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Unstable Q&A with Mark Rosewater
 
The Dos and Don'ts of Silver-Border Commander
  • posted a message on Best products for new player?
    Honestly, I wish we could say booster boxes were good for new players, but I'm surprised wizards hasn't dedicated at least some space in the boxes to print basic lands so players can pick up a box and just use the contents to create a limited deck. Established players don't need the lands, but even for the sake of convenience it would help if wizards would just toss people a bone and add an 80-100 count land pack in each box. Not to mention land packs usually go for 5-6 dollars secondary market so it helps add some value to the boxes for singles sellers. If they engineered the boxes right they wouldn't even need some of the secondary products like deck builders toolkits (which are anything but).
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Foil basic land in each booster...!
    My take on "God Boxes": It's not really worth worrying about. The issue is that while they may exist and it's kind of cool if they do exist, the chances of getting one is about as good as getting struck by lightning because the frequency of the boxes is so low not even major singles sellers are able to deny or confirm they exist. Also there's a spot light on the whole "one foil land per case" issue that some collectors are complaining about and that is going to help fuel rumors. I still remember Kaladesh had rumors of rare cards from alpha or something showing up in booster packs and that was a thing back last year.
    Posted in: The Rumor Mill
  • posted a message on Is Magic Attendance and Sales dropping?
    Also going to mention that after looking over posts and the general difference of mood and tone, Wizards just doesn't listen to the kind of crowd that is on MTG salvation forums. It looks like from the way they are acting they basically have limited their interests to facebook, instagram, tumblr, and twitter while annexing Youtube and any pre-existing forums. I got a feeling I know the reason, but I don't really like the reason. I'm more surprised by the lack of interest in youtube as that is more a go-between the forums and twitter / reddit posters, especially since they actively promoted the Christmas Carol video done by Gram Stark and Co over at Loading Ready Run. Have they made a choice based on the demographic they want to support?
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Is Magic Attendance and Sales dropping?
    Reprinting shock duals in Ravnica was a BRILLIANT move , people needed the lands and it was fantastic to get them.

    10 good rares also increase the value of a set dramatic.

    ----

    Khans had the fetchlands, also a fantastic deal (even if it was terrible for standard to have the shuffling, but thats a problem with fetchlands anyway).


    ----

    Instead of using what space they have in new sets, they put the big reprints in Master product , which kinda ruins the prices.

    But the sad story, they will keep doing that, as Master sets sell good enough and they only make decisions by how the numbers look , everything that makes a good profit they stick to (ignoring any other option or how it might be bad in the long term).




    The reason I've started stepping out of MtG at the moment (besides the marketing flops and such), is that they aren't maintaining the game as a long term project and are treating it like EA does to their own titles. Again, this feels like a crime of the times that expands beyond any one company and is more of a societal issue, but people have been increasingly living in the now, figuring that if they get more money from whatever they are working with at the moment and then throw it into another project they can leap frog and keep growing profits more quickly than building an enduring project. The problem with this strategy is that if everyone is doing the same thing than where do we put the money? If every project is treated as a slash and burn effort that gets seeded, grown, and then rapidly depleted, than eventually there will be no fields left to keep bouncing around to.

    I tend to look down on companies that do this probably because I'm one of the rare breed that still worries about where he is going to be in 30+ years from now. Frown Given how WoTC has been running Magic the Gathering Releases and the generally minimalistic talk of D&D 5th edition they haven't been engendering a good long term projection. Digital can't really save the traditional game of MtG because the traditional game is built on collecting and playing the game, often with more of a bend towards the former. People will keep buying cards even if they only play once a month because they enjoy having the build options.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Do you play at gamestores?
    I've been trying out online gaming and have attended my LGS a few times, but honestly it's just brutal fitting time to go play magic the gathering in paper now-adays. My brother plays warhammer instead and left MtG years ago, so I don't really have a lot of options outside of the nearby LGS to play.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on January 1st is when spoilers start on rivals of ixalan
    They are probably trying to avoid spoiling the set too soon and getting preorders going when they crammed so many other sets in for the x-mas season. Honestly, I'd rather them not slow roll spoilers because it's a pain in the neck.
    Posted in: The Rumor Mill
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Modern Prices Discussion
    There are still people drafting Iconic Masters, it's just that iconic masters was a complete disaster logistically and with all the confusion on the print run no one had any confidence in the set. Also the value in the set was much too concentrated in a few cards since many were priced the way they were due to scarcity. It's hard for people playing magic to see this, but in other TCGs it's way more obvious as cards that reach some of the prices I've seen are basically sold out. It's just that no seller wants to be sold out of a card since it draws traffic to their site and shop, hence why they will often keep one or two really expensive copies floating around.
    Posted in: Modern
  • posted a message on Is Amonkhet really a bad set?
    Quote from thememan »
    It has certainly aged better than people anticipated. Most decks in the format are influenced in no small part by either Amonkhet or HoD. as for Cut/Ribbons, the problem right now with the card is that there just isn't a home for it. It's actually a pretty good card overall, but without a good R/B/x deck, there just isn't a home for it. It's a card I feel would benefit significantly from something like Read the Bones in the format for midrange lists, or some sort of R/B aggro list. Given that Ramunap Red would be the starting point for such a list, the problem is that there isn't any reason to go that route. RR is just doing fine right now. Which leaves a sort of Midrange-Control shell, however there just isn't any good card draw in Black right now. Read the Bones would be fantastic.


