Insider: The Wingman

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Shamelessly stolen from Habibson @

One thing I’ve learned over the last decade, is the value of a good wingman. Having been “attached” for most of that time, I’ve developed a pretty good skill at it myself. But not to worry, this isn’t another dating article for Magic players (those never seem to go well, do they?). I thought to write this article, because over the last several days, I’ve had lengthy chats with one of our subscribers, and a good friend of mine, Joe (@SoupaJoeViola on twitter). We spent almost the entire weekend at the LGS, drafting, playing Magic and trading. At one point, our chats even brought about the concept of team trading, and unrelatedly what a wingman can do for a guy trying to catch a girl.

Let’s restart. One thing I’ve learned over the last week, is the value of a good wingman. Finding someone who complements your strengths and fills the gaps in your weaknesses is a great asset to a trader. My style is to target specific cards that I expect to see gains, and avoid cards I’m not sure I can easily move. For me, pairing up with people who are going to find undervalued gems in people’s binders, can help me finalize a trade that I might have settled on at a lower value. Keep in mind, the wingman needs to be careful, as anyone who feels “tag-teamed” will surely walk away.

In dating, any old wingman won’t do. You need one who knows the role, and how to execute it. I’m going to follow the same form as the linked article, and talk about 10 ways you can (or better yet, your friend can) help you maximize your trading time.

Number 10: Understand the Mission
Whatever this specific mission is, depends on your goal as a trader. My personal goals, are to get rid of cards in my binder, for cards I think will hold value better, or gain value over time. I especially want to get rid of cards that have been rotting and taking up space. A wingman needs to know what I’m shooting for, if they are going to help me accomplish it.

Number 9: Keeps you Presentable
Not physically presentable, but psychologically. Trade partner becomes wary of your valuations? Wingman can make a very light comment supporting your values. This is a key point. If your wingman is hovering too closely, or being aggressive, they’re going to do more harm than good. It’s more “sellable” if the wing man is casually sitting next to you, perhaps scanning through his own trades/decks, rather than leaning over the trade space directly.

Number 8: Understands your Language
I can copy this one almost directly from the dating article I linked above. “You've been in the trenches together. You know your wingman well, and he knows you well. You don't have to talk to communicate about every situation. He can read your body language, signs and codes, and act accordingly to help your cause.” This is important. When I was trading at the LGS this weekend, I was deep into a profitable trade. I had an opportunity to find another “Throw-in” from my partner’s binder and finalize the trade. I had already hit most of the cards I was interested in, and didn’t want to short change myself with the final card I pulled. Joe noticed (either through my hesitation, or body language) that I was unsure what to select from the binder. He said simply, “Oooh, that foil Unburial Rites looks sweet, maybe grab that?” Within moments, the deal was done, the trade partner didn’t feel “ganged up on” and both parties left happy. I likely would have selected a lower valued card, as I wasn’t sure exactly how much the foil trades at, and I felt I already got the key cards I was looking for. Joe calls this the “icing” but that’s a whole different article.

Number 7: Prevent Interference
Maybe your trade partner has his own wingman, or buddy who is hovering or interfering with your trade. Your wingman should pull out his own binder and distract this person with a separate trade. Keep them occupied enough not to interfere with business at hand. This isn’t always necessary, and I don’t condone trade practice that someone would object to anyway, but some people enjoy throwing wrenches in trades, and the wingman can attempt to redirect the attention of the problem friend.

Number 6: Read the Terrain
This is how you and your wingman make value together. You both provide support to each other as wingmen. I know Joe especially likes foils, so I if I see someone with a spicy foil, I’m going to let Joe know about it, and facilitate an introduction between the two parties. If Joe knows I”m looking to pick up specific Uncommons (that I listed in last weeks article) he’ll let me know someone has Dismembers that they value around $1, and I can seek them out.

