The FNM/PTQ Trader

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This week I will be traveling back to where these articles started, the individual trader.  Now that we have covered how to acquire a good collection and where to move it we can get back to how to maximize your value.  The FNM or PTQ player is one of the most common individuals at a card shop and is the one most people interact with on a regular basis.  Unlike the casual player or the niche Commander crowd, the FNM player is here to do business.  With aspirations of thrusting that Pro Tour trophy to the sky one day, very little will deter these dreams.  What does this mean for you in trades?  How can you profit?  Well that’s what I am here today to cover.

These players are easy to pick out given the nature of how they look at the game.  If you see a group playtesting their latest brew versus the field of tier one competitors you have probably found the right place.  Many reading this article probably fall into this category themselves, whether looking for the latest tech or grinding through rounds at a PTQ this game is serious business.  When engaging in a trade with said players it is key to remember that they know what they want typically so asking ahead of time can conserve a lot of time and wasted energy.  If they have no interest in Legacy or don’t play Commander leave those binders in the bag.  Their time at the local shop is valuable to them and many times your trade length may be hindered by the current round’s remaining time at an FNM.  Having a binder or box that is well organized can help these trades move much smoother and allow you plenty of time to haggle over values.  They may be seeking a particular card in many cases and knowing the exact location in your collection can make trades streamline and create future business based on ease.  If you are known as the go to man for cards at your local shop or PTQ and people know you are quick and will not waste their time you may find yourself sought out by people you have never even traded with before.   As I said last week a reputation among your local players and shops can be used to your advantage when seeking trades.  Its far easier to make value over the day if you have non-stop trade partners seeking you out, saving you time and hassle.

The Trade

These trades can be handled a number of ways depending on the player you are trading with and how they prefer to do their pricing.  One thing that you will find with the competitive FNM crowd is they usually have a good idea of the value of the cards they are seeking.  This is not always true, but as a generalized rule assume your trade partner has some idea of what they are doing.  Does this mean you cannot profit from such a trade?  Of course not, there is always ways to profit in nearly every trade and this is no different.  Though they may have a good idea of the current Standard formats pricing they will usually have a good number of cards from past seasons that have lingered in their trade binder, failed attempts to unload before rotation can mean great things for you.  These are usually the cards I will target when trading with the competitive FNM player. Not only is there a good chance their values might be lower, they also have very little attachment to cards they can’t play.  This makes their end of the trade look great for them as well, as they are able to unload their old cards for new Standard legal stock which in their eyes usually carries more value.  This style of trading also opens up great opportunities for futures trades knowing they can unload their old cards for what they need.

A great example of this was a trade I conducted about a month ago at a local 1k event.  As expected the turnout was fairly good (60-70 players) and with many of them not being locals I saw it as a great opportunity to get a hold of some new binders.  One of the first trades I conducted was a great value trade for a Sword of Body and Mind that a gentleman needed (there goes that N word again).  I was flipping through his binder which contained mostly Standard Legal rares all of which he seemed to value at Starcity’s prices.  I thought there was a solid chance that no deal would be able to be found until I stumbled across a playset of Maelstrom Pulse which he informed me was something he was unable to unload because no one at his shop played Extended.  This was great news for me as he decided that the entire playset was worth the Sword or Body and Mind to him and was on his way certainly happy with the trade.  Now as everyone knows Maelstrom Pulse’s price has certainly taken a downward spiral, however that does not mean the card does not have value.  At that point in time Pulse was around eight dollars each, making this trade a homerun.  Any time you can get double value when picking up older cards for newer ones it is usually a safe bet.  I know I can regularly move these for at least five a piece to vendors at major events so even at twenty dollars cash I made more than the retail cost of the Sword of Body and Mind I parted with.

The Attitude

Unlike most of the traders I have discussed up until this point, the competitive FNM/PTQ player means business.  These trades usually involve much less small talk than the Commander or casual trader and therefore it can be much harder to gauge the person you are trading with.  Instead of creating small talk about their latest Commander deck, veer the conversation in a more competitive direction.  Knowing the current metagame and keeping up on the latest tech can be a huge boon when conducting these trades.  Talking about the current tier one decks and possible additions or weak points can create not only conversation but ideas.  And with ideas on deck design comes cards that will be needed for that tech fix, cards you may just happen to have in your binders.  Same goes for players working on rogue concoctions, learning what they have been testing well against and perhaps the less favorable matchups can give you ideas for suggestions.  Any time you can create a larger trade and strike an idea into someone’s mind you will find yourself drawing greater profits.  The key is to know what you are talking about as well, just because you know what Caw-Blade is does not mean you know anything about how it performs and what its favorable and less desirable match-ups may be.  Keeping up with deck tech videos and live coverage can give you an edge when trading with the serious player, one that may be just as beneficial as your binder itself.

This doesn’t mean you have to suggest something for every trade however; some people just want to acquire the cards they need and move on.  This is also fine as quick deals can be just as profitable if you have a keen eye for value.  When a player is in a rush they may take slightly less stock in values than if they had days to pick up cards and you can use this to your advantage.  One of my favorite times to trade is about an hour before any FNM or PTQ. You will acquire so many value trades just based on necessity.  The key again here is to make sure you know the location of cards and are able to access them quickly, this will be greatly appreciated from the recipient.  Quickly running through your trade partners binder asking them to shoot you values is a great way to gauge where they stand and after the initial peer you can quickly come up with a combination of cards that may have perhaps been slightly higher in value than the cards they sought out.  Usually the player will take the deal just to have what they need in hand but if not you can slowly work your way down until an agreement can be reached.

Well that concludes another week of trading for me, I haven’t decided on a topic for next week’s article so any ideas or suggestions are welcome.  I am currently debating between writing an article outlining call shots and how to approach the idea of collecting a card you see being great in the future or how to trade with a slightly more competitive player such as the PTQ grinder or GP regular.  Let me know what you guys think in the comments and on Twitter, as always I write for you so input is always welcome.  If you have another idea that you feel is more pressing than either of these topics feel free to suggest away.

Until next week, keep on grindin’

Ryan Bushard

@CryppleCommand on Twitter

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