Wise Buys – All I Do Is Win, Win, Win

Wes Wise is now on Premium! He talks about speculating on Modern cards on Magic Online. It’s funny, informative, and might even help you make money.

Not really. I don’t always “Win, Win, Win,” the song just started playing on my Pandora as I started to write this article. It’s not
even a very good song. I sure hope that doesn’t set the tone for this article to be mediocre. I’m in trouble—Pitbull came on next, this article
might be awful…

Me (at work): “My Pandora station is so random. It went from Eminem to Weezer, then back to Eminem, to Britney Spears, to Eminem, then Lupe

Matt Gargiulo: “Congratulations, you’ve crafted a completely unlistenable Pandora station!”

All right, now that my Pandora station has changed we can continue the article.

As promised in my last article, I’m going to talk about buying up Modern cards! For the record, I did the majority of my Magic Online investing a few
days before the bannings were announced. Luckily for you (and me), I assumed both of those cards were getting banned and I invested accordingly.

Wait a minute? You invested in Magic Online cards? Why?!

I prefer to speculate with Magic Online for a number of reasons. The first and most important reason is that it’s kind of shady for me to invest in
paper Magic cards. One of the many things I do at Star City Games is price cards. If I buy 100 of a card I suddenly have a personal interest in that
card increasing in value, thus creating an unnecessary conflicting interest between my hobby and my job. I’m not suggesting that I would ever do that,
but I’d rather it not even be a possibility.

Also, a huge way to profit from speculating is to trade the cards away after they’ve increased in value. I almost never have the time to trade at
events since I’m always working, so that closes a lot of doors for me. If you’ll remember from my last article, you have to leave yourself the
opportunity to unload your cards while they’re at their peak value.

Finally, the margins on Magic Online are microscopic when compared to paper Magic. This takes away the need to trade your cards. It’s very difficult to
speculate with paper Magic by buying the cards from a vendor and then selling them back to vendors. If you hit, it’s easy to break even by just
reselling to vendors, but we’re trying to make money.

While I am discussing my buys on Magic Online a lot of the general rules still apply to paper Magic.

What Did I Buy?

My buying had to be completed over the course of a few days since a lot of the bots have a four card limit and only reload every so often. I spent a
total of about $500. All of the cards I bought had rotated out of standard. Most of the cards I bought were under $2 (tickets, actually, but for
purposes of this article “$” and “tickets” will be one and the same). I bought 0 Mythic rares. I bought at least 20 of the
majority of cards I invested in.

All of these things were done for a reason. Some of them are questionable and I’ll explain why.

Non-Standard Cards Only

I had a hunch that a lot of drafts fire on Magic Online every day, so after a bit of research, I came up with a solid figure. The number starts with an
“M” and ends with “etric crap ton.” So much product is opened on Magic Online that the market is flooded until people redeem
sets. Rares that are $3 in real life are $.50 on Magic Online. Investing in cards that are just flooding into the market is a bad idea if you’re
trying to flip them for money in a timely fashion. Now is a great time to buy Innistrad stuff if you’re looking to play Block Constructed online
or if you’re planning on holding this stuff for an extended period of time (a year or more). With that in mind, I only bought non-standard cards.

Only Cards Cheaper than $2

This one is questionable. I could have easily spent $500 on shock lands and made money, but that would have made for a very short article (I actually
started to do just that, but decided I’d have some fun with it and write an article instead). What can I say? I’m a gamblin’ man!

Another reason I chose to set a price limit of $2 is that I feel like $2-$3 is a very reasonable price for a non-standard rare to hit if it’s remotely
playable. Assuming I’m right (which is something I normally do), I’m then locked for at least breaking even or making a little money.

My “no Mythic Rares” policy kind of extends into this rule. Mythic rares are always much more expensive on Magic Online when compared to
regular rares. Even terrible ones are still worth a little bit. There also aren’t any Mythic rares that I’m extremely excited to invest in. The ones
that I considered were already more expensive than I wanted to pay.

