RC Statement on secret lair: the walking dead

We’re not going to bury the lede here.  We’re not banning the cards from Secret Lair:  The Walking Dead.  We understand that this won’t sit well with some folks; we have spent a lot of the last few days listening to a wide variety of opinions, and we want to thank everyone for taking the time to share their thoughts. It was, at times, quite overwhelming. It’s clear that this is an issue that many people are passionate about.

Our decision doesn’t reflect an endorsement of these cards, but what we believe is best for Commander in the long run. If you’d like to understand how we arrived at this decision, we encourage you to read on.

We identified three major concerns during the course of these discussions, and we’ll address each and how they relate to Commander below. They are:

  1. The availability of these cards is problematic
  2. The existence of non-Magic IPs on cards should be discouraged
  3. Negan is a dubious character.

There’s no support in the Commander Philosophy Document for banning these cards. They certainly present no mechanical difficulties, and taken simply as cards, don’t come close to fitting any criteria we have for banning.  However, as we are always seeking to improve the document, we discussed whether banning these cards could fit under new philosophical criteria and whether using the banlist in this way was appropriate.

CARD AVAILABILITY

A concern of many players is that these cards would not be widely available, and for some countries, only available through third-party sellers. They worry that this model will be repeated in the future. We’ve heard you loud and clear on this issue.  Because the cards are mechanically unique, this is the major problem most folks have. We wish that all of our friends around the globe had access to these cards.  However, the RC of its own accord can’t solve that problem.  What we can do—what we already have done—is add our voice to yours. Since this issue broke, we’ve been in contact with well-placed people at Wizards of the Coast to make sure that they understand your displeasure and where it comes from, as well as urging that they work towards a solution. 

While we understand why people are concerned about such limited availability, we don’t believe that the problem applies to Commander in the same way it does to tournament formats. Successful tournament formats require generally equal and complete access to cards. But, one of the themes that we’ve reiterated since the earliest days of the format is that you don’t need access to every card in order to have fun playing Commander.   The focus of Commander being on non-tournament play, plus the enormous cardpool available where almost everything goes, means that unique cards floating around don’t present the same kind of problem. The stakes in a Commander game is the fun of the participants, and that doesn’t require all the cards.  

A problem we see with adopting a ban philosophy based on card availability is explaining it down the road.  If, a year from now, someone stumbles across a copy of one of these cards, tries to use it and discovers that it is banned in Commander, they will ask why. And the explanation is unsatisfactory: people didn’t like how they were allocated. This does not make a lot of sense to the person who is holding the card, and who doesn’t own many other cards that may be out of reach for them. We want people to be able to play the cards they own, and only resort to bans when it’s problematic for the health of the format, not the wider ecosystem.

These cards are in no way a threat to the health of Commander.  In fact, we see it just the opposite.  We’re the only format that could bear the weight of this kind of experimentation.  This is the format in which Crab Tribal is just as valid as Blood Pod.  Adding a few quirky cards that aren’t ubiquitously available doesn’t threaten that. 

One of the calls from the community was that we should ban these cards to “send a signal” to Wizards of the Coast for a “blatantly commercial act”.  First of all, we don’t think it’s appropriate to tell them how to run their business; that’s way outside the scope of our charter.  Second, the banned list isn’t the appropriate vehicle to voice our displeasure over something, nor is using it as punishment.  The banned list is an abstract construct to corporate decision-makers.  The right path to walk is the one we’ve gone down:  real change happens from having real conversations with real people, which we have been doing since the news broke.  Finally, attempting to send such a signal would be doomed to failure.  It will not have the effect that people hope.  The primary goal of these cards is almost certainly new-player acquisition. Wizards hopes to lure some Walking Dead fans into Magic and any interest from Commander players is just a small bonus. Banning the cards until functional reprints are available doesn’t do much either. 

