Tag Archives: resolutions

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Resolutions Old and New

I do like to look back at a year and look forward to the new year.

It’s been a crazy time for me, as I have had a lot of upheaval in my personal and professional life, but here I am, chugging along at this, the habit and hobby that has treated me so very well over the years.

Let’s start with a review of last year’s goals:

#1: Make Day 2 of a Grand Prix

Nope, hasn’t happened, but to be fair, I only played in one GP main event. I’m starting to think that the value isn’t there, for the main events anyway. This is a discussion that a lot of people have, and I strongly suspect that the prevalence of team events is a way to fire up interest. Plus, a lot of times, the main event (especially if it’s Sealed, I don’t have the competitive fire to play the same Modern or Standard deck for 15 rounds) just feels like wasted time when there’s so many awesome side events to be doing. More on this line of thinking in a moment though.

#2: Spend more money

Mostly accomplished. I’ve taken profits out of my collection in order to fund new acquisitions, and that’s been a delightful time. I’ve given myself some treats this year, especially after 2016, a year in which I sold off a lot of things at a very good price. It’s true that if I’d held, I’d have made more on some of them, but reprints have been fast and furious this year. I don’t feel jilted, or upset.

#3: Build a Cube

Holy crap did I accomplish this goal. I started with a card I loved but I could never draft it or if I did, I never got the deck for it: Winding Constrictor. I started looking for other build-around cards, and that led me to a theme of only uncommons. (If you’re interested, the list is here.)

I’d enjoyed the Cubes of others but building one has shown me the ridiculously high EV of having my own Cube. I’d rather Cube than any other format, hands down. I’m less fond of busted formats like the current Vintage/Holiday Cube on MTGO, but that is always an eye-opener of an experience.

I would strongly advocate that you build a cube that you can update. Vintage Cube gets a couple of cards with each expansion, but mostly afterthoughts. Pauper Cube, or Frontier Cube, or Tri-Color Cube, those get some great new cards with every set that comes out, and it’s super fun to curate your own list.  

#4: Treat Magic as a social event, not just a game or a financial transaction.

Super accomplished. It’s easy to lose sight of the social aspect, given the financial angle and the competitive aspects of the game, but for me, this is always going to be social.

Like a lot of other players, this game has been the gateway for me to meet some of my best friends. I didn’t get to play a lot while my children were young, and with them being a little older, I’m able to go out and be me again. Getting divorced was (and is, the process takes FOREVER) painful, but I’ve got a support system of friends who know that sometimes I need a good twenty minutes to rant about Cyclonic Rift and why it needs to be banned.


So what about this coming year?

#1: Finish the Un-Cube

I haven’t yet built a Cube that contains multiples, often called a Draft Cube. I’m arguing with my friends about how I don’t want the logistics of the 5 copies per common as opposed to 4, but the framework is in place. I want, very badly, to have it be evenly split between the three Un-sets but they are such different animals and have very different ideas of design.

#2: Attend at least 3 GPs, including #GPVegas

I’ve missed both big GP events in the desert, and this year, with my summer break coinciding well, I’m determined to make it out there. I also want to try and hit up another American GP, likely on the East Coast but that’s in the air.

#3: Meet Travis and James and Jason in person

Strange but true: I’ve been writing for MTGPrice for four and a half years, I think Travis came on a month before me, and James not too much later, but we’ve never crossed paths in person. I don’t have a particular motivation, and I hope this happens at GP Vegas.

Yes, in my mind everyone in Vegas looks like a Foglio drawing.
#4: Stay Organized

I hardly ever go deep on a card, not since the grand burn of Prophet of Kruphix. I’m content to pick up a couple playsets, tops, and instead of keeping boxes full of toploaders/cases, I like using an old binder, some penny sleeves, and a Sharpie for keeping track of what I bought, when, and for how much. I am not yet in large enough quantities that spreadsheets are needed.

#5: Buy more of my picks

I have a confession to make: For the last few months, when I’d write up a piece, I’d go on TCG the night before and I’d fill my cart with the cheapest NM versions of cards I wrote about. Usually, the bottom 8-10 copies, give or take.

Then in the morning, about six hours after I post my writing, I’d check the cart again and mostly they’ve been sold or relisted. Some of you really like my work, and that makes for an ethical quandary for me. I don’t have extra information. I make my picks based on my experiences, which have been right and wrong. On MTG Fast Finance, you’ll hear us disagree on picks sometimes and we rarely get immediate closure.

This is a personal view, and not one I’ve talked about: I don’t think I should buy the cards I pick right after I pick them. It feels wrong to me, and I know that’s an irrational feeling. There’s a lot going on in my head, not all of it makes sense. I don’t want what I own to influence my thinking.

It also feels slimy to pick a card, extol its virtues to you, the audience, and then buy some up as part of an artificial hype wave.

That said, this year I’m going to wait a couple days after posting and then grab some copies. There’s going to be some hot cards coming up, and I don’t want to get left out because of some weird self-inflicted moral code.

Speaking of picks, have a couple! (I’ve bought none of these as of 12/28)

Foil Solemnity ($8): The nonfoil is just $2, and that’s pretty tempting, but I’d rather get the foils. This is a card that’s already part of all sorts of shenanigans, as Phyrexian Unlife makes you immortal and Decree of Silence locks the game unless you’ve got Abrupt Decay. It hasn’t been truly broken in tournament play yet, but it’s a small-set rare with a 4x multiplier and with each card that comes out, it gets better and better.

