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Top Traders Talk: Brevkicks

Hi Spheroids and prospectives, I go by the stage name of BrevKicks. I've been lurking around Cardsphere’s top senders list ever since I joined the platform in May 2017. I even spent a good deal of time in the top spot until some rich Doug guy came around.

I'm definitely more of a collector than a player. In fact, I first got involved in Magic because I liked to collect small pieces of cardboard with pictures and information on them. The meager beginnings of many random TCG are laying around my family’s attic. Bless my parents’ hearts for their willingness to keep these and my dozens of binders of mostly useless sports cards in their house, despite me not living there.

I was first introduced to Magic cards through my local sports card shop. I was there with my dad after middle-school one day. He was born of the generation of kids who collected baseball cards and whose parents threw them away (ironically making the cards much more valuable) and never really let that go. I think he secretly enjoyed when I asked him to take me to the card shop even if he pretended otherwise.

I’m not going to lie, I am such a sucker for marketing, I’m ashamed sometimes. I saw MTG cards in the display case and thought the back design was so cool. Having a predisposition to most things “fantasy”, when I learned the game was about powerful wizards casting spells, I was pretty much hooked on the spot.

My dad bought me a Revised Starter Deck and a few packs of The Dark and Fallen Empires, which had just come out. I just missed the Legends set, which is regrettable now. I do remember looking at the set symbol of the Legends singles in the display case and thinking it was really cool and I wish they had packs of those. Again, I fall for the stupidest stuff.

While getting started collecting was easy, finding friends to play with was quite hard. I went to a very small school. There were 62 people in all of the 6th grade and not many people played any non-sports games or tabletop games of any kind, let alone this new trading card game. I had to convince people to indulge me. There weren't any local stores hosting events and the Internet wasn’t really a thing yet, so nothing online either. So, in the mid-90’s collecting and playing Magic fell off, only picking up occasional packs of 4th edition, Ice Age, and Chronicles.

My more recent foray into Magic in the last few years was triggered by playing vicariously through Twitch streaming, YouTube videos, being able to connect and play on MTGO, and finding some interest in my after work tabletop group. The combination of childhood nostalgia, a drive to collect and organize things, a mild addiction to cracking packs, and having disposable income has seen my collection balloon.

Why I Use Cardsphere

I haven't actually traded in person since my middle-school days. Since getting back in, I've only ever traded and sold online. My first real exposure came from the other asymmetric site and a symmetrical trading site. I quickly soured on symmetric trading because I hate spending time haggling and negotiating. I don't like trying to match the relative “worth” of uptrading / downtrading, kinda available for trade but only for good offers, etc etc.

So, asymmetric trading was the right choice for me, clearly.

I actually had an okay experience with the other asymmetrical site, but always understood its inherent instability and so never really kept a large balance at any given time. I stopped my high-volume trading with that site when I noticed activity starting to wane so I never really got burned. Hence, when Cardsphere came around, I was never really afraid to try it out. I took the same approach I do with most things: try it out aiming to limit my downside, and if it works out, great! If not, no big deal. The hard currency setup was certainly a good structure for limiting potential downside.

How I Use Cardsphere

I dipped my toe in by depositing $40 in June as member #197. That didn’t last long so I added another $25, and got cleaned out again. I kept getting the cards I wanted at reasonable prices, really quickly. Clearly, this was a fantastic system. My plan was to build all these EDH decks (which had become my main source of play with friends) and few legacy decks for rarer play and for cool old cards to collect.

I carried on this song and dance for the first few months until I moved to a much more expensive city (¼ the space = no room to store massive collections of cards), got a new job, lost my Magic playing friends, and had an investment opportunity arise that I wanted to partially cover with funds from my collection. Enter new use case for Cardsphere: drastically reduce my collection which I no longer had space for and gather the funds for investing. The switchover was fairly seamless, and I've sold down my collection from over 4,000 loaded to around 1,000 today. I think that's close to where I will keep it.

I got my MBA from U. of Chicago, and work in corpate finance, specically venture capital-funded businesses and how data integration informs decision making. So I guess it's fairly ironic that I'm not very rigorous in determining "fair price". I scratch my number crunching itch enough in my day job, so I treat my collection as a pure hobby from which which I gain non-monetary utility.

With this in mind, I do have some rules of thumb for when I am willing to sell cards and what I am willing to buy cards for to make sure that I am not losing money on the margin.

For selling, I don’t want to tell anyone what their specific % should be, but I follow a tiered rule for what I'm willing to let go based on price ranges and other contextual factors (such as the Reserved List). One easy way to get started on a tiered system (and how I originally started out on CS) is to use Cardsphere’s value breakdowns on the front page because they already have reasonable % ranges broken out for each of these value ranges. You can decide that you will send off cards for the upper bound of where the majority of trades are taking place because you are in no hurry to sell your cards and you’re willing to wait to get that %. Or maybe you want to turn over your cards faster and decide to try the lower bound. Tweak and personalize from there.

