The Ruination of Spoiler Season – Crucible of Words by Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words – How do you solve a problem like a Mindsculptor? By Cyrus Bales


Yes, the Dark Ascension spoiler season is in full swing, new cards being revealed every day in the lead up to the release of Dark Ascension. Spoiler season was always a great time to get excited and begin brewing deck ideas with the new cards, as each day another piece fell into place; however spoiler seasons are no longer like that, somewhere along the lines it changed. Here is an example to illustrate my point:

“Wow, have you seen the card Bitterblossom that was just spoiled? Looks really good, I’ll pick those up for £5 each when the come out as I want to play with them. If I wait I might have to spend £10-£15 on them later.”

And nowadays?

“Oh, have you seen the new Sorin? He’s going to be pretty good and see a lot of play. I guess I’ll have to drop £30 each on him in case he jumps up to £50 since the price gulf and availability means I won’t be able to trade for him.”

Now, this isn’t a new thing, this has happened more and more since the introduction of Mythic rarity, to the point where even before a card comes out, the pre-orders are spiking to £20 for mythics that aren’t even that good like Skaab Ruinator. It really started back in Shards of Alara, when the chase card of Elspeth, Knight-Errant started being sold at £30. This jump was seen as an anomaly by most people, thought of like a Tarmogoyf, a one off high priced card.

Flash forward a little bit, and we meet Baneslayer Angel. This card was made to be clearly superior to pretty much anything at the time in standard; when we saw it on the spoilers we weren’t sure what to think. Was this what mythic rarity was really about? Making the best cards harder to open, forcing traders to buy more boosters and inevitably drive up the prices? Many people thought this was a cynical approach, just another one off perhaps? But soon Baneslayer Angels were being exchanged for fifty pound notes.

By the time the Titans cycle came along; Primeval Titan, Sun Titan, Frost Titan, Grave Titan and Inferno Titan; we were apparently happy to be paying £20 for a single card on a regular basis. These core set plants were made to clearly overshadow any other six drops printed at the time, and make them a necessity for players to buy. But the packs flew off the shelves and it was hailed a success.

Of course, there is the Jace, The Mind Sculptor factor that rolls around every spoiler season. The traders are scared of missing out on extra profit, so they start cards at the £30 mark, even horrible cards like Chandra Firebrand that is close to a junk rare. And players, who are scared that they could miss out, jump on it and buy these cards. Sure Jace coming out at £30, then jumping to £75 in a matter of weeks was pretty crazy and that leap has changed the spoiler season. But it’s not the only factor.

Vengevine, this is when the bubble for mythic rarity really burst. It became clear that the extra rarity was nothing but a cash grab by Wizards when this card that could clearly have been just a rare was bumped up to the £40 price tag thanks to the horrid purple symbol. This is when the majority of the magic community joined the cynics and realized that we players are nothing more than a cash cow. This was the very moment that the spoiler season died as we knew it. Instead replaced by a few weeks of sighing, disgruntlement, complaining and a mad rush to find cheap eBay auctions of cards that are behind the price inflations.

So what are we left with?

Even after the fact with two printings in recent years, these mythics like Primeval Titan still command £10-£15, and rather than excitement at new cards, we despair at their over-inflated prices. And as if our cash cow nipples weren’t squeezed hard enough, recent years have seen Magic Player Rewards removed without the promised replacement ever arriving; booster prize support for all events slowly reduced and now gone; our once great County Champ events with foil Mutavault prizes have been replaced by gameday promo’s like Elite Inquisitor; oh and now the pre-releases will no longer feature mythic rare promo’s but junk rares instead.

Of course, there’s more little ways they milk us further, putting constructed staples like Flusterstorm and Scavenging Ooze in special purchase sets and making Avacyn Restored (the third set of Innistrad block), into another large set, making all the mythics within it harder to open, and the supply of the middle set, Dark Ascension, have a much shorter print run which bumps up the price of any chase cards; like Sorin. If I continue the milking analogy, our breasts are no longer recognisable, but are instead flapping torn skin and bleeding flesh, our nipples long since destroyed.

And to compound this problem, the UK pay for their magic than most other countries, and with the upcoming prospect of £20 constructed PTQ’s, much of the joy is gone.

Give us back the days of joyful spoiler seasons.

Give us back incentives for playing.

Give us back the Magic we used to love.

Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing.




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