**Potatoes and Branding**
*"When you are the potatoes guy everyone is like, 'Yeah, it's the potatoes guy!'" - Max Barry*
Welcome one and all to the Potato portion of the Cards Symposium! Thank you to the North Pacific Card Guild for hosting this Symposium, and thank you to DGES for inviting me to speak on a most important topic. There can never be enough potatoes, after all!
For those of you who don?t know me, I?ve been playing NS since late 2012, with most of my time spent in Spiritus. I was always friendly with people from outside the region, and Spiritus had some minor prominence in assorted NS events. Then, five years ago, the first Secretary-General election occurred. I saw that the event had begun, and had the following sequence of thoughts: ?Oh an election! I should run! Hmm? What should my campaign be? Uh? Potatoes!!!? And thus a brand was born. I spent the entire election screaming nonstop about potatoes, narrowly losing in the final round. From this point on, potatoes were a frequent theme for me and by extension Spiritus. Our government now has assorted potato-themed titles, in NS events we usually have a potato-themed name, in the second Secretary-General election I was Kuriko?s running mate and potatoes became featured prominently in the platform, and recently in Spiritus we even held a potato pardon where I drew faces on two potatoes and everyone in Spiritus could vote on which to pardon. The other, unfortunately, was smashed with a hammer.
Of course, potatoes are a silly thing to base an identity on. But that?s exactly why it works: potatoes are simple, kind of funny, easy to grasp. Taking an idea and running with it to the furthest extent possible until you are entirely associated with it, that gives you an identity so that people know who you are even if you?ve never met. Spiritus and I have embraced the potato as a symbol of whimsy and friendliness, infusing our region and interactions with others with those characteristics. It has become a great tool for diplomacy, recently uniting many regions under the banner of the Potato Alliance for N-Day, helping us to forge relationships with regions we previously didn?t know as well, bonding over potatoes and our shared hopes of victory. The yelling and cheering about potatoes rarely let up for the entire 24 hours; such a spudly display had never been seen before! The ultimate culmination of the potato brand was Max Barry talking about it a little bit in an author Q&A livestream several months ago, and soon after sending me a ?Special Potato Edition? signed copy of Providence, his newest book. All it takes is screaming about the same food item for several years nonstop!
Now, this is a cards symposium, so I suppose I have to bring this around to cards somehow! As many of you may be aware I have been collecting all potato-related cards. Anything with potato flags, nation names, or quotes, I want them all! Aside from collecting cards from my region and somewhat passively trying to collect staff cards, potatoes are the main goal. Deck value is of no interest to me, I?m just trying to be silly and collect my potatoes! This has resulted in my looking at cards from an entirely different perspective; I only recently started making some more nations so I could farm more effectively, and I have yet to use any scripts. Potato farming is the only goal, something silly and fun that isn?t too stressful. I can hang out with everyone collecting cards, see all the wackiness going on, but not get caught up in any stress from complicated trades or high level deals. It?s quite peaceful, and fascinating to see what goes on not having to worry about anything affecting me! Of course, being an admin in the cards server means I do have to actually know what?s going on, but I?ve tried to carry the whimsical and friendly potato attitude from Spiritus to the NS Cards server as well, keeping it a light-hearted place where everyone can hang out and have fun.
In short, the humble potato went from a meme campaign pledge, to a personal and regional brand, to a mindset and attitude brought to interregional interactions, card collecting, and NS in general. It?s difficult, in NS, to separate Spiritus or myself from potatoes, providing a way for all to know us. Branding is important; taking a simple brand and running with it can lead to great renown or at least, in the case of the potato, bemused bewilderment.
Thank you all for reading, and do not forget: A potato for all!
Event Participant : What species of potato is your favourite and can you crest a brand name you can utilise to your advantage?
The Salaxalans: I love all potatoes equally!
And Potato Alliance has been a pretty good brand name so far. :P
Event Participant : How do you find all potato cards? (What methods do you use to effectively find cards that would probably only been found in packs otherwise?)
Event Participant : (All potatoes are equal, but some are more equal than others.)
The Salaxalans: TNP's Card Queries tool has been vital. I did searches for everything I could think of, with obvious things like "potato" or "tater" but also "fries" or "tato", anything that might be referring to potatoes. Recently I realized that a lot of cards relating to fast food restaurants might contain potatoes because there will be fries if the flag shows a meal, so I searched for those as well. In addition I rely on people noticing cards that have a potato only in their flag; there's no way to search for those but periodically people who know I want potatoes will notice one.
Event Participant : Since we all know your favourite vegetable, what's your least favourite?
The Salaxalans: Brussels sprouts. >_<
Event Participant : They're not that bad; eggplants are worse.
The Salaxalans: Oooh.
You might be right.
