This entry is part 31 of 37 in the series Generally Speaking

By Imshan AKA Sinis

Hello readers.  Normally I deliver content along the lines of community, strategy, and technology, like our podcast does.  I like to talk about cards and social interactions.  But, as you might imagine, I have other hobbies and interests.  This week, I’m going to shift gears a bit and talk about marketing, economics and Commander’s Arsenal.  I’m going to hash out how a $75 price tag, and the nature of the product itself, is damaging to Wizard’s bottom line and handling of Commander in general.

More than anything, I want to talk about how this release is one of the perfect examples of what a company should not do, not because it has an MSRP that I don’t like, or because I think it will have cards I don’t want in it, or because I don’t think there is enough value in the box without actually knowing what’s inside.  Rather, I want to show how this release does nothing to advance the popularity of Commander outside a small subset of players, and may actively detract from its popularity in a large number of players.

First, I want to preface this article with the idea that I have nothing against people wanting to make a dollar.  Wizards provides a wonderful game that I love to play, and it is worth some monetary amount.  Further, if I ever felt it wasn’t worth it, I’m under no obligation to continue buying.  This might all seem pretty obvious, but I don’t want to give the wrong impression; I like Magic, and I am willing to pay the ‘asking price’ for it the vast majority of the time.  However, I think that Commander’s Arsenal is a terrible by-product of poorly-executed marketing research, resulting in a rushed attempt to capitalize on fledgling and veteran Commander players that will ultimately fail, or rather, not succeed as well as another product would in its place.  More specifically, Commander’s Arsenal is a very niche product meant to make a quick buck on a tiny subset of players who highly desire foils, while the majority of players are left wondering if Commander is really a supported format by Wizards and whether next year’s product will be more like 2011’s release and less like Commander’s Arsenal.

As a new thing that Wizards can target and market, Commander is enormous.  I have no hard evidence to back this up, but I think that this one could be taken as a given; Commander has been recognized by Wizards as a thing in 2011 with the initial Commander product release, and now has its own product line.  Were it not a ‘thing’, Wizards would have ignored it in the paper world like every other fan-created casual format, like 5-colour, or Cube draft.  There are no ancillary products for those, and they are probably not coming.

Given that Commander is actually a ‘thing’, it is unsurprising that Magic 2013 and Planechase 2012 both saw sudden and ad hoc legends, which are relatively unheard of in ancillary products and core sets.  The Planechase 2012 announcement and packaging, in particular, strongly featured legendary creatures.  While it may not be obvious to the casual observer, Magic sets are designed years in advance.  If the wikipedia page about set releases is to be believed, the turnaround is about three years.  Now, I have nothing against the M13 and Planechase 2012 legendary creatures, they’re good stuff.  I just think they were added in at the last minute, in attempt to attract the attention of Commander players, and capitalize on the increase in sales.  This is perfectly good and simple marketing; include stuff in a product people will want, let them know that what they want is present in a product, and even if it’s rushed and at the last minute, your target audience will buy it.

So, why the disappointment for Commander’s Arsenal?  It’s like they looked at the online community and decided that it was representative of all Magic players, especially people who play casually.  Players who frequent forums, listen to podcasts, and read columns like this one behave very differently when set next to players who don’t.  For example, we (and I mean me and you, the reader) look for optimal card choices, think about our decks, tend to have more decks put together, use online Magic search engines like, and are more likely to ‘pimp’ our decks with shiny foils, altered art, or foreign cards.  The online community is also intensely well-informed; we know what cards are reprints, are frequently aware of market values and the reasons for prices in the secondary market, or at the very least, understand why revised dual lands are a fortune and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

To contrast, ‘offline’ players specifically are not like players from the online community.  They don’t visit forums, listen to podcasts with any regularity, can’t be bothered to read columns, or much care about the specificities concerning cards in their decks. They don’t go out searching for tech, but are happy to use it when they come across it.  They see a revised dual land, or even a Ravnica block shock land, and think “man, that’s so expensive, but my Drowned Catacomb is almost as good.”  Of course, these generalizations should be seen as a gradient; not all players in the online community exhibit all these behaviours, nor do all the ‘offline’ players.  The final note about these two sorts of players: players in the online community are, by a huge margin, in the minority.  Ask around at your local game store.  Think about the number of people who bought the Commander product released in 2011 that you never saw again, except when they came in for a single or two.  I want to be clear, I’m not casting aspersions on the kind of crowd that spends less time on Magic than the online community does; they just have other priorities that rank above slinging cardboard.

