I know your story, or at least the gist.
You’ve been playing Friday Night Magic at the local store for a few years now, and you’ve gotten pretty good. You’ve paid your dues, spent a year punting due to inexperience, but have finally figured out how to compete; you consistently crack the Top 8 of local events, and sometimes, you even win it all. You travel to Sealed and Standard PTQs every couple of weeks and regularly put up a winning record; maybe you even have a few Top 8 pins on your playmat.
It has been a long three years of grinding, and though deep down you know that you’ve made considerable improvements to your technical play, deckbuilding/tuning skills, and comprehension of Magic theory, sometimes when you lie in bed late at night you can’t help but suspect you are bored with Magic.
As you listlessly toss and turn, you are haunted by memories of Magic tournaments new and old, and can’t help but feel that somehow, someway, Magic used to be more
than it has become. You long for the days when you used to build your own decks, played with cards that you liked, invented creative technology, and the tournament scene was exciting because afterwards you felt like you learned and experienced something new with every outing.
Ignorance was bliss, my friend: Do you remember when your illusion of the “boundless possibilities” of Standard were shattered for the first time three years ago, when you discovered that Bitterblossom was just strictly better than anything else? Or, when you learned that that phenomenon wasn’t the exception, but rather the rule, as Jund’s Bloodbraid Elves, Putrid Leeches, and Maelstrom Pulses made playing anything else seem backward and pedestrian? As you lie in bed, kept company by frustrated thoughts of what Standard
could have been,
you stare at the second hand of the clock and realize that in your Magic-induced insomnia you are literally counting down the seconds until Jace, the Mind Sculptor rotates out of Standard. “When Jace is gone, it will be fun again,” you silently try reassuring yourself, though you don’t really believe it. “Was Standard ever really that fun, anyways?” You can’t actually remember—you wouldn’t have devoted so much time to it if it wasn’t—would you have?
As your thoughts wander you begin to contemplate a way out of Jace’s dungeon, you realize that it’s high time you made a change. Last week you saw a couple of the guys at the local game store brewing Legacy and Vintage decks and testing some games, and those formats looked to be pretty insane. You optimistically think: “A new format would do me good. Learning a new format would be exciting and give me new perspective on the formats I already play…” Then, you scowl to yourself as you finish the thought: “If only Eternal formats were not impossibly expensive to break into…” You begin to sob hysterically, crawl out of bed, and stumble out onto your 15th floor apartment balcony and wildly cry out into the still of the moonless night:
“CURSE YOU, JACE! I CANNOT LIVE ANOTHER MOMENT IN THE MIND SCULPTOR MATRIX!”
You fall onto your knees and look up helplessly into the sky and notice a lone shining star—the wishing star… A tiny cartoon cricket with a top hat and umbrella springs out of nowhere and begins to croon. You close your eyes, take a deep breath, and whisper: “I wish for forty dual lands and a player’s set of Force of Wills.” You open your eyes and suddenly, and with a flash, a half-metallic, half-humanoid figure appears out from out of the darkness.
“I am Tezzeret—your fairy-godfather,” He gruffly bellows, “I feel your pain, and share your hatred of the Mind Sculptor. You see, once I was the greatest blue planeswalker, back before Wizards and Co. went crazy and decided to give the spark to Jace… 0 loyalty to Brainstorm? Do you have any idea how bad that makes me look? VINTAGE PLAYERS PLAY JACE INSTEAD OF ME IN THEIR TEZZERET DECKS FOR GODSAKES!!! Is there no justice? Anyways, I have heard your prayer and will grant your wish.”
He pulls out his Magic: The Gathering
wand and transforms the potted plant on the ledge into a fully powered Vintage Tezz deck, the ashtray on the table into Legacy Landstill deck, and for good measure he transforms the annoying singing cricket into a five-color Stax deck.
“Use these gifts wisely, my friend.” He says, as he fades back into the shadows—presumably back to the plane of Alara to battle Nicol Bolas. Befuddled, you stare at the decks. Finally, you can play the old and interesting Eternal formats that you’ve dreamt so much about!
