The Planeswalker’s Apprentice – Trading with Friends

The young urchin wandered into a dimly lit alley, large eyes darting around instinctively. His wild red hair stood on end more than normal as he scanned the dank corridor for the trader he had spoken to in the marketplace. Initially, his search was fruitless.

Slowly stalking into the alley, he spun on his heel to see the old marketeer stumble into the darkness with him. His grin was dabbled with teeth, his skin weathered with sun and age. He spoke, but with the slur of a man that had been into the ale.

“So what’s ah lil boy like yah wantin’ tah play wizard fer?”

The urchin stood nervous and shrugged his shoulders, his newly given satchel hindering one of them, heavy to one side.

The drunken trader chuckled. “Dun’ be nervous son, iffin’ ah wanted ter take dat pouch of yers ah’d already dun it by now.”. He stepped forward and pulled a dirty sack of his own from a pile of refuse in the alley. Opening it, he displayed some books that were just as dirty and old as the bag that contained them.

“Ah’m an honest trader boy. Yah got nuttin’ tah fear. But ah dun’ give dese books tah jus’ anybody. Yah got ter have somethin’ tah trade me in return.”

The urchin nodded slowly and lucky for him he was streetwise. “Mister, you show me what you got first.”

The trade laughed, the joy echoed off the walls of the alley. “Yer good. Very well, take yah ah good look at dese books, but yah better give me somethin’ good.”

Welcome again to the Planeswalker’s Apprentice. Your weekly link to learning the game of Magic: The Gathering. Today we will go over the anatomy of a trade with another player.

At first glance trading seems to be a simple thing, but as a newer player you have to understand the ins and outs of what is really going on to keep yourself from being “Sharked”. Before we continue I’ll ask you all to read my previous article this week “The Art of the Deal” http://thepaperchampion.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/the-art-of-the-deal/ In this article, you will be able to understand some of the terms I’ll be using later in this guide. I’ll wait….

Back? Great! Let’s say you have gotten your trade binder filled and ready to start looking to make a deal. Here is the catch. You aren’t ready.

The majority of beginner trading is doing your homework. This involves knowing what is out there and what you will need to help strengthen your deck. You just don’t simply sit down and look over another player’s binder and say to yourself “Hey! This looks like a great card! I think I want it!” You also need to know what cards of yours you are willing to get rid of to get what you want. Another key point is actually knowing what your cards are worth as well as the cards you are looking for’s prices.

Going into this trade, our urchin boy’s cards, the 2015 Magic Deck Builder’s Toolkit is all we have available to trade. We have created his deck found here http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/2015-deck-builders-toolkit-deck/ and everything that was left over I considered cards for trade. Looking at the Urchin’s spells, I would consider trades for multicolored lands helpful as well as more solid burn and possibly more creatures with the Heroic ability.

I’ll spare you with the details of looking at http://gatherer.wizards.com/ for potential candidates and http://www.mtgstocks.com/ for pricing of spells we both own and would be looking for. After researching, I determine the Urchin deck could use Heliod’s Pilgrim, Fall of the Hammer and two other cards we have not yet encountered, Akroan Skyguard, and the rare Fabled Hero. You also need to take a look at what you would take out of your current deck in favor of these new cards. Having a potential decklist handy makes tough decisions between “needs” and “wants” for you before you ever enter the trading ring.

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I recommend your first trade be with a trusted friend. It’s a great way for you to get your feet wet in trading without the fear of being Sharked. Eventually, as you build confidence you will expand past your circle and start to trade with the rest of the Magic community. Also, trading with friends allows you opportunities to trade for common cards, something other players wouldn’t have available or even bring with them to a gaming store.

After a good spirited game of Magic, I talk to my friend about looking through his cards for possible trades. He obliges and I begin to search his collection for anything that may be helpful to my deck, keeping a close eye for cards that are already in my deck as well as the trade targets I researched beforehand. After my searching I come up with a stack of cards that would be good for me, many that were on my prospects list.

Glancing over my wanted cards, my friend now looks through my extras. More experienced players generally search for cards that will help finish decks or spark ideas for new ones. They may even have silly gimmick cards they collect. There is no real one reason a player may want a specific card and you must keep that in mind as you step into the trade.

After cards had been chosen, I ended up with 19 cards. I did manage to find a single Fabled Hero, Fall of the Hammer and Heliod’s Pilgrim. Also found was a full playset of Akroan Skyguard. Other cards found were duplicates of my current deck as well as a few cards that might be potential cards for my deck at a later date. A real downer was my friend had no mufti-colored lands that would be any benefit to me.

My friend pulls two cards most players would consider “junk rares” that are worthless to my deck. Terra Stomper and Fate Unraveler. Also pulled are several black and green commons, again, of no use to my deck. This should be a good even trade.

For lower priced cards the following formula can be applied: 1 Rare = 3 Uncommons = 10 Commons. For cards of decent worth you should typically aim for the actual value of the cards involved.

Typically this is where the haggling begin and the traders talk over what had been pulled, especially when good rares had been pulled or a player needs a card badly and their value is far worth the actual price of the card. In this case, because we are talking about poorly priced cards we call the trade even and I begin to work on the Urchin’s deck anew. The Urchin’s new updated deck can now be found here. http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/urchins-deck/

Suddenly, a figure as if made of ethereal shadow drifted from the alley’s darkness and eased to the haggard old drunk’s side, snatching him up. “A fair trade you will make, for the boy has more potential then you have ever wasted, codger.”

The trader pulled the sack closer to the Urchin. Knowing full well a poor trade would end his meager life to the hands of the shadowy stranger, he reluctantly offered a generous trade of spell books to the child in return for a small handful of orbs from his satchel.


Aiokii is an internet assassin and patron of the Broke-Ass Brewery. He can be followed on Twitter https://twitter.com/TheAiokii, liked on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thepaperchampionblog, or contacted in the comments below.

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