try to brew with these cards for years, sometimes even decades after they’re printed. All you need is for a Conley Woods or a
Travis Woo to make an interesting video one day, and you’re in business. Combulk cards are nearly always worth socking away.

Subset Tutors/Enablers
Scion of the Ur-Dragon was a bulk rare for years, but it’s over $20 now because WotC finally got around to printing a proper five-color Dragon set.
Anything that is uniquely powerful at enabling one small archetype or doing one narrow thing very well has a shot at making it big the next time that
mechanic goes around. Morph enablers, creature type matters, artifacts that make cycling free, equipment tutors, etc. This sort of thinking can be extended
to color identity as well-Temur, Abzan, Sultai, Mardu, and Jeskai cards didn’t have too many dedicated Commander decks until Khans of Tarkir was released.
The Nephilim from Guildpact don’t really have a home now.

Cards that Mill and Cards That Give You Extra Turns
– Nearly all cards that mill or generate extra turns will go up in price eventually. On the mythic side, Dragons, Hydras, and Planeswalkers are great
long-term gainers as well. Just note that rare Dragons and Hydras are perfectly capable of staying at bulk prices forever.

Banned Cards
– If a card is cheap because it’s a marginal inclusion on a banned list, there’s always the shot that it will be made legal again and the price will jump
six or seven-fold.

Standard Plants
– Standard plants are getting harder to identify in advance, but if you can, it can be incredibly profitable. There was about a week and a half between
when Master of Waves was spoiled and when Nightveil Specter jumped in price, for example. See the Unwritten was the perfect Standard plant spec until
everyone figured it out at about the same time.

Standard Cards That “Would Be Good If Only…”
– These are the biggest traps out there, because it’s really tempting to double down on a bad call and throw good money after bad. If you hit right,
though, you can end up making a ton of money. Think about how much better Desecration Demon was after Lingering Souls rotated out of Standard.

Ultimately, the best thing that you can do is to diversify your collection of penny stock cards as much as you can. It’s okay to go deep on a card you
really believe in, but otherwise you should focus more on acquisition opportunity than which cards to go after. Only buy in when you can get the best deal,
either as part of a collection purchase, a bulk trade, or a deal cut with a motivated seller. Develop a bulk rare organization system where you can easily
access your cards, too. I probably lost $50 because I was too lazy to go digging through 10,000 cards in order to find my copies of Worldgorger Dragon
after the recent unbanning. Instead of bulking out your sub-$2 rares, file them away and forget about them. Lastly, be incredibly patient. A good penny
stock collection is like an herb garden that pays out little by little over time.

Below is a totally uncomprehensive list of penny stock rares that I like right now. It is presented in alphabetical order because I’ve just kept glancing
through spoilers and adding to it all week long. Special thanks as well to my Twitter followers, who gave me some really awesome suggestions that I would
have otherwise forgotten about. Follow me @ChasAndres to join in on the fun next time!

In order to make sure that we’re really just talking about penny stocks, every card is under $1 Star City retail. (Even though it disqualified a lot of
cards that I love-Thespian’s Stage, Dictate of Erebos, Swan Song, and The Chain Veil, your day will come!)

Some of these cards might spike. Most of them won’t. Some of them have been bulk rares since I was twelve years old. While I don’t recommend running out
and buying any of the cards on this list, they’re all intriguing to me in one way or another. If you follow my rules on penny stock speculation and keep
them in mind going forward, you might be able to find a diamond or two in the rough.

Aetherling – $0.69

Aetherling is a riff on an iconic card as well as an unkillable finisher in Commander and Cube. Six (seven, really) mana is probably too much for this ever
to see play in Modern, but this is one of the most powerful creatures when it comes to a pure win condition.

Aggressive Mining – $0.49

Minecraft is significantly more popular than Magic, so this card will always hold some value for the connection to that game alone. Beyond that, Aggressive
Mining is glorious combulk that still has an outside shot at a breakout in Standard.

Altar of the Brood – $0.49

Mill cards are very, very rarely limited to bulk rare status forever. Altar of the Brood might be the most recent card on this list, but your window to get
these for next to nothing is still closing relatively quickly.

