No matter if you’re new to dice collecting, are a veteran collector, or somewhere in between, at some point you’ve probably run across so-called ISO (in-search-of) or WTT (want-to-trade) posts and requests. It’s almost inevitable to trade dice with fellow collectors if you’re looking for a set you’ve fallen in love with that is no longer available in stores, or have that incomplete set of elusive out-of-print dice that you want to complete.
Dice trading can be a little intimidating if you’ve never done it and don’t know how to go about it or what to pay attention to. Here’s some advice to help you get started and share some of my own experience.
It helps to know what terms to use and what people mean when they use abbreviations. ISO, WTT, OG, FLGS, what does all of that mean? I have a more detailed glossary of terms up on the blog, but here’s some common ones seen in connection with trading or selling posts:
- OOP: out of print
- ISO: in search of (i.e. These are the dice I’m looking for)
- WTT: want to trade (i.e. I’d like to trade these dice)
- WTS: want to sell (i.e. I’m selling these dice)
- WTB: want to buy (i.e. I’d like to buy these dice)
- NG: new glitter (i.e. the new type of glitter in the Chessex Borealis dice that are currently still in print — with the exception of Borealis Magenta where OG and NG is oop)
- OG: old glitter (i.e. the old type of glitter in the Chessex Borealis dice that is no longer used and out of print)
- OOG: old old glitter or other old glitter (a misnomer since there are only two types of glitter — NG and OG; some of the Borealis OG dice are more translucent and have been labelled by the dice community as OOG)
- FLGS: friendly local game store (i.e. actual physical store where you can buy dice locally)
- PM or DM: private message or direct message
- Carded: Chessex polysets or pip boxes that still include the paper label that Chessex provides with their dice
Some of the most important ingredients for a successful trade recipe are good photos and a clearly laid out list of the dice you are offering for trade and the dice you’re looking for.
Here are my recommendations:
- Trade stock photos should be well lit and not blurry, so that your potential trading partner can easily (ideally at a glance) identify the dice you’re offering.
- Trade stock photos should not picture too many dice at once. Not useful are dice dump photos of 200 dice right next to each other without labels or numbering.
- Trade stock photos should ideally group dice that are the same or similar. Separate out polysets or partial sets. Put similar or the same dice in one photo, others in another photo so that the dice become more easily identifiable and better to differentiate. Collectors are often looking for very specific things, and you’re making their lives easier if you let them find what they’re looking for without too much effort.
- It is extremely helpful if trade stock is already labeled in the actual photos, or numbered so that you can attribute the dice to a separate numbered list. This goes back to collectors often selectively looking for specific things. Likewise, you can also put prices right on the photos of dice you’re selling.
- It helps if you have a spreadsheet that outlines both your ISO list and your trade stock. Google Sheets is one option, but other systems or formats can also work well. Some people take screenshots of lists they’ve written up and post these as photos with their trade requests. Some people even take pictures of their incomplete ISO sets, so that less experienced traders can easily identify whether they may or may not have the dice the other person is looking for.
- If dice have flaws, make sure to take photos or videos that show these flaws, or point them out otherwise. There’s nothing worse than receiving a die you were excited for and then find out that it’s not the level of quality you were expecting. It can happen that, in cases like this, recipients ask for a refund or discount, or want to rescind the trade. They might leave you negative feedback in the feedback threads if you send out dice with undisclosed flaws.
Flaws can be (list not exhaustive): bubbles in the dice; chipped faces, corners or edges; uneven ink or other inking abnormalities; visible sprue marks; dents in a die face; scratches or scratch marks; holes or scratches filled with ink; small inclusions of objects or particles in the dice that don’t belong there.
Some dice lines can have a lot of variation in how the dice look, such as Chessex Festive or Vortex, or Crystal Caste Magma. Collectors are often looking for particularly pretty dice (e.g. with nice swirls, good colour distribution, etc.). If you have dice that are notably muddy or where the colouring is off, make sure to mention that or take photos or videos that show the dice. Don’t try to actively hide sides that aren’t as pretty, because the collector will see this anyway when they receive the dice.
Organization is Key
It helps if you sort and store your trade stock in a way that you can easily find dice that people might be interested in. It’s not ideal if someone asks you for a die, and you have to respond, “Let me go dig through my boxes in the cellar to see if I can find it.” If you’re not sure about which dice are which, it can be useful to label them in some way (e.g. put them in small zip-lock bags with notes or post-its).
