Making Your Have/Want List Work for You
By David Earley on February 20th, 2007 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
The purpose of a Magic have/want list is the same as a trade binder in real life: to enable you to trade with other people. Online trading has been a revelation for Magic, making it possible for people to trade around the world for a card as small as Argivian Blacksmith to finish an Antiquities collection to as large as a Beta Black Lotus, and possibly even rarer goods, such as Splendid Genesis or original art. It is through the have/want list that players are able to share their proverbial binders with thousands of other traders simply by typing up a short (or sometimes long) list.
Don't make your trading partners feelHowever, much like your binder in real life, if your have/want list is not arranged in an organized manner, your trades will suffer. Potential traders may not look through your entire list, feeling that it "just isn't worth it" to dig through long, unsorted lists of hundreds of rares, causing you to lose offers. Others may judge your knowledge of values based upon how well organized your list is, causing you to get unfair offers, rip-off offers, or no offers at all. Traders may miss cards in your list, causing them to not realize that you have the very card that they want; people are not going to make offers for cards that they do not know that you have. While some boards have a search function, poor formatting or a simple misspelling may cause the search engine to not catch some of the cards you have for trade.
like this guy.
Clearly, having an organized have/want list is essential to not only maximizing the number of trades that you complete, but also the quality of those trades. In spite of this, I have gone to various boards and found numerous lists that are unorganized and littered with typos. They are not pleasant to search through in the least and simply convey the message "I really do not care about trading that seriously." I know that on multiple occasions I have combed through lists a second time with potential trading partners, only to find that they actually had a card that I was looking for that I had not noticed the first time. Do not let this happen to you. As a result of my feelings about unorganized have/want lists, I have created what I believe to be a comprehensive list of tips (and the rationale behind them) for creating a better, more efficient have/want list. I hope that my efforts are helpful for both you and your future trading partners.
Unless you initiate a trade, in order to get people to even look at your list, they have to click on its title. Try to make your title relevant to what you want to trade for, something like "Have: Masticore, Cursed Scroll. Want: Shivan Dragon, Bayou." If the board only allows so many characters in your title, use a shorthand such as "H: U. Seas, Scrolls, Hammers W: Duals, BoP, LoA." Start the trade before they even look at your thread.
Some people do not like to use this method and just title their list with whatever strikes them at the moment with something such as "The goat eats the cheese." At least try to make your title something that does not look like it was written by an 8-year-old. If you want to be funny, that's fine, but be grammatical and make some sense. If nothing else, spell your title correctly. Would you be inclined to do business at a card shop that had the word "trdaing" on the front of the shop? Probably not. This idea also includes using "u" for the word "you." Try to avoid 1337speak wherever possible, as it looks unprofessional. If you are not sure how to spell a word, put it into a spellchecker. Correct spelling and grammar go a long way in getting people to want to trade with you.
A lot of people like to put an introduction on their list for some reason. Most of the time it consists of "please trade with me " or "I have been playing type 2 for 3 months so trade with me" or some other random comment. Unless there is a huge need for an introduction, do not use one. It generally just makes you look unprofessional and tacky. Again, a number of these introductions have spelling errors; stay away from them. If you are not sure, check it. Even better: do not use an introduction, just get straight to the rules…
Most everybody posts rules on their list. Although rules are (at least to my knowledge) not legally binding in any way, they are useful in keeping everybody on the same page. Keep in mind that people can and will have rules different from yours on their own lists; conflicts can occur when two rules contradict one another and compromises must be found. While you should not get too caught up in the rules, do not ignore them either. Include what you think is important to trading. Some of these items might include:
Numbers for your rules. Number your rules so they look somewhat organized. Simply listing your rules without numbering them can make them somewhat more difficult to read (and therefore, will be less likely to be read). These rules define how you want to run trades. How can you have an organized trade if you do not even have organized rules?
Definition of "God rules." In your rules, you need to establish what is going on in your thread. A favorite is "God rules apply." What exactly does this mean? While I have my own conception of "God rules," my idea may be completely different from someone else's idea. In my opinion, "God rules" are defined as "anybody can back out of the trade at any time as long as addresses have not been exchanged. If addresses have been exchanged, the deal is final and you must send your cards to the other party." If you are going to use the phrase "God rules," add some sort of addendum to make clear what you mean. I personally have added "once addresses are exchanged, the deal is final."
