Paint to Power – Moxing It Up Online by James Griffin

Altering Commander: The Sissay Project by James Griffin


I have a Mox Jet!


Here it is!

Here’s me holding it looking socially inept:

Today, instead of focusing on the alterations which have been done to get to that point, if you will indulge me I would like to talk instead about the process of trading for it.  Yes, yes I will add an alteration to the end of the article, so if that’s all you’re here for, then scroll down – I finally get up the courage to alter my Mana Crypt.  If you give me the latitude however, I’d like to discuss, in a totally non-expert noob like sense about trading for power.

I’ll be honest, I was a bit of a bind. I had managed to get a Timetwister from eBay and I was looking to complete the next piece of the puzzle.  At this point I had some cash, but mainly I had cards for trade.  It turns out you can’t bid on the things on eBay with Grim Monoliths alone, you have to do that sort of thing with cash and as such, I needed to find a way of making a trade for power or at the very least some sort of combination cash trade thing.

Whilst I can use a computer and am perfectly proficient in its general use, I’m not super excited about the concept of trading online, unless I can help it.  That said I’d only ever met two people with power nine in their binder, and while the Black Lotus was for trade, I understand that I have since gone from the guys portfolio, and it’s not like I’ve got quite that trading power yet, anyway.  The Mox Ruby belonged to someone I bumped into in passing at a tournament a while ago, and we didn’t keep in touch, so that was out too.  Part of the attraction of the Power Nine is that they are so rare that that makes it extremely difficult to find people with them, let alone to find people that are willing to trade them away.  There was nothing for it, so off it was to the internet then, against my better judgement, and so I spent hours looking around different forums for online trading lists and scouring through them to find power nine.  Pro tip – it turns out Ctrl+F (or the equivalent for your browser) is a really useful function for time saving here.  Who would have thought it?

If you haven’t done this sort of thing before, allow me to explain how it works.  You make a list online on a forum of some kind, of things that you have, and things that you want to have, (most commonly Magic cards).  Then random people read your lists decide that they have something that you want, and vice versa, and then they contact you offering some sort of trade.  I resisted setting up the list, after all, I didn’t have much to offer and all I’m interested in in this case is the Power Nine, it didn’t seem worth it for such a simple list.


It’s a funny how the Internet just changes the way we interact with each other so much.  Yes I know that I can now access people in Venezuela who happen to have a copy of the power nine for trade, but at the same time, it deindividuates people spectacularly, resulting in a number of typical list types:

The Friendly Guy.

You know this guy right?  He might be genuinely nice, or it might be a sales technique, but his list  tends to begin with an innocuous title, such as “have legacy, want legacy”.  His rules for trading, something that everyone puts at the top of their post are something like this (my comments in blue):

The Rules! (why is there always an exclamation mark? Does it add excitement? Danger?  Uniqueness.  Sigh.)

1. Will Trade Mainly only in US and Canada (so in other words, anywhere then right?)

2. I ship in Bubble Envelope & Top loaders, and I hope you do the same (but obviously whatever you want is fine mate, no problem)

3. I will gladly trade down, but please make it worth my while. (I’m up for profit, but you know, whatever dude, I’m just happy to be playing this trading game)

4. I price off a variety of sites, so wherever you get them from is fine (Lets just keep it fair and easy for both parties)

5. Always willing to see lists  (so posting ‘CML’ or ‘see my list for your underground sea’ is fine if you can’t be bothered to even make an actual offer of some of your cards for some of mine)

6. I check my PMs often (pleeease be friends with me)

The Pseudo-Professional.

You’re probably a pseudo-professional if you can associate with the following:  You’ve been to some tournaments, you know the prices of the cards, you probably have a binder full of good stuff, and yet you can’t fathom doing something like setting up an online store or anything, and eBay scares you, so you decide to run your have want list like it’s your livelihood.  If this describes you, then your list could begin with something like this:

The Rules!

1. Will Trade Mainly only in US and Canada where I use USPS shipping at $4 for a top loader in a bubble envelope and top loader, I will also ship with insurance at $6 and will deliver priority mail at $18 if you choose to accept delivery this way.  I will personally have someone else put your cards in their car and drive them to you for $150 and I will charter a jet to have them flown to you for as little as 2 mil per common.  I prefer only to ship orders valuing more than $50 this way.

2. I ship in Bubble Envelope & Top loaders, and for this there is no extra charge, but If you want to upgrade this to have toilet tissue wrapped around the toploader inside the bubble envelope then that will be an extra $5.

