Arthur Halavais📎 Profile picture
May 11, 2018 20 tweets 8 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
On the Reserved List: A large percent of the recent change in prices ("large" being enough to begin the spikes) is a result of grey or black market activity. Money laundering is a serious business, and collectibles are a great option for vector. #MTGFinance
Money laundering has ramped up in terms of volume a noticeable amount recently because of active attempts at decriminalization of some goods, most notably marijuana. Lots of growers trying to go legit, and the Venn diagram of Stoners and Nerds overlaps a lot. #MTGFinance
The boom in Crypto currencies this past year has also resulted in a lot of money laundering, be it by "trading" directly between crypto and cards, or be it buy looking to offset tax liabilities by establishing an "investment" for more than a year. #MTGFinance
#MTG has the benefit over other collectibles of being new enough still that not all of the market for insurance, fraud, etc has adapted (though tbh much of it has), and the items have a "use" beyond display, which is a believable drive in high transaction volume. #MTGFinance
A nifty example of that is insurance policies for LGSes. If an LGSes carries sports cards, their insurance policies more than double because of concerns over arson fraud, but the same isn't true for CCGs. #MTGFinance
The capital available in #MTGFinance is staggering. Take dual lands: the print run on Revised was 289,000 sets. That means that by TCGplayer Market price, just English 3rd duals is $633,560,250 in worldwide market. Sure some are destroyed but that doesn't matter for laundering.
That number, and the fact that #MTGFinance is literally a multi-billion dollar "industry", should also serve to clear the writers and celebs you see talking about it from bogeyman status. If you can manipulate a market bigger than most countries GDP, kudos to you.
What about counterfeits? Truthfully, worries about a "perfect" counterfeit are a bit silly. Perfect counterfeits are already attainable. They're just not cost effective. It's more profitable to produce "good enough" at 10% of the cost. #MTGFinance
The will always be corner cases, sure. Some high end items like test prints might actually be worth the relative effort to create perfect fakes. But as overall percentage of the market, it doesn't matter enough for the average player or even store to worry about it. #MTGFinance
Reserved list does factor in , since any additional amount of reassurances that your investments will hold value, legal or not, will encourage adoption. But forget contracts or estoppel or any other reason. Reserved list is staying because Legacy is a bad format. #MTGFinance
"Bad" deserves clarification. From Wizards' perspective, Legacy does not encourage acquisition (new players), nor does it encourage steady sales. Standard is low barrier to entry for acquisition, and Modern is absent rules quirks and power level floors. #MTGFinance
Full disclosure, I *love* legacy. I like playing battlecruiser games of Magic. I like being able to play games where I win because of unintended quirks between cards printed twenty years apart. I like Brainstorm. But the average customer/player does not. #MTGFinance
So the conversation topic shouldn't be "Can Wizards actually legally get rid of the Reserve List?" It should be "In what ways does killing the RL increase Wizard's sales, via acquisition or retention?" I'm open to hearing arguments, but so far haven't. #MTGFinance
In my opinion, these current prices are already high enough to kill Legacy. Lets's talk about something called the "extinction threshold." It's a biological concept that expresses an inevitable extinction of a species, even if that species appears healthy. #MTGFinance
The concept rightly assumes that the existence of a single animal, or ten, or a thousand might not be enough to continue, due to environment, other species, etc. And just like species, social circles have an extinction threshold. And formats are social circles. #MTGFinance
Wizards understands this concept. Gavin talked about it this week in the Brawl article, when he mentioned not splitting the format. MTGO accounts for it when they change their queues to drop underperforming formats. The culling directs new blood the healthy direction #MTGFinance
Players will always have Legacy decks. Some LGSes will always run events. But at this price, large events (including GPs) are going to see attendance drops because people will be priced out. And suddenly new players won't pick up Legacy because they aren't exposed. #MTGFinance
Instead of "A Legacy Community" with players entering and leaving, you're left with scattered communities, with little interconnected communication and players leaving faster than new players coming in. But prices won't drop enough, b/c the rise isn't all from players.#MTGFinance
Meanwhile, Wizards will continue forcing interconnection and new blood with the formats they support by driving players into LGSes for Standard and Modern. And even if players are priced out of Standard or Modern, new blood exists to keep the community as a whole good #MTGFinance
Promotions like Prereleases (including free support) and FNM (free to stores) and Buy A Box promos (free) and FTVs (effectively discounted) are the method for this. This philosophy also may be the biggest reason that Magic is still alive compared to other CCGs #MTGFinance

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More from @ahalavais

Jun 6, 2018
On #MTG and safety and security, because it's topically relevant today: First and foremost, Magic cards are easily negotiated certificates of value. They're not quite stacks of cash, but they're close. If you wouldn't do something with a stack of cash, don't do it with cards.
At events, that means:
Don't leave cards or decks unattended. "Just for a moment" is the catchphrase of the forlorn gamer. You wouldn't leave a stack of cash alone with hundreds of strangers for just a moment. Don't do it with cards. #MTG
At events, that means:
Don't leave cards in your car. In the trunk/boot is better than the cab, but it's still not good. Parking in a lit area under a camera is better, but still not good. Yes, it's obnoxious to carry cards everywhere. Less obnoxious than replacing them. #MTG
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