Recently I was conversing with a friend of mine on Standard. My opinion on Standard used to be: absolutely not. I couldn’t imagine spending $500 on something that was going to rotate out in a year. My argument was that Standard changes too much to try to keep up. On the other hand, Legacy seemed like a way better investment. Sure it was $2,000 or $3,000, but it only required one initial investment. Over a period of time, though, I’ve discovered that through smart trading, I can almost make Standard pay for itself.
My friend was telling me that he didn’t have the money to do it. I started to ask about his bulk and it turns out there’s quite a bit of it. If there is one thing that I can do, it’s grind value out of some bulk. He knows that I do this and quickly put in that he wasn’t about to spend hours finding five and ten cent cards just to pay for his Standard deck. Like many of us, he had the means, he just didn’t want to work hard enough.
I know it’s been said before that five cent cards aren’t worth pulling out, they are just a time and money waster. It costs way too much to ship them. I agree with this. Who says we have to ship them though? Why not just unload them at an event or to a local store? I do this through a process that I have been told is called “ogreing.” Ryan Bushard wrote a great article about it, so check it out. This saves both time and money.
How do I do it efficiently? Personally I use Trader Tools. It costs money, but for me, it more than pays for itself. Most people look up each card individually, which is a time waster. Don’t most of the collections that we get, including our own, stem from only a few blocks? The reason I love Trader Tools so much is I can pull up the set of Lorwyn, for example, as a whole and see what commons and uncommons are worth pulling.
Now all I have to do is to figure out which sets I have and ta-da, I know what to pull from each. If I have a ton of Eventide and Lorwyn, all I do is write down or print off the names of the cards I need to pull and I can quickly and efficiently ogre out my collection. If it is more than a couple of blocks, this isn’t nearly as efficient, but most of the time, it’s just fine.
What if I’m not going to an event in the near future? Number one, go to an event. Just do it. If that isn’t an option, though, find a local dealer. You can ask Carter Hatfield how many Tuesdays I have brought him 1,000 count boxes stuffed with low dollar stuff for him to look through. These guys are around just about every populace. If you don’t know any, look on Craigslist for MTG and someone will have a post that reads, “Looking to buy all Magic: The Gathering Cards” or “Paying top dollar for Magic cards.” Hit them up.
Talk to your LGS (Local Game Store). I talk to a few in the area that don’t even have a buylist. Some of the time they look through and want nothing unless they are paying bulk. That’s okay, just hold the small stuff until your next event. You’d be surprised at how often they have just taken the whole box off of me, though. It doesn’t cost anything to ask the owner and you’re going to be there anyway.
Be willing to put in the work. For some people, dealing with larger quantities of ten-cent cards might not be worth it. For some of us, though, they are. I will say that it takes a lot of work to get “L.U.C.K.y,” but unless you happen to have fifty grand just laying around waiting to be invested into the cardboard industry, it’s going to take some work.
Sure you may have put five hours in only to make twenty bucks, but you can turn that twenty into forty, forty into eighty, and slowly, painfully, get there. But you can get there. What were you doing with that time anyway? Some people spend it with family and it robs that time, I know. But many are just watching whatever is on TV, or trolling on Facebook, or something else irrelevant. When you are reading memes, you are making exactly zero dollars—why not make five bucks instead? Is Peter Dinklage any less witty when you have cards in your hand?
I realize that we all need down time. I’m not saying don’t spend time with the family. I’m not saying we can all be sorting machines anytime we aren’t at work. What I am saying is that money’s there for anyone willing to grind. If you are willing to grind, you too can get “L.U.C.K.y.”