As much as it has been incredibly busy, 2023 has been a successful year for Wizards of the Coast. Releasing a multitude of fantastic MTG sets, it’s no wonder that Wizards is Hasbro’s golden goose at the moment. Barely stepping a foot wrong through the entire year, outside of the Pinkertons debacle, the Magic machine seemed unstoppable.
While Wizards has been on the success warpath during 2023, we’ve finally seen a chink in the armor. For the second time this year, a major MTG release has been hit by delays. Unfortunately, unlike many past delays, this latest one has global implications, with multiple products being affected.
The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Delays
Announced by Wizards of the Coast on the 1st of November, two major products from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan have been delayed. These products are the Collector Boosters and the Commander decks. Fortunately, the Commander deck delay is limited to only North America, however, the Collector Booster delay is a global issue.
In their statement, Wizards explained that Collector Booster displays “are not expected to arrive in time at stores for the start of Prerelease on November 10.” Instead, these foiled-out packs are expected to begin arriving in stores during the week of Prerelease at the earliest. At the latest, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Collector Boosters may take up to three weeks to arrive in stores.
For better or worse, while the Collector Booster delay is rather ambiguous, the Commander deck delays are much better defined. In North America, there will be “limited availability” of the decks during pre-release, with more supply to follow. Specifically, the supply issues are expected to be resolved by November 17th.
Thankfully, should Wizards announced date be accurate, Commander players will only be waiting a week for their new decks. While this isn’t the end of the world, unfortunately, it may cause some problems. Specifically, due to the “limited availability during Prerelease,” many players are expecting inflated prices, with sellers capitalizing on demand.
“Ugh, FOMO is going to drive prices up the through the first week of release.”u/broodwarjc
Unfortunately, since Prerelease weekend hasn’t arrived yet, it’s unclear if this prediction will come to pass. In any case, this delay is nonetheless frustrating for players who just want to enjoy the new decks. Considering how good the new decks look, this is definitely a disappointing trend that has been announced at the worst time.
A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma
Somewhat frustratingly, when announcing the delays, Wizards didn’t provide a concrete answer as to why this has happened. Simply citing “production issues,” it’s unclear exactly what part of the production process has caused the problems. If we were to take a guess, however, we’d wager that the new Neon Ink cards could have something to do with it.
Being a unique, only once before used, foiling technique, it’s understandable Neon Ink could cause problems. That being said, however, it wouldn’t explain why the Commander decks have also been delayed. Since this product delay is more regional, however, there’s a chance manufacturing in North America simply hit a few snags.
Ultimately, since Wizards didn’t dive deep into their reasoning, we don’t know for sure exactly what happened. Despite this, however, some MTG players still have their own theories about what’s going on. Bafflingly, the most popular of these is the suggestion that Wizards is supposedly creating artificial scarcity just to sell more.
By addressing the limited availability of Commander decks, Wizards is certainly creating a sense of FOMO. That doesn’t mean, however, that Wizards is being entirely evil with the announcement. As u/HonorBasquiat points out on Reddit, these conspiracy theories aren’t supported by anything more than circumstance and are “totally baseless cynical assumptions.”
Being slightly less cynical, but only just, other players highlighted just how many products Wizards is releasing. Stressing that manufacturing can’t keep up with the relentless release calendar, it’s no wonder that something went awry. Considering The Lord of the Rings Holiday Release is tomorrow, it’s hardly a surprise something is happening now.
Hopefully No More Troubles
At the end of the day, since there’s no telling exactly why this happened, we can only hope it doesn’t happen again. Thankfully, given 2023’s track record, it seems this hope might not be entirely unfounded. With the COVID-19 pandemic mostly behind us, the production pipeline is now predominantly kink-free. Thanks to this, any delays should be rather rare going forward.
While delays may be on the decline, there is another potential problem for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. As pointed out by u/iamsirjoshua on Reddit, the production problems could cause issues with quality control. Potentially resulting in damaged, warped, or misprinted packs, the last thing we’d want is the delayed products arriving ruined.
For better or worse, there’s no telling if this delay will cause any undue quality control issues. Ultimately, we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens once the set actually releases. Thankfully, this isn’t too far away now, however, obviously, the delay has pushed that back somewhat.