What's up, Pack to Power people! I am really excited because as you are reading this, I am at GP Columbus crushing the trade tables. This week was a real week of ups and downs for the trade binder. There are a couple of critical trades that I want to talk about, these are trade that I felt like I lost value on but before we jump into that lets talk about the Grim Tutor.
When I got it looked like this:
With cards of this value, condition makes a big difference. There are two problems with this card. The corners are heavily worn and it's dirty. There isn't much that we can do about corner wear but we can clean the card. Be careful when you try this at home; I won't be responsible for you messing up your moxes, but if you do mess them up I'll trade you for them at a reduced price.
I felt like MacGyver as I wet the end of the Q-Tip and then squeezed the water out on a paper towel. I took the damp end of the Q-Tip and cleaned the borders of Tutor. Check it out now; it looks one hundred percent better.
The card is still in below EX- condition, but at least it looks better than it did. When you are trading for Power Nine, condition is a serious consideration. The condition of the Power can significantly reduce or increase its price; this can help us get a deal when selecting a piece to trade for. On the flip side, the cards that you are trading should be NM or NM minus. With the higher priced cards there is more room for variance in the condition, but it's always best practice to have NM cards to trade. Here is a grading scale that can help you rate your cards.
Mint (M) – Right out of the Pack, no binder sleeve scratches or dings. There is no mint minus rating. It's kinda like being pregnant, you are or you're not, the card is either mint or it's not.
Near Mint (NM) –This is typically where most cards fall. Card that have seen a little play in sleeves; if you look close in the light you can see scratches. If there is an whitening on the card or the edges the card is downgraded to NM- or EX.
Excellent (EX) – I don't know why cards in this condition are called excellent, because they definitely are not excellent. A card in EX condition will have moderate wear on the edges.
Very Fine (VF) – Another misnomer! If the corners of the card are rounding from wear or if there are creases in the card it should be rated as VF.
Poor (P) – Finally we are being honest about the card's condition! You can pretty much put any card in this category unless it's ripped or has holes in it, then it would be classified as "Damaged".
For NM, EX and VF you can add a plus or minus to give a tighter grading. I typically avoid doing this unless the card is really on the edge. This information is useful when selling or trading cards online, we haven't talked much about that but it can be a huge asset when trying to obtain power. When trading for cards I keep condition in mind because it gives me the most flexibility for moving the card, even if I am not going to sell or trade online I may trade or sell it to someone who will and they'll want NM cards. Speaking of NM cards, let's talk about some of the NM cards that I picked up this week.
There are four specific kinds of players who want Temple Bell: Type Two Turbo Fog players, Legacy players, EDHers and bad speculators. This guy is a cross between a Legacy player and a speculator. The problem with speculators is that they always feel like they have to get value; on the other hand the great thing about legacy players is that they don't know what Type two cards are getting hot. After a few minutes of him trying to low-ball the Temple Bell (I allowed it, he can say whatever prices he wants in the end I am going to get the value that I need), I expanded the trade by saying, "I am interested in the Linvala, Keeper of Silence. I‘ll give you the bell and something else for it." He first tried for something in the $6 to $7 range, I Mana Leaked his offer and told him, "I was thinking something more in the $2 range." I made sure to shoot low so that we had some room to meet in the middle. He picked the Sundering Titan and we shook on it.
Temple Bell 1.49
Sundering Titan 3.99
The Linvala didn't stay in the binder long. My next trade partner pulled it for his UWx deck. He asked, "What do you value Linvala at?" The tough thing was that the kid that I just traded it from was looking over my shoulder. I was faced with a choice; I could down play the value and take a lesser trade to make my previous trade partner feel good or I could just be straight with my current trade partner and let the chips fall. To make matters worse, I am speculating on Linvala so I would have to give what could seem to be an inflated price. These are the kind of situation that you face all the time in the trading game. This is why you have to understand your personal doctrine (the belief system you use when trading). You have to be able to explain to an angry trader why the card was valued one way with him and another way with the next kid. I won't trudge into the depths of my doctrine on the topic, but I will say that certain approaches are socially unacceptable and they will end your trading career. You have to walk the fine line between profiting and protecting your trade partner.
This balance is complex, as is the topic of morality in trading/dealing cards. I would like to get into this but I think that in the middle of this Linvala trade is not the place. So, let's make our way back to the trade table for now.
I answered him, "Linvala is seeing a lot of Top 8 love right now. I don't know what the price is but I need to get $15 for it to let it go." This is how I approach trading cards that I am speculating on. I set the price higher than the real price and then I just shoot straight with people. For example:
My trade partner accepted the price of $15 for the Linvala. I saw the kid who traded it to me out of the corner of my eye; he tilted his head like he had an epiphany. Of course I'm only assuming what he was thinking; I could be reading into things too deeply. Maybe the kid wasn't even listening to the trade and he was just thinking of getting some Chinese food or something. In any case, I got the OK on the $15 and it was time to shop. I flipped through my trade partner's binder. My eye happened upon Umezawa's Jitte, "What do you put the Jitte at?" He responded, "Well, since it's not used in Extended anymore… $12?" This is when a little cash register noise goes off in my head; I nodded and pulled it out. I remember getting $16 on a Jitte from a dealer even after the Extended bombshell dropped, some card prices were not affected as much as people think, this is one of them.