NON-MAGIC IP

Some folks simply don’t like the idea of The Walking Dead crossing over into Magic, a modern IP breaking an immersion barrier. We understand that feeling (none of us care at all about The Walking Dead), but also realize that almost everyone has some universe for which they’ve dreamed of having Magic cards.  We don’t think it’s productive to try to gatekeep that.  If you dislike it, we support you not playing with the cards.  Introduction of a different IP opens Commander to audiences who might not have ever heard of Magic or the format; we welcome the new friends we haven’t yet met.  

NEGAN

We’ve also heard some displeasure over the Negan character being on a card, given his (fictional) history of terrible actions. We are sympathetic to this, and did give some consideration to banning just that card. We chose not to because Negan is a villain, plain and simple. There’s no implied endorsement, sanitation or glorification of his actions.  In that, he’s no different than other villains already in the Magic universe, even though as portrayed by an actor it seems closer to “real world” discomfort.  No one is suggesting that by putting him on a card  he should be idealized, any more so than Nicol Bolas or Yawgmoth.  We will use this as an opportunity to remind each other to respect other players’ boundaries.  Being empathic and accommodating is vital for a healthy gaming community; being considerate of other players makes us all better.   

IN CONCLUSION

The community outcry over these cards did not go unheard.  We used our relationship with people inside Wizards of the Coast to have an honest conversation about how and why so many of you felt betrayed by this process.  One of the outcomes of that conversation is that they were supportive of whatever decision we made.  We believe that conversation has had influence and they clearly understand the concerns. Thank you to everyone who has weighed in with their thoughts. We tried very hard to keep up with all of them, even as the Discord became overwhelming. 

83 thoughts on “RC Statement on secret lair: the walking dead”

  1. I understand some reasoning to the decision you, the committee, has made. I though, am still very upset with the outcome. I won’t get my pitchfork and fight a losing battle. But I want you to know that this decision had caused many player to consider putting up the cards. I’ve considered it at this point as well. I trust that you and your relationship with WotC can help regain some trust in the EDH player base. I hate that we sound like crying children, but I truly feel like this decision has only justified Wizards blatant cash grab. I’m sorry for any insults and threats to come out of the community. They don’t represent the majority of us. I just hope you may reconsider the decision, or consider doing something different for future secret lairs.

    Sincerely,

    A fellow Commander Player

    1. I’m sorry but if you put up your cards becuase of wizards printing cards you dont like then your not someone I’d want to play magic with🤷‍♂️ that’s like walking on the basketball court just to see that the your team has different color jerseys then what you like and getting upset then leaving. I cant possibly understand how you cant just ignore something. People seem to have their panties bunched these days, even when it comes to a card game.

  2. Typically disappointing, but completely unsurprising. I don’t know why anyone would have a shred of faith in the RC at this stage, your only interest is in enabling WotC’s worst impulses and not caring about the community.

  3. Magic and the rules committee have become one big joke to the edh community. Constantly asking for the community to voice their concerns and opinions then go on to blatantly ignore them and then proceed to throw another log on this raging dumpster fire

    1. Listening to concerns isn’t the same as giving in to demands. The Rules Committee did a fine job explaining why they made the decisions they did. It’s up to you to read and accurately comprehend their words.

  4. None of these 3 points even attempts to feign the fact that you all know what you’re doing is wrong. You are of the community, by the community. This means that when the community as a (almost) WHOLE voices displeasure at these cards, you respond accordingly. There is more at stake here than the IP’s used or feelings, this is the life of magic being sucked away. Commander is the most popular format by far, and if you can’t enforce some order over them, this game will die.

    1. You are acting like you know what the whole of the community is voicing, I know that my LGS has a regular EDH playgroup of around 40 players, of those 40 or so about 20 of us have taken to playing online with cams. We stay in contact and of those 20 I know 15 of us have bought this product. So it sounds like the majority is actually ok with it. The five that didn’t were split 2 couldn’t afford it and two didn’t want it. Only one of the 20 players is actually upset by it. But he is understanding and fine with us using them if we want.

