Bans and Proxies
So much has happened in the MTG world since last week. Let’s start with the announcement of the 30th Anniversary Set. It’s a controversial product that left some people feeling almost insulted, myself included.
My biggest issue with this set is that its value is tied to what Wizards is willing to charge for it and its overall availability. At a $999 price tag, this isn’t for many people. Many made comments like “this one just isn’t for you, that’s ok, move on.” That said, I’ve been playing MTG for well over 20 years and began when Revised was still being sold in stores. I didn’t get to open Unlimited packs, so it feels like this product should be exactly for me, but it would be foolish to try and live this experience for $250 per pack just to open some terrible rares. I would feel much better just buying Collector’s Edition singles at a similar price point and getting the cards I want.
With the whopping price tag, this is for collectors and not many others. While Wizards is trying to toe the line of not upsetting those in favor of the Reserved list, they’re also upsetting those this is supposed to help by not making authentic products that could be used for casual games at a cheaper price tag to increase diminishing supply.
The most upsetting thing about this product is that it makes it far less likely I will see a similar product at a reasonable price in the near future. There’s speculation that this opens the door to start breaking down barriers to nullify the Reserved list. I wish it was that noble, but my opinion is that they likely got a legal green light and wanted a product out by Christmas to help their Q4 earnings and didn’t have the resources to make the kind of profit they wanted by charging less. As a collectible, and as strong as the Magic brand is, they can charge what they want and the floor is the cost of the product because there are enough diehard fans out there that will pay whatever it costs.
I suspect a lot of these packs will go unopened, or at least, be unavailable on the secondary market.
I hope someday they release a similar product, maybe a personal Cube that you can buy at a more affordable price range, around $500, so that we can get enough value out of the product, even if in the short term the cards don’t hold their secondary market value.
I’m happy that Wizards decided to make a product like this, but toting it on a big reveal, hyping up its reveal, only to slide the hefty price into the conversation like it’s what people would expect to pay, left a very sour taste in my mouth. Even at $999 I would consider the product if it was a full set so that I could just buy that and use it for Cube or Commander or whatever. For that amount, for images printed on paper and I’m opening packs to gamble on getting a non-tournament legal version of a card I’ve wanted, it feels like I’m buying some kind of speculative asset from a company, the ability to make the product much less desirable if they were to print a cheaper version later.
For me this is a big pass, and the best thing that could happen is that the product doesn’t sell out so that maybe they make a price point that serves the Magic-playing community rather than just the collectors and speculators. It would’ve been great for those of us who have been around since near the beginning and wanted to own a piece of memorabilia that we could use to play the game in a way that we haven’t yet experienced.
I think these will sell out and be left in closets. While WotC typically ignores secondary market prices, at least that was what I’ve heard, it feels like they are both paying attention and basing the pricing of this product off that market.
Next up in current events, we saw a huge banning. The Meathook Massacre gets the ban in Standard and Yorion in Modern. In real time this just happened moments ago, so my initial responses are as follows.
The Meathook Massacre’s ban was made under the assumption it held aggro decks in check and made it difficult for them to compete. While I agree it’s quite strong there, it’s not the only reason that aggro decks were lacking. Midrange decks are naturally able to keep aggro decks in check. I expected at least Fable of the Mirror-Breaker to also be banned as it is easily the most raw power level in Standard. That, however, wasn’t the purpose of this ban. This ban was to shake things up and make aggro decks feel a little more playable. I don’t think much will change moving forward, but I have a lot to test in the next two weeks focusing mostly on Standard.
I suspect black decks will still be strong, but it does open the door for some other ideas. Non-black decks can now get a chance to do their thing, and it will be interesting to see how it shakes out.
As for Yorion in Modern, I haven’t played any Modern in years, but it seemed that 4c Omnath was the strongest archetype in the format, and Yorion is free to play in these kinds of decks and gives it a powerful level of consistency. The play patterns with Yorion are obnoxious where similar things happen on turns 6-8 almost every game because so much of any Yorion deck makes so little effort to include the card. I think this is a long overdue banning, and not even necessarily because of its power in 4c, but mostly because it felt inevitable, so why not now?
In general, I’m in favor of bannings like both of these. I don’t think any decks aren’t viable because of these bannings. Some decks got a little worse, and more options opened up in both Modern and Standard. I think they did a great job here, and I’m excited to see how it plays out. Worst-case scenario in both cases is that the best decks are still the best decks and then, while the bans didn’t accomplish heavily changing the formats, they did at least make an effort to make other decks more competitive which is a big win.
My grade for WotC on printing $1000 proxies is a big old F. They get an A+ from me for the ban announcement to balance it out.
As for me, it’s unclear if I’ll be writing again before Worlds, as I have a lot of prep still to do, especially with changes to Standard. If you don’t hear from me before then, I’ll see you after Worlds, hopefully hoisting that trophy. Wish me luck!
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