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The Revenue Review – Makes and Misses (part 2)

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Welcome back to the Revenue Review, where this week we pick up the story of our “hero” (That’s me!) as I finish discussing the flurry of trades I made before the M11 Game Day. If you haven’t read the first part, you can do so here.

I was still feeling a little down after the Grim Monolith trade, but I knew I still had work to do before the night was over, so

I took a few minutes to reorder my binder and got back to work.

My first stop was with a guy dying to build Faeries for the upcoming Extended season. Luckily I’ve been picking up playable Extended cards for the last few months and had some of what he needed.

His:

Misty Rainforest ($13)

Stoneforge Mystic ($5)

Total: $18

Mine:

3x Sunken Ruins ($8)

Total: $24

Net: -$6

Looking back on this, I think I was still a little rattled from the previous trade, and clearly didn’t bring my “A game” to this trade. I valued the Ruins at about $5 even though I knew their price had been increasing for the last few months. With that said, I’m hardly disappointed with picking up fetchlands and Stoneforge Mystics.

At this point I had exhausted most of the traders still left, except for a group of two guys talking in the corner. I walked up to them as the semifinals of the tournament began and introduced myself and gave my usual, casual “are you interested in maybe trading some cards?”

Imagine my dismay when I got the reply, “Sure, I traded off two Jace, the Mind Sculptors earlier, but you can look through what I have left.” Ouch.

I inwardly cursed myself for missing out on one of the few players in my area who are interested in trading Jace (most either play him or sell him), and went to work on his binder.

His:

Eldrazi Temple ($4)

Nantuko Shade ($3.50)

2x Volcanic Fallouts ($.50)

3x Scalding Tarn ($13)

2x Avenger of Zendikar ($8)

Total: $63.50

Mine:

Goblin Guide ($7)

Brittle Effigy ($2.50)

Frost Titan ($11)

Mystifying Maze ($2.50)

Magmaw ($1)

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre ($9)

Promo Pathrazer of Ulamog ($1)

Total: $34

Net: $29.50

I think the technique I used to make this trade is worth sharing. If you take trading cards as serious as you should be, you need to treat it like a small business. As a businessman, you need to sell your product, which in this case is a proposed trade.

The first thing I did was let my partner price all the cards involved, and either accepted his price or informed him of my personal values as we went. In this case, he undervalued his Scalding Tarns, and I formed my strategy around that.

Once we laid out the cards, I separated them into three piles, each with values tilted slightly toward me. I started at the top of our three “mini-trades” and asked him if he was okay with this. He was. I then moved to the second pile, and he accepted again. When you use this method is becomes much easier for your partner to accept each trade being a few dollars off, because to them it’s usually a negligible price to pay for getting what they want. It also helps you to close a trade with them, and establish a level of trust before moving on to the bigger ticket items or the more profitable “mini-trade.” It is in the third pile that you are looking to make the bulk of your profit.

In this case, the third pile contained his Scalding Tarns and was more clearly tilted in my favor. My partner told me he was uncomfortable with what we had laid out in this pile. I offered to throw in the promo Pathrazer and let him pick another dollar rare from my folder. While this does relatively little to my profit margin, it’s a sign of good faith. Add in the fact that we had already established a trading relationship by completing two mini-trades, and my partner happily accepted my offer and picked out the Magmaw for his buddy’s casual deck.

If, instead of using this trading method, I had simply thrown all the cards into two piles and asked my partner what he thought, there’s not much chance I’m able to make the margin I did.

Large trades like this are very intimidating to new/casual players or players unfamiliar with prices. It also makes the math harder for me to work out in my head. By breaking it down I’m accomplishing objectives vital to trading for profit – Establishing trust with trade partners, making the trade easier to comprehend and maximizing my profit. If you are serious about trading for profit (and you should be) I highly suggest utilizing this method.

Onto the next trade!