You awaken in a cold sweat. Two days of no sleep from Magic Online Queues and a steady diet of Mountain Dew had apparently caught up with you, and you passed out. However, the crazy fever dream has left an impression upon you and strengthens your resolve to try something new, something exciting, something Eternal… The first step is going to be figuring out how in the world you are going to acquire the cards. “A-HA,” you exclaim. “I’ll buy Lottery tickets and rob a bank!”
In this article I am going to discuss strategies that I believe will be helpful to players trying to break into Eternal formats—in particular, I am going to focus on the best ways to begin acquiring the cards that are necessary to get started.
II. Step I. Develop A Real Strategy For Getting Started
The biggest obstacle that inhibits players from making the transition from Standard to the Eternal formats is the acquisition of the old, expensive staple cards that are required to build Vintage and Legacy decks. The most egregious offenders, the cards that form the foundation of the retaining wall that keeps new players from migrating into Eternal circles are cards such as the Dual Lands, Force of Wills, and other staples that predate Odyssey block. It is undeniable that the past three years have brought with them an explosion of new people into the Standard player pool, which only compounds the difficulty of tracking down older Vintage and Legacy cards.
First of all, most new players are unlikely to have older cards as they have never opened a pack from which these types of cards are pulled, nor are they likely to have these types of cards safely tucked away in their trade binders since the olden days. Simple fact, the majority of the players at Friday Night Magic do not own dual lands, nor are they likely to ever own them. As Magic continues to grow, the percentage of players who own Eternal staples is likely to wane in comparison to people who focus solely upon playing Extended, Standard, or Block as their primary Constructed formats of choice. Even if you wanted to trade for old cards on Friday night, it is unlikely that anybody would even have the cards to trade you.
Secondly, because the old cards are scarcer than newer ones they are highly prized by collectors and players alike; meaning, that people are going to be reluctant to trade Eternal staples, and even if they are willing to trade them to you, they will likely be expensive. The hardest part about breaking into Legacy or Vintage, the same as in
format, is getting started. But, fret not, even a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step… (Hence, this section is titled “Step I.”
If I were to break into Vintage or Legacy, the first thing that I would do is try to figure out a style of deck that I would be willing to commit to playing for an extended period of time. Since, Eternal cards tend to be expensive and hard to get—it is important not to choose a deck that you are likely to not enjoy playing. Remember that one of the biggest reasons to play Eternal in the first place is that it allows you to be creative with regard to deck building and can be a great way to escape the repetitiveness and limited options that restrict Standard players. When people ask me about how they should get into Legacy or Vintage and ask what deck I think they should build, I always ask: “What is your favorite deck you’ve played in any Constructed format?” I then recommend that they build something similar to that deck and suggest other Eternal cards that might make the strategy more powerful or consistent.
Look at decks you have been successful with in the past and enjoyed playing (Standard, Extended, etc.) for inspiration. Also, chances are that you probably own a good chunk of the cards for these types, since you’ve played them before! Strategies such as Zoo, Merfolk, Sligh, Faeries, or Jund are fairly self-contained in the sense that the majority of the good synergies in these decks translate to Legacy directly—i.e., there isn’t a
$90 Faerie lord or Wild Nacatl in Arabian Nights that one needs to get a hold of in order to be competitive.
The staples that tend to be the most expensive are cards that are both from older sets and do something unique and unquestionably powerful. These are specifically the cards that see heavy play, and are expensive:
1. Dual lands (best mana fixing ever printed)
2. Wasteland (uncounterable, free, mana disruption)
3. Force of Will (free counterspell)
4. Tarmogoyf (most efficient creature ever printed)
Basically, these cards are the best at what they do ever to see print, the effects they provide are so good that they fit into a lot of different strategies, and they have been out of print for a significant enough amount of time that they are scarce compared to the demand for them. For the most part, if a player has forty dual lands, four Forces of Will, four Wastelands, and four Goyfs, that player can build the monetary brunt of most of the popular Legacy decks.
