Friday, November 30, 2007

Portal Three Kingdoms cards now available

I have recently acquired, and only just listed, some cards from the Portal Three Kingdoms starter set of Magic (hereafter abbreviated P3K). From what I understand, this is probably, with the exception of the original Limited Edition (Alpha) set, the smallest print run of any set in Magic history. It was only published in 1999 in four languages, English, Japanese, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese. From what I have gathered, this set was never offered for retail sale in the US.

As you would expect, then, this set has become wildly popular and cards sell for very high prices, comparably. Unopened booster packs of the set sell for in the $40 range. The most popular and sought-after card, a rare card called the Zodiac Dragon, sells for over $100 by itself. Unfortunately I didn't obtain one of these when I got my P3K cards!

"Lot 35" is actually two sets of cards that I purchased on eBay from two different sellers. One was auctioning off 6 lots - one of basic Lands, and one of each of the five color of Magic. These cards were in English. I won the Land lot, and the White, Blue, Red and Green lots. I was unfortunately outbid on the Black lot. The seller was a very nice individual, who sent me a partial refund when one of the cards in the Blue lot somehow failed to make its way in the package (one of the Rares, unfortunately, but he reimbursed me what I could have reasonably sold the card for, so it works out). The only other problem is that the basic Lands turned out to NOT be actually from P3K, but from a boxed reprint set called Battle Royale. The seller was unaware of this himself, and had this to say when I told him:

"That's hilarious. I bought those lands from Star City Games when I was trying to complete that P3K set. Obviously, they are oblivious of that info as well. If you would like to send them back, I can refund your money if you like. Let me know."

I did not take him up on his gracious offer, as I believe I will still be able to sell the cards (albeit not misidentified as they've apparently been at least twice previously).

The second batch of cards was a group of Japanese P3K cards. This batch was made up mostly of basic Lands and Common cards, and actually included some English Swamps. Many of the cards are the Japanese versions of English ones I got, making it easy to duplicate their entries and change the photo and language to make the new listing.

I have so far listed English Rare and Uncommon cards from P3K at eBay, and will soon get the English Commons up at This will then be followed by the Japanese P3K cards at both Stores.

While I'm giving a Store update, here's some highlights since I last wrote:
  • I'm a Power Seller again! Sales have been very brisk of late, and I have once again risen to the ranks of eBay Power Seller (this time without the dubious assistance of selling a piccolo trumpet for my brother). I'm not sure if it's the increase in stock (the Lorwyn sales have helped a great deal), or the approaching holiday season, or the weakened US dollar leading to an increase in non-US sales, or all of the above...but I'm not complaining!
  • I've gotten all of the Lots up to "Lot 34" listed now. The last to be listed, "Lot 33", was all Foil cards and should hopefully prove to be popular as gift items.
  • "Lot 36" and "Lot 37" have already been purchased. These are collection of over 5000 cards (including commons) and a set of over 400 Rares and Foils, respectively. They should be processed faster than previous lots. As I get more and more cards in my database, the listings get faster and faster, as the photos are already taken and the descriptions are already written.
  • I've pre-ordered a case of Morningtide, the next Magic expansion to be released at the end of January. I have discovered through 10th Edition and Lorwyn sales that it definitely pays to be among the first to list these cards on eBay. With few sellers to choose from in the initial week or so, sales are brisk and prices can be quite high, as people are willing to pay a lot to get the cards they really want RIGHT NOW.
  • For some unknown reason the Squirrel Token photo I included in a previous post has been drawing a phenomenal number of hits to the Blog. I'm not sure why so many people are doing Google image searches for Squirrel Tokens, but it's bringing people in! If you're one of them - Welcome!
  • Sales have actually been picking up at of late. Again, I can't say for sure why, but I'm hopeful that it will continue to grow, and I can start sending over some of the higher ticket items from eBay and save a boatload on listing and final value fees. About 33% of my sales get lost to eBay and PayPal fees right now! That hurts!
Well, I think that's enough for one post. I promise to do my best to get another post up soon, this time focusing on one of the Lorwyn issues I said I'd write about that I haven't addressed yet.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Happy happy joy joy - Lorwyn is HERE!

Yesterday was both a good day and a bad day. Let me tell you about the bad first...

If you've been following this Blog for a while at all you know that I once, a couple of years ago, received a negative feedback from some crazy woman who never sent me a check, then was amazed that her item didn't ship. She left a nasty negative feedback, and apparently did this for several other sellers and her eBay account was closed down as a result. But, still, I had this one mark against me and a mere 99.9% positive for my eBay account. This made me seethe. But just a few weeks ago my score crept up high enough (I guess over 99.95%) that the score finally rounded up to 100.0% again. Yahoo!!!

That is, until yesterday. Some bloke who bought some cards, and later asked why they hadn't arrived, although the USPS tracking site says it was delivered. I don't know, I tell him - ask at his post office, maybe they can advise (maybe they marked it delivered, but couldn't fit it in the mailbox? Maybe it was left on his front porch and stolen? How am I supposed to know).

Well, it seems that this is not good enough for him. So yesterday I get a negative feedback rating with this message: "cards never arrived, i'd rather have a refund instead of having to track it down"!?!?! How, I ask you, can it be MY fault if the USPS messes up on his end? Or if the package is stolen? I sent the cards he ordered and paid for - I arranged for a tracking number to follow. I offered to insure the package (not taken). What more am I supposed to do?

What's even more galling is that this user has a feedback rating of 18 (1 of which is mine - I left a positive when he paid...I'm starting to understand why some sellers wait for positive feedback for themselves before leaving it for the buyer), and he's only been an eBayer since May 2007, so he's a newbie, doesn't know how things work, doesn't understand that he should try to work things out with a seller before leaving negative feedback...basically he REALLY pissed me off.

But I'm not bitter. Really. Ask anyone.

Okay, enough of my rant, sorry. So why was yesterday a good day? Because my Lorwyn cards arrived! Woo-hoo! After opening up my three boxes (I love the fact that these showed up on the release date!) I have all of the 121 commons (no surprise there - probably at least 4 of each, actually) and all of the 80 Uncommons (only 1 of a couple of them, but all), 69 out of the 80 Rares (not too shabby, really) and around 35 foils (mostly basic Lands and Commons, but some Uncommons and 1 Rare). This includes three copies of the second most popular card (judging by current eBay prices - in the $10-13 range), Gaddock Teeg. [The most popular, Thoughtseize ($23-26 range), I only got one of]. And I got several copies of the Lorwyn Dual Lands, which will be the topic of my next post.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More on Lorwyn

Okay, Lorwyn is a pretty unusual set, for several reasons, and I want to discuss these over the next couple of quick posts.

Lorwyn is the first set in its block (logically called the "Lorwyn Block"). What makes it unusual here is that this block will only consist of two sets: Lorwyn, and Morningtide (the latter to be released in February 2008). Since the concept of the "block" was introduced, blocks have consisted of three sets, not two. Actually, one could make an arguement for the Ice Age Block as being an exception, as that originally consisted of only Ice Age and Alliances (Homelands, released between the two, was separate from the storyline described in them). However, when Wizards of the Coast (WotC) released Coldsnap back in July 2006, they "completed" the Ice Age block with a third set. But I digress...

For some reason WotC has decided to release two "mini blocks" this time around instead of a normal 3-set block. The Lorwyn mini-block will be followed by the Shadowmoor mini-block (which will consist of Shadowmoor and another set not yet officially named, but code-named "Doughnut" [Shadowmoor was code-named "Jelly" during development...and if you really care, Lorwyn and Morningtide were code-named "Peanut" and "Butter", respectively]). For a while WotC has been releasing 4 sets per year, those four being a 3-set block and some additional unconnected set (a "Core Set" like 10th Edition every other year, Unhinged, and Coldsnap). This year instead they will have two 2-set mini-blocks. Kind of a neat idea.

Okay...things to look forward to in posts to be released soon:
  • New card type: bring on the Planeswalkers!
  • New Dual Lands (and these look to be as cool as the Ravnica block ones were)
  • Going tribal!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lorwyn is coming!

This Friday (October 12, 2007) marks the official release of the newest Magic: the Gathering expansion set, called Lorwyn.

