Home > Musings > Jace & the Unwritten Ultimate.

Jace & the Unwritten Ultimate.

This is a response to Russell Tassicker’s latest article, Baneslayer Angel has Changed Everything. Read that one first, or this won’t make much sense.

—–

I have a few things to say on this, but I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought so pardon any scatterbrain-edness (you like that word, don’tcha?)

I think it has a lot to do with the sellers—possibly moreso than the buyers (although obviously neither can exist w/o the other). While it started with BSA & continued with LC (no! Not Lauren Conrad! LOTUS COBRA!), I think Jace may have been more of a turning point than we realize.

See, unlike Bankslayer (which was roughly ~$10-15 at the time of release/prerelease, and then increased as she proved herself) and Cobra/Persecutor (which—when you think about it—followed the usual curve of hyped rares, just at higher costs), Jace’s price shot up to ridiculous levels before the release (as you mentioned) and STAYED THERE.

Can you imagine how it felt to be a seller, licking envelopes on the $15/Jace preorders as you watched their price climb to FOUR TIMES what you’d pre-sold them for? As you were forced to announce on your website that you were now BUYING Jace at $35 while simultaneously dropping $20 Jaces in the mail?

See, not many people realize that Jace wasn’t the first planeswalker to have four abilities. No, Jace was the first planeswalker to have FIVE ABILITIES.

Jace’s REAL “ultimate”?:

– $$$: Live up to the hype.

Now, the sellers are in a situation where they need to ride that hype harder than ever in order to avoid another Jace debacle.

And those who did not catch Jace at $20, well, they’re reaching frantically at every card with an orange symbol, in an attempt to “hedge their bets.” What they aren’t realizing is that in most cases, they’re overpaying for what the card will eventually be, and likely offsetting any gains on cards whose values actually DO increase from preorder prices.

Trust me. I speak from experience.

And unfortunately (in my case, at least), it’s a slow road. I’m like a kid who touches a hot stove, only to reach out and touch it again in the hopes that “maybe this time” I won’t get burned. I thought that preordering a case of Zendikar would give me all the cards I needed plus plenty of trade fodder, and I thought I’d get a priceless treasure or two. Not only did I not open any priceless treasures, I’ve yet to see anyone else open one, or hear about anyone that I play with having opened one—despite going to a big regional prerelease, and a local release event. As far as I’m concerned, they’re myth.

AND THEN I touched the hot stove again with Worldwake. I preordered a case figuring I’d have better luck, since it was a small set, to open a playset of all the mythics, and plenty of extra rares to trade. In an act that seemed really stupid at the time, but in hindsight I am SO GLAD I did it, I preordered 4x Jace at $20 each, “just in case” I didn’t get a playset in my 216+ packs.

While I was on the Magic Cruise during the week just after the release of Worldwake, I watched a kid open 36 packs in front of me and pull 6 manlands, 2 Jaces, and 2 Abyssal Persecutors. Twenty minutes later we all sat down to play Sealed and he opened a 3rd Jace.

I got home, opened my 216 packs. Two Jaces. Two Persecutors.

And despite having opened somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 more packs of WWK since, I’ve yet to open a third Jace.

And now I have two binders and a box full of crap rares, plus way too many commons/uncommons. It’s a lot more hassle than it’s worth. I could have spent even less money on singles for just the cards I wanted, and not had to deal with sorting and finding space for all the bulk.

So I’ve adjusted my strategy, back to what it was before I had the money to buy cases. I’ve given up on speculation, mostly, and I plan on only buying singles of the cards I know I want, for the kinds of decks I like to play. For me, this means stop buying cards like Vengevine (which I love, but is not worth $15-20, and it’s not going into any control decks in the immediate future so I’m not likely to play with it anyway).

My current Rise preorders:
4x Gideon Jura
4x Eldrazi Temple
1x Kozilek
1x Ulamog
2x All Is Dust

I know I may be overpaying for some of these cards, but I’m willing to accept the possibility of losing a little money for the assurance of having the majority of the cards I really want. I can’t imagine needing 4x any of the Eldrazi for a single deck, so I’m content with just 1x each (figuring I’ll get 1x Emrakul for playing in the prerelease). Also, aside from the Temple (which I expect to hold its value or increase), I’m sticking to mythics since rares are so much easier to come by nowadays.

I don’t know for sure whether I’ve learned my lesson, or if this is just another step on the path. I wish I could be a trading virtuoso like Jon Medina, or a Magic Stock Market master like Kelly Reid, but for now I’ll just have to settle for playing the MTG finance game as an amateur & hope to learn from pros like Russell as I go.

~Joey

Follow me on Twitter @affinityforblue.
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  1. April 10, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    That’s a great insight about the sellers – I’ve heard stories of one store in that situation cancelling orders, refunding money and hiking the price. I won’t name them since it’s only hearsay but I’m glad that the rest of them have taken it on the chin and posted out those $20 Jaces 🙂

    “And those who did not catch Jace at $20, well, they’re reaching frantically at every card with an orange symbol, in an attempt to “hedge their bets.” What they aren’t realizing is that in most cases, they’re overpaying for what the card will eventually be, and likely offsetting any gains on cards whose values actually DO increase from preorder prices.”

    This is what I’m trying to stop people doing. People /are/ gambling on these cards, and the house has wised up and raised the blind.

    “While I was on the Magic Cruise during the week just after the release of Worldwake, I watched a kid open 36 packs in front of me and pull 6 manlands, 2 Jaces, and 2 Abyssal Persecutors. Twenty minutes later we all sat down to play Sealed and he opened a 3rd Jace.

    I got home, opened my 216 packs. Two Jaces. Two Persecutors.

    And despite having opened somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 more packs of WWK since, I’ve yet to open a third Jace.”

    This sounds like results oriented thinking 😉 But when you’ve invested serious cash into something and not gotten the outcome you want, it’s understandable. This is why I only get packs from limited events and fat packs these days – the exciting possibility of opening Jace is usually followed by “Great. Another Seer’s Sundial.”

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