TRADING BASICS FOR THE CASUAL MAGIC PLAYER.
First off, I would like to give a shout out to Mark Ortego, whose articles Iíve stumbled upon here after meeting him and having the pleasure of playing a few games with him at Scorched Earth Games in New Kensington, PA. Also, this is the first article i've written for any online site, so don't be too rough on me!
Trading Magic cards is a fun aspect of the hobby, and a rewarding experience for both parties involved. Not everyone has expendable income and the ability to just buy every card they need, so trading is usually the way to go.
Before you make your way to the shop next week to make your big trades, be sure to follow a few of the following tips and guidelines. Some of these tips seem pretty trivial, but Iíve found them helpful in getting the best trades.
ALWAYS KEEP A TRADE BINDER
Some players (darn them!) keep their rares in stacks, and when trading they hand you this big stack of cards which are either scuffed up, rubber banded, or even worse, just plain bent. You can buy a 3 ring binder at your local department store for less than 5 dollars, and you can get 100 binder pages online for about 12 bucks. Most local stores sell them at the rate of 6 for a dollar. These keep your rares in great shape. If youíre completely against the thought of carrying around a binder, at least keep your rares in old deck protectors. You never know when a player is looking for an older, more obscure card to complete their collection and they need it to be mint.
Your binder should have some kind of order to it, or it will be an unpleasant experience for the person you are trading. Sorting your rares by color will usually do the trick, but if you have a lot of cards, even sorting by tournament format (Type II, Extended, Type I) may be the way to go.
KNOW YOUR VALUES
Personally, I use eBay to determine values. This is a global website and unlike Inquest or Scrye, you see the final price cards go for. If I know I can get 45.00 for a playset of Blistering Firecats on eBay, it is nonsensical for me to trade them locally at a value of 6 or 7 dollars each. This article will not cover online trading and buying (which I highly suggest!) but I still wanted to mention eBay. If you are determined in using a published magazine as a price guide, I would suggest Scrye over any other. Their Type II prices are decent, but they arenít as good with their Type I prices.
Sometimes you will have to trade down because you really need a few cards to complete some decks. Try to minimize the damage, but sometimes itís a necessary evil when a PTQ or other tournament is coming up.
In the back of your mind, remember what will be rotating soon. Those Call of the Herds which you are trying to get from Joe valued at about 11 each, will probably worth about 5 each when Odyssey block rotates out of Type II, so think about the long term also.
This is also a great way for Type I players (like myself for the most part) to get good cards at a lesser value. A lot of the younger players youíll come across may have older cards which they donít value as high and will trade these for hot Type II cards. If you are trading for the long haul, keep an eye out on new Type I decks which are actually using Type II cards. You know these will be good to have. The best example of recent times would be Fetchlands (Polluted Delta, Flooded Strand, etc.). Most Type I decks benefit from them, and nearly every format will use them for years to come.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR CARDS
No matter how long you have been playing at your store or have known your friends, keep an eye on your cards. For younger players, there are a lot of hot cards which they canít afford and some may even reach the point where stealing is a possibility for them. I always trade with 1 person at a time. This helps you focus more on the deal and make the best deal possible. Also, never butt in on trades like this. Joe will still be there to trade you in a few minutes, so respect your fellow gamers.
Remember that Magic is a game, and a game that players of all ages can enjoy. Sure, it might be fun for your to rip off the Ďnew kidí but in 6 months when he knows what he did wrong, he wonít be as willing to trade with you. Helping new players out is a great way to ensure good trades down the road. Even throwing in a few commons and uncommons of sets past will be a great way to starting a good trading relationship with everyone at your store. Keep it fun, and everyone goes home happy!
Contact me at the above address for any questions. Remove the NOSPAM part of course. Gotta keep the email bots away!