Reprints: Good or Bad for the Game?

Wilson Tsang

7/17/2012 11:02:00 AM

Reprints: good or bad? That depends on who you ask. In this article, I'll be looking at both sides of the issue and examining each standpoint. But before I get started, I must first explain a few economic terms that I'll be using in this article, and its companion followup. I know that this article will be controversial, and I welcome everyone to express their own opinion down in the Comments section.

The primary market: Konami is the primary market in the context of Yu-Gi-Oh. Without Konami, no one makes the cards to sell to the wholesalers and distributors, who then sell to the players. Without Konami, there is no game.

The secondary market: Any changes in price to a specific card, whether because of playability, rarity, or any other factors, happens on the secondary market. The secondary market makes the price of Maxx 'C' go up 100 dollars, not the primary market.

Now, prices of cards depend on many factors. There are alot of important causes for why cards become more expensive. Consider playability: is the card good? Is it playable in the current format? Does this card make your deck better? Rarity: Is the card hard to get? Quantity: How many copies of the card does the average player need to run ?

These three factors are by far the most important that determine the price of a single card. When Tour Guide From the Underworld was at $150+ each, why was it that high? First, it was because it was a Secret Rare from Extreme Victory. Secret rares only comes one per box, and you aren't guaranteed the one you want. Next, the card was really powerful, being able to turn the tide of battle in just one turn. Not only that, but you most likely run the maximum three copies of Tour Guide in your deck, making it even harder to find. If you only had to run one, Tour Guide From the Underworld would never have gotten to the $150+ mark, because there would have been the same Supply, but far lower demand. Cards like Monster Reborn are basically a must-have in every deck, but why is the card so cheap? It definitely fits the playable category, but what drives down the price of Reborn is that it's been printed so many times; the rarity of the card is diminished while you can only run one copy, thus dropping the price in a huge way.

The Good:
Now that Konami has undertaken a massive amount of reprintings to promote new sets, the game has become more affordable, and thus more accessible to everyone. More people can run better versions of decks that previously eluded their grasp, solely because of finances. More people can run tournament level builds of competitive strategies and compete with others, without having to spend paycheck after paycheck on cards. I know a lot of skilled people that are unwilling or unable to shell out $1000 on a deck. They would say it like, 'Should you really be shelling out $1000 just for some cardboard'?

Reprints also invite more people to come into the game. Before, I remember someone asking me 'How much money do I need to put into the game to compete at a Championship level tournament like a YCS?' And I would answer with something very simple: $450 for just three cards. And then they would look at me, trying to figure out if I was serious or not. When they realized I wasn't kidding, they would be disgusted and lose interest. In fact, many people that quit left because they couldn't play competitively due to inaccessibility of high-end cards. Reprints are good for the game because they allow more players to have access to it, worrying less about money, and worrying more about whether or not the cards work well in their deck.

Reprints allow people to have more access to cards, maybe even to older cards that they'd never seen before. In this case, innovation comes about through seeing cards that they never knew existed, and being able to playtest with them because they're now so easily accessible. Another way reprints allow people to be innovative is by letting players use previously scarce cards that were splashable, but tough to get a hold of like Tour Guide From the Underworld, in decks that it didn't previously see play in. I've seen Tour Guide splashed in decks like Gravekeepers and Blackwings after the reprint in Battle Pack: Epic Dawn, making them stronger and more resilient. Would you have seen this kind of innovation back when Tour Guide was $150+ each? Not likely, because if you were spending $450 on three cards, you were most likely sticking to the best and most proven deck lists available at the time.

 Dark Magician Girl
Dark Magician Girl32974
Set Duelist Pack Yugi
Number DPYG-EN008
Level 6
Type Effect Monster
Monster Spellcaster
Attribute DARK 
A / D 2000 / 1700
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

This card gains 300 ATK for each Dark Magician or Magician of Black Chaos in either player's Graveyard.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
Sunshine Games Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $0.50
Franks Cave Unlimited - Damaged 1 $1.00
Cardmonstergamez Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $1.44
XtremeGames Unlimited - Lightly Played 3 $1.44
Grey Willow Games 1st Edition - Damaged 1 $1.62
ZANGOOSE CARDs 1st Edition - Moderately Played 2 $1.70
No Limit Gaming 1st Edition - Moderately Played 1 $1.75
QsComicsandGames Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $1.75
The Side Deck 1st Edition - Moderately Played 1 $1.98
hotspot gaming 1st Edition - Damaged 2 $1.99

The Ugly:
Who in their right minds would disapprove of reprints? Well, in fact, there are many people who would not enjoy reprints. I will now introduce them to you.

Vendors are the first and most obvious group, though at first glance, people may laugh at this. HAH! Vendors! So what if they make less money by buying and selling cards? But let me ask you this: if your local vendor didn't make enough money from Yu-Gi-Oh, do you think they would host events for it? Where would you go to play local tournaments and test for Regionals, the Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series, or World Championship Qualifiers? Where would you go to improve? When you needed specific cards but couldn't wait a week or two to order them online, would you resort to buying packs just hoping to get what you want?

Collectors are another group with concerns about reprints. What's the point of collecting Tournament Pack, Championship Pack, or Turbo Pack holographics like Ultra Rare Morphing Jar, when you can get them just like that in Legendary Collection 3? Where's the fun in finding a Secret Rare Dark Magician Girl when it's going to be reprinted in the same rarity? Why go waste time and money hunting for your favorite cards, when you can get them so easily?

Next up are players who rely on the game's secondary market to generate income. This is one of the hardest groups to explain. I, in fact, fall under this category. Since I started playing Yu-Gi-Oh, I've been acutely aware of the money you could make as a player, winning prizes and packs, trading, and selling cards to vendors. Trading cards for profit was how I funded my trips to YCS tournaments in places like Providence, Rhode Island; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Long Beach, California. The major problem for me nowadays is being able to finance trips to faraway cities, to continue to compete at these events. To be able to finance those excursions and to be able to play high quality competition, I have to make money through the game. I'm currently making less and less, which has prevented me from attending the WCQ in Columbus this year as well as the YCS tournaments in Dallas and Philadelphia. Because I'm not guaranteed to make my money back unless I make the top cut, I'm unable to go to events due to airfare, let lone costs like accommodations, food and other expenses.

The Middle Ground:
Reprints are good for the game. They make it more accessible to people who didn't have the money necessary to compete at a tournament level. However, reprints are also bad for the game, because they push out a lot of people relying on the secondary market. This is especially true for many skilled players who need to make money at the game in order to continue, and even justify the time spent playing so competitively. So how can this be settled? One major way I think that reprints can benefit both sides is simple: only reprint cards that are 'necessary' in every deck. For example, only reprint cards like Tour Guide From the Underworld, Solemn Warning, and Mystical Space Typhoon. In that scenario, it would help new or Returning players have access to staple cards that every deck needs, while still leaving room for others in the secondary market to sustain themselves.

Again, I know that this may be a controversial subject, but I'm welcome to hearing all opinions on the matter. Personally, I have discussed some of the pros and cons of each side, so please share with me any more ideas that you guys have and let's continue this discussion further.

Signing Out,
-Wilson '3zinferno' Tsang

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