You have covered it quite nicely Highwayman but there is one aspect I would like to focus on for a second. As you recognize that the EDH players are getting something thrown on them please remember the collectors too. This is supposed to be a "Collectable" Card Game but it seems that in the last few months it has become a "gouge the collectors" business. True, in some areas of collection things become highly treasured and sought after. The reason usually is because the rookie made it big or something happened to most of what was made (1804 dollar). But for a company to produce a scarce item on purpose just to gouge their customers and collectors is revolting.
I disagree whenever collectors complain about reprints - mostly because the actual collector doesn't lose anything from the card value dropping unless he was planning to sell, which would make him a speculator - but about the fact that these products hurt them, in a way. I collected the first 2 FTV sets because I loved the concept and loved the themes and all that jazz. Then the third one rolled around, and... I couldn't find it anywhere. Guess people caught wind of it by then. I was eventually lucky enough to trade for one at "just" 3x MSRP in value (Just opened a Scars box, had Mox Opal and other good stuff to make up half of the value. Think I paid some money too.), but by the time Legends rolled around? I couldn't get it. Nowhere. I eventually found it online, at outrageous prices. Those have fallen much since then, but now there's a new one, and, well...
Suffice to say that my collector's completionist OCD hates the scarcity of these sets. I can't justify spending 200 dollars on any product with so few useful cards when I could be spending that on playsets of cards I need instead.
It's rather entitled of me to think this way, to be sure, but I would like this stuff, even without the artificial scarcity. Duel decks are just fine, they're merely not quite as cool to me. I'd happily pay MSRP for these new "collector" products that they send out, or even double or triple that. But I'm not gonna spend an entire month's entertainment budget on a few cards that I'm not gonna use. Again, entitlement issues, but if I like collecting stuff and I don't wanna buy these, then who are they made for?
I think you both make very valid observations about the collection aspect. I used to collect everything that was printed (except for starter / portal / un-sets, which didn't interest me and didn't feel 'canon'). The wedge came in with mythics, which made it increasingly hard, as someone who *only* drafted a couple of times a month, to assemble the sets without setting lending myself to horrendous trades. By the time Jace 2.0 came around, I retired from collecting sets. I pick up cards I like and its fairly easy to assemble playsets of commons and selected uncommons. FtV was another watershed moment - I don't normally buy reprinted cards but I liked the look of this product and acquired Dragons and then Exiled at MRP (about £20). The store only had a few but I had been a regular and loyal customer for over 10 years so the store owner didn't think anything of keeping one back for me and charging MRP. Unfortunately the was the last time anyone sold FtV at MRP and so, in mild disgust, I let that go. Then came the commander decks with brand new cards. By this stage I was already hanging up my collector spurs, but otherwise the idea of having to buy a boxed product so that I own a handful of new cards and this maintain the 'integirty' of my collection was pretty abhorrent to me (for one thing, I liked that my collection was a collection of sets in binders), and I certainly didn't appreciate the idea that to complete a collection now required FOUR sets per year AND a whole bunch of deck products. If the mythics hadn't already urged me in the direction of not acquiring every new card, then commander products certainly would have given me pause. Now we have the Commander's Arsenal, which unless you have a collection that is even more exhaustive than mine will certainly contrain cards you won't have (notably, P3K - I am lucky enough to have the other cards). But for 90% of collectors this will in fact be a box-shaped hole marring the satisfaction of having had a complete collection.
I have bemoaned how lousy this is for EDH players, to be teased with deck support that most won't be able to acquire. I am forced to conclude this is also a huge slap in the face, if not the KO punch, after a long line of slaps in the face to collectors, who already had a tough job keeping up.
I am forced to conclude this is also a huge slap in the face, if not the KO punch, after a long line of slaps in the face to collectors, who already had a tough job keeping up.
I'm only posting because I'm legitimately having trouble understanding your premise - as far as I can tell from reading your post, you don't like collecting at all; it's all work for you. If actually collecting cards is not something that's enjoyable for you, something that's worth doing, why on earth do you feel so compelled to do it?
Of course I understand that this makes it difficult to collect every card ever printed, if that's anyone's goal - but that's already a lofty goal in itself, and anyone who is bemoaning a $250 price tag on these is going to have much bigger problems with single cards that already cost that much. The fact is, it is their job to support collectors, yes - and they do so by making new cards to collect. It is not their job, however, to make collecting easy - collecting is part of the game, and in order to keep that element fun and engaging, they can't just do it for you. The notion that there can be 'too much' to collect runs counter to the notion that collecting is actually enjoyable - it sounds to me that what you like is "collecting" but "possessing" cards; that you'll only really be content when they've stopped printing cards altogether, as that's the only way you could ever realistically maintain it as 'complete'.
I'm not about to say that that's a bad thing, of course - if that's what brings you joy in the game, that's wonderful. But there are thousands of games out there where it's easy to simply "possess" them - what makesMagic Magic is the fact that you do have to work to collect, and giving players who enjoy collecting new things to chase is an important part of that. It's not an affront to collectors for Wizards to release products that are difficult to obtain - it is, in fact, the only way to reliably support them.