This is the first set of a new "block", and as such is a rather large set, and includes its own basic Lands. The set will be available in 15-card booster packs as well as large "Tournament Decks". The latter typically is the only way to get the basic Land cards. I have pre-ordered two boxes of booster packs and a box of tournament decks, so I should be well stocked in short order to start selling Lorwyn singles. I'll have a couple of more posts on the subject of this expansion over the next few days as we lead up to the release, and as I open up my packs and see what cool cards await!

Store Update: I just today finished getting the last of Lot 26 listed in the Store. I have three more lots to go - two lots of all Foil cards, and one largish lot of all Foils & Rares. I also have new stock of unopened packs coming (I just recently won boxes of 10th Edition, Unhinged and Planar Chaos) so I have more of "Lot 7" to go. I'm particularly proud of the Unhinged box, as I paid less than $1 per pack for the 36 packs in the box - and each pack contains a basic Land card that I can sell for $1 each. Not too shabby.

The 10th Edition cards have been selling quite nicely. I have had several orders consisting purely of dozens of 10th Edition cards.

I've been having several auctions each week up, mostly consisting of complete common sets, unopened booster packs, and promo Foil card singles. These auctions have often gone well, and have brought customers in to buy more from the Store, which is of course one of the main reasons for having them.

This week I'm trying a new experiment - I have several "playsets" of four copies of a given 10th Edition uncommon card. Since I've bought so many boxes of 10th Edition at this point, I have WAY too many uncommon cards, and it seemed that selling playsets would be a way to cull the herd somewhat, as well as advertise that I have lots of 10th Edition available for sale.

More on Lorwyn tomorrow!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Store update, anyone?

Okay, it's been a while since I gave everyone who's interested in such things a Store Update. And today's a good day to do one, since I have something to celebrate:


Yes, I have finally edited every last one (I hope) of the 5000+ magic card entries I have available on eBay, fixing the shipping options to match the new USPS "First Class International", and updating the wording on the generic text in the descriptions. It was a long, arduous process, but at long last it's finished.

Now I can shift focus and get back to adding new cards to the store. I still have literally thousands of cards to get up, most of them Uncommons, Rares and Foils. First order of business, though, will be to get the common cards from Legends and The Dark up onto - I finally decided during the overhaul to take them down from eBay and put them up at the new store. So I need to edit the old photos to match the new Store's standards, and get the things listed. This includes a lot of Italian Legends and The Dark common cards as well.

I've made a bunch more purchases since I last updated here. I believe the last I reported I had purchased Lot 23. Well, there's been quite a few more since then. I'm more focusing on unopened packs and batches of Rares/Foils/Promos these days...
  • Lot 24 has become now a sort of generic Lot number for unopened packs that I buy and auction still unopened. I find people offering larger lots of packs, then sell them individually at auction and (hopefully) make a profit. For example, someone had a batch of 34 unopened booster packs of Urza's Legacy (that's 2 short a complete box). Unfortunately for him (fortunately for me), he misspelled Urza's Legacy as "Urza,s Legacy", so I think a lot of searchers missed his auction. The set ended up going for less than it probably should have, but that means that when I sell them off one at a time, starting the bidding at $5, I should make some profit.
  • Lot 25 was a "deck" someone had up that included "29 special cards". There wasn't much of a description, but the price was very cheap, and no-one else bid on it, so I got it at the minimum. Unfortunately the "Nevinyrral's Disk" they advertised was from some Pro Tour set that's practically worthless, and was in such beat up shape I couldn't sell it anyway. SIGH. I might be able to get my money back on this one.
  • Lot 26 was a whole bunch of uncommons, (2100+), rares (300+) and foils from recent sets. A couple was needing to get some money to pay off their debt, so decided to dump their rather expensive Magic habit and sell off their cards. It seems they bought boxes to collect complete sets - and didn't play with them. What I bought were their extras, which were in incredibly good shape (I'd say Mint if I didn't reserve that term for cards I took out of packs myself).
  • Lot 27 was a small batch (38) of Foils - including a 9th Edition Serra Angel. Since I collect those, this was an added bonus.
  • Lot 28 was another batch (95) of Foils I bought from a guy that I also bought over 100 unopened packs from. The unopened packs get filed under "Lot 7", the generic Lot number for unopened packs that I then open myself to sell the individual cards.
  • Lot 29 was a small batch of Foils (26) and Token Creature cards (8).
  • Lot 30 was a batch of 198 Foils and 5 Promo cards.
  • Lot 31 was around 1000 Rares and over 300 Foils. I've been auctioning off many of these Foils over the last several weeks. Many are Friday Night Magic (FNM) promo cards, or Pre-Release cards. When a new set is released, Wizards of the Coast throws Pre-Release parties, and these special promo cards, Foil jazzed-up versions of a rare card from the set, are printed for those events. They even had fun for a while using never-before-used languages, like Hebrew and Latin!
  • Lot 32 was a small (37) batch of Foils.
  • Lot 33 was a batch (325) of Foils and a few assorted other Rare cards.
  • Lot 34 was a box of 9th Edition. This Lot still galls me a little, and I'll tell you why below.

Okay, why am I so upset about Lot 34? This guy lists this item, starting the bidding at some high amount. He claims that he considered getting into Magic, and bought this box (and another box of some other set - he listed two at the same time), opened the packs, then never played the game. So he wants to sell them off. He says that this box contains all the cards originally in there. I emailed him asking him to let me know how many foil cards there were, and what they were. Also, what are the Rare cards? Since he opened the packs, I might as well take advantage and see what he's offering. No response. The box doesn't sell. A week or so later I see it up again, this time with a more reasonable starting bid. So I email him again. This time he replies, and says there are no foils, but he sends me a list of Rares.

Two problems here. First of all, the odds of opening up an entire box of 9th Edition and not getting a single Foil card are EXTREMELY low. Maybe impossible, I don't know. Secondly, the list of Rares has only 35 cards listed. As there should be 36 packs in a box, and one Rare per pack, there should be 36 listed. I emailed him for clarification on the last point, and he replied that there were two copies of one of the cards, so there were indeed 36 Rares. Okay, I bid (the Rares were good ones - Wrath of God, four different Pain Lands, Royal Assassin - basically the Rares alone would cover the asking price) and won.

Now, when I get the cards, my son and I immediately fall to sorting them out. Most of our work has already been done for us, however, and the work goes quickly. Then I count the cards (yes, I am that obsessive). There should have been 108 Uncommons (36 packs times 3 Uncommons per pack). There were 111. There should have been 36 Basic Lands (1 per pack). There were 51. There should have been 360 Commons (10 each pack). There were 371. And to make matters worse, three of the Commons come from a 9th Edition sub-set, only available in the boxed set version.

So, this is obviously not the original contents of a box of 9th Edition. But I actually come out ahead (there's more cards in every category except Rares). So I'm torn between being pleased with the purchase (I think it was a good one) and being ticked off at the guy for so obviously lying about what he was selling.

Right now I have a bid on a factory sealed box of 9th Edition - if I win it, it will be amusing to compare what I get (especially in the Foils category) versus what I got for Lot 24. I am also keeping an eye on a huge Lot of Japanese 4th Edition cards. You may remember my foray into the Chinese 4th Edition cards (first mentioned in this post from October '06). Well, the Japanese 4th Edition have the same draw - the black borders, the Asian mystique. If this lot doesn't get bid up too high I will grab it up and sell them individually as I have been on the Chinese ones.

On another note entirely, the traffic to the Abilities page on continues to amaze me. From the tracking I'm doing, I see double-digit hits on that page nearly every day, almost all from Google searches for Magic abilities. It's very cool - I just wish it was resulting in sales from as well. I think some of the hits end up becoming eBay customers, but I'm still confused as to why there has been so little interest in the cards at the new Store. If anyone reading out there has any ideas, give me a holler, please!

