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Traderous Instinct – The Ninety-Four Percent

The Ninety-Four Percent

The inequality I see in most trade binders is absolutely disgusting.

Did you know that only (roughly) six percent of Magic cards are rare or mythic? Six percent! The other ninety-four percent of cards are commons and uncommons—you know, those obnoxious peons you flip through to get to the glittery prize at the end of your pack.

And the truth is that most rares don’t even pull their own weight. When’s the last time a [card]Brushwagg[/card] won a tournament for you? When has [card]Dormant Gomazoa[/card] ever helped close a trade?

Yet that six percent controls ninety-nine percent of the real estate inside most trade binders! My friends, it’s time for the ninety-four percent to take to the street and demand their rightful place among Magic’s ruling class.

Before my gig here at Channel Fireball, my most popular article by far was a rundown of every common and uncommon in Magic worth a dollar or more. Many traders reached the same conclusion I had: This is where the real money is made.

When I was buying multiple collections a week, I was always willing to slightly overpay on rares in order to get my hands on commons and uncommons at bulk prices. While most people had already learned enough to take out cards like [card]Force of Will[/card] and [card]Wasteland[/card]; there were still dozens of other cards that would provide me with incredible value at almost no cost. By and large, my collection hasn’t been built by buying [card]Replenish[/card]es at $3 and selling them at $6. It’s been made by buying ‘bulk’ for $7/thousand and pulling out playsets of [card]Standstill[/card]s, [card]Cabal Coffers[/card], and [card]Imperious Perfect[/card]s.

This article is my Christmas gift to you—a complete, revised price guide for all the relevant non-rare cards from The Dark through Innistrad. While most of my articles are fun to read through once or twice, make sure you bookmark this one. I guarantee that I’ll be coming back to it myself dozens of times over the next year, using it as a resource every time I sort through the bulk in a collection.

A Few Notes on Pricing

Without fail, every single one of my articles that contains a price garners the same lame criticism in the comment section.

“Where u get ur prices???” the ignoramus shouts. “They r way too high! Use REAL prices plz!!!”

And then someone else has to remind this Neanderthal that I state, in every single article I write, that my prices come from the Channel Fireball online store.

Hey, that’s the site you’re reading right now!

Channel Fireball has never told me that I need to use their prices, but I do so anyway. For starters, it makes it pretty easy for you to buy any cards that catch your eye—the store is only a click away.

The other reason is that I usually use Channel Fireball prices when trading. I find retail prices tend to provide the best representation of the actual cost of acquiring a card. It’s true that prices are often cheaper on places like eBay, but there are hidden costs there that aren’t reflected in the price. Do you want to wait around until a mislabeled auction closes at 3 AM and hope to win it? Are you going to pay $0.01 for a playset of cards that has $5 shipping, or $5 for a playset that has free shipping? Price aggregators like MagicTraders don’t factor that in too well and often have trouble dealing with outliers like foils, foreign cards, alterations, etc.

Of course, if you’re a floor trader spending all your time sharking big events, you probably eat and sleep buylist prices because that represents cash money. But you guys already know card prices, right? You don’t need me to tell you what they are.

Put simply, I find that retail value offers the simplest way to evaluate and balance trades in real world interactions. 75-85% of my trades are done with these valuations in mind, so that’s what I have used and will continue to use in my articles.

This article, however, is slightly different.

Coming up with a price guide takes more effort than simply using the Channel Fireball search feature and typing out all the commons and uncommons over a certain amount. In some cases, especially with more obscure sets, Channel hasn’t had the card in stock so long the price is too low to show up on my radar.

Take the Eventide Uncommon [card]Gilder Bairn[/card], for example. The card is listed on this site at $0.50—the value of the card last time one was for sale. If you wanted to find one today at a retail store, however, you’d be paying in the $2 range for it. So I’ve listed the card at $2.

There are also some cases where I’ve listed cards at $1 that Channel has for sale at $0.75 or even $0.50. These are cards—like [card]Dark Ritual[/card] and [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]—that always have some undercurrent of demand and can trade at $1 retail often enough to matter.

Other than a few $1 cards I believe are worth taking note of, I’ve limited this list to cards that retail for $1.50 or more. There are dozens of old, useless uncommons that retail for $1 that no one will ever want in a million years—I’ve left those off for their own good. Instead, I’m giving you my shortlist—every card I believe is worth pulling from the bulk and setting aside for trade or sale.

Don’t use the pricing on here as gospel. It’s mostly a guideline to let you know the rough retail value of each card. The true use for this list is in separating the wheat from the chaff—to go through your own bulk and sift out gems that have value.

