A Magical Huffalump Resides Here: Updates on my Thoughts about Modern Masters

A Magical Huffalump Resides Here

My name is Ed, I am a programmer. Just another dude with another blog. I like MTG, Open Source (more towards FREE software). I like sports, and eventually I hope to do business and do good for the world in general. This blog is gonna be about Magic The Gathering. Decklists and snippets will be posted here. It may lead somewhere or nowhere, as with all things arcane, that was bloody obvious =)

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Updates on my Thoughts about Modern Masters


I still think it sucks =)

But here's the kicker.

It was everything I expected it to be.

Its not jammed packed with crazy value cards. It looks balanced and fun. A lot of older cards are seeing print and while I am a spike and love me some lotuses (the black variety), I am still happy with the power level. Its not the second coming of ABU.

But neither is it the second coming of Chronicles.

I don't think Wizards learnt from Chronicles AT ALL.

Thing is this. Their supposed lesson learnt was that prices tanked after Chronicles was printed.

But there was nothing strong in Chronicles. What tanked? The Elder Dragons thats what. I think you will be hard put to say those were stellar. The art by most people today would be atrocious (However I must add the caveat that I find TODAY's art ATROCIOUS. Today's art is a CGI fest, the skill is less in the eye and the hand, but how well you can manipulate software. Sure that takes skill, but where is the TEXTURE, FLAVOUR, and the simple love strokes that an artist confers to a piece, be it a blotch, a mistake, a revelation, an improvision! All LOST.  .... but it does'nt change the fact that the masses seem to love CGI, so whatever. I actually do like the Elder Dragons art by the way. An aside to this aside: thats where the E and D in EDH comes from, Elder Dragon Highlander - Highlander being a pun on the show Highlander that is: there can only be one - referring to the singleton cards).

Now back to the point. The Elder Dragons were not powerful and the rest of the cards kinda sucked. Given the progression of newer and stronger cards, it was inevitable that it tanked. Further, imagine this: Elder dragons were loved by Timmies mostly. You MASS produce it. Please use blain now...... think think think? You are including Spikes and Johnnies and their pet goldfishes. WHY would'nt the price tank?

Seriously they should just fire the marketing fellows.

Modern Masters is really a "best off" set. Constrainted by gameplay balance. Sure reprints hurt, but Bop had to under go so many reprints (all the way from sixth ed I believe) to get from 10 dollars ++ to 3-5 dollars. You are talking about shitloads of reprinting. Not a slow roll release where (hello!) you can alternate cards to reprint. Release it at higher prices by all mean. PLEASE. Profit! (not too much) but dun do limited printings.

Limited print runs DO NOT help Modern as a format.

As it is Modern Masters is a success (well going by whatever was spoiled so far) in terms of balance and interesting cards. It could definitely be mass printed and sold as a summer product or whatever.

It is also a SUCCESS as a vehicle for retailers to price gouge! As a REWARD THE RETAILER scheme, it is a RESOUNDING SUCCESS!!! So wonderful right?

What it is NOT A SUCCESS in?

It is an UTTER FAILURE in terms of promoting Modern Masters. It FAILED in creating more available cards in pool (seriously the richer ones or those with connections will just hoard and hide, price will not change, available cards will not change by much, it is the nature of limited prints). It FAILED in promoting the IMAGE of Modern.

Seriously, do you think the average player likes legacy because it is easily accessible and rather pricey?
No it was the DIVERSITY of LEGACY.

Modern promised DIVERSITY and I think there was a side promise that it would be AFFORDABLE. Modern Masters has FAILED in both promises!

Why you ask? I mean sure the limited print has more or less screwed the price to hell, so to hell with affordability. But you did say that it was nice and balance right.

Yes I did!! I did say that it was nice and balanced. But WHO WILL SEE IT? Who would get to play it? What the average player will see, are average cards, charged at premiums that they will never pay for, hence it just looks like I am paying shitloads of dollars for average suboptimal cards. (Seriously I think Dark Confidant is overly hyped, he was average in the time he was printed, he is still average. There is still the rest of the deck you realised? Dark Confidant is good, but not necessary for Modern. Ditto for dear Tarmo who is going to be outclassed sooner or later with all this creature power creep)

In a nutshell the only message the average player will see is:
Modern is expensive.
Not just in cash, but I have to pay gollops for average cards, so its not even value for money.

What they will not see:
Modern is actually affordable and accessible
Modern Masters is fun and balance
All this will be lost.

It does not matter that you force PTQs to be modern format. You are just hoping PTQs will survive the damge wrought by Modern.

Thats is not to say Modern is hopeless. It is definitely an eternal format worth getting into. But Modern Masters is not helping. In fact I think Modern Masters just bitch slapped Modern a few times in the face, solar plexus and all over. Death by a thousand lashes whatever.