The market success of the initial Commander release in 2011 can be chalked up to a couple of factors.  First, new players could run a deck out of the box.  Just sleeve it up (or not), and start playing.  But there were more attractive features to the set than that; older veterans would find new generals whose colour combinations were previously scarce, reprints that they may have been unable to find, while new players would get everything they need, and perhaps have the perception that the new cards would give them a chance against veterans who had it all.  If there was any market research done here, it would have showed that the throngs of ‘offline’ players got everything they wanted: something they could play without spending more, doing more research, or needing to know anything special, all without breaking the bank, even if your store inflated the price a bit.

So, what does Commander’s Arsenal offer?  The announcement says: sleeves, battle marks, a snazzy life counter, 18 foils which may or may not be reprints (but likely are, given that Sylvan Library is a reprint, and the scarcity of the product), and 10 oversized foils (which almost certainly are reprints of smaller cards, given that they could targeted by an effect that shuffles it into your library).  All of this stuff is cool, to be sure.  But, who is meant to buy it?  The reasons that players bought into the 2011 release are simply not present here.  It’s not playable out of box, some of it’s contents are barely playable at all (you could, after all, only play with so many oversize cards in one deck), the cards, when they’re finally spoiled, will probably be distributed somewhat evenly among all the colours, meaning that a player with one deck could not reasonably use them all, and really, we all used dice or whatever was handy for counters and life totals anyway.  All this could be yours for more than double the MSRP of the initial release.  Oh, and that price isn’t a guarantee: far more likely, retailers will inflate the price, given that it will be least as scarce as the From the Vaults series, if not moreso.  Sadly, the MSRP is probably driven by the battle marks; anyone in the boardgame industry will tell you that the non-paper, non-cardboard materials like metal pieces or miniatures are the most expensive of the bunch, and really, it makes a certain amount of sense when you start comparing the primary market for card games to the market for miniatures.

Commander’s Arsenal seems to be marketed toward a certain subset of the online community, the variety of player that cares about foils (I don’t know anyone who cares about oversize stuff, from any community), and is willing to pay the MSRP, or more.  They are, in essence, an extremely un-casual bunch in the casual format.

The high MSRP will not be well received by the ‘offline’ community: they may not necessarily know how much it costs to make battle marks with a reasonable markup for profit, but they will see a pile of cards that seems to be designed to be exclusive through price and scarcity.  This is dreadful for a huge number of reasons.  Firstly, ‘offline’ Commander players may see this as a real problem for their continued interest; they don’t play standard or legacy because of the perceived cost of playing, and if the dedicated Commander product is going to carry that kind of a price tag, they won’t want in.  To exacerbate this, they may not know that it’s all likely to be reprints; meaning that they will see it as preying on players’ competitiveness for a profit.  Finally, they will look down on their retailers, who, even if they charge 75 bones for this product, will be perceived as gouging their customers of a casual game.  When they inflate the price beyond the MSRP, the ‘offline’ community, the majority of players, will walk away in disgust.

The failure to entice, and to even repulse a wide swath of the community is a disaster enough.  To make matters worse, the release and subsequent activity with the product will send false positive market signals to Wizards.  Wizards will make money and Commander’s Arsenal will sell out, everywhere.  But not because it’s popular with the entire crowd.  It will sell out because it is expensive and scarce, which attracts it’s own special kind of consumer that enjoys the product because it’s expensive and scarce. These are known as Veblen goods, and this is the exact appeal that leads people to loading their decks with foils and the like, and explains why ‘budget pimping’ is not, and will never be, a phenomenon.  Conspicuous consumption is only possible for the few, and generally not attractive to the many.  Wizards might conclude that the product was wildly popular (“We couldn’t keep it on the shelves!”), and go on to print more oversized cards, and more foils, and more scarce releases, which only a tiny set of players actually want.