Event Participant : Fellow eggplant hater! ^_^
Event Participant : I've always been curious about this one thing. :O
What's your opinion/thoughts/feelings on the mention of your potato card collection in your commendation Morover authored?
(Specifically the following clause: "The collection of a massive amount of artwork commemorating the starchy food, the full assemblage of which is valued at an astronomical price")
The Salaxalans: I thought it was wonderful. xD
Official recognition of potatoes is a great thing!
Atlae: Hey all. I?m Atlae.
I joined NationStates in February 2016, so it?s been almost five years on this stupid game. Last night, at the behest of friends, I found myself addicted to another card-based minigame, Magic the Gathering. :P - But until I leave cards forever with a huge giveaway I?ll still be in NationStates, The East Pacific, and cards for now. I joined the cards server on March 18 of 2020, probably at the behest of y0, but didn?t start collecting until April. My deck value really took off in May due to the Loop pull event. You may know me as the guy who?s collecting all TEP Cards (S1 is 85% complete, S2 is 93% complete as I?m writing this), or a member of Big Farma, or, for the purpose of this lecture, Deputy Steward of TEAPOT, The Eastern Association of Pacifican Ornamental Traders. I understand that my lecture, how to grow a regional organization, may be a bit strange considering that this Cards Symposium is hosted by the TNP Card Guild, who are doing a great job in many respects and probably know more about building an organization than I do. Nevertheless, I hope this lecture can be of use to you all.
The story about how I got into cards and how TEP got into cards is pretty interesting. It was April 2018, under Queen Yuno?s Delegacy, when cards were introduced. For the months leading up to April, we in the TEP government had been plotting. Finally, on March 18th, ?Liberate The East Pacific? was proposed. On March 23rd, the Eastern Loligarchical Order (ELO) was formed, bringing in a whole new era of Francoism. But it was all a silly prank and fooled quite a few people, some of whom are now in power today. It was kind of stressful behind the scenes but it was enjoyable being on the other side of it. We really thought we?d done a better prank than what Max Barry could pull. And frankly, trading cards? That didn?t seem all that interesting, to be honest.
Of course, there were still traders in The East Pacific. Many had holdovers from April 1, but some like VW53aland were actively trading. For a while, Queen Yuno was probably at the top of DV charts in The East Pacific. But cards was never a thing that could unite a community like regional government or R/D could. It?s hard collecting data about this since the DMZ (server under Yuno and Fedele) was archived and I didn?t think to ask to reopen it until this lecture. Maybe I?ll ask and receive more information about the history of cards in The East Pacific, but for the purposes of this lecture let?s assume that cards weren?t really prevalent in The East Pacific until Season 2.
In December of 2019, some nerd named Evrigenis or y0 joined The East Pacific. Like the nerd he is, he got addicted to cards and got his friends to collect them as well. By late February 2020, he had started a ?farming operation.? The group chat that would eventually become TEAPOT was formed on March 9th and added people one at a time over the course of a few months. Of course, that time was the pandemic, which probably freed up a lot of time for some people, like me.
y0 probably was the one who created the channel #ns-trading-cards in TEP?s server. That?s where I probably first got into cards. At this point, I had a bunch of leftover R/D puppets that I would farm, and I would choose each option manually (based on the number on the puppet mod number of options). Then I got into scripting, which made my life a lot easier and probably changed my life the most but we can talk about that another day. I shared these with my fellow East Pacifican farmers, albeit with some questionable advice (I mentioned that I put a walkie-talkie on the enter button to hold it down).
In late May, y0 also ran a pull event on the legendary very epic figure of 1 Infinite Loop, widely considered the founder of The East Pacific. Unfortunately, due to blocks (a time before TCALS nerfs when we didn?t know much) we got 2 pulls, one of which was me. That probably jumpstarted me into cards.
A few weeks later in June, we discussed the future of our little card farmers? group. For the 10th slot in our group chat, we invited Sakana, who was this large figure in cards in TEP that I guess (I was probably intimidated by her and her place in the community lol) Sidenote, but Sakana was one of the reasons I got into cards in the first place. I almost heisted her once during a transfer but she still was nice to me and encouraged me. Thanks Sak!
Anyway, we decided to be our own separate, independent, non-governmental organization. This probably sets TEAPOT apart from many other card organizations because theirs is a ministry or a fully integrated part of the government. It was sort of modeled after TNP?s card guild, but then they made their Ministry of Cards so uh honestly I don?t know if it made a difference or not.
Reading through the old chats, I smile with nostalgia when we decided to choose names. Cards Bureau, Cards Mafia, Cards Agricultural Department? It looks like I suggested the acronym TEAPOT and Sakana filled in the blanks. I?m also proud to say I designed the TEAPOT logo (I also redesigned it this year) but my proposal for the TEAPOT flag was bad and I?m glad it wasn?t approved.
