Sunday, December 12, 2010

All listings activated!

Okay, I bit the bullet, and unchecked the "Hide products from catalog when quantity is zero" option in ProStores. Now every single card I have in my database will be displayed in a search on my store, whether I have that card in inventory or not.

Some (potential?) benefits from this:
1) This may (I won't know for a few days probably) overcome the Google search issue where if I'm out of stock my items don't show up in a Google search.
2) If I can get off my duff and price everything (which I haven't yet - I've been pricing cards as I add them - so many quantity=0 items have price=$0 as well!) then people can comparison shop.
3) People can add out of stock items to wish lists (this has been confirmed - so this one's a definite benefit - next I need to figure out how to do a "Notify me when this comes in stock" thing).

Some problems with this:
1) I still don't have photos for many items. I need to figure out what to do with them - make a "Photo Coming" image to default to?
2) If you search with the hope of buying, there's now a LOT more cards to sift through - this may annoy many potential buyers. (I'm working on creating a "only display in stock items" option in the Advanced Search, but so far the programming has proven beyond me.)

These problems, hopefully, can be overcome. We shall see.

In the meantime, if you'd like to be amused, check out the search results if you search for items in the Beta Edition (the one I have the least products in stock for).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The next giveaway - What are the choices again?

Welcome back to the latest installment of "I'm giving away random M:TG related items that I happen to have lying around my house, and you get to help pick what goes next." Winner of the "Reality show with the longest name" award for 2010.

This go-round your choices are as follows (see the poll above for your chance to vote):
  1. A random box-topper from the 3 I have remaining (Ambition's Cost, Avatar of Hope or Underworld Dreams - all 8th Edition). See this earlier post for details on what a box-topper is if you don't already know.
  2. The Tahngarth life-counter card from The Duelist issue #31. More details (including what it looks like) can be found in this entry at the Magic Librarities.
  3. An unopened pack of 8 Double-Sided Tokens. At the risk of sending business to another store, this store is selling them if you want to see what they look like. I have several packs of these to give away.
  4. An Ultra Pro Dual Life Counter featuring art by Elmore (the "Dragon Rider" version seen in this search). I've got two of these to give away, ultimately.
Those are the options this time (to be given away by random drawing to a subscribed to my email newsletter [sign up at] on Thursday, December 9, 2010). Future choices will probably include the very oversized Thorn Elemental promo card from Starter 1999, a Lorwyn playmat as well as more Fallen Empires tokens & counters from The Duelist.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Another mystery signature...

Here's another mystery signature. I have four copies of this Wall of Roots (from Mirage) with a signature (initials, really) that looks like "LB":

But the artist on this card is John Matson, whose initials are clearly not "LB". And it just so happens that I have another card from Mirage, Purraj of Urborg, with art by John Matson that is signed by him:

So I think it is quite clear that the Wall of Roots signature is not Mr. Matson's. So, whose signature is it? Any ideas?

Can you help me ID these?

Okay, here's the deal. I just got done processing a bunch of photos of what I am calling "Specialty Cards". These are cards that are signed (some non-English), or misprinted, or miscut, or crimped, etc. In other words, cards that appeal to a more limited audience than your normal Magic cards.

While working on these, I came across three cards that have proven themselves a mystery to me. The biggest problem with the signed cards is that all of these have come to me from collections that I have bought in the past. This means that I cannot, 100% for certain, verify that the signatures are indeed the actual signatures of the artists involved. I will be certain to state such when I list them - I don't want to mislead anyone.

But these three cards CLEARLY are not signed by their artists. The signature is identical, but all three have different artists. Instead, I figure these may be signed by someone "famous" to Magic, perhaps even the designer of the card.

That's where you, hopefully, come in. Can you identify whose signature appears on these three cards? Please comment to the post if you have any ideas or suggestions!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"You're giving away WHAT now?"

In my latest Blog Poll, the option of "Box-toppers? Really? Don't you have anything ELSE to give away?" narrowly edged out the 9th Edition Hell's Caretaker box-topper for the next giveaway prize. This meant I had to go find something besides a box-topper to give away (which I would have had to do eventually, once I ran out of them, but I thought I'd have a few more months).

Then I remembered that I had a box of these beauties sitting around:
These are cardboard punch-out counters and tokens intended to accompany the Fallen Empires set. They were originally included in an issue of The Duelist Magazine (issue #4 to be exact). Here's the Magic Arcana article from Daily MTG that covered these for those possessed of incurable curiosity.

Fallen Empires was a set notorious for generating lots of different token creatures (1/1 White Citizens, 1/1 Green Saprolings, 1/1 Blue Camarids, 0/1 Black Thrulls and 1/1 Red Goblins) from lots of different cards (such as Icatian Town, Elvish Farmer, Homarid Spawning Bed, Breeding Pit and Goblin Warrens, respectively). It also made lots of different counters (Spore, Credit, Time, Javelin, Net and Tide as well as -1/-1, +1/+1 and a variety of +/- combinations that are no longer used in Magic at all) for lots of different cards (Spore Flower, Icatian Moneychanger, Tourach's Gate, Icatian Javelineers, Merseine, Tidal Influence, respectively, as examples).

So, to help with all these different tokens & counters, WotC included these in with The Duelist.

When I rediscovered these, I Tweeted to my followers the above photo and asked if these were junk, or an awesome giveaway. The overwhelming response as "awesome giveaway". So, this coming Thursday (October 28, 2010 for those who may be reading this later) I will be giving away some subset of my collection of these beauties to a random winner chosen from amongst the subscribers to my email newsletter (I say subset because according to my inventory & this handy website detailing the exact contents of one of these sheets, I have 2+ sheets worth of these guys).

