There are three major problems with the Helvault promotional shindig that really make this, possibly, the worst promotion for Magic ever.
1. It doesn't live up to the hype. Honestly, this promotion was hyped as though it was going to be the most genius product promotions that has ever been set forth. I know a few store owners and took the liberty of asking them what they thought. One of them told me that his representative told him that the Helvault was going to be like a 'Magic Pinata on crack.' Well, I'm not sure what's been on crack longer, the rep or the Helvault, because neither of them really make any fundamental sense.
The Helvault needed to be something way more extravagant, or way less hyped. Had I just shown up and seen this was there, or had I not read a months worth of articles on the front page of the Magic site, this may not have been such a let-down.
'Well, it's free! How can you complain?' I hate this argument more than anything, and typically I let that statement alone stand as a testament to their ignorance on the matter, but since I will not be checking back here to reply to someone's rebuttal, I'll just spell it out for you here; 1) it isn't free - someone has to pay for this, and 2) you can't encourage people to show up for something that is going to be totally awesome and then give them a bunch of crap. They won't believe you next time you do it. The boy who cried wolf, etc. 2. Some stores apparently got a wonderful benefit, while others did not.
Ok, so, let me get this straight. Stores were arbitrarily chosen to benefit from additional product that presented a worthwhile experience, while other stores only had their time effectively wasted. Listen, if you wan't to hand out random pre-release prizes, leave that to the booster packs and the door prizes. The idea that the particular store I'm at could matter in terms of whether or not my pre-release will be as worthwhile as someone else's should be left up to the store - you know, like the guys who provide the best business, and not the guys who get lucky with random bonus Helvaults. Be consistent! Nobody likes this kind of promotion unless they're the kind of person who doesn't care what you guys print.
3. The items inside are inconsistent with prior handouts.
Foil cards, booster packs, Guru lands, full art cards... Obviously, giving out real cards that can be used for the game has been working for the past 16 years, give or take. Why then, for no reason whatsoever, did someone decide, 'Hey, you know what? People really HATE when you hand them cards they can actually play with. Let's give them some tokens that people tend to throw away, some dice, because nobody has those, and some oversized cards that they can use one time for a coaster.' and then, someone else decide that this was a brilliant idea? Frightening.
Listen, nobody gives a **** about something they can't use. You basically printed garbage. I understand that, every now and then, bad ideas slip through the cracks. Please, please, for all players who have been playing this game for years upon years, having dumped thousands upon thousands of dollars into this game, do not print things we cannot use.
I think I must be in the minority about the Helvault event.
I started playing in 93-95, stopped when I got my drivers license and didn't pick it back up again until 06. I've had a chance to go to 5 pre releases since I started playing again in 06.
I know some people go specifically for the rares and whatnot, but being a married 30something year old dude, it's rare that friends and I get to all get together and go to something like a pre-release, so for me, the bonuses are cool, but getting to go to an event with friends and play with a set before it's released is the majority of the fun.
It seems that a large amount of people see it as a "I had 0 chance to get XXX because I went to XXX store". I can see that, and I know it will anger those who did go to those stores, but for me, I see it more as the booster pack analogy, and I know someone referred to it as "it's booster packs from different sets" because of the store location had no chance to recieve those specific promos, I can see that too. However, I just see it as the booster analogy, there are lots of cards I've never gotten but wanted, simply because I didn't open them in a booster pack. To me any prize is fine, I just like going to the event with friends and getting to play. Due to work/married life/etc I have the chance to go to 1 pre release a year/ or every other year, and while I'd love to get all the possible promos to add to my collection, even if I never use them, I do like to collect the promos/any magic memorabilia. This is basically a rambling rant at this point, but the jist of it is, I understand why some people are mad, but me personally, I just like getting the rare chance to play/play with a set before it's out with some friends.
However, I just see it as the booster analogy, there are lots of cards I've never gotten but wanted, simply because I didn't open them in a booster pack. To me any prize is fine, I just like going to the event with friends and getting to play. Due to work/married life/etc I have the chance to go to 1 pre release a year/ or every other year, and while I'd love to get all the possible promos to add to my collection, even if I never use them, I do like to collect the promos/any magic memorabilia.
This would work if the event was advertised as a booster pack. It wasn't. Because they didn't say anything, most people assumed that all helvaults would be the same, as all past prerelease events have been the same for everyone involved.
The difference in scale is also something to consider. Would you buy booster packs if 99% of them only had commons, and the remaining 1% had only foil mythics? On ebay right now, I can see 3 auctions for the foil tokens. One is a buy-it-now for $110, and the other 2 are actually auctions that are going for $35 each.
I love tokens and oversized commander cards. Couldn't they have had all helvaults have the foil ones? At this point there's no possible way for me to get foil of either.
They could have also put random uncommon/rare cards related to angels in the helvaults, so everyone got something. If you didn't care for the dice, token, or oversized card, the helvault had nothing for you, unless you were lucky enough to get a judge promo.
