Show HN: Mana Pool – Market for Magic Cards
123 points
9 months ago
| 49 comments
| manapool.com
| HN
Hi folks. I launched my first startup on HN 15 years ago (see my profile), and I wanted to post here again now.

Like my last one, this project comes from one of my life's passions. I have played Magic: The Gathering for 30 years.

My co-founders and I think Magic deserves its own market, and this thinking will lead to dozens of ways to make a great app. We consider what we have an MVP, and we are all going to MagicCon this weekend in Las Vegas to walk around in our Mana Pool shirts and talk to people about the future.

If HN likes the site, I would appreciate you crashing it before we head out tomorrow night!

https://manapool.com/

oflannabhra
9 months ago
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This is awesome, just signed up! I love it when hobbies collide :)

Some context for others: Magic: the Gathering has grown enormously over the past 30 years, and it has an enormous secondary market, which covers several segments: highly collectible early cards, newly playable cards (“staples” across a variety of formats), and unopened packs of cards (“sealed”). Early sets had print runs that totaled 2-40 million cards in total, nowadays sets have billions of cards printed.

Interestingly enough, early cards are relatively counterfeit-proof mostly due to changes in printing technology, although the counterfeits are getting better each year.

The biggest players in this secondary market are TCGPlayer, which was recently acquired by eBay, eBay itself, CardMarket in the EU, and lots of local game stores (LGS) that have built up online market share (CardKingdom is the biggest of these) or niche.

Fees drive revenue for most of these sites, and those fees are variable across different products each platform offers to sellers.

Interestingly, although this market does not have derivatives, there are several companies and APIs that attempt to offer some market advantage for buyers or sellers: indexing the lowest available price, providing historical price data, allowing comparisons across markets for arbitrage opportunities, plus more complex analysis. There’s some manipulation that goes on in these markets, but nothing as bad as crypto that I’ve seen.

CardSphere, a smaller player in the market (and my favorite) just announced their closure. They mostly inverted the typical market dynamic by letting members “trade”— buyers would offer their desired purchase price while sellers would select the best offers to fill.

A couple Q’s for the founder(s): What’s your fee structure like? How do you plan to take on the TCG/eBay giant? Do you have concerns for the future of the secondary market in general, given Hasbro’s desire to fuel growth of the property?

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baz00
9 months ago
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I actually had no idea there were markets for this. I have a huge box of cards from the mid 1990s here. I bought them from an actual shop in Cambridge, UK or traded them in person. I haven't even thought about the game since I stopped playing it in 2000 or so.

Edit: holy shit the second hand prices on ebay. I'm going to spend the weekend on this! I even have a couple of sealed decks somewhere. These: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/334960782977

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oflannabhra
9 months ago
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Congratulations! There are lots of apps that will let you scan your collection and get valuations. ManaBox, Helvault, and Dragonshield are some I’ve used.

Selling a collection as a whole will likely get you 60-70% of market value, piecing it out will get you closer to 90 after shipping and fees. Sealed product of that wera has a much higher valuation being sealed. There’s not much left.

Of course, if you don’t want to sell, the apps will still let you track valuations and deltas.

Magic has recently had a downturn, retracing from 2020-2021 peaks )some might even call a bubble). Collectors for your era of cards are reaching peak purchasing power, though, so there likely won’t be a crash until they die off (if at all).

Everyone I know who exited said selling their early stuff has always been their biggest regret.

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DanSmooth
9 months ago
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You might want to also check Cardmarket.com to get a better view on prices for the European market.
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baz00
9 months ago
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Thanks for the tip - appreciated
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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1) 5% hopefully headed to 0%

2) Magic only

3) I think Hasbro is doing the right thing and what's good for Hasbro is good for Mana Pool. MTG is all of Hasbro's profits now and 30% of its revenue... the rest is almost margin-free. MTG is going to grow a lot further... pandemic brought forward revenue but collectibles will keep growing forever.

I'd love to talk more techie mtg stuff on our Discord: https://discord.gg/u4J5aGU2

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valbaca
9 months ago
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> but collectibles will keep growing forever.

YIKES. That's certainly one way to look at a market: unbridled optimism that it will never shrink!

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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I did think about doing climate change stuff, but Magic is in my blood for better or worse.

I hope we don't destroy the planet, and I hope we get to space, and then I think there will be at least a solar-system-sized economy of collectibles. Physical ones will be extra rare because of distance issues too.

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EddTheSDET
9 months ago
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Hey! From a technical point, how did you get all the card images? Is there a way to download them from somewhere?
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DanSmooth
9 months ago
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Scryfall.com and their API is your friend
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SeanAnderson
9 months ago
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I've been playing Magic for 22 years. I think this is a good idea, but I'm not as confident as you are about the timing. I think this would've been a much better idea pre-MTGA.

As you mention, MTG represents all of Hasbro's profits. I don't feel that there is a way for them to escape the allure of watering down the MTG market in pursuit of more money. I feel they will kill the golden goose. At some point the physical printing process has to become a liability, right?

