Jason’s Archives: The Day I Wrote My Article Three Times

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Greetings, Speculators!

I'm writing this on April Fool's Day, but since it won't be published until April 2nd, I unfortunately don't get the opportunity to screw with you the way I might if I were published on the first. I'll have to screw with you in the typical way and hope that's sufficient.

What's Your Buylist Look Like?

Bam, right into it with no segue. You weren't ready for that, were you? That's the kind of chicanery I'm in the mood to pull today, so try to keep up.

You read this website either because you want to make money in the finance game or because you feel like you're getting away with something reading a QS article without paying for it. Either way you're concerned with value, and that's what I want to talk about today. Sue me. I'm the only person in the Magic community who cares about the Blackhawks, apparently, and there's never anything good on reddit. So let's talk about your buylist.

Why Should You Have One?

Sometimes, but not always, I have a paper copy of a buylist to work from. Sometimes it's just an online store's buylist from a GP, sometimes it's one I made up and printed and sometimes I just check buy prices on trader tools. Whatever method I'm employing at the time, I'm always ready to buy cards if people aren't at an LGS to sell to them or would rather sell to you for whatever reason. Knowing buylist prices helps you figure out which cards to target and it helps you quickly price out the expensive stuff in collections so you can make a competitive offer.

If you have an out like eBay or TCGPlayer or just want to buy cards to trade out at full value, buying at buylist prices is a great way to get stuff in. You could pay retail on a card you think will go up and thus speculate, but if you buy at buylist, you can be confident in your profits since you buy with the sell price in mind. I've come to call this method the "Medina Method" after Jon Medina espoused it as an alternative to speculation proper.

Don't get me wrong, I still speculate, but having it be known that I pay buylist numbers on cards has lead to some decent business opportunities. A combination of word of mouth, my self-advertisement in the local communities and my side gig running the singles sales for an LGS have all led to the opportunity to buy cards on a weekly basis. Even if you are just sitting around your friend's house and offer him a stack of bills to clean out his binder, it's profitable to buy at those prices if you have the right out.

A Glimpse into the Creative Process

So right now I've written 500 words, deleted it all, written 500 more and deleted all of that. I guess what I'm grappling with is, which points do I actually want to make? If I write an article saying, "It's profitable to buy cards for 50% of what you sell them for," your response will understandably be "No shit."

The question you want answered probably isn't the "why" but the "how." If I could whittle down the idea I woke up with in my brain into two salient points, they'd be these:

  1. Always be prepared to buy.
  2. Make your own opportunities to buy.

Time to get this article back on a more instructive track so I don't just ragequit the writing process altogether.

Always Be Prepared to Buy

What I'm driving at is that you should have a buylist because you want to be in the mindset to buy. You want people to know you're the guy if they want to sell singles somewhere other than the LGS. You want people to know you'll buy collections of any size. You want people to know if they ask you for a card the LGS doesn't have, you can snag it at the next event you travel to so they don't have to buy it online.

Most importantly, you want situations where someone approaches you to sell a card to go smoothly. You want to have cash on hand, you want to have a go-to buylist handy or go to trader tools. You want to do all of this without hurting your LGS (I covered this in depth in a 500-word section that was called "Be Careful" and is now called "One of the things I deleted today") since you're there to help the LGS, not the other way around. I recommend not buying or selling under their roof, and trying to avoid buying stuff not in their case and selling stuff that is.

If people know you're willing to pay competitive prices on singles, regularly have cash on hand, accept payment methods other than cash (I recommend a square or Paypal credit card scanner for your phone) and that you're not a scumbag, you can expect to have occasion to buy cards for cash somewhat frequently. The benefits of this should be obvious, and in a lot of cases you're doing a service to the community.

The alternative, I guess, is turning down someone who wants to sell to you because you weren't prepared. If you plan to be "the guy" in your area, don't turn people down because you weren't prepared to buy cards that night. Pay people competitive prices to get good word of mouth and watch your opportunities multiply. Always be prepared to buy.

