As you’ve probably already reasoned, I’m a huge advocate for the Puca Trade Discord server. The first time I encountered this server was during the infamous Future Site roll out. It was full of angry dudes screaming and yelling at the Puca admins. What I missed then, was that communicating in a very IRC-esque fashion, had a lot of potential for growth and prosperity among the traders.
I joined the discord community with little to no expectations. I hadn’t received a card in months. It seemed like everyone was only sending cards to get insane bounties, or ridiculous reciprocal trades (“recips”). I didn’t have the collection to trade for the cards I needed, but I had a load of points. I was unsatisfied and angry. I was even considered selling my points, but joining the discord server was a turning point for me.
In new social settings I’m typically very shy, and laid back. Because of this, I did as I would normally do in a new social setting: I sat quietly, and studied how those who were successful in communicating acted and behaved. As I watched I started to notice some things.
I saw people trading ridiculously expensive cards! Stuff I would’ve never fathomed being traded on Puca Trade; FoWs, Moxes, Alpha and Beta cards. Shocks and Fetches were flying out of binders like crazy. I was Templeton the rat, and this was my smorgasbord! I started to look at every profile link that I could – looking for trends and taking notes. “What cards were being shipped or received?” “What were people recipping for?” “What cards frequently showed up on people’s want lists?”
As I said above, I couldn’t do reciprocal trades, because I didn’t have cards that people wanted. So I started sending what I did have.. No bias, no recips, just cards in an envelope, for good will, and points. Most of what I sent out was jank, but I did build packages in to maximize my sends. Once my outgoing trades were flowing, the points began to stream in. I updated my wantslist with stuff I needed for decks, and staples I wanted on hand. Slowly but surely my wants, started to get filled.
Let’s take a break from the story to talk about some of my observations. A lot of traders fall off the Puca wagon because because they send a bunch of low value cards, and expect to immediately get staples. This rarely happens. I’d love to find the Unicorn trader in real life who is going to give you equal value for any trade, like giving you an Aether Vial for a stack of bulk rares. It doesn’t happen in real life, and it doesn’t happen on Puca Trade. Once I realized the cards I wanted, would be difficult to acquire directly, I started checking what people were trading away to get to similar cards. Then, I used my want list, to acquire those cards so that I could get to my goal. Let me elaborate.
It is a marathon, not a sprint
A basic understanding of Magic finance tells us that you can’t transform fifty $1 cards directly into one $50. If you want a $50 card you need to trade into smaller cards that will help folks. Trade $1-5 into $5-10 Cards then trade those cards into $10-15 cards. And keep going until you have a pile of cards like Fetch lands to trade.
A good example of these types of cards are Standard Lands. I added a handful of Kaladesh fast lands to my want list. These currently have ridiculously low prices, so I figured if I got “stuck” with them, I wouldn’t be sad. I also added other Standard cards that people wanted a lot of. Cards like Prized Amalgam, which see play in other formats. These kinds of cards are low-risk, medium-reward cards. To get people to send me these cards, I offered a small bonus.This is a technique you can try if you’re having trouble collecting cards like this.
Once I had a good amount of cards that people wanted, I changed my strategy. I added more desirable cards (mid-level staples) to my want list, and killed my bonus. Then I started sending cards to active traders. Watching the discord chat room allowed me to see who was actively trading, who was just receiving, and who was just passing through. Supporting active traders, is not only good for the community, but it’s good for my collection. My want list started to get noticed, and cards started coming in. All the while, I was updating my want list to pricier, and pricier cards. Not only was my collection growing, but by sending cards to people, I was also building good faith.
You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours
I don’t actively advertise reciprocal trading, because I think too many people have a negative opinion of it. You have to be careful about the words you use, or it may come off bad. If you have a pile of decent stuff to share, just throw a question out there like ‘Hey guys, I really need a playset of Aether Vials. What would it take to get you to send them to me?’ Listen to advice, make note of the cards people want in exchange, then acquire them. I was able to get 3/4 of my Aether Vials for my Modern Deck by sending KTK Fetchlands. I didn’t advertise ‘Want this, have this!’ I approached people openly and said ‘I need to get here, what do you need from me to get there.’ This way feels more direct; it’s a faster route to get where I need to go- rather than finding that one random person who needs the cards I have for the card I want.
Most reciprocal trades are planned, but every so often you get an “Unintended Reciprocal”. This is a fantastic term I’ve come up with to describe this happy occurrence. This is where you send cards because people need them, and in virtue, they respond by seeing your list and trying to send you something as well. This is a very good method and works even better if you are open and advertise the cards that you send out. If you send someone a Horizon Canopy for their Legacy deck, it’s OK to brag about it! It’s good for the community to see neat stuff sent, and it gives others, who are watching, a reason to look at your profile. The magical part of the unintended reciprocals is that you send cards with no expectation of getting something back, and you get a pleasant surprise.
Not all cards are created equal
Speaking of sending out cards, I like to classify my trade stock into two categories: There’s an ‘I’ll send to anyone’ pile, and a ‘I’ll send if there is something to be gained from it pile.’ The first pile goes to anyone as long as I have decent stock, and shipping materials. I reserve the second pile for a users who’ve done good by me, or who I’ve seen doing good in the community. There are also times when the trades are flowing and I want to get in on the action, then I may dip into the 2nd pile. These piles typically determine when I send the cards, but not always. I’ve been known to send a $.75 card overseas to someone for $1.15 just because I felt like it. I just like brightening someone’s day. In trades like these, the good will gained by sending cards to a user is more equitable, than the surface value of the trade. I may be sending a shock land with no promise of something in return (besides points), but the long-term benefit is better than any reciprocal I could get. I’ll close with the most important message that I hope you hear in this article.
Have Courage and Be Kind
I truly believe in positive vibes, especially in this community. The more good you do for others, the more good will happen to you. My staggering trade numbers are proof of this. I have completed 2 not-so-cheap Modern decks, and am working on the final pieces to convert one of them to Legacy. With the help of the Puca Discord community, I was able get all the cards I needed to make my son a Standard deck. My son’s new deck is full of cards that came from Puca Traders, they even made doodles all over the lands for him. I think this group is great, and getting better by the day. The sheer numbers of trades being committed by members of the chat community speak volumes. On any given day The Leader Board on the Puca Trade site is filled with active members of the chat community. If you ask these members I am sure mostly all of their experiences have been as positive as mine. We have all seen an uptick in receives with little or no bonuses, and very few reciprocal trades.By being a positive force in the community, you can have an impact and make it a better place. If you haven’t had a chance yet, take some time and read my recent post Have Courage and Be Kind where I elaborate on these ideas.
Jeremy aka “Strictly Average” is an ‘average’ guy with ‘average’ plans. He is the creator and overboss of Strictly Average Gaming, which includes the Patreon group and StrictlyAverageMTG.com