Richard Gagnon
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In trying to brainstorm how to save the collectible game format, it seems that moving to a nonrandom format in some fashion is more palatable to a wider gaming audience. It would certainly seem a better approach for a new collectible game because there are far more dead collectible games than there are live ones. Magic has been around long enough that it might not have to play by the same rules.

I was wondering if it would make sense if WOTC were to reprint whole expansions in complete boxed formats years after a block of expansions had rotated through the tournament cycles. Most of the Magic tournament formats are based on the last block or two blocks of expansions/base sets.

This leaves a couple questions.

Would having releasing complete sets of cards, after they were rotated out of tournament play, affect how tournament players buy Magic cards?

Would the reprint sets drastically affect the secondary market?

I originally posed this in the collectible forum, but thought a wider group of Magic players would weigh in at the Magic forum. I'm particularly interested in hearing from people still active in Magic tournaments.

I only play casual Magic and none of the poeple I play with buy singles. In my small microcosm of the world, there is no affect on the secondary market by doing this. Outside of my booster box buying habits in the early Magic days, I've only been buying bulk cards in recent years to backfill the commons from over a decade of not buying Magic. I wouldn't expect other casual Magic players to spend lots of money building decks. I would think that the secondary market primarily sees heavy buying within the current tournament block cycle of Magic cards.
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Cards are always in "tournament" scene. It's not just Standard! We've got Extended, Legacy, and Vintage...

So yes, it would effect them.

Something to consider is an LCG format... depending on how successful the scene is, buying a "booster" monthly can add up just as much as playing in a Magic prerelease quarterly. For some folks, that's all the MTG they play...
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They sort of do this already. With Duel Decks, the yearly Multiplayer oversized deck, and a few other non-blind products, they put out quite a few old cards, actually newly printed in a non-blind format. Personally, I don't think there's a huge market for all the garbage Limited filler cards that make up a set for it to be worth them printing complete set boxes.
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rgagnon wrote:
I was wondering if it would make sense if WOTC were to reprint whole expansions in complete boxed formats years after a block of expansions had rotated through the tournament cycles.


The core business model of WOTC is selling booster packs. Recently, they've started branching out into selling other forms, like decks ready to play against one another. Or legacy sets of famous cards.

... Wait. Why would you think WOTC would want to do anything to "save the collectible format"? They're doing great with Magic. It's not in their interest to have any other CCG, theirs or others, on the market. Nor is it in their interest to split their dollars between new releases for Magic and old or alternative releases.

Quote:
Would having releasing complete sets of cards, after they were rotated out of tournament play, affect how tournament players buy Magic cards?


Yes. A lot. It messes with secondary market values and skews the tournament format participation away from buying the most current things and into Legacy or Vintage, where the company most certainly does not want the game to go.

Quote:
Would the reprint sets drastically affect the secondary market?


They would do a lot of damage to it. It would be my opinion that WOTC has an unspoken understanding with those that sell on the secondary market and would be loathe to do anything that would disrupt it.

Quote:
I only play casual Magic and none of the poeple I play with buy singles.


WOTC doesn't care if you exist or if you are interested in buying the game. Much like Games Workshop doesn't care about the player base of people who aren't tweens. You represent an insignificant part of the money spent on the game...

For that matter, the same applies to me and I still participate in tournaments, buy singles, play in events at the LCG or major conventions and buy boosters for every new set that comes out.
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I would not say that WOTC doesn't care about casual players. That's why sets like Duel Decks and Intro Packs exist. Also formats like Planechase and Archenemy were twists on casual formats Chaos and Emperor, and Commander will be their version of EDH. In truth a ton of casual players buy boxes. Hell, I used to buy 2 of each set and I only got out to events 2-3 times a year.

The thing that competitive players do is buy singles, which supports shops. Shops run tournaments and give players a space to play. These spaces allow WOTC to sell more things to casual players... because the "Spikes" don't want the duel decks, intro packs, planechase...
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I'd largely agree with cosine here that it would screw with the secondary market and with the people most involved in that being the people who run events and the like I can't see Wizards altering their distribution that majorly.

Also why do you think the collectible format needs saving, from the limited information we have Magic post Ravnica has been going through one of it's most successful phases ever. Also it's not just Magic, I can't find the thread currently but one of the lead designers for L5R said here a couple of months ago that they were also going through a very successful patch so the evidence seems to suggest that if you're an established game the collectible format is working just fine.
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Doesn't WOTC focus on the new blocks? I know tournaments have legacy formats, but would expect WOTC sanctioned ones to lean towards the current blocks. Other than helping to push new product, new blocks are designed to have a lot of synergy within the block format. Letting all cards be played with the cards in the new set will disrupt the gaming focus on the new block.

