It sounds like the cardstock for most Magic cards made since Amonkhet has been bad. I’ve bought a few cards and they seem kinda crappy. Could be the power of suggestion, but I see a lot of pics of curled cards and I’ve seen The Professor’s video and read that post from the card stock guy and mostly, seen folks talk and talk and talk about it.
The pictures of curved cards are great. The open letters are adorable. The saga of returning bent cards to Wizards of the Coast’s customer service is gripping. The personal oaths to not buy more cards are—if I say so myself—brave.
But seriously, could all of you who are passionate about this get your shit together, get organized, and, y’know, do stuff to get the thing you want? It’s like watching folks posting pictures of a fire to instagram, live from the showroom floor of The Fire Extinguisher and Above Ground Pool Expo.
Magic players want to fix this, but no one seems organized enough to generate pressure on Wizards of the Coast to achieve that end. I’d be happy to forward folks I speak with to y’all, but where would I send them?
I’m not an expert on this shit, but I’m just going to shoot some ideas from the hip: you should get a name, set up some kind of virtual homebase, articulate your issue in specific terms, explain to folks how it affects them, make specific demands, and form a plan of action to press Wizards to meet those demands.
Again, I am an idiot who doesn’t know anything about organizing, but I’ve got an evening’s worth of work to put off and I can’t drink this month, so have an evening of idle thought on how to actually do this shit:
Get a Name
There’s not even a name for your issue. “Tearmogoyf” comes immediately to mind. It’s a shit name, but it exists and it’s a notch above Nothing At All, which has been the name for what you’re trying to do so far. A quick search around Gatherer yields “Unbending Time” or “Teferi’s Curl.” Y’know, something simple that combines Magic with your raison d’être.
Get a Homebase
Maybe don’t nail anything to a church door in Germany, but get a website/facebook page/google document/tumblr. Post your central thesis up (Issue/Problem/Demands/Action) and direct folks to it when they ask what you’re doing. Get one of those discords the kids are talkin’ about these days.
If you want to get Wizards to fix the cards, you will need to work together, and that includes telling folks these things so they offer to help you out. Those things should include:
You should be able to explain what your complaint is. It’s a fundamental first step to helping folks understand what your problem is and a necessary precondition for getting Wizards understand what they can do to shut you up.
Points to include:
-Around Amonkhet, players noticed that card stock quality seemed to drop. Cards felt thinner and flimsier and began curling quickly.
-Before Amonkhet, cards were printed on [TECHNICAL SPECS] card stock with a thickness of [MORE SPECS]. Cards from Amonkhet forward—with LISTED EXCEPTIONS—have been printed on lesser quality [TECHNICAL SPECS] stock with thickness of [ETC ETC].
Learn and explain paper weight and whatever gsm is. Open cards, observe them. Measure temperature and humidity. Explain those terms and talk about them. Do nerd stuff, you nerds. Pictures of curved cards are great for underlying a point, but being able to articulate the factual basis of your complaints is a key point of being credible and making demands.
I guarantee you, “I want cards to feel like they did when Urza’s Legacy was new and I was 14,” is not going to get you far.
-Wizards acknowledged an issue with double faced cards as recently as Ixalan, but will not address this problem despite the fact that their CEO knows about it.
-Concurrently, there are a number of harder to quantify issues with the quality of printing onto Magic cards. Cards are darker, faded, or otherwise printed with very poor quality.
Related Comment about Cardstock: https://www.reddit.com/r/magicTCG/comments/7wepz6/recent_experience_with_card_stock_and_tournament/dtzveor/
WotC Customer Service Saga: https://www.reddit.com/r/magicTCG/comments/6xzkg5/the_card_stock_quality_problem_an_analysis_and/
Saffron Olive on bent cards: https://www.reddit.com/r/magicTCG/comments/77d2d9/seems_that_even_saffron_olive_is_concerned_about/
The Professor on card stock issues: https://www.reddit.com/r/magicTCG/comments/77uzmd/tcc_tolarian_winds_card_stock_quality_and/
Wizards’ comments on Ixalan double-faced card stock issues: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/statement-ixalan-double-faced-cards-card-stock-2017-10-20
Articulate the problem. I’ve heard this called “Feature/Benefit,” but “Issue/Problem” works in this case. Say what’s happening and explain why people care. Then, the people you’re explaining this to will care.
