A Trader’s Guide To Foiling Out Your Favourite Deck In 7 Simple Steps
We all have that one favourite deck. Whether it’s your first ever deck, the first one you used to take down a few FNMs in a row, your pet Legacy deck or a favoured Commander, these decks are all special to us in their own ways. We treat them nice. We buy them the best sleeves, put them in a specific box, make our partner sleep in a spare room whilst we snuggle up with it in bed… what, just me? I mean, of course I don’t do that. Ahem.
Moving swiftly on, my point is that sooner or later we all like to be nice to our favourite decks, and for a lot of us that means foiling them out. This can be a very quick process: log on to Manaleak, hit “buy”, have cards.
Wow. That was a quick article.
Wait, you don’t have infinite moneys? You do like trading? Well then, I guess we can work on that.
Step 1: Work out what you want
Create your decklist. For me, this was a Commander deck based around Rhys the Redeemed. It was the first Commander deck I made and I wanted to make it special. When I first made it I put in (almost) every foil I owned in Green and White. This involved some odd card choices, but made the deck that little bit more fun. A few years ago I decided that I wanted to completely foil it out, cut some off the chaff from it and get it streamlined into a far more efficient deck.
I had my decklist more or less worked out at the point I started to properly foil it, so I knew more or less what I wanted. I also had a few “flex slots” of some cards that I felt would be nice to have but weren’t all that necessary for the deck. This included cards like Wasteland, Gaea’s Cradle, and at the time, Maze of Ith (From The Vault: Realms didn’t exist at that point). For a Legacy deck this can be a little more difficult, as you haven’t just got a 60 card main deck with all those 4-ofs, but also various sideboard options to consider in there too, making it more likely to be a longer, more difficult process to source the cards.
Step 2: Create a Wants list (and Haves list)
This is kind of two steps in one, but the two are very similar. By having a document where you can keep tabs on exactly what you want and need for your deck is incredibly useful. You will not be able to remember your exact needs at the drop of a hat, and having one saved online somewhere can be the difference between picking up a new card and thinking you already have it and missing out. It also allows you to share your needs more easily with anyone else.
There are a few ways of doing this. Google Docs is good because it lets you edit it online and make it available for all to see. You can also make a pretty nice spreadsheet with this to allow separation of haves and wants, colours, formats etc. You can also access Google Docs from most Android-based smartphones too, so there’s no excuse for not keeping it bang up to date. You can also use Facebook files or other similar ways of creating documents. Most trade groups on Facebook will ask you to create a document within the group though so you need to take care to keep these updated regularly.
The above is the old trade document of a good friend of mine which makes life very clear for the reader as to what he wants, what he has, and the exact specifics of numbers, sets and whether or not it’s foiled. This means that anyone looking through his document can easily and (much more important) quickly determine whether or not he can make a trade, making a trade more likely to happen. There is no bigger turn-off for a lot of people than trawling through seemingly endless lists of poorly organised bulk stuff, looking for a one or two hidden gems that might be in there.
Step 3: Make sure you have an online presence
If you are serious about trading, you should have at least one of these mediums. If you haven’t, go ahead and sign up. I can wait.
No, really, go on.
All done? Right.
When trading for cards for my Rhys deck, I created my trades list on UK & Ireland MTG Cards For Trade & Sale. I also posted links to it on both my local playgroups Facebook page and pages of other groups that I have links with. This allowed me to get my Wants list out there and known by updating it regularly. These groups then grew to know the cards (or at least, types of cards) I was after, allowing them to keep an eye out for me for the cards and occasionally provide me with leads on them. Most of the cards in my deck were traded for through Facebook as this was the best place to leave my lists lying around on groups for people to stumble across and read.
Twitter. I turned out to be a fantastic tool for finding individual, harder to get cards, I also used it to find the foil Rhys the Redeemed I wanted as the Commander. I tweeted at some big name traders to ask if they had one, or if they could ReTweet if they didn’t, and a fair number of them did ReTweet it for me, leading to a number of leads for it.
In the end the two leads I had were for a Foil Japanese Rhys and Foil English Rhys from a chap who was reluctant to trade it, until he had a replacement for it for his deck. It turned out that he was also trying to foil out a Rhys the Redeemed Commander deck, except that he was trying to do it with foil cards from non-roman alphabets (Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese et al.). Talk about doing it the hard way! Anyway, I was able to hook these two guys up, and got the English Rhys at a discounted rate as a thank you for finding the Japanese one! Result!
