It was Friday morning. I was running around the site trying to get the last of the power that I needed for Vintage Champs. I swung by the Cool Stuff Inc booth to pick up my Black Lotus. I used some of the sweet moola that Trick gives me for writing these articles to pay for it. Here's a little pro-tip for you: if you want Power, a good way to get it is to write for ManaNation. Trick was nice enough to hang around the CSI booth to make sure that my purchase went off without a hitch. After getting the Lotus I ran to the event, which started the same time that the vendor hall opened, so I was already running late. On the way to my seat, I found my buddy Lopee who loaned me a Mox Pearl. I purposefully left the Pearl off the list so that I could finish my set of power with the Pack to Power binder.
As it turns out, I now suck at vintage. Darn! I probably should have thought about that before dumping three thousand dollars of my collection into Power Nine. I guess now I just have to get better or I could set my Power on fire and You Tube the ritual. I'm sure that I would get weeks of enjoyment out of taunting all the people who would hate me for that. Anyways, the focus of the day was to get to a Mox Pearl, so I hit the trade tables.
It took some time to get the beacon shinning but after a few minutes the binder was opened and deals were on the grill. My first trade of the day was actually pretty sick and it was the first time that I legitimately traded a card from another card game. As my trade partner was approaching the end of my binder he found my collectables page. It's the page of the binder where I put all the strange cards that I pick up on my journey. He asked if the Yu-Gi-Oh! Card was for trade and I said, "Yeah, are you interested in it?" He smiled, "Yeah, my little brother collects these and here would be pretty stoked if I brought him one." I told him, "To be honest, I don't know what it's worth." He looked it over and said, "Neither do I but it is a Ghost Rare, which means it's worth something." I was curious about where this line of thought was going. He was already making himself vulnerable by telling me that it was a Ghost Rare, so that tells me that he will probably give a fair price based on his understanding. Whatever the price was, I wasn't going to argue with him, since I got the thing for free as a throw in.
Since I wasn't going to argue with the price, I figured that I would throw my trade partner a bone and use this opportunity to establish myself as a fair trader. I interrupted his silent train of thought, "Well, I am not looking to make a million on it, what is the cheapest Ghost Rate that they make?" He guessed at $6, I said, "Sounds fine, why don't we just go with that." I went with what I call the 1-2-3, its where you pick three cards, one at a dollar, one at $2 and one at $3, the idea is to gain the value on the middle card. If you already have a card at $1 and a card at $3, then it's easy for someone to call a card $2 even if the card is worth more. I have no idea why this is; I think that subconsciously people's minds need to see patterns. I've never had a problem trading Sanguine Bond and the other two cards were solid movers at GenCon. The Coralhelm Commanders were trading at $4 and the Inferno Titan was a solid $6. Typically with the 1-2-3 you only gain value on the second card but in this case he valued the Titan at $3 so I said why not.
Ghost Rare 6
Sanguine Bond 3.49
Coralhelm Commander 3.99
Inferno Titan 9.99
The next trade was a quick one. The guy was gracious enough to look through my binder and find some goodies for his EDH deck. I don't remember much about the trade other than the fact that he wanted to value the Wall of Blossoms at $1. The trouble is that it was Korean which means that it's worth about $5. Rather than trying to dupe the value out of him, I just explained that the Wall of Blossoms was a desirable Cube and EDH card and that Korean cards carried a heavy premium. He asked how much and I said that I would trade the Wall at $4. He was fine with that number. I valued the Foil Faerie Conclave at $2 and we made this trade.
Wall of Blossoms Korean 4
Faerie Conclave Foil Promo 3.49
Leyline of Sanctity 6.49
Destructive Force 2.99
After I got done with that trade, I perused the tables a bit. My eyes searched the open binders and I spotted a Foil Voltaic Key. I positioned myself over the back of the person looking at the binder. I asked, "Whose binder is this?" He pointed and grunted, "His." I asked the guy, "Hey, is that Foil Key for Trade?" he said, "Yeah, I actually just packed that." I handed him my Pack to Power binder. He pulled out an Inferno Titan and asked, "How much do you value this at?" I told him that dealers would give me $5 cash so that I assume it's about $8 in trade. We valued the Key at $5 and the Leyline at $3. His friend thought that he should have gotten more for the key buy it seemed like my trade partner didn't care. I would have trade the Titan at $6 but getting $8 was sweet!
After this trade, Sheffield and Mannix came over to recruit me for an EDH Tournament. It's was already Midnight and I was on the fence about joining. As I thought it over, I realized that I had spent most of my time a GenCon trading and hanging out with the grinders. I figured that I owed it to myself to play some magic and after that beating in Vintage I was looking forward to smashing some people on the EDH tables; we'll just call it my therapeutic form of vengeance.
I woke up with a Jolt. The way that the sun was shining through the curtains I knew it was much later than I hoped it was. I rolled over in the bed and looked at the clock. It was 3pm. The bed next to me was empty. I looked down on the floor under the sink where Kelly was sleeping, he was still wrapped up in his blankets. I contemplated doing something mean to him and posting the pictures on Twitter, but I opted not to stress our already fragile relationship.
