By: Cliff Daigle
I am pausing in the quest for another Gaea’s Cradle.
Like many people on PucaTrade, I’m a big fan of trading my current Standard cards at full value in order to work towards a larger-value card.
I’ve sent off random stuff that no one in their right mind would ever take in full value towards the Cradle. A playset of Kabira Evangel? New Drana, Liberator of Malakir back when it was at $17? Solid all the way around.
I was about to start sending off my leftover fetch lands when I saw on Twitter that people are buying PucaPoints at the rate of $0.67 per 100 points, or $67 for 10,000 points.
Now I’m quite concerned and I don’t think I am going to be a part of this economy for a little while.
PucaTrade has always allowed people to buy points from them, at the cost of $1 for 100 points, a very easy and direct conversion rate. Their card prices are usually within a few percentage points of MTGPrice’s Fair Trade Price, though they have their own system for establishing that value.
For example, Flooded Strand has a price here of $22.54, while it’s 2156 points on Puca. Seems legit enough, right?
If you have an Uncommon or Rare-level account, you can transfer PucaPoints to other users. This is useful if you want to advertise a bonus for Expeditions lands, or something along those lines. It also allows you to post on assorted social media that your points can be bought, and that is where I start getting concerned.
Let’s go back to Gaea’s Cradle, as it’s been a target of mine for a while.
It’s currently got a FTP of $182, and is worth 17336 PucaPoints. This is the magic and the promise of PucaTrade, because I could trade about 8 Flooded Strands from Khans of Tarkir for one Cradle and I would do that in a heartbeat. Puca has an issue of needing to wait for someone to decide to mail out that Cradle, but that’s not the focus today.
The possible trade of eight Strands for the Cradle presumes that everything is of equal value, but when cash is introduced, the values start to skew.
Let’s look deeper at the Cradle. It’s buylisting for $118 at best, and eBay auctions are closing at about $120, with some variation on condition or bidding wars. That’s very close to 66% of the card’s value when it comes to cash, and that’s in line with expectations. We accept that retail value in a trade is not the same as cash value, and it’s why you should generally run away from people who want to price your cards at buylist.
To a casual player, Puca’s philosophy is that you are getting full value, but if you can buy points at this rate (and it may have farther to fall!) then you won’t be getting the full return. This level of availability for points makes me very nervous. It’s inflationary, and I’m going to leave it to people more versed in economics to explain the cycle and the problems.
The short version is this: If I’m paying full price in trade, I am worried that someone is swooping in and paying two-thirds of its value. I don’t want to be part of this economy, especially if the points start to lower further in cash value.
I’m not calling for the end of PucaTrade. I’m saying that this trend of cash affecting the Puca economy as something that makes me very worried.
It’s true that this is more about my perception, my feelings, my concerns. Cash has always had a warping effect on the Magic economy, and points being sold for two-thirds of their value makes the Puca economy the same as eBay or TCGPlayer or buylists.
From the other end, though, I can’t argue with the value. If you want to acquire cards for less than retail, you’re going to have to pay cash. Buying points is a very easy way to get the points you want without a lot of the legwork.
It seems like such a hassle to me, though. Going back to the Cradle example, I’d need to spend about $120 to get the points I need, and then I have to wait. There’s only three people who want the nonfoil as of this writing, and only one person has the points and the desire for the judge foil version.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just hit up eBay at that point? If I want to spend the cash, then I should be able to get what I want that much faster.
I’ve never pretended to be a big-dollar spender. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I try hard not to buy singles. It’s not hard for me to think that I spend less on Magic that any of the writers here. I have to say that PucaTrade’s model has been a great one for me, and I would hate to see it be warped and changed.
It’s entirely possible that I’m overthinking this. The sky isn’t falling, but I don’t like the look of the clouds. Please, add a comment below and tell me why I’m right or why I’m wrong.