There is more to Magic than playing Magic. Part of the challenge is building decks to play with, but there are other games within the magic metagame as well. One of those games is acquiring cards.
If money is no issue then you just buy whatever cards you want, whenever you want, at whatever price. But what fun is that? Better to hone your trading skills. I do most of my trading online, which is a very different beast than trading in person. Trading online is less about making killer trades with unfortunate individuals and more about recognizing good cards, buying low, and selling high.
When trading, my ultimate goal is to acquire cards to play with, not to turn a profit. This is an important distinction. Trading for profit revolves around speculation while trading for cards is more about buying good cards when they aren't popular and selling cards when they're all the rage. For example, when Day of Judgment was at fifty cents I bought a set because it was a good card at a good price. I had no intention of reselling. If, however, Day of Judgment skyrocketed to five dollars (for some reason) I'd sell them off. It's not worth that much.
I'll use my red aggro deck as an example. A few months ago I bought the following:
|Chandra, the Firebrand||2||6.63 ||13.26|
|Grim Lavamancer||4||1.50 ||6.00|
Last night I sold Chandra and the Lavamancer for a decent profit:
|Chandra, the Firebrand||2||7.50||15.00||+1.74|
|Grim Lavamancer||4||2.50 ||10.00||+4.00|
With the current price of the Phoenix over four tickets, I could have pulled a pretty big profit there, but I wanted to keep them. They're really good. Four dollars is a lot, but I don't think it requires a sell. Yet.
So do I retire my red deck? Not yet! I bought replacements:
|Hero of Oxid Ridge||2||5.00 ||10.00|
|Stromkirk Noble||4||1.67 ||6.70|
It's up for debate, but I think my deck got better. Lavamancer is good, but I like Stromkirk better in this deck. I wanted him for the original list but at the time he was selling for six tickets each (glad I waited). Chandra is nice, provides the cute combo with her Phoenix, but I think Hero has less dependency and will cause a lot of pain for the opponent.
Reasons it was a good "trade":
1) I think the deck got better.
2) I've already played with the old cards, and now I can try out new ones.
3) At the end of the day I was up over eight tix.
It's fun to view trading as a game. It got me thinking... If you're good you could invest X dollars into Standard, buy low, sell high, build tons of decks, and never have to buy tickets again. Even if you can't "go infinite" you can still get more with less through good trading.
Update 1/23: Chandra's Phoenix price went up today. I sold 4 for 19.75. If it goes back down I'll buy them back, if it doesn't I'll look to sell the rest of my red deck. Meanwhile I'll be playing my other decks.