Not already a subscriber? Visit my home page at and sign up - it's free and easy and I promise not to overfill your email inbox (I typically send less than a newsletter a month).

Saturday, September 04, 2010

All listings - Activate! (?)

Back in the Great Speculator Debate, I explained that my biggest issue with the process was that if these "hot" cards were out of stock in my inventory, they no longer loaded up into Google shopping, and therefore I would miss out on potential business from people searching for these cards.

There were several suggestions on how to deal with the issue, including never letting my inventory drop below 1 (which I find somehow a bit dishonest). The one best solution, I think, is one that I have been debating about with myself for a while.

I could, I believe, with a simple click of a check box, keep inventory active even when out of stock. This should mean that they would still get uploaded to Google, and would definitely mean that they would show up in any search within my store.

So, you may ask, why haven't I done this already? The reasons are many-fold:
  1. The biggest impediment is that, since I use only photos from my own "virtual collection" of Magic cards, if I have never owned a card before, I have no image to go with that listing. This is particularly a problem with foils, as I am nowhere NEAR close to finishing off my collection of those. As I explained in this post about potentially trading with me, I am fairly close to completing my virtual collection of non-foil Magic (my current needs list can be found here). So a giant hurdle I need to overcome is what to do with the listings I don't have pictures for yet. Do I make a "image forthcoming" placeholder for these? Do I raid images from or Gatherer? I'm not sure what to do for these.
  2. There are many stores out there (I suppose it would be unprofessional of me to name them) that list every possible card, even if they're out of stock. Most of these somehow tell you right away [like it will say "Quantity in Stock: 0" or something like that) but on some you can't even find out until you try to put the item in your shopping cart. Fortunately mine would show Quantity: 0, but not until you got to the listing. So if someone Google searches for something & sees my listing, then clicks on it only to find out I'm out of stock - would there be hard feelings, like they were somehow tricked into my store?
  3. Searches of my store (theoretically) would take longer. If I normally don't have a card in foil, only regular, then when you search for it you only get one hit. But if everything is active you'll be guaranteed at least two hits for any card since they started making foils. That's more stuff to filter through looking for what you want.
  4. Second biggest headache: I have trouble enough as it is keeping up with the current prices for what I DO have in stock - if I keep everything active I need to keep track of prices of stuff I don't even have available (or mislead folks if I just don't keep up with them). Perhaps I just have a policy that an out of stock item has a price of $0?
So, anyway, these are the hurdles I need to overcome before I make every card active regardless of whether it's in stock or not. Any and all comments & especially suggestions on getting over these hurdles are massively welcome!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Musings on yesterday's post

Yesterday's post (on a store's side view of speculation) ended up becoming much bigger deal than I ever anticipated. In the last 24 hours I've had more page loads on this blog than ever before in the same period of time. The post also generated more comments than my entire blog up until this point (even if you don't count my comments which were replies to others' comments). My post and the post that inspired it were each linked to begin a thread in the MTGSalvation forums, and (my biggest shock of all), the post was featured on ManaNation's This Week in Magic. I am humbled and honored by the response. At least I can say it got people thinking :-)

I've had some thoughts about the comments left that have been percolating in my mind, and I thought these deserved a post of their own, so I'm jotting them down here. Two posts in two days is quite something for me, so hopefully this comes across as coherently as yesterday's seemed to. So, in no particular order...
  1. It has been recommended that I limit the quantity of a card to some number (likely 8) to help combat the issue of being bought out entirely by a "speculator". This has the added advantage of the fact that if/when someone buys 8 copies of something (especially if that's ALL they buy) I can quickly price-check that item and make sure it's a reasonable market price. This won't 100% solve the situation. I only had 2 copies of Personal Tutor in stock when it went, and only 7 of Pyromancer Ascension - and while I had 19 Polymorphs when they were snatched up, I had less than 8 of any given version, so they still would have flown. Also, someone could come in and make several purchases of 8 each. But, I am looking into whether this can be automated in ProStores or if I will just have to have a posted store policy like the unfortunate store that canceled the alleged speculator's order.
  2. It was recommended that I follow @mtgmetagame and Kelly Reid over @quietspec and folks like that that deal with these issues, so that I can hopefully be ahead of the game and catch these card bumps as they happen (or before) and not have the problem. I actually do already follow these folks (nice guys and savvy in the biz), but it doesn't always help. Sometimes it's my own darned fault (really, I seriously don't know what the heck was wrong with me on the Pyromancer Ascension card - that was just dumb!) but sometimes its out of my hands. Kelly Reid tweeted his recommendation on Polymorph approximately 20 minutes before every copy I owned was bought out at $0.75 each. This all happened after midnight, when I was sound asleep. Ditto when Kozilek was spoiled on DailyMTG and the price of Eye of Ugin skyrocketed. I awoke to an email showing that every copy I had was sold to one buyer. So, I do what I can, but I am only one man. I have to sleep sometimes!
  3. It's been recommended that I keep my inventory active even when I'm out of stock. It's actually easy to do this, and I may have to ultimately go this route - but there are reasons I have not done so before. This topic I feel is deserving of its own post (because it's full of all sorts of convoluted Don-think) so I won't elaborate here. Suffice to say I probably will have to do this, but I'm gonna need the community's help in ironing out some wrinkles (you all as a whole are great at helping out and wonderfully creative at problem-solving).
  4. I want to apologize for my use of the phrase "greedy bastard" in my post. I think I did a pretty good job overall of not coming across as nasty and spiteful (because, really, I didn't want to start a flame war or anything like that - just wanted to present a side that I felt hadn't been yet), but that one phrase really stands out like a sore thumb. I considered editing the post, but to do so would be disingenuous, and would also make the comments that refer to the phrase make no sense. So, I leave it in, but want to acknowledge that I could have certainly phrased things better.
  5. I have finally come to believe that there really is a place for this Blog out in the MTG Blogosphere. There's blogs on strategy, on flavor, on trading, on just about everything else there is to do with Magic - but I don't know of any (and feel free to direct me to the one(s) I undoubtedly have missed) that discuss what it's like to run an online Magic store. So I want to try to be better about getting posts up that actually have more potential meaning than just "I added cards to inventory today" which is what my Twitter feed is for :-)
  6. Did anyone get the joke in the title of the post? Hint: I meant volume as in sound, not amount of cards.
  7. I am, first and foremost, a Magic player. I am a casual player (a phrase that may make some like @the_stybs cringe) who somehow ended up running an online store as a sideline to make a little extra money for himself and his family. It is not my family's only source of income, mouths do not go unfed if I mess up a pricing issue. For me it's all personal - which is why I wrote the piece I did, to share my feelings from the other side of the shopping cart. I am glad that it was, almost completely, taken in the spirit it was intended.
Okay, enough rambling for now. I have The Great Foil project to get back to (repricing and adding inventory due to a collection of hundreds of foils I recently purchased). I only have the Kamigawa and Time Spiral blocks left to process. Then, due to your vote in my blog poll a few weeks back, it will be time to start getting the hundreds of non-English cards (mostly Chinese, Japanese and Korean) up into inventory - good news for anyone who is a lover of non-English Magic.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Case Against Speculation (of any volume)

