I know the last few weeks I haven’t had many trades for you guys, so last week I set out to remedy that.
My plan was to hit up a Friday Night Magic with higher stakes than most. A store on the other side of town where I don’t go often was having a special tournament, and I thought it was a great opportunity to both play and trade. The entry fee was $10, and the winner received a complete set of Rise of the Eldrazi. Then on Saturday I would attend the M11 Game Day at another, small store that has the city’s only Vintage gaming.
The Friday tournament itself went terribly (I played Shaman Naya for the first time, went 1-3, and promptly dropped 35 rating points), but the trading more than made up for it.
The usual bustle before tournaments start is a playground for savvy traders. I took advantage of the fact that other players needed only a few cards to complete their 75, and I told them I needed a healthy margin on each trade to make it worth my time.
The first guy I traded with was desperately in need of just one more Arid Mesa and wanted to trade me his Scalding Tarn for it. I told him I needed something more because I was breaking my playset of Mesas, and he agreed to throw in a Steel Overseer to complete the trade.
Scalding Tarn ($14)
Steel Overseer ($5)
Arid Mesa ($14)
Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned the gems you can pick up just by scouring draft tables after the night’s over? This next trade is the fruit of me doing just that for the last few weeks.
Great Sable Stag ($2.50)
3x Combust ($.50)
This was the first of three trades I made with this player (Adam). One of the common tenets among trading articles is that it pays to make connections with your trade partners. Adam was grateful that someone had the cards he needed for the tournament, and told me he wanted to trade with me again before we left for the night.
The most interesting part of the next trade was what didn’t happen. I’m always upfront when trading that I’m out to make a profit, and I let players make their own decisions about what they do and don’t want to trade. If my partner asks me how expensive a particular card is, I tell him what it’s at online and what I’m comfortable trading at.
In this case, my partner wanted a few copies of Linvala, Keeper of Silence, but was only willing to value them at $5 apiece, whereas I put them at about $10, as Fauna Shaman Naya was really taking off and Linvala completely shuts that deck down. We went back and forth for awhile before finally deciding to just put the cards back and accept that we couldn’t come together on prices. This isn’t a desirable outcome, but we were both clear there weren’t any hard feelings.
As we were putting the cards back into the binders, I pointed at the Luminarch Ascensions he valued at a dollar(They go for $3.50 on coolstuffinc.com) and asked if there was any way we could work something out. He threw back a pile of cards he said didn’t he care about and let me pick a few.
Ranger of Eos ($4)
Brittle Effigy ($2.50)
2x Luminarch Ascension ($3.50)
After my embarrassing tournament finish, I stuck around while the Top 8 started play and ran into a friend of mine looking to get into Extended and Legacy, and desperate to trade his Primeval Titan to do it.
Primeval Titan ($50)
Creeping Tar Pit ($3.50)
Cabal Therapy ($5)
Coralhelm Commander ($4)
Mistbind Clique ($4)
Secluded Glen ($4)
Cryptic Command ($13)
I gave up some cards here I think are going to go up in value come Extended season (the Lorwyn cards), for the Titan, which has mostly peaked. I did so because I knew I could flip the Titan for a nice margin, and made it my new goal to do so before the end of the night.
In between rounds I ran into Adam, who told me he would trade for the Titan after the next round. I’m going to blame my terrible play (including forgetting to fetch a Sejiri Steppe) on my excitement about the impending trade.
Tarmogoyf ($60) (Coolstuff has this at $80, SCG at $50, so I split on the low end).
Heavily played Survival of the Fittest ($23)
Primeval Titan ($50)
3x Destructive Force ($5)
2x Archive Trap ($2)
I think I gave up some short-term profits here to pick up these Legacy staples. I could have easily made a much larger profit on the Titan if I wanted, but I got excited about owning my first-ever Tarmogoyf and might have missed a chance to soak even more value out of Standard’s hottest mythic. Overall, I’m very happy with the trade I made, but when you have a card as hot as the Titan, you need to ride it as far as you can.
Adam was so happy that I traded him such popular Standard cards that he was ready to ship me more Legacy cards that had been rotting in his binder.
Umezawa's Jitte ($15)
Gaddock Teeg ($4)
2x Sensei's Divining Top ($8)
Grim Monolith ($30)
3x Cabal Therapy ($5)
2x Linvala, Keeper of Silence ($8)
2x Awakening Zone ($5.50)
2x Ajani Goldmane ($7)
There are couple things I want to talk about in this trade. The first is the pricing we used, and the errors we made. I don’t play Legacy. Never have, though I would like to. What this means is that I’m very unfamiliar with the prices on Legacy cards. I know what is played, but haven’t paid much attention to the prices before.
This led to some huge errors in our pricing. For starters, we both valued the Grim Monolith at about $10, and the Misdirection and Cabal Therapys at $2.
After the trade, someone told me the Monolith was at $30, and I didn’t believe him until he showed me on his phone. I immediately went back to Adam and informed him of the news and offered to let him grab a few more cards from my binder. I’ve talked before about treating your trade partners right, and I feel it’s incredibly important to do so, even when it sucks for you. In this case, he declined, saying that the Monolith was doing nothing for him in his binder, and was happy with the trade we made.
Despite his attitude, I feel bad about this trade because I misrepresented card prices, something I don’t believe in. I have no problem making profits on trades, nor do I have a problem valuing a card higher or lower than its listed price. But I will always tell my partners what the card is retailing at online before telling them what I value it at, and in this case I was off by a wide margin on several cards.
My conscience kicks in anytime I’m approaching a 100 percent margin on a trade (that is, my net profit is higher than the cards I traded away), and at that point I try to go out of my way to even up the trade, even if my partner is happy with what we have.
Looking back, this trade reinforced a few lessons for me:
- If in doubt, look it up. I usually adapt to my partner’s preferences regarding trades. If they want to look up every card online, that’s fine with me. If they want to trade by rarity symbol, no problem. Ebay prices? Sure. Which card has prettier art? Uh, I guess (as long as I get the Save Life. But when both parties are unsure of a price, it’s better for everyone in the long run to us an iPhone to look it up (A borrowed one, since my cell phone is about a million years old).
- Know what you are trading away/for. Both of us admitted when we began trading that we didn’t know much about Legacy prices, and that hurt us both in the end. He lost value in his cards, and I violated a few of my personal trading principles. If too many of these trading “accidents” happen to you, your trade partners will begin to lose faith in you and you can develop a bad reputation. I’ve seen players slowly be pushed out of a store because the regulars there don’t trust them, and as a result, don’t like them. This is something you need to avoid at all costs.
- Be aware of perception. Though my partner accepted the trade even after we found out about the Monolith, that doesn’t mean everyone at the store did. It’s possible some people think I intentionally ripped this guy off, even though that was far from my intent. Your reputation will precede you in Magic, and if you are labeled a dirty trader, you will pay a price.
I hope you guys can take something positive from my mistakes in that trade, as I know I will.
That’s all the space I have this week. Next week I’ll talk about the rest of the night and the epic Game Day I attended after that.
@Chosler88 on Twitter