Wizards, Do Away with the Reprint Policy
By Ron Vitale on April 7th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
By Ron Vitale
Why does Wizards continue to adhere to their Reprint Policy? For the uninitiated, Wizards explains that this policy was created:
“To maintain your confidence in the Magic game as collectible…. It explains why we reprint cards and lists which cards from past Magic sets will never be reprinted.”
However, back in July 2002, Wizards decided to revise their reprint policy, allowing for the reprint of some of the cards. For a full explanation of the changes, read this article.
Randy Buehler explained the new changes to the policy as:
• “Rares from the Tempest, Stronghold, Exodus, Urza’s Saga, Urza’s Legacy, and Urza’s Destiny sets were added to the reserved list in accordance with our previous promises. Note that not every rare from those sets which hasn’t been reprinted was added to the list. In other words, Wizards is reserving the right to reprint certain rares from these sets.
• Several out-of-date examples were deleted, and several sections were rewritten for clarity.
• The border-color policy section was removed because it was obsolete.
• Commons and uncommons from Limited Edition (Alpha and Beta) were removed from the reserved list due to overwhelming public support for this change.
• The exceptions to this policy for non-English cards were removed. There are no longer different rules for English and non-English cards.
• The rules for figuring out what goes on the reserved list were removed. Wizards is not going to add any cards from Mercadian Masques forward to the list.
• Rares from Ice Age were added to the reserved list. This should have happened years ago, but was overlooked. That oversight has now been corrected.”
Let’s take a look at bullet point number four. I find it extremely interesting that “overwhelming public support” caused Wizards to change their policy concerning the reprint of commons and uncommons from Limited Edition. Is there hope that one day some of the power nine will be reprinted? Unless players write to Wizards asking for a change, I don’t see this policy changing.
Giving New Players a Chance
I have been playing Magic for over 11 years and I am lucky enough to own two of the Power Nine. I am also lucky enough to own some of the other cards that will never be reprinted again. Back when I started playing (during Unlimited) I was able to purchase booster packs for $2.45. And I fondly recall the days in which you’d see players holding a pack in their hands, pressing the wrapper against the back of the cards and they’d be able to see through the wrapper to read what rare was in the pack (I remember players doing this for The Dark). Ah, the good old days. I used to own three moxes and sold them many, many years ago ($60 for a card wasn’t half bad, considering I paid $2.45 for a pack).
Newer players of today cannot fully participate in Vintage and Legacy tournaments unless they spend hundreds to thousands of dollars to buy cards for those decks. Of course someone can play a Fish deck and not have to buy the most expensive cards, but isn’t Magic a game that’s supposed to be fun? Why should the secondary market dictate what cards should be available or not? Shouldn’t new players be able to play with the old cards without having to sell a used car to obtain the Power Nine?
I believe a balance is readily available between keeping collectors happy and players. Historically, many pop culture items are reprinted in a different form. It’s a great way for customers to spend more money on a product, but it’s also a means through which they can obtain a legal version of an item.
Comic books have been reprinted, action figures, special versions of DVDs are available, why not reprint the cards as non-tournament legal to make them available to consumers?
Many Vintage tournaments allow for proxy cards to be used as a means of allowing players who don’t own the money cards to participate. Why not print a set similar to the “International Collectors Edition” set that was released back in the mid ‘90s? Those cards are not tournament legal; however, players still flock to Ebay to purchase them.
I believe that all the players in the world who have started buying Magic cards within the last several years should not be kept in the dark. Why should a new player’s only recourse is to buy a card for hundreds of dollars? Non-tournament legal reprints would help bring the fun back into the game.
I have two solutions that would fix the reprint problem:
1. Wizards releases textless cards for the cards on the reserve list as premium cards. And I’m not talking about crap reprints. For example, anyone entering a Pro Tour Qualifer tournament, would get a textless card of a mox. This would allow for new (and highly collectible) cards to be entered into the mix. The textless cards would contain new art and be tournament legal. Although it would not solve the problem for any player to easily obtain the card, this solution would be a step in the right direction.
2. Collectors Edition: Wizards releases a boxed set of cards that contain non-tournament legal versions of the cards found on the reprint policy. I would suggest that Wizards create several different versions of the boxed sets over the course of a year or two. Box one could contain 3 of the Power Nine, box set 2 would contain the next 3, and the third and final box would contain the remaining three (ending with the Black Lotus). The rest of the cards in the boxed set would be the more popular cards on the no reprint list, organized by set. Again, the cards would contain different art (to avoid having to pay royalties to early artists) and be non-tournament legal. The Collectors Edition boxed sets would be for players to use to play fun games or used as proxies for Vintage proxy tournaments.