More than anything, the marketing failure here is its timing: a year has elapsed since the first Commander product was released and Commander’s Arsenal is the product line’s second release.  The most casual players have been playing with Kaalia, or Riku, or whoever for a year, and have never known anything else.  They want more, and Commander’s Arsenal is not only going to fail to deliver, but have the door slammed in its face because of price, perceived retailer greed, and because it smells like a bait-and-switch on the part of the manufacturer, who made an accessible product last year, but a highly exclusive one this year.  Worse still, when the Commander’s 2013 release comes into view, will the witnesses to Commander’s Arsenal even be watching?

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  • I’m sure I’m the privileged demographic that Wizards is looking for with this product, but I have to say this release does nothing but make we want to get more cards. FTV was scarce, and my LGS sold the copy I had preordered accidentaly. While I was pissed, it did nothing to turn me away from playing knowing that I couldn’t get the release.

    I hope commander players see things the same way. While the release is not everything we expected and hoped for, I think it will at least get people talking about the format and creating a lot of desire for upcoming products. Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I hope that is how this release turns out.

    • My fear is that it will specifically create aversion to upcoming products. You figure that a casual player who bought in for 30-40 last year is going to see this, and then think “well, that ship has sailed” and not bother to look out for the next release.

      That’s my biggest fear here, and that’s what this article is about.

      • I hope they just internalize this as a from the vaults without the nametag. You’ve called it out pretty well in this article. I just hope they don’t use that awful foil process they used for FTV.

        I don’t think it will disenfranchise a lot of players, and I honestly think this product will do a lot better in Europe, where 1v1 commander FBL has a tournament scene.

  • Devin

    Excellent analysis of the product’s impact on the format (or lack thereof). This is yet another of your pieces I wish there was some way to get to the good people at Wizards and force them all to read.

  • I don’t see how appealing to older players is such a bad thing. Judging by the title of the product, WotC knowingly meant it exactly for a niche purpose; older commander players who have nostalgia about cards like Loyal Retainers ($150 right now??), Sylvan Library ($11), Duplicant, and even reprinting Sliver Queen, a card that has sat on the reserved list at $30 for years. Sure, you can construe CA as a money-grab, but the value is there, no matter how you manipulate it, and at least WotC is giving access to cards that have been pretty non-negotiable in terms of price. WotC is not helping itself by catering to a reserved list, and this is I think the first time they’ve broken (or maybe more like side-stepped) their reprint policy.
    There is already a product for newer players in terms of commander. There is nothing wrong with giving more committed players access to some seriously good cards at a manageable price. That, and the novelty of the commander products is long, long gone; I know I’m not the only one tired of seeing Ghave/Riku/Mimeoplasm/Kaalia.
    And I’m not really buying the disconnect between online and “real life” players. That’s such an oversimplification of all players, new and old. Sure, I understand it’s the standard Sheldon Menery mantra meant to dimunize people that having more than a passing thought about Magic (ironic), but considering that most players don’t read blogs/listen podcasts, as you say, I’m not totally sure what you’re trying to accomplish by ostracizing your viewerbase. It’s not as black and white as casual vs competitive; there are plenty of people in between, and I would bet that those individuals are the majority of commander players.

    • There’s nothing wrong with appealing to older players. However, the Commander audience is largely defined by how casual they are, rather than how old they are. Of the people I have played Commander with, and there have been a pretty large number, only a few are older players. Most only own modern-legal cards.

      Further, it’s not merely that CA is a money grab, it’s that there would be more money for WotC if they had appealed to a broader audience, like they did with the first Commander product. With this? The volume of sales won’t be there, and there is a real potential to turn future potential customers off.

      As for the dichotomy between ‘online’ players and ‘offline’ players, don’t take my word for it. Ask people you find at a local game store. Talk with people who play Commander. And further, understand that there is part of the audience you will never talk to, because they only play at their kitchen tables. This isn’t meant as derision, this is verifiable demographics.

      Finally, I’m hardly ostracizing my readership. If you think that I’m speaking negatively about the players who like high-end stuff, just look at my previous articles, and you’ll know I’ve dropped serious cash on stuff like Timetwister, Force of Will, and revised dual lands. If I’m calling them out as having a disproportionate or inappropriate interest in Magic, then I’m cutting my own nose with the same knife, don’t you think?