Make Your Own Opportunities To Buy

I'm chopping a table at an event this weekend with local legend and Insider Carter Hatfield. I'm the beneficiary of Carter booking the event and intending to chop the table with Ryan Bushard who is busy doing an anime convention elsewhere this weekend and therefore double-booked. This whole thing fell into my lap, but it got me thinking that if being on the other side of the dealer's table is going to be profitable, it has got to be worth doing it on purpose next time.

I was also in the right place when the LGS I grew up buying cards and comic books from started to lag behind another store in town who caters heavily to the Magic community. I saw an opportunity to sell some of my singles for retail and offered to pay him a percentage of sales in exchange for use of his display cases. It's been over a year and it has kept me in free comic books, toploaders and sleeves as well as given me some money to buy collections with.

Best of all, since he isn't really interested in dealing with the Magic stuff, I get to buy collections people bring into the store to sell. This is obviously a best-case scenario as most stores have a decent handle on Magic, but you might be surprised. A lot of comic book shops make enough on comics sales that they don't branch out heavily into Magic. If you see an opportunity to set up a deal like I did, I recommend it. Even if the store doesn't end up a place where people hang out, selling singles will help them move sealed product and accessories. For us, this relationship has turned into a win-win. Add to that the owner's tendency to sell me stuff like the toploaders I need for eBay and even cases of new sealed product for cost and the benefits far outweigh the 25 minute drive.

This wasn't something that fell in my lap, it was an opportunity I pursued and it paid well. I encourage you to look for a similar way to make something like this happen. The time investment is minimal -- I go in once a week for about an hour to refill the case. This doesn't interfere with a normal day job and has been more than worth it.

Finally having something I'm happy with, I'm moving on to weekend events.

SCG Doubles Down on Standard in Orlando

Really? This is why they didn't have a Legacy event on Sunday? So they could play another day of Standard?

SCG Orlando Saturday Standard Decks

Reanimator continues strong, but it was ousted by Esper for the title of "Most Copies in the Top Eight." Control takes a bit to get dialed in, and in a format where the creatures are the best creatures have ever been, it's taken longer than usual. Also, the best Esper deck finished 5th, which isn't exactly on the cusp of winning the event. Loaded up on [card Nephalia Drownyard]Drownyards[/card] and a single Jace, most of these decks use their tons of removal to stay alive long enough to win via mill.

Mill is not a great strategy against Reanimator if you run out of counterspells for their Unburial Rites. Sweepers help prevent them from flooding the board with dorks to put you in danger of a lethal [card Craterhoof Behemoth]Craterhoof[/card] swing, but it seems overall like a poor matchup for Esper. The control player also has to play much tighter, which can take a toll after ten rounds. One Esper deck loaded up with four copies of Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. I'm not super opposed to this strategy, it turns out.

Reanimator, Junk Rites, 68 of the 75 cards from decks that were played six months ago at states, whatever you want to call it, it's doing well. If there is a way to make a Craterhoof deck viable, look to Brad Nelson to do it. Show up able to beat this deck or stay home.

Prime Speaker Bant isn't quite the powerhouse it was predicted to be after SCG Indianapolis, but drawing a million cards gets there a lot and it managed a top eight finish piloted by Rick Meditz. I feel like the deck is solid, but it goes to time a lot and looks frustrating to play.

Jund is a thing and always will be. Jund managed two top eights with two different builds on Saturday, but neither looks new. In fact, nothing on Saturday looked new.

Sunday, on the other hand...

SCG Open Orlando Sunday Decks

Nope, nothing new on Sunday either. A few top eight decks were different; Wolf Run Bant made it, as did The Aristocrats, a deck called "dead" by a lot of people, though none whose opinion I value.

Devour Flesh is a decent way to deal with Falkenrath Aristocrat after a wrath, but if you have the mana to play both, you've made the game go long and you're probably in good shape. Either that or you play them over two turns, getting clocked in the mean time, something you may not be able to afford. Can the Aristocrats race Reanimator? I'd test the matchup because I still think the deck could be a solid choice, although I advocate the inclusion of Assemble the Legion (good luck swinging through that, Craterdouche!) and Blood Artist. That said, I advocate the inclusion of Blood Artist in any and all decks.

