Tag Archives: Magic the Gathering

PucaTrade Case Resolution POV


PucaTrade Case Resolution POV

Being an avid Pucatrader I am always interested in Pucatrades new features and processes.  Recently they released a new “Flash of Insight” addressing Case Resolution Automation (https://pucatrade.com/blog/2015/case_resolution_automation).  I wanted to take a deeper look at what this means from a member’s perspective with some personal thoughts and opinions.  I would also like to hear others feedback from members who use the site.

I think that the audio is definitely worth listening to and adds a lot more color around the meaning behind the highlighted points PucaTrade is trying to make.  The two things that I will examine today are the Case Automation piece while briefly touching on the Foils for all members.

Case Automation Importance

I think that the summary of the total case resolutions and statistics is fairly misleading to the audience that don’t listen to the audio clip.  It primarily sounds like PucaTrade is trying to reduce a tedious resource heavy process on their team.  I think their approach is definitely an interesting one, but could actually be accommodated in a cheaper fashion on their current resources.

I understand PucaTrade’s position for several reasons.  One their resources expertise could probably be put to better use on more innovative ideas/functions for the site rather than going through individual cases and responding.  It is very time consuming, and if we broke down the case number with the following metrics provided with some additional flavor we will see how/why this is a good area for improvement.

  • We’ve had 173,000 total cases, 56,000 escalated to admin, 10,000 resolved by admin

If 56k cases were escalated, that means most likely those were read once by an admin.  They also state that they have some sort of matrix for case resolution that is approximately 25 different choices of script that are then applied to the case.  Let’s assume it takes 5 mins per case this way. That would give the team 280,000 mins or roughly 4,666 hours or about 195 days’ worth of work.  Just to read the initial case, apply a script and respond.  Now if we apply a minimum wage of $12.25 for San Francisco we look at a cost of around $57,000.  They currently break this work across 5 people I believe.  As you can see it’s probably a full time job for one person alone.

If we apply 10 mins for the last 10,000 cases that go to resolution by admin we come to an additional 69 days.  In practicality I would think its probably a longer process due to the administration of resolving the case like sending out points and what not.  Plus revisiting the case would take some time as well.  I hope we can all agree that this is very costly to PucaTrade, and knowingly a very costly piece to the community funded site.

Case Automation Resolutions by the Numbers

PucaTrade believes that by removing this feature for all members, and only allowing the cases granting access to admin should be for paid tiered members will help solve the above dilemma either in cost or man hours.  Not knowing the true reason we can only improvise with what I have shown above.  I think that this feature fails to address additional data in their cases.  This data may actually represent a different qualitative story that is really behind everything.  Being an avid trader and breaking down my personal Case Data I would like to address some missed points.

First, my numbers are roughly close to PucaTrade’s overall numbers.

139 Unique Trades
5 Cases
3.60% Percent of Trades Leading to Cases
352.0791367 Pucapoints of All Trades on Average

I have roughly traded with 139 unique members since joining in January.  I have a free account on PucaTrade (I appreciate the ability to trade without being a paid member).  I have had 5 unique situations that required a case.  Of those cases I have opened 3 that required an admin.  Two of those trades were outstanding for over a month.  My average point per trade is 350 Pucapoints.  I want to highlight this fact to address some Case Resolution Points.

What we don’t know from PucaTrade is whether the Cases are unique or if they are multiple cases with the same member.  I have grouped my data in pivot tables to account for this information.  This may actually lead to a lower percentage of real cases.  Almost all my cases were under 200 points.  In fact most trades that I have made upwards over 10,000 points players send me a mail thanking me for the condition of the cards or that they were received.  Which by the way is a great message to get from fellow members.

So, the case and point is that I think PucaTrade is really trying to eliminate the low level case resolutions.  Again, not having access to all the data there are several things I can only guess at based off personal conclusions.  I think by going to this model they will alleviate a ton of case work for “The Humans” that they mention in the audio.

Personally I don’t like this approach as it will have an immediate impact on my current trading capabilities as an active member of the community.  However, I think they make a good point about upgrading to the $5 a month uncommon feature due to the “Insurance” that PucaTrade provides.  Also, noting that instead of paying USPS or whomever for 10 trades a month you just pay Puca instead and they will insure your trade.

They also mention Moral Hazard in regards to their guarantee.  A few things that they do not mention is Moral Hazard really means that the person purchasing the insurance is knowingly going to misuse it.  Hopefully for the majority of the community that will not be the case.  There were several Facebook comments around people abusing trades, and I agree that someone could deface their own card.  I was extremely disappointed in my most recent case that was escalated around a situation that was similar to one of those concerns.  The best insurance as a member that you should do is actually take photos of your cards before you send to prove that they were not damaged prior to mailing.  I have found this to be very helpful.

Case Resolution Approach

Personally, what I believe PucaTrade should do is shift their workload.  What I mean by this is they did talk about hiring additional help with case resolution by ramping up or down members for their queue.  This could actually be fixed with many creative ways.

  • Offshore it – Hire some resources outside the US at cheaper rates to do the work. You already have the hard part put together which is your resolution matrix.  Also in context to San Francisco minimum wage get someone in another state for Remote work.
  • Ask members of the community that might want to help in this work. As you say it is a community funded business.

The two approaches above would maintain what is there today, possibly shift costs and effort from the current team, and hopefully maintain the same quality and service for all members.  I am sure that other fellow community members have other outstanding great ideas.

