The Reserved List is a Good Thing

General forum

Posted on March 16, 2023, 7:59 a.m. by Mortlocke

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I've lurked on Reddit for years now, and from time to time I see threads and/or opinions such as "The Reserved List is bad - it's an outdated concept." "They need to reprint the ABUR dual lands - the reason why they're so expensive is because of the gatekeepers and evil investors".

The worst opinion, and the one I find absolutely beyond irksome is the "The majority of magic the gathering players support the removal of the Reserved List" this is a prime example of the invisible/silent majority fallacy when someone wants to make their personal opinion (or poorly thought out argument) seem more "valid" they say "well a group of unnamed and invisible people support my opinion, so that makes it true". For the sake of argument lets assume that 5 million of the supposed 7 million magic the gathering players worldwide came together and signed a petition officially declaring this demand - where the hell is it? Where is this official public stance? Did I miss something? Or is this just the commiserating of a few online denizens that live in the illusion of a premium reprint product containing some of the most powerful cards ever made in Magic: The Gathering's history be made some how...affordable? I feel like these individuals have their heads in the sand - or don't know how WotC works or private corporations for that matter.

I think the Reserved List is good, and has ensured Magic's longevity. If it wasn't for the Reserved List magic wouldn't have been able to convince people to invest in card pieces in the secondary market over the years. Not only did this ensure that there was always something to invest in and collect, but it gave developers incentive to design new card pieces that could emulate (to a lesser extent) those powerful and sought after effects (e.g. Black Lotus to Jeweled Lotus). Thus, ensuring a form of reprint equity that set designers can cash in on to make sure a product sells well and gives WotC the funds to continue to invest in new card development.

Wizards of the Coast and HASBRO are not in any way shape or form a friend of the Magic: The Gathering community. They do not care if a product is affordable or not - they simply want to make money - all of the money for all time. If a Reserved List reprint product were produced it would be so egregiously priced that it would make Magic 30th look tame. It would be beyond the reach of the average player and further strain the relationship between Wizards and it's customer base. My personal fear would be if the product did marginally well then Wizards would use these figures to justify an overall price increase on all future products. Sadly, we are seeing more and more expensive premium product (looking at you Commander Masters, Double Masters VIP Edition, Collector's Boxes in general, you get idea). I think the typical (uninformed) argument for an abolished Reserved List inspired the creation of Magic 30th. In my head the product was created by some out of touch CEO who was informed of the demand for reprinted RL cards. Thinking only dollar signs they were motivated to green light the most outlandish and greedy product in Magic's history. The propagation of the nonsense argument of this "majority" of players is only enabling more and more shameless behavior from the CEOs of WotC/HASBRO.

If I missed a petition of roughly 5 million players wishing for the Reserved List to be removed - then i'll at the very least admit that the argument has traction and it is indeed a legitimate demand of the community (But by the Mother of Machines that does not make them right). But I think most players don't give a crap about the Reserved List one way or another. I think it's removal will simply result in another controversy by Wizards pumping out another garbage tier predatory nonsense product that further pisses off it's customer base and doing more harm to the community.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Edit: Thread closed - and a shame. But logic still stands - if there is a majority of anything then numbers must be stated to some degree, not vague mentionings of surveys whose results cannot be found or clearly demonstrated in a discussion. That's how a majority works.

Edit Edit: @Caerwyn, I couldn't care less what names you call me but I absolutely stand by what I say. If you think I'm being disingenous then I invite you (and anyone else interested) to talk this out on the Tappedout Discord in a voice channel - Mortlocke#5493

plakjekaas says... #2

The reserved list does gatekeep Legacy and Vintage as paper-playable formats if you'd want to join in as a new player. That's the argument I've heard the most. And I agree with that, I wouldn't want to spend several monthly salaries to be able to sign up a deck for a real tournament. The price of modern staples is already pretty restrictive, and ABUR duals are orders of magnitude worse than a fetch/shock manabase is.

Of course there's value in keeping the reserved list to have your cards stay valuable and collectable, but the purpose of the cards for me is playing the game with it, and the cards that are so restrictive to obtain are at the same time the best to play with. That stings if you're more of a player than a collector, and that's what keeps this argument alive.

March 16, 2023 10:18 a.m.

Caerwyn says... #3

Your analysis on a number of points is extremely questionable.