As a starting point, once you decide what deck you would like to play I would suggest figuring out which of the cards from the above list you are going to need to get. Easier said than done, right? With duals maintaining a $40-$100 price tag and the other three in the $30 – $50 range, acquiring these cards can be quite a chore. However, the good news is that in reality these cards, while expensive, are not that much more expensive that the top end cards in Standard. Acquiring 5-6 duals that are $65 dollars apiece may seem pricy—but it is the same thing as Standard where you are likely to need some combination of Jace, Koth, or Lotus Cobras. The other thing that is nice about acquiring the “great” Legacy staples is that they are very unlikely to depreciate in value the way that Standard singles nosedive in value once they rotate out of Standard and the demand of them is significantly reduced. Remember those $45 dollar Elspeth, Knight Errant that you paid $45 for that you can now acquire for $10 or less? This isn’t the case with duals, Forces, and Wastelands—in fact they are likely to continue to go up in value over time. The unique thing about Eternal staples in comparison to Standard staples is that whereas Standard staples are the very best cards within the context of between five and eight sets, Eternal staples are the best cards within the context of every other card ever printed.
III. Step II. Trading, Borrowing, And Buying
Once you have given some thought to what you might enjoy playing in Vintage or Legacy, the next step is to figure out what cards you are going to need to acquire in order to actually build the deck. Let’s say for the sake of argument that you decided that you would like to play Zoo, because you played a similar style of deck in Extended and already have many of the fetches and key cards of the deck. Basically, in order to build a competitive Zoo deck, you are going to need to acquire somewhere between five and seven Revised dual lands in order to build the mana base. The first thing you might do is look in the display case at your local store, check eBay prices, or look at what online stores are selling these cards for. I would expect that you might discover that Taiga, Savannah, and Plateau are going to be between $40-60 a piece in Near Mint condition.
However, if the goal is simply to get started, acquiring old cards in Near Mint condition probably isn’t necessary. Near Mint condition cards, especially on older cards which many appreciate as collector’s items, drastically increases the value of the cards in comparison to slightly or heavily played cards.
My suggestion for people looking to save money in the quest to acquire older cards they need to play with is always to look for cards that have been at least slightly played. The premium for Near Mint cards is significantly high, on a card like Underground Sea, the difference between a minty copy and a slightly played copy can be upwards of $25! If you are going to be playing with the card anyways, and it doesn’t make sense to get mint copies that you are likely to damage slightly anyways by virtue of playing with them.
Another thing to keep in mind is that online stores and eBay sellers are much less likely to list played version of cards (especially heavily played versions of the cards—which are significantly cheaper) because they’re often a hassle to sell, as people are much more likely to want a refund due to being unhappy with the condition of the card.
The best starting point when looking for Eternal staples is far and away a weekly local Vintage or Legacy tournament, because the people attending those events are very likely to actually have what you are looking for. Whether or not they’re going to be willing to trade them to you might be a different story—but it’s a start. It is also likely that this type of weekly event is where you will be attending tournaments once you have acquired the card, so it is never a bad thing to simply make an appearance and start getting to know the crew.
Here is the scoop on the infamous genre of “Legacy Players,” and the skinny on some of the perceptions that Magic players tend to have about them.
I would venture that Legacy players, on average, love the game of Magic: The Gathering more than most other groups of players. I root this observation in the fact that most Legacy players have been playing Magic for an extended period of time, at least long enough to appreciate the nostalgia associated with playing the old and awesome cards, and have a considerable Eternal “format knowledge.”
Legacy players are for the most part friendly and good-spirited. People commonly associate this attitude to the fact that Legacy players are “casual Magic players,” while at the same time misunderstanding what “casual” Magic is. People commonly infer that to be a “casual” Magic player is to be a “donk,” “newb,” or “scrub,” or that people only play Eternal formats because they “couldn’t cut it” at playing PTQs.
Not true—in fact, 99% of people who play in PTQs are not very good tournament players—the distinction is that Legacy players are more realistic about the role Magic plays in their lives. Eternal players tend to understand and have made peace with the fact that Magic is their hobby and don’t have delusions that they’re going to get onto the train and play full time as a job. With that being said, understanding that Magic is a hobby doesn’t mean that one isn’t still playing to compete, trying to get better, or taking their time gaming seriously.
