The Commander Rules Committee (RC) updated their banned list for Magic: The Gathering’s Commander/EDH format on September 13.
In the update, the Commander RC banned Golos, Tireless Pilgrim from the Commander/EDH format. Golos was released in Core Set 2020 in 2019, and had actually previously been a problem card for the Standard format alongside Field of the Dead (see “Announcement’ Date Moved Up“). The RC gave the following reason for finally banning Golos in EDH:
“Its presence crushes the kind of diversity in commander choice which we want to promote. You can drop in Golos and a few 5-color lands into a random deck and get all the ramp and card advantage you would ever want from a commander, with no worries about your mana base. Golos’ ability effectively reduces the commander tax to one and once you hit seven mana…“
The Commander RC also made a decision to unban Worldfire, a mythic rare from Magic Core Set 2013. This card was previously banned because of problems it created an unfair advantage for the caster who could float mana and cast their commander after Worldfire resolved. It was unbanned because the 2021 Commander environment features cheaper ways, mana-wise, of producing a similar effects.
Given the rapidly changing pandemic situation nationally and in Indianapolis, we reached out to Gen Con with questions about how Covid safety is being handled at Gen Con Indy, which opens Thursday. For context, Marion County, where Gen Indy is being held, has high rates of Covid transmission (522 new weekly cases per 100,000 population) and a high positivity rate (11.67%), according to the state of Indiana’s website. Around 47% of county residents are vaccinated, below the national average of 55%.
Why didn’t Gen Con institute a vaccination requirement, or a vaccination or negative test requirement, for attendees? Throughout the pandemic we have been working closely with public-health officials in Indianapolis and following their guidance. Due to the nature of our production schedule and sales cycle we had to make a decision on a proof of vaccination or negative test requirement very early in the summer. At the time, there were very few precedents for proof of vaccination at large public events. We are very supportive of vaccination and our internal polling indicates that over 90% of our attendees are vaccinated.
Who is responsible for enforcing Gen Con’s mask rule and other special precautions at the show, and how many of those people will there be? Gen Con convention staff will enforce our mask rules, as they enforce all other rules of the convention.
How will those responsible handle people who refuse to properly mask? We will take all necessary action to assure compliance with our rules, including removing non-compliant individuals from the convention center.
What safety measures will be taken to ensure social distancing while waiting in line at ticket windows, to get into the exhibit hall (especially at opening on the first day), and at booths at the show? We are taking steps to mitigate crowding where possible, including moving opening ceremonies away from the exhibit hall opening, extra spacing at gaming tables in event areas, and other steps. We have signs throughout the convention center encouraging social distancing.
At one point, Gen Con was going to offer wristbands to attendees with proof of vaccination. Is that still the case (even though there’s no impact on masking, it could help attendees identify those with whom they want to game)? We have chosen universal masking as the most effective safety measure we can implement at this time.
Will masks be required on the bridges to the convention center? No. We recommend attendees use street entrances to the convention center.
Has Gen Con negotiated with their hotel partners to require masks in common areas such as lobbies and elevators? We are working closely with Visit Indy and our hotel partners to encourage mask wearing in all hotel common areas; however, each hotel will implement their own policies. Gen Con rules will be enforced in all Gen Con-controlled hotel spaces.
What support has the City of Indianapolis offered Gen Con to help with COVID-19 safety protocols? The city has been very proactive in connecting us with Marion County Public Health and other resources to ensure that Gen Con is operated as safely as possible under the circumstances, and to encourage safety policies in those areas of the city outside of our direct control.
Winner’s Art will be Featured on an Upcoming ‘Pokemon TCG’ Promo Card
The Pokemon Company International and Creatures Inc. announced the Pokemon Trading Card Game Illustration Contest 2022. This is the first time this contest has been offered in the U.S.
The Pokemon Trading Card Game Illustration Contest 2022 is a fan artwork contest that gives Trainers from the U.S. and Japan a chance to have their talents featured in an upcoming promo card for Pokemon TCG. Trainers’ submissions will feature a “the daily life of Pokemon” theme and include a rendition of one of the following Pokemon as focal point: Bulbasaur, Charizard, Pikachu, Arcanine, Galarian Rapidash, Scizor, Greninja, or Cramorant. The Grand Prize winner gets $5000 in addition to their illustration showcased on a promo card.
Entries will be accepted starting October 13, 2021 and end January 31, 2022. Winners will be announced over the summer. For full details, see the Pokemon TCG or Creatures Inc. websites.
Despite the many challenges of doing business during a global pandemic, hobby game sales in the U.S. and Canada grew 21% to $2.035 billion in 2020, up from $1.675 billion in 2019. Every category of games was up, fueled by stay-at-home orders that limited entertainment options. Collectible games contributed the biggest portion of the dollar growth, and RPGs the highest percentage growth.
