Last year I wrote a Magic
Holiday Wish List that can be found here
. Not all of my wishes came true, but I did get my planeswalkers for Commander
. In that spirit, I have a few more items to add. Not all of them may come true, but even one will make me happy come next Christmas.
Image © Lewis Ronald, 2012Commander Foils
Foils in my Commander
product. It astounds me that this is not already de facto. What do we know about players of this particular format? Commander
players like pimping out their decks. They really, really, like foils. Certainly, this isn't true for everyone, but it is true for a large portion of the player base. The Commander
product is awesome. However, I can't upgrade to a foil Containment Priest
even I wanted to. Let me repeat that: There are no Containment Priest
foils. None. Zippo. Zero.
I will be very frank. I do not want my whole Commander
product or every legendary creature to be foil. That is not what I want. What I want is a random foil(s) in each product. It might be a land. It might be my Commander. The problem with the current product line is we know exactly what we get. That's okay. It is what the product is designed to be. However, there is no excitement like there is when opening a booster pack. The chance to open a premium card in my product does that to a small degree. It isn't much, but at least it's something.
Premium cards feel like a win-win situation. Its pure speculation, but random foils in the product should boost sales. I don’t think people will be busting open product just for foils, but it’s sure a sweet bonus and an extra incentive. How would you feel if you busted open a foil True-Name Nemesis
? Not to mention hot items like planewalker foils would be quite valuable on the secondary market. This would also be true for Legacy staples out of the Commander
product. Like I said, everybody wins.
Would you like random foils in your Commander
Image © Matty, 2012
What is the biggest hurdle for attending any Magic
tournament? Besides choosing a deck, one of the biggest issues is transportation. It is expensive, exhausting, and cumbersome. Chicago is a mere six hour drive from my location, but that still means $200 USD in gas plus vehicle wear and tear. It also means taking off at midnight to get to the location by 9:00 AM. When I get there, I also need to find parking and sometimes pay an arm and a leg for it. It is now time to start the tournament and I am exhausted. I'm not even covering the hassle of trying to organize a carpool. Let's not forget about playing in tournament till 9:00 PM and having a six-hour drive back home. It's a long day for anyone. Ugh.
In an ideal world, there would be a Magic
coach-chartered bus. I could preregister for the bus ahead of time to guarantee my seat. I could then catnap it down to Chicago or wherever. The bus arrives. I play. I get back on the bus back to Madison. I take another catnap. I drive the rest of the two hours home. Certainly there are a number of logistics to figure out. However, I feel it is very viable to have buses arriving from fairly large cities to a large Magic
While an argument could be made about going green by taking a few cars off the road, this isn't about that aspect or striving to improve revenue. It is about improving the player experience. A big tournament just isn't about setting up a few tables and providing the venue. It is about all of it. Improving the commute is one aspect of that. Providing a certain amount of chartered buses to a big tournament like a Grand Prix or large SCG event goes a long way to improving that experience. Rested customers equal happier players. Rested and happier players also spend more money. Oh, they also have more fun.
This idea came about as I watched a local group of fans climbing into a coach bus that was headed to a Vikings versus Packers game. Sure, it could be seen as simply transportation. Or… it could be seen as a chance to bring like-minded people together to share in their appreciation of a sport. Imagine getting on a bus with 60 other Magic
fans. It is a chance to play a few games down to the event. It is a chance to make friends, to trade, and have a good time. It would be an experience. Ask any grinders about their carpool. There is always a story. At one time, half of all tournament reports I used to read began with some long story about just getting to and back from an event. So why not make that trip more memorable and enjoyable?
On another note, I wouldn't mind knowing there are at least a few less sleep deprived, overly caffeinated Magic
players off the road. It's a hazard no matter how you want to sugar coat it. It is simply dangerous. Providing a chartered bus is safer for the players and to everyone else on the road. Let's not be stupid. Let's get some buses going to these tournaments.
How many of you would take a bus to an event?
Game within a Game
Did you know Magic
is made by a game company? I'm being snarky because there is an opportunity being lost at this very moment. Wait for it… Wait for it… It is a collectible card game. Da da daaaa… To explain, first think about those silly Grand Prix promo cards that players sometimes pull out of their booster packs. A player looks at it for two seconds and then proceeds to throw it away. Those cards add very little value to the product. What if we took that useless card and printed a game on the other side?
The game could be many things. It could be an actual card game like the common 52-card decks the majority of people play with at home. Jace could be the Jack of Hearts. Liliana could be the Queen of Spades. If players collected all 52 unique cards, they would have an actual deck of Magic
cards. See what I just did there. I made a game within the game.
