A few words about the author
Alex is an L2 from Thessaloniki, Greece. Certified in 2013, then L2 in 2014, his GP career began in 2015 and has always provided a steady influx of foils and boxes. These products, due to constant moving and an interest for business, were often converted to rent or other necessities. He now sells magic cards as a part time business. The following article is a collection of lessons learned through this experience.
What does this article contain?
The focus of this piece is the different avenues any owner of judge resources (Judge foils and/or sealed boxes) may convert them to cash. There is a summary of the costs and profits related to each option. Additional information may be added to the article based on comments and feedback.
This discussion will neither branch out on arguing the moral implications of selling judge foils, nor the legal. Whether or not Wizards of the Coast or Channel Fireball intend for Judge compensation to be sold in the secondary market is not in the scope of this article. While in most locations within the EU it is legal to sell cardboard as a private entity, always make sure you have a clear understanding of the law as it applies to your country and your person. The author will not be held responsible for the wrath of any tax authority you may incur.
Why would you do that?
Simply put – sometimes you need less cardboard and more rent. Or beer. Whatever the reason, judge foils are regularly given to judges and it is important to have knowledge and understanding of how to convert them to the maximum value you can, when you want or need to.
- Booster boxes
By booster boxes we are, of course, always referring to factory sealed booster boxes. Anything else is essentially nearly impossible to sell. The hottest period for any box (and the one when it has the highest estimated value) is after the launch, but before the first Pro Tour that happens with the updated standard (supplemental products such as Battlebond have slightly different curves, but judges are rarely compensated in those anyway).
For judges, this means that you can sell to players and store owners during that time more effectively. After launch, a sealed box’s buy price by the same crowd steadily declines until hitting bottom around the launch of the next set. Store owners will have boxes early, so you should probably target players. In the mid term, sets stabilize based on their estimated value. In cases where you have a choice, doing some homework on which set has the best eV (see mtgStocks or dawnGlare) can result in you being able to sell your boxes for 10-20% higher (or sell at all).
- Judge Foils
Before we discuss how judge foils develop over time, let’s first take a look at what an Exemplar pack is. There are 4 Exemplar waves per year and 4 packs. Each pack of contains 2 new Judge foils (new wave) and 2 previous Judge foils (old wave). The new wave usually contains one card that stabilizes between 60-120 EUR/USD (the good one) and one card that stabilizes between 30-60 EUR/USD (the cheap one).
The new wave cards will drop in price like a rock. If you are planning on selling these foils, do it as soon as you have them in your hands. In fact, on average they will get to you after at least one of the markets below has been heavily supplied, so it is important to identify which market is still open and move fast. The old foils have already stabilized.
A card may pick up price again quickly if it is:
- A format staple for Modern or Legacy (Dark Confidant)
- Low in supply (Capture of Jingzhou)
- Containing highly artistic illustrations (somewhat subjective, yet there is usually a consensus)
- otherwise unique (Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite)
If you have the ability to, hold these foils for long. The Exemplar wave is a Judge foil card’s lowest price point. They will eventually appreciate.
The following markets are ranked on a scale of 1-5 for Ease (of transaction) and Value (obtained). These numbers are purely empirical and depend largely upon your own circumstances. Use them purely as a guideline, not an expected outcome.
- Local Gaming StoreEase: 5/5
If you know the owners, or they are too far, you can reach them by phone/social/email. However, your odds are marginally better if you just walk in the store with your album and/or boxes and ask them for a price. You usually will have room for negotiation as they will try to undercut you (especially if you are not doing business with them that often). It’s usually worth to spend an afternoon talking to the different stores available and getting their quotes. Some store owners may try to beat the prices of the competition – use this to your benefit. Don’t expect the maximum price you could otherwise obtain, but this is simple and easy. Finally, you can build professional bridges with TOs, that you can later use for judging or selling. Since you will most likely have additional product to provide eventually, having a good distribution network is very useful.
Usually the most profitable method, but also the hardest. You need to get networked with players who are after the product, then update them each time you have new arrivals. Judge foils tend to be sought by EDH and legacy players (though recently there have been some modern staples in Exemplar), while standard legal boxes will more easily appeal to standard and limited players who want to practice. Put out some updates in your local social media M:TG channels, and ask around in your LGS. The hardest thing here is making a start, but once you have, players will network you with more players!
- Sell online
In marketplaces such as Cardmarket, TCGplayer, Amazon or eBay you can sell your own cards directly. These platforms will charge you a fee and each of them has intricacies beyond the scope of this article. Acquaint yourself with one or more of them and put up your products for sale. This is best used in combination with other methods, e.g you can list your cards in Cardmarket then share your listing in a local FB group to try and get the attention of players and/or store owners.
You will find a list of some major M:TG stores that buy cards in Appendix A. There are a few things to be wary of when choosing this method. Those are
Each store usually has different methods of handing out payments. Paypal, cheque, IBAN transaction, anything. Ensure you have the means to be paid.
Be sure to have read the buylisting terms for each store you conduct business with. What are their condition markdowns? Is it possible they will reject a confirmed and shipped order? What kind of protection do you have when you sell to them?
If you are going for credit, what are their prices? Store A may offer you 80 USD credit for a card and store B may offer you 100 USD credit. If the cards you want are more than 20% more expensive in store B, then the correct choice here is A. This example is highly realistic as the different locales and economies may mean that you have the ability to sell to stores that can have up to 50% price differences.
How trustworthy are they? All stores in the list are major M:TG retailers, but make sure to always read up on some reviews before moving forward with trusting your money to any company. It’s not worth your time and energy to get screwed over a 2 EUR difference.
There is a variety of ways to distribute your Judge resources and only some of them are covered here. The most important thing to always keep in mind is your personal circumstances. I personally tend to sell to buylists and online, but maybe you have a local high-end player community. Always keep an eye out on your local market opportunities as they can have the best profits. Good luck and good sales!
- Channel Fireball: https://store.channelfireball.com/buylist
- StarcityGames: http://www.starcitygames.com/buylist
- ABUGames: https://abugames.com/buylist
- Troll And Toad: https://www.trollandtoad.com/buylist
- Card Kingdom: https://www.cardkingdom.com/purchasing/mtg_singles