Author Archives: Tyler P

PucaTrade Case Resolution POV


PucaTrade Case Resolution POV

Being an avid Pucatrader I am always interested in Pucatrades new features and processes.  Recently they released a new “Flash of Insight” addressing Case Resolution Automation (  I wanted to take a deeper look at what this means from a member’s perspective with some personal thoughts and opinions.  I would also like to hear others feedback from members who use the site.

I think that the audio is definitely worth listening to and adds a lot more color around the meaning behind the highlighted points PucaTrade is trying to make.  The two things that I will examine today are the Case Automation piece while briefly touching on the Foils for all members.

Case Automation Importance

I think that the summary of the total case resolutions and statistics is fairly misleading to the audience that don’t listen to the audio clip.  It primarily sounds like PucaTrade is trying to reduce a tedious resource heavy process on their team.  I think their approach is definitely an interesting one, but could actually be accommodated in a cheaper fashion on their current resources.

I understand PucaTrade’s position for several reasons.  One their resources expertise could probably be put to better use on more innovative ideas/functions for the site rather than going through individual cases and responding.  It is very time consuming, and if we broke down the case number with the following metrics provided with some additional flavor we will see how/why this is a good area for improvement.

  • We’ve had 173,000 total cases, 56,000 escalated to admin, 10,000 resolved by admin

If 56k cases were escalated, that means most likely those were read once by an admin.  They also state that they have some sort of matrix for case resolution that is approximately 25 different choices of script that are then applied to the case.  Let’s assume it takes 5 mins per case this way. That would give the team 280,000 mins or roughly 4,666 hours or about 195 days’ worth of work.  Just to read the initial case, apply a script and respond.  Now if we apply a minimum wage of $12.25 for San Francisco we look at a cost of around $57,000.  They currently break this work across 5 people I believe.  As you can see it’s probably a full time job for one person alone.

If we apply 10 mins for the last 10,000 cases that go to resolution by admin we come to an additional 69 days.  In practicality I would think its probably a longer process due to the administration of resolving the case like sending out points and what not.  Plus revisiting the case would take some time as well.  I hope we can all agree that this is very costly to PucaTrade, and knowingly a very costly piece to the community funded site.

Case Automation Resolutions by the Numbers

PucaTrade believes that by removing this feature for all members, and only allowing the cases granting access to admin should be for paid tiered members will help solve the above dilemma either in cost or man hours.  Not knowing the true reason we can only improvise with what I have shown above.  I think that this feature fails to address additional data in their cases.  This data may actually represent a different qualitative story that is really behind everything.  Being an avid trader and breaking down my personal Case Data I would like to address some missed points.

First, my numbers are roughly close to PucaTrade’s overall numbers.

139 Unique Trades
5 Cases
3.60% Percent of Trades Leading to Cases
352.0791367 Pucapoints of All Trades on Average

I have roughly traded with 139 unique members since joining in January.  I have a free account on PucaTrade (I appreciate the ability to trade without being a paid member).  I have had 5 unique situations that required a case.  Of those cases I have opened 3 that required an admin.  Two of those trades were outstanding for over a month.  My average point per trade is 350 Pucapoints.  I want to highlight this fact to address some Case Resolution Points.

What we don’t know from PucaTrade is whether the Cases are unique or if they are multiple cases with the same member.  I have grouped my data in pivot tables to account for this information.  This may actually lead to a lower percentage of real cases.  Almost all my cases were under 200 points.  In fact most trades that I have made upwards over 10,000 points players send me a mail thanking me for the condition of the cards or that they were received.  Which by the way is a great message to get from fellow members.

So, the case and point is that I think PucaTrade is really trying to eliminate the low level case resolutions.  Again, not having access to all the data there are several things I can only guess at based off personal conclusions.  I think by going to this model they will alleviate a ton of case work for “The Humans” that they mention in the audio.