“Not only did this ensure that there was always something to invest in and collect”

This is the initial argument for why the RL was created - they did not know if the game was going to be seen mostly for its collectable nature (like baseball cards) or for the actual game (like nothing else on the market at the time), and the RL is a case of them hedging their bets, sacrificing the game side of things to attract collectors.

It can be debated whether that was necessary at the time of the RLs formation. However, it should be noted that the high price of non-RL Alpha cards, unique printings like Judge Foils and Kaladesh Masterpieces, etc. all show that there are plenty of ways to appeal to collectors outside of the RL.

“gave developers incentive to design new card pieces that could emulate (to a lesser extent) those powerful and sought after effects”

Developers do not need the RL to do this - and they do it all the time on non-RL cards for any number of reasons (see Lightning Bolt and Shock). From the designer’s point of view, the RL actually creates a problem that otherwise might not exist. Say you want to print something similar to a good RL card (let’s remember, a large number of RL cards are unplayable garbage), suddenly you run into an issue where you could take a good card folks are running 4 copied of and make those decks far more powerful by allowing them to run 8 copies of a spell with a similar function.

Overall, that actually reduces design space by removing the designer’s freedom to simply say “this old card is perfect, let’s use that” and forcing them into a position where they have to make unnecessarily complex and avoidable design calculations.

“Thus, ensuring a form of reprint equity that set designers can cash in on to make sure a product sells well and gives WotC the funds to continue to invest in new card development.”

This is just a bad argument. “Rather than let Wizards cash in on actual reprint equity, isn’t it great they can try to cash in on an inferior form of reprint equity?”

Being able to tap into actual reprint equity - including some of the most valuable (though out of reach) reprint equity in the game - would be far better for “giv[ing] Wizards the funds to continue to invest in new card development.”

“If a Reserved List reprint product were produced it would be so egregiously priced that it would make Magic 30th look tame.”

Wizards recently reprinted a couple cards with values higher than most RL cards (Imperial Seal, for example, was something like $800.00 prior to its reprint). The money to be made with Magic is in getting the most number of people to buy product at the highest possible price - that is why they do print to demand, and will reprint sets that sell out (Magic 30 is fundamentally different - it was designed to be a single run so they wanted to milk that one run for all it was worth).

Most importantly, they want to be able to sell boxes to LGSes for things like Draft Night—-and want the products priced such that the game stores are going to purchase large numbers with the expectation they’ll be able to keep demand going for quite a while.

That places limitations on how high a reprint set can go, even one with a few valuable chase cards. After all, it isn’t like they would just release a “oops, all RL” product - they would do a slow rollout and spread the reprint equity over numerous sets.

Every point you make about not seeing the data supporting that the majority dislikes the RL

Magic’s Mark Rosewater has acknowledged before that the majority of players dislike the reserve list, while also acknowledging it does appeal to some, such as collectors. It also is important to note that Wizards’ staff do not talk about the RL often, and, when they do, they often stay on script in a way which de facto indicates they do not like it either.


Overall, I think the evidence shows that Wizards dislikes the RL as much as players seems to—-it ties their hands, cuts into their profits, upsets their players, and means they have to write off entire formats (Vintage, Legacy, high tiers of cEDH) as “something we can’t really cater to”.

From players to designers to management, the overwhelming position seems to be that no one wants the RL - I expect the only reason it is still in the game is because Wizards’ lawyers are saying removing it presents an unacceptable risk.

March 16, 2023 10:29 a.m.

Grubbernaut says... #4

Yeah, no.

Nobody could unironically believe that most players are pro RL. That's not a hot take, that's a delusion.

March 16, 2023 1:58 p.m.

Abaques says... #5

I think that aside from potential litigation, the major reason that the RL won't change is that doing so could very seriously impact the collectability, or perceived collectability of Magic. Like it or not, but the the RL does effectively set a ceiling on the number of available copies for a lot of cards and that makes them much more collectable. Changing or eliminating the RL introduces new variables that would almost certainly negatively impact the value of cards. Investors want stability in a market and shocks like changing the RL will make people skittish.

Love it or hate it, I would hope that everyone would recognize that how major changes to the RL were implemented also matter a great deal. There is a huge range between Wizards deciding to sell $1000 packs with a 1/100 chance of pulling an ABUR dual land or putting them at uncommon in a standard set. How Wizards would make a change has almost as much impact to the future of Magic as just the decision to make a change or not. Honestly, based on the last few years, I wouldn't trust Wizards to execute eliminating or making major changes to the RL in a way that doesn't massively backfire.

