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Jason’s Alticle – Checks on Resolution

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Auld Lang Syne!

I'd avoid going to the gym for the next week or so.

Resolutions

Conversely, if you're in the market for exercise equipment or a discount gym membership, February is the way to go. Most people abandon their New Year's resolutions in under a month. It's cliched to make them, no one keeps them and even something as simple as sharing them with someone else hoping that will make you accountable will actually make you less likely to stick with it. So why do we bother?

The New Year feels like an excellent starting point to do things we know will improve our lives, but don't want to start doing today. It may be stupid and ineffective to make resolutions, but it may not be totally worthless to examine some of the things we wish we were doing and ask ourselves why we don't do them already.

Don't think of this as a New Year's resolution article; this is a Fearless Magical Inventory article. Let's examine what I would resolve if I were making resolutions and why I don't do them already.

Stop Ignoring Things

I don't read and play and use everything. I ignored Twitter for a long time despite people whose opinions I respected trying to teach me the value.

When I finally adopted Twitter, I overcompensated a bit, writing articles on Gathering Magic for nearly all over 2013 extolling the virtues of the platform and telling people who they should follow to better utilize it as a tool for improving their Magic game, either as a player or otherwise.

There are some things I have ignored and I plan to spend January at least giving them a try to see if my initial "meh, zero shits given" impression was warranted.

Sometimes it is--I don't need to sleeve up a deck to know that every "My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic" TCG event is going to be jimmy-jammed full of neckbeards and pedophiles. Sometimes, however, you miss the boat on something like Twitter or Bitcoins (though I'm still unconvinced, that day they hit $1,000 per coin would have been a good day to have some), and playing catch-up sucks.

Here are some of the things I either looked into late in 2013 or plan to look into in early 2014:

  • League of Legends
  • Hearthstone
  • Magic Online
  • Pucatrade
  • Kai Judo
  • The Magic the Gathering Judge program

Not all of those are Magic related, but they all tie into a common experience the Magic community has had. I was sick of feeling left out when people discussed League of Legends so I bought a computer that could handle it smoothly and went to town. I don't know if I will enjoy Hearthstone as much as LoL (and I'm not sure whether I enjoy LoL--it turns out most LoL players are, shall we say, less than ideal human beings) but I won't know until I stop ignoring it.

People seem to like Pucatrade. It looked a bit like a pyramid scheme at first and the cards people want are very narrow, but I won't know until I stop ignoring it.

Kai Judo looks like the Wild West right now. If I want a game to actually play, it might be fun to play tournaments while the game is still super loose, but I won't know until I stop ignoring it.

I don't really have a good reason for the things I spent the years ignoring other than that I am busy with Magic and they didn't appeal to me initially. I am proud of myself for being an early adopter of the game Star Realms, going so far as to support the kickstarter (my first, ever) and my enthusiasm was rewarded when an interview I did was used as promotional material for the game.

I got enough sets to give them out as Christmas presents in case anyone else took a "meh, zero shits given" attitude. They won't know how much fun the game could be until they stop ignoring it. Not that it's available for sale yet. You know what I was trying to do there.

Get the Most of Resources

You may not be a QS Insider, but if you are, are you getting the most for your subscription fees? You're paying for this stuff so if you aren't reading every single Insider article, checking the forums daily and using Trader Tools, you could be getting even more out of it.

I won't pretend I read every Insider article even though I really should and 2014 is going to be the year I start. I spend the time I should post more in the QS forums trying to herd cats over in /r/mtgfinance and I should probably divide my time better.

I got to beta-test Trader Tools 3 and it's nutty. Even the free version for non-subscribers gives more and better information than paid apps I have seen and Insiders will get even more out of the tool when TT3 goes live. I took a list of a collection and buylisted it with four mouseclicks and it blew my mind.

But it's obvious that you should wring every last drop of value out of resources you pay for. What of free resources? How could we use those better?

I am culling the people I follow on Twitter a little bit and adding people I should probably be following but am not yet. I am also getting the hang of Empeopled and enocuraging some of the better posters in the finance subreddit to post more Original Content. Brainstorm Brewery is flirting with the idea of a streaming video team that anyone can contribute to and discussion forums of our own (although I would likely spend every second wishing they were as good as the QS forums, a notion that may smother that idea in the cradle).

I not only want to expand the offerings for people as a content provider, I want to optimize the time I spend consuming. It will be tough to balance reading more articles and using Twitter and discussion forums better with the stuff I want to try in the first bullet point, but eliminating inefficiency in other places should free some time up. I'm also wasting huge chunks of every day just sleeping.

Podcasts are another resource I need to be better about. I don't spend nearly enough time listening to them, and I occasionally listen to podcast episodes I don't need to because I was there when they were recorded.

There are a lot of good podcasts out there giving people valuable advice for free and you can have them on while you do your mundane job, whether that's driving a truck, testing laboratory samples or addressing envelopes. If you have an exciting job, take some of the monotony out of your commute. If you have an exciting, rewarding job and don't have much of a commute, go ^&*@ yourself.