  5. Sheldon,

    I am incredibly disappointed in your decision here today. You say that the ban list is not a place to vent issues or handle non business concerns, but Wizards has already set that precedent with the banning of cards like Invoke Prejudice. Remember that? It was a distraction to make us forget about WOTC’s racist and sexist actions. If this was your stance, why didn’t you speak up then? What happens to some poor player who wants to play their Crusade in a stupid anthem tribal deck?

    I was that player, and while I understood why the ban happened you didn’t stand up for me.

    No, you stood up for WOTC and gave us empty platitudes. I’m done with words, I demand action. I am going to refuse to play with these cards, and I encourage everyone to do the same.

    You always say the banlist is just a suggestion. Here’s mine.

    1. You do realize they had no power over the bans WOTC made across all formats. EDH is a sanctioned format that is tournament playable, you can’t have cards banned in tournaments playable in EDH alone. They allowed that ban to be wide-reaching not a choice they made alone. If you want to play crusade talk to your playgroup about it. I can’t think of a single group that would be that bent out of shape over crusade.

  6. As someone who was indifferent on the cards themselves I appreciate the stance you all took on the cards with not banning the cards. I am not a huge fan of the walking dead but my girlfriend is a fan of the actor who played Negan and was actually interested in that card and I have been trying to get her to play magic for years. I respect your decision and the manner in which you presented it was perfectly put. I also appreciate you taking the time to listen to those that were upset and hear what they had to say even though you ultimately didn’t do what they wanted you to. It reaffirms my faith in the rule committee to not be a tool by the public and to truly look at things objectively.

    1. I 100% agree here. While I have been slowly edging out of Magic and into other hobbies lately (mainly COVID related) I appreciate that the rules committee has taken a more objective stance on this. My wife who has had quite a bit of disinterest around MtG and the fantasy setting, actually became interested once she heard about The Walking Dead seeping into the game (as we used to watch the show). I personally appreciate the RC keeping an open mind to this and trying to keep Commander closer to the somewhat accessible format for new players that we have known for years now. Not to mention… No one really batted an eye when other IPs made their way into MtG in the past, like My Little Pony, Transformers, DnD, and Godzilla just to name a few, I don’t get where the anger has came from from the community.

    2. If the cards were silver bordered or reskins your girlfriend could still play with them. If they were banned in Commander you and your girlfriend could still play with them. But people in Latin America can’t buy them, nor can people who miss the one week window.

      And frankly I don’t think there are a lot of people who didn’t previously play Magic, are Walking Dead fans (in the year 2020 lol), are aware these cards will be available, figure out the one week window you have to buy them, drop the $50, receive the cards six cards months later, and start playing Magic because of it. This product doesn’t seem like it’s purpose is to get Walking Dead fans interested in Magic, it seems like it’s purpose is to allow Hasbro to sell six pieces of cardboard directly to consumers for $50. But that’s just me.

  7. I think this process done by wizard could be damaging for the format eventually if they keep doing it and eventually there’s a considerable part of the card pool that is just ot avalable to people. Not just expensive but ridicoulously expensive or just impossible to find whatever the price. I understand the philosophy saying people should be able to play with the cards they own. however, I think we should ask ourself where and when does it create an impression to the majority of player that they don’t bellong to the game because a lot of it is just avalable for the one pourcent. I think that feeling is a real threat to commander but also magic as a whole.

    1. A considerable part of the card pool? There are over 20,000 playable cards in commander and now 5 new ones that are limited based on people choosing not to purchase them.

  8. I don’t really know how to respond to this. It shatters my heart to see the RC give in and not stand up to corporate greed. One thing I always, always like about EDH was that WotC had no say in it and I hoped this to remain true. I know this might sound overreacting and melodramatic, I know. But seeing how many people were outraged, seeing how many, vocal community members were condemming the pratictice and precedent of this. We wanted you, one of the many that could act against this. Wave figurative signs at Wizards to be better.
    I’m sorry to say this, but saying that you used the connection to them to talk about it and get them to be supportive of your decision isnt hard when they know you will decide in their favour. It might not have happened that way, but we don’t know and we can’t know. I’m sorry but these cards, this practice and your indirect support of it sickens me. I often imagine that back in the good olden days WotC was a company of “nerds” making a game for “nerds”. But right now it seems like MTG is more and more becoming a game for sacks of money by a company driven by money.