Ancestral Knowledge – $0.89

Ancestral Knowledge would almost certainly see play if it were legal in Modern, but a lot of people have tried and failed to make this work in Legacy. It
makes the list for the small chance that someone will eventually figure it out along with the fact that it’s a better Commander card than most people

Battlefield Thaumaturge – $0.55

If anyone puts together a good finish with the Hour of Need/Descent of the Dragons deck over the next few weeks, Battlefield Thaumaturge is going to spike
pretty hard. Otherwise, the card gets better with every spell WotC prints that targets multiple creatures. It’ll have a harder road ahead in Modern, but
the potential will remain intriguing for years to come.

Beck//Call – $0.49

Beck/Call really only has one hope at gaining value: a Modern version of the Legacy Elves deck. If someone ever makes that deck work, though, you’re
looking at a $10+ card here. That alone is enough reason to put it on the list.

Breaking//Entering – $0.99

This Dragon’s Maze rare is relatively safe from being reprinted because it’s a fuse card. It’s also about 80% of the way to Glimpse the Unthinkable for the
same mana cost. You’re never going to make a fortune on Breaking//Entering, but it could slowly climb for years to come.

Coalition Victory – $0.65

Does an eight mana five color sorcery really need to be banned in Commander? I could easily see this return to the format at some point. If it does, it’ll
take off in a matter of minutes. Worst case, Coalition Victory is a really unique card that excites the casual crowd.

Counterflux – $0.79

See Absorb, Undermine, etc. People really love unique counterspells, and this is one of the best.

Deathbringer Thoctar – $0.49

Deathbringer Thoctar was on his way up before the Commander 2013 reprint that caused it to tank in a hurry. The Thoctar still profiles well as a combo
piece as well as an efficient casual card going forward, though, and there’s some legitimate combo potential here.

Diluvian (and Luminate, Molten, and Sepulchral) Primordial – $0.49

Sylvan Primordial was the best of the cycle for Commander play, but the others are quite good as well. These are auto-includes for any decks that play in a
metagame with large multiplayer groups, and I can’t imagine that demand for them won’t continue to increase. I’m wary because they’re from Return to
Ravnica block, but the buy-in couldn’t be lower.

Extinction – $0.99

I could see Extinction going up to $3-$4 purely on casual demand the next time we end up in a heavy tribal environment. This is the sort of card that’s
never half as good as newer players think, but it doesn’t have to be to make you some money.

Faith’s Reward – $0.69

Faith’s Reward is a wonky little combo piece that I’ve seen lead to some really crazy games of Magic. Someone could make it do something real someday-I’m
just not sure when (or if) that’ll happen.

Flesh Carver – $0.49

The Commander 2014 rares have a long way to go before they start to climb, but Flesh Carver has proven to be one of the best black creatures in Cube. As
more people catch on to how good it is in casual formats, demand should rise.

Garza’s Assassin – $0.49

A few weeks ago, I heard about someone running this in a new Collected Company Pod-style deck in Modern. It seems kind of janky to me, but I love
speculating on Coldsnap cards because the print run is the smallest of any Modern legal set. Garza’s Assassin has also been considered in Modern Mono-Black
Devotion, so it has a couple of shots at making you some money.

Guided Passage – $0.79

In Commander, the worst case scenario for Guided Passage is that you get to draw the worst three cards in your deck for three mana. Best case, the
‘opponent’ that you choose has a common enemy, and you get to tutor up something powerful that can swing the game in your favor. Regardless, this is an
awesome Commander card that should start to see more play now that Temur is a thing. Another good sign for Guided Passage’s future: foil copies are already
up to $12.99.

Hall of Triumph – $0.79

For years, this effect was powerful enough to see play at 1WW. Those days are behind us now, but this is still something that tokens builders in every
color are going to want. This sort of broad casual demand creates a nice long-term profile for Hall of Triumph.

Heartless Summoning – $0.55

The problem with Heartless Summoning decks is that you can only run four copies of the card, and the deck is just too slow if you don’t draw one. If WotC
ever prints another card like it or someone can pair it with a reasonably efficient tutor, we might have something-even in Modern.

Illusionist’s Bracers – $0.69

Rings of Brighthearth is $23. This is $0.69. Supply and card quality are both a large part of that, but Gob’s Bracers are still oozing upside here.

