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Baneful's Column
$$ Yugi-nomics 101:
Saving Money and Profiting $$
January 14, 2015

$$ Yugi-nomics 101: Saving Money and Profiting $$


Happy new year!  And yep, I'm back on my column.  Can't guarentee that I'll be writing regularly because I have been a bit busy lately, but I'm glad to be back on here nonetheless.  While my past articles have focused on nostalgia, I want to dive into some practical subjects this year.  Let's start with money.


Who is this article for?


This article is geared toward both newer players and people who are spending more money than they are making with Yugioh.  So, to people who are profiting, this may all seem like common sense.


I'm not an expert of any kind and I haven't been profiting, but I've learned a lot from experience and observation.  Mostly, from my failures, but also the success of some of my friends.


My little story


Yugioh can be a very expensive game.  Throughout much of the time I was playing it, I was throwing thousands of dollars down the drain because I had to keep buying more cards to keep up with the release of new cards. 


I was young and just following what everyone else did because I didn't have anyone to tell me that there was a different way.  Why am I writing this?  I realize what my Yugioh binder (and bank account) could have been like if I had started saving money years ago, and I want to help a few people avoid the common mistakes.


Much of the advice I give here is timeless because in retrospect, I've seen all of this come consistently true.  It was true in 2002, true in 2006, true in 2010, and true now.


The Pyramid of Profit


There are 3 groups of people:

    The Splurgers – Those who spend lots of money on the game.  (~90% of players)

    The Smart Ones - Those who invest wisely so they don't need to spend a lot (~9% of players)

    The Entrepreneurs – Those who make a net profit off of the game (~1% of players)


Profiting from Yugioh is not a living (more like a sub-minimum wage part time job), but you earn money on your own terms doing what you love.  However, some may find profiting time-consuming and others, who have their sights more on competitive play, will buy-high and sell-low if it means winning more games.


But there's no benefit to being a splurger unless you have tons of disposable money and aren't bothered by spending thousands more than you need to.  The recommended route to go for most people is to be one of the smart ones in the middle-route, smarter than most players but not sacrificing as much as the top 1% is to make their meagre profit.


#1 – Don't buy loose random packs


1.            They're designed for you to lose.  You pay $4 for a pack and on-average, you're getting $2 worth of cards.

2.            Most cards in the pack (unless you're building out every single theme from the set) won't be useful to you.

3.            Buying packs is an emotional decision like buying scratch-off lottery tickets, but it's not a logical way to build a collection.


#2 – Avoid buying booster boxes, usually.


1.            Boxes are a step-up from packs as you save by buying in bulk and more packs means more consistency, but it's still not an ideal option.

2.            The value of holos has shrunk more than ever.  Most holos from older sets have fetched $5-15 of market value.  Nowadays, if the card isn't Dante, Qliphort Disk or Denko Sekka, it's a $1-2 card.  This makes boxes riskier than they used to be.

3.            Only buy boxes within 2 weeks of the set's release.  After that point, the cards lose value usually.

4.            Sealed booster boxes are worth $60.  Compare prices and don't pay more.

5.            Only buy a box if it's actually a good set.  Most sets aren't good.


#3 - Scaling


1.            There are more in-depth explanations on the Pojo forum, but basically, with a gram scale, you can weigh packs.  The heavier packs usually contain holo cards.

2.            Scaling is a legal practice, but many see it as unethical, so proceed with such caution.

3.            Scaling decreases your risk of pulling bad cards, but I wouldn't call it a sure-fire way of profiting either due to the fact that some holos are worthless and scaling isn't always accurate.

4.            Scale if you want to, but it's not necessary.


#4 – Avoid most sealed products


1.            Anything with loose packs inside (like tins and special editions) might save you a dollar or two but they're still a risk.

2.            Structure decks are often a pretty good value for $10 if it has a lot of cards you want.

3.            When it comes to holidays and gifts, sealed products like tins, special editions and decks may make good stocking stuffers for kids (who may not care about approaching the game logically) but aren't the best value for adults who want to build a collection.  You're better off just getting them another gift (or a gift card to a store they like).


#5 – Don't pay retail price


1.            When you pay retail, you're paying not only for the product but an extra sum to fuel their rent.

2.            If you do buy sealed products, buy them online from places like Amazon and Ideal808 for cheaper.


#6 – Just buy singles (the cards you need)


1.            You can buy them from other players, but your best option is usually buying from sellers on Ebay and Tcgplayer.