Growing TEAPOT was maybe a little hard first. After gaining legitimacy through a Magisterium resolution, our opus memorandi was to contact some of the traders in TEP to get them to join. Well, mostly people from outside TEP came into join at first, because card organizations!
The first major thing that TEAPOT did was in September, organizing the Tea House of Cards festival with Lazarus and XKI. It was a cards festival not unlike this here Cards Symposium, actually, with pull events, games, and all that. Great minds think alike? :P
After the Tea House of Cards festival, TEAPOT has been holding monthly pull events and will soon start giveaways soon. In almost 9 months, TEAPOT has grown to about 30 people. I don?t know how much people other cards organizations have gotten, but I?d assume we?re doing pretty well. The North Pacific?s Cards Guild has 90 people, but they have had a nice head start and everything. Well deserved too.
It seems that regional card organizations are now really in vogue. While I don?t know everything about each region?s motivations in cards, I would guess that this is due to an increased focus on cards being a community endeavor rather than something a few farmers somewhere can rack up without serving any real purpose to the game. I know that regions like The Pacific, The South Pacific, and The Rejected Realms have created their own cards organizations and hosted pull events as well.
To all the new cards organizations out there (and DavanteAdams, hi!) I encourage you to band together like XKI, Laz, and TEP did earlier. Everyone will start out small, so working together will get you where you need to go in terms of human capital. In addition, you?ll meet all sorts of new people and perspectives and might even boost foreign relations. This may have the downside of cards politicking but unfortunately there?s not much I can do about that.
In addition, I?d suggest reaching out to small farmers starting out in your region. You?re not going to find people just by going down the DV leaderboard. What you need is a community who can eventually grow and find their own niche in trading. A regional telegram works if you want to go the lazy way about this. :stuck_out_tongue:
One thing I would honestly say TEAPOT has struggled with (this is the same with many other cards organizations) is that sometimes, it seems like a group of people that hosts pull events now and again. Pull events are great, of course, but they aren?t everything. Also, anybody with a lot of bank these days can hold a pull event, no regional organization required. Thus, once an organization has its footing, try and diversify. Card giveaways are really trendy now, games like scavenger hunts, etc. Always look for new ideas.
Overall, I think that the space for regional cards organizations is growing. Our good friends in The North Pacific have reigned as the most powerful region in terms of cards for a while, but in a year or a few years this may change. I?m eager to see what new cards organizations will thrive and how this will effect the meta of the trading cards minigame.
Thank you for reading, and I will try and answer any and all questions you may have. It can be about TEAPOT, about me, anything really I guess.
y0 and Gr
Event Participant : What would you recommend for a fledgling regional card organisation to focus on? (Special consideration to pitfalls that TEAPOT may have fallen in/narrowly avoided.)
Atlae: The most important thing in my view for a regional organization - of any regional organization really is outreach. One reason why is because it's for the very survival of an organization. At the core an organization is a group of people. Over time this group of people will shrink unless you find a way to increase the amount of people. Thus you have to think long term about what things will get people into the organization. That's where you think of things like pull events and games.
Another reason is because it benefits the cards minigame as a whole. For the most part, adding more people into the game makes it better. You might be annoyed at the MV sharks, but they indisputably made the game more interesting. And if you really hate them, convince them not to when they join your organization.
I realize that I forgot to mention something that TEAPOT struggled with. It's important to have some form of conflict resolution or mediation procedure. Although we did have anti-heist clauses in our charter, we didn't count for people deflating other people's cards to deflate their DV. Now whether that is a thing that needs to be adjudicated is honestly up to the community to decide.
I also regret not doing other events with TEAPOT, since I mostly just held pull events once a month.
Event Participant : It was mentioned that many of the initial members of TEAPOT were from other regions which helped the organisation grow in the initial period, what other advantages have you seen from the more relaxed membership requirements?
Atlae: Buffed membership stats. :P
In particular, 9003 and Racoda came into TEAPOT pretty early on. They helped with scripts and other materials like farming guides.
Overall you will probably get like card cosmos in your organization. That's good as long as they actually contribute. Otherwise it gives you a false sense of success when you don't have people from your own region in your org.
Atlae: ...I'm bored and like to hear myself talk, do you have any questions about me specifically? :P
Event Participant : What was the motivation behind starting a regional collection?
Atlae: For a few months I didn't think I'd be able to do it. I probably started because hey, I know some of these people.
I think Vylixan had something to do with it; seemed like a cool thing to do and I had a lot of new time on my hands with COVID.
Event Participant : How did you choose the nation name ?The Atlae Isles??
Atlae: It was a long time ago. It's hard to think of names.
I wanted to go "Atlantis", but of course that didn't exist.
Event Participant : Cards question now - Other than TEP S3 - do you have any particular one goal in mind for when S3 hits?
