Quote from Dontrike »Quote from Heresy19 »Only survivors? Glenn has been pulp-dead for a lonnnnng while now lol
Bought myself 5 kits, that Rick card looks great for human tribal in Legacy so not taking any chances, playset. And I also needed 1 more for EDH.
Any of these cards doing well in Legacy shows they've already made the mistake.
Quote from Heresy19 »Only survivors? Glenn has been pulp-dead for a lonnnnng while now lol
Bought myself 5 kits, that Rick card looks great for human tribal in Legacy so not taking any chances, playset. And I also needed 1 more for EDH.
Quote from The Magic Historian »
You may have noticed that there is a lot of conversation out there in the world going on around the Walking Dead Secret Lair and honestly the Walking Dead Secret Lair has illustrated to me that the EDH / Commander Rules Committee's days are numbered. This in my opinion is an inevitability. This isn't something I enjoy bringing to light and I really don't think people understand the magnitude of what's going on here because it does appear to me that people think that the Rules Committee has more power and influence over the game than they really do. So to understand why the Walking Dead Secret Lair is this pivotal moment that really is the first step down the road and actually may not even be the first step there may been other groundwork that leads to this that I haven't thought of.
But really the Walking Dead is a linchpin style moment. This is really going to be where things start to shift because of what it represents fundamentally. On the surface the Walking Dead Secret Lair is just that. It's just a Secret Lair themed around the Walking Dead so what's the big deal? The big deal is the functionally unique cards that were printed in these. These are cards that only exist with the abilities and everything like that on the cards in these Secret Lairs. There's no other way to obtain them. They're only going to be on sale for a week. Now we have seen functionally unique cards that you can only get in a very limited way already cause problems for Magic: The Gathering. Essentially the Walking Dead almost works like a Trojan horse. If you don't get what I'm trying to say here take a look at the Buy-a-Box Promos.
For the longest time in MTG's history, they did Buy-a-Box Promos that were just alternate art promo versions of a card that existed in the set and they returned to doing that. But for a brief period of time they made functionally unique cards that were legal in the Standard format that you could only get by buying a box. Now what did that lead to? That led to Nexus of Fate. Nexus of Fate was a HUGE problem for Magic: The Gathering but Nexus of Fate wasn't the first time they printed a functionally unique card for a Buy-a-Box Promo. So basically the first Buy-a-Box Promo they did that was functionally unique was fairly weak Firesong and Sunspeaker. Maybe I'll use this in Brawl or Commander or something like that but it wasn't an insanely overpowered card. It's basically like easing us into the well. That's what this is.
So the Walking Dead Secret Lair is just to get you accustomed to the concept that they will make Commander legal cards that are only available for a week right? And this is what people are upset about. This is just the gateway. When Wizards of the Coast brings something new in they present to us in a particular way and then change it. Secret Lair for example was presented to us as just as way to have different art styles and you see that's clearly not the case now. Mythic Rares were originally shown to us as something that were meant to be flashy Timmy cards that got people really excited but weren't meant to be strong enough to impact Standard and that changed. There's no reason not for them to ramp up the power of these functionally unique Commander cards. There's no reason. The incentive IS to ramp up the power level. Wizards of the Coast very much wants to move in on the Commander market.
They've signaled this in a ton of different ways. One is making announcements in earning reports and stuff like that. That Magic is growing on the back of Commander. From their statistics they're saying the Commander audience has grown four fold. I think really it's that they didn't understand how big the Commander audience was to start with. Commander is a big audience. That's why you'll see more and more products pitched towards Commander players. Brawl was an attempt to create a Standard rotate version of Commander where they can have cards obsoleted and get you running in that hamster wheel even further. Brawl in a way showed a fundamental lack of understanding why people played Commander, "How'd you like to play Commander with way fewer options and your deck well you won't get to keep it for the rest of your life?", scenario. So Brawl works on Arena but in Paper Magic it failed.
They basically just tried to grab some money from it. So Commander right now is Wizards of the Coast's main focus. They're working on Standard sets and everything else but the underline of what they're doing is focusing purely on Commander pretty much. That's why you see cards like Omnath in the Standard sets, they've said they even changed the way they designed sets to try to reach into other formats. Yes they want to reach into Modern. Yes they want to reach into Vintage. But where they really REALLY want to get to is Commander. Commander is the crown jewel. Cause If you took all MTG players and broke them down into different categories it's almost guaranteed that the Commander category would be bigger than ALL the other one's combined. Commander is a very cool and casual format. Up until now, all the rules decisions for it have been made by the Commander Rules Committee but their days are numbered.