Foil Flip Flop

The last thing I want to touch on before I wrap up is the move for Foils to be received by all members.  Personally I do not think this is fair for the paid members that originally helped build the community as it is today.  However, maybe they don’t care and it isn’t a big deal to them.  Personally I wouldn’t like to pay for exclusivity only to be told it really didn’t mean much after all.  I can understand the depreciation of time and it not maybe being as big of a perk, but shouldering something amongst others and then giving it away doesn’t seem fair.  Unfortunately, I do not have a good solution to this, and obviously this was a PucaTrade decision which I will be delighted to use.

I hope those of you who read through the article enjoyed it.  Feel free to leave comments.  I am curious like I stated before to hear what other members have in mind.

MTG Reflection: Battle for Zendikar Pre-Release

Conduit of Ruin

A Tale of Two Local Game Shops

For those of you who have somehow missed the bus Battle for Zendikar’s Pre-Release, it was last weekend, and it was one hell of a time.  There has been a lot of hate in the MTGFinance community going on, and claims like the only value will be the Expeditions.  Today I would like to talk about a totally different value I found, and the BFZ Pre-Releases I attended over the weekend.

After playing Magic for some time there are a lot of things we forget, and of which I was reacquainted with this past weekend.   First, we trekked out Saturday to play at a different shop.  There are three things I want to point out of which I had forgotten about: One, not all shops are created equal.  Two, not all decks are created equal.   Keep these two things in mind.  Thirdly, cracking packs is always fun.  That last one isn’t as relevant.

New Game Shop

It’s always fun going to a new game shop.  It was a nice change from the typical MTG shop I go to. I opened a ton of value you can see here on Twitter.


Now the thing I love most about the game is how things can be very unpredictable.  Honestly, I thought my deck was going to be terrible.  I thought there was no way in hell, my Red/Black non-ramp Eldrazi 5+ 6 drops deck was going to cut it.  I had pretty much chalked the day up to: “Awesome I opened an Expedition, my blessings were counted for the day.  Time to go home.” Kind of a day.  I was proven wrong, and even more so realized how fun it is to play “BIG ASS CREATURES”.

Once, my Eldrazi’s were up in place they fed themselves. I also have a love hate relationship with Bane of Bala Ged.  Bane is a lovely sight when you aren’t defending against him.  Another card that really worked well for me was Conduit of Ruin.  The conclusion I came to with Eldrazis, is if my opponent didn’t have any to match the might of my own, or the removal…they were toast!  I also, never ran my Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.  I probably could have actually cast him every game too. As you can see this turned out to somehow be a killer deck.

The thing is I don’t actually know if the deck was really that good.  I mean my friend, and I met in the Finals, split the packs and went home.  However, it left something lingering with me.  Did I actually build a good deck, or was it the level of players at the shop?  I think I may have to go back a few times to find this out, but I do know that the shop doesn’t host weekly either.  It was also a nice experience being able to help players learn about the new mechanics.  I was asked what is exile anyway? In short I responded with, “Exile works like a second graveyard.”  If anyone has a better explanation I would love to see it in comments.


My Game Shop

I feel like everyone has that game shop that they call home, at least the one they go to the most.  Anyway Sunday went way better than planned on the cracked packs. I didn’t expect to get anything good because Saturday had gone so well.  However, I was wrong.  I pulled Ob Nixilis Reignited as my promo, and my buddy pulled Ulamog as his.

Today was not my decks day though.  I ran a red/white ally deck. Surprisingly, I had a lot of cards for it. Two Lantern Scouts, Dragonmaster Outcast, Radiant Flames, Angelic Captain, and a ton of Allys.  I also had a Retreat to Emeria, and loved hitting two for ones with my evolving wilds and cracking them during combat to spike all my troops.  A lot of players did not see this coming.  So, keep it a secret between us.  Alas, my day ended going 1-1-2, and my buddies did go as well either.

Again, I put myself into a similar question.  Was my deck really that bad or were there just better players here?  Typically this game shop I consider to have decent players, which play a lot and know the mechanics of the game.  They also invest a lot of their time outside of the shops learning as well as prepping for things like releases.

Can’t Anticipate Everything

Overall, thank you Wizards for a fun new Block.  The Pre-Release was a great gaming experience, and nice change in format.  I also, need to remember that even if you think your deck is going to be amazing or be terrible, you can’t fully anticipate the outcome of the day.  With that we may never know if I build good decks, or was it the fact that everyone showed up with their “A” game.  Enjoy the new Battle for Zendikar block, and if you didn’t catch the Pre-Release at least try and get out for the Release.  I believe you will get amazing value with your time, even if the cards don’t end up being worth much.

Battle for Zendikar Archetypes: Tokens

Unified Front


For the next installment of our Battle for Zendikar: Limited Archetypes series I’m going to talk about token strategies.  Everyone is perfectly aware that there are Eldrazi Scion in the set, and there are also a couple other interesting token-themed cards in the set.  It’s actually difficult to put a specific color to this archetype, but you can expect it to include some combination of Green, Black, and White.  I actually foresee in many cases have a white or black splash.  It’s worth noting at the front that the order I’m posting these isn’t in an order of power level.

The main reason tokens is the next archetype is that often times in draft you see a couple early picks and you start leaning in a direction.  I consider this a fallback option for when Ramp or Converge isn’t coming together but you have some of the pieces.  This is both a viable archetype on its own and is what many aspiring ramp/converge decks will end up switching to late in pack one or early pack 2.



This is likely the core of the deck because it provides help in the splashing department and has the largest array of token generators.  Importantly for Green it also has a couple reliable ways to pump your team and start converting the tokens into pressure.  Cards like Tajuru Beastmaster and Tajuru Warcaller are the primary ways to do so.


Black has a sacrifice theme and that will play heavily into the tokens deck that features Black as a core color.  While it lacks premium token generation, the sacrifice outlets provide tempo positive ways to clear out problematic creatures and start pecking away. Bone Splinters being the premiere option here.