I don't know what percent of MTG newcomers play paper-only. Perhaps it is a lot, but my gut says that MTGA is the on-ramp for newcomers. With the digital cards not being able to be traded - newcomers aren't building the expectations that your tool is appealing to. Your tool is more useful to those who are already entrenched in the physical game space.

A counterpoint to what I'm saying is that Flesh & Blood has been doing well enough and Disney just entered into the space with their own, paper only, card game. So perhaps I'm wildly off base and the physical market is experiencing a resurgence?

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oflannabhra
9 months ago
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I actually think WotC has done a great job of stewarding the game. I’m not sure if that is because of Hasbro or not, although my inclination is that it is in spite of Hasbro’s ownership. Hasbro’s new CEO has a great understanding of MtG, though.

The best thing that WotC can do for the health of the game is grow the player-base. While they have had several initiatives that show them also trying to maximize the revenue they generate off their players, they have also done a great job attracting new player and providing products that help on-board players to become enfranchised.

I think that the closest corollary in the tech world is Apple under Tim Cook. They maximized revenue by expanding offerings and having a diversified suite of products, none of which were targeted at all consumers. For some reason, enfranchised MtG players think they have to buy everything WotC makes, and I think this leads to product fatigue. Players blame WotC, but they are just trying to offer something for everyone.

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mattnewton
9 months ago
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> For some reason, enfranchised MtG players think they have to buy everything WotC makes, and I think this leads to product fatigue. Players blame WotC, but they are just trying to offer something for everyone.

For many enfranchised players, that’s because they keep printing chase rares that power creep their way into staple status in older formats. Meaning, if you play competitively or semi-competitive eternal formats like legacy or edh, what used to be a very slow trickle of relevant cards from every other standard set is now 2-3 additional major releases a year, with dozens of cards at or above your format’s power level.

In addition to printing more products that you must interface with to play it competitively, they also decide that more products should be allowed into those formats that previously would not be. As an example, the joke sets now are split between cards that are legal in legacy and commander and cards that aren’t, when before joke sets were entirely self contained and would never need to be considered by competitive players.

Beyond power creep, the pressure to continually design new things that aren’t obviously just better versions of old things has driven them to use more and more text with more and more new rules per year, to the point where they don’t fit on the cards anymore and they must make reference to other cards outside the game. Take the recent initiative ability that brings up a card of more abilities, the rules of how to travel through them aren’t explained on either the original card or the dungeon card! It was created for fans of D&D, but it was strong enough to have a card banned from the legacy format. Established players in that format could not ignore it and still play competitively.

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oflannabhra
9 months ago
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Yep, I agree with this. The game’s complexity is an order of magnitude greater than the early days, and much of the issue is self-inflicted by WotC.

However, I’d argue that the only eternal format of significance is EDH, and it is very much not competitive. It’s popularity is just as much a curse as it is a blessing for the game, IMO.

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hyperhopper
9 months ago
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> I actually think WotC has done a great job of stewarding the game.

I quit the game because I believe it's so far the opposite in the other direction. Secret lair sets with fomo limited time high cost mechanically unique cards. So much power creep, bans happening practically every set now, increasingly ridiculous monetization strategies, I could go on.

Even the OG golden goose TCG is dead to me now. I wish we could have a good card game but the TCG model is just doomed to head in this direction, I'll play all inclusive board games and card games now.

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ycombinete
9 months ago
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You should consider Pauper! It has all the archetypes of the big eternal formats (and some extras like affinity having artefact lands), at a fraction of the cost. Between me and a friend we basically own the whole meta.
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slaymaker1907
9 months ago
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Getting new players seems like a difficult problem at the moment because the top paper formats are either extremely expensive (Modern) or extremely difficult rules wise (Commander). I think they tried to simplify Commander/EDH with the introduction of Brawl which simplifies rules by:

1. Limiting cards to standard. 2. Making the game 1v1 instead of a 4-player deathmatch.

(1) is unpopular with existing players for obvious reasons, but it is great for new players because it makes it much easier to get cards (even cheap cards can be difficult to actually obtain if they were only printed once back in 2003) and because you limit the number of mechanics players need to know about. For example, there are plenty of confusing mechanics present in eternal formats not present in standard like reanimate, splice, and morph.

(2) simplifies the game immensely because you only need to deal with two boards. It's also a much better fit for tournaments and game store events. I'm so much of a more competent player in 1v1 because I can actually read the board.

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oflannabhra
9 months ago
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Regarding formats: prior to the advent of straight-to-Modern sets triggered “rotations”, Modern was much cheaper to play than other formats. You could build a deck and keep it for years, with only marginal updates as new cards came out through Standard sets. High buy-in price, but low upkeep cost. This was opposed to Standard, where yearly rotations kept the format fresh, but was also a treadmill of having to buy new cards to be competitive.

In a large part, Pioneer has filled the void left by pre-“rotation” Modern, although it is arguable that from a gameplay perspective, Modern is much healthier after the Horizons sets.

