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  • posted a message on Modern Horizons - is the price tag justifiable + other ponderings
    If these premium sets weren't of equal value to their price point, the value of old masters boxes would be plummeting.

    Goods have:

    • An economic value expressed in units of currency.
    • A use value, which is very low in Magic cards since they're merely game pieces.
    • An exchange value, which is trivial, as Magic cards can be sold but in terms of goods and services are mostly just traded for other Magic cards. Note this is not a monetary price.
    • A selling price, which is often equal or nearly equal to the others, but does not necessarily have to be (and in fact, this is the exact problem, see below).
    When you buy these Magic cards, you're paying $10 a pack for cards that, when you open them, aren't very likely to be worth $10 in any of the four values. Hasbro and Wizards have simply decided to set a price that's not reflective of their goods' actual value. While in the long run, such as over multiple cases of booster boxes, your packs might give you an average value close to $10, at the smaller scale most people play at, it's nothing but gambling that you'll get something useful. This is also why new players are universally told "buy singles, not packs." Hasbro's profits can only ever go up with the more inefficiencies and middlemen included in the distribution of Magic cards (there's no reason foil Japanese alternate art planeswalkers need to be in such short supply, for instance, except as a conscious decision to create less supply than expected demand).

    A corporation will never have your best interests at heart. If they feel they can squeeze an extra dollar out of you, they'll go for it. Wizards is nobody's friend but their shareholders', and greed is their singular motivator. It's all they're legally allowed to be motivated by. That's not "good" behaviour by any stretch of the imagination.

    I'll throw this out there for the above poster

    You realize you're talking to the Magic version of Jim Sterling, right?
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Modern Horizons - is the price tag justifiable + other ponderings
    Quote from Stoogeslap »
    With all of the facts & opinions I just gave, can anyone give me a justifiable reason for such a heavy price tag outside of corporate greed?


    There isn't any, because America is a capitalist economy and under capitalism, corporations like Hasbro are only allowed to do one thing: Maximize shareholder value. If an executive takes steps that the board believes do not serve this goal, the executive will be replaced by someone who does. And, of course, actually maximizing shareholder value (instead of merely increasing it) means doing some pretty dirty things to make sure you aren't leaving even a single dollar on the table.

    Combine that with how many executives get bonuses tied to quarterly or yearly performance, and you have the makings of a system where exploitation is not only the default mode of economic transaction, but the only one. So Wizards feels like they can get away with Masters-level pricing here, and they're doing it. In a few years, if Magic lives that long, they'll try that again, except the packs will be more than $10. They might even be $15. And executives will keep on pushing that envelope farther and farther, with more supplementary sets and more pointless add-ons like Masterpieces and alternate art Japanese cards, trying to get those bonuses, trying to maximize the profits from each new release, with no regard for Magic's long-term health other than to shrug their shoulders and blame the consumer if it all comes crashing down.

    You see it in most industries, and the fundamental problem is capitalism. It's not limited to Hasbro or to Magic in any significant way. They're a symptom, not the problem.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    And yet they couldn't kill their potential future cash cow Nicol Bolas.

    For something called "war of the spark" it was certainly pretty bloodless among the named cast. Then again the recaps I've been reading are like... they better do something good with Liliana is all I'm saying, because that "surprise yoink I'm basically an oldwalker again" was the most interesting thing to come of the story.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    Quote from Xeruh »
    You’re also comparing a serial writing style with a novel, those are two very different styles.

    The Ring cycle is six books in three volumes, plus all the supplementary material like The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and various other books like The Children of Hurin.

    But you want to know the main difference between an actually good story like Lord of the Rings and a hack story like Magic? I'll boil it down to a simple microcosm: The orcs. Tolkien, being a devout Catholic, actually worked various themes he believed in into the work. Such as the fact that evil cannot create, but only corrupt. Hence why orcs aren't their own race, but elves that have been corrupted to evil. And yet he still struggled with the idea of a race that's intrinsically, purely evil. His faith led him to dislike the idea that a people could be beyond redemption. While he never really solved that moral dilemma while he was alive (though he did posit that Mordor would've had huge farms and other industry offscreen, implying civilians existed), the fact that there was a clear theme the author actually believed in means that you can tell the work actually has weight to it.

    Compare that to the Eternals. Oh look they just have to touch a planeswalker to de-spark them and also they're only as strong as the plot demands. Their defeat doesn't even have any real weight to it because there's no thematic culmination to anything (compare to the Witch-King dying in Lord of the Rings). And the corrupted Amonkhet gods? Well, in the Ring cycle, the Nazgul were once great kings but have been so thoroughly corrupted by evil that they're indistinguishable by now, having lost their humanity through their greed. It's an actual literary theme, unlike "here, evil zombie gods, look isn't that cool?"