White has both some pump and ways to generate tokens.  However, if white is one of the core colors in your tokens deck you’re likely to also be more of a curve out Allies deck with the ability to make tokens.  Rather than strictly a tokens deck, but if you’re splashing for white you’ve found yourself with cards like Retreat to Emeria and Unified Front.  Unified Front being one of the reasons to splash here.  Normally splashing for a sorcery speed make three 1/1s isn’t exciting but here Retreat and Unified front provide multiple things.  Retreat works as a pump spell and both cards produce Allies, which can get additional triggers off of both your keyword Rally cards and the Rally pump creatures in Green.


Blue gets an honorable mention as a possible player in this archetype strictly because of Ruination Guide.  I think that’s a key card that could signal a GU player to start considering tokens more highly.  Turning all of your Eldrazi Scion into 2/1s is a big game as they start trading with real cards.

Key Cards:

Despite being slightly redundant the core cards here are mostly in green and are the big time token generators.  Eyeless Watcher, Call the Scions, and Brood Monitor are all key players that put multiple bodies on the table all along the curve.  Brood Monitor seems slow for a tokens deck but the reality is that this tokens archetype is likely to play like a mid-range deck.  If you’re in white early Retreat to Emeria is a huge player here as well.  It also combos really well with Fertile Thicket which can help you get to Brood Monitor and set you up for a huge pump from Retreat or just a new set of tokens.  If you find yourself in black it’s important that you find the removal early.  Bone Splinters, as mentioned, is great here and Swamp Surge is a late pick-up that works as a win condition is you’re light on creature pump.

Signal Cards:

If I were drafting this I would be looking for the Rally pump cards as late pickups as well as Unified Front, Bone Splinters, and cards that are just weak in every other deck like Inspired Charge and Cliffside Lookout, both pump spells that no other deck wants.  The key difference in signal cards between this and ramp is that you can pick up impactful cards late in packs.  Retreat to Emeria is an interesting one because I think it is likely to float to the middle of many packs, but I could be underestimating how much a non-tokens deck wants that card.


I don’t think there’s a single first pick that makes me really want to be the tokens drafter, but this is a fine option when you start to see that the archetype is open.  Keep your eyes peeled for the signal cards in the back half of packs and prioritize token generators, especially the Eldrazi Scion versions so that you always have an out to move back into ramp.  I think this deck will manifest with a few different color combinations and that will be one of it’s strengths. In my opinion, BFZ doesn’t boast one clear cut tokens strategy but has the card quality and depth to let drafters build their own tokens deck.  This may not be the strongest archetype in the format, but it’s one you’re likely to play against and may end up drafting a time or two.

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions, comments, or a specific archetype request let me know in the comments.


Battle for Zendikar Archetypes: Green Ramp

Eldrazi Scion

Green Ramp

Battle for Zendikar was just fully spoiled this past week, and this set has a few clear cut archetypes.  It’s hard to get an accurate read on how strong each will be right away, but at the very least we can be aware of what archetypes are really looking for what cards and what cards should signal that an archetype is open.

I’m starting with Green Ramp because with the Prerelease events this weekend Sealed is going to be on every one’s mind and ramp lends itself very well to most sealed formats and should be a strong option this weekend.

Color Pairs:


I expect Blue to be the natural pair for Ramp decks because it also has a couple excellent Eldrazi Scion generators with Eldrazi Skyspawner and Incubator Drone to help ramp and stabilize the board.  Another all star for a G/U ramp strategy is Murk Strider, it isn’t the easiest to enable this card in G/U but if you can this is an example of just one great tempo spell this color combination can use to buy time to get their large threats online.


The great thing about Red as a ramp pair is having access to the many great removal options Red brings to bear in the new format.  Cards like Stonefury and Rolling Thunder are great versatile answers that scale great with the additional mana Ramp is going to generate.  There are other great cheap removal options in Red.  The one drawback to this color combination is a lack of quality cheap threats to stabilize the ground game, many of these threats are aggressively costed and are much better when turned sideways then they are when left back as blockers.  For this reason R/G can find itself with many of the creatures that get pumped with Landfall triggers and perform as a midrange beatdown deck.


Similarly to Red, Black has solid removal.  It lacks the versatile answers that red provides but has a couple unconditional removal spells that have the upside of exiling the creatures they kill to enable cards like Void Attendant that both stabilize the ground and help ramp up.  Black also has a strong tokens sub-theme that can be exploited for additional win conditions.  Catacomb Sifter is a perfect example of a card in this color combination that helps ramp and provides fantastic card selection when sacrificing Scion to ramp.


This is likely the worst color pair for a pure ramp strategy just because white is more aggressively slanted.  However, White does bring some solid removal to bear and ways to pump Eldrazi Scion and capitalize on going wide.  There are also great Awaken options like Sheer Drop in white that are great mana sinks for a ramp deck that hasn’t found its big threats.


Green provides great fixing in the format and in Sealed you can expect to splash a third color very often.  Blue is the best color pair and a decent splash color, although Red/Black provide the splashable removal these decks will be looking for.  I would be looking for ideally a GU shell splashing either Red or Black for some versatile answers to ensure the deck can consistently reach the late game.

Core Cards:    

The highest priority commons are those that generate Eldrazi Scion.   Eyeless Watcher and Call the Scions ramp and provide multiple bodies for pay offs in splash colors.  Cards like Outnumber and Swamp Surge provide ways to utilize Eldrazi Scion if you lack large win conditions.  These cards also ramp you up two mana the following turn, Natural Connection and Lifespring Druid are just barely behind and are the two remaining core cards.  In draft these four are fairly interchangeable and a good mix of the four is ideal. Brood Monitor is the final core card, this can be ramped into and helps get into the 7 to 9 drop range reliably.