This is a topic that I have been thinking of writing about for quite a while now, ever since the first time I got burned by a speculator (who shall remain nameless, as this is not about casting blame, but hopefully to offer an alternate point of view to my readers). What made me finally get off the fence and write about it? This blog post was the final nail in the coffin.

First of all, to clarify - what do I consider speculation? Sometimes also called hoarding, the basic idea is this: I have a card for sale on my site that is cheaper than it should be listed at, or cheaper than it will soon be listed at. Most likely cause: a deck (or decks) has hit the scene that is winning tournaments, and a key card or cards in that deck, being a previous "unknown" as it were, suddenly sees a peak in popularity, and therefore price. Secondary possibility: some decision made by the DCI has caused some card to somehow become more desirable (as in the recent case where the banning of Mystical Tutor lead to a leap in price for a similar card, Personal Tutor). Someone then comes along to my site, and buys out every single copy of that card, with the intent of selling or trading that card for a profit - not for personal use in decks of their own.

As a store owner, I have a massive problem with this. And it's not completely the problem that you would automatically think it is. Yes, I will admit, it hurts to have 8 copies of a card sell for $0.75 when the prevailing market price is more like $2.00. And that is certainly a reason I don't like this practice. But there are other issues here that I think need to be discussed from the store owner's point of view that the speculators may not think of. So, in no particular order, I share some thoughts...
  1. The most common response when I gripe about this behavior is that I should just be better at keeping track of prices. I fully admit that this is my least favorite part of running a store, and I don't keep up as well as I should. In my case my store has a single employee: ME. My two sons sometimes help me with sorting cards, but that's about all they can handle (they're only 7 and 10 right now, after all - maybe when they're older I can hire them on with more responsibility). In addition to this store, I am essentially a full-time stay-at-home, homeschooling Dad. I have a part-time job that occupies me one day a week. In other words - I have a lot on my plate. Those who follow this blog or my Tweets on Twitter know that I rarely have time to sit and work on store stuff beyond pulling orders - and when I do, it's usually getting new inventory listed. It takes a long time to reprice inventory, and a great deal of time to try to follow the many blogs, tournament coverage, etc. that I would have to follow to stay up-to-date on what the hottest deck tech is, and therefore what the hot cards are. Time I usually don't have. Sometime this leads to kick-myself-in-the-pants moments (how many days did I hear about the freaking Pyromancer Ascension deck and not keep up on the price of that damned card?!?! ARGHHH!!!!!).
  2. My personal biggest grief (even more than loss of potential income) is loss of hits. What do I mean? The vast majority of the hits on my web site come from Google searches or something similar. People looking for the hot new card for their own personal deck will Google search for that card. But if I don't have a card in stock, I don't show up in that Google search. Which means a potential new customer (who would possibly have bought more than just the hot new card, and may have become a long-term return customer) never finds my site. All because one greedy bastard came by and bought every copy I had. THIS is the part that really steams me: when you come and buy me out of a card, you come to me only when it serves your wallet. Potentially, then, people who MIGHT come to me because I offer amazing service, reasonable prices, quick shipping, etc. may never even know my site exists because YOU bought every copy I had. it's not JUST the card in question that you burned me on - who knows what all business you may have robbed me of?
  3. Unlike some stores out there, I do not limit the number of copies of a card you can buy, nor do I (nor will I ever) cancel an order I deem to be "speculative". Sure, I'll whine about it on Twitter (and have), but I honor my commitments, even if it hurts and I'm ticked off at the speculator.
  4. I take it as a personal insult when someone only buys at my site for speculative purposes. We sellers can tell who these people are. A very famous speculator has bought from me several times - and only for these purposes. I'm good enough to make a quick buck off of, but not for anything else. That hurts.
  5. If you want companies like mine to stay in business, don't be greedy. If you find a cheap card that's hot or about to become hot, buy 8 or so (so you can make SOME profit) then be a nice guy and write to them to bring the low price to their attention. Everybody wins - you make some profit, and they get to adjust their price to make it reasonable and still potentially draw in traffic.
Okay - those are the things I wanted to get off my chest. I know I probably come across as a whiner, and hard-core speculators will probably just say "screw you, man - if you list a card low I'm gonna buy 'em all 'cause that's how I roll" or some such BS. But, hopefully, at least one reader will possibly think a little differently about the situation hearing the other side of it.

