They’re reprinting Jace, the Mind Sculptor.  You should be happy.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: JTMS is aggressively mediocre in EDH.  That said, I think it’s great whenever Wizards decides to make old, unreasonably expensive cards more available.  The fact that you will be able to buy a box containing Jace and a bunch of other cards for $40 is awesome.

Oh wait…you want to point out that these things will never actually sell for $40.  Good point!

I know I’m supposed to be annoyed about the fact that retailers are going to jack up the prices on these, and I kinda am.  I also know I’m supposed to be annoyed that retailers will often not even sell these locally, instead putting them on eBay.  Hey, that sucks!

The real question is this-  Who should I really be annoyed at in these situations?

I could be annoyed at Wizards for printing a “limited release” product that will be extremely hard to get.  Of course, they didn’t have to print anything at all, so it’s hard for me to really be that mad at them.

I could be mad at Star City Games for establishing a price point on these things that is super-high.  Of course, SCG is a business, and the way to stay in business is to turn a profit, which these things give them a chance to do.  I also have a hard time blaming SCG for the fact that they are the de facto pricing point for pretty much everyone, because how is that their fault?  (We are all collectively contributing to that.)

I could be vexed at the eBay sharks who are going to jack the prices of these up.  I could be salty at the local store owners who are selling these things online instead of offering them to their local, loyal player base.

Here’s the thing, though: these arguments are all semi-valid, but they are really deflections from the real issue, and the real issue is that somewhere along the way, we all acquiesced to the idea that new, in-print cards should reasonably be sold for the prices we now complain about.

Remember when Tarmogoyf was a $30 card?  I do, and I remember it because the previous threshold for in-print “money” rares at that time had always been in the $15-$20 range.  The Ravnica block shocks were all around $15, and the various other previous chase rares (Arcbound Ravager, Umezawa’s Jitte, Kokusho, etc) had all topped out at (at most) about $20.

So when Tarmogoyf crossed this threshold, we could have said no.  I certainly didn’t buy any of them, but apparently somebody did, because the price kept going up, and they kept selling out, and by the time Tarmogoyf was no longer “in print” it was already up to at least $50.

If you are someone who likes to lament how expensive it is to play Standard these days, this is where you should start.  If you would like another easy talking point, consider this: ever since Jace, the Mind Sculptor happened, the preorder price on any planeswalker has, um, gone up.  A lot.

Remember when Jace, Memory Adept was a $40 card?  I do.  I remember that because that is how much a player (and a semi-sharky player, at that) offered me for the one I opened at the M12 Prerelease (and oh hell yes did I sell it to him for $40.)  Remember when Tibalt was a $25 card?  I do.  Traded it Prerelease weekend.

The fact that these cards dropped to almost nothing (and, in the case of Tibalt, dropped to almost nothing in like 2 weeks) seems fairly indicative of the fact that they had no business being expensive to begin with (and yes, I know Jace, Memory Adept eventually reclaimed some value, but certainly not $40.)  However, this is what we have collectively agreed to.

Oh hey, philosophical lament article!

So what does this mean?  Well, for starters it means we should probably swing by Star City Games and see if we can purchase some damn perspective, or barring that, we should stop bitching every time we get something nice.  Also, we should probably continue to resist the urge to preorder stuff at $40+ until sanity returns (if it ever will – don’t hold your breath.)

The other thing I want to point out is this: while you arguably NEED a playset of Jace, the Mind Sculptor to play Legacy (I’m one playset of Tarmogoyfs away from playing Legacy myself), you certainly don’t NEED anything to play EDH other than a desire to have a good time and some friends and possibly some snacks or drinks.  Part of what I love about EDH is that if you don’t have some particular thing that is unreasonably expensive, you can just replace it with some similar things that cost next-to-nothing.  Can’t afford Damnations? No problem! Play Life’s Finale (or something else like it) instead!

[I suppose it’s possible that From The Vault: Twenty will be the limited release product that contains Mana Drain (it has to happen at some point), and if that is the case expect me to be back here in a month writing an article complaining about this thing, but in the meantime, enjoy the fact that Wizards is giving you the opportunity to theoretically get your hands on a Jace for cheap.]

Um, yeah! What was I saying again?  So anyways, if you are distressed by the overwhelming increases in the cost of single cards and sealed product, I encourage you to demonstrate this by refusing to pay such silly prices for stuff.  Use sites like PucaTrade to exchange cards for other cards, and try to give your patronage to stores that will sell sealed product for MSRP (or close to it.)

Oh, and one final thing: as you wander through the sticky world of MTG finance, please remember that while Wizards has a vested interest in making older, expensive cards more ACCESSIBLE, they have no obligation to do anything to make them CHEAPER.  I see lots of people speculating about how Wizards will soon reprint cards like Remand and Aven Mindcensor, which have jumped into the $10-$15 range.  Maybe.  However, please note that while it is annoying to pay $40 for a playset of format staples, that is worlds different from paying $80 FOR ONE CARD.  When people begin asserting that Wizards needs to create reprint sets to fix secondary market values of $12 cards, what I really hear are people essentially arguing that Wizards should do everything they can to make sure that no cards have any value at all.  While I appreciate the reprinting of cards that feel unreasonably overpriced, I also do not wish for the value of everything to be tanked just so people can get cheap Remands (and that is what flooding the market with reprints is most likely to accomplish.)

So that’s my awesome perspective on the reprinting of Jace, the Mind Sculptor.  What do you think?  Are you excited?  Annoyed?  Has your “DGAF” maxed out?  Hit me up in the comments and let me know.

XO,

->Mr. P

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As you read this, remind yourself that if Mr. P knew anything AT ALL about finance, you would be paying to read this article.