D”Ice” Cold Hard Cash?


Later this week, we’re going to do another episode of Noob and Sons in celebration of the release of the new Thor movie last week. Coincidentally, Chris and I had a text conversation about how he has been unable to unload his Dicemasters. Regular readers of the page know that he and I had discussed if there might be a way to exploit inefficiencies in the Magic the Gathering market during Standard rotations mostly. Since new cards lead to new synergies and new decks, it would stand to reason that you could flip cards that gained value due to the rotation.

So far, he has found that the strategy works for the most part. This has inspired me to attempt the same. However, I’m probably already behind the curve for this set, so I’m going to wait until January and the release of that set to try my hand at the market. Since he was so successful with Magic and he doesn’t play Dicemasters as much because he doesn’t have a built in playgroup like we do here, he decided to unload the ones that he could on eBay, too. But, he has been finding little success in the Dicemasters market.

What am I going to do with all these dice?!

That got me thinking about the reasons behind the seeming lack of interest in Dicemasters and why he hasn’t been able to as readily turn them into a profit, even as he is attempting to unload what should be high value cards. They range from the good (I’m not completely tuned in to all of the competitive scenes, but I rarely see anything about Dicemasters tournaments except during releases of new sets), to the bad (Wizkids just tends to overproduce their product, so it doesn’t have much resale value), and always the ugly possibility that the game isn’t as popular anymore and will go the route of so many other promising games.

The Good

While I won’t necessarily say that any of these are good reasons for the lack of value of the cards, this is the best without question. Yes, it is true that games are mostly driven by their competitive scene these days. Therefore, it could be argued that a game that doesn’t have much of a competitive scene isn’t one that is worth following to begin with and could lead to a collapse similar to the one that I’m going to discuss in “The Ugly” section. It could be argued. Which, naturally, means that I’m going to argue in the counter.

Just when you think I’m going to zig…I zag! What a madman!

Bear in mind that I’m a fan of most competitive scenes. I watch more Twitch than anything else and split my time between Magic, Hearthstone, and Pokemon. I’ve never been able to get into RTS, FPS, or MOBA streams, but I have watched more than one Street Fighter match and today I was watching Yu Gi Oh with the boys. I am all in on watching other people play card games.

However, in the past, if I’m not careful, I find that getting involved in the competitive aspects of a game take away the fun of the game from me. A few times after watching Magic the Gathering GP or PT coverage, I’ve come away with the illusion that I might be able to build a competitive deck and “go pro”, so to speak. Luckily, reality is undefeated and has reminded me, in the most certain of terms, that I’m a father of 3 and a husband. Also, I have a “real” job. Sure, it’s one that offers me ridiculous amounts of time off, but during the school year (which has increasingly been more of the year) is busy beyond belief and I have no time to devote to a career in Magic. So, little to no competitive scene in Dicemasters removes all delusions before they have a chance to even form.

Besides, if I go pro, who will be teh Noob of All Trades?

In addition, the reason that cards generally become expensive is because they can be found in decks that are popular among the pro crowd. If there is not much of a competitive scene, then cards (or dice in this example) won’t be expensive and we can still afford to buy them. Keeping me from getting delusions of grandeur and keeping the game affordable are two very good reasons that I’m glad there is not much of a pro scene in Dicemasters, if any at all. Maybe it isn’t good for Chris’s pocketbook, but he’ll survive.

The Bad

Once again, I don’t agree with conventional wisdom here. Actually, I’m not sure if it is conventional wisdom or if it is just classic internet squeaky wheels squeaking for that grease. Chris and I have had more than one conversation about speculators in the past and I always argue that game makers should just drop all of this silliness like the reserve list in Magic and just release as much product as possible to kill the secondary market. Again, probably working against my interests what with my attempts in the future to figure out that market and make some extra money from it.

I also bought comics for the first time in a month because of the lenticular covers. I have become that which I hate most.

But, that just goes to show what a good guy I am. I am willing to risk potential future earnings so that everyone gets a chance at the cool cards that they want without having to pay the equivalent of the GDP of a small island nation for them. Alas, as it seems like Wizards of the Coast don’t care one way or the other about the secondary market, especially with recent reprints, they do care enough about rarity of cards to not completely overprint.

Their kids division seems to have no such respect for rarity. I noticed it first when we opened a box of the Pokemon throwback set to do a family draft/sealed event a few months ago. We opened what seemed like rare cards. When I went to check them on eBay to see if we could flip them for money for another box, I was surprised that none of them sold for over 15 bucks at the time. While that might seem like a hefty sum for a tiny piece of cardboard (and you might be right), having sold new Magic cards for upwards of 75 bucks, 15 is a drop in the bucket. I can’t be sure, but I think that a contributing factor is that lack of scarcity.

The Ugly

The worst of these possibilities is that Dicemasters is an idea that has run its course. Chris and I have discussed on more that one occasion that we enjoy the game, but it is quite limited in strategy and scope. I admit that I haven’t paid as much attention to the game as I should be, but they don’t release nearly as many expansions as other card games, which could cause things to get stale quite easily. Also, Magic uses the new sets to play with synergies between mechanics and cards in new and interesting ways.

Plus, dinosaurs eating pirates is always cool.

Maybe the lack of expansions in Dicemasters has caused interest to wane and people just don’t care about the game anymore. The tabletop graveyard is littered with the corpses of games that nobody cares about anymore. Heck, one game that I loved and was, by some accounts, still very popular, is dead and buried. All thanks to that abomination called Hearthstone. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Dicemasters may be suffering the same fate.

The Verdict

No competitive scene? Perhaps, but there might be a vibrant scene that doesn’t translate to streaming. Dying completely? Again, possible, but I highly doubt it. They have a new D&D set coming near the end of this month and I’m sure that they’ll try to cash in on the massive cash cow that the new Avengers movie is sure to be next year. Heck, they might even see what selling power there is in the Black Panther movie. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that WizKids just prints tons of cards because their stuff is geared to kids and they don’t care if there’s any secondary market. Further, kids aren’t going to be able to shell out ridiculous amounts of money for cards in a secondary market, so there’s not even an incentive to push for one simply in the name of keeping the game fresh in people’s minds. So, they just flood the market with cards, hope for the best when it comes to people buying them, and why fix what ain’t broken.

Well, then…

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