About the Author
@dbro37     -     Email     -     Articles Danny edits Brainstorm Brewery and writes for Quiet Speculation. Find him on Twitter at @dbro37.

Important Announcement Regarding Tap N’ Sac Podcast

Brainstorm Brewery is excited to add Tap N Sac to the offerings on the site. For the details of this announcement, check out TNS’s explanation below.

Dear listeners of Tap N Sac Podcast, both new and long-time:

I am more than excited to announce that Tap N Sac Podcast, a podcast worth fetching for, will now be sponsored by Brainstorm Brewery!  Because of them, we can guarantee you episodes on a regular basis of the highest quality along with a steady stream of other Magic content, whether it may be articles, a Twitch stream, YouTube videos, etc.  Having the time to deliver Magic content as a result of this sponsorship to you, the listener, is seriously a dream come true.

However, I unfortunately don’t have purely good news to share.  As a result of obtaining this sponsorship, I had to make a seriously difficult decision. Jon Celso, co-host of the podcast and Twitter personality, will no longer join me on a regular basis. For Tap N Sac to grow in this new environment, the show needs to progress toward a similar, but new, direction.  Jon was kind enough to share some parting words:

Dear Tap N Sac listeners/Saclings,
There's never a good way to say goodbye.  I'm super excited that the podcast has achieved a sponsorshipafter Houston put in 2+ years of elbow grease into the podcast -- I'm nothing but excited for him.  I really wish I could be part of it going forward, but I don't want to drive a wedge between Houston and the podcast's growth.  I'm sure he'll find a replacement that also loves bacon, bears, bacon bears, pizza, sandwiches, and Magic.  I'll continue to support the podcast, as I'm sure you will, and I wish it the best of luck.
Celso (@BalduvianBears)
P.S. Don't worry; I'm sure I'll find my way back on the airwaves in some form or fashion because I love talking about this amazing game.  So keep your eyes peeled!

I want to take the moment now to thank Jon for all the hard work he put into the podcast, and I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

In the meantime, I’ll be doing what Limited Resources has been known for: bringing on a series of guests.  If you’re interested in hopping on the mic, send me an email!

Until next time, see you, fuckers!

Ginger Ale

The Magic Word: A Capital Idea

Greetings, Brainstorm Brewery readers! I am the editor of ye olde BSB, and though I have lurked in the background until now, I figure it’s time for me to come out of the shadows, at least momentarily. You may know me from my work on Quiet Speculation, but I’m not here today to talk about MTG finance.

No, today I’m going to discuss writing about Magic. As editor for the site, it’s my job to make sure that words you are reading on this webpage are comprehensible. This doesn’t mean that everything you read here is always error-free, because much as I hate to admit it, I am fallible (and just to be clear, our writers are completely infallible). That said, I really, really care about things on the site being readable, consistent, and technically correct.

I’ve read a whole lot of MTG articles on dozens of different sites, and let me tell you: it’s much easier to take someone seriously when he concisely, correctly makes his point. Whether it is to improve your articles, blog posts, or tweets, being aware of some of the quirks of Magic writing can really help you come off in an intelligent way—and who doesn’t want that? It’s easy to find writing tips online, but deep discussion of Magic-specific style decisions is woefully absent from the web. My goal with this (potential) series is to start a dialogue between Magic writers, editors, and fans. I know I’ve had some questions about the correct way to write about Magic, so let’s work together and see if we can arrive at some universal guidelines.

A Capital Idea

Do you know the name of the game you play so devotedly? Judging by what I’ve seen basically across the entire internet, you do not. What does “Magic the Gathering” even mean? What gathering are we magic’ing, exactly? And since when is magic a verb? This seems questionable. Not nearly as annoying but just as wrong is Magic: the Gathering. The first word of a subtitle gets capitalized, folks. The name of the game is Magic: The Gathering. Only the mothership gets this right consistently. I almost never see it correctly elsewhere.

That’s a pretty cut-and-dry example about which I obviously feel rather strongly, but there are quite a few questions of capitalization that are not at all straightforward. Do I top eight a Daily Event or do I Top Eight a daily event? I’m a pretty big proponent of recognizing when something is a generic term, since most people capitalize far too many words (and I’m not just talking about the MTG community here. I mean most people). I fight back against this rampant upper-casing by generally taking a stance that non-specific terms are generic.

So the answer, in my mind, is that I top eight a daily event. Daily event and top eight both have special meanings in the MTG community and I often see them capitalized. I’m willing to be convinced to change my philosophy, but it’s hard to imagine more generic terms than these. Do they lose their meanings when written this way? I say no—but would love to hear arguments to the contrary.

