The Bazaar of Magic: The Gathering and Its Beasts

Buying, selling, and trading is an everyday part of the life of an MTG player. In this article, I will humorously describe the various seller-types and their main differences, some fun stuff included. As American author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. once said, "All persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental, and should not be construed.

One looks for a combination of the following three points when buying a card, a sealed product, or any Magic product, really:

  • The best price
  • The right condition
  • The shipping cost and speed of delivery

Once all three conditions are satisfied, you then move on to the actual seller:

  • Who is this seller? Have I bought anything from him before?
  • What's his rating and what do evaluators say about him?
  • Is he trustworthy when he grades his cards?
  • Does he properly package his products for shipping?

Thankfully, Cardmarket and its users take Seller Evaluations seriously, so you might say, "Hey mate, I can just easily look at his track record on CM." Still, feedback and history aren't 100% infallible when it comes to seller reliability. After all, we are talking about the massive market of a wild game in a wild world.

Trading Post

From Bazaar of Baghdad to Bazaar of Wonders

I remember a time when sellers were a world apart from the players. In the early days of Magic, it was rare to see players with trade binders at tournaments. You simply had your deck and other necessities. Semi-pro resellers would provide the cards and other MTG materials.

Those were the fun and wild times of Magic, when crazy trades happened at crazy prices from crazy negotiations.

There were only a few sources that could sort the market value of Magic cards back then – and they were in print (like Oracle, The Duelist, SCRYE). Price data online simply wasn't there yet.

Bazaar of Baghdad

Basically, a card's value was determined by how badly you needed it and how much you wanted to pay for it. In 1995, I traded four dual lands for a Shivan Dragon. Yes, I was an idiot, but I was 17.

Trading Magic cards was a real bazaar. You would see Moxes traded for bunch of semi-rare stuff, duals for semi-bad cards, Arabian Nights for Chronicles. Powersellers were able to accumulate countless cards at relatively low prices, and they "made the market" for people who needed to buy cards.

With the advent of the Internet, as well as CM (MKM back then), the wild Bazaar of Baghdad became a Bazaar of Wonders, where every single guy could easily buy, sell, or trade cards with a universal price guide at his disposal.

Bazaar of Wonders

So, everyone is now buying cards at the right price in the right condition with proper shipping, right?

Uhm... not really.

Amateur Is Not Always Amiable

Because of the Internet and the consistent increase in the number of MTG players, a horde of people have invaded the trading card scene, selling cards right from their doorstep. People who want to sell cards now have to simply upload their stuff, base their pricing on the market tendency, and wait for a buyer. It was actually a revolution from face-to-face sales with some guy with a binder in front of him to basing your decision to buy on a seller's profile/reputation and clearly stated prices.

And that is my point here. Why do most of players today rather queue at the stand of a Powerseller, instead of trying to perhaps seize a better bargain from random guys in the tournament hall with their binder in hand? 

Bazaar Trader

Why do we prefer the (professional) Magus of the Bazaar to the (random) Bazaar Trader? It is because everyone has had at least one trade experience. Now, let me tell you a few of mine.

This is meant to be a humor piece, and not to be taken too seriously. So if you find some of my wordings and jokes in the subsequent parts offensive, I sincerely apologize.

The Bestiary of the Bazaar Traders

I will try my best to be analytic here, much like those strange guys who study birds...

Let's start with the alpha:

The Top-Pro-Best Trader

Magus of the Bazaar

Motto: I have everything... but show me what you've got.

Virtual Appearance: Powersellers on Cardmarket with multiple references

Physical Appearance: A stand, complete with logos and other merchandise at major tournaments

Assortment of Cards: High to Unearthly

Prices: Clearly-stated and typically non-negotiable

Grading: 99% Trustworthy

Lucky Draw Possibilities: 1%

Pros: Easy transactions, clear conditions, communication and interaction with seller is professional

Cons: Low buying price, high selling price

Okay, that was easy. We all know that type of seller. Now let's get Into the Wilds of the more random traders:

Into the Wilds

The Wanderer

The Wanderer

Motto: Hey... got some cards to trade?

Virtual Appearance: Not too active on Cardmarket

Physical Appearance: The guy who intensely looks at you and your cards

Assortment of Cards: Random

Prices: Random

Grading: They're "live" fella, so check them out yourself.

Lucky Draw Possibilities: 20%

Pros: These sellers are usually nice and tell lots of fun stories. They might even have something really good.

Cons: They may be in the habit of hoping that you know little of your cards' value.

The Quitter

Lost Soul

Motto: I actually want to quit Magic, but I'm not really in the mood to make you a gift.

Virtual Appearance: Low number of offers with low prices on Cardmarket with only a few references

Physical Appearance: That guy with a grin on his face and a binder in his hands

Assortment of Cards: Random

Prices: Typically yet to be determined

Grading: You tell him.

Lucky Draw Possibilities: 40%

Pros: Possible profits, easy to talk to, a more private transaction

Cons: May take a lot of time negotiating and discussing the card/s and only for it to lead to a no-sale

The Illusionist

Illusions of Grandeur

Motto: I'm doing this as an actual job, so I have to pay less for your cards.

