Greetings once again! My faithful readers will remember an article of mine posted over a month ago: The original Trading. In it, I forecast that I might write another article about more broad topics than my personal endeavors in trading. Well, here I am, ready to write.
Recently, Sean Erik Ponce wrote an article about online trading. That article was what inspired me to make my first online deals, and as we speak the cards are on their way. Since I obviously haven’t had much experience trading online, I’m not going to lecture you about how to safely or productively trade online. However, I AM going to lecture you about trading in real life. (Ain’t freedom of speech great?)
No, no, I’m not going to tell you about the different kinds of traders or how to evaluate your trades. What I am going to do is tell you how I go about trading. These methods work for me, and, if you’re like me, they can work for you, too. And, if you’re not like me, at least you’ll be able to see a new light on things and perhaps understand the people with whom you trade more.
RULE #1: Know What You Need.
Most people trade to complete their decks. A few people might collect a certain card or are looking for an entire set. And some people just trade to trade; that is, they trade good "trade-stuff" for good "trade-stuff," simply so they can trade it away. No matter why you’re trading, know what you need. It’s usually frustrating to say to someone, "What do you need," and get met with, "I don’t know; just stuff." Knowing what you’re going after makes it more convenient for everyone.
An easy way to make the cards that you need known to the person with whom you’re trading is to make a wantlist. Your wantlist should include what you need and how many of each. Also include cards that you’re "interested in" but that you don’t need. It makes it easier than saying, "Oh yeah, and I’ll trade for ____" after the collections have already been leafed through. Your wantlist should NOT include how much you’ll trade for cards. If the person with whom you’re trading knows what you’ll give for a card, he won’t settle for anything less than that. However, you do want to have a value in mind for each card you need.
RULE #2: Prioritize.
My priorities are threefold:
The cards that I will trade the most for are the cards that I need to complete my decks. The cards that are in my decks are the cards that I hold closer to me, because I’d just have to go out and trade for them again in order to get them back. The only way I’d trade cards away from my decks is if I were getting more cards than I traded away in return.
My second priority is "trade fodder." If I can trade mediocre cards away from my collection for good cards, then I probably will because those good cards can, in turn, be traded for cards that satiate my first priority: Completing my decks. For instance, I would trade two Kor Havens ($6) for a Morphling ($12) any day because the Morphling would be much easier to trade for cards I need. However, I usually only trade my "trade fodder" for cards that I can put into my decks. For instance, I traded some mediocre cards to acquire a Mageta the Lion. Though I’ve had several offers of mediocre cards for it, I refuse them because Mageta is the kind of card that I trade for top priority cards.
My final priority is "cool stuff." For instance, I currently own forty foils. However, none of them are in my decks. They’re in my binder, just shining their little hearts out. Whenever I crack one from a pack or get one in a trade, I slide it into the binder, and it usually doesn’t come out. I just "like" foils, though. I won’t trade quality stuff for them. Similarly, I’ll trade for any Avatars, Legendary Spellshapers, and Winds, but I won’t trade cards from my decks or top quality "trade fodder." Those are my priorities, though yours could be very different.
RULE #3: You da’ Boss!
An important thing to remember is that if you don’t want to trade, you don’t have to trade. If you really don’t want to trade away that Rishadan Port, don’t. If you keep getting pressured, just say, "I really can’t trade this card. Sorry." Most people would understand. If the person with whom you’re trading insists on trying to make a better deal for you, you could actually try to ride him out. If he keeps adding more cards on, he might be desperate for a Port. In that case, you could get an excellent deal. However, if, with each additional card he offers, he asks for another card of yours, then you can be pretty sure that you’re not going to get anywhere. Remember: Firm and steady keeps the Port.
Speaking of desperation, when you’re trading, it’s a foreign concept. It doesn’t matter that Sebastean "Bubba" Sniffton’s going to beat you up for not paying your ante when he played you for a fool: That Vampiric Tutor is just a card that you’d like to have that you could get anywhere. You have to remain suave and in control. If you let your trading partner know that you’re frantic search for a Tutor is swiftly coming to a despondent end, he can easily get the upper hand in the trade by feeding off of your need of the card.
RULE #4: Appearance Isn’t Everything.
A lot of traders are overly obsessive about in what condition a card is in. Whitened edges, small creases, and ruffled corners are some of the properties of less-than-mint cards. However, the most important part of a card (when considering gameplay) is the brown cardboard rectangle that tells players what the card’s effect on gameplay is. Personally, I’m not all that interested in card quality. I would trade a mint Rishadan Port for a near mint Rishadan Port and a Thran Quarry (Thran Quarry being one of the cards that I need). You may or may not agree with me, but I believe that card quality is a minimal consideration when trading.
RULE #5: Be Nice.
Nobody likes a shark. If you cut someone a break by a couple of dollars, the favor is likely to be returned – or at least your reputation could be helped, or an acquaintance could be gained. If you feel that you’re ripping somebody off, it’s worth it to your conscience to make sure that he knows the values of the cards he’s trading to you and what he’s receiving. You may not want to say, "You’re giving me $10 more than I’m giving you," but you could say, "Are you sure that those Negators aren’t more important to you? I could throw in a Scrying Glass and a Skyshroud Behemoth if you want me to." Not only will this make you seem saintly in the eyes of a newbie, but you’ll feel great about yourself as well. Remember: What goes around, comes around.
Well, those are my basic rules of trading. They’ve led me to success and content trading for years, and I hope that they lend a bit of insight to you. Good luck!