It’s the same with pro tours and grands prix. Those are just types of tournaments. But Pro Tour Journey into Nyx gets capitalized, as does Grand Prix Portland, because they’re referring to specific events. They’re straight-up names, and thus proper nouns.However, writing that you played the pro tour in Atlanta and then stayed for the grand prix the following week is just fine. Pro tours and grands prix are not even exclusive to Magic. Don’t waste the energy it takes to hit that shift key.

Then we get to the really interesting stuff. Should we write Cube or cube? Is it Draft or draft? The answer is yes. As Magic writers, we capitalize format titles: Legacy, Modern, Draft. That said, we don’t Draft Innistrad. We draft Innistrad (if we’re lucky). Similarly, I might refer to my cube and be correct, but if I tell you my favorite format is Cube, I’m also correct (assuming that is factually accurate, which it is, because Cube). It all comes down to context. A little critical thinking goes a long way.

Whether or not we capitalize specific words is a surprisingly deep topic, and this is just skimming the surface of what kind of style decisions go into writing and editing a Magic article. Though it may seem inconsequential, people notice these things, and not just in Magic writing, either. In a down economy with a ton of applicants for every job, employers are looking for every excuse to eliminate candidates. You can be sure that many qualified applicants across industries of all types have been overlooked for small grammatical errors on a cover letter or resume. So even if you’re not a writer, there’s every reason to take this stuff seriously.

Where’s the Appeal?

I’m legitimately unsure if this kind of article will garner any interest. These are topics I constantly consider, but then, I deal with them on a near-daily basis. The casual reader may never give these kinds of things a second thought. If you’re a current or aspirational writer, these types of ideas may be a little more useful to you, but maybe it’s just me who thinks that.

In my experience, it’s extremely hard to find information on Magic-specific style questions. It’s easy to find the answer to general grammar questions, but once you get into something specific to Magic, it gets much harder to find a definitive source. I hardly have all the answers myself, but I do have opinions, logic, and the desire to be correct. And like I said, ideally this results in a running dialogue—I have just as much to learn as I do to teach, so let’s all work together.

If you are interested in seeing more articles like this, let me know! I’m not the type of person who lives and dies by comments (to be honest, I often don’t even read them), but in this case, I’m worried that this topic is only interesting to me. If you want to see more, let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @dbro37. If you have an element of Magic style you’d like me to discuss, name it! Let’s get a dialogue going and see if we can elevate Magic writing a tier or two. Thanks for reading.

Anthony Capece – Rare is the New Uncommon

Editor’s note: We here at Brainstorm Brewery are taking the holiday off. Enjoy the below article from earlier this year and have a great holiday!


I’d like to discuss the rise in price of Modern staples over the past few years and why I believe that more recently printed Modern staples – [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and [card]Thoughtseize[/card], for example – might actually be traps.

Let’s start here: “Past performance does not indicate future results.”

It’s one of those nuggets of investing wisdom that you’ve heard a thousand times, but how does it apply to Modern cards? What we’re saying here is that the factors that caused an investment to be good or bad in the past (in this case referring to the huge spike in Modern prices) may or may not remain in place going forward. If they do, we can expect similar results. If they don’t, we can’t. So let’s talk about the factors that contributed $130 [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s and the like.

First, take a look at what has happened to the Magic: The Gathering player base over the past several years. Hasbro said in their 2012 annual report that the player base stood at 3.3 million, and that Magic had seen 25%+ annual growth in revenues for four years in a row. We can make a few assumptions here, understanding that these numbers are inexact and only intended to put us in the ballpark. If you run 25% growth backward, here is what the player base would have looked like each year (in millions):


Players (mil)


Shards of Alara






Scars of Mirrodin






Return to Ravnica


Hasbro has already said that 2013 continued on this trajectory, so today we might be looking at something like 4.1 million Magic players. Think about these numbers for a minute. There are 1.5 million players who have picked up the game since Innistrad, which just left Standard. That was almost the entire player base during Zendikar block! If 2014 continues on this pace, we’ll add a million more – staggering.

The next assumption I’m going to make is that Wizards is scaling their print runs according to these increases. Again, it may not be perfect, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that they are printing at least 25%-30% more cards each year to meet the demand from new players. I certainly haven’t heard about a shortage in booster packs.

The supply implications are that there could be three copies of [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] out there for every two copies of [card]Arid Mesa[/card]. There are two [card]Deathrite Shamans[/card] for every [card]Marsh Flats[/card]. It’s reasonable to think that there will be four copies of Theros [card]Thoughtseize[/card] for every one Lorwyn copy! It’s time to rethink rarity.