    Yeah, I think the lack of a good draw spell in black is probably the main reason for it not seeing play. I was expecting one to show up in HoD, but that never actually manifested, with Glimmer of Genius still being the absolute best draw spell in the format.
    Posted in: Standard (Type 2)
  • posted a message on Is Magic Attendance and Sales dropping?
    Surveys only ask questions that people want to ask. They can't ask questions that the person writing the survey has no awareness of that need to be asked. It's just the way of things.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Unstable seems like a great hit - but is it really?
    I haven't seen power creep at common. What I've seen at common is dropping the floor a lot more in order to fill in for draft because they've decided that sets should have both constructed cards and stand-in cards to fill the role of the constructed cards when drafting. That's part of the reason a lot of older players are now just buying singles online instead of boxes. Other TCGs do have bad cards and in fact those cards have to exist in the game, but the worst cards in a Force of Will expansion are still miles above the worst things out of Ixalan. It's also fairly easy to compare the two games as well since mechanically they are so similar.

    So for some examples, a common in the latest set for Force of Will is Fire Majin, which is a one drop that is basically a piker that reads if you control an enchantment called Magic Crest of Fire it does basically lightning bolt to a creature or planeswalker. The Magic Crest itself is a common that does a lightning bolt effect at sorcery speed to a creature. It's also a relevant creature type as a Wicked Spirit, which gives it synergy with one of the planeswalkers in the set. Now keep in mind they have a different power and toughness system so it's hard to really compare direct damage spells between the two games, so you can consider the bolt equivalent to a shock in the current standard. Another common is a mermaid that is basically an 0/2 that when it dies it lets you draw a card. There's also a 1/1 that does that, but those are basically the bottom floor of commons in that game.

    Magic the Gathering used to have commons that were like that, albeit I think the better comparison would be things like Quirion Ranger, Hisoka's Guard.

    The objective of the NWO was to simplify commons to make them easier for players to understand, but when they did this they also dropped the number of lines of play a common could be involved in. That is the issue with commons and why so many of them are completely unplayable. If they can't be used in some line of play with more advanced cards at rare or uncommon, than the only thing they can be are vanilla creatures and filler. Since they are common, they can't be as powerful as the uncommon cards on power and toughness or mana cost according to how they design things in this game as well.

    Also, cards that make tokens are not good examples of the contrary. In those cases it's just adding value to the [card}Squire[/card] or Storm Crow. That being said, I'm not saying they get rid of vanilla creatures. It's just they need to start bringing back things that have more complicated interactions at common to make them more desirable.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Unstable seems like a great hit - but is it really?
    Quote from FunkyDragon »
    Quote from AntiPox »
    The lands also ensure the value variance of packs is really low - which I strongly prefer to lottery packs.
    Absolutely agree. I quit drafting and buying boxes a long time ago because every single time, I lost money. How is it I can draft, win prize packs, and still not break even? Last time I opened three prize packs, and all six of my packs totaled only $6 - which means I lost $10 in the draft. I got sick of that and started buying singles only.
    Then Unstable came along, with guaranteed value in every pack - I drafted and bought a box for the first time in a very long time. I had a blast playing with the wacky cards, I sold the lands to pay for a big chunk of it, and now I have a bunch of fun cards to build an Un-Cube with so I can play them all over again.
    Hence, it's not silver bordered that's a commercial succes, it no border.
    And why can't it be both? I didn't want the set for the land - I actually don't like the frameless look, and I sold all of the basics to pay for 75% of the box price - I wanted the wacky silver bordered cards. They were the success to me. But as I said above, the guaranteed value and lack of lottery variance made it actually worth buying sealed product rather than just ordering singles.
    Personally, I think that is the lesson Wizards needs to learn from this set: don't pack all the value in three chase cards; try to spread it more evenly, and people will be more willing to buy.


    I'm starting to see why they may not have done it and it is a complete misunderstanding of what value actually means. People aren't talking about monetary value or the power of the card, we're talking about the depth of play the card has. I'm starting to think that NWO might have been the worst decision wizards ever made in the history of the entire game. I know they are worried about accessibility, but the entire problem is that they pushed all the cards with complexity to them into the rare slot and sometimes maybe one or two uncommons. Heck, the big factor as to why Cut // Ribbons was not instant speed is because it can be played from the graveyard, which would have made that card have a lot of lines of play that aren't immediately apparent.

