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Down But Not Out

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Finance, Magic Culture

First off, let me apologize for not writing in so long. For those who don’t know, my “day job” is as a sportswriter covering high schools and University of Oklahoma sports. This means a few things for life in general. First off, it’s rarely a day job, since I’m almost always working at night. Night just so happens to be when most sporting events happen. It turns out that they play high school football and basketball games on Friday nights (who knew?). During the Spring, I’m covering OU sports that usually fall on Friday nights as well. Of course that also happens to be when Friday Night Magic is played.

Basically, this sucks. I love my job, but outside of some weeks in the summer, I don’t play in FNM at all. PTQ’s are also difficult since I work Saturdays; it’s similarly hard to get away for trips to GPs and the sort. For the last month and a half, I’ve had teams in the state playoffs. One of them went all the way to the state championship game (though they lost). That’s exciting for them and all, but it meant I was juggling football and the start of basketball season at the same time.

My life has been insanely busy for the last few months because of this and house-hunting. It’s led to my absence in coming to you, and contributed to a small break in the podcast (which is now going strong again at BrainstormBrewery.com). But I’m not telling you this just to vent.

Staying Connected

I haven’t played any form of Magic in more than two months. This is probably the first time since I began playing four years ago that I’ve been able to say that. I hear all the time how people “took a break” between such and such times. I guess this is my turn. Life has just gotten too crazy to play, and lately I’ve opted to use the small amount of free time I do have to play League of Legends with my friends who aren’t into Magic.

But I won’t lie. It has been hard. It has sucked to not draft RtR like I wanted to. It’s not even a question of being able to afford to play; it has simply been a time issue. I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the only person who has been in a position like this before. Plenty of people have had to leave the game for a while.

Of course I wish I was playing instead of watching. Not only is not playing Magic hard, it also helps you make better financial calls. There’s nothing like being on the floor to get ahead of an early spike. For instance, I knew people on the floor a few weeks back who were way ahead of Rhox Faithmender, and the truth is there’s only so much you can do without being there.

But here’s the thing: I’m not out. I may not be an expert on RtR draft strategy, but I’m just as plugged into the evolving metagame, rules changes and even the latest Twitter drama. Just because I can’t play as much as I want does not mean I’ve left the game. For instance, I was far ahead of the price spike on Hellrider and Thundermaw Hellkite and even suggested picking up Rhox Faithmender back in my M13 set review. I may be down, but I’m never out. The same can be true for you.

I’ve been about as far from a game as Magic as you can be in the last few months. But I’ve taken the steps necessarily to ensure that I’m still as big a part of the community as possible. It hasn’t been easy, but I have found a number of ways to stay connected.

Read, Read, Read

This is probably the best advice I have. Whether it’s articles or Twitter, I read everything I can about Magic. Sure, I’m busy at work, but there is always some downtime in the office or at a game, and I use it to keep up. But it goes a step farther than that. Reading also extends to decklists. I may not be able to attend the latest SCG Open or TCGPlayer plutonium-level event, but I’m still parsing decklists from those and keeping my ear to the ground. This is what allowed me to make an early call on Hellkite back when it was still $10-$15.

It also means checking prices often. And the beauty of this is that it doesn’t take long to do. Want to know my big secret to calling Hellrider? Sure, I saw that it was seeing some play, but more importantly, I noticed the TCGPlayer Mid price was nearing and then surpassing the SCG price. That’s a clear indicator of increasing demand, and it got me way ahead of the curve. All because I carved out a few minutes in my day to check up on a few prices (check on Inquisition of Kozilek, by the way).

These aren’t things that require you to hit every event, or to even hit every FNM. A practiced eye and a few spare minutes (which we all can find) will allow you to stay tuned in even if you’re not playing.

The Dead Zone

This is a concept I explored a while back on QS [membership required]. I’m not going to rehash that article, but I will tell you that some of the strategies that are effective for profiting in the Dead Zone are applicable here as well. Sure, maybe you can’t make it to an actual event because your only free time comes on Sundays, early in the morning, or (in my case) late at night.

That’s not an excuse. There are plenty of ways to stay involved in Magic finance. Get out there and buy some collections. Scour Craigslist, ask around the store, talk to your friends, use Twitter or Facebook (but not Ebay, those rarely pay off). Flipping a collection can be profitable, and it fits into your schedule. I did this recently, and actually spent my nights alone at the hotel on my business trip sorting cards into the wee hours of the morning.

Risking money on other people’s cards not your thing? No problem. How about your own cards? Clean out your closet. We all have tons of cards sitting in boxes somewhere and we covered how much money you have hidden there before. Sure, maybe you’re only going to find a bunch of cards that sell for a quarter or two, but chances are you probably also have some Manamorphose or Mind Funeral around.

Maybe you can’t handle all of that. That’s fine too. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from time to time. It allows you to recharge the batteries–up the Storm count, so to speak–and you’ll return to the game the better for it. But if you want to stay connected despite not having much time to devote to tournaments, remember that just because you’re not making Magic doesn’t mean you aren’t a part of it.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler
@Chosler88 on Twitter

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