In case you are somehow unaware, the entire New Phyrexia set has been spoiled. Someone who was trusted enough to receive a “godbook” from Wizards has violated their trust (and non-disclosure agreement) by first posting a couple of screenshots to make themselves nice and traceable, and then by uploading a PDF of the entire visual spoiler. In short, someone’s out of a job.
I’m not here to discuss the cards in the set yet, although I must say that on the whole the set seems incredibly powerful for constructed, fun for tournaments, and full of gorgeous artwork. Instead, I’d like to discuss the implications of spoiling an entire set at once and the winners and losers in this entire ordeal.
Loser: Wizards of the Coast writers. Preview weeks are just starting, yet now we have the entire set. This means that we’re about to have 2 weeks worth of articles that no one really cares about.
Sure, people like myself will still be interested in Mark Rosewater’s design stories. Others will anxiously await Mike Flores’s traditional overhyping of cards that almost invariably don’t pan out. For the most part, however, people won’t care, site traffic will be down, and the writers will feel completely robbed.
Rumor season is an awesome time, and it’s something everybody likes to be a part of. I’ve had the privilege of spoiling a few cards in the past (unofficial spoilers, of course. I could never get Wizards to get on board with “Dr. Jeebus’s explicative-laden preview card extravaganza…punch and pie.”) and it’s a lot of fun. Having that opportunity taken away from you would just suck.
Winner: StarCityGames, et al. Online retailers have taken to preselling cards as they were officially spoiled. With the entire set spoiled weeks ahead of schedule, this gives them the opportunity to have a few extra weeks of presales.
If you’re unaware, presale prices are almost always inflated and start to drop the day of the prerelease when people actually have cards in their hands instead of worrying that they will never see another piece of cardboard again.
Loser: Brick and mortar stores. Yup, we’re boned. People have a lot of extra time to preorder the cards that they want to buy instead of buying them from us. Also, rumour season generates excitement, and that excitement translates into sales.
With the entire set already spoiled, however, the excitement is going to fade. Fast. By the time the set is released, the honeymoon will be long over, people will have had time to think about the set at great length and figure out exactly what half dozen cards they want, and may have already gotten impatient and ordered them online.
Loser: Whoever spoiled this. It won’t take long for whoever spoiled this to be caught. The full screenshots they posted have some pretty incriminating evidence in them, and if they haven’t been fired yet, they will be caught and fired soon.
Winner: Dr. Jeebus. Writing a full set review is a pain in the ass. The tight lid that Wizards had been able to keep on unofficial spoilers only made this task even more difficult by giving me approximately 24 hours (10 of which I would be at work) to write an entire set review and get it posted before the prerelease. I now have plenty of time to do a full, well thought out review before the prerelease.
Winner: Top tier deck designers. Grand Prix Providence is two weeks after the set is released and GP Singapore is the following week. While there was already a decent amount of time for people to design and test decks for these events, that time has now been doubled. Instead of someone potentially showing up with an innovative deck that is discovered to be running a sub-optimal list, there is now the time to test extensively and have a finely tuned new deck for these events.
So what do we draw from all of this? I have to say that the only reasonable conclusion from this information is that this is a huge blunder on someone’s part, and that this sort of behavior should be discouraged.
In terms of business, StarCityGames winning out over brick and mortar stores is bad for the long term health of the game (Notice how Wizards keeps doing things to try to help out those brick and mortar stores?).
In terms of writing, anything which is somehow good for me and bad for Maro has to not only be awful for society, but will also somehow wind up being terrible for me anyway.
Besides, are you even excited anymore? I was extremely excited when the set was spoiled because I got to read about it. In the days that have followed, that excitement has disappeared. It’s agreed that the set is extremely powerful with some cards that may even be broken, but, with the exception of Mental Misstep, no one seems to have much to say anymore. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this affected Prerelease numbers as well, but I guess only time will tell.
The moral of the story: If you have the opportunity to spoil a ton of cards unofficially, take your time. We may find it exciting at first, but if you blow your load in the first few minutes we’ll all wind up very disappointed in the end.