WOTC does care about casual play. The company recognizes that appealing only to tournament play will eventually choke the game. New tournament players come from casual play.
http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/

WOTC has reprinted cards and still does in their duel and other preconstructed decks as well as the base sets. It has been a long time since they did a large reprint as they did with Chronicles. I found an interview with Richard Garfield a while back where he specifically said that Chronicles was released as a reaction to the upward spiraling prices of cards in the secondary market. Of course, back then, there were fewer Magic expansions, so high prices were blocking people from getting those cards. Magic has so many different formats today that it's not hard getting a variety of cards.
http://www.casualplayers.org/article/get.php?action=getartic

cosine wrote:
Quote:
Would having releasing complete sets of cards, after they were rotated out of tournament play, affect how tournament players buy Magic cards?

Yes. A lot. It messes with secondary market values and skews the tournament format participation away from buying the most current things and into Legacy or Vintage, where the company most certainly does not want the game to go.

If current tournament play concentrates on new blocks of cards, I'm not sure if reprints would affect that form of Magic. Every time WOTC releases a new block of cards, they build it around a set of card interactions that define a flavor of play for that block. The fun, for tournament players is figuring out what the new block does and building decks with that block that often does things that the game designers/playtesters hadn't considered.

Society (at least in America) seems focused more and more on the latest greatest thing. It was unheard of, three decades ago, for people to be camping out overnight to be the first to see a new movie or buy the latest toy or gadget. Now, it's becoming commonplace. With hundreds of TV channels to choice from, there are only a handful devoted to nostalgic older shows/movies. I even know one person who has zero interest in seeing a movie after it's been out on DVD/BluRay for over a week--it's not new anymore to him.

That's why I tend to think reprints, after the tournaments have moved on to new blocks, won't have too great an impact on the Magic scene. Tournament players will be concentrating on how to use the new blocks of cards. The secondary market is buying boxes of boosters for new expansions so that they'll be able to sell primarily to the tournament crowd. The bulk of their sales are focused around the new block of cards that tournament players need for the current block events. It would be hard to imagine that serious tournament players would ignore the new blocks and not compete in those tournaments just because they could wait a few years to get the cards cheaper. As is, the best players are getting prizes that offset the cost of buying cards. The hardcore players are going to be following and competing in the most current block of cards.

I tried looking at prices of planeswalkers to get an idea whether reprints have affected their prices much and it's hard to tell. Garruk Wildspeaker sells for $8 for an original Lorwyn card and has been reprinted in Magic 2010, 2011, the Garruk Vs. Liliana Duel Decks, and as a videogame promo card. Sarkhan Vol hasn't be reprinted and sells for $10. Ajani Vengeant sells for $6 and hasn't been reprinted (other than a promo card). Then, there's cards such as Jace the Mind Sculptor, not reprinted, selling for $90 (CSI's buying price is $74, with the next highest paying price is $8 for Worldwake cards). Price, not surprisingly seems to have more to do with usefulness than anything else.

I'll have to defer to somebody that's followed the singles market to say whether or not they've seen a card drop in value because it was reprinted (the reprint will obviously be worth less than the original). I would expect that singles prices will drop after the tournament block has finished its cycle and tournament players are selling the old block off to help pay for the new one. That would put the secondary market in a position where the older block cards are becoming more available as demand drops for them and that would cause a price drop.

stagger lee wrote:
"Spikes" don't want the duel decks, intro packs, planechase...

Do you think "Spikes" would buy 2-4 year old reprinted sets?
 
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stagger lee wrote:
In truth a ton of casual players buy boxes. Hell, I used to buy 2 of each set and I only got out to events 2-3 times a year.


I think your definition of 'casual' does not match most. To me, by definition, a player who spends hundreds of dollars per expansion is not a casual player (like saying someone is a recreational drinker because he only drinks himself drunk three nights a week, real alcoholics do at least 5!). Nor is someone who makes it to 2 or 3 events a year. Sure, they're not Pro Tour calibre competitive, but for me 'casual' might spend ten to twenty dollars per expansion and rarely play outside their social circle.
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rgagnon wrote:
Do you think "Spikes" would buy 2-4 year old reprinted sets?