-As a collectible game, Magic cards that bend and warp undermine the collectability of the game. Magic has a Reserved List of cards they do not print because they know and understand the collectability is important to the game. There’s a lot of value in Magic cards, for traders and collectors. Many stores and retailers which support Magic rely on cards that are sold and purchased by players. [[Is this true? I don’t know and it’s not my job]]. Cards from twenty-five years ago are still being sold, but there’s no way to know how this cheaper card stock will hold up. Magic collectors and resellers are concerned that the value of newer cards won’t be enough to justify their trade in Magic cards.
-Recently, players have been disqualified from tournaments because their purchased cards warped and were considered marked cards. Magic tournaments can be played for thousands of dollars. There are folks who make a living playing Magic tournaments. Being disqualified because the quality of Magic cards made by Wizards of the Coast isn’t high enough to participate in the tournament is ludicrous.
-Finally, no one wants to play with a cheap product. Wizards spends a lot of time and money on designing card frames and commissioning art because they know players care about those things. Why, then, would they put so much effort into cards, only to fuck up the presentation at the last step?
Everyone wants a high-quality product for their money. Especially with Magic forgeries becoming better every year, there’s the real risk of real cards feeling as cheap, as haphazardly printed, or as second-rate as knockoffs.
What are the circumstances that would make you all happy? What’s the goal that you’re working towards on behalf of the folks who support you? Alternatively, what can Wizards do to make this issue go away?
1) Having Wizards acknowledge the problem to judges, partners, and players. As a priority, communicate to judges who oversee tournaments guidelines concerning cards, sleeves, and bending. Communication to collectors about their commitment to creating long-lived products. Communication to retailers and other members of the secondary market their commitment to the value of their products out of the box.
Finally, communication to the player base as a whole their commitment to a high quality product that feels worthy of our money.
Placing players last and Wizard’s partners first emphasizes that even though you all are players, your concerns are not self-centered and are instead focused on individuals who have a financial, professional stake in this issue.
This is a first step. It’s a small step and works well just in case you don’t get a lot of folks on board. And, cynically, Wizards probably wants to talk about it, but can’t. If they address the issue at all, they probably will, then you get credibility for your next demands.
2) Restoration of North American Card Stock to [TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS]. Heavier card stock with technical demands that says that there’s a specific goal you’re seeking. Not “better card stock,” not “old card stock”; a specific, measurable quality that you’re asking for.
3) Consistent Quality of Printing for North American Cards. I can’t personally think of a metric for not having cards that are washed-out or too dark, but then I’m not running this thing.
So the question is, what are you going to do? A single Magic player not buying product isn’t helpful. Boycotts can be helpful, if you’ve got enough folks, but if you don’t, you need an alternate means to leverage money and a way to make “constructive noise.”
–Planned Buys. I don’t know if this is a thing. A few years back, I saw a boycott of Chik-Fil-A. Nothing changed. Then I saw a “Homophobes go to Chik-Fil-A Day” and **that** seemed effective. A planned buy has folks not buying something until a specific time—a week after a release, only on even months, the last week of a month, whatever.
Participants are still buying the same amount of stuff, but they’re doing it at a specific time to create a noticeable effect on Magic’s money. The goal is for Wizards to feel the buy right in their spreadsheets—even through the middlemen of retailers and distributors. That seems hard to do and I don’t know if it even works, but it seems better than a few people scattered across the country cutting out $100 worth of sales per set. It’s not about hurting Wizards financially, it’s–*sigh*–about sending a message.
As an organization, it flexes your buying muscle. It also makes it easier for folks who want to help you to help you without giving up as much. You won’t get feedback from those spreadsheets, but you will be able to tell if people are on board with it. If/When you get enough people on board, *then* you can start with boycotting specific products.