I agree that EDH/Commander is problematic as the most popular format. It’s the “deep end” of the pool, per se. However, I think WotC has done a great job managing this with their balanced pre-constructed products, that have a decent upgrade path.

I don’t see Brawl as anything other than a digital-only format that is basically something else to do with cards you collect in MTGA.

Regarding acquiring new players, I think WotC has done a great job of this with Arena. It has resulted in the death of in-paper Standard, but is probably what has brought more players to the game than anything else, although it has its own set of issues.

But you are right that several things about the game are suboptimal.

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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The WOTC CEO became Hasbro CEO last year FYI
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slaymaker1907
9 months ago
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There still really isn't a good option for playing the most popular format, Commander, on any sort of official app and I doubt there ever will be. It's an inherently social format (the banlist is a complete joke) and MTGA doesn't support Commander at all. The closest MTGA has to Commander is Historic Brawl which is a completely different format as it is 1v1 and Commander is really a 4 player deathmatch. Even playing Commander with 3 people has a completely different feel. They sort of support Commander on MTGO, but MTGO has an atrocious and difficult UI plus it doesn't support a ton of popular Commander cards (and always lags behind in support by months or even years for the Commander cards they do support). Again, it also cannot be understated how social of a format Commander is.

Another thing you're missing about TCGs in general is the satisfaction of playing and owning physical cards.

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everforward
9 months ago
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From the little testing I did, XMage supports commander and there were no unsupported cards in the 5 or 6 decks Ive tried. You do have to use the beta release though, the stable release is like 3 years old.

It's still a little clunky, but handling priority is generally a nightmare in a 4 person game. I think that's part of why Arena doesn't even bother trying. Waiting for 4 people to pass priority is annoyingly long when it happens like 12 times per turn. Games would take all day to complete.

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slaymaker1907
9 months ago
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I'm aware there are unofficial solutions like XMage which is why I mentioned "official". As for handling priority, they really need something like the "auto" option from Master Duel where there is some rules engine that tries to figure out when you would want to hold priority. For example, I'll generally only want to tap a mana dork on my turn or if I have some instant speed ability/card in hand to use that mana. There are exceptions, but the auto system just needs to be good enough that I can anticipate how it'll work so I can turn it off as needed. Master Duel also has a cool feature where you can press down your mouse to always ask for a response if you know your opponent will do something soon that you care about.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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I have a theory about verticalizing the buy-side UX and communities.

If I were to make my outdoor app again, I would focus 100% on one sport and never branch until we had 85% of the community.

Come to discord to chat more.

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BlueTemplar
9 months ago
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MtG Arena might be under threat from the recently announced Unity's ransom-seppuku...
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sjs382
9 months ago
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A Magic: the Gathering Online Exchange?

Any plans on a pivot to crypto? :)

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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We can now play the game where we drink whenever anyone mentions crypto in this thread and get pretty drunk I think :)
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Tao3300
9 months ago
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That one is too good to pass up, though. A good Mt.Gox joke triggers a Waterfall. I'll start.
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sixstringtheory
9 months ago
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It’s too bad they don’t do set “blocks” any more or you’d get a good double entendre with “blockchain”…
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jedberg
9 months ago
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Based on this site, I'm glad I started playing at Beta. My collection is worth like $50,000 according to this. About 1/2 of that value is my collection of multiple complete sets of mint multilands.

Now to just find where I put them all those years ago...

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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If you have a bunch of good condition beta dual lands, that’s insane :)

If you want to sell them, the right place right now is Facebook Marketplace, and you can always email me for expert advice or help trying to sell them.

I get a little thrill from you commenting here!

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jedberg
9 months ago
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Selling Magic cards was my first business! My friend and I took all of our Bar Mitzvah money, drive two hours across town to the “bad” part of town, and bought two boxes with 50 cases each. It worked out to $1.25 per pack.

Then we sold the packs individually out of my trunk at places where nerds hung out for $2.50 each (retail was $3, but we had no overhead because dad paid for the car and gas!).

We sold one box worth and opened the other box, so we broke even but got a bunch of rare cards.

Including multiple sets of multilands. I put two full sets into sleeves and packed them away, and then made a five color deck with all rares and multilands.

My buddy and I were basically unbeatable.

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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I would like to know your deck lists from then.

I didn't make a business of MTG until the end of high school and first part of college, ~1999.

eBay was new then, and an older friend showed me the prices on eBay and told me how to make money buying/selling. Since I was traveling to go to the Pro Tour/etc, I had a lot of opportunity to buy cards to sell... mostly bad cards from good players that sold well to casual players (think big dragons).

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jedberg
9 months ago
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> I would like to know your deck lists from then.

It's been so long I can't remember. Most of my cards came from Revised because that is what we sold and unboxed, so I basically had all the most powerful things from there like the Serra Angel, Shivon Dragon, Wheel of Fortune, Mana Vault, Copy Artifact, Demonic Tutor, Vesuvan Doppelganger, Winter Orb, Armageddon, Mana Flare, Will O' the Wisp, and all the multilands, which is what made a five color deck possible.

