The Tricks Of The Trade

Trading is a strange, yet core part of card games that allow players to get to the cards they want or need. A benefit of these card games is that you learn how to trade, barter, and understand the value of things based on concepts like demand and playability. So, how does one trade effectively and walk away feeling confident?

I’m writing this article at a very peculiar time in our game. It seems that highly prized and valuables cards are being released and reprinted with a quick turn around. If the trend continues, our Meta will be influence with each new pack release, and could shift completely with every structure deck.

One of the most important practices I encourage players to do is to know what they are trading for and the value of those cards. If you are unaware of the value of the card you’re trading for, the person you are trading has the opportunity to take advantage of the situation. You also might be aspiring to get something that is just out of your grasp. But, on the other hand, you could over trade for something that is worth less than you think. Make sure that you target the most versatile cards and give them the most trade priority. You want it to do as much work as possible for you, so it should be versatile enough to work with the decks you’ll be using until you get what key cards you need.

There are a ridiculous amount of situations and conditions in which a card’s value can change, so it is worthy to note that the time in which you are looking to trade your cards is important.

Here are a handful of situations that affect card values:

Pre-Release Window: (From Pre-Release to Release) Since the pool of cards available is fairly limited.

Official Release: When we learn how “rare” or “hard to pull” the card is.

Before and After Major Tournaments: Values can rise before the event and if a card is adopted or “used effectively” during that event. They can fall if a card under-performs.

Reprints/Banned List/etc: Most obviously is if the card is getting reprinted or limited, it will generally lower in value. But, if cards around the theme are getting reprinted, and a card in particular is not, it could see a rise.

A lot of people are on top of their card values, but I believe that takes the fun and focus out of playing the game and turns it into a colorful version of the stock market. At the very least, checking a handful of your cards every once and a while is really all that’s necessary. You could even check them all at once, and then separate the generally valuable cards from the poop. That way, you can revisit their values at your leisure and use your other cards to encourage large trades or use them as throw-ins. (Throw-ins: cards that are desirable, but not very valuable or rare.)

When you trade, its usually a good practice to match the value of what you are trading to the value of what you are getting, and to try and get as close as possible. I try to stick to above or below $3-5 dollars. Since you checked the value of the cards you are trading for, and you have a general idea of what your cards are worth, trading like this is usually an easy and painless exchange.

The most common place to see what a card is worth is with “Buy It Now” and “Price + Shipping: lowest first” as the settings. The lowest price on Ebay should be considered the lowest price that it is available for  that card at that moment. Don’t forget to add the shipping into that too, sometimes the displayed price is displaced into the cost of shipping.

I like to use Ebay to get the idea of the “lowest” price and sites like and to get an idea of the “highest price.” By doing this, I get a cards price range – which is very good to keep in mind with the more valuable cards. Sometimes though, all the numbers come up the same, which means trading at that price is a solid move.

So, when someone asks “what do you value that at” you can respond confidently. Writing down what your cards are worth, and what you’re looking for is a great way to focus on trading for what you want and the right way to avoid getting “ripped-off.”


If a card like T.G. Hyper Librarian was worth a dollar for every time Kyle, Justen and I said its name, it would be worth quite a bit of money, and it was. There was a time when it was valued at around $100 dollars. It was right before a big national tournament, and it had just been released. But now, it is staying solid at about $30 dollars. Its price was inflated due the short amount of time it had been available, the limited amount of time before the tournament to get it, and the fact that the card is really good.

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