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Flash of Hindsight – An Introduction to Abundance Trading

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An Introduction to Abundance Trading

So, while there’s nothing really epic to talk about in the "pick it up now" department, I promise I’m going to dedicate a little bit of our budget today by the end of the column, if only to sate everyone with a hole burning in their pockets.

First things first. I know this is going to sound arrogant. This is going to change the way you trade Magic cards forever. That is, if you have some balls. This might change the way everyone trades Magic cards forever, and I intend this to be reflective of the kind of game-changing content you can expect from QS premium once premium content goes live next month.  [We're aiming for the 1st week of September! -kbr]

This kind of article is the reason you want to (or maybe the reason you won’t want to) tell all your friends about QS, and the reason it will be worthwhile to get a premium account. I don’t know what we’re gonna charge, but it’s not enough. [The price to get the articles will be competitive with the going rate online -kbr]

And he didn't crack it in a ZEN pack.

I have been observing a friend of mine and he trades like a mo-fo. He’s a passable player, but he is a GOD when it comes to trading. He just recently came back to Magic, with literally no formal budget, and is already in possession of a Mox Emerald. One thing I’ve noticed him do, that very few other Magic traders do: bulking.

I like to call it “Abundance Trading.” Maybe you’ve seen dealers offer some preposterously low price on “bulk rares.” Rares they don’t really want, they’re willing to take off your hands for the paltry price of usually $0.10.  As you I’m sure have experienced, you “can’t” (read: really, really shouldn’t) buy and sell cards at most shops unless you’re buying from or selling to the shop. This doesn’t mean you can’t conduct business like one.

The other day, at the local Sunday tournament, I was trading with an acquaintance of mine, and he wanted to pick up a Ranger of Eos. I was fairly shocked to hear it had fallen to $5.00. There was no five dollar card I was really interested in in my friend’s binder, but there was a lot of janky rares.

“I’ll bulk it to you,” I said, almost asking.

“Sure,” he replied. I proceeded to remove 50 rares that he didn’t want from his binder, pointing and asking as I did.

“This, this and this?”

“Definitely.”

“This and this?”

“Not that, but that, sure.”

This went on for about three or four minutes as I took cards which were rotating, or just worthless for a dime each.

Why would I do this? There are stores online that will buy bulk rares for $0.10 cash – often $0.12 in store credit.  At big events, the dealers are excited to sort through your crappy longbox of rares for varying prices – you see the guys there who sit for 40 minutes to an hour just sorting cards into piles of $0.10 and up. There’s no real accounting for what a dealer will pay for cards at a big event (see my last column ). So consider the following:

Rush sucks but it was a good pun, Dave.

You have a Gideon Jura. He’s worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $30. There isn’t a dealer on the planet who is buying Giddy Lee for more than $15 right now. Even if they are, what are the odds that you got it on the downturn?

Jed Moutainbilly needs a Gideon, and he’s willing to trade for Mr. Lee at $40. Jed has some good cards, but in all likelihood, you’ve still come in at a significant loss or break-even at best; because let’s assume in a best-case scenario, you squeeze three Lotus Cobras outta Jed, you can still only sell those for like $12 each. $36 cash for $30 in cards isn’t horrible, but considering Gideon’s relatively recent $50 price tag, it’s very, very low EV. Unless…

Unless you bulk him to Jed. “I’ll give you Gideon for bulk rares – at $0.10 per rare.” 400 Well of Discovery, Fountain Watch, Angelheart Vial, and Baneful Omens later, you’ve got a metric ton of dimes. “But what do I do with all those rares?” That’s the simple part – Sell them to a dealer. Congrats – you’ve just found a way to sell your cards for dealer prices (or better) to dealers.

I shouldn’t even need to detail the sickness of what happens when you ship a Jace the Mind Sculptor, but I will: 800 rares – traded in to dealer @ $0.12 each (because you don’t want the cash, you want store credit) – the dealer has Jace for $70 so now you have another Jace and $26 in store credit – by my estimation, that’s nearly a Baneslayer Angel for your troubles.

