Yes Virginia, there is going to be a Modern Masters 2.
Strap in, because I'm not a very happy camper today.
Mi$take$ Were Made
With the first printing of Modern Masters back in 2013, Wizards offered a format defining product. To say that MMA was in high demand would be like like saying Bernie Madoff knew a little bit about how to make money. From the first moment that the set was announced with its $6.99 per pack sell point, players speculated. Who would pay that price per pack? Would it be worth it?
Having opened a box myself, I can assure you that it was worth it to me. Barely. But there was that chance of opening a Tarmagoyf - a then $125 or so card. I was nervous opening a box of the first edition of Modern Masters even given I was lucky enough to get it for MSRP.
This set? Well, we do know that Emrakul is being reprinted. A $50 card currently. Surely, there will be other cool reprints to be announced during the month leading up to the set releasing. It is almost entirely too early to jump on a band wagon decrying the MSRP of $6.99 a pack.
WHAT? This set will list packs at an MSRP of $9.99? A three dollar increase in 2 years? Is someone up in Renton smoking the cards instead of printing them?
Ten dollars out of the gate per pack, for something that costs Wizards a fifth of that to produce (that's a fair and likely favorable estimate). Most of the cards in any given pack are penny commons. Literally no trade or collector value is assigned.
I'm sure gamers (better yet, collectors) will be lined up around the block for these boxes. I won't be one. At $240 for a box of product, Wizards has finally priced me out of the market. That's even if I can find a seller with product for that price. I look for a fair value. Unless I have something of a chance of getting at least 65-70% that value back out of a box, I'm out. For a product this expensive, I'd like to see that margin increase to 75%. I stretched myself pretty thin over buying a box of product at $170 last time. An increase to $240 means I simply can't imagine the circumstances by which I'd entertain purchasing a box - whether to save it, crack it, or share it with friends.
And I don't even want to think about what even participating in a draft will be like. I would imagine that most drafts will run in the $45-50 and up range. Yes, to open three packs, stores will charge us about $50 or more (once product dries up from the distribution chain, this price will go up). Serious grinders with a lifetime of draft experience will eat up and spit out the competition. I've got a better chance of buying lottery tickets at that price point.
A product, designed to be PLAYED, priced out of the range of a comfortable price point for many drafters. I wonder how that will work out?
The Other $hoe
And then, the other shoe dropped from the World Magic Championship. There will be three Grand Prixes held in May to celebrate the launch the product. The one in the United States is going to be on the East Coast.
[Jumps away from keyboard for a moment to re-read something on his phone]...[mumbles]...[takes phone and throws it at wall]...
I'm sorry, my mistake. The Grand Prix for Modern Masters 2015 will be held in Las Vegas. Again.
Cue rejoicing for the city in the desert with the smallest population of players within 50 square miles. (All due respect to players who live there or within 3 hours as I continue - this is a call for parity). There are about 10 places that come to mind in the US that right off would have had a significantly larger base of players to draw from.
No, that wasn't a problem last time as the event hit about 4,500 participants. But I must ask, where is the parity? Why not hold it on the East Coast? Chicago? Somewhere near an actual population center? Why must 80% plus participants fly to get to your event?
In 2013, I consoled myself by thinking that if they did a second Modern Masters we'd get our due out here on the East Coast next time (Washington D.C. perhaps). I thought there was no way it would be held in Las Vegas two times in a row.
$omeone$ Got to Win
So I raise my glass.
I raise it to game store owners, those who will sell this product as fast as it arrives at a higher price point than $240.
I raise it to Las Vegas, who landed another sweet event.
I raise it to the TO running Las Vegas. Even base entry fee is likely going to run players into $80-90 a person (practically VIP money for other other events). It hasn't been announced yet, but it won't be cheap.
I raise it to Wizards, who found a way to ring way too much money out of this product and have created a significant fervor over it.
I raise it to the gamers, as my only non-sarcastic tip of the hat. You guys rock.
And I'll cry in my glass over the fact that if this is the trend - in any way - for Modern Masters, that Wizards just found a way to kill it.
Why? Sales begets sales. I have a stinking suspicion that at this price point, Wizards made a significant miscalculation for what gamers will pay for a pack of 15 cards that mostly have no value. Want to kill a product line at Wizards? Nothing does it faster than having underwhelming sales.
This may seem like a rant. Well, it is. But it's not directed at the game designers and creators. Ultimately, it's directed at sales/marketing. People who came up with the price point for the new product. To be fair, it is a team that I have no knowledge of but likely includes representatives from Hasbro. So I'd be remiss in not saying a big, "Thank You, Hasbro," before I sign off this time.
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