The Big “D”

Decision Making

Pricing information, opinions, and strategies are quite abundant these days in the Magic the Gathering Finance community.  However, one of the least talked about things is actually making a decision.  That decision could be anything from selling a collection, making a trade at a local gameshop, or speculating on cards like Tarmogoyf.  Personally, I believe the recent #goyfgate shenanigans were great for MTG as a whole.  It only led to a broader reach beyond the traditional MTG community, and personally I would have picked the card as well.   Again, the pick of the Tarmogoyf was a big decision that ultimately led to a huge reaction, and not all decisions create equal reactions.

A sold collection

I recently read an article by a player talking about how they were sick of the sky rocketing prices on MTG cards, and that it’s led to people picking value cards over actually playing the game.  I found this article to really resonate with me because this is something that has crossed my mind a few times.  I truly believe that this decision comes down to the individual’s opinion, but should be a well thought out one.  One of the reasons I say this is sometimes in the Finance community we overlook the value of magic outside of the money aspect.  One of the reasons I continue to hold onto my collection isn’t just a financial piece, it has to do with a broader connected community and set of memories I have developed.  I began playing when Mercadian Masques came out, and at that time I wasn’t even a teenager. Eventually this evolved to becoming more serious when the Mirrodin Block came out.  The game also transformed into a very meaningful social event for my friends and me.

The one thing I would like to caution when making this decision comes from a personal experience.  I got a Super Nintendo in the early 90’s, and I eventually sold it to Gamestop to get a Gameboy color.  To this day I constantly regret ever getting rid of it, because of all my memories of gaming with family and friends.  I truly believe that one really needs to take things like this into consideration when cleaning out your collection.  It shouldn’t just be about the money, you can always make more.  You may never be able to get your entire collection back.  I know I wouldn’t be able to.

Trading

Trading is really an art form.  Most of the times you hear about people complaining about sharks, or everyone trying to make a small margin on a trade to be the one coming out ahead.  In reality, this to me is mostly the problem when people are both informed about a value of the card.  In today’s world where a person whips out a smart phone and knows the prices right away is actually quite boring.  Otherwise the person isn’t just a shark they are just another d, or a dick.  The real thing about trading this way is correctly speculating on a card.  You are taking an opinionated view of the market and most likely will not capture the value today.  You should look at it as more of an investment in the game and financially.  How can you protect your assets with hedging?

The other thing about trading is the fact it’s really about sales.  How do you sell yourself or make others feel comfortable trading with you?  If you become the go to person for trades you are way more likely to find the value you are looking for.  Taking a short term hit on trades only to come out better in the long run helps a ton.  Especially if you believe yourself to be informed, and know that there are cards falling out of rotation or a meta-game that no longer favors a specific set of cards.  The even trade or taking less on a trade may actually put you ahead in the long run.  Back in January I traded my Master of the Waves, Sidisi Brood Tyrant, Wingmate Roc and Ajani Mentor of Heroes (Chinese) for a Spellskite and Sword of Feast and Famine.  I think looking back today even though I gave up a lot of value then I came out ahead today.  The cards I traded away lost value while the ones I received have only increased.

Speculation

Like the trade in the last paragraph that was purely speculation.  However, being informed and participating in the MTG community a person can increase the odds in their favor. Sometimes not making the decision to trade, buy a box, or play in the local gameshops FNM in and of itself is the best decision to make.  If we look at this decision to not participate from a financial view, holding cash is sometimes the best thing to do!  Your cash is only going to depreciate against inflation, but most likely this will be a moot point because you will have already spent your money somewhere else.

A lot of the time when we make decisions we need to tune into our opportunity costs.  What is the real loss I am facing with my time or dollars by making one decision versus another?  Earlier this week I read another article talking about indexing.  How to properly acquire MTG cards to smooth out your risk and capture a spike in price.  This is one of the practices I employ.  I DO NOT chase cards, and neither should you.  One this is a terrible strategy, and you will most likely overpay.  Two a lot of the times it’s just luck.  Three you can’t always move 100 copies of something.  This week I was able to offload some cards outlined here on Pucatrade by employing this strategy.  Below is the acquired costs including shipping per copy, and then what I made in terms of pucapoints.

Card Points Cost
Hythonia the Cruel 66 42
Hythonia the Cruel 66 42
Hythonia the Cruel 66 42
Hythonia the Cruel 66 42
Medomai the Ageless 74 25
Soul of Ravnica 76 25
Soul of Ravnica 76 25
Soul of Ravnica 76 25
Soul of Ravnica 76 26
Ghastly Conscription 78 32
Ghastly Conscription 78 32
Soul of Zendikar 82 25
Soul of Zendikar 82 25
Soul of Zendikar 82 25
Soul of Shandalar 89 25
Soul of Shandalar 89 25
Soul of Shandalar 89 25
1311 508
Shipping 268
Sum 1311 776
Difference 535

 

Pucatrade is definitely a nice source to move your product, however again I don’t think moving 100 copies of something unless it’s a staple.  Typically when I employ this strategy of diversifying, I get at least 8 cards.  One set for myself as a collector, and then another set to trade out.  It’s important to have a diverse collection for other players when showcasing what’s available for trade.

There are many aspects in MTG that employ strategic decision making like selling a collection, trading, and speculating.  Along with those and the many others that are out there the idea is to be conscious of the decisions you make because they do have a financial impact, opportunity cost, and drive many of the memories that got us into Magic in the first place.

 

 

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