Don’t Sell the Bulk

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Don’t sell the bulk!  Your bulk rares are an asset to utilize so that you can increase your profit margin.  Trading is a form of art and the more creative you are, the more you can make the most out of your collection.

I did not realize that trading was one of my fiercest magic related skills for quite a long time, but my friends sure did.  When they were trading with me I started to notice how cautious they were about completing trades.  They were constantly analyzing the trade and were much more concerned about our trades than the others they completed.  My friends knew way before I did that I had some skills.  My subset of trading skills often flew under the radar because for most of my magic career my binder was not even close to impressive.  You know what it was filled with?  Bulk rares.

I have previously stated that I never had a lot of money for magic cards.  It seemed like I could never finish a deck and when I finally did, it was past the time where the deck would have been successful.  Why is that?  The reason is because I traded for 100% of my decks for eight years.  Really the only cards I bought were some of my original dual lands and even those, most of them were traded for.

How did I trade for all of my magic decks?  Well let me first say, it is not a good plan to rely 100% on trading to finish your decks.  Sometimes you just have to buckle down and buy a couple cards before the tournament so that you have the best version of your deck to play.  This is a widely accepted concept now, but it took a while for the majority of the magic community to accept this truth.  Anyway, the way I was able to trade for my decks was dealing with the low end.  You want to talk about art.  Trading and profiting from low end trading is certainly an art form.  What rares do you trade for?  How do you move them?  These are complex questions that arise from low end trading.

Everyone has to start somewhere.  Not everyone has every staple and every high end card just sitting in their trade binder.  Many players rely heavily on their collection to fund their competitive decks.  I started growing my beanstock out of some seemingly unmagical bulk beans.  My survival was based on my instincts as a trader.  Usually I had no problem flipping the cards I traded for to hop right up the profit ladder, but trading on instinct does have its pitfalls. When I first started trading with other players, I definitely traded for some things that never moved out of my binder.

My years of trading on instinct have shown me three ways to boil this process of low end trading down for future magic traders.

Step 1:  Know the players at your local shops, what they play, what they want to play, and stock accordingly.

How can we accomplish this?  Just have fun and play some magic.  This is a game after all, so have fun when you are out at a tournament.  Not every tournament has to be treated like a 5k or PTQ.  Then, while you are there, trade some cards with everyone.  You are a magic player and that usually means that you enjoy playing the game.  So, if you have multiple stores in your area, rotate between them.  The wider your trading circle gets the more you can spread your trading wings.  The main reason why everyone is not a trader or an efficient trader is because it involves talking to your opponent, the players sitting next to you, and the other players at the tournament.  Trading is socializing.  Make some new friends by talking to them about the deck they are playing and what cards they are trying to get their hands on.  It is difficult to stock your binder with cards other players will want unless you are familiar with the players that typically attend tournaments at the shops you go to.  This is not true for the cards that everyone is trying to get their hands on like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Sword of Feast and Famine, and Primeval Titan.  You can always find someone to trade those high end staples to, but knowing what low end cards to pursue takes some previous knowledge.   For things like Birds of Paradise, Day of Judgment, and Knight Exemplar, if you are trading for them just to make your binder more appealing, you might want to have an idea who you might be able to trade them to.  The low end cards we are talking about today, take a little work to find homes for, but if you know who you will be trading with, you can minimize the turn around time on cards.

Step 2:  Know which rares are in demand that you should keep your eyes out for.

The reason I mentioned Birds of Paradise, Day of Judgment, and Knight Exemplar was because these cards are extremely hard to find for the players at one of the local stores I frequent.  One tournament I had multiple players ask if I had these cards.  This is the nugget of gold you have been searching for.  Obtaining cards for someone is a great way to build your reputation.  Think about if someone specifically got the cards you had been looking for and couldn’t obtain for yourself; you certainly would make it a point to trade with them in the future.  If you get cards you intend to trade you have a better chance to trade them immediately so they won’t just sit in your binder.  Second, people are grateful that you went out of your way to get cards for them.  Pay attention to the supply and demand of the players at your shop.  If everyone has Grand Architects in their trade binders, when that deck becomes popular most likely you won’t be able to capitalize on that spike in price.  If you trade for a playset (or more) of cards that multiple people want like the above mentioned Birds of Paradise and Day of Judgment, you know that you can trade them off quickly and most likely gain a little value out of it.