I’m certain I’ve explained how Abundance Trading is an insane way to get maximum (actually maximum + value) from your singles, but it’s exponentially increased when you trade for non-rotating Standard rares. Why? Because there’s always an overlooked card or two from the non-rotating block that shoot up a couple weeks after rotation, and it’s likely you can pick them up cheap-as-free before they do.  [When you buy everything, you're sure to get a few hits.  I endorse this practice. -kbr]

Okay, so I promised some cards to pick up, so here they are.  For the record, here is your current portfolio:

Current Portfolio: 7x Mind Over Matter, 2x Lim Duls Vault, $65.00

Current Performance: Static.

Recommended Pickups: Stoneforge Mystic ($3.25), Goblin Guide ($3.50), Armament Master ($0.25)

Lemme hit you up with some rationale: In the wake of post M10/Shards, the value of linear strategies in Standard in the early weeks is not to be understated. Especially since we’ve seen Stoneforge at a lot higher than she is now, she is an enabler as well; you never need more than one of an equipment to almost guarantee you see it if you have four-of her, not to mention:

10 cents for a lottery ticket. Trust us.

Scars of Mirrodin. Yeah, we already know about Sword of Body and Mind which, while probably garbage, suggests at least two more swords in this block as the lower-limit for playable equipment. Couple that with high potential for playable non-sword equipment (I mean, we saw Loxodon Warhammer, Grafted Wargear, Lightning Greaves, et al in Mirrodin Block 1.0, we can safely anticipate some cool equipment in this next iteration as well, I believe) and you have something with high potential for abuse.

Goblin Guide is at $3 and change right now. Again, it’s in line with a fairly linear strategy, and it’s, for my money (preparing for hate) the best red creature ever printed – I know Grim Lavamancer and Goblin Lackey would like to have a word with me, but I won’t share a word with either of them because I honestly would almost 99% of the time rather play the Guide. It’s always a card people are looking to pick up one or two of at the constructed PTQs and in an environment with no real Zoo, and no Tarmogoyf (Double Standard), this could be even hotter during the early PTQ season next year.

The final card, Armament Master is a little riskier for return, but probably worth it. The mighty Kor lord is included in a pre-con, but he just seems to be too cheap right now, and gives a huge bonus at +2/+2 for each equipment attached. Picking them up for dirt right now, especially if you can Abundance Trade for them, just seems high value – what’s the worst that could happen? They can only go up, or lateral, and lateral means you can still sell ‘em for a dime.

Let’s pick up about 4 Stoneforge Mystics ($13), 4 Goblin Guides ($14), and 12 Armament Masters ($1)… these prices should be even lower on eBay, but YMMV.

Current Portfolio:  4x Stoneforge Mystics , 4x Goblin Guides, and 12x Armament Masters, 2x Lim Duls Vault, $37.00. You should have some Mind Over Matters for sale for about $16-$20, we’ll account for that next time.

Current Performance: Static, which is a bit disappointing. Will someone on mtgthesource.com please break Mind Over Matter? PLEEEASE?

Just for my own personal vindication.

Until next time, may your favorite color be green. And abundant.

22 thoughts on “Flash of Hindsight – An Introduction to Abundance Trading

  1. Such a dagger that you, myself, Jupe, and Ben Friedman are trying to scoop up bulk rares now. We should start calling it Bulkimore! lol! get it?!

  2. The only issue I see with bulk trading is that you have to hit a certain trader for it to work. If you go to the new guy, that person isn't going to like bulk trading because of a perceived "card disadvantage" where the guy is uncomfortable trading a lot of pieces of paper for one or two pieces of paper. And then if you trade with the vets, they know about bulk already and won't bulk out to you because they can get $0.10 on their rares too.

    At least where I trade (Seattle and Boston), the traders who will bulk to you are too few.

    There's nothing to be done with the people who know how to trade, so what I do is trade bulk but not at a dime, but usually for $0.25 or $0.50. This helps me capture those traders who dislike cardboard disadvantage. For example, you can easily price bulk mythics at $0.25 or $0.50, and flip them to Troll and Toad for $0.60.