    I stronly hope you will reconsider that decision, giving up ground is sometimes is a better option than to fortify a lost position.

  9. Unbelievably disappointed. Why does the RC even exist if it’s just going to kowtow to the very type of corporate greed it has been tasked with protecting the from.

  10. My group(s) will bully the shit out of every player who thinks that these cards should be allowed.
    Fuck capitalism.

    1. Irony. That uh, is kind of how capitalism works, using social pressure to modify the market? Though straight up bullying people is not how its theory is suppose to work.

  11. Thank you for listening and considering the issues. It would have been very easy to bury your head in the sand and say “its none of our buisness” and not even communicate the community displeasure to wizards.

    1. They simply used more words to communicate but the outcome is the same. WotC can just keep doing as it does, while naivity gets to thrive in the community. This is nothing else but legalization of corporate greed that is ultimately detrimental to the game.

      You either see that or you dont and then just figure it out later. Its a matter of time, and by the time enough people are ready to make a stand, the game is already reduced to a shell of what it once was.

  12. What they are really saying is that they don’t wish to alienate the company and lose what influence they have with them.

    This is what outsider institutions do when they become finally insiders. Politics 101

  13. This was your one chance to take a stance against the direction WotC is taking the game. Now it is obvious that you are condoning if not outright supporting the corporate agenda that will in the long run prove destructive for the game. Not that it was unexpected, but it is still very, very disappointing.

  14. These are your words and for these cards to not get banned is an absolute disregard for them. I dont find it fun to sit across a table to someone who had money/access to these cards that I did not have. I don’t care about the IP, I dont care about the villain. I care that there are people out there who want these cards and can’t obtain them. I understand that you guys have confronted WotC about our displeasure unfortunately, without the banning of these cards they will just go and do this again milking commander players like a cash cow. I hope you guys are happy.
    “Commander is for fun.The primary focus of the ban list is on cards which are problematic because of their extreme consistency, ubiquity, and/or ability to restrict others’ opportunities.”

    1. How do you feel when I bust out a moat? Because that’s way more expensive than any of these cards will ever be and moat isn’t banned. There are far more cards harder to get than anything secret lair is going to put out I promise you that

  15. Well reasoned and fair. I’m not at all happy about this new product, but I appreciate the hard work of the RC in navigating these controversies with grace and wisdom. Thank you.

    1. Amidst a sea of negativity and bashing, you stand tall with reason and grace. Thank you

  16. Thank you RC. This whole thing is a mess, and while I do not agree with WOTC’s handling of the situation, I understand – to some minor capacity- the complications in banning these cards.

    With far more real world issues at stake, including real health issues some of you are living currently, I understand there are problems that really matter. I am not implying in this statement that the matter was handled with any less care or effort than it should have been ( you folks willingly bare immense responsibility) and I do not mean this to undercut the importance of Commander and Magic to people – obviously many have built their livelihood around such an amazing format and game, many have sunk a great amount of finance into their hobby, myself included.

    I mean to say we live in serious times, and if a persons primary concern right now is a Walking Dead/MTG crossover, then maybe those folks should reevaluate their priorities.

    I respect your decision, understanding it is the way forward, and thank you for your efforts. I will admit that i am scared of long term ramifications this move from Wizards will have on the greater ecosystem of magic, and it’s future.

    I love Commander. It is the best format of the greatest game ever made.

    Strengh and health to you Sheldon. May you persevere.

    Thank you Toby, Gavin, Scott.

    1. To gain perspective on this issue just watch any of the youtubers. Commander’s Quarters, Tolarian Community College, and many more.

      The thing is, this is indicative of the direction Wizards are now taking with their business model. This absolutely threatens the integrity of the “greatest game” and the “greatest format” Not to mention, this is a breach of trust based on past statements from Wizards acknowledging that doing this is a problem and they they won’t do it again.

