A long time ago I used to play the game “Magic:The Gathering”. I even played in a tournament once, and won a few games before being sent home by a guy with a deck full of moxes and lotuses (lotii?)

If you don’t know what moxes and lotii are, consider yourself lucky.

Because the game was based on the concept of building decks out of randomly available cards, to play the game you had to buy packs of cards from which you would construct your deck. A pack of cards cost (back then) something like $7 and would contain one “rare” card, a couple “uncommon” cards and several “common” ones. Of course most of the best cards were rare so players ended up buying so many common and uncommon cards that they were virtually worthless, so the rare cards were the only ones that had any real value.

I was unfortunate enough to begin playing just after the “beta” run, so my first purchases were from the “Unlimited” set (also known, I think, as “Third Edition”) and the “Revised” set (aka “Fourth Edition”). The business model of the game is that you have the “base edition” cards, which make up the great bulk of cards sold, and then there are “expansion packs” which are “special” cards that you can add to your deck to make it more powerful, or just to mix things up with new creatures, spells or effects.

Between each new edition, some cards are retired, others are added, but the bulk of the cards remain the same. The expansion packs are always completely new and different. Since I started after beta I missed out on purchasing the most collectible cards, some of which are worth hundreds of dollars even today, well after the Magic card market crashed about a decade ago. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So back then I was not willing to just shell out hundreds of dollars to buy cards (and neither was my wife) so I concocted a scheme to fund my Magic hobby. After building up a decent collection of reasonably valuable cards, I went to a local store which sold the cards and arranged a consignment sales system so that I sold my most valuable cards to individual buyers in search of specific cards to complete their decks. I paid the store 10% or something like that. But I made enough cash on the sale to purchase entire boxes of Magic Cards directly from Wizards of the Coast, which I would then open and pick out a few cards I wanted to play with, but then sold all the more valuable cards to fund more purchases of new cards.

Doing this netted me a fairly substantial collection of cards, the vast majority of which were worthless. But some were valuable. I kept them in my basement home office in a couple of large cardboard boxes designed to hold collectible cards. I kept a few in a notebook with plastic card protectors.

Then I went on vacation and my basement flooded. By the time I got home my entire collection had been in standing water (or under water) for days. They were totally ruined. Or most of them were. I did have one box I had stacked on top of other boxes and that box only had one section that had soaked up water.

Surprisingly my insurance company paid for the lost cards at fair market value, which at that time was quite a bit more than I realized. I think I got over a thousand dollars for the ruined cards, money I used to buy my first serious amateur photography equipment. Equipment I sold a decade later to buy a guitar. So in a sense I guess my Magic hobby has funded two other hobbies, one of which I still enjoy.

But I lost interest in Magic about that time and since then I’ve just kept that last batch of cards in a new box in my closet. I figured they weren’t worth much, all of my really nice cards had been ruined.

But for some reason, pure happenstance, that box included most of my “dual land” cards, cards that weren’t that valuable back then, but have appreciated considerably since then.

Last night just for kicks I pulled out my dual land cards and looked them up on eBay.

My dual land cards are currently worth around $800 – $900. That’s looking at what people are actually BIDDING on them, not what people are asking for them. Most of them are worth around $30 – $40, but a few are worth as much as $80 each, and I’ve got about two dozen of them.

I do have a bunch of other rare cards, but most of them are only worth a buck or two. I probably have another two dozen cards that average in the $10 – $20 range.

But all the rest of my cards are just junk. Wasted space.

So I’m now trying to decide if I should sell out my cards for whatever I can get for them (I am estimating I can probably get $500 or so from a trader) or hang onto them in the hopes they appreciate more. My worry is that if I do wait, they will become worthless when Wizards releases a new edition or expansion that re-introduces the same card. I do have several cards that used to be valuable but are no longer worth anything because they were re-introduced. I’d hate to lose out on a potential for a chunk of cash because I waited too long.