Tag Archives: TCGplayer

Damaged Goods

Yes, I actually play Magic Sometimes

So most of  you reading this article will know of the existence of my Child of Alara Lands Commander deck, mostly because I incessantly talk about it whenever a new card gets spoiled that could be played in the deck. It’s my favorite deck that I own by a fair margin, and I’ve been working to foil out as much of the deck as possible. I’m even trying to foil out the cards that don’t exist in foil, with the help of TheProxyGuy (NOTE: Do not ask him to sell proxies. I traded cards for the below custom proxies, and you should contact him at zeerbe@gmail.com if you’re interested in trading.)


So where am I going with this? Oh, right. So I was hanging around on TCGplayer a week or so ago, looking for a card to ruthlessly buy out  a foil for my Child deck. I forgot that Petrified Field had just spiked, and I was on the hunt for any foil copies that hadn’t been bought out yet. At the time of my purchase, there were a couple NM foils at $30+, and one damaged foil at $15. The nonfoil had just spiked to $10, so I decided to take a gamble. Now, most of you have probably taken a peek at TCGplayers’ (or another similar store’s) grading guide at some point in the past, so we’re going to skip past the initial paragraphs and check out the relevant one.



Look at that work of art. Someone at TCGplayer probably had to paint their driveway with that card before taking that picture for a stock photograph. So technically, I’m risking getting that thing in the mail when I open up my foil Petrified Field. Considering this deck is my pride and joy, I’d rather my foils not look like they were used to whet the anime sword held by new Olivia. Considering the foil was half the price of all the other copies on the market, its’ safe to say that it was infected with leprosy and no other buyer wanted to touch it. When the package came in the mail today, I honestly expected something in this condition.


Instead, we ended up with this. I’m going to warn you, MTGprice has no way to tag an article with NSFW. This image is not for the faint of h-



Oh. Uhhhh…. alright then. Neat. Did I get lucky? I probably got lucky. That wear on the bottom right corner of the backside is pretty noticable though, and the card might have been more correctly labeled as Heavily Played. TCGplayer’s grading guideline says that damaged cards may not even be sleeve playable, but it’s certainly better than the mutilated corpse of a Magic card than I was half expecting to receive. I’ll be completely happy to jam this into Child, and no one will be the wiser that it had a little accident in the corner.

This got me thinking though; what if we take most of the risk out of the equation? While there’s no way to contact a seller directly through TCGplayer without buying a card from them first, we can use the power of the internet to ask exactly what these “damaged” cards look like before picking them up. If I as a player could get a 40-50% discount on the NM price just because a seller is an extremely harsh grader, then I feel like I’d be a lot more likely to purchase the card. Considering some damaged cards sit on the storefront for extended periods of time before disappearing (I assume due to fear of the cards looking like they were cooked over an open flame for an extended period of time), then we might just be able to get a message back from a seller at an email address with a few pictures.

Unfortunately, I’m sitting at my computer at 11:47pm and just came up with this article idea not two hours ago, so I don’t exactly have a paper trail of conversation with a TCGplayer vendor about damaged cards ready and raring to go. However, I can provide you with an example of a card that I’ve had my eye on for a little while. Remember how I wouldn’t shut up about Volrath’s Stronghold for like a week or two? Well there’s currently a damaged one sitting on TCGplayer for $21 shipped, sold by The End Games.




Less than a dozen clicks away, and I’m on their web page ready to ask them about this particular Stronghold that they have listed on TCGplayer. I’m going to take a slight risk and assume that there is only one store called The End Games in the state of Virginia, but bear with me here. As long as we provide an email address and use our please and thank you’s, I don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to get a bit more specifying information on the card that’s been on TCGplayer for multiple weeks now. If it just has a couple creases on the corners or has slight water damage, you could easily pick up the copy you want for your Commander deck at a much lower price than the other copies currently available.

One of the downsides to this method is of course that you probably won’t be able to contact a store if they’re not actually a Certified Hobby Shop. Some of the stores with fewer number of sales that just do this on the level that I do won’t be Google-able, and as such would be more difficult to contact if you wanted to inquire about the exact status of their more heavily worn cards. Still, the goal of this article was simply to show that not all “damaged” cards will be ripped in half or dipped in chocolate syrup. I took a gamble and it paid off, but there could have been ways to remove the risk from the equation and safely end up with a nice discount on a pretty looking foil that I wanted to add to my Commander deck anyway. See you next week!