Of course, that is the lowest of the hanging fruit. Let's talk potential. In one expansion, those cards could be a puzzle. Collect all 32 of them, put them together and now you have a poster puzzle. Now, these are just a few simple ideas. The point being is there is potential to add value to a product. What do they call it? I think some call it marketing? Some would just call it fun, but I would let the consumer decide. Sure, not everyone would go nuts over this idea, but it would definitely appeal to a large group of the Vorthos populace. So, why not take a piece of useless cardboard and turn it into something fun?
Would you like these added mini-games?
Weekly News Articles
I'll tell you a little secret. Time is precious. It certainly is the older one gets. I don't have time to scour the countless websites about Magic
nowadays. I don't have time to search about some obscure thing it seems the whole community knows about. It is the one thing about the Magic Show that I enjoyed. I didn't have to track things down. I could simply catch up each week with the Magic Show and stay up to date on the happenings in Magic
Unfortunately, we don't have that anymore. An aspect of this can be seen at the mothership. At the end of the week, there is an article that informs me of all the tournaments that I can watch online. I don't have to surf the entire Internet. It is just in this one article. I like that. I want more of that. I so would enjoy having a dedicated columnist out there who compiles all the relevant knowledge into a nice neat bow for me at the end of the week. This could be a general article compiling the most relevant information. It could also be financial wrap-up about all the big winners and losers of the week in card prices. The financial article might even tell me that a big modern tournament is coming up that I didn't about and the fact that it will be affecting prices.
What I don't want is a lot of pandering. I don't want to go to a site whose weekly wrap-up is all about the great articles on their site. That is just lame. And stupid. And really, really boring. I'm a Magic
player. I want to be informed about everything. I don't want to be informed on what is just going on at stupidmagicsite.com for goodness sakes. I want to be informed about the most important news on Magic
in the entire spectrum of the game.
What happened with what high profile suspension? There's a new Magic
product out? Did you hear about the drastic changes to online programming? Some obscure card took a huge price jump? Oh, there were changes to the banned and restricted list? Such and such wrote a great article at blankmagicsite.com that actually was very, very good. Plus, etc. Magic
players want to stay informed. Some of us just don't have the time to spend countless hours on the Internet anymore searching through the numerous sites out there. So, inform us.
How many of you would like a recap of the week?
Sure, there a few T-shirts out there. Quite a few of them are inappropriate. Other than that, there isn't a whole lot. Magic
is supposedly huge, but the swag is tiny. What do I want? Anything really. I look at professional sports for inspiration. They have everything. If you want a mug of your favorite team, they have it. A necktie? They have those too. All we have is a couple of lousy t-shirts. Go here
. Yup, that's it.
If you didn't click on the links, go ahead and do that. Notice anything, because I’m going to be getting up on a soap box? Yup, four lousy shirts for the lady planeswalkers. Good thing I’m not in charge at Wizards of the Coast because I’d be thumping some heads about now. If we want to be inclusive to all groups, we need to treat those groups equally. Sure, t-shirts can be unisex, but that’s simply a lame excuse for either laziness or ignorance. Many of those men's shirts could be transferred over to more female-friendly styles. Yes, I understand the male audience is much larger. That isn't the point. Providing a woeful excuse for apparel options targeted at lady planewalkers instills a sense of them as being secondary customers. Even if it isn't intentional, it sends the wrong message. To be clear, this isn't some lame piece about trying to recruit more women into the game. It is about fairness. Maybe it is simply because I now have twin daughters. Sorry, girls, you have four options to choose from this Christmas. Why only four, you ask? I don't know, girls. That's a very good question.
Anyway, moving on.
I'm don’t just want swag because I'm a fan, but somebody who's also looking at the marketing aspect of the game. It's advertising. It also allows the fans to proudly boast that they are Magic
fans. Part of it is to relinquish that closeted Magic
player. I used to always be upfront about my hobby. I'd proudly proclaim myself as a Magic
fan. I owned it. Thus, nobody ever game me flak for it. However, when the dust settled, I'd often have people come up to me sheepishly and whisper they did or still play Magic
. They weren't open about it. That's sad. If we're proud of our hobby, we need to show it. We need to wear our stripes visibly.
Swag helps alleviate this problem. It lets people be open and proud of their game. To do this, we need more than slightly offensive t-shirts. "I'd tap those Mountains" doesn't exactly evoke a welcoming and professional feeling. Not to mention, I don’t exactly want my daughters sitting across from that guy. I understand it is supposed to be funny and one point in my life I might have agreed. It is also a little creepy and I wouldn't encourage kids to be taking candy from that guy. Yup, things do change when becoming a father. I'd hate to explain that one to them some day.