March 16, 2023 2:48 p.m.

shadow63 says... #6

I would support the reserve list if it didn't make legacy and vintage basically unplayable to new players

March 16, 2023 5:32 p.m.

Gleeock says... #7

Boo. 2 thumbs down.

March 16, 2023 10:43 p.m.

nhhale says... #8

I mean, I don’t know a single person who plays legacy or vintage (except friends who have a cube of proxies), but if “the majority” of those people want their game to remain inaccessible to new players, whatever. The format will die. IDGAF. Nobody cares that your collection of magic cards that you have because you were a nerd before it was cool MIGHT lose value. If you’re so worried about this happening, sell the cards. If you actually care about their price value, you’re not playing with them anyways.

March 17, 2023 1 p.m.

shadow63 says... #9

nhhale relax dude

March 17, 2023 1:35 p.m.

nhhale says... #10

shadow63 ur right, thanks.

March 17, 2023 1:42 p.m.

Mortlocke says... #11

I have to say there are some colorful responses but thanks for the most part for being nice and civil to each other. I mean, I posted out of frustration because I wanted to vent. I understand that the RL is a divisive subject among the MTG players who actually care but I just really dislike bad logic, or an argument that is done in bad faith and with no evidence to back it up. There is as far as I know a genuine lack of evidence of a "majority" being in support of the RL being removed. But because there is no evidence, doesn't mean that there is no crime so to speak. There could be roughly 5 million or so players who want new copies of these cards in circulation, but the fact is that we really have no clue. That's what I want to establish.

@Caerwyn determining what cards are considered valuable or collectible is entirely subjective to the attitudes and opinions of us. Objectively, I think the value of Magic overall will decrease if the RL is removed. The RL is much like Abaques said is considered to be the Holy Grail of Magic's collectables if you will.

@Grubbernaut - that's just your opinion. I honestly believe that most players don't give a crap either way they just want to play the game. I think the people that do or don't want the list removed are a small minority whose opinions could impact the greater whole of the game - more so the "pro" removal group. Wotcs has been showing us their hand for years, they only want a simple excuse to raise the price of every product they release. Look at the upcoming Lord of the Rings set - $300 USD for serialized cards, amazing IP, and some potentially strong reprints (I only know about The Great Henge). This isn't a masters product, people. I think that WOTC wants to do this with every set. Caerwyn, I agree that a "oops all RL" set wouldn't likely happen - and a curated drip feed would be the most likely case but imagine paying $300 for a I don't know a New Capenna set because one out of every 7 boxes has a reprint ABUR Dual Land? That's what I believe would happen.

shadow63 and nhhale - I'm out in Germany and some friends from one of my pods are avid modern/legacy players. It's a trend out here at least that at non-official tournaments as long as you bring in good quality proxies you can play for only $10. If you have some (I think it's up to 5) you only pay $5 - and those tournaments have prize support with real Legacy pieces. So it's possible for new players to enter the scene, as long as the tournaments aren't official. Sure, I get what you're saying about the exclusivity of official pieces, it sucks and I agree that nobody should be locked out of their desired format. But you don't always have to play on WOTC's terms. We as players forget that we can play MTG without WOTC or HASBRO - proxies are awesome and we can play and hold our own tournaments as we see fit.

Gleeock, I can see that my argument is not necessarily popular. I get that. Honestly, I just don't want HASBRO or WOTC to raise prices even more than they already have. I hate having to spend more money on a "collectors edition" just to get a version of some cards that I like. Or to get access to the random awesome cards that won't be in the regular "poverty" boxes (looking at Dominaria United with the "Lost Legends" b.s.). I just don't want another thing to justify another 50 to 60 or even 70 dollars more per box. I hardly buy sealed product anymore, simply because I know what I want to get and more often than not I cannot justify the purchase.

@Grubbernaut - you want to talk delusional? Tell me that WOTC won't try and charge us another $100 on top of the usual $150 or whatever asking price for a box because they'll include a random chance at getting a RL reprint. Or worse - they'll make them collectors box exclusives, and they'll raise the price as well. Another delusion: if you think you can afford to purchase and/or keep up with this insane hypothetical product then tell me what industry you're in because clearly you have a lot of money on your hands.

March 20, 2023 7:22 a.m.