As for the spike in Modern cards over the last few years – the demand for Modern right now is based on a player base of four million and the supply of fetchlands is based on a printing for 1.69 million players. So, they are expensive. Simple enough. But the supply of [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]s is based on a printing for 3.3 million players. Not nearly as expensive. Demand for Magic cards has increased dramatically over the past few years, but so has the supply of new cards. You can’t overlook this if you want to be a successful Magic financier.

Check out this chart to illustrate. Warning – we’re switching to MTGO. I understand that paper is different, but I’m using MTGO to make a point about supply. Looking at, I chose a series of Modern staples – one rare from each block – that all see a similar level of play (dominance ratings of 16-22%) and plotted their prices. These are some of the most played cards in Modern, and the goal here is to fix demand so we can see how supply, on its own, affects price. There is a hole where the Shards staple should be because it doesn’t exist.


Looks a little bit like the inverse of this graph of the player base, doesn’t it?


I know some of these cards see play in Legacy and that clouds the picture somewhat, but Legacy has a small effect on MTGO ([card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] is 1.3 tix and [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] is 25% of his paper price). I used the price of [card]Thoughtseize[/card] from just before it was announced in Theros, but all other prices are current. I think the chart illustrates the point very well: Modern staples show a clear downward trend in price online as you move forward in time.

If demand for each of these cards is about the same on MTGO, the differences in price are necessarily caused by supply. There are just way, way more Snapcasters and Deathrites out there than there are [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s (obviously the Modern Masters reprint added very little supply). I think everyone knows that but I don’t think everyone understands the magnitude and what it means going forward.

Modern staples like [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] and Modern staples like [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] are just not comparable financially. If you are looking at Deathrite and thinking that it will follow [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]’s trajectory because they see similar levels of play in Modern (and Legacy), think again. There could be as many as three Deathrites for each ‘Goyf in existence. We should be comparing [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] to [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] instead.

The Modern player base has quickly outgrown the print runs of Zendikar and sets older. It hasn’t outgrown the print runs of newer sets like Innistrad and Return to Ravnica. But will it?

Let’s go back to what I said at the beginning of this article – past performance does not indicate future results. If you think that Snapcaster and Deathrite are going to follow the same trajectory as [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] and (pre-reprint) [card]Thoughtseize[/card], that means you think that the player base will keep increasing at 25% per year for several more years. That is what caused the initial climb, and that is what will have to happen again for new cards to climb in the same way.

The bad news is that the growth of the player base is going to level off. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” No business can grow at 25% annually forever, and Magic is no exception. I don’t know when it will happen, but stringing together four years of 25% growth is already a great feat. I will not be surprised if it continues for another couple of years. I will not be surprised if it cools off next year. I will be surprised if it continues for many more years. That would bring us to ten million players in four years. It would mean adding 2+ million players between years three and four of that run (2017), which was almost the entire player base during Scars of Mirrodin. That is a lot of Magic players.

When (not if) we enter this cooling-off period, the most recent blocks are going to be in massive supply compared to past sets. The player base will not grow fast enough to make them scarce the way Zendikar fetchlands or Future Sight [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s are scarce today. If you are holding a box of $15 Theros [card]Thoughtseize[/card]s that you are holding for when they go back up to $50, just understand that we need to double the number of Magic players on Earth first. Go ask Jason Alt about bagholders – and try to recruit some new players on the way, because we need them.

Magic financiers spend a lot of time trying to understand demand. We research formats, evaluate cards, and on and on. But that’s only half the equation. If you put the same focus on supply, you realize that we are going to be drowning in Theros cards by the end of the block. It’s going to take years of strong growth for demand to get to the point where [card]Thoughtseize[/card] can recover. After all, it’s probably about as rare as [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card] at this point.

There are already hints of the oversupply of more recent sets if you look. Scars of Mirrodin block was printed right in the middle of the player-base explosion. People keep wondering why the Scars fastlands aren’t jumping, even though they see play in Modern. [card]Birthing Pod[/card] is one of the most dominant decks in Modern but you can still buy them for $4 on TCG Player. We keep waiting for the spike, but I no longer look at that as a sure thing. Maybe there are enough [card]Birthing Pod[/card]s to go around. I’ll be watching these cards closely, along with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] and [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], when Modern season hits.

To be clear, I’m not saying that growth is slowing. I’m saying that when it does, whatever the recent sets are at the time will be in huge supply. No matter how much those cards are played in Modern, they will never reach the heights that we have seen in the past.

