If you head over to the Trading Post section of MtGSalvation you will see tons of trade lists. The post that is currently at the top is likely to hit the bottom of the second page by the end of the day if not sooner. The point I’m trying to make is that there is a ton of traffic and even more individual trade threads. How can you make yourself stand out?
The first contact someone will have with you is your thread title. When you make your first post this isn’t as important because people will see that your thread has no replies and jump at the opportunity to check out a virgin list. Still there is no reason not to put some work into your title right from the beginning.
Some users, myself included, start with a generic “(name)’s H/W list” and there are both pros and cons for this. Let’s start with the downsides. First, it gives you less space to list some of your more desirable cards. The second con is probably the biggest but at the same time can be the biggest pro as well. In fact it is the reason I start my list off the way I do. The problem is that it makes your title less liquid. In other words, even though you may change some of the cards you list in the title people will more easily remember having viewed it before and if they didn’t really see much they liked they may just pass you over. Of course your list could have almost completely changed since then! Some people combat this problem by actually stating in their thread title that they have recently had a huge update.
The reason I choose to start my title with my username is that I try to make an effort to establish a good reputation among the people I trade with. I want them to remember that they had a great trade experience with me so that when they see my list again they want to check it out because they want that easy trade experience again. Of course I still probably lose some views for the reason I mentioned above but that doesn’t worry me too much because internet trading is mainly used as a way to supplement my in-person trading. I’ll talk a little bit more about that later but for now let’s talk some more about creating a good title.
The next thing you need to decide is what cards you want to list. Some people choose to only list cards they have, some only the cards they want and some choose to mix it up. Generally I like to focus more on what I have and only list specific wants if I am looking for a card that is harder to find. The most common way to list cards in your title is to use the following format: “H: Karakas, Fetches W: Mox Diamond”. Recently I decided to build a Korlash EDH deck and I needed about 60 cards for it. It took me about a week. During that time I had something like “W:EDH, your list” for my wants.
The best way to grab someones attention is to list cards that they want. This is obvious but there are some nuances to look for when trying to get maximum value from your list. The first thing to realize is that you can edit your thread title whenever you want but you can only self-bump your thread once per 24 hours. This means that when you choose to bump your thread you can take a look at the threads that you will be surrounded by. I generally try to not list a card that other people have in their title unless it is a chase rare or mythic. Sometimes people will list that they “H:Legacy” or some other format in which case I may list some of my Standard staples. Other times a few people may have listed that they are looking for a card that I have. In that case I may list that card for a couple of reasons. The first is that other people may see someone looking for a card and realize that they want it as well. Second, the people who just bumped their own threads are probably still around so it is more likely they will end up viewing your thread. Of course I will be taking a look at their lists myself generally but I want to get as many people as possible to view my thread because that increases the chance I will make a trade.
If you don’t want to bother with managing your title that much the best thing to do is list any of your chase cards and interesting cards you may have. By interesting I mean desirable promos (textless and Arena Mana Leaks come to mind here as well as judge foils), foil staples, blue Hurricanes, etc. One thing to remember is that there will be tons of people who have $3-8 standard rares. If possible I try to list cards out of that range. As an example, one title I recently had said “H: Fauna Shaman, foil Leyline of Sanctity, lots more W: YOUR LIST!”.
Once you have your list set up and you are getting some offers the next question is how to get value from your trades. This is much more difficult to do online because prices are easily available. My entire list is linked so that if you click on any card I have or want you will be taken to a site that lists a number of prices for the card, among other things. The two methods I use to get value are trading up and what I call supplement trading.
