Puca Pals: Week 4 Report – Wheeling, Dealing, and Stealing
Puca Pals is a weekly/bi-weekly article I write to chronicle my adventures on Puca Trade, the online trading system where Magic Players around the world trade with each other. In the articles, I will be discussing what cards I’ve traded away, the total amount of shipping I’ve paid, the total profit I’ve made after shipping costs, and what cards I’ve received in return. If you have any questions regarding the website feel free to ask. If you want to make your own account there, click on this unique invite link of mine and get started!
Week 4: March 5th – March 11th
I should have known after I posted my last article that all the deals in Nagoya would dry up. After only a week of posting my week 3 report, all of the remaining deals dried up. Some of my friends would say it was a stupid thing to do, that I should horde all of the benefit for myself, but I feel like it’s better to spread the wealth. We can do so much more as a healthy community than we can with just a few better of players. That’s not to say that I didn’t get first dibs on all the great deals ^_^. All in all I ended up spending about 30,000 yen in a 2 month period on popular cards in from various formats that were extremely under priced in Nagoya and Hamamatsu. When you factor in what I bought for my friend it was closer to 80,000 yen. I wouldn’t be surprised if we both end up making twice to three times what we spent though. I’ve already sent out a large majority on Puca Trade of what I bought when I was in Hamamatsu. You probably won’t see it in today’s article, but you definitely will in the next one.
- Primeval Bounty
- Door of Destinies
- Coat of Arms
- Rakdos, Lord of Riots
- Reforge the Soul
- Silverblade Paladin (promo)
- Tamiyo, Moon Sage x2
- Sheoldred, the Whispering One (promo)
- Dromoka, the Eternal (foil)
- Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (foil)
- Priest of Urabrask x3 (promo)
- Geth, Lord of the Vault
- Lingering Souls (FNM promo)
- Bloodline Keeper
- Quicksilver Amulet
- Tree of Redemption x2
- Scourge of Valkas x2
- Venser’s Journal
- Black Sun’s Zenith
- Gavony Township
- Sheoldred, the Whispering One
- Melira, Sylvok Outcast
- Dust Bowl
While the overall number of trades was down to 28 cards from 39, the list I posted in my profile of Japanese promos and foils I have started to gain more attention. I sent out more of those than normal, which helped to balance out and offset my otherwise low amount of shipments this week.
My Initial Costs and Total Shipping
By week 4, I had started to cannibalize all of my trade binders, boxes of old cards, decks I wasn’t using, and also paying really close attention to buy list prices on websites like Channel Fireball to see where the profit lay. I went around to many of the stores in Nagoya and was silently buying out cards that were huge profit makers on Puca Trade for me. I spent 50 yen on Door of Destinies, 150 on a Coat of Arms, 600 yen on Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, as well as some more Shu-Yun foils that I was able to pick up for about 380 yen around Nagoya. The Venser’s Journal I traded away only cost me 20 yen, and I had bought out a stack of Bloodline Keepers for 50 yen back when they were spiking to around $3 so I was happy to get rid of one of those as well. Most of the promos and foils I sent away were straight from the pack so they were pure profit.
My total shipping this time only cost a total of 2060 yen on 28 cards, and this was due largely in part to my continuing strategy of shipping multiple cards and cutting back on low value single cards. This averaged out to about 73 yen on each card sent, which was pretty good. The week before I averaged about 70 yen in shipping on each card which was my best ever, but 73 is decent. Most of these shipments were simply 110 yen stamps, and only one of these envelopes was overweight, costing 190 yen to send.
Profit Made and How Long it Took to Send Cards
While I sent less cards than I did in week 3, I still managed to make 9779 points in profit after materials and initial costs are all calculated. The total profit per card was about 349 yen. The lower shipping costs meant that I earned 7719 points in pure profit, which revises my per card profit to around 276 points. This number is much better than both week 2 and week 3. Just as I did in week 3 I got rid of quite a lot of untradeable cards such as 3 Priest of Urabrask promos, Reforge the Soul, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, and 2 Tree of Redemptions. Without those cards involved, I could say my true profit per card was closer to 367 points which is very impressive.
I also managed to reduce my losses even further, as shipping only accounted for 21% of my overall points. This is going to be pretty hard to beat in the coming weeks, but by focusing on higher margin cards I should be able to do it. Week 4 was before my shopping spree in Hamamatsu where I picked up over $400 of cards for both myself and my friend (see my last post for some examples), so I expect the profit for week 5 to be VERY good.
