Actually, I don’t hate Mythics. I just thought it was a catchy title. We’ve lived with Mythic cards for almost two years now and it seems that for better or worse they are here to stay. At this time I’d like to share my thoughts and comments that were previously only available in a limited edition spoken word version that I’d willingly rant to anyone who’d listen.
Back in the day we weren’t pampered with rarity symbols on the cards. We’d open our packs of white bordered cards and have to guess at the rarity by analyzing the play value, in the snow, uphill, both ways. Serra Angel and Sengir Vampire were only bested by a Shivan Dragon. Will-o’-the-Wisp was a bomb and Moxes were $50. We’d anxiously await the next edition of Scrye magazine to discover what cards might be worth and what their rarities really were. A guy named Roach that came to the Buzzard’s Reach weekly events above Sharkey’s Bar in Sumner, Washington had developed a pricing system that defied Scrye, forgoing dollars for “points.” We had no such luxuries like different colored set symbols to use to divine card values. With nary a foil in sight there were many subtle levels to the rarity. Sometimes on the weekdays we would make our way to the Wizards of the Coast main offices in Renton, Washington for a tour of the facilities. The guided trespass through a sea of Nerf weaponry was filled with awe and wonder. We spent our stay dodging air propelled munitions from said Nerf guns, talking to artists, trying to figure out what went on in the guarded central offices on the main floor, and it all ended with the gift of a starter deck.
This is taxing my memory a bit, but I think that there were 2 levels of common and uncommon, and 3 of rare (those numbers might be reversed). I’d confirm that but I can’t seem to locate my copy of Scrye from 1996 with the Borg Queen on the cover. This all came down to how the cards are printed on big sheets filled with Magical goodness (I used to have an Antiquities one laying around somewhere). C1 and C2 were simply the reference to how many of each card were printed on each sheet. It might be different now, but back then there were 121 cards per sheet (11×11) and the numbers don’t divide evenly so some cards were printed more often than others on the same sheets. An R1 has fewer copies on an uncut sheet then an R2 for example. Some publications listed out the number as a direct association to how many times a card appeared on a sheet. I’m not sure when this started happening, but I know that some of the Uncommons in Alliances were printed on the Rare sheet (2 of each rare, 6 of the uncommon) and some of the Commons were printed on the Uncommon sheet.
I’ve long contended that the Mythic class rarity is nothing more than the new rarity color slapped into the R1 slot. This would make sense for a few reasons…
In short, it doesn’t cost Wizards anything extra to produce them this way. WotC being a corporation makes them subject to the kind of bureaucracy that would normally strip them of the ability to make such wise decisions, but I still think it’s likely. The overall distribution of Mythic cards, about 2 of each per case of product, suggests that these R1 values are rarer then the previous R1s, but this is likely not much more than an effort to sell more packs.
All of the above is meant to suggest that the massive divide in cost between Mythics and Rares is a consumer driven phenomenon and not really based on card rarity. The Mythics certainly feel more rare then they are a little but it’s a line in the sand. It’s starting to feel as though some of the Mythics aren’t guaranteed to be $10+ and Rares aren’t doomed to being $5- but we’re not there yet.
The lines drawn between the Mythic and Rare cards in the Shards block were a catalyst to short cutting the pricing variances. Over time we have learned that with an expanded player base, the market demand for certain cards can bear the weight of a $50 or even an $80 price tag and these lines mean that only a Mythic will get such a value (while “in print”). The non-theoretical existence of these prices promotes the notion of a higher ceiling on card values and virtually guarantees that it will continue. With such a large disparity in card values with identical allocation we’re going to get an equally large disparity in personal gains and losses due to correct or incorrect speculation (good thing you have Quiet Speculation huh?).
So what do I really think about Mythics? I think that things will settle down eventually, but that the new rarity colored symbol will continue to polarize pricing and act as a short cut to the cards we need to watch more closely. All in all, I’m fine with them.
Should WotC care about the prices cards are getting to? I don’t think they should at all, but they seem to at least a little. I have no real data on this, but it seems like Baneslayer Angels are way more available in M11 then they were in M10… adding one more to the sheet as a knee jerk response to its meteoric rise in price after the release of M10 certainly feels like something a concerned company might do. In reality, Wizards sees no direct income from the singles market, so they need to find ways to move more packs. One could argue that there is a certain symbiosis with singles sales since we often buy singles where we buy packs. Most Magic retailers live and die by singles sales so higher values and more in demand cards helps out Wizards main line income source. Higher valued cards also means that our favorite places to play will stay in business.
So far, I would say that the decision to introduce the Mythic rarity has probably worked out much better then Wizards of the Coast or anyone else could have predicted.
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