Many people play Eternal because they feel it isn’t as scripted as other formats, and that they have more options to “solve” metagame problems with a larger card pool, in a sense it allows them to be more creative while playing Magic. The biggest generalization I would sense to be true about Eternal players is that they play for personal reasons than other competitive players—playing Eternal is more about playing for yourself, whereas grinding PTQs seems more about working for the respect of other players.
Eternal Magic stresses the importance of community, rather than about personal achievements. One thing that I have noticed to be true is that Eternal communities tend to be made up of largely knit groups of friends who share the commonality of loving the game of Magic. I know that all Magic players, regardless of format, share this bond—but, I firmly believe this to be true of Eternal formats. The players tend to be a little bit older, have a little bit longer experience playing, and appreciate different aspects of the game that newer players do.
One thing I’ve noticed about the weekly Legacy tournament in Ann Arbor is that everybody knows each other there, and that many of the players there only play Magic once a week—only at the weekly Legacy, or occasionally travel to a large weekend event. Wednesday night Legacy is a social hobby occasion that people look forward to, and it is about more than just trying to win the first prize store credit. The focus of the event is the opportunity to play a format that the player’s genuinely care about and enjoy playing. In opposition to this observation, I know that when I go to a PTQ, the focus is solely upon winning, and I usually am not enjoying myself when I’m not winning—whereas, when I play in a Vintage tournament I always have fun whether I won it all or went 0-2. In fact, when I play Legacy or Vintage I rarely drop from an event even when I am eliminated from contention, simply because the games are so fun I want to play more rounds—when I am statistically eliminated from a Sealed Deck PTQ, the only good part is that “at least I don’t have to play another round….”
With all of this being noted, it is significant that Legacy players tend to care about their local community and tournament scene. One of the biggest advantages of this type of mentality is that because players want their local scene to grow and stay healthy, they are likely to be willing to, after getting to know you a little bit, loan you cards to play with. A good icebreaker to getting to know Eternal players and begin integrating into their world is to ask other local players about their decks.
“What are you playing?”
“Why did you choose that deck?”
“How long have you been playing your deck?”
Remember that a majority of players who play Legacy enjoy playing because the format emphasizes creativity—and most are more than happy to tell you about their lines of thinking. Learning from players with expert first-hand tournament experience is an invaluable way to understanding Eternal formats, and a great way to make new Magic acquaintances. Humility is unquestionably the best tactic, as being the guy who doesn’t play a format that tells the regular players that they should change cards X, Y, and Z is a great way to alienate people.
Once you get to know some of the people, you are likely to find that if you explain that you play other formats and are very interested in playing Eternal, trying to acquire the cards, and want to be part of the crowd that people are apt and incentivized to let you borrow some of the cards until you can acquire them. Also, you can sweeten the deal by offering to ship some store credit to the person you are borrowing from if you win, or if you play against them in the Swiss scooping to them as a sign of respect and thanks. People tend to be short-sighted and selfish, unreasonably so, when it comes to these sorts of things—but, if you really think about it, giving up a little bit of store credit, or a game along the way, has a lot of value in the long run. It lets people know that you are not selfish, that you are thoughtful, and that you are willing to be part of the group—that you can think about other people and not just yourself.
The absolute best-case scenario is that you come off as a cool person that people actively want to be part of their social circle, and that you are able to borrow some cards while you acquire your own personal copies in the meantime.
I. Step III. How To Get Your Own Copies
I have a philosophy about how to trade and acquire cards that I need to own in order to play, that I am going to share with you. The first rule of my theory of getting cards is that Magic is a hobby, and I would be more than happy if the hobby could simply pay for itself—anything more than that I consider an added bonus, and I really would never put in any more effort than it would take to make it break even. My favorite part about Magic as a game is actually getting to play it—more so than collecting it.
My advice, coming from the perspective of somebody who has played for a long, long, time is: “Don’t be a ‘binder-grinder.’” You should probably know exactly what I am talking about here, the guy who shows up to the game store, every local PTQ, and other event, sits hunched over at a table with a gigantic binder full of cards and asks everybody in a goblin-like voice: “Trades? Trades? Trades?” He then tries to make trades for value by slightly overvaluing his cards and undervaluing everybody else’s stuff, and by doing so makes a marginal profit by grinding hours of time and energy, and cheating twelve year olds out of their good cards.