It was Saturday afternoon and GenCon was passing me by. I mental scolded myself, I shouldn't have played EDH until five in the morning. My Pack to Power quest was on the ropes since my Friday trades did not contain any breakthroughs and there was still no sign of the Illusionary Mask. I was holding onto hope that the Mask would be waiting for me at the front decks. I planned to stop by on my way to the site.
I started to do some writing while I waited for Kelly to get up. He eventually awaken with a hardly distinguishable statement, "Hum Tim Sit…" What the heck was he saying, I thought to myself, I shot back at him, "What?! Speak English Puto." He answered back more clear, "What Time Is It?" He supprised to learn that it was already three, we both got ready and on the way out I stopped by the front desk. The beginning of my conversation didn't give me much hope.
"Yeah, Mail, It's this strange system of envelopes that us humans use to transport goods from one place to another…" The lady at the front desk could not hear my thoughts or I am sure she would have been offended by my sarcasm. "There is no mail here for you." She said after checking in the back. "Are you sure?" I tried to sweetened my tone, what if I pissed her off and she just didn't want to give me my mail. "Yes, I check the mail and there was none for you today." This must be a mistake, "What about Yesterday?" He answer was quick, "No." "Alright thanks." There is no use burning daylight. I had until the end of the day to get a Mox.
I started the day by trading with my buddy Larson. Ever since he traded me a Jace for an Elspeth at the Worldwake release he has been very careful about what he trades me. I heard him say that he needed Wall of Omens earlier in the weekend. I said, "Larson, do you still need the Wall of Omens?" He said, "I think so, but I would rather buy them then trade them from you." Nice, why doesn't he get on the loud speaker and totally kill my opportunity for any trades today. I laughed his comment off and said, "Seriously, I've got four. Let's do this. I will make it painless." He slid his binder across the table, "How much do you want for the Wall of Omens…." Before I could answer he interrupted, "Dollar! Done." I said, "You're killing me man, $2 is fair, don't be a douche."
After fussing about whether he needed three of four he agreed "Ok, $8 for the set." Larson doesn't mess around, in his mind he knows what he is willing to give up for these walls and what he is not. I did some fishing but was shut down at each angle. Finally I made the move on the Vendillion Clique. People still value these low! Lason put it at $6, that's higher than most people value it but lower than it's worth. I agreed with his pricing and then started fishing for $2 worth of cards. I knew that I couldn't get anything playable or he would give me the big no, so I went for promos, valuing each of them at $1. He shook his head and I snapped my picture.
4x Wall of Omen 2.49
Vendilion Clique 8.99
Elvish Visionary Foil Promo 2.49
Tidehollow Sculler Foil Promo 1.49
A passerby spotted the Foil Voltaic Key in my binder while I was trading with Larson. He was hanging around like a fly waiting to land on some watermelon or something. Once I was done with Larson he handed me his binder. Just like Vendillion Clique, Spell Snare is another "gotcha". Most people value it at around $2, but it typically trades for $6. I took a mental note of the Spell Snares as I flipped through the binder and kept looking. I ask him "What do you value your Spell Snares at?" He hesitated and said "I don't know?" I asked him, "Two?" he agreed. I told him that I valued the key at about $6 and that I would do the key for the three Spell Snares. He asked if he could throw something in and I said, "Sure, I can add something small." He found a Captivating Vampire. These vampires trade very well, by the way. Here's what the trade looked like:
Voltaic Key Foil 6.99
Captivating Vampire 5.99 (Seriously! Lol)
3x Spell Snare 5.99
I sat down to scope out my next trade when I seen a girl walking by the trade tables. I asked her if she had trades and she stopped to sit down. Her binder was disorganized but had some good stuff in it. I asked her, "What format do you play?" She said, "I mainly play EDH with my boyfriend." I started to get the feeling that I was looking through a "Closed-Playgroup binder" - this is a trader's dream. The binder was untouched by sharks, it was like a fruitful orchard. I was pumped. She was polite and excited to find some EDH stuff that she needed. As I started to survey the binder I stumbled upon my salvation, the card that would ensure my victory, Chains of Mephistopheles. I tried not to act too excited, "Is this for trade?" I pointed to the Chains. She said, "Sure." I had to get it. I asked her how much she valued the Chains at and she said about $35, which is pretty close for an Italian one. Italian Legends is worth less than English Legends, in case you didn't know. She has pulled a pile of cards but it wasn't quite enough to get there. I asked her if she could find anything else, then I remembered that I had the box of "Bulk" rares that I pulled out of the Pack to Power binder. I said, "I also have these." After a quick shuffle through, she started pulling stuff. In my mind I did the most epic Flores fist-pump, for no other reason than I was sure that this trade would get me there. She said, "How about this?" I added it up. It was enough.
