I think I had more fun at Shonen Jump Championship Houston than any event I’ve ever covered. From Fabian Cantu’s unbelievable victory with Elemental Heroes to Hugo Adame summoning Cosmos Queen for the win, and The Six Samurai sweeping it all, Houston was a weekend of awesome stories. But unfortunately for me, some of those stories were just too big to cover by myself.
One such yarn was Vincent Tundo’s tale of woe-turned-bizarre-success. Vince headed into the tournament confident in the strength of his FTK deck, but after quickly taking two losses, he decided to turn a smile upside down and embark on a completely different type of adventure. It worked out so well that I decided to get him to turn it into an article.
During the Shonen Jump Championship at Houston I was walking down one of the aisles between tables after Round 4, and just happened to spot a discarded copy of Lucky Pied Piper staring up at me from the ground. I thought that maybe this card was a blessing in disguise—with one loss already under my belt, maybe this was a sign of a change in my luck! But those who followed my progress know that such was not the case. I immediately lost the next round to Jonathan Moore and was basically knocked out of contention. So much for good omens.
I might have been out of the tournament, but I still had my new Piper. Seeing my situation, Eric Masterson suggested that we play a game called "Bigger and Better." The rules are quite simple and if you’ve ever heard of a "paperclip trade," they’ll be pretty familiar: take a small, low-valued object and try to turn it into something (you guessed it!) bigger and better by trading alone (no money allowed). We were both anxious to start, but to make it interesting, we made a wager: one Eric would soon come to regret.
Since you can only really play this game on the honor system, we decided it would also be neat to document every trade we made, and to have our trade partners sign a record sheet, just so everybody knew it was legit. I kept playing in the tourney until I took my third loss, but even with relatively small amounts of time invested, I really couldn’t believe what I ended up with after I called it quits on Day 2. I always believed that you don’t really need the best cards to play the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG and that goes double for trading. You only need time and opportunity to make good trades.
Let me elaborate on that. By "opportunity," I mean trying to find someone who is looking for a card to finish a collection, trying to build a deck, or just plain-old likes a card you have to offer. If you wait long enough, you can find these people and your trades will be way better as a result. With that said, I want to walk everyone through the 31 trades I made over the course of two days.
1: 1 Lucky Pied Piper for 1 Beaten Up Parallel Ultra Rare Mystical Space Typhoon
It actually didn’t take me long to get this first trade, since I was willing to trade the Piper for just about anything that might have value. With a bit of waiting, I was on my way! Sure, the Space Typhoon was far from mint, but it was certainly more attractive than the Piper.
2: 1 Beaten Up Mystical Space Typhoon for 3 Equally Beaten Up Phoenix Wing Wind Blast Cards and 1 Ultimate Rare Darknight Parshath
This was an important trade: not only did I upgrade the Space Typhoon into something of higher value, but I also received more cards to work trades with. Diversification helps you make matches with people when you’re looking for trades . . . and besides, four cards for one is always good!
3: 3 Phoenix Wing Wind Blast Cards for 6 Light and Darkness Dragon Cards
Now this was a trade of opportunity! Not only did the other trader like the idea of the game I was playing, but he also (in his own words) "needed" Wind Blasts. His need gave me the chance to pick up far more than the worth of the cards I was trading away: six copies of Light and Darkness Dragon! That brought my card total to seven fairly valuable cards from just three trades.
4: 1 Ultimate Rare Darknight Parshath for 1 Parallel Ultra Rare Scapegoat and 1 Ultimate Rare The Transmigration Prophecy
5: 1 Light and Darkness Dragon and 1 Ultimate Rare The Transmigration Prophecy for 1 Misprint Secret Rare Cyber Dragon
This trade was amazing! The Cyber Dragon misprint had no card art or templating—just a silver foil front and the "Cyber Dragon" name stamp. Acquiring something unique is a huge plus, especially when it’s a Cyber Dragon. It wasn’t long before I found someone who wanted this. And guess what he collected? Cyber Dragon cards!
6: 1 Light and Darkness Dragon for 1 Super Rare Heavy Storm, 1 Soul Exchange, and 1 Reinforcement of the Army
This wasn’t a huge trade, but it did get me diversified. Those five remaining Light and Darkness Dragon cards weren’t as useful to me as a wider array of stuff, so this trade was a pretty obvious one to make.
7: 1 Misprint Cyber Dragon for 3 Super Rare Shrink Cards, 3 Super Rare Freed the Brave Wanderer Cards, 1 Drillroid, 1 Super Rare Heavy Storm, 1 Super Rare Airknight Parshath, 3 Super Rare Skyscraper 2 - Hero City Cards, 1 Ultra Rare Blade Knight, 1 Ultra Rare Bubble Illusion, 1 Ultra Rare Elemental Hero Darkbright, 1 Ultra Rare Creature Swap, and 1 Super Rare Deck Devastation Virus
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but these trades keep coming back to opportunity. To get these kinds of trades, it’s not so much chance as it is persistence. If you don’t find anyone who wants what you have, ask them if they know anyone who’s looking. I picked up a lot of cards for this one. Overall, I think this was one of the most important trades I made.