Spike plays tournaments. Any tournament that comes up. Standard. Or Vintage. Spike plays tournament decks at the kitchen table against his friends, which are also Spikes. Spike mocks Johnny and Timmy - if Johnny wins a game, it was at best because Spike cannot counter every possible crazy gambit and if Timmy wins it was just luck... usually bad luck for Spike and good luck for Timmy. Except Spike never really wants to play against Johnny or Timmy if at all possible.

Spike would therefore not buy reprinted sets ever. Spike buys singles. At the tournament. Unsleeving his playtest proxies before deck checking and putting in the singles then... and selling them back to the guys as he leaves the tournament. Along with the cards that he won that have any value. Cards without value? Spike throws them in the recycle bin.
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I think it's very possible that the shop in your neighborhood is only concerned with T2 and Limited, but quite honestly, Legacy and Extended see a ton of play when two things happen:

a - The Standard environment is bad
b - The pro tour calandar is Extended or Legacy.

We have a very large Magic community in the Twin Cities. Standard is NOT the most popular format here (right now anyway).

As for definition of casual... I know plenty of casual players who own thousands of dollars in cards. They never play events and don't care what anyone plays outside of their circle of friends. EDH players as well, by and large, are considered casual (though that may change), and they invest heavily in promos, foils, and old singles. It really depends on where you play, what town you're in, and who you play with. Perception is reality, and if you're playing in a town where there is only T2 tournaments and casual players are guys who buy one fat pack of each set and are happy, then that's your reality of the subject.
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If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
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markgravitygood wrote:
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


Yet WotC keeps trying to fix it...
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rgagnon wrote:
Society (at least in America) seems focused more and more on the latest greatest thing. It was unheard of, three decades ago, for people to be camping out overnight to be the first to see a new movie or buy the latest toy or gadget. Now, it's becoming commonplace. With hundreds of TV channels to choice from, there are only a handful devoted to nostalgic older shows/movies. I even know one person who has zero interest in seeing a movie after it's been out on DVD/BluRay for over a week--it's not new anymore to him.



How old are these people? The younger you are, this type of thinking is very much intact. When I was fresh out of college and just landed a job, I was very much into the "consume" mentality. Movies, games, video games, DVDs, toys, you name it... But the older you get, the less important "stuff" becomes, esp when you start a family and move deeper into a career. Suddenly the idea of going out to the movies is a 2-3 times a year experience, and you're just as excited to see Back To The Future get released on Blu Ray as you are Transformers 2. Chances are, the first time you saw Transformers 2 was when you bought the Blu Ray, AND you waited a month to buy it because it's cheaper then!
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markgravitygood wrote:
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


Well, I totally get where this is coming from. Because I'd love to be able to get all the old cards I'd like cheaply and easily. I play a lot of EDH. I'd love to have some service help me out with getting what I want quickly and easily, big lots of complete materials from old expansions would be ideal.

But I recognize there's no way WOTC would do this for me. It would destroy big portions of the secondary market, which they must have a tacit approval of and alliance with... as others have noted, it supports the game by giving those reponsible for promoting it options for selling.

If older cards were readily available, it would threaten the latest releases - bad for WOTC - and it would destabilize the tournament scene - people would play Vintage or Legacy instead of more focus on Standard, which keeps cards being sold.

It's not all some conspiracy to lighten your wallet you know. It's just good business. I was there when there was no Type I, Type II, Standard, or whatever. I played tournaments when there was only one format and a Banned list 5 pages long. What we have now is much preferable - likely the game would have failed without it.

Sure, I'd love cheap older cards. But I understand I'm not gonna get em.
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LordHellfury wrote:
It's often quite lonely being a Johnny in M:tG.


Find other Johnnies. Johnny loves to hang out with someone who can appreciate a clever combo and subtle trick - another Johnny!
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LordHellfury wrote:

It's often quite lonely being a Johnny in M:tG.


You're not playing with the right people then. About half the 20 or so people I play casual Magic with on a regular-like basis are Johnnies
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LordHellfury wrote:
Just know what I see at the local shops.


It's been my experience that's not a good place to find them. Most of the Johnnies I know don't play in any of the local shops.
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LordHellfury wrote:
Well, of course finding like minded people is key. Its just that it seems lie everyone wants to be Spike, or aspires to be spike.


Johnny, Spike, and Timmy all play to win. All build the best deck they can to try to win the game against all players.