Then I had a few strong creatures with trample damage, and a few Limited and Beta cards that I had traded for like a Time Walk and Ancestral Recall, and at least one Mox.

But I never had a Black Lotus, although I almost got one once.

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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You might enjoy watching some Old School format MTG on youtube, I got into that for a while. It’s neat to see a modern take on the game as it was in 1994, and people play with spectacular old cards.
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bredren
9 months ago
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Haven't played in many, many years but started when The Dark was the expansion set.

Feedback on this, the first card I searched for was "Time Walk" and it came up with no results.

I didn't realize at first this only showed things that were for sale.

It would be good to at least have a page with the card image and information even if there are none available. At least it should show a disabled row in the auto-suggest dropdown with the annotation "None available for sale."

Perhaps as a future feature you could add a "notify me when this is available." I like agents like this on sites like camelcamelcamel.com.

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dwd
9 months ago
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Having all cards listed would be great, with speculative/historical(?) prices to encourage potential sellers.

First card I searched for was a 'Tim' but the earliest listed was a 4th Ed of which I have many.

Also started around Dark/Revised but stopped collecting at Mirage!

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nathancahill
9 months ago
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We momentarily are hiding out of stock while we adjust some things to this traffic spike. Normally you'd see exactly that.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Thanks for your feedback, I also started during The Dark!
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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My colleagues Nate and George are working on the hug of death.

p.s. come to Discord to discuss Mana Pool for the next many years, and for promo codes to purchase cards to help test... I will give free money until it gets out of hand, then discounts if so.

https://discord.gg/H6DyqsUT

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riperoni
9 months ago
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As someone that is not invested in MTG, I think this looks cool and very straightforward to use and navigate.

One nice thing I noticed: I wondered what "LP" and and the likes mean on the card offer and an explanation popped up when i clicked on it. Very much appreciated.

It would be helfpful though if a click on a link, filter or similar immediately indicates loading. Almost always I wondered if a click registered because nothing happened for a few seconds.

And I navigated the following route: Startpage -> Innistrad: Crimson Vow -> Any card -> Lisings -> click on some sellers icon

From the route and URL I can infer that I'm on the sellers page, but there is no indication for that on the Website. No navbar like when browsing. This would be very helpful to see on the site directly.

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rvrs
9 months ago
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Any plans to add a trading feature? Maybe something similar to PucaTrade (though their points system got really inflated towards the end)

EDIT: Also, an "add decklist to cart" feature would be sick. I want to design an EDH deck and just buy all the singles in a couple of clicks

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Many ideas around trading and we are kind of at a cambrian explosion of ideas honestly!

Check out /deck/add for the half built mass buyer that we’ll finish after MagicCon.

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hyperhopper
9 months ago
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Currency is just a means for trading of other goods and services.
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HanClinto
9 months ago
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Tinkering around with the search tools, and a few things I'm noticing.

I feel like Availability should default to In Stock, but maybe that will come once you have more inventory on the site.

I haven't figured out exactly how to reproduce it (sometimes it's when I go to another page of the search, or sometimes it's when I change filter settings), then I get:

"Internal server error Error loading dynamic filter options

The site administrators have been notified."

When browsing "Other versions", it seems like it would be nice if it limited it to in-stock items only, or at least showed me the lowest available price for each entry so that I can see if there's stock there.

Overall it looks like a great start to the tool -- well done!

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HanClinto
9 months ago
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I'm not sure if you're just getting slammed because you're on the front-page of HN, or if there are other issues at play, but the speed of the site is a definite barrier to access. I can't tell if it's querying the database directly, or if you're using a rapid indexing tool like Elastic, but my biggest obstacle to wanting to purchase from this site is clear terms that list out what the prices of cards are and their shipping, and the speed with which I can browse and build a cart.

Having a "mass entry" cart-builder where I can paste in card names and it builds the best-priced cart for me would be a nice tool as well, but I can imagine you've got a lot on your plate just filling all this out.

Overall great job, and I look forward to seeing this progress! I hope you have a great trip!

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Yes, getting slammed and George is working on it in real-time.

You can see the deck/mass uploader start here: https://manapool.com/deck/add

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HanClinto
9 months ago
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This looks great!! I really love how it clearly explains the expected input format, and the real-time validator is super-slick! Seriously one of the best mass-entry tools that I've seen!
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nathancahill
9 months ago
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Bit of a hug of death from the front page. We're working on stabilizing.
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NoMoreNicksLeft
9 months ago
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Forgive this for being slightly off-topic.

But I've wondered for awhile now, if a MTG-style card game might not be an ideal application for blockchain technology. The anti-counterfeiting concept means that limited numbers of rare (virtual) cards could be issued. A mechanism could surely be developed where the company or group in charge could periodically release new cards (perhaps after the mechanics had been voted on by participants), and issued once or twice a year. And of course, players could transfer cards to each other whenever they liked, either trading them or selling for an agreed upon price.

