Happy New Year and welcome back to General Damage Control!  Last year my wife and I took a leap of faith and she quit her job to pursue an art career full time (Her works and progress can be found at  The decision wasn’t a hard one; it was between money and her happiness.  As a downside, my discretionary spending for hobbies has taken a pretty significant hit.  Essentially, my hobbies got cut off from being funded by my regular paychecks.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a farewell letter.  My intentions are to play as much Magic in 2016 as I did in 2015.

Brenna Art


As I write this, GP Oakland is this coming weekend.  It is close and a lot of my friends are going, so I’m going to go down and at least check it out.  Depending on how the prize wall looks, I may play in some side events.

GP Oakland forces me to evaluate exactly what I want to do this year in Magic; I really do want to play in some events, even if it’s just locally run drafts or some FNM action.  More importantly I want to stay up to date in Commander by building new Commander Decks as well as keeping my current decks up to date.  To pay for Gencon last year, I had to liquidate most of my collection; at the end of 2016, I’d like to rebuild that collection a bit and at least have a serviceable trade binder.  Most importantly, I need to be able to play with the decks I write articles about.

This year I’ll be doing a continuing series on building Commander Decks on a budget. I wouldn’t feel right putting those lists up without playing them a few times.

There is simply no way to accomplish some of those goals without spending cash out of pocket.  I will need a way to recover some of that cash, or make a little bit on the side where necessary.  The most obvious route to go here is to sell cards.  My trade binder has been devastated, but there are still some scraps left.  I’ll be selling those off for seed money to start things rolling.  Once I have that, I will start how I began playing Magic – drafting.  Drafting is such a great budget format because you walk away with cards in your hand, win or lose.  Hopefully, I can win a few or at least open well – in a dream world, the drafts would generate enough value in cards to make them worth more than the investment to play.  The nice thing about drafting when you don’t have a collection is that after the draft, many players only care about keeping their rare and money cards.  I will be happy to take anything people I draft with don’t care about. Bulk cards have value! It’s not a lot of value, but a man on a strict budget will take all that he can.

The bulk cards have a few purposes – getting sent in the mail for Pucatrade, being combined and sold in bulk for small amounts of money, or it can be worth it to package them as play sets to sell.  Those little dollars add up pretty quick when the goal is simply affording the next draft.   Bundling together junk rares together and trading up for cards for decks is a nice way to build Commander decks.  My local group is big enough that I can get some value out of that.

As a side note, I am not a value trader and I don’t want to be one.  There are people out there who can take packs and grind their way up in value to amazing things.  Personally, that isn’t me and this year isn’t going to be funded being a trade shark.  If that’s your thing, I don’t have a problem with it. It’s just not for me.

Realistically, I can build up a trade collection from drafting, but it won’t really generate enough value to build new Commander decks.  For that, I will need to make actual money on the side.  This means turning back to doing commission painting for locals.  It’s uncertain whether I’ll rely on doing alters or miniatures, but I’ll figure something out.  Painting doesn’t make you much money when you’re slow and you’re not renowned (like me). I don’t do it for pay often as a result.  This year however, every penny counts.

Brainstorm Extended ArtSean Mini Paint


Even at the slowest of paces, I should write at least twelve articles featuring decks this year.  Those decks will all be around $50 in total cost.  The low cost helps, but friends help a lot more.  This year, my articles will also be collaborations with the local players in my community.  While the deck lists will be designed by me, most of the decks will be bought and piloted by other players within the community.  The goals are to increase the diversity of decks within the local community, provide a higher quality of content to you, the readers, and to save my wallet whenever possible.  The eagerness of the local Commander community is highly appreciated.

I have a feeling 2016 is going to be a great year.