Personally I don’t like this approach as it will have an immediate impact on my current trading capabilities as an active member of the community.  However, I think they make a good point about upgrading to the $5 a month uncommon feature due to the “Insurance” that PucaTrade provides.  Also, noting that instead of paying USPS or whomever for 10 trades a month you just pay Puca instead and they will insure your trade.

They also mention Moral Hazard in regards to their guarantee.  A few things that they do not mention is Moral Hazard really means that the person purchasing the insurance is knowingly going to misuse it.  Hopefully for the majority of the community that will not be the case.  There were several Facebook comments around people abusing trades, and I agree that someone could deface their own card.  I was extremely disappointed in my most recent case that was escalated around a situation that was similar to one of those concerns.  The best insurance as a member that you should do is actually take photos of your cards before you send to prove that they were not damaged prior to mailing.  I have found this to be very helpful.

Case Resolution Approach

Personally, what I believe PucaTrade should do is shift their workload.  What I mean by this is they did talk about hiring additional help with case resolution by ramping up or down members for their queue.  This could actually be fixed with many creative ways.

  • Offshore it – Hire some resources outside the US at cheaper rates to do the work. You already have the hard part put together which is your resolution matrix.  Also in context to San Francisco minimum wage get someone in another state for Remote work.
  • Ask members of the community that might want to help in this work. As you say it is a community funded business.

The two approaches above would maintain what is there today, possibly shift costs and effort from the current team, and hopefully maintain the same quality and service for all members.  I am sure that other fellow community members have other outstanding great ideas.

Foil Flip Flop

The last thing I want to touch on before I wrap up is the move for Foils to be received by all members.  Personally I do not think this is fair for the paid members that originally helped build the community as it is today.  However, maybe they don’t care and it isn’t a big deal to them.  Personally I wouldn’t like to pay for exclusivity only to be told it really didn’t mean much after all.  I can understand the depreciation of time and it not maybe being as big of a perk, but shouldering something amongst others and then giving it away doesn’t seem fair.  Unfortunately, I do not have a good solution to this, and obviously this was a PucaTrade decision which I will be delighted to use.

I hope those of you who read through the article enjoyed it.  Feel free to leave comments.  I am curious like I stated before to hear what other members have in mind.

MTG Reflection: Battle for Zendikar Pre-Release

Conduit of Ruin

A Tale of Two Local Game Shops

For those of you who have somehow missed the bus Battle for Zendikar’s Pre-Release, it was last weekend, and it was one hell of a time.  There has been a lot of hate in the MTGFinance community going on, and claims like the only value will be the Expeditions.  Today I would like to talk about a totally different value I found, and the BFZ Pre-Releases I attended over the weekend.

After playing Magic for some time there are a lot of things we forget, and of which I was reacquainted with this past weekend.   First, we trekked out Saturday to play at a different shop.  There are three things I want to point out of which I had forgotten about: One, not all shops are created equal.  Two, not all decks are created equal.   Keep these two things in mind.  Thirdly, cracking packs is always fun.  That last one isn’t as relevant.

New Game Shop

It’s always fun going to a new game shop.  It was a nice change from the typical MTG shop I go to. I opened a ton of value you can see here on Twitter.


Now the thing I love most about the game is how things can be very unpredictable.  Honestly, I thought my deck was going to be terrible.  I thought there was no way in hell, my Red/Black non-ramp Eldrazi 5+ 6 drops deck was going to cut it.  I had pretty much chalked the day up to: “Awesome I opened an Expedition, my blessings were counted for the day.  Time to go home.” Kind of a day.  I was proven wrong, and even more so realized how fun it is to play “BIG ASS CREATURES”.

Once, my Eldrazi’s were up in place they fed themselves. I also have a love hate relationship with Bane of Bala Ged.  Bane is a lovely sight when you aren’t defending against him.  Another card that really worked well for me was Conduit of Ruin.  The conclusion I came to with Eldrazis, is if my opponent didn’t have any to match the might of my own, or the removal…they were toast!  I also, never ran my Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.  I probably could have actually cast him every game too. As you can see this turned out to somehow be a killer deck.