End Step

  • As a couple of you mentioned in the comments of my previous article, yes I was probably wrong about Mayor again. As much as I want to justify buying them at $3, I just refuse to buy into a card after it already spiked the first time. I would much rather put my money elsewhere, like into collections.
  • I definitely missed the boat on Always Watching. It turns out that calling Glorious Anthem with upside a bulk rare is a bad idea. On the plus side, I can still be right about 80% of the rest of the set because I call almost everything a bulk rare, and maintain that sweet, sweet, batting average of pure pessimism.


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Advances in TCGplayer

First things first;

Jason Alt and I have been slaving away at spoiler coverage. Thankfully, we have it all in one convenient place that’s only one click away.  Allow my excitement about how 90% of the set will be flavorful bulk rares flow through your mind. Now that that’s out of the way, we can focus on the best card in Shadows Over Innistrad.

The Best Card in Shadows Over Innistrad

Have you seen this freaking frog? Don’t worry, I’m going to avoid all of the overused Futurama hypnotoad references.

I know that I’m mainly supposed to write about finance and prices and all that jazz, but sweet miss Mary; this card is the bee’s knees in my Child of Alara Lands deck. Every set I always cross my fingers and think “Maybe there will be just one card that I can throw into a certain Commander list”, and this thing is it. Trade RoutesSeismic AssaultLife from the Loam, fetchlands… the possibilities are endless. Oh, you want me to talk about Standard play? Meh, he’s probably a bulk mythic, so I’ll just wait two months to pick up a foil one for my Commander deck at like $1-2.

The Meat of the Article

Screenshot 2016-03-23 at 9.09.10 PM

Oh, right. I actually have to write about something this week. Well, let’s start with an announcement made by TCGplayer.com last week that will have an impact on the way we buylist cards;


Las Vegas, NV, March 16, 2016 – Today TCGplayer.com® announced a dramatic expansion of the TCGplayer Direct service, the only fulfillment shipping program in the World for the multi-billion dollar collectible gaming industry.

TCGplayer’s first of three announcements was a global expansion of TCGplayer Direct. With a brand new international fulfillment program for the collectibles industry, customers worldwide will be able to order from multiple collectible sellers and receive the orders in one package, for one shipping fee and verified by the professional graders at TCGplayer.

This revolutionary offering by TCGplayer allows its sellers to fulfill international customer orders at domestic U.S. shipping rates through TCGplayer Direct. TCGplayer Direct International will be the most efficient, affordable and safe way for sellers to sell collectible products worldwide.

The company also announced an expansion of its current TCGplayer Direct program, which will now fulfill orders of any size without a minimum order size. This change allows buyers to make smaller purchases from multiple Sellers for quick, spontaneous purchases of lower priced collectibles. This means significant sales growth for sellers while improving their profit margins on inexpensive but labor intensive orders, returning valuable hours for seller investment elsewhere.

Finally, the company’s biggest announcement was the launch of a brand new marketplace called the TCGplayer Buylist, a revolutionary, first-of-its-kind program that empowers customers to easily find and receive the greatest prices available for everything in their collection without breaking it apart. Just as TCGplayer Direct combines the best prices for cards from hundreds of sellers, the TCGplayer Buylist provides the highest value for customers to sell their collection to all of the country’s largest brick and mortar sellers through one convenient transaction.

For sellers, the TCGplayer Buylist will help them keep up with the accelerated sales that TCGplayer’s new programs will drive. The TCGplayer Buylist provides sellers unparalleled inventory access from the World’s customers, freeing them from the limitations of acquiring inventory from their local markets. Cards sold to sellers through the TCGplayer Buylist program are received and processed entirely by TCGplayer, delivering more incredible labor and logistics savings for them.

“The TCGplayer Buylist is the first marketplace designed to help brick and mortar stores acquire more inventory for the explosive collectible gaming market.” said Chedy Hampson, founder and CEO of TCGplayer.com. “We’re now able to provide our buyers and sellers with incredible logistic efficiencies that benefit everyone. The ability to instantly find and sell collectibles at one time for the best prices possible online will delight customers. And our sellers receive new solutions that grow their online sales while solving their inventory dilemma as they expand beyond their local town or city into the global ecommerce market.”

Rollout of TCGplayer Direct International begins next week, with the order size expansion of TCGplayer Direct to follow at the end of the month. The TCGplayer Direct Buylist is underway for a summer 2016 launch.

