A Magical Huffalump Resides Here: Magic: The Lottery

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 =)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Magic: The Lottery

I hate that this is the first post in December about magic :P

But unfortunately it was the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about writing somethng about Magic and then this came in.

Its not even well thought out.... I think it got something to do with people visiting my old post about quitting Standard.

Well I am still here. Even with all the BFZ bs :)

Well I think it was specifically the BFZ bs that got this post going :P

Back in that old post it was a combination of I think MM and Conspiracy that got me quite annoyed. I boycotted the shop (whether or not they were guilty) for a year (my boycott ended October this year). So I am still patronising the store but they have lost my business in terms of the case that I would normally buy for each set.

Its really no big loss for them since I think after Oath of the Gatewatch I will seriously drop to 1 case per set.

In the past, with 1 case I can guarantee all rares and with 2 case i can get most mythics, while buying singles for the rest.

This has allowed me to keep up the illusion of collecting everything in the set. With recent dip in quality due to NWO (New World Order bs by WOTC), I dunno I feel like i am buying extremely expensive toilet paper.

This is now not a matter of the retailer exploiting the player base. This is now the producers of the game doing some very blatant milking. To the point that buying Magic is now like buying the lotto.

Now Magic has always been a little like gambling or lotto. In the local context it is called "Tikam" where a surprise is kept in a little bag, but you cannot see the toy inside. Magic is just glorified version of "Tikam".

In the past the value of a card is circumstantial, it is derived from its play value. So in that sense the randomisation of the card in a booster is really just to do that: randomise. This is to facilitate limited. At least that is the official stance (the real stance is really to spread butter thin the card/design equity so that WOTC can milk us for longer). Now however with BFZ and OGW sets, there are foil mythic rarity inserts of the fetches and some older desirable cards. Which have KNOWN value. i.e. they are explicitly egging players to buy to get the chase cards.

I feel like that this has crossed the line and turned opening boosters into a lottery.


The truth is when you watch player "whacking" a box. it is really like a gambling run. Usually the player will open booster after booster. This happens with all sets. However the thing is, it is the player's fault for chasing the desired single. And in most cases the effect is not really that bad as the chance of getting the desired card is usually not that bad. The player likely does not get financially ruined. Also in most cases, he should be able to sell some or most of the rare/mythics that were opened.

The game change now is that:
1) The rarity of desired cards has gone up.

2) The quality of the cards have gone DOWN.

This is a double whammy. Players who do not draft but "whack" packs will now need to open many many more packs to get the expedition foils in BFZ and OGW. Sure this is the player's fault, we do not NEED the expedition foils to be competitive. but lets face it, it is becoming a lottery. And fetches are staples. It needs to be distributed better.

The 2nd whammy? In the past an entrenched player locked into getting that elusive specific card (I am trying to avoid the word addicted.. but oops i said it...) would open many packs and still be able to sell of the unwanted cards. In BFZ the card quality is so bad it is even shunned in current Standard. In other words, it is what i call the "toliet paper" effect. The player has just bought very expensive toilet paper! So it can be a very big loss if the player opened alot but does not get the better expedition foils.

Is any of this WOTC's fault?

I am inclined to say no. For the same reason that there are the Singapore Pools and so on, such activities are just part of life.

The onus is on players to practice due diligence in curbing their ... ahem  urges to "whack" packs like a demented wombat. WOTC is just a business selling packs. As a player I hate limited and I can see clearly that the current marketing scheme is just to spread card equity extremely thinly while at the same time creating demand. I.E. Limited is just the scapegoat. You can have limited with high card equity (and by this I don't necessarily mean monetory value, but that usually follows functional play value, in fact if the functional play value of everything is high, price is actually not an issue, but thats another story).

As players, my advice:

Let your dollar speak for itself. I have not really joined any limited events, I am seriously considering not going for prereleases as it is essentially a limited event, (however prereleases are special to me so that might be the only exception I make... if I do).

As for my normal buying I will still likely stay with the same volume for OGW but likely dropping to 1 case or less for future sets. I guess I might be seriously just joining the singles crowd lol  But I have come to realise I cannot afford expedition chase (at least through opening boosters) it is a fools errand for the budget conscious. I get some reactions as to why I am even buying if thats the way I feel. I actually give WOTC a lot of credit, I rarely think a set is pure toilet paper BUT BFZ comes really really close. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and still purchase, but that will change if subsequent  sets really follow NWO to a tee and we have worse and worse dumbed/watered down cards. The litmus test is this: Can this card be even fringe playable in Modern? If it cannot, then it is toilet paper. Its sole existence is as limited crud that is really bad for the environment.

Aside from the normal "bulk" purchase, I don't think I am inclined to "whack" packs. At least I will actively try to avoid it :)

I hope anyways lol.

Oh oh why am I here, if I was so annoyed by the exploitative retailers?

Khans of Tarkir boys and girls, Khans of Tarkir.

That is how magic should be done.


Unfortunately they reverted pretty quickly with FRF then Dragons of Tarkir. Origins was still creative but then the shit hit the roof with Expeditions and BFZ. It was shameful.

But thats another story. I want to talk about why I think KTK (Khans of Tarkir) was everything right about Magic. (technically FRF and DTK were still oki, I was being a little harsh). But that will be for another post.

I think I will end my rant now. :)

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