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Insider: Way Back Trade Stacks

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This week I want to do something a little different, and I have to credit Stric9 from our forums as my inspiration.

In case you didn’t know, our Quiet Speculation forums have a “Rate My Trade” board where people can post their trades to gather opinions or get advice on whether or not to make a particular trade. Stric9 posted one such trade last June, and he recently updated his post to show what those cards have done since then. What a great idea!

Here’s another thing you might not have known unless you’ve been with QS since the beginning. When I wrote my first article nearly 18 months ago, I had no idea I’d still be doing it every week almost two years later. I was just coming into my own as a serious trader/speculator and wasn’t always sure how I did when swapping cards. It was also right after the now-infamous Pack to Power project had completed and everyone was copying the idea.

I never did my own Pack to Power (and I’m glad I didn’t), but I did like the format Jon had used in putting every trade on paper. I emulated the technique for a few reasons. First off, it really helped me to learn card prices. If you look up a card’s price on a smartphone during trading, you’re not as likely to remember it later than if you had taken a chance and only find out later if you won or loss. That emotion helps to burn the price into your head, and you’ll quickly memorize more prices than you thought you could.

Anyway, the point is I used to record the trades I made every week in my column and then analyze them (hence the column name “The Revenue Review”). So let’s look back at some old trades (using SCG prices) and see how these look in the harsh light of 2012!

Date: Aug. 28, 2010

His:

Scalding Tarn ($14)

[card]Steel Overseer ($5)

Mine:

Arid Mesa ($14)

Net: $5

Today:

His:

Scalding Tarn ($15)

[card]Steel Overseer ($3)

Mine:

Arid Mesa ($10)

Net: $8

It turns out Blue Fetchlands are good, something I’ve since turned into a much larger project. I’m sure this was just an example of me moving a fetchland to a guy who needed it and didn’t mind losing some value to get the one he needed.

That’s the warm-up trade of that night. Here’s where that session got really interesting.

Date: Aug. 28, 2010

His:

Primeval Titan ($50)

Mine:

Creeping Tar Pit ($3.50)

Senseis Divining Top ($8)

Cabal Therapy ($5)

Coralhelm Commander ($4)

Daze ($2.50)

Mistblind Clique ($4)

Secluded Glen ($4)

Cryptic Command ($13)

Net: $6

Today:

His:

Primeval Titan ($25)

Mine:

Creeping Tar Pit ($3)

Senseis Divining Top ($12)

Cabal Therapy ($6)

Coralhelm Commander ($3)

Daze ($4)

Mistbind Clique ($3)

Secluded Glen ($2)

Cryptic Command ($15)

Net: -$23

Whew, that looks horrible. If we both held onto stock, I would be looking pretty silly. At the time, though, the Titan was shiny and new, and I knew someone would be dying to pick it up. It is interesting that the pile of cards I traded him have appreciated in price as a whole since then (though I’m not positive that I used SCG pricing then).

Here’s the thing: I would make that trade again. I was able to trade up a ton of cards into the hottest Mythic in print at that point, and I knew I would be able to move the Titan for full value. This metric changes entirely if you don’t have a good outlet for moving expensive new cards, though (like Sorin).

So what did I end up doing with the Titan?

Date: Aug. 28, 2010

His:

Tarmogoyf ($60)

Heavily played Survival of the Fittest ($23)

Mine:

Primeval Titan ($50)

3x Destructive Force ($5)

2x Archive Trap ($2)

Net: $16

Today:

His:

Tarmogoyf ($100)

Heavily played Survival of the Fittest ($17)

Mine:

Primeval Titan ($25)

3x Destructive Force ($1.50)

2x Archive Trap ($2)

Net: $88

Wow. At the time Survival was on the way up in Legacy and Goyf was at an all-time low after (old) Extended was struck down as a format. I remember selling the Survival on eBay for more than the $23 I got it for in trade after it spiked hard, and I sold the Goyf for $50 cash + $45 in buylist value of cards, so I’d say that worked out.

The lesson here is this: It’s difficult to trade into the hot new Standard Mythic and if you hold onto the stock for too long you’ll lose money. But if you can move it at that price, which you usually can due to how badly people want new cards, then you can ask for an extremely good deal on the back end.

Aside

While surfing through my old articles, I came upon this nugget from September of 2010. I’ll just repost it here in all its glory.