The thing is I don’t actually know if the deck was really that good.  I mean my friend, and I met in the Finals, split the packs and went home.  However, it left something lingering with me.  Did I actually build a good deck, or was it the level of players at the shop?  I think I may have to go back a few times to find this out, but I do know that the shop doesn’t host weekly either.  It was also a nice experience being able to help players learn about the new mechanics.  I was asked what is exile anyway? In short I responded with, “Exile works like a second graveyard.”  If anyone has a better explanation I would love to see it in comments.


My Game Shop

I feel like everyone has that game shop that they call home, at least the one they go to the most.  Anyway Sunday went way better than planned on the cracked packs. I didn’t expect to get anything good because Saturday had gone so well.  However, I was wrong.  I pulled Ob Nixilis Reignited as my promo, and my buddy pulled Ulamog as his.

Today was not my decks day though.  I ran a red/white ally deck. Surprisingly, I had a lot of cards for it. Two Lantern Scouts, Dragonmaster Outcast, Radiant Flames, Angelic Captain, and a ton of Allys.  I also had a Retreat to Emeria, and loved hitting two for ones with my evolving wilds and cracking them during combat to spike all my troops.  A lot of players did not see this coming.  So, keep it a secret between us.  Alas, my day ended going 1-1-2, and my buddies did go as well either.

Again, I put myself into a similar question.  Was my deck really that bad or were there just better players here?  Typically this game shop I consider to have decent players, which play a lot and know the mechanics of the game.  They also invest a lot of their time outside of the shops learning as well as prepping for things like releases.

Can’t Anticipate Everything

Overall, thank you Wizards for a fun new Block.  The Pre-Release was a great gaming experience, and nice change in format.  I also, need to remember that even if you think your deck is going to be amazing or be terrible, you can’t fully anticipate the outcome of the day.  With that we may never know if I build good decks, or was it the fact that everyone showed up with their “A” game.  Enjoy the new Battle for Zendikar block, and if you didn’t catch the Pre-Release at least try and get out for the Release.  I believe you will get amazing value with your time, even if the cards don’t end up being worth much.

MTG: Rally the Wallet

Rally the Ancestors

Last weekend we saw the emergence of a new style of deck called the 5-Color Rally by Matthew Tickal. This deck immediately made waves in the Magic Sphere as well as in the Finance community.  Tickal’s deck is featured here on Star City Game’s website:

Today, I would like to take a step back on how as a financier you can adequately prepare for spikes like these from a speculative play, and take advantage of the spike while it’s there.  There are two main areas worth examining with a spike in price.  The first is your position. The other one is executing on the position.

Building the Position

When we examine our position we either have the cards or we don’t.  I would like to reiterate a strategy I touch on in the blog “The Big ‘D’” ( last month outlining the best entry points, and building your position.  The idea is you try to acquire most cards at a relatively low entry point.  For example, I consider if you can get everything for less than $.50 per card to build your bulk position you are doing okay.  Generally, I shoot to lower that number under $.25 per card, and I typically focus on rares.  That is my first, criteria, the second one is that they are usually standard rares.  I do this because this is what has been working for me so far.

If you aren’t buying the cards ahead of time don’t waste chasing the cards like I previously mentioned.  However, if you do I thank you for generating demand for everyone to move their cards.


We can approach execution in two systematic ways.  The first being, you know have a card that would of cost you more to acquire to play a new deck.  This is an overall savings to you as the financier, and your collection has increased.

The second, is actually outing the card.  Yesterday, we saw Rally the Ancestors go from 36 points to roughly over 100 points.  On top of that the demand was well over 50+ cards.  This provided a great outlet to move your cards.  When I logged in this morning there were no non-foils being asked for and the price currently sits at 119.

Just using Pucatrade we have a little bit of a problem.  My copies of Rally the Ancestor sky rocketed and now the demand isn’t there, what do I do?  I suggest using this as a learning lesson, as I previously did with Mastery of the UnseenMastery of the Unseen had a similar trajectory, and I held out at missed value on my copies.  I had expected the demand to stay there, and eventually it dried up.  You need to move your cards if you aren’t going to when the hype begins, and unfortunately that window isn’t real big.

