The Half Orc Report: Wizards “Reprints” Fetchlands

“Secret Lair: Ultimate Edition ” really misses the mark for a fetchland reprint. When I first saw the announcement “Making Fetch Happen” on Dailymtg, I was ecstatic. Finally, a filthy peasant such as myself could actually have his own fetchlands. This coming reprint looked like a great chance to upgrade some of my commander decks, or maybe even get into that “Modern” thing everyone keeps talking about. However,  as I looked into the finer details of the announcement, it became clear that I would still be a filthy fetchlandless peasant. Many people who want these mighty rectangles at a reasonable price are rather disappointed with the way that this reprint is happening.The reasons for this Secret Lair’s failings are numerous, but I will break them down into three broad categories.

Financial

The fact that 5 fetchlands are being sold for the price of multiple commander decks is a massive disappointment. While this is technically cheaper than buying each fetch individually, it doesn’t really solve the main issue of fechlands being too expensive. If the five cards were another cycle of cards, most people wouldn’t get as worked up about it.  I mean they’ve sold From The Vault in the past, and didn’t result in any real hostility outside of the foiling process. The main reason Wizards thinks they can sell the 5 fetchs for is because of how much demand there is for them. That is a real shame.Since Modern Masters 2017, the demand and hype for another fetchland reprint has gotten to the point where it feels like they were never reprinted in the first place.The hype train went so far off the rails this year for people to get the idea that fetchlands could be making a return into Standard with Zendikar Rising coming out at the end of this year. This rumor has been officially killed with this announcement.

As it currently stands each fetch in the cycle has been given a preorder price equivalent to the current market price for the Modern Masters Foil Version of the card. While the preorder price is almost never the final price, it is a good indication as to how most of the large sellers feel about these cards. I’m left wondering what exactly the point of reprinting anything is if it’s just going to be sold at the same price as what is already on the market. Imagine if every time DC reprinted Superman #1, they did so at the exact same price as a near mint 1st Edition copy with a small print run. That is essentially what has happened here. The Magic community wants more fetchlands in circulation for the same reason comic book fans want more copies of old stories on the market. We want more people to be able to access them or be able to access them ourselves. It’s that access that grows interest in the hobby. There is a lingering fear that formats like Legacy and Vintage will die due to how inaccessible they are. If this is the path for staple reprints going forward, we can add Modern, Pioneer, and maybe even Pauper to that list of dying (but not technically dead) formats.

Distribution

I do think that this a good chance for Wizards to support its LGSs, but that doesn’t excuse some of the finer distribution details.Capping out each store at a maximum of 10 units is baffling to me. This limit places stores in a tough spot. People are already anticipating price gouging and shady behavior from the stores and organizations who should be the communities greatest asset. By trying to throw a bone to the Local Gaming Store, Wizards has instead brought a firestorm of vitriol and hatred. Here is the situation that LGSs are going to find themselves in; if they don’t raise the price to market value, anyone could walk in, buy all 10, and flip them on ebay for easy  profit. This will leave them sold out with a bunch of angry customers who may suspect that the owner is keeping the product for themselves, or selling it for more online. These LGSs may now feel forced to match the secondary market and avoid scalpers to keep product on their shelves, but either way the customer and the LGS loses.The removal of MSRP hasn’t helped matters. While problems like this have been occurring for as long one can remember, all we currently have to go off of for price is a guesstimation given in the announcement. If anything changes behind the scenes, we likely won’t hear about it. So the “MSRP” could get bumped up to 220 due to any number of complications that could happen over the next couple of months. Whether it’s the print run being inadequate, or shipping costs going up as results of the recent pandemic.

Institutional

I think that a lot of backlash could have been avoided if the price was more inline with other Secret Lairs. So why can’t Wizards just give us what we want? The way I see it, they have two main hang ups when it comes to reprinting cards. The first reason is because they really hate using “reprint equity.” It’s a concept that comes up every now and again on MTG podcasts such as Dies to Removal. Wizards want to make sure that they always have something they can stick into a Master Set, Secret Lair, Standard Set, Seasonal Draft Set, Challenger Deck, and so on. Since they have all of these product lines that want cool cards to help sell them, Wizards feels that they have to be very selective about when and where they reprint things. Now each of these products have different ways to help sell packs, but that doesn’t stop people from complaining anytime a set doesn’t have good reprints in it.

The other reason is that Wizards is afraid of how cards with high desirability affect the products that they are reprinted into. One example of this is in the Planeswalker Decks. In various interviews, Wizards has said that they intentionally power down cards they design for the products. This is because they want to make sure that the Planeswalker Decks are available for new players, rather than being broken down and sold for singles. While I personally feel that they could just print more of the decks as a response to this behavior, ultimately it is a good thing that they are making sure that product reaches its intended market. Effectively the main reasons why they printed fetches outside of any other product as they are so desirable that they could even get players to buy a card for reprint of Fallen Empires if it had fetchlands sprinkled in.

Other Thoughts

 I think that it is worth mentioning that the people who hoard hundreds of fetchlands like they’re Alpha Dual Lands aren’t the problem. Wizards is focused on making Timmys, Jonnys, and Spikes happy, the Rudys are an afterthought at best. MTG Finance only does what it does because of how they exploit a reprint system that is very aware and careful of the secondary market. Since Wizards is overly careful about how they reprint things, it creates long periods of sustained growth in the singles market. It’s those long growth periods that they take advantage of. The odds are pretty good that there won’t be another enemy fetchland printing for a year or more, so it is likely that will still be attempting to control the price. If Wizards of the Coast was better about how they reprinted things, the collectors would find other things to hoard that wouldn’t have as negative effects on the rest of the community.

One more small thing to mention is that this Summer there’s another opportunity to get these enemy fetchlands. All you have to do is buy every secret lair in a bundle to get one fetchland at random. This could hurt the long term strength of the product line for short term gains.This is because I think it is fairly possible for  these fetchlands to end up more expensive than their brethren that are currently on the market. As such, It may be possible to turn a profit flipping bundles. If people do end up flipping bundles, a fair amount of the appeal of the special art in each Secret Lair will be lost. Primarily because more of the weakest drops will end up on the market.

“The Half-Orc Report is an opinionated look at MTG news written by SillyHalfOrc. To get direct access to the author, consider supporting OnlyOnTuesdays on Patreon to access the community Discord for just 1 dollar a month”

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