TCGs FTW

Magic: The Gathering

Contributor: John Dudley

Collectible Trading Card Games (TCG) are some of the hottest cards in the collectibles world. In fact, PSA graded more TCG cards in July than any other kind of card. The TCG category is the single biggest in the grading world currently and looks to stay that way. CSG has done well in its first-year grading, but not nearly as well as their TCG division housed with CGC.

Pokemon is the undeniable king of the TCG world, but it is the runner-up that I am more interested in currently. Magic: The Gathering has captured fans since its release in the early ‘90s. The game and the cards have a lot to offer collectors and are worth a first look, or a second look, for collectors looking to expand beyond sports. Collectors can approach MTG in a variety of ways. Enjoying the new pop-culture offerings, picking up old favorites, getting hooked on the game itself or any combination of those are all reasonable approaches to checking out MTG.

Magic: The Gathering

General Jarkeld was destined to disembowel my friends and bring me sweet, sweet victory. Or so I thought when I bought my first pack of Magic: The Gathering cards. It turns out that was hardly the case, but one can’t fault the optimism of youth. For two or three years my friends and I became planeswalkers doing our best to destroy each other with a rotating crop of creatures and spells. Like many players, I stopped playing for myriad reasons and forgot about MTG for over a decade.

 It’s been almost twenty years, but I bought an MTG card for the first time in over two decades recently. No, it wasn’t a new release with fancy new rules. Nor was it one from my youth. Instead, it was a combo Street Fighter II/MTG card. Well actually, a small set of them. Special cards are released at the Secret Lair for a limited time or run. One of the recent special sets featured the Street Fighter crew and the ‘90s nostalgia was too strong to resist. They’ve also recently done Fortnite and Stranger Things sets.

It’s also quite possible to get sucked back into the game itself. With the addition of the ultra-popular MTG online game, it’s never been easier to learn or play MTG. On the bright side, the game is constantly refreshed and extremely well-balanced and curated. On the other hand, the rules can get excessive for those who do not want to invest serious time into playing. The great thing about choosing this path is that your collectibles now have a function: laying waste to your friends.

A common story with collectors returning to the hobby is immediately going after all the cool cards one wanted the most as a kid. That story is equally true for MTG as I found myself trying to figure out “market rates” for Serra Angels and Shivan Dragons. The good news here is that there seems to be more variation in pricing for graded key MTG cards. One can find some bargains with a bit of patience with auctions.

There’s a fourth way to collect MTG cards and it is even free. A lot of the first wave of MTG players still are sitting on their old collections. I’ve still got a large box full, but unfortunately, I sold off anything decent I had when I stopped playing. Even so, there was still a bit of value there. The big bucks are still reserved primarily for releases before the 4th Edition, but even though MTG went through its own junk wax era, cards that are remembered fondly or that have exceptional gameplay value still do well. 

5 Surprisingly Valuable Cards to Look For

It’s not always the big cards you remember that are worth a lot. Here is a quick list of five cards lapsed players might have sitting in storage. This list is just the tip of the iceberg and not a ranking. Break out your old cards and have a fun weekend checking out the price guides.

1. Sylvan Library (4th Edition)- Cards that allow a player to alter a deck or a hand have always been sought after, but Sylvan Library has become one of the biggest cards from the 4th Edition. Nicer-looking copies go for around $40.

2. Mana Vault (4th Edition)- Cards that deal with mana production and consumption also have high demand as they are extremely useful in gameplay. Mana Vault has been trading for $40 to $45 recently. A PSA 10 copy sold for $100 recently as well.

3. Dual Lands (Ice Age)- I remember no one wanting these when the set first came out. Of course, older Dual Lands were still affordable at hobby shops so they had stiff competition. Now they are an affordable alternative selling at $10 to $15. Not earth-shattering, but I remember these being given away.

4. Didgeridoo (Homelands)- I guess summoning a Minotaur is pretty awesome, but I was surprised to see this at the top of the list for Homelands. Where have you gone Baron Sengir? About 50% of Didgeridoo’s $15, that’s where.

5. Force of Will (Alliances)- As I said, I haven’t played in forever so this one was a head-scratcher to me. The costly blue counter will set you back around $100 depending on condition.

Wrap Up

I’m not sure I’ll ever start playing again, but it was fun to pick up the pop-culture tie-ins. Who knows though? Got any fun TCG suggestions? Any favorite MTG memories? Sound off in the comments.

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