My suggestion is settling somewhere in the middle to edge out the competition.  Not everyone can sit in front of a Pucatrade screen all day and refresh.  Make up your mind on what you’re trying to achieve with your trade and speculation play, and stick to it.  Don’t get greedy, or the demand will be eaten up by fellow players.

Good luck in Rallying your Wallet to the next level! If you haven’t tried pucatrade heres our referral link:

I strongly recommend using Pucatrade as a tool in your MTG Financier wallet.

A No Good Very Bad Sale Day and “Gleb”


Value of a Collection

I’ve been actively participating in the Magic the Gathering finance community for some time.  There are multiple ways that individuals value their trades or collections for that matter.  One of the key things to think about when getting rid of a collection is what the counter party uses for a value system.  Most likely they will not have the same mindset as you.  For example, I have yet to meet someone who buys large collections at TCG mid.  It just does not happen, and maybe it is just a Minnesota thing or I am not using all avenues available to me.  So keeping the above in mind I will continue to talk about an experience I had last week with a buyer named Gleb.

My Value

The way I value my collection is at TCG Mid, for rares and mythics.  I also believe it can be a little inflated, and to keep a complete up to date list is a huge pain.  I literally have an excel spreadsheet with every card that’s rare or better that I have collected.  This spreadsheet does not include rares from older formats like stronghold, even though I have those cards.  It also does not contain other cards of value like any foils aside again from rares and mythics.  Lastly, it does not contain non bulk commons that are valuable like Spell Pierce.

Keeping everything in mind my collection contains roughly 900+ unique cards, and roughly 3,000 rares and mythics.  The average worth of those cards, not weighted mind you is roughly $2, and that average doesn’t include the foil pricing.  Again, this is all TCG Mid.

Here was/is the ad I placed on craigslist.


Collection Listing CL

I wanted to start at $6250 to only attract the correct buyers.  The other reason, why I even considered selling my collection, granted I DO NOT plan to stop playing, is to help pay for my upcoming wedding.

Selling, Trading and Ebay Pricing

Actively selling and trading a lot over the years, I look at moving this collection as two fold.  One I would like to maximize what I can get, and two I know I will have to take a discount.  The counterparty needs to have a perceived value on their end to be enticed to buy the collection.  Again, I wanted to attract the correct types of buyers.

With that said I think I learned a very valuable lesson trying to move my collection.  DO NOT ever contact people that have “I buy your collections of MTG cards” or “I pay the most for MTG cards” unless you need to fire sale. I spent about two weeks talking to several buyers trying to work stuff out.

It is an extremely painful process to be honest.  You already know someone is going to try and nickel and dime you on everything.  They want to feel better about their purchase, I get it…again I said I planned on selling at somewhat of a discount.  .

One of the buyers I contacted lived quite a ways away and looked very promising at first.  I buy and sell cards all the time on ebay so I am pretty versed with the pricing and discounts there.  I begin talking to this guy who’s a few hours outside of the twin cities that says he buys at Ebay pricing.  Cool, I get it and he is transparent on how he values collections.  Knowing that he’s at a decent discount to TCG Mid, I figure okay take about 25% off the top.  I can deal with that, because I think 20% is fair if the person isn’t going to go and turn around selling everything right away.  He did tell me that he was a collector.  Granted I really don’t believe anyone on craigslist.

I continue to talk with him.  He then asks for some of my top worth cards.  I shoot him a few fetchlands and Angus Mackenzie.  I want to see where he comes in.  He tells me he takes a two week average of pricing, shoots me a fetchland that is tcg mid $15, and tells me its $8 on Ebay.