      No, a couple of walking dead cards isn’t a big problem, but if people actually purchase these and play with them, then it opens a whole can of worms and sends us down a really unfortunate path that betrays a lot of what Magic used to be. At least in my opinion.

    2. What? I don’t think anyone is saying that The Walking Dead Secret Lair is anyone’s primary concern in life right now, or that it’s a more serious situation than COVID. But this isn’t some zero sum situation, in fact the two things aren’t even related. The RC had the time to think about it, gather feedback, talk to WotC, and make a decision. They clearly made the wrong one here. Am I missing something? Why does COVID have anything to do with this?

      1. It does not. This is business as usual and the spreadsheet/bean counters know this. Covid is just a nice excuse for misplaced sympathy.

  17. I wanted to post a rebutal because I think this is an important time for Magic and I to emphasize that importance by joining my voice to the conversation.

    You say that banning the cards until such a time as there are functional reprints are available wont do much but I tend to think that is not true. For one, it puts the onus on Wizards to be proactive with plans to put these cards in a set readily available to the community. Second, it sets a precedent for guidance for how these cards will be accepted from the community going forward. If there are other products like this going forward (and here is where I try to stay postive) then it is important that the edh community have a voice in the distribution and perception these products create.

    This is the breach of a promise. A promise Wizards made to no longer make mechanically unique cards in a product not readily available to the consumer base. That is most of this conversation. How Wizards is disrespecting the fan bases ability express their concerns and instead thinking first of their bottomline and second about the overall health of the product they put forth. There is a general exhaustion that Wizards is not listening to the community and instead exacerbating any issue by responding in an opposite manner.

    Like it or not, the RC is that voice. As the governing body for this format, it is 100% your responsibility to make the format fun and accessible to everyone. But you also have to represent the wishes of the community to the company that makes the cards we play with. The outcry cannot just be heard, it must be felt. I think a banning is an important step at not just asking Wizards nicely to be more consumer thinking.

    The notion that you aren’t gatekeeping while having a ban list in the first place is kinda nonsensical to me. I’ve had to have those conversations with people in various play groups as to why they can’t play Emrakul in thier Vaevictus deck or play Rofellos in the 99 of their mono green Titania lands deck. Your argument that someone wanting to pick up these cards to join and play is predicated on availability. A secret lair is not like picking up a standard pack and opening a commander and deciding to build a deck. This isn’t an specifically casual product. I understand that fear (of the walking dead) of pushing away fans that may be added solely based on adaption by fans of this IP. But the perception of outside IPs infringing on MtG’s unique IP and corrupting the canon and identity of Magic is doing more harm than good.

    So I beesech you to reconsider your position. Your authority on all issues surrounding Commander/EDH leaves you in a perfect spot to be the voice of the community. As the gap between the company we support and it’s fanbase grows larger, it’s up to you to take responsibilty to fill in and stand in that gap. The outcry from the community is more severe than the response you’ve made dictates and a banning here (until such a time as Wizards officially prints alternatives) will allow the community to express their displeasure and let for Wizards be held accountable for their seemingly destructive business practices.

  18. I was under the impression that the banning of certain very old (reserve list) cards (P9 for example) was largely due to availability issues. Black Lotus is not especially broken in commander, nor are the moxen. So if card availability is a justification, why not here?

  19. This is very disappointing. What this shows is that the RC is beholden to WotC, and will never make any decision that does not meet with their approval.

    I mean, realistically, if you had gone against them on this, they would likely have done what they could to eliminate the RC as a meaningful entity, because they clearly put profits ahead of anything else, and would not stand for anybody trying to tell them they can’t exploit the community for as much money as they can get, with no regard for what is good for the game.

    So standing against them would probably have ended up being a largely symbolic gesture in the long run…but IMHO it is better to make a symbolic gesture in defense of the community, and go down because of it, then to willingly decide to be nothing but a puppet for WotC.