It just seems like a natural fit. Wonder why no one's doing it.

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vichu
9 months ago
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Why does blockchain need to be involved? Magic: The Gathering Online exists and has existed for 20+ years without the need for a blockchain.
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NoMoreNicksLeft
9 months ago
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> Magic: The Gathering Online exists

Why would I want it centralized about some WOTC asshole wannabes, where they decide who owns which card? What happens when they inevitably shut it down like every video game company does?

Blockchain allows it to be decentralized.

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yyyk
9 months ago
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>Blockchain allows it to be decentralized.

>>A mechanism could surely be developed where the company or group in charge could periodically release new cards (perhaps after the mechanics had been voted on by participants), and issued once or twice a year.

%$#@! decentralization. Who cares about it in this context? You're anyway adding back the 'centralization' via the backdoor. Since such games are community-based, they'll always involve this level of centralization.

Or is it that you want the profits to be distributed a bit differently? But that would inevitably involve financial regulation and scams, and people just want to play a card game.

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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To follow on from this thread, I am going to stream an MTGA draft tonight at 1030pm PT if anyone wants to AMA in chat.

https://twitch.tv/manapooldotcom

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paulpauper
9 months ago
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Seeing these prices, so sad i sold so many cards. "Never sell unless you need the money," is a generally good piece of advice. it pays to horde . Such as throwing out or re-selling for pennies those old cartridge games in the early 2000s with the advent of X-Box. "No one will want that old junk when multi-player 3-d polygon games are so much better." Then around 2015 with the rise of YouTube and social media comes the whole DIY retro gaming scene...suddenly there is a huge market for that junk because it is rare and sought for collectible and nostalgia value.
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dansalvato
9 months ago
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I love how snappy and no-nonsense this is compared to other sites out there. I play casually at the moment and don't really buy/sell singles, but I like looking up card prices.

Any interest or possibility to add more card value information, like average market price or a history graph? If you had the best "card lookup" site in that sense, I would probably never feel the need to visit TCGPlayer again.

Another minor observation, looks like newlines in card flavor text are being rendered as a literal "\n" rather than being parsed.

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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We do want to add a lot of transparent price history, but we need to get the market rolling to have that sort of data I think.

I appreciate the encouragement and the "\n" comment, we will fix that too.

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dublinben
9 months ago
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Two-sided markets are difficult to bootstrap.

1. As a seller, why would I use your platform instead of the existing ones?

2. As a buyer, why would I use your platform instead of the existing ones?

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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1. Make integration easy, bring eyeballs. Sellers connect to multiple markets already.

2. I'll make Magic features for you that you'll use weekly.

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pavlov
9 months ago
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For people like me who had only the vaguest idea of what this game is, the Digital Antiquarian recently wrote a great intro to Magic’s history and appeal:

https://www.filfre.net/2023/09/magic-and-loss-part-1-magic-i...

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HanClinto
9 months ago
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Looking at seller tools, I could really use a help document explaining what sorts of CSV columns you support on this page: https://manapool.com/seller/inventory/import

It just says "accepted file formats: csv" but nothing beyond that.

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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It will take TCGPlayer and BinderPOS export formats, and you can email me at andrew@manapool.com if you want something else.
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wyldfire
9 months ago
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Is it time to finally sell my "Library of Alexandria"?

Probably I missed the peak. Probably should sell it so someone else can enjoy it.

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valbaca
9 months ago
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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You did miss a bubble but the 1993/94 stuff is still crazy valuable.
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HanClinto
9 months ago
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Nice job launching this site -- that's a big venture, and no easy feat! With recent consolidations (and shutdowns, like CardSphere) that the MTG world has seen, I think we're definitely in prime territory for needing a competing marketplace.

What would you say are your key differentiators in the market space? Lower fees? Better tools?

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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1) We want to do things like this: https://x.com/manapoolinc/status/1704199592601080241?s=20

2) We have low fees (5%) and my vision is zero fees, with all revenue coming from value-add SaaS for buyers and sellers. I hope to get there in a gradual way.

3) I do think we're really good at software too, and that stuff like Stripe Marketplace and off-the-shelf computer vision make the lift low.

4) We know a lot of Magic people, and the network is so dense that if our website gets good, everyone will know.

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demondemidi
9 months ago
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It's always fun to check in on MtG and see what cards are still trading for thousands of dollars! (I also started playing in late 1993 before it took off, but I pooped out around Ice Age... I'm old enough now to just chuckle at how we treated what would one day be 10's of 1,000s of dollars of cards.)
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tinco
9 months ago
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At the place I played as a kid someone had pinned a black lotus to a notice board with a dart. I was too young so I don't remember the full story, but I remember it was funny because the card would've been worth over a hundred dollars if it hadn't been destroyed. I bet now someone would pay hundreds for the novelty of owning a destroyed black lotus.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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I don't have my original cards, because I did a lot of buying/selling on eBay around 1999 when that was a pretty new thing to do with MTG cards. An older kid taught me to do it.
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CableNinja
9 months ago
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Question: is there still value in cards that are pushing 15-20+ years old?