Increasing Ambition – $0.65

There are cheaper tutors for Commander play, but if you’re running any kind of self-mill or graveyard shenanigans, you want Increasing Ambition for the
Flashback cost alone. The fact that it can get three cards of your choice before eventually running its course is nice as well.

Ixidor, Reality Sculptor – $0.59

Foil copies of Ixidor are up to $20, but regular copies of this are still just $0.59. I expect the price to go up as more and more casual players learn
about the card and realize what it can do to their kitchen table morph deck.

Ixidron – $0.49

Again, Commander 2014 cards aren’t going up in price anytime soon, but Ixidron is one of the better ways to pseudo-tuck a problematic commander these days.
You can’t return it to the command zone if it’s stuck on the battlefield as a 2/2!

Memory Crystal – $0.49

If buyback ever comes back, Memory Crystal will be the first card to get bought out. You don’t have to pay very much to get in well ahead of the curve.

Overabundance – $0.49

Heartbeats of Spring are always somewhat breakable, even ones that try to kill you in the process. Overabundance is also a great way to follow up an
aggressive start in Commander-the extra mana and damage isn’t optional, so if your opponents are playing ‘fair,’ they’ll be dealing a lot of damage to
themselves as they attempt to stabilize.

Pandemonium – $0.85

Sometimes, all you want to do in a game of Magic is to speed things along while keeping the board relatively clear. Pandemonium does a great job of that.
Symmetrical effects like this are easy enough to abuse if your deck is built for it.

Plunge into Darkness – $0.79

You’d need an absurdly specific deck to want this, but Plunge into Darkness is kind of a Demonic Tutor in the right setting. The fact that you can burn it
to gain some life in a different situation gives Plunge into Darkness an intriguing versatility.

Portcullis – $0.49

Portcullis is kind of hilarious, right? Play it along with a couple of guys after a board wipe and watch how quickly people start scrambling to find their
artifact hate. It’s like an Ensnaring Bridge, except you get to keep you attackers as long as you’re prepared.

Ravenous Baboons – $0.59

While most Commander decks that attempt to abuse comes-into-play creatures are Bant-colored, Ravenous Baboons is one of the best in the biz at being
blinked multiple times. If those decks shift in the color pie at all, this card will see a strong uptick in popularity.

Realms Uncharted – $0.49

Realms Uncharted might not be Gifts Ungiven, but it does always draw you two cards, and it gets much better the more utility lands are printed. If we get
another cycle of Worldwake-style lands, Realms Uncharted might finally find a home somewhere.

Recycle – 0.69

Recycle will never be fast enough for competitive Constructed play, but it combos with enough stuff to be an intriguing consideration in Commander. If you
have a big mana engine going, look out.

Reins of Power – $0.59

I can’t think of a swingier four-mana card in Commander. If you’re running a creature-light blue deck or you have a weak board position, you can use this
to crush your opponent in a single turn. It’s even better in games with multiple players because you can rumble all of Player B’s creatures into Player C’s
army. The Commander 2011 printing is old enough at this point that I’d be surprised if we don’t see movement here at some point soon.

Retraced Image – $0.49

Talk about a unique card! Retraced Image is going to cause you some serious card disadvantage most of the time, but if Legacy ever loses enough of its
celebrated diversity, we might have some interesting sideboard tech here.

Ruination – $0.55

Unless your casual metagame has a no land destruction rule, every red deck should be running this. I’m surprised it hasn’t seen much play in Legacy,
either. Much like with Reins of Power, the Commander 2011 printing was years ago-this card is ready to rise.

Seance – $0.49

Seance is the ultimate piece of Combulk-a card that has been on the verge of being broken for years without a deck ever quite coming together. At some
point, someone’s going to run one of these brews through a Modern daily, go 4-0, and the price will jump to like $6 overnight before people realize that
the deck isn’t actually that good.

Sedraxis Specter – $0.59

You’re obviously not going to win too many games by hard-casting a Sedraxis Specter in an Eternal format, but the unearth cost is cheap enough to warrant
this as a consideration in some kind of Modern dredge deck, right? At $0.59, the upside is certainly there.

Seedtime – $0.65

Seedtime was an excellent sideboard card about ten years ago. Could its day come again? I’m not sure, but the ‘take an extra turn’ aspect of this card
makes it a fine gamble.

