How to Organize Your Cards

TheSorcerer

Whether you are a collector, a competitive, or a casual player, you probably own plenty of cards. You probably have them all organized neatly, right? What? Your cards are a mess? You just have them mixed up inside binders and tins? Then you've come to the right place. This article may be able to help!


gold sarcophagus

Getting Started

The first thing you need to do is decide which method you will use to sort your cards. Four schools of thought exist, but you can also use a combination of them. Depending on your situation, each one has its pros and cons. Obviously, more methods than those described here do exist, but I do not consider them viable at all. I mean, who would go and put all of their cards in alphabetical order? It would take a millenium!

Sort by Set

The first method is all about sets. You sort your cards depending on the set they were released in. In my opinion, this method would take ages to complete for someone with a humongous collection that has never been sorted. Looking at thousands of cards while focusing only on their set code is not an easy thing to do.

However, this method is ideal if you try to follow it from the next set you collect onward. This way, you won't have to go through your entire collection—at least not before you read about the second method.


Jar of Greed
Draw one card for the first method

Sort by Rarity

The second method, and you might have already guessed it, is by rarity. Sorting your cards depending on their rarity is really easy and you can do it very quickly. Rarities are simple to identify through a quick glance at each card. You will end up with piles of secret, ultimate, ultra, super, gold rare, rare, and common cards. When it comes to gold rares, you can refine your sorting by separating secret gold rares from normal gold ones, et cetera.

This method is extremely efficient, not really time-consuming, and it is the ideal way to start sorting your cards, whether you have thousands of them or only a few hundred.


Pot of Greed
Draw two cards for the second method

Other Options

The last two methods are sorting your cards by either card type or value. The former is about separating your monsters, spells, and traps first. Then organize the monster cards into normal, effect, ritual, fusion, synchro, xyz, pendulum, and link piles. Similarly, based on how many cards you have, you might need to sort your pendulum monsters the same way. It is worth noting that if you own way too many of them, you might even need to categorize your monsters depending on their attribute, type, or both. Apply the same logic to all the types of spell and trap cards and you are good to go.


Pot of Avarice
I am just trying to make a bad joke about the combination of methods

The value method is a bit different from the previous ones. You probably already have your more expensive cards in a separate place. Your higher-rarity ones might even be on their way to get graded by Cardmarket. But your commons and rares, most likely, all sit together in a big bulk. While organizing them with the methods I just described, you should definitely keep your eyes open for any valuable little gems you might have.

My Method: Combining Some of the Above

It's my turn and I activate Polymerization fusing the second method with the last two methods to form my method of sorting cards. So to get to the point, I suggest you follow this process in order to sort your cards efficiently.


Greater Polymerization
Three sorting methods combine to form a better one

First, you need to quickly separate them between rarities. This will greatly reduce the time needed for the next steps. Obviously, really expensive cards don't need to take part in this procedure. Having done that, you are going to start sorting depending on the card type. Sort by monsters, spells, and traps (as stated earlier) and then their own subcategories. The effort and time this takes will depend on the number of cards you possess. For example, I personally do not own that many ultra rare trap cards. Therefore, I do not need to separate them between normal, counter, and continuous traps. I leave them all together as a bunch of ultra rare traps.

Albums and Binders Unite

After sorting all your cards, it's time to put them somewhere safe, in a place where they won't get easily mixed up again. Your binders are the perfect spot for that. Try maintaining the order of the cards from the earlier steps. In case you have way too many cards, you can even dedicate entire binders for certain sorts of cards. One for monsters, another one for spells, another one for extra deck monsters, and so on. You get the idea.


Book of secret arts
The card that looks almost like a binder

It should go without saying that you will have to write down where every kind of card is, but I will still come back to this later. It is also important to state that expensive commons and rares should absolutely be put into binders. They are too valuable to be sitting inside tins.

Bring Your Tins

Now that the more expensive and precious cards are out of the way, it's time to deal with the bulk. It is necessary to sort your commons to the absolute extreme, as there are probably way too many. If you don't do it now, it is going to be impossible to navigate through them with ease in the future. The same goes for rares, but when it comes to monsters, sorting them with the method described earlier should be sufficient. You probably won't need to sort them by types, like spellcaster, warrior, et cetera.


Box of friends
A box can do the trick too!

It's time to store the sorted cards. Get your tins and boxes, and start putting your cards inside. Try to assure that each tin has a very specific subset of cards. For example, one tin can have common dark attribute monsters. Another might have all your extra deck common monsters. A different one only rare spells.

