3, Jan, 23

MTG Players Complain Wizards Is Overdoing Card Treatments

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As Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro focus on the growing MTG audience, Magic has recently experienced several changes. The number of products released within a year, for instance, has significantly expanded, to say the least. In 2022, for example, Wizards released 22 major products and 70 Secret Lair drops. Through the litany of products, Wizards is doing their best to cater to all of the burgeoning MTG audience. Unfortunately, however, thanks to the nature of MTG and its players, this new product strategy hasn’t been well received. Instead of enjoying all of the products, MTG players instead have been complaining that Wizards is overdoing things

Phyrexia: All Will Be One Too Many

Phyrexia All Will Be One Cinematic Trailer
Phyrexia: All Will Be One Cinematic Trailer

Recently, this problem was pushed to its breaking point following the First Look Livestream for Phyrexia: All Will Be One. During the Livestream, Weekly MTG host Blake Rasmussen shocked fans by revealing a staggering amount of Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines variants. Unlike Sheoldred, the Apocalypse from Dominaria United, who had three main variants, Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines, has seven. On one hand, this myriad of unique treatments is an awesome way to herald Elesh Norn’s return to Magic. On the other hand, however, the immense number of treatments is a step too far for once-dedicated collectors. 

Unfortunately, while Elesh Norn’s innumerable treatments might be enjoyable for some, they couldn’t have come at a worse time. For the past few months, Magic: the Gathering has been embroiled in an overproduction scandal. Unfortunately, this ongoing scandal doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon. Throughout 2022, Wizards of the Coast released a new MTG product, or Secret Lair, every four days on average. Subsequently, many MTG players have been lamenting the lack of time to sit down, relax, and actually enjoy Magic. Doing their best to combat the growing frustration in the short term, Wizards recently delayed Phyrexia: All Will Be One. In the long term, however, MTG players are merely being told to adapt to the new normal, whether they like it or not. 

Following a damning Bank of America report, which double-downgraded Hasbro’s stock, the overproduction issue is more prominent than ever before. Despite this, however, it’s far from the only issue that MTG is facing at the moment. Some players have even claimed that MTG’s influx of card variants is the real problem at hand. 

Too Much of a Good Thing

Due Respect
Due Respect | New Phyrexia

Recently, amidst the fervent complaints from players that are unhappy with MTG’s direction, Tumblr user Honor-basquiat voiced their growing concerns. Pitching their question to MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, via Blogatog, Honor-basquiat stated the following: 

“I don’t think Magic is releasing too many sets or too many new mechanically unique cards but I do think the number of versions and alternate printings of individual cards is getting out of hand.

It makes it difficult to recognize cards based on their art, it makes each individual version of alternate versions feel less special, it makes identifying and recognizing how scarce/rare each version of each card is relative to each other along with other issues, and it makes completing a collection virtually impossible.

I love Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines but her having 10 different collectors number versions seems very excessive and a little disorienting.

Additionally, I feel Magic prints way too many foil cards now, traditional foils don’t feel special anymore and they certainly aren’t rare anymore which was a big part of what made them cool.”

Honor-basquiat

In response to this detailed feedback, Mark Rosewater turned the question back on the community by directly asking fans, “how many variants should we be making of desired cards?” Following their request for feedback, Rosewater was quickly inundated with a wide range of responses. These responses spanned a broad range of opinions. However, the consensus was clear; Wizards is overdoing card treatments. For some Blogatog users, such as Light-wolf, anything “more than two feels excessive.” Others, such as Faerievandal, suggested “four at most,” however most users settled on allowing for three unique card treatments. “About 3, I think, is the perfect medium,” Dimitris670 suggested. “One normal, one with a gimmick, and one special.” 

Alongside offering suggestions, some Tumblr users, such as Haaaaaaaaaaaave-you-met-ted, tapped into the core of the problem, identifying it as one that we’re all too familiar with. “The different variants are excessive and are part of the greater issue of your flooding the market. Both on the singles side of things and the sealed product side. Too many variants and too many releases are killing interest in a lot of different things.” 

Too Late to Change

Change of Plans
Change of Plans | Streets of New Capenna Commander

Thankfully, while the number of card treatments has been increasing, Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines, appears to be an outlier. Released in celebration of Phyrexia: All Will Be One, it’s unlikely every set will get half a dozen unique treatments. That being said. However, it appears that MTG’s current product strategy won’t be changing anytime soon. Addressing recent concerns about the amount of product being produced, Mark Rosewater revealed Wizards’ desire to “produce what makes Magic special for each player in enough volume that they stay invested. That’s what’s going on, we’re trying to make sure our proverbial buffet always has the food that excites each individual diner.” 

For better or worse, this unwavering product strategy means that the widespread changes players are after aren’t in the works. Instead, MTG players are being encouraged to change how they approach interacting with Magic. Weekly MTG Host Blake Rasmussen, for instance, suggested that players should only “engage with the parts of Magic that you find fun and that you want to engage with, and not that you feel that you must engage with.” Unfortunately, whether players like it or not, this means that unique card variants won’t be going away any time soon. 

Read More: MTG’s Most Controversial Set Is a Surprising Sales Success

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