How to help Modern.

Print competitive cards in Standard.

It used to be that Wizards will throw Vintage,Legacy and even Extended a bone. but Modern needs more than a bone. It needs to be the bridge between past and present. So there must be SOME staples that render at least a cheaper competitive deck. Ala Extended or Type 1.5 from the past.

And its not really so hard to imagine Standard decks doing well in an older format. Faeries and Affinity continued to terrorise opponents long after they rotated from standard. I am not sure if they are doing that with Standard. They are so frighten of breaking the game that is almost amusing. They take away Land Destruction, Counterspells and Strong discard. They screw Combo to hell and back. I seriously don't know what defenses a new player in Standard has against Eternal formats.

And as players move from Standard to Modern. Seriously. THINK.OUT.OF.THE.BOX. You don't need to blindly copy the older tested deck list with the artificially inflated prices of the so called older cards. Find substitutes, play a different angle. (And understand that you may not have the optimal card in a particular deck, but seriously, its not the end of the world, you can still give the game a good fight.)

Another point is continuity. By the same token that it is ridiculous to have such high prices for the current older cards, it is also ridiculous to expect the older cards to be dirt cheap due to scarcity. Reprints will over time devalue a card (actually the reverse might be true if reprints help to maintain critical mass and interest - but thats another discussion), and ultimately reprints only solve the problem for the current batch of new players, the next batch will just clamour for reprints AGAIN. Hence my suggestion that the best way is to pave the way not through reprints, but to print COMPETITIVE cards in Standard that can have a good fight in Modern. Stop sandboxing the kiddies, they need to learn to run. They left Yu Gi Ho and Pokemon in good faith. Show them Magic ;)

Disclaimer: I have most older cards. Too many I don't know what to do with them. I am mostly a hoarder. So no I am not arguing for my sake. I just hate to see the game suffer for no good reason. I like Modern Masters as a product. It is not mind blowingly powerful, THAT is a GOOD thing for game balance. The price and distribution however is more likely to bite Magic and Wizards than help. I can build any modern deck. I can almost claim that for Legacy and am working towards Vintage. So no, card stock is not MY beef with Modern. And I do spend alot too much on Magic. For RTR block it was 2 cases per set plus random pack whacks of slightly less than a box a month. I am not showing off. I am not proud of spending that kind of money on cardboard. But I am trying to drive home the point that I am not arguing against Modern Masters because I cannot afford it. I can. But I don't want to support it (and unfortunately by extension Modern.. which is a shame). That all said I will get one box. Because I am a sucker for new sets and art. But I will stick with just one box  (and that is saying alot for me). Even if all my Mythics are Kamigawa Dragons I will stick to one box. There I just jinxed myself to get a point across.


Just an extremely quick update, Modern does not have value unless you got it BELOW 250 USD

Else you are just gambling. and its lossy gambling too.

Also note that with GP Las Vegas coming up there will be a deluge of cards coming in. Will that dent the value? You bet. The question is how much (what is the actual median value) and what is the effect of fear (people dumping) and speculation (people gambling). The previous two effects, fear and speculation will artificially drop or raise the value. Why is this important? I always tell my friends that it does not that take a bad card to have a low price in Standard (or any other format for that matter). The actual power or play value of the card will allow the card to have an intrinsic value. However fear or speculation will drive the card price down or up and the kicker is this:  This price is sticky. Some call it price memory, whatever.

Essentially if it got driven up, it tends to stay up (as long as the people sending it up keep doing so) and if it got driven down it stays down (until someone finds a use for it ---- but lets be realistic here it WILL have to have a place EVERYWHERE for its price to go significantly higher. If a card driven down is actually a good card in a few decks it will likely be a respectable few dollars. Thats is the actual value of an average good card really. It is the hype (and laziness of players in deck building - hence allowing dominance) that drives the insane prices whenever a deck dominates a meta)

If M14 had thoughtseize, prepare to see MM prices collapse (well not really, but with enough fear, it CAN happen).

By the way, it is actually bad practice to buy single packs, especially when  the packs are so expensive. You are better off saving the money and getting a SEALED box. Unless you are so sure your LGS (local gaming store) is very honest.

There are a few ways to cheat:

1) Box mapping
2) Plain statistic. How this is done is once the desirable mythic is taken, the remaining packs are sold. In MM's case it is quite constant, about 3 mythics. Hence a way shops can cheat is to rip through the packs until Goyf or 3 mythics are hit. Then its time to stop. (I am assuming the rares are not as disirable - but lets be serious, if you paid 300++ SGD for Singapore, the rares will allow break even at best and losses usually - *HELLO AURIOK SALVAGER!!!*)

So thats my quick-but-got-ranty update =)

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