I used to play, but i havent in a very long time, the cards are well used, and range from common to rare. I only have maybe 160 cards.

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EddTheSDET
9 months ago
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The most expensive card on the site, Armageddon, is totally new to me (a MTG noob)!

Armageddon

Costs 3 Mana + 1 Plains

Destroy all lands in play!!!

https://manapool.com/card/lea/2/armageddon

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f1refly
9 months ago
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You don't see that card in commander because if anyone would put it in his deck the rest of the table would look at him irritated, complain a lot and probably scoop. You don't see it in other external formats because there are better things you can do for 4 mana. It's a card limited to cEDH mostly.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Investors, if you are interested in vertical markets, consumer saas, or collectibles, please ping andrew@manapool.com.

We raised a $500k+ pre-seed on Sept 4, and I’m checking if anyone wants to follow before October 3. After that, we’re just going to work on the app and not raise.

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turtlebits
9 months ago
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Site isn't working or is slow. And more frustratingly, the buttons below the input seem to use javascript which prevent the browser loading indicator from showing - so you can't tell if you're using the site incorrectly, or it's just still loading.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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could you please email me at andrew@manapool.com so I can get the details of your network and device?

We are using svelte for the front end, which I like and does interesting things with letting you decide what to SSR… but it’d be nice if we move to rendering things more statically with it maybe.

edit: site is degrading, cofounder George is working on the bottleneck

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sakras
9 months ago
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Feels like if this takes off there'll be an opportunity for arbitrage between TCGPlayer and Mana Pool. I see e.g. All Will Be One is $11.67 on TCGPlayer and $12.40 on Mana Pool. Though I haven't done the math to see what kind of fees there are.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Part of my interest in this project came because i was writing software to arbitrage TCGplayer and eBay around last Christmas, because I was wasting time doing it manually and wanted to see if I could automate.
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wellthisisgreat
9 months ago
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hey man this looks interesting! My Magic days are long over, but I still figured I'd give some input. This day and age wouldn't a value-add from such marketplace be the validation of authenticity? Kind of like what Ebay or StockX are doing?
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Yes, if you are cross docking collectibles then you probably want to do authentication as part of your business either through third parties or in house (and supported by AI either way).
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simonebrunozzi
9 months ago
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Everyone will remember this name for years to come. Good luck. I tried MTG only a couple of times and never got into it, but I can see the appeal.

What I don't like too much is that the minter is a private company that profits from this artificial scarcity.

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valbaca
9 months ago
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> What I don't like too much is that the minter is a private company that profits from this artificial scarcity.

You might prefer FFG (Fantasy Flight Games) Living Card model. Effectively, each new set that comes out, you can buy a full play-set (it was 3x for Netrunner).

Unfortunately, it's just hard to compete with the gambli---er--addicti---er-- BOSTER PACK model of MtG.

(I've played MtG for 24 years, very much invested and sad that it's a LITERAL investment, see https://www.mtgstocks.com)

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kuang_eleven
9 months ago
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At least for Netrunner, it was only 3x for the base set, and 2x would almost certainly get you enough. All the additional sets after the base set came with a full playset of 3x copies of each card.

Sadly, Netrunner is dead and the license lost, so not a lot of hope for new, official cards any time soon.

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valbaca
9 months ago
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Yes, I glossed over the core set 2x problem

The community did pick up Netrunner: https://nullsignal.games/

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Thanks, I hope I get to be part of Mana Pool forever.

I see MTG the same way I see any software I subscribe to, so the artificial scarcity bit doesn’t bother me a bit. I like MTG a lot and don’t mind paying, and I’m glad the business model lets them make new cards for me many times a year.

I’m also glad they do all the collector scarcity stuff because they subsidize players like me who just want draft boosters and the cheapest versions of the singles for my decks.

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a1o
9 months ago
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Erh, just seeing for how much my alpha cards are going in price, are those like, real? The price of power surge, counterspell and swords to plowshares feels way to high. It's been a long time I haven't played Magic though.
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purpleflame1257
9 months ago
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Alpha cards have been heavily favored by collectors as Hasbro has attempted to create artificial scarcity.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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We don't have super deep inventory yet... you can probably find old cards and many cards cheaper elsewhere for now. But yeah those alphas are nuts.
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Mizza
9 months ago
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Website has that slow, React-y feeling, unfortunately. Good name though.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Svelte in this case though, not React.
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creativenolo
9 months ago
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Wow wow wow. It’ll be nearly 30 years since I played magic. I remember being good at trading. I have a large percentage of the cards listed on the first 3 pages when listed by price.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Come to Discord for various reasons if Mana Pool interests you... but I'm also happy to help you value or sell your cards or whatever if you DM me, no charge at all.

We know all about old card markets, and we are also planning features to really sell high-end cards the best of all the sites.

