What a crazy few weeks!
We hope you’re staying well, and adjusting to this strange new normal that has descended since the coronavirus outbreak.
It’s a tough time all round – both from a business and a personal perspective. It’s been great to see the levels of love and support across the community, and hopefully you’re able to enjoy some time with friends and family (even if remotely), and pursue your hobbies and interests in quarantine, or for key workers (thank you!) in between shifts.
We know our players come from a range of backgrounds so we’ve added some links and numbers at the bottom of this post for a range of support groups, if circumstances are particularly difficult right now.
What’s happening at Manaleak?
In short, we are still running our online operations, but the store is shut for all play and sales.
Our main concern at this time is the health and safety of our staff and customers. As such, we have suspended all in-store activity, including browsing, sales, buy-ins, and all competitive and casual play.
To reduce non-essential travel and protect their own health and that of their families, the majority of our staff are on furlough at full pay until it is safe for them to return to work.
As we are a web-based seller of MTG singles and sealed, our order system is still operating as usual via www.manaleak.com. To reduce risk, only one member of staff (currently James) is going in at present. We have reduced packing and shipping frequency to a couple of days a week in order to combine trips to the shop with other essential tasks. Whilst we’re following stringent hygiene practice in preparing parcels, we recommend following good practice – avoiding direct contact with postal workers and washing hands after handling packages, particularly if you or household members are in a high risk category.
We primarily ship through The Post Office and Royal Mail, and will continue to do so while their services are available. We are fortunate to have a large number of local Post Office branches so are still able to get parcels out despite some local closures. Overall, Royal Mail are still delivering promptly, however as they are experiencing the same staffing issues and workplace limitations of the rest of us there may be some delays. Royal Mail have also limited the Guaranteed element of their timed shipping (including Next Day and Next Day Saturday), although they are prioritising and endeavouring to fulfil these deliveries within the usual timeframe. We are still offering these options on our Shipping Upgrades and will continue to prioritise them and pay the appropriate upgrade at the Post Office, however please be aware that delays are likely. We are not currently operating our usual same-day shipping standards.
At present, International Shipping is still operational (again, we use Royal Mail services), although this may be liable to change in the upcoming weeks, and delivery will be dependent on restrictions within country of receipt.
Eager Beaver upgrades will also be prioritised, however we cannot guarantee our usual same day shipping. Please let us know if you need your order for a particular date and we’ll do our best to (safely) get your cards to you.
So overall, orders are still coming out regularly, but are likely to be a little slower than usual in reaching you. Please factor this in when ordering. Thanks in advance for your patience during this time!
Moving organised play online
We all know part of the fun of Magic is The Gathering aspect!
Although we’re privileged to have some great online platforms for Magic: The Gathering, including Arena and MTG Online, there’s nothing quite like getting together with your local players and enjoying the social side of the game.
To keep us connected during these difficult times, we are working to get organised play back on at Manaleak through remote channels. We have Arena promo codes for everyone participating in the weekly FNM events Wizards are hosting, which we’re giving out via our Facebook Player Group. If you’re not on Facebook, you can post on our Twitter feed or feel free to message your screenshot and we’ll send a code over.
We’ve also set up a Manaleak Discord channel to allow us to run more “traditional” events – starting with weekly FNMs. These will operate a similar structure to our regular FNMs using the direct challenge option on Arena. Full details are available on our Discord channel &
If popular we hope to expand these to incorporate a wider range of formats and events, so please join in and support play if you’re able.
We’re also an affiliate store for Channel Fireball’s MagicFest Online. Do check it out, and use our affiliate store code – MANALEAK.COM TOURNAMENT CENTRE – if joining in.
What’s the best way to support stores right now?
As a relatively small business, we’d be lying if we said these weren’t scary times, and we know other games stores feel the same.
A number of people have asked how they can help us out, and the main answer is “Please keep ordering!”. We know that with face-to-face play limited to households & video matches, paper Magic is less accessible than usual, however if you are working on your decks or updating your collection, and are financially in a position to do so, then do please keep ordering – even small orders trickling in help keep the bills paid!
If singles aren’t top of your priority list at the moment, then consider ordering sealed products – we have a number of Standard legal boosters and Planeswalker decks, including Theros Beyond Death, Throne of Eldraine and Core Set 2020. If you’re looking to try something different, then preconstructed decks, such as Duel Decks and Commander Decks can be a fun way to dip into a new strategy, and are well balanced to make at home play easy and fun with partners or kids. Likewise, 2020 Challenger Decks are now out and proving popular.