I want to be clear: there shouldn’t be a “no mythic rare” policy if you’re investing in paper magic. Mythics are a lot more
reasonable in paper than they are on Magic Online. For example, Lotus Cobra is $6 in real life, while it’s $10 on Magic Online. Lotus Cobra
isn’t seeing a ton of play right now, although it has a lot of potential. Cards like this are what you’d want to look for when you’re
considering investing. Vengevine is another card like this. Any card that has a unique ability and cannot be replaced if said ability is required is
usually a decent gamble. The biggest issue with Mythics is that you generally have to invest a lot more for what could end up being a much smaller
return. Let’s say I bought four Lotus Cobra at $10 each on Magic Online. In this scenario, I’m hoping they’ll hit $15 each. I invest
$40 to get a $60 return, netting me $20, which is a 1.5x return on my investment. Now let’s say I spend that same amount of money on a $1 rare
that I’m hoping will hit $3. I can spend that same $40 on this rare and if I hit, I make $120 instead of $60.

I acknowledge that I’m expecting the rare to triple in value while I’m only expecting the Mythic to increase by half of its original value.
However, it’s a lot more reasonable to expect a card to increase by a few dollars than it is to expect a card to increase by $5-$10.

At Least 20 of Each

Trust me, I’m normally the first person to tell you to “diversify your bonds,” but I wanted to make my investments more interesting to
write about. If I wrote an article saying, “I bought four of all the shock lands, four of all the fetch lands, and four Noble Hierarch,” it
would be a pretty boring article and would pretty much just equate to me gearing up for Modern season before the cards went up in value. While doing
this isn’t a bad idea, don’t do it and write an article about it.

Cards Over $2

Like I said, I had already started spending before I decided to write an article. I bought eight of all the Zendikar fetch lands, 10 Noble Hierarch,
four Maelstrom Pulse, two Reflecting Pool, four Magus of the Moon, two Sacred Foundry, one Temple Garden, one Stomping Ground and two Kiki-Jiki, Mirror
Breaker. The $75 limit per trade with bots is responsible for all of the awkward amounts purchased. Most of these are cards I consider to be extremely
safe buys. They’re unlikely to go down in value even if they don’t break out in Modern and most of them are likely to increase. I didn’t purchase these
with the intentions of explaining myself to an audience, so most of these buys are very straight forward. With the freebies out of the way, I’ll move
onto the more fun buys!

Targeted Cards

Goblin Guide: 61

OK, I have a confession to make. I was playing Mono Red in Standard online for a little while and I was really missing this guy—him and Lightning
Bolt. My longing to turn red idiots sideways inspired me to look into Goblin Guide as a potential investment.

I also had some real reasons to pick Goblin Guide as my first candidate. When I started buying Goblin Guides they were just under $1. I
previously stated that I was expecting the cards I invest in to hit the $2-$3 mark. Goblin Guide has a lot of potential to do this. Goblin Guide is a
“4 or 0” card. If you want to play an aggressive red deck, you have to buy 4 of this card. Zoo decks had a huge edge against Goblin Guide
since they had 3 one drops that trump yours. While zoo decks still have Loam Lion and Kird Ape, the loss of our dearest little cat devastated the deck
and that’s good news for Goblin Guide.

While Goblin Guide doesn’t usually go in the “best decks” for a format, he will always be played. Goblin Guide goes in cheap decks. A burn
deck doesn’t have to buy shock lands, Tarmogoyf, Knight of the Reliquary, etc. Modern decks aren’t cheap and people will be looking for easy ways into
Modern events.

With all of this in mind, my investment seemed sound enough to pull the trigger on. Currently Goblin Guides are about $1.50 and I expect them to
continue rising.

Fauna Shaman: 88

Fauna Shaman has always been one of those “must die” creatures. Doesn’t matter if it’s the right play or not, if I see her come into play I
want to kill her! Considering I was expecting a certain recurring shock to no longer be playable Fauna Shaman seemed like a good buy.

