All Magic Has a Price #5 – Is It Time to Get Out?

True Cost:
The lowest amount of real cash needed to acquire a card.

All Magic Has a Price


J. Graves
Tampa, FL


Let me know your thoughts at [email protected]
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About AMHaP

All Magic Has a Price focuses on Magic: The Gathering finance from the player’s point of view. AMHaP discusses the true cost of playing Magic: The Gathering by reviewing strategies to acquire a playable collection of cards for Standard as a returning player, a new player, or a continuing player, and by discussing potential investment opportunities in older formats. AMHaP targets those of us that play casually and competitively on a local level, and AMHaP is written for casually-competitive players by a casually-competitive player. If one would like further explanation of the viewpoint and scope, please read: All Magic Has a Price Issue #1.

If you would like more information on determining true-cost value, please read: All Magic Has a Price Issue #3 – Accounting for MTG.

Visit my eBay Auctions.



Is It Time to Get Out?

I have divorced my third wife. I know, I knowI think my picker is broken. It is tax season, and I am working at least 50 hours a week. I have two intensive writing classes and I have this article. What little extra time I have will be devoted to getting out and to meeting people. Logo

MTG has taken a back seat to other needs, but I enjoy this game very much. I continue to read articles on and, to study the top decks on, and to play the occasional game online or with a friend.

Knowing I would no longer be playing competitively, I began to wonder if I should get out of Standard. When is the best time to get out of Standard to retain the most true-cost value? The answer: a month ago.



What does one do until rotation?

That answer is simple: Limited. Draft is [arguably] the most fun, competitive, and compelling format of Magic: The Gathering. Sitting around the table and passing packs makes for a truly fun evening. Talking smack as one builds his or her deck and laughing at folks for passing a shock land is fantastic. In a past article, Limited Finances, I calculated the numbers and showed that Draft is an ideal method of receiving additional true-cost value while playing this beloved game. On a recent episode of Brainstorm Brewery, Marcel said he was going to focus on Modern and Legacy. As someone looking to sell out of Standard, Modern may be worth looking into.


Why Now?

Looking at the price-history curve on, focusing on cards from Innistrad block and Magic 2013 before rotation, assisted in determining the answer to that question. allows one to see the historical pricing of Magic: The Gathering cards for up to two years. Several options for prices exist on MTGprice. However, knowing the true-cost system, one can imagine eBay pricing is preferred. The prices from Channel Fireball may help to smooth out times when the eBay prices are erratic. Mining data is not easy, and it is not concise.

The obvious start to a conversation about Return to Ravnica Standard is [card]Thragtusk[/card].



On December 2, 2012, I purchased Thragtusk x4 for $75.02 or 18.80 per card.




I bought the pieces for Bant Control, and the deck was almost immediately no longer tier-one. The Thragtusks were sold on February 28, 2013, for $46.99 plus 1.75 shipping (I offer free shipping now), equaling $48.74, or $12.18 per card. With PayPal fees, $47.02 was left. After eBay fees of 9%, I was left with a total of $42.79. Shipping was $0.66, lowering the final total to $42.13, or $10.53 per card.

Because eBay is the best way to unload cards (see All Magic Has a Price Issue #3 – Accounting for MtG), the eBay and PayPal fees become less relevant to the current conversation. In all situations, one would prefer to trade the cards for cards that will maintain true-cost value. Unfortunately, time to trade is not available, so eBay was utilized.


The first thing one might notice is the almost exact prices on the chart. Looking at the chart for December 2, 2012, [card]Thragtusk[/card]s were selling at roughly $17 to $19, and looking at the chart at approximately February 2, 2013, they were selling at roughly $10 to $12. This verifies the accuracy of had similar results.

Using the full cost method, 44% true-cost value was lost in the [card]Thragtusk[/card] experiment. Between August 2013 and October 2013, [card]Thragtusk[/card]s would have only sold for $3 to $5 per card, raising the losses to 74% to 85%.


The Other Cards

Magic 2013. Viewing most of the currently top-selling cards from M13, the Thragtusk curve was obvious. From [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] to [card]Sublime Archangel[/card], each of the cards in M13 had the same curve as Thragtusk.

Innistrad. In Innistrad, several cards break this curve. [card]Lilliana of the Veil[/card] began a steep rise in October of 2013, and has since continued her incline. [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] has held value and is likely to see further play in Modern and Legacy. [card]Geist of Saint Taft[/card] saw the same decease as the M13 cards, but due to its recent Modern activity, Geist has begun to rise again. Other than these three cards, the rest of Innistrad follows the Thragtusk curve.