Ramp Pay-Offs:

As stated earlier, ways to utilize tokens for damage can be a fairly reliable way to win if you lack the efficient Eldrazi.  But at common and uncommon the win conditions that are truly great are Plated Crusher, Eldrazi Devastator, and Bane of Bala Ged.  Two cards that really shine in this deck are Titans Presence and Scour from Existence because you can reliably ramp into Scour and have the top-end to reliably turn Titans Presence into a powerful and efficient removal option.

Signal Cards:

If you’re only interested in Sealed then this probably isn’t for you.  These are the cards that you see after pick 5 or 6 that should indicate that the archetype is open.   Natural Connection and Lifespring Druid will rarely reach this point but if they do you can be confident that a player to your right isn’t in either Converge or Ramp since these are core to both strategies.  The high quality pay off cards should also indicate this, especially Plated Crusher.


This will be a powerful and very common strategy for both the prerelease and release events for BFZ.  However, if you don’t have the enablers found in the Core Cards section this shouldn’t be pursued as actively.  You generally want between three and five solid direct ramp options in your deck.  You don’t need as many pay off cards you need enablers, so just because you open three Plated Crushers doesn’t mean you should be attempting to run a ramp deck.  It’s much more important you find the enablers and work with whatever large threats you open in your pool as they are much more common than the actual ramp cards.

MTG: Rally the Wallet

Rally the Ancestors

Last weekend we saw the emergence of a new style of deck called the 5-Color Rally by Matthew Tickal. This deck immediately made waves in the Magic Sphere as well as in the Finance community.  Tickal’s deck is featured here on Star City Game’s website:


Today, I would like to take a step back on how as a financier you can adequately prepare for spikes like these from a speculative play, and take advantage of the spike while it’s there.  There are two main areas worth examining with a spike in price.  The first is your position. The other one is executing on the position.

Building the Position

When we examine our position we either have the cards or we don’t.  I would like to reiterate a strategy I touch on in the blog “The Big ‘D’” (http://mtgspeculation.com/2015/06/20/the-big-d/) last month outlining the best entry points, and building your position.  The idea is you try to acquire most cards at a relatively low entry point.  For example, I consider if you can get everything for less than $.50 per card to build your bulk position you are doing okay.  Generally, I shoot to lower that number under $.25 per card, and I typically focus on rares.  That is my first, criteria, the second one is that they are usually standard rares.  I do this because this is what has been working for me so far.

If you aren’t buying the cards ahead of time don’t waste chasing the cards like I previously mentioned.  However, if you do I thank you for generating demand for everyone to move their cards.


We can approach execution in two systematic ways.  The first being, you know have a card that would of cost you more to acquire to play a new deck.  This is an overall savings to you as the financier, and your collection has increased.

The second, is actually outing the card.  Yesterday, we saw Rally the Ancestors go from 36 points to roughly over 100 points.  On top of that the demand was well over 50+ cards.  This provided a great outlet to move your cards.  When I logged in this morning there were no non-foils being asked for and the price currently sits at 119.

Just using Pucatrade we have a little bit of a problem.  My copies of Rally the Ancestor sky rocketed and now the demand isn’t there, what do I do?  I suggest using this as a learning lesson, as I previously did with Mastery of the UnseenMastery of the Unseen had a similar trajectory, and I held out at missed value on my copies.  I had expected the demand to stay there, and eventually it dried up.  You need to move your cards if you aren’t going to when the hype begins, and unfortunately that window isn’t real big.

My suggestion is settling somewhere in the middle to edge out the competition.  Not everyone can sit in front of a Pucatrade screen all day and refresh.  Make up your mind on what you’re trying to achieve with your trade and speculation play, and stick to it.  Don’t get greedy, or the demand will be eaten up by fellow players.

Good luck in Rallying your Wallet to the next level! If you haven’t tried pucatrade heres our referral link:


I strongly recommend using Pucatrade as a tool in your MTG Financier wallet.

MTG: Troll-Shroud Cannot Save You From Everything


Today, The Other Side of the Coin takes a vow of Asceticism, and offers a few simple words regarding one of its author’s favorite green cards of all time.

Five-mana enchantment. Scars of Mirrodin. Creatures you control have hexproof. 1G: Regenerate target creature. Every creature on your side of the field becomes Thrun, the Last Troll.

And there he stands on the art.

Tiny, far off in the distance, looking up and away from the viewer. He can see the area that would be inhabited by the viewer; look at him. He sees you.

He is ignoring you.

He refuses all company, attentive only to his surroundings. He is wounded. He is burdened.

“Let my ignominy build walls thicker than iron and stronger than darksteel.”

Ignominy. Contemptible conduct, the utter disgrace of one’s name.

Thrun saw what happened to Glissa when the green sun was born. He saw her confrontation with Memnarch, who caused all other trolls on Mirrodin to vanish, back to the planes from which they came. He understood the meaning of Phyrexian oil.

He understood, and he told no one.

“His crime was silence, and now he suffers it eternally.”

So, I 4-0’d a Prerelease

Hi internet! This is Emily; you may know me from my new weekly segment, “The Other Side of the Coin.” We really need a tag for that. Anyway, I have exciting news! See the title above! Wheeeee!

As you all probably know, Origins came out this weekend and a lot of the cards look totally sweet! I was a fan of white from the second I saw Kytheon’s Irregulars, bears with upside at common, and the return of Celestial Flare. The renown mechanic is awesome, and tapping the board down while crunching in for a bunch just looked like every Sealed player’s dream. So I picked Team Gideon and came to smash.

