When was the last time you actually sorted through your MTG collection? I don’t mean the last time you put stuff in boxes or added stuff to your trade binder; I mean when was the last time you got everything out and properly sorted it?
It’s something I found myself doing a couple of weeks ago, and it’s also something I think a lot of MTG players should probably do more often for a lot of reasons. So, let me talk you through a good way of doing it, because it can be incredibly daunting.
Why you should sort your MTG collection
So, let’s start with the reasoning behind this whole thing. You should sort your MTG collection because it’s undoubtedly continued to grow ever since you started playing the game. Your binder is likely a mess; you’ll have cards stuffed in prerelease boxes all over the place, deck boxes with random cards loose in there to remind you to change your list at some point, and more Commons and Uncommons than your local LGS.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “my collection is pristine, everything’s organised, how dare you!” then you need to stop shouting, but you could still probably make sure that’s the case. Magic: The Gathering, especially in recent years, has been a nonstop ride of new sets, cards, and excitement constantly, and it means that you might not be on top of your cardboard Spring cleaning.
Also, on top of all of that, it’s actually really rather therapeutic. I sat down for the first time since the pandemic began, because I was still buying cards even though I wasn’t playing, and got out every MTG card I owned, and surrounded myself with them. I tweaked all nine of my Commander decks, made the skeleton for a new one, and also made a nice pile of cards to give to some friends.
How should you sort your MTG cards?
In the event you’re thinking, “he’s right, I should sort my cards,” then here are a few tips to help you do so. First of all, you need to get out all of your decks, line them up, and then pick a card from them that represents that deck. This is usually your commander for Commander decks, but could be a key card for other formats of your choice.
Now, take that big old wad of cards, and go through each of them; keep an eye out for cards that might work in any of your current decks. That’s the main thing here, because it’s worth making sure your current decks are filled with the cards that can help keep them up to date. However, it’s also worth putting any cards that you’re not going to play but that are either worth money or that you really like to one side too.
Then, you should be left with a pile of cards that you’re not that bothered by, a pile of cards you want to keep, and small piles of cards next to each of your decks. It’s generally best to deal with the ones next to your deck first, because those tend to be the fastest fixes, and we’ve still got a fair bit of work to do.
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What goes in the binder, what goes in the box?
You should, in our humble opinion, actually have two binders. One should be filled with the cards you love, and aren’t willing to trade away, but want to keep hold of. Maybe you’ll fill this with alternate art cards, or just cards that have sentimental value because they’re signed, or they’re from specific drafts. These are fun to flick through, but you can tell people they’re probably not for trade.
The other binder is for money. Well, it’s for cards that are worth money that you’re not that attached to, or just cards you’re interested in trading away. It’s the stuff that you might put up on a website to sell, or take to a vendor at a GP to trade for other bits, or just something fun for people to flick through if they’ve got a card you’re interested in.
Then, you should have a box. Ideally, just a fat pack box, but the aim here is to have the rest of the stuff that’s worth keeping in one place. It can be for trades, giving stuff away, or just potential future decks. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of keeping too many of these cards around, and I teach a lot of people MTG when I’m in an LGS, so I tend to give these away to new players who want to start enjoying the game. The point is that they’re not worth much to you, but others might appreciate them.
After all of this, you should have two newly organised binders, a box, updated decks, and a bit more room. Despite how small MTG cards are on their own, they end up taking up a lot of space if you’re not careful, so it’s good to try and sort your cards every few months.
It’s also a chance to discover new interactions between classic cards and the ones you’ve just picked up, and maybe even the spark you need to end up building a new deck. It’s one of those things that a lot of us put off for as long as we can, but embracing it and making sure you enjoy it is often far more worthwhile, so you may as well just do it.
Have you got special ways of organising your cards? Maybe you’re not a fan of color-by-color and have some other esoteric way of doing things. Let us know how you keep your collection organised and how often you do it.