What’s the first thing you decide to do when you cement plans to attend a grand prix? If you’re a player and not a financier, the answer might be “figure out what deck I want to play, and start testing for various matchups.” If the event is local and within your home city, you might make the decision to roll out of bed Friday morning and hang out at the convention center on a whim (I’d also be jealous of your situation, considering upstate New York doesn’t have that luxury), and in that case, there might not be any planning involved at all. However, if you’re planning on using the convention center as an out for a large number of cards to a large number of dealers ( for me, it’s Grand Prix New Jersey), there are a number of steps that I’m going to take in advance to try and maximize my time and money spent during the trip, so I can make things go as smoothly as possible.
Are you going to GP:NJ on the weekend of November 15th? If so, do you have your sleeping arrangements already planned out? If not, I highly recommend getting on that, because the prices of hotels will only go up as the date creeps up, and removing the stress of needing to secure a place to stay has value in itself. Figure out who’s going to be making the trip with you, and make absolutely sure that nobody’s going to have to drop out at the last minute. Liking the event page on Facebook can also help you find sweet deals on hotels, information on the best places to eat while in the city, and additional details about the event itself.
Speaking of the event page, it’s always a good idea to keep checking the actual website of the tournament to know the address to jam into your GPS on the day of departure, a schedule of potential side events, a link to preregister for the main event, and my favorite: the list of vendors that will have tables set up for people like me to buy and sell cards to.
The amount of preparation you need to do will obviously scale with the amount of cards you want to bring. In my case, I am planning on bringing a rolling suitcase I refer to as the Red Luggage Case of Death.
As such, I e-mailed SCG a couple of weeks ago, and sent them pictures and measurements of the case, as well as my intentions to only sell cards to the established vendors. I assume that most of you don’t intend to bring that much stuff for the purpose of selling, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind so you don’t get stopped and asked to leave because you didn’t ask first. You can also send out emails to every individual store that will be attending the event, asking them questions so that you can formulate a plan ahead of time of who to sell to. Here are a couple of example questions that I’ve asked in the past when preparing:
- Are you interested in buying bulk on-site? If so, how many rares/mythics/foils/etc. are you interested in purchasing, and at what prices?
- Will you be willing to match your online buylist price on the day of the event?
Usually you can find at least one store that wants bulk rares at around $.12 or $.13 each, as long as they’re all NM, English, and have a gold rare symbol. These deals don’t last long though, as there are several other sellers who want to dump 50,000 Theros block bulk rares and satiate the dealers until they don’t need anymore. On the other hand, some stores don’t even want to touch the small stuff, and are only there to buy and sell hot singles that will move to the players who need them for that weekend.
I wouldn’t worry about bringing bulk commons and uncommons to a GP unless you explicitly have an arrangement already set up. They’re, well, bulky, and take up a large amount of space in both your vehicle and the store’s. Even if you’re happy cashing out at $3 per thousand, you don’t want to be turned away because you didn’t make an appointment first. Then you’re left lugging 200 pounds of cards back to where you parked your car a half mile away.
If you’re lucky, you might even find a store that’s willing to match the buylist prices of other vendors who are on site. When I attended GP Philadelphia this past year, LegitMTG was willing to hunt down a paper copy of all other buylists in the room, and then match almost every price if you could prove someone else was willing to pay it. I was able to get almost all of my selling done in one easy stop, and hang out for the rest of the day meeting new people. Obviously most vendors won’t do this, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask ahead of time and potentially save a ton of time on site.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this in previous articles, but learn the process of “ogreing” your cards that you want to sell if you have a large quantity to move, and don’t want to waste a ton of time at the table across from a vendor. Basically, sort all of your cards by the price you want to get for them, and let the vendors pick through what they want at those prices. It’s much faster than having them point at every single individual card in your binder and calling out a number.
This is going to sound like another obvious tip, but get to the site early if you want to avoid waiting in line for four hours. Friday morning is optimal so you can be one of the first ones to scan over the display cases, potentially finding underpriced gems that can be flipped to another store’s buylist if you have a close enough eye. As an example, I bought eightChromanticores from one vendor at Philly for $1 each, then walked across the hall to sell them to another for $1.50 each. I got paid $4 for less than ten minutes of my time, just because I got to the buylists before almost anyone else.
At this point I’m going full-on Mom mode, but here’s a piece of advice that I never remember to follow myself, and then regret it during the entire weekend. Pack some degree of snacks, fruits, water bottles, etc, so that you don’t have to suffer $8 convention center sandwiches and hour-long lines for food. Whether you’re a financier or a grinder, these weekends are long.
Have a Plan, and Stick to it
If you just decided that you’re going to your first large-scale event, I’m happy for you. They’re a lot of fun, you get to meet a ton of new people, and often experience new cities that you might not have been to. However, it’s also easy to get caught up in the moment and spend way too much money, or waste unnecessary time in lines to buy cards, sell cards, buy food, or sell foo—
Do your homework first. Research what vendors you want to stop by as soon as possible (StrikeZoneOnline, LegitMTG), and what ones you want to avoid.
Also, [card]Waves of Aggression[/card] spiked this past week because of a silly combo deck that Travis Woo brewed up that involves [card]Narset, Enlightened Master[/card] being able to attack repeatedly on turn two after bringing her back with [card]Goryo’s Vengeance[/card]. Dig Waves out of bulk boxes, and take a look at the list here. I like [card]Goryo’s Vengeance[/card] as a buy, even if the deck is interruptible and inconsistent. It’s a hard-to-reprint combo enabler that has already proven itself with [card]Griselbrand[/card], and will only become more powerful with additional legendary creatures being printed.
That’s all for this week, everyone. Let me know if you have any comments or questions, or topic ideas that you want written about.