Well, I think I've managed to babble on quite a bit tonight, and there may be few of you still reading at this point, so I'll sign off for now. Hopefully these posts may come a bit more often now that the major overhaul is done (although maybe not - I may be getting a part-time job soon!).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Token Creature cards in 10th Edition

Since the very beginning of Magic (the original Alpha Edition in 1993) there has existed the concept of a "token Creature". In Alpha Edition there was a card The Hive, an Artifact that allowed the controller to spend 5 mana and tap The Hive to put a 1/1 Wasp Artifact Creature token with Flying into play. As long as you had 5 mana to spare, and The Hive was untapped, you could make yourself an annoying little Wasp. The intent was that the user would represent these Wasps with a coin, or a spare card, or anything that could be flipped or rotated to indicate it was "tapped" (when it attacked, for example).

Since Alpha, more and more cards have come out that creature token Creatures. Saprolings, Goblins, Angels, Beasts, Demons, Soldiers - even Sheep and Squirrels! But the intended representation remained the same until 1998.

In 1998 a "silly" set called Unglued was released. This set was never intended for serious play, and I have discussed some of the cards in it before. Included in this set were 6 honest-to-goodness official token Creature cards - cards which served no purpose other than to act as representations of token Creatures generated by a card or effect. There was a Goblin, a Pegasus, a Sheep, a Soldier, a Squirrel and a Zombie. As an example, here's the Squirrel token pictured to the right (cute, isn't he?).

Then, starting in 2001, Wizards of the Coast started releasing more official token Creature cards as part of their Players' Rewards program. I have some of these available in my eBay store at the moment. There have been many printed over the past few years, and the only way to get them was to join the program that they were given out in (or buy them from people who got them that way, as I have done).

But now, with the advent of 10th Edition, official token Creature cards are being given out in ordinary booster packs. About 1 out of every 3 10th Edition boosters contains one of six Creature token cards (which I of course have available for sale): Dragon, Goblin, Saproling, Soldier, Wasp and Zombie. Why these six? Because they are each generated by a card in the 10th Edition (Dragon Roost, Siege-Gang Commander, Verdant Force, Mobilization, The Hive and Midnight Ritual, respectively), and they are the only six token Creatures created by cards in 10th Edition. Yes, The Hive has returned to the Core Set after being absent since 6th Edition - and the Wasp Token (pictured to the right) has been printed to be used to represent the little blighters.

Wizards of the Coast has already announced that they will continue to include token Creature cards in booster packs at least through the next three expansion sets (Starting with Lorwyn, to be released this Fall), and has said that they will start to be more common, in around 2 out of every 3 packs instead. I'm glad to hear it - I think they're kinda cool, and I'm glad that "ordinary" people can get their hands on them now.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Crucible of Worlds: a great new 10th Edition card

Here's the first of the promised 10th Edition card highlights.

Above is a picture of Crucible of Worlds. I have available copies of this card in both normal and foil formats. The card was originally introduced in the Fifth Dawn expansion set, and has been imported into the Core Set with 10th Edition.

Crucible of Worlds is an Artifact that simply allows you to play Land cards from your graveyard. While this may not seem like much (especially to the Magic non-initiate), there are all sorts of very amazing uses that this allows for.
First of all, it's great defense against a Land-destruction deck. Has your opponent Stone Rained your only Island? No problem - just play it from your graveyard next turn and you're back in business.
Secondly, it's great for retrieval and re-use of Lands that require sacrificing to use a special ability. For example, in 10th Edition there is Quicksand, a Land that can be sacrificed to give target Creature without Flying -1/-2 until the end of the turn. After you've sacrificed it, it's in your graveyard. Now with Crucible of Worlds you can play it again next turn. Or if you REALLY want to get nasty, sacrifice it for its ability before you play a Land, then play the Quicksand from your graveyard and sacrifice it a second time! Now you've given that poor Creature -2/-4, thereby killing the majority of Creatures in the game. It's also great with Archaeological Dig from Invasion - a Land that can be sacrificed to add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Great combo with the Crucible in a multicolored deck.
Thirdly, there are several Spells and Abilities that require you to sacrifice Land(s) as a cost. Again, retrieving them is no problem with the Crucible. Like the Arcane Spyglass from Darksteel that allows you to sacrifice a Land to draw a card (and put a charge counter on the Spyglass - removing three charge counters also lets you draw a card). Just keep feeding the same Land to the Spyglass once a turn, and bring it back again next turn!
Fourthly, they work great with the Cycle Lands from Urza's Saga or Onslaught. Cycle that Barren Moor to draw a card (this sends the Barren Moor to the graveyard), then play it from your graveyard with the Crucible.
Finally (and these are just the uses I came up with off the top of my head), this is great for using Land cards as discards when a Spell or Ability requires discarding as a cost. Discard the Land, then play it from your graveyard. For example the lovely counterspell Foil from Prophecy allows you discard an Island and another card instead of paying its mana cost. Sneak in the Foil to counter an opponent's Spell, then rescue your Island from your graveyard next turn!
Really, the card is incredibly useful, and it's no wonder that it has proven so far to be one of the most popular of all the cards in 10th Edition.

Tenth (10th) Edition is Here!

Well, the brand new Core Set, 10th Edition, has arrived. The big release party was back on July 14 (that's the day of the Scavenger Hunt if you remember my earlier post on that - I'll have an update on the results of those sales later), but the two boxes of booster packs I had Pre-ordered didn't arrive until Friday this week. My son and I feverishly opened packs and sorted cards, and as of this morning all my 10th Edition Rares, Uncommons and Foils are up at eBay and all the Commons are up at Don's Magic and Sundry.

I'll talk about some highlights of the set here, and write a few more entries over the next couple of days focusing on some of the cooler (in my opinion, anyway) aspects.

The first big thing to jump out at you about 10th Edition is the appearance of the cards. First of all is the black border. This is the first Core Set since Beta Edition back in 1993 to have black borders in all languages (normally they get black borders only if it's the first time the cards have been printed in that language). Wizards of the Coast decided to do something special since it is the 10th Edition, and next year marks the 15th anniversary of the game. Secondly there's the Edition symbol - a roman numeral 10 (X) was chosen but an almost 2/3 majority of online voters at over continuing with the same style of symbol used for 8th and 9th Editions (a stylized hand of cards with the number 8 or 9, respectively, in the center). The Edition symbols were first used in 6th Edition, when they used a roman numeral (VI), then changed to a fancy font 7 for 7th Edition. Then it seemed they settled on this new method for 8th and 9th, so I was quite surprised when I found out that the roman numeral would be coming back for 10th.

The next cool thing is the booster packaging - 5 different wrappers, one in each of the colors of Magic. Very nice.

And then there's the 16th card...normally a booster pack has 15 cards in it: 11 Commons (or 10 commons and a basic Land card for 8th/9th/10th); 3 Uncommons; and 1 Rare. For the last couple of sets, if there is a Foil card inserted, then it takes the place of one of the Commons (previously it would take the place of the same level card as it was, so a Foil Uncommon would replace a normal Uncommon). But in 10th Edition there's a 16th card - a special insert card that has an advertisement of some sort on the back and either a Token Creature or a "Tips & Tricks" message on the other. I plan to write entries talking more about these later so look for them over the next couple of days.

Another surprising thing (to me, anyway) is that the set actually includes cards from the Time Spiral block (Time Spiral, Planar Chaos and Future Sight) - the most recent expansion sets. Since boosters from these sets are still readily available, I didn't think they'd be considered for use in the Core set until 11th Edition. Of course I wasn't really actively buying when 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th Editions were released so I can't (without some research) say whether they contained cards from the current expansions when they came out.

Overall I was very pleased with the cards that I got in the two boxes. Some great cards include two Crucible of Worlds (one Foil - extremely rare and VERY popular), two Serra Angels (which will not be sold - they get added to my Serra Angel collection), a Paladin en-Vec a Pithing Needle (remember this card from an earlier post? It made it into 10th Edition!), a Troll Ascetic and several Pain Lands (yes, my prediction that the Pain Lands would be replaced by the dual Guild Lands from the Ravnica block did not come true, alas).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Magic Game Day Scavenger Hunt

All right - something odd. I have recently been editing many of my listings on eBay, because I had to update the shipping options (see my earlier rant on the USPS changes). One of the listings I updated was for the Legends Rules card. This was a card included in every single booster pack of Legends that explained some new rules introduced with that set. Because every pack had one, and both Alan and I had bought lots of Legends, I have well over 100 copies of this thing

Shortly after the listing was updated, I started getting several orders for it (I had only gotten 3 or 4 in the previous year). Several people bought just one copy, some bought four, some bought one copy of this plus another single card (Spanish Lord of the Pit or Stampeding Wildebeests). Almost 10 purchases within a week-and-a-half. I could not figure out what had suddenly made this card so popular.

