Variant: The Trading Meta Game
Partly because, as a loyal cultist of the new, I tend to be an early adopter and buy games unplayed, and partly because my tastes change over the years, I typically have a small pile of games on my trade list. While my success varies, I thought I’d share my tips for giving you the best shot of making a trade.
1. Get Familiar with Math Trades. I cannot stress this one enough. Even with a lot of games on your trade and want lists, the odds that someone will be trading something you want and wanting something you have for trade are fairly low. To get a larger pool of potential traders, math trades are ideal.
The idea is that person A may want something from person B, but person B only wants something from person C who wants something from person A. With two of them alone, no trades are possible. But if A gives to B who gives to C who gives to A, they all get to trade. A math trade is the same thing only filtered through hundreds of users. They can be a little intimidating at first, but check out the guides and get to know them.
2. Know the Monetary Value of the Games. And this is why it’s a Meta Game. For me, I don’t much care what each game costs. The one on my shelf taking up space and not getting played is one I’m willing to part with even if the game I get in return has a lower dollar value. But for most traders, I’ve found that having equivalent items is essential. And, for a significant portion of the trading base, they want to feel like they “won” the trade by getting a more expensive item for a less expensive item.
This can be a huge barrier, as gamers trained on managing game economies efficiently also try to ply that skill to real life trades. Of course, some of them are more ridiculous than others (there are some terribly one-sided trade proposals), but you should be well aware that the greater the discrepancy in your favor, the more likely you won’t get a trade and may not even hear back.
Of course, there are a lot of factors that go into the price, including whether or not a game is in print. But it’s easy enough to check the BGG marketplace or ebay for what the game is actually going for on the new and secondary market.
3. Factor in Shipping Costs. Trading inexpensive games can be a pain. Why should I pay seven or eight dollars to ship a game when I can get the game I want brand new for nine or ten? Doesn’t make sense. So, if you propose a trade where you will give a game that is inexpensively bought online or at a FLGS, your trade is likely to be unsuccessful.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Double Up. I’ve gone through a few trades where I got a bigger game by trading two or more small or medium games. And I’ve been on the other side of that trade, getting multiple games while giving just one. Giving more games than you are getting can be intimidating. But if you aren’t playing them, really all you are doing is making room on your shelf for that bigger game.