      • Ok, so in your own very limited experience, you’ve rarely played with more experienced players. In my very limited experience, on the other hand, play with a roughly equal number of new, experienced, and somewhat-experienced players. Good to know we have different very limited experiences? I dont see your point.

        There are core sets and expansions released all the time. Of course this won’t sell as well as an actual set…it would be completely foolish to expect otherwise, and I’m sure WotC knows this. Though I have no idea how this product would turn potential customers off…as you said, you either buy it or you don’t. I’m not sure how this product would dissuade interest in someone’s hobby; it’s just another option, if anything.

        I play at a college with around 20 total players, more or less depending on day of the week. They have varying levels of interest in the game, to be sure. Some just play the game, other mainly just like the lore, but in either case, online resources are a big motivator, especially behind trades. Given how much prices play into the trading part of the game now, the community is far more interconnected than you give them credit for. Are there people who only play at the “kitchen table?” Yeah, but given the enormous social aspect of the game, they are not the majority, and certainly not the demographic that WotC is making the most money on.

        I don’t think you’re cutting your nose off, but you are totally taking this product out of context by saying how many people this won’t appeal to. My point is, so what? There are so many resources for every kind of magic player that a niche product here and there is perfectly understandable and desirable.

        • Since it boils down to your second last sentence (the question “My point is, so what?”), I’ll just go from there:

          This article is a discussion piece about Wizards’ marketing, the Commander community, and current/future potential customers. Wizards could have made more money now, and more in future purchases, if they had made an accessible product to most players.

          Look anywhere for evidence that EDH is played mostly by casual players who aren’t willing to shell out big money for cards. Look at ‘The Real Top 50’*, a database that contains a huge amount of statistical data for online decklists. Underground Sea does not make the top 50 lands played. Nor does any dual land.

          In fact, the more expensive cards do not see play at all in the vast majority of decks. So, Wizards made an expensive product when the demographics say that it is uncommon for players to care about expensive cards? And then, to boot, these are expensive reprints? Great. Money will be made, but not as much as if they simply reprinted half as much as the original release.


  • Pat

    Agree 100%! Thank you for saying this. I’m so disappointed with this set. I’m a more-than-casual Commander player (but nowhere near cutthroat status) in that I like foils and dual lands and all that stuff, but this release is not intended for me. Last year’s Commander pre-cons were the right products at the right time, with the right price tag. This release is a big fail. But you’re right — it will sell like hotcakes, to the “wrong” audience, and Wizards will judge it a success based on sales figures.

  • snapplecoffee

    Excellent article! I was excited for FtV: Commander, as I call it, even at such a steep MSRP. The set is made for players like me. Seeing Loyal Retainers in it has completely ruined any hope I had of it actually getting to the hands of Commander players. They might as well have called it Legacy and Cube Player’s Arsenal. It seem like, so far, there are a few bones thrown to Commander players, but mostly in the form of oversized generals most people don’t care about. Even that I could ignore, if they weren’t selling it in such small quantities that it will sell for much more than the MSRP. That’s just a marketing fail–making a product you think people will like, and then selling so few copies. Who knows, there will be a Diochan left for us Commander players once the Legacy and Cube players piece them off…

    • loyal retainers is pretty awful in cube, and really only sees play in a few, albeit strong, legacy decks. And its a stupid pain to use one of foiled cards in tournaments, because you will get called for cheating. UGH.

  • Tim

    Why in the world would you think the three year development time for a full-set would be reflected in products that don’t have limited play, will only make a fraction as much money and are 90% reprints?

    To make such a flawed assumption really calls the rest of your article into question for me.

    • 1. That part was meant to show that Wizards has been driving pretty hard to the hoop for marketing to Commander players. Even if the process is only one or two years, it shows the hasty additions of legends to the product.

      2. Magic 2013 certainly had a limited environment. Arguably, so did Planechase 2012 for its release events.

  • 401 games usually does an awesome job with these releases, using a raffle and keeping the price low. Kudos to them.

    Excellent points, though.

