Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
Hey y’all, it’s your least-favourite suburban thug Andy back up in this bitch. This week I’m not going to preach to you about how I think your decks are rubbish if you don’t gimp yourself or anything, I promise. It’s not going to contain a lot of pictures of my crotch-thrusting or even a whole lot of yelling, which is all the stuff you’re no doubt accustomed to getting from me. I’d like to address some items that aren’t really directly related to slinging cardboard at all, which is how I think we (and don’t even front on it, it was a total ‘we’ moment) ended up in CommanderCast’s finest hour.

No, not this (though it was… something).

I’m referring, of course, to the Gifts Given charity auctions where given the combined efforts of your overwhelming generosity and some footwook on the part of this particular goon, we managed to raise about $4000 for Child’s Play. They’re my favourite charity for various reasons, but it seems either they were also a favourite of yours or you guys just love to give things away. In any case, the success of this event was also a great personal revelation for me.

You know how you hear a lot of people, myself included, occasionally throw out some throwaway remark about Magic players being a bunch of neckbeards? Or when you see all the back-biting bullshit about how the ‘Magic community’ is so terrible? Maybe this isn’t the same ‘Magic community’ full of stinky nerds that raised a giant stack of money for charity on pretty much entirely good will, or something, but I have my doubts. It goes to show that when we aren’t arguing about the cards we haven’t played with yet or trying to juice an extra $0.13 in value out of a trade (sorry), a lot of us Magic playing neckbeards are a pretty rad bunch.

I’m fortunate to have y’all be interested in listening to my gibberish, and even luckier to have a lot of you guys join up for the CommanderCast Goon Squad (still fully unpaid other than in e-friendship!). I’ve had the good fortune to interact with a lot of CommanderCast’s audience in person between various conventions, Magic events, and personal travels and pretty much all you people have been real Gs for real, so excuse me if I seem to have rose-coloured glasses on this topic but I have to stress we have a really awesome audience. The whole Gifts Given thing just really put it on display on our admittedly small stage.

Well, I hope you guys are willing to commit to being awesome again this year.

Season Seven of CommanderCast is beginning on August 20th, and with it I want to get the ball rolling early on a new project. It’s Gifts Given 2012.

“Holy shit Andy we sent like a million cards to you last year, I don’t have any more cards to give!”

That’s cool. In fact, for me to expect that kind of thing again would be even more delusional than usual. Instead of expecting an audience to send valuables to a stranger on trust this year, I’m trying to engineer a different type of fundraiser. Our goals will be basically the same; we’ll still be a bunch of gamers working together to raise money for Child’s Play. But this year I’m thinking everyone involved will get something a little more…specialized to mark the occasion.

The idea came about after my man Ian engineered the following sick-ass-sick logo for CommanderCast, featuring Wrexial staying classy as he’s been known to do since the boat-smashing debut of the 2010-style banner:

After showing the image to y’all on the ol’ Twitter Machine and Facebook, there was an almost uniform undercurrent of feedback:

This presented me with a bit of a conundrum. Personal rant time, but I find the drive to monetize every element of a hobby incredibly tacky. This is why CommanderCast has always remained 100% advertising free, and will continue to as I’m in charge. You already have enough shitty ads shoved into your eyes and ears every day, so I figure having one place without them can’t be a bad thing. Selling t-shirts to me meant the same sort of tackiness; I’d get that icky feeling of trying to hawk some bullshit to people for a cheap buck. My perception matches reality is, of course, totally debatable. But it’s been clear for almost a year that a lot of people would like some kind of CommanderCast “merch” (even the term makes me feel so ‘80s guy’ I want to headbutt some broken glass).

Then, thanks to Ian’s logo and your encouragement I figured why not channel these two things into a great cause? Why not sell t-shirts and drive 100% of the profit back to the coffers of Child’s Play?

This is, of course, only a hideous example-image type dealie of what the shirt might look like, and the final product will differ substantially if need be. I’m hardly the guy who’s going to do the final design; I’ll consult with some people who are more design-inclined than myself (my gangsta sensibilities rarely function well in this kind of context). But it gives you an idea of what the this year’s charity fundraiser item will look like.

The next step is, of course, appraising genuine interest. While a simple “do you want a T-shirt?” isn’t a complex question, coming to you with hat in hand and saying “pay for that shirt” is a different affair. All these items will have a baseline price; beyond that, anything paid into the shirt will go to charity. This means there’s two questions:

1) Do you want a CommanderCast t-shirt with Ian’s ballin’ outrageous logo?

2) How much are you willing to pay for it as a markup, knowing all of the proceeds go directly to charity?

That’s the important bit. I understand the value of money, despite being a Magic player, and the idea of spending money on much of anything other than food, bills, and completing my Wu-Tang discography makes me physically ill. I like cool t-shirts as much as the next guy, but how much am I willing to pay for one knowing a lot of the money goes off the top to a cause I believe in?

In the interest of levelling with people completely, I am looking at a few manufacturers, and am actually talking with Child’s Play as well. Because of logistical difficulties and the tax code, I need to do this in a way that ensures no money actually enters my hands. For the most part, the baseline cost of having a t-shirt made to order at places I can find that are reliable and will ship to you varies from about $15 to $20. Add shipping, then I’m usually allowed to assign an arbitrary markup of ‘profit’–this would be the charitable contribution, going directly to Child’s Play.

I know I can make shirts MUCH cheaper in bulk (in fact, the place is only a few kilometers away), but then I have to ship them to you personally, have to guess on how many I need of each size, the savings go down as the size of the order shrinks, and I have to accept payment directly. These elements combined to form a shitstorm of unworkability. So I’ll need a separate party like Cafepress to handle the production, shipping, and money-handling.

…so there you go. For Gifts Given 2012, I think it’d be swag if you bought a t-shirt, but I need to know if that interests you and how much you think it’s reasonable to pay. I know it’s weird to ask if you’d want to buy a shirt when you don’t even know what it looks like, but I need to gauge interest or rework the whole idea.

Again, the shirt is guaranteed to have Ian’s logo design. I tried debating it with the logo and the graphic itself beat the shit out of me, so there’s no question there. Then, the details of the shirt (light/dark, text on the back and so on) will be worked out from there.

Right now, I need you to answer these two simple questions:

1) Do you want a CommanderCast t-shirt with Ian’s ballin’ outrageous logo?

2) How much are you willing to pay for it as a markup, knowing all of the proceeds go directly to charity?

Some things that I feel are important to stress here:

  • These shirts will only be sold for Gifts Given, and all the ‘profit’ will be going to Child’s Play.
  • This isn’t opening some kind of avalanche of merchandise. I want to keep this as classy as buying a t-shirt with a smoking Kraken on it can possibly be.
  • I need people to be honest. If this is a stupid idea, or something seems wrong, you need to let me know, because I have tons of bad ideas that make it a lot farther than they ever should. If you have a price point you feel is reasonable, then just tell me.

Please let me know through Twitter, by e-mail (CommanderCast(at)gmail(dot)com), or the comment section below. If you’ve never said anything to me before but want a shirt, now is the time to speak up. I need to know what people want before I can go much farther with the idea, and I know this seems early, but I don’t want to overshoot the crucial Christmas season for Child’s Play this year like I did last year.

Thanks for any consideration and feedback. If you know anything about selling t-shirts, that would be pretty great to hear about as well. But I need to know if this idea works for the CommanderCast audience. This whole affair has been a team venture, so this is just the next step. I’m just asking you for money now, and you’re getting a shirt.

LETS GET IT (for the children!)

~ Andy