Atlae: Well I plan on collecting mottoes too.
Probably stockpiling specific cards to use as mass transfers and hoard legendaries.
Event Participant : Atlae, for S3 I should give you my card and you should treasure it like gold!
Atlae: How much will it cost?
Event Participant : F r e e.
Atlae: The card will be worth 0.00?
Event Participant : Ohhh. I thought you meant how much will it cost you lol.
Event Participant : So, since you like questions about yourself, have you always been a legend of Zelda fan?
Atlae: Well I really got into it in 9th grade.
So like 4 years ago.
Event Participant : Do you have any Zelda themed puppet sets?
Atlae: Check Atlae-1 to Atlae-200.
Mipha, Champion Daruk, Champion Revali, Lady Urbosa are all Zelda themed.
Event Participant : :D
Thanks for answering. ^_^
Event Participant : Is it possible to create a bank in Nationstates?
Event Participant : Only by junking or selling cards.
Event Participant : Ah.
Event Participant : No way will there be an option to buy any.
Event Participant : Would it be worth it?
Event Participant : No, it'd just become a pay to win on the card market.
Event Participant : Agreed.
Event Participant : I meant a bank set up by private players.
Event Participant : How would that even work?
Atlae: [In response to Event Participant #5?s question] Probably. I don't know enough about banks but theoretically people could.
Event Participant : What is next for you in NS, generally?
Atlae: Couping TRR
Event Participant : ?Time to junk those TEP cards you have bids on.?
"But one man's rubbish may be another's treasure, and what is the standard of value in such a pursuit as this?"
-Hector Urquhart 'Popular Tales of the West Highlands''
One of the great things about the NS Card Trading Mini-Game is its open-ended nature. Players can engage as often or as little as they like, choose their own goals, and find their levels of satisfaction. My chosen style focuses on making a market for my card and managing the challenges that come with it. Back in 2019, I played for the short-term, intending to land the Top Deck Value before the end of the year. In four months, I managed the Farrakhan Season 1 card to around 500 MV, with purchases at a peak ranging between 400-800 Bank, eventually reaching my goal. For those interested, you can read more about the details of my earlier system in-The Monthly Snapshot - Issue 2 (Trader of the Month/Interview).
When I decided to return to active play last Summer with a new campaign, my goal was to rejuvenate the Farrakhan Season 1 card, reach 100 total copies, outperform the Legendary cards whose MV I had previously failed to displace, and score the top MV among all actively traded cards in the game (not including expired transfer cards). It took several months but on the day of this review (1/30/2021), I finally reached my magic number of 100 copies, and have peaked at an MV of 1,126, completing my goal!
In this write-up, I will offer my thoughts on the ways a player can operate as a Market Maker for their card, discuss some of the challenges that are inherent within the structure of the game, share my experiences using certain strategies, and discuss different metrics players can use to evaluate a Market Maker managed Card as a potential store of value.
The Impossible Trinity
The challenges inherent in making a market for a Card, are similar to that of managing a currency in the FOREX market. Commitment to certain actions will limit the potentiality of others. Every moment of the game, NS players face three conflicting options:
Maintain Bank with full liquidity
Provide Undivided Support for a Position
Retain Flexibility to Support Multiple Positions simultaneously
By definition, focus on any one element will nullify the ability to carry out the other two options. For example, Leg 1 of the triangle (retaining a fully liquid Bank) will prevent a player from placing Standing Bids and/or stepping into a live auction. Leg 2 (Making a Market) inhibits taking on additional outside positions and makes bank capital less liquid. Leg 3 (flexibility to pursue multiple positions) weakens the potential to act as a Market Maker and commits liquid Bank into the market. No player can escape the Impossible Trinity, we can only set goals and manage with-in the framework. Failure to effectively balance and navigate the limitations imposed by this trilemma will often lead to severe consequences: Bank Insolvency, Crashes in Market Value, Boom/Bust Cycles in Total Deck Value, inability to fulfill collection needs, etc. Player beware.
From the standpoint of my experiences playing as a Market Maker, the main trade-off has come from Leg 3 (flexibility/diversity in building a collection). With a focus on using Capital Formation to fund Bank, I willingly sacrificed appreciation of the artistic aspects of the game, using Card Farming to liquidate positions for future investment. At times, I have focused nearly exclusively on Leg 1, which delayed the fulfillment of goals that could only be brought about through Leg 2 (ie. realizing maximum Deck Value, actualizing near-term Farrakhan S1/S2 MV potential). I have used a Reserve Bank( Gold Crescent Alistan)to build a second Market Maker position in Farrakhan S2, and a Treasury( FMM1)to help manage Farrakhan S1, but elements of Leg 3 don't stretch far beyond that in my system. Keep these types of trade-offs in mind when measuring if my methods would align with what makes the game enjoyable for you.