I understand that it is possible to achieve the all-important “value” while binder-grinding, but in the scheme of things it’s a pretty big waste of time for a couple of reasons. First, being a binder-grinder is pretty much a guaranteed way to make the majority of people around you not like you. Once people figure out how the politics of a room of Magic players works, it is pretty clear that people who sit around and try and trade with everybody and only offer unfair deals are basically parasitic to the rest of the community they are much less likely to like you.
Secondly, aside from making you unpopular, making marginal value trades is not a very efficient use of one’s time. People make the argument, “It is free money.” I don’t see how it is any more “free” than any other way people get money. It still requires you to use energy, time, and resources in order to make trades. One would get further ahead to get a part-time job doing pretty much anything else and using the part-time money to buy Magic cards than to sit around binder-grinding, hour after hour. From my perspective, I feel like life is always busy and there are always things that need to be done—if I didn’t have to work, study, and keep up social relationships, and had nothing better to do than be at the game store all day, every day, then maybe binder-grinding for lack of anything more useful to be doing would be an acceptable use of my time. Basically, when I have time to be at the game store I want to actually be playing games, not grinding, arguing, and haggling trades.
Binder-grinding is bad value if you place a high value on actually playing cards when you have to opportunity to do so—spending excessive time trading doesn’t make you any better at Magic. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that “trading cards” is bad; in fact, I believe it is a fundamental part of the ecosystem of the game—I just want to stress that if trading has become the principle element of the game upon which you focus, there are probably better and more efficient ways to make money available.
In my opinion, the very best way to acquire cards always has and always will, start with drafting. If possible I would suggest trying to participate in a weekly “draft,” Limited Friday Night Magic drafts are an ideal way—since, you get to keep the cards you pick, plus you have the opportunity to win either store credit or more packs. Most importantly, it provides you a way to play and practice actually playing Magic while at the same time adding a few cards to your collection. When it comes to Magic, I’d rather be playing it than anything else, and drafting is the one surefire way to always get to game while getting new cards, which is a nice bonus. The cards that you win or choose while drafting add up and create a nice little surplus of cards that you can trade to others for Eternal cards that you can’t open in packs.
Another great way to get the most monetary value out of drafting, especially if you are not the strongest drafter in the world, is to participate in “Team Drafts” at the local game stores or with friends. In a Team Draft an equal number of players, usually 3 vs. 3 or 4 vs.4 (six, and eight, player drafts respectively), square off against one another. In a Team Draft there are two teams, team A and team B, and the seating alternates between players from each team. (A, B, A, B, A, B.) You draft your deck as normal, alternating between passing left, right, and left; but afterwards you retreat to build your deck with only your teammates.
You build a deck from only the pool you have drafted (as does everybody else) and you play round against all of the players on the other team. The team that wins the most matches wins the draft, and usually gets to keep all the cards in the draft pool. So, if team A wins 5 matches in a six man draft and team B only wins four, then the three players on team A randomly divide up all of the cards. It’s a good style of draft for weaker players because first of all they get the advantages of having better players look at what they have drafted, make suggestions for future improvements, as well as actually help in the deck building process; but also, if players agree to divide prize randomly or equally even a weak player has a good shot of getting a lot of cards. So, basically it is a format that stresses teamwork, helps players improve, and divides prize more evenly.
Once you’ve stockpiled some draft winnings, then you’ve got some resources to trade with.
Here is my advice on how to trade for older cards.
Don’t trade with people who are not looking for specific cards. If somebody asks you to trade, and you ask them “What are you looking for?” and they reply, “Pretty much everything.” They are almost always a binder-grinder, and they are looking for anything they can get for much less than it is worth. More often than not they are going to waste your time—time that could have been spent playing Magic, hanging out with friends, or doing anything else. I don’t recommend trading with these individuals, as it is usually frustrating and you almost always end up in a situation where although you feel that you are getting a poor deal, you are still somehow a dollar short, and the individual in question is saying something like: “No, I can’t do this as is, could you throw in a junk rare?” Then says, “How about an M2011 Dual land, that seems about fair.”