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Jaecen
9 months ago
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The checkout process requiring I enter my credit card details before seeing the final cost (tax + shipping) is strange and discourages me from proceeding.
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nathancahill
9 months ago
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Opps, we linked to the checkout page instead of the summary. Fixed!
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nurettin
9 months ago
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Markets for magic cards existed since the early 2000s. They also let you upload your entire collection to view its current sales value. Why is this news?
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jmuguy
9 months ago
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Some sort of loading indicator(s) would be good. Clicking around and I guess its loading but I think its getting hugged pretty hard by HN right now.
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nathancahill
9 months ago
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Getting hugged hard by HN. Any pages or sections in particular you're missing loading indicators?
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jmuguy
9 months ago
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On the homepage clicking through to each set and there’s no indication anything is happening. Back button is pretty unresponsive as well.
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nathancahill
9 months ago
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Thanks, we'll work on improving.
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_raoulcousins
9 months ago
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So why this over tcgplayer’s low costs or card kingdom’s generous buylist? Can you make a cart optimizer that works?
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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many comments from me on this i thread, also you can ask on Twitch tonight if you like.
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zain
9 months ago
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I'm a huge fan of both Gaia GPS and Magic, so I'm understandably excited about Mana Pool. Thanks for sharing!
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Thanks for your help with all of these things :)
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Hamcha
9 months ago
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I know I should have seen it coming but the website makes no mentions anywhere that it's US only.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Good point, filing an issue to make that clear.

We do want to be international, but we did everything we could to narrow the initial idea. We see significant opportunities to facilitate Europe/Japan/US/other trade.

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Hamcha
9 months ago
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Good luck with taking on cardmarket, they could use some competition given how bad they are at certain things (building decks in particular is always a lot of extra work because their shopping wizard makes some really dumb expensive choices)
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theogravity
9 months ago
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Awesome site! The card condition label completely covers the price on my 6" iPhone 13 pro screen
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Github issue filed
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fsn4dN69ey
9 months ago
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It's clean, works well, great job! How does this compare to TCGPlayer on a fundamental level?
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Just does Magic!
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fsn4dN69ey
9 months ago
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I get that, but can't I just go to TCGPlayer and click the first category - Magic, and browse the same goods in a more liquid market?

What I'm trying to say is what sets you guys apart, or why would I as a seller (or buyer) prefer to use Mana Pool over TCG?

Is it commission? I'll say from personal experience that 10% commission (or 10.25% or whatever) is quite expensive as a seller. If the commission is the killer, are you hoping to capture more of the market from TCG for Magic? Is it sustainable to run a price war on commission?

Genuinely asking all of this btw, I do prefer the design here to tcg

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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1) If you go click Magic on TCGPlayer, it doesn't get rid of all the non-Magic stuff. And the feature development isn't focused everyday on MTG, it's focused on TCG, and it's missing an infinite list of changes that we personally want. Plus, you can't build a community around TCG, but you can around MTG.

2) TCGPlayer is the market price, and it's a nicely liquid market. And their owner eBay is worth $25B. And there is stiff competition from whatnot.com and goat.com in collectibles. It is an incredibly hard and fun world to build in. I think e-commerce is going to continue to evolve, and Amazon or whatever isn't the end state.

2) Answers on fees and features throughout the thread.

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difosfor
9 months ago
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Cool! Do you intend to compete with Cardmarket in the EU as well? Or just start up in the US?
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Someday?

There is CardTrader that is mostly Euro too, and that is a solid website IMO. Europe has much lower fees (~5%), so competing there is different than in the US (~15%).

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catlover76
9 months ago
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Cool, I will share with my friends who are really into MTG.

Who are your competitors? IIRC there is at least one

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Here's what's in my deck:

eBay/TCGPlayer/ChannelFireBall (US) CardMarket (Europe) CardTrader (Europe) Facebook Marketplace Amazon, Walmart (low-fee avenue for Magic sellers, some do high volume of sealed packs on these sites)

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catlover76
9 months ago
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I think someone posted a literal MTG card marketplace on HN about a month or two ago

Anyways, it's a cool site. I've been interested in dabbling in MTG software for a little while now. I have mostly played on Arena, but I have friends who play paper Magic religiously. Was thinking of AI/LLM-based deck-building tools, etc.

I'm not sure what your goals are with this (if you're trying to make it a legit business or it's just a hobbyist project), but I'd be interested in freelancing if that's something you guys ever look for. I have previous experience as a software engineer at a marketplace startup (which is mostly valuable as an experience of a couple things to watch out for from a business perspective--the technical aspects of a basic P2P marketplace are pretty simple).

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Please email me at andrew@manapool.com, there are 3 coders including me. I think we will hire next year. Two of the founders code, one does ops/logistics.

I am interested to hear anymore competitors!

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catlover76
9 months ago
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Thanks, I'll shoot you a line

And I'll let you know the name of that other thing I saw if I can dig it up lol

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Aren’t they supposed to show up here and comment!
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iJohnDoe
9 months ago
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Great looking site. Clean and functional. Great job!