Results by channel were mixed, with the hobby channel (especially its online portions), Kickstarter, mass merchants, and large online retailers all up, and specialty retail chains down.
Collectible games went into 2020 with good momentum; the category grew 19% in 2019. But 2020’s 24% growth eclipsed that rate, and it could have been higher if printing plants had been able to keep up with demand.
Games Workshop shut down completely for a period early in Covid and never caught up with demand, suppressing the non-collectible miniatures growth rate below what it could have been, but the category still grew 17% to $415 million.
Hobby board games had shown signs of maturing in 2019, but that was quickly reversed as board games emerged as one of the few activities that could be done by small household groups during a pandemic. The category grew 19% to $435 million.
The hobby card and dice game category was on a negative trend in 2019, but driven by the same Covid factors that affected board game sales, turned around in 2020, growing 19% to $155 million.
RPG sales grew rapidly in 2019, up 23%, but even faster in 2020, up 31% and breaking $100 million for the first time, at an estimated $105 million.
We define “hobby games” as those games produced for a “gamer” market, generally (although not always) sold primarily in the hobby channel of game and card specialty stores. We define the “hobby games market” as the market for those games regardless of whether they’re sold in the hobby channel or other channels. Our estimates include sales in the U.S. and Canada.
The total hobby games market estimate is derived from estimates for five individual categories: collectible games (which include Trading/Collectible Card Games, Collectible Miniatures Games, and Collectible Dice Games), miniatures (non-collectible), board games, card and dice games, and roleplaying games.
Our primary means of collecting data about hobby games sales is interviews with key industry figures with good visibility to sales in various categories and channels. We also review data released by publicly traded companies, publicly available NPD data, and Kickstarter data and analysis, especially that released by ICO Partners. There were no major changes in methodology for 2020.
Z-Man Games and Blizzard Entertainment offered up more details on World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King – A Pandemic System Board Game, which is set to release in November.
This game was originally teased back in early July (see “‘World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King’“). In Wrath of the Lich King, players venture into the frozen tundra of Northrend to battle the armies of the Lich King. It runs on the Pandemic System, which offers familiar gameplay to players who are acquainted with the Pandemic games, while adding the flavor of the Wrath of the Lich King world.
Players take on the roles of legendary heroes such as Thrall, Warchief of the Horde; Varian Wrynn, King of Stormwind; Sylvanas Windrunner, Banshee Queen of the Forsaken; and others to fight against the ever-growing undead scourge that progressively populates the game board. The goal of the game is to complete three quests while holding off the undead horde. The three quests, once complete, lead to a final quest which is an assault on the Icecrown Citadel. Once inside, they will have a final showdown with the Lich King himself to win the game.
The game box comes with 7 hero miniatures, a Lich King miniature, 3 abominations, 36 ghouls, an Icecrown Citadel, 3 strongholds, 100+ cards, and more. This game is for one to five players, ages 14 and up, and plays in 45 to 60 minutes. It will retail for $59.99.
Sales in Hasbro’s newly created Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming segment more than doubled in Q2 2021, behind record sales on two Magic: The Gathering products. Sales in the segment were $406.3 million in Q2 2021, up 118% over $186.7 million in Q2 2020. The increase was attributed to two record products, Strixhaven and Modern Horizons 2, released in the quarter, along with growth in digital games including a better-than-expected launch of Magic Arena on mobile. Dungeons & Dragons also grew, although Dark Alliance, the latest video game release, did not meet expectations, the company said.
Profits in the segment were also robust, up 160% from $74.1 million in Q2 2020 to $192.9 million in Q2 2021.
Hasbro’s total gaming sales, which includes franchise brands Magic: The Gathering and Monopoly along with all of its other game products, were up 63% in the quarter, meaning that the Wizards of the Coast growth rate was faster than the rest of the company’s games. Monopoly sales were down in comparison to a Covid-fueled Q2 last year.
Overall Hasbro sales were up 54% to $1,322.2 million vs. $860.3 million in Q2 2020 and up 9% vs. pro-forma 2019. That puts sales of the Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming segment at 31% of Hasbro’s total in Q2, up from 22% of sales in Q1 (see “WotC Segment 75% of Hasbro Profits in Q1“).
All of the company’s segments showed operating profits except Entertainment, which took a $109.1 million hit on the sale of eOne’s music division, primarily in a writedown of the value of the asset. Hasbro showed an overall loss of $22.9 million for the quarter, an improvement over the $33.9 million loss in Q2 2020.