Shipping overall in week 4 took about 8-9 days on average from Japan, but I did have some problems shipping to Calgary in Canada. 2 of my cards (Black Sun’s Zenith and Gavony Township) took 23 days to arrive at my trading partner’s place. I’m guessing customs kept it, or maybe it was misplaced for a a few days. It had me worried, but I’m relieved they finally arrived. I had another card shipped to Canada that took 13 days, and a card sent to Australia that took 11 days, but those are borderline cases. I haven’t really seen any patterns developing of places with bad postal service, but you should expect 9+ days to Canada, Australia, and the USA if you’re shipping from overseas.
What I Received/Learned
Having received about 20000 + points by week 4, the cards on my want list now came pouring in (just like I said last time, I didn’t receive these until the following week, but the trades were initiated/sent out during week 4).
I also got a Fetchland and completed my playset of Monastery Mentor during week 4.
I also had 3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, 2 Scavenging Ooze, a Lingering Souls, and a Cavern of Souls sent at this time. There were various reasons for each of these choices. For starters, Thalia is going for about 900-1000 yen, or double the value she was when I got her on Puca Trade. I expect her to see more play in Modern and Legacy in the next year, and since she isn’t being reprinted in Modern Masters 2 I think she’s a good spec. The 2 Ooze completes my second play set and is another spec. Its price have been remaining steady in Japan at about 1000 yen, but it was much higher before during Modern season last year. If Modern Masters 2015 re-energizes interest in modern, I could see the card going up. As it stands, 500 points is a steal. As for the Lingering Souls, I needed it to finish my playset. I had originally used a FNM version, but traded it away.
In week 4, I learned how hard it is to get rid of foreign cards on Puca Trade. More than 70% of my collection is in Japanese, and after 1 month of trading on Puca Trade I’ve noticed that about 50% of the traders on there won’t accept them. I’ve also lost quite a few trades because I had to send a message to ask if Japanese was acceptable instead of locking in a trade. I could simply lock in the trade then cancel it if they say they want English, but that seems kind of rude (though I have had a lot of people say Japanese was okay after somebody else already filled their needs). I am really looking forward to foreign support on Puca Trade in the future, and hope that prices are relatively the same for Japanese versions.
Wheeling, Dealing . . .
There are lots of different people that use Puca Trade. They all have different goals in mind. There are casual players that are looking for random cards to fill out their cube or to build their kitchen table deck to play with friends, people looking for the last few cards to finish their modern or Legacy deck, and also people looking to use it simply for value. I categorize myself largely as the last type of Puca Trader, but I do use it from time to time to get some cards for my standard or ‘pet’ modern deck. The way I see it is that the less money I have to spend on cards at stores here in Nagoya, Japan the better.
I’ve also noticed that there are quite a few traders representing MTG stores around the world. This is a great way for stores to get rid of hard to sell cards because a certain format simply isn’t popular where they are located. It’s also very easy for a MTG store using Puca Trade to get more format staples they need that are in high demand where they are located but might be cheap elsewhere. It allows the supply to find the demand in a much easier way than having to search through countless websites.
While Near Mint cards are supposedly the only condition of cards that are supposed to be traded on the website, there are lots of people with Slightly Played cards that are willing to work with you to get you the card you need. Most of the time you’ll have to deal with a Gold of Silver member to work out what kind of refund you’ll receive when the card arrives (I wouldn’t recommend working out a deal with non Gold/Silver members since an administrator would have do it. This causes a lot of hassle). I’ve had a few cards arrive in SP condition since I started using Puca Trade, but each time I received one the player was reasonable and gave me a discount. I just wish I had been notified ahead of time.
My suggestion to any of you players out there with a lot of SP or MP cards that are format staples or in high demand, is to get at minimum a Silver Account. You can see what a Silver Account is all about in the “Upgrade” page on their website. Having a silver account also allows you to get Foil cards, which is always a safer bet for value than regular cards anyways. I myself am currently a regular member, but I think I’ll upgrade to Silver eventually once I have some extra cash to throw around. Puca Trade recently reached their goal and raised funds of more than $50,000 to implement a number of changes, one such being foreign card and SP/MP condition support. While there currently is no timeline as to when that will happen, you can get a jump on everybody else and work on getting rid of your extra, less than NM cards if you have more than a regular account.
