The Trading Phenomenon

Do you ever feel like you’ve had to force your deck building to your wallet size? Did you ever wish that if you had a copy or two of “that one special card”, you’d be winning more games than you do now? Or maybe you just need more cards to make multiple decks with? If any or all of these are the case, then boy are you in luck! Let me show you how you can make this possible.

Before we get into that however, let me clear up a few things. In my last article I told you that we we’re going to be taking about “solidifying your logic, and moving past the foundation and up through this metaphorical pyramid of ours”. And we will: just not with this series of articles (don’t worry though, I will be continuing my follow-ups to “Playing the Game” very soon). For this time, I’ll be focusing on a different aspect of the game that’s very important to many but normally not written about. I’m talking about the T in TCG’s, that’s right trading. Many times, this little word can make-or-break your deck; I mean how can you play if you don’t own the cards! This article is written from a perspective of a Yu-Gi-Oh duelist, but as long as the game you are playing is a TCG, then many of the core concepts of this article should carry over. Now if you happen to have a mountain of money to churn-out into card games, then this article may not appeal to you, but if that’s not you, then again you’re in luck!

Let’s briefly outline what happens in a basic trade:
-One player will approach another player with the intent of trading.
-Both players will exchange their card collections for viewing, whether it’s in a binder, tin, box, or a stack of cards. If any cards of interest are found, they will be indicated and placed into a metaphorical trade pool (either physically or in words alone). If not, most trades will stop here.
-If both players find cards of interest, then they will begin to organize a deal with the cards in the trade pool, determine worth, if a card is tradeable or not, what cards will be exchanged with what, and etc.
-After a deal is reached, both players permanently exchange the cards agreed upon, recollect their belongings, and go on their merry way.

Now for most of you, this concept must seem so simple that it’s annoying to even mention. However, within this simplistic process there are many other factors and subtleties that can drastically determine the outcome of a trade. This can be the all difference in obtaining that third Pot of Duality for your deck or, for Magic the Gathering players, getting your hands on the coveted Black Lotus and the rest of the Power Nine.

Before you can get those incredibly rare cards though, you’ll first have to start with what you have. If you don’t actually own any cards, it might do you some good to go buy some, and even if you do have some, buying will benefit you as well. You can stop by your local hobby store and buy some packs and singles, or shop online. Honestly, what brought me to the Alter Reality website in the first place was all of their great deals!

Once you’ve done that, you’ll then need to look around on the web to see the values of the cards that you have and want. This will be very important when making trades; making sure that you don’t lose money on your trades is your responsibility. Unfortunately, we can’t assume that everyone will want to trade with you fairly, so making sure you’re not being cheated will be the easiest way to keep your collection growing. Now that doesn’t mean you should take advantage of others as well, as this can actually be very detrimental to trade relations. Many players won’t treat you very kindly when they figure out that they’ve been deceived or that you have a reputation of coning others, and you won’t necessarily be able to trade with those people again. And that’s not even the worst of it; if you’re caught by a judge, store owner, or other Konami representative you can be banned from organized play! That means not only will you not be able to play in sanctioned events, but you won’t even be allowed on the premises! So you might want to think twice the next time you try to make a short gain with the threat of long-term consequences.

The next step that we’ll discuss is one I like to call presentation. When you approach someone for a trade, your first impression will affect how reasonable they will be with their trades. If they were to run into someone with unkempt hair, yellow teeth, bad body odor, and a random stack of unorganized cards, it’s very doubtful that you will be met with friendly remarks. Good hygiene habits are a given, and some locals will kick you out if you don’t have them (yes it’s mean, but it’s for your own good). As for the random stack of cards, many players won’t want to put up the effort of searching through it since it generally looks unappealing and wastes their time to find the cards they want. If you must have stacks of cards, then you can, but at least sort them out so players can find what they want sooner. For better results however, you can use a trade binder. This will allow you to neatly display your cards in a fashion that many are in view and protected from damage. Regardless of the display method, you’ll want to have your cards organized in a way for players to easily find the cards they need, whether it be alphabetically, card set, monsters/spells/traps, themes, attributes, rarity, or a combination.

To summarize what we’ve learned, right now you know the basics of trading. You have some cards in your collection and you know how much they cost. Your cards are now organized and you might have even invested in a binder. You’ve combed your hair, brushed your teeth, and aren’t afraid to say you’ve taken a shower today. You’re well on your way to making that dream deck of yours! Later in this series of articles, we’ll talk about the personal interactions within trading, the differences between trading online vs. offline, the power of "bling", and finally the importance of knowing trends.

If you liked my article or if you wanted to ask or comment on it, feel free to leave a reply below or email me at

Until next time duelists: trade smart, stay sharp, and take it easy!

Aaron Netabai

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