So, off to Google, answerer of all that is mysterious. A quick search finally revealed the answer. As part of the celebration and kicking off of 10th Edition next month (July 14 to be exact), Wizards of the Coast is sponsoring a Magic Game Day Scavenger Hunt. The link takes you to the official rules page, but here's the short version: be the person to bring in the most of 30 items to a participating retailer on 7/14/07 and win a nifty Magic Backpack. And, of course, the Legends rules card is one of the 30 items!

So, mystery solved...and new worked created. Why? Because I have a LOT of the other items on the list, that's why! And many of them are things I had never thought to put up before. Empty booster packs, display boxes, starter deck boxes, rule books...all these things that I've had lying around, many from Alan's collection ("Lot 4" as it's known around here). So, quick scramble to get these up - after all I have to sell them immediately if they are going to have any chance to get into people's hands in time for the contest. I actually created a new Store category called Scavenger Hunt to highlight these items.

My (educated) guess is that any of the specific individual cards they ask for (like Nekrataal or Mogg Fanatic) are going to be reprinted in 10th Edition.

Here's the list of the 30, with comments and/or links to the items if I have them available:
  1. Arabian Nights Fishliver Oil card - I used to have several, but all have sold
  2. Empty booster display box of any expansion from Alpha to Mirage - I have ones from Legends, The Dark, Fallen Empires, Ice Age and Mirage available
  3. An Alpha, Beta, Unlimited or Revised Starter Pack deckbox - I have Alpha/Beta, Unlimited and Revised all available
  4. Booster pack wrapper of Arabian Nights, Revised, Unlimited, Beta or Alpha - unfortunately I have none of these
  5. Magic rulebook with Bog Wraith on the cover - up for auction at eBay
  6. Magic rulebook with Shivan Dragon on the cover - up for auction at eBay
  7. Arabian Nights Mountain card - none; bummer
  8. Legends Rules card - as mentioned, available at eBay
  9. Invasion Reya Dawnbringer card - I've never had one of these. I'd like one, though!
  10. Exodus Paladin en-Vec card - none :-(
  11. Onslaught Festering Goblin card - available at
  12. Visions Nekrataal card - up in eBay
  13. Lord of the Pit card illustrated by Mark Tedin - from Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Revised, Fourth Edition, or Fifth Edition. I have several up.
  14. Tempest Mogg Fanatic card - available at
  15. Alliances Guerrilla Tactics card - both versions available at (thus the two separate links)
  16. Scourge Siege-Gang Commander card -
  17. Giant Growth card illustrated by Sandra Everingham - from Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Revised, Fourth Edition, Anthologies, or as a DCI FNM Promo; I have several available at, including Chinese Fourth Edition
  18. Visions Stampeding Wildebeests card - up at eBay
  19. Mirrodin Platinum Angel card - never owned one :-(
  20. Fifth Dawn Crucible of Worlds card - I'm afraid not :-(
  21. Urza's Legacy Treetop Village card - don't have it :-(
  22. Ice Age Adarkar Wastes card - not this one either (I used to!) :-(
  23. Apocalypse Caves of Koilos card - one of the pain lands I've never owned :-(
  24. Largest collection of 1 single non-basic land card - this one's kind of up to the individual, I think
  25. Duelist Issue Number 1 - thanks to Alan I have this!
  26. Entrant with Lowest DCI Number - up to the individual
  27. An officially licensed Magic comic book - I've sold all of mine already!!!
  28. Clothing with Magic artwork on it - I don't have any myself, let alone some to sell
  29. Four different Friday Night Magic cards - I've never done FNM :-( I do, however, have a couple of promo cards that I've gotten in Lots!
  30. Three spin down Magic life counters with different expansion symbols on them - never owned any
Anyway, many of these are special auctions that end on this Saturday night (June 30, 2007) so they'll only be up for a limited time. Others are regular store inventory items, and will remain up if they don't sell soon.

Here's hoping people are actually interested, and I'm not going crazy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Goggle's number one hit...

Okay, time for a quick Store Update for those who care about such things.

The big cool news is this...try this out. Open a new browser window, go to, and then search for the words: magic ability flying. Go ahead. I'll wait....


This works for all sorts of Magic abilities: Flying, Flanking, Horsemanship, Banding, Defender... So nifty! How did I find this out? Because my Store "Abilities Page" is getting dozens of hits off of Google, so I tried it myself to see why. And now I know.

How did I get to be number 1? Well, best guess is that I:
  1. Used the proper keywords that a person might search for; and
  2. have literally thousands of links to this page via my listings on eBay and at as well.

You see (and I didn't know this when I started this - it's just a BIG added bonus), part of the formula Google uses to calculate how high to rank a page is how many other pages link to it. Since over 50% of my listings on eBay have at least one link to this abilities page, that's thousands of links there that the Goggle web robots pick up on. It makes my Abilities Page look all important and stuff.

Now if only those dozens of visitors would then go and buy something from the Store...

In other news, Lot 7 is complete (at the moment - I have bids on several auctions ending today that may net me some more unopened booster packs). I still have several thousand cards to process and get up, however.

The Lot from Canada (Lot 19 for those keeping score) had a bit of a strange tale. It never showed up even after five weeks, and assurances from the seller that it had been sent. I felt I had to file a claim with PayPal, since I only have 45 days in which to do so. The seller got back to me very quickly - turns out (according to her) that the package got returned to sender, and she had been gone for a few days for work. So, she shipped the cards by FedEx OVERNIGHT DELIVERY! I've never had an overnight package before. Very exciting. And it must have been expensive for her to whip - so kudos to the seller for getting the stuff to me. Unfortunately the shipment was a few cards shy of what was promised, so she's (supposedly) sending a few more by regular post.

And last night I had the very unfortunate discovery that I had misfiled 32 cards in my "Foil Cards" category on the eBay store, and included the word "Foil" in their description (this is the potential problem with copying a previous entry to make a new one). So I had someone buy a $12 card that he was expecting to be Foil [I could argue that he should have known better - no way would that card sell as a Foil for only $12, but I digress], and is disappointed that it is not. One piece of good news, though - the mistake was discovered before he sent payment, and therefore before I sent the card, so we just have to cancel the eBay transaction and all is well. But I had to spend a half-hour or so last night editing the remaining 31 files to correct them before someone else bought a "Foil" card that wasn't!

Otherwise, I just continue to chug along. Sales have indeed picked up since I started adding more inventory and have regular weekly auctions up. Yesterday the Alpha Edition Vesuvan Doppelganger finally sold just yesterday for $150 - it's been up since I got Lot 4 way back a year ago! Of course the buyer hasn't yet paid for it...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sweet Pain: Dual Lands Part II

As mentioned in my last post, the Dual Land concept, having a single Land that could produce more than one type of mana, was a very popular one, but they were deemed too powerful and taken out of circulation. However, the idea has been revisited many times, with limitations added to the cards to take them down a notch.

SIDE NOTE: For purposes of this discussion, to save typing, I will use the same mana conventions I use in my listings. Therefore:
  • "W" means "one White mana"
  • "U" means "one Blue mana"
  • "B" means "one Black mana"
  • "R" means "one Red mana"
  • "G" means "one Green mana"
The first of these attempts was in the Ice Age expansion. This introduced two types of Dual Lands. The first type became known as "Pain Lands", because when they are tapped for a colored mana they also deal 1 damage to you, although they can be tapped for one colorless mana with no damage dealt. An example is the Adarkar Wastes that can produce W or U (this link is for a 9th Edition version of this card). The second type are known as "Depletion Lands"; when they are tapped for colored mana they get a "depletion counter" on them. If they have a depletion counter on them at the beginning of your turn, you can't untap them, but remove a depletion counter instead. Essentially this means you could only use these lands every other turn. An example is the River Delta that can produce U or B. So both types had a limitation - take a point of damage, or only use every other turn.

