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Here we are, just a few short weeks after the release of the Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth for Magic the Gathering, and The One Ring, the big one, the one of one, serialized, gold-embossed, bells and whistles One Ring, has been found. It’s official.
But what does that mean? For Magic the Gathering, for players, for investors? Here’s a quick wrap-up of my thoughts on what comes next. Let’s go!
What’s Next, Investors?
Many people spent big to try and get The 1of1 Ring. Many people spent big to hoard boxes of cards to sell at a big premium to people trying to open The 1of1 Ring. That’s all over. We’re now left with a lot of hoarded product that won’t contain the big prize, and lot of opened product that isn’t the big prize. Something’s gotta give here, and prices will likely plummet for both sealed product and singles. This can be an opportunity for players wanting cheap cards, but might be the end for a lot of investing, and maybe even sour people on it further.
But there are other big ticket cards still out there. The possibility of getting the serialized Sol Ring cards is still in play, however, and those are likely to carry a high price tag too. As each one is found, however, the value of the sealed product will go down slightly. If you knew there was no chance of opening a Black Lotus in a pack of Alpha, would you still pay the same price as when there was?
While this is just another, albeit extreme, go-around of the Magic investment circus, this time there are more people involved. The 1of1 Ring brought in a few new streams of customers. LOTR enthusiasts, sports card speculators, and casual fans who know the LOTR brand and needed it to connect them to Magic. Their investment in the game is really important, because LOTR will be a benchmark of sales going forward, and whether these new customers stick around and spend more money will affect other sets and decisions going forward.
One big concern is that crossovers with non-Magic IPs like LOTR will be the main and maybe only focus, and the Planar multiverse we all knew and liked will be abandoned in favour of cheaply made cards featuring whatever’s popular.
What’s Next, Players?
While we do have some details on the finder of the 1of1 Ring, it’s got some ‘sus’ elements, and the conspiracy people should be out in force. We still don’t know who the person is, and how they’re connected to the store that reported the find. The find was not captured on camera that we know of, and the card itself was found (and graded) very very fast. It was found in a place where it would be immediately appreciated, and not by anyone who would do something foolish like play with it, or put it between their bike spokes. I personally did not buy into trying to find this card, and I’m glad I didn’t. I’m not saying there was shenanigans, but the finder and their LGS better be prepared for a ton of scrutiny, and Wizards better be prepared for buyer cynicism.
Other cards have made waves, too, and I mean in the actual game. Yes people still play the game. Orcish Bowmasters is already heavily played in Legacy. The One Ring is also played a lot in Legacy, but maybe even more so in Modern. Oliphaunt looks like a star in Living End decks, and maybe Generous Ent too. Forth Eorlingas! seems like a big cross-format hit, and even Pauper is quickly putting cards like Lorien Revealed to work. Next week I’m going to start publishing the decks I’m building from the cards I opened.
Even if you’re not already tired of LOTR and playing the new cards you probably just opened, there’s another set on the Horizon to make you salivate and keep that wallet fresh in your hands! Commander Masters! Coming all too soon.
What’s Next, Hasbro?
If you’re a Hasbro exec, looking over your returns from your subsidiary companies, this LOTR business is going to stand way out. It made a lot of money, and got a lot of attention on the product. And then you’re going to shake your tiny fist and demand more. More more more.
If you’re a WOTC employee, some fist-shaker is likely telling you, ‘More. More more more.’ And you’re likely wondering how you’re going to top this. Actually, those decisions have likely been made already, and you’re on the hook for them. WOTC develops a couple of years in advance. Who knows what this will mean for WOTC going forward, however. Because Hasbro will expect them to top this, and sustain this sort of return on their investment.
So what could WOTC even do? Are there any other IPs out there that could create a situation like the LOTR did? Like The 1of1 Ring did?
Many of the biggest worldwide IPs are owned by Disney. Which wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the House of Mouse weren’t doing their own, competing card game. Unlikely that we’ll see Marvel, DC or Star Wars.
2 huge IPs that are currently riding big success are Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda. Though it might be tough to sustain peak excitement in a year or two’s time. Maybe if there’s a new Mario game, and a Zelda movie. There is a new Mario game slated for this year, so who knows?
Other possibilities include Game of Thrones and various Anime properties. But honestly, nothing has the history, reach, source material and singular supreme Macguffin like The Lord of the Rings. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them circle back and do The Hobbit, The Rings of Power, or even some take on the Silmarillion.
A sci-fi long shot that wouldn’t have seemed possible until the Warhammer 40k success is Dune. It’s a rare competitor with LOTR for longstanding pop-culture cachet. But it’s also over the heads of a lot of people, is steeped in religion and religious conflict, and derives most of its interest through intrigue, not action. But it does have movies attached so….
What’s next for you, reader? Are you excited to see The 1of1 Ring saga unfold, or suspicious abut every detail? Are you excited or terrified about what Hasbro and WOTC might do next? Are you still hunting serialized cards, or did you dismiss them 3 sets ago, in Brothers War? Do you have a great idea for what the game should try and adapt next, or do you want to hide your favourite pop-culture reference from them? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!