Archive for the ‘Legacy’ Category

Disclaimer: Between starting this piece and finishing it Wizards have announced they will not be abolishing the reserved list, in fact they are making their reprint policy more strict with regard to the list. This is disappointing to say the least, but the below is provided since I’ve already written it and it was requested on twitter.

There has been a lot of heated discussion recently about the reserved list. For those of you not familiar with the list, here’s Wizards’ official reprint policy. The reserved list is, simply, a list of cards from the early days of magic that WotC promised not to reprint, ever. They made this promise because the wild popularity of magic meant demand for cards from sets like Legends far outstripped the meagre supply available. Cards like the Elder Dragon legends were going for $20-$30 each based on scarcity. When these and other cards were reprinted in Chronicles, the price went through the floor. Stores and collectors had paid good money for these rare cards expecting them to hold their value, and they didn’t. To stop stores from walking away from the game entirely, Wizards introduced the reserved list. By promising not to reprint certain cards, they guaranteed that their value would not be destroyed overnight by reprints.

In the fifteen or so years since, the game has changed immeasurably. I won’t begin to list the differences in circumstances between then and now as any list I could compile in a reasonable amount of time would certainly be incomplete. Suffice to say that I believe the reserved list no longer serves its intended purpose. Birds of Paradise and Wrath of God are two excellent examples of cards not subject to the reserved list, that have been reprinted countless times, and yet the early versions have held their high value. This side of the argument has been argued well by Ben Bleiweiss and Stephen Menendian and I won’t rehash those arguments here either – there are hundreds of posts on the SCG forum in response to their articles that you can gander at if you haven’t already.

The reason that many people, including myself, want the reserved list removed is twofold – one, so that Wizards can reprint whatever cards they think are appropriate in new sets or other products. Having Sliver Queen in the Premium Slivers deck would have been awesome, for example. I’m not suggesting they should print Moxes in M11, but Wizards would not do that even if they were allowed to because it would be bad for gameplay. The second reason, more relevant to the rest of the post, is that we would like to see Legacy staples reprinted in some form, whether in From the Vaults: Dual Lands, in a paper ‘Masters Edition’ set, or in some other fashion in order to make price less of a barrier to competitive Legacy play. In the interests of full disclosure my only reserved list card of any value is a single Scrubland, so I obviously would personally benefit from this expensive cards being made available in a cheaper form as I would be able to play Legacy without sinking as much money into it.

The counter-argument is what I want to address today, one that has been put forward by in the comments to Matt Sperling’s article on Channel/Fireball, by Lloyd on Yo!MTGTaps Episode 14 and by otherwise awesome dude Jon Medina, @mtgmetagame on twitter a few hours ago. The argument boils down to variations on the following:

“Frankly, to those who say they cannot afford to play Legacy, make it achievable. Save some money, do your part, and don’t just sit there and wait for Magic to abolish that list. Just go slow and steady and you will too have it.” – Narcissism, C/F Commenter

People who dont want to put the work in don’t get to enjoy the format. I know 15 yr olds who bring jank to legacy tourney and have a blast so I have no sympathy for anyone who doesn’t want to put the work in. Yes it’s a high cost but definitely worth it. You want to play but don’t want to pay .. well TFB buddy :)” – @mtgmetagame

I can say definitively that some players enjoy playing with older, more expensive, more powerful cards. You know, the kinds of cards Wizards would never reprint today, except as a promo. I know that personally, the second an opponent plays a foil alternate art Tropical Island, I will be having less fun in Legacy.” – Matt Sperling, Rule of Law

Essentially, this line of argument says that it is right that Legacy is an expensive format, that it should be that way. If we accept that reprinting these cards will have minimal impact on the high value originals, the motivation for this view seems to be that either a) “I had to work hard to get these Legacy cards so its only fair that everyone else should have to as well,” or b) “Legacy is a fun format because, like polo, the high price of entry keeps out the riff-raff. Pip pip cheerio, old boy.” Now to people holding attitude B, I say “Screw you, jerk,” and move on because that is an elitist, selfish attitude that I can’t even comprehend. We want to play too, why won’t you let us?

Attitude A is more understandable. Fairness is something that most everyone wants, it is inherent to human nature and taught to children at home and in schools. What I would say to the people holding this view is that we don’t want to take your cards away from you. We don’t want to devalue your cards. We just want cheaper options available. It is very unfortunate that these cheaper options weren’t available when you were buying into Legacy, I wish they were! But I don’t think that is a good reason to make the rest of us pay a fortune to play Legacy as well, when with reprints it could be made more affordable.

There’s another thing I haven’t seen addressed yet on the point of fairness, the “I sold my kidneys to get into legacy so everyone else should too” argument. If your cards are not devalued, as several experts have predicted they will not be, there’s nothing stopping you selling your old cards and buying the new, cheaper ones that we would like to play with. With so many new people entering the format, it’d be easier than ever to find buyers! But if you want to keep your old expensive cards and stop other people from enjoying the cheaper new reprinted cards, well, that is just selfish.

As noted at the beginning of the article, the decision has been taken swiftly and quietly to end this debate in favour of the ‘no reprints’ side. I am very disappointed. Legacy as it stands is too expensive for it to be worth playing where I live, far away from European GPs and SCG $5ks, so I will just have to go back to ignoring the format.


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