Trading up is obvious and slightly easier to do online but only if you have cards that someone really wants. There are ways to increase your chances of getting to trade up and I want to discuss a few of them now. The first has to do with your reputation and relationship with other traders. Remember that all of your communication is going to be through a website so it is very impersonal to begin with. The worst thing you can do is be rude or act like a shark. Even if someone offers you a trade that you don’t want to make be polite and don’t ignore them. It is frustrating when people fail to get back to you and if it becomes a common occurrence they may just decide not to trade with you in the future. If you are rude when declining a trade offer that may put you on their personal blacklist as well. I remember one experience I had: The person stated on his thread that he uses apathyhouse for pricing and would not use any other guide (a mistake I’ll talk about in the future) so I made him an offer using apathyhouse for all the prices. While I don’t remember all the details what basically happened was that apathyhouse had a foil Leyline of the Void listed at like $12-13 and the person sent me a message back with something like, “Foil Leyline is around $8. Want to try making me a real offer?” Of course I couldn’t resist pointing out to him that his “only source for pricing” was where I got the price from. The better way for him to have handled the situation would have been to say something like, “Sometimes apathyhouse has very erratic pricing on foils” (which is true by the way) “but this site has it listed for $8. Would you be ok with trading it at that?”
Being polite isn’t enough though. You have to be prompt getting your cards out. I almost always get the cards sent out the day after we finalize the trade. If there is going to be a delay I make sure to be upfront about it. If I state that I will be shipping the cards out the next day but it takes me two or three days to ship I make sure to let them know and I usually throw something in to make up for the delay. The “problem of shipping” is the biggest drawback of trading online and a topic I will definitely tackle in the future.
Once you have built up a rapport with some traders they may be more likely to trade down with you but it is by no means a guarantee. To be honest though, you shouldn’t be prompt with shipping and polite just in the hopes that you will be able to get a favorable trade out of it. You should do those things normally but the sad fact is that so many people fail to do either of those things so it does set you a bit ahead of the pack. There are other things you can do to increase your reputation that I will discuss in my next article.
If you remember a little while back I mentioned something I call supplement trading. Basically this is using internet trading to get the most out of your local trading. If, like most Magic players, you don’t attend very many big events then your trading is generally limited to your local gaming community. This means that two things are very likely to happen. The first is that you will have some things in your binder that no one is trading for. The second is that people are going to be looking for specific cards that no one has. Supplement trading helps with both of these issues.
Let me give you an example of a trade I made in person the other day with supplement trading in mind. Someone on campus had a trade binder full of some Eternal cards that had been there since I met him at the beginning of last school year. There is a vibrant casual gaming community at my university and this particular player loves to play red and white decks. I was able to trade off a bunch of burn cards I had picked up when a local gaming store was planning on running a Legacy event. The trade was:
3 Awakening Zone
4 Renegade Doppleganger
1 Scalding Tarn
3 Fling (Gateway promo)
2 Rift Bolt
4 Lava Spike
2 Student of Warfare
1 FNM Rift Bolt
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Scion of Oona
2 Sapphire Medallion
1 Null Rod
1 Lord of Atlantis
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Conqueror’s Pledge (foil)
The trade is in my favor to begin with but I would have a hard time moving the Eternal stuff normally. He had them for over a year at least and still had not been rid of them so he was happy to get some stuff he would actually use or be able to trade away easier. Now I can list them online and it is very likely that I will find people interested in them.
On the other end of the spectrum I can trade some of my cards away that aren’t trading locally for cards I know players are looking for or interested in. One player at my LGS was looking for Mindbreak Traps so I ended up getting them essentially as deal-eveners and just gave them to him. Another player was looking for a Linvala so I picked one of those up for some cards gathering dust in my binder and traded it for some EDH stuff I was looking for. By using the internet as a “binder-fixer” you can easily become the go to guy for cards and really maximize your value from trading.
Before I finish I just want to briefly talk about something I’ve noticed popping up on the internet trading sites recently. Ever since Jonathan Medina started his Pack-to-Power quest there have been tons of other people doing their own Pack-to-Whatevers. I think it is a fun idea but I think a lot of people are going about it wrong. Quite often you will see these people say something like, “I’m not looking for anything specific just make me an offer in my favor for this.” I think these people are missing the point. Even Jonathan Medina caught some flak for similar things when he first started. The idea is to show that you have the skill to take a pack and trade it up to a piece of power. If you just ask for people to give you value all you are doing is basically begging your way to power rather than earning it. Then again, perhaps there is a way to take advantage of this new trend?!
Join me next time when I talk more about how to organize your online list, what to do when an issue comes up with internet trading and I talk about trades I did at States. I will also discuss more ways to build rapport online and delve into the problem of shipping.