3. Only real cards, I will accept anything however, make me an offer. (note this is almost always not true I’ve found out.  They actually won’t take gold bordered cards very often, and they definitely are looking for format staples, or whatever card someone won the latest GP with, even if it’s Venser’s Journal or Shields of Veils Vel – yeah you had to look that one up, I know)

4. I will gladly trade down, but please make it worth my while.   I am not looking to make a trade which isn’t fair (i.e. where I don’t make a significant profit)

5. I price off a variety of sites, taking the aggregate price from the last three months of trading from and take the mean from this and the median of the top eight domestic ebay auction current bids in mainland US.  These prices are listed by the cards. (so why is force of will in your wants as $35 and in your haves at $70?!)

6. I do not have time to look at posts to my thread, so email me.  I am so inundated with offers that it may take me a while to get back to you however I will do so in order to do business with you. (I despair if they think this looks professional – actually it should read “I check my posts once every now and again because I want to trade but not at the cost of playing World of Warcraft each night, and I also Googled synonyms for ‘lots’ and got ‘inundated’, but my mum says I’m using the term right so I’m using that instead because people in suits probably would)

7. When we work out a deal I will provide you with more information about my terms (more?!).


The Dragon.

This person is really special.  I love human beings, don’t you?  Their mums must be so proud of them:

The Rules!
1. Will Trade ONLY in US and Canada – If you are from another country, then I WILL NOT TRADE WITH YOU press the back button on your browser and don’t look back. Unless it’s a good deal for me.

2. I ship in an THE BEST WAY EVER – just look at my references (bet it’s an envelope and top loader).  You will never have a bent card from me, and I am tired of all you people SENDING ME YOUR CARDS IN ENVELOPES.  DON’T DO ITTTTT!!!!!!! (learn to write well and you won’t need !!!!!!’s!  Also what’s with all the capitals dude, I can hear you ok?) If I receive a card this way I will FILE FOR MAIL FRAUD (right) and they will arrest you and your children and your loved ones and your pets and then they will shave all of them against their will.

3. This is the LAST TIME I get any gold bordered cards from someone.  If the last person to send me FAKE CARDS could still talk then they would tell you not to because I hung them in my basement and then made them play pokemon until they tried to kill themselves by EATING THE CARDS SO THAT THE INK WOULD POISON THEM TO DEATH!!!!!! (hang on don’t you list gold bordered stuff on your want list?)

4. I will NEVER trade down.  You see that list of cards down there?  Yeah? Looking at those tarmogoyfs are ya? Well KEEP ON JOGGING MISTER because I will NEVER TRADE THEM AWAY FOR YOUR TRASH.  This is because I’m better than you.  You are only allowed to trade for my bulk rares, and I am only interested in trading for dual lands, wasteland or tarmogoyf.

5. Make me an offer or don’t even contact me you aren’t worth my time.  If you don’t do this YOU WILL BE IGNORED.

6. If you tell me to check your list then I will REPORT YOU TO THE FEDERAL AUTHORITIES (again, yeah right)

7. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Put a smiley at the bottom  your posts to make sure I know you’ve read all my rules.  🙂 🙂 🙂 (?!)


The Socially Incompetent.

Well… very often I suspect that the idea of getting email addressed to them is enough of a deterrant to making a list, but when they do they tend to have no listed rules to speak of, no introduction and simply a list of cards they have and want.  They might actually be a list of the cards they want, rather than simply Tarmogoyf, Force of Will, dual lands and fetch lands.

Any way, back to the plot.  I selected a couple of websites to focus all my efforts on finding somebody would agree to trade their power, I got to work finding every thread with power nine in its lists and making individualised offers for them via e-mail or private message.  It didn’t matter what sort of list type they had, I made offers for everything I found.  I know it doesn’t sound like much, when you consider I actually only probably contacted 30 people, but when you have to read through their rules, put together an offer that you think will appeal to them and present it in such a way that they will particularly like then it’s actually a lot of work and took a goodly amount of time.

In the next few days I discovered that there may be a number of list types, but as it turns out, there are also a number of different response types to an inquiry about power nine:

The Strong Silent Type.

They simply are (I presume) too cool to actually reply, so they don’t.  Fine.  Except that you did post a list on the internet looking to make trades, so ignoring replies seems like a terrible plan.  Aah well.

The Incredulous.

Maybe it was a function of contacting them about trading for power, but I got a good number of replies to offers that were already in their favour monetarily by any reasonable measure such as,

“what are you thinking?  You do know we’re talking about power nine right?  This card is virtually near mint, that seems like a terrible trade for me. I’m out”

Well if you’re simply going to reject my offer like that, I’m afraid my response is going to be the same as it would be to that snotty sales assistant in the expensive jewellery shop who looks down their nose – I’m just gonna walk away.  They didn’t deserve my business apparently.  If I’m really miffed, I might point out to them that my offering £250 for a beat up mox pearl is actually in this case remarkably reasonable, and that if they want to be a grown up and counter my offer then that will be fine.

The Pseudo-Professional.