His:

Lotus Cobra ($18)

Blood Crypt ($8)

Total: $26

Mine:

2x Glen Elendra Archmage ($4)

Promo Thirst for Knowledge ($5)

Promo Mulldrifter ($3)

Total: $16

Net: $10

I start out every trade by asking my trade partner to value the cards we’re interested in. All pricing is subjective, and if your partner doesn’t value a card as high or low as you do, you have every right to accept his price or offer your own. In this case, my partner assumed the Blood Crypt wasn’t worth much since its rotation from Extended. In reality, most of the shocklands have retained at least some value, and will shoot up again if Overextended becomes a reality (for those who don’t know, it’s a rumored format that would be from Mercadian Masques forward and would allegedly replace Legacy, making the Ravnica shocklands the best duals available in the format).

At this point the semifinals were nearly over, and the store manager was trying to kick out all the players not still in the tournament (even though we were all in one room anyway. Store owners, I do not recommend doing this to your customers). The guy who had been sitting next to me during the previous trade wanted my Chrome Moxes. I told him I didn’t know if we had time and that I don’t attend that shop regularly, and he was literally throwing cards at me as the manager was putting up chairs on the table we were at.

His:

4x Wall of Omens ($2)

Mutavault ($16)

3x heavily played Aether Vials ($10)

Tempest Reflecting Pool ($8)

Gaddock Teeg ($4)

Tinker ($3)

Trygon Predator ($2.50)

Bloodbraid Elf ($2.50)

Total: $74

Mine:

2x Sower of Temptation ($6)

2x Chrome Mox ($18)

Total: $52

Net: $22

As I’ve talked about before, there aren’t many times you want to “trade down.” What I mean by that is that most of the time it’s strictly better to have one $50 card than 10 $5 ones. This trade makes for one of the exceptions to that rule. There are a few reasons why in this situation I’m happy trading away the highest-priced cards (Chrome Moxes).

First of all, I don’t know how long the Mox can hold that pricetag. It’s played in basically zero relevant decks now that’s it’s rotated from Extended, and casual appeal isn’t going to hold it at $18. I don’t know exactly how much play it sees in Legacy, but my guess is it’s not enough to warrant that price. The other obvious reason is that I made a solid profit by trading them, and I’m confident the cards I picked up will make me money somewhere down the road.

So there you go. My up-and-down, trading-filled, rating-busting night ended at about 2 a.m. when the manager impatiently pushed us out of the store so he could get back to impatiently waiting for the tournament to end.

While Supplies Last! (which will be all day)

I wasn’t free for the Saturday night Magic 2011 Game Day, so a couple friends and I decided to head to a small store we had never been to before to play in their 10 a.m. tournament.

The Game Day turned out to be even more epic than the previous night. Exactly three people showed up, and we all got a free full-art Lilianas Specter and Mitotic Slime for our trouble. Obviously a little disappointing, but I can tell everyone I got in the top three and I even have the foil to prove it!

That’s all the trades for this week, but I do have one other thing I want to mention before I go. There are some exciting things coming to Quiet Speculation in the next few weeks, and one of them is an exclusive forum available to members.

One feature of the forums is a section called “rate my trade,” where members are able to post their own trading exploits. Moving forward, I’d like to pick a QS member’s trade each week to incorporate into the column, so make sure to record any trades you’re particularly proud of and detail them in our forums.

I’ll see you next week when I talk about trading for my first-ever Jace, the Mind Sculptor! Until then, you can get up-to-the-minute updates and spoilers by following @Chosler88 and @Quietspec on Twitter.

Thanks,

Corbin Hosler

11 thoughts on “The Revenue Review – Makes and Misses (part 2)

  1. How can you possibly expect to treat your card trading like a business when you openly admit to having no idea what people play in legacy? The unbanning of Grim Monolith, and then the quadrupling of its value, was common knowledge to anyone with even a slight interest in legacy. As for Chrome Mox, it is played in Belcher and ANT, neither of which are fringe decks. Additionally, any EDH player with a multicolor general would like to have one.

  2. @Lenexa I knew the card had spiked, but I thought it had come down. I'm actively working on Legacy, but it's a lot of knowledge to work toward. The first Legacy tournament I've ever followed was GP:Columbus, so my knowledge of the format is lacking. But we have to start somewhere, right?

    Plenty of people run businesses without intimate knowledge of every possible thing applicable. I generally keep my trading (business) to more recent formats. No different than a Magic or D&D player opening up a game shop and learning WoW as they go. Just because I'm not intimately familiar with it yet doesn't mean I'm going to ignore opportunities in that area.