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths sealed products (including boosters, boxes and bundles) are now available for preorder. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Wizards of the Coast have moved the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths release date 15th May, with pre-release coinciding over the same weekend. As it seems likely that restrictions will still be in place approaching this date, Wizards have sanctioned “at home” prerelease events, allowing us to send out kits, which will be available for preorder in the next few weeks.
If you need some inspiration to spice up your decks, or just something fun to draft (check out Katie’s guide to 2-player draft formats)… or you don’t fancy pulling out your Legacy deck whilst introducing younger children to the finer points of card care… we also sell a range of repacks and bulk cards.
If you’re not interested in buying cards right now, but still want to support the store, then we offer a range of gift vouchers online, which you could gift to yourself or a friend as a pick-me-up treat for the future. Our gift vouchers have no time limits for redemption, and can be used for all products, including singles, sealed, board games, accessories and events.
We know a lot of people are selling cards at the moment for a variety of reasons. We are already working with a backlog of trade and sale requests, and with reduced staffing processing influxes of cards is not practical at present. Therefore we are not actively looking to buy in cards at the moment. We are also working more slowly to relist items as they go out of stock, so if you need something that isn’t listed on the website do get in touch and we’ll have a look for you.
Much of this will hold true for other gaming stores – if you want to support your LGS, do see if they have an online presence or get in touch via phone or email.
We’d like to thank Wizards of the Coast for their support during these strange times – there’s a lot of work behind the scenes that isn’t always visible, but we appreciate everything they’re doing to help retailers.
Most stores have updated their sales approaches, and are setting up their own online tournament scenes. Unfortunately a handful of stores had been encouraging people to make trips into their shops for gaming supplies. We know many sellers are desperate at this time, but please do not support this behaviour by going in, however tempting – doing so breaks government guidelines and puts yourself and others at risk. All legitimate stores will have ways of taking remote payment, whether card payments via phone, PayPal or direct bank transfers, and should be able to organise local delivery or contactless pick up. Please also be aware of people trying to exploit this situation – with trade groups closing to discourage non-essential contact, informal trades will have even less protection than usual. Do not sent cards or money to unverified sources, and do not allow anyone to pressure you into doing so – report anyone doing so to the appropriate social media channels, or if necessary the police.
If things are tight – and we know these are challenging times for many, then please look after yourself and those around you. Support charities are still doing great work to help as many people as possible. Do access resources if you feel the need – they’re there to help!
Again, if you’re in a comfortable position and able to help out (particularly if limited social activity means you’re able to save some of your Saturday night socializing funds!), then we strongly advocate giving what you can afford to help support some of these amazing charities:
If you're struggling to cope at the moment, know that you aren't alone and this is perfectly normal. Here are some things you could do to help #selfcaresunday https://t.co/unA6JDOvNA pic.twitter.com/S9RbCohJtj
— Samaritans (@samaritans) April 5, 2020
Isolation and disruption to routines can be tough – whether you’re at home on your own or surrounded by family 24/7.
The charity Mind have a range of supportive articles on their website, including support if you need urgent help.
If things feel particularly bleak, the Samaritans are specialists at listening, supporting and advising, whether you’re concerned for yourself or for someone else. Call them on or visit their website if you are thinking about self harm or suicide.
Harmless is a user-led support system to prevent self harm and suicide.
Trussell Trust supports a range of food banks around the country – find your local one online via www.trusselltrust.org.
If you’re looking for ideas to feed yourself or your family using low cost, store cupboard ingredients, then Jack Monroe Bootstrap Cook resources offer inspiration for a range of situations and diets.
Childline support children and teenagers up to the age of 18. The website has a range of support and advice if you are struggling with difficulties at home, online, mentally or physically, or if you are concerned for a friend or neighbour. They have a range of contact options, including online chat and messaging with counsellors, phone (0800 1111) and email, which are free and do not show up on your bill or phone records.
Refuge support the 24 hour Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247). Remember domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence – emotional, psychological and economic control are also tactics used by abusers. If you’re unsure or concerned, they have a lot of supportive and helpful articles on their website.
Domestic abuse occurs against men as well as women – Mankind offers support via their website and confidential telephone lines (01823 334244 weekdays 10am to 4pm), as does the Men’s Advice Line (0808 8010327 weekdays, 9am – 5 or 8pm).
Stay at home restrictions do not apply to individuals and families leaving abusive or harmful situations. If you are concerned for your own or other’s safety, call the police or medical services on 999 straight away.
Update: In the few hours since posting this afternoon, we’ve heard about the loss of a much-loved member of our Midlands Magic community.
Please take this seriously, take care of yourselves and others.
Stay home, stay safe, keep gaming – we’ll see you online!