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By: Ith, Jordan Kronick
Sep 09 2010 10:34am
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History Lesson

It all started with an announcement and an explanation.  In June of 2008, a little over three months before Shards of Alara hit the shelves, we got the word that the Mythic rarity would be unveiled and that overall set sizes would be reduced.  Smaller set sizes are something that players have been asking for (and occasionally receiving) ever since Legends.  With that set, we got not only 310 new cards (including a few functional reprints, but all new names) but a printing error which resulted in many of the cards being harder to find.  For those who weren't around at the time (or simply aren't well versed in this area of Magic's history), Legends' uncommons were split in such a way that a given box only potentially contained half of the print run.  This combined with an overall low amount of Legends actually being produced and resulted in some of the earliest hard-to-find cards in Magic.  Two of the most important examples of this were Mana Drain and Land Tax. Although Land Tax was confined mostly to casual play at the time, Mana Drain's tournament potency was obvious to everyone. 

What this all means is that Wizards learned a few hard lessons.  First of all, they needed to make sure printing errors like the above never happened again.  Certainly nothing of that magnitude has happened since, so that much they got right.  The other lessons they learned were somewhat more ephemeral though.  Some players loved the size of the Legends expansion (I was one of these).  Some players hated it.  Arabian Nights and Antiquities may have been hard to get because of low print runs, but the sets were small and so determined collectors were able to get everything they wanted.  The sets also had no rares, but rather different levels of uncommon.  Even the rarest cards in Arabian Nights were going to show up in packs more often than a given rare from Unlimited.  Legends, however, had rares.  It also had more cards than Unlimited (it was the largest Magic set to date until Fourth Edition).  Combined with the uncommon printing error, this all made collecting a full set of Legends (let alone a full playset) extremely difficult.  Even those of us who loved the huge set agreed with the hard core collectors that smaller, more manageable sets were preferable to what Legends had.

Wizards responded to these issues.  The next set to be released was The Dark.  It was a return to small set size and also to the lack of rares.  There were no printing irregularities with The Dark (except for the issue with Gaea's Touch's mana symbols) and despite the still-low print run, collectors found it fairly easy to get a full set and tournament players didn't have much trouble finding four Ball Lightnings or Maze of Iths.  There were only two issues left to deal with.  Firstly, the small print runs and secondly the complaint of many players that they were ending up with lots of useless commons far in excess of how many they could use.  Fallen Empires tried to correct both of these problems, with mixed results.  The massive print run of Fallen Empires led to the cards being almost worthless and the multiple art idea for the commons proved to be unpopular with most players.  Having thirty (Merseine)s with different art was better than having thirty with the same art, but only marginally.

All the lessons learned from Magic's first five expansions helped lay the groundwork for the rarity and set size paradigm that went largely unchanged for fourteen years.  From Ice Age through Eventide, we got a few oddball sets but nothing that hearkened back to the weirdness of Magic's formative years.  Complaints about having too many commons steadily reduced in volume (in part when people started selling big boxes of bulk commons to each other).  The rarity of cards stabilized with Mirage and remained in that form until we hit the current debacle.  Printing errors have been very rare and usually unnoticeable.  The regular rotation of set sizes pleased everyone more or less.  People who liked big sets got them once or twice a year, and people who liked small sets got those twice a year. 

Arrival of Myth

So what happened that made Wizards redesign the wheel with Shards of Alara?  For this we turn to Mark Rosewater's explanation column, The Year of Living Changerously.  I'm not sure if Mark expected people to be referencing this article in arguments for years down the line, but it's proven to be one of his most controversial.  Rosewater says that set sizes were being reduced because, among other reasons, the Standard format contained too many cards.  I don't think many people would disagree with this.  At the time the announcement was made, Standard contained more than 2100 cards.  Small set size, everyone seemed to agree, was a great way to prevent this sort of thing.

At this point we need to start looking at the issue from Wizards' point of view.  Reducing set size means that people have to buy fewer packs to get the cards they want.  Selling fewer packs is, of course, A Bad Thing.  So, to counteract this, we got Mythic.  Collecting all of the Mythic cards you needed would require buying a lot more packs than you would have to buy to collect rare from previous sets, and you could still have a small set size.  It's easy to understand why Wizards made the decision, but we must remember that it was a decision made for monetary reasons.

This brings us up to the present day and it brings me to this discussion on the Magic Online General forums: Mythic Mox coming soon?, originally penned by Jyalt.  His first post was short but sweet.  Moxes are utility and Rosewater said there wouldn't be utility cards at Mythic rarity, right?  As I did in the thread, I thought I'd include Rosewater's quote here so everyone can get a good long look at it.

We've also decided that there are certain things we specifically do not  want to be mythic rares. The largest category is utility cards, what I'll define as cards that fill a universal function.  

This is the quote that's caused all the trouble, and I'll be referring back to it often.  Before I descend into the melee, let's take a quick look at Mox Opal.  If you don't want to know any Scars of Mirrodin spoilers, you're in the wrong place.

Mox Opal - 0
Legendary Artifact
Metalcraft – Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Activate this ability only if you control three or more artifacts.