8: 1 Blade Knight for 1 Super Rare Limiter Removal
9: 1 Drillroid for 1 Parallel Ultra Rare Scapegoat
10: 1 Light and Darkness Dragon and 1 Deck Devastation Virus for 11 Ultimate Rares, including Proto-Cyber Dragon, Phantasmal Martyrs, and Pikeru’s Circle of Enchantment
At this point, I had a nice wad of cards. Eleven random ultimate rares, some copies of Light and Darkness Dragon, three copies of Shrink, and a bunch of desirable super rares and parallel ultras. From here I made the following trades:
11: 3 Shrink Cards and 1 Scapegoat for 2 Super Rare Zombie Master Cards
12: 1 Heavy Storm for 1 Super Rare Metalmorph and 6 Ultimate Rares: Karma Cut, Level Limit - Area A, Fire Darts, Goblin Out of the Frying Pan, Guard Penalty, and Goe Goe the Gallant Ninja
13: 1 Light and Darkness Dragon for 2 Parallel Ultra Rare Nobleman of Crossout Cards and 1 Parallel Limiter Removal
14: 1 Karma Cut and 1 Zombie Master for 1 Parallel Rare Torrential Tribute and 1 Super Rare Shrink
15: 1 Heavy Storm for 1 Ultimate Rare Iris, the Earth Mother and 2 Gigaplant Cards
16: 1 Light and Darkness Dragon for 1 Shield Crush and 1 Super Rare Brain Control
17: 1 Iris, the Earth Mother, 1 Malfunction, 1 Spell Calling, 1 Blasting Fuse, and 1 Fire Darts (All Ultimate Rare) for 3 Super Rare Dark Grepher
This was another pretty big trade where I benefited from diversifying the collection I was quickly building. Those ultimate rares might not have been worth much on their own, but as a group, they got me a pretty impressive deal.
18: Ultimate Rares of Goe Goe the Gallant Ninja, Lucky Iron Axe, Pikeru’s Circle of Enchantment, Goblin Out of the Frying Pan, and Hieracosphinx for 1 Light and Darkness Dragon
19: 1 Elemental Hero Darkbright for 1 Ultimate Rare Evil Hero Malicious Edge
20: 1 Parallel Rare Torrential Tribute, 1 Parallel Limiter Removal, and 1 Dark Grepher for 1 Dimensional Prison!
A D-Prison! I felt like even if I walked right now, and this was the only card I got, that it was totally worth it! Things were really getting good.
21: 2 Dark Grepher Cards for 1 Elemental Hero Stratos
22: 1 Ultimate Rare Evil Hero Malicious Edge for 1 Elemental Hero Stratos and 1 Super Rare Swords of Revealing Light
23: 2 Light and Darkness Dragon Cards and 1 Brain Control for 3 Super Rare Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch Cards and 1 Super Rare Mobius the Frost Monarch
24: 1 Elemental Hero Stratos for 2 Super Rare Thestalos Cards and 1 Destiny Hero - Plasma
25: 1 Ultimate Rare Sky Scourge Norleras for 1 Super Rare Prime Material Dragon
26: 1 Ultimate Rare Phantasmal Martyrs for 1 Phantom of Chaos
I was pretty happy about this one, turning a pretty useless card into something really competitive. Those ultimate rares really kept paying off.
27: 1 Light and Darkness Dragon for 6 Parallels: 3 Fissure Cards, 2 Torrential Tribute Cards, and 1 Mystical Space Typhoon
This was a pretty great trade, especially because of the Torrentials, but I really had no idea how important it would end up being. It would all be traded away immediately.
28: 3 Fissure Cards, 2 Torrential Tribute Cards, and 1 Mystical Space Typhoon for . . . 1 Green Baboon, Defender of the Forest!
I thought the previous trade was the best that I would get over the course of this game-within-a-game, but I’ve been wrong before! The duelist who I made this trade with saw me wheel and deal for all the Hobby League cards, and when I was finished, he asked me if I would trade them. I said sure and told him what I was attempting to do—he said he wanted to help me out and oh boy, he helped me out! From here on out, the rest of the trading was gravy. For the last three trades I just wanted to get a play-set of the card that started it all. I thought it would be the perfect end to this fairytale-like bout of trading!
29: 1 Metalmorph, 1 Ultimate Level Limit - Area A, and 1 Creature Swap for 1 Super Rare Lucky Pied Piper
30: 1 Ultimate Rare Soul of Fire, 1 Criosphinx, and 1 Ultra Rare Bubble Illusion for 1 Ultimate Rare Lucky Pied Piper
This one took a while! Do you know how hard it is to find an ultimate rare Lucky Pied Piper at a Shonen Jump Championship?
(Jason’s Note: I can attest to this. It actually took Vince longer to find and acquire an ultimate rare Piper than it did for him to get that Green Baboon. He was out there at least 30 minutes, walking the aisles and asking every person who would make eye contact whether or not they had one. I have seen Vincent Tundo look pretty crazy, but never has he looked crazier than when he was wandering the tournament floor asking every single person at a 500-man event if he or she had an ultimate rare Pied Piper for trade. Good stuff!)
31: 1 Ultimate Proto-Cyber Dragon for 1 French Language Super Rare Lucky Pied Piper
That was it! I was done, and now that I had the Pipers, the Baboon, and all the other great stuff I got, I figured it was time to pack it in and just enjoy the last few hours of the Jump. So at the end of Day 2—with about ten or twelve hours of trading—I walked away with this:
(Yes, that is probably more than $160 worth of cards gleaned from a single Lucky Pied Piper—Jason)
This game proves at least one thing: that you don’t need amazing cards to get amazing cards. With a little time and persistence, you can turn stuff you think no one wants into . . . well, just about anything. The next time you’re a little bored at a big event or even at your local tournament, try a round of "Bigger and Better" for yourself and see how far you can get. By the end of the second day, Eric and I had about ten other people playing along with us, and it caught on quick once people saw my progress. If you try this yourself, feel free to email me and let me know how it goes! General comments and questions are welcome too, and you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to take a second to thank everyone who participated in this with me: you know who you are, and I thank you very much!
As always, keep looking through the common pile! Later days.