Comments welcome!

Friday, August 20, 2010

New contest time!

Well, not so much a new one as a continuation of the old...

I goofed up and forgot to have the drawing last night (Thursday, August 19) for the 8th Edition Lord of the Undead box-topper (the one chosen by your vote two weeks ago). So I had the drawing tonight and have emailed the winner. Hopefully I will hear back from him or her soon.

But, anyway, that means that in two weeks (Thursday, September 2) I should hold the next drawing. But what will the prize be this time? This is where you come in, trusty reader! Up above is a poll (assuming you're reading this before Thursday August 26) with four choices of box-topper giveaway prizes. Vote for your favorite, and the one receiving the most votes will be given away in two weeks!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Store & Contest Updates

Just a few quick updates that would take more than 140 characters...
  1. The "Great Foil Project" continues. I still have hundreds more foils to process (which includes processing their photos & getting them into inventory). While I am doing this I am also readjusting the prices on most foils in inventory. I used to have these somewhat arbitrary lower limits on foils when I was pricing (I wouldn't let a foil common be under $0.75 for example) which ended up with many of the cards being overpriced. That's being fixed.
  2. The giveaway last night was successful. The Ninth Edition Force of Nature box-topper was shipped off to the lucky winner this morning. The next giveaway will take place on Thursday August 19 at 9 p.m. EDT. Again, all one needs to do to be eligible is sign up for my email newsletter on my store's home page:
  3. Which card will be given away next? Voice your opinion by voting in the poll at the top of the page. Deadline for your vote is next Thursday (August 12).
  4. I'm trying to decide what to tackle next after the Great Foil Project is finished. My choices are basically two-fold: get back to processing common cards from that 400,000+ collection I bought over a year ago, or work on the non-English cards I have. Maybe I'll have a poll to see what y'all think I should work on next :-)
That's all for now - just wanted to get those up quickly. Perhaps a more substantial entry in the next couple of days.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Contest, Redux!

Well, the poster giveaway is over now, and served its intended purpose: the email newsletter had about a 50% increase in size (which sounds more impressive than "went from 20-couple to 30-couple"), so that's great. Congrats to @alithra for being selected as the winner of the Vengeful Archon poster.

I had so much giving away the poster (seriously - everything about it was cool, from seeing the email list grow, to hyping the contest on Twitter, to deciding how to randomly pick a winner, to tracking down a poster tube on Freecycle to mail the poster in) that I have decided to keep the giveaways coming!

I have had sitting around for a while now several oversized "box topper" cards from 8th Edition and 9th Edition. Recent questions on Twitter have shown me that not everyone knows what these box toppers are, so here's a brief explanation. For 8th Edition and 9th Edition, Wizards of the Coast added an oversized card to the top of each box of booster packs as an incentive for people to buy an entire booster box. [This was abandoned after 9th Edition; its most recent counterpart is the "buy-a-box" alternate-art foil promo cards WotC has been making for the last couple of sets].

Each box topper shows on one side a reprint of a card from the appropriate set (with a black border instead of white), with the flip side being a larger version of the art for the card (in landscape orientation). Below is a photo montage of the front of such a promo (with its smaller cousin beside it for comparison) and the back:

Currently I have 10 of these that have been sitting around waiting for me to decide what to do with them. I had always intended to eventually put them up for sale, but as I said - I enjoyed giving away the M11 prerelease poster, so why not continue the contest and give away the box toppers?

So, that is what I am going to do. Every couple of weeks (I'll announce specifics via Twitter - so follow me there if you want to keep up) I will give away another box topper promo until I run out of them. By popular demand (sort of - it got two votes where other cards only got one each), my Tweeps picked the 9th Edition Force of Nature to be the first one given away (which is why I chose it for the photo).

After that, who knows? I have an even bigger Thorn Elemental promo that I could give away, as well as many other nice goodies that I wouldn't necessarily be able to easily sell, but that someone would love to own nonetheless (altered art Daze, anyone?; or the strangely misprinted Words of Worship shown to the right?) - and maybe even some that I most definitely WOULD be able to sell, but am willing to give away anyway.

The 9th Edition Force of Nature box topper promo card will be given away on Thursday August 5, 2010 at 9 p.m. EDT. I picked Thursday this time instead of Friday as I know many of my followers are busy at FNM on Friday nights!

So, what do you need to do to win? It's easy - just sign up to be on my email newsletter list. Subscription is easy: at my store's home page there is a form wherein you enter your email address. You'll be sent a confirmation email, in which you click a link to confirm your subscription. And that's it! You'll be entered to win all future contests, as long as you remain on the list.

I'm still trying to decide what to do regarding past winners: is EVERYONE eligible to win, or only if you didn't win a previous contest, or only if you didn't win the LAST contest...I'll see what the poll results are (see the poll at the top of the page and VOTE, please!) before making a final decision on that one. I'll post that decision here when I make it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


This past Saturday (July 10, 2010 for those reading this way after the fact), my older son and I had the pleasure of attending the prerelease for the newest set of Magic, the Magic 2011 Core Set (AKA M11).

