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The Revenue Review – Aug 6th 2010

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This week’s column has a bit of required reading before we jump in. I’ll give you a few minutes to read (it’s short). Today I’ll be referring liberally to topics discussed in this article.

All right, finished? Glad you’re back.

Just like Magic R&D designs cards for the different psychographics, you must learn to trade with each type of player.  Not everyone approaches trading in the same way, and while breaking down traders into their respective psychographics is not a bulletproof method of securing trades, it is helpful for you to know what you are getting into when you open up their binder.

I’m going to give a brief description of how the typical Timmy, Johnny and Spike enter into trades and what they are looking for, and I have some tips to maximize your time with each group.

Thoughtseize sucks! Trade me that Dragon!

Timmy, Power Gamer

Timmy is pretty easy to trade with because he is not as concerned with pricing out every card. This saves a lot of time when you don’t have to look everything up on an iPhone. Timmy is typically a casual or EDH player, and therefore will likely be looking for cards you don’t mind getting rid of, such as Terastodon. Timmy is going to trade you for your Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and he’s going to hardcast it. He’s also going to make every Planeswalker in the game go ultimate at least once.

When trading, make sure Timmy sees your huge monsters, and, if the urge strikes you, don’t be afraid to regale him with tales of casting Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth in the same game. Chances are Timmy is going to want creatures that aren’t too vital to your decks, so give him the run of your binder and point out interesting cards like Mayael's Aria. In return, you’re likely to be able to pick some decent cards. Pro tip:  go for the blue. Timmies hate Counterspells.

Quick story. I promised the Predator Dragon / Thoughtseize trade would return, and here’s the tale in all of it’s glory.

About 18 months ago, during the height of the Faerie plague in Standard, I was playing over a friend’s house when a player, who had been playing since Revised, came by.  He was also an extreme Timmy. I asked if I could look through his cards for trades, and he obliged. I immediately fixated on his Thoughtseize, knowing that it was a $15-20 card. After looking through my meager collection, his face lit up when he hit my Predator Dragon. The entire trade conversation went like this:

Me: I really want this Thoughtseize.

Him: How about for your Predator Dragon?

Me: That’s fine with me, but I’m just letting you know this trade isn’t really fair. Thoughtseize is worth like $15 dollars.

Him: But I love Dragons!

Me: You sure?

Him: I have an awesome Dragonstorm deck! I love Dragons!

The point is that people value cards differently. The Thoughtseize was worth nothing to him – he hated black. I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it here: If both players walk away from a trade happy, then that trade was a success for everyone.

Ad Nauseam and Death's Shadow. Now that's REAL Magic.

Johnny, Combo Player

The consummate combo player. You can find him at your local tournament slinging some Pyromancer Ascension. Though calling Johnny strictly a combo player obviously stereotypes it a bit, it’s what most players think of when they think “Johnny.”

There are varying levels of Johnny, and what you need to find out up front is this: Does this trader care about making competitive combo decks or does he just want to win a game off of Felidar Sovereign?  This is important while trading with him.  If all he wants to do is make Sanguine Bond and Blood Tribute work, then by all means trade him those cards.

But there is a group of Johnnies that want to win with their combos. They are likely to want counterspells and board wipe from you, which can lead to an increased ante on these trades. At this point you aren’t just taking some low-dollar rares of theirs, but should be actively looking for staples if they want to trade for your Day of Judgments. I’m assuming in this situation you are conducting trades that are at least somewhat balanced, and you are considering values when trading.

Another important thing to remember when trading with a Johnny is to not Dismiss their combo ideas as bad. This will turn them off very quickly. Make sure to talk it through with them and even suggest other cards that might help. I know that I, for one, love a good combo deck, and love to talk about them. Just remember to make yourself a decent trade while you’re doing it. Pro tip: Don’t trade away all your Swans of Bryn Argoll right before they take a tournament by storm.

Conley Woods, what big teeth you have!

Spike, Tournament Player

Ah, Spike. You are often the most frustrating player to trade with. All you ever want are those really cool Vengevines I have. You never want to talk or discuss deck ideas. You flaunt statistics like it’s your job, even if you have no idea where they came from. Why do you take one look at my binder and laugh and say “Like you would have anything I want.”

Obviously I’m stereotyping again, but we’ve all had this experience. But just because some Spikes are extremely difficult to deal with doesn’t mean we can’t still make trades work in our favor.

Trading with Spikes, who often check or claim to know the price of every card, can be weary. There’s haggling over prices and people don’t understand that you, as a trader without an immediate need for a particular card, need to make a margin on the trade to justify it.  Last week, I covered one of the ways to make these deals work for you last week (trading for cards out of season), and another way to make these work for you is to speculate on cards.  You want to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing when you make trades like this. For every Tarmogoyf, there’s also Sarkhan Vol. Hype can make or break a card’s price early, and you need to be able to capitalize on this.  Luckily, some of the other writers on this site are very good at helping you do this.

For instance, when I first heard that Zendikar was going to be a “lands matter” block, I immediately went looking for Knight of the Reliquary, which at the time was about a $3 card. I picked up my playset in a trade with a Spike by giving him an M10 dual. The prices on the cards matched up at the time, but clearly I got the better end of this trade. Of course you can’t always win, and as a result of the risk you’re taking you need to demand some leverage from your trader partner.