The other aspect of following the demand of cards is just paying attention to what it is that you trade a lot of.  For me the card I trade the most is Tempered Steel.  When I am trading I try to always have at least one playset of this card in my binder and sometimes extras in my bag because I move this card so often.  First of all, it is a card the players will definitely want four or none of, so either you can trade them all away or you can trade for all the copies someone has.  This is a great quality to find in a card.  I was lucky because before Tempered Steel, my ‘bread and butter’card, the card I traded for and away the most, was Stoneforge Mystic.  That’s the nice thing about trading so much.  When Stoneforge spiked, I had an extra three copies in my trade binder just because it was a card that I could trade for and trade away frequently.

Step 3:  Always, always, stay current on both buylist and regular prices of standard cards.

Often there is a price discrepancy between the retail price and the buylist price on cards.  One thing that traders often forget is that they need to know both prices.  Some people know both just by trading so frequently.  Let’s complete a short quiz to see how you are doing.  Don’t go look up the card prices, I will tell you in a moment.  Think about the retail price of the card if you had to go pay full price for it and then think about what dealers would buy the card at.

1.        Consuming Vapors

2.        Nirkana Revenant

3.        Sorin Markov

4.        Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

Let me first say that apparently today as I write this I am in a very black mood because apparently I chose all black cards for this little survey.  Regardless, I started you off with an easy one.  Consuming Vapors has been fairly stable in its price for a while but I am still not sure that you got it right.  The regular price for Consuming Vapors is about four dollars.  Sometimes you can find them cheaper than that, but that’s about right most of the time.  If you go by the accepted shortcut to determining a buylist price of half of the value of the card you would most likely have guessed close to the right answer.  Consuming Vapors buylist price does have a fairly large range though.  You can find an offer to buy it as low as $1 or up to about $2.50.

What about Nirkana Revenant?  This mythic from Rise of the Eldrazi has a large casual appeal for players who love their swamps.  The regular price of this card, even with no Standard applications, is four to five dollars.  What is strange and great for trading a lot of low end is that dealers buy this card as high as 3.50!  These types of cards are not found often where you can basically sell it at the same price you traded for it.

The next one’s a bit tricky if you have not looked into Sorin lately.  He does have casual appeal but he also has made an appearance in a few Standard decks like the previously dominant Blue/Black Control, even if it was only in their sideboard.  I knew before I started writing this article that I wanted to mention this card.  When I did some research, I was quite surprised by what I found and realized that I needed to update some card prices myself.  Sorin sells online for about ten or eleven dollars!  That is crazy high to me.  Most players still think that he is worth about five to seven dollars.  I had no idea that he was worth so much.  The thing is, the buy price is just as surprising.  This card can be sold online from 7 dollars to 8.50!  That is much higher than I would have ever expected and Sorin is definitely on my radar of cards to trade for at the moment.

Ok, last one.  Nicol Bolas is not in Standard anymore but there a decent amount of them floating around in trade binders.  The point is that it is relatively accessible card.  This planeswalker has a huge variance between purchase prices.  I have seen him sell for as low as 14$, but his average is up around 25$.  This is also crazy because his buylist price ranges from 10 to 14$.

Alright, so we know that prices can be tricky.  How do we deal with that?  Well first of all, keep up to date on your prices!  Second of all, know which cards to trade for.  Don’t fret, I have done the research for you so take a look.  The following list are cards that are undervalued and I have listed their current buyprice range.

Name:                                                  Trollandtoad Buylist price:

Kuldotha Forgemaster                                                1.00

Hand of the Praetors                                       1.75

Etched Champion                                           1.00

Ezuri, Renegade Leader                                                                1.00

Genesis Wave                                                 1.00

Lux Cannon                                                    1.50

Myr Battlesphere                                            1.00

Platinum Emperion                                         1.00

Consecrated Sphinx                                        2.50

Massacre Wurm                                              1.80

Contested Warzone                                        2.50

Sorin Markov                                                  8.50

Nissa Revane                                                  6.00

Chandra Ablaze                                              2.50

Felidar Sovereign                                            2.50

Warren Instigator                                            1.75

Luminarch Ascension                                     1.75

Rampaging Baloths                                         1.25

Blade of the Bloodchief                                 1.25

Mindbreak Trap                                              1.50

Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet                           1.00

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen                                      1.58

Pyromancer Ascension                                    1.00

Basilisk Collar                                                 3.50

Dragonmaster Outcast                                                2.50

Omnath, Locus of Mana                                                           2.50