    Doesn’t make me any less super pumped to have access to more loyal retainers, though!

  • Mark

    As an experienced Marketer, I agree 100% with all the points you brought up in this article. You’re completely on-target. For those that don’t agree or understand your reasoning, all I can say is that from a Marketing perspective, Imshan hit every nail on the head. This is a flawed product by both design and execution. What’s worse, is that the availability (2-4 units per retailer) is going to ensure that even those willing to pay the $75 price tag are most likely not going to be able to get their hands on it. There’s just too little of this product being produced. Granted, this is the first major stumble the WotC MtG team has made in a long time, but it’s an unmitigated disaster… and one without any good solution at this point. Worse, it might be a trend. The forthcoming Modern Masters at $7 / pack — guaranteed foil or no — further indulges premium product development. I’m as excited as the next person, and personally have the disposable income to pick up as much as I may want… but not all the people I play with do, and I suspect they won’t think it’s as fun for them…

    • If someone is defining their own fun by how the amount of cash their surrounding opponents/friends whatever have stuffed into a game, chances are, Magic isn’t for them. MtG has an upfront AND maintainence cost that can be pretty hefty, and comparatively, there are a lot of games that don’t have nearly the “entrance fee” or upkeep that playing Magic does. Simply put, it is expensive, especially if you go about acquiring a collection the wrong way, and new players should easily realize this.
      That said, the trading part of the game provides a way to exchange value and have different experiences; something you can’t do with most games. Even players who don’t have the resources to buy Commander’s Arsenal can still attend FNMs and such and open very very valuable and highly desirable cards that could be traded for some of the extra Arsenal cards someone may have. This is especially true of RTR, with the reprinting of the shock duals.
      My point? Magic is expensive and new players shouldn’t delude themselves otherwise, but there are outlets for newer players to compete with those who have been playing longer and with larger collections. CA is certainly not going to hurt players new or old.

      • You are missing the point Bryan. Magic is not necessarily expensive for everyone. The type of people Imshan refers to are the truly casual market. Not the “Commander casual” but really the type of players that will come in, buy an Intro pack or two and be perfectly happen with their purchase and play those decks casually for months. 15$ every 3 months is not expensive. The Commander decks worked for those people. It was slightly more expensive, but still reasonable and let them play an exciting new format. Also Commander works better than Intro packs, because the nature of the decks means it has more more variety and replayability.

        Just as there are some people who prefer the limited format to the constructed format, There are also players who rather play a game with relatively balanced decks and prefer to keep the deck building aspect to a minimum. They don’t want to research how much land to put in, or what cards they need to buy that are better than what they are using. To them, deckbuilding is adding in that cool card from the 1 or 2 packs of the set they bought to their deck, and maybe not even taking any cards out. They don’t care if it’s the most efficient strategy, it’s fun.

        • On your first point, I’m not and never have debated whether or not the previous commander product was a good idea. Clearly it was. But the audience for Arsenal is just as clearly different. The first commander product was for just about anyone, and that’s of course more desirable; but when Imshan says that the mere existence of Arsenal is going to turn people away from the game itself…sorry but, putting it lightly, that’s a dumb statement that is no way based in reality. I would find his statement sad if the idea of fear-mongering about a card game wasn’t so inherently amusing. The big, bad commander arsenal is gonna get ya! Maybe even scare the newbies away!

          I mean seriously, come on. Sure, CA isn’t going to appeal to everyone. But saying that that is going to scare away new players just doesn’t make sense.

          And yeah, there are players who aren’t into deckbuilding and play with precons almost exclusively. Are they the players that WotC is trying to appeal to with this product? Uh, no. Not everything that comes out needs to be new player friendly. There are 5 commander precons for that already.

          • @facebook-1157364642:disqus At this point, I think we can safely conclude that you’ve never sold anything to anyone. If you think that this has no effect, that’s fine, you’ve made your opinion clear. Everyone commenting here disagrees with you, and if that makes them chicken littles in your eyes, so be it.