Number 5: Going Kamikaze
This has a slightly different meaning than it does in the dating realm. We’re not suggesting he fires an assault at everyone in the room who has a binder, just to gain information for you, but when you’re in a trade, he has no purpose but to help you trade, and vice versa. If this means he loses a chance to trade with that person when you’re done, so be it.

Number 4: Big ups to the point man
It’s really important that your wingman does this only in the right spots. Again, an overzealous wingman will do more harm than good. But if the trade talks get a little dicey, they will lighten the mood. They will talk positively about you throughout their own trades, and help you network with trade partners. A good example, “Oh, you’re buiding Deck ABC? You should talk to Chad after we’re done, he’s got experience with that deck, and could probably help you finish it.” A statement like that automatically adds value to my trade with that person. If they come to the trade expecting to gain insight and information, in addition to cards, values are not going to be the focus of the conversation.

Number 3: Fills the gap
This is the one spot where I actually have to come up with my own, because “Taking the Ugly Friend” is not only a strategy I don’t agree with, but doesn’t apply to trading. However, I will say, that on a rare occasion, working your wingman INTO your trade is possible. Maybe you and your partner can’t agree on a fair deal. Let your wingman throw his binder in the mix, and you two can hash out the difference later. I’ve used this in the past, and it tends to work out just fine.

Number 2: Goes Undercover
This is less important in trading than dating, but is worth a mention. Smart traders keep their ears open to what people are looking for. If your wingman hears about something and you’re better prepared to make a deal, relaying all the appropriate information to you before the trade can be extremely valuable. If someone desperately needs a card, they may not offer that information voluntarily. Even more valuable, if you know they need something, but they don’t know that you know!

Number 1: Pumps you up
Your wingman shares in your victories, and encourages you to keep trading. Jokes, high-fives, and feedback are all part of this process. Not to mention, it will be more enjoyable.

Find a wingman. Be a wingman. A trading team isn’t as intimidating as it sounds, but the benefits are immediate and obvious.

Chad Havas
@torerotutor on Twitter.

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Chad Havas

Chad has been with Quiet Speculation since January of 2011. He uses price speculation to cover all his costs to keep playing. Follow his journey from format to format and be prepared to make moves at the right times.

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6 thoughts on “Insider: The Wingman

  1. I've, somewhat accidentally, done something similar to the "Number 8: Understands your Language" sample. A friend was negotiating with 2 people who shared a collection (always their own wingmen I suppose) and I more jokingly than serious remarked "well, 4 cards for 4 cards, sounds about right doesn't it?" after which they willingly accepted my friend's proposal, even though I thought it was pretty clear the deal wasn't in their favor.

    I've also had a situation where I was making a trade and that trade looked fine with a revised clone on their end, but when I took it out of their binder I found there was a beta copy behind it. I remarked that I would like that one better and the friend I had with me at the time refrained from intervening when the other guy unexpectedly agreed to throw the beta copy in instead. Nowadays I wouldn't do that deal, I was more ruthless back in those days (somewhere around 2000 I guess), but still it's good to have someone watching along who doesn't seem to object to whatever offer you make or even makes a light comment suggesting he agrees.

    Thought provoking article. I generally consider bringing a friend anywhere I go for magic simply to watch my stuff if I need to visit the bathroom or something, but that could likely be taken to another level when I would involve that friend more in the deals themselves and likewise help that friend more in his deals. While that happened before I was not consciously doing it.

    1. Precisely! It really presented itself to me by accident. As a drafter, most of my crowd doesn't actually own cards or carry a binder, so I walk the floors alone. Lately, though, the benefits of having an ally on the floor has been readily apparent.

  2. This. When I travel to events it’s always with players, so I usually spend the time during rounds (read: downtime) networking with other traders to better take advantage of this effect, as well as to offer my own skill and info to the “pool” of relevant trader knowledge that forms for those on the lookout for it at every event. Doing this has helped me build an extremely valuable and supportive group of friends across the country, so I have potential wingmen at every large event I go to, even if I traveled alone.

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