When buying and selling in large quantities (often referred to as “bulk”) it can be incredibly frustrating to identify which cards are worth pulling out to sell individually. This article is an introductory piece to a series of guides that are meant to help Bulk Box enthusiasts know which cards to look for when sifting through commons and uncommons. In today’s publication we are going to discuss common and uncommon cards above $2 that were printed in Black Bordered sets ranging from The Dark which was released in 1994, to Portal Second Age which was released in 1998. These sets are notable because the set symbols do not have different colors to represent the levels of rarity. Other sets that also don’t have this set symbol differentiation will be covered in future Bulk Bin Bargain articles.
Delving into the commons and uncommons contained in The Dark, we have 6 above $2 cards worth noting. The first and most impressively priced one is Maze of Ith. Maze of Ith is a Commander and Legacy Lands staple, and carries a premium price with the amount of use it sees! The other 5 cards from The Dark to keep an eye out for while searching through bulk cards are Elves of Deep Shadow, Fellwar Stone, Eater of the Dead, Tormod’s Crypt, and Dark Sphere. While these cards may not be as flashy or expensive as Maze of Ith, they are still worth pulling out of your bulk cards!
Next up we have: Ice Age! This set also has a higher value card, Demonic Consultation. This card recently went up in price due to its efficiency in winning games as a part of some cEDH (Competitive Commander) two card combos. Pair this card with Laboratory Maniac, Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, or Thassa’s Oracle and you have assembled a quick pathway to victory. As Commander snowballed popularity over the last year, demand for this card rose significantly. While it’s an older card with only one printing currently, it does have the potential to be reprinted. I’ll be trying to get this card listed and sold before that happens and the price goes down due to more copies being available on the marketplace. Some other meaningful cards from the Ice Age expansion set are Dance of the Dead, Mystic Remora, Fire Covenant, Nature’s Lore, Swords to Plowshares, Glacial Chasm, Jeweled Amulet, Zuran Orb, Urza’s Bauble, and Pyroblast.
Our next set, Homelands, does not have a large quantity of playable staples to offer us. The one it does have, however, is a commander staple for any blue deck that wants to find blue instants/interrupts. That card would be our good friend Merchant Scroll. This card has been a commander staple for blue decks for a long time, and likely will continue to see play as long as blue instants are still doing powerful things in Commander. This card also has a printing in 8th Edition and as a Judge Promo.
Disappointed the last set didn’t have anything flashy? No worries, Alliances has you covered! Force of Will is a Commander, Legacy, Vintage, and Cube staple, and arguably one of the most influential blue counterspells of all time. This amount of demand brings a hefty price tag for any version you find, however this is the only uncommon printing of Force of Will. Each printing of Force of Will since has been a Gold-Bordered, Mythic Rare, or a promotional product. The other cards worth finding from Alliances are Elvish Spirit Guide, Lim-Dul’s Vault, and Shield Sphere.
The next set, Mirage, has us covered with 3 high priced cards: Enlightened Tutor, Mystical Tutor, and Worldly Tutor. These 3 cards are Commander and Cube staples that have high demand, with some of them seeing play in Legacy and Vintage as well. Other cards you can find in Mirage include Crystal Vein, Withering Boon, the Diamond Cycle (Charcoal Diamond, Fire Diamond, Marble Diamond, Moss Diamond, and Sky Diamond), and a form of budget “Fetchlands” that enter the battlefield tapped –– Bad River, Flood Plain, Grasslands, Mountain Valley, and Rocky Tar Pit. While some of the individual cards mentioned in the prior two cycles may not currently be above the $2, they are still great budget options for Commander and are also good options to sell or trade.
In Visions, the card Necromancy stands out as a flashy card you can find while looking through Commons and Uncommons from the set. Commander and Cube reanimator strategies are never sad to see a Necromancy, as the ability to use it at instant speed makes its versatility highly desirable. Recently Necromancy has gotten a reprint via the set “The List,” which is different from the original printing due to the small Planeswalker symbol in the bottom left corner of the card. Visions also has some good finds, including Desolation, Goblin Recruiter, Quirion Ranger, Elephant Grass, and Helm of Awakening.
Portal is an ancillary product that is neither a Core Set nor an Expansion Set. Many new and unique cards were first released in the Portal Set making them desirable collector’s items. Personal Tutor and much more recently, Mobilize, are both very high value cards from this set. Mobilize recently gained more value due to the rising popularity of Elves strategy, especially with the new Elves cards in Kaldheim. Mobilize has only been printed in Portal, so it has low supply to feed high demand. Some of the cards in Portal were printed with two different versions, one that had reminder text while the other printing does not. Generally cards that have the reminder text are more desirable and carry a higher value than their non-reminder text counterparts. The other commons and uncommons to look out for from Portal are Nature’s Lore, Cloud Pirates (Reminder Text), Storm Crow (Reminder Text), and Feral Shadow (Reminder Text).
Weatherlight is lacking in flashy cards, just like Homelands. It does however have multiple good finds throughout the set with Gemstone Mine, Teferi’s Veil, Aura of Silence, and Buried Alive.
Tempest has two flashy cards that are well known throughout Commander, Legacy, Vintage, and Cube alike. Ancient Tomb and Wasteland are two of the more notorious lands in the Magic: The Gathering community. These cards are both powerful in their own right, and enable some very powerful strategies to function optimally. The demand is high for these two cards, and so even as reprints have occurred for both they still have high value and high demand. Tempest has a slew of other cards that are worth finding as well. Lotus Petal, Goblin Bombardment, Propaganda, Horned Sliver, Boil, Steal Enchantment, Ghost Town, Choke, Insight, and Flickering Ward are all worth pulling out to sell or trade. If you find Tempest commons and uncommons, search carefully so you don’t miss anything.
Stronghold has a handful of good cards in the set: Constant Mists, Crystalline Sliver, Heartstone, Bottomless Pit, Hibernation Sliver, Primal Rage, and Reap.
Portal Second Age is the last set we are going to cover, and has quite a few cards you can find that are worth pulling out! The list includes Predatory Nightstalker, Salvage, Nature’s Lore, Goblin Lore, River Bear, Sleight of Hand, Sea Drake, Renewing Touch, Goblin War Cry, Golden Bear, and Harmony of Nature.
Many of the cards above have had reprints in other sets, and many of those reprints are just as valuable as the printings that are mentioned in this article - if not worth even more! I really enjoyed sharing a variety of Bulk Bin Bargains with you today, and hope whether you are looking in the common bin at your Local Game Store or going through thousands of unsorted bulk that you were able to take something helpful away from this article. If you enjoyed reading, look forward to Bulk Bin Bargains #2!