Saturday, June 1, 2013

Modern Masters one week before release

The packs are MSRP $7, and it looks like the market price is $11, or $250 for a 24 pack box. Many Local Game Stores (LGSs) are giving packs as prizes for standard tournaments and/or selling the booster boxes for $250. The set is loaded with money cards, and therefore the market price seems fair. I have read in the forums that some LGSs are holding sealed tournaments at MSRP. That seems generous to the players, yet I do understand if a store sells at the $250 a box price. An LGS is a business, and these are difficult times.

I am very much staying away from this product because money I spend for it is money I will not have to play Standard online, to go to new set pre-releases, or to buy cards to collect the new sets. I plan to buy a few packs to make YouTube videos, but there is just not enough money in my budget to play as I do now AND play any form of Modern, even casual. I found this out when sampling the sets. I started strong with the Mirrodin block, kept going at a good pace with Kamigawa and then hit the Ravnica money wall: when every pack is $10, and even many of the uncommons are expensive, it is just too much money per set, per block, to perform a reasonable scan. I never even got to Time Spiral. I did buy some commons for all of the blocks between Kamigawa and Zendikar, but did not sample Zendikar, even with commons. I did have a lot of fun with the Scars of Mirrodin block, but that is because those packs are affordable.

Sorry, Modern, but I will have to wait.....maybe play you as a format. For now, Standard has my wallet's undivided attention.

To a noob MM is a puzzling product. It seems to be testing multiple limits:

1. How angry players who own the reprinted cards will be if the price of the valuable cards sink.
2. How many more players will pick up Modern as a format they play regularly.
3. To what extent players who are now only in Standard will shift their money to Modern. (This is the category that I am in. I have already calculated how much money it would take for me to do Modern the way I do Standard and I only have enough money to play one format at the level I play Magic).
4. How much money spent on MM will directly yield more players having Modern competitive decks. (Two words: Mana Base, and the Zendikar Fetchlands are not in MM at Uncommon, and that is what is needed to significantly decrease the cost of the Modern competitive mana base).

Both of my LGSs have gone the $250 per box route and will NOT be drafting it. This 'cash in now' policy is understandable because shops need to make money, but it completely defeats the purpose of the product. Its a Commander's Arsenal, only "better" at achieving what Commander's Arsenal achieved: quick profits for second market speculators and oblivion (or  oblivion ring ) for most players.

As a noob I would be itching to crack open packs at $4 a pop out of Target or Walmart, but not having ever played Modern, the fact that a Dark Confidant is such an important card in this format means nothing to me, and the fact that the MM packs have been snatched up in a speculating frenzy helps to keep me out of Modern, instead of just knowing that there is some other format out there that probably a single-digit percent of Magic players play.....that was a long sentence.

In conclusion, this release tries to do two things at once: be a solid draft set, and increase the pool of money cards. It seems to be failing at both: even though it seems like a solid draft set, the average player (read 'poor' like me) will not get to draft it AND the limited run will not significantly increase the pool of money cards. As someone thoughtfully suggested in the Wizards forum, two other release choices could have been made to attain one of the two objectives of MM:

1.  Take out Bob and Goyf, sell the packs for $4 each, print a mountain of cardboard, and sell them at Target and Walmart.


2. Print 20 cards including Goyf and Bob and sell them at $10 per card.

On a possible bright side, the two weeks mid June when packs will be available online for $7 each is really doable, and the possibility of a second, and hopefully larger second print run would keep the speculators, hoarders, and price gougers at bay. In my case, I chose to spend the money I allotted for Modern Masters on a mountain of Tenth Edition cards (700+), and all for $88, or eight packs of MM.

The online packs are at MSRP, and I am planning to buy a handful. It would not hurt if I pulled something nice. I will wait for the paper packs to be offered on ebay at near MSRP, and if they are never are, well... that is too bad.