My Love/Hate Relationship with Pucatrade

If you are at all interested in Magic you’ve probably heard mention of a word.  The word started as a whisper not all that long ago and only hipsters and the most tapped in of Magic player were aware of it.  Over time, the word has grown to the point where it isn’t a whisper but is now more a roar.  Everyone who plays Magic knows that this is now a thing…and that thing is Pucatrade. I love Pucatrade! But in that same breath, I hate Pucatrade.  How can this be?  Let’s have a look at Pucatrade and why it can such a blessing and a curse.

What is Pucatrade?

Let’s start with what is Pucatrade.  Pucatrade is an online platform that allows you to make trades with other players all over the world.  You can post the cards you have for trade as well as the cards you want on the system for others to find.  Once you find someone who wants a card you have you can agree to send them the card in exchange for a number of PucaPoints.  Every card is assigned a value in PucaPoints and has a conversion of being roughly 100 PucaPoints  for 1 USD$ .  PucaTrade monitors the current real life prices of thousands of cards and updates prices so that cards on PucaTrade are very comparable to the actual monetary value of the cards on the secondary market .  Once you have collected enough PucaPoints people can start to send YOU cards in exchange for your points.  This service allows you to trade cards you don’t want/need in order to get cards you do want to play with.

The theory behind the system is amazing and it works.  I joined PucaTrade in November of 2014 and have moved over 530 cards.  I have found the system to be marvelous for allowing me to trade a large number of cards I don’t want and to get the cards I do want.  In particular, I’m prepared to ship a healthy number of commons and uncommons and bank the points until I can afford the Rare and Mythic cards that I am looking for.  The fact that I ship commons and uncommons essentially allows me to “trade up” to get cards of a higher value. That’s truly terrific because storing boxes and boxes of virtually unplayable commons and uncommons is a problem. Sure, I keep some to build pauper stuff out of, but by and large the cards are just unplayable and sit in boxes.

Now, I could sell them in bulk to a dealer, but prices for that are dismal. $3/1000 cards is a fraction of what you would actually need to afford to replace those cards. So, I happily move piles of commons and uncommons all over the place in order to build up my point total to get something nice.  Sure, I pay some in postage, but if you’re smart, buy stamps and envelopes in bulk, and try to package up a couple of cards at a time you can usually do ok. It ain’t pretty, but moving out those cards feels great and helps me to pick up those higher end items that I might be missing.

Here is the problem and something that drives me crazy. PucaTrade has a variety of levels of service starting with the free basic membership all the way up to the Gold membership level where you have additional perks at each level.  I try my hardest to stick to a fairly tight budget because I just don’t have a pile of money lying around. As a result, I stick to the Basic membership.  This means that on lists for cards sought by other people on PucaTrade I always show up near the bottom and the Gold members end up near the top. That’s totally fine by me and I recognize that by sticking with the basic plan that I am more likely to be down near the bottom of such lists.  However, my points are still just as good as someone at one of the higher membership ratings.  So when I put a card on my want list I’m really hoping that someone will pull the trigger and send me the card.  Sadly, premium cards or cards that see considerable competitive play don’t get filled nearly as frequently for me as they do for other traders.  Now, I could be stubborn and sit on my points until I get the cards I really want…or I could lower my expectations and ask for something that is a little less sought after.  Let me provide you with an anecdote.

I was sitting on close to 900 points.  That’s not an outrageous number of points but it is enough to pick up the pair of Tasigur, the Golden Fang on my want list.  This sat there for days…almost a full week to be exact.  Now, over that same 7 day period Tasigur was one of the most highly traded cards being traded and was moved upwards of 150 times in the week…but not a single copy was destined in my direction. Well, I opted to change up my want list and resigned myself that if I wanted to get a copy of Tasigur that I would need to buy him.  I changed up my list and put Chandra, Fires of Kaladesh which is an interesting card because it is a flip Planeswalker.  It’s no Jace, that’s for sure, but it is interesting, is a 3 mana planeswalker, and can deliver a pretty good beating.  Well, I put her on my list and I had a copy coming my way in a matter of 20 minutes. Same story with  a Goblin Dark Dwellers recently.  It went unfilled for 5 days and then I switched to Undergrowth Champion and I had a trade in under 12 hours.

I know that the fact that some of the trades go unfulfilled is dependent on a pile of factors and that no one is personally snubbing me.  However, I feel like the link between being a basic profile and not getting premium cards is a real link.  Now, does it truly frustrate me to the point where I’m going to lose sleep?  No.  There are lots of other powerful and interesting cards out there right now that I can pick up.  Chandra, Fires of Kaladesh and Undergrowth Champion are great choices and are likely undervalued right now meaning that grabbing them now could really pay off down the road. However, it is one of the drawbacks to Pucatrade, that I’m at the whim of the other traders out there.  It’s part of the “game” when one is looking to trade cards, but it is still a little frustrating.

On the whole, I’m hugely in favor of Pucatrade and I don’t want people to think that I’m here to whine about not getting a few cards.  On the whole I have found the system to be terrific and has helped me to build countless decks full of all sorts of cards I wouldn’t normally be able to pick up so easily.  However, once in awhile, I do get a little down because I can’t get the sweet things on my list. With that said, there are lots of targets out there to get and I can often find an equally appealing substitute without much trouble.  The lesson learned is that for next year I will need to set aside the budget in MTG spending to upgrade my membership and see if that doesn’t help me to address some of my issue.  In the meantime, I am going to continue trading cards on Pucatrade and would highly recommend that do too if you aren’t already.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read and have fun wherever you play Magic.



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