Is the question how a group gets into the game or how a single player gets cards to play with a group that has cards?
The former seems to me to be far more difficult than the latter. I've donated thousands of cards and, when I crack boosters from tournament prizes, generally just keep the rares. I'm also willing to sell off extra cards I have, though few take me up on it, probably because I make so little effort.
Also, when you know players, the chances of someone getting rid of their collection is high, in my experience. I know one person in the process of selling off his collection, though he isn't local, and I know another who is sitting on a collection she has no use for. In both cases, talking about tens of thousands of cards. I've sold a friend's ~30,000 card collection and had another donate his that appeared larger when he moved.
I always figure the best way to create a collection is pick up a former player's. Tend to get lots of staples because tend to get lots of Jyhad cards. The volume is typically high enough for an entire group to play out of.
ha-ha-_- I actually do not own a single copy of any of those cards and I understand they were common? Case in point, there are a whopping total of two ashur tablets on ebay right now, and at $37 a piece I don't see how anyone that is new to the game or returning to it could justify it.
Find a gaming store someplace that does not have an active VTES playerbase, search the back of their shelves for where they have some old dusty VTES boxes of jyhad etc. Buy them dirt cheap since they are happy to just get rid of the "old junk".