Now, don’t fret. It doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made. You may have noticed that I’ve mentioned large-set rares almost exclusively. The mythic rarity certainly changes things, as do small sets and core sets, and of course we can always spec on older cards. I’ll go into more detail on this topic in my next article.

Thanks for reading.

Corbin Hosler – Building a Brand

Editor’s note: We here at Brainstorm Brewery are taking the holiday off. Enjoy the below article from earlier this year and have a great holiday!


Today I want to do something a little different. With a Standard metagame that’s offering fewer and fewer opportunities for the next month or two and Modern still a long way off, I’d rather not look at the minutia of Magic finance at the moment.


My Story

I know we have a lot of people new to the Magic finance reading this right now, and I know that the whole “Magic finance” thing can be a little intimidating at first. A few days ago I was battling against somebody with my (nearly) foiled out Modern merfolk deck, when he started to ask me the prices of several of the cards. Understandably, he was a little taken aback by some of the answers, like [card]Cursecatcher[/card] at $15 (and sold out at $6 regular on SCG, by the way. Thanks True-Name Nemesis!) or [card]Aether Vial[/card] at $25.

While talking about the deck, his friend asked him if he had any plans to foil out his Goblin deck. His response?

“Maybe if I was born into money.”

I let the comment slide, but the first thought that went through my head was that it doesn’t take money, it just takes time and hard work.

I’ve written about it before in several places, but the fact is that I was in his position just a few years ago – a broke college student losing to [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card]s because he couldn’t afford $50 mythics. Playing Magic was hard and keeping up with Magic was even harder.

Fast forward a few years. Today I write Magic finance articles, I co-host a popular podcast that is sponsored, I run a Magic singles store out of my LGS, and I’m able to foil out my merfolk deck without breaking the bank.


You Get What You Put In

You cannot have a defeatist attitude about this stuff. Rather than look at my merfolk and lament that you won’t ever get there because you didn’t have the same opportunities I did, make those opportunities yourself. I didn’t sit around being upset that I didn’t play when Power 9 was readily available. Instead, I worked hard and took advantage of good opportunities, to the point where I’ve used money from Magic to buy a fancy fridge as a housewarming gift for my wife as well as her engagement ring.

I know you can’t have a defeatist attitude because I went through that same process. I started just before Shards of Alara and was disappointed that I couldn’t have all those fancy, expensive Lorwyn cards like everyone else. Seeing prices on dual lands made me cry. But like I always advocate, where others see risk, find the opportunity.

I found my opportunity. The first big one was Zendikar fetchlands, and I accumulated more than 100 through trade when they began to bottom out in price.

The saying is opportunity looks a lot like hard work, and it’s absolutely true. I’m in a pretty good place in terms of Magic finance right now, both in terms of the passive income I make from it and the fortunate position I’m in being given a place to write, but it’s taken thousands of hours of work to get here. I think that’s the most important lesson for anyone looking to get into Magic finance, or really whatever else it is that interests you. There is no “easy flip.” No “I have $100, tell me where to put it right now so I have $500 a month from now.” Things aren’t that simple. They take time. They take research and dedication. They take work.


Building Your Brand

Most of you already know of this though, right? If you’ve been around the MTG finance game for a while, you certainly do. You know that scouring collections for those 50-cent cards is just as important as predicting the next [card]Nightveil Specter[/card] like we did in this column a few months back. The difference between success and failure in MTG finance and life is made in the margins. If not for those small victories like grinding collections that are more hard work than any particular brilliance, it would be much more difficult to get through the missed calls like [card]Splinterfright[/card] or [card]Master of the Pearl Trident[/card].

But there’s more to it than that, if you want there to be. If you are content just making your money and moving on, that’s fine. But I know that many of us want more than that, and I have something to share on the subject: no one is more important in making that happen than you are.

Let me explain: yes, I’m very lucky that someone I know bought one of the local Magic stores here and yet didn’t want to run a singles business so he hired me to do so. But that’s just the end result, the opportunity, the product of the hard work that went into it.

So what was that work? For me, it was about building a brand: myself. A fair number of local players and dealers in the region know who I am or recognize my name. But everyone recognizes Bernie Madoff’s name too. The important thing is that they recognize what I represent – a small-time dealer who is easy to work with and above all trustworthy.

Someone walked into my shop a few days ago hoping to buy a playset of [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] from me. I had several that are in the mail but hadn’t arrived yet. I started to tell the guy that I didn’t have any for him right then, but then someone from a table next to me handed me his playset to sell. I told him I’d be happy to trade for them or buy them from him, but he just told me to not worry about it and I could replace them when mine came in.