Their reply is thus:

“I’m sorry, I moved that card at PT Paris.”

Right.  Then take it off your list? Come on, stop wasting my time.

The Dragon.

I think you can guess this one…

“didn’t you READ MY RULES?  I’m NOT trading my power, it doesn’t matter if you offer me a small middle eastern country in trade, so DON’T CONTACT ME AGAIN WITH STUPID OFFERS”

These ones got my back up.  I couldn’t resist politely pointing out to them that they had a card on the list of cards that they were willing to trade that they were in fact not willing to trade.  I also suggested that I don’t see the point of this unless they simply want to show off that they own the card.  They are informed of my congratulations at finding some sort modicum of reinforcement of their own ego, but suggest that it’s nevertheless making them look like a Muppet.

No good.  A couple of weeks have gone by, I’ve invested hours into this, and not one sensible response was had.  None of these types of people were going to trading power nine, at least not without my sanity fraying somewhat, or me getting totally ripped off, so I decided to take the plunge and make a list of my own, explaining the paint to power project, in the hope that it might pique people’s attention.  For reference, you can see it here.

It was at this point that I was converted to MOTL (Magic Online Trading League) which is a forum dedicated to trading MTG cards.  They have a hideously un ergonomic interface, but once you get used to it and post a have want list, it automatically looks up everyone who has stuff you want and wants stuff you have, and lists them for you.  Right, the hunt was back on!  I had 23 matches.  I had a contacted a few of the strong silent types previously, but I decided I had nothing to lose and contacted all of them with various offers of one kind or another.  I got a number of responses, some positive, there seems to be a degree of maturity on this site that wasn’t being found elsewhere.  Some came to nothing, as you do when you are trading face to face, and one in particular seemed promising.  The title of his list was something similar to ‘Looking for quick trades, sometimes these things take too long’, so  I went with a simple email response:

“Hi, I like the title of your h/w list on motl, that’s cool so rather than preamble, I’ll just say this: I have a list of random stuff including lots of legacy staples- I’m working on gathering a set of p9. I’m in the uk not the us, and I want to trade for your mox. I also have 194$ to hand from this project so far, so can consider that as part of a deal. Let me know if we can sort something out, I will trade in your favour.”

We went back and forth a few times, and it turned out that he was a really nice guy.  He was getting married, and wanted cash (most understandable).  He was also willing to work out a deal with the cash I have and some stuff from my list.  This is what we settled on:


1 x Mox Jet

For my:

$194 Paypal

1 x Berserk

1 x Grim Monolith

2x Swords to Plowshares – 4th Edition

1 x Concordant Crossroads (assuming Italian Legends)

1 x City of Traitors

I thought about this a lot, and to be honest given that the Jet is played and my stuff was nm, that this was a really reasonable deal for us both.  I’m sure that some of you will disagree, so feel free to tell me so in the comments.  The actual negotiation of the deal was pretty stressful for me, even though ragnarok_ff3 made it as easy as he could for me, I was just terrified of being ripped off.  It turned out that he was a great guy.  I sent all my end of the deal off to him (hoping he wasn’t going to disappear into the ether at that point).  I figure this is the equivalent of that point when you’re using Infernal Tutor and Lion’s Eye Diamond when if they counter you’re left without a hand.  To prompt karma into this trade working out I pulled an altered Prized Unicorn out of my binder and stuck it in too.  I just did it for fun, I hoped he would like it, at least it’s unique:

He got it, and it turns out he was a real person – he let me know that he had them and stuck the Mox, along with a few cool foils which he had around as a throw in.  It arrived today.  It’s played, but still eminently playable, and as such I’m thrilled to use it when it’s joined by it’s friends.  my trade partner in all this even refunded me a little of the postage as I had needed to payh more than him at the post office.  That’s beyond the call of duty, and if you’re reading this dude, well you’re a true gentleman, thanks.

Of course Lilly is unimpressed, I know this because she’s decided to stare at me more in my line of sight:

But that’s fine because I have a Mox.  Marvellous!  So, what are the morals of this story?  Well firstly, trading online can be awesome.  It can also suck.  Hmm… that wasn’t really a moral, not even a conclusion.  Well how about the internet can make some people into nutters?  Big suprise!  Aah well, if you take nothing else away from this, at least you’ve had a picture of a cat sitting on a mox.  Bet you couldnt say that before now.

Bonus alter:  Mana Vault.  I decided to work on the border, and began with the left hand side working clockwise.

Once I’d got the texture in place with a mid grey, I added some orange nad yellow reflections.

Then came the ceiling:

The orange was a real pain – lots of layers to get it just the right shade.

Some  final fiddly bits and the Crypt is finished.  Volia.

All the best, and thanks for reading.  I’ll be back to altering related shenanigans next time.


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