Okay, hold on a minute.  I sell fetchs on Ebay, and definitely sell them for more.  If you didn’t know this about Ebay you can actually view recently sold cards.  To do this you search your card, example wooded foothills.  Then on the left column you scroll down and click the show only completed listings.

ebay navigation

At the time of writing this you can see several wooded foothills sell above $8.

recently sold wooded foothills

I quickly responded with a buy it now that had sold for $15 on a wooded foothill. I said that his pricing wasn’t fair, and that I definitely understood his pricing metric.  However, the problem was he left way too much leeway in it to make the pricing more of an opinion.

Last helpful hint is that there is a website that helps calculate an average price on Ebay.  I find it extremely useful, and hope that you can as well.

On to the next buyer!

Gleb and Ettiquette

Recently Travis Allan @Wizardbumpin wrote an article for MTGprice on etiquette.  I was extremely satisfied that other members of the community find this to be extremely pertinent to playing MTG as well as conducting sales and trades.  I also want to reemphasize that this is very important, and that you should always try and not be a “Gleb”.

In walks Gleb, and in reality it started off as a very promising email string.  Gleb another local buyer to the Twin Cities, I had contacted through craigslist.  He asked me what warranted such a high price tag, and I presumably said to keep the real players interested and weed out the nonsense.  He asked for my rares/mythics and I sent him my entire sheet.  This guy was definitely interested in the collection, and wanted to know when we could meet.

First, off I have a rather large collection as stated, and I was selling everything.  I did not want to parse stuff out because I find that you can make better margins when getting rid of your own collection.  From a buyers perspective you typically don’t take everything because it means more work, but it depends on the person.  Anyway I tell Gleb that he can come over to my humble adobe to check the cards out.  He refused and offered a local Starbucks.  I agreed understanding that maybe I am some creep from his perspective, and a public area is usually the best.  My concern again was the size of my collection.

I had asked what I need to bring to get to an offer for everything.  He replied with everything I bring.  Okay, so I was excited the night before meeting this guy, thinking this is going to go great and that I will get a little extra cash for my wedding.  It took me roughly over an hour to pack my little car full of magic cards.  However, I knew it was worth it because I know soon these will all be Glebs.  Man was I ever wrong.

As I got to Starbucks he texted me saying he was already there.  Cool, I wasn’t going to bring all the cards in so I just walked in proceeding to look for him.  I figured he would be standing near the line or door waiting to introduce himself.  Wrong again.  He was sitting rather very calm and collected sipping on a frappe in the middle of starbucks with a backpack and his laptop unfolded.  Great…he didn’t even wait for me or offer if I wanted to get something.   I actually became very uncomfortable around Gleb, and this isn’t something typical of an extrovert who does consulting.  He had a very weird vibe.

Anyway I told Gleb that my collection was outside in my car, and that I would rather not bring everything in.  I have everything extremely organized and laid out very efficiently, and figured this could go smooth at least.  As I begin to walk outside calm collected Gleb with his frappe follows me out.  I proceed to unlock my car, open all the doors, and the trunk to showcase the MTG goods.  This is where I really start to get annoyed about his etiquette.

He immediately starts opening my boxes and pulling all my cards out that were neatly organized before I can explain each box.  Maybe I am a little anal, but I like stuff orderly so I can find it, and it helps me keep inventory.  He immediately starts saying bulk, bulk, bulk, and starts laying into the boxes.  He eventually makes it to one that I have some foils and says well these are all bulk as well.  I said, I haven’t parsed any foils out and that there’s a foil wooded foothills along with Whisperwood in there.

Now, the horror ensues, as he drops all the foils on the pavement like a klutz. Then proceeds to say that he hadn’t seen any rares.  I quickly respond with they are in my backpack up front, and that I was trying to explain the collection to him before he started tearing through everything.  He quickly tells me to grab the backpack and head in to price the collection.

Dear god sir, I sent you the list! You had all week to price it out, I had no patience to wait around two hours to get nickeled and dimed especially after not offering me a Frappe! However, the best part was the proceeding statement he makes while walking to the door.  “For the record for six thousand cash there better be twenty thousand dollars’ worth of value.”  I go, ah what.  This completely blindsided me based off our proceeding weeks email discussion, and text messaging.  Why in god’s name would this tool waste my time like that?  He’s telling me that he pays 25% value.  There is no way I am going to waste my time with this shark. It would have been much better if he had been wearing the “Left Shark” costume from the Super bowl because that would of probably made for a better story.

