During the latest Weekly MTG Livestream, as usual, host Blake Rasmussen delighted fans with a plethora of announcements. Considering these Livestreams happen almost every week, this is hardly anything out of the ordinary. The most recent Livestream, however, was far from ordinary, as in just 20 minutes, Rasmussen revealed details about four upcoming sets. This blockbuster announcement included the reveal of the hugely requested Commander Masters set. As the name suggests, this set will be chockablock with incredible Commander reprints and gorgeous new art treatments. Unfortunately, while players are already delighted by the reprints on offer, the product isn’t a guaranteed success story for Wizards. In fact, thanks to the MTG product’s immense price, the success of Commander Masters could already be in jeopardy.
Rejoice for Reprints
Despite being an Eternal format, Commander is often lauded for its affordability. After all, it gives life to interesting and once-powerful cards that have rotated out of Standard. Subsequently, whether you’re brewing your own themed deck or purchasing a preconstructed product, it’s easy to have a fun Commander deck for under $100. This enticing affordability, however, is only one side of the coin, as Commander can equally be seriously expensive.
This immense expense isn’t just because the format allows Reserved List cards such as Timetwister to be played. Instead, due to the format’s incredible rise in popularity, Commander staples can now dominate the financial markets. Thankfully, expensive Commander staples like Mana Crypt do occasionally get reprinted, driving secondary market prices down somewhat. Even with this happening, however, prized Commander cards such as Mana Crypt still sell for $184.85!
Due to these immense prices, for many players, the more Commander staples get reprinted, the better. Because of this, it’s safe to say that Commander Masters is poised to be an incredibly popular, not to mention valuable, MTG set. This value is plain to see from the trio of spoilers that Wizards has revealed so far. Out of Jeweled Lotus, The Ur-Dragon, and Capture of Jingzhou , the cheapest card revealed so far costs $81. While all these spoilers are mythic rarity, packs are nevertheless expected to be chockablock with value at almost all rarities.
Unfortunately, however, while Commander Masters packs may be amazing for MTG players to open, the product isn’t being universally adored. Due to the staggering $360 price tag put upon Set Booster Boxes, LGS owners are becoming concerned about the product’s viability.
Taking to Reddit, user u/OopsyBear7 recently highlighted the issue that Commander Masters sets pose to store owners. In their post, u/OopsyBear7 claimed that Local Game Stores “will be making roughly 6% profit margins on Commander Masters – marking the worst profits ever when selling MTG.” Following this dramatic statement, u/OopsyBear7 posited, “this is a huge problem that is threatening our LGS and the livelihood of hundreds of small businesses.” This, in turn, poses a major potential problem for MTG players, as LGS provide some of the best places to play while facilitating Magic’s growth.
Despite the potential problems, some Reddit users, such as u/AeuiGame, claimed Commander Masters pricing isn’t really an issue. “MSRP is not a thing anymore. The profit margin will be whatever stores charge over their costs, which I would imagine is going to be higher than 6%.” After making this claim, however, u/OopsyBear7 chimed in again to push back against this assessment. Claiming that “the prices are essentially set by Wizards on Amazon,” LGS’ still have to compete with big box stores. Subsequently, as u/OopsyBear7 states “I don’t think they can really charge much more than the artificial MRSP from Amazon.”
Due to the fierce competition with big box stores, stocking a Local Game Store isn’t necessarily an easy task. Game store owner u/GSOwner highlighted this point on Reddit while claiming “distributor pricing for Commander Masters is insanity.” Within their post u/GSOwner stressed how they “won’t be ordering Set Boosters at this cost biases because it just doesn’t make economic sense. […] I can see Set Boosters being nearly an immediate loss for shops that order this.” Thankfully, according to u/GSOwner, Draft and Collector Boosters at least remain viable options for stores.
While the meager margins for local games stores might not seem like a problem for players, that’s not entirely true. After all, alongside selling products, Magic’s local game stores facilitate one of the game’s most powerful features, the social aspect. Local game stores provide a place to play and structured events to participate in, allowing MTG communities to thrive. Should these stores be pushed away from MTG due to pricing, this core strength of Magic may be lost. Thankfully, despite the allure of lower prices, many MTG players understand the vital role that LGS play within their community. Subsequently, players such as u/knight_gastropub and u/mkul316 note they’re willing to spend extra money in order to support local stores.
“I prefer to buy from my LGS – I will go online if they don’t have what I’m looking for, but you can’t beat buying singles and taking them home right away.”u/knight_gastropub
Ultimately, despite players vowing to support local shops, the growing cost of MTG products is far from ideal for both consumers and retailers. Due to this, we can only hope that the price of Commander Masters boxes is an outlier, rather than the new norm. Unfortunately, we won’t know this until future sets arrive, hopefully at a more affordable price point.