What are you waiting for? Grab a soda, turn on some bad TV for background noise, and get sorting!

BASE SETS

Revised
[card]Demonic Tutor[/card] – $13
[card]Sol Ring[/card] – $8
[card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] – $4
[card]Animate Dead[/card] – $2.50
[card]Counterspell[/card] – $1.50
[card]Regrowth[/card] – $1.50
[card]The Rack[/card] – $1.50
[card]Hypnotic Specter[/card] – $1
[card]Control Magic[/card] – $1
[card]Basalt Monolith[/card] – $1
[card]Black Vise[/card] – $1
[card]Dark Ritual[/card] – $1
[card]Lightning Bolt[/card] – $1

4th Edition
[card]Strip Mine[/card] – $5
[card]Mishra’s Factory[/card] – $4
[card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] – $4
[card]Animate Dead[/card] – $2.50
[card]Control Magic[/card] – $1.50
[card]Counterspell[/card] – $1.50
[card]The Rack[/card] – $1.50
[card]Hypnotic Specter[/card] – $1
[card]Dark Ritual[/card] – $1
[card]Lightning Bolt[/card] – $1

5th Edition
[card]Animate Dead[/card] – $2.50
[card]Brainstorm[/card] – $2
[card]Counterspell[/card] – $1.50
[card]Dark Ritual[/card] – $1

6th Edition
[card]Enlightened Tutor[/card] – $12
[card]Worldly Tutor[/card] – $5
[card]Mystical Tutor[/card] – $5
[card]Perish[/card] – $2.50
[card]Goblin Recruiter[/card] – $2
[card]Serra’s Blessing[/card] – $1.50
[card]Counterspell[/card] – $1.50
[card]Pillage[/card] – $1
[card]Chill[/card] – $1

7th Edition
[card]Engineered Plague[/card] – $2
[card]Counterspell[/card] – $1.50
[card]Goblin Matron[/card] – $1
[card]Arcane Laboratory[/card] – $1

8th Edition
[card]Fecundity[/card] – $1.50
[card]Curiosity[/card] – $1.50
[card]Rewind[/card] – $1.50
[card]Choke[/card] – $1
[card]Merchant Scroll[/card] – $1

9th Edition
[card]Gift of Estates[/card] – $2
[card]Kird Ape[/card] – $1.50
[card]Seething Song[/card] – $1.50
[card]Rewind[/card] – $1.50
[card]Serra’s Blessing[/card] – $1.50

10th Edition
[card]Primal Rage[/card] – $2
[card]Faerie Conclave[/card] – $1.50
[card]Aura of Silence[/card] – $1.50
[card]Relentless Rats[/card] – $1
[card]Sylvan Scrying[/card] – $1
[card]Mogg Fanatic[/card] – $1
[card]Ornithopter[/card] – $1
[card]Mind Stone[/card] – $1
[card]Diabolic Tutor[/card] – $1
[card]Cruel Edict[/card] – $1

Magic 2010
[card]Lightning Bolt[/card] – $1

Magic 2011
[card]Liliana’s Caress[/card] – $1
[card]Relentless Rats[/card] – $1
[card]Lightning Bolt[/card] – $1

Magic 2012
[card]Timely Reinforcements[/card] – $2
[card]Swiftfoot Boots[/card] – $1
[card]Oblivion Ring[/card] – $1

EXPANSION SETS

The Dark
[card]Maze of Ith[/card] – $40
[card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card] – $4.50
[card]Tivadar’s Crusade[/card] – $2
[card]Elves of Deep Shadow[/card] – $1.50
[card]Fellwar Stone[/card] – $1.50

Fallen Empires
[card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] – $2
[card]High Tide[/card] – $1.50
[card]Goblin Grenade[/card] – $1

Homelands
[card]Merchant Scroll[/card] – $1.50

Ice Age
[card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] – $4
[card]Brainstorm[/card] – $2
[card]Counterspell[/card] – $1.50
[card]Dance of the Dead[/card] – $1.50
[card]Fyndhorn Elves[/card] – $1.50
[card]Zuran Orb[/card] – $1.50
[card]Demonic Consultation[/card] – $1
[card]Pyroblast[/card] – $1

Alliances
[card]Force of Will[/card] – $60
[card]Elvish Spirit Guide[/card] – $5
[card]Lim-Dul’s Vault[/card] – $4
[card]Shield Sphere[/card] – $1.50
[card]Pyrokinesis[/card] – $1.50
[card]Pillage[/card] – $1

