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Gen Con: The Best Two Days in Gaming

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This past week has been one crazy ride for me; between a few all-nighters and a spontaneous trip to Gen Con, I am a bit exhausted. I intended to finish my two-part series this week, but as I was able to catch a few days in Indy, I will be pushing that back an additional week to cover some more pressing information.

Fury Charm
First of all, let me tell you a tale: a race against the clock of sorts. The story starts last Tuesday while I was working on packaging bulk that I thought was being picked up Monday of the next week. My original intentions were to spend the weekend home putting some hours in listing and regrettably skipping Gen Con to catch up on some work that I had been neglecting, including the packaging of aforementioned bulk. Tuesday afternoon, I received the message that the pick-up was not, in fact, next Monday, but instead the next day—which, at this point, was around thirty hours away. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day and night and the next day driving through five rows, feverishly packaging them with help from a few friends (as an aside: Cody, you are a legend). To save time, I will say this story had a happy ending, as we finished with an hour to spare and very little left in the tank.

Once that ordeal had been resolved, I suddenly had some extra buy money and a free weekend. Another buddy of mine also snagged Saturday off last-minute, so we took the trek Friday morning to hang out and at least enjoy some of the Gen Con fix. I had a great time, as always, and spent very little time trading, but instead enjoyed the con and visited nearly every vendor. While I was there, I figured I would ask some of the buyers and store owners a few questions pertaining to the growth and future of Magic, and thus, we have finally come full circle to this week’s article topic.

 


I will leave names and companies out, as I do not want to push bias on anyone. I also talked to a number of people I had never met before just to get a fair crowd of both veterans in the business and up-and-comers. I asked the same questions, but I will not include answers if they line up with the general coconscious.

Dark Confidant
How successful do you feel Modern has been from your perspective as a dealer? Have your sales picked up on staples or are the prices more from hype and speculation?

I will paraphrase this one since everyone had nearly an identical view on the format. The dealers I spoke to believe the market is stable, and although some cards will inflate due to speculation in the short term, overall, the prices will stably rise for the most part from where they are now. Almost every brick-and-mortar store reported that the local player base was demanding Modern support, even more so after the release of Modern Masters. The price of cards such as Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant are not just from the hype—these prices are here to stay, and it is unlikely we will see any major drops this year as we inch closer to Modern Pro Tour Qualifier season. If you are looking for a safe place to invest money this year, I would—for the first time, might I add—recommend Modern staples over Legacy staples, which ties nicely with my next question.

With the rise of Modern, how do you see that impacting Legacy—notably, the price of staples such as duals—over the next five years?

Here, I found some differing opinions. One store owner said, “Legacy only has a finite time left before it finds itself as the new Vintage, and the Reserved List, good or bad, will be the primary cause for that. Though that seems obvious to most, and, in turn, they expect these cards to rise similar to say . . . power, I would say they are incorrect. Vintage has a home in certain areas, but for most stores, you will be unlikely to see more than a few playtest matches going. The reason Vintage staples are worth so much and continue to rise is due to the prestige; Legacy is not there yet. Power is iconic, yes, dual lands are plenty expensive and continue to jump, but most of that comes from the player support over the collector; Vintage is the opposite. I could see dual lands actually plateau, or even take a slight loss this year just because a number of events are being cut. Local stores are running lower and lower on attendance from what I have seen, and if all you have are a few large tournaments a year, the interest for the format will wane. I don’t believe Modern will put the nail in the coffin, but it certainly won’t help the next two to three years’ growth from what I see. In five years, I expect prices to be a step ahead of where they are now, but two to three may bring a rocky road.”

Another, shorter, answer came from a buyer. “Certainly, the attention from Legacy has shifted with the introduction of Modern, but that is because it is far more supported by Wizards right now. It makes sense they can make money from this format with products such as Modern Masters. What people don’t understand is that diehard players will want to play as degenerative as they can, and with a more expansive card pool come more options to do so. The format will never die, nor will Vintage—this is not the first time we have seen a detraction from the format, and it will not be the last. Until there are no more dual lands to play, Legacy will always be on the radar and will continue to drive prices skyward. The market will correct itself over time, but I can see myself buying Underground Seas for $200 this time next year.”

The first opinion seems to be the majority, but I see a fair number of people willing to invest in the format again in high volume if the numbers do decrease, so perhaps the second buyer is correct that the market will adjust itself. I am particularly curious about your opinion on this subject; feel free to start a discussion below: What trends have you seen locally since the rise of Modern? Do you believe the proverbial sky is crashing down on the staples of Legacy or do you see the tried-and-true format rising from the ashes to take hold again?

Underground Sea
A hot-button topic I asked everyone—but only a few were willing to talk about—was about the Reserved List; is it a good or bad thing for dealers? What about players? Will the general public be priced out of these older formats due to the now-strictly enforced-rule? Again, I will paraphrase.

You can never price a community such as this completely out of a format; people spend ten-plus-thousand dollars just to build the shell of a Vintage deck or a Cube or Commander deck; Legacy is no different. There will always be that level of player, who both has the competitive spirit and drive as well as the money to take something like Legacy seriously. Will the community grow smaller over time? Certainly, the Reserved List ensures this, as every dual destroyed now is one fewer to play with in ten years. The question then becomes, How long will it take to make it to that point? Most vendors seemed to believe we have a number of years until we see any real shockwaves through Legacy. Prices may stagnate, but the high-end community will keep the format alive. The few dealers I did hear an answer from talked about the Reserved List as a point of faith. If Wizards really wanted to reprint these cards, they could—the players want to believe they will not make that decision, and as of now, it does not seem to be a promise Wizards is intending to break. With the success in Modern, it alleviates some players’ wallets when it comes to Eternal play, allowing the Legacy crowd to have a more readily-available access to cards in the coming years. This may stagnate the price temporarily, making it an ideal time to buy in, as you can usually find a number of deals in these trying times as people fire-sale due to fear. Over time, the community will remain, and duals, as easily accessible as they are now, will be a huge commodity for only those with the deepest wallets, but they will incrementally rise as once you hit a certain crowd of player who will have the disposable income to just buy what they need no matter the price.

 


That is all the time I have for this week. I did ask a few more questions, but none seemed as hot-button as these. Join me next week as I finish the second part of the series where I talk about what to do with your lower-end picks and in what ways you have to out them. As always, thank you for reading, and please leave any comments or questions below. I really want to see people’s takes on the Modern-versus-Legacy battle and what the players’ locations or play groups have to do with the formation of those opinions.

Ryan Bushard

@CryppleCommand

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