Advice For Beginners Acting As A Market Maker
Whether you are a long-time player, an experienced player who recently had their card generated for the first time, or are completely new to the game, developing the value of your card can be a great experience. Below are some tips which may prove helpful:
*Determine the percentage of Total Bank you are willing to commit toward acquiring copies, repeating Standing Bids, and/or enacting Direct Market purchases (buying from your own account) toward your position. The larger the percentage invested, the more aggressive your approach, the greater your potential return. The trade-off is that your degree of investment will come at the expense of other aspects of the game (ie. Impossible Trinity).
*Set a target for how much cash flow you will need weekly to reach your goals. For example, if you can generate 10 Bank a week, and you are willing to budget half toward acting as a Market Maker, that's 20 Bank a month, 240 Bank a year. Measure that against your card's potential appreciation over its Junk Value. With consistency, the compounded effect can be great over time.
*Capital formationis the lifeblood of effective Market Making. To be successful as a Market Maker, a player must be prepared to provide a strong and consistent stream of cash flow into their Bank. Time is always of the essence. Active purchases need to be made, positions need to be supported with Standing Bids, and a reserve needs to be plentiful and liquid to prevent retrenchment. Below is a break-down of the Top 250 cards with-in each rarity tier, which shows where the most lucrative bids can be found:
As the chart above shows, the cards that carry the most double and triple-digit Standing Bids are in the Legendary market. Having owned and sold every Legendary card that has been produced at some point, my experience has been that even those Legendary cards with single-digit Standing Bids, listed at deep discounts to their MV (and in rare cases at discounts to their JV) have consistently outperformed the return on almost all other rarities when placed into Auction. If your goal is to build Bank, this is where the money is.
*Reserve Banks & Treasury Accounts: In line with the challenges imposed by the Impossible Trinity, a Market Maker will need to find a way to mitigate saving and investing needs. I have found it helpful to dedicate separate accounts to this purpose. My Reserve Bank (Gold Crescent Alistan) exists to buy new positions of Farrakhan Season 2 with recurring Standing Bids (set at a Hard Peg) as well as handle general tasks (ie. fund undercapitalized puppets during card farming process). My Treasury account (FMM1) is structured as a pure Put against Farrakhan Season 1 and places recurring Standing Bids at a deep discount to MV (set at a Crawling Band). While the Reserve is purposely active, the Treasury is purposely passive. In both cases, I find it helpful to deposit sums into each account that are large enough (either through direct transfers or sustained farming campaigns) that the capital committed will last for a long time. The set it and forget it approach allows for both fiscal discipline and psychological freedom (knowing there is a backstop in place).
*Heisting: Going through the process of Card Farming, countless opportunities will abound to interfere with other players transferring Bank through the auction process. Placing a low Ask on a newly obtained card pulled via TCALS can reap large amounts of Bank in minimal time. While often easy money, I choose to abstain. People of all ages and experience levels engage in this hobby purely for enjoyment, and I take no pleasure in exploiting their moments of vulnerability. These heisting opportunities happen so frequently that I established a dedicated account to store these cards when pulled: FGWF(Farrakhan Good Will Foundation). If in time these cards develop attractive MV, I will add them to my wealth account. If a player contacts me and requests the card for strategic use, I usually just gift it to them. I find this approach to be more rewarding than taking Bank. Feel free to choose your own adventure.
*Developmental Stage: As your return on expense is most advantageous at the beginning of the Market-Making process (ie. when velocity is high, card supply is robust, and before your MV has shown much appreciation above JV), it is to your benefit to obtain copies for as low a price as possible, for as long as possible. With time, your ability to purchase at a slight premium to junk value will end, as other players will come to see your card as being a store of value. Players will then begin to either charge you at a premium above MV, or begin to hold your card for longer periods for appreciation or future intended sales. Over time, this can generate an expensive feedback loop. Try to resist the urge to realize true price potential too quickly while the supply of copies is plentiful, as doing so will come at the expense of raising your costs long before necessary.
*Law of Diminishing Returns: At a constant rate of investment, the percentage gains from building your card will decrease over time. The only way to change the math is to increase the amount of capital you are committing to your position. For example: if you build the MV of an Epic card from 5 to 10, you will reap a 100% return. Taking that same card from 10 to 15 will only reap a 50% gain from the same amount of time and capital being invested. This downward trend will only continue to accelerate without a change in the financing structure. Options include: i. increasing the base amount of savings into your Bank while still investing at the same percentage, ii. investing at a more aggressive percentage of Bank without a change in your base savings, or iii. increasing your base savings while also increasing the percentage rate of Bank investment.
*An Average Calculatorcan be used to plan out the effects of future transactions on your card's MV. It takes five sales to generate an effect, and beyond that, the average of your last 10 sales will be scored.