Looking ahead to the second half of the year, the company emphasized that Q2 was expected to be the biggest quarter for the Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming segment in 2021, with two Magic: The Gathering releases in Q3 and one in Q4, less than the 2020 pace. Players returning to game stores is helping to boost backlist sales of Magic, but supply constraints due to manufacturing limitations are a limiting factor.
Input costs and freight costs are up substantially, with ocean freight up by a factor of four vs. a year ago, the company said, but price increases are expected to allow it to maintain margins.
Hasbro confirmed its guidance for overall double-digit revenue growth for the full year.
Wizards of the Coast teased a new Secret Lair Drop Series set, for Magic: The Gathering, themed around the Phyrexian Praetors. Magic: The Gathering’s praetors, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite; Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur; Sheoldred, Whispering One; Urabrask the Hidden; and Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, are getting a new makeover. The new drop set will feature these legendary creatures in a Phyrexian-language Showcase frame. These drops will be available both through the Secret Lair website and the MTG-Arena in-client store soon.
There has been no word as to the MSRP of this product as of the publication of this article.
Square Enix unveiled Final Fantasy TCG: Crystal Dominion, a new expansion for Final Fantasy TCG, for release on November 26. Crystal Dominion adds a new feature to games of Final Fantasy TCG. Some Character abilities and Summons will be able to be paid in Crystals, instead of Crystal Points, and Crystals accumulate as players use more abilities. The set comes with 130 normal cards and 166 premium cards, 24 of which are full-art. Packs come with 12 cards and include a Premium card; booster boxes will come with 36 packs.
This expansion also showcases the work of a number of artists. The artists that contributed to this set were by Gen Kobayashi, Ryoma Ito, Akira Oguro, Toshitaka Matsuda, Kumiko Koike, and Yukihiro Kajimoto.
ltra PRO unveiled Magic: The Gathering: Strixhaven – Japanese Mystical Archive Play Mats for release in June. Similar to the upcoming release of the English edition playmats (see “Ultra PRO Offers Up ‘Magic: The Gathering’s’ Mystical Archive”), retailers can now order the Japanese edition playmats in limited quantities. These mats will be standard-sized and feature the artwork from the Japanese versions of cards in the Mystical Archive. Popular pieces of art from the set include the Demonic Tutor by Sumie Okazu, Time Warp by Shie Nanahara, and Lightning Bolt by Ezoi.
The list of art available is as follows:
Swords to Plowshares by Nagano Gods Willing by Tada Mana Tithe by Magane Okuda Ephemerate by Yumeko Dark Ritual by Rien Defiant Strike by Amayagido Revitalize by Yaomojun Divine Gambit by Kiritada Approach of the Second Sun by Nagano Gift of Estates by Yaya Teferi’s Protection by So-Taro Brainstorm by Ayako Ishiguro Compulsive Research by Tomohito Counterspell by Rindo Karasuba Memory Lapse by Yumeko Negate by Koji Nishino Opt by Rien Strategic Planning by Hatori Kyoka Whirlwind Denial by Aogachou Day of Judgment by Maiko Yoshizawa Blue Sun’s Zenith by Ezoi Time Warp by Shie Nanahara Mind’s Desire by Yaya Tezzeret’s Gambit by Tomohito Agonizing Remorse by Maiko Aoji Duress by romiy Village Rites by Kaoru Hagiya Eliminate by Karuta Shiki Doom Blade by Rindo Karasuba Inquisition of Kozilek by Yuka Oka Faithless Looting by Shiro Yayoi Crux of Fate by Kota Nakatsubo Demonic Tutor by Sumie Okazu Tainted Pact by Yusuke Katekari Sign in Blood by Kaoru Yukishiro Tendrils of Agony by Daken Claim the Firstborn by Norikatsu Miyoshi Infuriate by Yangyang / Xiaji Shock by Ryanroro Thrill of Possibility by Ayako Ishiguro Grapeshot by Hatori Kyoka Lightning Bolt by Ezoi Stone Rain by Tobihachi Urza’s Rage by Maiko Aoji Mizzix’s Mastery by Hiro Suda Chaos Warp by Hisashi Momose Adventurous Impulse by Sakura Tomo Snakeskin Veil by Yuhki Takeuchi Cultivate by Uichi Ukumo Increasing Vengeance by D-suzuki Harmonize by Yuka Sakuma Regrowth by romiy Weather the Storm by Kukka Despark by Kiritada Electrolyze by Hatori Kyoka Growth Spiral by Karuta Shiki Lightning Helix by Daken Putrefy by Magane Okuda Primal Command by Kukka Natural Order by Ayami Nakashima Channel by Shie Nanahara Krosan Grip by Norikatsu Miyoshi Abundant Harvest by Yuka Sakuma Each playmat will retail for $25.99.