Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Expanding a Bit on Magic Forgeries

So I talked a little bit about counterfeiting Magic cards a while back. In the interest of brevity I skipped informing you all about the shitbirds who will inexorably buy counterfeit Magic cards, their plaintive justifications for theft, and the consequences of their actions.

Why spend a post trashing these folks? These are not the type of people I like. These people are, to a man, moral Vincent Benedicts, intellectual omnishambles of self-sabotagingly stupid, determinedly socially-oblivious, and conditioned to be willfully ignorant of the consequences of their actions. I think they deserve some more attention.

And they're Magic players and the day I pass on taking a swing at Magic players, don't even check for a pulse; stick my body right in the incinerator and spread my ashes on an emo dude's penis.

My epitaph is going to be inscribed on the button fly of some skinny jeans.

While I was at The Academy, I was introduced to an old saying, "There's only one thief in The Marine Corps. Everyone else is just trying to get their shit back." Since you can't hear a smirking second lieutenant saying that, I'll state plainly that there doesn't even need to be an "original thief." The idea of someone cheating is enough to spur on/justify others cheating.

That's the psychology. The shitty justifications and defenses put forward by cheap, entitled jackasses for why they should be able to buy format staples for $5 are as facile as they are disgustingly, nakedly greedy. They generally start with how expensive it is to play Magic and end somewhere around local game stores (LGS) deserving a loss of business for profiting from something profitable.

Somewhere in between those two is how they don't "like how people monetize Magic." Well, as you might expect with someone born with heavy chromosome damage, they're overlooking the fact that Magic is designed to be monetized. The artificial rarity which drives sales also drives the secondary market. It's almost impossible to create a system in which desirable things are rare and cannot be resold. The alternative is a "buy the best cards from a catalog" game.

It also ignores the fact that local game stores (LGS) have invested quite a bit of money into dealing Magic cards. They're a way for players to sell and buy their cards through a trustworthy source, and as something of a hybrid bank and auction house game stores take their cut and engage in some speculation. The concept that financial losses from criminal behavior are excusable because they didn't anticipate criminal behavior is one of the most idiotic things I've ever heard. I can't even call it an "idea" because it lacks the requisite thought.

Being vulnerable to crime does not justify the commission of a crime. I don't have to wear a kevlar vests while I walk to work because people aren't supposed to shoot each other. If I don't wear a kevlar vest to work, it doesn't excuse the asshole who does shoot me.

People who are so stupid they claim they have to spend more than $20 to play Magic are a whole other deal. Certain formats are expensive, but I find that people who need organized play are the kind of assholes that need organized play to make people play with them. They are also the kind of assholes obsessed with tournaments (hereafter known as Steaknecklace Puppytimes) and garner no sympathy when they cry "oppression" because they can't afford mythic cards on a common budget.

Let me resummarize; "because I'm cheap and entitled" is not a reason to steal shit.

I think most people assume that the product Wizards sells is Magic cards. I think some people assume it's the idea of the cards.

It's the idea of badass, printed on thousands of cards.

Y'see, Wizards sells draft formats, sets joined by blocks, blocks which are joined by core sets, daily articles, two weeks of spoilers trickling out in advance of every set. They organize Steaknecklace Puppytimes, write characters and plotlines, and print big, exciting cards.

It's an experience. From the kitchen table to the steaknecklace puppytimes. From the celebration of each World Champion to the anticipation of every n00b cracking a booster pack. It's an experience that's based on tight control of the cards and loose control of how they're used.

Destroying that control unravels the carefully prepared Magic: the Gathering experience. You cut them out and you can have six copies of Jace the Mind Sculptor in a 40-card deck and combo out to victory on turn one and Magic will still not be fun.

Of course, you won't cut Wizards out. When—not if, when.—the physical market gives out, Wizards is going to shift everything to Magic the Gathering Online. It's shitty and unreliable now—you can tell if someone plays it by seeing if they're bitching about it right this very second—but by the time the high-quality forgeries hit the market, they're going to be sitting back and congratulating themselves on their fifth MTGO-exclusive set.

Magic won't go away because of forgeries. The smart forgers are the slash-and-burn investors who will pocket their winnings and leave early. The rest will go down with the ship, as surely fucked as they secondary market they were trying to manipulate.

My only consolation is that those last two groups are mostly the self-important whining, myopic, change-fearing neckbeards that are going to whine the most about those changes.

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