When it comes to high value cards ($50+), that’s when I actually start figuring out what I am likely to get from selling in other ways to figure out how much I would be willing to send it off through Cardsphere.

For buying, I generally don't add Wants unless I actually want the card. I don't generally fish for deals because I am not looking to profit in the short term. I set my offers by looking at recent trades, current bids, and how many people have the card listed. Outside context around set releases, bannings, unbannings, buyouts, and tournament performance help dictate whether it’s on my want list in the first place. I suggest always using the Price Limits feature on all your wants. It can save a lot of headaches in the cases that it would be needed. I think if you polled active CS traders, they would say 85-90% should get you the card you want pretty quickly.

My standard for packaging depends on the price and volume of cards. Typically once the cost of tracked shipping starts to approach <5% of the package, I will send via a bubble mailer and print out shipping labels from PayPal ShipNow (this is a fantastically convenient service btw). I also tend to do this with a higher volume of cards, usually 20+. This usually gets close to adding up to to the previously stated $ amount so it works out.

Otherwise, I send in a PWE with a toploader. I always send with a Perfect Fit sleeve on and use a toploader in every trade. I usually send packages with a cumulative value of $7+ so that shipping costs are <10% of the value of the cards, so throwing a toploader in is fine with me. I use Post-It Notes to write the trade number on and cover the top of the toploader. I am more concerned with my cards making it to the destination in the best shape they can than optimizing shipping costs. It's important to keep trading partners happy!

How Do I Organize Cards

Remember that I've mentioned I enjoy the sorting and organizing aspect of collecting cards, as I describe my system. I find it to be a meditative-like experience, where I can distract my brain and relax. Your mileage may vary.

During my accumulation phase, I stored my ~9K collection in about 12 BCW 800 Card Storage Boxes. I put a KMC perfect fit sleeve on every card (yup, every one). I had deck spreadsheets (now turned into cube spreadsheets) to track what I had, why, and what was left to get.

Big-Red-Deck
Cube-Spreadsheet
In the BCW boxes, I arranged cards by color (Artifact, B, U, Colorless, G, R, W, Multi, Hybrid, Land) then by rarity, then alphabetical within those categories. This made it very easy to build up said decks as there was often overlap so I wouldn’t keep them built all the time. It may have made it slightly harder to find cards whose rarity I didn't know off the top of my head, but overall it was easy enough.

As my focus switched from accumulating (for decks or pleasure of cracking packs) to paring down the collection to a few thousand, boxes and rarities merged and cards became sorted solely alphabetically within color. One less piece of information that could stall pulling cards removed!

In my final (distribution) phase, I separated out the 3 cubes and 1 Legacy deck that I will be keeping into their own boxes, all double-sleeved. The rest have been sorted purely alphabetically with all colors merged in one BCW box, still wearing KMC perfect sleeves. I keep KMC hypermattes loose in the boxes for when trades happen that require double-sleeving.

This has made it exceptionally easy to find and ship out cards.

My Plans

These days, as my sending activity starts to wind down, you’ll find me slumming it in the Discord channel seeing if there are interesting / rarer trades to take part in and generally just listening in to what people are talking about. I'll chime in and answer questions occasionally.

I intend to use Cardsphere mainly as a way to more accurately track the “real” value of my collection (some sub-1 multiplier of the Cardsphere index which I will work on determining when I am done with my other projects) and use it as a source of liquidity, if I decide to go another direction in life. I have already used Cardsphere to complete multiple legacy decks (some of them now gone, RIP) and gather all the main pieces for the 3 eternal cubes I intend to keep and maintain for the long term. I’m close to completing my preferred land set for said cubes and because I can’t seem to stop the trading addiction, try as I might, I have now started gathering alternate art for some of the cube cards as well. I’m close to black-bordering almost all of the cube because of my OCD-like tendencies and I’m hoping that those tendencies don’t try to sway me to collect originals for the Power (which I currently use digital full art proxies for).

I like Cardsphere because I value liquidity, market-based pricing, decrease in trade frictions (for me, negotiating), and small counterparty risk. I partially view my trading here as a portion of a long-term investment in my collection. What Cardsphere could become and how it could affect the variables that are of value to me, is worth it to “invest” in. For this reason I decided to subscribe and will sometimes sell cards at slightly sub-optimal prices to attract others to the platform. This was also part of my reason for trading the The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale on the platform.

The-Tabernacle-at-Pendrell-Vale

Well, that’s my story. I hope that parts of this can help you in your trading and collecting endeavors or at least it played a role of entertainment.

Feel free to hit me up on Discord, I’ll be lurking around.

Best - BrevKicks

Ted Rodney

Ted Rodney

Cardsphere Founder. Opened first booster of Revised in '94 and returned to the game during Scars block. Pauper, EDH, Modern, Standard Limited. Always happy to talk to the community.

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