I could argue there's a 'card-shaped hole' in my Red Standard deck for enchantment removal - they don't print Red enchantment removal because giving me all of the answers I 'want' defeats the purpose of the game; designing a game is all about putting obstacles between the player and the things they want. The existence of Mythics and limited-run products is very much the same thing; it's about putting obstacles between a collector and a completed collection. If a collector dislikes that game, they don't have to play - but it's certainly not Wizards' job to play it for them.
I think that there are a lot of overreactions toward this product, based on what players want it to be - for the most part, what they want it to be will be released next year, once they start their annual Commander product. The reason this isn't that is stated explicitly in the article: they didn't have the time. They opted for this instead of nothing, because they thought the players that could get a hold of it would appreciate that. The product was specifically designed to have very little of value beyond 'bragging rights', because they realised it would be strictly limited in quantity. Arguing that it actually has a negative impact is rather difficult to do; it is, at worst, negligible for most players.
The one issue that can be argued with it is that it's presented as a Commander product, when it's actually a collector's product - specifically, though, it's a Commander product for collector's (or a collector's product for Commander players), meaning it appeals specifically to a subset of both. If this had been marketed as a 'collector's product', non-Commander collectors would similarly complain about the fact that its only appeal is for Commander - it's only designed to be attractive at the intersection of the two. Since this is serving as a precursor to other Commander products which will not be exclusively aimed at collectors, I'll assume they found it more important to affix the Commander name as well as to specifically avoid branding it as a collector's product. I'd consider their not being more explicit about that a mistake; I can understand why they might, but I think they'd be capable of going about it better than they have thus far.
The last thing I'll say, though, is one of MaRo's design axioms: "If you don't like it, it's not for you." I can see that a lot of players are upset about how unobtainable this will be, but the product wasn't made for those players; it was made for those who (as the article states) are interested in being the most stylish player at their table, for whom the exclusivity is actually a benefit, not a flaw. They knew they were making a small product and they knew they weren't going to be adding much 'new' to it, so they targeted the audience they could with that - if you're not part of that audience, just wait; your product will come later on. In the meantime, this isn't actually hurting anyone, and it's not fair to get upset every time Wizards produces something that doesn't target you, specifically...
I want to start by saying I disagree with the people who liked the article itself. I found it trying to be too funny and just clunky because too much chaff was added. Maybe this was a tactic to distract us from the true point of all this:
This product is absolutley terrible.
The store near me is keeping two back for themselves and auctioning off the other two. No way anybody is getting them for less $200 and most of the dedicated EDH fans will get nothing. That's a big problem in my mind.
Next, the card choices are bad. Half of them were released in Commander and Planechase products in the last two years and are useless for people who are already dedicated to buying everything released for the format. Oh but they're foil? Not enough of a reason to waste money on the same cards. The rest of the cards I don't have a big problem with.
Next point: Oversized cards. I have met one player who has used an overszed general in all my years. These to me are like when the old reward oversized cards came out in the mail for new sets. Straight into the trash for me.
The sleeves are foil. That's dumb. Anyone who plays with foil sleeves know they peel very quickly. Again, something in this product I would never use.
+ and - counters are more limited in their use than dice are. I already carry dice. I'm not carrying these around too.
The life counter is literally the most exciting part of this entire product. It's the only thing in the whole package I actually want to own.
Too bad for me that the stores will sell them for several hundred dollars althoug at MSRP $75 I still wouldn't have bought this product.
Please take my words into consideration for the future.
I have been playing magic since Ice Age. I am far more Timmy / Johnny than I ever will be Spike, and I have never really participated in organized play outside of pre-releases which I still attend almost every set. I love the pre-release foils.
I try to purchase one of every Magic product I can. I sit clearly in your table top demo. I spend about $2,000 a year in Magic products and would spend more if I could afford it. I don't make a lot and $2,000 is most of my entertainment budget for a year. I will trade but I never sell. I am a collector and am very proud of the items I have put together. I have purchased every Vs. set except Goblins Vs. Elves, all three of the Premium Series decks, every Plancechase, Archenemy, and Commander deck, and every From The Vault I could get my hands on at the store level, which has been two. I keep all my inserts and have gone back and purchased as many of the Player's Guides from Fat Packs that I had missed out on as I could. I have also put together most of all three seasons of Vanguard. I love to collect the oversized cards even though I don't often play with them. So as the run up to Commander's Arsenal was happening I got really excited. And more than most people I wanted the oversized cards, the sleeves, the +/- tokens, the life counter, and yes the insert! The 18 playable cards are great, don't get me wrong. But they held as much sway to me as the trinkets and bobbles that were thrown in to make my exact demo salivate. The last three years I have purchased the Premium Series decks during the holidays. I know it wasn't working as a product and I think switching it to Commander is only logical. I'm glad you did it. However I won't be able to purchase this years offering.
