The Magic Show #181 – The Reserve List & Scars of Mirrodin

Visit the StarCityGames.com booth at Grand Prix Houston!
Friday, March 19th – Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’ve got some big news: Not only do we know the name of the Fall block, codenamed “Lights,” but we’ve got the most important decision regarding the Wizards of the Coast Reserve List in years. We’ll talk about ‘em both, along with a little Rise of the Eldrazi, this week on the Show. Let’s go!

Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’ve got some big news: Not only do we know the name of the Fall block, codenamed “Lights,” but we’ve got the most important decision regarding the Wizards of the Coast Reserve List in years. We’ll talk about ‘em both, along with a little Rise of the Eldrazi, this week on the Show. Let’s go!

Decisions, Decisions

So the big news this week was that Wizards of the Coast has changed their reprint policy on the reserved list. Yes, on a random Thursday we got the news that they will no longer print premium versions of reserved list members. Instead, there will be no reprints of any card on the reserved list, no matter how foily or shiny or limited the print run is. In other words, the Phyrexian Negator foil printed in Phyrexia vs The Coalition will be the last time they ever print Phyrexian Negator. Ever. Continuing on, due to the nature of the announcement, it then spoiled the following cards on the reserve list that are going to be in From the Vault: Relics, coming your way in a few short months on August 27th.

The set will be reprinting Masticore with awesome new spiffy art; Karn, Silver Golem which is awesome for EDH players and cube draft players alike; Memory Jar, another insanely fun and wacky artifact fit for casual play; and the biggest reveal of them all: Mox Diamond. Mox Diamond has slowly climbed its way from a $5 rare into a card now currently sold out at StarCityGames.com for $49.99. This means this a suggested retail price of From the Vault: Relics set at $29.99 is already paying for itself almost twice over. And while the From the Vault: Relics will be awesome pretty much front to back, with Nevinyrral’s Disk to Masticore to frickin Mox Diamond, it settles a debate that I think is for the worse.

Let’s not forget that Wizards of the Coast flew out StarCityGames.com‘ own Ben Bleiweiss and Stephen Menendian to Renton, Washington a few weeks ago to discuss their thoughts on the Reserve List. And Ben and Steve were in agreement: Get rid of it. It serves no purpose other than to restrict the ability for Wizards of the Coast to create awesome products like From the Vault:Exiled and was created in a time when reprints lowered the value of their earlier printings, rather than steady or increase them, which is what happens today.

I’ll go ahead and lay out the much of the argument presented by Stephen Menendian, a lawyer by day and Vintage master by night, along with a few of my own observations.

Stephen asks: What was the purpose of the Reserve List and reprint policy? What did it accomplish? Was it to save the value of older cards so their reprints wouldn’t devalue them? It was created after the debacle that was Chronicles, a sort of “Masters Edition” for back in the day. All sorts of uproar occurred, prices of older cards were slashed, and dealers were pissed. This was over a decade ago. Nowadays reprints bolster older cards’ value, and remind players of their awesomeness.

Take a look at the current prices for Underground Sea. My guess is these will be quite laughable some day:

Underground Sea (Alpha) — 599.99
Underground Sea (Beta) — 599.99
Underground Sea (Unlimited) — 99.99
Underground Sea (Revised) — 89.99

Notice a, uh, jump there? Doesn’t it stand to reason that that the existence of a Revised version does not affect the Beta price a bit? Think about this: There were only 3,200 copies of every beta rare ever printed. Ever. That’s 3,200 Beta Black Lotuses, 3,200 Beta Death Laces, and 3,200 Beta Underground Seas. There were only 18,500 copies of each Unlimited rare ever printed, while to contrast, there are over a little over 300,000 copies of every Revised rare in existence. That means there are over 13 times more Revised Underground Seas than there are the Power 9, yet it is still worth over 2/3rds of them. It is the fourth most expensive card in Beta, for crying out loud!

The conclusion? Limited reprinting of Underground Sea, in sets like From the Vault or as a Judge Foil, would do nothing to affect their price.