I threw the Jitte on the table while he pulled out a couple of Destructive Force. I also made a little "throw-in" pile, I use these piles to even out trades and to gain a little value. We basically did the Umezawa's Jitte, the Celestial Purge and the Gemstone Mine, plus throw-ins for the Linvala , then we did the three M11 duals for the Destructive Forces and the Sword of Vengeance. I was happy to have a Jitte in the binder; it's a respectable card to throw toward power.
2x Destructive Force 3.49
Sword of Vengeance 4.49
Umezawa's Jitte 28.99
Celestial Purge Foil .99
Gemstone Mines 4.49
Sunpetal Grove 5.49
Glacial Fortress 6.49
Rootbound Crag 3.99
2x Lightning Bolt 1.49
Elf Token Japanese .99
Dread Return .99
Cranial Plating .75
Emerald Medallion 4.49
I was on a roll with this trade session! This next pick-up was a Sneak Attack. Ever since the printing of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and friends, this cards has enjoyed a speculative price bump. It trades well and it holds a nice chunky price tag. Leyline of Sanctity also known as "The White Leyline" carries a pseudo price tag of around $8, which means that people feel comfortable trading for it at that price. This trade was actually with the guy who I got the Linvala from, I guess he held no ill will, or maybe he was just thinking about Chinese food. I was talking to him about GP Columbus and I told him that I might run Stax, SHHHHH don't tell anyone that by the way, we were comparing sideboard strategies when I told him that I was running four White Leyline. I explained my rationale and he was sold. "You don't have any of the White Leyline, do you?" Cash register sounds in my head again, it turns out that I had two. We used them as cornerstones to get to the Sneak Attack.
2x Leyline of Sanctity 5.99
Coralhelm Commander 3.99
Swords to Plowshares 4.99
Sneak Attack 22.99
I was feeling pretty good with a Sneak Attack and an Umezawa's Jitte in the binder. Unfortunately, you can't keep good cards in your binder. This next trade marked my descent into trade-down hell. Although this trade wasn't bad the ones that followed really made me unhappy with the week. I didn't really want to trade the Jitte down but it's was trade or go home and for your sake I chose trade. I approached this trade with the correct attitude. "Look dude, I don't want to get rid of the Jitte, but if you need it I will trade it to you. It's just going to cost you." I made out pretty good value wise but a bunch of small cards is not going to get me Power Nine.
Umezawa's Jitte 28.99
Liliana Vess 4.99
Ajani Goldmane Foil 10.99
Scalding Tarn 13.99
Path to Exile Promo 5.49
Ok, this trade hurt. Out of all the Pack to Power trades, I am most annoyed about this one. There is a kid at my shop who I can never make a trade with. One time, I was digging through his "Junk" box and I took some Mana Bonds at like .50 each. Keep in mind this was when I was selling them at $3. A few weeks later they spiked and ever since then he never wants to trade with me. If we ever do get to opening binders, it's just a non-stop fight on the value of every single card. You might be asking the question, why trade with this guy at all? The answer is simple, because he had two Mind Over Matter.
I wanted those Mind Over Matters and I figured since I could show him the price online, that it wouldn't be hard to get them cheap. WRONG. It turns out that he read some of my writing online about Mind Over Matter's potential and now he didn't want to trade them. It's funny how that works right? I do the research, I take the time to write about it for everyone's benefit and then I have to fight against my own predictions. I gave this guy the fish on the bun in less than twenty minutes and now I wanted it back.
I knew this kid wasn't going to trade these things unless I cut him a deal. I asked him, "How high do you think they will get?" Of course he has no Idea, maybe I should write him an article so that he can answer my questions. He guessed at $10 and I said, "Ok check this out. I will give you $8 each even though the online is $3.5- You gotta leave me a little room for profit." He was still on the fence and I knew that I was going to lose him soon. The tunnel vision kicked in and I pulled out my Scalding Tarn. I arranged the trade and said, "How about this?" He reluctantly accepted.
I don't like doing business like this. I essentially lost on this trade unless these Mind over Matters hit maximum potential at the GP. I need to get $15 a piece to justify the risk. This is really a gamble and it could be a setback. Part of me justifies the trade by saying, "Go big or go home, you need to take the risks to get from Pack to Power." The more sensible part knows that I let tunnel vision lock me into a bad deal. Let see if I can get lucky in Columbus.