  20. https://www.strawpoll.me/21015634/r Very disappointing. 94% of people who took this survey voted to ban these cards. 28,000 people. Clearly your interests are not in alignment with the majority of players. Yes, this number is probably a bit different on the whole, but it is still representative.

    To me, Commander represents the very best of what this game has to offer and to think that we are now going down this dark path really makes me sad.

  21. I wonder how the RC will feel 2 years from know when it’s not 5 cards, but 500 cards that are hard to obtain and every game is an unrecognizable mess of IPs.

    This is so short-sighted and cowardly.

    1. If they can make 500 cards that quickly that are in such short supply then obviously people are buying them to keep them producing these cards.

      EDH has over 20,000 playable cards, and in 2 years’ time, that number will have reached over 21,000 if “500 cards” were made we would probably be pushing the 22.500 mark just based on the number of new cards to do that.

      Not to mention most of the cards aren’t that amazing. The benefit to commander is you can build creatively, you don’t need rick for humans, and in non-human decks, you won’t use rick. So at the end of the day its a brewer’s choice.

  22. While I understand the reasoning behind the decision. Respectfully, I think the idea of change being made by having conversations is misrepresenting reality. No amount of conversation with WotC will change that it is a subsidiary of Hasbro, or that it is a company that answers to shareholders.

    Naked greed will not be solved by conversations with people beholden to the corporation. I assume your reach does not extend to the Chairpersons of Hasbro, so the only option that remains to express dissent is to answer in a way that will impact sales.

    Regarding the idea of a player finding the card, and being excited to build with it, I see very little measurable difference between this and silver bordered cards.

    I hope you reconsider this position when (not if) WotC inevitably tries this again.

  23. I 100% believe you are either in WotC’s pockets or afraid you’ll be cut off from cooperating with future content and can’t actually ban anything WotC deems unbannable.

  24. I have to say this is pretty dumb. In my playgroup with every card that is banned eventually the discussion comes around to why. Not everyone is convinced in every case, even with something obvious like Prophet of Kruphix. That card was banned because it was overpowered. There are plenty of other really powerful cards that are still legal. Another example in my play group is Sol Ring which we have declared taps for (1). We have to go over a long explanation for why this is the case. If someone showed up down the road with a walking dead card we would have to tell them it was banned and go over the long story just like with any other card. The simple answer is it’s banned, you can’t play it, and it doesn’t matter why. Banning a card because Wizards are a bunch of money-grubbing assholes is very much in the spirit of commander being an accessible format for any level of player. Saying there’s no precedent for this type of ban is a cop-out because this has never really happened before. Set the precedent now.

  25. Commander (EDH) was once a “House Rules” type of game that existed outside of Wizards of the Coast.

    Do not be surprised if another ruleset becomes more popular than your own at this point.

    Our playgroup has banned these cards, and it has made us evaluate and ban some other “unfun” cards.

    We’ll end up likely refusing to play against these as commanders… That’s the state we’re in.

    I agree with an earlier point. Unban the power 9, why not? They arent overtly powerful compared to some others now, and if availability isnt an issue…

    1. I would be interested in hearing more about a new format that comes out of this failing. If anyone does decide to champion this effort I would be willing to volunteer some of my time to help in any way I can to make it a reality.

      EDH needs to return to the house rules format it used to be outside of any influence whatsoever besides the committee who invented the format (and by extension the community that plays said format).

  26. Having read this, I feel like you didn’t really hear people all that well, and whomever you spoke to at WotC only assuaged your fears.

    Problem is – It doesn’t matter who you talked to at WotC because the only language Corporations understand is profit motives.

