How to Trade Magic Cards (Without Being a Douchecanoe)

Last week I was at the Gatecrash release party at Clockwork Games. I wasn’t there to play in the tournament, but I enjoy hanging out there and trading with random people. I don’t play a lot of standard, but every now and then I try to pick up current cards so I can trade them off for legacy cards while the prices are elevated.

So I started talking about a trade with this one dude. I didn’t catch his name, he wasn’t someone I had recognized from there, and certainly not one of the ‘regulars’.

We were discussing the valuations of the cards that I had an interest in, and he was overvaluing the cards by a lot. Since I’m an adult, I have no problem checking the prices on my phone and saying either ‘okay, that’s worth it to me’ or ‘f*** you’. I don’t have a problem with ‘trade sharks’ trying to get me because I know what I’m looking for, and I tend to be okay with giving a bit more for a card if I want it bad enough.

But the thing that got to me was when this kid walked up to the table and said he was looking for shocklands. He wanted any of them, and the only real thing he had to trade for it was a Deathrite Shaman. The guy pointed to a Blood Crypt and another $9 shockland and said “how about one of these? I don’t really want to trade the others for that…”. The kid was about to make the trade.

And that’s where I had to draw the line.

I said, “Dude…the Deathrite Shaman is about $6 over the shockland. You might want to throw something else in.” The guy just looked at me like ‘are you seriously busting up this trade?’. I looked back and let him know that this was EXACTLY what I intended to do.

The kid said “I’ll just wait…thanks…” and walked off.

I ended up not finding anything that I wanted (which, of course, there was some stuff, but I wasn’t about to trade with this guy at that point).

So here’s the thing…

I’m all for trading for value. I do it a lot. Sometimes I get huge (FREAKING HUGE) value out of my trades. But I also follow a set of principles that I don’t negotiate on.

I WILL NOT EVER try to rip off a kid. Will I trade with new players? Absolutely. Will I make trades that are lopsided? Yes. Under one condition: I know that the person is mature enough to either know the approximate values of the cards, or is competent and capable of finding out this information.

If a person wants to do a trade, and understands that cards do have resell value, and offers me a trade that is drastically in my favor, I will encourage them to pull more stuff out of my binder, even if I’m about to score huge. ESPECIALLY if I’m about to score huge. I don’t mind throwing in a ton of bulk or even decent stuff on a good trade, because it’s bulk trade fodder. I want good cards, not crap. I’ll give you an equal or greater amount of crap for one good card that will hold value. But if a person straight up has the capability to care about values and opts NOT to check prices, that’s their call. I’ll still offer them more for their trade. I’ve done this and still had people offer to trade my stack for theirs and decline taking more stuff. I didn’t feel as bad about that because I asked if they were absolutely sure they wanted to do that, and told them to get more stuff if they wanted it.

But if I see you trying to rip off a kid that just doesn’t know what they have, I’m going to intervene. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.

It’s one thing to be a value trader. It’s another to be a jerk.

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