Can you share some details about the tech stack?

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Svelte, Node, Vercel, Supabase/Postgres, Stripe, WandB, Amplitude, Sentry, ConvertKit, Mailgun, Slack, Discord, Google, ZenDesk, Miro, Figma, Clerky, Mercury, Xero, and Pilot soon. We have a bit of AWS stuff.

Vercel's instant previews are particularly great, and Svelte's ergonomics I like more than React. Svelte's SSR stuff seems cool but I am not 100% convinced yet we're leaning static enough.

I also think we're doing laps on anyone who isn't using ChatGPT/CoPilot... those poor lost souls.

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wonderwonder
9 months ago
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This is a really nicely done site. Very responsive, straight to the point.

I dig it

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Thanks, it feels like we have a good feedback loop with the community so far, and that’s made it come together and continue to get better.
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Yhippa
9 months ago
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See you there! Will give you feedback in person if I can find you.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Come to Discord! We have shirts and an AirBnB, and we are happy to meet people.
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blobbers
9 months ago
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shockingly great domain name! How long have you owned it?
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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I’d have to check namecheap, earlier this year? I think the domain was good even for internal energy, it helped get people excited and focused product thinking that much more.
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blobbers
9 months ago
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For sure I would have guessed that was taken! Fortuitous!
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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We paid more than 9.99
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kgc
9 months ago
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Is there something like this for Pokemon cards?
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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I don't see anything online really, maybe something small?
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abatilo
9 months ago
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Just here to say that's a GREAT name
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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My wife came up with that (I said more elsewhere in thread).

She was also the brains behind our startup together and vastly better coder than me!

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hi5eyes
9 months ago
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so it definitely wont involve ML and bitcoin inevitably right
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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It does involve ML, but we don’t ever really talk about it. The things we do with ML are not that sexy.
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hombre_fatal
9 months ago
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love the domain name.
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sneak
9 months ago
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After a pivot, it can also be repurposed into a Bitcoin mining pool, as well, in the great tradition.
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Second mtgox ref and counting I think lol.

But more seriously, we might have other brands in the future... the domains need to all be awesome.

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Credit for that is due to my wife Anna Hentzel Johnson (and previously also co-founder).

She came up with the idea and then it was insta-unanimous.

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chews
9 months ago
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Stay away from crypto… there was once a magic the gathering online exchange…
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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lol mtgox

i already had my crypto misadventure in 2013-14

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linsomniac
9 months ago
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Came immediately to my mind as well. :-)
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arcticbull
9 months ago
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What's old is new again, lol.
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stevenicr
9 months ago
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I want something like the Epson FastFoto FF-680W, that can collate and re-sort - and send a list of cards scanned.

I want to take a stack of 100 cards or so, put into a hopper - have them all scanned and a database made of every card put into the stack..

then have software tell the scanner to pull the stack back in and collate / sort it over and over again until the stack is sorted in various ways.. like sort by colors, then sort by alpha..

of course I want the software to pull in pricing info for each card in the table at that point, and then let me give a label, like bulk-blu-9-20-23-stack1A so I can put the stack in a box and come back and pull from it later -

give me an easy scan to scan the label of the box and flash the card to 'remove it from the DB'-

I think a lot of people would use such a hardware setup a lot. This would make life so much easier

For some years I have wanted to send a suggestion to those who could make it happen.. I'd love to help make it a reality in some way. One day.

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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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Sure, those robots exists! Many actually, it's crazy.

If you come to Discord, I will tell you about the robots in the market.

https://discord.gg/u4J5aGU2

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Sohcahtoa82
9 months ago
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Discord is literally the worst place for something like this. A forum or even a subreddit is much better at maintaining a repository of knowledge.

I've got about 2,000 M:TG cards bought between 1995 and 2001 just sitting in a couple boxes collecting dust. I'd love to have a fast way to scan them all and inventory them and figure out what's worth trying to sell and what I should just throw away.

At this point, I'd be willing to pay a 25% commission to just ship the entire boxes somewhere and let them handle it all.

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valbaca
9 months ago
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Consider Card Kingdom, they (used to) do exactly this: https://www.cardkingdom.com/purchasing/sell_collection

EDIT: added the (used to)

Consider joining a local MtG group on facebook (yes, I know). There are often a few people willing to buy collections. Get a couple or three to come and take a look and give you an offer.

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MWil
9 months ago
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You don't have a way to reach out on your profile but I'd be willing to scan and send you a csv of your collection for easy selling for a low flat rate
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andrewljohnson
9 months ago
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You can sell your collection on Facebook Marketplace or to game stores that have robots and/or buyers.

Also… the main things the discord does is let people up late notice the stream, including the remote team and our friends and community etc.

Plus they can send bugs directly to the team and get real-time feedback if someone is available.

Plus it includes rooms for buyers and sellers (since we don’t yet have the social marketplace feature we intend).

Discord is fun and useful, highly recommend.

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