Caerwyn says... #12

With all due respect, you cannot both state that “I just really dislike bad logic, or an argument that is done in bad faith and with no evidence to back it up” and post your above response.

Every. Single. Thing. You have said is without evidence and is predicated on bad logic - in particular your decision to ignore the fact that I backed up my post with actual evidence. Quite frankly, I think you just did not read my former post on your thread - or you did read and lacked basic comprehension thereof.

Your continued insistence on the following two points show just how disingenuous your thread is:

First, continuing to insist that there is no evidence the majority of players want the RL gone. As I already said, “Magic’s Mark Rosewater has acknowledged before that the majority of players dislike the reserve list”.

Here is the actual quote from Magic’s Lead designer: “Rosewater replied that Magic’s designers ‘know the majority of players would like it gone’. ‘That’s been true for many years,’ he continued, adding that ‘that doesn’t make any of the other obstacles go away.’” [Source] (

You are simply wrong on this point.

Second, your insistence that the RL props up the value of other cards is nothing but speculation without evidence - the very thing you hypocritically decry in others.

And it ignores the fact that there exists plenty of evidence that your position is without merit - as I already noted, the high cost of non-RL Alpha cards (especially certain staples like Lightning Bolt, certain judge staples, things like the Guru Lands, Kaladesh Masterpieces, etc. all show there are plenty of non-RL ways to create card value. There is no reason to believe that things like limited run printings and exclusive art would drop in price without the RL.

The actual evidence suggests you are wrong on this point.

I could go on, pointing out that your “you can just proxy” argument is not sound and is effectively “you could just make a deck you can never play at official events”; or that your entire point about pricing is predicated on Wizards suddenly deciding to change pricing policy in a way that could invite the very kind of government action they choose to ignore. . . But I will not.

Why? You are probably not going to read this far and, if you do, you’ll likely ignore any evidence that disagrees with you, while wrongly and hypocritically seeming to believe your pure speculation is worth more than others’ logical and evidenced-backed positions.

March 20, 2023 8:44 a.m. Edited.

Mortlocke says... #13

@Grubbernaut whoops I made a mistake on the price. 200USD for a regular box. 440 for a collectors box - source. To reiterate my opinion and concerns - this is what I don't want for every set going forward. I think with drip fed RL cards in most if not some products we will see price points like these (or likely worse) as the norm.

March 20, 2023 8:57 a.m.

Mortlocke says... #14

Caerwyn, I'll admit I did wish there was a tl:dr your post. Be concise, please. Also I find that you taking the word of a guy off of his personal blog responding a fan's question as "solid evidence" that equates to the opinion of roughly 5 million individual players be overwhelmingly flawed at best. Where's his data? Did he take a survey? What majority of players is he referencing? Come on, be reasonable here - if MaRo said that the majority MTG players were in favor of major price increases without any physical data (like in your example) would you be so blind as to just feverently believe that so called "fact" as well?

March 20, 2023 9:05 a.m. Edited.

Caerwyn says... #15

Cute. Asking for evidence then ignoring the actual evidence in favour of your gut feeling. Adding a request for a TL;DR on others’ posts when your own could best be described as long-winded, rambling, and nonsensical and pretending a hypothetical is a real argument checks off another two squares on my “this person doesn’t actually want to engage in a legitimate manner” bingo card.

But, sure, I’ll bite. Wizards actually collects a lot of data about players - they regularly do surveys (they’re doing one for D&D right this very second) and have a major analytical team that combs through survey data, sales data, information from their networks of game stores, etc.

When, say, the head designer of the game says that they know something about their players, that is because they know something about their players, collected through years of data.

And they’re certainly more reliable of a source than what you have provided - a mixture of nothing and hypocrisy.

March 20, 2023 9:20 a.m.

Mortlocke says... #16

Caerwyn, spicy. But you do not disprove my opinion here -

"Wizards actually collects a lot of data about players - they regularly do surveys (they’re doing one for D&D right this very second) and have a major analytical team that combs through survey data, sales data, information from their network...etc"

So again, you make claims but have no factual data to confirm this statement. MaRo has data to support his statement - but doesn't care to share it? You see the problem here, right? Please don't make have to break this down for you.

This is basic how think stuff here. You make a claim, you present the objective data points that confirms it. Not some dude's opinion in an echo chaimber. Your link is just a biased opinion of one person talking to another person who shares that same bias. That kind of garbage is the essence of rhetoric - speaking passionately with no substance.

