Posts Tagged ‘eBay’

Magic players are crazy. We spend good money on pretty pieces of card board with no material value whatsoever. Lots of money. A Magic card only has value if we say it has value, and apparently that value is going up with every expansion. When I first started playing competitive Magic, I thought people paying $20 for Ravinca block shock lands was insane.

I had no idea. I don’t think anybody did.

At $20+ a pop, this guy was the most expensive standard card; until mythic rares actually became playable.

Fast-forward. We’re all paying $30, $40, $50 per card to stay competitive. What the piss?

Well, for an interesting article on card worth and the “supply and demand” theory, read this Starcity Games article by Jonathan Medina. It sheds insight using the Scars of Mirrodin planeswalkers as examples. Like Medina, I also don’t like buying cards before the set is released. I don’t like paying for hype. It is very rarely a card lives up to the hype. However, when something looks great, and is great, you’ll pay for it one way or the other. Great cards don’t go down in price. Just ask Jace, the Wallet Raper. If you pay blue, you better have him. The only way this will change is if he suddenly sucks in every format he is played in, which, at the moment, is practically every one.

Now, I’ve bitched about card prices before. Who hasn’t. Yes, they are re-do-do-diculous. Mythics are now tournament staples. I don’t care what Wizards says. Screw it. Time to deal.

Here are a few coping strategies I’ve come up with:

1. Buy what you will use.
Don’t buy cards because they are good, buy them because you will be using them. I love Koth the Hammer. He is a bad-ass and will probably be great. I probably won’t be playing his decks though. However, I will use the shit out of Venser the Sojourner.

I love having a binder full of the best stuff, but what good is your playset of Mox Diamonds if you don’t use them? If a card is just sitting in your binder, it does you no good. If you can trade it for something you will use, do it. Don’t get stuck into the “hoarder trap”; someday you  might use that card, but if you can trade if for something you need now, go for it.

3.Don’t quit your day job
Unless you are really good at it, don’t buy cards in the hopes they will someday go up in price. If you have that kind of money to “invest” in the first place, you’re probably not feeling the card-price squeeze to begin with.

4.One deck at a time
This is kind of like the first rule. Pick a deck and stay with it so you don’t have to buy cards for all orts of decks. Yes, it is fun to have options, but it can be very costly. If you want to change decks, you can always trade the cards in your current deck to build the next. It can at least take the bite out of the cost.

5. Take a break
This sounds lame, but if you absolute need a card to be competitive but cant get the copies you need, playing a different format or taking a break from the game can be a good idea.  Often the good cards will go down a bit in price after everybody has bought the copies they need and you can swoop in.

While it is true customers determine the price of Magic cards,, apparently a lot of them have money to burn or enjoy credit card bills. For the rest of us there are coping strategies.


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During the Worldwake spoiler season, I mentioned in my article, Money Mythics, that Starcity Games was selling singles as they were being spoiled.  I also talked about how this affected prices.

More like Kozilek, Butcher of Wallets. Maybe he's a good control finisher. Terrible reanimator target though.

More like Kozilek, Butcher of Wallets. Maybe he's a good control finisher. Terrible reanimator target though.

Well, now that a few Rise of the Eldrazi cards have been spoiled, most notably Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, I am starting to think I was correct . In fact, I just e-mailed Starcity Games to ask them a few questions and make my opinion known, whatever good that will do.

Just in case you didn’t know, Kozilek is selling for $30 on Starcity Games right now.

I don’t like the idea of cards being sold as spoiled for a couple of reasons. First and foremost; prices only go up. Prices for spoiled singles are usually set according to (mostly) baseless speculation, new card hype and maybe a little bit of precedent (which usually doesn’t take into account changing game environments). Sometimes a card is just damn good in a vaccuum, and that helps to inflate prices as well. Finally, when a card pre-sells as spoiled, if it has a slight chance of being a staple, people buy it up, which also causes the price to rise, which in turn, makes people think it is a hot-item, so they buy it. You can see how this loops.

Want to see proof? Look how much Abyssal Persecutor was selling for before it actually hit the shelves.  $39.99. It didn’t even get a lot of good press, Timmy  just thought it was good and bought it up like crazy. Jace, the Mind Sculptor was at $59.99 before the pre-release, and hasn’t dropped yet, despite the fact he hasn’t made a huge impact on any meta yet. Patrick Chapin likes him, so I guess that still makes him worth $240 a playset.  


It used to be just eBay sellers and some of the “other” online shops that sold singles as spoiled, but now the big guys are  doing it too, which means now you have to buy early and buy often if you want to get a card with potential at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, it was one of the reasons I didn’t buy at the other places.

The second reason I don’t like Starcity Games selling cards as spoiled is their pre-sale policy, which prohibits combining orders for pre-sale items. I guess if you want to lock in good prices on spoiled cards, you better like paying shipping for each playset you order.

Of course you could always wait until the cards are actually released like I did. By then I decided I didn’t really want Jace, the Mind Sculptor; at least not at $60 a pop for something that hasn’t proven itself yet.

Here is a copy of my letter

I was wondering if Starcity Games might consider allowing customers to consolidate multiple pre-orders now that singles are being sold as spoiled. In order to get the best prices, customers will have to buy early and buy often, which will lead to multiple shipping costs.

I am also curious; why you are selling singles as spoiled? I know the eBay market does this, but I also don’t pre-order product on e-bay because the prices are driven by mostly baseless speculation and new-card hype. I would hate to see the same at Starcity Games.

Being able to buy new product as early as possible may appeal to some, but I think it was just fine when pre-order day was after the pre-release.   

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