Either they're going to be disbanded or they're going to be fully absorbed by Wizards of the Coast and essentially they may be like represented as a puppet. To me that's almost what they already are. Now let's make sure we're on the same page. I'm not knocking the Commander Rules Committee. Okay? Those are people who love Magic: The Gathering and they have basically fostered this format out of their own desire to see it flourish and have people play games of MTG which I love. I'm a fan of the Commander Rules Committee. I think the idea of them trying to keep Commander as fun as possible and have as light of a touch possible is a fantastic and admirable goal. However the problem isn't with the Rules Committee, the problem is with Wizards of the Coast and their absolute desire to make as much money as possible from Commander as we've seen with this new Secret Lair where they're trying to sell you Commander singles direct.
No longer are you going to have them coming from packs and whatever and reprint them as Secret Lairs, they're going to do it direct. Now a bunch of people have cried out to the Rules Committee for Commander saying, "We need you to send a strong message to Wizards of the Coast. We need you to ban all the cards in the Walking Dead Secret Lair so that Wizards of the Coast will get the message and not make any more of these Secret Lairs." Now this puts the Rules Committee in a really rough spot because the players are asking them to represent them but on the other hand they have Wizards. Let's be real, Wizards of the Coast LETS the Commander Committee run Commander. The Rules Committee isn't some more powerful entity. So If Wizards of the Coast wanted to locate all the Commander rules on their website like they their own decisions and do whatever they can do it like that (snap of a finger).
They can turn to the Rules Committee and say, "You're no longer in charge of Commander, WE ARE!" They've taken steps over time to show the level of influence and power they have over the format. So why wouldn't the Rules Committee WANT to work with Wizards of the Coast? So obviously they're eager to work with Wizards of the Coast. That's to Wizards of the Coast's advantage? Why? Free labor. Just look at this from the perspective of a large corporation that doesn't care about you specifically look at it from the perspective of upper management. These are the people that are going to be making the decisions that influence the future of MTG, Commander, the Rules Committee, all of that. What you need to understand about upper level management is that they don't care about anything but results right now. The way that corporations function in America is by working for this company for X amount of months and X amount of years.
During that time I'm going to make sure that the quarterly results go, "Bang! Bang! Bang!" The future doesn't matter because I'm only doing this now to plump up my resume and move on to another corporation where I get paid even more. So their view is only short term and it's ALL about the money. From that perspective up until this point having the Rules Committee has been great, it's just another way to take advantage of MTG Judges. All the members of the Rules Committee are at least previously high ranking MTG Judges. I don't know If they joined the new Judge Academy or kept their accreditation levels but either way these are high level judges. Judges have always been taken advantage of by MTG. Wizards of the Coast used judges as a free labor pool. Take it from somebody whose judged for 8 years for free out of love for the game. So the Rules Committee is going to do all the work of managing an entire format for you?
And you don't have to pay them or do anything? Why would you not take advantage of that? The answer is when it starts to affect your bottom line and affects your money right? So that's where this Walking Dead Secret Lair puts us because this is Wizards of the Coast saying, "Hey we're making singles directly for Commander". They may not be saying that outright but that's what's going on. "We're making cards for old Vintage formats!" You think people are going to be playing Negan in Vintage? No they're making Legendary characters like come on dude. This is clearly for Commander meant to be sold to Commander players. Now what happens from Wizards of the Coast's perspective If all the sudden this product that they've made, this spearhead of what's going to be an all going product line. What happens when the Commander Committee turns around and goes, "Actually you know what? We're banning all those cards! Don't you dare make another Secret Lair like the Walking Dead!"
Now do you think the upper management, the ones that don't care about anything other than getting as much money as possible from MTG players, do you think they're going to turn around and say, "You know what, Commander Rules Committee, we respect and abide by your decision and we won't make any more of these Secret Lairs" OR "Sorry run by me again what the Rules Committee is like what part of our company is this?" "Wait they're not a part of our company?" "So these decisions are being made by somebody who doesn't work for us? CANCEL THEM!" "Contact them! Tell them to stop using our trademark!" Cause Wizards of the Coast trademarked Commander (but not Elder Dragon Highlander a.ka. EDH). Why did they do that? So that Wizards of the Coast could trademark "Commander". So there's one instance of Wizards of the Coast's financial decisions influencing the Committee.
The bigger one was when Unstable was released. Wizards of the Coast convinced the Rules Committee to make Unstable legal for one month in Commander. So normally you couldn't use Un cards cause Commander has Rule Zero which everyone can agree to what they want to do at their own home or whatever. The Commander Committee came out and said, "Hey guess what? This products legal for the next month." Wizards of the Coast doesn't care If this ruins peoples' fun, they don't care If it calls into the ethics of the Committee. You know what I mean? You're sitting there making a decision that affects ALL players and well there's Rule Zero. So what's to stop them from going, "Well we're going to agree with whatever Wizards of the Coast says" because If the Un cards weren't legal then why isn't Wizards going to turn around and says, "You're done. You're not in charge anymore."