Skyshroud War Beast – $0.49

Skyshroud War Beast can get larger than a Tarmogoyf in the right situation. It’s probably not enough for Legacy, but it’s a decent call in the right
Commander metagame, and I’m pretty sure it would at least warrant consideration if it were made Modern legal.

Spirit of Resistance – $0.69

It’s far easier to control a permanent of each color now than it was back during Invasion. Pillow fort-style casual decks are also a lot more popular than
they used to be.

Spirit of the Labyrinth – $0.69

Spirit of the Labyrinth never caught on in Standard, but it’s at least worth considering in both Modern and Legacy. At some point, someone will run a
version of Death and Taxes or Maverick with four copies of this, and it’ll jump to $5.

Sway of the Stars – $0.49

This is another hedge against the Commander banned list. I’m not sure it’ll ever come off, but it’s a ten-mana sorcery, so there’s a chance that the rules
committee will decide that it’s not too degenerate at some point.

Tsabo’s Web – $0.49

Tasbo’s Web cantrips, so worst case, you’re getting a card back from the deal. In Commander, it shuts down Homeward Path and Maze of Ith. In Constructed,
it deals with Rishadan Port while also forcing your opponent to use their Wastelands on sight. You could do worse in the right metagame.

Tsabo Tavoc – $0.95

This doesn’t shut down every Commander, but she has a relevant ability against 99% of them. Tsabo Tavoc isn’t as good an effect as we’re used to getting
for seven mana these days, but she gets the job done nonetheless.

Unnatural Selection – $0.65

If we get another ‘creature type matters’ block, I doubt WotC will print a card that does this as cheaply and repeatedly at instant speed. In the meantime,
Unnatural Selection is a heck of a combo with Sliver Overlord and is a Commander staple in that deck.

Varolz, the Scar-Striped – $0.79

Varolz is the best Golgari commander for Tiny Leaders. He’s also a powerful and efficient creature in every casual format, singleton or otherwise. Solid
sac outlets are also nice long-term holds, making this guy something of a triple threat.

Vicious Shadows – $0.59

Talk about a Commander staple-Vicious Shadows is one of the most powerful cards and quickest kills in the whole format. The fact that this isn’t a $3-$4
card yet is utterly baffling to me.

Warp World – $0.49

An eight-mana sorcery with an element of randomness will never be good in Constructed play, but Warp World is an underrated finisher for Commander decks
that have a larger than average number of permanents. It’s also one of the most fun and unique cards in the entire game. It hasn’t been reprinted since
2009 either, so it’s possible we’re not going to see it again for quite some time.

Wild Research – $0.49

Tutors are always good, and Wild Research gets better as more decks can handle Jeskai manabases and more cards interact with enchantments and/or instants
in the graveyard. Wild Research is already a staple in Zedruu Commander decks, and I can see it gaining market share as people brew more with Shu-Yun, the
Silent Tempest.

Zealous Conscripts – $0.75

Red casual cards tend to be undervalued, and Zealous Conscripts is no exception. This is one of the most underrated cards in both Commander and Cube, and
it hasn’t spiked once since rotating out of Standard.

This Week’s Trends

– Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir was this weekend! I’ll cover it in detail next week, but because I’m writing this in the past, I can’t speak too much about
the future of Standard right now. Prior to the Pro Tour, both Dragons of Tarkir Planeswalkers were trending downward, while Dragonlords Atarka and Ojutai
were rising in value.

– There was a major change in organized play announced last week that very few people are talking about. Instead of allowing PPTQs the freedom to be any
format, they will now have the choice between the format of the Pro Tour that they’re feeding and Sealed Deck. In the case of the June 6 – August 16th
season, that means that all PPTQs will be either Modern or Sealed.

It’s unclear if this will increase demand for Modern staples in a meaningful way (similar to the old PTQ seasons) or if we’ll just see a bunch of Sealed
tournaments. The fact that the beginning of this season will come right on the heels of Modern Masters 2015 being released makes me think that there should
at least be something of an uptick in Modern Demand. If you’ve got Modern staples from Innistrad Block forward, you might want to hang onto them through
the early part of the summer. If you’re in the market for Snapcaster Mages or Lilianas of the Veil, you might want to grab them soon.