#3. Appealing to The Casuals
Question: Does Modern Masters allow more casual players access to powerful and/or missed cards?
The reason we say it’s mixed once again goes back to a matter of cost and availability. Let’s start with the cost aspect.
First, it’s good to remember that the majority of Magic players are casual players. We are the ones who don’t play in Constructed tournament formats, often don’t play one-on-one, and our decks don’t necessarily adhere to the scripture of structured format requirements such as lots of playsets and a sixty card deck. Plenty of casual players do, but the point is that it’s more the exception than the rule.
There’s a misnomer out there, however, that casual players won’t spend money. There are plenty of us kitchen table contingent that would rather have $40 of product from the bulk rare pile than one $40 card, but we’re still spending $40. Moreover, casual players buy preconstructed theme decks, the Fat Packs, Planechase sets, etc.
They also buy random booster packs. And with Modern Masters, packs are the closest a casual player will get to it.
With such limited stock, if places are even selling boxes directly, they’re asking between $250 and $300 (on average) – for boxes 33% smaller than normal. That’s somewhere between 50 and 80 percent above MSRP. Stores, just like promotional products, have been much more likely instead to do draft events with them. That, or they’re selling packs individually, priced averaging close to $12 each (about 75% above MSRP). Premiums on specialty product are one thing, but if Wizards intends for the everyman to consider Modern Masters, it has to at least seem affordable.
Many of our draft players were unable or unwilling to spend $30+ on a draft, potential goodies aside, because it simply wasn’t worth to them. The only reason we were able to do our draft review at all was because the good folks at Merrymac Games in Merrimack, NH are bucking that trend somewhat – their packs were going for under $10 apiece. Sure enough, I watched several customers make the decision to pick up a few packs, in part because they liked the idea that the packs – while still a luxury purchase – was deemed to be just inside their acceptable purchase range. People willing to drop $30-40 for a draft are not the average Magic player.
That’s the area that most casual players don’t want to contend with: being priced out on dollar amount alone. Unlike Modern tournament players where the issue is paying too much for cards they need to be competitive, casual players usually just balk at the cost because it’s expensive for what you’re getting. If Dark Confidant is there for $55, and Dark Tutelage is there for 50 cents, there is no contest in which we’re grabbing. It’s not to say that casuals don’t like to get the latest and greatest toys as much as the next person, but it’s only up to a certain point – which is often a much lower threshold than your average tournament player or collector. Essentially, whereas a tournament player desires affordability in cards because of the need for them, a casual player desires affordability because of the want for them. And wants are a lot easier to walk away from.
If Modern Masters is available at reasonable rates, casual players will buy it. They’ll enjoy doing so for what they may find inside, be it awesome cards or merely nostalgia. If, however, the issues of scarcity cause prices to be too high, they’ll opt for what they deem better use of their money.
Modern Masters largely achieves two out of its three main goals. The set is fantastic to draft with, and we highly recommend it if the price is worth it to you. Whether it’s the nostalgia factor for seeing old cards again in a pack, or being able to experience them anew, it’s quite rewarding.
Similarly, if you are a casual gamer and local game store has packs for justifiable rates (remember, the MSRP on them is $6.99), then consider splurging a little. Not everything is a money card, but there are very few rares in Modern Masters that one would be disappointed to open.
Unfortunately, the one area that Modern Masters fails in was its primary purpose: bringing down prices for Modern players.
It’ll stem the tide for now, but it will not ease the barrier to entry or the burden to the existing player base for long. Eventually, the prices of these sought-after cards will start climbing again as they’re snatched up by players, collectors, or institutions that like to keep prices high to protect their inventory.
Modern Masters appears to be highly under-printed, and it inevitably won’t be enough to curtail price issues. It appears that, for fear of the past, or fear of the present, Wizards went much more conservative with the set than they should have. Only time will tell if there was any lasting impact to prices at all, but we won’t get our hopes up.
Photo Credits: Webcomic by Cardboard Crack.