My podcast cohost and personal hero Marcel White not only creates and contributes to podcasts like it's his literal job, he listens to lots of them. He always shows up to record Brainstorm Brewery totally apprised of everything that is happening in the Magic world, which helps him lead the discussions.

In Magic Finance, information is money and it's being given out for free if you want to put some time into finding it. The best part is, podcasts provide analysis to the developments but they also tell you the stories so you don't even have to do any reading. I consider myself a member of the podcast community, I should start acting like it.

If you don't listen to podcasts a ton right now, why not give a few a try? I'll obviously advocate Brainstorm Brewery, and not just because of an obvious bias, but also because it's the only finance podcast out there and if you're interested in finance, it's worth listening to. Some of my other favorites include The Eh Team, Heavy Meta, Limited Resources and Bump in the Night.

Free advice is the best advice, and while the adage "You get what you pay for" is usually a good guideline for your life, these podcasts give you way more than you pay for and should be avoided at your peril.

Meet People

Sure, you know people. Even if you're a crazy hermit person, you play enough to read articles and therefore you have probably been in a social setting or two in your time as a Magic player. That's great. What I think you should do is meet more people.

There are myriad different playgroups out there and they all have nuances. Go infiltrate a few. Not for any nefarious purpose either, but to expand your horizons.

My EDH decks are all mediocre because I want to be armed with something that won't make casual people dismay at how much more money I have than they do and will make them want to get affordable staple cards off of me like Deadeye Navigator and Chromatic Lantern.

I won't get rich shipping cards like this, but I will build people who will be life-long customers and come to me when they need cards. Plus it's occasionally fun to play a few games of Magic.

My goal in 2014 is to find some more groups of casual players and become their card hookup. A lot of times, super casual players will want to trade a rare for a rare and the temptation to pull their pants down may occur to you, but I must impress upon you my mantra--you can sheer a sheep many times but you can only skin it once.

Maybe that isn't the best imagery because it implies that those people are mindless sheep, but when you think about the sheep/shearer relationship more literally it is actually mutually-beneficial.

You are taking cards that don't do anything for them like Verdant Catacombs and Snapcaster Mage and providing them with "total gas" like signets and Sol Rings. Giving someone a giant stack of cards like Forced Fruition, Teferi's Puzzle Box, Temple Bell, etc. for their new Nekusar deck in exchange for the True-Name Nemesis they don't even care about is a win-win and should be viewed as such.

Go even value, look cards up for them and build a customer base for life. People who want to play Magic but don't really know prices abound all over the world and if you treat them right they will be outlets for casual cards for you for life. Compare the range of cards they like to the Standard spike players who will look through three pages of your first of four binders, complain that you don't have Sphinx's Revelation and tell you to pound sand.

I know who I'd rather trade with. Go out there and make some new friends and expand your network.

Resolve to Play

Make it a New Year's resolution to play some Magic. Play casual, play competitive, play wacky Holiday Cube on MTGO; just play some cards. 2014 promises to be a big year, so make sure you're ready for it by examining some of the things you did in 2013 that you could have done better and resolving to learn a thing or two.

I know I will, and when the clock strikes midnight and that smug dingleberry Ryan Seacrest is on the television screen pretending he is fit to hold Dick Clark's colostomy bag let alone host his New Year's eve show, you will be filled with a sense of renewed hope for the coming year.

Have a happy New Year surrounded by family and friends and may 2014 be the best year you've ever had.

Jason Alt

Jason Alt is a value trader and writer. He is Quiet Speculation's self-appointed web content archivist and co-captain of the interdepartmental dodgeball team. He enjoys craft microbrews and doing things ironically. You may have seen him at magic events; he wears black t-shirts and has a beard and a backpack so he's pretty easy to spot. You can hear him as co-host on the Brainstorm Brewery podcast or catch his articles on Gatheringmagic.com. He is also the Community Manager at BrainstormBrewery.com and writes the odd article there, too. Follow him on Twitter @JasonEAlt unless you don't like having your mind blown.

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15 thoughts on “Jason’s Alticle – Checks on Resolution

  1. I’ve been reading your articles for a while, and also your comments in /r/mtgfinance, but never stopped to share an opinion. I think this article has (at least for me), by far the most useful tips I’ve ever read. Great article indeed.

    Also, you and Corbin are trying too hard to set the path (make the way?) in the subreddit, and it seems like a battle you are slowly losing, I hope I’m wrong.

    1. Thanks for the input. Honestly, if it gets to a point where the subreddit tells us to go fuck ourselves too many times when we try to give them advice for free, they can have their way and we\’ll stop. The Quiet Speculation forums have an excellent discussion community and it\’s more civil and the discussion is a bit more enlightened. I wouldn\’t mind focusing more of my energy there, and if you ever get tired of the quality of r/mtgfinance slowly eroding, you can try the QS forums out for a month and see if you like that better. If you\’re about free value, I\’ll try and keep my articles as relevant as I can.

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