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Gen Con Trading


I come to you this week in preparation for the largest event of the year for both trader and player alike. I am of course referring to Gen Con, which will be taking over the city of Indianapolis next weekend. I originally wanted to talk about a user-submitted question referring to artist-signed and altered cards this week, but I am going to push that back until next week. This week, I am going to give an in-depth guide to preparing for Gen Con. I want to talk about everything from trading and dealers to what you can do to best prioritize your time.

Before the Show

As with any event, the most important part of the process comes before you ever step foot on site. Gen Con is especially important to prepare for due to the overwhelming number of players you would not normally see at a Grand Prix. The casual crowd comes out of the woodwork for Gen Con, and that means you have to prepare for that as well as the usual competitive crowd. The biggest key to success is to make sure you keep a good variation of cards on you so you can cater to multiple crowds.

Tropical Island
Since you are looking at trading with a wide variety of people, it is important to assemble your binders with that in mind. You don’t need to bring every card you own by any means—that is just inviting theft and a sore back—but keeping two or three binders, each to cater to a different crowd, is a good idea. I will be taking three binders with me, and I think I should be able to cover all the bases between them while still being able to keep a good enough eye on my things.

The first binder I have prepared is the standard high-end binder I bring to all the shows; it features my dual lands and other Legacy and Vintage staples as well as any high-end foreign and foil cards I am bringing. This binder will probably only leave my bag a few times over the weekend since most people I will be trading with are not likely to have enough cards of interest for me to want to break out the high end . . . but it is still important to have those on you when you find those right people.

The next binder is also a staple at almost any convention I visit as well as my local shop. This binder is what I consider a catch all and should have cards between $1 and $20 that either see play in Standard, Modern, Legacy, or Commander—at least the high-demand cards such as Sol Ring. Overloading this binder with too many casual cards will drive the competitive players away, and since you want their casual cards, it is best to keep the cards you are seeking out of your binder anyway. This is the most common binder I will use throughout the weekend, and as such, it should be the easiest to access and see. I will usually use a bright-colored binder or an easily recognizable sticker to make sure my binder is always easy to see on the table, allowing me to keep a better eye on it.

Snapcaster Mage
The last binder is one I build specifically for conventions such as Gen Con, and it will by far be the thickest of them all. In this binder, I will put any and all of my excess rares that do not fit into other binders as well as any playable commons and uncommons I feel may have casual appeal. Though this binder is a pain to lug around at times, it can be worth its weight in gold if you find that right group of casual players—you were probably going to be bulking out most of these rares anyway. Even at $1 each in trade, these cards become worth ten times as much than if you sold them to a vendor, and that is assuming the players you are trading with even use price guides. Many casual players like to just pull stacks of cards and then have you do the same until they are happy, and although some people may see this as shady or dishonest, my policy is that as long as both parties walk away happy, it was a good trade. Most causal players will never use staples such as Snapcaster Mage anyway, and they will jump at the chance to acquire ten or fifteen new cards for their decks.

I am not going to go into detail about things such as hotel reservations or travel since I assume this is not your first time traveling, but if it is, you can find a good number of guides online that can be both helpful and informative. I do want to briefly talk about the threat of theft at Gen Con, though, since I feel it is a very real problem that many have not experienced. I may sound like a broken record—I’m sure you’ve heard this before—but keep your stuff close. Your bag should always be wrapped around your body, whether it be a leg when you are sitting or on your back when you are walking around. Don’t leave anything to chance. Last year, the thieves were well trained and ruthless in their attempts to steal. Dealers and players alike lost tens of thousands of dollars in a split second, so I cannot stress enough how important it is to never trust anyone else with your belongings and only bring what you absolutely need!

On Site!

Once you have finally made it to the big show, it’s time to start prioritizing what you want to accomplish in the weekend. Though four days may seem like a long time when compared to a Grand Prix, it will go by faster than you can imagine. Since I imagine you will be selling some cards at Gen Con, I will cover that first—the dealer hall should be the first place you want to visit.

As with any major Magic event, expect to see the big names at Gen Con with loads of money to spend. The key to finding the best price is to sell early—that is when vendors will have the most money, and in turn, they’ll be willing to pay better prices. When looking to unload, don’t become stressed about all of the other small vendors in the room since they aren’t likely to be able to match the big guys’ prices anyway, so stick to whom you know, and unload there first. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around—the vendors have to be very competitive when it comes to prices just due to how many vendors are present.

Trading Post
Once you have finished haggling for the top dollar and have some cash in your pocket, it’s a good time to walk around and look at the smaller local guys. Although they may not have the best buy prices in the room, it is likely that some of the shops are looking to unload cards for cheap to make up what the booth cost them for the weekend, and this is a great opportunity for you to pick through some discount boxes and find some gems. I have found $10 to $20 cards in fifty-cent boxes before just because a local shop didn’t have the knowledge or time to look up all the prices, and this means a great chance for you to profit.

Once you are done in the dealer hall, it is time to wander over to the trading card game hall and get in some of the best trading there is. I have sat down at Gen Con before and traded nonstop for ten hours just because of the sheer number of people with binders. Though not every trade is going to be a home run, if you grind enough binders, you will surely find some great deals and walk away each day happier than you were that morning. If you are looking to do a pack to power or trade challenge, there is no better place than Gen Con. I have watched multiple people walk away with black-bordered Moxen after just a few days of trading, and for those actually trading from an entire binder, the sky is the limit!

I don’t think I need to talk about particular trades or traders since you should already have that information if you read my articles, but be ready to put it to use—every type will be there. There is no better place to value trade than Gen Con, and no matter what time of day or night, you can always find some great deals!

Before I depart this week, I want to cover one last thing that I don’t emphasize nearly enough in these articles . . .  Have FUN! Gen Con is not only one of the best places to trade, it is also a haven for anyone who plays any sort of game. Whether you are a fan of board games or speaker panels, you can do it all here, so take some time out each day or devote a day to walking around and seeing the sights. I promise you will have a much better weekend if you take some time for yourself and don’t just fill your weekend with endless trades. The show is open twenty-four hours a day, and there is always something going on, so make sure you relax and partake in all the con has to offer.

That’s all I have for this week; I hope to see you all next weekend for what should prove to be another great Gen Con. I will be there trading and promoting Brainstorm Brewery all weekend, so if you see me, say “hello” and ask for one of our awesome specially made Spirit tokens we’re giving out. I really hope to see a bunch of you there trading in force and having a good time. Just remember stay safe and keep an eye on your things as well as others’—this community can stop the theft if we watch others’ belongings as diligently as we watch our own. Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to take some time out of your busy schedule to go do something you enjoy; after all, isn’t that what Gen Con is for?

Ryan Bushard


Limited time 35% buy trade in bonus buylist