Djinn of Wishes .49
Hellkite Charger .49
2x Mordant Dragon .49
Vengeful Archon .49
Conundrum Sphinx 1.49
Coralhelm Commander 3.99
3x Emeria, the Sky Ruin 2.49
Serra Ascendant 4.99
Chains of Mephistopheles 54.99
I did quite a bit of personal trading with her and her boyfriend. Here trade stuff was what we American Picker fans would call a "Honey Hole". I also made this small trade after going through her boxes.
I was on a roll. I looked to my right and there was a guy sitting and waiting patiently to trade. I handed him my binder and he pulled some stuff out, including my newly acquired Necromancy. I told him that Necomacy was worth about $5 and since it was Japanese that I was looking to get $10 for it. He didn't like that number at all. I told him, "I totally understand bro, but the card is in EDH and Cube. People like to pimp those things out and Japanese Visions is really hard to get. I totally understand if you don't want to trade for it." He just kept staring at it, and then he said, "It looks too sweet to pass up. Lets trade for it." I took the set of Ball Lightning and the Knight all of which we had priced at $2 each. The moral of the story is that pimp makes the dollar bills.
I was in hyper mode by now. The night was wasting away and Ryan was getting ready to leave in a couple of hours. I needed to land this Mox before he left. I charged the trade tables. I knew that Josh, one of the grinders, was giving $5 on Time Reversal, so my next trade was based on that. I asked my trade partner what he valued the Time Reversal at and he said $2. At this point, Time Reversal was a bit of a Joke, since it started at $30 and literally halved over night, now players consider them garbage. I pulled some more cards to make the trade even, since I valued the Leyline at $6. I added Ghostly Prison, which can fetch $4 to $5 in trade and typically has a good by price and the Foil Merfolk Soveirgn, which was cool in legacy before Coralhelm Commander booted it. My trade partner eyeballed the trade and then we shook on it.
Leyline of Sanctity 6.49
Mind Stone Foil Promo 1.25
Ghostly Prison 4.99
Time Reversal 6.99
Merfolk Sovereign Foil 2.49
This next trade was a nightmare. I literally spent twenty minutes to just lose value. I didn't realize that I was wasting time until Ryan gave me a clue. "Man how long are you going to work on that $5 trade?" I cut my losses and closed the trade shortly after that remark.
Loxodon Warhammer Foil Mirrodin 4.99
Lodestone Golem 1.99
I think we have a winner for worst trade with that last one. After these trades, I had to know where I was for value. I brought my binder to the grinders, Josh Beisiegel. In the picture check out what is on the top of the stack of cards next to him. "How close am I brother?" I handed him my binder. He looked it over and I reminded him that there were some cards stacked on top of each other. He said, "You need about $20." He handed the binder to Ryan to look over and they both agreed. I couldn't believe that I was $20 in trade value away from completing my quest!
I was a like a bull seeing red. All the reason flushed from my mind. I don't even really remember these next two trades I just remember thinking, "I don't have time to grind. I need to slam dunk a couple to get there." I approached the first trade binder in sight. My memory was seriously turned off at this moment. It's like when you walk up to a hot chick and drop the sickest Rico Suave lines, then the next thing you know, you are making out in the back of your car. No matter how hard you try you can never recover them from the abyss of your mind. I seem to remember valuing the Vendilion Clique at $10 and his stuff at $5 and $5. This was the slam dunk that I needed.
Vendilion Clique 8.99
Kalastria Highborn Foil Full Frame 11.99
Eldrazi Monument 15.99
Vendilion Clique Proxy from his deck Infi
I slid the binder across the table to the next guy. He wanted the Time Reversal. I knew that I need a card that would sell to a dealer for more than $5 to get rid of the Time Reversal. I proposed the Sun Titan. It was on the rise from its use in the UW Control deck. He accepted and we ended up with a small level up trade.
Time Reversal 6.99
Spawnsire of Ulamog 1.25
Sun Titan 11.99
Temple Bell 2.99
I walked back over to Ryan. I handed him the binder and said, "I'm there." He flipped through it, while I gave him the highlights from the new pickups. He handed to Josh, to double check. Josh said, "I would give him a Pearl for this." Ryan said, "Ok, Let's do it." He slid the Pearl across the table. I can even explain how I felt. It was a bit unreal. I said, "Ok, let me take the cards out for you." He said, "No just leave them in the binder." I felt odd giving him everything. I flipped to the back of the binder and said, "I am going to keep this last page with the tokens and stuff." He smiled and said, "No way bro, the binder for the Pearl." Man I was going to miss that Ray token, I always felt like he was smiling back at me saying, "You can do it partner." I said, "If I keep this page it's a deal breaker?" He said, "Yep." I didn't really have much of a choice, so I handed over the binder and a small photo shoot ensued. Here are the shots.
As I left the trade area for a late dinner, the separation anxiety started setting in. When something like that becomes such a focus of your energy you always feel somewhat discombobulated when it goes away. Well guys and gals. We did it. We went from Pack to Power. I will be back next week for an "Aftermath" to say my proper goodbyes and tell you what happened to the Illusionary Mask. I also have a couple of lost trades for you and a special goodbye gift. Leave any questions that you want answered in the comments. See you for one last rendezvous next week. Thanks for reading.