Players are beginning to open the first mini-set that Magic: the Gathering has ever offered! We’ve never experienced this, so there are bound to be some unexpected occurrences with the first 50-card set. It’s not even set release day, and the few who have opened some packs are posting their contents and… there’s an unsettling trend. Now that common cards are gone, players are opening a lot of the same uncommons, so much so that ending up with more than a playset of each uncommon in the entire set in a box seems incredibly likely.
Nothing Uncommon About These
Early posts of MTG Aftermath loot has revealed something pretty shocking: it looks like the uncommon cards in MTG’s first mini-set aren’t going to be worth much. Redditor tideshark shared the majority of his contents from their Epilogue boosters, and there are a lot of duplicates.
For reference, players will only ever need four copies of a nonbasic land card (with a few exceptions) to play MTG. Commander only allows players to play one copy of each card, and traditional constructed formats only allow for four copies. As you can see with the images above, getting a playset of each uncommon, at least in a bundle, should be incredibly easy. Ironically, you’ll likely end up with too many of these cards. Considering that they’re unlikely to be worth much, finding uses for them may be challenging.
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There’s Only 15 Uncommons
This isn’t surprising, considering that only 15 of the 50 cards in the entire set are uncommons. the remaining 35 unique cards offered are all a part of the Rare slot. This is only made worse by what each slot of an Epilogue Booster offers. Here is an overview:
- 2 Non-foil uncommons
- 1 Non-foil rare or mythic rare
- 1 Traditional foil card of any rarity
- For approximately 1 in 6 boosters, this is a rare or mythic rare.
- 1 Booster Fun card of any rarity
- For 1 in 6 boosters, this is a traditional foil card.
- And for 1 in 6 boosters, this is a rare or mythic rare.
- This means approximately 1 in 36 boosters contains a traditional foil Booster Fun rare or mythic rare.
- 1 Ad card or token
In other words, of the five cards available in an Epilogue Booster, 2-4 of them are going to be Uncommon. Additionally, the two flex slots only have a 16.67%, or a one in six, chance of being a Rare, meaning a majority of your packs are going to have three or more uncommon cards in them. Theoretically, you may only need four packs of MTG Aftermath to own every single Uncommon card in the set – though this is pretty unlikely to actually happen. Either way, owning every single Common card in just four packs of a core set is, generally, not a statement players should be expecting to hear.
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Value in the Variant?
Needless to say, this is not the best early look at March of the Machine: The Aftermath. Taking to Reddit, players are particularly unimpressed with the repetitive nature of early looks:
“This is not new. You are witnessing the return of the Fallen Empires effect.” – KnifeChrist
“This is exactly what people thought would happen, and it happened. Buying this product just means you’ll get a bunch of duplicates.” – TizonaBlu
“I’ll say it again: when they Take Commons Out of the set, it just throws everything one rarity tier down.” – Suspinded
One thing that many players commented on is that this set seems to be an experimentation in terms of cards holding value according to how rare their variants are. This is a common tactic in the entire TCG industry, but outside of scarce collectible items, like Serialized cards, this largely does not work for MTG like it does other games.
“They’ve added another dimension to it. It’s now about the type of uncommon/rare/mythic you get. The “base version” printings are the new common chaff, with the rare/chase treatments being the truly rare thing. Just look through these pics at the ratios between treatments within a single card. That’s the real shit here.
In the end there are more rarities to play with, and it eliminates needing to print a ton of commons that nobody wants. The problem is this isn’t the rarity model anyone wants either, as it makes ripping packs like this a bland and repetitive affair.” – huggybear0132
As discussed by Redditor BlurryPeople, while characterization, like Charizard from Pokemon, can drive prices a lot, the same is not true for MTG – a card will not have value just because it’s a Jace – the card needs to good mechanically in the context of the game. This makes the tactic of introducing variants as a rarity system much less ineffective:
“Pokemon, and to a lesser extent Yugioh, have a lot more “brand” appeal. People will collect a specific Charizard or Pikachu simply because of the name, regardless of what the card even does. That’s the benefit of having a huge manga/anime/video game following as well as a card game.
MtG can’t support this same scheme for the exact opposite reason. MtG IP is basically worthless, as time and time again we’ve proven, most recently with the “Signature Spellbook” products, that slapping a character on an MtG product doesn’t equate to sales just for the sake of flavor. “Jace” and “Liliana” don’t sell packs on their own. The cards have to actually be good for MtG players to bite. Big difference between Pokemon.”BlurryPeople
Moderate Scarcity Isn’t Effective
All in all, we’ll have to see if this rarity system if an effective one, but the MTG secondary market suggests that this is going to be a resounding no. Traditional foil cards, at least for this set, are going for less than their non-foil variants – likely because the cards will not be useable in sanctioned play. The biggest drivers to secondary market prices are demand and a heavy amount of scarcity. If cards have neither of those things going for them, then it probably won’t matter how mildly rare they are.
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