A Mono Red Aggro deck piloted by Eric Jones made top eight as well. It looks capable of punishing inconsistent draws out of the control decks. Against all the hasty beats they can put down, wrath effects do little more than turn creatures into burn spells. Which is fine because the deck has plenty of those, too. I think Esper decks would do well to run more copies of Blind Obedience if haste is a problem in their meta.

Yaco Zaragoza has an awesome name and an awesome deck, in the form of "G/W Blink", a Conjurer's Cloudshift deck that prefers its Restoration Angels to be sorcery speed and cost zero mana, or cost W if they're an instant. Cloudshift is a powerful card that never really caught on once people started playing Restoration Angel. However, its benefits are numerous, not the least of which is Cloudshifting a Fiend Hunter with its first ability on the stack. Exile one creature forever and a second when Fiend Hunter returns. Not too shabby. Shifting [card Thragtusk]Tusk[/card], Centaur Healer, Acidic Slime or even Borderland Ranger can also put you pretty far ahead.

Oh, what the hell, jam a set of Restoration Angel, too. This deck could easily have made top eight with better tie breakers -- I know to ignore 9th and 10th place decks at your peril. Usually they had the same record as a deck in the top eight. This deck looks good enough to take down FNM and fun enough that you won't put a gun in your mouth playing Standard for the second day in a row.

That's More Than Enough for Today

I'm going to cut it off before I decide to delete the entire thing and start over again. If this seemed like an off week, let me know in the comments. I'll be sure to react poorly and it could be pretty hilarious.

20 thoughts on “Jason’s Archives: The Day I Wrote My Article Three Times

      1. Jason makes me at least the same amount as any other writer to be honest.

        I like his no-bullshit attitude a lot and that’s why he is one of my favorite reads nowadays…

  1. The mutually beneficial situation you have set up with your LGS sounds fantastic. I recently moved to a new city, and find myself in a similar situation. An awesome new LGS opened up, and caters well to the Magic community. However, they are still trying to establish themselves (especially in the Magic singles dept.) and I would like very much to help them out (I would LOVE to see their business take off!). If I were to help them with their singles sales (by providing personal singles for their case, and giving a % of the profit to them), what would you say a fair % of the cut would be? or at least a starting point?

    Thanks for the great article! [DELETE]…Nope, still a great article!

    1. I pay him 20% for the case. I wanted less, but less wouldn\’t be all that worth it for him, and some other guy had an agreement for a different case selling baseball cards and he is chucking in 25% so I didn\’t have much room to negotiate. Open with 15% and see where that goes. Losing 20% isn\’t great, but you can usually mark up EDH junk that won\’t sell well on eBay. I make a lot of my money selling stuff like Dragon\’s Claws and bad planeswalkers, It\’s a different crowd than eBay.

    1. “i don’t trade at that level to make that kind of profit. it’s still nice to pay the lunch when you trade up, but i won’t double my profit by reading insider information.”
      “i don’t go to GPs often (i’m in Canada…) and there is no SCGopens in canada.”

      i fail to see where i was not clear…

      1. The access to unlocked trader tools, access to the QS forums (a great place to hear about trends before most people do) and access to insider e-mail blasts are all benefits of insider that non-insiders won\’t necessarily be aware of. I\’d probably pay for insider if I didn\’t get it for free as a writer, but that\’s only because I know how much money it\’s made me. I recommend trying it for a month and if you don\’t like it, you get the 111% back so I don\’t see how you incur any risk. The \”I fail to see how it\’s worth it\” argument only makes sense if you\’re totally omniscient. Like I said, it\’s zero risk and you might be surprised how much money the insider e-mails alone make you. But what do I care? I don\’t get paid extra if you subscribe or not. I just know how much money it\’s made me.

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