Having done all that, it is helpful to stick a piece of paper on each tin and write briefly about its contents. In case one tin contains more than one type of cards, put a small piece of paper inside, showing where everything is. You can use bulk commons from other card games to separate the contents of your tins. These cards should have bigger sizes to do the trick. A piece of paper can work as well.

It's Spreadsheet Time

Yes, you read correctly. Spreadsheet, Excel, a Word document, a notebook, anything that works for you is fine, but you need something to write down some stuff. You sorted your cards and you distributed them among your binders and tins. Now you need to make sure that all the effort was not in vain. Write down where every single type of card you own is. The cells in the spreadsheet are the ideal option in my opinion, as you have virtually no limit when it comes to space and modification.

Below is an example of what the final result might look like. You can do it any way you like, obviously. Personally, I used color in cells to navigate more easily.


spreadsheet
Click to view at full resolution

Conclusion

To sum it all up, organizing your cards is really helpful and will save you tons of time in the future. If you are a competitive player, I personally find it essential to separate your cards between staples and collectibles before you start sorting them in other ways. To be honest, the idea for this article was born when I was organizing my collection for Cardmarket. Why use the comment section for each card to note where you are keeping it when you can have it all together elsewhere?

Anyway, that's it for today. Did you find the methods in this article useful? Are you going to follow them or do you have better ones? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!


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



11 Comments

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Hodges(16.06.2022 12:14)

Storing Cards in Tins is the worst way to Store. The Metal will damage your Cards on the Edges. Cardboard Boxes are the Way to go for Commons. Valuable Cards over 5 Bucks into Toploader. Under 5 Bucks into Binders.

Crazylew920(14.06.2022 21:43)

I organise my personnel collection of cards by the set into penny sleeves; and then the cards I sell either go into a trade binder which im often taking to locals or some card box. My personnel collection also has a seperate staples or ''used often'' cards folder.. I have a folder for traps, monsters, spells and the extra deck - as for tokens and field centres i just leave them lying around in the monster folder.

MonitorLizard(10.06.2022 10:13)

Engine cores and archetypes that i'm interested (and probably won't sell) are grouped in tight-fit, transparent MTG sleeves, each labeled with the archetype (about 50% of my cards). Generic spells, traps, Synchros, XYZ, etc. Are also grouped into one pile each. The rest is grouped by set. Cards that i sell have their own small pile. When i don't buy selected cards, but f. E. A SD, i will put the cards i'm interested in their corresponding archetype group-sleeve, pile, or tin.

k0balt(09.06.2022 16:36)

I do a combination of everything, I guess. I have sets collected in binders, such as my DUSA playset, LC5D, Numbers collections. I collect decks so I have them in deckboxes and deluxe editions. There are sets and decks I am still working on so I put them in deluxe editions as well. And then I have my cards sorted per type in binders (monster, spell, trap, extra deck). There are some archetypes I could make a deck out of, but I just put them together in my monster binder. And I have meta staples and cores in binders as well.

laternamagika8(09.06.2022 11:13)

Another method which was not mentioned so far is autobiographical sorting: Just arrange the cards in a way that corresponds to the personal meaning they have for you. This way you also have a fixed order and also your collection can work as a diary which can be only "read" by the person who created it.

GamerCardz(09.06.2022 09:25)

Ok, i think im overly extra with my sorting system. First i sorted on monster type, then by card type (link, xyz etc.), then by rank/level, and at last on alphabet. It takes a really long time to sort it like this, but i dont mind. Is can find everything really fast (even though i have like 3000 or 4000 different cards, not counting amount)

Azdrerios(09.06.2022 01:33)

An interesting concept for an article! I'd love to see more of these, perhaps even ones that showcase and review binders/other accessories.

Yu-Gi-Lars(09.06.2022 00:39)(Edited: 09.06.2022 00:41)

How about doing them in just alphabetical order?
Regardless of set, card type, rarity, amount, or whatever.

Yes it took a while, it took me about 5 days to alphabetize them, AND upload them to cardmarket with price and amount of copies, for the slightly over 5000 cards i had back then.

But i'd say that is still pretty damn fast, and also the most efficient way to sort, and find your cards.

Iliaster(09.06.2022 01:12)

Yu-Gi-Lars
I totally agree, I started sorting all my cards alphabetically in ~2017, took me a week, but I never changed it since then, and it still only takes seconds to find most cards.

CMT94(09.06.2022 00:38)(Edited: 09.06.2022 01:34)

Or you can sort cards in alphabetical order.

Yu-Gi-Lars(09.06.2022 00:40)

CMT94
''I mean, who would go and put all of their cards in alphabetical order? It would take a millenium!''
Is a quote from the article.

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