Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, the new set for Magic the Gathering released recently and the results for us, at least, have proved underwhelming, which seems a pattern across game stores with most reports fewer attendees than for a normal pre-release, although several did report selling out of all available product by the end of Saturday. Here, our Friday night event went off with better attendance than expected but no one showed for the Saturday event, even though the other stores running events locally did not start their until later in the day. Here are a few reasons I think we are not seeing the numbers for a normal Magic Pre-release:
1. This is not a normal Magic pre-release. Although Commander is arguably the most popular format, drafting is a version for which few players opt. Couple that with the variations implemented in a Commander draft that differ from both regular draft and Commander and that can put people off.
2. Too soon. Streets of New Capenna released just a little over a month ago and Double Masters 2022 streets in early July. As I noted before, that’s an awful lot of Magic for the market to absorb in 3 months’ time. (See ‘A Swell of Magic and RIP Scott Bennie’ )
3. Drafting new sets. Anytime a player drafts, they make the choice of either drafting to play or drafting for value, i.e. keeping the expensive cards they open, even though they will not work well in the deck. Unless a player keeps a close eye on spoiler lists and Magic pricing sites, they will not know if the rare they just opened is worth a buck or 30 bucks. That uncertainty will put off some players until they get a better feel for the value of the new set.