Mirage
[card]Enlightened Tutor[/card] – $14
[card]Mystical Tutor[/card] – $5
[card]Worldly Tutor[/card] – $5
[card]Dissipate[/card] – $2
[card]Mind Harness[/card] – $2
[card]Dark Ritual[/card] – $1

Visions
[card]Necromancy[/card] – $2.50
[card]Elephant Grass[/card] – $2
[card]Goblin Recruiter[/card] – $1.50
[card]Helm of Awakening[/card] – $1

Weatherlight
[card]Gemstone Mine[/card] – $4
[card]Buried Alive[/card] – $3
[card]Aura of Silence[/card] – $1.50
[card]Serra’s Blessing[/card] – $1.50
[card]Gaea’s Blessing[/card] – $1

Tempest
[card]Wasteland[/card] – $40
[card]Ancient Tomb[/card] – $9
[card]Reanimate[/card] – $6
[card]Lotus Petal[/card] – $4
[card]Horned Sliver[/card] – $3
[card]Perish[/card] – $3
[card]Propaganda[/card] – $2.50
[card]Choke[/card] – $1.50
[card]Diabolic Edict[/card] – $1.50
[card]Flickering Ward[/card] – $1.50
[card]Goblin Bombardment[/card] – $1.50
[card]Dark Ritual[/card] – $1

Stronghold
[card]Crystalline Sliver[/card] – $4
[card]Wall of Blossoms[/card] – $2.50
[card]Wall of Souls[/card] – $1.50
[card]Mogg Maniac[/card] – $1.50

Exodus
[card]Price of Progress[/card] – $3.50
[card]Curiosity[/card] – $1

Urza’s Saga
[card]Goblin Lackey[/card] – $10
[card]Priest of Titania[/card] – $5
[card]Turnabout[/card] – $3
[card]Fog Bank[/card] – $2.50
[card]Titania’s Chosen[/card] – $2
[card]Victimize[/card] – $2
[card]Windfall[/card] – $1.50
[card]Voltaic Key[/card] – $1.50
[card]Exhume[/card] – $1.50
[card]Arcane Laboratory[/card] – $1.50
[card]Blasted Landscape[/card] – $1.50
[card]Carpet of Flowers[/card] – $1.50
[card]Fecundity[/card] – $1.50
[card]Rewind[/card] – $1.50
[card]Worn Powerstone[/card] – $1.50
[card]Gaea’s Embrace[/card] – $1
[card]Goblin Matron[/card] – $1
[card]Planar Void[/card] – $1
[card]Duress[/card] – $1
[card]Dark Ritual[/card] – $1
[card]Goblin Offensive[/card] – $1

Urza’s Legacy
[card]Mother of Runes[/card] – $5
[card]Tinker[/card] – $4
[card]Rancor[/card] – $2.50
[card]Engineered Plague[/card] – $2
[card]Cloud of Faeries[/card] – $1.50
[card]Unearth[/card] – $1

Urza’s Destiny
[card]Thran Dynamo[/card] – $4.50

Mercadian Masques
[card]Brainstorm[/card] – $2
[card]Invigorate[/card] – $2
[card]Counterspell[/card] – $1.50
[card]Story Circle[/card] – $1.50
[card]Soothsaying[/card] – $1.50
[card]Thwart[/card] – $1.50
[card]Dark Ritual[/card] – $1

Nemesis
[card]Submerge[/card] – $3.50
[card]Daze[/card] – $3

Prophecy
[card]Rhystic Study[/card] – $2.50

Invasion
[card]Sterling Grove[/card] – $5
[card]Aura Shards[/card] – $2.50
[card]Fact or Fiction[/card] – $2.50
[card]Wash Out[/card] – $2
[card]Tangle[/card] – $1.50

Planeshift
None

Apocalypse
[card]Goblin Ringleader[/card] – $3
[card]Dragon Arch[/card] – $2
[card]Sylvan Messenger[/card] – $1.50
[card]Fire//Ice[/card] – $1

Odyssey
[card]Standstill[/card] – $9
[card]Cephalid Coliseum[/card] – $5
[card]Buried Alive[/card] – $3
[card]Squirrel Nest[/card] – $3
[card]Careful Study[/card] – $1.50
[card]Nimble Mongoose[/card] – $1.50
[card]Zombie Infestation[/card] – $1
[card]Druid’s Call[/card] – $1