An argumentative attitude in your rulesSending Order. This is a big one: if nothing else, include this in your thread. Some new traders will be tempted to add the "you send first" rule. While this can be a rule, it is very damaging to your ability to trade. This is because someone who has few or no references demanding that others send first looks like a ripper, plain and simple. If you absolutely cannot afford any losses, go ahead and include this as a rule, but you will have difficulty finalizing trades with people who have many more references than yourself. The "you send first" rule should really only be considered for people with over one hundred references, although I would hope that anybody with one hundred references would know what he or she was doing anyway. If you choose not to use "you send first" you should use the "refs determine sending" rule. For those of you who do not know, this means that whoever has fewer references sends first. It is really the only fair way to do it. You can negotiate if you are within a few references of each other, but otherwise, expect to send first if you have fewer references. This does not mean that you should just get sucked into trades by people with long lists of references; check references. If you do not trust someone, do not agree to send or suggest that the other person send first. As a rule of thumb, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Whether you allow references from sites other than the one you are trading on is a personal choice, but do not be overly hateful in the manner in which you state this.
can get trades off on the wrong foot.
Your location. By "your location" I mean your city and state (and country if outside the US), not your full address. Some people are wary about sending to P.O. boxes, so if you have one (like me) then you probably ought to consider stating this up front. This matters to people. It saves a lot of headaches down the road if you let people know where you are before you even start the trade.
Where you are willing to send. If you are not willing to trade internationally, say so. Some people like to add the "if you are international, you send first" clause. Due to the nature of international transactions, protecting yourself from fraud overseas can be difficult. However, you may offend some traders with such a statement, so it is really a personal choice. Just be aware of the dangers before adding the clause. In this same vein, you might also want to include "will not send first to P.O. boxes."
Type of cards you want (or do not want). Mainly, this rule specifies types of cards that people do not want, which may include foreign, Anthologies, Beatdown, gold-bordered, collector's edition, foil, or played cards. Let the people know what you want so they can give you what you want.
Link to a condition guide. If you use a specific guide to grade cards, put a link to that guide in your list. While others may not use this, your trading partners will at least have a general idea of what sort of condition guide you are using. Along these same lines, you might also include a link to an abbreviation guide for expansions (which you will be using later to identify your cards).
How you want your cards packaged. While you should really do this when finalizing a trade, it is good to put up front what you expect from your fellow traders in terms of packaging. This typically consists of simply wanting toploaders, but some want nothing less than bubble-wrap.
How you want to be contacted. If you do not want to be sent private messages because you never check them, say so. If you only want people to post on the thread, say that, too. Make sure the people know how they can reach you.
How you value cards. A link to a price guide, such as the ones at magictraders.com or cardshark.com can be useful by giving your trading partners an idea of how much you value your cards. While you certainly are by no means bound to the guide you choose, it just gives people a sense that you're on the up and up regarding card valuations. This in and of itself should help in acquiring better offers. That being said, do not use Scrye values; they are simply not respected by anybody who is not a card dealer. Frankly, I find the guide insulting to my intelligence (although this is my personal opinion).
Other notes you might see as important to you. What I mean are things such as "I look at lists" and "scans of cards are available upon request." While not rules, putting them in your codified list is a nice touch.
Thanks. Let the people know that you appreciate their looking at your list and your rules. Even a small "thanks" as your last rule is all that is needed. Although it is not mandatory, it makes you seem like more of a human being, rather than an impersonal trading machine (even though you may be one!).
What not to include in your rules:
The "No rippers" rule. Yeah, I know that nobody wants to get ripped, but since your rules are not legally binding, this rule does not really matter. Everybody has this rule by default, so typing it does not really do anything for you. You can include it if you feel compelled to, but it does not add anything to your list.
A rule talking about doing something if you read the rules. What I am referring to is something like "if you read my rules, put two smilies in your post." While it may be a good idea to see if people have read your rules and some people will put the two smilies in their posts, people are going to forget. Some people go through four or five dozen lists a day; they are not going to remember to put the two similes in their post, even if they mean to. I know that I have read this rule on numerous lists and gotten so caught up in trading that I forgot to do whatever they specified. In fact, I think I have done it only four or five times in all the times that I have read such a rule over the course of four or five years of online trading. Again, you can do it if you want, but do not get angry if you do not see it in offer posts.
"No stupid offers", "Only post offers", or "You make the first offer" rule. What exactly constitutes a stupid offer? This will just discourage posts. The point of your thread is to get your list seen. When people post on your thread, even if it is a "stupid offer," your thread gets bumped back to the top of the forum. Moreover, discouraging posts of any kind is simply not good for your thread. Posts are your friend! Keep your list on top: allow "bad" or "useless" posts to stand. If you abhor such posts, just ignore them when you check your thread; it really is that simple.
Spelling Errors. Run your rules through a spellchecker. Keep the typos at bay. Look professional, get professional trades.