    Maybe what we want is the ability to discover things again?
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Is Magic Attendance and Sales dropping?
    Quote from Greyimp »
    FNM at my large local store failed to fire yet again. I know a little bit is the holidays but they have shot themselves in the feet way too many times here.
    People are sick of energy and ramred and if they're not playing modern they're just not playing. So the few they have left that are engaged and want to play, don't get to. Stupid Showdown on the weekend isn't firing either. Too many products, too many gimmicks, not enough quality or quality control. They should be giving away major swag at FNM and everywhere for every event to beg people to stay engaged.

    The decision to not print quality older cards in standard sets is a money grab to sell extraneous sets. Another very bad choice.
    Standard players who start accumulating modern cards via regular play would be more likely to venture into modern instead of pushing overpriced masters etc sets.

    WotC needs to realize how badly they are screwing themselves but Maro's questionnaires don't get close to covering all their problems right now.


    Well, I probably went a little harsh in my own posting because of it being at night coming back from work, but I don't agree that the lack of proper questions on the surveys is to blame for what is going on. I mentioned the tragedy of the commons in the prior posting, but given the message board I'm posting on I'm pretty sure some people might have missed what I was talking about. In England there were pastures set that were owned by everyone back in the days of hamlets and such that the farmers could use to graze their cattle. Hypothetically, if everyone shared the commons and kept themselves in check there was plenty of land to graze the cattle and it would be sustainable. The problem was that there was no restrictions on how many cows or how long any one farmer could set their cattle out to pasture. So, as is typical of human greed, land owners started to escalate and ramp up the number of cows on the pasture. This resulted in the other farmers suddenly going into a panic and pushing back on their own end until both sides have basically squandered all the resources, leaving nothing left to even bother fighting over.

    The problem with Magic the Gathering and Wizards is the same thing in a sense. They have a market that is completely sustainable and shared by a bunch of other games and companies, but they know they can make just a bit more money if they push more products out there onto the field, so they print more booster boxes, more supplementary products, more everything. The only problem is that they also logistically have to pay for the materials as well so this means they have to get paper from somewhere, and if the old stock is too expensive, well, those pastures are just too tempting, so they cut the cost on the paper. They also found they could make more money if they just took any of the really hot cards from the past and put them into specialty sets and charge more money as well, so they took expensive / powerful tools from standard and started only printing them in supplementary products or secondary product lines.

    So now lets hop back to the player population: What does everyone start complaining about? Well, the things wizards is doing to make more money. The reason for this is because we also tend to like to do other things besides magic, so those magic products are starting to flood the "pastures" that is our free time money. If they push more sets, more tournament play, more everything, eventually there's no resources left. On top of which they made their products weaker in the process by having the quality control issues and since every standard set is now dumbed down to the point of being new editions of Portal, they don't have a lot of staying power. Also, we have basic needs that take precedent over free time as well.

    I'm probably just rambling a lot, but it definitely feels like wizards of the coast lacked any sort of long term thinking on the grounds of how sustainable what they were doing actually was. Not unless their intent was to push the market until it burst, which is a very bad idea considering the players that will be the most impacted are the core players who stick through it all.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Is Amonkhet really a bad set?
    Having to bring this up because I feel like standard has been casting a shadow on the entire block, but after looking back in hindsight I think that Amonkhet is by far a much better set than Ixalan ended up being. Embalm and aftermath cards are actually pretty interesting mechanics, and besides the typical complaints of them making the set full of draft fodder and probably dooming the entire idea train because of it, something like Cut // Ribbons feels like it will age well. Anyone else sort of the same mind or have a different take on it? I'm kind of hoping they do a run of the set with better stock before it rotates out.
    Posted in: Standard (Type 2)
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Modern Prices Discussion
    I'm going to agree that selling out of bob and the like right now is the right move if you're after growing your library. At worst you'll just have to rebuy them later when they don't show up, but at that point you've already probably made about 60-80% of the value on selling them and are probably only paying a slight bump over the original market price. I've personally dived out of doing the sell high and buy low thing as it has proven to be a lot of work for not a lot of gain as a player. I did make some small profit off of stocking tons of commander bulk cards and selling them off a few times though. Thran Dynamo was a good example of a card I had multiple copies of that was going for 8+ before Iconic Masters reprinted it.
    Posted in: Modern
  • posted a message on Unstable seems like a great hit - but is it really?
    Unstable is successful because the way the set is designed it is made to be cracked open by players and not singles sellers. Cards with the same name can have multiple different configurations, every pack has a full art land, shiny tokens everywhere, and lots of depth to the cards in the set. Despite having semi-decent mechanics, Ixalan and Amonkhet did not have enough depth of play to keep things interesting. Unstable avoided NWO and you can feel it just from looking at all the cards and what they do.
    Posted in: Magic General
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