For those who would side with the Rules Committee on that you would for a little bit, but Wizards of the Coast would verbally take control of the format cause all information about it would be on their website. They have more reach, more resources, they own the property, there's no logical reason to think for a second that everybody would go with this independent group that most people probably don't even know. So Wizards of the Coast is in charge of the banlist? Cool at least we got Rule Zero now. The existence of Rule Zero can override anything so what do you even need the Rules Committee for? They exist right now because it's cheaper and easier for Wizards of the Coast to LET them exist but the Walking Dead Secret Lair is basically the crucial turning point where one of two things is happening.
We're now walking down the road where either the Rules Committee is going to be disbanded and Wizards of the Coast will take over fully or the Rules Committee is going to FULLY become pawns of Wizards of the Coast and rubber stamp everything they make and what's the difference? It's just for show. It's like, "Hey we're the power behind the throne!" kinda thing. At this point I really don't see any other route and I genuinely believe it's not logical to think for a second, "We as a people can go do whatever!" What you need to understand is well and I don't think a lot of people get this is we as a group. By us as a group I mean MTG players that engage online Social Media in terms of being really active on YouTube videos, talking on Twitter and Reddit, We all represent a very small portion of the MTG playing public. Most people who are using the Internet to interact with MTG are probably doing two things right now: Looking at new cards and checking rules.
So this whole loyalty to the Commander Rules Committee isn't a thing, it's not real. You're not living in reality. Reality is that Wizards of the Coast has turned from "Commander is something we just ignore and whatever, If stuff sells for you great!" into "Commander is one of our primary focuses. We intend to extract as much money as humanly possible from these people because Commander players aren't spending enough money so let's get more of it!" and that ultimately will lead to the ruin of the Rules Council. Either it will be puppets or they'll be destroyed. There is no other possible future. I'm not particularly happy about this because I liked Commander being it's own little sorta like fun club or whatever. Now Wizards of the Coast meddling with it too much it's like, dude this was all built without your influence and something beautiful was built, "Slowly but surely have Unstable be legal for a month is fun for our bottom line!" So If you want to understand the situation you have to look at it from a monetary perspective.
Quote from Desert Sky Games »
One of the most stressful aspects of the COVID pandemic for game stores is that it artificially amplifies constraints. Dealing with this day in and day out starts to wear on a store owner, and I start to feel like Keanu Reeves in that new Bill & Ted 3 trailer, when he says, "We've been trying to write this song and save the world our whole lives. And I'm tired, dude."
You said it, Ted "Theodore" Logan. I'm tired, dude. Tired of every business component taking more work than it should. Tired of getting chewed out by every deadbeat who thinks we should price-match limited edition product pre-orders against the smallest store in town who pre-sold-out their one case of boosters in an hour at a nickel over cost. Tired of having arrival traffic down 90% because people call to check pinpoint stock on Nintendo Switches and virtually nothing downstream of that. And tired of the vocal minority who think we're political puppets or worse for keeping the game room closed and requiring facemasks.
But I think the amplification of constraints is the most difficult thing, because it forms a vicious circle of interdependency. Here, maybe showing you the moving parts will make this clearer.
The best Dungeons & Dragons product slate ever is on store shelves today. Right now. We have the best new sourcebooks: Theros, Eberron, and Wildemount, with limited edition covers for two of them. We have a staggering variety of dice in every color and material and in every price range. We have the best miniatures the game has ever had in the WizKids Nolzur's Marvelous line, far higher quality at a lower inflation-adjusted price than even the classic Ral Partha pewters. We have maps, dice trays, dice towers, character folios, and more. And now we have Warlock Tiles, head-and-shoulders the finest immersive terrain components D&D has ever seen.
Despite all of the above, we've seen only a fraction of the sales we'd usually get in the category. Many of our regular players have been in, and their purchasing makes up essentially all the sales we've gotten of this merch. But a majority of D&D players disappeared with COVID. We don't know what this means. In-store play is, of course, not happening, and I wonder whether it will ever be back. Zoom/Skype style play seems to be thriving. Tangible game elements become somewhat less important then. I've long speculated that the "giant table-sized iPad" appliance might virtualize much of the RPG experience, but we might reach the same effective outcome because of remote play instead of digitally-augmented in-person play. I think there will be a COVID vaccine eventually or it will burn through and be subject to herd immunity, and people will come back to the table to have wonderful times adventuring together. How long before that? A year? Three years?
