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CardShark Content - Rick Silva (5/1/2003)

In my previous article, I discussed ways in which preparation and organization can help you to get the most out of your trading experience. Whether you’re a player looking to assemble a stable of competitive decks, or a collector trying to fill the gaps in your sets, or even if you’re looking to make money from your Magic cards, successful trades are a good way to achieve your goals without just throwing cash around. Trading takes time and effort, of course, but it can pay off in the long run.

In this article, I’ll be discussing the art of the deal itself. A good trade is a win/win experience. Both participants should walk away feeling like they got the better of the deal. Fortunately, this type of experience is possible with Magic cards because there is subjectivity in how the cards are valued. If I walk up to a person on the street and offer to trade four one-dollar bills for his five, I’ll get a polite refusal at the very best. More likely, he’ll think I’m nuts. But I recently traded a card with a current best price on Cardshark of $8.00 (Bloodstained Mire
Bloodstained Mire
Bloodstained MireSet: Onslaught
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
313
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
T, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Bloodstained Mire: Search your library for a swamp or mountain card and put it into play. Then shuffle your library.
) for one with a best price of $9.50 (Blistering Firecat
Blistering Firecat
Blistering FirecatSet: Onslaught
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat
Rarity:
R
Number:
189
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Power:
7
Toughness:
1
Text:
Trample, haste. At end of turn, sacrifice Blistering Firecat.. Morph RR (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face. up any time for its morph cost.)
). Why? Because the person I was trading with needed the Bloodstained Mire
Bloodstained Mire
Bloodstained MireSet: Onslaught
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
313
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
T, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Bloodstained Mire: Search your library for a swamp or mountain card and put it into play. Then shuffle your library.
for a deck, and he didn’t need the Firecat. Could he have gone on Cardshark, sold the Firecat, bought the Mire, and made a little profit? Sure. But he was willing to give up some value in order to save time and effort. Some players might not even consider this a good trade on my part. After all, the fetch-lands are seeing pretty consistent play in Type I and it looks like they’re here to stay. Thankfully, values remain subjective and both traders walk away happy with the deal.

But how do you make deals come about? Especially when bargaining with experienced traders? Over the years I’ve been playing Magic and trading, I’ve picked up a few strategies that have helped me in many trades. My first suggestion is to let the prospective trading partner make the first move. Rather than asking to look at another player’s binder, I’ll ask if he or she is interested in looking through mine. I’ll encourage the trader to go ahead and take out anything of interest. If a binder is offered in return, I’ll flip through it, but I won’t be paying much attention to the cards in it yet. I’ll be watching my prospective trade partner to see if they’re finding anything of interest. My philosophy is to try to make a deal as long as I actually have something that the person wants. If so, I can usually find something in their binder (not always, but usually) to at least attempt a trade. But if the person looking through my cards can’t find anything of interest, there’s no point in trying to make a big push. No interest in my cards means no deal, and no reason to waste any more time.

But assuming you have a reasonably well-stocked binder with a few tournament-quality rares and a few older cards of interest to collectors, most traders will find something that catches their eye. That’s when I start taking stock of my trade partner’s binder. What I’m looking for is good matches and potential bargains. Good matches are just that. Things close enough in value that they will trade approximately evenly. Bargain
Bargain
BargainSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Phil Foglio
Text:
Your opponent draws a card. You gain 7 life.
s are cards that I feel might be undervalued by my trade partner. I’ll also pull some higher value cards for possible group trades.

I try to pull out more cards than my trade partner has. I want him to have choices. If the person values one of his own cards more highly than I’m willing to trade for, I want to be able to put it aside and trade for a different card that is not so dear to the trader. Giving options allows both participants to be flexible in a trade. Sure, the trade partner might try to stick you with a combination of low-end cards from the selection you’ve picked, but that’s what counteroffers are for.

Ideally, I’d also like my trade partner to make the first offer. This doesn’t always happen, and sometimes both participants will spend the first few minutes staring at the selected cards, sometimes rearranging them into sets and groups, sometimes consulting price guides while they’re both really waiting for an offer from the other trader. Be patient, but not to the point of ridiculousness. If an offer is not forthcoming, start making some preliminary moves, matching up some cards of like values from your pile and the partner’s and look for reactions. This is a feeling-out process. Both traders are trying to see whether they are on the same page as far as relative card values. If someone is blatantly trying to rip you off, it should be obvious at this point, and you can stop here if necessary. Most of the time, though, I find that we’re on the same page on at least some of the cards on each side.

This is also the stage in the trade where some cards might get pulled out of the deal. If a person looks through my binder and pulls a selection of Type II rares and some 3rd Edition dual lands, and the only cards of interest in his binder are in print, I’ll pull the dual lands out of the trade, since I’m only interested in trading them for quality out-of-print cards. In doing so I try not to close the door completely. I’ll say something like “I didn’t see anything here that I’ll trade those cards for.” You never know. The response might be to hand you a Type I deck and ask if you’d like to look through that.

