Stairway out of the underworld

Not long ago Theros Beyond Death was announced and I had a feeling it would be a great set. By my accounts, it is a very good set. It has a lot of cards that should bring many joys to casual and competitive players alike. Alas, the secondary market for single cards does not agree with me. It will in about half a year or more, but right now it doesn’t. It’s a race to the bottom, the underworld of prices where a one-step-at-a-time logic applies and there are no cheat codes to progress any faster, neither is it a pay-to-win scenario. So what’s left is a drawn-out crawl that will eventually end, but that has affected me in a way that led to some viruses taking refuge in my body. It could be worse, I could have the coronavirus I guess. Fortunately for me, I don’t, which leaves me time to get back into shape after beating whatever it is that is trying to inhabit my body. I am armed with blankets, tea, apple juice and a lot of fruit. I will prevail!

I want to share some thoughts on the marketplace of secondary cards. For example, cards like Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger shouldn’t be under 10€. The card’s effects are just that good, not to mention that massive 6/6 body attached to them. Dryad of the Ilysian Grove is another great example. The effect is so incredibly good, yet the price is still dropping. Every commander player should get one, preferably in foil considering the prices. It’s not an Oracle of Mul Daya but it makes a good impression of it and it will not stay under 10€ for that long. I can imagine this going upwards to 15€ mostly because at some point, just like with every other set out there, people will stop opening boxes and boosters of Theros Beyond Death. The set will become another page in Magic the Gathering’s huge portfolio. I am even getting a bit interested in playing a Temur version of Scapeshift. It was highly non-interactive to play the Gruul version of the deck, but blue might give it a little pop with Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and play the Dryad as a replacement for Prismatic Omen. Maybe it’s not the best possible card, but I’ve never liked playing only internet lists. I’ve always been a big proponent of self-built decks. I mean, maybe you still need some help and checking decks online is definitely a good choice, but copying card for card is…uninspiring to say the least. Most of your opponents would also know what you’re playing if they are netdecking just like yourself. See? All around boooooorrrrriiiiiinnnngggg 😀 But that’s just me though. In any case, I think most overall Theros Beyond Death is a great set but somehow the marketplace only puts a pretty price on chase cards like Uro and lets everything else drown in sorrow. I can’t even begin to understand how the normal version of Heliod, Sun-Crowned is more expensive than the constellation version. Just. Crazy.

Enough of that though. I might just relapse into getting sick just thinking about the horrid way the marketplace is treating such high profile cards with a big upside. I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff regarding a prize card for Premium stores for this weekend’s Magic World Championship XXVI if there would be a viewing party at the store. Unfortunately, the Arena isn’t a Premium store yet. We need to raise a bunch of numbers in order to get there, not to mention the amount of bulk in the store that is driving me mad. I have many moments where I see myself burning every bulk card that’s in those white boxes. What a grand view that would be 😀 Thankfully there is a logical person besides the small pyromaniac in me, so you won’t get to read about a deranged card store owner igniting his entire collection out of pure disgust. Another solution would be finding a different place to rent which could have a bigger storage room. Too bad Ingolstadt is so damn expensive when it comes to real-estate. Just too damn expensive…But if anything comes up, I might be tempted to take the offer. The positioning in the city center isn’t really making a big difference in how many people we reach. About 95% of people come to the Arena after finding us online. So it’s not an advantage that we’re in the Theresienstr. We’ll see if anything comes up in the near future. Relocating would also improve our chances of getting Premium, although we did have some good talks with someone from Wizards and he really liked the store. We should be Premium in his opinion. Now all that’s left to do is get people to play. But how?