At the particular site where we attended, the first X number of people to register received a free promotional poster featuring art from the M11 card Vengeful Archon [to see what this 24" x 36" poster looks like you can go here]. As my son and I were the first two in line (we arrived a bit more than an hour before the doors were scheduled to open), we each received a copy.

My son plans on keeping his, in the hopes that some day it is worth something as a collector's item. I, on the other hand, am giving mine away!

As I have mentioned on my Twitter account, next Friday (July 23, 2010) at 9 p.m. EDT, I will select one random subscriber to my store's email newsletter to receive this poster as a free gift. No purchase is necessary, no postage shall be charged - all one needs to do to be eligible is subscribe to the newsletter. So if you're already subscribed, you don't need to do anything at all!

Subscription is easy: at my store's home page there is a form wherein you enter your email address. You'll be sent a confirmation email, in which you click a link to confirm your subscription. And that's it! You'll be entered to win the poster.

So what happens to you if you subscribe? Will you be receiving hundreds of annoying emails? Not to worry - I don't send very often. When a new set is added to inventory (like the upcoming M11 addition) I send an announcement. And if anything else significant gets added to my store (like when my Revised Edition Toolkit was created), or if I have a special sale or event such as that, I send an announcement. So far in all of 2010 I have only sent out three emails (and a fourth will go out next week to announce M11). So you need not worry about me clogging up your email box!

As of this writing there are only 18 subscribers to my store's newsletter, so your odds are looking very good for winning if you sign up. And if you are already a subscriber and, for some reason, wish to NOT be considered for the drawing, please let me know. I will simply leave you out when I pick the winner.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

"Revised Edition Toolkit" Revisited

Just a quick update - the Revised Edition Toolkits are now live on my store and at eBay. Sharp eyes will notice a slight bump in the price from my store to ebay ($15 vs. $16.50). This is to cover the eBay Final Value Fees.

This means smart & informed shoppers will buy them from my regular store, hint, hint.

Comments on the listing, the product, the photo, etc. are still gratefully accepted!

Friday, June 04, 2010

"Revised Edition Toolkit": A new product from The Sundry!

Okay, so for those who do not know about it, Wizards of the Coast recently released a new product they call their Deck Builder's Toolkit. Inside it are 100 land cards, 125 "semi-random" cards (all of which are Common or Uncommon) from sets that are currently in Standard, and four 15-card booster packs. They are designed to be a supplement to fleshing out existing decks, or a place for newbies to start - they provide lots of different cards from lots of different sets to meet lots of different deck-building styles. A pretty cool product that my son Sebastian and I got to test out early thanks to Adam Styborski (writer of the weekly Casual Fun article on DailyMTG, @the_stybs on Twitter, and all-around pretty cool guy). His write-up of the results of our testing can be read in this article.

Anyway, the creation of this Toolkit has inspired me to create one of my own. I have for quite a while now (well over a year, in fact) been wondering what to do with the literally thousands of common & uncommon cards from the Revised Edition core set that I have lying around thanks to my purchase of the over 400,000 card collection of Bill (about which I could have sworn I'd written before, but I can't find the post right now to link to). Now I have the answer: Don's Magic and Sundry's patented (not really) "Revised Edition Toolkit".

What I have done is taken all of the Revised Edition Commons & Uncommons that I had sitting around (not already in inventory) and culled out any cards that were beat up (they will go to be used to make Grab Bags for sale at the store). For some more popular, playable cards I allowed for more beat-up versions to stay available (very few people are going to be thoroughly disappointed to get a played copy of Lightning Bolt from Revised). When all was said and done, I ended up with 7054 Commons and 2756 Uncommons, for a total of 9800 cards.

My plan is to make 98 sets of 100 cards (generally 72 Commons and 28 Uncommons) from Revised and sell these as a package - my "Revised Edition Toolkit". They'll ship in a hard plastic hinged-top case as any 100-card order would. I'm still trying to figure out a fair price - something that you can help out with in the comments!

Here's how you can help (if you're so inclined): Below I will present the text of the description of this item as it will appear (still debating whether to put these on eBay or just at my regular store - I could do both). Please read this and offer any comments on the whole issue. Is this something you'd buy? If so, how much would be a reasonable cost? If not, why not? Is there something missing, or are you just not interested? Anything and everything constructive you have to say will be appreciated! If these prove popular enough, I may have to do the same with Fourth Edition, as I have way too many Commons & Uncommons from that set as well!


Up for sale is a Revised Edition Toolkit. What is a Revised Edition Toolkit, you ask? Well, read on!