    Fundamentally, the problem is that Wizards does not want Magic to be a story. This seems counter-intuitive, but look at how they market things. They market plot points, they put watermarks on cards that represent key moments in the plot, but they spend almost no time on character or theme. They want epic moments, but not the slow buildup that makes them have impact. It's a very "have your cake and eat it too" approach to storytelling, and it leads to things like them thinking Nicol Bolas is Ozymandias when really he's Snidely Whiplash.

    Remember, the reason I'm comparing everything to Tolkien is because Western fantasy literature almost invariably traces itself back to one of two sources: J.R.R. Tolkien or Robert E. Howard. And Magic is much more in the vein of Lord of the Rings than it is Conan the Barbarian.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    It is a hallmark of bad story telling if you just jump from one threat to the next, Dragonball Z style.


    Well, not necessarily, because that's how you get Nicol Bolas Thanos going "time to take action" then a ton of movies later he's still doing nothing.

    Compare this to actually good writing, such as Lord of the Rings. Sure, Ungoliant is still kicking around somewhere because they never actually confirmed she died. Morgoth will return in Middle-Earth: Ragnarok. The blue wizards are still probably ******* around wherever they went. But Tolkien don't make you feel like you got left hanging. There's no "... and then what?" to those stories because Tolkien knew how to make a decent story. With Magic, there's always a tease of a story to come, but it's obviously written in a "well you'll get something, maybe, if corporate allows it, but we don't know what it looks like yet."

    What you're missing here is that introducing new threats without having dealt with the old ones first only works if the story is paced and planned well and Magic's storyline is anything but paced and planned well. Though I will agree that the utter failure of Nicol Bolas to be an engaging, effective, or even interesting villain isn't as bad as the blatant "we want our own Avengers team because that's popular now!" marketing the Gatewatch gets.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    Quote from Xeruh »
    It's bad story telling to toss a bunch of different issues in all at one time and not be able to give each of them proper focus. Bolas is the focus right now, Eldrazi aren't.

    Introducing the Phyrexians and the ELdrazi and all that other stuff while Nicol Bolas was supposed to be the main villain is the exact kind of bad storytelling you're talking about. There are so many plot threads strewn about because they want to be able to milk a storyline as long as they can (otherwise Nicol Bolas' storyline would've been wrapped up years ago) and that means you've got all kinds of stuff on the "maybe we'll come back to this some day between original worlds" docket. Subject, of course, to the whims of executives who base story directives on sales, not anything to do with story. If good storytelling brushes up against the need to hit a sales target, Hasbro is going to ensure the sales target wins every time.

    I'd also say it's bad story telling to have "unbeatable" villains.


    Yawgmoth is a hell of a lot better of a villain than Nicol Bolas is ever capable of being, and that guy could kill oldwalkers just by touching them. The story showed the actual gravitas of the Phyrexian threat and built them up as credible villains, not a moustache-twirling "literally no matter how this goes, it's all a part of my plan you'll never learn" cardboard cutout. And as a result, Apocalypse felt way heavier than War of the Spark.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Why I hate Mono red burn
    Quote from HugSeal »
    6. You are old school and don't think RDW has been an archetype since pretty much forever?


    It has and it hasn't. The original mono red deck in this vein was Sligh, played by Paul Sligh, and it was a janky mess due to the deckbuilding restrictions at the time but it pioneered the concept of the mana curve. Fast forward to the original Mirrodin era and that's when you have the first modern-ish incarnation of "Red Deck Wins" where the deck has so many avenues to bypass defenses (blocking, counters due to activated abilities, etc) that the red deck "just wins." Notably the difference between Sligh and RDW is that Sligh wants to burn away potential blockers and RDW tends to place less emphasis on preserving its board.

    Then you have variants like Big Red (which has been a thing since forever because Mana Flare + Fireball was tech in the early to mid 90s), Ponza (red control), Goblins, and of course, Burn. The main addition Burn brings to the table is the sheer amount of redundancy it has, substituting threat quality (each individual Bolt only ever deals 3 damage) for threat density (you've got a lot more Bolts than they have business spells).

    Burn, traditionally, is actually highly skill intensive and only gets even more skill intensive after sideboarding, so it sounds like Arena's BO1 is the problem rather than red per se. This could just as well be white weenie or green stompy and the problem would be the same.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    Release date for the original Avengers movie in the US: May 4, 2012

    Battle for Zendikar release date, where the Gatewatch became an official thing: October 2, 2015

    We know that Magic set design is about a 2-3 year process. If anyone seriously thinks that the Gatewatch wasn't an attempt to cash in on the superhero franchise, well, there's not much else that can be said.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Liliana dies in War of the Spark
    And with Time Manipulation from Teferi AND Karn , they can do literally whatever they want, so they have multiple "get out of jail" cards in their sleeves to mess with the story in every possible way.