And that worked out really great. I mean, really, REALLY great. I don’t want to discredit my skills at all; certainly a less experienced player would not have built the deck correctly, or played it with the opponent’s plan in mind. Still, it must be said that sometimes you get lucky and hit the deep end of your Sealed pool. This Sealed pool had one of those nine-foot deep ends, the kind you can dive headfirst into without getting hurt. The god draw. So, into the depths I dove.

The seeded pack (which I always sort of hate for existing, but that’s another post’s topic) had Suppression Bonds, Stalwart Aven, Knight of the Pilgrim’s Road and an Enshrouding Mist as some great playables. The promo rare? Hixus, Prison Warden! He’s a creature with flash, he gets rid of problem creatures, and I already had a way to protect him from damage. Neat!

Cracking into my next few packs, I quickly realized how ridiculous this deck was going to be. Topan Freeblade and another Knight of the Pilgrim’s Road at common. A War Oracle at uncommon. Rares looked… a lot whiter than normal. Knight of the White Orchid. Relic Seeker. ANOTHER Hixus. (“Yikes, I have two of a legendary creature.” What an awesome problem for Sealed!)


Molten Vortex and Soulblade Djinn were off-color, but the Djinn made blue look extra-nice for a second color. Finally, those fantastic Irregulars showed up, really cementing that heavy commitment to white. The other color would not be a support so much as a splash to fill out the curve where it needed filler.

Ultimately it came down to bears and removal. When I looked at the spread of white cards, I decided that any single splashable kill spell would clear the bar on that front. As for the other…

The case for bears is pretty simple. When you wanna be the beatdown in Sealed, it must be said that you need decent two-drops, and anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn’t play aggro very often, or is lying. You need at least four, up to six, and if they’re more than just a 2/2 for 2, you’ll really be happy. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many Grixis bears in Origins; they’re mostly white or green.

So that was goodbye to blue spells, including Soulblade Djinn and his small team of 4-drop flyers. They might have worked, but green was probably better.

Black had enchantment removal and a gold card, but no other creatures to contribute for me. Red had a ton of serviceable 3-drops, also with a gold card, but for best creatures on-curve, always remember that a 3-drop is not a bear.

So what did I have for green?

Two excellent bears in Undercity Troll and Elvish Visionary. When your “worst” bear is a 1/1 that draws a card, your Sealed deck must be in nice shape. Five really good bears. Awesome.

A Wild Instincts got added to the small contingent of noncreatures, for its solid use as removal. Good enough.

For every other unfilled spot in the curve, there was a playable creature. Perfection.

Decklist ended up like this:

11 Plains
5 Forest
1 Evolving Wilds

1 Anointer of Champions

1 Undercity Troll
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Topan Freeblade
1 Relic Seeker
1 Knight of the White Orchid

2 Knight of the Pilgrim’s Road
1 Stalwart Aven
1 Orchard Spirit

1 Charging Griffin
1 Kytheon’s Irregulars
1 Somberwald Alpha
1 War Oracle

2 Hixus, Prison Warden
1 Rhox Maulers

1 Skysnare Spider

1 Enshrouding Mist
1 Mighty Leap
1 Suppression Bonds
1 Wild Instincts
1 Throwing Knife


1 Caustic Caterpillar
1 Evolving Wilds
2 Enshrouding Mist
1 Nissa’s Pilgrimage
1 Totem-Guide Hartebeest
1 Titanic Growth

So… yeah. This crushed.

The first two rounds flashed by, two 2-0 rounds. My opponents never seemed to draw into anything that contributed to their board, or cleared mine. The biggest inconveniences were a Yoked Ox holding a Mantle of Webs (yes, really) and a turn-two Harbinger of the Tides… when I had no creatures to bounce (again, yes, REALLY). Nice guys, probably less lucky in their pulls, but their plays telegraphed inexperience with the format. No big challenges in the first half.

Round Three got more interesting when I kept a 7-card hand with green dudes and no Forests… consequently getting mauled. The opponent was on blue-green tempo – lots of annoying spells for bounce and value. For the record, Anchor to the AEther is GROSS. And in future I will draft as many of them as I can find, because the tempo swing is hilarious. I mean, the guy had good stuff going on.

Game Two of that round saw me holding yet another sketchy hand AND on the play. The mulligan to six was correct, and a beautiful mana curve emerged. Hixus flashed in to the rescue against a Skaab Goliath, and that was that.

I noticed that my opponent, while more experienced than the last two, exhausted all of his bounce spells too early, and didn’t realize that waiting to bounce Hixus (or at least a giant Renowned guy) could spell disaster for me. He feared for his life total too much. I know how to exploit that fear.

In Game 3, he bounced all my bears and I basically pretended to be annoyed until my board came back. CRUNCH. Win.

It turns out that Renown plays a lot like Bloodthirst from old-school Ravnica. Putting that deck on the back foot is the only real way to win. A tempo deck CAN do that, but it needs to get really hurt before attempting to stabilize. Despite the Game 1 mulligan terrors, I held on.

Round Four – King of the Hill table! And a guy whose birthday it was… man, I don’t wanna beat a guy on his birthday, you know? That feels bad. But I wasn’t giving up so easily.

Game One, I lost again. Very frightening. It got a little ridiculous when a Claustrophobia hit Kytheon’s Irregulars… and the Irregulars could still tap down the board. But Birthday Boy had a blue-white flying army, and played creature after creature until enough of them pecked through.


At this point I ought to have sideboarded, and forgot. I also mulliganed to six, but had the right land.

