There are lots of video bloggers out there talking about Magic the Gathering, but the one I think garners the most respect is “The Professor” from Tolarian Community College. This guy is brilliant. He plays the game. He makes great video content. And provides reviews into sealed products.
One thing I am hearing from The Professor, and others, is that the game is in trouble. There are lots of reasons frequently listed, like;
- Standard becomes stale so frequently…People crack the meta-game.
- There is a ton of competing entertainment choices…most notably apps.
- Other card games, especially those found on app stores. (Hearthstone, etc.)
- Too much product is produced.
- Local Game Stores are competing with big box stores.
I think number five is the biggest threat, and most of the other problems can be traced to the mass production of specialty products. And so that is what I would like to write about.
The very first MTG packs I ever bought were from Wal-Mart. Way back in 2000 at my last career working there .I picked them up out of curiosity…I had to restock some misplaced product. Back then, you purchased them near Pokemon Cards, Baseball cards, and novelty items. When I bought them, I thought they were weird. I didn’t understand them. I didn’t buy anymore for years. (Wonder what happened to that couple of packs?)
When I started playing the game seriously, I purchased my packs at a LGS. And then I began to return to this section at Wal-Mart, as i began to dive deeply into the Return to Ravnica block. But there were always a few items I could only get at The Tangled Web (in Spartanburg) or at other specialty stores. These included Event Decks, and other things meant exclusively for LGS.
But somehow, Wal-Mart, Target, and other huge department store chains, have bought into it more, and now Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast are shipping those formerly exclusive products to them in humongous quantities. and so.
- I picked up “Mind vs. Might” off of TCGplayer for $8.
- E-bay has this year’s gift pack on sale for $11. I have seen stacks and stacks of these on store shelves…
- LGS frequently have Planechase Anthology on the shelf. STILL. I have also seen Commander Anthology.
- Commander 2018 (or 2017?) is warming shelves. Draconic Domination seems to be all gone, but the other three are still available.
- Planeswalker Mystery Boxes and similar have begun to appear…these are re-packaged booster packs. Incidentally, they are a terrible value. You save no money in purchasing these.
Truth of it is, all of this overhead product is bad for the game. It lowers peoples’ confidence. MTG was the bread and butter of places like The Tangled Web. But now, they are in competition with forces that are pretty hard to compete with.
The value and rarity of recent cards has tanked. While people are hanging onto cards like The Scarab God, and Liliana the Last Hope, mostly the cards have gone down in value. And printing huge numbers of things like Iconic Masters is a bad idea for the game. People feel their old cards are losing value with modern reprints.
So what do I prescribe?
I am a fan of closing down the Wal-Marts and Targets altogether. (Better for all small businesses,) But since that isn’t an option…at least Hasbro and the Wizards should scale back this mass production. Our game feels alot less special because they sell the specialty products alongside toilet brushes and clearance thong sandals.
“I need to go down to the Wal-Mart to get my oil changed. While I’m at it I’m going to pick up some Scott Tissue, some dog food, and Doritos. I think I will pick up that Iconic Masters Draft pack too…”
See what I mean?
I think us gamers should vote with our wallets. We need to only, only, only buy our cards at LGS.
That is alot of rant, but if you agree or disagree, let me know in the comments!