*Sequence of Order Execution: When the system calculates a card's MV, the initial sale will be scored as most recent, but when there are multiple transactions with various prices with-in a sale, the ordering of the other positions will prove haphazard (often with the lowest as scoring most recent). For this reason, it is to your advantage to initiate higher-priced transactions after a multi-sale auction concludes, as opposed to placing them in real-time during this type of auction. Example: You are buying your card from two players for 10, a new seller drops their ask for one of the Bids to 9. Wait until AFTER the auction ends to buy out the remaining higher Ask so it will be guaranteed to place as the most recent sale sequentially. This will benefit your card's MV calculation for a longer time.
*Counteracting Short Sales: Dealing with market hazards is the responsibility of any Market Maker. At times, players will choose to sell below your Standing Bid, which can reset your MV downward in the near-term. While this can appear disadvantageous at the outset, if you invest into your position at a constant rate, steep discounts can prove highly beneficial, lowering your overall cost basis, increasing your rate of return, and allowing for greater profit over time than there otherwise would be. This is one of the reasons why publicly traded companies will willingly enact stock splits. If this happens to your position, simply place a Direct Purchase (or series of purchases) above the intended original Bid price to even out the difference. For example, a Standing Bid of 5 is matched to an Ask of .01. The trade will settle at 2.5. In a subsequent transaction after that Auction ends, proactively sell the card to yourself from another account at 10 (target price of 5 (2)) and the algorithm will even out the MV back to your target price. If you are capital constrained, you can accomplish the same goal with a series of staggered purchases that trend upward at an affordable rate as savings recover over time.
*Saturation Points: In line with the challenges imposed by the Law of Diminishing Returns, a mature position can reach a point where it is Priced to Perfection, as very few owners outside of the Market Maker wish to transact. This can occur as new supplies of the card dry up, while existing copies offer owners a store of value that is decidedly more attractive than alternative cards on the market. A victim ts own success, very few 'better cards' exist within the marketplace for which owners want to sell to raise Bank, even with the incentive of extraordinarily high Standing Bids. At that point, it may be to the advantage of a Market Maker to encourage actions that will temporarily bring MV down (ie. Free Floating the position, coordinating Pull Events). While this may seem counter-intuitive, when a Market Maker is at a Saturation Point, a short-term retrenchment can reset conditions for a new campaign, with even greater future returns than can be found under the status-quo.
*Over-Extension: real-time market conditions may cause a Market Maker to spend more of their Bank capital than their liquidity levels can comfortably support. When this happens, the number of repeat Standing Bids that can be placed at MV decreases, a red flag for Owners who view the card as a store of value. Options for the Market Maker include i. Increasing base savings, ii. Decreasing the number of repeat Standing Bids, iii. Lowering the Bank amount placed behind the position to some percentage below current MV. Over-extension marks a period where retrenchment becomes more likely until savings are replenished
*Bank Insolvency: a far more severe and bearish condition than over-extension, a Market Maker's savings can become thoroughly exhausted to a point where Standing Bids can no longer be placed anywhere near MV, possibly not at all. Operations may or may not cease, as clear gaps become visible in both the time between new Standing Bids and the Bank amounts being placed in support behind them. A sale matched at a discount to MV may take a significant period to recover (possibly never) and it becomes likely that the card will trend toward a lower base, creating a negative feedback loop. Unless and until Bank savings are recapitalized, options for the Market Maker include i. Free-floating (allowing the card to trade for some time with either a token Standing Bid or without any Standing Bid at all) or ii. Total Capitulation (walking away from the position entirely). With time, a Market Maker can recover from Bank insolvency, but it is not guaranteed
*Managed Decline: if a Market Maker is planning to make a change to their system that is likely to decelerate operations (ie. less card farming, committing bank to alternate positions, playing the game less entirely) there are protective steps that can be taken to minimize damage to the card's MV. Options include i. placing a stream of deeply discounted Standing Bids to publicly set a known floor, ii. performing Open Market operations (buying from your account) at the discounted MV to re-establish some form of price support, and iii. making occasional Direct Market purchases when Standing Asks are listed at affordable prices. A Managed Decline marks a bearish period for the position, and while it can seem depressing, the power to one day reverse this condition always remains within the hands of the Market Maker.
*Taking Time-Off: Eventually, your level of motivation will decrease. Maybe you will achieve your overall MV and DV goals, and the game will become a less enjoyable pursuit. Or perhaps something in 'real-life' will take priority over your free time. Don't be afraid or feel guilty about your card losing value in the interim of your direct support. In the real world, even the best of publicly traded companies have experienced bad quarters with intervals when their MV trended downward. Periods of decline build a sense of character into the history of your performance as a whole. Personally, I prefer to play in stints, with a goal in mind that's tied to some form of end trigger. My first goal was a time limit to achieve Top Deck Value. I then took a break, only later to return with the new 100 copies challenge. I find that creating hard deadlines and knowing there is a finish line ahead, makes things more fun. At the end of the day, all a Market Maker ever needs to input a price that trends upward are copies of the card, capital to invest, and the talent/willingness to spend time playing. If the latter isn't there, you can always return and recover using the tools of the former when the stars align again.