What you'll find in a Revised Edition Toolkit:
  • 100 semi-random cards from the Revised Edition core set of Magic: The Gathering;
  • Roughly 72 Common and 28 Uncommon cards from the set;
  • Cards of generally NM or better condition (with some notable exceptions - see below);
  • No more than 4 of any given card. You may get a playset, but not more than that;
  • An amazing blast of nostalgia for some of the old-school greatness that was the Revised Edition, or;
  • If you and your friends are relative newcomers - the awe and envy of your friends when you break out the old-school greatness that was the Revised Edition.
What you'll NOT find in a Revised Edition Toolkit:
  • Cards in any language other than English;
  • Basic Lands;
  • Rares;
  • Foils (there weren't any back in Revised, okay?);
  • These 4 Uncommon cards: Clone, Sengir Vampire, Serra Angel, Sol Ring. I didn't have spares to put in these toolkits. Sorry! But every single common card from the set, as well as all the other 91 Uncommons are fair game and could be in your box!
So what's the deal on condition? I've done my best to get rid of any cards that showed noticeable wear from play, leaving only NM or better cards, with the exceptions of some of the more staple, "playable" cards. The following cards may be in the toolkit with noticeable wear from play, and possibly be graded as low as "Fine" or "Poor":
  • Dark Ritual
  • Kird Ape
  • Lightning Bolt
  • Llanowar Elves
  • Animate Dead
  • Black Vise
  • Counterspell
  • Demonic Tutor
  • Hypnotic Specter
  • Swords to Plowshares
If a card is not in the above list, it SHOULD be in "Near Mint" or better condition in the toolkit. To cover myself, I'll say it is POSSIBLE that other cards in as low as "Very Fine" condition may sneak in, but they should be extremely rare if they do.

This toolkit would be a great gift to a Magic: The Gathering player of almost any level. Those who have been playing "forever" will love the burst of nostalgia. Those who missed Revised when it was out in 1994 will love the chance to own some of the oldest cards in the game. Everyone will love the mix of cards that will allow supplementing existing decks - and many of these cards (like Lightning Bolt) are even still Standard-legal!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Wanna trade? In search of a few good Magic cards...

I have a Magic: the Gathering collection. It is an unusual one. I collect photographs of M:tG cards. I call it my "virtual collection".

What makes this especially strange is that, if I wanted to, I could just go to any one of many websites that have photo images of all of the cards in the game, download the ones I want, and that would be that. But in order to "count" for my collection, the photos must be ones I have taken myself, of cards that were actually in my possession. This is where the strangeness comes in.

I have always had a "collector's mentality". It's part of what drew me to Magic in the first place. A game I can play AND collect? Awesome! At one point in my Magic history (right after the expansion set called Visions for those who care), I owned at least one actual physical copy of every Magic card in existence except for 11. [At that time, I did not care what set the card came from, so if I had a Revised Bayou, I did not need an Alpha, Beta or Unlimited one (this was a much cheaper way to have a "complete" collection, I assure you!)].

The nice thing about my "virtual" collection is that, after I have photographed it, I can then turn around and sell the card in my store - while still having that card in my collection. Genius!

Anyway, on to the main point of this post. I am getting close to completing my collection. The total number of cards I still need is low (relative to the number of cards that exist, at least). So, I am starting to make trades for these cards, which I would not normally have considered. I recently traded that Foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor I blogged about for a whole bunch of cards off my wish list (thanks, @mtgmetagame!), and then traded a large passel of foils to another gentleman (thanks, @the_stybs!) for another batch of needed cards.

So here is my proposal. I have put my wish list up as a Google spreadsheet here. This list is for all Core sets except Alpha and Beta, which I may try to complete SOME day when I'm daring, and every expansion, starter set, and boxed set that has been printed. It does NOT include the various and sundry promo cards, which I may also be interested in getting if I don't already have a photo of them. There's just so blasted many of those guys that I don't maintain a wish list for them as yet, either.

If you think you may be interested in trading, check out my wish list and see if you have anything I need. Cards that are highlighted in yellow are cards that I have pending trades for, but have not actually gotten in my hands yet. If you find you have cards I need, then send me a list [either send me a DM through Twitter or use my Contact Us page at my store]. I'll price the cards, as if I were to list them at my store. Then, as long as you agree with my pricing, you essentially have that much "credit" to spend on cards at my store. Let me know which cards you want, and a trade is born! In case it needs to be mentioned, I'm looking for cards in NM or better condition, since the photo needs to look pretty!

Now, as I am an established store owner with a good reputation, I will ask you to send first (just as I would expect a customer to pay first before I sent the cards to him/her). Upon receipt of your cards, I will then send to you the cards you requested. That simple. Since we'd each be shipping to the other, I figure that cost cancels out, so there should be no shipping charges on either end. I'd ask you to ship securely (no loose cards in a regular envelope, please!). I personally ship in hard plastic (toploaders or hinged cases) in bubble mailers. I use PayPal to print a shipping label with a tracking number (I can give you the URL to print your own if you like).

Oh - if you live within reasonable distance to Dream Wizards in Rockville, MD, then I would be willing to meet you there to swap in person if you prefer.

Friday, February 05, 2010

OMG! Foil Jace, the Mindsculptor

Yes, I did just OMG. It's worth it. Trust me.

Today my pre-order of 2 cases of Worldwake came in. As I write this, I have opened 8 boxes of the 12. The plan is to open another 2, then sell the remaining 2 boxes' worth (72 boosters) unopened.

In box #7 I got my fourth copy of the most popular card in the set (Jace, the Mindsculptor) in an early pack (pack #4 for those keeping score). Then, in a later pack (I lost count - sorry), I pulled a FOIL copy of the card. FOIL! [Photo will be inserted tomorrow if you want to see]

To emphasize how amazingly cool this is, let me give you a little market research.

As I type this, there is not a single copy of the foil version available on eBay, nor has anyone sold one in the past however-long eBay keeps "completed listings" data. A Google shopping search reveals only two stores that have this - Troll and Toad for $99.99 (quantity available: 1), and The Wizard's Cupboard (who has it available "for preorder" for a mere $125).

This single card, potentially, pays for over 10% of my entire 2 cases.

At this point I am giving serious consideration to listing this card on eBay tomorrow, just to watch people fight over it. Should be fun. I will keep you updated!