In addition to the limitations, a striking difference between these and the original Dual Lands is that there were only 5 of each type of these - only the allied color combinations were made. So there is no Ice Age Pain Land that can make either Red or Blue mana, since Red and Blue are enemy colors. Another important difference is that these lands do not count as both of the basic Land types they mimic. In other words, a River Delta is not an Island or a Swamp, although it can be used to make U or B. The Ice Age Pain Lands were reprinted in 5th Edition, 6th Edition, 7th Edition and 9th Edition (I'm not sure why they were dropped for 8th Edition). All of these lands were Rare cards in Ice Age, as well as when reprinted in the Core Sets.

Homelands had perhaps the least popular of all attempts at making multi-color lands. It had 5 uncommon lands that could be tapped to add one colorless mana to your mana pool, or to turn one mana of any color into a specific colored mana, or to turn 2 mana of any color into an allied color of that specific color. So, for example, Koskun Keep can be tapped to turn 1 mana into R, or to turn two mana into B or G.

In Tempest, the Pain Lands idea was picked up again for a set of Rare cards. This time two significant changes were made compared to the original ones in Ice Age. First of all, an additional limitation was added. These Pain Lands comes into play tapped, so you can't use them immediately upon putting them down. Secondly, again only 5 were made, but this time in the 5 possible enemy color combinations. An example of the Tempest Pain Lands is the Scabland that can produce R or W. Tempest also had 5 uncommon Lands that could be tapped for one colorless mana, or for one of two possible colored manas. If the colored mana was chosen, the Land would not untap the next turn. These are functionally the same as the Depletion Lands from Ice Age without the confusion of dealing with depletion counters. An example is the Mogg Hollows that can add either R or G to your mana pool, but then doesn't untap your on next turn.
The expansion called Invasion introduced two new types of Dual Lands. First there were 5 common lands that could be tapped add one mana of a given color to your mana pool, or be sacrificed to add one each of the two ally colors of that given color to your mana pool. For example the Ancient Spring can be tapped to add one U to your mana pool, or can be tapped and sacrificed to add WB to your mana pool. The second set of lands was a set of 5 uncommon cards that could produce either of two allied colors, but came into play tapped as a limitation. For example the Urborg Volcano comes into play tapped, but thereafter can be tapped to add B or R to your mana pool. These 5 uncommon cards were reprinted in 8th Edition as uncommon cards (for example this 8th Edition Salt Marsh that can produce U or B), I guess to replace the Pain Lands that were taken out after 7th Edition only to be added back in for 9th Edition.

In Apocalypse, it was apparently decided that the additional limitation of coming into play tapped added to the Pain Lands in Tempest was unnecessary, so a new set of 5 enemy color combination Pain Lands was introduced. These are functionally identical to the 5 Pain Lands in Ice Age, except that they combine non-allied colors together. An example is Shivan Reef that can produce either R or U. These 5 Pain Lands have been reprinted in 9th Edition (such as this Yavimaya Coast that can produce G or U). So 9th Edition has a complete set of all 10 possible two-color combination Pain Lands, making it the first Core Set since Revised Edition to have all 10 combinations represented.

Planeshift had an odd twist on the dual land idea. It introduced 5 "Trio Lands", the Lairs of five Legendary Dragons. These Lands required you to return a non-Lair Land you control to its owner's hand when you play them, but they can be tapped to add one of any of the three colors of mana needed to summon that particular Dragon. For example, Crosis' Catacombs can be tapped to add U, B, or R to your mana pool. Crosis, the Purger is a Legendary Dragon that has a casting cost of 3UBR.

An interesting variation of the Dual Land concept was introduced in Odyssey. This set included 5 lands that could be tapped to turn one mana of any color into two mana of allied colors. For example the Darkwater Catacombs could be tapped for one mana of any color (even colorless) to make UB.

Champions of Kamigawa introduced 5 uncommon Lands that were functionally identical to the 5 uncommon lands in Tempest. These lands can produce a colorless mana with no penalty, or one of two allied color manas at a cost of not untapping the next turn. This means that the Pinecrest Ridge from Champions of Kamigawa does exactly the same thing as Mogg Hollows from Tempest.

Now in the Ravnica block of expansions (Ravnica: City of Guilds, Guidpact and Dissension) the whole underlying concept involved 10 Guilds, each representing a melding of two colors of magic. Each Guild had a special rare Dual land that comes close to mimicking the original Dual Lands. Like the originals, each counts as two different basic Lands, and can produce either of the appropriate two mana colors. As a limitation, however, each comes into play tapped unless you pay 2 life when you play it - a nasty upfront cost, but cheaper in the long run than a Pain Land if you use it more than twice. And if you can afford to wait a turn before you use it, then no life cost at all! A good example is the Overgrown Tomb, a Land from Ravnica: City of Guilds that is a Swamp Forest, so can be tapped to add either B or G to your mana pool. Judging by current prices these cards are even more popular than the Pain Lands, and I wouldn't be too surprised if they make their way into a Core Set (maybe 10th Edition?), replacing the Pain Lands in that set.

Each Guild in the Ravnica block sets also had a common Land that was interesting. They come into play tapped, and you have to return a Land you control to its owner's hand when you play it. But thereafter it can be tapped to add two mana to your mana pool, one of each of the Guild's two colors. For example the Izzet Boilerworks from Guildpact adds RU to your mana pool when tapped for mana.

The Time Spiral expansion added 5 new "Mana Battery Dual Lands." This combined two concepts. The Dual Land idea I've been talking about was melded to the "Mana Battery" Land idea first introduced in Fallen Empires. The basic idea here is that these Lands can be tapped at a cost of 1 mana to add a storage counter to them. They can then later be tapped for a price of one mana and you can remove any number of storage counters you want (call it "X"). You can then add X mana to your mana pool, in any combination of two allied mana colors. So, for example, the Calciform Pools can be used to store up mana of any color, and then release the stored mana as either W or U.

Finally, the newest set to be released, Future Sight, introduced five new varieties of "Dual Land", one for each ally-color combination. Each one does something different. Graven Cairns can turn either R or B into RR, BB or a RB. Grove of the Burnwillows can add R or G to your mana pool, but each opponent gains one life (almost the opposite effect as a Pain Land). Horizon Canopy can add G or W to your mana pool, but you have to pay 1 life for the privilege (functionally the same as a Pain Land, but the wording makes the life loss unpreventable). Nimbus Maze can add W to your mana pool only if you control an Island, and U only if you control a Plains. And River of Tears can be tapped to add U to your mana pool, or B instead if you played a Land this turn.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How's Bayou? A look at the Dual Lands.

Okay, at long last, the promised post on the Dual Lands! When I got done writing this, I realized it was WAY too long, so I have split it up into two posts.

Our saga starts way back in the very first edition of Magic, Alpha. In this original set were introduced 10 rare cards, know collectively as the Dual Lands. Each of these land cards counted as two basic Land types, and could be used to produce mana of two different colors. For example, the Bayou (of which I have one up for auction this week) counts as both a Forest and a Swamp, and could be used to make Green mana (G) or Black mana (B).

Since there are five colors of mana possible (see my previous post on the subject), that's 10 possible combinations, and thus the 10 original Dual Lands. These lands are:
  • Badlands (Swamp Mountain)
  • Bayou (Forest Swamp)
  • Plateau (Plains Mountain)
  • Savannah (Plains Forest)
  • Scrubland (Plains Swamp)
  • Taiga (Mountain Forest)
  • Tropical Island (Island Forest)
  • Tundra (Plains Island)
  • Underground Sea (Island Swamp)
  • Volcanic Island (Island Mountain)

These 10 Lands survived through Revised Edition before they were declared too powerful, and taken out of print. They remain immensely popular, however, and the most recent versions from Revised Edition sell right now in the $25-$30 range; ones from Unlimited Edition in the $30-$45 range; and ones from Alpha Edition and Beta Edition sell in excess of $100.

Since they have been taken out of the set, however, several attempts have been made to create Lands that could make multiple colors of mana, with some limitation to them to make them a little less powerful. I'll look at these other attempts in my next post, Dual Lands Part II

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Colors of Magic

I have promised to write a post talking about the Dual Lands for a while now, but I think that in order for that post to make complete sense, a little bit of Magic background is necessary. So, I am going to first present this mini-Magic lesson on the Five Colors of Magic.

