Balancing the books

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The past three weeks I've covered the basics of trading, speculation, and working within the magic community. I'm a huge proponent of trying to help people whenever they ask for it, and while the past three weeks have been for a specific audience, this weeks article will be centered on the general audience. Come to think of it, this weeks will be about just that; the audience.

It doesn't matter if you're trading in a one on one situation, or within a group, knowing how to speak with someone will give you more of an edge than any smart phone price list will ever be able to.

This week I'm going to cover the fine art of telling people no.

All of us at one point or another have been asked the common phrase: "Do you have any of InsertCardHere?", and we've all had to say no for whatever reason. How you say no can impact your future dealing just as much as having the card they are looking for. Most of the time when we hear people looking for a specific card and we have it, there is a list of things we ask ourselves.

- How much can I up the price?

- Is he or she desperate?

- Does he or she have the look of need, or are they just looking for it casually?

All of those are valid questions when we have the card, but what do you do when you don't? Ask yourself if you've ever said any of these.

- No.

- No, sorry.

- Completely ignore the person.

- Snarkey comment.

If so, you've probably done some damage to yourself in that person's eyes. While its fine to say that you don't have a card, try these ways of phrasing it instead.

- That's a really great card for (deck), but right now I don't have any.

- Right now I'm all out, it's been popular.

- I don't have the one you're looking for, but I do have this (card), which is a lot like it.

All three of those follow one of the basic rules of business, which is to soften the blow. While you may not think of it as anything major to simply say no, to the person you're trading with its often too easy to come across as someone that doesn't value them. This follows the same principal that can be applied to most B&M stores as well; you are replaceable, customers are not.

Each of the above ways of saying no also leaves themselves open to adding on resolution statements. Sometimes you're at the local shop and you don't have all of your cards with you, and the one they are looking for happens to be at home. Sometimes you know you can make a decent profit margin trading for it, so you can buy the card online and then trade it for profit to them the next week. Here are a few resolution statements for you to use.

- I can get it for you by next week if we agree on a trade today.

- I have them at home, (if home is close) and can get them before we're done tonight OR (if home is too far to get to between rounds) I can have it here for you next week.

- I'll see if I can find a copy for you.

- I'll keep my eyes open for some, and let you know if I find any.

All of these help solidify that you value their time and appreciate them coming to you for cards, and help you keep business ties strong with the people who ask you for items.

Occasionally though, we have to tell people no for other reasons. Most commonly its because we don't agree on a price for a trade. The way you tell someone "No" to their valuation of a card or to a proposed trade impacts the current and future deals.

I won't go over the different forms you might have used to tell someone no, as there are to many to list in one column. What I will say is that if you laugh, chuckle, or do anything to show some kind of amusement at their offer, it is completely within their rights to take their cards and walk away. There is no need to belittle someone, even if you know they are a shark and its a lopsided trade. In this community we need people that are part of the solution, not the problem.

Here are a few ways you can word your "No" better when working out prices or deals.

- I can't trade it for that price due to it's recent demand.

- That's below the average price, how about $XX.XX.

- This deal heavily favors you, may I look through your book again?

- I can't accept that offer, are you willing to even it out more?

All of those replies are situation specific, but rarely are you going to tell someone no to a deal when you're already ahead. When we tell someone no its often too easy for us to forget we're dealing with other people as well. Don't get so caught up in your own self that you give off the wrong attitude.


This past week saw the SCG open Washington D.C., where Caw-Blade continued to make up the majority of the top 16, taking nine slots and winning the event. Stoneforge Mystic is still hot, but rotation time is coming up, and if the decks popularity wanes her price could drop again. Her use in legacy helps to act as insurance on her price, but I wouldn't want to be caught holding a number of them when she leaves the spotlight.

Tombstalker saw a small uptick after seeing play as a four-of in the winning Legacy Open list. I don't see him hitting a spike, but its worth keeping a set or two around in the event he does see increased play, which translates into higher profits.

Both Mirrodin swords continue to see play, with Sword of Feast and Famine seeing more play overall than Sword of Body and Mind. I expect the swords to continue gaining over the next few months, with either one rising in use depending on the meta.

That's all for this week, thank you for reading!

Stephen Moss

@MTGstephenmoss on Twitter

Stephen Moss

Stephen Moss currently lives in Lancaster, CA, is a usual PTQ grinder in the southwest region and working on his Masters in Business Administration. He has an obsession with playing League of Legends when not working on articles or school work. His articles often take on a business minded tone, and usually contain information applicable to magic trading as well as real world business.

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2 thoughts on “Balancing the books

  1. I agree, its crucial to keep people knowing that they should be coming to you when they look for stuff. The more you "snub" their requests, the less likely they'll come to you for needs in the future.

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