You’re taking a risk in making this trade, and that risk needs to be priced in. This method helps you complete trades with Spikes that work for both of you. You buy yourself a possible reward, and he gets his Thoughtseize. Pro tip: Pick up Steel Overseer. Most people don’t realize this is already a $4-5 card, and there’s not telling how broken it could be once Mirrodin returns (and possibly brings Modular back with it).

Speaking of Thoughtseize, let’s get back to our story. After trading my Predator Dragon away, I took the ‘seize back to my local store, where it was immediately pounced on by Spike. I knew I had something good on my hands, and in one of my first high-dollar trades, I unloaded it for about 15 Treefolk cards, including a few Doran, the Siege Tower. I’m unlikely to ever play the cards I got in a tournament, but the same was true for the Thoughtseize.

What I did do in this trade was round out a really fun kitchen table deck. This is a trade I would never advocate for value (since trading many small cards for a big-ticket card is a mistake), but it neatly accomplished my goal at the time. This is another example of how a player can get “ripped off” in a trade and still come away happy. I knew the cards I got from him weren’t a good financial pickup, but I’ve gotten much more use out of them than I would have the Thoughtseize.

Hopefully this piece has given you a heads-up on what to look for out of your trade partners. It really gives a leg up going into a trade if you know what the other player is looking for. It saves you time, and ultimately increases your profits.

Before I go, I’ve got a few trades from last week to break down!

His: Twilight Mire ($4.50)
Mystic Gate ($5.50)
Gaddock Teeg ($4)
Rite of Replication ($1)
Total: $15

Mine: Ad Nauseam ($1)
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth ($10)
Total: $11
Net: $4

Here you can see I continue my trend of picking up Extended cards. I’ve unloaded some pretty playable stuff in my quest to pick the new Extended manabase, so I’m really hoping this pays off. There aren’t many Extended players in my area, but I’m planning on going to GP: Nashville, and I’ll need to flip these there to make it worth my time. All these lands will rotate after the next Extended season, so I’m going to be facing some pressure around that time to unload these.

That said, this was a nice little trade with a pretty nice upside. Ad Nauseam is pretty important to Legacy players and useless otherwise (the Magic League Ad Nauseam/Conflagrate deck notwithstanding. The lands should all tick up a bit as we enter Extended season and the Gaddock Teeg has a chance to really go nuts if he again becomes the G/W answer to control.

His: Groundbreaker ($2)
Trinisphere ($3.50)
Coralhelm Commander ($3.50)
Phylactery Lich ($5)
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre ($9)
Nivenyrral's Disk  ($5)
Total: $28

Mine: 2xBirds of Paradise ($5)
Sorin Markov ($8)
Total: $18
Net: $10

There are a few interesting things going on with this trade. First of all, I rarely trade for white-bordered cards. I leave Legacy/Vintage up to the masters (like QS’s own Doug Linn). I don’t know much about the format (yet). I had no idea if the disk was worth $2 or $20. I priced it at $3 during our trade. It’s good to see I was in the ballpark. I don’t know how much of a market there is for it in my area, but it was worth a shot.

Likewise, I didn’t know the Trinisphere or the Groundbreaker were more than $1 rares. I had some vague memory of the Sphere being good in Vintage, but I didn’t have a price figure to back that up. We priced it and the Green Ball Lightning at a dollar. The Groundbreaker is a pickup for a friend who is looking to make the 8-Ball Lightning deck.
The Commander looks like an especially good pickup since it was a 4-of in Saito’s GP-winning Merfolk Legacy deck, and the Lich is pretty speculative at the moment, despite its $5 price tag.

I don’t know how much I’ll be able to do with this trade, since I have a feeling some of it is going to sit in my binder for a while. Meanwhile, the Sorin was pretty sentimental, after having cast it on Turn 4 in both games of the finals at the Zendikar Prerelease. Hopefully I’ll find some Vintage players interested in the older cards. All in all, a solid trade for me.

That’s it for this week, next week I delve into the power of Uncommons! Until then, you can follow me @Chosler88 on Twitter and check back here for updates from our other authors.

Until next time,
Corbin Hosler

5 thoughts on “The Revenue Review – Aug 6th 2010

  1. @Joe If you don't already know the person you're trading with, a great first question is "what are you looking for?" This will tell you a lot about that person before you even open up a binder. Another good way to is ask them what deck they play in Standard or what it is they want to build.

    @Stu55 Yes?

  2. "Me: I really want this Thoughtseize.

    Him: How about for your Predator Dragon?

    Me: That’s fine with me, but I’m just letting you know this trade isn’t really fair. Thoughtseize is worth like $15 dollars.

    Him: But I love Dragons!

    Me: You sure?

    Him: I have an awesome Dragonstorm deck! I love Dragons!"

    This just seems so unreal. I doubt any one other than a small child would make this argument. "weee dragons weeee." I am still willing to believe that there is no way this person didn't want to get more cards for his Thoughtseize. Honestly though, you can sleep at night being ok with trading a $0.10 rare for a $10 thoughtseize? Or even write about it?

  3. @Stu I certainly understand where you're coming from, but it was a 20-something year-old player. I'm not going to force him to take more cards from me when he knows all the facts surrounding the trade and just doesn't care.
    If someone desperately wanted to sell you something at below market value, with full knowledge of its true value, would you not let them? To me, it's one thing to have a conscience and another to be a saint. If I provide all the details to a trade, including what I value the cards at, my conscience is clear.

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