Casually Trading Part 2: Selling Out

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Last week I covered some of the more casual traders you may encounter in the Magic world.  This week I will continue with another casual trader that is more common, though still not of the caliber most competitive players would expect.  After covering this new type of trader I will devote the remainder of this week to a hot button topic from the past few weeks, the sudden rise in Legacy prices.  Many people have been split down the middle on this subject and though I am sure you all have kept up with the situation and perhaps read on the subject already I offer a different approach and viewpoint.

Casual Shop Player

This is probably a trader everyone has run into at some point or another either at your local shop or college.  This player is usually newer to the game and seeks more than most casual players. Instead of the usual chaos games and combos this trader looks to break into the more competitive scene usually in the form of FNM’s.  Though not a regular at these tournaments they make it whenever possible with their latest concoction.  Unlike the FNM/PTQ Grinder they are usually unwilling to net deck and seek like a flashier, yet competitive way of finishing their opponent off.  Though not of the highest caliber as far as play skill goes they have the ambition to learn and may even, with enough effort, break into the PTQ/GP scene down the road.

In trade this player probably has a deck already in mind and though their card stock may be low it is in your favor to help them as best you can.  Though you may not need anything they have, helping them with their current endeavors can prove best for you in the future, both in trades and in making a friend.  This doesn’t mean you have to take a loss by any means, (I would never encourage such a trade) value trading is still a good idea. Sometimes breaking even to help a newer player is the best course of action.  Usually this player will understand that their stock is small and in turn not ask for your more expensive cards but if they do request them sometimes trading for store credit or even future trade value can be a viable option.

Steering these players in the correct direction can also be a helpful way to grow friendship over time and become a trusted trade partner.  If a player seeks a competitive deck that doesn’t cost muchm helping them find what they are looking for will only help you later.  Suggesting something like Vampires can not only allow them to start doing well on a local level but also open trade opportunities  if you have what they would need for the build.  If they already have a deck or build in mind you can help them critique it to fit the local scene or perhaps to just make the build stronger.  This doesn’t always mean turning it into a cookie cutter build of last week’s winning deck as sometimes they have attachments to certain ideas and that is fine for now.  Don’t force an idea. Sometimes people have to learn at their own pace but suggestions are always welcome for improvement.

The Attitude

This can be a fairly difficult trade partner if handled poorly but in the long run a very beneficial person to invest your time in.  The key to remember here is this player may one day be traveling with you to events, so creating a friendship is far more important than short term gain in these situations.  This can be accomplished in and out of trades, remembering your days as a player that was just starting can be very helpful and humbling.

Telling them how awful a card is will not make you friends, instead use positives in example showing them a card that may be stronger in that spot or fit their theme better.  No one wants to hear how bad their deck is and when you’re first starting that can be a huge blow to your ego and even drive you away from future trades with that person.  Keeping the mood friendly can relax the newer player who may at first be intimidated not only by you but just the atmosphere of a competitive tournament scene.  Help them and encourage them in and out of trades, asking how they are doing or listening to a story each week can add up and make a great addition to your local shop.

Other Matters at Hand…

So as I am sure everyone is aware of by now Legacy is on the rise with a strong backing by Star City Games.  In a recent move on their large vendors part prices for many staples in this format have risen anywhere from 25-100% of their initial value just weeks ago.  Talk of this has been rampant in every aspect of the game, from #MTG on Twitter to local shops.  Though I have my own opinions of these current actions this article would be better served to inform rather than rant.

The facts are available, Star City has done nothing to hide their recent actions and have instead advertised their new “buylist” as the highest on old staples on the web.  Since then sites such as Channel Fireball have caught up with the trend and now offer more on most cards as the market begins to adjust to the recent flux.  What does this mean for you?  Good question, only to be answered based on what you make of your trade binder.  If you are a Standard FNM player who rarely deals in older cards it means very little, perhaps a quick skim of the new card prices to keep up with the trends, but little more.  If you are a strong legacy player it gives you an option, do you stay in the format and ride the wave of uncertainty or do you sell out while most buy prices are higher than their old sell prices?  Even more dangerous is if you are in the game of value trading such as myself. It is a very uneasy time to be trading in Legacy stock and there is much to risk and possibly just as much reward.

As a legacy player you probably have a few decks that you have had together for a long while and have picked the cards up over a long period of time when the price was right.  Now faced with the current dilemma do you sell out or keep in the market?  This is solely on the player though before you make a decision I think it is important to weigh the facts at hand.  On one hand anything you are not using, or are willing to part with can be turned in currently for a great deal of profit over what you acquired them for in the past.  This may seem enticing at first and I am sure some players have already unloaded most of their stock but you must take another look at the situation.  If you need the money this may have been a great opportunity for you, though if you are still on the fence you should look at all the facts before proceeding.  The first fact is Ben at Star City’s comments about the lofty assumption that Force of Will would reach a hundred dollars by year’s end.  This seemed crazy at first as the card could regularly be found for 35-40 on ebay, but with the buylist releasing shortly after, this comment seemed less and less farfetched.  Force has already reached 75 on most sell lists and still demand at least a solid 60-65 on ebay.

