Rags to Riches: Week Twenty – Fun With the Green Sun

As indicated in my last announcement, we prioritized a few projects and couldn’t really put as much time into content as we would like. However, Rags is long overdue, and it is now time to continue (and hopefully close on our goal to trade a single booster for a foil Force of Will)! Recently, I was able to do a bunch of trades and do some calculated speculation on a certain card – but I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s see what happened in the last week and take stock of the collection’s value.

Anyone who is following this series for a while will not be surprised that I am particularly fond of foil promos – the margins can be great. While scanning a popular bot chain, I found a foil promo Day of Judgment for 5.25 tickets. That seemed like a great deal to me as the card is very hard to find and there are only 32 in existence. I immediately bought it and made a mental note to be watching for an opportunity to sell for a neat profit.

Advertising the card for sale was fruitful after a while and brought me a few tickets more then I paid…

As some time has passed since my last visit, I was also able to secure 64 free commons from MTGOTradersFreeBot (Thanks Heath)!

Don’t forget to use those free bots when you can, and while you are on your scavenging binge, don’t miss trying our new bot “Academy_QuizBot“- it’s stocked with a random assortment of free rares, uncommons, commons… if you answer a trivia question correctly!

The rares are usually going quickly but we are refilling regularly and you can try your luck from time to time. If you happen to have a nice (and not too long trivia) question with four answers, feel free to post them in the comments and you might even see it appear on the QuizBot!

While waiting for a buyer, I scanned the Classifieds section and saw a post from a user that was giving away free cards – no need to mention that twice! I contacted him, and he said he was just about to get rid of them on a bot that takes cards for free! I opened trade and got all(!) cards he still had left. That added about 1200 commons and 300 uncommons to my account (only showing screenshot of one trade).

A while later, already in March, I used the freebot again (as it resets monthly).

As the new set was already out, it made sense to buy and sell cards while they are changing values quickly. Of course, it is easy to burn your fingers, but usually it is possible to spot good opportunities. One of them was an ad selling Sword of Feast and Famine for 10 tickets! The card is an important component of the currently strong CawBlade deck and should stay a staple for a long time to come.

I would also share a “secret” with you that seems very obvious but for some reason not many players utilize – comparing digital prices with paper prices for new sets. We usually have to wait several weeks until new sets are online past their paper release date. People have had time to play and use the cards in tournaments which shapes demand and prices for the paper market. If you go to a few big paper dealers and compare prices with the digital counterpart, you will encounter a few discrepancies in value that are just begging to close up in the future. Let me show you what I am talking about with an example:

Now if you take into account that 22 copies of this card showed up in the Top 16 of the last Legacy paper event, and that the card is around 2 Tickets currently online (one-fifth of the paper price!), I don’t have to tell you what I started buying…
“All In” on Green Sun’s Zenith!

I bought a total of 10 Green Sun’s Zenith, one foil, for around 22 Tickets and hope that it will reap some reward. It is always a certain risk to put in a huge amount of your resources into one card, but in this case I just hope that the overall strength and versatility will keep demand high and make the price rise. Finally, I was able to get more free cards from a fellow player that wanted to get rid of junk and a free Balance avatar from another that had too many of those.

With trading done, it is time to get an overview of the current account value and the composition of it. How close are we? It is also important that we start trading up or selling our commons/uncommons as no one will be willing to give you a foil FoW unless you have either tickets or rock solid tournament staples. Our collection looks now like this (bot buy values):

Mythics/Rares: 129 tickets

Uncommons/Commons: 27 tickets

Total value of collection: 156 tickets

I hope that we will need only a few more sessions to be able to purchase/trade the Force of Will. Let’s see how things develop.



  1. @ Brush: Thanks, glad you like it. To open another MTGO client parallel to the first you have to search for the net.exe which is usually found in the standard installation folder of MTGO (often C:\Programs\Wizards of the Coast\Magic Online) and start this one as second client.

  2. Plejades, I was expecting your new article! i have reached with success (slowly, maybe) the 50 tix quota starting with my old collection (no more than 10 tix), and I feel more confident in my possibilities. The foil market, though, is beyond me: how do you know that the foil Day of Judgment promo is that rare? What pricelist should I use to give me ideas?

  3. Where do you goto to find out how many copies of a certain card is on MTGO like you did with the Foil Promo Day Of Judgment? Are you still using ClassicQuarter for your foil prices?

  4. Also what fraction of the paper value do you suggest for digital value like you did with Green Sun’s Zeneth? EX: one-forth of paper value for digital?

  5. I don’t think using a standard fraction such as 1/4 works at all, the MTGO market is considerably more fluid than paper and has its own cycles (release, redemption kicking in) that affect online more than paper.

  6. @andrea: It is very difficult to rely on price lists for such cards; you have to know that price lists that aim to be “correct” depend on many transactions to find the equilibrium – for cards that are very rare and therefor don’t change hands often there are no price lists that make sense, which is one reason why they are profitable to trade with.
    In most cases you just have to check forums, follow the classifieds for buy offers or judge how important the card is for tournament decks to predict the value. Take the last MOCS season championship for example – the foil Wasteland, of which 32 exist, sells for 200+ tickets.