The decks that Fauna Shaman is played in are normally pretty expensive. This actually hurts the chances of Fauna Shaman going up. Fauna Shaman isn’t
required to be a 4 of in any deck playing broccolis. These decks are likely to be playing a lot of Shock Lands, Mythic Rares and other high dollar
cards. It’s the expensive cards that price people out of decks, not the $2 dollar rares. This equates to cheap rares that go in expensive decks only
being cheaper.

Fauna Shaman has a very unique and powerful ability for Modern. That was the major draw for me to buy this card. If a deck with Fauna Shaman in it does
become good, you have to buy Fauna Shaman. There isn’t a cheaper, watered-down version that has a similar effect.

My first batch of Fauna Shamans cost me $.33 each. They’re now selling for around $1.

Worldwake Man Lands

Celestial Colonnade: 24
Creeping Tar Pit: 28
Raging Ravine: 29
Lavaclaw Reaches: 26
Stirring Wildwood: 24

While shock and fetch lands are pretty safe bets, these are slightly higher risk. The price of these cards has a lot to do with how fast the format
turns out to be. Considering Wizards is taking every possible step to ensure that this format is “healthy” and slow, it seems like man
lands might end up finding their place.

People can and will buy man lands to save money. Going 3x Stomping Ground and 1x Raging Ravine isn’t a completely unreasonable idea most of the time
and once shock lands go up in price people will be doing this more often. All of these lands saw a ton of play when they were in Standard and I feel
like it will be similar in Modern.

As of right now, Lavaclaw Reaches, Stirring Wildwood and Raging Ravine have all increased slightly. I bought them for between $.30 and $.50 each and
they’re all between $.60 and $.75 now. Celestial Colonnade and Creeping Tar Pit have both gone up a bit more than that. Colonnades were purchased at $1
and they are now $1.50. Creeping Tar Pits were purchased at $2 and are now $3. These small raises make me feel hopeful of my investments.

Living End—Count: 42


Someone please win an event with this card. That’s pretty much what I’m all-in on. I don’t expect this deck to be insane this Modern season, but in the
off chance someone wins an event with this deck then I get to buy a small boat (not true).

I don’t have a ton of good reasons for buying this card. It shares similar perks with other cards I’ve listed above. It goes in a very specific deck
and it’s the only card in that deck that can fulfill the required role. Also, like burn decks, this deck is going to be pretty cheap—so I’m
hopeful that people will build it on a budget.

I paid around $.47 each for them and they’re already being sold for $1. Worst case scenario I get to double my money. I’m fine with that.

Saving the Best for Last

Flagstones of Trokair—Count: 98

Did I say best? Whoops—I meant most fun. I originally had no intentions of buying this card at all, but I clicked on one and saw that they were
only like $.10 and I thought to myself, “that has to change.” So I just kept buying them and eventually ended up with 98. I think the most
I paid was $.20 and they’re now up to $.90.

There is likely to be some type of Boros deck to be played during this season and that deck will have 4 Flagstones of Trokair. All of the cards from
the original “Brozek Boros” deck are still legal in Modern and it seems like it could be a fine deck. If that deck becomes popular
Flagstones become $3 and I get to buy a slightly bigger boat (still not true).

Let’s talk about a bad idea.

While I was buying, I’ll admit I might have been a little hopeful. Let’s remember that all of these cards were purchased before the bannings. I may or
may not have bought a handful of Stoneforge Mystics. I only bought 6 and they cost me like $1.50 so I’m not too upset about it. However, this is an
example of an extreme long shot. I knew that the chance of this card getting unbanned were similar to the chances of me being hit by a meteor while
writing this article. However, in the off-chance they did get unbanned, I got to buy a yacht. No such luck occurred and the yacht is still on my to-buy
list (no such list exists) and I’ll just sit on my $9 investment until people start to play Legacy on Modo.

All right, So you’ve bought a bunch of Modern cards—When do you ship them?