With this in mind we have to believe that Star City has the tools at their disposal to drive the price to wherever they like.  Though they walk a tightrope with the format being on the rise, if correctly maneuvered they may just accomplish their goal.  The potential remains that the high prices may be enough to drive new players from the format while old players sell out.  If this happens Star City could find themselves in an awkward situation given they currently are the largest supporter of the format.  However if the numbers do not dwindle the money they and you stand to make could be great.  The only other fear you must hold is reprints, though some cards that have risen are on the reserved list and therefore do not face this dilemma, staples such as Wasteland and Force of Will could see new borders soon.  Will this drive the price down?  At first, certainly, but with the ever growing demand we may actually still see an increase in value if properly executed.  This also heavily depends on how and when the reprint would take place.

If you reprint Force or Wasteland in a Standard set you would flood the market with new stock, and while that at first seems like a sure way to drop value you have further to investigate.  If either of these cards were to be standard legal both would be likely to see a heavy amount of play and similar to Jace, the Mind Sculptor the format may demand more than what has been printed.  With this in mind it may actually drive the price even further on both the reprint and the old classic border.  Some people prefer the older cards when playing as a sign of prestige or experience, or sometimes just to pimp out a deck.  In addition to a rise in the actual price, with a reprint also comes a foil.  Imagine what a Foil Japanese Force would go for….100?....200?....more?  This demand would create a surge in price in both markets and though the price would quell after enough product had been opened the initial surge would leave you with a great profit.

The other possible reprint scenario would be in a FTV style set, and though this would add additional forces to the pool, I don’t believe the price would drop in such a dramatic fashion as most fear.  A great example of this is Mox Diamond. Many feared the worst when the reprint was announced, selling out while they could and in the end the total value dropped two dollars…hardly noticeable.  Force of Will would probably see no drop at all given a FTV reprint for the sheer number of decks that need them over Mox Diamonds.  If anything, the price could see a rise as people seek them out for anything from cube, Legacy, and EDH to foil out.  Without much risk of a high stock addition (FTV adds very few to the already existing number) the price would be very unlikely to change.

To wrap up this week’s article I just want to say I by no means support what Star City has done with their situation but am envious on a business level.  The amount of money they could stand to make is incredible though only time will tell.  The only true way for anyone reading this to lose out would be if the format died altogether.  I do not foresee this anytime soon since if the numbers dwindle the stock will become more abundant, therefore lowering prices back down and allowing newer players to invest.  Investing in Legacy may seem like a risk but if you know how to evaluate the situation it can be a very profitable endeavor.

Until next week keep trading!

Ryan Bushard on Facebook

@CryppleCommand on Twitter

7 thoughts on “Casually Trading Part 2: Selling Out

  1. Good article, and nice thoughts on the Legacy situation. On one hand I'm happy to see the format grow, but of course prices skyrocketing like this isn't much fun for anyone but SCG.

  2. Can people please stop repeating this? SCG didn't do it to manipulate the market. They raised their buy prices because they were literally selling out of stuff, and couldn't get more in.

    I bought their last two Grim Tutors in DC for $130 each. At Atlanta, I took a look, and they were sold out with a $200 sticker on the box.

    They're having this problem on almost everything. This is why so many of us are worried about the future of Legacy.

  3. This idea that a company would stockpile cards by buying them at prices above market conditions in order to lower supply and drive up prices makes absolutely no sense. Really, none, no sense. You can't make money that way! If prices are being driven up by scarcity you created, you cannot make money by selling out your stock because the prices will go right back down as you sell and you lose money because your prices were artificial. No, the only explanation is that people were buying all their cards, they needed more, and paid the only price people were willing to give them away for, so that they could continue selling cards that people wanted to buy. Prices are being driven up by increased interest and support for the format, not by market manipulation. Perhaps SCG is responsible, but it's through the open, not the buylist. Unless you have evidence of a box with thousands of Force of Wills hiding in the SCG stockroom (costing them tens of thousands in liquid capital), there's no reason to believe they are manipulating the supply.

  4. You also had a situation where Mox Diamond went from heavily played (and spiking, let's be fair they were $25 in Fall 2009) to a situation where they were completely unplayed. Now, they are played again, to be fair, but the crash has other reasons for it.

  5. I think you misunderstand, I do believe they manipulate, though not in ill will. They needed more and knew that they could command whatever they wanted for them…if they had them in stock…so they pushed the market forward which could or could no hurt them in the end. I feel like it is truly on the players at this point. If legacy demand stays high so will the prices if not then they will drop, hence the tightrope SCG must walk. Everyone has a price they are willing to pay and as long as they stay below that then it should work out for them. Like I said I attempted to stay unbaised in this…though honestly I truly after a few weeks of thought have a very unbaised opinion of it all anyway, those that make money will continue and the players will pay. As long as you are intellegent you will come ut ahead in either transaction.

    1. You have your cause and effect backwards. SCG is RESPONDING to the market, not causing the market to change. Now… if they were hoarding the cards thereby decreasing supply, you'd have a case.

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