I see this on reddit a lot. The question is directly related to value, but for some reason, there is always a wide variety of answers. It seems to me that people are on completely different pages when it comes to what an item is worth in magic. I’d like to go over a few aspects here. The aspects of value that I see having the largest effect on what a person should do it. I think there are a few different things that build off of each other and paint a pretty good picture on what you should do with your money.
What is a card worth?
This seems simple enough. Most people use something like Star City Games or MTGPrice to find out how much their card is worth and that’s what they make decisions on. There are many people who have told me about the $30 card they got for $22 and they were very proud that they did so.
First you have to recognize that there is a fluctuating market. This isn’t a bad thing for a card in the new breakout legacy deck that was printed 15 years ago. The value will probably go up and you will likely do well with your investment. But it’s tricky when it’s a standard card about to rotate out and not seeing play in other formats.
Think of value (for a specific item) as in how much money I can get from this. Your $30 card is good for $22 until you realize that no store buys it for over $12 and after shipping you can only get $14 from ebay. Don’t like at cards like you are the owner of Star City Games, you aren’t going to get that price for your cards. If you don’t plan on playing with that card, you just spent $22 on $12-$14 to just sit in your binder and wait until it goes to $4.
So, when a person tells me that they spent $22 on a $30 card, all I see is a person that threw away $8-$18 depending on what they do with it. This doesn’t mean that no cards are worth buying, it just means that if current “sell price” is the only factor, it was probably a mistake.
This applies to trading too. You can trade your $10 card for my $10 card and lose current value and potential value. Cards can have the same sell price but have different buy prices. Some cards are harder to get (mythics and foils) and they sometimes are harder to keep stocked by stores, so they pay a higher percentage for them. When you make a trade, think about the current value to you and the potential value. If the card isn’t going to go up, you aren’t getting value, and you aren’t going to play the card, why bother?
What is a pack worth?
Well after that, are you reconsidering what you value a pack at? If you think about it, a random pack is worth <$3 to you; Factor in all of the rares that are worth 10-12 cents to you. Packs at MSRP are pretty terrible EV.
This is a major motivation to be good/ok at magic. I get packs in >95% of FNMs that I attend. My FNM gives away really good value on packs, and I understand that not everyone have this available, but if you do, battle at FNM. It is the place that you can get packs at $1-$1.50 pretty easy.
If you find that you need to get cards to play magic, don’t buy packs. If you buy a few packs every week, you should just put that money into a jar. Think of this as the buy 25 get 11 free deal. You can buy booster boxes for $100-$115 depending on the store. If you are buying them for MSRP, you are paying $144 plus tax for every 36 packs.
If your LGS (local game store) doesn’t sell boxes, you can get them online. Talk to your store, they will most likely make a deal for you; they don’t want to have you buying cards from online retailers. More and more business is going to places like Amazon and away from LGS; your store doesn’t want to drive your business away.
I want to hit one more point on this topic. It doesn’t matter what you get. If you buy packs, and you think you are getting ahead… you aren’t. You may get a $12 card in your 3 packs, but remember that and the 2 crap rares are only worth $6.24 to you in cash, so you didn’t make money, you only lost money. You can’t just trade that card in and get 3 more packs. You can’t just use that as $12 off of your meal at a restaurant. That is now worth less than the $12 was.
What is a future/new product worth?
Speculation can be a good thing. Some people are all about making sure they get the new products because they are going to be worth a ton and they can sell them and make a fortune. Remember to consider that it’s worth to you. Buying the new FTV at $100 and doubling your money sounds sweet, but can you hang on to it for 4+ years? It may only need a year and a half before SCG is selling it for $200, but that isn’t what you are going to get for it.
And don’t forget, the set could always flop; nothing is a sure thing. You don’t want to tie your money up with something that isn't going to make a profit. There are a lot of things that will make a profit, speculation is a good thing, but don’t waste money on something that isn’t a sure thing.
Things to take away from this:
-Not all $10 cards are equal.
-If you aren’t playing with the cards in your deck, you don’t want to own them. Trade those cards for cards that can be going up. Don’t let your binder rot, because that is your money rotting.
-Know you’re getting a good deal. If you buy a card for an investment, think about how long it will be until you can sell it and get that same money back. Then think about what the potential is. You may be making very little on your “investments.”
-Never buy $4 packs again. Ever! You are bleeding $1.25 or more every time you do.
-Speculating on new products can be a very long term investment. Sometimes, even if you know you can make money on it, you could just buy up that much in fetch lands and make more money in a shorter time.
Thanks for reading