Of course, sometimes it’s easy. The person you’re trading with makes you an offer that you like right off the bat, you shake hands and move on. Sometimes, if you’re trading with an inexperienced player, you might even get an offer that’s too good. Be honest. It will do wonders for your reputation as a trader if you’re able to tell a newbie player, “No, this isn’t fair to you. Your Akroma is worth a lot more than my Krosan Cloudscraper
Krosan Cloudscraper
Krosan CloudscraperSet: Legions
Cost:
10
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast Mutant
Rarity:
R
Number:
130
Power:
13
Toughness:
13
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Krosan Cloudscraper unless you pay GG. Morph 7GG (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
, even if mine is a 13/13. Pick another card or two and I’ll throw them in.” You’ll still come away with a decent deal, and the new player will feel good about trading with you. No quick deal is ever worth your good reputation.

Most of the time, though, it isn’t so simple. You’ll be made an offer that falls short of your expectations. Time to make a counteroffer. Sometimes it’s just a matter of trying different matchups. Trading for a Coat of Arms
Coat of Arms
Coat of ArmsSet: Exodus
Cost:
5
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
131
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Each creature gets +1/+1 for each other creature in play of the same creature type. (For example, if there are three Goblins in play, each of them gets +2/+2.)
? Your trade partner asks for a Savannah
Savannah
SavannahSet: Revised Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
T: Add either W or G to your mana pool.Counts as both plains and forest and is affected by spells that affect either. If a spell destroys one of these land types, this card is destroyed; if a spell alters one of these land types, the other land type is unaffected.
. They’re reasonably close in dollar value, but you don’t want to give up a dual for a 7th Edition card. You come back with an offer of a Call of the Herd
Call of the Herd
Call of the HerdSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
231
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Put a 3/3 green Elephant creature token into play. Flashback 3G (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)
. Maybe this works. Perhaps not. Sometimes it’s possible to come up with just the right match to make both players happy.

In the event of an impasse, there are a couple of tactics you can try to break it. One is to offer a throw-in. This is a low-value card to sweeten the deal. If you’re the one who’s reluctant to trade you could also ask for a throw-in. Foil
Foil
FoilSet: Prophecy
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
34
Artist:
Bradley Williams
Text:
You may discard an island and another card from your hand instead of paying Foil's mana cost. Counter target spell.
commons, especially lands, and tournament-quality uncommons (Circular Logic
Circular Logic
Circular LogicSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
33
Artist:
Anthony S. Waters
Text:
Counter target spell unless its controller pays 1 for each card in your graveyard. Madness U
, Arrogant Wurm
Arrogant Wurm
Arrogant WurmSet: Torment
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wurm
Rarity:
U
Number:
120
Artist:
John Avon
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Trample. Madness 2G
, etc.) make excellent throw-ins because they have a relatively fixed value and they’re easy to trade away. You might also ask for a low-value card that you happen to have interest in, whether for a collection, or because you know another player looking for it. In some situations, cash can also be used to even up a deal. Just be careful if you’re trading at a store or a tournament. Some venues don’t allow cash transactions, and a few bucks aren’t worth getting the store owner angry at you. Always check the rules of the place.

Another approach is to try for a group trade. You might not give up Savannah
Savannah
SavannahSet: Revised Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
T: Add either W or G to your mana pool.Counts as both plains and forest and is affected by spells that affect either. If a spell destroys one of these land types, this card is destroyed; if a spell alters one of these land types, the other land type is unaffected.
for Coat of Arms
Coat of Arms
Coat of ArmsSet: Exodus
Cost:
5
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
131
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Each creature gets +1/+1 for each other creature in play of the same creature type. (For example, if there are three Goblins in play, each of them gets +2/+2.)
, but you could suggest trading your Savannah
Savannah
SavannahSet: Revised Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
T: Add either W or G to your mana pool.Counts as both plains and forest and is affected by spells that affect either. If a spell destroys one of these land types, this card is destroyed; if a spell alters one of these land types, the other land type is unaffected.
and your City of Brass
City of Brass
City of BrassSet: Fifth Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Tom Wänerstrand
Text:
Whenever City of Brass becomes tapped, it deals 1 damage to you.T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
for Coat of Arms
Coat of Arms
Coat of ArmsSet: Exodus
Cost:
5
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
131
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Each creature gets +1/+1 for each other creature in play of the same creature type. (For example, if there are three Goblins in play, each of them gets +2/+2.)
and Wrath of God
Wrath of God
Wrath of GodSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Quinton Hoover
Text:
All creatures in play are buried.
. By trying out different combinations, you might be able arrive at a deal that wouldn’t be possible just by matching up individual card for individual card.

The approach here is to stay flexible and be willing to try many different paths. Both traders are trying to get to yes. You’re both looking to walk away feeling happy about the deal and there are often a lot of different routes that will get you there. Feel your way around until you find one that suits you both.

And of course, don’t be afraid to say no. I aim to make at least one trade with everyone who wants cards that I have, and I would guess that I do arrive at some deal 90% of the time. But no one is forcing you to trade, and no matter how much someone tries to convince you otherwise, you are the one who ultimately determines what your own cards are worth. Regardless of what friends, judges, or price guides say, it is up to you and you alone to decide when and at what price you will part with them.


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