I never made it back in to Starbucks to get my Frappe.  I immediately told Gleb that I do not think things will work out, shook his hand, made sure he didn’t jack any of my foils he dropped on the ground, and closed up shop.  I was fuming the whole way home for wasting time with this guy.  However, I figured it would at least make for a good blog, as I was trying to find the good in what went down.

Moral of the story, DO NOT work with idiot buy listers on craigslist, they are sharks.  Also, anyone in Minnesota, beware of Gleb, and for everyone else, please don’t be a “Gleb” and use proper etiquette.

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 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.


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.



Game Day Full of Wealth

Villainous Wealth

Two weeks ago I was able to participate in my local game shop’s (LGS) game day on Saturday.  I was able to sneak away for a few hours to test out my current standard deck I had thrown together about 20 minutes before the event.  It was a deconstruction of my primarily Theros block deck, and rotating in my Khans of Tarkir block cards.  For the record I do not play standard often, but when I do I make stuff happen.

My deck originally was G/W/B/U, and a freaking grind.  The previous game day I had a round that only lasted one match! Half my deck was planeswalkers.  I had missed the top eight on a misplay of mana tapping (Noob move).  An unfortunate learning pain, which I have since learned to slow down on my turn.  One of the cards that I really enjoy playing that most people don’t know what to do with is Villainous Wealth, so I obviously kept this card in for last weekend.  Like I said, I make stuff happen.

Going into my first round last weekend, I was extremely nervous.  Like I said I don’t play a lot of standard, but still want to have a unique competitive home brew. The first round was rather interesting, and as it turned out seemed to be a theme for the night.  The rounds were rather slow, I was like where the eff are the burn decks?  I thought I wouldn’t be able to play anything on the ground without it getting roasted!

After getting a few land drops out I realized this first round was rather slow, and I knew my deck would be able to keep up.  The first round player was Ojutai Control splashing Black for Crux of Fate and Dragonlord Silumgar.  Well, the deck I had put together was a U/B/G control/mirror deck.  I must say I love Clever Impersonator.  This card made my day several times.  My plan was to be general enough to play around all decks and still have fun.  I surprisingly ended up crushing him 2-0.  My favorite part of the game was that I played Villainous Wealth for eight!!! It was hilarious and they were like seriously.  Playing my opponent’s own Dig Through Times, Dragonlord Ojutais, and planeswalkers against him pretty much made him cry.  It was quite a round of fun counter magic, and one I will remember for the lasting impact it made on me.

Now, the other three rounds that day did not go so hot.  Pretty much all the rest of the rounds I went 1-2.  I played against a Temur Combo, which I should have beat except I made several misplays (More Noob Moves).  I played a U/R burn control deck, and one other.  Overall it was a great experience, and I was glad I was able to participate.  I really wish I could have got one of those Thunderbreak Regent cards.

What I learned to look out for from a card perspective to add to any collection or pick up for the U/B control decks are definitely Dragonlord Silumgar’s, Clever Impersonators, and for the offbeat fun wins Villainous Wealth cards.  I believe as the control player’s shift they will lean towards the U/B control for current standard play.

Conjured Currency Arbitrage


Recently, I have read several articles by people and their ability to pick up magic cards at steep discount in their travels.  Today my plan is to show you how you can deliver big returns by using the power of the dollar in your favor no matter where you are.  You can even take out the flight cost.

One thing Magic Financiers tend to overlook is how opaque the magic market actually is.  Everything is about information, and when it comes to speculation you sure as hell better be informed.  I think being informed is the easy part,

the difficult part is getting that information immediately when trying to execute a trade or a decision regarding your cards.  There are certain standards everyone tends to use.  I’m pretty sure I’ve only traded with one person at my local game shop (lgs) who did not use tcgplayer mid.  Personally I prefer this because it’s more fun to trade.

