October has started off hot for Magic the Gathering, both for finances and the competitive scene. With the new Dr Who commander decks and the ending of long time partnerships making a strong impact on the game.
New Products: Doctor Who Commander Decks and Secret Lair Super Drop
Spoiler season for the new Universes Beyond: Dr Who commander decks has come to a close, with the decks being set to release on October thirteenth, promising to add powerful and unique cards to the format. Releasing alongside the new commander decks is the "Spookydrop 2023," a collection of Secret Lairs loosely themed around Halloween.
The Impact of Universes Beyond: Doctor Who on Commander
Continuing with their "Universes Beyond" line of sealed product, Wizards of the Coast is releasing four new Commander decks themed around the Doctor Who IP. Each of the decks has its own theme and color identity (even though all of them share blue), which connects to the seasons of the show (or villains) the deck was designed around. The decks will introduce new cards and reprints of older cards, with variants, extended arts, and foils available in the collector boosters released alongside the Commander decks.
EDHREC's Top Commander
EDHREC is an extensive database of commander decks and deckbuilding resources which allows you to see what other players are adding to their decks. Currently most popular commander from Universes Beyond: Doctor Who is River Song. River Song's abilities lend herself to a unique gameplan which no other commander offers, making her a magnet for casual deckbuilders.
River Song decks are looking to abuse her ability to draw from the bottom of your deck, employing cards like Future Sight that allow you to play from the top of your deck as well. Cards that allow you to manipulate the bottom of your deck such as Transplant Theorist are also very common. My favorite card for River Song is Spell Crumple, a nasty synergy which will allow you to always have a counterspell when needed (provided you can draw a card).
Using synergistic deck manipulation, River Song will be a powerful deck for card advantage and control that is unique from average Blue-based control strategies.
Financially the new decks are not having any considerable impact on existing singles. Currently the best reprint in the set is Wedding Ring at 12 USD on TCGPlayer (which will be my source for all prices going forward). The next two best reprints are Carpet of Flowers and Farewell, both sitting at 11 USD. The prices of these cards has not been effected greatly, only going down by 2-4 USD per card. While the price will drop even further when the decks are officially released on the 13th, I do not expect them to devalue much further because the high-value reprints are cards that most decks (in their color identity) will want to run and because their old prices were not inflated by low supply.
The new singles are sitting at reasonable pre-release prices which can be expected to decrease greatly after the decks release. Currently the most expensive cards in the set are Everybody Lives! at 35 USD, Displaced Dinosaurs at 30 USD, and The Eighth Doctor at 20 USD. The variant arts are worth much more than their normal counterparts but their prices will be much more volatile when the Collector packs release (also on the thirteenth).
The decks can be bought individually for 70 USD or together for 210 USD on Amazon. The price of the decks will vary on TCGPlayer and brick & mortar stores.
Spookydrop 2023: Important Reprints and Crossovers
For this Halloween season Wizards is releasing a Super Drop featuring the Wheeping Angels from Dr Who, Creepshow, the Evil Dead, pixellands, and the John Avon art series. However the two most important Secret Lairs in the drop are (in my opinion) the Dalek Lands and the Princess Bride crossover. Lands with special artwork have always been a favorite in the community, and the Dalek Lands are some of the coolest looking lands printed.
The Princess Bride crossover is also based one of the best crossovers Magic has done yet, I am not biased.
Emrakul, the Promised End, in the John Avon art series, is the best reprint from the Spookydrop by far as it is currently sitting at 40 USD. Unholy Grotto and Field of the Dead are also notable reprints in the Spookydrop, each sitting at around 10-20 USD.
Arena Championship 4, the Judge Academy, and the October Ranked Season
The Arena Championship 4, the final tournament in a of series Qualifier Weekends and earlier Arena Championship, took place over last Saturday and this Sunday. Last week also marked the start of the October Ranked Season and the official termination of Wizard's partnership with the Judge Academy.
Arena Championship: Summary and Historic Meta
Starting on the seventh, 32 qualifying players, based off of performance in previous tournaments, competed for 30 thousand dollars in the split format Arena Championship. The first day would start with a Wilds of Eldraine draft and three rounds of Historic followed by three more rounds of Historic and a cut to top 8 on the second day. Coverage of the event can be found on Twitch (Day 1 | Day 2).
The meta for the Historic portion of the Championships favored Green Devotion and Dimir control, who were tied in first place with 6 decks and 18.7% of the meta. Second place would be Golgari Yawgmoth with 5 decks and 15.6% of the meta, followed by Izzet Wizards with 4 decks and 12.5% of the meta. The winner of the tournament would be Shinya Saito running Izzet Wizards who played against Bassel Nasri running Dimir control in the finals.
Wizards Ends Partnership with Judge Academy
Starting on October 13th Wizards is ending their partnership with the Judge Academy according to a brief news article posted on the 6th. Wizards says the reason for this change is because they are working on making "a new framework and approach to Magic judging." They do not foresee this affecting most events and they still expect judging to continue as normal for events in the interim. While Wizards is optimistic of the future of judging Magic, they are unclear in their article what that future will actually look like. The Judge Academy said in an article on their website that they "do not have specific information about Wizard's plans."
October Ranked Season
The October Ranked Season for MTG Arena started on Sep 30th and will continue until Oct 31st. Rewards can be earned based off of your rank at the end of the season, and at the end of the month the ranks will be reset and the next ranked season will begin.
- Bronze Reward: 1 Wilds of Eldraine pack
- Silver Reward: 1 Wilds of Eldraine pack + 500 gold
- Gold Reward: 2Wilds of Eldraine packs + 1,000 gold + Glass Casket card style
- Platinum Reward: 3 Wilds of Eldraine packs + 1,000 gold + Glass Casket card style + Bramble Familiar card style
- Diamond Reward: 4 Wilds of Eldraine packs + 1,000 gold + Glass Casket card style + Bramble Familiar card style
- Mythic Reward: 5 Wilds of Eldraine packs + 1,000 gold + Glass Casket card style + Bramble Familiar card style
Troll and Toad to Stop Buying MTG Sealed and Singles
The biggest news of the last week by far, long time distributor and reseller of MTG Troll & Toad will stop buying MTG products by January 2024. Nearing 30 years of selling MTG products, Troll & Toad was one of the first large distributors of Magic and their decision to leave MTG will certainly ring the alarm bells for Wizards of the Coast and players alike about the future of the game.
An Unstable Product: Why Troll and Toad is Ditching Magic
The owner of Troll & Toad told Icv2 three reasons why they will no longer be buying Magic products. The first is that selling MTG is not as profitable as it used to be, to the point of not being worth selling. Other TCGs are doing much better for Troll & Toad and there was no reason for them to continue carrying Magic products. The second reason is the instability of singles because of constant reprints and variants. This caused selling singles to not only be incredibly risky but also harder to manage for an online store. The third reason is the fear of another non-tournament legal reprint of the reserved list. The management of Troll & Toad was worried that Wizards might reprint cards whose value is primarily in the fact they will never be reprinted.
The Future of Magic
While the loss of Troll & Toad will certainly negatively effect Wizards, it is uncertain if it will have any large impact. There are many other, bigger distributers selling MTG so the loss of Troll & Toad will certainly not be crippling to Wizards. However other distributers might follow suit if Wizards does not fix the instability the singles market. Hopefully Wizards will listen to the concerns voiced by Troll & Toad and act upon them before more partners leave Magic as well.
October is set to be an exciting month, with new products and changes to competitive play. While the loss of Troll & Toad might be foreboding news of Wizards of the Coast, there are more than enough reasons to be excited about the future of Magic, both for Arena and in-person play.