Okay, there were a lot of words there. I know you kids love your TL;DRs, so I’ll do my best to give you a summarized version of what we care about in this announcement.

  1. People from around the world will be able to order cards via TCGplayer Direct. More importantly (at least, I assume that most of my reader base is ‘Murican), that means it’ll be a hell of a lot cheaper for us to sell cards to the international market if you’re a TCGplayer Direct seller. Want to become a Direct seller? Honestly, it’s not that difficult. If you have an average of four sales a day and you have over 99.5% feedback rating, you can apply right now.Screenshot 2016-03-23 at 9.15.48 PM 
  2. There will no longer be a minimum order amount when buying cards through TCGplayer Direct. Currently there’s a $25 minimum when placing an order with Direct, I assume so they don’t get destroyed on shipping costs. This removal makes it a lot easier for those budget players who want to pick up an entire deck of bulk rares/commons for $20 can do so while only receiving a single package in the mail. Again, much better for those who want to hop into the Direct program but unaffecting you if you’re a small time seller.
  3. Their last announcement is by far the one that will have the largest impact on the market for everyone, regardless if you’re part of the Direct program or if you’re even a TCGplayer seller. They’re coming out with the TCGplayer Buylist, allowing an individual person to ship their entire collection to TCGplayer and get the best buylist prices among those who sign up for the program. While there aren’t a whole lot of details, it could be an attractive option for those players who want to dump a Commander deck or their entire collection without pricing out a billion different stores.

We don’t have the exact details of everything about these new practices yet, but I’d still like to give my initial thoughts to quell some of the questions that I’ve been receiving. One of the biggest responses I’ve gotten to this post is as follows, paraphrased slightly:

“But DJ! How am I going to be able to act as my local buylist if TCGplayer is going to become one of the most prominent locations to sell cards to other brick and mortar stores? People will see their prices, and I’ll have to up my buy prices on collections to compete with Channelfireball, Cardkingdom, etc.”

Well, I’m not exactly worried about this encroaching on me being a local buylist. These same buylists existed before TCGplayer’s Direct buylist, and very few players in my local area made the choice to ship their cards over selling to me or other local players. The biggest advantage you have as a local buylist over TCGplayer that won’t change is that you have cash in your hand now. While CFB/CK/ABU might offer $600 on Person X’s collection, you can still offer $500 on his/her pile of cards because immediate cash dollars have an inherent value when compared against “We’ll send you a check/Paypal you in a few weeks after receiving/grading/verifying.”

You’re also removing a large chunk of the work from their side of the equation. Oh, you have six semi-foiled Commander decks that you need to get rid of to pay for X expense? Well, you’ll have to set sort and alphabetize within sets for every card, and that takes a non-zero amount of time.  Then there’s figuring out how you’re going to ship it safely, taking the time to go to the post office and mail it…. Remember the magic words; “I have cash and can be at your place in X amount of time.” Unless you live in an area where there’s already a significant amount of competing buylists for high dollar staples, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about the Direct Buylist encroaching on your ability to buy collections or lots from local players.

That’s actually a good segue into the next thing I was going to write about. Guess how many stores are going to have a Direct buy price for Scalding Tarn. There’s going to be a lot, right? Okay, how about the number of stores who can afford to put a deep enough buylist for cards like Lightning HelixManamorphose, and Rancor? There will probably be some stores who can port their buylist directly (ChannelFireball, Cardkingdom, etc), but it should weed out a lot of the smaller minnows who are trying to play with the big boys.

Okay, final question. How many Direct buyers do you expect to see put up a non-foil Immerwolf or Savage Lands? Exactly. I’m going to predict that 99% of the stores who want to take part in the Direct buylist will not care in the slightest about paying pennies for the buylistable commons and uncommons that I have grown to love and enjoy. Go ahead and let the big cats fight over whether they’re paying $55 or $60 for a Scalding Tarn, while you’re happily buying bulk commons and uncommons by the tens of thousands and burning through Season 2 of Daredevil while you pick out the $.25 and $.50 cards.

The TCGplayer Direct buylist will allow the big name vendors to fight over paying top dollar for the hot staples in competitive formats. I think the best way to compete with this new market is to avoid it entirely by focusing on what has always been the best way to make money in Magic: bulk and bulk accessories. I’d rather have 23,000 bulk common/uncommon over a single Scalding Tarn any day of the week, and only one of those is going to give you an anxiety attack in the coming months about whether or not its’ going to be reprinted.


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