The obvious answer is, “when they go up in value.” That’s not meant to be a sarcastic response, either. I’ve set a price threshold for
myself on most of these cards and when they hit that point is when I’m willing to sell them. I suggest that you do the same thing. It’s most likely
going to be in the middle to beginning of the season, but it’s really up to you, as investors, to stay on top of your investments.

Hey Wes, it’s OK to buy 98 Flagstones in real life, right?


The window for speculating with paper Magic is a lot different than on Magic Online. Paper Magic requires your money to be tied up for much longer, but
can still have a pretty sweet payoff. A good thing to do is spend time throughout the year picking up hot Modern cards like shock lands and filter
lands and then attempting to unload them during Modern season.

One of the major issues/benefits to speculating on cards like shock lands is that their value is kept high all year long because of commander and
casual players. Investing in cards like this has much lower risk but is also less rewarding. The best time to pick up seasonal cards is at the very end
of the season when everyone is selling their cards before they “tank.” By “tank” they mean drop $3. On a side note, I prefer to
buy good Standard cards that are rotating out of Standard. Cards like Noble Hierarch, Knight of the Reliquary and a lot of lands all decreased as
Standard players became less interested in them. That’s a great time to start speculating. Cards like Noble Hierarch were $3 on Magic Online when
they were about to rotate out of Standard. If you’re willing to sit on your investment for an extended period of time, then this is a decent
thing to do.

Final Thoughts

This article was an attempt to explain what I look at when I’m buying cards. A lot of what I’ve talked about comes into action when I’m looking at
spoiled cards for new sets. I’ve been attempting to write articles during release times, but in the past I’ve been traveling so much that by the time
my article was finished, it was already obsolete. You need to ask yourself a lot of questions when evaluating cards. Does this card do something that
other cards don’t? Can this card be substituted by other cards or can it be a substitute for other cards? Will this card go in every deck that plays x

A good example of what I’m talking about is Birthing Pod. Birthing Pod has a very unique ability that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s got the
ability to be played in any deck of any color. If a deck wants to play Birthing Pod, the correct number for said deck is usually four. However, when
this card was spoiled I wasn’t excited about it at all. I said it will be a $3 – $5 card. My reasoning for this was because the card is too
restrictive. I’m not even referring to the fact that you have to do it as a sorcery and it can only be done once per turn. My biggest issue with the
card was that it had to be X plus 1. Cards like Survival and Fauna Shaman were better because they allowed you to get whatever you needed for a certain
situation. The requirement for getting what you need wasn’t reliant on what you had in play.

In closing, I’d like to remind you that I’m not suggesting you spend your next paycheck on the cards listed above. I’d prefer you use the information
I’ve provided you with as a tool when looking into what cards you should pick up for upcoming seasons. I feel like it’s a lot more useful to my readers
in the long run if they’re taught to think about their buys rather than just being handed a list of cards that I think will increase in value. If you
rely on people to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, you’ll always be one step behind. My best advice is to only invest what you can afford to
lose, learn from your mistakes and enjoy your profits.

More Final Thoughts

Everything you’ve just read was written before my last article was published. I wrote both of those articles back-to-back in the course of one
evening. I cannot describe to you how shocked I was to receive such amazing feedback about my last article. Due to the outstanding feedback received
from my previous article, I’ve been offered a weekly column on premium. For that, I’m extremely grateful to all of you. It’s you all,
the readers, that can make or break a writer.

With that being said, I want to encourage all of you to continue providing me with feedback, both positive and negative. I honestly feel like I learned
something from everyone that left a comment or emailed me about my last article. I’m interested in hearing your ideas for future articles,
you’re the reason I’m writing and I want to provide you with content you want to read. I never want to post an article that I feel would be
a waste of your time to read. I’d rather skip a week of writing than shove out an article for a paycheck. So please, ask questions, send emails,
and leave comments; everyone will benefit.

Again, I sincerely thank all of you.

Until next time,

– Wesley David Wise

@wdwise on Twitter