Strictly’s Simple Prerelease Finance Primer

Its the most wonderful time of the year.
With the Kids slinging spells
And everyone wanting a Peema Aether-Seer
Its the most wonderful time of the year….

Yessiree, it is the most wonderful time of the year! Pre-release weekend.  I’d considered rewriting the whole song but time is short and what I have to share is important. Through trial and error, I have come up with a system for how I handle the financial part of the pre-release weekend. For the most common card types and rarities, I have created for myself a dollar value that represents a decision “threshold”. The pricing I tend to use is MTGoldfish’s Printable Price Sheet.

This is how the threshold values work. If I list one threshold value for a card type, this is my guideline.  Consider this value my ‘I wanna keep any cards I get in this category.’ The further the price goes past this point, the apter I am to sell instantly. Whereas the lower it goes from this value, the apter I am to go all in.


For some cards, I have multiple marker points and I will explain as we go.  It is also important to point out that opening a card I want to use for a deck overrules any and all thresholds I set.  If I can open something I need, it instantly goes into the project binder, regardless of current price.


jvp One important thing to remember is that we do not always know the power of a card when we look at it in spoilers and may not know the power for a while after a set is released.  Let us take Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy as our prime example.  Prerelease night this card was trading around $8 and it was being shipped shortly after for 1,100 puca points. This was just one example of a missed opportunity when it comes to Planeswalkers for many people,  as the card eventually got close to $100.

For Planeswalkers, I use a three value system of $10/$15/$20.  Planeswalkers around $10 or less, I tend to actively try to acquire.  Due to the popularity of Planeswalkers when they are new, someone will always want them in the opening weeks of the set.I keep an eye on activity and move them when I feel they have peaked.

The closer I am to $15 from each side determines if I just hold onto it .  This is a good safe value.

As the price climbs over $20 I usually ship these on Pucatrade or sell before I leave the event. This price point or higher means that I have virtually played for free.

Rare Lands

I tend to want to be able to play any deck in standard and the first step to this is the mana base.  I have found that it is hard to go wrong holding onto lands and they rarely lose enough value to justify unloading.  For lands, I use $12 as my decision point. The further under $12 a land is listed at the apter I am to keeping it or acquiring more.  As the price goes past $12 I am more apt to flip it towards cards I need.

Removal Spells

 LanguishRare Removal spells require a good knowledge of the current meta-game and formats.  I tend to look at previous sets and how similar cards trended.  Let’s use Languish as an example. This card preordered for $7.50 and spiked to nearly $20, before averaging around $5 for its time in Standard.  More recently Declaration in Stone also had a similar trajectory. It started at $5 when spoiled and rocketed to nearly $20 a few weeks after release before settling back around $5. I value Good Removal spells with a decision point of $5.  Defining what is good is subjective and could take up an entire posting series.


Rare Counterspells are easy. I set a decision point at $2 on these.  Sometimes I will add value on  Counter Spells for extra text, like exiling a spell of ability. Summary Dismissal recently preordered around $3, tanked to under $1 and settled back around $2.

Creature Spells

I’ve found creatures to be the most volatile of all the cards from prereleases. There are lots of mitigating factors I consider when evaluating the cost of creatures, but let’s simplify it a bit. I start by looking at Rarity and whether of not a card has Legendary in the type. After that I look for creature types because there are some tribes I put a premium on.

It is no secret that Mythic Creatures tend to be where the money is. Here I default to the Planeswalker $10/$15/$20 values. I do however make exceptions for cards that I feel could be format breaking or a cross format All-star. I’m looking at you Kalitas and Grim Flayer.

Due to the prevalence of EDH and the effect on the market, I treat Non-Legendary and Legendary Rare Creatures differently. I find the most bulk rares in the Non-Legendary creature type. I have found the press leading to prerelease on these cards to be pretty accurate and use it to guide me. I keep my decision point around $7 for these cards.

Legendary Creatures are a different beast altogether because they can be commanders in EDH.  These cards tend to trend slightly different.  The usually slowly gain in price and level out later than other cards.  I would recommend using the $7 decision point on these cards with exception of adding a low of $2.  If I find a card I like as a possible commander because it has a relevant tribe or good text, I will scoop up as many as I can.


I avoid the chase uncommon cards like the plague.  I do not actively acquire UCs actively and tend to hold the ones that I acquire because I open so much product and I am sure to see them again.  The exception to this is over hyped UCs priced around or over $4. Most of these UCs settle around $2 for their life in Standard and I will be happy to unload at double that price.

Foils, Masterpieces, and Promos

SELL SELL SELL. Don’t argue.  Just sell. This is when the height of the value trend will be for foils. Move them fast and pay for prerelease.

Aether Revolt

Fatal Push
is a trap at $5.  If I open any of these they are instantly going out. I will be more than happy to send them to people at $5 and collect the ones I need while drafting.

Felidar Guardian is a viable investment at $1. If the combo pans out I can see it going up to $3. I will be on the lookout to obtain these this weekend.