Monday, February 01, 2010

When is a Mythic Rare a Common?

I feel the need to rant a little bit on a subject that bothers probably no-one but me:

So-called "Mythic Rares" (and Rares, and Uncommons, for that matter) in boxed sets & pre-constructed decks. Let me explain...

Since Wizards of the Coast started using color-coded expansion symbols to identify the rarities of cards in their sets, reprint "boxed sets" (such as Beatdown or the more recent From the Vaults sets) and special pre-constructed decks (such as the Duel Decks and the Premium Decks) have included special expansion symbols that are also color-coded, indicating a rarity...

HOWEVER, in a boxed set, or something like a Duel Deck, you are GUARANTEED to get every card in that set or deck. This means that the ONLY thing that determines relative rarity in these sets is how many copies of the card is included. Let me give you an example of the insanity that results:

In the Divine vs. Demonic Duel Decks, you will get 2 decks: a "Divine" deck and a "Demonic" deck. This is a done-deal. No chance of missing a deck, or a deck missing a card (barring tampering or manufacturer error, of course). In the "Divine" deck you will find 2 copies of the card Angel of Mercy, a card marked with a silver-colored expansion symbol, indicating it is "uncommon". You will also find a single solitary copy of Pacifism, a card marked with a black-colored expansion symbol, indicating it is a "common".

Did you follow that? A card that is supposedly "uncommon" is ACTUALLY TWICE AS COMMON AS A "COMMON"!!!!! And let us not forget that that single copy of Pacifism is JUST AS RARE as the single copy of Akroma, Angel of Wrath, a supposed "Mythic Rare" (and a Foil one at that)!

I don't fault WotC for this at all, and I think showing the cards' relative rarity in their original sets (or "where they would be today" in the case of the cards that get "promoted" to Mythic Rare) is fine. What gets on my nerves is stores that offer these for sale, and identify them as "Rare" or even "Common". Giving them such a distinction is nearly meaningless. used to get this right - they list these as "Special" for the rarity in their database - but the most recent ones they've assigned a normal rarity to.

SIGH. I will hold the line! In MY store, they will be labeled "Special". I will recognize their color-coded description in my description: "...a "common" card from the..." but that's it. I will be strong!

And, yes, for the record - I recognize that I am being WAY too oversensitive about this and that pretty much no-one else in the world probably gives a darn. But that's okay.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Japanese Chronicles Booster Pack - worth?!?!

There are many aspects of this business that I love. When a new set starts getting "spoiled" and you get a first look at the cards that will be coming out (as Worldwake is being spoiled right now). Getting positive feedback on eBay, or positive reviews at ResellerRatings. Helping a customer get that card they've been looking for to complete a collection. All of these are wonderful.

Sometimes, though, there are parts that are a pain in the butt.

Tonight I listed up on eBay 10 booster packs of Japanese Chronicles. The Chronicles set was a set released in 1995 (in English) to reprint some cards from the earliest 4 expansions (Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends and The Dark). The cards were printed with the same expansion symbols as the original set they were from, but with white borders instead to to follow WotC's policy of using white borders to distinguish reprinted cards.

In 1996 the set was released in Japanese, with the significant difference that they were printed with black borders. Now there were cards that had early set expansion symbols, but Japanese language and black borders. This has led MANY a person to believe (incorrectly) that they had in their possession, for example, Japanese Arabian Nights cards (Arabian Nights was only ever published in English).

[SIDE NOTE: This same problem happens in German, French, and Italian thanks to the reprint set Renaissance - feel free to read this post to get a more in-depth treatise on that set.]

The pain-in-the-butt part of this experience is that I can, NOWHERE, find anyone else who has these blasted things for sale. NO ONE. NADA. ZIP. As a result, I have no prices to compare to in order to determine a fair market price. A quick Twitter request yielded one person with an opinion (thanks, @mtgmetagame!), and that's all the data I have to work with. I vaguely remember someone on eBay having them for sale a while ago, at ~$16 per pack. The fact that they are no longer up would suggest that maybe they sold (if I am in fact remembering correctly). So, what to do?

I finally decided to list them for $20 per pack. Too much? As my father once said to me, "something is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it." So, if in a month's time or so these haven't had a single sale, I may consider dropping the price on them. For now, as the (apparently), only game in town - if someone wants a Japanese Chronicles Booster Pack - they need to come see me!

[SIDE NOTE PART DEUX: I also have available Booster Packs of Renaissance in both French and German should anyone be interested in those as well!]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Where the Magic happens

Or: A visual Tour of Don's Magic and Sundry!