Metrics To Access The Value of Market Maker Run Cards
*Amount of realized profit the Market Maker has produced for other players through direct purchases of the card
Total Return on Investment the Market Maker generates for other players who hold the card as a store of value
Total sales volume the Market Maker generates relative to other cards
Amount of Liquid Bank the Market Maker has committed to supporting the card
#, recency and amount of alternate Bids the Market Maker has placed into other positions
# of copies the Market Maker owns
# of trades behind the position
Recency of time between transactions
Four measures of Intrinsic Value (i. Junk Value, ii. Highest Standing Bid, iii. Projected MV after the sale at Highest Standing Bid, and iv. Projected MV after purchase at lowest Standing Ask)
Velocity (frequency of Find History)
Likelihood of Pull Event target/capacity to withstand
Likelihood of Short Target/capacity to withstand
Number/Diversity/Recency of Standing Bids
Standing Bids relative to Market Value
Standing Bids relative to Peers
Ways To Protect A Position
Two factors to take into account when evaluating the strength of any given price peg are i. Standing Bid to Current Market Value and ii. Standing Bid to Junk Value. A Hard Peg involves placing a Put (Standing Bid) either at, very near, or above the current Market Value. This encourages sales to transact very close to MV. A Hard Peg is the most aggressive form of price support, creating a high incentive for players to sell directly to the Bidder, and requires the highest commitment of real-time Bank support to maintain continuously. When acting as a Market Maker, you can use the Impossible Trinity paradigm to structure the degree to which such an approach is feasible toward your overall goals, balancing Bank solvency, with liquidity to engage other positions.
Example: Season 2 Farrakhan (entirety)
When Season 2 began, I prioritized building a position using a Hard Peg at a Premium to Junk Value with the purchase price as low as the market would allow. In review, Farrakhan S2 has never traded below .58 (a slight premium to JV) and began trading six times JV (independent of my purchases) within its first three sales. For several weeks, I was able to build a position from other owners with a Hard Peg of 5 Bank (10 times JV of an Epic .5). With time, the Market Value would rise in line with the Hard Peg, which would lead owners to Ask at prices at a premium to MV (the premium over JV eventually ceased to be an attractive enough metric to entice sales).
Another factor that bids up a Hard Peg as Market Value rises is a Card's growing appeal as a future store of value. Meaning the development of a belief that future value will become greater than the present value of a sale at the current Standing Bid. A growing number of owners will begin to either ask for much higher prices (ie. 1,000, 10,000) and/or hold the position outright with no interest in selling, while other players begin to place standing competitive Bids for the card of their own.
To maintain a dominant position, a Market Maker must be prepared to deploy more capital (ie. multiple Bids at higher prices than other players are willing to pay) to Crowd Out other buyers. In my case, multiple Standing Bids of 6 slowly grew to 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 38. Standalone purchases would run as high as 50. Eventually, an equilibrium price would be found where many players would sell, while very few players would attempt to bid. Keep in mind, while you may have the funds to win every auction, there are times when doing so will be a Pyrrhic victory, as the process of winning a bidding war will raise your MV and your future purchasing costs. An additional background factor is that of time. With the conversion into a new season, the market of the future will no longer organically generate the card at the same rate it currently does, raising potential Market Value through scarcity.
In retrospect, a Hard Peg (at a premium to JV, and later at/near MV) was very successful in allowing me to build a large position in my card (at the time of this write-up, 110 copies). The trade-off was that I had to deploy a great deal of capital consistently, budget liquidity for an extended period, and artificially keep down the potential market value (which also sacrificed Deck Value appreciation). As I now play for the long-term, the exchange was worth it, your mileage may vary.
This is a strategy used by a Market Maker to mix the price protection of a Peg with the discretionary spending flexibility of a Float. Multiple Standing Bids are placed at a percentage below the card's Market Value but are structured in such a way to preserve most of the position. This tactic can also be used in combination with a subsequent purchase at a price targeted well above the band to reset the MV to the intended target price. When done correctly, this will allow incoming purchases to be made at a discount, while staggering the MV upward with discretion, increasing the overall return on investment of the Market Maker.
Example: Season 1 Farrakhan (late 2020/early 2021)
In late December, I decided to revalue Farrakhan Season 1 upward to 822 MV (total investment was 8,224.50 Bank, nine 775 Buys, and one 1,249.50 Buy). In the process, I gained six additional copies and deposited four of the 775 buys into a Treasury account labeled FMM1(Farrakhan Market Maker 1) with the intent to pivot into a Crawling Band. I then immediately placed three Standing Bids from FMM1 at 500 Bank (a 48.7% discount to MV, but still among the highest Standing Bids in the entire market).
