Updated: May 10, 2019
Magic the Gathering has been a part of my life since I was 11. I vividly remember sitting in a desk, pulling out magic cards with my friend Thomas Bishop, who introduced me to the game, and cramming games into the last 15 minutes of the day while announcements happened through the muffled loud speakers. Joy of joys when we we got our work done early and were allowed to turn our desks around towards each other, half sides of a battlefield that was so real you could feel the flames from dragons as we nerded to the max, casting spells and playing creatures. For a catholic primary school in small town Kentucky, this was, suffice to say, not a common occurrence.
From then on, Magic was one of the most important social interactions that I had. I made friends through playing magic with other people, I went out to my local game store The Lucky Bard to play in tournaments and met new people, in my free time I looked at magic cards online and followed magic tournaments. My first real road trip “on my own” was with two friends of mine, with a friend’s mom driving us, to Chicago to play in a magic tournament called a Grand Prix with thousands of other players.
Why am I talking about magic the gathering? Well, because I just dropped 500$ on magic cards. Now, Why did I drop 500 dollars on magic cards? Because I think I’ll make money, somewhere between 1500 and 2000 dollars. When I saw that the War of the Spark Mythic Edition was coming out with the cards it was, I knew it was on. There was a flip to be had, and possibly my only reasonable chance to get myself a Jace, The Mind Sculptor. (Sidenote: this card is one of the most legendary in the game, probably only behind the Black Lotus which is wider known for its insane price tag on corner case internet articles.)
This seems crazy, but really it’s very logical. My freshman year of college, being new to New York, I wanted to find a way to make money, but was having trouble finding a job through the student center so I decided to start buying and selling magic cards. I’d already been fascinated by other types of collecting so it seemed like the right move. And I was pretty successful too. I won’t get into specifics but enough to save some and have more than enough pocket money for the occasional splurge.
Through my very sciency, technical, proprietary process of casting knuckle bones, determining how much a card will be worth, which I won’t bore you with, I figure each box to be a minimum of about 850$ in value, the asking price of the box. It could go higher, but definitely wouldn't lower since my projected is my worst case scenario. In this situation, I decided to determine the worst possible outcome, just in case the odds were stacked against me. What this does is ensure that I end up with a profit or at least a reasonable loss, in this case none at all. Now this is the bare minimum. So rather than placing a bet on a roll of the dice, I’m spinning the roulette wheel of prizes with only good results from very minor, to major.
I think I’ll make about 800$ a box. So I’d spent 500, and received about 2000 back for a net profit of about 1500$. Not bad at all. I mean, included in the box, for sure, is one card worth 400 dollars and another single card worth 300 dollars. Plus a plethora of 50-100$ cards. Part of this reason for a rush on the boxes was that Wizards of the Coast, who make Magic, and Ebay, so royally messed up that they allowed 40,000 orders on a limited run of 12,000 when they accidentally reposted the listing allowing way too many orders. Either way, I have to question whether this should even be happening in the first place.
I’m not sure, but at any other time I would have said no. The reason I say yes now is because of the rise of Magic The Gathering Arena, an online version of the in person game that is free to play and can allow players to collect and play based on skill alone. If they would like to spend money they can, but they never have to. This lets collectors and fans of Magic’s more rare side, The collection aspect of a Trading Card Game to flourish as they wish, and at the same time allows any player to have at it to their heart's content on MTG Arena.
Still, it limits the ability of your average player to have access to the best parts of the game, and that’s no good. Most people don’t have unlimited amounts of money to splurge on cardboard, and they make do with what they have, trading and bartering for cards. It seems that wizards could still create rare promos as well as reprinting cards to allow as many players as possible to enjoy the game to its fullest.
Now, this doesn't even begin to touch on the travesty of how wizards handled the situation of the release of this particular product. If you’d like to know the details you can watch this video by Tolarian Academy explaining the situation. Through this colossal mess up allowing 40,000 orders on a 12,000 available product, wizards made around 30,000 people very unhappy. Not just this, but people are going to have 100s of dollars out of their bank accounts for more than a week while they wait for Wizards and Ebay to figure out their mess.
I can’t help but feel that perhaps these decisions to move more towards profit as opposed to a good game aren't because Wizards of the Coast are owned by Hasbro Toys. The idea of a cool 3 million (12000 boxes at 250 a piece), as well as a fever of excitement was too enticing, rather than producing a wider number of boxes for more people, and at a lower cost.
Today, wizards made it as good as possible considering the situation by giving out uncut foil rare/mythic sheets of cards. These will sell for around 200 dollars, meaning that the people who weren't able to order the product will get almost the full msrp of the item they tried to order between this and the ebay 20 dollar credit. That's pretty good. Wizards doesn't have to do this. They could refund money and say that their responsibility was fulfilled, and they'd have every right to. Instead, they gave out an item that any self-respecting magic player would love. One that not only any player would love who's a fan of the game, but one that could be leveraged for almost as much money as what they were willing to pay. I think this situation shouldn't have arisen in the first place, but Wizards has done the right thing as best as they could, trying to deal with ebay and hasbro's mess.