zaterdag 21 september 2013

My Card Trading Strategy

My take on how to complete your card collections

Before one can go into trading cards around the glode, we need to know some "pure" facts. 

The first is that this guide is by no way suited to make money, as you will be at times trading far into your negative.  But as this guide is about getting rid of your excess, not used and years in a binder already cards in order to complete your (more obscure, like here in Belgium) collections, in my case I'll be using the Saint Seiya game from Cardass.

The second fact is that you need to have an idea of what is hot out there.  I'm not talking card X from game Y, but the general sort of games that overal lend themselves well to trading around.  This is usually a dual fact.  A popular game has a lot of Tournament Support (and due to deck of the day poularities, as such a good card turnover rate), while it is the heavily supported games become the Popular ones.

This is split up in two sorts, you either have globally popular games, or 'mainstays', and hype games, usually the most recent anime or tv series based cardgame.  These last ones tend to flare up very heavily for a few months, then to shimmer down and become collectors only intresting games.  If you can make the trades at the moment of the hype height, you can make great deals, but in general it's a safer bet to focus on the mainstays to trade off.

Most Popular and Supported Cardgames of the past 5 years

1. Magic: the Gathering

2. Yu-Gi-Oh!

3. Pokemon

While MtG is the most popular game on the block for decades now in Northern America and Europe, in the Far East (mainly for purpose of this manual that is Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong) it actually takes up a spot behind the other two, and has to contend over there with currently Weiss Schwarz, a multi anime series cardgame.

Take into account then that these games have a lot of tournament support, another vector starts to figure in: the Tournament Player Pimping.  Every tourney player loves to customize his deck with things like Foils, Promocards and Foreign Edition cards.  If you attend tournaments yourself, your surely bound to encounter these kind of things, if you aren't even doing it yourself...

Quantity over Quality

For once, this rule is more important then the other side around.  Believe me on this one, it is easier to trade off 50 foil basic magic lands at 2 euros a piece, then one Jace, The Mind Sculptor at 100 euros.  This is because there are a LOT of players, but not everyone plays the Big Jace deck.  Everyone does need lands though...
Tip: In Magic the Gathering, common and uncommon foils of the current Standard environment, that meaning actually played cards, are easy trade offs as well.

Now let's move on to the way I tend to trade

My main tool is Trade Cards Online, a free site with a lot of cardgames already listed and available for checklists.

NOTE: if your off going to make an account there, if you want to give up a referral to the site, my nickname is 'tomsche'.  You don't get any money if you bring anyone to the site, but it adds to your level, and the higher the level, the more trades you can do simultaniously.

The site only functions as a free intermediary, making matches between people looking for cards from your collections, and people having cards from those your looking for.  The free version works just fine for this purpose, but I upgraded to Premium because it is dead cheap and it helps supporting the site to keep on running.

Japanese cards, bar some sets of W/S, arent on there.  It might be that they will be in the future, but for now it's a no-no.  No panic though, let's use this website to try and get rid of those shoeboxes of commons, uncommons and 'dollar bin' rares.  Your targets to trade for should ideally be promos and foil cards from the first section, but I must say I also trade for promo cards of other series.

Tip: DON'T be afraid to trade into your loss on either a sheer number of cards, or 'etsimated monetary value'.  The commons lie around in boxes not getting moved, and the fact you still have all those rares means no-one in your regular trade channels wants them anyways.  Making them efficive value 0, no matter their estimated ratings.  I recently traded off 116 WoW commons and 3 rares for 5 Yu-Gi-Oh! promos.  The WoW cards have been in my binder almost 2 years now, the YGO!s are already en route to Hong Kong...

Promo cards have a strong lure: they are only "mainstream" available and in limited numbers for a short while.  This makes them, even their relatively common editions like release promos, sought after.  There is a variety of websites in the Far East, especcially in Hong Kong and Japan, that gladly accept these for them foreign languaged promo cards for a decent amount of 'store credit', as do a lot of trading forums over there.
Since they in turn have a more common access to regular japanese CCG games, this time I can do the reverse of the above tip, and make them trade in their loss so they can get their hands on what are for them just commons and regular rares in exchange for sought after cards.

And that makes it even out on the part I told you before to not be afraid to trade in your loss, in the end it tends to balance all out.

Tip: do a search for a better free online translator then Google Translate before going on the chase around the globe, one especcially goed for Japanese and Spanish (the most spoken language worldwide!)

Now the hard part...

Trade Canals

On this part, you will need to do a bit of research for yourself and for your cardgame.  Type in Google the name of your cardgame of choice, and the first 10 non commercial but fansites from a given country is a good pointer of where your game is till popular and you'd need to focus towards.  Then Google that said country + 'card game tournament' and you will also have an idea what you can easily get traded off in that direction.

Saint Seiya for example yields mostly Japan, The south european region (being France, Spain and Italy) and Brasil.

Take back the table I put all on the top of the list, and MtG is popular in Japan as well, so here is how I usually try and go to work to get my hands on a card (and as you could follow so far in my Sunday column, there often pop up japanese cards).

1. Try to trade of as many of my regular cards, preferably within Europe to cut down shipping times, for promo cards of the 'Big Three'.

2. Look to trade of some of them in the spanish countries, chances are I can track one or two cards for my collection there first and it is (a bit) easier to communicate.

3. If not succesful, I turn to the Far East trade in stores and the local forums.  Needles to say, your translator is mightily important here (though after my studies, I'm considering taking up Japanese for a year to learn the basics).

4. If all that fails, you can usually and without to much effort sell of your promo cards.  That way, you can still use the dollars they generate (always do the maths in dollars btw, far easier to 'connect' between America on the one side and the Far East on the other when your lying in between them like Belgium) you can use to buy card if you trace it.  And they tend to generate more from a single promo then a box of commons.

Tip: List your cards on if you want to use that method, not your local variety, as on the contrary to popular belief they do not link up all searches when doing a global search one.

And that is how I go to work.  If you look at the House of Cards tab above in the blog, you can see I don't need that many cards anymore from after all 6 full sets of the Crusade system.  Not bad for a game that isn't played or sold overhere in Belgium...

So Happy Hunting and may this guide help you in finding your card collections missing treasures!!!

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