  3. His:

    Eldrazi Temple ($4)
    Nantuko Shade ($3.50)
    2x Volcanic Fallouts ($.50)
    3x Scalding Tarn ($13)
    2x Avenger of Zendikar ($8)
    Total: $63.50

    Mine:
    Goblin Guide ($7)
    Brittle Effigy ($2.50)
    Frost Titan ($11)
    Mystifying Maze ($2.50)
    Magmaw ($1)
    Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre ($9)
    Promo Pathrazer of Ulamog ($1)
    Total: $34

    Net: $29.50

    I don't understand how you get away with this, and how you aren't known for a shark.
    You stated you made 3 seperate piles and each one came out ahead for you by a little. You doubled your money. You made $30. Those piles came out more than a little ahead for you. How on earth did the trader agree to trade away fetchlands and avengers for crap like Mystifying Maze and an $11 Frost Titan? Who values Frost Titan at $11??

    I like the article format, and at least I can take away good advice of splitting up the trades. I have had success doing that in the past. But the trades are so unrealistic in any trade situation that I've been in for 15 years that I can't imagine ppl are able to put this into practice. I mean, have your trade partners been living under a rock? It's as if they have no idea what they are trading you are hot cards and in return they get junk at half value. From what I've read, there has been very little skill involved in securing these trades. The biggest skill appears to be spotting the idiots in the room.

    I'm sorry to sound harsh; you can call me the Simon Cowel of magic articles, except I don't use the word "rubbish".

    1. He actually did not make any money. What he did was trade some of his square pieces of cardboard for someone elses square pieces of cardboard. Those cards are probably sitting in a binder now with no actual value. No magic card is worth any money. What's worth money is the subjective worth of a card. Why is Baneslayer worth $50 when she costs less than a quarter to print? Because that what the community decided it was worth based on all the factors we tossed at it.

      Why is shop A selling Jace for $125 dollars because someone will buy it because they find value in it at that price, and personal value systems are as numerous as there are stars in the sky.

      Why did the trader "trade away fetchlands and avengers for crap like Mystifying Maze and an $11 Frost Titan?" Because they were sitting in his binder doing nothing for him under his personal value system, where as the cards he was trading for had higher personal value. All the cards in a trade binder have a null value before another person sees them and assigns an expected value to it.

      1. ^^
        This is the point I try to make in nearly article.
        As an aside, I'll be writing a future article about translating cards in your binder to actual profit. Having an endgame in mind is extremely important when dealing with these cards, otherwise you end up with a huge binder full of cards that were worth $10 a few years ago but are bulk now.

    2. He's not considered a shark because different people value magic cards differently. I haven't traded with Corbin, not because I think he's a shark, but because I haven't been back playing magic long enough to have a good plan as to what cards I want or need for the decks I want to play (but if WW is going to be strong in extended, I may now have such a plan), and operating from ignorance is never good.

      The fundamental point of economics that applies to any kind of trading is this: value is inherently subjective. If you are stopping by a gas station to fill up, you'll probably value a bottle of water at $1.50 and you'd pay that or less. But if you're walking through a desert and you haven't had a drink in two days, you'd be willing to pay a lot more for it. On the other side is the value it would take to pry it away from you if you had that bottle of water. At the gas station, you'd probably turn around and sell your bottle of water for $1.50 if you'd gotten the last one and someone thirsty came in behind you. But, in the desert, there may not be ANY amount of money that could get that bottle of water from you. (These two concepts are, respectively, called "willingness to pay" and "willingness to accept").

      Accordingly, the outcome of a trade is based on whether each side's WTP and WTA balance out, that is if we find what we got more valuable *to us* than what we gave up, irrespective of any extrinsic value placed on it, then it's a good trade.

  4. Nice article, makes me look forward to scars game day.

    Was hoping you would do me a favor. I am trying to improve my trade game, and in the process am going back over some of the larger trades I've made. I can't remember what all was involved in the trade for jace, think you could either post it here or email me at russhenderson85@gmail.com?

    Thanks man, looking forward both to reading more and trading with you again!

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