          • Imshan, I never claimed to be a marketing major. But despite your clearly very black/white picture of marketing, there are plenty of products that are aimed for a particular consumer type/demographic in many, many markets. I’ll do something that you wouldn’t do and man up and say that the only industry I’ve really ever worked in wherein I could directly see that is housing, and its obvious that different budgets fit varying qualities of homes or apartments. If you, say, privately manage apartment buildings, you try to have some kind of variation depending on the situation, so you’re not just appealing to one group of people, if your location can help it. But this is more or less fairly clear whether you’re talking about any service or product, be it food, housing, insurance, automobiles, or cards with wizards on them.

            And no, I’m pretty much just saying that your comment about how divisive this product is going to be, has no merit. No one else made that comment; just you, so the “we” here is pretty misleading. I mean, I guess I just don’t know how else to interpret your words. The fact that you need to make a Magic product out to be some force against new players just to attempt to make a point is by far more divisive than the mere existence of a hobby product.

            I don’t know; I guess I just don’t buy your broad, sweeping marketing generalizations, especially because I’m very much not an expert on marketing, and the odd fear-mongering towards new players about a product that isn’t even out yet. I realize that it’s internet vogue to bash WotC when they release a new product that isn’t exactly up to par or appeal for everyone, so I get the collective hate going on here, but when you start making it out to be some absolute tragedy in the EDH community , you have to wonder what the hell you’re reading.

          • @Bryan Stadterman I think you’re also blowing this out of proportion. I’m not saying that this is going to be an incredibly divisive product, and I’m not exactly ‘fear-mongering’. At the beginning of the article, I even state that thr product will hardly fail, and that Wizards will just make less money than they could have. Hardly ‘tragic’.

            Basically, if there is a ‘tragedy’ involved, it’s because you’re reading thigs into my article that aren’t there. So, let me make it clear for you:

            Commander will still be here after Nov. 2nd 2012
            There will still be casual players.
            Some people who bought the 2011 product will buy the 2013 product when it’s released.
            WotC will still print Magic.

            If anyone js being hyperbolic here, it’s you, or the rhetorical flourish in my last sentence of the article.

  • While I certainly won’t deny that the CA product was rushed. Wizards already has, saying that they wanted the product out, but didn’t have time to create and test new decks. But I think you’re missing something here: The idea that the Commander products are going to replace their former “Premium” series.

    A product that was poorly received, but available (so available that it lasted on the shelves at a local retailer store almost as long as the archenemy decks) vs. an extremely limited, but highly coveted product can just as easily meet their goals for selling products, even if it’s poorly marketed, but at less costs. For Commander players specifically? I’ll agree that it’s not, but I’m also looking at it as a stop-gap-product that’s taking the place of a product that was doing even worse beforehand.

    You’re right in that Wizards is actively trying to please their Commander audiences (one of the reasons a few designers were fighting for a werewolf legend during Innistrad block), but as for the M13 legends, I think you’re off base there. Lead designer Doug Beyer talked about those legends and how, yes, there’s some tie-in to Commander, but that they were primarily designed to be tie-ins with the Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 video game product as playable opponents. Given how much time was also put into making the game and that core set as connected as possible, it’s quite the assumption to think of them as “hasty additions”, particularly since development still needs to grind away at them for over a year (as you’ve already alluded).

    While I understand your fears that some players will see the product, throw their hands up, and declare Commander as a money format, I also have to ask: What casual players are going to notice the product to begin with? If they don’t go online and follow product releases and what have you, then how are they going to know what they’re missing outside of one guy showing off the shiny new box he just bought? My family’s full of kitchen-table magic people, and the only way they’re going to be turned off is if I wait outside the story for ten hours to buy the thing, and then rub their noses in it while doing the cha-cha.

    The 2011 Commander Products were sold in retails stores and hobby shops alike right next to the booster packs that kitchen-table players buy (after a hobby-exclusive launch). FTV and CA are nothing like that. I would almost argue that if you ARE the type of person going online to check this stuff out, then you probably have something more than just a casual passing interest in Commander to begin with.

    It just raises…too many questions.

    • Pat

      Sounds like you’re saying that the Commander product was poorly received. That’s not what I’ve observed … not by a long shot. The decks were insanely popular and the new commanders are still making a splash in my game group here in Chicago. I wish they would have found the time to develop another generation of Commander decks, rather than Commander’s Arsenal (a poorly targeted, badly priced product with virtually no value, now that we know the contents).