The online game called Magic Arena (the irony here is just too strong 😀 ) is driving more and more people into playing online. Why would you drive any amount of time and not be 100% sure that a draft is happening when you can just play from the comfort of your home? Normally that’s a no-brainer for me: I’d always go to a shop because I much prefer human interaction rather than a light shining on my face from my PC monitor. Depends. Some days you just wanna chill, but still play. I get it, really I do. I just feel like the online game will steadily take away most players in a matter of years, making the paper version of the game much less valuable. Most Pros have switched to Magic Arena because as you can see even in the Magic World Championship trailer, they are all bunched up around PCs. It’s all going digital man and I don’t like it one bit. But it’s just technology creeping into what I thought was sacred ground: a table with friends around it enjoying a few MtG matches. It’s not like anything will happen fast, it’s just a gut feeling I have as a store owner that the end result will eventually be that the online version of the game will surpass the paper version and ultimately make real cards obsolete. I don’t think it will happen in the next 5 years, but nobody knows for sure…The most interesting point for me that will definitely be a make or break moment for paper magic will be when the Netflix series comes out. Most of you have read by now that Wizards of the Coast will create an animated series on Netflix for Magic the Gathering. It’s supposed to be released this year sometime. The big determining factor for this will be if people will gravitate towards the online platform or to the physical stores. I am hoping for the latter for obvious reasons. I do wonder how things will evolve in the near future. The saving grace of all of this online/paper debacle is that playing Commander face to face with people is just really difficult to imitate in an online environment. There’s just something about being at the same table and laughing out loud with your friends instead of hearing them through a headphone set. This won’t die anytime soon no matter how popular Magic Arena gets. People will just be attracted to sitting down around a table and enjoying a nice evening, like our ancestors before us who sat around the fire at night, so do we, living our passion.

I am very hyped about some part of Yu-Gi-Oh! right now too. I recently bought a few cards to build a deck that I’ve been playing for a few years now. I felt like I should just give it a whirl again. This is also related to the fact that we were told that our YGO tournament numbers are really good and we can get Platinum or Diamond level in the next 6 months. I am unsure how long it will take us to get there, but it should be really cool for the community in Ingolstadt and around. Getting Diamond for YGO is similar to being Premium for MtG. We can organize tournaments at the store that have a higher profile than the usual Locals. Hitting Gold allows us to organize Regionals. That’s cool, we’ve already been there but dropped out of it once I needed to move the store. Things get interesting at Platinum level where we can offer National Trials which raises the competitive level by a notch. However, we obviously want to hit Diamond where OPEN (WCQ: Regional Special) can take place at the Arena. Let’s just see how fast we can make things happen. We’re out for the regionals from the last season. We can start applying for anything starting after 31st of May. It sucks since we did hit Gold on time, but apparently they had issues with their system updates and we didn’t get to apply on time. They’re being really nice about it so we’re not mad or anything, just slightly inconvenienced by this. Regardless, we’re gonna try aiming for the top. Diamond or nothing.

A cool event that will take place at the Arena this weekend is:
I really hope that people will join because it does remind me of days long gone…Or maybe they aren’t gone at all, just maybe took a new shape and evolved. This is a LAN event where people bring their own PCs and play the entire night different games. I miss those nights. We were a bunch of people playing any team games just to laugh at each other and how silly everyone was. It was really a great time and I loved every moment of it. I am not shocked that so many people haven’t ever been to a LAN event. It’s difficult to do that nowadays when everyone plays online all the time. But just like with Magic the Gathering, there is this undeniably good feeling you get when you’re surrounded by people like you. Being around a hearth, a table or simply in the same room, humanity connects us and we express ourselves through the passions we share. Drop by if you simply want to see what’s up. The event is organized by DIE LINKE and the Arena is a host. Markus will be there if he doesn’t perish until that because of the sickness he was struggling to fend off last week. Be strong Markus 😀

I know that I am very inconsistent with my entries, but there’s also not much I can write about the store in a short amount of time. Not much can change that fast and updates don’t come as fast. It could be that I will also start writing about other stuff. Not sure what yet, but I do plan on writing more so I need to expand into another direction perhaps. Time will tell. For now, I hope everyone reading this will drop by for a coffee or tea 🙂

See you in the Arena!