I’ve told stories like this in the past and gotten the typical “must be nice, people are dumb, etc…” responses. Some value traders or grinders just can’t comprehend someone passing up an opportunity to “make value” at any cost. But the fact is we’re all surrounded by generous people like this, you just have to earn that respect.

I can’t offer you a step-by-step roadmap of how to get there, I just know that it’s something I’ve seen far too many people bypass in order to extract maximum value from a situation, whether that’s a trade or a friendly storeowner or whatever.

For me, I try to keep it simple. When I trade I don’t scumbag the other person or lie to them, and I’m as friendly as possible. I’ve met some great friends this way. Likewise, I go out of my way to help other players whenever possible. I freely loan away my cards and I’ll sometimes tell people just to keep stuff later on. I was lucky enough to meet several people who did the same for me when I started, and I want to pass that on.

“Being a good guy” is a great start, but it goes further than that. Here are a few things I consider instrumental to my journey to where I’m at today.


  • Creating a Twitter account. Why? Because it gives you access to a bunch of people you wouldn’t have otherwise. One of the best early things that happened to me when I was new to Magic finance and Twitter was getting into a public disagreement with Jonathan Medina over Venser, the Sojourner. He was convinced it was going to be a $40 card a few months out, and I thought it would be below $15. Interacting with a known commodity in the MTG Finance community (and beating him on that bet) was a great start.
  • Asking for a shot. This is absolutely the most important thing. How did I get my start writing Magic finance (for, a short-lived website that was the precursor to any Magic finance site on the internet)? I asked. Then I wrote an article. Then I wrote another. Before too long, I got the hang of it and people kept coming back.
  • Conducting myself professionally. This is something that people overlook simply because they don’t realize how far it extends. I don’t curse on social media and very rarely on the podcast, I don’t speak in slang, I approach every email professionally. Basically, you have to be on your guard to put your best foot forward at all times, because you never know who is reading. And they are reading.
  • Be consistent. Nothing is more important to building a brand than consistency. Good-but-not-great content produced consistently is statistically more important to building a readership than producing something great every two months. You have to be there, week after week, if you want your readers to come back.
  • Staying up-to-date and accessible. I may not love all of Reddit, but I have an account and I try to be active on the forums I enjoy, like the MTGFinance subreddit. I stay active in the Quiet Speculation forums. I go out of my way to give every person I meet or trade with my full attention, and if they ask me for advice I try to give detailed answers instead of blowing people off with a quick response. After all, the very first thing I ever wrote about Magic finance was “It’s about making friendships, not matching dollar signs,” and I firmly believe that to be true.
  • As you’re building your brand, don’t forget where you came from. Think about it in comparison to competitive Magic players. Many people don’t want to go to PTQs because of all the “jerks and rules-lawyers there.” You don’t hear these stories about the pros like Brian Kibler or LSV, you hear them about the mid-level player who’s had a taste of success and is so desperate for more he’s willing to compromise his own ideals to get there. Don’t ever begin to think you’re entitled to something because you wrote an article for a website or because you’re a well-respected player or trader in your area.
  • You’re only as good as your next piece. I’ve made some nice calls in the past and hopefully written some good articles, but remember that there is always someone to whom you have no history at all. They don’t care that you called Stoneforge Mystic two years ago, and they don’t care that you played on the Pro Tour that one time. Don’t forget that.


So that’s my spiel. I’m incredibly lucky to be writing to you from a website titled after my own podcast, but there’s been a lot of work that’s gone into it. None of us got here through purely through luck, though there was certainly some of that involved. Jason will try to tell you he hit the lottery by becoming a podcast regular after coming in 10 or so episodes in, but it’s not true. He worked hard to get there and is responsible for many of the steps forward we’ve taken since then. That’s not luck, it’s hard work.

So I’ll leave you with this. What’s your goal in Magic? If you don’t have one, get one. Write it down, write the steps you need to get there, and make it happen. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s worth it. And figure out why you want to reach that goal. Is it to play whatever you want without budget concerns? Is it to make a name for yourself in the Magic community? Everything you want to do is possible, but it’s up to you to get there. Maybe then, when someone comes up to you and looks over your expensive Legacy deck and makes a comment about how they wish they could have the same opportunity, you’ll smile a little because you know just how wrong they are.

A wise man once said that people insist on calling it luck. I still have big goals for my career in Magic. Do they have my name on them? I don’t know. But I’m going to find out.


Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter