Elephant in the Room

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What’s up guys? How have you all been? It’s been over a month since my last article and there have been a few reasons for it. The first is I am starting a company and have been spending a lot of time working the finances and getting a plan into place. The second reason has to do with my rededication to making a ton of money trading/buying/selling cards. I try to hit up a store 4-5 nights a week and trying to have a normal social life eats into my free time to write up an article. The last reason is that there have been a ton of articles on trading recently and I wanted to make sure what I was saying was relevant and not going off of what someone else was saying. So on to what I want to say.

I suppose I will start with the giant elephant in the room and talk about Pete Jahn’s article. He basically makes the argument that Pack to Power traders are stealing by not adding any additional value to the end product. He also claims that one of the reasons for this is that the people doing the trading don’t have the inventory to warrant this additional value obtained by providing people with any card they want in an instant.

Pete Jahn’s Article

Now, I have to agree with a part of his article.  The part I agree with stems from my perception of P2P and how I feel like it has bred a new kind of trader and not a good kind either. P2P is about the endgame and getting to that power no matter how quickly, and at this point I have turned away many people trying to trade with me for P2P. These traders don’t care about the individual or setting up a dialogue for future trading with the person they are trading with, they only care about the profit margin. Actually, in all honesty, if you analyze these trader’s actual trades, they are downright bad traders. That guy on ChannelFireball had some of the most awkward trades I have ever seen. It actually hurt to read some of them. These people are also borderline irritating.  One guy wanted to trade with me so badly and wouldn't leave me alone, I didn't feel bad when I took him for at least $25 of value from his P2P binder and told him about it after wards.

You have people rushing head first into trading and a lot of what trading is is experience more than just reading some articles and thinking you know stuff. I did another trade before states for Frost Titan with a local shark, got a playset from him for a Molten-Tail Masticore plus something else small. At the time it was in his favor, however, this past week they spiked up to at least $12 apiece. The trader came into the store bitching at me because I got him on the trade and I told him at the time it was fair, why is he upset? He said I knew they would spike up. And I said "yep" and laughed. The rest of the night was a bitch-fest from him.


Now, I only get to talk to Gerry everyone once in awhile since we both are very busy with different things, but these days, if he has something to say, people financially invested in this game should be listening.  Back before States this year, Gerry announced on Facebook that “Frost Titan is the most underrated card in Standard.” Five jumps and a skip later and this card is basically the hottest thing in Standard at the moment (Do not mistake Hotness for High Price).  Last week he mentions Gaea's Revenge and this card jumps up huge percentage points this past week. If he says something is good, even if it turns out to be a bit questionable in the end, the short term affect on the prices of these cards should be enticing for people that can get large quantities quickly and then turn them over just as fast.

Speculating Properly

The last point kind of leads into this one; everyone is telling you all of these cards to speculate on, and at this point, you might as well just buy a 100 of each card in standard and you will cover every writer on the net. The one underlying similarity is that most of these people are telling you to invest in Rares. Everything from Blade of the Bloodchief to Training Grounds are being recommended. I think this is 100% wrong these days. How many rares have ever gone from small time to being $10+ guys? Very few at this point. To make any money on rares, you will need to pick up 100s of a rare. Pyromancer Ascension for example, went from $0.50 at the start, then up to $2. $1.50 profit is made if getting the card before the spike, and to even make any noticeable profit, you need at least 40 of these things, if you are like me, I would want to make over $100 on getting a card to expect a spike on or it just isn’t worth my time. Instead of rares, I would by focusing on mythics. The examples should speak for themselves. Frost Titan and Gaea's Revenge all have gone up and would have continued to spike in real life if Standard was going to be more relevant in the coming months. Unfortunately, Sealed and Extended come first so you will have to wait till Spring time to make a move on them. MTGO is another story and I would expect both to continue to go up.

GP Schedule

Beyond being thrilled to no end about a GP in Pittsburgh and 3 minutes from my house, there is a very interesting fact about the schedule: The formats are spread out throughout the year. This past year, the first half were all constructed until Columbus when the formats switched over to Limited. This coming year, you have all sorts of formats spread through the year. This might do some interesting things to card prices. There are not many Standard events that are large throughout the Fall except States. Cards might have bigger spikes or maintain price momentum longer. Should be exciting to see!

Changes to WPN Format

This has also caused an uproar; however, I think this is a great move by WoTC. They are protecting the store owners that bring in the most new players. People learn the game from their local LGS, not from some random magic club at a Denny’s or a local university. They cannot regulate the legitimacy of the events and I think that is better covered at a LGS. The large lawsuit issued in Alabama about hundreds of fake tournaments over a few years is a prime example as to why this is a good thing. An indirect event due to this change was the closure of I have gone on the record saying the owner copped out by blaming Wizards for his reasons for closing. I think he is hurting the Magic community more than he is hurting Wizards. If he just said he didn’t want to do it anymore, he could have passed it off instead of straight closing it. This will have a negative impact on speculation of magic cards. So much tournament data will now be missing it might be harder to find a card that has done something significant in different parts of the world.

That’s all I really have to say, hope you enjoyed it and at this point, I might make this more of a monthly series. That way I can cover several points at once and not run articles full of fluff and random trades.

Buying High:

Chuck- How awesome is this show?!

Water- Put the soda down for a month, and notice how much weight you will lose from just stopping this.

GP Schedule- Gotta love having one in my backyard as well as 2 more Legacy events

Vintage Cards- Have a feeling that another spike is primed to happen due to the popularity boom

Family Feud on Facebook- So addictive these days

Selling Low:

Maurice Jones-Drew/Ray Rice- You guys are killing me, ruining my fantasy teams. Ugh

Junk Food- Just so bad for you these days

New York Yankees Pitching Staff- Ugh, things need to change for next year if the Yanks are to get that 28th title.

15 thoughts on “Elephant in the Room

  1. Nice job IRL trolling the Pack to Power idiots. I think I like you.

    Something tells me these guys didn't even read the original articles, they just heard about it and decided they would try it for themselves. The big part these guys are missing is that Jon Medina traveled quite a bit to finish his quest. And he's not your average shark. I've never met him, but I've heard that he is a genuinely nice person. There's no way he would have completed most of those trades if he was a jerk to the person on the other end.

    There's nothing inherently wrong with trying a Pack to Power or something similar, but only people who are already good traders (read: polite people) should bother. Hopefully this fad will die once all the copycats realize Jon made it look easy.

  2. I completely agree on water and junk food with you.

    On the rares VS mythics: I like to invest in rares, they usually are cheaper to invest in and when you can buy a playset of Pyromancers Ascension and Archive traps on MODO for 6 tix and can resell them a few days later for 18 that still is a 200 % profit with nearly 0 risk. Quick to do and not much invested, so on MODO I would go for rares, irl it´s too complicated because of shipping costs and so on.

  3. it's kind of annoying how many people have started P2P… i've had people who have a card i would like to trade for and then i find out its part of their pack to power and it just turns me off to the trade becasue i know i'm going to be loosing out on the trade no matter what i do. there are very few people with pack to power who just trade the cards for the sake of trading which is how i think it should be done and eventually reach your goal. theres too many people with P2P at this point and its really not even worth it to trade with them any more since its not really a novel conscept anymore

  4. "They are protecting the store owners that bring in the most new players. People learn the game from their local LGS, not from some random magic club at a Denny’s or a local university."

    I disagree wholeheartedly with this statement. My local gaming club has brought in dozens of new and return players who casually walked by and noticed a bunch of people huddled around tables laughing and having a good time. We'd explain the game, offer to lend them a deck, and teach them the rules.

    As my gaming groups have typically been held in public places, bars, cafeterias, etc… we get a lot of exposure to people who would never randomly walk into a comic book shop. Even if they do, the crowd is often fairly "intimidating" for a newcomer.

    I think the relationship between shop and club is far more symbiotic than parasitic and Wizard's latest move to cut off these clubs at the knees was a poor choice.

  5. I also disagree with your statements regarding WPN. A lot of people at a lot of colleges don't have cars and have no local FLGS, but would be interested in getting back into Magic (lots of people played it when they were kids but never got seriously into it). This change hurts those players far more than it helps.

  6. @Jordan and Kazabet: Two points I want to bring up.

    1) The relative value of the word/phrase "a lot". Of all of the people that play Magic in the world, I think a small % of those are negatively affected by this. It might seem like more because the people that are outraged by it have posted about it and are more emotional over it.

    2) You guys are failing to really understand what this change is, kinda like you half read the announcement about it. These non-store TOs can still hold tournaments and events. They just can not do the store-based tournaments like Pre-res and FNMs, which I think is a good thing. These are the store owners that buy all of the DDs, FTVs, ToolKits, Intro Packs, etc. This will force A) local clubs to go to a LGS more often and B) should create more stores to open in these locations that do not have a decent LGS; neither of these ideas seem bad to me at all.

  7. I would like to add that non-affiliated TOs can get affiliated with a store if they want. The events don't have to be held at the store. Obviously the store owner has to agree with this, but if they don't hold FNMs themselves due to size or location, it shouldn't be hard to get them to agree. Especially if the TO picks up product there occasionally when they go to pick up the promos. It wouldn't hurt to try some Limited every once in a while, or maybe some Dominion.

    If the above still isn't possible, you should have your TO contact Wizards directly. Complaining on the internet isn't going to get you very far. Call Wizards. They may be able to make exceptions in extreme circumstances.

  8. After reading this article I wondered what I was supposed to take away from it. I should drink water, so I'll lose weight? That's not really what I came here to read. The fact that you gained value on not-so-well informed P2Pers, I quite frankly childish in a most "I told you so"/"I'm soooo much better than you" manner.

    I'm sorry to say this, but this is the worst article I have read on QS. There was absolutely no new or useful trading information in it – just a regurgitation of things already written on site and off site.

    To respond to the response to Jahn's article. Get over it, I'm sick and tired of reading about it and I'm sure I'm not the only one. The fact that he has an opinion about trading that does not match your own is no reason for every writer specialized in trading to feel personally attacked. While I don't agree with his point of view, I see no reason to continue the trolling – which a bunch of disapproving comments/responses are. He is entitled to his own opinion and you can argument your point of view, but please don't do it in articles. And please don't take this ad hominem, it's just a general observation of the ("financial"/trading writing) community, I'm just putting it here since this is basically the only site that I sporadically comment on.

    Please don't mistake my post for trolling, I'm just trying to keep the quality of the content to a certain standard – something I feel very strongly about. Especially, as premium is about to launch soon (when is that happening, by the way?) I would like to read quality articles – don't turn into SCG, please.

  9. @alyo: You wrote a lot, but clearly didn't get the gist of my article or even read it.

    First, you decide to point out a section of the article that is for fun. Pretty laughable attempt at trolling there sir.

    Next, the point I gained value on poor P2P traders was the whole point of me saying that a new kind of trader has been created and not a good one.

    Finally, on my part on the Jahn's article, did you not see that I agreed with him? You can tell this by reading that I wrote "Now, I have to agree with a part of his article." Maybe I should have bolded that so you won't miss it next time.

    I really have the feeling you didn't read the article at all. I did not regurgitate anything because unless someone has the exact same thoughts as me, I wrote this all off the top of my head. have yet to see anyone discuss the difference in speculation between rares/mythics or discuss the new GP schedule in terms of card values, which I did.

    I am sorry I am not like other writers on the internet and do not want to spoon feed you information. Most of trading comes from experience, and not just reading some article and you get better (I even said this in the article, if you bothered to read it at all).

    I am basically just considering you some sort of troll who didn't even read the article. Didn't even realize you were the quality control officer for this site. You are the only person I have seen that dislikes my articles, others may have disagreed with my opinion (that can not be regurgitated for those keeping track at home) but have not said anything wrong about my article.

  10. I do not think of my collection as a liquid asset. That's why I got mad when Jeff sold you that Elspeth. He told me she'd go down (and I called him a perv), but I know he's not going to go out and buy one, so what's the point of the agrument? Anyway,

    While it's not something I would do, I agree with your thought processes regarding speculating. Standard, and to a lesser extent Extended are not long-term investments. The short gains from rare speculation aren't what you ought to be looking for. Sure, you can make money in the long run, but that's not what these formats are about. Bet big, win big– that's what it's all about. I guess that's really why I'm not interested, because I'm not willing to bet big with my collection.

  11. WPN changes.

    The guys on Judgecast made a number of significant points:

    1. When there is no game store in your town, how do you affiliate? WPN's suggestions in their updated FAQ are laughable.
    2. Many of the independent TO's worked out of several stores. This gave newer stores a chance to immediately hold FNM's and build their community, since you have to be a core level organizer, and a new store would start out as a Gateway organizer without their help. With each store now forced to build their community starting at Gateway (meaning no FNM's or prereleases until you have a significant group already), how difficult will it be for new stores to get their community rolling?
    3. Fraud isn't exclusive to Independent TO's. If anything, store owners are far more able to hide their fraud by selling the singles in their store.

    They had other points as well. I'd recommend everyone listen to their most recent podcast.

    For me, I have a couple of problems:
    1. My group of players include my son and his friends. I didn't run FNM, but I did run prereleases. The boys are generally fairly young, and their parents would not let them go to a store prerelease since they would not feel safe leaving their child there for the hours it takes to participate. Leaving them with someone they know (me) in a quiet, safe environment (the local community library) is okay. I'd hate to see these guys missing out.
    2. My attempts to affiliate are proving difficult. Stores that already run a prerelease, can't run a second one, so affiliating with them is pointless. Stores that don't run prereleases are a little reluctant to affiliate since are nervous about the affiliation. If fraud is a reason why I have to affiliate, it stands to reason that they will be the ones punished if I commit fraud. Since they don't know me well (yet!), they are not willing to sign on. I'm still pushing, so hopefully that will change.

    And by the way, I'm trying the water thing already. Unfortunately, I crave the caffeine and don't drink coffee, so I'm cheating just about every second day! I suspect that will not provide great results, but I'll keep trying!

  12. @Bruce: While it is unfortunate for certain situations, I do think in the long run this is for the protection of the game. I am willing to trust WoTC on their decisions when it comes to the tournament structure of their game. In all honesty, tournament play is such a small portion of the player base, the fact that they care at all about bettering it says a lot for the company.

    For those that don't get it: The section on Buy High and Sell Low is for fun, none of my articles are going to have just lists of trades saying I made money. How many different examples are there out there really? Only one person has said my article was crap while most said it was great. Others disagreed with my opinion (or didn't understand that what was going on in the article), so I think I am doing a good job.

  13. Buy High/Low is Stu's version of Props and Slops.

    I agree with the GP schedule, although it would have been good to get something in the northwest.

    I also disagree with the WPN change. It's better for established players, or maybe players comming back. It's not better for new players.

    I haven't been new to the game for a while, but nobody I used to play with regularly got into the game because they showed up to a tournament at a local store. They started playing kitchen table (or perhaps dorm room commons) with thier friends.

    I don't think this would be so bad if there weren't so many rules on how limited the stores are in thier options. For every well run store that has a T.O. on thier staff, there is another with several T.O.'s running events that volunteer each week. I'm not even against the stores getting the benefits such as FTV and stuff like that, so that all FNM's they 'sponsor' are counted in thier total, but there should be no reason that the store can't sponsor FNM at thier store and at the college, esp when there are 40 people playing at the college and the store only has floor space for 20.

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