Starting aside – My article was nearing completion as I got the news that NZ (New Zealand) has been hit by another major earthquake. This time QS is slightly more invested in it because our sites founder, Kelly Reid, was in the country at the time and has not been heard from since. I have never advocated any religious tones in this series before, but if you have a moment, say a quick prayer for his safety, hes an invaluable member of the Magic finance community. [Post publish note, Kelly has said he’s fine, no longer a need to worry. Thank you for those that expressed your concern for him- Stephen]
Alas, we’re near the end of our journey. If you are just jumping in, I highly suggest reading the previous two installments and catching up with the topics. This week we’re going to cover the last of our basic skills, and begin looking at some of the more advanced techniques. In the next few hundred words we’re going to cover the rise and fall of the market, how to look beyond the current numbers of a card, and how to deal with dealers.
All markets have an ebb and flow to them. Markets rise and fall based on supply and demand. A card in my area may be worth more or less than its average going rate because of its limited supply, or abundant supply paired against its low or high demand. I’ve seen situations like this happen a few times, and the most recent was based around Kargan Dragonlord. Most of us had sold them off before Shards rotated out, and there were very few left in the local supply pool. When Kargan Dragonlord made an appearance in a few decks, it was valued insanely high in trades by the people who still had their sets, because they knew they had the only ones in the area. Yes, they could have been bought online for a lower price, but as a whole Magic players are a group that likes instant gratification, and as such people were willing to take a hit on the higher price because of the limited supply. The life cycles of cards are part of this ebb and flow, and this week Jonathan Medina covered the life cycle of a rare in his premium SCG article, which is an excellent companion to the ideas covered in this series and I highly suggest reading it over, its very relevant. For those of you who don’t have a premium account, I’ll give you the quick rundown, though it’s not nearly as detailed as his article.
Pre-Release: High point for the hype cards, and best opportunity to catch the sets sleepers before they go up. Using the previous two installments of this series you should be able to find the sleepers a bit easier.
Inclusion in a format: Basically, as soon as a card shows up as a contender in almost any format, its price will go up. sometimes by a lot, sometimes by just a little, but its going to go up.
Rotation from standard: Every standard staple has an expiration date. As that day gets closer, the price on it starts to drop, and will continue after its rotated because the market is flooded with people selling off their high value staple rares. Again, supply and demand.
Use in Extended and Legacy: This is where a card can pick back up in price, but unless its format defining, its not likely to see the prices it once saw while in standard.
All of that rolls into our next section, how to look beyond a cards current numbers. After the changes to extended, the majority of people have said that the format will be a rehash of this years and last years standard, with a few new tricks. Scapeshift evolved into its current Prismatic Omen form, Faeries gained more efficient removal, Mono Red still springs up now and then, Elves has made an appearance again, and control strategies that are developed week to week in standard Opens are retooled for use in extended. So how do you take that information and turn it into something that can be used for trading purposes? That goes back to the research portion.
Looking at last years standard and extended decks, this years standard decks, and new cards from sets it becomes quite a puzzle to figure out. The best advice I can give the financial community is to follow the advice that the pros give in their deck selection, and hit the windows as they open. This requires you to read their articles, and try to figure out where they are going with ideas to be one step ahead. Its probably the hardest way to make a profit, with the worst results, and not one that I recommend but if you want a challenge then I wish you the best of luck. Oddly, this is also the route that most people tend to take for trying to make their money, and I included it to show you what to avoid if you can.
This brings me to our last point, dealing with the dealers. First off, unless you’re at a GP or Pro Tour, there probably won’t be a large selection of dealers for you to work with. Realize before you ever sit down with them to hash out prices that they are going to buy your cards for less than you probably think they are worth. If you’re ok with that, and you’re willing to at least hear their offer and be mature about it then dealers are one of the best ways to unload cards for cash in hand. Most of the time dealers are willing to work with you on prices, and only on a few items are the prices set in stone. The more cards you’re selling that have some value associated with them the better your chances are of gaining some negotiating room. Asking for $4.00 on a card they valued at $2.00 is sure to be shot down, but its not unreasonable to ask $18.00 on something they valued at $16.00. One of the best tips I can offer is before you sit down with them and start working out a deal, look at their inventory. Is there a staple or semi-staple card they are low or out of? If so, see if you can trade for some at a decent price from other players, and then when selling the card to the dealer, you have a bit of room to ask for a higher price because you are essentially resupplying them. The more you’re selling, the more room you will have for negotiations, just play it honest and fair with them, don’t act stupid on prices and then try to correct them, and don’t make sarcastic remarks when they offer 1/4 the price on something. This is not going to make their next offer better, and will probably hurt your reputation with them. I’ve worked up a reputation with some of the larger dealers in the area through steady buying and selling, and its much easier for me to get closer to full value on a card than it is for the person that denies every offer with a sarcastic remark or eye roll.
That’s about it for this week, and the end of this series. I hope you found some useful bits here if you’ve been trading for a while, and if you’re new to it I hope this will give you something to start from and work your way up. I’m always available in the comments as well. Like the article? Hate it? Don’t be afraid to say so! (with some tact if you hate it, we are human after all)
Till next week,
@MTGstephenmoss on Twitter