Jyalt's thread presents us with a few questions that need answering (or at least some heated debate):

1) Is Mox Opal a utility card?
2) Does Mark Rosewater think Mox Opal is a utility card, and why did he say the above quote?
3) Should Mox Opal be printed at the Mythic rarity?
4) Did R&D break a rule by printing Mox Opal at Mythic?
5) Should Utility cards be printed at Mythic?

The Five Questions

The first question, I think, is pretty easy to answer.  Yes, Mox Opal is a utility card.  It's a colorless artifact that does nothing except to tap for mana.  It's as much utility as Mox Diamond or Darksteel Ingot or Coalition Relic before it. 

The second question gets a bit more involved in the answering.  The above quote has led some to believe that Rosewater lied, broke a promise or that he simply has a very bizarre interpretation of what "utility" means.  I don't believe any of these things is true.  I don't believe Rosewater thinks that Mox Opal doesn't fit the bill as utility.  His only definition given is "cards that fill a universal function".  That is to say, utility cards are cards which do something that every deck wants done.  Mox Opal taps for mana and every deck wants mana.  Obviously, although utility cards do things that every deck wants, the cards themselves may not be things that every deck wants.  Every deck is improved by having a Black Lotus in it, but not Lion's Eye Diamond or Dark Ritual.  Mox Opal definitely falls into the latter category.  Not every deck is going to have the artifact support necessary to make use of Mox Opal, just as not every deck will have the black mana necessary to cast Dark Ritual.

So then, why did he say what he said and was he being dishonest when he said it (or has he made himself dishonest by printing the Mox now)?  Firstly, note that his quote refers not to "I" but "we".  In this quote he is speaking for Magic R&D.  Although the definition he supplies for utility is his own (he says "I'll define as", not "we define as"), he is speaking for the group with the first sentence.  I don't think many people can honestly say they believe he was being dishonest at the time.  If R&D didn't actually believe that utility cards shouldn't show up at Mythic, he wouldn't have said it.  Although pressure for a position one way or another has risen dramatically in the past two years, at the time he wrote this statement there was no pressure because nobody knew Mythic was a real thing.  The announcement about Shards of Alara's set size and Mythic rarity was released at the same time as his article explaining the decision.  We can deduce from this that any statements regarding Mythic rarity and utility was honest because there was every reason to be honest and no reason to be dishonest.

So why did he say it?  What reason did R&D have for not wanting utility cards to show up at mythic rarity?  For once we see a decision which seems to be founded not at all on monetary concerns.  Mythic rarity, as I've already discussed, was implemented so that certain cards in each set would be very hard to find and people would have to buy more packs in order to get them.  The Utility Statement (as I'll refer to it from here on out) seems to many to be an attempt to address concerns from players about secondary market prices for staples.  It isn't.  Just a quick look at what Mythics made up the freshman class of Shards of Alara reveals standouts like Ajani Vengeant and Elspeth, Knight-Errant.  Both of these proved to be very powerful and useful in quite a few decks.  They were definitely staples.  Were either of them utility cards?  Absolutely not.  Neither of their functions are "universal".  Neither of them produces an effect that every deck wants.

To wit: utility and staple are not the same thing, and The Utility Statement should not be taken to mean that R&D didn't want staples to show up at mythic rarity.  The Utility Statement should be taken at face value.  If Rosewater said that R&D didn't want cards with universal function to show up at mythic, then that's what we should take away from it.  No more and no less. 

The third question is whether Mox Opal should be printed at mythic rarity. To answer this, we have to look at why R&D (and most everyone else) agreed that they shouldn't be printed at mythic when the announcement was made.  There are two parts to this reasoning.  Firstly, everyone agrees that mythic rares should feel mythic.  That is to say that they should do powerful or very unique things.  They should not simply be very powerful versions of effects that already exist.  Taking more examples from Shards of Alara's first class of mythics, we have Lich's Mirror.  This is an absolutely unique effect.  It's potentially quite powerful but it's also incredibly narrow.  This is a good example of a mythic card.  Some mythics which seem to stand against this reasoning are things like Jenara, Asura of War.  Jenara is a powerful card certainly, but her effect is not unique.  She's simply a very good version of the kind of card we've seen many times before. 

On the other hand, cards which simply do things better than any other card does them are also mythics.  Sometimes the power level is the deciding factor in what feels mythic.  Baneslayer Angel is mythic not because a strong white angel with lots of abilities is unique but because the combination of abilities and the very cheap casting cost make it a very strong card.  Much like Jenara, Baneslayer is a very good version of a card we've seen many times before.  Does this make Baneslayer feel less appropriate at mythic than a card like Lich's Mirror?  I don't think so.  Cards which are mythic do not have to fit every classification of the mythic rarity to be fair game for the rarity. 

So far we have two categories for mythic rarity.  First is cards which do unique, potentially strong things.  Second are cards which do non-unique but but broad things in new and powerful ways (or combinations).  There is a third category however.  The third are cards which evoke the feeling of nostalgia for past cards which, though they may not have been mythic, have that certain allure of myth to them.  M10 began this trend with Time Warp.  This is a card which is not unique (there are many "take another turn" effects), and which is not uniquely powerful (there are a number of other "take another turn" effects which are better than Time Warp).  So what makes Time Warp a mythic card?  The answer lays in the feeling it evokes.  Time Warp was originally designed to be a "fixed" Time Walk.  The attempt to evoke the powerful cards of the past has been present in nearly every Magic set to date.  Almost every one of these throwbacks was used as a promotional tool by Wizards for new sets.  Lion's Eye Diamond, Time Warp, Diminishing Returns, Mox Diamond, Time Spiral, etc were all cards which were mythic before there was a rarity attached to them.  They were created in an attempt to harness the same emotional reaction that mythics are meant to harness today.

