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Trading for Upside at the Fate Reforged Prerelease

One of the questions we answered during this week's podcast was "what cards should I be looking to pick up at my Fate Reforged prerelease this weekend?"  As far as Fate Reforged is concerned, the answer, at least from a purely financial perspective, is probably none. Although if you really want to play with a card and are alright with losing some value, I'm all for picking up a play set to stick in a deck; Magic is at game after all. I've looked over past sets, and generally, somewhere between zero and five cards will increase in price between their release and the release of the next set. So buying or trading for new cards at a prerelease is a bet that you can pick the needle from the haystack. One thing Richard mentioned on the podcast was that he would be looking to trade whatever shiny new Fate Reforged cards he opens for Standard staples from other sets. This is sound advice. But not not all Standard staples are created equal, so today I wanted to go a bit more in-depth about a few cards I'll be targeting this weekend and why. I also might mention a few non-Fate Reforged cards that I will be looking to trade out of for various reasons. 

Prereleases are often a great time to make some trades. While I believe the community as a whole is getting more financially savvy, you'll still find some people that are more than willing to trade their boring old Khans of Tarkir or Magic 2015 cards for some Fate Reforged hotness. The key is trading the downside of Fate Reforged for cards with upside from other sets. 

Khans of Tarkir

At under $5, both Siege Rhino and Anafenza, the Foremost are about as cheap as they have ever been, despite their breakout performances in Modern this past weekend at GP Omaha. In Standard, Fate Reforged looks like it will add more to Jeskai and Sultai than Abzan, but it's not like WBG really needed any new toys, and and I expect it to remain a tier one deck over the next few months.

Currently, Abzan Aggro is the most played deck in the format and Abzan Midrange is second, combining to make up 25% of the metagame (not to mention Abzan Reanimator making up another 7%). When you toss in their new-found Modern playability, both of these cards are solid trade targets. If you can get two of the non-foils versions of either cards for one Warden of the First Tree or Shaman of the Great Hunt, you're making out great. Foils are even more attractive: Foil Anafenza, the Foremosts are only $10 (with a very attractive x2 foil multiplier for a card that is not only eternal playable, but also a wedge legend for Commander), and a foil Siege Rhino is only $15, so keep both of these in mind when you're browsing through binders this weekend.


On Reddit yesterday, a reader made the comment that he would be trading bulk rares for all the Wildcalls he could get his hands on, which makes sense to me. While I'm not entirely sold on manifest, it could have some Standard potential and seems like a casual hit, so in essence, what he is trying to do is trade bulk for bulk with upside. Some bulk rares are obviously destined to spend their entire Standard life as bulk (e.g. Sandsteppe Mastodon) while other cards, due to their uniqueness, have potential upside. Wildcall is a good example of a bulk rare with upside. If some manifest deck does emerge in Standard, it could end up being worth a couple dollars. I think Trail of Mystery falls into the same category. It plays well in the hypothetical manifest deck, and is cheap enough to see play on tournament tables. 

I'm not recommending trading the Ugin, the Spirit Dragon you open for 120 copies of Trail of Mystery, but if you can trade your Sage-Eye Avenger or Sandsteppe Mastodon for a copy or two, it's a low-risk, high-upside bet. Most likely, all of these cards end up bulk, so in situations like this, where everything else is equal, I always aim for the card with a greater upside. 


Sandsteppe Citadel [KTK] Murderous Cut [KTK] Jeskai Charm [KTK]


This goes along with the Trail of Mystery upside theory. There are quite a few uncommons from Khans of Tarkir that are currently at bulk-rares prices (between $0.30-$0.60), and many of these cards, especially the tri-lands, have more upside than most low-end Fate Reforged rares. I'll be looking to get two or three of the premiere Khans of Tarkir uncommons for one Fate Reforged rare that is currently $0.99 (but soon to be bulk). I just see more upside in the above pile (Sandsteppe Citadel, Murderous Cut, and Jeskai Charm) than in holding onto a copy of Jeskai Infiltrator or Flamerush Rider

Magic 2015


Goblin Rabblemaster and Perilous Vault are two cards that I'll be looking to trade out of this weekend, due to some of the new Fate Reforged cards. While I think both cards will still see some amount of Standard play, I expect Crux of Fate and Monastery Mentor to cut into their share of the market — plus, we are in the time when Core Set cards usually peak anyway, so there is no place for these cards to go but down from here on out. I'm not suggesting a fire sale, but my copies will most definitely be available in the right trade. 


The forums have been abuzz about the potential for a WB Warriors deck using Mardu Strike Leader with a possible red splash for Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. Currently, Caves of Koilos is the least expensive of the Magic 2015 painlands, and we know from the $9 price tag of Battlefield Forge and the $7 of Shivan Reef that the ceiling for this cycle is much higher than the measly $2 that Caves of Koilos is currently commanding. Actually, Caves of Koilos is pretty much the floor for a painland, so there is very little risk. In the worst case you should be able to buylist any copies you pick up in a few weeks for close to full trade value. 


Two more bulk rare with upside targets. We know that dragons are coming, and although it seems exceedingly unlikely that Crucible of Fire is good enough for a competitive dragon deck, you really never know, and it has to have slightly more potential than most bulk Fate Reforged rares. Yisan, the Wandering Bard came to my attention on Twitch, where Cardhoarder has been streaming a UG Yisan deck for the past few weeks. It's a card that will probably never hit it big in Standard, but it does have a Birthing Pod-like effect.

Theros Block


There has been some mention in Magical Christmas Land of living the dream of delving a Chromanticore with a Soulflayer, giving you pseudo-Baneslayer Angel for as little as two black mana. While this seems like too much work to me, what I do not doubt is that some people are crazy enough to try it. So picking up a few Chromaticores for your $0.99 Fate Reforged rares seems like a solid investment, plus, it's already a bulk mythic, so there isn't a risk of losing much. 



Satyr Firedancer is another low-risk option for trading out of $0.99 Fate Reforged rares. He's a viable sideboard option in a Boros or Jeskai Burn deck. 


The main thing to keep in mind when trading this weekend is upside and potential. If you can trade high-downside Fate Reforged cards for high-upside Standard cards, that's great. On the other hand, if you can trade into staples — fetchlands, Sorin, Solemn Visitor, Wingmark Roc, and their ilk — you're actually doing quite well. While it's not as glamorous as hitting it big with a killer spec, minimizing your losses by trading out of assets that are very likely to decrease in price is just as profitable and important. Every dollar you don't lose is actually a dollar made.

Most of all, of course, have fun. Enjoy the new cards and the complexity of the set. It's looks like it will be a blast for limited, and I'm excited to see how manifest plays out in practice, rather than in theory. 

That's all for today. What are you targeting in trade this weekend? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @SaffronOlive. Until next time, have a wonderful prerelease weekend. 

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