Dark Ascension. [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card], along with all other Dark Ascension cards, followed the Thragtusk curve.

Avacyn Restored. From Avacyn Restored, [card]Griselbrand[/card] and [card]Avacyn, Angel of Hope[/card] are increasing in value currently, but had very little-true cost value during their time in Standard. [card]Cavern of Souls[/card] did follow the Thragtusk curve, but is currently realizing a slight uptick. [card]Cavern of Souls[/card] was a pick by Jason on a recent episode of Brainstorm Brewery. CoS is an awesome pickup. Beginning with [card]Tamiyo, the Moon Sage[/card], the Thragtusk curve reappears.



Join Marcel and trade Return to Ravnica block and M14 cards for Modern, Legacy, or future Standard cards. Play Limited. With there being a total of six cards from M13, Innistrad, Dark Ascension, and Avacyn Restored that gained or maintained true-cost value after January of 2013,  this analyst has determined that the time to sell the cards rotating from Standard in October 2014 is: a month ago.

Visit my eBay Auctions.


$#%^&^%, I’m In.

The great Jason of the Brainstorm Brewery Podcast has bestowed, pun intended, a nickname upon me.


I have enjoyed my time writing for, and I hope to continue the success I have found to date. I appreciate each and every one of the readers for taking time out of the day to read the amazing articles on It is humbling and appreciated.


Mailbag #4

@CalebGothberg (check out Caleb’s – Getting L.U.C.K.Y. on tweeted his appreciation for I am glad I was able to help you prepare for the prerelease, Caleb. Let us know how you did.


@sushihipster and I had a great discussion about Born of the Gods prerelease targets. Although I need to read the cards better, he and I did determine the targets would be [card]Spirit of the Labyrinth[/card] and [card]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/card]. I still believe those are the only two cards worth targeting from the set. Born of the Gods does offer a nice selection of $3 to $7 playable rares that may be worth picking up in a month.

Once again, Nick pulls through, leaving a fantastic comment. Nick reminded me to talk about the Judge Joe Bono Limited Resources podcast. The Judge Joe Bono Rules podcast is usually the week before the set review. Listening to this podcast is very important to a successful prerelease weekend. Because I listened to this podcast before the Dragon’s Maze prerelease, I knew the rule surrounding [card]Runner’s Bane[/card]. I corrected a judge’s decision at the prerelease. He was appreciative, of course.

Thanks for the feedback guys.


Mailbag #5

Theros has been out for a while now, and prices have begun to stabilize. Now is the time to be picking up playable cards from Theros that can be sold or traded next January.

[card]Hero’s Downfall[/card] will be played in Standard after rotation in October. At its highest price, Hero’s Downfall was selling at 13 dollars. Currently, they are selling for five to six dollars. Hero’s Downfall is a great pick up right now.

What cards from Theros are you targeting right now?

Please guys, I need more feedback. I want to learn stuff, too. In a past article, I discussed how my mother would be a mad bro if I was not a success. Without your help this week, my mother is going to be one seriously mad and disappointed bro.

Email me [email protected]. Follow me on the Twitter machine @jwgravesFL and then tweet at me. If you would like to leave a comment on this article, all you need is a name and an email address. Love me, hate me…let me know!

About the Author
@jwgravesFL     -     Email     -     Articles J.W. is 42 years old and is married with an 18-year-old son. He is a tax accountant for a Big Four accounting firm, and has degrees in accounting and business management. He is currently a student at the University of South Florida for an IT information architecture degree.

One comment on “All Magic Has a Price #5 – Is It Time to Get Out?

  1. nick says:

    I tried looking at some other recent cards that were major players from the Inn and DKA (like Falkenrath Aristocrat). I would guess that their prices go in line with decks that are playing them. So probably the time to get out of them is when they are in the top decks in the format. For some of the cards the new set replaces them or makes other decks more popular. While for other cards the decks they are in rise or the card finds a home in a new deck. So it is probably easier to know what to sell (cards in top deck lists) than what to buy (cards that might go up in future deck lists). For most of the cards it does seem to follow the pattern you were looking at. Mutavault would be the big one right now to sell then pick back up after rotation for eternal formats.

    As for what I want to pick up, its more long term goals of cards that might do something in eternal formats. I want the rare dual lands, proven staples like thought seize. These are why some of the cards like Liliana held and is going up since she is played in modern and legacy.

    The card I regret not picking up is snapcaster. I could never open those in drafts and they sat at 19 for so long. Now they are at 30-40. Probably want to look into it even at that because most likely its on the clime due to it being played in all eternal formats, even commander.

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