So, does Mox Opal feel mythic?  This is obviously an aesthetical question.  What feels mythic to one person might not feel mythic to another.  To me, Mox Opal does feel like a mythic card.  Obviously it's power and mystique are largely factors of nostalgia.  It's a zero-cost artifact that taps for one mana and carries the name "mox".  It's no mystery just what feeling they're trying to evoke from players with this card.  Mox Opal may not be unique in what it does, and it may not be uniquely powerful in the way it's doing it, but it falls into the third category alongside cards like Time Warp and Time Reversal.  Mox Opal fits into a category of mythic which was previously defined.  If we set aside the utility argument for the moment, it seems clear to me that this is just the kind of card that mythic rarity was designed for.  It's strong and it evokes a powerful nostalgia.  It's a showpiece for the set.

So, to the next - and most contentious - question.  Did R&D break a rule by printing Mox Opal at mythic?  For the purposes of this discussion let me say that "rule" carries the same meaning here as "promise", "commitment" or whatever word you want to use for a binding agreement.  The simple answer here is that no, they didn't.  There is nowhere you'll find where Rosewater or anyone else ever said that it was a rule, a promise or anything else like that.  The only firm quote we've had on the subject was The Utility Statement above.  What we have there is a statement of intent from more than two years ago.  R&D of 2008 did not want utility cards to show up at mythic.  That's all we've got to go on.

Well, R&D of 2008 is not R&D of 2010.  Opinions and employees change.  Just as we have, R&D has had two years to see how mythic rarity was received by the public and to see what kind of effect it had on tournament formats, collectors and casual play.  It seems clear that their opinion as a whole on mythic utility cards has changed. 

Those who argue that Rosewater implied a rule are simply wrong.  No rule was implied.  You are reading what you want to read.  Rosewater is perfectly capable of stating rules outright if it is rules he wants to make.  He has no reason to make rules however, because they serve no one's interest.  R&D has a pretty poor history with rules of this nature.  The Magic Reserve List is the most notable example, ironically taken for reasons opposite those of the fictitious mythic rule.  The Reserve List was created to protect the secondary market values of collections and the mythic utility rule was supposedly created to prevent secondary prices for staples from growing too high. 

Did I just say staple?  Yes, I did.  See, that's the problem with most people arguing that there was a "mythic utility rule".  What purpose would such a rule have?  Most of the arguments are that it was meant to keep staples from becoming too expensive.  Except that we've already determined that utility and staple are not the same thing.  Not all utility cards are staples and not all staples are utility cards.  So, to infer from Rosewater's statement of R&D's opinion on utility cards that there is a rule about staples seems a bit far-fetched.

No promise was broken because no promise was made or implied.  As stated, Rosewater is perfectly capable of making promises directly when he wants to.  If he or R&D had wanted to make such a promise about mythic utility cards, they could have done so.

That brings us to the fifth question.  Should utility cards be printed at mythic?  Obviously, they now have been printed at mythic.  So this question is not one about the future of Magic but of its present.  It could be rephrased as "is it a good thing that utility cards have been printed at mythic?"  To me, the biggest reason not to print utility cards at mythic is because they're mostly boring.  I believe that R&D shares this opinion and that it was part of the original reasoning for The Utility Statement.  Utility cards don't generally do exciting things because the things that every deck wants done (the definition of utility) are commonplace.  Producing mana, drawing cards and removing specific permanents from play are all manifestations of utility.  In almost every case, the ways in which these things are done are somewhat dull.  Coalition Relic is a great card, but it definitely doesn't feel mythic.  Even Cryptic Command, which is a powerful card that can do multiple utility duties at once still doesn't feel mythic.  There's nothing about these cards which excites players on the same level that mythic cards are meant to.  They excite us as strong cards which can help us win, but not on an emotional, visceral level.  

Mox Opal, on the other hand, does excite people in this way.  The evocation of Moxen of the past is the whole impetus for the card.  I dare say that if it wasn't called a mox and didn't have mox-like artwork that it suddenly would not be appropriate as a mythic card.  In this case, the feelings that card generates in players are the whole reason for its rarity.  When you get down to it, Mox Opal is a pretty dull card mechanically.  Producing mana from a zero-cost artifact is only exciting to us because we know how strong such effects can be. 

My opinion is that cards must fit into one of three categories to be mythic.  They must either be unique, uniquely powerful or evocative of uniquely powerful cards of the past.  I also believe that the latter category should be used quite sparingly.  We've only seen it done three times in more than two years and that seems about right to me.  I think the question of whether it's good that utility cards are showing up at mythic is no more important than the question "is it good that creatures are showing up at mythic"?  Utility cards are just another type of card.  If the offending card fits into the categories that have been established to define mythics, why should it be excluded just because its function is categorized in a certain way?  People think it's bad that utility cards are showing at mythic because Mark Rosewater said that R&D didn't want them to show up at mythic.  Considering the low opinion these people have for Rosewater's opinion, it seems odd that they should be so inclined to enforce it now.