Game Two thankfully saw no enchantment removal, but could have been a terrible blowout otherwise. Skysnare Spider got Turn to Frog‘d and eaten up by a 4/4 Ringwarden Owl. Mighty Leap couldn’t save it; a second copy of Mist would’ve been okay. Another close game, but my renown guys just won the race.

Sideboard time! In with the Caterpillar! Out with Orchard Spirit! In with a second Enshrouding Mist! Out with Mighty Leap!

Game Three saw me with an okay starter, on the draw, but it turned out that I got stuck on two land for a turn. I didn’t mind accepting some extra damage to add to the board, though, because this was a race I could win!

Topan Freeblade‘s vigilance and Undercity Troll‘s regen, two abilities that are fantastic when you’re behind, bought me time. The Freeblade got hold of Throwing Knife (SUCH FLAVOR!) and that was enough to bring it on home.

So, good plays.

– I picked the correct support color. Black attrition is slow, and red 3-drops are small. I needed big cheap things fast. Check.

– I built a deck that mulliganed well, once I knew what to mulligan for. Rounds Three and Four both forced me to do that, and the staying power of the deck paid off in a big way.

– There was enough removal, different types of removal, and ways to find it (Relic Seeker and Hartebeest in sideboard for matchups favoring Suppression Bonds). For a creature deck, the sheer amount of answers was staggering.

– I paid attention to when the opponents were tapped out, when they had mana, and what they might have. Mostly.

Lessons learned.

-Never forget to sideboard between matches. Even if all you do is LOOK at the sideboard and pretend to switch stuff.

-Keep focused. Even when you’ve got a 6/6 with vigilance and reach, an attacker that would normally get eaten should make you very suspicious.

-Be a good sport and don’t worry too much if your opponent isn’t. There were a couple of moments where my plays were questioned. It kind of happens a lot when you’re a female player. “You used a kill spell on THAT?!” Yes, I did. And now your life total is zero. Deal with it.

-Apologize for any excessive snark or salt. Losing Skysnare Spider made me annoyed, and so did some bad blocks in that final game. But I said, “sorry. Good plays on your part. I need to just eat that.” And I did.

Here’s to the prerelease! I hope everyone attended one, had some fun, maybe won some packs, and loves the new set! 🙂

See you on The Other Side of the Coin!

Welcome to the Other Side of the Coin


In a small velvet bag alongside my EDH deck boxes, there lies a scratched brass coin, about the size of a quarter, with a smooth and narrow edge that glints a bit when it flips through the air. At first glance it seems undeserving of such an exalted position, being none too flashy and not even a coin you could spend in a vending machine. But sometimes coins mean more than what they’re worth, and sometimes cards mean more than what they do.

This is my all-time favorite coin. A goblin coin. The almighty dollar of Krenko, Mob Boss.

On its heads side, Krenko’s face in profile. Fleshy bulb of a nose protruding to the right; reaching left, the oversized mockery of an elvish ear. A single piggy eye, thick sausage lips, canine teeth bared in a sneer. He’s the boss, he KNOWS he’s the boss, and his goblin mob had better recognize.

On its tails side… a butt.

Far less grandiose, even crude. Nothing fancy, just the outline of buttocks with gangly legs dangling down. This is because goblins are crude, and butts are funny. If you call heads on this coin and lose, it literally moons your ill-fortune. Plus, I’ve found that people love to call “butts” when I toss it. I mean, they LOVE it. There’s goblin impulse in all of us, apparently.

As you may already know, most coin-flip cards in Magic’s history are goblin-related, including the amazing “flip two and ignore one” legendary artifact called Krark’s Thumb. Lots of those cards found a home with Krenko. But that’s only about half of what makes this coin my favorite. For the other half, let’s take a look at some flavor text.

That’s right. Flavor text. We’re going full Vorthos on this one. This little gem comes right off of Krenko himself.

“He displays a perverse charisma fueled by avarice. Highly dangerous. Recommend civil sanctions.” -Agmand Sarv, Azorius hussar

Fueled by avarice.

Avarice is greed for wealth. A lot of the time, that means a greed for coin.

The guy talking in this flavor text is an Azorius hussar, a blue-white knight/policeman in the ecumenopolis (city-world) that we all know and love: Ravnica.

Ravnica’s kind of like the New York of the Multiverse, the biggest city anyone has seen or can name, a skyline the size of a plane. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. You might knock Krenko’s methods, but it’s safe to say, he’s made it. That’s why other goblins rally around him; that’s why the police say he’s “highly dangerous.” And that’s why he’s rolling in the dough.

You know he’s rolling in the dough because his followers are motivated by money too. He finds the money he needs to pay his mob, gets ’em paid, attracts more 1/1 scrubs who wanna make it big in Ravnica just like he did. And the cycle continues.

He finds so many supporters that they double every turn. HE finds them. No littering matrons. No endless warrens to empty a la Time Spiral. This is a pyramid scheme, and our man Krenko sits atop its pinnacle, turning your average Foundry Street Denizen‘s daily routine into “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.” That “perverse charisma”? It takes a lot of legwork.

And who’s the guy telling us all about him? Some random court hussar.

I think that’s the part of all this I love the best. Krenko doesn’t feel the need to justify himself. Explaining things is the guilds’ job, and they’re not even very good at it. He’s a one-color Warrior in a two-color world. If anyone has a problem with that, he’ll whack ’em. Towering over other Goblins at 3/3, born into a world defined by guilds, Krenko’s individual personality looms larger than life.

Krenko’s flavor text might’ve been a story that Wizards told, but the coin shows an extrapolation I made. Magic is the game I love best, not just because it’s mechanically interesting (though it IS), but because of the stories any player can tell with it. Magic becomes the game that you – the player! – most want it to be.