When it comes to trading what really matters is economies of scale.  According to Wikipedia: In microeconomics, economies of scale are the cost advantages that enterprises obtain due to size, output, or scale of operation, with cost per unit of output generally decreasing with increasing scale as fixed costs are spread out over more units of output.  As an individual we each have our own markets that we participate in.  Some examples would include your LGS, Ebay, PucaTrade.  How do you move your cards and at what cost?  Different markets have a different cost.

So, how does one take advantage of information?  I’m going to show you how to take full advantage of your hard earned US Dollar.  Just like a magic card your dollar is a commodity, and it holds a relative value.  The differences of these items, and in which market can cause for a large spread in pricing.  Think of a magic card as a derivative, its price is floating due to supply and demand.  The same thing happens with your dollar relative to other currencies like the Yen.  This creates arbitrage opportunities.

At the time of writing your one USD is worth 119.63 Yen. The next step is to find Japanese stores who ship overseas and sell online.  The one I use for this example is Hareruyamtg.  Next, you need to compare apples to apples.  In my calculations I take the relative cost in local yen of the same MTG cards in English.  Yes, we could do this for Japanese cards if we wanted. Knowing each of the legs of the calculation what we will come out with is a USD price on an English card.  In my example I use as my pricing data (I like an index for pricing).

After all my calculations I was able to identify five out of 12 cards that were great opportunities to build in paper value if purchased today.  If executed correctly a real return with a bang for your buck. Those cards were End Hostilities, Clever Impersonator, Hardened Scales, Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, and everyone’s favorite Siege Rhino.  Of the five I would probably purchase Clever Impersonator, Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, and Siege Rhino if I was to execute the trade today because they had the best margin.

Card Name MTG Price USD Hareruyamtg (JPY) Hare (USD Conversion) Difference
End Hostilities (Eng) 1.7 200 1.671821449 0.028178551
Ashcloud Phoenix (Eng) 3.93 700 5.851375073 -1.92137507
Clever Impersonator (Eng) 3.27 300 2.507732174 0.762267826
Hardened Scales (Eng) 0.91 60 0.501546435 0.408453565
Sarkhan, the Dragon Speaker (Eng) 11.73 1300 10.86683942 0.863160578
Siege Rhino (Eng) 8.39 800 6.687285798 1.702714202
Sorin, Solemn Visitor (Eng) 13.6 1700 14.21048232 -0.61048232
Bloodstained Mire (Eng) 9.61 1300 10.86683942 -1.25683942
Flooded Strand (Eng) 15.01 1800 15.04639305 -0.03639305
Polluted Delta (Eng) 14.16 1800 15.04639305 -0.88639305
Windswept Heath (Eng) 11.01 1400 11.70275015 -0.69275015
Wooded Foothills (Eng) 10.67 1500 12.53866087 -1.86866087

What about shipping costs you ask?  I even calculated all of those as well.  Surprisingly at a per card basis it’s really not that expensive.  Again doing all the calculations and conversions I came out at an added cost of $.15 USD at the high end and obviously going back to the economy of scale $.05 per card.

There is definitely arbitrage opportunity here for a trader to create a lot of value for themselves.  Yes, arbitrage is a guaranteed return, it would all come down to your execution.  Do you have the economies of scale to do the transaction, and do you have enough outlets to move your product?  Only you can answer that question for yourself.

Hopefully you have enjoyed my article, please feel free to contact me with questions and feel free to provide comments.

Value of Goals in Speculation

Setting Goals

A very important tool is the ability to set good goals.  Fundamentally, setting goals helps adhere to a certain strategy or theory.  For instance, there has been speculation that of all the tribes in the current Khans block Sultai will be have the highest ceiling when future blocks are taken into consideration.  This would be cause to buy up cards or develop a deck around those colors in preparation for future releases.  This is an example of a speculative play.