Afterword

In my first article of this series I took a scattered look at three different issues that were raising voices in the Magic Online General forums.  This week I decided to take a focused look at one issue.  I intend to switch between these methods irregularly.  Sometimes there's a lot of different news or opinion that needs coverage, and sometimes there isn't.  The past couple weeks have been fairly subdued with one big exception, and so I thought I'd use the time to give mythic rarity a full examination.

Once again, I thank you for your patronage and encourage everyone to comment on this article.  Tell me what you liked about the style, but also tell me what you think about mythic rarity and utility cards.  Or tell me what you think about card classification in general.  Tell me what you think about Mark Rosewater.  Heck, tell me whether you think Count Chocula could beat up Darth Maul. 

Until next time, keep seeing red.

36 Comments

First mythic utility card by aahz77 at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 12:45
aahz77's picture

Hi there,

great article, pleasure to read.

I fully agree with you on the "evocative of uniquely powerful cards of the past" category of mythic cards. If Mox Opal wouldn't have the word "Mox" in its name, it wouldn't feel mythic. And as you said, R&D already tried this category with Time Warp (although that card has been around as a regular rare before) and Time Reversal.

But Mox Opal is not the third utility mythic, it's the fourth. See: Lotus Cobra. That card wouldn't feel half as mythic if it wouldn't carry "Lotus" in its name - Black Lotus evokes even more nostalgic feelings than the Moxen (and remember, R&D tried to design a fixed Lotus more than once, just as they tried with the Moxen).

--T.

I meant that Mox Opal was the by Ith at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 12:55
Ith's picture

I meant that Mox Opal was the third in the series of "nostalgia mythics", not "utility mythics". I actually tried hard not to define how many utility mythics we've seen so far because people disagree about them so much.

Nice by urzassedatives at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 13:53
urzassedatives's picture

I completely agree with this article.
I knew the Mox would be mythic, and agree that the name/history involved excites the playerbase. That has to be why people actually spent 30 bucks for Reversal, right?
Very well spoken, thought out arguments to silence the continuous, repetitive complaints that come up every set.

Also, they are pushing the by Cownose at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 13:54
Cownose's picture

Also, they are pushing the mythic nostalgia thing quite a bit in Scars. If we had 4 nostalgia mythics in the last 2 years, we have at least 3 in scars by itself: Mox Opal, Mindslaver, and the new Platinum Robot guy. Now you'll hear no argument from me that Mindslaver is a cut-and-dry mythic, as it meets about all those requirements, and since Plat. Angel became mythic I guess Platinum robot makes sense as a mythic too, but moxen with drawbacks are simply not all that exciting, and should not be the kind of card that R&D wants at mythic. I think zero cost mana producers fall too much into the utility category to make having them at mythic reasonable from a cost perspective. I know WotC allegedly does not really care about the secondary market, but they should have enough respect for their customers to understand that (if it turn out lots of decks need the mox to be competitive) that the end result will be astronomical prices. I don't mind having to shell out for a jace 2.0 every now and then, but if utility mana producers go to mythic then this whole thing is getting out of hand. To me, the new mox is similar to the ravnica duals. A worse version of something powerful from the past...and Rosewater said that they would not put duals at mythic...so why the mox?

Good article, I enjoyed it, by Westane at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 14:04
Westane's picture
5

Good article, I enjoyed it, but my view on the Mox hasn't changed. Let it be Mythic. Honestly, if it was a good card that could go in any deck and not have damning restrictions, I think it would have been a rare. As it it, it's VERY restrictive, will NOT see play in many decks, and I just don't think it's a very good card all around. Make it Legendary, give it a good chunk of lore, and let it be Mythic.

I concur. Unless there is by Paul Leicht at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 16:59
Paul Leicht's picture

I concur. Unless there is something specific we don't know about upcoming sets that breaks it, it lacks luster. That isn't to say it won't have uses.

Im having a very hard time by Cownose at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 17:15
Cownose's picture

Im having a very hard time imagining WotC making a mythic mox that isn't going to see heavy play at least in standard...but we wont know until we have a complete spoiler

Even still. In pre-mythic by Westane at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 17:26
Westane's picture

Even still. In pre-mythic times, Chrome Mox didn't see play in every deck, and current mythics don't see play in every deck. I'm 100% sure Mox Opal will see play, but it's not like every deck's going to want to use it. As it currently stands, not a single Standard deck wants/can use this card. Post rotation, you'll still a pretty O.O opening 7 to get instant value out of it. Obviously we need to see the full spoiler to know for sure, but even with some pretty generous speculation I still don't like the card in Standard. Is it really so far fetched that WotC printed a Mox for the sake of flavor, rather than power?

Remember that we're going to by StealthBadger at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 07:10
StealthBadger's picture

Remember that we're going to get another two sets of scars block. It's going to see play in something sooner or later. I imagine it'll show up in legacy affinity, if scars boosts that deck back to playable as well.

Also, we know trinket mage is back, so I guess it might show up as a 1-of in various lists that way.