Ensure that, at the time you post your trade request or sales post, you have all the material at hand you’ll need to ship the trading dice out. Padded envelopes or small boxes and bubble wrap or other padding materials are always useful.
A quick note for anyone who may not be familiar with selling on ebay. If you list your dice on ebay, they will ask for fees for hosting your listing. Depending on which country’s ebay portal you use, these may differ, but ebay.com generally asks for a selling fee. There can be extra fees for additional services, such as international visibility, adding a reserve price, and other add-ons. You can read the full disclosure on fees and extras on the ebay website.
The general etiquette on handling fees in the dice community is the same as with most private sales or auctions–the fees are fully covered by the seller, as it is their own choice to use this portal for their auction or sale. In fact, some dice selling groups explicitly state in their rules that fees must always be paid by the seller and not by the buyer. Please familiarize yourself with both the fees that may be incurred by using online selling portals, and the rules of the group you’re selling your dice in.
Posting your Trade Post
Consider the timing of your post. It’s likely that you’ll get a number of responses right away, often in the first 24 hours after you put your trade request out there. Do you have time to follow up on them? Do you have time in the few days or week after posting to sort out the trade(s) and mail them out?
In terms of content, an ideal trade or sales post should contain the following elements:
- Which dice are you looking for? Which dice are you offering for trade?
- Where are you located (i.e. where are the dice being mailed from)?
- For sales posts: Price of listed item and currency used, and acceptable payment methods and/or payment timelines (e.g. payment expected within 24 hours)
- Estimated shipping costs (listed per region), and restrictions if applicable (e.g. if you’re not trading internationally)
- An indication that you’re happy to be PMed with trade requests
- Anything else that is worth pointing out to manage expectations, e.g. flaws in dice, potential delays in response times, etc.
When you write your trade post, indicate if you are or are not amenable to also selling or buying dice. Every now and then you might get PMs in response to your trade post along the lines of, “I don’t have anything on your ISO, but I’m interested in your dice.” Likewise, if you read in someone’s ISO post that they are not interested in selling their trade stock, don’t send them PMs if you don’t have any dice to offer that they’re looking for.
If you have certain dice that are higher value than others that you would only trade for other higher value dice or sets, indicate this from the get-go.
This was already mentioned, but always point out if your trade stock or offered items have bubbles, flaws, or are damaged. Show videos and photos of the flaws or damage, so that the other party is aware what they are receiving. At the same time, ask your trading partner if the dice they are sending you have flaws. Mention if your dice were reinked, or if they have otherwise been touched up or modified from their original state.
If you are not actively offering items for trade or sale but just want to respond to someone’s trade or sales post, please note that comments such as, “I would love these, but I can’t afford them,” are not particularly helpful, and can make the person trading or selling uncomfortable. If you wish to comment on someone’s ISO post with anything other than alerting them of an incoming PM or asking a question or making a comment related to the trade offer, please consider how it might be perceived by the original poster.
Agreeing on a Trade
Working out equal trading value can be tricky. If you’re not sure about the value of the trade on either or both ends, you can ask for valuation or seek a second opinion. Checking ebay or the Facebook dice market groups for past listings/valuations can be helpful to determine approximate value, but keep in mind that prices can change over time (in both directions).
It’s okay to overtrade or undertrade if both parties are happy with the agreement. There’s nothing wrong with giving someone dice of more monetary value than they’re sending you if you want to do something nice for the other person, or if you want the dice they’re offering very badly. Please communicate openly with the other person if you believe they are exploiting or manipulating you, but try to do so in a constructive manner. If you feel someone is taking advantage of you, or worse, trying to pressure you into a trade, you are encouraged to pull out of the trade and, if you like, report this to admins or mods, or leave negative feedback in the feedback threads in the dice market groups on Facebook.
Backing Out of Trades
Backing out of a trade is perfectly okay if no dice or money has been exchanged yet. It’s never pleasant to do so, but if you’re communicating this in a polite and reasonable manner, the trading partner should hopefully accept your cancellation request. Likewise, I would advise that you don’t have to agree to trades you’re not happy with, and it helps to clearly communicate as to why you don’t agree.