Spike's way of winning is the Scissors - he'll cut right to the point. No tricks, no flash, just straight for the throat. Spike can play control or mid range or aggro or a hybrid, but he's not going to do it in any way but straight. Hard counters in his control. Wrath in his mid range. Goblins in his aggro. He'll try to figure out the metagame to cut across it with the most effective thing in the field - he'll play the other players and the scene. Spike is outward looking, validated by results against other players.

Johnny's way of winning is the Paper - subtle and flexible and clever. The reed bends before the storm. Johnny is inward looking and will focus on building the most refined, tight, effective version of his engine of destruction that he can manage - as long as it showcases the gimmick, the trick. Johnny doesn't waste time or goof off or play badly; that won't let you show off the dominance of your special gambit. Johnny plays all forms too, but with something in mind, usually a combo - those counterspells aren't control, their just a good tool for surviving until the combo. That Wrath is to get you to the combo. These goblins are just the pressure to knock them on their heels for the combo.

Timmy's way of winning is the Rock - good, solid, bone crunching, face smashing rock! ROCK ROCKS! says Timmy. But he's going to pick a really effective, heavy, pointy, obnoxiously effective rock. Timmy isn't going to wield some chump rock that crumbles at the first sign of a problem. Timmy will counter spells that might stop his lovely rock from crushing face. Timmy will Wrath your weenies so his crushing boulder smashes your face. Timmy will harass you with golins while waiting for the rock to appear and land on your head!

I think when I play, I often see all these people reflected in the faces of those around me, even my own when I look in the mirror... but to bring it home a bit, none of these people really want reprints. Spike doesn't care about cards he won't be using unless they're for his next tournament - no sale to Spike. Johnny has already seen those combos and played those cards - old news not worth the cash to Johnny. And Timmy just saw the spoiler for the 8/8 trample, vigilance, deathtouch Angel in the new set! Gotta have 4 of those! Point him to the singles table!

Magic's established mindset is all about new things. Even Vintage formats are forever fascinated with the latest releases, wondering how it will affect their giant play space.

Everyone likes new things. You want old things? You are refered to those selling singles, probably in the discount bin. You're one of those EDH weirdos aren't you?
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markgravitygood wrote:
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


Magic's not entirely broken, but it's not selling in as many places as it was in the early days. Barnes & Noble used to carry Magic, but doesn't anymore. Mom & Pop variety stores used to have Magic by the cash register, but they're not now. Even though Borders carries games, I haven't found one that carries Magic. This basically means that the game doesn't have the level of exposure that it had when it first came out. I still see it at Target, ToysRUs, and WalMart, so it still is available to people that don't typically go to game stores.

From what people are saying, the game is still going strong. I'm surprised to hear that the legacy formats are more popular than the ones focusing on the latest blocks. If that's the case, then reprints will have more an affect on the marketplace.

There's always a danger for any collectible game when speculation starts to become more important than the game. A few Monsterpocalypse players are annoyed that the game is moving to a nonblind format because they spent a lot of money to get some rare figures that will now come packaged with new releases.

I remember wild comic book speculation in the 80's when comics were being hoarded to drive the prices up such that an issue would be commanding $10-$20 prices a month after they were released. I particularly recall Web of Spider-Man #1 going for over $50 two decades ago. For chuckles, I looked up the price at Mile High Comics recently (not a place to find discounts) and it's selling for $15 mint. I can only guess that all the hoarders eventually had to sell their stashes and a lot of those comics flooded the supply at a greater rate than the demand.
 
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cosine wrote:
none of these people really want reprints.

Everyone likes new things. You want old things? You are refered to those selling singles, probably in the discount bin. You're one of those EDH weirdos aren't you?

Who would want the reprints then? If it's not the tournament crowd, it would then be the casual players--and they're mostly not buying from the singles market.

All I've bought, since getting back into Magic, is bulk commons/uncommons, the occasional duel deck, and a few heavily discounted preconstructed decks. I had to look up EDH was to find that it's a Magic variant. I haven't played it, but it looks like it could be fun.
 
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rgagnon wrote:
markgravitygood wrote:
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


Magic's not entirely broken, but it's not selling in as many places as it was in the early days. Barnes & Noble used to carry Magic, but doesn't anymore. Mom & Pop variety stores used to have Magic by the cash register, but they're not now. Even though Borders carries games, I haven't found one that carries Magic. This basically means that the game doesn't have the level of exposure that it had when it first came out. I still see it at Target, ToysRUs, and WalMart, so it still is available to people that don't typically go to game stores.


For what its worth, they sell it at Barnes & Noble around here. I'm more surprised by the number of places I find it for sale than the places that don't carry it personally.
 