I'm not sure I'm keen on the logic that we can have it as a utility mythic as long as it has a flavour-evoking name. I mean, what's to stop them printing dual-lands under the name "baron sengirs mountain retreat" or something? Obviously, this seems far-fetched but it's the same logic.

See that's just it. I'm by Westane at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 11:55
Westane's picture

See that's just it. I'm opposed to them printing utility mythics as well, flavor be damned. I just don't consider this a utility mythic.

I think that common sense is by Ith at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 22:15
Ith's picture

I think that common sense is what's stopping them from printing things like mythic dual land throwbacks. Firstly, allowing nostalgia-mythics isn't some kind of rule that other members of R&D can use as a loophole to get bad mythics made. As it stands there are no rules preventing them from printing anything they want at mythic. If they wanted to make mythic Scryb Sprites, they could. So if we apply the same "what's stopping them" question, the answer once again becomes "common sense".

Furthermore, Mox Opal is a fixed/tweaked mox, not a functional reprint. If we did see mythic dual lands - something I doubt we'll ever see - they'd be tweaks, not just functional reprints with flavorful names. They've never done a functional reprint of an overpowered card at mythic, and I don't think they will in the future. For one thing, functional reprints of overpowered cards just aren't something they do. The closest they've come are things like Mind Spring, and I don't think too many people would really call Braingeyser overpowered.

Nice by LOurs at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 17:48
LOurs's picture
5

Enjoyable read of an interesting topic. This reasonning is clear and I would agree on many points. My opinion is that the mox is currently very underestimated.
In Vintage, in legacy and even in extend, there already are some decks in which this opal could well fit in. And in standard, we dont get a full view of SoM set but I wouldnt be surprised if it becomes more than playable in an environement where we could find cards like basilic collar, the new bonesplitter, the new CMC0 1/1 artifact creature, needles, stoneforge mystics, chalices, voltaic keys and some others. All of these cards are pretty cheap to cast and seems well playable. And we even dont know the full spoiler (of the first set of the block) ...but if ever WotC put the artifact lands back at a moment ... you see what i mean. I also believe that even if frustating, to put it legendary isnt a bad idea. Firstly it is its only real "drawback", and secondly I think it would be have been very powerfull to almost broken to let them play simultaneously. Regarding play health as well, but also regarding price & acessibility.

Good article and good style ... maybe just a bit more pictures next time

Good article. I think you by kalandine at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 17:55
kalandine's picture
4

Good article. I think you did a solid job of differentiating between utilitarian and staple.

If WotC reprints the Artifact Lands in Scars of Mirrodin, how much does that up the value and playability of Mox Opal?

I wish you had gone into more of a comparison of why Mox Opal is not a utility card but dual Lands are since that is an example of a Utility card provided in the MaRo article. Personally, I think that Mox Opal is just as utilitarian as dual lands. The Opal provides broader color fixing than a mere dual land. It has equivalent constraints in my opinion as Mox Opal requires artifact usage (a deck building constraint) while dual lands only work for certain color pairs and actual dual lands (not sac and search) have recently been limited to allied colors.

Personally I've disliked by Xaoslegend at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 19:30
Xaoslegend's picture

Personally I've disliked mythics since their release. Some of the best staples in the game are getting printed at mythic and that's just making magic unaffordable to a lot of players.

There needs to be an easy way for people to play casual and competitive to really get that lifelong hook into magic and mythic seems like a way to get more money out of players that already are hooked but that will diminish new recruitment in the future.

I could certianly be wrong about this, but intuitively that's how it would seem to work to me. Right now magic is enjoying the benefits of having video games introduce people to the format, which is counteracting this I think.

I think if they didn't print cards that were good as 3-4 ofs in a lot of decks it would be alot healthier for magic. (IE Vengevine, 4cc and lower good planeswalkers, Baneslayer angel, ect are just exploitative of the rarity system on magic players)

Mox Opal doesnt bother me too much so far, since its use is narrowed to artifact decks. So long as those dont become a massive part of the magic metagame it should be ok in value.

Xaoslegend-

Mythic rarity has just made by Windcoarse at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 19:47
Windcoarse's picture

Mythic rarity has just made the game more expensive than it needs to be, but I really don't think its going anywhere. Wizards is obviously going to print cards people really want at mythic rarity because that sells packs. The more people seem to just accept $75+ standard cards as normal, the less wizards needs to fear printing must-haves in the mythic slot. I have to agree with you, as $300 dollars for a playset of a standard card is absurd. People vote with their wallets though, and they don't seem to have much of an issue with mythics considering they still play the game.

We know the market will bear by Paul Leicht at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 20:40
Paul Leicht's picture

We know the market will bear just about anything given the nature of spikes and tourney play. Spikes drive the market with their must have this card to win mentality and as long as that is true mythic power will reign supreme. Jace is just one example, Vengevine and Baneslayer are two more (though now it seems Baneslayer has been powercrept by Primeval Titan.)

What this means is that the vote is always going to be heavily weighted against those who are not driving the market. Which means there will always be mythic hate and complaints as the mythic cards rule the game BUT. And it is a big but I think. The game is not solely about tournament play. Or rather about official tournament play. People can play what they want when they want as long as they have someone else to play with. So if you hate the mythics, don't allow them in your games, don't play with them and enjoy the rest of the game.

