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I recently came into several large collections of Magic cards that I am looking through for trade stock, obviously cards such as Counterspell tend to be good trade stock even though they are common; however, what is a good strategy for going through the rest of the cards? Are their certain abilities or creature types that I should look for or is it best to just look for what is still legal in Standard?

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Quick question - are these collections exclusively older cards, or are there recent sets included as well? I'm planning on putting a quick list of eye-grabbers for you. –  Ian Pugsley Jan 25 '12 at 16:23
    
@IanPugsley They tend to be a mix. I recently stored out a collection that was mostly The Dark and Ice Age, but I have another collection that is going to be primary the Urza block. –  rob Jan 25 '12 at 16:28
    
What I'm asking in particular is if there's anything printed since October 1, 2010 (Scars of Mirrodin's release date), which would be included in Standard right now. Some of those commons and uncommons have some considerable value, but if you don't probably have any, there's no need for me to include a list of key Standard cards that aren't reprints. –  Ian Pugsley Jan 25 '12 at 16:36
    
@IanPugsley Pretty much everything is older cards, the Urza block cards are among the newest. –  rob Jan 25 '12 at 16:55
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

There are really three distinct things you're looking for:

  • Playability in Standard
  • Playability in Vintage/Legacy
  • Playability in EDH/Commander and other popular variants

The first two are actually fairly easy to gauge; the more playable a card is, the higher its price is (typically). Use something like Magic.TCGPlayer, http://magiccards.info/, or another pricing site to look up your cards and see if they're of value. Alternatively, you could look up lists for the most playable (read: highest value) common/uncommon cards in those formats and look for those cards specifically.

The third option is a little more difficult; since EDH decks are built with 100 cards with no more than 1 of any given card (besides basic lands), lots of commons and uncommons are more popular and playable than in Vintage/Legacy. I'd recommend looking up lists of common and uncommon EDH staples and seeing what cards you might have.

The key thing you're looking for really in any card is the effect-to-mana-cost ratio. Cards like Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Bolt, Mana Leak, Terminate, Sensei's Divining Top - things that are cheap with powerful effects are really what see play.

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I've been taking the price list approach but it tends to be a bit time consuming, so what I'm really looking for are specific abilities to look for, i.e. Counter target spell. I've heard that cards that give a card advantage, mana advantage, or deal direct damage end to be good for trade stock but I'd like to know more beyond just that. –  rob Jan 25 '12 at 16:26
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@RobZ I'll see what I can put together (in general, if it's got blue in it it's worth more :P), but the issue is that you're looking more for mana efficiency than specific abilities. Even cards like Mind Funeral are high-value because of their effect-to-mana-cost ratio, despite the fact that mill decks see very little play. –  Ian Pugsley Jan 25 '12 at 16:43
    
@RobZ I think the price list approach is the best one, but I think you may be going about it backwards. Rather than looking up each of your cards, go the other way: go to your dealer site of choice (mine is Card Kingdom, but Star City Games and Channel Fireball are also popular choices), pick a particular set and look at the commons for that set - it should take you just a few moments to find all the Urza's Saga commons worth more than a dollar (Dark Ritual, Exhume, Priest of Titania and Rewind). Now just search your collection for those; if it's organized by set, this should be easy. –  Steven Stadnicki Jan 25 '12 at 18:42
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(And if it's not organized by set, I'd encourage organizing it that way - in my experience, people tend to prefer browsing by set even on older cards). In general, I'd set the threshold at $1 for commons and around $2 for uncommons - that should still give you a few cards (at either rarity) from each set without polluting your binder with too much cruft that people have to sift through. –  Steven Stadnicki Jan 25 '12 at 18:44
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It really depends on who you're trading with routinely. Generally speaking, if you want to move your trade stuff, you want to match your binder to both the interests and budget of the folks you're trading with. Legacy staples won't move very quickly with a crowd where everyone plays Standard, for instance; nor will $20 tournament cards with a crowd that mostly trades "dollar rares".

I use two rules of thumb for common and uncommon cards:

  • "Is this played competitively?" That's why a simple uncommon like Go for the Throat is $1.50 now ($6.00 for the alternate-art FNM card). Generally, tournament staples for Standard are the most common and easiest to move, though it may vary in your local area (some places are noted Legacy hotspots, for instance).
  • "Is this an obscure card with an interesting ability that someone might want for casual play?" The idea here is to put up the cards that'll interest folks who like discard decks, token decks, tribal decks, &c. These cards aren't actually worth a lot, but they make it easier to balance out a trade. They also encourage casual-leaning players to trade with you, since they'll think of you as a source of fun cards they can pick up easily rather than a guy with a binder full of terribly overpriced stuff. I like trading with casual players because they're less likely to be obsessed with gouging you for "value" any time you want a card from them. To showcase these a bit, I generally put thematically-related cards together: Words of Waste and Geth's Grimoire (not uncommons, I know) look so much cooler next to each other, for instance.
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Here is a nicely formatted list of staples for EDH:

http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/21014577/EDH_Format_Staples_%42NEW%42

While many of the cards on that list are rare there are plenty of commons and uncommons to look out for. Due to the popularity of EDH/Commander these staple are in high demand and are well worth trading.

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I'm afraid I have to agree with some of the criticisms in that thread - that's certainly a list of some cards that EDH decks use, but as a list of staples of the format (and more relevantly for this particular question, a list of 'cards that have value because of EDH'), it falls down a little bit; I would say that the list at forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=252037 is a much better starting point. –  Steven Stadnicki Jan 27 '12 at 2:04
    
I have now read both lists and agree that the mtgsalvation one is the better of the two, I'm new to EDH deck building and will find that list very helpful. Thanks for the link @StevenStadnicki –  ThunderHorse Jan 27 '12 at 2:23
    
You're very welcome - and hoorah, welcome to EDH! Will look forward to seeing what you come up with as you start to dive into the format. :-) –  Steven Stadnicki Jan 27 '12 at 3:01
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