Now what does the above speculation have to do with goals? Well first and foremost goals help to establish a benchmark upon which progress can track success or failure.  In the case of the Sultai Speculation it is believed that Sultai cards are currently undervalued relative to the other tribes.  This would be tested by developing a price sheet for the different tribes to value their speculation as the future blocks are released, with the goal to yield the highest value of return.  Ultimately all goals represent a metric which in my opinion is the single most important part of a goal.  Once a goal is established it will also help provide focus, and feedback for speculation

Focus your mind’s eye

Something often overlooked when it comes to Magic in general is a focus.  Players have decks for everything! I mean most players have a Commander, Modern, and Standard deck.  That is three different areas a player needs to split their focus, and understand the different interactions and card mechanics.  This involves a lot of play time and research into the history of Magic.  This lends itself to a much unfocused player, and possibly weakening gameplay.  Would it best to be a generalist and win some or be specialized and win more?  I’m not saying that the above is bad, and many players have been around with the game for a long time.  It’s all about the play style, and the more that is taken could potential reduce and inhibit a player.

With the focus around the Sultai clan as a slice of Khans it is possible to develop a greater understanding and positioning relative to other players in the Khans block.  Rewards could be either financial or increased skill of in-depth card mechanics.  I highly recommend writing down your goal and what your focus is on.

Reflective Feedback

Writing a goal down also creates a channel for reflective feedback.  Feedback can be measured qualitatively or quantitatively.  The closer to real time the more it will help navigate the current atmosphere by adjustment or staying true to the course.

Reflecting on the Sultai example here are some outlined feedback questions:

  • Time Line: Does the current timeline allow for adjustments to be made to game play or financial strategy? Is this an achievable goal, and is there ample time to measure skill or realize financial value?
  • Focus:
    • Standard: Is Standard a narrow game type choice for Magic? Is even Standard too broad, and should it just be Standard Draft vs Constructed?
    • Sultai: Is Sultai enough of a narrower focus? How is Sultai performing relative to its peers in current block? How does Sultai perform financially and in game format?
  • Valuation: Is there a financial gain or loss that can be accounted for? Are game mechanics and knowledge improved? Was time well spent or used?

Each item above can be measured.  First and foremost is timeline.  Timeline helps holding/buying/game play style through the releases of Fate Reforged and Dragons of Tarkir. A timeline also enhances goals by providing a life cycle and stages to mark their success.  It’s very possible that Sultai really sucks during this time frame, but with a timeline it helps improve future decision making. Sultai may also be a very profitable clan to play in this block.  Even though everything is hindsight there is something measurable, and analysis can be performed against the goal.

Focus will enable you to hone your skills and potentially become an expert at a local game shop or in the greater magic community.  Analysis can be performed on trades, and can be catered to varying play styles. Is now a good time to buy or trade Sultai cards like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant? Who knows, but at the very least, there is focus, and research that has been a part of the trade decision.  Even thoughtful hints, tips, or tricks.  Another thing impacted will be a further understanding of the Sultai card mechanics.  Does Sidisi, Brood Tyrant create a zombie token for each creature milled? Or is it per trigger no matter how many creatures? (Per trigger) These overlooked mechanics may help put a twist on value and on game play that has yet to be recognized creating an edge in a market.

Lastly, how can a goal be valued?  One of the easiest values will be financial.  Sidisi, Brood Tyrant purchased at today’s price of $3, and then pops back to eight dollars with Fate Reforged. How many copies were purchased and sold for a financial gain of $5?  An often overlooked value is the knowledge gained on Sultai and gaming mechanics.  Qualitative knowledge should increase about the game interactions and the Sultai clan. This could *possibly* provide an edge for the next year with Khans still in rotation.  Maybe, the Sultai clan deck is pummeling all the other decks at the tournaments and allowing for financial capitalization.

At the end of the day no matter the timeline, feedback, and valuation there are many lines of speculation that can be identified and turned into goals.  Ultimately it will improve game play and possibly lead to some financial gains.