The Card Game Disclaimer

It’s late one night and I looked at how many drafts I had here and balked. So we’re going to do this one differently: The post is going live but I’m going to keep coming back and updating this one instead of hiding it until it’s perfect.

Storm Count 1: Rant

I have lots of complicated feelings about this card game I’ve played for nearly 30 years and the various corporate owners and the level of chicanery and often downright monopolistic evil they engage in. I am the killjoy asshole who reads the mega toy corps investor communications to try and show people how this giant goddamn company actually feels in aggregate about people’s beloved hobbies. They literally put the monopoly guy raining cash on their investor slideshows.

I keep trying to completely shut off these hobbies dependent on unhealthy capitalist shitheads and all it ends up doing is isolating me from people with different tolerances for capitalist malfeasance, and since my tolerance is, I guess, much lower than most folks, I just repeatedly end up being the overlooked dead canary in the coal mine of a customer a few years before other people finally go “Wow, this company is fucking evil and I am not going to support it anymore.”

I’ve tried not to buy new product for this game for the last 5 years, and tried to build experiences that don’t need new input to manage my interest while giving as little money as possible to anyone that is not a local game store. But, it’s become a key point of social interaction with a lot of people and scratches some itches in my brain, so I just try to limit my involvement these days and not support it directly – Because it’s extremely isolating and exacerbates my baseline level of loneliness to opt-out or try and explain things every time it comes up instead of just playing with people.

Storm Count 2: State Based Actions

This is a placeholder for where to put all of the shitty things that Hasbro has done with their brands.

Honestly a good start is probably Tolarian Community College, and it almost doesn’t matter which product video you pick from the last 5 years… And the professor is a fan who wants the game to continue.

30 years: The Mock(s) Anniversary

Long past my own limit for tolerating Hasbro, one of the more recent flare-ups has been the 30th Anniversary product. The key sins here are:

  • $1000 price tag for 4 x 15 card boosters
  • Not even “tournament” cards just proxies
  • Randomized packs, extremes of the uneven ‘Lotto ticket’ booster mentality

100% agree with Prof here. If they’d just let people draft beta proxies at normal prices it would have been an incredible product. Even if they’d gone with Masters-level prices this would have worked probably. Well, worked from a PR perspective, I’m sure WOTC sells enough of these to make bank.

Worlds Beyond Reasonably Priced

A lot of issues with these crossovers. The premium priced cards at unique events thing was kind of tolerable. Secret Lairs getting new, Eternal legal cards was really too far. Shoving crossovers into your basic products is just really stupid.

Storm Count 3: Removal

Here’s the shit I’ve tried to do to not give Wizards money and how it ends up happening to me.

1. Going Infinite.

I recently combed through my (at the time quite meager, contained) collection and pulled out things with moderate value to sell. The idea was that I’d do some upgrades, only buy singles, and use this to moderate spending by forcing myself to liquidate ever more obscure and inexpensive pieces to expand at all. I got about 60 bucks in credit, after spending about that much to play with some friends.

However, I recently took in a much larger collection of cards from another local friend. I ignorantly thought that huge heaps of cards to peruse would be enticing for several new players I knew and might replace some of the excitement of new sealed product. That hasn’t happened, but I did luck into a cache of Antiquities cards. I plan to sell about half of these for store credit, and the other half for cash…. and only purchase singles, from the local store, using that pool of funds.

2. Build self-contained experiences.

I’m pulling cards for my third cube now, but I’ve only ever convinced people to draft a cube I own once.

I tried to create a “Deserts” cube for Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation, but spent more time writing some automated tooling to try and measure the cube and guide additions or changes the way one might use metrics for a code repository.

Then I tried playing Arena and realized how awful it was and how it was almost solely a gambit to destroy the ownership of digital cards that MTGO offered. In response I started a Ravnica themed cube, which we actually drafted once, and it was really fun. I just couldn’t reliably get enough people together to draft.

So then I started my Commander Pod – Four up-powered starter commander decks under 200$ that I’d balance and curate, so people could play some cards without having to go out and buy anything. So far I think this fuckup has been responsible for the sale of about 7 commander precons, which I guess seems obvious in hindsight but still makes me just…. extremely angry with myself.

And now I’m trying to build a Pauper Cube. We’ll see where that leads, but it is at least encouraging people to engage with the least expensive format and seems like it might not have the same failings as my other efforts. It’s also just cheap and eminently trashable instead of being an expensive and curated object I get attached to.