I have called all the shops in the Portland, Oregon area and they all say what limited copies they have are gong to sell from between $250 to $350. I'm sure I don't have to explain that they are looking at mostly the price of two cards in this box for the price. And yes that leaves the secondary market like e-bay to pick up the little things I wanted but I have little doubt their rareness will still put them out of play for me.
Plus when I say I collect things I include packaging. I have often said I like to use the whole buffalo, and when I get a Fat Pack I use the panorama art on the inside of the sleeve and make card storage boxes out of them, then take the Fat Pack box and turn it into a deck box. They look pretty good and I'm proud of them and my ability to turn what amounts to little more than packaging to most into something I can use. And to purchase these supplies to make them at a premium on ebay makes no sense. I don't want to buy a buffalo skin. I want the buffalo and I will get the skin from it myself. It hits that perfect primal instinct to hunt and then glean from that hunt. That needs to be encouraged.
For months now I have been checking the MTG Daily site at 9pm PST every week night to find out what is in this thing and when I can get it. I never thought it would get as bad as FTV, which has been almost impossible for me to walk into a store, even day of release, and purchase. So you have created a product that I want but due to the limited print run and the out of control cost of two of the cards it will be completely out of my purchasing powers. And it seems as if this is targeted to my exact demo. Compound that with the increased prices for Return to Ravnica products, which I purchased 3 booster boxes and a fat pack, and what that means for my chances of getting a pre-sale booster box for Gatecrash at $89 like I have been, plus my fears of the cost for packs and boxes of Modern Masters, Magic seems to be moving to a whole different level as far as price and availability goes.
I haven't been a fan of all of your decisions as a company, but never once have I written a letter or posted on a forums page about it. Never has a company pushed all of my niche buttons so well then made it so hard for me to purchase their product. I doubt I will ever stop playing magic, but my ability to buy a set amount of each product is slipping away. As a collector I am seeing a part of the market on new products pricing me out of them. And when I start to realize my chances of getting all of it is none, especially when you have had me at the end of a string for months now about this product, I start to question if I should get so emotionally involved with the collecting side. I think it was a poor business discussion to dangle the carrot for so long and then have us find out the $75 msrp would be so out of whack. It really has broken my heart. The only feeling I can compare it to is waking up Christmas morning and finding out my months of pleading did not bring a NES to the Christmas tree. I just wanted one console and one game, Zelda. But when my parents went and looked at buying me a NES for Christmas, Zelda was sold out. So they didn't buy me a NES. I would have been happy with the console and another crappy game. They thought I wanted Zelda above all else. Due to outside forces I was prevented from having something that I would have made reasonable compromises to obtain if I were an adult. But this is even worse because it's as if Nintendo had decided to only sell the NES with copies of Zelda, plus neither of these items comes close to being a trinket or bobble like the little things I want in the Commander's Arsenal. It feels like you have recreated the worst Christmas of my young life. I know it is as stupid and childish and selfish now as it was then. But lets face it, you as a company are trying to recreate that experience of the great Christmases I had growing up and that is just as childish and selfish. And you have been pretty good and recreating those.
Wizards has an outstanding record for making me feel good about going through the process of teaser, reveal, release. FTV was the start of that process going bad. Madly refreshing my browser at 9pm should be encouraged. But the more I get burned during the reveal and release phase the less I am going to do it which in turn means I will be spending less time and money on Magic. What I think would fix the situation almost entirely with me is one of two things. You could first reduce if not outright cut all teasers for products that will not be practically obtainable. In what way did it serve this product to be announced months ago at the price of 74.99? In no way did the Sylvan Library give me any indication that the Portal Three Kingdoms cards would make it's price go bonkers. Months of excitement and anticipation and luring me in like the successful fisherman you have always been and you are the one to cut the line and let me go? That just seems like bad business to me.
There are only so many times I will allow myself to feel like a fool for getting excited about one of your products. The other thing you could have done was release a premium and limited version just as the product now stands, but then have had a second product that is the rest of the set without the playable cards. Make the oversized cards non-foil, and shift the main selling point to the sleeves, the +/-counters, and the life counter. Price it around $45-55. The oversized cards should be seen as the little bit of extra. Have a slightly higher print run and still only distribute to card specialty shops. Not a lot as you won't move much, but I would buy it and I would be happy. Because it wouldn't be highly sought the limited print run wouldn't hurt as much as the product would be available. Either one of these solutions would have kept me from feeling that Wizards was the Grinch for my Christmas this year. In Christmases past I have found packs of cards in my stockings. This year there will be a big old lump of coal with it.
I'm not gonna boycott wizards or anything, but I'm pretty upset by this, I had to wait til last minute to preorder this and now I find out the store only had 5 which were pretty much sniped because people "needed" more than one. Thanks a lot Wizards, was really excited for this release, until the release turned out to be....well whatever this is.
The MSRP is fine, its the fact I didn't even have a chance because of how few my store actually got. Oh you're broke? That's the last preorder :P
The worst part is, half of the people buying this, are just buying it to resell, if the ebay sales weren't obvious enough.