Torment
[card]Cabal Coffers[/card] – $7
[card]Breakthrough[/card] – $3
[card]Cabal Ritual[/card] – $1.50
[card]Chainer’s Edict[/card] – $1.50
[card]Circular Logic[/card] – $1.50
[card]Tainted Peak[/card]/[card tainted isle]Isle[/card]/[card tainted field]Field[/card]/[card tainted wood]Wood[/card] – $1.50

Judgment
[card]Cabal Therapy[/card] – $5.50
[card]Browbeat[/card] – $2.50
[card]Anger[/card] – $1.50
[card]Wonder[/card] – $1
[card]Soulcatcher’s Aerie[/card] – $1

Onslaught
[card]Heedless One[/card] – $3
[card]Soulless One[/card] – $2.50
[card]Wirewood Lodge[/card] – $2.50
[card]Chain of Vapor[/card] – $1.50
[card]Wellwisher[/card] – $1.50

Legions
[card]Gempalm Incinerator[/card] – $1.50
[card]Ward Sliver[/card] – $1.50
[card]Noxious Ghoul[/card] – $1
[card]Wirewood Hivemaster[/card] – $1
[card]Root Sliver[/card] – $1
[card]Shifting Sliver[/card] – $1
[card]Wirewood Channeler[/card] – $1

Scourge
[card]Undead Warchief[/card] – $4
[card]Brain Freeze[/card] – $3
[card]Goblin Warchief[/card] – $3
[card]Dragonspeaker Shaman[/card] – $3
[card]Wirewood Symbiote[/card] – $3
[card]Daru Warchief[/card] – $2.50
[card]Tendrils of Agony[/card] – $1.50
[card]Alpha Status[/card] – $1.50

Mirrodin
[card]Isochron Scepter[/card] – $7
[card]Lightning Greaves[/card] – $3
[card]Loxodon Warhammer[/card] – $2
[card]Seat of the Synod[/card] – $2
[card]Ancient Den[/card] – $1.50
[card]Vault of Whispers[/card] – $1.50
[card]Great Furnace[/card] – $1.50
[card]Seething Song[/card] – $1.50
[card]Shrapnel Blast[/card] – $1.50
[card]Cloudpost[/card] – $1.50
[card]Myr Retriever[/card] – $1
[card]Thirst for Knowledge[/card] – $1

Darksteel
[card]Aether Vial[/card] – $12
[card]Skullclamp[/card] – $3
[card]Darksteel Citadel[/card] – $1.50

Fifth Dawn
[card]Eternal Witness[/card] – $5
[card]Magma Jet[/card] – $3
[card]Paradise Mantle[/card] – $2.50
[card]Energy Chamber[/card] – $2
[card]Steelshaper’s Gift[/card] – $2
[card]Cranial Plating[/card] – $1.50
[card]Night’s Whisper[/card] – $1.50
[card]Blasting Station[/card] – $1
[card]Grafted Wargear[/card] – $1
[card]Relentless Rats[/card] – $1

Champions of Kamigawa
[card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card] – $10
[card]Ghostly Prison[/card] – $3
[card]Lava Spike[/card] – $2

Betrayers of Kamigawa
[card]Manriki-Gusari[/card] – $1
[card]Flames of the Blood Hand[/card] – $1

Saviors of Kamigawa
None

Ravnica, City of Guilds
[card]Remand[/card] – $3.50
[card]Golgari Thug[/card] – $2.50
[card]Lightning Helix[/card] – $2.50
[card]Putrefy[/card] – $1.50

Guildpact
[card]Shattering Spree[/card] – $3
[card]Mortify[/card] – $1.50

Dissension
[card]Spell Snare[/card] – $7
[card]Trygon Predator[/card] – $3
[card]Ghost Quarter[/card] – $2.50

Coldsnap
[card]Counterbalance[/card] – $8
[card]Rite of Flame[/card] – $3
[card]Stromgald Crusader[/card] – $2.50
[card]Coldsteel Heart[/card] – $1.50
[card]Rune Snag[/card] – $1.50
[card]Juniper Order Ranger[/card] – $1
[card]Jotun Grunt[/card] – $1

Time Spiral
[card]Krosan Grip[/card] – $3
[card]Dread Return[/card] – $1.50
[card]Smallpox[/card] – $1

Planar Chaos
[card]Kavu Predator[/card] – $2.50
[card]Harmonize[/card] – $2
[card]Rebuff the Wicked[/card] – $1

Future Sight
[card]Dryad Arbor[/card] – $3.50
[card]Aven Mindcensor[/card] – $2.50
[card]Tolaria West[/card] – $2.50
[card]Sword of the Meek[/card] – $2
[card]Narcomoeba[/card] – $1.50
[card]Street Wraith[/card] – $1.50
[card]Utopia Mycon[/card] – $1