Whether or not that’s true, it boils down to this: The problem with Legacy is dual lands. They are so necessary for you to build decks and have the mana fixing you need in the format without Shocking yourself to death with Ravnica duals. Original duals are quickly getting expensive as everyone needs them for their decks. Some are predicting $200 dual lands, which I personally hope doesn’t happen. If the cost barrier to entry becomes too high Legacy, the format could suffer. I don’t want Legacy to suffer of course, as StarCityGames.com has been a big proponent of Legacy. We held Legacy $5ks at StarCityGames Open events when we could’ve held more profitable Standard events instead, and based on attendance it’s paying off – Indianapolis not only beat Grand Prix: Kuala Lumpur in attendance for Standard, but provided the largest Legacy tournament we’ve ever held. Legacy is awesome, and getting wildly popular, then the general consensus comes back that Wizards needs to tear down the Reserved List wall… and they didn’t. Instead, they added razor wire and guard towers.

Now we may never see Underground Sea reprinted, at least not for a long time. Me? I don’t know why they did it. Aaron Forsythe tweets that Hasbro wasn’t involved, and no one can talk about it. I say they may have feared lawsuits or bad press or simply couldn’t justify the move on a spreadsheet to executives. But man, what I wouldn’t give for another swipe at the duals. From the Vault sets could’ve included a couple per set, insuring massive blowouts of sales, or they could’ve went the Judge Foil route, giving the Judges a $100 bill or more, and increasing the circulation of duals by just a fraction of a percent. To erase the Reserved List was never a question of reprinting the Power 9. Wizards could’ve reprinted Mana Drain a hundred times now, as it’s not on the Reserve List, but they haven’t. Why? Because they’re not stupid, and shedding a policy that has long outlived its welcome would’ve been both prudent and sensible – and still wouldn’t get Wizards anywhere close to reprinting Moxes.

But alas, it is not so. I for one would buy every dual land I could find right now. They will make similar duals in the future, perhaps, and maybe they will even give us a Force of Will or a Mana Drain in an upcoming From the Vault set. But knowing that the dual land door is shut forevermore makes me really sad. I hope whoever made this decision is satisfied with themselves, and know that it is not welcome here at the Show. The Reserved List should’ve been abolished, not strengthened. And that’s how I feel about it.

Scars of Mirrodin & Rise of the Eldrazi

Okay, enough of the drama and onto brighter, happier things. This week, on the same day as the Reserved List announcement, Wizards tried to offset the Yin of the Reprint Policy with the Yang of announcing Scars of Mirrodin, the new 2010 Fall set. Now as the joke goes, the original Mirrodin has left enough scars on Magic. Tournament attendance was completely demolished by the wrecking ball that was Affinity, and Wizards soon banned everything that even looked like it belonged in the deck. But the damage was done, and Mirrodin and Darksteel smashed hopes and dreams like few sets before it.

But this time, I’m pretty sure we have a winner. Completing his six-year plan, Mark Rosewater lead designs his return to Mirrodin, along with friends of the show Eric Lauer and Matt Place. It is lead developed by Mike Turian, who I’m sure you’re a fan of if you’ve had any time with Worldwake, which he also lead developed. Also on the development team are Aaron Forysthe, Eric Lauer and Matt Place once again, all-stars of Magic design and development who I’m pretty sure have something awesome in store. I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth has jumped ten bucks in price since last week, now pre-ordering at $29.99 with the ability to go higher. You know, a few have accused me to trying to ‘boost prices’ when it comes to pre-ordering cards like Kozilek. And to that I say: What? How am I boosting the price by suggesting you buy it early before people realize how good it is? It doesn’t make any sense. Then all of a sudden you see Pathrazer of Ulamog and you realize that Kozilek may be quite pushed, and poof, $10 higher he went.

Anyway, Rise of the Eldrazi is ripe for new spoilers and we’re just a few week or so out. Stay tuned to the Magic Show for more news regarding the Reprint Policy, Scars of Mirrodin, and Rise of the Eldrazi. I also recently created a How To Play Magic series and have released the first episode. If you get a chance, check it out, would you?

Until next time Magic players, this is Evan Erwin. Tapping the cards…so you don’t have to.

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
Community Manager