So since we placed orders well before the pandemic for current D&D stock, and indeed already owned the bulk of our D&D inventory well in advance of that, we now have a huge amount of somewhat illiquid merchandise, that doesn't ship that well and isn't fast-moving like video games or Magic singles, and that even generous bundle specials only modestly move the needle on. It's not a simple case of $N worth of D&D being on the shelf, where we could liquidate it and have $N. It's the frozen turn rate. We should have $N multiplied many times over as the product comes in, sells, is replaced, sells again, and so on. It's difficult to articulate just how great the scale of this can get to an outside observer.
That same effect is happening in board games as well. We saw reasonable throughput on board games on our way into the lockdown and shortly after re-opening, and board games are a commodity category for DSG anyway. That means we stock greatest hits and new hotness, and discount it all, in order to push for market share and establish a competitive position against other local stores, without risking our real meal tickets, Magic singles and video games. But now that we're kinda sorta reopened, and people are mostly back to work, the public has all the board games it needs, and is buying far fewer of them from us, even with price tags well below Amazon. They just finished a plate of steak and lobster. They don't need seconds. So it stacks up.
With the two main general tabletop categories slowing down sales, we see them overflowing their racks. And we can't get more of the kind of racks we use right now because restocks from China are still pending transoceanic shipment. So even though we're the biggest game store in the Valley, we actually don't have enough room for all our merchandise right now. Even with a giant empty floor where the game room used to be. We should use game tables to display merch, perhaps, but (1) that's awful looking, (2) it has to be taken back apart anyway once we can reopen the game room, and (3) we're buying some really nice upgraded tables so we're currently selling off the existing ones.
Less room up front and lower sales of general tabletop means we need to lean harder on singles sales, where space isn't as big of an issue. But we're also constrained on labor! Fast and furious sales via TCGPlayer since the first stimulus landed have resulted in our million-card inventory being whittled down to, as of this writing, about 450,000 cards. We're still buying every single day, for cash or credit, and it's not enough. We have at least 300k cards in the back office right now in various stages of processing that are not entered into TCGPlayer. We're losing sales every day from people who ask for cards we know we have in the next "waves" to process, but aren't done yet, and are cost-ineffective to deep dive for on an ad-hoc basis. Our existing back-office staff are running at red-line, they have almost zero slow time on the clock.
So why not add more labor? Ah, but how are we going to pay for it? Sales are coming up shallow in D&D and board games, so we don't have "overflow" revenue available to shift toward Magic labor, which is designed to cover its own normal/ordinary pace of intake and sales, and instead is overwhelmed right now. It's fairly common for a game store with large business components to take from some and give unto others, resource-wise, in an internally Marxist fashion of sorts. But when there isn't any surplus elsewhere, and every department is subsidizing every other, there's no wealth to redistribute. (There's probably a greater political lesson to be taught here, but I'm staying well clear of that.)
Thus, we have a dire shortage of Magic singles, our highest-volume category, which we actually do own but can't get processed into the system fast enough, for which we badly need labor, which we could afford if every product category were performing even at average levels, but the two general tabletop categories are both running very thin right now, constraining all parts of this resource chain. And thus it is that Griffin and I spend significant parts of our working days plugging in labor wherever it fits, so as to give both front-of-house and back-of-house staff as much unobstructed throughput as possible. And it's still not enough.
I'm tired, dude.
Quote from Rosy Dumplings »So... this card with scheming symmetry sounds good.
Quote from JuiceBOX »I don’t even really understand why TWD cards are a problem. Why do people care about them being legal? Is it because they cannot get their own? They don’t really look broken. Is it because you don’t want TWD character IPs in your game of Magic? What?
Quote from ChaozPuttatos »Cobras are problem if You don't play removal. Uro was a problem even if You have removal. You don't even need to find another titan during game if You fail with the first one. That's not fun.
Quote from Card Slinger J »Fixed as in finally having official sanctioned in-person events for the format? My LGS tried doing that once with two 4 player pods where one player managed to win on turn 5/6 so we had to wait a couple hours for the other 4 player pod to finish before we could proceed to the next round. Each player was given a sheet of paper listing all the game achievements they've unlocked and for the player with the most unlocked received some kind of prize support from the store. I couldn't remember what it was but we only held the event once and that was it. This was before the pandemic btw. Even though it wasn't a competitive event it was a good way to get more Paper Magic players into EDH / Commander. The entry fee for the event was only $5 as well.
Maybe If Wizards of the Coast were able to add more swag for prize support like sleeves, playmats, or even promo cards that would've been nice. They're probably looking at what happened with FNM a few years ago and were like, "Yeah...we're not allowing LGS Owners / Employees to fake FNM events just to sell promo cards on the Secondary Market that we give them." You sure about that cause they're selling Secret Lair drops because you thought direct-to-consumer was a good idea but really wasn't when you thought it was a good idea to make it hard for players to play Paper Magic at Local Game Stores. Wizards of the Coast, If you really put the LGS first we would've gotten those Secret Lair Fetches by now but you decided to make them less accessible.