Eye of Ugin                                                    1.80

Admonition Angel                                          1.50

Joraga Warcaller                                              2.00

Nirkana Revenant                                           3.50

Lighthouse Chronologist                                3.00

Khalni Hydra                                                  3.00

Transcendant Master                                       2.50

Coralhelm Commander                                   2.50

Inquisition of Kozilek                                     1.75

Student of Warfare                                         4.00

Consuming Vapors                                         2.50

Awakening Zone                                            1.50

Eldrazi Temple                                                2.00

Eldrazi Conscrpition                                       1.00

Guul Draz Assassin                                         1.00

Knight Exemplar                                             3.00

Steel Overseer                                                 2.00

Elvish Archdruid                                            2.00

Captivating Vampire                                       1.50

Chandra Nalaar                                               1.50

Platinum Angel                                               1.25

Serra Ascendant                                              1.00

Goblin Chieftan                                              1.00

Honor of the Pure                                           1.00

Ajani Goldmane                                              3.75

Leyline of Sanctity                                         2.50

Death Baron                                                    1.50

Hellkite Overlord                                            2.00

Master of Etherium                                         1.75

Memory Erosion                                             1.25

Godsire                                                           1.50

Emperial Archangel                                        1.25

Master Transmuter                                          3.00

Maelstrom Archangel                                      2.50

Martial Coup                                                   1.00

Ethersworn Adjucator                                  1.00

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker                                                     12.00

Wall of Reverence                                          1.00

Dragon Broodmother                                      2.50

Nemesis of Reason                                         1.75

Sen Triplets                                                     1.50

Lord of Extinction                                          1.75

Karthus, Tyrant of Jund                                  2.00

Jenara, Asura of War                                      1.50

Thraximundar                                                  1.25

There are a couple highlights from this list that I want to point out.  The two planeswalkers from Zendikar, Nissa and Sorin, are really undervalued at the moment.  If you are looking for some cards to flip, start there.  I have traded for and sold a ton of other crappy mythics from Zendikar as well, such as Felidar Sovereign and Chandra Ablaze.  After all, not very many players actually want those cards, so if you trade for them, you might as well just sell them.  The most important thing to remember with a list like this is to customize it to your own needs.  If you don’t need cash right now, I wouldn’t be trading for the Chandra Ablaze and Felidar Sovereign, I would be trading for Coralhelm Commanders and Student of Warfares.  Some cards on the list certainly trade much better than others.  The goal of this list is to provide an outlet for all of your junk rares.  If you can convert your junk rares into these types of low end cards that actually sell for something, then you have a bunch of low end cards you can sell whenever you need to.  When I do this, typically it is so that I can turn a pile of $0.10 rares into a high priced card I need.

Before I wrap it up here, I wanted to take a minute to talk about ripping players off.  Let me start with a little story.  When I first started playing, the format we played at my shop was technically Vintage but to be honest it was basically like Standard or Legacy that some people threw power into.  Not horribly degenerate and still accessible even for a new player like myself.  One of the first times I was there, I traded with one of the players.  I was trying to build World Gorger Dragon Combo and he had my first Dragon so I could start actually working on the deck.  At this time, I had no idea what cards were worth so I gladly traded my Decree of Justice for the Dragon.  Later I found out exactly what happened.  He blatantly ripped me off.  You see, Decree of Justice I found out, was a popular card in Standard and worth twenty dollars or more, where the Dragon I traded for was only a mere two dollars.  Needless to say, I was quite discouraged from trading for quite a while and I certainly never traded with that player ever again, even once I did start trading again.

I’m sure you have all heard stories like this many times, but I could not bear to write this article with out mentioning mine.  Make sure you try to keep the trades relatively even.  Sure you will be wrong sometimes, like recently when I traded for Sorin, but most of the time you know if the trade is close to being even or not.  If you make sure to trade fairly, you will have return customers.  If you make your living ripping players off, your bad rap will end your business venture rather quickly.  Building a good reputation at your local stores leads to a lot of good trading at every event.  When I show up at a tournament, the players know that I always have a bunch of cards to trade and that my binder will almost always have some new things from the last time they looked at it.  All I have to do is walk in the door, and I have offers to trade with players.  These are the type of relationships you want to build.  Trade them the cards they need and in exchange they will give you a good deal on the ones they don’t need.

**steps down from the box of soap**

To Sum it up, there are a lot of niche cards that are either undervalued or players just simply don’t want.  If you are not an elf player, you have no need for those Nissas or Elvish Archdruids sitting in your binder.  If you don’t play extended, you have no need for those Shards Block cards.  And really, how many people are ever going to play those Transendant Masters or Nirkana Revenants?  Provide a service.  Your bulk rare binder.  Casual players, EDH players, and players just trying to build a fun but maybe not extremely competitive Standard deck want these low end cards for one of the dozen decks they are currently working on and I am 100% sure that they have something they don’t mind giving up to get them.


Don’t Sell the Bulk!

Until next time,

I am Mike Lanigan.

Follow me on Twitter, MTGJedi

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