The rest of the UCs I will just hold onto until I see what the Pros do.


I will be actively looking to get my hands on Glint-Sleeve Siphoner at $1.50.  I think this card has a lot of potential in a tribe that could benefit greatly from her. There are many relevant humans in Standard right now.

Spire of Industry at $4.50 is a no brain slam-dunk buy for me.  I will trade for these all day.

Baral, Chief of Compliance at $6 is a trap for me.  Yes, he is Legendary.  Yes, he has a cute ability.  I just do not feel this card is worth the hype.  I will be selling each these I get, so I can buy more Spire of Industry.

Disallow is the one card I hope I am wrong about.  At $4.36 I am just plain indifferent. I will pass this card over all weekend long.

I have read many people down on Yahenni’s Expertise. I am hopeful and optimistic with this card. With what we have seen with Languish in the past, at $5.99 I will definitely acquire these if I have the chance.

yahenni-undying-partisan-p246811-226849_imageAt $1.50 I am sneaking into my kid’s room late at night to raid their piggy banks to snatch up Yahenni, Undying Partisan. This card seems really good to me for many reasons.  I love a low price on a Legendary with a great tribe and a useful ability. In a standard format where Drana, Liberator of Malakir is still legal I think there may actually be a vampire deck.  The price is right, and I will be getting my hands on as many of these as I can this weekend.



My 2nd favorite cat is back, and at $11 I will be acquiring Ajani Unyielding based purely on my Planeswalker rules.

Although it is no Looter Scooter, Vehicle fans will be looking for a replacement because of the recent B&R report. They will be overpaying for Heart of Kiran to replace their trusty Scooter.  I am not buying it, and at $21 I am paying for my prerelease with this card.

At $3.50 I would like all of my readers and Pucatrade friends to trade me all of the Exquisite Archangels that they open. This is my second favorite card to go in on with this set with Yaheeni being the first. Angel’s will always have a place in EDH.  This angel stops you from losing the game.  I am full well expecting this card text to be fully abused at the Pro Tour.

Good luck this weekend.  May your lands drop as needed. And your top decks hit as you want them to.

As always Drive a Tranquil Bargain Friends.



  1. Great article buddy, it was interesting to hear your method and how you go about acquiring cards. If I can ask a follow up in the same vein, what were some of your biggest investments that panned out or plummeted in value in the past?

    1. Thanks for the solid question. I have many methods I go about acquiring cards between prerelease and release. The first approach I take is loading up my trade binder with every card I am willing to trade away. (This is different in that I rarely ever trade paper in person at LGSs anymore.) These events bring out the regulars at a shop along with a different breed of players. I have found that many casual kitchen table players attend these events and their wants tend to be far different than the normally competitive crowd. Many deals have been made at prerelease events with cards that had been taking up space in my binder.

      The second approach I use to acquire cards at a prerelease time is preordering. I am not immune to preordering cards that I will expect to be worthwhile. I do not have a set budget and it usually depends on how strong I feel a card is.

      The third step is by far the easiest. I put the cards I feel strongly about on my want list on Pucatrade. In the past, I have actually turned on my bonus only for this weekend. The majority of traders (and people who didn’t read this article) will assume that all cards will drop in value after this weekend, so they will send out every card they acquire tonight. Now is the time to strike on the cards I listed above.

      As far as failures in the past. I think the biggest one that stands out is JVP. The reason I used him in my post, is I opened 2 of him over the course of the prerelease weekend. Sold one for $8 and traded one on puca for 1,100 points. I was really sad.

      My second biggest failure was acquiring Grim Flayers at around $40 for the playset via trades and PucaTrade. I sold the playset for $48 when I didn’t see much early movement. Boy was I upset when I had to reobtain at $90 for the set.

      My third worst failure is actually kinda comical and not directly related to prerelease, but spoiler season. Directly before OGW hit I got the brilliant idea that Veteran Warleader was a good spec. I bought 100 copies at $.23. Now I have a pile of 100 to remind me that it was a whole lot of work to acquire 100 bulk cards.

      For each of my two biggest prerelease failures, there is an opposing win in my favor. They were also outlined in the article. I ordered 4 playsets of Languish for around $40 total, or $2.50 a card. I unloaded all of them for trade value when they were around $15.

      For EMN prerelease, I brought a binder of junk to the LGS and turned out I had a series of stuff the dudes who opened all of the value at the prerelease wanted. I walked away with the Liliana from my kit and the two I traded for (One pack foil and one nonfoil.)

      And then there was BFZ prerelease weekend, where I opened a Gideon that I sold at its peak. The next day I stopped by the LGS registered and dropped. Can’t remember which Expo I opened as it was instantly posted on Ebay and sold for $200. I used that money to pay for my preorder that came in the following Thursday night. Cracked another expo, handed to LGS owner and took another box. I ended up with a ton of BFZ bulk.

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