Often people take issue with R&D over various problems. These include, but are not limited to:
- The cards are too powerful.
- The cards aren’t powerful enough
- The rares aren’t good enough
- The uncommons aren’t good enough
- The commons aren’t good enough
- The rares are too good
- The uncommons are too good
- The commons are too good
- White is too weak
- White is too strong
- Red is too weak
- Red is too strong
- Black is too weak
- Black is too strong
- Green is too weak
- Green is too strong
- Blue is too weak
- Blue is too strong
- The environment is too fast
- The environment is too slow
- Control is dominating
- Combo is dominating
- Weenies are dominating
Unfortunately, all of these complaints are usually being lobbed in R&D’s direction at once. Because many of the above are inherently contradictory, the message sent to R&D is that they should just listen to their market research, since they want to cater to the broadest cross-section of players possible, and not the loudest cross-section.
You’re going to hear a complaint aired here today that probably has never been aired before in Magic’s history. The upcoming discussion I’m foisting on you today is partly about the power level of a card. It’s partly about the mana cost of a card. It’s partly about the mechanic of a card. But mostly, it’s about You, the consumer.
What card am I talking about?
Well, hold on just one second.
A Brief Aside
In case you missed it, this announcement was made regarding a change to the banned and restricted policies for the DCI:
“The DCI has moved the effective date for changes to the Banned and Restricted (B&R) List.
B&R List changes will still be announced four times a year: March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1. However, starting with the June 1, 2004 announcement, any additions to or deletions from the B&R List will become effective on the 20th of the month the changes are announced: March 20, June 20, September 20 and December 20, respectively.
This change was made so that all tournament format changes, whether through the rotation of card sets, or by a change in the B&R List, will occur on the 20th of the month.
The DCI Team“
Personally, I think this is a great change – it synchs up the rotation of new sets to coincide with any new bans or restrictions decreed on the first of the given months. There’s one major problem with this policy.
From the US Nationals info page:
“June 18 -June 20, 2004 – US National Championship
Day 1 will consist of 3 rounds of Standard followed by 4 rounds of Booster Draft
Day 2 will consist of 3 rounds of Booster Draft followed by 4 rounds of Standard
Top 8 will be Standard
Players are required to use the same Standard deck for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday”
Let’s assume that the announcement will be made that Skullclamp is banned on June 1st. This banning will go into effect on June 20th – just a scant eight hours before the start of the top 8 of US Nationals! Since players have to use the same”Standard” decks for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Wizards might want to make an announcement (immediately) about this apparent snafu.
Hey Wizards! Here are some options for you:
Emergency ban Skullclamp (and whatever else is going to get the axe on June 1st, if anything) for US Nationals (or all remaining Nationals).
Disqualify anyone who has Skullclamp in their deck on day 3!
Start your future new policies at a time that doesn’t interfere with one of the major events of the year.
Amend the floor rules to cover a situation where a card is banned mid-tournament.
Courtesy of Adrian Sullivan article on MagicTheGathering.com this past Wednesday:
Text: Relentless Rats gets +1/+1 for each other creature in play named Relentless Rats.
A deck can have any number of Relentless Rats
What a neat concept! Relentless Rats combines the best of Plague Rats (except larger) with Cardboard Carapace (except playable) to make a very interesting creature. Do you play with twenty in a deck? Thirty? Forty? Do you play with as many as you can get your grubby little hands on? Will opponents be able to survive a rat onslaught? Will rat decks suddenly surge in popularity?
To me, those questions are completely insignificant. I have only one question about this card, one question that has been pounding at my brain for quite some time now (as this card had been discussed prior to the MTG.com article on mtgnews.com):
As a dealer, what in God’s green earth do I price this card at?
Congratulations R&D, you’ve printed a card that I have no clue what to do with. If Relentless Rats were common, there’d be plenty of them to go around. However, you made them uncommon. On average, you’ll be pulling two or three per booster box. If a person wanted to build a reasonably competitive Relentless Rats deck, they’d need to open up about ten booster boxes just to acquire twenty-five to thirty rats.
How am I supposed to sell this card?
It’s reasonable to say that people will want to order Relentless Rats in multiples of twenty or so. Unlike previous cards (excepting basic lands), the hard limit of four doesn’t apply – and this is going to drive the price of the Rats to wacky land.
If I price the Rats too low, we will sell all of them to two people and have no Rats for any further customers.
If I price the Rats too high, we’ll be stuck with a bunch of unsold Rats.
There is absolutely no way to adjust the flow of sales of the Rats to determine if the price is too low or too high – if the price is too low, we sell out on two customers and then don’t have any others to sell. If the price is too high, we never sell them, and once we lower the price we sell them all to one or two customers and then are out of stock.
Moreover, there’s usually one to three chase uncommons per set (think Flametongue Kavu, Chainer’s Edict, Circular Logic, Isochron Scepter, and Skullclamp). These uncommons usually end up in the $3 to $6 range depending on which tournament season we’re in, and which deck is hottest at the moment. Reminder: you can only play four of the above cards per deck.
What happens if Relentless Rats are tournament playable? It isn’t outside the realm of possibility that the Rats could be viable in Standard or Block – especially given the lack of an efficient Wrath effect in MD5 thus far across all five of the colors. What price will the Rats become when people are actively hunting down thirty to play with per deck – especially given that”hot” uncommon cards – with their limit four – would push into $5 territory?
I truly feel that I, as a dealer, have been placed in an absolute no-win situation.
R&D, why are these Rats uncommon and not common? I can’t think of a situation where you’d end up with so many of these guys in a serious non-Constructed format (sealed deck, team sealed, booster draft, Rochester draft) that they’d be broken as commons. Even so, wouldn’t it have been better to power down the Rats (make them 1/1 perhaps) but make them readily available to all players instead of making them prohibitively impossible to obtain in copious quantities?
Anyhow, I hope everyone enjoys their respective 5th Dawn prereleases next weekend – the set looks really good so far! Good luck getting your Rats, and until then, try not to play Skullclamp in the top 8 of US Nationals.