      • I’m not sure where you getting that from since I was calling the “Premium Deck Series” product poorly received, not the Commander product. Hell, I had a time and half trying to find more copies of that thing.

        • Pat

          Ah, sorry. I misunderstood your comments to be about the Commander precon decks, rather than the Premium deck series.

  • No product from Wizards has ever made me want to stop giving them my money before. I have “sold out” my collection several times, but never because I felt like the game was no longer meant for me. I spend alot of money on Magic in any given month, and it’s not the MSRP that upset me it was the conscious decision to deprive me of a product made for “me.” (Collectors and avid Commander player) I have spent $150 on a FtV product, understanding why it was markets as a limited product. A Commander product with Sleeves, Tokens, and Oversized cards tacked onto FtV:Commander just feels like Wizards giving me the middle finger, and I have all the ability in the world to just play something else.

  • I would normally buy something like this. Hell, I even bought FtV: Realms in a hasty preorder for $130 (should’ve waited to see what else was in the box). But when I looked at preorders for this CA on eBay, they were insanely high – $250 to $400 – and some of those were already purchased, so I don’t see why anyone would drop the price at a later date. That’s simply too much to spend on a really limited and, quite frankly, underwhelming/underpowered set of 3-star rares from Magic’s past.

    That’s one of my biggest complaints so far – these cards suck for the money spent. If you play Commander, you could buy 100 other cards that would do more, affect more, and make your games 100x better than what’s in this box for the same amount of dough. And by that logic – this is absolutely NOT for Commander players. It’s for the collector’s. Fine. Throw a bone to ’em. But don’t call it Commander’s Arsenal after – as Imshan says – sucking all of these new players in off of the street with cheap, playable product.

    This kind of product seems to me like it will be perceived as the “next step” product for everyone who bought the pre-cons last year. Imagine the disappointment in spending $200 on this to find that the cards inside don’t actually make much of a difference in your games, though.

    • Mightily_Oats

      Sorry Shawn Hudson, but I’m gonna have to totally agree with you here. Your statements are completely on-base and totally with merit. I would also like point out that your gramar is excellent, your hygiene is beyond reproach and you are an attractive human.

      • Kurt and Wilford agreeing on something? What is this – “The Thing” remake?

        • Mightily_Oats


  • Peter

    While I dislike what wizards has done with the product, and how they have gone about what could potentially have been quite a good release, I can happily ignore the actual contents in the same way I have with some of the overpriced FTV stuff. What I can’t ignore is the damaging impact this could have and the serious lack of direction and understanding that it shows towards the entire EDH community. Wizards, for all intents and purposes created the perfect (mostly) product in last years summer commander release. It helped lots of my friends get into the format, it provided a much needed boost in card availability and showed real thought (command tower, for example, was perfectly designed IMHO).

    This though, this shows a real lack of thought, and does nothing but create doubt as to whether they actually understand what the player base wants. Worst of all, due to the limited print run this will more than likely completely sell out, and make them lots of lovely money, which could lead to a repeat performance sometime in the future.

  • Pat

    Just checking in to say that my FLGS was allotted 4 copies of Commander’s Arsenal, and all 4 are already pre-sold. So much for getting this into the hands of actual players!

  • good read, mr poolar

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  • Nic

    msrp might be 79.99$ but you won’t see this for under 150

  • William K.

    One of my LGS sell 3 of these products each around $380 USD, and 3 lucky buyer still need to be randomly pick. EDH is so “interactive”.

  • Gage

    i agree 100% with this article wizards is pushing players away, im an edh player through and through and ive been trying to get in to standard lately but prices of the cards is making me hate the game and i love this game i mean unless you have 2 or 3 hundred dollars to drop into 60 cards you might as well give up on standard i mean to have a deck run right you have to have the non basic lands whitch go for 15 apiece on the low side and having 4 wow there is 60 bucks just on 4 lands in my opinion its rediculas on cards prices it a piece of cardboard dangit honestly the game of magic the gathering is coming down to who has the most money

  • Murilo

    This is the greatest text about commander arsenal ever written. I bought the product, but it did not satisficied me.

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