For several weeks, there were no transactions until a Pull Event, where all three of the 500 SBs were executed, and I followed up mid-auction with three additional purchases from my Farrakhan account at 1,250, 1,253, 1,200, along with a drop sale at 1,257.34 that was deposited back into FMM1. Total investment was 6,961.01 with six additional copies of the card gained, three at a substantial discount, and a substantial increase in Deck Value. My greatest efficiency using the technique was to absorb a 500 Standing Bid and then follow-up in a subsequent auction with two large purchases, 2,499.66 and 2,499.97. This resulted in a gain of three copies (one at a discount), increased my Deck Value over 30k, and allowed me to realize my return goal of taking Farrakhan S1 to double its old all-time high with the targeted 100th copy.
The numbers involved in these transactions are historically high, but the strategies can work for any player, working with any amount of capital. In an auction involving multiple purchases with a trend below your target, place and match the higher bids in a subsequent auction AFTER that auction concludes. This will allow you to input a better-recorded price (or ideally a series of higher prices) as the most recent sequentially and will cause the lower prices to drop from future MV recalculations first.
General advice for players considering the Crawling Band strategy:
i. Determine what percentage of your Total Bank you want to target toward building MV (ie. an account with 1,000 Bank, an investment commitment of 5% would create a price target of 50). Use the Impossible Trinity paradigm to weigh how conservative or aggressive you want to be in the context of your goals as a whole.
ii. Dedicate a Treasury account with Bank that is solely used to hedge the position with Standing Bids set at a discount to current MV. This will impose a sense of fiscal discipline into your campaign, and allow you the flexibility to explore other aspects of the game separately.
iii. After any purchase of a new copy of the card at a discount, use the Bank in your main account to purchase more cards at a premium that will net toward your intended MV target. Cash is king, budget maintaining levels of liquidity.
A Free Float is when the Market Value of a Card is allowed to fluctuate without the participation of the Market Maker. This often creates a negative feedback loop of bearish sentiment, because the source of the position's buying support (Standing Bids from the MM) has been withdrawn. Uncertainty builds to the position's legitimacy as a store of future value. Standing Asks will often begin to appear that are priced below MV, and investors will begin cashing out to those Bidding at a discount. The Free Float can lead to a near-term price crash, but with time a new equilibrium will settle things down.
Example: Season 1 Farrakhan (late 2019)
My direct experience with a Free Float stems back from September 2019 to late December 2019. For four months, I took a hiatus from the game, and Season 1 Farrakhan was traded in the market without my placing a Standing Bid. My last purchase price was 47.50. From then on, there were eight independent transactions, ranging from 7.51, 15.01, 17.26, 16, 15.01, 15, 15.75, and 10.32. That is an average sale of 13.98, a 70.57% decline from the last sale with the Standing Bid I had provided. Yet despite the uncertainty, relatively few Owners vacated the position.
Does it make sense to retain or invest in a Card that was once supported by a Market Maker that has been placed into a Free Float? It's a gamble. In the immediate term, there could be strong downward pressure on MV as the fundamentals that drove that price upward has changed. However, if in the future the Market Maker returns with a new campaign, and talent, support, and capital investment rebound into the position, the return for those who purchased at a discount during the Free Float could be extraordinary. There is one player who purchased S1 Farrakhan during the above Free Float period, and later sold during a return campaign for a positive return of 5,063%! A calculated risk that paid off.
This is a great hobby, and playing as a Market Maker has been a rewarding experience. The strategies discussed were fun to plan out and have helped me to achieve various goals that made the game worth playing. The journey (conceptualizing abstract thoughts into a game-plan, developing an infrastructure within a Random Number Generator framework) was much more rewarding than ultimately reaching a destination. While no balloons and confetti drop from the ceiling, I can always look back and smile when logging into NS.
On the flip side, I'm also happy I was able to share the wealth during this last campaign, making other players 'rich' with triple and quadruple-digit purchases:
I also appreciate the loyalty of those owners of my card who chose to buy/farm and hold with greatly enhanced Deck Values, especially those who held the position during the Free Float. I even have a love for my haters, who dream of deflating Farrakhan with an endless stream of .01 Asks. This is a game, it is healthy that people are inspired to compete and I never take it personally.
I hope this read was useful in some way. However long from now that you are reading this, the techniques discussed should remain evergreen in their application. Thank you to those at TNP and the Cards Symposium for the invite. From scripts to community structure, it never ceases to amaze me how many talented and generous people are a part of this great community. Stay safe, have fun, all the best!
Publisher: McMasterdonia :: Executive Editor: BMWSurfer
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