Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Scott Thorne discusses why he doesn't think Magic: The Gathering - Ravnica Allegiances Mythic Edition is true to the spirit of the game.

I have some thoughts on the GAMA situation but since Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast dropped this announcement about the Magic: The Gathering - Ravnica Allegiances Mythic Edition this past Thursday, I wanted to comment on it first.  Due to the problems the company had with distributing the previous Mythic Edition, Guilds of Ravnica, last October (no international shipping, repeated crashing of the Hasbro website), this time Wizards of the Coast decided to make a few changes in distribution.  Ravnica Allegiances Mythic Edition will sell through Hasbro’s eBay store only, allowing for international distribution and probably a more stable web shopping experience for customers.

I happen to think the whole idea of Mythic Editions runs counter to the entire Magic ethos and will go into that in the next paragraph.  If you would like to read WOTC’s rationale for offering the Mythic Edition, or at least that of head designer Mark Rosewater, you can read that here.  Granted I do come at this from a retailer’s point of view so admittedly have some bias about a product I am excluded from selling, but I have also sold Magic since Alpha came out (when no one could really explain what the game was.  I had a deck and two booster packs sitting on the shelf for 2 months until people came back from Gen Con demanding we stock more Magic).  I can see why WOTC went back to the well for another set for Ravnica Alliances; the Guilds of Ravnica set sold out and there is obviously a demand for it.  Anyhow, here are my two reasons for disliking the Mythic Edition concept:

  1. Shifts the focus.  As Rosewater points out in his Tumblr post, Magic is a collectible (AKA trading) card game.  Priority has always been given to the game aspect, with the collectible feature coming second.  Over the years, as WOTC came to realize there were both players and collectors of the cards, the company came out with features to appeal to the collector, adding in foil versions of cards and alternate art cards (if someone ever brags about their foil Black Lotus to you, rest assured they are lying).  These versions of the cards were hard to get but players, if they wanted the plain vanilla version of the card, could generally one.  Mythic Edition flips the duality.  Players cannot easily get these cards, save through one source and at a high price.  Even the Masters sets, while comparatively pricey, are reprinting versions of cards WOTC had already printed and that players did have access to.  Which leads to my second point:
  2. Access.  Until the Mythic Editions, almost every card produced by WOTC has been available or potentially available to all players.  The potential to open a $3.99 pack of cards and get any card in the set has long been a selling point of the game.  Those packs have, for years, been widely available at both mass market and your FLGS.  Mythic Edition takes that away as individual packs will not be available, only the 24-pack boxes, which will get broken open and sold as single cards, not packs.  Given how desirable the Planewalkers in the set will likely be, players wanting them will either have to drop the $249.99 for a booster box or buy the cards on the aftermarket.

I have no problem with WOTC making premium collectables for the collector market.  Companies have done that for years.  However, high end versions of existing cards, rather than cards which players will want and will likely drive gameplay, would remain truer to the spirit of the game.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of