If you look at the back of a Magic card you'll see a symbol made of five colored dots (the symbol appears in the extreme left-hand side of my Store logo). These dots represent the five colors of Magic. Starting at the top and working clockwise you have White (although it looks a bit yellowish in the symbol), Blue, Black (appears more brown than Black), Red and Green.

Each of the five colors has its own strengths and weaknesses, its own specialties, if you will, in the type of Spells and Creatures that are available to it. Each has two colors that tend to ally with it, and two that tend to be its enemies. In the symbol, the five colors are arranged so that their allies are adjacent to them (one clockwise, one counterclockwise) and the enemies are across from them. And each color has a basic Land type associated with it, the simplest source of mana (magical energy) of that color.

For example, the color White has specialties in Order and Good. It is allied with Blue (which has a specialty of Reason/Thought, a good companion to Order) and with Green (which has a specialty of Life, a good companion to Good). Its enemies are Red (Chaos) and Black (Evil). White's basic Land type is the Plains.

The table below sums up the five colors and their attributes. Especially relevant to the coming Dual Land discussion is the idea of each color having 2 ally and 2 enemy colors.

ColorBasic LandSpecialtiesAlly ColorsEnemy Colors
White (W)
Order, Good
Blue, Green
Black, Red
Blue (U)
Reason/Thought, Water
Black, White
Red, Green
Black (B)
Death, Evil
Red, Blue
Green, White
Red (R)
Chaos, Fire
Green, Black
White, Blue
Green (G)
Life, Nature
White, Red
Blue, Black

As seen in the Wall Street Journal...

Okay - odd little story for you. It came to my attention that recently a person found this Blog through a link on a Wall Street Journal online article. The article is about a person whose workout regimen involves turning over playing cards to know how many reps of push ups to do. At the very bottom of the page are links to "related Blog articles." I believe this is a rotating thing, so there may no longer be a link to my Blog there, but at one point there was a link to my last store update - I think because the word "card(s)" got used so many times in that post. I was, to say the least, very amused to see "Don's Magic and Sundry" get a mention in the Wall Street Journal.

In other news...the Damnation that I wrote about earlier ended up selling for $16. Not bad. And the winner has already purchased one additional card and may add more to the order. Very nice.

A lot update:

Lot 18 has come in and was VERY disappointing. This was the 1000 card "unsearched" group of cards that the seller was going to add "some rares" to. I think "some" ended up equalling 5. And the rest of the 1000 cards were pretty much all commons and basic lands, no uncommons even. A great waste, and now I know not to buy from that seller again.

Lot 19 has still not arrived form Canada.

Lot 20 showed up - VERY nice. I think 6 of the cards will pay for the Lot, with the remainder being profit. I'm pleased with this one. The cards were not shipped very securely (all three large plastic boxes broke open in the cardboard box, and the cards had spilled out all over). Thankfully there wasn't any noticeable damage to any of the cards.

And there have been three additional Lots added since the last update.

Lot 21 was a couple of hundred cards that I got for the minimum bid of $5 plus $5 shipping. Included were two Foil 7th Edition Thorn Elementals. One was still in the plastic sleeve it came in originally as part of the 7th Edition Starter Pack. This one is up for auction this week. [I also have two cards from Lot 13 up this week: an oversized Starter 1999 Thorn Elemental and a Revised Edition Bayou, one of the Dual Lands that I promise to write about soon.]

Lot 22 looks to be a good deal. Someone had up a set of 1005 rares and 1000 uncommons, with a Buy It Now price of $425, "or best offer". I offered $350. He accepted. At that level he was willing to through in some bonuses as well. I have decided that I need to be much more choosy in my Lot purchases, as I am getting WAY too many common cards that just aren't selling at the new Store. I think I need to put together some Complete Common Sets from the various expansions and auction them off to reduce my stock.

Lot 23 is a group of 80 uncommons from Prophecy purchased from a seller in Las Vegas who has herself purchased from me in the past.

My Future Sight packs have come in, and I got enough cards to have at least one of every common and uncommon card, and well over half of the rares. Those will get up in the store eventually.

So, basically, I am busy, busy, busy right now. Thousands upon thousands of cards to process and get up in the two stores.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The USPS and shipping changes

On May 14, the United States Postal Service (USPS) changed a good deal about their shipping policies. What's very well known (at least here in the states) is that the basic first class stamp price went up two cents from $0.39 to $0.41. Still a far cry cheaper than any postage system anywhere else in the world, from what I understand, but since the rate went up from $0.37 to $0.39 just over a year ago (in January 2006) you can understand why there's some grumbling.

But more significantly, at least for me, were some major changes that affect how I ship things.

First of all, international shipping has been completely revamped. There no longer is such a thing as "Airmail Letter Post", which is how I used to send my cards to non-US customers. Now there is what they call "USPS International First Class". It's slightly more expensive (that rate went up as did all the others), but more importantly it means that EVERY SINGLE EBAY LISTING I HAVE IS MESSED UP! Every card I had up in the store listed "Airmail Letter Post" as a shipping option. Now that this does not exist, I have to edit every one of these listings and add the new International First Class option. I would think it would be easy enough for eBay to just edit this automatically, but NO, that's not how they do things. To make matters worse, if I have listed say 10 copies of a card as a single listing, and one has sold, I can no longer edit anything except the quantity and price of the item. So anything like this I have to end the listing and relist (being hit with a listing fee again). And remember that I have in excess of 3000 cards listed, so this is going to take a while. eBay's bulk editor doesn't really do me too much good because of the number of cards that have to be taken down and relisted. One bright note is that because of all the recent stock I've added to the store (see my previous post), I have to edit a lot of these listings any way to add the new inventory, so it's just one more thing to edit.

The other major pain is that in addition to raising the rate for first class mail, the USPS has also changed how they charge for items. Now your postage depends not just on the weight of the item, but it's size as well. There's a postcard rate, a regular envelope rate, a large envelope rate and a parcel rate - all for first class. If I send a single card in a puffy envelope, it's less than one ounce. But I can't send it for $0.41 - it's classified as a "large envelope" because it's larger than 1/4 inch thick. If it were over 3/4 inch thick it's classified as a parcel - even if it's under 1 ounce! And to add insult to injury, in order to get the nifty tracking number I get when I print shipping labels through PayPal, I have to send it at the parcel rate even though it isn't that thick(technically you can't get a tracking number for first class large envelope). So what used to cost me $0.66 to mail ($0.39 for postage, $0.13 for a "nonstandard envelope" and $0.14 for a tracking number) now costs me $1.31 ($1.13 for the first class parcel rate and $0.18 for a tracking number). Basically my shipping doubled!

Now, I only charge my customers what it costs me to mail these cards, so I'm not a seller who gouges on shipping to make money. But it certainly seems that way now to a potential buyer, I'm afraid! I may have to decide to do away with the PayPal labels and tracking numbers and drop down to hand-addressed "first class large envelope" rates. That would only be $0.80 for an envelope under one ounce.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Damnation - the Black Wrath of God

One of the really cool things about the latest sets of Magic, the Time Spiral block (Time Spiral, Planar Chaos and Future Sight) is the Timeshifted cards each set has. I think I'll save a more detailed explanation for another time, but suffice to say that in Planar Chaos we were introduced to versions of cards that might have been, in some alternate reality.

One of the most popular is called Damnation. What makes it so popular is that it is not only an alternate version of one of the more popular cards in the game, Wrath of God, but it's also in what is arguably the most popular color to play, Black.

Damnation is identical to Wrath of God in all ways except the mana needed to cast it. Instead of 2WW (2 mana of any color plus two White mana) it costs 2BB (2 of any color plus two Black). The artwork is even fitting - it is essentially a negative image of the Wrath of God artwork first introduced in 7th Edition. And it should be - it's by the same artist, Kev Walker.

Both cards destroy all Creatures in play, and they can't be Regenerated. It's a great way to clear the battlefield and then launch a bunch of your own Creatures (preferably ones with Haste so they can attack right away). And in a Black deck this is even better because Black has all sorts of Spells that manipulate the graveyard, either requiring that you remove a Creature there from the game, or allowing you to reanimate it. Nothing like obliterating your opponent's nastiest Creature, then taking control of it for yourself using something like Animate Dead.