While the list and explanation I compiled above are rather lengthy, your rules won't end up that way. My rules, at least at this time, are:
1. God rules apply. Once addresses are exchanged, the deal is final.
2. All cards must be tournament legal. Please provide accurate conditions when making offers.
3. Sending order will usually be determined by refs.
4. I will trade internationally.
5. Scans of any card are available upon request.
6. I always use toploaders. Please use toploaders when sending cards to me.
7. Thank you for taking the time to read the rules and look at my list. Have a nice day!
There are some things that I have chosen not to include, for one reason or another. To date, I have found this rule list to be most effective for me. That being said, I included other choices above so you could be aware of some things you might want to include, even though I chose to exclude them.
Trading online is all about references. If you have more, the other guy sends first. If the other guy has more, you send first. As lame as this idea is, that is generally the rule on the Internet. Consequently, you will need to keep a list of references. Some sites will have services for this (namely mtgsalvation.com and magictraders.com), but some will not and you will therefore have to keep a list manually. Your references list should consist only of people with whom you have traded online, not people you "know." There really is not a lot to the reference list, just keep it organized and possibly number it. However, you should place it before your actual trading lists, as its presence can boost the confidence that others will have in trading with you. Even if you only have a few references, still put it right after your rules. This shows that you are willing to say that you do not have a lot of references but are not trying to hide it. People like to see reference lists, even if it only consists of one or two entries. Include lists from other sites if you feel inclined, but do not take it personally if others do not accept them. I suggest that you back up your reference list periodically on your hard drive just in case the site that your list is on tanks; that way you do not have to start completely over should something happen.
The Have and Want Lists:
Finally, after all that, we can get on to making the most important part of your have/want list: the lists themselves! As has been mentioned earlier, in spite of their importance, they are abused in terrible, impersonal ways every day. Make your list work for you, not against you.
Hopefully your list won't end up asBefore you can post your lists somewhere, you need to create them. This is a long, difficult task. However, if you are serious about trading, you need to make the lists as reasonably exhaustive as possible. This does not mean including every card you own. If your list is too full, even if it is organized, people will get discouraged and not sift through your list. It is important to only list cards you are willing to trade. Do not put decklists from which you are not going to trade any cards. This is probably my number one pet-peeve when it comes to lists. It is like saying "I own these cards, but you can't have them." Nobody cares about what you will not trade, they are interested in what you will trade. Beyond this, your have list should generally try to include every rare that you are willing to trade, along with notable commons and uncommons. You can also include strange things, such as Vanguard guards and misprints when applicable.
long as Azami's.
Once you decide which cards you are going to trade, you need to decide how you're going to organize the lists. For both lists, there are really only three choices: by set, by color, or by format (namely standard vs. older). Personally, I feel that the color division is best because traders are looking for cards by color the most, although a case could be made for separation by format. If you choose to separate by color, you get your audience to look at more cards that they may want while searching for those few staple cards of a particular color. Also, do not lump artifact, land, and multicolor into one group; they are completely different groups that have very different functions. Doing this will only frustrate your potential trading partners. You will probably also want to have a separate list for foils as well.
Now comes the most difficult part: the actual compilation of the list. Do this in a word processing program such as Word. Do not keep the list on the site you are trading on; if the list accidentally gets deleted, all of your hard work is wasted. I am going to assume that you are using the color sorting method from this point onward, so please make adjustments as necessary if you choose to do otherwise. In this process, you will actually sit down and type out, one by one, the cards that you are willing to trade. If you are not sure about expansion symbols, get a guide; if you have cards with expansion specifications that are impossible, you will look like a ripper. Even after playing for six years, I got the Urza Block symbols mixed up when I first typed up my list. Get it right the first time.
For each card, you will follow a simple process. First, type the name of the card in the category it falls under, using capitalization. It is important that you type the name of the card first for reasons later on; do not type anything that is not the card name (such as the quantity that you have) first. Next, type an abbreviation for the expansion that the card comes from. I always type an abbreviation, even if the card has only been printed in one expansion. There are a few reasons for this. One reason for this is that you may not be aware that a card has been reprinted. Also, a card could be reprinted at a later date, and your information may become outdated. For example, Uncle Istvan, a card that has not been reprinted since Fourth Edition, was recently reprinted in Time Spiral. Finally, some cards have significantly different values based upon their expansion; giving your trading partners this information from the start will help facilitate trades.