Virtual Appearance: Mid-range dealers in Cardmarket

Physical Appearance: A guy that has probably never played a Magic tournament

Assortment of Cards: Above the medium range

Prices: Can be quite high

Grading: Not always reliable

Lucky Draw possibilities: 3%

Pros: Will easily take your cards if you let them go for a low price

Cons: Not your ideal sellers, but at least they know the game's ambiance

The Believer

True Believer

Motto: Your dual lands for my modern foils?

Virtual Appearance: Solid Cardmarket profile

Physical Appearance: The guy wearing sunglasses and a confident attitude

Assortment of Cards: Sometimes surprising

Prices: Can be quite high

Grading: Usually to his favor

Lucky Draw Possibilities: 10%

Pros: It will be a fun experience working up a deal for the card/s you want.

Cons:  Most of the time, you won't want the cards they are bartering for their cards that you want.

The Revenant


Motto: Found these at my parents' house... are they worth something?

Virtual Appearance: 50 cards listed on Cardmarket

Physical Appearance: A guy caught between nostalgia and contempt for Magic

Assortment of Cards: Random

Prices: Whatever is the minimim on Cardmarket (or even lower)

Grading: What's that?

Lucky Draw Possibilities: 50%

Pros: That dual land that cost only 10,00 Euros once upon a time...

Cons: You better meet with him in person. But usually, someone already has before you do. Bye dual land!

The Watcher

Eyes of the Watcher

Motto: Do you mind sending me pics of the front and back of all your Beta cards?

Virtual Appearance: Only a handful on Cardmarket

Physical Appearance: He searches his binders like a guy going mushroom hunting

Assortment of Cards: He rarely sells

Prices: N.A.

Grading: Severe

Lucky Draw Possibilities: 5%

Pros: The sensation of hope when he ask for pics of your cards

Cons: The sensation of rage when he disappears after receiving the pics

The Micro-Trader

Bottle Gnomes

Motto: Hey, what if you browse my album and I browse yours?

Virtual Appearance: Has a huge inventory on Cardmarket and all at low prices

Physical Appearance: That guy with a colored binder and in the first page, you'll find his uncommons and 2 rares

Assortment of Cards: Huge, but mostly uninteresting to you

Prices: Low to High

Grading: Not always relevant

Lucky Draw Possibilities: 15%

Pros: Fun and may even expand your knowledge of MTG culture and cards, ideal for completing collections

Cons: A lot of time (and patience) when making deals

The Lowballer

Thieves' Auction

Motto: I'll take 100,00 for that 150,00 Euro card.

Virtual Appearance: Lists only valuable cards on Cardmarket

Physical Appearance: The guy who looks at your duals and Powers 9s as if they were in bulk

Assortment of Cards: Quality staples

Prices: Out of the market

Grading: Severe

Lucky Draw Possibilities: 0%

Pros: You can usually trade your big cards for his big cards at quite a good rate. His attitude and offers tend to improve the more you get to know him.

Cons: Some offers are just boring.

The Maniac

Laboratory Maniac

Motto: Looking to upgrade my BGS 8 Black Lotus to a BGS 9.5 one. Anyone?

Virtual Appearance: Cardmarket inventory includes a few graded cards and some Alpha cards

Physical Appearance: The guy with a locker and siren in his backpack

Assortment of Cards: You cannot even begin to imagine

Prices: High, but fair

Grading: Only BGS and PSA does it for him

Lucky Draw Possibilities: 5%

Pros: He can afford to buy your most expensive cards at a fair price.

Cons: It feels like buying or selling a house.

The Fashion Victim

Change of Heart

Motto: I'm selling my Miracles deck to buy pieces for a Sultai Delver.

Virtual Appearance: Good stuff at reasonable prices on Cardmarket, buy and sells entire decks

Physical Appearance: A guy with a deckbox and some staples for sale

Assortment of Cards: Playsets of good or very good cards

Prices: Lower than you expect

Grading: He doesn't care that much.

Lucky Draw Possibilities: 35%

Pros: Good prices for good cards

Cons: You have to sell him the pieces for his new deck or he won't sell you his cards.

Trading is one of the aspects that truly gives Magic: The Gathering its well-deserved popularity, and I want to celebrate that in this article. That said, please feel free to comment about possible new characters that can be added to our bazaar traders or share your wildest trading experiences!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

3 Kommentare

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Frustlos(17.04.2019 23:28)

Why are these only guys and no girls?

MagnusMagicus(16.04.2019 10:15)

I loved it! Recognized some of the stereotypes in myself and my friends :p

fablodibongo(15.04.2019 19:01)

I started playing magic in 1997
The first time I bought cards on internet was maybe in 2008
Before that it was just cards from boosters and trades with other players in my lgs
I also remember buying a lot of bad singles in the store's binder.

I don't have a huge inventory anymore but I think I fit in the micro-trader category