I'm the same way. I go for the experience and the fun. The entry fee is well worth what I get. If they want to include more nice things than that, it's only respectful that I thank them for that. I never complain when I get a neat trinket or socks for Christmas, because I never expect them to begin with. And that's the point-- you're not suppose to expect extravagent gifts from people. Getting gifts is never an occassion for complaint, only children think like that.
I'd like to start by saying that ever since the Alliances prerelease, prereleases have been something to look forward to. The extra incentives like the checklists, Helvault and other promotional materials are nice, and I understand who they are aimed at. That said, it is insulting to promote the Helvault SO aggressively, to taunt people with, "What's inside!?!?!" etc, and hype it up so much, only to have it filled with utterly useless oversized cards, and tokens / dice that could easily be had elsewhere.
I realise that this is a free promotion, but what you've essentially done is allowed people to dream of something actually useful being inside the helvault, and for 90% of people, there was actually nothing in their Helvault. That was BAD, but making some of the Helvaults contain something more than nothing, as is the case with the premium ones, is even worse. Like I said, 90% of the people I played with at the prerelease were like, "Yeah, sucks that the Helvault has nothing in it". Then to find out that if you were lucky, you actually got SOMETHING that could be played in a 60 or 100 card deck was like a knife in our minds. It would have been totally fine if there were sweet promotional alternate art cards or just SOMETHING playable in all of them, then if you hit the lottery, you got a foil demonic tutor or whatever. This is far and away beyond the pale of acceptability. Add that to the fact that the prerelease card is wholly unplayable in a competitive environment(unlike the previous mythics) and the giveaways were just awful. I'd actually rather get nothing that a slap in the face token piece of garbage, to be frank about it.
All this, coupled with banning booster drafts in favor of the vastly inferior sealed deck, and you're leaving many of your regular players out in the cold. Please stop this behavior. It's not what got your company to the position you're in now. As others have said, it's going to take a while before you feel the effects. I for one have voted with my wallet and my LGS is none too happy that your crappy promotion made me cancel my $400 in preorders, but it's the only real way you'll actually hear us.
Blegh. Most of my players were fairly happy with the hellvault. Yeah, we've got spin downs, but another never hurts. The double sided token is nifty, and several people are trying to get more. Sure, the over-sized cards are worthless, but a few players even liked them.
Then we get this today. Now everyone is pissed off, complaining, and arguing. The extra promos aren't even the issue in my area. It's that the tokens and oversized cards came in foil elsewhere. I don't even care about the stuff in the hellvault, but I'm legitamately pissed off over this. Just because my store isn't advanced level. Would it really have hurt that much to make all the oversized and tokens foil?
It's outright bull**** is all it is, and if I didn't enjoy the game or organizing local fnms and prereleases as much as I have, I'd have probably stopped organizing entirely over it. I had people who had no intention of coming show up, just for the chance to get something from the hellvault. They didn't care one bit about the cards they were getting. They just wanted whatever was stashed in there. And now they get to be dissapointed that we got the lesser stuff. After this, I know for sure that I'm not going to hype up anything special wizards tries to do in the future.
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This promotion was bad enough, and this mea culpa attempt of an article didn't help. You know what would have helped? If the group writing this article, note that no one person had the integrity to put their name to it, had used the word "sorry" anywhere in the text. I think the Magic community as a whole deserve an apology for the over hyping of this promotion, the judges deserve an apology for the break in faith from WotC in distributing their foils outside the intended rewards program, and as much as anyone, the smaller stores who were simply excluded from a big part of this event, simply because of their location or size.
Agreed completely. Even if Wizards doesn't feel like they did anything wrong, or doesn't want to admit they did anything wrong, there are enough people upset about this (and many who are genuinely furious) that they should still apologize publicly.
The closest we got was this gem of a paragraph:
Our goal is to continue to create great experiences for players at our events. We've received a lot of great feedback from players about what you liked, and what you think we could improve for next time. We want you all to know that we hear you and will use your feedback to make our future promotions even better.
"What you liked and what you think we could improve..." Not "What you like and what you didn't like", or "valid criticisms", or anything that even remotely implies that people are actually in any way upset about it.
"...to make our future promotions even better." Implying that this one was good, or even great, rather than infuriating to a lot of people.
I understand corporate doublespeak exists, but this is not the time nor place for it. The fact that there have been over 50 responses to this article indicate that it's not a matter of "we could have done better" but a matter of "we really screwed up here". An apology, in any form, would go a long way to restore people's confidence in you, and ease the hard feelings this has all caused.
I think Marketing deserves credit for finding a way to embrace R&D's current philosophy: variance is good, randomness creates stories, and if you tempt people with a big upside they won't realize how low the mean is. Helvaults were just miracle cards with a propensity for being in the opening hand.
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