This shows the value of information in general through these channels. As a trader you can use Twitter and Facebook to keep up with not only the latest news from the trade floor at events, but also with your trading groups, gathering required cards and being able to act as a go-between for people trying to get hold of specific cards.
Sometimes there is a bit of etiquette to work through when trading online though. Most Facebook groups and other trading sites that I’ve seen normally have some kind of reputation list. It works as this: when you complete a trade, you get to leave feedback on your trade partner, normally in the form of + or -. If you’re new to the group, don’t be offended if people ask you to sent your cards out first. You know that you’re respectable, but your partner doesn’t and doesn’t want to get ripped off for tens, or even hundreds, of dollars. Smile through it, be polite, send first, and as your reputation builds people will be a lot more relaxed about trading with you.
Remember that these people have already built a reputation on these sites through many trades and will not want to ruin all that through just one simple, fast rip off. They stand to gain far more by playing nice, and so should you.
Step 4: Get it when you can
This goes for most rare cards, but especially for old, long out-of-print, in-demand foils. You might ask what the right sort of price point is for these cards, but a lot of the time that price point is what the guy is asking for. Unless it is ridiculously overinflated, you have to ask yourself “Will I get a better chance to get this card?”. If the answer is “no”, then don’t leave yourself regretting not making that trade.
It took me a period of a good 8 months to trade for all the cards I needed for my Rhys deck, and more than once when I was trading through Facebook I was happy to “lose out” on a trade, which got me a few foils closer to completing the deck.
Step 5: Using eBay and buying through websites
With some cards there comes a point, when the effort of trying to find them to trade for just isn’t worth it anymore. When it does, eBay becomes your friend. The types of foil card you are looking for are often fairly desirable, but it is unlikely that they’ll sell at full value on eBay as there isn’t a huge demand for them. I’m not talking about the top end Judge foils, chase rares or staples, but things like Pentarch Paladin, which are worth a few dollars but are by no means highly popular cards.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can avoid the Golden Rules of eBay: be actively looking, bid late, and keep a lookout for items with funny end times. By following these rules I managed to snag myself a foil Doubling Season for significantly less than the ticket price on a REGULAR one at the time, which turned out to be a wonderful Christmas present from my daughter.
These kind of special cards make great gifts from children/significant others. Tell them that you are getting it for yourself as your present from them. It’ll save them time and effort and you’ll get an extra special card from your deck. I know I’ll never be trading away my first Christmas present from my little girl!
Buying through websites is something I’m sure most of you will do anyway, so you don’t need me to tell you how to suck eggs. For the last half dozen or so cheaper foils I still had to get, I ended up just working out which site had the most of them at the best prices. Simple stuff really. For those of you who don’t know how to do that, click on the shop link at the top of the page.
Step 6: Finishing off
Set yourself a deadline of some sort to work towards. Whether it’s a special occasion, big tournament, or something else, try to set a reasonable date for you to work towards. For me, it was actually a race. It turned out that the guy who I traded the foil Rhys with was actually at pretty much the same point that I was when we made the trade. So, we decided to race each other to completion. He’d set a date to complete his by the day of his wedding, so I had a fairly rough timescale to work to, but knew that at any point he could come up with a whole batch of new trades to put him well ahead of me. Seeing him pulling through with all of his amazing trades helped inspire me to carry on with mine and push myself to finish the deck.
Eventually, it all came down to the wire. I was informed that he would be picking up his last few cards at an event that weekend. It was Wednesday. I had two days for someone to get the cards in the post and on the way to me. I was at 97% foiled (we referred to our decks in % foiled, because with 100 cards it was relatively easy to calculate). As luck would have it I managed to find someone with those exact three cards and traded the heck out of them. I overpaid, I knew I did, but I knew that this was important.
On the Saturday, at just gone 11 a.m. GMT I received the cards in the mail. Just a few hours later, over in America, I got a tweet from my friend. At pretty much exactly the same local time we had both completed our decks. But we were both winners as we had both crafted beautifully foiled decks.
Step 7: The future
So what do you do once you’ve completed the deck? Well, in my case, I’ve kept updating it when new set releases come out. Return to Ravnica gave me a whole swathe of new Selesnya cards to work through and select for the deck and Theros had a few goodies in it too. I also recently managed to pick up a Judge Foil Gaea’s Cradle to go with the From The Vaults Maze of Ith which were on the flex list, though I never did get that Wasteland. The deck is never truly completed. But has been truly a pleasure to build.
Community Question: What do you prefer: foils or alternate art cards?