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The 10 Commandments
By Waubers
Editor's note: this CPA Classic Article was originally published on October 29th, 1999.)--CT

Welcome to the CPA; it's a great place! Hi, my name is Waubers. I have been collecting Magic cards for two years now and have become rather fluent in the do's and dont's of collecting cards. I don't play in many tournaments but I do collect cards heavily. Because of this, I have a small set of rules that I follow when trading with people. The rules I have are for me, but I've found that most anyone can benefit from them.

Before I start preaching I should probably give a little background. First, I have gotten burned more times than I care to disclose. I don't play black or Red (Because they're EVIL). Through all those bad trades and poor purchases I finally saw what I was doing wrong. Since that revelation, my dealings in Magic have been much better. I'm not stupid. I've dealt with every level of player in my trading and I've traded with people from all over the world. I am not claiming to be some Magic God but I have been around the proverbial block a few times when it comes to dealing in Magic.

All right here they are Waubers 10 Commandments of Trading and Collecting!

1. Do not hesitate to pull cards out of binders.
You won't get a card unless you ask for it. You need a Masticore. Joe has 5. Joe has been playing since Beta and he is really good. You haven't been playing very long and don't have much of a trade binder so you figure why bother even trying. TRY. Who knows? Joe might need some Scrapheaps and you might have 3! The worst thing that can happen is you don't get the trade!

2. All Cards have Value.
No matter what anyone says, every single Magic card has some value. I don't care if the guy you're trading with says that the card he pulled from your binder is worthless; it's not, and never let anyone tell you it is. Some one you're trading with might tell you that a certain good card is so common, it's practically worthless. Well, if you like it and value it yourself, it isn't worthless.

3. Price guides are just that - guides.
Place a card's value where you think it should be. Price guides are usually very far off from a card's real value when a set is new. After a while, they become more accurate. For example, in February of '98 Cursed Scroll was only worth $6. Now it's worth $22. To me it's a good card and it finds its way into a deck or two, but I don't think that a Cursed Scroll should be worth $20. To me Verdant Force or Aluren are the most valuable cards from Tempest not Cursed Scroll. You need to be reasonable when you look at card and be objective and conditions is always a factor.

4. Just because you value a card high doesn't mean everyone else does.
Like I said, a Verdant Force is very highly valued to me. To other people who don't play fat green it might be just another crappy rare. Try to meet someone in the middle.

Here's an example; Bob wants your Verdant Force, and you want his Child of Gaea. These are two really good Fatties. To you, having to pay upkeep is not cool, so you value the Child at $6. The Verdant Force -- to you -- is just plain spiffy, so you value it highly. To Bob, having to pay 8 mana for a 7/7 is nuts; his Child is a lot less costly. Bob thinks, "so what if you have an upkeep to pay?" Bob values Verdant Force at $6 and his Child at a lot more because -- to him -- it's so good. If you make that trade you won't be happy. Here's the reason: you lost a card of value and only gained a percentage back from the trade. Bob will think the same thing. Now if you pull another good card from Bob's binder and he pulls one from yours and you're both happy with the trade - great. (ok this rule kind of rambled I'll shorten up the next one, promise)

5. Don't hesitate to walk away. You can always walk away from a deal. Magic-trading is not the Mob! If you turn your back on something, you won't be shot. This and rule 1 go hand in hand. If someone makes what you consider a horrible offer and then they have a fit because you pull a card from their binder that they value very high, walk away from the trade. No one gets hurt or looses anything. Magic cards are not that rare. Some one else will have the card you need.

6. Don't screw people.
As tempting as it is to take advantage of a newbie or a player who doesn't get out much, don't do it. This is bad for the game. When people get screwed, they don't trade. It's that simple. The worst case is when a newbie player wants a card of yours that you don't have much use for. They don't know the value of the card so they assume its valuable (especially if you don't want to trade it). Then they will say here's my binder. You look through the binder and don't see anything worth trading until you see that nice fat Thorn Elemental in the back. You know a Thorny isn't fair, for the crappy rare the other guy wants, but you say, "what the heck." You pull it out of the binder and add it to the trade, which is ok to do - as long as you include something extra in the trade to offset the value difference. Give them something useful or at least something that they'll be able to trade.

7. Be honest.
Duh! Be honest like your mom told you to be! Don't tell someone that a card is rare if it's only uncommon. Sure, you might get more for less, but sooner or later the person will find out what kind of trade you made.

8. Think for yourself.
I find that having my friends around when I trade can be bad. They will try to get you to go on deals they think are good and you might think are lousy. It can also be good because your friends can stop you from getting screwed by someone breaking rule 7. The main thing is not to be intimidated into a trade.

9. Stay Focused.
I have seen more people get screwed while playing a game then at any other time. I find this crazy. People trade while they're in a game of Magic. This splits your focus. It also allows people to lift cards out of your binder or to sneak in an extra card or two into a trade that you didn't see. Set aside a time to trade and a time to play.

10. Be careful when selling cards.
You will get more trading a card than selling it 99% of the time. The only time you'll get a good price is when a card is super hot. Right now Masticore is selling for $11-$12 and buying for $8-$9. It's trading about the same. Now would be the time to sell you extra Masticores (or give them to me!). Don't be intimidated by a dealer. Let them get the cards from packs. After all they get packs at half of retail.

Well that's it I hoped you learned something. These rules aren't absolute, but I find that they are good to follow and most Magic players with any real experience would agree with them (I hope!). The bottom line is that you're free to make any deal you want, but a good player will make the best one.



My pants are on fire!

Disclaimer - I am not an English teacher, so if my grammar upsets you - tough! Also, I am only one person with one set of eyes, so if something I say seems very one-sided... well that's because it is one-sided (my side). {What grammar problems? --CT}

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