    @Nero: I am using different sources to check for foils. CQ is one of them among the official Wizards page with the MOCS season information where you find out which cards are given out to the participants. Using other dealer pages to check for availability is also useful. juggernaut1002 is right that there is no general rule for transfering paper to online and vice versa. It really depends on a lot of factors and the price difference for standard cards can only be one indicator. In general you will see prices for online cards go up as soon as redemption kicks in. When this will happen for Mirrodin Besieged can probably be found out by asking an ORC in game.

  7. Foilbot had a foil mocs promo for 6 tix… omg.. he never has that when i browse him :p

  8. Magic Online Championship. The foil versions of the promos you get for participating are always in high demand by collectors, since they are only handed out to top-32 finishers.

  9. For everyone that wants to keep an eye on promos or is interested to know which ones are released and in what tourney I can highly recommend “Tempesteye’s” wiki that he keeps on the official Wizards boards. It is a great resource for everyone interested in promos.

  10. This series becomes meaningless if you have people slow pitch you easy trades because of your reputation. It is fine for a that’s-a-cool-story-bro fluff piece as an entertaining diary of how you came to own a foil FoW, but it has no instructional value on making good trades for starting players. Please note, I am not objecting to you routinely visiting free bots, as that is fantastic advice. But you went overboard this week, as I doubt any random new player would be able to land the amount of free cards you did. When people begin lining up to get ripped in Mountain to Power, or toss you free cards in Rags to Riches, it undermines the purpose.

  11. I sort of agree that getting random collections for free probably isn’t really what this is about, although it shows what being online frequently, jumping at things and a little luck can get you online.

    I do feel I’ve learned what I can from Rags, so I don’t mind it getting to the finish a little faster. Trading up, prospecting on ‘safe bets’, looking at offline, getting well-played cards as foils, going to the freebot(s), things like that.
    Lots of great tips, but I feel now there’s a lot of repetition of these steps happening. So I feel this has sort of run it’s course, personally.

    Just my two cents, of course :)

  12. @Peter @Zage: I think I have to clarify here – I did not receive the free cards because of my Rags account. All of the people that gave me the free cards where advertising that they give away cards either on classified or in the auction room. The first one was in fact in the process of tossing all his cards for free on a bot! It was therefore not something I got only because of my reputation and writer of this column. Was it lucky? Yes. Was it biased trading. No.
    I understand that certain trades and procedures are repetitive but such is the nature of the beast. I am going to try to wrap up the mission with the next episode. Let’s see how long it will take. :-) Thanks for all the comments.

  13. @Zage
    I kind of agree with you but, he still hasn’t shared where he goes to find out things such as knowing a certain foil is worth more then what bots have them listed for. I think we could use some “offline” help as to know where to look, when to look and what where looking for.

  14. @Plejades: I didn’t suggest you got them because of your reputation or name or anything, that was just Peter (to clarify). I do agree with him that bundles of free random cards don’t really teach us a lot, though.

    @Neros: You know what: you’re right, there’s still plenty of stuff to learn from a trade/MTGO master like Plejades =)

  15. That day of judgment thing was sweet, i never find things like that, foilbot has alwais high prices when i check.

    On the other hand I made a great deal with swords, found a bot that was buying them for 20 when other bots were selling them at 20, so I checked de classifieds and bought like 12 swords at 16-18 tix and then sold them for 20.

  16. @Peter @Zage: I agree with you that there is not to much you can learn from me getting a lot of commons for free but on the other hand you have to see that it helps me to achieve my goal. Should I refuse those opportunities? I will try to make the next session the last one and will hopefully have plenty of useful trades going on.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  17. I was a little harsh. I like the site and the series, and even this week there is clearly instructive material as you explained your speculative position on GSZ. The problem is not free, but whether the processes can be replicated. I endorse your use of free bots. You’re right that it doesn’t really convey market insight, but I like the repetition hammering the point home. I think that is fantastic advice precisely because it is something every new player can and should do every month.

    The problem was I saw your screenshot where you were using your main account and then the person who gave you the cards commented on your article, and it just seemed reminiscent of Medina’s Pack to Power where his practice of shout outs, softening up traders by explain the project to illicit pseudo charity, and his reputation had people lining up to be ripped off. It undermined the point, which I took to be (1) a challenge to people complaining about the high price of cards, and then to (2) provide the best type of instruction for new players/traders — advice coupled with a practical demonstration.

    You’ve said it was entirely random, and that is good enough for me. However, you might actually want to consider refusing those opportunities. Take the cards, obviously, but just don’t count it under the project. It’s subject to discretion. I don’t think there is a problem if you include a few random freebies every few months. I just felt you like you scored a few too many random (and the key word is random, as opposed to the regularity of a bot) free cards this week, because I don’t believe an average player could replicate it.

  18. @Plejades
    NOOOO!!! I would be sad to see this series end so suddenly. Like I said before theres still things I would love to know thats not on MTGO. I would love to learn more since I’m doing pretty much the same thing as this series. I haven’t added any money into my account since I created it and hope to one day be playing standard and doing drafts and anything else on there for “free” so missing out on important information like this series has provided would be a real bummer.

  19. This is awesome! As a new player who doesn’t want to spend money on MTGO, I will have to read all the articles!

  20. Now I read through all these articles (yeah, this downtime helped a lot). Fascinating. If you get the Force of Will, I think you should continue till a playset :)