I am here, hat in hand, to say that I was wrong. PucaTrade is worth using.
However, it’s not as easy as the developers want to make it sound.
What they want you to believe is that you send off cards, and then you get the cards that you want. For many people, it is exactly that.
However, Puca also offers an interesting look into some of our buying and selling habits, as well as providing some fascinating insights.
So what are the ideas I’ve come around on?
#1: You can get expensive cards, it just won’t happen by itself.
James Chillcott and I had a great conversation on Twitter a few weeks back, about building a network on Puca and being the one who has points available for any card. I scoffed, wanting to keep my free account, but I broke down and got the upgrade to Uncommon so I could offer a bounty on the Gaea’s Cradle I wanted so badly.
Even with my name changed to “10% on Cradle!” I wasn’t getting what I wanted.
Then I saw on Twitter that someone had gotten a new Cradle and wanted to sell it. I asked if he was interested in selling it for points (it was not NM) and we agreed on a price. Done. Now my token deck is ready to rock again.
There’s a lot of people on Pucatrade offering bonuses for their wants, for Power, for foils, you name it. Having the points is very good, but doing the work and making those connections will pay off as well.
#2: Spikes are still handled badly.
In case you like your life under a rock, lots of cards had a spike in price this week after the Banned and Restricted announcement. Several cards on Puca were taken off of want lists by administrators, because the price went very high without a lot of warning.
The example I want to use is Time Sieve.
Time Sieve is pretty amazing with the Thopter/Sword combo. Five mana gets you five life, five tokens, and an extra turn. Quite the loop and tough to deal with.
Naturally, this card has seen a spike this week, from being about $2, up to $20, and now about $13. PucaTrade, after several cycles of dealing with these spikes, has instituted a system where cards are flagged, and when they are flagged enough, they are not allowed to be traded anymore.
Their reasoning is like this: For every one person who says “2000 points to get a Time Sieve! Awesome!!” there are at least five people who had Time Sieve on their want list when it was 200 points, and did not want the card at the spiked price.
Yesterday, Thursday, I saw that someone had just added Time Sieve to their want list and I clicked to send it, only to have them request a cancellation two hours later because they didn’t want it at the current 1400-point price. Hellaciously annoying.
#3: No system for less-than-NM conditions or foreign languages.
This is more of a problem that you might think, especially considering the number of people who want older cards. It’s next to impossible to find Alpha or Beta cards in NM condition, just because of how things were. Playing in penny sleeves is awful, and I remember the summer when the first ‘black backs’ came out.
So on Pucatrade, someone has to be paying for Uncommon level or more, so that some points can be exchanged. I send a card, and when I get the points transferred, I have to send some points back. Or they send me the card outside of the official trade system, and I send them an agreed-upon number of points as a gift.
Same thing with foreign editions, or signed cards, etc. It’s not unmanageable, but it is sort of a pain.
#4: It’s a fantastic way to turn old cards into new cards!
I kid you not, I carried a playset of Flying Men around in my binder for years. Years! I knew one day I’d meet someone who wanted them.
Spoiler alert: I never did.
However, I did find lots of people on Puca who wanted the playset, or a Goblin General from Portal: Second Age, or my leftover Collective Voyage, or either of my Awakening Zone, or so on, and so forth…
I’ve gotten to turn those into the aforementioned Cradle, lots of EDH foils, and standard specs. Standard cards are incredibly easy to get with PucaPoints, I’ve been looking for a foil Future Sight Graven Cairns for three months now, but when I wanted playsets of Radiant Flames and Painful Truths, those were in my hands within a week.
Pro Tip for foiling out a Commander deck: Get your foil version, and then send the nonfoil out for more points.
#5: Patience, when getting or giving cards.
I don’t remember how long ago or which writer here said it, but they said that one of their screens at work had a Chrome tab on 30-second refresh, checking all day for cards to be sent. I remember reading that and having a lot of reactions, but the main one was, “I can’t check it all day! I can barely check once every 48 hours!”
You don’t need to maximize the refreshes that way, just log in once a day and check on what’s needed. Puca has gotten big enough that cards or points rarely languish.
Same thing with your wants. Have your want list, let it sit. Be patient. Make some connections. Ask people, talk to them. Puca does tell you how many people have a card on their Have list, though as far as I know, you can’t find those people directly.
I’d love to hear your experiences with Puca. Tell me the good and the bad. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and I can absolutely see a day when I stop using it. I admit, I’ve spent a lot more on stamps than I ever thought I would, and I’ve even had to buy extra toploaders! So let’s hear your thoughts, here in the comments or over in the forums.