All you've done is simply go "MaRo said it so what he says must be true." Need I remind you that he once said We are unwilling to reprint Reserved List cards at normal card size regardless of border or back, and then we got Magic 30th. So I'm not sure he's as believable as you think he is.

March 20, 2023 12:08 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #17

At this point, I am convinced you are trolling. My prior post did provide actual data - in fact, I cited that a Wizards poll was open right now. Moreover, the fact that Wizards conducts regular polls of their Magic and D&D players is a pretty well-established fact.

And, if you were less concerned with pretending you were right and actually concerned with the facts, you could have done some Googling. In a matter of seconds, I found this link showing a now-closed poll, demonstrating that they do collect data.

Furthermore, Wizards officials have discussed their reliance on extensive polling and data collection methods on numerous occasions. For example, the fireside chat a couple months ago. Or every single Storm Scale article which discusses how they collect data from players to obtain feedback on mechanics. Or any number of other examples one can find with a simple google search.

As for why MaRo didn’t cite specific polls? That is fairly common—-especially since the overwhelming majority of his readers know that Magic conducts extensive polling.

As for him changing his mind, this point is both irrelevant and a bad argument.

  1. That post was some 6 years ago, and it is very possible for things to change.

  2. It was a statement of opinion; the statements at issue are about data. One of those is likely to change, the other is repeating qualitative information as of the time of posting.

You are wrong. You know you are wrong. Your arguments—-bad to begin with—-get worse with each flagrant attempt to save face.

To be frank, I think it is clear you are trolling, for the following reasons:

  1. You categorise everyone else as illogical and lacking evidence, even if they display both.

  2. You do not hold your self to the same standard you pretend to hold others to.

  3. You have admitted you did not bother to read folks’ posts in their totality.

  4. You continue to double down on your speculation and your pretending facts that controvert your unsupported opinions must be fake.

TL;DR (since you wanted one): For the aforestated reasons, I am very close to locking this thread for trolling.

I don’t want to do that - I think there is an interesting discussion to be had here. But a discussion requires good faith on the part of all involved, and if the thread’s creator makes it clear they created the thread to troll, there is no point feigning that a discussion might take place.

March 20, 2023 12:37 p.m.

Mortlocke says... #18

Theres a bit to break down here, but lets start with:

"they regularly do surveys (they’re doing one for D&D right this very second)"

Okay. You say there's D&D poll. Stay with me. Now you say:

"At this point, I am convinced you are trolling. My prior post did provide actual data - in fact, I cited that a Wizards poll was open right now."

So. Besides the attack on my character (more on that later) you mention a poll completely irrelevant to what my opinion and our discussion is about and say that your irrelevant example is somehow valid evidence. That's some impressive mental gymnastics you've got going on there.

Oh and this little nugget "you could have done some Googling".

That's not my job. You're the one who thinks there's an invisible majority that's been polled by a hidden never released survey that was once mentioned by a guy on a blog that you are passionately citing. So far, all you've proven is that you're pretty condescending and prone to attacking the person rather than the argument. Which shows you really don't have an argument here - you can't prove a thing, only speak of things that may or may not exist.

March 20, 2023 1:18 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #19

I posted evidence of Magic surveys as well, which you choose to ignore.

As for attacking you personally - I attacked your arguments and you came back with hypocritically demanding from others that which you never provided, non-answers, and an admission you did not bother to read anything fully. Pointing out that you are not engaging in legitimate discourse is an unfortunate necessity brought about by your refusal to acknowledge the overwhelming flaws in your own argument and reading comprehension.

I posted four reasons above why I thought this thread should be locked. Being warned against things like selective reading and hypocrisy and doubling down on the same proves beyond any semblance of doubt that you do not intend to engage in actual discourse created this thread to troll.

I sincerely hope that someone who actually wishes to create a meaningful dialogue might take up the mantle - it certainly is an interesting discussion, when facilitated by someone who is able to actually engage in discourse.

March 20, 2023 1:33 p.m.

nhhale says... #20

Mortlocke you seem to think that the people commenting on your thread carry some burden to provide tangible proof that the majority of players dislike the RL.

It’s clear from the responses in this thread alone that you are more than likely in a small minority of players that believes otherwise. If you’re not convinced, maybe you should do your own experiment.

March 20, 2023 1:37 p.m.

This discussion has been closed