So, of course, if I'm highlighting this card there must be a reason, right? You guessed it - I've got one up for auction right now. It should, I hope, end up going for over $10, maybe upwards of $15 or so. I will of course report back after the auction closes on Sunday (May 27).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Lot 11, where are you????

Okay, I promised a Store update for those who really get into these things (of course, I promised the "Create your own Dragon Cycle" as well, and we see how well THAT'S gone!).

The truth is that I've been extraordinarily busy of late. First it was with class stuff - my last week of classes had two take-home tests, two research papers, a lab notebook for two courses and then studying for two finals in the same day. Oy! But I got A's in both classes, so I can't complain too much, I suppose.

Anyway, what with all of that and not getting my contract renewed with my writing gig, I'm back to having lots of free time and no regular source of income. So, why not try to make this store stuff really work I think to myself. How to do that? Better advertising for one (thus the return to the Blog, and the recent more search engine friendly URLs at but also....MORE STOCK! That's right - I decided that getting in more cards that would draw in customers would help. So, I went on a little bit of a buying spree. Here's how it happened...

It actually started with a 5000+ card lot from someone in New York. Lot 11, as it was to be called, included many unopened booster packs and what looked to be very nice cards. So, I bid that sucker up to like $314 and won (it included free shipping), and paid immediately. I waited. And waited. No word from the seller. Finally, after two weeks and several unanswered emails, I filed a complaint with PayPal. That then led to a claim (or is it the other way around?). Anyway, I finally got my money back from PayPal so at least nothing was lost. But Lot 11 will never be.

BUT, this freed up money which I had, in my mind at least, already spent. SO, off to look for more bargains.

First I found a whole bunch of cards from a variety of sets by this one guy. I put in minimal bids, figuring if I lost, no big deal. Instead, I won several, and got lots of good cards from Ice Age, Alliances, and Mirage that have been dubbed Lot 12.

Next I found a group that had two sets of 1000+ cards each, who obviously knew nothing about Magic. They had bought a Scrye magazine to identify the cards, and had misidentified cards in the reprint series Chronicles as being from the original sets Arabian Nights, Antiquities Legends, and The Dark. They did, however, have an (almost?) entire set of the Deckmasters special boxed set (including the metal tin it originally came in). These cards are in Near Mint condition and very hard to find. Lot 13 also included one of the Revised Edition dual lands, Bayou. I think the dual lands will be the subject of their own Blog entry someday...

Lot 14 was a set of 460 Rare cards that someone was trying to sell for the second time. He had a reserve price on the thing, but someone had asked him how much it was, and he published the answer - $100. I bid high enough to be the "high bidder" but not win it. I hoped he'd extend to me a Second Chance Offer for my high bid - and he did. Woo-hoo! This is the Lot that produced the two Flash cards I wrote about last time.

I found a guy who was selling his collection of Coldsnap cards. He basically had the contents of an entire booster box worth of these, up for sale as three lots - one of all the commons and uncommons, and two for rares. No-one had bid on any of them, so I was able to get them for the minimum bids. With shipping the whole thing (around 540 cards, including 30 rares) came to about $17. So the commons from Lot 15 are up at the new store and the rares and uncommons are up on eBay. This included a copy of a card called Ohran Viper that should hopefully sell for $14, almost paying for the entire set by itself.

Lot 16 was a huge collection of over 4500 cards that I got for a little over $60 plus $30 for shipping. FedEx delivered these babies from California, and I'm still working on sorting them all out. LOTS of Black cards, and lots of repeats. Many are in obviously played condition and may not be sellable in my opinion. These often go to my older son, who is loving learning to play Magic and even beats his Dad sometimes.

When a new set is released these days, Wizards of the Coast likes to set up and sell pre-made "Theme Decks" that you can open up, shuffle, and play right away. You are guaranteed to get the same batch of cards in every box of the same Theme Deck, so there's no surprises. I bought a box of unopened Planar Chaos theme decks, broke them open and am selling them individually. Except for two I set aside for my son and I to play with :-) This was Lot 17.

Lot 18 is a set of 1000 cards which hasn't come in yet. I have emailed the seller and he apologized for the delay - he had said in the listing that he was selling an "unsearched" collection for a friend (meaning he supposedly hadn't pick through and gotten all the best stuff out), and to make sure that there were rares included he was going to through in some from his own collection. He had almost mailed them without remembering those, he says, so he had to break out his binders and pull those. Thus the delay. I hope there's some goodies in there when it gets here.

Lot 19 is a set of 310 rares from someone in Canada. They also haven't yet arrived, but given that they're from out of the country, this isn't a panic area yet.

And, finally, Lot 20 is a whole bunch of cards which includes a Chaos Orb (a very cool long out of print card) and some others, judging by the photo, that should turn a nice profit. However, they were supposedly sent out from New York on Friday 5/11 and still aren't here by Saturday 5/19 - over a week to travel halfway down the east coast? Seems excessive....

In addition to Lots 12-20, I've also purchased over 250 unopened booster packs that I have lumped into "Lot 7" for bookkeeping purposes. This includes a whole box of 8th Edition and an unopened box of the brand new (just released in early May) set called Future Sight.

So, in other words, now that I tally it up, I have purchased in the last two weeks around about 10,000 additional cards for the Stores.

Hulk Flash! A new deck that has some older cards suddenly worth something!

I'll later get to a post getting everyone up to date on recent happenings here at The Sundry (short version: I'm now up to Lot 20, and am currently buried in 6000+ new cards that need to be processed and added to the inventory) but first I wanted to share an oddity that I discovered while processing Lot 14.

Lot 14 consisted of 460 rare cards - a nice little set. In there were included two copies of a card card Flash - one of the original copies from Mirage, and another copy of the reprinted version in Sixth Edition. When I went to list these two I was very surprised to find a feeding frenzy of sorts going on with this card right now. So, being as curious as George I decided to investigate.

It turns out that the official errata to the card, which made it a good deal less effective with certain combinations, has been revoked, allowing someone to find a combination that can, typically, result in a win on the first or second turn of the game.

The deck hinges upon two cards, the above-mentioned Flash and Protean Hulk from Dissension, thus the name Hulk Flash (a take off on the immortal "Hulk smash!" battle-cry of the green Goliath in Marvel Comics, presumably). Other important cards in the deck are Phyrexian Marauder from Visions, Shifting Wall from Stronghold and Disciple of the Vault from Mirrodin.

The basic gist of the deck is that you cast Flash, which allows you to pay the casting cost of a Creature -2 mana as an instant, and puts the Creature into the graveyard if you do not. You use Flash to cast Protean Hulk, but do not pay the mana cost. When Protean Hulk goes to your graveyard, you are allowed to find any number of Creature cards in your library with total casting cost no greater than 6 and put them into play. You grab four Disciples of the Vault (total casting cost 4) and four Shifting Walls and 4 Phyrexian Marauders (both are Artifact Creatures that have casting costs equal to X - any amount of mana you wish). When Creatures with X in the casting cost are brought into play in this manner, X is equal to 0. Since both of these are 0/0 Creatures that come into play with X +1/+1 counter on them, and X is 0, they therefore get zero +1/+1 counters, die immediately and go to your graveyard. Disciple of the Vault allows you to have target player lose 1 life whenever an Artifact is put into a graveyard from play. You just put in 8 Artifact Creatures, and you have 4 Disciples of the Vault in play...BAM! Your opponent loses 32 life right there. Since you start the game with only 20 life....

Incredibly nasty, incredibly fast and also incredibly difficult to stop. Ergo, everybody wants one! So the key pieces of the engine have become very popular, with prices to match. Mystery solved. If you'd like to read a bit more on this deck, here's the article I read when researching the thing.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Quick store update

Tomorrow I plan to write the next in my series of entries on Cycles. But first a quick update on recent developments (this one's for you, Petunia!).

All of the cards from Lot 7 and Lot 8 have been put up. I still have Lot 9 (the set of Russian 9th Edition cards) and Lot 10 (a bunch of Mercadian Masques, Tempest and Stronghold rares) to go.

On the new store front, I have now moved over all common cards from the Core Sets Unlimited through 9th Edition, as well as all expansions from Ice Age to present. I still want to move some more, but I have under 300 common cards left on the eBay store at present.

