By Cliff Daigle
Large-scale Magic events offer the chance to get a lot done without spending lots of money.
At every large tournament I go to – be it a Pro Tour Qualifier, a Grand Prix, or something really huge, like Gen Con or SDCC – I bring the cards I want to sell, and a list of things I want.
Depending on the size of the event, organization is key. At a Pro Tour Qualifier, you’ll get a couple of vendors and comparing buylists is easy. Most vendors will have a buylist printed out that you can use to compare those numbers. But at larger events, there might be a dozen or more different companies who want your business, and you need to be ready to browse. A list of the things you brought to sell is vital, and if you’re looking for a certain card, then it’s important to know if you’re going for cash or credit.
Different vendors give different amounts for the same card, and different trade bonuses if you want store credit. But even on a 30% bonus for credit, you’re still under retail value of a card, so don’t do this lightly. I’ve done this to get some sweet cards and finish foiling out decks, but I’m not happy about it.
A more recent trend is the rapidly growing market for Magic accessories, like playmats, dice, and life counters. Not every vendor is into those things, but research and preparation is going to pay off. You’d be surprised how many vendors are going to offer you cash for things as common as a spin down D20. Before Grand Prix Anaheim, Star City Games put up a banner saying that they were buying spindowns. A little research and a lot of contacts with my friends, and I ended up selling SCG about $100 (cash, not credit!) worth of dice.
The main event may or may not be right up your alley, but the side events offer a range of formats and pricing. While I do not advocate buying single packs just for the value of the cards inside, I love drafting. Sealed is fun too, but drafting is second only to EDH in my personal pantheon. I have gone to Grand Prix just to enter side draft after side draft. I’m paying for the tournament, not just the packs, and in some drafts, I’ll get passed valuable cards.
Sometimes the value is in the event itself. When my wife and I went to Worlds in 2011, they were giving out a Pro Tour foil Ajani Goldmane with every event entry. Dealers were only giving $3 cash, but in a $10 draft, you’re paying $7 to open three packs. That’s hard value to walk away from, especially since that was Innistrad.
Once you’re done drafting, you can take the good cards and trade them to players or dealers for more of what you really want. Again, an example from Worlds: I did ten drafts that weekend, and had a Liliana of the Veil, a couple Garruk Relentless, a Snapcaster, and a few of the rare Innistrad lands. I traded all of those to a dealer for a Diamond Valley and could not be happier.
Be advised that there is often a saturation effect, especially with smaller vendors: At the end of a three-day Grand Prix, some will be lower on cash and already bought a thousand Steam Vents, so they will lower their buylist on the one you just opened.
I’m preparing to go to GP Oakland next month, and I’ve got my lists ready to go. If you’re there and want an EDH game, shoot me a tweet @WordOfCommander. I’d love to get in a game with you.