Thursday, July 10, 2008

Magic the Intervention: Organization

I have recently had the opportunity to see just how important it is to keep a collection like Magic the Gathering. i spent this last Saturday assisting a friend in organizing his collection. This step was long overdue, and I hope that maybe it will inspire you to get your collection organized. I had often comment that my friend did not live in a home, but in a card box. Literally everywhere you look, there was stacks of cards. We even found some the pantry.

Okay, so rather then spending this entire article ranting about what had been done wrong, please allow me to discuss best practices which I have found, and allow you to work them into your own collection.

First up, know your limit. No matter what your budget is, or how great an individual card is, there is a limit to how many copies you need. My limit is four. I don't mind cards being shared between decks, because I tend not to run similar decks that often, and I rarely run more the 2-3 decks in a given season. I don't care what you limit is, or how you establish it, but if you don't have one I guarantee you have cards that you don't even want, much less need. In my recent intervention we filtered out nearly 10,000 cards that simply weren't needed. Those extra copies really add up. We figure that those bulk unwanted cards will turn into a $50 credit to be applied towards more fun with the game.

Basic land is another important limit, and we all pile up more then we need. Make sure to keep enough to support the number of decks you normally keep built, plus some extra for newbies. If it's selling off the bulk, supporting newbies, or donating to your local stores land box, get rid of the extra.

Another important thing to think about here is the core sets. These cards are by definition reprints, and may be effected by your card limits. I don't care if you keep the oldest, newest, best art, foil, or promo copies-but stick to your limits. I keep the core sets built through extended, that's 3-4 sets at any given time. Right now I have 10th in a separate box that I keep with my Standard cards. Then I have my 9th cards which aren't in standard legal, and my 8th that aren't in either standard, or 9th. I think you get the idea. I move my older cards forward to their most recent printing, and eliminate the unwanted duplication.

Next up, have a system for storing your cards. This not only makes it easier to find what you need, but also to put things away when you are not using them. There is nothing more frustrating then having to buy cards for a deck, that you know you already have. I find that using a 2000-3000 card box for each block works really well for standard, and extended legal cards. Once a set rotates out of Extended, it finds a home in a 5000 count box with my other vintage cards. I tend to have a different limit for cards once they hit vintage, and sell a lot of rares off as they cycle out. I find that I rarely care which sets card came from, so organizing by block is normally enough separation for me, especially since legalities change as a block rather then a set. I like the white top load card boxes, because they really tend to last, and I can use them for a new set, as it's old contents cycle to Vintage. The box can easily be labeled for their contents, and label stickers can be changes as the contents change over time.

The number one best tip I can give to keep you collection organized is to use a "waiting to be filed box" What ever system you use to keep your collection organized, there are always going to be cards that have not made it into that system yet. It's important to capture those cards, and process them into the system for time to time. Busting packs, altering decks, buying singles, and bring new cards. I drop all these cards into one single box, and file them out about once a month. My box is a single 500 count box, which is perfect for me because I don't bust many packs, and I keep a low deck count that doesn't change often.

I hope this helps you to avoid the problems that many of us CCG'ers have, or to dig you way out if you have found yourself living in a card box.

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