Thursday, October 25, 2012
Commander's Arsenal: Yea or Nay?
Magic is a pretty unique game, in terms of its design, flexibility, and cost. There's really not much else that comes to mind which fits so much complexity onto such a simple game. Part of that is the sheer number of ways to play.
I think that Wizards recognizes what a great thing they have in EDH. They constantly have to balance Constructed, Sealed/Draft, and Casual. EDH carries the banner for that last, but there's a lot of variation.
One of those variations is a group of people who like to 'pimp out their decks,' usually in foil, but some of them count for non-English cards. That is who this product is marketed to, the people who have enough money or enough trading capital to go after rare versions of cards.
I sometimes do this. I've got a tribal Vampire deck which has nearly all of the non-lands in foil, and I'm debating about the lands. Foil lands are higher in price than I want to pay. (Especially because I'm getting married in the spring!)
Commander's Arsenal is directly targeted at these players, and these players want it BAD. The card choices I agree with--I always like getting Portal Three Kingdoms reprints--and I wouldn't mind having some of the foils, but let's keep the focus on what this is and who this is for.
This is a set that will not do much to increase card availability...I think. There's a chance that some of these get snapped up just for Legacy Reanimator decks (where Loyal Retainers can really shine) and the rest get put on the secondary market. The From the Vault series is a good example of something like this, because if you paid MSRP (a rare feat) then you got great value. If you got it at $60, then you got some value, depending on how many of those cards you're actually playing. Right now, two months after its release, the Maze can be had for $30, and only a couple of the others approach $10, with the rest being $3-4. (Go ahead, look it up.)
This set is an even more limited print run than FTV. Stores aren't getting 10-20 of these, they are getting 2 or 4. But here's the secret about those who pimp out their decks: They usually don't have a lot of different decks, choosing instead to focus on one or two. So someone who has a pimped-out Kaalia deck will want the Kaalia, the Retainers, and maybe a Duplicant, perhaps a Scroll Rack, or a Decree of Pain. They won't have need of the others, and will unload them.
Here's my thought: If you're willing to do without the Retainers and Diaochan, give it a little patience on the prices. Again, FTV is the closest example we have, and aside from Maze, we're better off now, buying just the couple of cards we want. My hunch is that Diaochan is going to be a $20 card by Valentine's Day, because the ability is a little too even for my taste. The rest will be in that range, and most people will be better off waiting and buying the few cards they need, rather than spending ridiculous amounts of money on release day.
Make no mistake--it's going to take a ridiculous amount of money on release day. So I have to vote Nay on the immediate purchase of Arsenal for inflated prices. (and they are way inflated on Ebay!) However, I must admit that if I were able to get one for MSRP on November 2, I would buy it.
That's my view, and I don't pretend it's anything other than my opinion and my guesses. Enjoy!