If somebody asks you to trade and says “I am looking for a set of Seachrome Coasts for my Standard deck.” You know right off the bat that this person is much more likely to be reasonable to trade with—first of all they actually WANT what you have to offer them. One of the ways people justify ripping people off in trades is to say, “I already have everything, so I don’t really need what you have, and therefore I’m only going to offer you this insulting small amount for it.” To which you think, “Then why did you ask me to trade with you if you don’t need anything…?” (It was a rhetorical question…the answer was that they only wanted to trade with you to take advantage of you.
The key to being a good trader is to trade people cards that they want for cards that you want. If you can consistently make deals where you get something you want and you give somebody what they want—you both get ahead, and it isn’t even necessary to grind value out of the deal. Here is where the value really lies: if you make fair deals with people, you both got what you wanted, and it was fair, then that individual will trade with you again, and again, and again. This is the way that trading is supposed to work, and it is the way you will be most successful at trading. The best trades are always the ones where you and the person you trade with break even and get cards that you both want—as they make it clear that you and that person are likely to be the first place that each of you will look to trade with for future trades.
However, in the case of Eternal staples such as Duals and Wastelands, it is somewhat unlikely that other people will be looking for cards from you that they would feel willing to trade Eternal staples for. Now, if one of your trade partners picks up an extra Wasteland and knows that you traded fair with them in the past, they are more likely to trade with you—and vice versa. However, these situations are often uncommon and you may need to look elsewhere to get Taigas, Plateaus, and Savannahs.
Not dealing with “wanna-be” dealers is always at a premium with me. The frustration, annoyance, and inconvenience of it all are always unwelcome and unappreciated. It only makes sense that the best place to pick up cards would be in a market-place where lots of people are forced to compete for your business, and thus more likely to give you a better deal. A Grand Prix is probably the best place to pick up Vintage and Legacy staples, as it is the setting where the highest concentration of people are going to be present, willing, and able to provide you with such cards. If there isn’t a Grand Prix near you, or you don’t attend Grand Prix tournaments other large scale events are also good places to trade for older cards. For example, a large scale tournament such as a “Starcitygames.com open”, “Waterbury/The Mana Drain opens,” or other large scale regional events are great places to trade cards.
One strategy for acquiring Vintage staples that people commonly overlook, or incorrectly assume isn’t a profitable venture is trading cards with dealers at big events. Personally, I have found trading with dealers to be a fantastic way to get, particularly, older Legacy-Vintage cards. Many people are going to roll their eyes here and say, “Oh, the Starcitygames writer gets paid to say that…” I don’t. I merely share it because it has been the easiest and most successful strategy I have developed for getting a hold of Eternal staple cards. The great thing about trading with dealers is that the prices are all set in advance, and you are basically allowed to pick and choose what you want to give up and can put that store credit towards any card you want. The other great thing is that big dealers tend to have everything and anything you could ever want to get your hands on.
Basically, dealers come to events with a “buylist,” where they down the line pay set amounts of money for specific Magic cards; also, they usually give a percentage higher if you take “trade” or “store credit” instead of cash. With the added trade bonus, it isn’t really difficult to turn your left over draft winnings/takings that have been piling up in your trade binder for the cards you might need to build a legacy or Vintage (with proxies) deck. The key is that once you have had the cards for a while and nobody has wanted to trade for them, they end up being pretty much dead weight—so, there is really no loss in just shipping them out and getting some cards that you can actually use.
Grand Prix and other large events are great places to trade with dealers because there are so many dealers present on the floor, and they are all competing to buy your cards. Essentially, when it comes to selling cards at a Grand Prix, it really, truly is a seller’s market. Another thing I’ve learned from selling and trading cards at GPs is that the dealers who usually give the best buy and trade prices tend to be the biggest dealers. This should really not be much a shocker, since it only makes sense that large scale Magic dealers make their money by making a gigantic number of sales at a small margin, whereas smaller dealers because they don’t move such large volumes of cards are looking to make fewer deals but at a wider profit margin. Also, large dealers, such as Starcitygames.com have a reputation to uphold, so you know that you are not going to get taken to the cleaners when you trade with them.
