The Art of the Deal

Good to see you all again and welcome newcomers!

As many of you know we talk about all type of subjects on Magic: The Budgeting but this subject may be a bit bizarre and old timey for many of you. Today we talk about trading.

For some of you this is a strange subject. Many of the Magic player base simply go online and purchase cards with little to no effort involved past pressing a few keys, waiting, then go to a mailbox a few days later for their shiny new cards. The convenience of purchasing the exact cards you need for your deck online is remarkable and easy.

Some of us get down and dirty, into the trenches and make trades. As a budget player you know more than anybody that getting something playable for something you would never play with is where it’s at. Here are a few things to remember as you head out there looking to make a deal.

Carry a Trade Binder

There are some definite unwritten rules when it comes to a trade binder. Let’s break this down a bit.

  • First off, take all the “hot rares”, cards that are over $5 and put them in the front of your binder. Then, take the “mild rares”, over $1 cards and put them in the middle. Other rares that someone on a slight chance may be looking for putĀ  toward the back or don’t binder them at all. Players looking for good cards don’t feel like flipping page after page, wading through junk rares for a gem.
  • When a potential trader is looking through your trade binder, watch them. Do not look through their binder at the same time. Theft is always a potential issue when trading with players you don’t know. If the player likes a card you have, pull it from the binder yourself and hold onto it while they continue looking. After you have pulled everything they are interested in, then go through their cards and do the same. Then make the trade. This will help avoid any “switcharoo” opportunities.
  • When you don’t need your trade binder, stash your trade binder. Don’t leave your binder on a table in plain sight for anybody to come along and steal it. This rule applies for everyone, no matter how comfortable they may be with their home store. If you are playing, keep it in a backpack or bag, under your seat with the straps wrapped around the legs of your chair. I wouldn’t recommend you put it in your vehicle but if you must, keep it in the trunk out of view.
  • Please, please, please don’t put cards in your trade binder you have no intention of trading. It’s a trade binder, not a brag binder.

Sharks, Fish and Guppies

This subject can be found all over the net. When trading there are three type of traders. Sharks, Fish and Guppies. I have swam with each of these type of traders and have also swam with each of these three fishes during my Magic career.

  • Sharks can be found swimming from binder to binder looking for a victim. They have all the cards they will ever need to complete decks but are always looking for easy pickings. They will offer little to nothing for rares and favor trading with younger guppies with little to no knowledge of monetary value of cards or playing experience to understand what a good card is. They also enjoy watching newer guppies open packs to snap up what hot rares get popped and offer uneven trades for them.

When trading with Sharks you must be at the top of your game and be the aggressor. Come at them with the trade instead of them coming at you. They will always try to give the least for the most and will never waiver. The key to dealing with a Shark is to always remember that you can always walk away. Once you initiate a trade you are not locked into it. You can always walk away and trade elsewhere and when dealing with Sharks you can use this to your advantage. Once they see potential rares sleeved back into your trade binder they see a missed opportunity and will sometimes reconsider. Be firm in what you want, what you are willing to give for it despite any trickery, insults or humiliation.

  • Fish swim about, only looking for a trade when they really need a certain card. They do trade occasionally, looking for value trades or to pick up cards for decks they have interest for in the future. They understand card value and will usually trade fairly among other fish.

Fish are the easiest group to trade with. They are often reasonable and willing to make a good fair trade for both sides. You rarely need to put your guard up against a Fish, after all, they are just looking for what you want, a well balanced and even trade.

  • Guppies have little to no understanding of a spell’s power or monetary value. They will trade anytime, anywhere for anything that happens to tickle their fancy at the moment. They will sell the farm for a common that helps them against any particular deck that happened to beat them moments ago.

Trading with Guppies is a strange experience. As a Shark I once met up with a young player who told me he was having problems with getting rid of enchantments in his white deck so I traded him two Disenchants for a Fork back in Revised when Fork was $15. I feel bad about it now and never Shark a Guppy today. Your morality plays a big part in trading with Guppies. Twenty years later I trade a Guppy as if I was trading with a Fish as well as offer them advice to avoid further trading mistakes in the future to prevent then from being Sharked.

Making the Trade

Going into a trade with a any player can be a stressful situation. Before you head to a gaming store and opening someone’s trade binder, know what you are looking for and knowing how far you are willing to go to get it. Be polite and friendly. Traders will often be more likely to trade with you in the future. Offer a handshake to complete the deal or even tell them “thank you.” Showing appreciation after a good fair trade will gain you more opportunities to trade with not only the player you traded with but those that may have happened to see your polite gestures.

Remember that no trade is a done deal just because one was initiated. Some traders are sticklers and have sentimental ties to their cards. Any player may walk away from the table in a deal and no hard feelings should be had. There are more cards out there and a card you couldn’t pick up today you may get cheaper elsewhere soon after. A bystander that happened by may had seen the deal fold and give you a counter offer for the exact same card they have.

Buying and Selling

Sometimes a trade involves cash. Be respectful. If buying or selling in a store, keep in mind you are in a business where some owners do not take kindly to selling cards in a store where they sell cards. For that moment during your trade involving cash, you become that store’s competitor and that does not sit kindly to many owners that pay the bills with the profits they make from selling singles. I advise that any trade involving cash stay private and off store property.

Trading with the House

When trading with a store, go into it as if you were trading with a Shark. Businesses keep the lights on where you go to play Magic with the profits they make selling cards and let’s face it, your home store won’t be able to sell junk rares as easily as the hot ones. Game stores are looking for the best and hottest rares in the game to sell them later. They are not necessarily trading like Sharks because they have no morals, greedy or evil. They are doing so to make a profit running a store where they offer you the courtesy to play your favorite games. Understanding that will allow you to go into the trade where both sides can come out for the better.

That’s my breakdown for trading in Magic: The Gathering. Come back and visit Thursday for The Planeswalker’s Apprentice where we analyze our new young planeswalker’s first trade to improve his deck. Until then you can contact me here in the comments below, on Twitter my Facebook page or learn more about budget Magic on Reddit See you there.

One response to “The Art of the Deal

  1. Pingback: The Planeswalker’s Apprentice – Trading with Friends | The Paper Champion·

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