Cash In or Keep It: What to Do With Chase Cards You May Not Use



As another new set looms ahead of us, releasing at the end of this month, Wizards has already shown that they have no plans on slowing down their pursuit of creating the most sought after chase cards.


While 2021 was absolutely dominated by the cards of Modern Horizons 2, Wizards has already keyed us in on their plans. When Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos was spoiled last month, it was clear that it is going to be pretty well sought after. However, when it was later announced that the card would be receiving a special neon showcase treatment that would be highly limited based on its color, and only found in collector’s booster packs, it became clearer that this card was going to hold substantial value.


TCGPlayer.com currently has the presale listing of the basic version at just under $7 and the showcase frame without the special neon treatment is priced just below $16. Listings for the remaining four versions with the neon treatment are not yet listed but are likely to be priced much higher.


Looking Back

Last year saw Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Solitude, and the fetch land reprints cornering the secondary market. Meanwhile, last year’s Standard sets had several notable cards selling for above $30 on the secondary market.


If we look at the non-Standard sets, which include Mystery Booster Convention Edition, Time Spiral Remastered, and Modern Horizons 2, there are even more cards going for over $30. Speculation and past sales aside, it’s safe to say that this year is going to look pretty similar. Knowing that Double Masters 2 is slated for later this year can only confirm that suspicion.


This raises the question, what should you do if you pull one of these chase cards and you don’t think you’ll use it?


When Modern Horizons 2 first released, there were only a few cards that I was really after. I figured I would just buy packs, see what I got, and trade in the rares and mythics to keep that process going. I must have opened dozens upon dozens of packs and still only got one of the cards I wanted. In the end, I probably lost a couple hundred dollars in the process and I still ended up buying those singles.


As I was buying packs and recycling the rares and mythics, I sold several retro-framed fetch lands, a Ragavan, and several other notable chase cards that I couldn’t work into my decks. At the time I didn’t really think anything of it. I wasn’t going to be using those cards, anyways, so they were just a means to an end.


Looking back, I could have sold just one of those cards to buy the singles I wanted and saved the rest for a rainy day. While the value of those fetch lands leveled out, Ragavan has certainly gone up in price since then. Truth be told, if I pulled another one tomorrow I would still flip it, but with a different game plan in mind.


It's this topic I really want to explore. What should we do with cards we don’t see ourselves using in any of our current decks? I can say with certainty that flipping them to go and buy more boosters is not the best decision to make, you end up sinking a decent chunk of money into a gamble with no guarantee there will be any benefit. I would argue that there are a few different options we can consider.


Flip the Card for singles

The first option for dealing with chase cards you don't need is trading them in for singles that can actually be used to upgrade your current decks or build new ones. This option seems to be what I default to.


When I build a new deck, I don’t typically sink a ton of money into it right away, which always gives me room to make improvements later. I have done this numerous times with several of my decks. For example, I recently built a Kaalia, of the Vast deck from the remnants of two separate dragon and angel decks. I took a few of the higher priced chase cards from those decks and went down to my local game store to buy more demons, which my collection was seriously lacking. I also picked up a few land cards that would make the deck more consistent.


This allowed me to round out that deck without spending too much out of pocket. Another interesting side effect I found was the overall lack of seller’s remorse I felt when I took this approach. In the past, I have sold some cards that, looking back, I really regret selling. Looking deeper into those situations, I sold those cards without having a plan for what I would be doing with that money.


I had a Gishath, Sun’s Avatar dinosaur tribal deck that I was really fond of which I had since stopped playing and began poaching cards from it for other decks. It became unplayable and I would have had to dismantle other decks to rebuild it, so I figured it was time to part the deck out.


I sold most of the valuable cards to help fund upgrades for some of my other decks. The last two cards I had left were Gishath and Zacama, Primal Calamity, both of which are pretty valuable and were not doing me any good just sitting in my collection.


I held off selling them for a while because I couldn’t think of a justifiable reason to do so. However, the time came when I started building an Omnath, Locus of Creation deck from the ground up. I needed to put some money in to really get it started and I knew it was going to be a deck I would be using for a while so I felt it was a good time to let go of Gishath and Zacama. While I was originally worried I would regret selling them, I found that doing so allowed me to get lost in building a new deck, which in my opinion is half the fun!


Build a Deck Around the Card

The second option I have found when it comes to determining what to do with those chase cards is to build a deck around them. This may be more for cards that are already in your comfort zone but wouldn’t just slot into one of your existing decks.


Allosaurus Shepherd

A couple of weeks ago I bought a Jumpstart pack on a whim. As I unwrapped the outer packaging, my excitement grew because the theme of the pack was “Elves” which I knew held either an Allosaurus Shepard or a Craterhoof Behemoth.


Behind the theme title card was an Allosaurus Shepherd. At first I was a little disappointed because I didn’t have an elf tribal deck and knew that I had several different decks that were begging for a Craterhoof Behemoth.


The more I thought about it though, the more fun I realized building that Elf Tribal deck would be. I chose to take that route and I certainly did not regret it. The icing on the cake was when I played the deck for the very first time and absolutely hosed the table with the very Allosaurus Shepherd that had started it all. This option can also be very rewarding. I have found that when I build a deck around a card, or several cards, rather than just a Commander I have a clearer vision for what the deck should look like and how it should function. So this method has led to some really interesting results.


Save the Card for a Rainy Day

The third option, and honestly the most difficult option for anyone as impatient as me, is to just hold onto the card until you find a use for it or find yourself needing some extra money to put into another deck. I think the reason this is the hardest is because no one can tell the future.


I certainly don’t know what deck I will be making a week from now and as new sets are announced we can only speculate what mechanics and cards we might find ourselves attached to. However, it is inevitable that we will want to build something new.


If you have a nice selection of chase cards in your binder to fall back on building something new or upgrading your deck becomes a lot easier.


I have several cards that would be phenomenal additions to an artifact based deck, but I haven’t found a Commander I want to work with yet. Hopefully we'll get some insane artifact-based Commanders when The Brothers’ War drops later this year. Until then, I will hold onto those cards until I find a suitable place for them.

Regardless of what you chose to do with your chase cards, it is important to acknowledge the difference between personal and financial value. While some cards might have considerable financial value, they may hold no personal value to you or vice versa.


When making decisions on what to do with your cards, weigh their financial value and their personal value. I've found that when their personal value eclipses their financial value, they are worth keeping around, at least for the moment.


The meta in our playgroups changes, the way we choose to play this game changes, and we should be willing to change with that as well. When making decisions in the future concerning those chase cards you don’t think you'll use, ignore the hype or lack thereof surrounding them. Instead, make an informed decision based on what you think of them and the value they have to you.


 

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