The way to spend the least amount of money on the game of Magic is to trade for what you need. Winning tournaments cannot be counted on to consistently provide you with enough product, and when friends need to use what you wanted to borrow, it’s necessary to trade. This is especially true for the beginner, and if you’re reading this section, that’s probably where you belong. This article will give you some tips on bargaining, how to set up your trade binder, and when to trade.
I use the downtime in between rounds in a tournament in order to trade for stuff I’ll be using in the upcoming format. This way, I’m always sure to have the stuff I need for the future way ahead of the time that it’s needed.
Trading is something that often gets ignored by advanced players who are more interested in scoping out the rest of the tournament than they are about planning for future formats. I think that in order to be successful, you need to keep on top of your trading situation, always updating your collection and getting ready to take on a new challenge in the new format. Here are some of the tips I’ve collected through the years on how to trade more effectively.
- Use a binder instead of a stack of loose cards. I’ve seen a lot of
people’s stacks get smaller and smaller as the day goes on because
of the relative ease of stealing cards when they aren’t bound in a
book. If you put your stuff in a binder, it’s harder to steal,
easier to manage, and keeps your cards better protected.
- Figure out what your cards are worth to you. I grade my cards on a scale of
1-10, and every card is given a value. I’m only willing to trade
cards with a value of 3 for cards that I value at 3 or higher. I do
not make exceptions, and I don’t tell anyone about my value system
because the more they know, the better off they’ll be when trading
with me. People value cards differently based on where they play,
what format they’re interested in, and how many of that card they
have. Use this to your advantage.
- The value of cards changes over time. When a new deck idea or a new set
comes out, the value of cards can change, especially if there’s a
good combo or an interesting addition which can be made to a
currently mediocre design. Check out spoilers before a set comes
out and try to revalue your own decks and get an initial read on the
new cards as soon as you can.
- Pick up on, and quickly release the “hot” cards from a set. These
hot cards will often cool off quickly, and you want to make sure
that you can unload them before they lose their value. This is
especially true right around the time of States and Regionals each
year, when the dominant decks in the format are unknown. The cards
which were of medium value before can often skyrocket, and I like to
try and get a variety of cards as opposed to a lot of a single card
when these changes are about to unveil themselves.
- Cards are valued differently at different places. If you have a local
card shop where casual play dominates, you’ll likely find that there
are lots of people who will try and collect every “dragon” and
“angel” and at those places, you can easily trade away all those
unplayable dragons and angels for some nice playable cards which you
can trade away at the serious tournament stores.
- Only advertise what you’re willing to sell. If you’re going to hang on
to something, don’t put it in your binder. Many trades have gone
bad when someone really wants a certain card, and I wasn’t willing
to give it up. If they ask about a card and are willing to make a
good offer, I’ll consider it, but only if it’s really good, and I
make it a point to mention that I’m making an exception so that they
are more willing to throw stuff in.
- Remember to bargain. Know your value system, but also know that a lot of
people approach trading like garage sales, and will offer you only
half of what they’re really willing to trade at first. Don’t let
this deter you, but realize that there are people out there who are
only willing to trade for huge advantage, and are unwilling to make
even fair trades.
- Keep your binder current. When a new block comes out, start trading away
a lot of your extra cards from the previous block for newer cards,
because eventually everyone is going to be trying to trade away
their old cards, and their values will decrease. By the time this
happens, your older, rotating cards will already be gone, and at a
much higher price. The high amount of rotation that I recommend is
difficult to achieve and takes some work, but if you’re doing it
right, every night spent trading should increase the total value of
- Trade out of season. When Extended season used to take place in December,
I used to spend all summer trading for extended cards. The cards
become devalued by people because the season had a few months of
staleness, and the value of powerful cards were forgotten by many
players. Good traders have excellent memories of old decklists, so
use that to your advantage and get those cards while their value is
small and get rid of the ones which might not be so good when their
value is high.
- Don’t break down large trades. Break it down in your mind, and see if you
can get a whole lot of things from someone else for a whole lot of
stuff from yourself. Using the 10 point system above, it’s
relatively easy to add the numbers and compare which is higher.
Other people often use more complicated valuation systems, and you
can often get much more than your cards are worth in large trades,
especially if they don’t add right.