Insider: 3 Perspectives on Finance

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1. Trip Finance

Recently I’ve had trouble finding other players to go to events with and I imagine lots of people have this same issue. I have a rather large number of players I know that I have or would travel with to events. Sometimes though, they are all busy or lack the desire to travel as much as I do. Regardless of the reason, there will be times when you or I can’t find anyone to go to an event. When faced with this decision, it’s important to consider all of the financial implications of going it alone.

There are quite a few monetary details we tend to forget about. For instance, even though I’ve been to Philadelphia a number of times, it slips my mind every time that the parking in the city is outrageous. I was on site all three days this past weekend so that meant I spent $75 parking alone. That was not an expense I was counting on for this trip.

Even though all these fees like tolls, parking, and lodging add up, if you are going with a group of friends, it averages out to be inexpensive for everyone involved. If you have not been traveling because of the expense, find a group to start traveling with.

Although my expenses were quite high for this trip, it would have been much less had I found anyone else free to go with me. Something I never see in articles is the exact breakdown of trip costs, so here’s how it broke down for me.

2 Tanks of Gas $100
Tolls $20
Parking $75
GP Registration $40
Hotel for 2 Nights $150
Food $50

Total for the trip $435

Luckily for me, I am sponsored by RIW Hobbies so they helped me out with part of my expenses. If you are ever at a GP, most likely they will have a booth there. They are good people that offer some of the best buy and sell prices in the hall, so make sure to check them out at your next GP.

Despite the fact that this trip was insanely expensive for me, it would have been incredibly cheap if I had some friends to split it with. Most of the time I travel with 2 to 3 other friends so the cost would have been $145 or $109, both of which are easily manageable.

2. a.) On the Floor Finance: Sealed

The main reason I was eager to foot the bill myself was due to the volume of cards I needed to move. I have purchased a number of collections lately and needed to unload them for profit rather than letting them sit around until summer. Playing in a Grand Prix is an amazing experience and I love them, especially ones that are Limted. So, for this event, I was not only going to be able to unload a ton of cards, but also have a great time playing cards.

I had the opportunity to play a lot of sealed matches in Philly this past weekend and there were there were some major concepts I learned while I was there. The most important aspect I discovered was one that we all know deep down in our hearts which is, to build your deck with a plan.

Sometimes when looking at a sealed pool we are distracted by the powerful cards in it, but many times those same powerful cards are distractors from what we should actually be playing. If you have a bomb in one of your colors but not many other playable cards, forcing that color can often not be optimal. Many sealed pools have similar power level decks you can build from them, so you need to decide which one is the best of the possibilities.

The best example I can give you revolves around one of the most prevalent archetypes in the format, heroic. In every sealed pool for Theros block there will be some type of heroic deck you can build. Many of these options should be dismissed because there are not enough cards to support the heroic ability. If you don’t have many ways to trigger heroic, your amazing heroic creatures become quite lack luster and underpowered.

No matter which strategy you decide on, make sure you have a plan about how you are going to win the game. Will you control what your opponent is doing with a UB Control deck, or kill your opponent early with a RW Heroic deck? Maybe your plan is to play both Charging Badgers you have in your pool because you have three ordeals and that combo wins games. Make sure you do have a plan though.

For me, my plan was to play Mono Green Devotion with a couple of green heroic creatures and surprise kill my opponent who thought they were at a high enough life total. I had Boon Satyr, Fated Intervention, double Aspect of Hydra and Hunter's Prowess to accomplish this goal. There was room for a handful of blue cards to generate tempo as well.

Although my deck was not the best in the room, I had a plan and I played my games toward pulling off the plan. There were many games that I would not have won had I been just playing without a plan. The one that sticks out in my head was a mull to five on the play against an aggressive red black deck. With my five cards I basically had nothing to do for a while. On turn four I top decked Vaporkin and played it. My opponent had a couple small creatures in play and was attacking me but not for much damage. The next turn I hit for two and the turn after I bestowed Boon Satyr and swung for six more. At this point I was racing and hoping to draw more pump spells to win the race. Fortunately I drew Hunter's Prowess to go with my Aspect of Hydra in hand to deal him exactly lethal the turn before he would kill me. My opponent was nearly as baffled as I was that I had won a seemingly unwinnable game. Have a plan and play towards it.

Even though I had a reasonable plan and a decent deck to go with it, I fell short of day two by one round. Ending a tournament just short is always frustrating, but my play was solid for most of the event so I can’t complain. Fated Intervention was amazing for me during the event so much so that I think it could transition over into Standard so keep your eye on that card.

2. a.) On the Floor Finance: Buylisting

Even though my GP didn’t go as well as intended, I was there for a second purpose: make some money. There is so much financial knowledge I gained from this event, hopefully some of what I can formulate into words will help you as much as it helped me.

