What It’s Like To Open Magic: The Gathering’s $1,000 Anniversary Box

Ever since the 30th Anniversary Edition of Magic: The Gathering was announced in October, it’s been making headlines. Its $1,000 prize for four random non-tournament-legal 15-card booster packs from Magic’s first set (including Wizards of the Coast promised never to reprint in 1996) had many players in armsto the point where even Wall Street noticed. The tensions around it are higher than I’ve seen with any Magic product in a very long time, with some saying it’s an overpriced insult to the playerbase while others see it as just another bounty to collect in a game built on them.

So when Wizards of the Coast offered to send IGN two for whatever coverage we felt was appropriate, I was honestly quite surprised. These boxes are a fleeting thing – on November 28 they were officially available less than an hour before the official The magic Twitter account announced the sale was “concluded”. Meanwhile, WOTC had apparently already sent packs to celebrities like baseball player Hunter Penceand even surprise included four packs in the most expensive Black Lotus VIP level loot bag at its Magic 30 convention in Las Vegas, further fueling the community’s perception that this product was exclusively for the wealthy.

Frankly, I didn’t expect to see one of these boxes in person, let alone two, and chances are most people won’t see it. It’s hard not to feel like it’s somewhat intentional, with FOMO (fear of missing out) fueling the hype around this premium product. you can never open you. Whether that’s actually the intention or not is not fair for me to guess, but the result is the same: many gamers feel left out, and it stings when the product itself contains something that a lot of people have been wanting this to happen for quite some time. .

The contempt for the Reserved List, WOTC’s decades-old promise not to reprint a specific selection of classic cards, has been palpable for a long time now, with former WOTC employee Bill Stark even tweeted recently that it cannot be abolished for legal reasons “that would bankrupt the game”. Because the 30th Anniversary Edition recreates (most) Magic’s very first set, it contains many reserved list reprints. The backs of these cards are different, which means that none of them are tournament legal, but it’s still a pretty drastic change in policy. Mark Rosewater said the reserved list covered “all full-sized versions” of these cards as recently as last August.

It was fun to open nostalgic maps in pristine condition, but not particularly exciting.

The promise of opening replacements for these rare and sought-after cards is an attractive pitch for some and a waste of money for others, but I was really curious to know what these packs actually looked like to open. as a player. Now keep in mind that my experience is a bit tainted by the fact that these were provided to IGN for coverage, and therefore I would never attempt to sell them as it would be a huge ethical conflict of interest . But putting the value proposition aside for a second is like taking a trip down memory lane opening packs of Magic’s first set with a shiny new border and non-tournament legal back a nostalgic treat… or sorting out a draft 30-year-old chaff hoping to hit a very limited list of disappointing potential rough diamonds on their own?

The answer for me ended up somewhere in the middle, because opening those $1000 lighting rods for the debate was a somewhat odd and ultimately quite anticlimactic experience – and I say that having opened two boxes which are probably as close to the ideal as you can statistically hope for. It was fun to see cards I’ve recognized from childhood in new condition and a modern setting, but that didn’t mean it was particularly exciting. Cracking an old-school Counterspell or Dark Ritual elicited much the same reaction as when I open a Starburst wrapper to find a pink one waiting at the start of the line: a calm “neat” followed by a soft which fades quickly.

This mixture of joy and unease became even more confusing when I Actually opened one of the Power Nine – the names of nine of Magic’s oldest, most powerful, and most expensive cards that matter Black Lotus among them. Mine was a Mox Jet, followed quickly by a retro-framed version of one of the coveted dual terrains (a Taiga, in this case) in the same pack. If opening booster packs was a game, I had just won, but neither card got my blood pumping like I expected. In contrast, I opened rares in the $4 boosters from recent sets that were more invigorating. Instead, my first thought upon seeing my new Mox was “Where the hell am I going to keep this thing?”

It’s not a card I have practical use for since Power Nines are banned in Magic’s most popular format, Commander. It’s not a map that holds any value to me since it will never be sold, and it doesn’t feel particularly special as a collectible like a real one would when printed new as a sort of bait for my excitement. It’s definitely a nice piece of paper to have, I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it now that I have it. It’s hard not to feel like playing for the chance to open something you can sell even more is a big part of the sales pitch here, and without it these packs don’t have much appeal at such a high price.

The door to the reserved listing is now open in a way that many never thought would ever happen.

Seeing the cards in person, the cost of the 30th Anniversary Edition is really the most disappointing thing about it, because these packs could have been a really fun way for more people to learn about the roots of Magic. I’d love to be able to celebrate this game’s anniversary by making affordable beta drafts at my local game store – though the hard truth is that it’s not exactly a set that makes drafts particularly fun. Reserving an otherwise pretty neat product exclusively as a collectible is a valid decision for WOTC to make if it wants to do so, it’s just a bummer for the rest of us.

But either way, I think a lot of the community’s frustration comes less from desperately wanting to open these packs or the quality of the product itself, and more from feeling left out of a something many people have been asking for years. . These days, the reserved list mainly benefits people who make money from the scarcity it causes, while it hurts many players who are just trying to use these cards to play the game. at ultimately get new impressions of something like the coveted large-scale Dual Lands – reprints that could be happily played in Commander, where their non-tournament legal status often won’t matter to your playgroup – only to have them at an out of reach price is understandably disappointing.

A counterpoint to this would be that the non-legal status clearly cements this as something meant for collectors only, and can be safely ignored by most gamers as it won’t compel the average person to buy expensive packs just to get them. . I think that’s a fair way to look at this whole situation – but the door to the reserved listing is also open now in a way that many didn’t think would ever happen, and the disappointment of realizing that it always will an expensive door to walk through anyway is real, whether or not you ignore that specific product.

Having opened the 30th Anniversary Edition myself, I don’t necessarily think it’s a complete disaster, game destroyer or anything. (To be clear, I also don’t recommend it unless you’re literally Post Malone.) Stripped of its massive price tag, it’s a cool thing to browse fresh versions of cards I recognize from childhood. But it also can’t help but feel like a relatively sterile Magic product in my hands, like it was built primarily with money in mind rather than a true celebration of Magic’s 30th anniversary. As a result, I’m left with the rather odd experience that I’ve had more exciting times opening Standard rare this year than opening a Mox Jet.

Tom’s Marks is IGN’s Associate Journals Editor. He likes puzzles, platform games, platform games and much more.

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