We are nearing halfway through the year and I am still chasing the goal of making it so that my hobbies cost a net $0 out of pocket.  I was able to survive GP Oakland without getting off task, and with no additional large events so far, I have just dealt with the temptations of day to day life.

It turns out those temptations are pretty high when it comes to playing Magic the Gathering.

I have spent about $450 on magic cards this year.  $120 of that has been on Oath of the Gatewatch Fat Packs, $300 has been bulk card purchases, and $30 on drafts.  The Fat Packs were pretty good, except that I can’t bring myself to sell the Expeditions I opened.  While I enjoyed the cards I got, I won’t be breaking even from what I opened from a cash standpoint.

My bulk came from one purchase in particular of bulk rares, foils, and mythics; then, one much, much smaller purchase of commons and uncommons.  I bought these with the idea that I can easily trade off the rares and foils for much more than bulk prices; eventually I can get value back from that purchase, and it will just take time and patience.

The bulk commons and uncommons were a home run.  While vacationing in Washington state, I came across a store liquidating its commons and uncommons.  The deal a got was to fill an 800-count box with whatever commons and uncommons I wanted for $10.  These were unsorted, and they simply wanted to focus on rare sales – they hadn’t combed through the mass of cards they had at all.

These situations are gold mines if you know what to look for.

$450 in the hole – I’ve been working pretty hard to get back to zero.  I’m not there yet, but thanks to commission painting, I am well on my way. I’ve painted about $300 worth of figures and Magic card alters this year.  I’ve also received tips in the form of cards that I have yet to sell.  Those cards keep finding their way into decks and my cube.

Let’s take a walk through everything that has been done.


Meren is based off of an illustration by Aubrey Beardsley that was done for Oscar Wilde’s Salome. I hope I did the artist’s work justice, and this was easily the most difficult card alter I have tried to do.  I had to take a fair number of liberties to make it work, considering how steady I could keep my hands.  I tried to put a little bit of myself into the alter to make it a little bit different from just a reproduction.


Omnath is Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist.  This is an Anime I would recommend to anyone with the time to give it a chance.  Armstrong is particularly well suited to be a Gruul planeswalker.


The Mishra card has already been shown on the site.  This was an alter done for Cassidy’s birthday.  Dave and I talked about this for a long time before basing the card off Cassidy himself, and then some of his favorite cards from his Mishra deck.  Dave was incredibly helpful for this alter, as he did a photo shop mock up to make sure the layout and the overall concept was doable.


The Ghost council as Uncle Fester was a fun piece that was entirely the idea of the person who commissioned it.  The same person who had commissioned Meren.  This was fun to do and ended up better than I expected.

After the alters, I also worked on a series of RPG miniatures.  This is really where my skill lies and I’ve got a bit of a backlog built up for these going forward.

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Here we are – and I’m $150 behind my goal.  For this year to work out, I need my bulk investments to pan out. If you take them out of the equation, I’d be doing very well, so the key will be finding the correct way to offload these cards for real value.  I’m thinking of bringing back my quarter trade binder.  I’ve had great success with it in the past and I’m optimistic of future results.

My next article will be more content rich…I promise.  I’m working on something major in my life right now that I hope to update you all on shortly.