The first step is determining what cards you will sell at the event. Most financiers agree that the cards you want to unload to buy lists are the lower end cards usually not over $20. The reason for this is because your margins will be better if you sell the higher value ones on Tcgplayer or Ebay. The buy price of a $3 card may be $1 while the buy price of a $50 card is most likely around $30. Because of this larger gap, you can easily pay fees and make more money than you would using their buy list.

One thing to consider though is if you are planning to use the money obtained to buy more cards, you can still buy list higher value cards and get a store credit bonus to more than make up for the money you would have lost trying to sell it yourself. Every financial aspect in life has choices surrounding it and you need to make the best choice for your situation.

Step two is to determine who to sell to. There are many opinions about which dealer is the best, ultimately it’s your decision who to give your business to. The most important aspect about this process is to be on top of your game. Just like playing Magic, there are skills you develop from selling cards. Here are some highlights.

Know your stuff. Know when to say no, know when to ask for more and most importantly, know when to say yes. If you never are happy with the prices offered and you never sell, you won't get any profit from it. If you give a little they are more willing to work w you on the cards you want a little more for.

It’s rare when a vendor will offer to buy every card you put in front of them and if they do, they certainly won’t give you the best price on every card. The trick is to prioritize your time between who will give you the most versus who will buy more cards.

If time permits it, go to many vendors especially if you have a lot of cards to move. I let 6 vendors go through the same long box and all of them took cards the last one didn't. Each vendor approaches their business differently than the next so they will focus on different things. For example, some dealers value great deals on played cards while others won’t even offer you a price on them.

Most vendors will offer you similar numbers on commonly traded in cards, but don’t be fooled, if they think you will accept less, often they will offer less. Dealers are hungry to buy cards especially at sealed gps, but make sure you know what you expect to get out of your cards before you are sitting down in front of whichever dealer you’ve chosen.

Future Finance

Imagine the world of Magic a year from now. Wizards has done such an amazing job marketing Modern that hordes of new players are leaping into the format. "Last summer" (whch this summer cause we’re in the future, remember?) we opened packs of the new Conspiracy set. Sure it had some Modern reprints in it, but they didn’t really help the prices come down on the cards. Then came M15, where the reprints there helped out quite a bit, but still, the barrier to Modern is fairly high. Then there was a block full of hardly anything relevant to Modern. Now here we are, looking back over the last year and you know what the most important thing I learned was? I should have been loading my boat with Shock lands.

Thinking about the future may be hazy, but there is one bet that is almost guaranteed to make you money in the long run: Shock lands. Shock lands are the lowest they will ever be. Let me type that again for effect. Shock lands are at their price minimum and already trending upward. I see no reason for any of them to drop in value once rotation comes around because players should all be keeping them for Modern. Over the last couple of months most of the Ravnica lands have slowly moved up a couple dollars each so now most of them are at or near double digits in price. The longer you wait, the more expensive they will be. Maybe it’s about time you became a real estate agent.

Props to Philly for some of the best food I’ve had in a while. The next time you go, make sure you get a real Philly from Pat’s or Geno’s. Your food is definitely worth the effort it will take to get it. Secondly, the convention center is in Chinatown, so don’t miss out on some great Asian food. Even the most run down places have amazing homemade food.

GP Philly was an awesome experience and as you can tell, I learned a lot while I was there. Hopefully some or all of this information will help you on your next road trip. Since I've run out of time for this week, I'll have to take a look at Journey to Nyx next week. Until then...

Unleash the Financial force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

5 thoughts on “Insider: 3 Perspectives on Finance

  1. Good article and one that I will link to many of my friends/local players. People often want to jump in and go to an event w/o considering the additional expenses and I can’t understand that. I also find it humorous that very few players factor in the value of their time. If you have to take a day off of work to travel 8 hours to play in an event…you aren’t just “paying” the travel expenses you’re also losing out on 8 hours of potential wages (assuming you’re hourly)

  2. What is your thinking for why shocks will go up? There are a ton of people who have been speculating on these, and right now they are just sitting on the sidelines in the hands of speculators. What’s the rationale for why these will go up 12 months from now? Will we see a flood of new modern players? DO you think the current set of modern players don’t have enough of these to play with?

    I do know that there is a huge supply of these things just waiting for the prices to increase…so what will spark an increase greater than the existing over-supply? What’s the catalyst that moves it up?

    1. Once they are out of standard and less of them are available in trade binders, all of the players who want to get into modern will cause the price to go up. In addition, there will be many less sold at rotation than most cards leaving standard due to their importance in Modern.

  3. Once they are out of standard and less of them are available in trade binders, all of the players who want to get into modern will cause the price to go up. In addition, there will be many less sold at rotation than most cards leaving standard due to their importance in Modern.

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