My name is Emily, and this is the story I’ve told of a streetwise young tough named Krenko. I tell you this story so you can get a sense of me, of what kind of player I am. I’d love to hear your stories in return.

Tune in every Wednesday afternoon for The Other Side of the Coin, brimming with flavor text and narratives galore. There might even be some price specs and deck techs along the way. We’ll be diving right into the thick of things, with a snippet of flavor text so recognizable that R&D felt compelled to make a card out of it. Leave your guesses below!

Just remember: Sometimes coins mean more than what they’re worth. Sometimes cards mean more than what they do.

See you guys next time.


The Big “D”

Decision Making

Pricing information, opinions, and strategies are quite abundant these days in the Magic the Gathering Finance community.  However, one of the least talked about things is actually making a decision.  That decision could be anything from selling a collection, making a trade at a local gameshop, or speculating on cards like Tarmogoyf.  Personally, I believe the recent #goyfgate shenanigans were great for MTG as a whole.  It only led to a broader reach beyond the traditional MTG community, and personally I would have picked the card as well.   Again, the pick of the Tarmogoyf was a big decision that ultimately led to a huge reaction, and not all decisions create equal reactions.

A sold collection

I recently read an article by a player talking about how they were sick of the sky rocketing prices on MTG cards, and that it’s led to people picking value cards over actually playing the game.  I found this article to really resonate with me because this is something that has crossed my mind a few times.  I truly believe that this decision comes down to the individual’s opinion, but should be a well thought out one.  One of the reasons I say this is sometimes in the Finance community we overlook the value of magic outside of the money aspect.  One of the reasons I continue to hold onto my collection isn’t just a financial piece, it has to do with a broader connected community and set of memories I have developed.  I began playing when Mercadian Masques came out, and at that time I wasn’t even a teenager. Eventually this evolved to becoming more serious when the Mirrodin Block came out.  The game also transformed into a very meaningful social event for my friends and me.

The one thing I would like to caution when making this decision comes from a personal experience.  I got a Super Nintendo in the early 90’s, and I eventually sold it to Gamestop to get a Gameboy color.  To this day I constantly regret ever getting rid of it, because of all my memories of gaming with family and friends.  I truly believe that one really needs to take things like this into consideration when cleaning out your collection.  It shouldn’t just be about the money, you can always make more.  You may never be able to get your entire collection back.  I know I wouldn’t be able to.


Trading is really an art form.  Most of the times you hear about people complaining about sharks, or everyone trying to make a small margin on a trade to be the one coming out ahead.  In reality, this to me is mostly the problem when people are both informed about a value of the card.  In today’s world where a person whips out a smart phone and knows the prices right away is actually quite boring.  Otherwise the person isn’t just a shark they are just another d, or a dick.  The real thing about trading this way is correctly speculating on a card.  You are taking an opinionated view of the market and most likely will not capture the value today.  You should look at it as more of an investment in the game and financially.  How can you protect your assets with hedging?

The other thing about trading is the fact it’s really about sales.  How do you sell yourself or make others feel comfortable trading with you?  If you become the go to person for trades you are way more likely to find the value you are looking for.  Taking a short term hit on trades only to come out better in the long run helps a ton.  Especially if you believe yourself to be informed, and know that there are cards falling out of rotation or a meta-game that no longer favors a specific set of cards.  The even trade or taking less on a trade may actually put you ahead in the long run.  Back in January I traded my Master of the Waves, Sidisi Brood Tyrant, Wingmate Roc and Ajani Mentor of Heroes (Chinese) for a Spellskite and Sword of Feast and Famine.  I think looking back today even though I gave up a lot of value then I came out ahead today.  The cards I traded away lost value while the ones I received have only increased.


Like the trade in the last paragraph that was purely speculation.  However, being informed and participating in the MTG community a person can increase the odds in their favor. Sometimes not making the decision to trade, buy a box, or play in the local gameshops FNM in and of itself is the best decision to make.  If we look at this decision to not participate from a financial view, holding cash is sometimes the best thing to do!  Your cash is only going to depreciate against inflation, but most likely this will be a moot point because you will have already spent your money somewhere else.

A lot of the time when we make decisions we need to tune into our opportunity costs.  What is the real loss I am facing with my time or dollars by making one decision versus another?  Earlier this week I read another article talking about indexing.  How to properly acquire MTG cards to smooth out your risk and capture a spike in price.  This is one of the practices I employ.  I DO NOT chase cards, and neither should you.  One this is a terrible strategy, and you will most likely overpay.  Two a lot of the times it’s just luck.  Three you can’t always move 100 copies of something.  This week I was able to offload some cards outlined here on Pucatrade by employing this strategy.  Below is the acquired costs including shipping per copy, and then what I made in terms of pucapoints.

Card Points Cost
Hythonia the Cruel 66 42
Hythonia the Cruel 66 42
Hythonia the Cruel 66 42
Hythonia the Cruel 66 42
Medomai the Ageless 74 25
Soul of Ravnica 76 25
Soul of Ravnica 76 25
Soul of Ravnica 76 25
Soul of Ravnica 76 26
Ghastly Conscription 78 32
Ghastly Conscription 78 32
Soul of Zendikar 82 25
Soul of Zendikar 82 25
Soul of Zendikar 82 25
Soul of Shandalar 89 25
Soul of Shandalar 89 25
Soul of Shandalar 89 25
1311 508
Shipping 268
Sum 1311 776
Difference 535


Pucatrade is definitely a nice source to move your product, however again I don’t think moving 100 copies of something unless it’s a staple.  Typically when I employ this strategy of diversifying, I get at least 8 cards.  One set for myself as a collector, and then another set to trade out.  It’s important to have a diverse collection for other players when showcasing what’s available for trade.