Image © Flickr user adamglanzman, 2013
You know what's really hard to find? Magic apparel that looks good, like suiting up good. You know, stuff that I could proudly wear outside the game store. The word subtle comes to mind. Something akin to a Polo shirt. It'd have a red mana symbol on a nice long-sleeved black shirt. Those unaware wouldn't be aware. They'd just see the nice shirt. To other Magic
fans, I'd be sporting my badge of honor. Whoever is in charge of playmats at tournaments, I’d like to make a request. Instead of a playmat, I’d like a t-shirt instead. I've already got playmats. I don’t need another one. By the way, why don’t I see Magic
apparel being sold at large events? If you go to a concert, they sell shirts and memorabilia. Yet they don't at Magic
Speaking of, I am making a motion for Grand Prix and Pro Tour champions to get swag. A trophy is nice and all, but trying to wear it has its challenges. What I am thinking is something like the Master’s green jacket for golf. No, it doesn't have to be green. Sure, they still get a trophy, but the champion would get a one of a kind jacket. One style for a Grand Prix win and another style for a Pro Tour win. Those players could then wear those to events. I’d hate to break it to you, but not everyone knows every pro player. If this was standard practice, they wouldn't need to. They just need to see the person with the jacket. Anyway, just a thought.
What kind of Magic
swag would you like?
Wizard Game Days
Prerelease parties are awesome. Lots of players come out of the woodwork for those. I have to ask, why don't we have more of them? Yes, we only have so many set releases a year. I'm talking special events that have been carefully crafted for things like anniversaries of Magic
. Why are we limiting ourselves to only release events and game days? I understand those days are linked to promote new product. However, there should be at least two other game days in the year. One, the anniversary for Magic
and the other during the holidays.
I'm not looking for more or different product. I'm just looking for an awesome event that is supported by Wizards of the Coast. You know, something special. It could be backdrafts or something completely wacky. The point is it is a big thing. A big event. Something for people to get excited about. If left in charge, I'd know the angle I would pull. It would be mystery. What? Yes, for the anniversary party I wouldn't tell players. Oh, I would advertise the snot out it. It'd be plastered everywhere, but I wouldn't let people know. People would show up and surprise, its Modern Masters
backdraft! Anyway, it'd be something crazy. The point is it would be that way every year. People would get excited. Rumors would fly on what crazy thing Wizards of the Coast was doing this year. Oh, I wonder what it is going to be this year. How exciting!
Let's have a party!
Feedback and Listening
Image © David Monniaux, 2003
I feel there's always been a problem with feedback to Wizards of the Coast. Namely, who or where do I send it? It's always "send us feedback if you want (blank)" followed by no email address or link. Seriously? Again, seriously?
One more time for emphasis. Deep breath.
There is a definite need for better feedback to Wizards of the Coast. This isn't simply a ploy to reduce the amount of spam in Mark Rosewater's mailbox. Hey Mark, please do better artwork. Hey Mark, why are the rules changing in sanctioned play? Hey Mark, etc. Why does Mark Rosewater get email that should be directed at other people or departments? It is because the ease and ability to give feedback at the mother site sucks. Not just sucks, but it really sucks and it has been this way forever. The simple fact that Mark is getting email that should be directed elsewhere is a huge red flag. If the proper communication channels were in place, this wouldn't be a problem. It shouldn't be a problem in the first place.
Instead of calling them a bunch of doo doo heads, I suppose I should be more constructive. The first big hurdle is facilitating the proper channels for feedback. Give us links. Again, give us links to the appropriate place to give feedback on this or this. This sticks in my craw because I just read an article that suggested people to support an Un-set with no link to where we can voice our opinion on future Un-sets.
Here that? It is me smacking my forehead.
What is the next most important thing about feedback? It is knowing the feedback is received. This isn't me trying to swindle R&D into writing me back. Oh, I have given that up 3,000 emails ago. There should be articles about what players want or some results from surveys for example. The important part here is that it shows they are listening. How does it feel when you talk and the person you talk to gives no response? It sucks. You don't know if they are listening. You just don't know if they even care. Quite frankly, it should be a weekly article and it would be if I was in charge. Why would I do such a silly thing? I would do it to show players we are listening and it shows the company cares about our players.
I want to make this very, very clear. I do believe Wizards of the Coast listens. I believe they do more to listen to their player base than many other companies. They scour our social media and forums for our opinions. We don't realize this because of the lack of positive affirmations. We don't realize it because we aren't give clear ways to communicate our opinions that reaffirms that we are being listened to. What I am talking about here is perception. It is a big part of any business large or small. I've learned this with my own small business. It doesn't matter if my customers are talking a bunch of malarkey or giving me real concerns. The most important thing I can do is truly listen to them. Period.
Do you guys and gals feel listened to?
Drive to Work Sign-off
Image © Gemma Longman, 2006
On my commute to work on the weekends, I spend much of that time listening to other podcasts. One of them is Mark Rosewater’s Drive to Work podcast. His sign-off has always bugged me. I wouldn't say it's horrible, but it definitely lacks some flair. Here is my wish for a sign-off.
Thank you for listening to my podcast about (blank). I hope that I was able to ignite your gamer spark. However, I need to start walking into work because the wizards are gathering and we’re making Magic
Here’s to wishful thinking!