For the longest time, it was been a widely acknowledged truth that Magic: the Gathering can be tremendously expensive. Outside of Pauper, competitive decks can easily set you back several hundred dollars and, recently, it’s only been getting worse! Thanks to new Commander staples and multi-format powerhouses, even Standard decks are now getting worryingly pricy!
Unfortunately, it’s not just the prices of MTG decks that have been concerning players. Following the debut stream for Commander Masters, it appears entire sets can be too costly. Thanks to the most expensive Set Boosters of all time, many MTG players are understandably outraged. So much so, in fact, that Commander Masters could be in serious trouble.
The $419 Booster Box
Typically, Set Boosters are a great way for MTG players to collect cards from a set. First introduced for Zendikar Rising, these packs usually offer better odds of finding rares and reprints. Also catering to the audience who aren’t interested in Drafting, Set Boosters have become a useful, if somewhat uneventful, addition to the MTG release calendar.
Unfortunately, however, for Commander Masters, Set Booster boxes are the big ticket item. Currently, on Amazon, a Set Booster box, containing 24 packs, retails for $419.95. Obviously, not everyone who is interested in MTG is expected to buy one of these boxes to collect cards. That being said, however, almost $420 is still an awful lot of money to spend.
In comparison, a typical Set Booster box on Amazon costs around $115. As you might expect, there is some variation in this price point, especially when you throw deals into the mix. Alongside these deals, that occasionally let players snag a bargain, some Set Booster boxes are justifiably more expensive. This is the case for the latest reprint set, Dominaria Remastered.
Typically selling for $143, this reprint set has a fair few highly prized cards you could find in each pack. Thanks to this increased value over a premier set, cracking boxes was still worthwhile. The same was true for the Draft Booster boxes of Double Masters 2022. Priced at $287, packs for this set certainly weren’t cheap, however, there was plenty of value to be found inside.
Following this trend, there’s definitely a connection between the value of reprints inside a product and the amount players are prepared to pay. Known collegiality as Reprint Equity, this factor is incredibly useful when evaluating purchasing profit. Unfortunately, however, for Commander Masters, the Reprint Equity is way out of wack.
Too Much For Too Little
As an important note, before we get all critical, Commander Masters is still being spoiled. With spoiler season running until the 18th of July, there’s still plenty of time for amazing, expensive, and spicy reprints to be revealed. Saying that, however, the major wave of spoilers for Commander Masters has left players with little to be excited about.
Considering the name, nature, and price of Commander Masters, many MTG players were expecting big things. After all, there are dozens of Commander staples that are seriously expensive and in dire need of a reprint. In theory, Commander Masters can fix this problem and bring prices down somewhat. Unfortunately, however, Commander Masters appears to be failing on this front.
Not only does the set appear to be loaded with Draft chaff which won’t delight value-hungry players, but the price is a major potential problem. If the set is priced too high, it won’t sell in enough volume to effectively lower the price of the reprints. If this happens, Commander Masters will have effectively failed at its main reason for existence.
Unfortunately, thanks to the lack of high-value reprints, it seems we’re on track for this happening. In Reddit posts reacting to the price, many enfranchised MTG players are already refusing to purchase boxes. Voicing their outrage at the price point, it certainly seems Wizards has tipped the scales too far.
“Absolutely ridiculous prices. I thought $7 was a lot for the original Modern Masters’ packs; then we got collector boosters at $30 and VIP packs at $100. It wasn’t stopped there, $410 collector boxes and $80 collector packs, and now set boosters are this much. My favorite TCG is turning into a hobby too expensive to keep up with. I cannot keep up so I am making a choice to buy less and less and less with each release. Congrats WotC, you have priced me out of Magic.”u/SnivyEyes
In theory, this may not be the end of the world, since Reddit users don’t represent the entire MTG community. That being said, however, Commander Masters is undoubtedly aimed at MTG’s enfranchised audience. Should these players be turning away already, it may spell disaster for the success of the product. After all, casual MTG players are rather unlikely to drop $400 on a Booster Box.
A Dear Draft Dilemma
Thankfully, due to the myriad products available with every MTG release, Commander Masters doesn’t live or die on the success of Set Boosters. Unfortunately, however, another major MTG product doesn’t look much better. Priced at $345, Commander Masters Draft Booster Boxes are also exceptionally expensive. Once again, as you might expect, this is turning away many MTG players since it’s simply too much.
“Can’t play limited when it’s $400 a box to draft” u/Gordon1Ramsay1Boltonu/Gordon1Ramsay1Bolton
“Yeah, we are all going to be doing a ton of them $50 drafts.”u/barrinmw
“You know what would be fun Mark [Rosewater]? Being able to afford to draft the set in the first place. The only “limit” on this environment is the tax bracket of people who can play it.”u/supershade
Should Commander Masters be as designed for Limited as players are expecting, a lack of interest in Draft may be damning. After all, if it doesn’t bring prices down and is too expensive to play, what is this set even good for? Thankfully, while this is definitely a concerning possibility, we’re not at that point yet.
Since there are still six days left to go in Commander Masters spoiler season, it’s possible the set can still be redeemed. Should enough awesome spoilers be revealed to balance the Reprint Equity, Commander Masters could even be a worthwhile purchase. Even if that happens, however, this set is definitely one to keep your eye on.
Costing most than any other MTG set in recent memory, Commander Masters will likely inform Wizards about how much players are willing to pay. If the set is a massive success, we could see future set prices climbing beyond what we’re used to. Hopefully, since Wizards knows Magic is prohibitively expensive, this won’t happen. Unfortunately, however, we’re just going to have to wait and see with our fingers crossed.