    So the story has zero stakes. Because while we've seen a few planeswalkers die here and there, the mere existence of those kinds of temporal shenanigans leads to the "why wouldn't Ugin/Sorin/Nahiri just kill the Eldrazi?" kind of scenario where even if there's an in-story reason for it (in the Eldrazi case, Ugin wasn't sure what the ramifications would be on the multiverse if they died, which was promptly forgotten when two of them got Channel Fireball'd), that reason will never not come across as a hackneyed contrivance because characters should never have the tools to invalidate the plot to begin with.

    Lazy writing meets plot contrivances might be the direction the story's taken since the Mending but it's still not good writing by any stretch of the imagination. Hell they've even straight-up killed Nicol Bolas before so him dying here wouldn't even have any impact because players would just go "okay now how'd be survive another death?"

    But when you want the story to be less "who cares about the plot? You're here to turn off your brain and watch superheroes fight supervillains and you aren't interested in anything else" and Wizards thinks that's a good approach to take, well, that's when you start developing opinions.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Seeing Tezzeret as the new BAB promo..I am so sick of Wizard's BS
    It'd be funny if the way to tell a card is counterfeit becomes "this card's stock and printing are too good."
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Seeing Tezzeret as the new BAB promo..I am so sick of Wizard's BS
    And the problem is that does have a significant gameplay effect. It's been a known problem for years because the event deck Verdant Catacombs had a noticeably different printing than the pack version and there are stories of inexperienced judges declaring those perfectly legit cards counterfeit. Between that and the all-foil-printing I mentioned the problems with above, I have to wonder just how frustrated at least a few R&D members are with their managers making these incredibly terrible decisions. These aren't the mistakes made by someone who actually knows and cares about Magic. These are the mistakes of corporate types who just see Magic as another brand to exploit as much in the short term as possible and discard when it's no longer viable.

    Frankly I'm surprised that counterfeits aren't a bigger issue than they currently are with how hard Wizards is cutting corners.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Seeing Tezzeret as the new BAB promo..I am so sick of Wizard's BS
    Quote from Xcric »
    there's no nonfoil option making them easy to cut to in a deck

    You'd think they would have learned their lesson after Kess, Dissident Mage was soft-banned from tournament play in Legacy because of how warped the foils were for an all-foil printing. It was basically "find a judge willing to create a proxy for you or don't play her" because the card was considered marked by default.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Kid almost beat to death over tos
    If it's a joke it's in extremely poor taste and should not be given credit.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Kid almost beat to death over tos
    Given the legal climate as far as corporate liability for consumer products is concerned, that "lawsuit" is going to get thrown right out in a New York minute by the judge. Though I'd be very surprised if events actually happened as described. I'd believe someone came to blows, but "beaten into a coma" would make the news. Not necessarily a lie but I would say likely embellished.

    Oh and to the people talking about the insanity defense, that defense is almost never even attempted, and when it is, it has a vanishingly low success rate (plus you're still involuntarily confined if it succeeds). Even if this story is true, the insanity defense would not work for what seems more like aggravated assault.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Something bugs me about WAR (semi-rant inside)
    Quote from drmarkb »
    If you try and run a game by market research, don't be surprised when the audience does not like what it says it would like.

    That's a problem corporate media has in general. You get so afraid of alienating literally any group that you become unwilling to take any kind of artistic stand. You wind up becoming less focused on the "telling a story" aspect of it because you care more about the "create [inoffensive] entertainment" aspect of it. But you run into problems like the inability for your heroes to stand for anything other than a vague "heroism" or like the inability for your villains to do anything truly evil because the villainy must be kept to things that exist only in fiction (evil businesspeople, for instance, would look more like a Captain Planet villain than the CEO of a real oil company). You wind up trying to please everyone, only to be confused when you discover that being a milquetoast means you're more likely to piss people off—you can't go far enough in any one direction to please any but the most easily entertained before you're forced to double back. You wind up eschewing greatness and embracing mediocrity because you don't understand that merely casting the bigger net to keep people around until they get bored isn't going to be better if a smaller net would establish a loyal core audience that stays with you through thick and thin.

    Think about it like this: When we study literature, we study the ones that actually have a point to make. Even something like Lord of the Rings manages to have opinions on things ranging from theology (evil cannot create and can only corrupt, hence why Sauron has to turn elves into orcs) to environmentalism (the ents and Isengard). That's the kind of thing you won't really see out of a corporate entity unless it's something very few people would disagree with and, as above, unless it's presented in as general a way possible so readers can project their values onto it. "And do the wizards really have to be angels? That might not play so well in foreign markets. Maybe they should just be special in some nondenominational way." Same thing with Bolas. He's a moustache-twirler because anything that might map onto real life is too "risky" for Wizards to attempt.

    It's a problem that won't be solved unless Hasbro ever lets Wizards' creative team loose without corporate "risk management" restrictions, but that has about as much chance of happening as Mana Drain in Standard. Until then, grasping mediocrity will remain the "better" business choice than taking a risk to achieve greatness.
    Posted in: Magic General
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