"Personally I've disliked by LOurs at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 05:29
LOurs's picture

"Personally I've disliked mythics since their release. Some of the best staples in the game are getting printed at mythic and that's just making magic unaffordable to a lot of players"

I dont fully agree with that, or to be more accurate, I would say that it is one point of view but there are also others to consider. In fact, in my opinion (I didnt have done a real empirical survey, so consider that as feelings only), Mythic rarity increased the tournament decks average price for sure (a lot). But simultaneously, it seems also that the rare cards average price decreased. So in a way, you could also consider that mtg players could get an easier access to theses cards (rare) than it was before. It seems that it enlarged the hole between competitive and casual : it doesnt necessarly mean that it is making "mtg less affodable", but it mostly makes "competitive mtg less affordable". Is that better or worse than before ? What is the impact on mtg player recruitment ? an easier access to casual and harder access to competitive is it healthly regarding the number of player ? I dont know at the moment, but theses details should take part in the reasonning imho.

It also has the effect of by StealthBadger at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 07:41
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It also has the effect of making FNM level events actually have non-netdecks appearing. I can show up at FNM with my random W/B concoction and am likely to play at least 2-3 rounds against other peoples random concoctions, just because they can't afford the ridiculous tournament decks. I don't really know whether this is a good thing for magic in general, but I quite enjoy it.

I hardly own any mythics to be honest. I have a set of grave titans that I bought on pre-order for cheap, and some chandras and sorins, but I wouldn't even consider some of the prices I see cards at now. It's a shame, because Abyssal persecutor and venser both really appeal to me.

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I liked the article, it was a well balanced look at the subject.

Mythics have not made magic too expensive to play. I am sure many of you disagree with me already, but hear me out. Mythic rarity has increased the cost to play tournament magic. If you are a kitchen table player and not a tourny player then the cost of magic hasn't changed. A draft is still 10-15 dollars, the cost of starters haven't varied much, and boosters are still 3.99 in the US. This may seem like splitting hairs but it is really a very important distinction to make. This is not an argument for mythic rarity, more of a clarification because I hear complaints about it pretty often at my shop. I feel like Wizards knew what they were doing when they announced mythics, and they knew who would bare the greatest coast of this new rarity, the tourny players, tournament players know you have to pay to play, kitchen table players mostly wouldn't pay for a $300 competitive deck, so the mythics bumping that cost up to $500 doesn't really matter. I don't love mythics, I surely don't love shelling out tons of cash for play-sets, but whats done is done and lets bury this conversations it's nearly 2 years-old

You are more than welcome to by Paul Leicht at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 05:36
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You are more than welcome to not participate. But it seems to me that telling people to shut up is just asking for an explosion. In fact it is probably unintentional on your part but what you ended with could be taken as provocation for further discussion not less. If you truly wish the whole thing tabled, stay out of it. :p Also note that much of what you said about prices and tourney players was echoed by other posts above, so it wasn't critical to add anything more.

Take notice of a few things by Gunslinger1978 at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 13:36
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first my post was actually before both of those above me I thought my post added a post of view that wasn't discussed and brought up some points about FNM and sealed product, a major way to play FNM and to clarify our FNM takes place in draft format. I am Not sure how those other posts ended up above mine double checks time stamp???. Secondly I said I'd like to bury "lets Bury It" I never told anyone to shut up, I think maybe you are reading what you want to see not what I said.

Flawed by Bastow at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 11:51
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While you do hold forth in an intelligent and respectful manner, your reasoning is flawed or at least somewhat dishonest. If one follows through with your arguments, it basically means WotC can print anything they damn well please at mythic. Take for instance the Baneslayer example. It's mythic because it's uniquely powerful. That means this card is fine too: Lotus Goyf - 6/6 trample - 1G. If that's your opinion, I'm fine with that, but it's very veiled in this article.

Also (not directed at the author), if you're just a kitchen table player who aren't affected by mythics, why even get involved in the discussion? Many tournament players are hobbled by the inflated prices of these cards, of course they're pissed, they should be. WotC are squeesing these players' wallets hard. I honestely can't see how you can be on the company's side and against your fellow gamers. Of course they're allowed to make money, but when a company takes a shit on their consumers like that, you don't thank them and rise to their defense when other consumers complain. What if game developers decided that games for your shiny PS3 will be twice as expensive from now own? Or the breweries that beer should be three times as expensive? An even more apt example would be a community of movie lovers. One half go the movie theater, one half watch DVDs in their homes. Suddenly the theater decides to take an extra 40% in admission fee. The mythic apologists are basically the DVD crowd going: "Sucks to be you lol. You can just watch on DVD like me. (But really go to the theater and spend lots of money so the studioes will make more movies for us to enjoy XD.)". I don't understand that stance and I never will.

Well its a personal choice. by ShardFenix at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 12:51
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Well its a personal choice. If you choose to be competitive then you accept all that comes with it. Good and bad. It's obvious right now playing competitively is expensive. To know this, decide to play competitively, and still complain is crap. It's like deciding to buy a Jaguar then complaining when the maintainence required is more expensive than your friends Kia. You chose to play Magic in the expensive environment. After making that choice you really have no right to complain about prices. Same thing with your movie example. If you choose to go watch it in theaters then you shouldnt whine about paying 20-30 dollars for two tickets and drinks. Cheaper options were/are available.

