Welcome back, readers. I hope everyone enjoyed the release of Dragon's Maze. The subject of this week's article is the idea of trading among different playgroups. I've found that trading becomes more lucrative if you have different playgroups to shop for. Different groups are happy to give up certain types of cards and eager to obtain others. Mediating between these different groups allows you to trade into cards at a discount and out others at the highest possible value.
I've broken the playgroups I typically come across into the following categories:
These guys play the best Standard decks. They are constantly evolving their decks based on the current metagame and results from MODO or the latest major tournament. They want the high-value mythics and the latest "tech" cards. They will tend to value casual stuff lower, but for the most part understand the value of staples in other formats.
Trade For: Casual/Commander cards
Trade Away: High-dollar Standard staples and foils
Standard FNM Players
These guys aren't quite casual players; they like to play FNMs and want to win, but ideally with a deck of their own creation. They are likely to know some of the top-tier decks from the last few major tournaments, but they probably won't know every card in those decks. These guys aren't quite in the Standard-Competitive camp, but have the desire to get there. They may go to some major tournaments, but typically they are content with just winning their local FNMs. They are the type that will pick a deck archetype and try to make it competitive, but aren't likely to switch decks; so when you play them you tend to know what they are bringing to the table. It will be good, but it may not be tier 1.
Trade For: Casual/Commander/Legacy/Modern
Trade Away: High-dollar Standard staples or whatever they need to upgrade their deck
These guys are more rare than the Standard-Competitive. They enjoy playing Legacy and are the most likely to pay the full amount for high-dollar foils to pimp out their decks. They will most likely gloss over any non-Legacy cards. They typically understand the "Legacy tax" concept that you should request when trading away Legacy staples. These guys often seek out foreign copies of the cards as another form of pimping their decks.
Trade For: High-dollar Standard cards or Casual/Commander staples
Trade Away: High-dollar Legacy staples and foils (at value)
These guys are hard to find. They tend to be players who have played for several years but don't have the desire or money to invest into Legacy, so they default to Modern. They may actually prefer Modern if they enjoy a deck that thrives in Modern but not Legacy, like Eggs. They will probably have a good mix of Legacy, Modern and Standard cards to trade for.
Unfortunately, most high-dollar Legacy staples are also Modern staples so it's difficult to get Legacy cards off this demographic unless they have extras. However, the good news is there are plenty of medium-value ($5-15) Modern staples that see little to no play in Legacy, such as Prismatic Omen, Chord of Calling and Spellskite. Ideally these are the types of cards they will want to trade for. You can use the "Legacy" tax concept with Modern as well, trading away medium-dollar Modern cards for Standard cards and get some value. Whenever using this trade technique it's a good idea to have an out for the cards you receive, as you're assuming all the risk of the amorphous pricing that accompanies Standard staples.
Trade For: High-dollar Standard cards, Casual/Commander cards
Trade Away: Medium-value Modern staples and foils
These guys just want to have fun. They are more likely to value the obvious casual cards (hydras, angels, dragons, etc.) These are my favorite players to trade with, not because they undervalue high-dollar staples, but simply because they are easy to trade with. They get excited about your foil copy of the newest dragon (you know, the one worth maybe $3 that you were disappointed to open in the box you cracked). These are the players who will trade one expensive rare for several low-dollar ones. They are perfectly content trading straight across at TCG mid, when there is little chance that most others would give you that much value for your bulk rares.
Trade For: Format Staples
Trade Away: Casual/Commander cards
These guys are a subgroup of the casual players. They love to play Commander and they want the Commander cards. These are the people who get thrilled about that Avatar of Woe in your binder and as soon as they see it, their eyes light up and they "have to" have it. They typically will value Commander cards at face value or higher and like the casual players are easy to trade with. The only thing that separates them from the casual group is that they typically only want one copy of any given card. Commander players tend to avoid foreign cards whenever possible, as they might have to explain what the card does over and over.
Trade For: Format Staples
Trade Away: Commander cards
These guys love Commander, but are often former competitive players or people who are sick of losing to the sharky Commander decks and have decided to step up their game. Similar to the Commander-Casual they typically only want one copy of a card, however they are more likely to want a foil version. These are the players who pimp out their EDH decks and are more likely to play high-dollar, hard-to-find cards.
Trade For: Standard and Legacy Staples (with little to no use in Commander)
Trade Away: Foil Commander staples, rarer Commander staples
These guys are harder to find because cubes are often expensive. These are the players who only want one copy of a card, and typically the most prestigious or "bling" version (similar to Legacy-Competitive). These guys will often be picky about condition and are the most likely to require foils or black-bordered cards only. The good news is that their pickiness makes them more willing to pay for what they want. If you have what they've been looking for, they will often overvalue it because they understand how difficult it is to find another copy.
Trade For: Anything you want; if it isn't in their cube it's typically for trade.
Trade Away: Whatever they want.