    1. Mike,
      I understand the psychology of trading does dictate that this could be the case sometimes, but it's important to understand for every person you *think* won't do this, there are 3-4 who will. Bulking Mythics was something I hadn't considered seperately, but yes, if you can get them cheap, it sounds good!

  3. Abundance Trading may be an excellent way to make profit of rares, but it is also an even better way for a beginner to expand a collection. That lone Vengevine in a ROE booster? Useful in a 300$ standard deck, but as a one of for FNM, it isn't so good. 300 rares for the Vengevine? A dream coming true for new players.

    Also, thanks for the hindsight. (Pun intended) I sure wasn't approaching trades this way, yet is is effective and quite easy to try.

  4. I've been using this strategy for a long time. This is right up there with buying collections. Do you know what kind of profits can be had when some guy comes up and hands you a huge binder full of midrange-crap cards and you offer him $100 cash for it.

    "I don't really see anything I want to trade for, but would you take $100 for this?"
    "Um dude you serious"
    "ya man.. I'm just getting started and need some cards" open wallet pull out cash…
    "uh.. ok"

    Keep anything worth $0.50 or more and bulk the rest back to a dealer at the same convention.

    1. I mean – you're not usually allowed to buy/sell on a convention floor – you have to be a little surreptitious, but I don't *endorse* it, unless you've previously arranged this (prior to the event). I would say that it's a good idea to Abundance Trade for collections, as we're trying to avoid spending non-budget cash on cards here anyway.

  5. about premium: oh no, another site i'm willing to pay for… i'll go bankrupt 😛
    about article: i do appreciate this kind of articles, but i continue wondering if i'll ever be able to apply them – where i live stores don't buy bulk, and selling them overseas would eat all eventual profit. Suggestions for us europeans?

    1. Where dyou live? It's difficult to believe that you don't have better access to Grand Prixs than most Americans – and there has to be like a european equivalent of Gen Con and Origins – oh, and Nationals is usually a good place to see vendors, too.

  6. Nice Article bro!

    I love me some bulk! I would also like to meet this buddy of your with the Emerald – I want it and since he's a trader I am sure we can work something out.

    One thing I wanted to share with your readers is that http://www.trollandtoad.com buys bulk at .14 cash money!

    Another technique that I use to help some people cope with the idea of bulking is that I let them chose the cards. I say I will give you .10 a piece on any card with a gold sylmbol. This encouges people to make a game out of it, trying to find the jankiest crap to give you for your tier 1 card.

    Good Job on the Article. Later dude!

    1. Thanks for the pointers, Johnny.
      Excellent idea on "making it a game."

      Just FYI, I got 9 pithing needles and 6 Broodmate Dragons, @ a dime a piece.

  7. Yeah, and sometimes people pick cards that are not bulk. That being said, you're not saying "give me every card worth 10 cents on some nebulous open market". You're saying "I'll take any rare at 10c, but these are the ones I want more than that". When they pick out non-bulk rares, thats OK. It's their decsiion. Not yours. Those trades are like rocket fuel.

  8. yeah dave i saw that shit at xanadu after i stripped the kid of his legit bulks i was geekin out when you were pickin up $2-3 cards at $.10 a pop. btw my bulk to power is already sitting pretty at a jace beleren aluren and some other randomness. good scrawlings buddy, i look forward to reading the next one

  9. Found this article the hardway, did you know its currently listed as Uncategorized and not linked in with your entry in the category section? It would be cool to be able to throw columns into an RSS feed by category.

    I just tore apart all my binders to rebuild them and see what I can bulk to get some trading bankroll. Add this article to Medina's and hopefully I'll be dealing myself into a travel budget. Looking forward to your next Flash!

    1. How does the condition of a card factor into "Abundance" trading. When selling to a online shop, doesnt that $.10 rare that is NM- become worth nothing?

  10. Thanks a lot for this article, this is probably the greatest article that has been written, like ever! Me and my friends just went to GP Gothenburg and managed to get rid of our bulk (which was quite a lot i'll tell you), suddenly we didn't have 2000 bulk rares, but a Tabernacle an Abyss and Duals! Great way to trade up!

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