This is an idea I've had percolating through my mind for a while, and I finally decided I'd sit down and do it. I've taken photos of my work space in my basement, the base of Don's Magic and Sundry, where the work gets done. Come with me, gentle readers, as I give you a tour of where the Magic happens...
This is the main work area. The boxes that take up most of the space are where the single cards are stored (more on these later). They sit towards the back of a large drafting table (which would almost certainly be tipping backwards if the wall behind were not helping hold these suckers up). In the space in front is where I work to get new acquisitions ready (such as the piles of boosters seen here, including some Japanese Chronicles and German Renaissance boosters that I'm eager to get listed). Also of note in this photo:
  • I'm not only a Magic gamer. See the pile of Munchkin (original & expansions) and other games?
  • ...including video games (Oblivion & Gothic II + 3 can be seen). Not shown is my current favorite (Dragon Age: Origins)
  • I like to read the Magic novels as well - sitting on the table is the one I'll finish later today, The Thran.
  • Off to the right can be seen "shipping central" were I store the plastic cases, toploaders, bubble mailers, packing tape, etc. that I use to package and mail out orders.
  • Hanging from above in the center is a nifty LED lamp from Ikea that provides a nice spotlight on the work area when I'm pulling orders.
Taking a closer look at the aforementioned boxes of singles...
They are all labeled with little Post-It notes bearing the names of sets. Let's look even closer...
Here's the boxes storing single cards from the most recent sets. The last box of Shards of Alara up top & left, then the three boxes containing Conflux & Alara Reborn. Next the three boxes of Zendikar and look! I'm ready for the next two sets, Worldwake and Rise of the Eldrazi! Larger sets (generally the first in a block) tend to get three boxes each, where smaller sets get 1.5 to 2 boxes depending on how many cards I have. There are exceptions: Ice Age has 5 whole boxes - I have a LOT of Ice Age cards!

What does it look like inside these boxes? I'm glad you asked! Those who know me know that, in certain ways, I am crazy fastidious (some would say "anal retentive") about organization. These boxes help prove this point:
Here's the interior of the 3 Zendikar boxes. You can see little Post-It tags sticking up (these are stuck on beat-up Magic cards of various sets I appropriated from my "cast-off box" [more on this later]). A set like Zendikar has tags for:
  • Tips & Tricks
  • Tokens
  • Basic Lands
  • Foil Basic Lands
  • Commons
  • Foil Commons
  • Uncommons
  • Foil Uncommons
  • Rares
  • Foil Rares
  • Mythic Rares
  • Foil Mythic Rares
Phew! A small set like Worldwake will only be missing the two Basic Land tags. Within these subdivisions I have the cards sorted alphabetically. Unlike most people (especially players), I do not organize my cards by color, as my primary use for the cards is selling them - I need to be able to find these cards quickly when I pull an order, and my listings (and therefore the packing slips I use to pull an order) take the form of "Card Name - Set Name - Rarity". Set Name & Rarity tells me which box (for example, Zendikar Rares are all in the 3rd Zendikar box), then the name I find alphabetically. Quick & simple. I also organize my photos of the cards in a similar way (folders nested within folders on my hard drive).

Okay, that covers the single cards, which are available at But I also sell other items at my eBay store - namely unopened boosters, decks, and complete subsets (Commons, Uncommons, Basic Lands). What about those?

Here's what my booster pack storage looks like:
In this shot you can see, mostly, the boxes of booster packs. But also in view are the "cast-off boxes" along right edge of the bookshelf. These contain single cards that are not in good enough condition to sell as singles (in my opinion). They vary from having slight wear from play to creases and heavy damage. Some were once obviously used as proxies (i.e. other card names are written across their backs in marker). From these cast-off boxes I make my "grab bags" which you can see on the bottom shelf center. 100 cards of various conditions, various sets, various rarities.

A closer look at these boxes again shows my tendency towards crazy organization...
You can see that the booster boxes are organized chronologically by block, so the three "Kamigawa Block" sets are on top of each other, in order top to bottom, followed by the Ravnica block sets, etc. I was fortunate that the shelf that the Lorwyn 4-set "mega block" ended up on just happened to be the shelf that four boxes stacked up could fit on!

Pre-constructed decks and Tournament/Starter decks are stored here:
Above the lovely framed Wizard artwork.

Complete sets are stored in the next room over:
[No fair peaking at my book shelves on the left]. This dresser is a hand-me-down from my brother. If he ever decides he needs it back I'm in trouble! Besides the extra packing tape in the background, you can also see piles of plastic cases. These are complete common (& uncommon) sets, organized chronologically by set. On top of the dresser are sets ranging from The Dark to Future Sight. The gigantic tower of cases you see in the back right bears a closeup:
These are near complete common sets. These sets are missing a card or two (or ten) before they can be listed & sold. The multi-colored Post-Its tell me which set the box contains, and which cards are missing so that when I obtain a new batch of cards (buying someone's collection, or opening packs, etc) I can hopefully someday complete these and get them up for sale. I'll be honest - complete common sets are mostly made to get rid of cards. I end up with SO many commons that those singles boxes I showed you earlier just can't hold them all. So, I make complete (or near complete) common sets to make room in the boxes.

Inside this dresser are more goodies as well:

The top two drawers contain common & uncommon sets from various Core Sets. The second row drawer has basic land sets & more recent set common & uncommons. The third row drawer:

Has the Zendikar common & uncommon sets, and has room for Worldwake once it gets released.

The bottom drawers contain extra boosters that I use to refill the booster boxes you saw earlier.
Seen in the bottom left is evidence of my children's voracious appetite for all things Lego, especially Star Wars Lego.

I will spare you the mindboggling piles of boxes of cards (mostly commons) that I still need to process from the 400,000+ card collection I obtained nearly a year ago.

I would like to leave you with this photo, a picture of one of the best presents I have ever been given, by the aforementioned brother. It hangs on the wall next to the dresser, so I see it every time I go to pull a common set...

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year - I'm BAAAAACK!

I was finally able to get my M10 post from JULY up today, as I admitted defeat (after my lovely wife scoured the web for a way to conquer my FTP problems, only to find that there IS NO WAY to do so), and returned to blogspot for my blog hosting.

Hopefully I will now return to semi-regular blogging in addition to my Twitter activity. I don't think I'll jump in the wayback machine and write a Zendikar entry - but who knows?

For now, let me just say Happy New Year to everyone who reads!