What to Expect From Magic’s Grab-and-Go Event Decks

There has been and still seems to be a lot of confusion regarding Wizard’s announcement of their new competitive preconstructed decks, related to both price and content, so I thought it best to take a moment to clear all of this confusion up.

These are clearly aimed at newer/casual players both as Arcana implies and because any real competitive player already has a tier 1 deck. Because of their target demographic, there is a very clear price point that cannot be violated. There has been a lot of talk about these decks being $35 or even $50, but the realistic range is $15-20; for the sake of argument we’ll say $20 is the correct price. So what other $20 products are marketing at this same demographic? Duel Decks, which is our best indicator of the expected value in one of the Grab-and-Go event decks. While there’s been a huge range, the Duel Decks are capable of packing quite a value in the $20 as Elspeth vs. Tezzeret and Jace vs. Chandra have shown us. That is also the maximum value you can try to cram into a $20 deck before retailers just say“fuck it” and start cracking them open to sell as singles.

Before anyone tries to argue this price point, which is really the crux of all other decisions, consider the Premium Deck Series: Slivers deck. That deck was marketed at the exact same demographic, and cost $35. That deck has been rotting on shelves for nearly a year now. Star City has 100 copies in stock marked down to $20, and Channel Fireball has dozens as well with them marked all the way down to the break even point. If an all foil sliver deck isn’t good enough for this demographic to spend $35 on, no preconstructed deck will be. (Note that this is also why the new Premium Deck Series product this year is showcasing cards like Chain Lightning; they’re targeting a different demographic to see if this product can work)

So what should we expect from the Grab-and-Go decks? I’d imagine something like this:

* $15-20 price point
* 2 mythic rares, 6-8 rares
* 3-4 ofs on all or most of the commons and uncommons
* A competitive deck that is unlikely to take first place

That’s right, these will NOT be tier 1 decks. Despite the fact that on the Wizards website they direct you to tournament results to check out the top decks for ideas, WotC doesn’t want to just hand you a tier 1 playable deck. First of all, it makes no business sense to sell a product that invalidates all their other products. Second of all, deck building is part of the fun of Magic. Also, they tell you to look to those lists for ideas, not to copy those decks card for card.

You may be wondering what the point of this product is if they’re not tier 1 decks, and what competitive means. Well it means just that, competitive. Many people show up to their first FNM or Game Day with an unplayable pile of shit that may be fun at the kitchen table with their friends, but gets anally raped before they’ve played their second spell. These decks can provide a solid, competitive shell of popular archetypes with standard sideboard cards for other various archetypes. It would be an excellent starting point for players, and allow them to really experience the game at a competitive level, even if it isn’t handing them the keys to victory.

So will some lazy competitive player be buying one of these Grab-and-Go Event Decks, getting a current tier 1 deck worth $400, and winning a Grand Prix? Not a chance. Will a player who wants to make the jump from casual to tournament player buy one of these decks on February 25th and then excitedly make the top 8 at Mirrodin Besieged Game Day on February 26th encouraging them to investigate upgrading their deck to something that is not only competitive, but dominating as well as scoring them a cool full art foil? I would wager that not only is that extraordinarily likely, that’s the entire point of this product.

© 2010 by Dr. Jeebus

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