There are many aspects in MTG that employ strategic decision making like selling a collection, trading, and speculating.  Along with those and the many others that are out there the idea is to be conscious of the decisions you make because they do have a financial impact, opportunity cost, and drive many of the memories that got us into Magic in the first place.



Limited Landscape

Humble Defector

Limited Landscape

With all the excitement surrounding the Dragons of Tarkir release and the resultant flurry of set reviews and podcasts we have figured a few things out about the new set. However, in terms of limited there are always additional facets of the format to analyze.  Questions remain about the relative power level of each color and clan, the playability of a few build-around-me cards, and how we should color our perception of the format based on Fate Reforged.  Simply playing the set is often the best way to answer these questions. But having spent some time with Fate Reforged we may be better equipped, and may in fact be better served, to take another look.


Both the influx of new cards and the exodus of Khans of Tarkir have led to an interesting position for Fate Reforged in the format.  In the previous format, the set felt top heavy and lacked truly playable cards in the bottom half of each pack.  It wasn’t infrequent to open packs with only 2-3 playables.  Since the Fate Reforged packs were cracked first in the KTK format most of these playables would dry up by picks 4-5.  This generally made it hard to make meaningful reads on the cards being passed to you early and the fact that many players in a pod would be married to their first pick made feeling out the format a bit more unintuitive.

Now with Fate Reforged being opened as the final pack in the current draft format we will see a whole new side to the set.  After a dozen drafts I’ve found myself picking up high priority rares around picks 5-6 and getting high priority commons at a stage in the draft that would’ve been impossible in the FTR-KTK-KTK format.  For example, cards like Jeskai Infiltrator and many great FTR rares are being passed multiple times.  The question to ask yourself is how can I capitalize on this as a drafter?

Make the correct reads.  This format is much easier to read accurately than the two previous and the benefits of doing so are far greater.  Fifth pick Sage Eye Avengers and his ilk were fantasies in the past and a reality now.

The last general tenet of DTK-DTK-FTR drafting I would pass on is to remember that there are between 3-6 cards, all of which are rare and one being mythic, per clan that incentivize staying in their respective two color combination.  This means you can very easily go with any pairing you please so long as you consider the consequences it could have on a synergy driven deck.  So when you see an Atarka’s Command first pick first pack and don’t know whether or not to take it over a great mono color card, remember you don’t have to commit to a clan and the rewards can be great for staying open.

Fate Reforged Card Analysis

Despite the headline I won’t be going through each card and grading it or anything like that.  I’ll be outlining a few commons that I believe will either have risen or fallen given the change in format.  By no means will this list be indicative of what I believe to be the best commons in FTR necessarily.

Goblin Heelcutter:

This was my favorite FTR common in the previous format and I don’t see myself changing my tune anytime soon.  Heelcutter does things you’d expect from an uncommon and is a card you find yourself counting as a live draw for lethal.  My favorite common got even better, if you find yourself in Kolaghan colors this is the card you want to see most next to Pyrotechnics, excluding rares, in many cases.  This card absolutely punishes decks that want to exploit and go for value.  Dashing out Heelcutter early can provide enough pressure to force opponents to play sub-optimally to stay out of burn range.

Jeskai Sage:

There has been a lot said about Palace Familiar and all of those things can be said about Jeskai Sage.  The real power here is that while Palace Familiar gives you an exploit value card and something to stop all the X/1s in the format, Jeskai Sage can trade up into X/2s while providing the same level of value.  You’ll often find yourself hoping to find 2-3 Jeskai Sages from your FTR pack.

Return to the Earth:

This card was a decent side board option in the previous format, but with the addition of DTK this card is now (mostly due to the weakness of green) a true main deck option. Return to the Earth also provides green with a card to look for in their FTR pack where green is noticeably lacking playables.  It’s not the most exciting card but has certainly risen in value.

Typhoid Rats:

A Limited staple for years Rats is finding itself positioned better in this format where it can be exploited for value and cards like Tail Slash give deathtouch creatures added levels of flexibility.  DTK isn’t a set that features many “go wide” strategies whereas Khans featured cards like Ponyback Brigade, Hordling Outburst, and Take Up Arms.

Sandsteppe Outcast:

No surprises here, Outcast is still fantastic although white is markedly weaker in DTK than it was in Khans.  To this point, it is fairly common to take Sandblast over Outcast in this format where white is depending on both Green and Blue, most commonly, to provide removal.

Notably improved Uncommons.  This is a short list of a couple uncommons that benefitted greatly from synergies in DTK.

Humble Defector:

This is a card that was very strong in the previous format but has a couple cute synergies in the new set.  The primary one being with Swift Warkite, Warkite may already be the strongest of the uncommon dragon cycle in DTK.  But bringing back Humble Defector, drawing two cards for free, and netting a 4/4 flyer + a 2/1 with upside is a huge game.  If you end up with a Warkite or two keep an eye out for this card.

Merciless Executioner:

This one is a given.  It had the exploit mechanic before it was actually introduced, given that this format doesn’t feature “go wide” strategies but does feature tons of on death value creatures Executioner can do some disgusting things.

Fearsome Awakening:

Fearsome Awakening is a card that generally wheels and in certain decks has the potential to be insane.  Coupled with a couple Gurmag Drowner you can toss away morph dragons and bring them out buffed the following turn.  It makes cards like Icefall Regent borderline unbeatable and makes the uncommon cycle of morph dragons much more playable.  I wouldn’t take it very early but it will normally be available in the back half of FTR packs where there is a noticeable lack of playables for most archetypes.