It’s been a busy week at work, and my editor (I work at a college newspaper) challenges me to a foot race outside the building to blow off some steam. I win the first race and she (yes, she, I know agreeing to race a girl was my first error) demands a rematch and to switch “lanes” with me. I agree to her terms (my second mistake). In front of me there are a few obstacles – a tree on my left, some light poles on my right, and a grate somewhere in the middle. I line up to the right of the tree so I won’t have to duck under it. This was my third and ultimately fatal mistake, because the grass was significantly longer (and more slippery) there.

My trifecta of mistakes leads to this. I’ve been told it will be the best six seconds of your day. Viewer discretion advised.

Using the life lessons I’ve learned from Magic (never let your girlfriend tell you the game is a waste of time), I’ve decided to turn this experience into a positive. Sure, I ended up with a dozen stitches, a puncture down to the bone, a weekend on crutches, and a potentially scary emergency room bill, but I’m angling for a Tosh.0 Web Redemption! Seriously, show the video to your friends, I’m going viral.

Still waiting on that Web Redemption.

End Aside

Date: Sept. 3, 2010

His:

Misty Rainforest ($13)

Stoneforge Mystic ($5)

Mine:

3xSunken Ruins ($24)

Net: -$6

Today:

His:

Misty Rainforest ($13)

Stoneforge Mystic ($8)

Mine:

3xSunken Ruins ($24)

Net: -$3

I wanted to highlight this trade because it’s such an interesting set of cards. Just glancing at this trade, many people would think that I made money both then and now, but that’s not the case. This just proves how good of a bet Real Estate in Magic is. You can’t go wrong trading for lands, even those that see relatively little play. See also the Scars fastlands and the Innistrad duals out now, which won’t go lower than they will in the next two months until they see a reprint.

Speaking of Fastlands, here’s a trade that I didn’t think much of at the time but is really interesting in retrospect.

Date: Nov. 3, 2010

His:

Copperline Gorge ($2.50)

Blackcleave Cliffs ($3)

Hand of the Praetors ($8)

Mine:

Lodestone Golem ($4)

Leyline of Sanctity ($4.50)

Net: $5

Today:

His:

Copperline Gorge ($10)

Blackcleave Cliffs ($8)

Hand of the Praetors ($2)

Mine:

Lodestone Golem ($1.50)

Leyline of Sanctity ($4)

Net: $14.50

I wish I could say I knew the lands were going up like they did, but I didn’t. I did know that I like trading into lands because they hold value better, and that turned out to work well here. Of course, I probably traded the lands away in the following weeks for something like a Nantuko Shade

That’s all the space I have for this week, but this was a fun and fairly informative exercise for me. I changed the scope of my articles at some point away from trade reviews, so I don’t have anything more recent on paper (that I still have, at least). Still, I might take a camera to FNM this week and bring some of this style back! Let me know if you guys would be interested in a format like this for occasional use, because it’s something that people seemed to enjoy.

Until next week, when you look back at your past, I hope you don’t see this.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler
@Chosler88 on Twitter

2 thoughts on “Insider: Way Back Trade Stacks

  1. I very, very much like to see writers go back more often to deals they made in the past. I'm not so interested in short term trades as I just don't have any outlet to move stuff fast, but looking at trades in hindsight gives a very interesting perspective for a more long term focussed trader like me.

    I think what this article hammers home for me is lands == good. Even painlands still represent a fair amount of value, yes, a bit less than when I completed my set all those years ago (not too long after the Apocalypse release), but not too much less either and they were more valuable only a few years ago. I should be on the lookout for lands more actively than I already am, heck, maybe I should even look for painlands, they are Modern legal after all ;).

  2. Thanks for the props! One week back to Quiet Speculation and I'm associated with an article. How cool is that?!

    Since I've been in and out of Magic (not to my own choosing) one of the things I noticed was the consistent pricing of lands, it not upward trend altogether. For instance, I remember Seachrome Coast being something like 10 dollars and now it's up at 17. But it never really dropped that much. So, when I'm unsure of which money cards to trade for, I go for lands instead. I've also found that certain players don't value lands as much as they do some of the more exciting cards and they can be added to trades for much less than you would expect. I'm not sure if that's ethical, but they bought the cards and they're trading them away voluntarily, so I don't get too heartbroken over it.

    Anyways, I also try and trade with an eye for what cards will stand the test of time and find their way into other formats. Unfortunately, my perspective is very limited because I have been playing for such a short amount of time. That's why I rely on QS to give me that added insight.

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