The thrill of the chase is really step two.
How do you figure out what cards you want? There are definitions to any collection. Maybe you only collect Topps cards with three-digit prime numbers whose subjects were born outsde of the continental United States. Maybe you chase acetate inserts, or collect every card issued under the Donruss name. Maybe you have a type collection or player collection. Or maybe you want everything.
But I'm not talking about definitions. I mean discovery. I want all of Buck Farmer's trading cards. It's no easy task, but at least most of his cards show up on eBay pretty quickly, and I'm thus quickly alerted to its existence. And the Trading Card Database and Beckett's database both have decent records for mainstream stuff.
Japanese cards are another question, though. TCDB is far from complete when it comes to MLB issues, and even farther behind for NPB sets. Even Japanese collecting experts are still figuring out many checklists; modern releases might be easier, but until last year, BBM didn't post reliable information about parallels in its sets.
And then there are promo cards. I would gather that NPB Card Guy's SCM list is the most comprehensive in existence, but gaps still remain. And for all the work he's put in, I still am not sure if my want list for that set is complete.
I found this card last weekend:
There could be more cards on that checklist that I want which I don't have on my lists. I don't know. Which makes me wonder: should I keep searching SCM stacks if/when I do finally find the last few cards I know I want?
So how do you know what you want? How do you create those lists? I might expand on this myself in a future post.