As mentioned before, take decent quality photos or videos of trading dice on both sides, don’t be afraid to ask for photos or videos from the other party if they haven’t provided them already, or ask for more photos if you’d like to see more details of the dice you’re interested in.
Good and transparent communication is important. Tell your trading partner if you have upcoming vacations, business trips or other reasons why you wouldn’t be able to respond to messages. It also helps to tell your trading partner about estimated shipping times, and a rough timeline for when you can take your trade shipment to the post office, just to manage expectations. If you’re not in the same country or continent as your trading partner, make this clear upfront because it affects shipping costs and times.
You don’t have to humour people if they can’t get their act together. Depending on your personal level of patience, you’re encouraged to work with a trading partner for as long as you’re comfortable to get a trade or sale agreed. However, it is totally fine to tell a partner they’re taking too long to come to an agreement if they are ignoring your messages, not answering questions, not honouring agreements or requests for photos/videos, or just taking a really long time.
As a rule of thumb, a few days to a week should be fine to come to an agreement about which dice to trade. Anything dragging on for two weeks or longer is a stretch, and if a trading partner does not reply to you at all over the course of a week, it should be safe to assume they are no longer interested in the trade. Of course this can vary on a person’s personal situation, emergencies, vacation trips, illness, etc. This makes it all the more important to communicate openly with your trading partner.
If you are selling or buying dice, and want to use PayPal as the payment method, I advise against using the Friends & Family option. Always use the Goods & Services option, otherwise there is no buyer’s protection and you cannot ask for refunds if something with the sale goes wrong. If you’re the buyer and someone asks you to use PayPal F&F, I recommend you either insist on the G&S option or pull out of the sale. It is normally expected that the seller pays the PayPal fees that are incurred when using the G&S options.
Mailing out your Dice
Before you mail out dice on either side of the trade, summarize the trade agreement to ensure both parties are on the same page and don’t accidentally send the wrong dice.
Packacking and Shipping
In order to ship dice safely, it is highly recommended to use a padded envelope and additional padding or wrapping on top. This can be extra bubble wrap, paper, tissues, felt pieces, small containers etc.
Every now and then you see envelope mailers that have holes or tears with the dice having fallen out during transit. Apparently this can happen if envelopes get caught in automatic mail sorting machines. There is probably no good way to completely avoid this ever happening, but it helps if you put your dice in small zip-lock bags and tape them to something larger in the envelope, such as a piece of paper or cardboard.
Best practice in dice trading is to use a shipping option with tracking, in the US this is usually the USPS First Class option with tracking. (Do not send dice as a standard letter!) For higher value trades or sales, insurance is also recommended. Be aware of what that will cost you, especially if you’re trading internationally. A padded envelope with tracking to other countries can easily cost you $15 or more. If you’re not comfortable paying this much for shipping, indicate this in your trade post or limit your trade to domestic or a certain region only.
International Trades and Sales
International shipping, in most cases, requires that you complete a customs form (usually attached to the shipping label, so-called CN22). Speak to your trading partner or buyer about potential customs restrictions or import tax and customs fees. Particularly in EU countries, the recipient will have to pay taxes and/or fees on imported goods from outside of the EU, based on the declared value of the items. It helps to be aware of this and agree with your trading partner on how best to handle it. The general expectation is that the recipient of the dice pays these extra charges out of their own pocket.
If you wanna be nice, include freebies (i.e. extra dice that weren’t part of the sale or trade agreement). It doesn’t have to be valuable or out-of-print dice. Maybe you have those few odd dice from a dice lot you didn’t want, or maybe you got a free set of dice from a retailer that you already had in your collection. You will always put a smile on someone’s face if you send them free dice, no matter their monetary value.
Confirmation and Tracking
Confirm the address of the recipient prior to mailing out the dice, even if you’ve sent them something previously. Take a photo of your package or envelope before you ship (incl. address). Share the tracking number with your trading partner after shipment, if possible also a link to a website where you can track the shipment. In most cases, the shipment can be tracked locally in the country of origin, and then again through the local carrier of the recipient’s country via their national mail tracking service.
Best practice is also to send your trade partner a quick message after their shipment has arrived to give them reassurance that everything went fine and to (hopefully) wrap up the trade with the result of both partners having received their dice as discussed and expected.
I know this sounds like a lot, and some of it is probably common sense. Still, I hope that this could help some of the newer members of the community, and please let us know if there’s anything I can add or if you have any other comments.