Death of a Legacy
WotC has finally taken action on the Reserved List, bowing to immense pressure from the gaming community that subsist on and support their product; the following concession was made after the voices of thousands cried out for the ending of the archaic contract that soon promised to keep Legacy from being playable by all interested parties: The Final Word.
It seems that the final word on the issue, handed down from upon high by an Executive somewhere, likely with a nodding Legal staff behind him, was essentially a single word.
If you haven’t looked at the links yet, the official word is that there are a handful of reprints using the previous ‘premium loophole’ that will come out this year, 2010, but that beyond that there will never be another reprinting of the cards other than oversized promo materials.
A Murder Mystery
I have been speculating on the situation above and I could make some reasonable guesses as to the events that lead to this. Let me start out by saying that Legacy will not die overnight. This is not a decapitation. This is Phthisis. Let’s have a mental exercise to see possibly whodunit.
Hypothetically, the format is currently being supported in part by WotC, and also in major part, by a substantial secondary market card store (SMC). WotC is only getting marketing value out of supporting Legacy, selling very few cards from recent sets to support the players. The SMC, being the biggest name in the market, benefits greatly from card resale traffic. As the format grows in popularity, the margin on each card grows with demand. This is especially true for powerful cards that are needed in a vast number of decks and are also on the Reserved List. The Dual Lands are the best example, followed closely by cards like Mox Diamond and Lions Eye Diamond.
(Disclaimer: I will state now that while it was suggested that I go to law school, I haven’t, so lawyers and law students feel free to jump in and correct erroneous assumptions or support/guide my suspicions.)
Wotc’s Reserved List, I suspect, could be seen as some type of legal guarantee of value in the investment medium of the game components listed upon it. By ‘promising’ in an open publicly known and promoted policy, WotC may have opened themselves to the Reserved List acting as some sort of contract. This would also open them up to possible lawsuits if someone with significant interests and resources would stand to lose from unfavorable changes in this policy.
A SMC could launch a suit do to the increased buzz of activity and discussion around negating the Reserved List, either defacto through the ‘premium loophole’ or in whole by obliterating it. Such a suit, if it holds merit or if it would prove very costly, would pressure WotC into an out of court settlement, changing the policy, reaffirming it, possibly even paying losses, all the while the employees of both WotC and the SMC being bound by a non-disclosure agreement which requires them to refrain from discussing the reasoning, implementation, and fall out from such an action.
If WotC negates the Reserved List and prints a new bevy of limited circulation cards, the demand for the cards vital to this format will drop. Subsequently sales traffic and margins will also drop, denting the SMC’s bottom line. Meanwhile, this would be healthy to WotC and the MTG community playing as more players would gain access and WotC would be able to sell the reprint product fresh off the printers.
If WotC, seeking to test the waters regarding a possible elimination of the Reserved List, began talking about it in public forums, such as their company website, and gave an interested party reason to believe that they would suffer major capital losses, such a party could begin to monitor the situation closely, and perhaps even send representatives to meet and discuss the issue. They could then use the information gathered to launch a suit, and perhaps even an injunction, against WotC citing imminent and unrecoverable business losses.
Means, motive and opportunity aside, the bit players and key figures in each company and the community might not have even known what all was going on until it came to a head in some series of hush-hush legal meetings. Perhaps all figurehead parties would love to have gone ahead with the elimination, but those behind the scenes with their fingers on the purse strings might have moved to interfere. We will not know for certain due to the shield of the law. This means that we are left to only our own reasoning and speculation. I have nothing against the hypothetical SMC described above, but without explanations, this is what makes the most logical sense to me.
What this all means is that the Legacy format will likely continue for a time to climb in demand and prices until such a time that only the wealthiest players can afford to play, and the format will slowly fade into obscurity as prices will only ever creep upwards due to cards leaving circulation in any number of ways.
Eternally yours, Unrequited
Sadly, I was slowly attempting to pull together a Legacy legal deck as I really wanted to play in the only GP within a reasonable distance from my particular location on the globe, GP Columbus, OH. With the prices of Legacy required cards sky rocketing, I cannot afford to buy-in to the format at a latter time. With the prices as high as they are, I cannot afford to buy-in now thanks to the Economic Recession. Now that I know prices have no hope of coming down while also maintaining a healthy format, I feel no desire to invest into the format.
I am a player of Standard and Limited as they are the easiest formats to enter competitively. I would play Extended if the format had support in my area as I’m not in a position to go fifty to one hundred miles out of town each weekend to play in a PTQ. Vintage, proxied tourneys aside, is priced at such a level as I would only consider it if I won the lottery or some other windfall. Legacy was a shining hope for playing with old good cards and making a run of it competitively.
Legacy now has fallen into the same compartment as Vintage. Indeed, I almost see no reason in separating them anymore as both serve the same elite level of players: the wealthy and well-connected. I will miss this opportunity lost, but WotC doesn’t love me back, and so I must look now to the future.
We, the players, will have to pick ourselves up, dust our cards off, and begin anew. The Reserved List has not been added to since Urza’s Destiny and will not be added to ever again, in theory. I then propose that we push the emergence of an Eternal format that may be eternally renewed without the barriers of some arcane seal barring the cards from reaching our hands.
Classic is a format in which all cards older than Mercadian Masques are banned. All sets from Mercadian Masques on into the foreseeable future will be legal, reasonable broken card bannings not withstanding. This format will enable both WotC and the MTG community to do a few important things.
- Have a stable, ever expanding format in which new discoveries will be possible with each new set.
- Create, for however brief a time, a new game-wide meta-game and format structure to explore and develop.
- Ensure that if a card begins to rise to meteoric heights that WotC always has the option to reprint it. This also applies to cards dropping out of circulation and the hands of players for whatever reason.
- Retain cards that rotate out of Extended and other rotating formats and continue to play them in a widely accepted and non-elitist format.
These things represent an Eternal format that is healthy and not impossible to enter for those who are students, work for a living, have a family, or have not been playing since the dawn of the game. Yes, I am aware that there are plenty of people in the game that have traded-up, won, or otherwise acquired the best cards in the game, but a fine minority should not rule the majority. Besides, I don’t believe that having Classic, a format with the above listed qualities, would hurt the game in any manner and provides only upside for both WotC and her customers.