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rgagnon wrote:
cosine wrote:
none of these people really want reprints.

Everyone likes new things. You want old things? You are refered to those selling singles, probably in the discount bin. You're one of those EDH weirdos aren't you?

Who would want the reprints then? If it's not the tournament crowd, it would then be the casual players--and they're mostly not buying from the singles market.


Again, depends on the player. I bought 3 single cards from Mirrodin Beseiged. All for EDH. I consider myself casual, though I consider myself well versed on the tournament scene. I'm just too busy to be more active in it.
 
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IMHO:

They put out new sets to SELL CARDS and to give the environment (FNM, Pro Tour, etc.) a new 'season' if you will. The challenge is to build competitive decks with the new rotations, from a players' perspective. They do not give a rat's a$$ about you as a player who is not interested in the 'new' stuff, because that is where they make their money from, and being a business, that is where the buck stops.

It's really that simple, if you ask me. If they were to rotate in older stuff (in the process, devaluing 'collector' cards) - poof! There goes an entire business segment - the collectors who purchase wads of new stuff to hoard and sell.

That's how I see it. Of course, I am strictly a casual player at best.

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markgravitygood wrote:
They do not give a rat's a$$ about you as a player who is not interested in the 'new' stuff, because that is where they make their money from, and being a business, that is where the buck stops.

Of course, if they had a reprint policy years after the current block rotation of expansions, then they'd get more money from me and other players. WOTC isn't making money from players like me that aren't buying much sealed product. A lot of gamers have given up on the speculative CCG model, not because they don't like the games, but because they don't like the cost and forced rarities.

WOTC doesn't directly get money from players that don't buy sealed product. Indirectly, players buying from the secondary market are keeping that market buying sealed product to fuel their singles sales.

I've seen posts saying that tournament players are the ones buying most Magic product between purchasing boxes of boosters and singles. If their focus were on the current blocks of expansions, then reprints wouldn't overly harm the secondary market (outside of Legacy tournament play). Some of the posters in this thread are saying that the game is all about the new product while others are saying that Legacy is alive and well where they are.

It's one of those tough calls for WOTC. If we could ignore the secondary market, and only look at gameplay, I think it would be safe to say that most Magic players, that are in it for the game (not the speculation) would buy reprint sets. That directly gives WOTC more money.

On the secondary market side, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most of their money is made selling the latest expansions. New expansions have cards that nobody has, so it's no leap of logic that those sales will be faster than for Magic blocks that have been sitting in the store bins for years. At some point, veteran players have bought most of the old cards that they intend to play regardless of whether they're playing standard or legacy. Some new card may have an interesting combination effect with an old card to get them to buy an older one that they didn't have. Legacy players can relate whether their buying experiences are much different than that.

If a store has a hundred copies of a 15 year-old card, there's no reason to believe that they'll be selling them out any time soon. A hundred copies of a new card, that nobody has, is much more likely to be a hot seller. Having the set, that old card was in, reprinted certainly won't help the sales of that card, but it wasn't as if it was in high demand to begin with.

Newer players will mostly buy the newer blocks because they don't have legacy cards. I'd tend to think that most new players won't play many Legacy tournaments because they don't have the backlog of cards that older Magic players have. It's easier for them to be competitive in Standard.

If these statements are true, and I'll caveat that I don't have any sales figures to back them up, then reprints may not have a huge affect on the sales of older cards. It then becomes a question of whether new sales of reprint sets (which, for a 250 card expansion, could be $60 or more retail) can roughly offset the possible drop in sales and prices for smaller orders they get on older cards. For the secondary market, it may be better to sell the reprint sets than to hope that there will be a sudden demand in their backlog of older cards.

Maybe WOTC should try a complete set reprint of one expansion just to see what happens. With a hundred expansions to choose from, reprinting one wouldn't cause the whole market to explode.
 
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I don't think it's that they don't give a rat's ass about old players, it's that it's really freaking expensive to keep something in print that doesn't need to be in print. They do an initial run, and in rare cases they'll do 2-3 more, then it's gone. I can't even imagine what the workload would be like to reprint an old set even once or twice a year... I guess that's kind of what Core Sets are about... yeah there is new cards, but enough of the old that gets reprinted to matter. Heck, look at the most recent core sets... old stuff doesn't mean it'll be as important. Nantuko Shade? Ball Lightning? It actually made the worth of those cards tank because they got reprinted. Even look at Baneslayer Angel... it's a ten dollar card now!
 
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