Welcome to my first of what I hope to be many articles here on Quiet Speculation. While I write about enumerable topics, many of them completely unrelated to Magic, I decided that my introductory article on this site should have at least a little bit of a financial element to it.
With that in mind, here’s a little bit about myself: I’ve been playing Magic for almost 16 years now. Just before M10 came out, I had to sell almost my entire collection because of college loans. Before selling those cards, I had a playset of every popular card in Standard, Extended, and Legacy, about 70-80% of which were foiled. And I’m willing to bet that you couldn’t care less about that and wouldn’t care even if I still owned them, nor should you. I didn’t acquire these cards because I wanted to show off how damn cool I am, I got them so I could play any deck in any format whenever I felt like it. As for the foils? I’m distracted by shiny objects.
Admittedly, that’s a pretty impressive collection. However, it’s also admittedly not something that my trade partners would give a damn about, and not something they want to see. Fortunately for me, my brother, Syd Lexia, figured out the proper way to handle this years ago. One night we were playing cards with our friends, and everyone was pulling out their trade binders. We all noticed that Syd had a binder labeled “Syd’s Fallen Empires Set” which he did not hand us. It seemed silly and made us vaguely curious, but he’s also the type of guy who really would carry around a Fallen Empires set just for laughs, so we largely ignored it. Then, for reasons I don’t recall, one of us opened the binder one night. It was NOT a Fallen Empires set. It was a binder filled with Sneak Attacks, Oath of Druids, [card Tolarian Academy]Tolarian Academies[/card], Gaeas Cradles, and lots of other cards that we’d all like to own more of. This was our first introduction to the concept of a “no trade binder.”
Simply put, unless you are someone who just grinds the trade tables all day and doesn’t actually have any intention of ever playing Magic, you need a no trade binder. As if the name doesn’t make it obvious, this is the binder where you put all your cards that are not for trade. If you actually play Magic and don’t just trade, you should have some. I owned the same set of Birds of Paradise and Wrath of Gods from like 1995 until they were reprinted with black borders. If they weren’t in a deck at the time, they needed a home. Boxes are an option, but most people prefer binders; I am no exception. Be they tournament staples like Wrath (Or now Day of Judgment), Commander staples like your foil No Mercy and foil Kor Haven, or just cards that you like or have some sentimental value to you, like the first Vizzerdrix you opened or a card signed by your favourite pro player, these cards need to get out of your trade binder.
If you’re wondering why I am so adamant about this, I assure you it’s for your benefit. Sure, I believe cards should be sorted. In fact, I’m so anal retentive I bought a controlling interest in Pepto Bismol. That’s not the reason I’m telling you to do this, however. Quite honestly, having cards in your trade binder that are not for trade is bad for business.
Have you ever tried trading with someone who filled their binder with junk that wasn’t for trade? You know the guys I’m talking about: people who fill their binders with all their most impressive cards so they can say, “Look what I have!” as though trading cards between rounds at a tournament was supposed to be some sort of pissing contest. Asking what someone values cards at and being told over and over again, “Oh, that’s not for trade,” gets really old, REALLY fast. Not everyone who has cards in their trade binders they don’t intend to trade is like those guys, but whether you’re trying to show off or you simply never thought about it before, creating a no trade binder is a simple way to ensure that you don’t chase away any potential trading partners. It won’t make you better at trading for value, but this is a sure fire way to decrease the number of people who walk away before you can make a deal.
And since every rule has them, here’s the one caveat to this golden rule of binder assembly: You are absolutely not required or expected to carry your no trade binder around with you; it’s probably better if you don’t, unless you get to use it as a wish board in multiplayer games. That being the case, keep a blank page or two at the end of your binder in which to put everything you pick up over the course of a day. That way, when you begin trading with someone you can let them know that the last page is stuff you just picked up that day, but everything else is for trade. Sometimes just saying aloud that everything is for trade will be enough enticement for people to consider your binder more carefully.
Finally, a simple rule of trade etiquette: Much like that no one wants to see all the cool stuff you have that isn’t for trade, no one wants to hear about it either. If someone asks you “Do you have any Koths for trade?” the answer is never, “I do, but not on me,” unless it’s someone you see regularly, and the answer is ESPECIALLY never, “I have some, but they’re not for trade.” The appropriate answer is simply, “No, I do not.” Unless you’re a total douchebag. You’re not a douchebag, are you?