Unless the movie you saw was by Westane at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 12:57
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Unless the movie you saw was Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Then you have no right to complain about, well, anything. Hell, you should have paid double. /fanboy

Also I agree. The competitive environment is what it is, and seeing it on paper often makes me happy I play online. $5 fetches vs $15 fetches? Yes please! As for kitchen table Magic, as an above poster said it hasn't really changed. I play a $15 Dredge deck every week with my friends. It's casual and fun and I don't need to shell out for Mythics.

Not saying you are wrong by Gunslinger1978 at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 14:00
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I a play tournament magic, my reference to the Kitchen table players is made to illustrate a major market not influenced by mythics, magic players tend to speak on mythics as if it hits everyone, when clearly it does not. I don't have any numbers but I suspect it is very likely that more packs are sold to casual players then to tourny players.

Your argument about DVD's, movies, beer, and video games is not an accurate comparison, because the cost of a pack of cards has not gone up. This to me is not about sides, it is simply a business being a business, and since business is about making money where it can exploit a need in the market, it's hard for me to rally against it.

Considering the way it was done and the portion of players affected I think it was actually pretty risky by wizards to pin its hopes on mythics to sell packs, if that is infact true. I also do not blame wizards for the cost of cards on the secondary market, I know who is to blame for that, the unfortunate answer is me, you, and anyone else who plays at the competitive level. Star City Games also has a cross to bare in this, I think as a major retailer of secondary market cards most places fall in line with however they price cards. Think back to the first mythics Like Elspeth and Ajani, Star City priced them like other good cards and then found out through sales date that they could price cards like that much higher, why was Elspeth never 50 dollars presale? Gideon was and he is worse card in the same color. So why? Baneslayer is the short answer, Star City learned that the market would respond to a $50 mythic, but baneslayer was the perfect storm, an angel for casual players, powerful in a good color for competitive levels. The market got use to its high cost and when star city and other retailers placed jace at $50 it sold out. This is very much like the cost of gas per gallon, we all complain its 3 dollars, then 4, then 5 and after coming down to 4 and 3 we just stop yelling about it though 3 is pretty high, its a 200% increase from when I began driving in 1996.

Hopefully this better illuminates my stance, again as I said before I am not a fan of the cost but I know I am partially to blame, I have paid that cost for cards I could have just as easily said no to.

That opinion is "veiled" by Ith at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 22:26
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That opinion is "veiled" because it's nonexistent. I trust R&D not to print cards like the hypothetical Lotus Goyf simply because it's ridiculously overpowered. I don't think opening the door on nostalgia-based mythics opens the door for overpowered nostalgia-based mythics. The checks and balances that prevent cards like Lotus Goyf from being printed are as much in place as they ever have been (and in fact are stronger today than they have been in the past).

Congratulations by Bastow at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 20:37
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Again, if you're not affected at all, why respond? Responses have not addressed my point in the slightest. Rehashing the same old, tired, retarded point doesn't make it right. If your honest opinion is that no one should ever complain about anything, that's fine. But then you shouldn't reply to this article. Like at all. Because, you know, you're complaining about people complaining.

To return to the movie example. To make this a straight up magic example: If no one buys into the tournament scene, i.e. no one goes to the theater, the rate of new cards/movies would be glacial. And if you don't care about that, why the fuck are you "arguing" in this discussion about new cards? Working overtime to find a hole in my entirely fictional example just show how little logic and reasoning you bring to this discussion. Everything I mentioned was simply to illustrate the point that everyone has a soft spot. A luxury item they don't need, but certainly like having around. Let's say every american ISP decided that your internet would from now on be capped at 28kps, unless you pay an extra 50% per month? Do you understand now or are you still too stubborn? I'm not calling for any radical boycott or any such nonsense, all I'm saying is that consumers shouldn't laud a company for fucking them over. And just to pull a preemptive strike on the knee-jerk reaction, fucking about with your turn 16 combo around the "kitchen table" isn't the same game as competitive magic. I'm not saying either is right or anything silly like that, it's just not the same game.

you still arent making a by ShardFenix at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 21:02
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you still arent making a valid point...its your money. If you are choosing to spend it on mythics then thats your choice. No one is saying there is anything wrong with that. But for people to spend the money on mythics and at the same time still bitch about the prices is stupid.

Still busy trying to evade my by Bastow at Sat, 09/11/2010 - 04:21
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Still busy trying to evade my points I see. Your entire argument boils down to "if a company arbitrarily raises the cost of a luxury item you desire by a fairly large amount, you aren't allowed to voice displeasure or feel screwed over". If that's your stance fine, but don't expect others to simply accept it as a golden rule. Mythic rares really suck for a lot of players, don't just expect them to bend over. People want to go on record to say "hey, guess what, mythics still suck and we still think you screwed us over", calling that stupid is just plain fucking ignorant. I for one don't share your loyalty to the capital and I hopefully never will.