I know I have come down pretty hard on binder grinders, but I’m always cautious because I have had bad experiences with this archetype of people and know many others who have also met the same fate. The thing about trading with random people who have a lot of cards, when you know they are only trading for value and probably know a lot more about card values than you do, is that there is really very little (besides personal pride and reputation) keeping that person from taking advantage of you in a trade.
I apologize if I have unfairly hammered on people who like to trade for value: if you are reading this, offended, and have the big binder and like to trade, but you are relatively fair and don’t take advantage of people who don’t know any better—I’m not specifically aiming these criticisms at you, but rather I’m merely advising people to be weary of the bad ones. Let me give an example, I remember when Future Sight was new and Tarmogoyf was a $5 card. I was playing in a tournament and this guy comes up and he’s like “Hey, do you have Tarmogoyfs? I need them for my deck and nobody has them for trade.”
I know this character to be a little sketchy on the trading side of things, but I have some extras from drafting and am always willing to do somebody a solid, so I agree to trade them to this person for some other cards of value equal to $5. You all know the story Tarmogoyf sky rockets in price (luckily, I at least saved a play set), and a few weeks later I overhear the guy bragging to a friend at a PTQ: “Dude, I have 60 Tarmogoyfs—I’ve been trading them from off of everybody at five dollar because I knew it was going to be way more expensive.”
The moral of the story is that for the most part large scale dealers don’t pull the straight up scam people out of their cards. If dealers suspect that a card is going to be expensive, chances are they have already raised the price on their site and are already paying a decent amount to get more in stock.
The other great thing about trading type two draft winnings for Legacy and Vintage cards is that new cards rarely hold their value for an extended period of time, while the good Eternal staples tend to steadily rise in value over time. So, even if a dealer is selling a card for $4 in their case and give you less than four for it in trade, chances are that in two years the card you traded them is a bulk rare whereas the Tropical Island you traded your small unusable cards for has continued to rise in value.
I mentioned earlier that the best trades are the ones where everybody comes out ahead—and in my opinion the ease and options one gets while trading with dealers at large events is easily worth the cut they take for giving you so many choices with regard to what you get rid of and what you take. Keep in mind that the only way one can get “full value” on their cards is to start their own store, online magic selling company, or to sell cards on eBay. The first two, starting a store or starting a website require considerable time, money, and energy to do in order to get a premium for every card you trade. In order to expect to get “full dealer price” on your cards, you basically need to pay rent, hire a staff, and spend all of your time taking care of the upkeep. The later, eBay, also requires time and energy—not to mention that even eBay is going to take a cut of your profits.
My point is that getting rid of the cards you are not using to dealers is a perfectly viable option—it isn’t actually bad value, and with all factors considered, time, energy, options, and selection, it is actually a pretty sweet deal. Personally, I am much more interested in figuring out how to invent technology for the next event I’m planning on attending than I am in grinding hours upon hours in value trades—but, that’s just my opinion and if you have the time and patience for it, more power to you.
Getting the cards is one of the biggest obstacles that keeps new perspective Eternal enthusiasts from becoming active on the tournament scene; this problem is only compounded in difficulty when potential players don’t know where to look, or don’t know how to go about getting started. In this article, I have tried to draw from my personal experiences with regard to what has worked for me, and what strategies I have found to be successful when trading for Vintage or Legacy staples. Everybody is different, and there is certainly more than one way to go about finding and getting old cards—however, I hope that some of the things I’ve learned over the course of my many years playing Eternal will come in handy with some players who are trying to break into the older formats.
Eternal magic is unreal fun, and I would strongly encourage players who have the itch to try it out to give it a shot. The experience is worth well more than the cost of dual lands.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. I just got home from the Vintage tournament at R.I.W. Hobbies for an Unlimited Time Walk and I won! I played a Control Slaver deck very similar to the one I discussed in my last article, and it performed as good if not better than I expected. I will have more info on the deck and the tournament next time!