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Currently, I have a rare binder with all of my rares, and the rest of my cards are broken into several boxes by color, gold/multi color, and land. The problem with this methodology is that if I have a specific card in mind that's a common, I have to search through the entire box until I find it. Is there a better way to manage by cards?

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Be a Party Girl and use The Dewey Decimal System. –  Pieter Geerkens Jun 1 '13 at 2:39
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There are a lot of ways to organize your cards that are efficient. What it is going to come down to, is what sort of efficiency are you looking for.

Deck building efficiency - This is pretty much a non-issue if you use digital deck builders, but if you don't know exactly what cards you own, it is helpful in finding possible alternatives for cards you want to run but don't own. Because all cards are near other cards of the same color/type, it is easier to find cards to fill out your deck.

  • Color, Card Type, Mana Cost, Alphabetical

Card finding efficiency - This reduces the size of all your box divisions, making it easier to find a particular card.

  • Set, Alphabetical (or collector number)

Trade/Deck Idea efficiency - Separating the Rarest cards from the most common cards allows you to easily find more valuable cards, or cards that an entire deck can be built around.

  • Rarest/Non-rare, any other sorting criteria.

Size efficiency- With many of the other sorting types, you may try to separate the individual Colors/Sets by placing them in their own box and filling up empty space with deckboxes or basic lands. When you organize for space, you need to only separate sections with index cards cut to fit card sleeves.

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+1 for recognizing that the order to sort your cards on depends on the purpose. –  SQB Feb 5 at 8:04
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I first pull out the valuable cards to go into my binder. Then I organize the rest by Block -> Set -> Alphabetical. In addition to this, I use a collection manager of some sort (currently Essential Magic, but there are plenty of options) so I don't have to go digging through the actual cards when I work on deck building.

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I find "by set" irrelevant. If I need a disenchant, I don't want to look through every set.

Color -> alpha by first letter

I don't mind flipping through all the white Ds to find something and it's easy to sort. Some letters get bun.ched together based on how many cards UVWXYZ for example in most colors.

If I want to search, I search using Oracle. I have a decent idea of what I own.

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I think the easiest way to sort and find cards is by Block->Serie->Color, and if you're hardcore, in alphabetical order.

This setup is good both for searching for a specific card you know about, vague searches like "blue cantrip" and for casual browsing.

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I've stopped playing, but I used Color -> Creature/Non-Creature -> Alphabetical, not sorting by expansion. When I was playing all cards were equally available for deck-building; if the newer blocks/sets don't work that way then you'd want to sort by that first. I found the creature/non-creature split to help manage the volume while planning and assembling decks. (I don't know if this is typical -- I was never an excellent player -- but I tended to think about deck-building as having those two, related, sub-tasks. So I'd choose creatures, choose spells that complement that, perhaps adjust creatures, etc.)

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For me I have a box for: 1. Black 2. Blue 3. Green 4. Red 5. White 6. Uncommons 7. Artifacts 8. Lands

Creatures are separated from non creatures. Sorted alphabetically by set. Somewhat slimmed down by eliminating cards there are 10 or more of through most of the collection. For good cards like lightning bolt, swords to plowshares, etc. I don't limit at 10.

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Welcome to B&CG! –  Pat Ludwig Sep 24 '12 at 21:51
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Put value cards in a binder. I put all my land in a seperate box. Another box is then organized into columns based off of color/artifact/multicolor. Those columns are organized by format, then into set in chronological order as they were released. Each section is in alphabetical order. The columns for Standard contain dividers based off of how close they are to rotation as well as what set. If a card is a staple like lightning bolt, I have it in a box that was for a fat pack that is organized into a similar way. If a card has been printed multiple times, I put them all with the most recent printing of the card. I try to get rid of any copies over what I think I will need generally 8 since I card pool with someone.

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I have my collection primarily sorted by set. I like this method because it optimizes for the "find a given card" case. If I want a Platinum Angel, for instance, I only need to search my cards from Mirrodin, M10, M11, and M12. The worst case would be searching for something like a Llanowar Elf, while the best case would be searching for, say, Emrakul.

Within a given set, I may divide by rarity, color, and type. But sorting by set is best balance of findability and re-sortability that I have come up with.

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I also use the Block->Set->Color->Alphabetical organization method. I can usually lay my hands on a card I want in a couple of minutes once I know that I want it.

I don't try to optimize for "find a good cheap red creature", I can use Gatherer for that sort of searching and then go find it in my collection (since I also have the containing sets information on the Gatherer page).

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First I have current standard in separate boxes. They are separated by block then color then alphabetical order. After rotation commons and uncommons get separated by color then alphabetical order in penny sleeves in groups of 4 (playsets). If I have more then 2 playsets of a given card from the same set.. it gets trashed or given away. I do all my deck building on gatherer this makes it easy to find anything in my collection. All rares go into binders by color and alphabetical order. Standard rares in a separate binders by block and color.

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I’m thinking of breaking up my commons and uncommons into 10 boxes, as follows (all the rares being in binders):

  • Box 1- Core sets: grouped by creature/non-creature/non-basic land, ordered alphabetically. Anything that I find that’s been printed in a core set would go in here (whether that print is from a core set)
  • Box 2 – Latest block: grouped by creature/non-creature/non-basic land, ordered alphabetically. At this particular time this would be all my Innistrad cards
  • Box 3 – Second latest block: grouped by creature/non-creature/non-basic land, ordered alphabetically. At this particular time this would be the Scars of Mirrodin block.
  • Box 4 – White cards: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically.
  • Box 5 – Blue cards: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically.
  • Box 6 – Black cards: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically.
  • Box 7 – Red cards: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically.
  • Box 8 – Green cards: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically.
  • Box 9 – Artifacts, Multi-color, colorless, non-basic land: grouped by creature/non-creature, ordered alphabetically
  • Box 10 – Basic lands

With this setup, I’ll always have my standard cards easy to find (hence grouping the core sets). Once a block cycles out of standard it’ll get distributed into boxes 4-9 (unless a card is put into the core set, then it goes into box 1).

The most strenuous part of this would be picking out anything in a core set, but that doesn’t have to all happen at the same time, they can migrate into the core set box over time.

I'm going to try this and I'll update to let everyone know how this turns out.

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I found the best way to sort my cards was by:

  1. Color
  2. Creature / Non-Creature
  3. Converted Mana Cost.

After you sort it is this way you can easily compare the effectiveness of each card and you will be able reduce the size of your usable cards.

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