Bastow.... by Scartore at Sat, 09/11/2010 - 09:30
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@Bastow... I'm going to say this as nicely as possible. I'm about as far from a tournament player as you are likely to find in these parts. Yet I agree with you that many of these prices are insane and that bugs me because it means that there are parts of this game I love that I will most likely never get to experience. Its not just the tourney players who are feeling gypped in this situation. If I crack a Primeval Titan I pretty much hafta sell it to fill out the rest of my collection, I'll almost never get to play with it. I think the new Venser pwalker looks cool, but I'll most likely never get to use him either because you tourney players will drive his price thru the roof if he is at all useful. And you know what? This has always been true, even before mythics. I never owned a WoG until they took it out of std due to price. Mythics just exacerbate the problem.

That being said, at this point I don't give a crap what you think about it. Every single other commenter in this thread has gone out of his way to be polite. Nobody has told you to shut up, yet you have repeatedly tried to exclude others from the discussion. Maybe it's the internet. Maybe irl you'd be a nice guy to have a beer with. But right now, in this thread, you are coming off as a boorish, foulmouthed douchebag.

well whining and bitching by ShardFenix at Sat, 09/11/2010 - 13:39
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well whining and bitching about and being an all-around douchebag isnt to effective. You can sit there and bitch and moan all you want on your little keyboard. Its not going to change the fact that more people are playing magic more than ever. Which means plenty of people obviously have no issue with mythic rarity. Either pay for them or dont. But if you do decide to buy them dont expect people to care about how much they cost you. And your assesment of my point is totally wrong. My point is, you choose if you want to play mythics. No one forces you too. WotC isnt forcing you to buy the mythics on the secondary market...thats how you chose to spend your cash. So now you think you can complain over how you spent your cash and put blame on someone else? dude go fuck yourself, youre a fucking idiot. your mom should have swallowed you

What is your problem? by Gunslinger1978 at Mon, 09/13/2010 - 01:03
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"Again, if you're not affected at all, why respond?"
We are all affected by the price of cards on the secondary and the mythic rarity, what effect they have on each of us varies.

Your points were muddled, that's why they were called out, they also didn't follow a common line of reasoning that applied to all the examples. In short they were bad. saying we all have luxury items we don't want to dispense with is fine, but mythics are not luxury items we have, they are items we would like.

You probably need to be less defensive in your responses, attacking people who respond to you, in most cases, is considered bad form.

To be clear with you, I understand every point you have tired so poorly to make. You should probably ask yourself if you understand the points others are making?

Who here is "lauding" WOTC? To say you understand why they made mythics and putting on a cap that says "Mythics Rule" are very different things. I don't think I have read a post here yet that says they love a new 50 dollar card each set.

"And just to pull a preemptive strike on the knee-jerk reaction, fucking about with your turn 16 combo around the "kitchen table" isn't the same game as competitive magic. I'm not saying either is right or anything silly like that, it's just not the same game."

The problem here is, that it is the same game where it counts, same rules, cards, and function. This isn't the same as using chess pieces to play checkers. Drafting isn't the same as constructed but it is still Magic right? Packs of cards, boxes, and starters all still cost the same, mythic rares cost what they cost because consumers voted with their money and said it is okay to sell Card X for $50. These are facts beyond the realm of opinion, you can hate it, you can say further rude things to me and about my posts, you can try and deny, but the truth is evident.

double post sorry by Gunslinger1978 at Mon, 09/13/2010 - 01:06
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double post sorry

I've always found it amusing by Raddman at Sat, 09/11/2010 - 12:04
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I've always found it amusing how people complain about Wizards and how they chose to operate their business. I have a secret for you, companies who are in business are there to make profits! This sense of entitlement we get from society now a days is sickening (I'm a customer, woe is me).

Typical business will operate with these 3 things in mind.
1. Is this decision right for the company?
2. Is this decision right for the shareholders?
3. Is this decision right for the customers?

The truth is, believe it or not, printing Mythics did in fact fulfill yes answers to all 3 questions. Mythics drove down prices of rares and made FNM's all across the country more casual.

A great business thrives at these three things.

1. Revenue growth
2. Profit
3. Great relationships with internal and external customers

1. Revenue growth is simply them selling as many packs as possible, but also and more importantly doing the necessary things to bring new players into the game (ie xbox). Everyone has heard of McDonalds, yet they still advertise. Why?
2. Profit - easily explained, they can't sustain profit losses for long period of times without major drawbacks or even dismantling of the company.
3. Internal customer would be the people that work for them. Happy employees make great employees. External is obviously you and I who buy their products.

In the end, this game we love is ran by a company in the business of making money and until we accept that as fact, these type of threads will never end!

You make some excellent by Paul Leicht at Sat, 09/11/2010 - 15:22
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You make some excellent points here. All true and all pretty much on target. Kudos.

Mythic Rarity by Buttered_Popcorn at Sun, 09/12/2010 - 12:46
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5

I rarely comment on articles, but I felt the need to do so in this case.

Your reasoning of how Mythic cards should be categorized is true. In the case of Mox Opal, the Mythic rarity is deserved because the card fits the third category: nostalgia. I started playing with 8th Edition and Mirrodin, so the nostalgia factor is definitely affecting me.

I will echo urzassedatives above in saying that your article was well thought out and persuasive. You argued your position well.

In short: awesome article.