2.            Get the basic practical cards you need.  These include staples/semi-staples like Solemn Warning, Mystical Space Typhoon, Snatch Steal, Call of the Haunted, Foolish Burial, etc.

3.            Also get basic time side-deck tech when affordable, like D.D. Crow's, Maxx C's, the Imprisoning Mirrors and such.

4.            Buying singles is better than taking risks with packs and staled products.  For example, if you want to build Burning Abyss, it's better to buy all the cards you need (even the expensive ones) than buy many packs of Duelist Alliance and get only some of the cards you need. 

5.            It's more cut-and-dry, but at the same time you're getting your collection together faster and cheaper than buying packs/boxes/sealed products ever will.


#7 – Stay tuned in


1.            Stay aware of the meta.  Go on Dueling Network and watch games from high-rated players. See coverage on major events (like ARG).  Make friends with people aware of how the game works.

2.            Go on card-collecting and profit forums like Pojo and DuelistGroundz to ask questions about building your collection and selling cards.

3.            Websites like TCGPlayer, Amazon and Ebay (Buy-It-Now's) are good at judging the overall worth of the cards.  I've mentioned them several times but they're really good.

4.            See if you can find an app on your phone that tracks prices.  "Yugioh Prices", for example, is great.

5.            Before trading with people, always, always, always, check prices to make sure you're getting a fair deal.  With smartphones, wifi and 4G available, it's more convenient than ever.


#8 – Flipping


1.            Buy low.  Sell high.

2.            This is your main avenue of profit. 

3.            Your goal is to make 100% profit on a card.  If you bought a card for $5, you want to make at least $10 off of it.  With possible factors like shipping and competition, you would want to make a sizeable profit margin.

4.            If a card has already risen a substantial amount, it's not as safe to invest in it.  You might pick up a little profit, but it's not worth the risk.  It's very possible that a card won't rise in price (after a price jump) because sellers are hoarding it already.

5.            One way to flip cards is to buy whole collections on Ebay from people who direly need the money and are selling it cheap to get the money quick.  Though, be careful, most of the collections out there aren't good bargains.


#9 – Sell off cards before they devalue


1.            The value of new cards are inflated for the first few weeks, but after that most of them decline. Only really good cards that lots of competitive players are using copies of in their deck are going to stay high.

2.            Just because you have a Super Rare or an Ultra Rare, doesn't mean it's valuable.  Rarity speaks of supply – but not of demand. 

3.            If you can, trade bad Super Rares and bad Ultra Rares for a bunch of quality commons and Normal Rares.  Lots of people will do this trade with you because they're getting a good deal at the moment, but you're going to win in the end.

4.            If a card is getting banned/limited, sell/trade it as soon as it's announced.

5.            If a reprint set (like Gold Series) is announced, all cards you own that are over a year old and worth more than $10 are at risk of devaluing due to reprints.


#10 – Pay attention to the OCG


1.            When new cards are announced in the OCG, most players say "Ehh... it's a while away.  I'll wait."  Big mistake!! 

2.            You should be reading up on OCG forums and then testing OCG archetypes against current tier 1 decks to see if they can stack up.

3.            Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands is $5 now.  Two months ago when Nekroz were first announced, they were 50 cents.  Summoner's Art was a $2 when the pivotal card Qliphort Scout was announced but by the time they Qliphorts came out they're $10 a piece.

4.            Investing in cards that will support a powerful upcoming archetype is good, but you should be investing in them days after they're announced.  If you're investing in them a month or two after it was announced, people would've caught on.

5.            If information is available to everyone, then it's already accounted for and people have already seized the opportunity before you did.  You want to be the one who invests before most other people.


#11 – Skip bad formats


1.            Some formats will require you to build out a $500-1000 deck to win (before the deck devalues). Dragon Ruler format, for example.  In these cases, just bow out and don't play for a few months.  At the same time, still keep your eye on the OCG and what may rise during the next format.

2.            When a new format arises, sell all of the valuable cards you own that you think aren't going to be as prevalent next format.  You can always buy them back later when cheaper, but the point is that you don't lose the money you invest.


A Practical 2015


Wow, this article ended up being longer than I expected it to and it's far from exhausted.  I've barely scratched the surface and I have a ton to learn about flipping cards, but I hope I established the basics of saving money to the average player. Yugioh is a complex game and economics is an even more complex one, so I hope to write more on this subject when I can.


Anyways, happy 2015.  Make it a happy year and a practical one.


- Baneful



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