Author’s note: This article is not about Fetchlands.
There are many things wrapped up in this decision. The first one is pride. This is the deepest I’ve ever gone on a speculation, and being proven so right doesn’t suck.
First, a little backstory.
I started playing in Shadowmoor. I was just figuring things out in Shards of Alara and by the time Zendikar rolled around, I was beginning to understand how important the financial side of the game was. Being a broke college student, it was obviously super difficult to afford that playset of $20 Maelstrom Pulses that I needed to compete.
At this point I was playing an awkward but abstractly powerful RG beatdown deck that folded to the Walletslayer (Baneslayer Angel) but was otherwise solid. Having practically cleaned out my meager collection to get this together, playing Legacy was a pipe dream. I could never afford Underground Sea or Tundra, and I basically accepted that fact. Hell, even the “enabler” lands like Polluted Delta and Flooded Strand were about $40.
That’s not a good feeling to have. And it’s one a lot of newer players have to deal with. Hearing all the older players around me reminisce about those halcyon days when dual lands were sold for $5 certainly didn’t make me feel better.
“I sure wish I had known then what I know now,” they would repeat often, the same old tired refrain repeated day in and day out by the perpetual loser.
And of course, I would hate them for it. We all tell ourselves we’ll never make the same mistakes as our parents. We’re better, we’re too smart for that.
Then they printed the Zendikar fetchlands.
You’d think this would be the part where I say I instantly saw the light, realized how the Magic world works and started amassing fetchlands. After all, I’ve certainly set the story up to provide a nice payoff there.
But I’m embarrassed to say that wasn’t the case. It was just another frustrating moment of believing I’d be screwed again in Standard because I couldn’t pay $20 apiece for a stupid land.
Turning the corner …
The lightbulb moment didn’t come for me until months later. Specifically, it was Legit’s own Jonathan Medina and his Pack To Power series in April 2010 that got the wheels turning.
By then, Jace, the Mind Sculptor was pushing $40-45 on eBay, and Jon’s series seemed to open a whole new world to me (and a lot of other people too, highlighting the growing #mtgfinance crowd). Instead of seeing only obstacles, I began to see opportunities instead.
The next big step for me came in June 2010, when my internship at the state’s largest daily newspaper (I’m now a sportswriter) required me to start a Twitter account. I had no idea how to use Twitter, but I began to find my way around the site by following Magic writers. This led me to discover Kelly Reid’s speculation blog and the then-new Doubling Season, the first Magic website to focus exclusively on financial content.
At this point I was sold. I began devoting a ton of time to finance research and trading. That led to a writing spot on the site and the rest, as they say, is history.
… To Fetchlands
Fast forward a year, and I began to see the opportunity in fetchlands, which had fallen to $10 retail. I finally had a chance to make good on my promise to never be like the perpetual complainers, and I wasn’t going to pass it up.
The seeds on an idea began to sprout in my mind, and on Sept. 9, 2011, I wrote the following in a column:
“Pick up literally every single Zendikar fetch you can find for $12 or lower, and trade for them aggressively (ideally with overpriced Innistrad goodies), and you’ll be looking very good a few years from now. It remains to be seen if these experience a dropoff once they are actually rotated, but I’m of the opinion that they won’t. We won’t be seeing a better time to buy in, and there certainly isn’t going to be less demand for them in older formats as we move forward. I’ll be spending my Innistrad prerelease (if I’m able to attend one) trading for fetchlands.”
As I fleshed out around then, I created a goal of buying a nice used car with fetchlands one day. I figured in five or six years they would be nearly as expensive as the original fetches, and if I had a few hundred I could convert that into several thousand dollars to buy a new car.
An impressive failure
I failed in that goal, but for good reasons. The biggest reason, of course, is Modern. We all know what happened, with Fetchlands quadrupling in price in two years.
That’s obviously awesome as far as investments go, but the downside of the spike occurring so quickly was that I didn’t have nearly as many fetchlands as I wanted. By the time the blue ones hit $35 retail, I had just more than 70 amassed, with a few playsets of each of the non-blue ones as well.
That brings us to today and the picture at the beginning of this article. After pulling enough out for decks and another playset for my binder for future decks, I ended up selling 26 Misty Rainforests, 24 Scalding Tarns, six Arid Mesas and a playset of Verdant Catacombs to a private buyer.
Before the sale, to my knowledge I was the largest private holder of fetchlands in Oklahoma, and none of the local stores had nearly as many. I’m not going to lie, that’s kind of a cool feeling. And when I sold I made a nice sum of money from this deal.
But this story isn’t about humble brags, and I’ve already warned you this article isn’t about fetchlands.
So what did I do with the money I made from all my fetchlands?
I bought a refrigerator. And of course we got it from the “dents and dings” section because I find value wherever I can in my life.
But it’s a nice fridge. In fact, it’s this one.
I know, I know. You were expecting something more impressive. Who the hell wants an overpriced place to keep some cokes and leftover tacos when you could have a sweet trade binder?
But you know what? I’m completely happy with this choice. My wife and I are moving into our first home in just a few weeks, and it’s exciting for us to have a nice refrigerator when we move in.
And all because of Magic.
And this is what this article is about. One of the most important pieces of advice I can give regarding any kind of boon from Magic, whether it’s from trading or speculating or winning a big event, is this:
Spend it all in one place.
Most of us don’t make a living from Magic. We work at our daily 9-5 (or in my case, all hours of the day) jobs to pay the water bill and fill the car with gas. I write for a living, some of you work as accountants or engineers or whatever it is you do, and we do it five days of our week every week in our lives. Magic is our release, when once a week we battle it out in a fantasy world on Friday nights or we take a vacation day and attend a Grand Prix to have fun with our friends.
Maybe some you reading this own a card store and work at it full time, but for the vast majority of us this is a hobby. It’s not a job. And I don’t want to make it one.
That’s why I keep everything I’m lucky enough to make from Magic in a separate place and save it up. If you let it seep into your everyday life, it’s going to end up going to pay that electric bill or buying your kids new clothes for school, and chances are you’re still going to feel like you’re just getting by every month. And Magic is going to begin to feel like a job.
But Magic is not your job, and it’s important to remember that.
It’s okay to be selfish sometimes.
Spend that money on the new guitar you wanted. Buy that new jacket you’ve been eyeing. Take your significant other out to a fancy dinner. Take that trip to Vegas you’ve been talking about. Hell, spend it on a playset of Underground Seas. But for God’s sake, do something with it. That’s what keeps you going when Magic begins to feel like a grind.
Do you want to know why I remember the minute details of the story above so well? It’s because it means something to me. Every time I pass that crazy expensive (but well worth it, I’m assured) fridge I’m going to think about those fetchlands. I’m going to think about what it took to acquire them, I’m going to think about this article, and I’m going to feel proud of what I did to earn that stupid fridge.
It’s the same feeling I have when I get stuck watching HGTV with my wife for hours on the TV I bought on Black Friday in November 2010 with money from Magic. It’s the same feeling I get when I see the engagement ring on Marianne’s hand, which I bought in June 2011 with money from Magic before surprising her during her study abroad trip to London and proposing.
And every time I take leftover tacos from my new refrigerator I’m going feel the same way.
Because it means something.
That’s why I sold my fetchlands.
And you should, too.
@Chosler88 on Twitter
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