AL – Alpha
BE – Beta
UL – Unlimited
RV – Revised
4E – Fourth Edition
5E – Fifth Edition
6E – Sixth Edition
7E – Seventh Edition
8E – Eighth Edition
9E – Ninth Edition
AN – Arabian Nights
AQ – Antiquities
LG – Legends
DK – The Dark
FE – Fallen Empires
IA – Ice Age
HL – Homelands
AI – Alliances
MI – Mirage
VI – Visions
WL – Weatherlight
TE – Tempest
ST – Stronghold
EX – Exodus
US – Urza's Saga
UY – Urza's Legacy
UD – Urza's Destiny
MM – Mercadian Masques
NE – Nemesis
PY – Prophecy
IN – Invasion
PS – Planeshift
AP – Apocalypse
OD – Odyssey
TO – Torment
JD – Judgment
ON – Onslaught
LE – Legions
SC – Scourge
MD – Mirrodin
DS – Darksteel
FD – Fifth Dawn
CK – Champions of Kamigawa
BK – Betrayers of Kamigawa
SK – Saviors of Kamigawa
RA – Ravnica: City of Guilds
GP – Guildpact
DI – Dissension
CS - Coldsnap
TS – Time Spiral
PC – Planar Chaos
FS – Future Sight
CH – Chronicles
UG – Unglued
UH – Unhinged
AT – Anthologies
BD – Beatdown
DM – Deckmaster
PR – Promotional
Note that the abbreviations on the right for Alliances, Urza's Legacy, Legions, and Mirrodin expansions have somewhat awkward abbreviations. This is so they are not confused with earlier expansions, namely Alpha, Unlimited, Legends, and Mirage, respectively.
After you have written the expansion, list the quantity of the card that you have. If you only have one, do not specify that you have one: it looks tacky. If the card is not in mint or near mint condition, specify the condition using the condition guide that you picked out earlier. Here is an example of how I would write out a card entry:
Demonic Tutor RV x3 (NM x1, EX x2)
I am saying that I have three Revised Demonic tutors, one of which is near mint and two of which are in excellent condition. I omit "NM" if all of the cards are in near mint condition. Note that I also opt to not hyperlink cards, as I believe that it makes lists appear cluttered more than anything else. I also usually list multiple copies of the same card that are from different expansions on different lines, like this:
Demonic Tutor RV|
Demonic Tutor UL
While you are typing out the names of the cards, be sure to type them up according to the color group which they belong to. Do not worry about ordering the cards beyond that while initially typing the list up; just get them divided by color. You should also compile a list of your wants by color, although if you have a very short list, this is not necessary. Specify expansions if you care about expansions, but if not, there is obviously no need to list an expansion.
Once you have typed up the entire list, you can now order the cards by name. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you sort your list. You do not have to do this by hand, as Word can do it for you. In order to do this, highlight the portion of the list that you want ordered. Next, select "Table" up in the toolbar. Select "Sort" from that list. A window will pop up. Select "ascending" from the choices and click OK. Your list should now be ordered alphabetically, making it far better than the mish-mash that is an unalphabetized list. Do this for each color. If you want, you can bring attention to certain cards in your lists by making them bold. For many boards, if you add the proper formatting and then sort the lists again, your cards that you want bolded will appear at the top of the list. However, do not compile a list of your "better" cards that is separate from the rest of the list. Doing so takes away attention from your other cards and sort of degrades them because they are not worthy of being put on the "good list." Also, if you do not put a card on the "good list" that probably should be on there, traders will know that you do not value that card very highly and are more likely to give you an unfair offer for it. I know I have used this information to my advantage on many occasions. Regarding the use of bold, on the one hand, emphasizing certain cards can cause other traders to offer more for them. On the other hand, however, it may just cause other traders to simply move on to another list where the card is not valued as highly (which is what I typically do). Finally, if a card is especially "hot" at the moment, emphasizing is probably the right call because it draws attention to it; everybody should already know that the card is highly coveted and therefore won't be deterred by your actions.
One other thing that I have noticed lately is that some people have been separating their lists by color, but have been putting them in spoiler windows. While this may seem like a good idea, it is a hassle to click all the little "show" buttons in order to open specific categories. Additionally, using the find command to search for particular cards becomes unwieldy. Personally, I just see this practice as "cute" rather than "helpful." Consequently, avoid using the spoiler function.
Finally, you should put your want list before your have list. The only reason that people are on your trade thread are to get cards for themselves, not to give cards to you. If you put your want list at the end, there is a possibility that they will not see what they are looking for in your have list and will never even see your want list. Putting your want list first ensures that it will at least be scrolled over, if not looked at.
How you'll feel after creating yourTo see an example of what your completed want list might look like, check out a retired version of my list.
new and improved have/want list.
I must admit that this article has turned out far longer than I initially intended. As complex as it is, all of these ideas are important to making a good list. You personally can pick and choose what to do and not do, but keep my rationales in mind.
If you do not get anything else out of this article, remember this: act professionally. Keep everything organized and use a spellchecker. As explained at the beginning of this article, appearing to be a competent trader is half the battle. I hope that this guide has been of use to you. Good luck in your future trading endeavors.
By David Earley on February 20th, 2007 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
About David Earley
David Earley has played Magic since 1996 and has played the Vintage format competitively since 2002.