Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Introduction of Mythic Rares

Recently, everyone was been pointing to Mythic Rares when they need an example of Magic's downfall. You basically can't browse any Magic forum without encountering people bitching and moaning about the introduction of mythic rares. For those of you who don't know, Mythics are a new rarity for Magic cards which started about three years ago with Shards of Alara. They basically are super rare cards which only show up every eight packs. When Wizards first created the Mythic Rarity, they said they were doing it mostly for Planeswalkers and big splashy cards and that they weren't going to make tournament staple Mythics. It didn't take them long to back down from that promise and start creating tournament Mythics, which these days usually run about 40-50 bucks per card. This is the main cause of uproar among the Magic community as no one wants to drop 200 dollars for a playset of a card which just came out. Let me let you in on a little secret though: Mythics are really not that bad. 

Guys Like This Were Fine at Mythic.
I realize that what I just said is blasphemy to all but the most hardcore of tournament players, but let me explain. The biggest impact Mythic rares have had on the game is making regular rares dirt cheap. This is because dealers need to open more product in order to get enough supply of Mythic rares to meet their demand. This leaves them with a huge supply of regular rares which are subsequently slashed in price to help the vendor get rid of their huge surplus. So what does this mean exactly? It costs about the same to make a good tournament standard deck as it did before Mythics were introduced.

Okay lets break it down further and go back in time to Ravnica/Time Spiral Standard. If you were trying to make a deck like Solar Flare, Zoo, or any kind of three color deck really, then you would need to have to be running 3 full playsets of shocklands. Since rares were more expensive in general, these lands at the time were going for about 15 each. So a playset would be about 60 bucks, and 3 playsets would be 180 bucks. Thats close to 200 dollars for just your manabase. The rest of your deck would not be that expensive. Lets compare that to something like Valakut, a current top tier Standard deck. The deck runs a playset of Primeval Titans, which are about 40-45 a pop. A playset comes out to between 160-180. The rest of the deck is relatively cheap. Both decks would basically cost the same, the only difference is that these days, the price is concentrated within only a couple of cards.

Mythic price inflation all started with her.
There is a downside to this though. Spending 180 bucks on 3 sets of lands is amazing because these lands can go into a huge variety of decks. Cards like Primeval Titan and Koth, are very limited in the types of decks they can be in. If you're a tournament player on a budget, you can only really afford to pick up one playset of Mythics, and then your basically stuck playing that deck for the rest of the season. For instance, I bought a playset of Koths when Scars of Mirrodin came out, and now I'm stuck with playing decks like Red Deck Wins and Boros for the rest of the season since I can't afford to go buy a set of Jaces and switch decks. I'm very much pigeon holed into only playing a couple of archetypes at the moment, whereas if dual lands were still the top priced thing in the format, I'd have several options available to me. 

Its funny, because the people who benefit the most from Mythics are the ones who are the loudest complaining about them. Players who are strictly casual benefit the most from the printing of Mythics. Since Mythics drove the price down of every other rare in the set, you can buy like every card you need for your casual or edh decks when a set comes out for dirt cheap. 3 dollar dual lands?! 50 cent dragons?! Every set now, I spend about 40 bucks getting every relevant card I need for all of my EDH decks, and that 40 bucks goes a very very long way now. Seriously, in Scars of Mirrodin there are only two rares which break five dollars (Mimic Vat and Ratchet Bomb). That is ridiculous, and used to be completely unheard of.

This guy will be a hundred a piece by the end of this Standard season.

Pros and PTQ grinders tend to have play groups who borrow cards from each other for a tournament, or they ally themselves with a store and borrow cards from a dealer in exchange for wearing their t shirt to a tourney. As I said before, these players probably don't even see a difference in price when buying a standard deck now as opposed to in the past. Basically, Mythics don't really affect high level players at all. Obviously, people who only play limited aren't hurt by Mythics, since they don't buy singles to begin with. Plus, Mythics help balance limited by ensuring that powerful cards don't make it into quite as many draft or sealed decks. 

So who do Mythics really hurt then? The Friday Night Magic player. These players tend to be on strict budgets, and even if they had the money, they wouldn't spend it on expensive cards just to play in low stakes tournaments. The thing is though, building a budget deck for FNM is just as easy and effective as it was before, and there will always be cheap and powerful tournament decks for them to play, like the recent B/R Vampire decks, if they want to play something tuned. 

I do need to point out that it is very possible that Mythic rares hurt dealers the most, since they have to open up much more product to get the Mythics, which means a larger investment for them to sell singles for each set. In addition, if they get unlucky and don't open enough Koths, they might have trouble trying to swing a profit for that set. I have no data to be sure about this though, and most dealers don't like talking about their business practices.

Honestly, I think they should get rid of Mythics. It was an unnecessary change to begin with, and they hindered the ability for part of the community to play Magic. Things were fine before, and the introduction of the Mythic Rarity was an obvious cash grab for Hasbro. However, they really aren't as bad as people like to make them seem, and they certainly are not the downfall of Magic as a whole.


  1. Since I leave you in charge of pricing and buying all of the cards I want for my EDH decks, I can't intelligently comment regarding the inclusion of pricey Mythics. I do know that my favorite cards don't seem to be all that expensive, but I'm also a super casual magic n00b.