2x Destructive Force 3.49
Aether Adept .25
Scalding Tarn 13.99
2x Mind over Matter 3.49
The next trade is exciting because I got a WOW loot card. I seem to be picking up cards from different card games along the quest, which definitely adds a fun aspect to it. After that last trade I was looking to pump the binder. Knight Exemplar is worth some money, but some people don't value it highly. The Knight Exemplar, Leyline of Sanctity and Spell Snare were all valued at a couple of bucks each and the Path was valued at $6, I threw in the Warcaller, he threw in the loot card.
Joraga Warcaller 2.99
Path to Exile Promo 6.49
Knight Exemplar 6.99
Leyline of Sanctity 5.99
Spell Snare 5.99
Papa Hummel's Old-Fashioned Pet Biscuit 8.99
Note: That loot card was the highest thing that I traded for! This surprised me; I looked it up for fun and BLAM!
Here I go again with those dang Mind over Matters! This kid was not messing around either. He went straight for the throat, by putting the Sneak Attack and the Humility on the table. The saving grace here was that I was trading the Chinese Tormod's Crypt at $6 which is huge, because practically no one wants that thing. We went back and forth on the Humility. I wanted to keep it but he needed it to make the trade work. He was willing to throw a couple of Temple Bell's and a Conundrum Sphinx in to make the deal happen.
I want to note that this kid was using a mobile phone to check prices. This scares people who are trying to trade for profit, but it shouldn't. Sneak Attack was the first card that we valued. Like a good trader he asked me first what I valued it at. I told him $26 and that's when he pulled out his phone. He said, "Humm, The low is $20 and the high is $26." I said, "See, I was right $26." He did not want to value the rest of my cards at high so he started to value them at the low end, but that forced him to value his cards based on the "low" price as well. We played with different trade configurations but he ended up really wanting the Humility. I was reluctant, so he valued it on the high end. He also threw some cards in to persuade me. I asked him what the Chrome Mox was worth, he said $15. Last extended season you could get them for as low as $8 so I questioned his pricing. He showed me a regular Chrome Mox was selling for $18, I guess this is another card that was not affected by the Extended bombshell. We kept the $15 value and this is how the trade ended up.
Sneak Attack 22.99
Tormod's Crypt 5.99
Mind Over Matter 3.49
Lodestone Golem 1.25
Noble Hierarch 13.99
Chrome Mox Promo 21.99
2x Temple Bell 1.49
Conundrum Sphinx 2.49
This guy's friend wanted to trade. Thankfully he wasn't mobile phone price checking, I am not scared of it but it takes forever. He wanted the Gigapede. I was really excited, because I hand-picked that out of some guys junk box in the beginning of this journey and I thought to myself, "Someone is going to want this!" I asked him how much he valued it at and he said, "I won't give more than $3 on it." I thought he was kidding at first. I confirmed by asking without asking, "So, $3 on the Gigapede and how much on the M10 Land and the Snare?" He priced the M10 land at $5 to $6 and the Spell Snare at $2. I said "At $2, I have to keep the Snare. I am going to Columbus this weekend and I might run into someone who is willing to give top dollar on it." I slid it back into the binder. I asked him about the Gaea's Revenge and he said $3, I put it next to the Gigapede then I did some binder fishing for "$2" cards. Silence, Phylactery Lich and Wall of Omens all weighed in at $2, I set those next to the M10 Dual. I said, "That looks good to me." He asked, "Would you throw in the Spell Snare if I add three more Wall of Omens?" I agreed.
Before we crunch numbers I want to point out the technique I used for the M10 Dual. This is the fundamental premise of trading. If you learn this alone, it can single handedly build your collection. Look at the Sunpetal Grove, we valued it at $6 but its worth less. Then I traded it for three "$2" cards which added up to $10.46. I gained this value by allowing him to price his cards and then I simply picked the cards that he underpriced. Eventually someone will come along and trade for those three cards at full value and my collection will grow. I know this seems like a simple concept but it seems like most people miss this.
Spell Snare 5.99
Sunpetal Grove 5.49
Gaea's Revenge 7.49
Phylactery Lich 5.99
4x Wall of Omens 2.49
This was the last trade of the day. I figures since I got the Chrome Mox for $15 that I could trade it for this Foil Tombstalker for value. I wound up losing on this trade, but not by much. I could have easily made up for the loss here by getting some throw-ins and I should have considered that. Now I am just hoping that a foil freak will give me $25 for it. I feel like I should have checked the price of the promo Chrome Mox, I am unhappy with the outcome of this trade, but again it's my fault.
Well, that's it for this week. Like I said in the beginning it was a week of ups and down and I feel like I was off my game a bit. I need to be in top form for Columbus. Speaking of which, if you are going to GP Columbus, please track me down. I'll be the good looking guy with the Pack to Power binder. It would be cool to meet you guys and maybe do some trades. If I don't see you there, then have a rocki'n weekend and I will see you next week with the loot from the GP.