The really big cool news is two-fold. First of all, Lot 11 - a lot of 5000+ cards, including 50 unopened packs, that I won this past weekend. I can't wait to get those guys and start processing (yes, I know - it's an illness - what do you want?). And the next is....I have my first official advertisement! I know this Blog kind of serves that function, but now I have an honest-to-goodness ad! The fine folks over at Farpoint Media (I've mentioned before that I listen to some of their podcasts - Slice of SciFi, Wingin' It, etc.) have a "ClickGrid" up whereby listeners can donate money to buy Michael a new sound board. In return, you get space on their grid to put up your logo and turn it into a link to your site. So, Don's Magic and Sundry has purchased four squares of space. The logo is up (you can see the grid at if you'd like) right now, but I'm going to try to change it if possible. It turns out that my logo, when shrunk to a 10x40 pixel rectangle, is an illegible blob. So, back to the drawing board if the fine folks at ClickGrid will allow me to. Anyway, I hope to see an increase in traffic to the new store thanks to the ad. Worse case scenario - I have a $60 business expense to take off on next year's taxes!

Okay - all for now. Look for the "Build your own Dragon" Cycle coming soon!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Cycle 2: Ancestral Recall, Dark Ritual, Giant Growth, Healing Salve, Lightning Bolt

Okay, last time I promised to write about a lesser-known cycle from the original set (Alpha, Beta and Unlimited editions) that included the card from the "Power 9" called Ancestral Recall. Although the cards themselves are all very well known, the fact that they are a cycle is somewhat less well know, as their relationship is not necessarily obvious at first.

Here's a photo of the Unlimited Edition versions of the five cards in this cycle (a compilation of five photos from actual cards I have, or have had, in my Store):

And here's a description of the five cards. See if you can identify what they have in common (there's three answers to this question).

Ancestral Recall: Instant; target player draws 3 cards; casting cost U.
Dark Ritual: Instant; add 3 Black mana to your mana pool; casting cost B.
Giant Growth: Instant; target Creature gains +3/+3 until the end of the turn; casting cost G.
Healing Salve: Instant; gain 3 life, or prevent up to 3 damage from being dealt; casting cost W.
Lightning Bolt: Instant that deals 3 damage to target Creature or player; casting cost R.

Do you have it yet? Here they are...All five cards are Instants (actually Dark Ritual was originally an "Interrupt" but that term was done away with awhile back, and so all older versions have errata to make them Instants). All five cost a single mana of their given color. And all five have the number 3 in them.

Yep, the original thinking for this cycle was "let's have a set of spells that all cost one colored mana and do something typical of the color involving the number 3." So, Lightning Bolt, from the chaotic Red domain, deals 3 damage, while Healing Salve, from the orderly White domain heals 3 damage. And so on.

Ancestral Recall was deemed way too powerful. In a game where cards represent Spells, and casting Spells is how you win, being able to draw three cards for a measly one Blue mana was just a giant boost. At first they thought they'd take care of that by making it a Rare card while the others were all commons. But, finally, reason took over, and the card was dropped from the set entirely after Unlimited Edition. There have been variations on this card throughout the history of the game. For example: Brainstorm in Ice Age allows you to draw three cards, then put two cards from your hand on top of your library (for U); Ambition's Cost in 8th Edition, a Black card that allows you to draw three cards, but you lose three life (for a casting cost of 3B). The closest is the new card from Time Spiral called Ancestral Vision - a card that, for U, is Suspended for 4 turns (it's removed from the game for that period, then takes effect after 4 turns have passed) then allows you to draw three cards. Ancestral Vision is, essentially, a time delayed Ancestral Recall.

Lightning Bolt was also eventually deemed too powerful, but it survived until the 4th Edition. The closest you'll see now is Shock, a common card first introduced in Stronghold, and added to the core set in 6th Edition, that deals 2 damage for R.

Dark Ritual has been reprinted many times. For a long time, it would get remade as a common card every time a new major set came out (one with its own basic lands). So there was a Dark Ritual in Ice Age, in Mirage, in Urza's Saga and in Mercadian Masques. It made it through 5th Edition before being dropped from the core set. One important change that got made to this card after the Alpha/Beta/Unlimited days is that the "add 3 black mana" got redone as "add BBB" - using three copies of the symbol for Black mana. Why? Because Sleight of Mind and similar cards allow the caster to change all occurrences of a color word in a Spell, resulting in people casting Dark Ritual and then changing (or having changed by an opponent) the color of the mana produced by Dark Ritual. But Sleight of Mind does not affect mana symbols, so that's no longer a problem.

Healing Salve has also seen many incarnations. It survived all the way through 8th Edition (the current 9th Edition is the only core set to not have it). It also had a version in Mirage and Urza's Saga. It has also been rewritten. The newest text reads "Choose one - target player gains 3 life; or prevent the next 3 damage that would be dealt to target Creature or player this turn." Actually, that first bit is a significant change from the very first version, that would only give the caster 3 life, not "target player."

Giant Growth is the only one of this cycle to survive all the way to 9th Edition. It made an appearance in Ice Age as well (joining the aforementioned Dark Ritual and Healing Salve). It has also inspired similar cards, like Monstrous Growth (a Sorcery that would give target Creature +4/+4 until the end of the turn for 1G).

Okay, that's all for now - next time I'll take a look at another cycle that I've discovered recently in the Scourge Expansion that I like.

And, finally, a Store update for those of you who have been missing them: Lot 6 is FINISHED! Yes, that's right, the over 6000 cards I bought way back in November have all finally been put up for sale. Most are in the new store at but some made it into the eBay store. Lot 7 is also all up finally. One of the coolest cards there was a Foil Llanowar Elves from 7th Edition. And A large chunk of Lot 8 is right now up for auction, including an unopened pack of Revised Edition among other goodies. Also up for auction right now is a copy of Captain America #25, the issue you may have heard news reports about that features the (apparent?) assassination of the Red, White and Blue clad hero.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mox Emerald, Mox Jet, Mox Pearl, Mox Ruby, Mox Sapphire

One of my favorite aspects of the game of Magic are the "cycles" that the designers build into the game. A "cycle" is a set of 5 cards that are are related to each other in some way, one in each of the five colors of Magic (White, Green, Red, Black and Blue). My current plan is to make my next several posts highlight some of these cycles, because I find them interesting - and hopeflly you will as well.

Arguably the most famous cycle was introduced in the very first incarnation of the game (the Alpha Edition). Individually they are the Mox Emerald, Mox Jet, Mox Pearl, Mox Ruby and Mox Sapphire. Collectively they are referred to as the Moxes, or Moxen if the speaker is feeling clever.

Note: the photo is a montage of four actual card photos from my Store, plus one
unabashedly borrowed from - can you guess which one?

Each mox is an Artifact with a casting cost of zero - meaning that it costs nothing to put it into play. Each can then be tapped to add one mana of a specific color (Red for the Ruby, White for the Pearl, Green for the Emerald, Blue for the Sapphire and Black for the Jet) to your mana pool. Normally mana comes from Lands that you put into play, but you're generally limited to placing one Land per turn. Since mana is what's used to cast the spells in the game, the Moxen are a great way to get cheap (zero casting cost, remember) and fast mana to start casting bigger spells faster.

The Moxen are five of what are known as the "Power 9" (the other four being Timetwister, Time Walk, Ancestral Recall and the grand-daddy of them all, the Black Lotus). These are the 9 most sought-after cards in the game. They were all deemed too powerful, and were taken out of the game after only three editions (Alpha, Beta and Unlimited), and have not been reprinted since. Since those Editions were only printed in English, and had limited print runs (still early in the existence of Magic), and these were all Rare cards even then, they are EXTREMELY rare now, and sell for hundreds of dollars apiece. Unfortunately I don't have any available right at the moment - although Lot 4 had one each of four of the Moxen from Unlimited as well as a Mox Pearl from Beta. So I have had the privilege of dealing with them before.

Ancestral Recall, another of the Power 9, is itself also part of a cycle that I will talk about next time. Although the five cards in the cycle are pretty well known, the fact that they make a cycle is less so - the relationship among them is rather subtle in comparison to most cycles.