Instead of catering only to the secondary market, I would like to see Wizards give players what they want. I’m not looking to ruin the value of people’s collections, but if there’s such a need for a card that someone would pay over $600 for a Black Lotus, I think it’s time that Wizards change the reprint policy. Having the new cards would not stop people from still wanting to collect and own the original cards. As Mr. Buehler said himself: “We saw a really interesting phenomenon recently when we brought back some old iconic cards. When Serra Angel was reprinted in 7th Edition, the price of older versions of Serra actually went up, not down.”
People like to collect Magic cards. Just because you have a 7th Edition version doesn’t mean you don’t want to have the Alpha version. Heck, I have a Serra that’s black bordered and in French. I like to collect the cards too. Assuming that the secondary market would collapse because some of some cards have been reprinted is a false premise. Let’s be honest: How many of the new players out there would want to spend $500 for a card? The players who fall into this category simply want to buy legal versions of the cards so that can enjoy the cards and play with them. Your hardcore collector isn’t going to stop buying Alpha and Beta cards. He’s still going to want those cards to show them off in his deck or to add them to his stash.
Legal Reprints or Counterfeits
What I’m most concerned about is the counterfeit market that’s making money hand over fist. I’ve seen counterfeit cards of the Power Nine selling on Ebay and people buying them. Instead of allowing counterfeiters to thrive because of the reserve policy, why not solve the problem by allowing legit cards to be available for sale. Doesn’t it make sense to keep your fan base happy and stop counterfeiters from making money off of your intellectual property? I have a hard time believing that Wizards wouldn’t want to stop their consumers from being ripped off.
And let’s look at the flow of money: If I bought a pack of Unlimited back in 1994, I paid $2.45 for the pack. I sold the Mox Emerald for $60 several years later. Who knows what the person I sold the card to did with it, but in this entire financial transaction, Wizards didn’t make any more than $2.45. Yet if Wizards were to sell Collectors Edition boxed sets, they would make money as would the stores that sell the product. There are millions of Magic fans around the globe. Don’t you think that a large percentage of those people would buy these boxed sets?
I would like to understand why Wizards of the Coast refuses to change their reprint policy. I can’t follow the logic. If they allow for the cards to be used in Vintage and Legacy, but don’t allow new players to have the ability to buy the cards through them, why would they want the secondary market and counterfeiters to make all the money? I do think it’s admirable that Wizards wishes to stay true to their word, but I do not believe that the reprint policy is relevant any longer. I believe it’s time for a change.
Here's a point of comparison: The #1 issue of Superman is still worth a heck of a lot of money even though it's been reprinted many, many times. People like having the nostalgia factor: Original card stock, artwork, feel of the card, etc. A silver boarded card with new art isn't going to be the same, but it would allow casual players to have their fun (and allow for Wizards to turn a profit). I believe that hardcore collectors will still want to own those out of print originals.
Send an E-mail to Wizards
If you want change and would like to see the reprint policy changed, send a simple letter to Wizards. I would suggest the following sample letter:
E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mark Rosewater:
I am writing to ask you to help change the reprint policy and allow for older cards from Magic: The Gathering to be reprinted. I would like to see new players have the opportunity to purchase or obtain through a special premium, non-tournament legal reprints of the cards listed on the no reprint policy list. I suggest that the cards could be reprinted as:
• Special textless cards. For example, anyone entering a tournament would receive a textless card (with new art) of a random card from the reserve list. This would allow for new (and highly collectible) cards to enter circulation. The textless cards would contain new art and be tournament legal.
• New Collectors Editions boxed set of cards that contain non-tournament legal versions of the cards found on the no reprint policy list.
With the continued interest in Vintage and Legacy tournaments, new players cannot afford hundreds of dollars to obtain a Mox or a Black Lotus. Although I find it admirable that Wizards of the Coast is adhering to the reprint policy, the revision to the policy in 2002 has not gone far enough. With counterfeiters making money off of unknowing players, I believe it’s time for the reprint policy to be repealed.
I look forward to your response and hope you will help convince others at Wizards of the Coast to give to players what they want: The ability to play, for fun, with power cards found on the current official reprint policy list.
Sign Your Name Here
By Ron Vitale on April 7th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
About Ron Vitale
Ron has been playing Magic: The Gathering since Unlimited, writing articles over the years for StarCityGames, MTGOntario, the now defunct Grimmoire.com, and most recently MTGSalvation.com. His short fiction has appears on Ultraverse.com and Alienskinmagazine.com. One of Ron's most memorable Magic memories concerns being beaten to a pulp by Richard Garfield.