Lorwyn
[card]Imperious Perfect[/card] – $4.50
[card]Merrow Reejerey[/card] – $3.50
[card]Elvish Promenade[/card] – $3
[card]Knight of Meadowgrain[/card] – $2
[card]Jagged Scar Archers[/card] – $2
[card]Oblivion Ring[/card] – $1.50
[card]Silvergill Adept[/card] – $1.50
[card]Wren’s Run Vanquisher[/card] – $1.50

Morningtide
[card]Heritage Druid[/card] – $2
[card]Bramblewood Paragon[/card] – $1

Shadowmoor
[card]Cursecatcher[/card] – $4
[card]Kitchen Finks[/card] – $4
[card]Firespout[/card] – $2
[card]Beseech the Queen[/card] – $1.50
[card]Boggart Ram-Gang[/card] – $1.50
[card]Drove of Elves[/card] – $1.50
[card]Manamorphose[/card] – $1.50
[card]Murderous Redcap[/card] – $1.50
[card]Spectral Procession[/card] – $1.50
[card]Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers[/card] – $1.50
[card]Flame Javelin[/card] – $1

Eventide
[card]Gilder Bairn[/card] – $2

Shards of Alara
[card]Arcane Sanctum[/card] – $1.50
[card]Savage Lands[/card] – $1.50
[card]Seaside Citadel[/card] – $1.50
[card]Crumbling Necropolis[/card] – $1.50
[card]Jungle Shrine[/card] – $1.50
[card]Etherium Sculptor[/card] – $1.50
[card]Oblivion Ring[/card] – $1.50
[card]Relic of Progenitus[/card] – $1.50
[card]Blightning[/card] – $1

Conflux
[card]Path to Exile[/card] – $4
[card]Reliquary Tower[/card] – $4
[card]Ancient Ziggurat[/card] – $1.50
[card]Volcanic Fallout[/card] – $1
[card]Hellspark Elemental[/card] – $1

Alara Reborn
[card]Mind Funeral[/card] – $4
[card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card] – $2.50
[card]Wall of Denial[/card] – $2

Zendikar
[card]Hedron Crab[/card] – $1
[card]Vampire Nighthawk[/card] – $1
[card]Gatekeeper of Malakir[/card] – $1

Worldwake
[card]Tectonic Edge[/card] – $1

Rise of the Eldrazi
[card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card] – $2
[card]Joraga Treespeaker[/card] – $1.50
[card]Wall of Omens[/card] – $1

Scars of Mirrodin
[card]Arc Trail[/card] – $2
[card]Memnite[/card] – $1

Mirrodin Besieged
[card]Go for the Throat[/card] – $1

New Phyrexia
[card]Dismember[/card] – $3
[card]Beast Within[/card] – $2
[card]Shrine of Burning Rage[/card] – $2
[card]Tezzeret’s Gambit[/card] – $2
[card]Dispatch[/card] – $1.50
[card]Gut Shot[/card] – $1.50
[card]Mental Misstep[/card] – $1
[card]Shrine of Loyal Legions[/card] – $1

Innistrad
None

Secrets of the List

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed since last time I compiled this list is that most of the prices have either stagnated or dropped in 2012. One reason for this is that Wizards has taken to reprinting these cards liberally in their numerous pre-constructed box sets. Cards like [card]Fireblast[/card] and [card]Animate Dead[/card] were MUCH easier trades before their premium decks were released. [card]Lightning Greaves[/card] was up past $5 before the Commander decks were flooded with them.

Also down: Sliver cards. The uncommons from Legions and Scourge were easy sells at $2+ on eBay last year. Now most of ‘em retail for $1-$2. With less 60-card casual being played and another year further away from casual players even knowing what Slivers are, this formerly-popular tribe has taken a beating. Expect this to change when Slivers come back. The minute I hear about a new Sliver set, I’ll be rushing to pick up as many classic Slivers as I can.

It looks like all the casual Elf cards have still held value, surprisingly. I guess they’re still popular enough among the kitchen table crowd to generate a lot of interest.

Note the price of cards from New Phyrexia. You can pick up most of these in bulk boxes still, and I recommend doing so sooner rather than later. Many of those cards are Modern, Legacy, and Casual staples that will endure past Standard rotation.

What other trends can you find? What cards did I miss? Make sure to hit me up in the comments with your thoughts!

– Until next time –

– Chas Andres

Discussion

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