Especially if you’re new to the game, trading Magic The Gathering cards can be a daunting process. Memorizing prices and identifying popular cards is not something you’ll learn overnight, but it is the aim of this article to provide a brief guide to assessing the value of a card, how to spot trading opportunities, and how to protect yourself in the course of your Magic card trading.
Assessing the Value of a Magic Card
Often when entering into a trade, the other person will ask “what do you value [name of Magic card] at?” This is a difficult question – answer too high and you risk being laughed at; answer too low and you aren’t getting the fair deal you deserve! Price guides can be a handy medium to resolve this issue as they’re unbiased, and they will help you determine relative card values. Perhaps the person you are trading with doesn’t value a card by what it goes for in a price guide, but the object is not as much to determine a price as it is to determine the relative values of two different cards.
Don’t rely on price guides alone, though. There are a number of things that can affect the price of a card, or relative value of a trade. Demand is a consideration: a card may be worth a lot, but not be in high demand. Just the same, a lower priced card in high demand may be worth relatively more in trade than its list price. Perhaps the popular decks in your area are a bit different than they are in other locations. It is important to consider the demand of a particular card when making a trade. Considerations also should be made for cards based upon their condition, language, and edition. Generally, cards from earlier editions of Magic will fetch a higher premium than their reprinted counterparts. Non-English cards are usually worth slightly less than the English versions. Always keep your cards in near mint condition. Use sleeves when possible, and don’t bend your cards when you shuffle & play with them.
How to Spot an Opportunity
Spotting an opportunity should not mean finding ways to rip people off. However, there are times when you will legitimately be able to swing the trade in your favor due to various circumstances. As alluded to earlier, a card sought after by many people may be more valuable in trade than its list price. If there are only a limited number available in your circle, it is not unreasonable to ask for more in trade for a “chase card”. If someone needs a card to complete their deck the day of the tournament, they will gladly trade for it at a premium. The bottom line is that it is not dishonest to expect more in trade if the card is in high demand. Wherever you can find demand, opportunity will not be far off.
How to Prevent Getting Scammed
Unfortunately, it would be naive to think that everyone trading Magic cards is completely honest, and wants to give you the best trade. Trading is often a game of wheeling and dealing, and it’s full of sharks. This is not to say “sharks” should not ask for a higher profit – anyone is free to turn down a deal at any time – but sometimes you will encounter someone who will outright lie to you about a card’s value! Dishonest traders do exist, and luckily there are a few ways to protect yourself. Don’t ever feel pressured to complete a trade. Take the time to look up card values from an independent source, and ask a friend if he thinks the trade is fair if you aren’t completely sure. Especially with very valuable cards, make sure you’re getting genuine cards and not counterfeit ones (a more experienced Magic player may be able to help you identify these). Selling counterfeit Magic cards is a crime! The main point you should take away from this is that if you’re unsure about a deal, or the person you are dealing with – just walk away!