Magic the Gathering Price Guide Preparation – Sorting and Card Quality

Magic the Gathering Card Prices

Whether you’re new to Magic the Gathering or an old player, eventually sooner or later you’ll become inte

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rested in the prices of your cards. Maybe you want to know how much a particular card would cost if you wanted to buy it. Maybe you bought a booster pack and you wonder how valuable the rare is. Maybe you’re getting out of the game and want to sell off your collection.

Unfortunately, due to the simply astounding number of cards printed in Magic the Gathering, and their various editions and reprints, it’s impossible for there to be one comprehensive Magic the Gathering Price Guide. On top of that, even if one such guide existed, keeping it up to date would be impossible. However, it’s not impossible to find prices for your cards, whatever the reason. For this section of the guide I assume you’re looking for prices of your own cards, and to find those, the first thing you’ll want to do is sort them.

Card Sorting

Every bit of sorting you use will help you when you're looking for a Magic the Gathering price guide. Chances are, though, that the most important sort you'll do is to separate out your cards by rarity. For more recent cards, you'll want to just look at the color of the set symbol. Prior to the Exodus set, you'll need to use Gatherer to look up the cards by name and find their

Mythic Rare

rarity, because all the set symbols are black. After Exodus, the colors make it much easier to identify. A red symbol is Mythic, the rarest of the rare. Purple is from Time Spiral, and is a card from the past reprinted as a rare. Gold is a normal Rare, and are probably most of the valuable cards. Silver is Uncommon, of which some will be valuable and many won't be. Black is common, most of which are not very valuable, but a few can be worth some money.

Another way to sort your cards is by color, with the usual categories being Green, White, Red, Blue, Black, Gold, Colorless, and Land. Most lands won't have value, but some, such as old-school dual lands, are worth over $30 each. Some more recent cards break boundaries; artifacts with colors, or colorless non-artifacts like the Eldrazi. These cards can be filed however you like, so long as you're consistent.

You could also sort your cards by card type: Land, Creature, Enchantment, Artifact, Planeswalker, and so forth. This sorting isn't as likely to help you look up prices, however, but can allow a faster search of your collection to find specific cards. On the other hand, if you're really looking to put some work into it, and want as easy access to your cards as possible, you can also sort alphabetically. Many card lists will be listed that way with no other sorting, or minimal other sorting. It all depends on what resource you use to look up prices.

Card Quality

Once you’ve identified the cards you want to sell, you should look at their quality. Troll and Toad has a good guide, which I’ll summarize here. Note that these conditions are somewhat specific for Troll and Toad, and some other sites may not recognize some of the grades.

  • Mint: A card nearly never played, with crisp edges and a sharp image. No marks, no creases, nothing. It should be as close to brand new as possible.
  • Near Mint: A card that is Mint, but perhaps has a minor flaw or two. A slight crease, a scratch, a small mark. Most likely slightly played.
  • Near Mint Minus: Slightly more played or flawed than a Near Mint card.
  • Excellent: A card that has been played, but still looks pretty good. It’s edges may be worn, or it’s surface scratched from shuffling. Most played cards will be here.
  • Excellent Minus: An Excellent card with a few more flaws, but still looking very nice as far as cards go.
  • Good: A card that’s been ‘well loved’ or otherwise has some flaw. A crease, a pen mark, a deep gouge, a stain.
  • Poor: Worse than a Good card, but with the same played and flawed degree of use.

Finding prices for your cards.

So now that you have your cards sorted and have a decent idea of their quality, how do you come up with prices? The answer is, check the internet. There are several places you can check, listed here, each with a small review.


StarCityGames – This site is a good place to get a decent idea of card prices, by looking up what they would cost you to buy. Each card and each edition, as well as foil or not, along with the card quality is listed with price. They also have a buylist, although at the date of this writing it’s down for improvements.

BlackBorder – This site has more of an article-style homepage, and writes posts about Magic cards, decks, tournaments, and expansions. It’s sell list tracks prices from several different sellers, and it has a more comprehensive buy list than StarCity Games’. Their buylist is also sorted by edition, which is quite helpful.

Ebay – It may seem obvious, but many people buy and sell cards on Ebay, and more often than not the current prices on Ebay will be reflected in the prices on other sites. The trouble with Ebay, of course, is that it’s an auction format. You could get cards much cheaper, or you could be outbid a dozen times and end up paying more than the card value. Ebay also tends to be a good place to sell collections of cards in bulk, so if you don’t care about individual card value and simply want to offload a collection, this is your place.

Troll and Toad – Listed above because of their comprehensive card quality guide


, Troll and Toad also has a decent buy list and is similar to StarCityGames in many respects.

Bidwicket – This site is the ultimate in card pricing guides. They have a comprehensive card search, with all the Gatherer errata text and card pictures. Each card has each edition tracked separately, and Bidwicket tracks dozens, if not hundreds of different sellers to show you all of the prices on all of the sites, ebay sellers, and anywhere in between.

So, even if no comprehensive Price Guide for Magic the Gathering can exist, these sites are as close as you can get.

Is Magic not your cup of tea? Read about the Nudity in Heavy Rain instead, or check out this guide to Lexulous scoring.