As soon as the changes go live, you can be sure the market will be flooded with SP and MP cards. I expect a lot of people are sitting on SP and MP legacy staples like Force of Will and Dual lands and are waiting for the changes. Once the hassle is gone of having to offer a discount or refund money, things will get a lot easier . . . word of advice when dealing with refunds/discounts: if you received a card in SP or MP condition and weren’t told ahead of time tell the trader immediately that you’d like a discount/partial refund. I usually take a picture of it (either next to the same card in NM condition or a card from the same set) and tell them I can send it to show why you think it’s less than NM. Once you agree on the discount, DON’T complete the trade until you’ve received the refund. Otherwise, they have no reason to refund you the money (and you’ll have to go through the hassle of opening a case). If you received a card at less than Near Mint from a regular member it’s a little harder to deal with. First off you should negotiate the discount, but after that you have to open a case by clicking the “Report a Problem”. It will give you a choice to “contact an admin”. Let the administrator know the discount agreed upon and let them handle the rest. Both people usually have to write that they agree to this deal where the admin can see it. This could take anywhere from 2-5 days depending on how heavy the caseload is.
. . . and Stealing
I had my first experience with fake cards on Puca Trade the other day. It was bound to happen with the number of cards going back and forth all over the world, but I was still surprised. I actually thought it was pretty funny.
If you have a real Snapcaster Mage then you can automatically see the difference between these 2. The most noticeable problem we have here is that the real Snapcaster Mage has a matte finish with little glare, while the fake one is all shiny (JP Theros cards are the only real cards with this type of glossy finish. Most people believe that these types of fakes came from the same factory that made these over in China). The next problem we have here is coloring. The blue isn’t the correct blue used in Innistrad, and this can be matched up against pretty much any MTG card from that block. One final difference is a little bit harder to see without experience, but the text font is also slightly different.
You’re probably thinking now “wow, you’re really calm after being sent a fake card. I’d be furious and want my money back . . .” Well, what is there to be angry about? Puca Trade is built in a way so that people can’t take advantage of others with fakes or with sending the wrong card. On a place like Ebay or Yahoo Auctions you have some sellers that are out for a quick buck and tend to sell rare cards for what seem like incredible deals and once they get your money they disappear, never to be seen again. Sure those websites have ways to get your money back, but it can be quite the hassle.
With Puca Trade, when somebody initiates a trade with you your points go into escrow, or point limbo. When you receive the card in the mail, it’s up to YOU to push that “COMPLETE TRADE” button. When you do, the points are transferred to that person. If you don’t because you believe the card to be fake (I recommend doing a google search for ways to check if you need more information on fakes. This is usually only for expensive cards though), you don’t lose those points. If it’s proven to be a fake, you get those points back into your account no problems.
Here’s what I did when I received the fake Snapcaster Mage:
- I opened a case and Reported a Problem on the card and told the sender that I want a full refund because it’s fake.
- I then contacted an administrator and told them I suspected it was fake.
- I posted pictures of the card online to get second opinions and everybody agreed with me. (Otherwise take it to a Local Game Store or Judge in your area)
- Once contacted by an admin, I followed the instructions on their FAQ
- I sent the fake card to Puca Trade’s office (with tracking)
- Puca Trade declared it was fake and used the proof to ban the member
- I was refunded the full price of the card PLUS the cost of tracking
The whole situation was resolved in a matter of days, and once you send the tracking number to the administrator in charge of your case, you’ll receive the refund for shipping. Since my case was pretty clear cut from the pictures, I received my refund the same time I sent the tracking number, or about 5 days later. I expect it to happen pretty quickly wherever you send a card from though. Not only was this good customer service, but I also feel totally safe when getting cards from people and sending them mine. There is always somebody looking out for you and ready to help if the need arises.
If you have any other questions or commments about today’s article please feel free to leave them down below! If you enjoyed this article and are convinced to start a Puca trade account, feel free to thank me by using this link to give me a referral bonus! If you are already a member (and have a silver or gold account) and want to show your appreciation, I’m always willing to accept gifts of points ^_^. Just check out my profile and click the “SEND POINTS” button. Thanks again for reading and see you back here in a week or two for my next installment!