But how do you know if you have enough people on board?
–Get a hashtag. That fucking around with the name earlier? It wasn’t for fun. Get a name. Use it. Every time cards curl after being opened for a day, post the pics on instagram with #MTG #TeferisCurl. When you buy an indie game on Steam instead of a booster box because you’re waiting on WotC to product a quality product, put it on twitter and with its two best friends #MTG and #TeferisCurl. When you sit down to play Cataan on a Friday night instead of playing Standard, put that event on Facebook and add #MTG #TeferisCurl to the table.
Drop that hashtag like it just dumped you, because that’s what Magic is doing.
I feel I like I shouldn’t have to say “don’t use #TeferisCurl because it’s a stupid name,” but don’t use #TeferisCurl because it’s a stupid name used as an example.
–Constructive Noise Keep talking about this. Not bitching and repeating the same problem over and over, but talking about it, turning it over, being creative with it. Keep a curl counter. Do a 24-hour livestream of new cards and old cards being opened and laid side-by-side with temperature/humidity readings. Build a house of cards with old v new cards. Write an article where you compare quality of new cards versus knockoffs.
In all of those things, link back to your homebase. Engage folks who are mentioning this and talk with them and let them know how they can do something to change it. If they don’t care, that’s fine. Not everyone will be on board and folks who won’t help you today might change their mind in one, five, or ten years.
Stay positive. Stay visible. I’m sure someone has a better term for it, but I’m calling it “constructive noise.” It’s like memes; memes are fun and creative, but they can also be used to keep people positively engaged on an issue. Don’t spam, you have a lot of time to work on this.
-Constructive Silence I shouldn’t have to say, “don’t shout at anyone on social media,” but don’t shout at anyone on social media. Folks who are accessible on social media are not empowered to make this change. They never are.
Don’t bombard Mark Rosewater with questions about the card stock. Don’t tag WotC staff or accounts with hashtagged posts just to troll them.
If Maro (or someone else) asks, “Which character from Dominaria is your favorite?” DON’T answer “the one printed on quality card stock. Oh, wait. I guess there aren’t any.” Say “Karn” like everyone else (because Karn is great).
OTOH, if someone asks asks, “What’s your least favorite part about Dominaria?” Say, “the continuing card stock issue. #TeferisCurl” If someone asks, “What are you looking forward to this Friday?” and you’re doing that Cataan thing instead of attending the Dominaria release? Take that opening.
Stay focused. Don’t intrude on other conversations. Despite the strong feelings, this isn’t going to be a sprint where intensity gets you what you want; this is a marathon that could take slow, determined action over years.
When chiming in on a discussion, *check and see if someone has already added a relevant comment or the hashtag*. Then upvote/like/whatever what that person put up and chime in on their comment. Folks will respond better to a cooperative, popular movement than to a series of comments that are tantamount to a DDOS attack or a bot storm.
And, y’know, that DDOS-like action can come across as harassment, which will—at best—make one person shut up and a hundred people resolve to never help you.
You have a legitimate, worthy issue. I’m tired of listening to you bitch. Please put up or shut up. Anything that has to be repeated online probably won’t be read either time, but I feel it necessary to restate that I’m not an expert. I have posted this so that folks who are motivated but unfocused on this issue have a starting point.
I don’t know shit about online campaigns and the beauty of this is that I will delete every fucking comment on my website about it because the constructive comments are about your determined efforts to address this issue and, seeing as how I’m not your proverbial church door, they don’t belong here (non-constructive comments will be deleted for obvious reasons).
If my statement of the facts or my ideas don’t meet your satisfaction, well, I’m not writing those for you to use. You shouldn’t be stealing those from me. You should have enough fucks to take the fruits of my flawed, exhausted, procrastinating thoughts and make them your own. The Magic community tends to think of itself as intelligent, creative, level-headed folks, so use those virtues for something bigger than shuffling up a combo and make a real world change.
Also there’s always this shit.