The spikes happen every time a streamer tries to break the card!

Thoughtseize ($14 or so): Well, I’d hoped for $10 but we’re two weeks away from Rivals of Ixalan and there’s one NM on TCG at $13. I’m going to try my luck at GP Santa Clara, trying to get a couple of playsets for $45 or $50 by offering vendors cash and haggling, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. I’m an optimist, and I also have to accept that we’ve reached bottom. Grab your copies now, people!

Resolutions, Past and Future

I’ve done it before and I’m bringing back the standby: The New Year’s Resolutions.

In case you want to delve into my past in this regard, here’s my list from last year, which includes a retrospective on the year before.

2016 was a pretty awesome year for me in Magic.

#1: Use PucaTrade to Acquire a Gaea’s Cradle.

Done! I paid a bounty, but my goodness, did it feel good to pick one up. I’ve chronicled my ups and downs with Puca in the past, but this year has been a very good one for me with Pucatrade. I’ve gotten a Cradle, multiple SDCC foils, a judge foil Sol Ring…yeah, it’s going well for me.

Like many others, I’ve had to work more at things since Future Site came along. There’s a lot of people who are trying to trade up via the site, and so it’s not as easy as it was. But I remain invested, and optimistic.

#2: Have a Regular Magic scene

Done! I don’t get to go as much as I want, but I’ve got good babysitters and an even better Commander group. Oh it feels nice, and there’s a healthy mix of insane combo and janky durdling.

#3: Trust my reads more

Working on it. I did a lot more selling than buying this year, though, and I’ve decided to stick to playsets of things. I keep my stack of 50-odd Prophet of Kruphix in a clearly visible location. I’m not one for going deep anymore.

#4: Get and stay organized

Mostly done. I’m down to two binders. One for trading and one for long-term holds that don’t go into storage, as well as my signed cards. I just prefer keeping them in a binder, rather than a box.

#5: Be on a podcast

I didn’t actually write this out here, I said it on Twitter, but podcasting is fun. It’s crossed off my to-do list, and I got to do casts with both James and Travis as they each went on warm vacations.

Ideally, I’d have the chance to do that more, but we will see.


So what are my goals for 2017?

#1: Make Day 2 of a Grand Prix

So I’m going to have a couple of chances at this, in a variety of formats. I haven’t done it yet, and I don’t think any less of myself for it…but I really want it. I mean, REALLY want it.

It’s going to take more practice and more discipline from me. I know that I trade with a clear eye and a calculating demeanor, and I am good enough at Magic to make a day 2. I’ve been at this long enough to have come close a few times, and this is a goal I should be able to pull off. I hope.

#2: Spend more money

It seems silly coming from me, someone who’s been writing about Magic finance for more than three years, but I’ve been taking a lot more profit out of my collection than I’ve been putting in. I sold my all-foil deck for a pretty penny this year, and that was satisfying indeed, even as it tore a piece out of my magpie of a soul.

Like many of you, I follow people on Twitter who sell cards every so often. I buy on occasion, when the value is there, but I know that I would be making more if I spent more. I’m not talking crazy stacks of money or cards, but I want to have a bankroll that is just for Magic, and not subject to the vagaries of how often I have to buy shoes for my kids.

#3: Build a Cube

One of the guys I play with has a powered Cube, and he loves it. He’s built and disassembled several over his career, and I want one.

However, I’m far too random for a stock list, and I am really leaning towards making mine an experience. I’m very likely to build the Reject Rare Cube, but I might pick a block.

It’s a nice feeling to know that there are enough people I play with regularly, that this Cube would see some play. I might foil it out, I might not. Foiling out something like this usually a profitable undertaking, but it’s so much work. I did it once and I’m not sure I have the patience for another go-round.

#4: Treat Magic as a social event, not just a game or a financial transaction.

I recently realized that a lot of my interactions around the game are ancillary to my primary goal: To have fun with other people.

Yes, I trade with an eye for value. I loathe being the one who gives up a $20 card for four $5 cards, unless that’s a playset of Eldrazi Displacer.

But what I get from this game hasn’t just been value. It’s been friends. It’s been fun. It’s been connections that I value highly, and I want a lot more of that.

You may have seen people recently questioning the EV of a Grand Prix Main Event. That’s valid, considering the prices. I’ll be writing about this exact issue as we get close to GP San Jose.

There’s a lot to be gained from everything else happening at these events, which really are conventions. Look around at a GP. Artists, accessories, a bazillion side events. Look at the people who got together for the first time in forever and rented a house together. Look at the kids and their parents playing alongside. Look at the sheer number of people having a blast, even the ones who simply measure their fun by how many unwanted commons they scoop up.

I want to keep my eye on everything that’s good about this community. There is a long way to go before it’s perfect, as we have too many players who aren’t welcoming or appropriate in their interactions, but the game is awesome and the people should be too.

Yes, 2016 has had a lot of awful things happen. Some are going to last for years.

Here’s to a better 2017, one filled with fun and Masterpieces and sweet brews and incredible stories.