  27. To the Rules Committee & Wizards of the Coast,
    You have made a terrible mistake by producing and allowing the walking dead to enter the magic the gathering realm and in doing so you have alienated a large part of your existing customers and fandom. These are people that have been nothing but loyal throughout the years and literally have loved this game myself included. I don’t see any way that I can take this game seriously as you have not only betrayed us but have also clearly lost your way. I have since I’ve started playing magic the gathering have always maintained that magic the gathering has been a step above the rest and able to withstand the test of time succeeding where others have failed. Sadly it would seem that I was wrong and that you have let us down. Magic the gathering has jumped the shark it would seem and when given the chance to make things right smiled and waved as that opportunity passed them by. Unfortunately I no longer see this game as a wise investment and can no longer justify giving my business. You would be wise to treat the new fan base that you are desperately trying to reach well.
    -Robert

    1. Is your problem with this set the crossover, or the fact they are secret lair cards?

  28. Look, I understand.

    However, it’s still sad that the net result from this decision might be that we’re welcoming newer players at the cost of losing so many faithful players, the cornerstone of our community…

    Also, this decision tells WoTC that they can continue on with limited mechanically-unique black-bordered cards, because they’ll always go unpunished until it’s too late and they a fatal (and probably inevitable) mistake; it just might be the beginning of the end.

    I’m afraid you’re being blinded by the relationships you have with your connections. And I get it. You wouldn’t want to hurt the friends you made there. But this is bigger than that… it affects the whole community and the future of the game.

    Let’s see. I hope we’re wrong and this will blow over without major damages in the long term. I really, really hope you made the right decision here.

    Thanks for listening to our concerns, at least.

  29. While I respect your argument for why these cards shouldn’t be banned and the logic behind it, I still believe this is the wrong decision. I fear that this release style will become a trend and will have actual consequences on the playability and enjoyability of the format. If that does become the case, I urge you to reconsider your decision and, in the meantime, use all your influence with WoTC to make sure it doesn’t happen.

  30. “Our decision doesn’t reflect an endorsement of these cards, but what we believe is best for Commander in the long run.”

    Except that in the purely financial terms of a corporate entity like Hasbro, it DOES represent an endorsement.

    Anything that is not expressly prohibited, is allowed. And, by not explicitly condemning it, they are implicitly endorsing it (not saying no, means yes).

    And, at no point did the RC explain in this article how this, and the precedent it sets, is in the long-term best interest of this format.

    I understand they’re in a very difficult spot here, but I also think this community deserves better.

  31. This decision is fine, as long as WoTC commits to reprinting these cards in the future as “real” magic cards in the same vein as the Godzilla cards. As someone who was really underwhelmed by most of them, I think not banning them was a good decision, but only if WoTC plays ball with the community. This issue may come up again in the future if WoTC does not modify there clear plans for future cross overs.

    1. I would say the other way around would be the safer option. Banning the cards until the point where WotC prints the cards in a booster or Commander product (hopefully under a skin-name – like the Godzilla cards).
      This forces Wizards to live up to a standard. That standard being; cards that are legal in any recognized format in Magic should be printed to be available to the majority of the community for a non-premium price.
      Instead we have functionally unique cards that are only sold at a premium price, for a limited time, with a limited printrun (print-to-demand), and only available to a limited part of the world.

      If this product turns out to be a financial success for WotC, they will continue to do this, no matter whether they said they heard the feedback and will consider it going forward.

      In 1994, they did the Atlanta “DragonCon” hand outs vouchers for the Nalathni Dragon. People were angry about the limited availability, so WotC increased the print run. In 2003, WotC made an article about it and said they learned their lesson in functionally unique cards in vastly limited print run products.
      And now we know better.

  32. From what I’ve seen from different player bases with this announcement they will just refuse to play against or with people who have them as commanders or in decks. That honestly doesn’t sound healthy for commander.

  33. Another aspect that you did not talk is the availability in other languages than English. I play with young people at my lgs that did not learned English enough to undertstand all the cards and those cards will be produce in only one language. By not banning those cards you approve also of the language discrimination of the commander format.

  34. “Commander is for fun.The primary focus of the ban list is on cards which are problematic because of their extreme consistency, ubiquity, and/or ability to restrict others’ opportunities.”
    I agree that this qualifies the Lair cards not for the ban list, but why not evolve and tune your tools in reaction to Wizard.
    Introduce a “silver bordered” list and as a starting point it consists of the physically silver bordered cards and the Walking Dead secret lair.
    This keeps things conceptionally right, while technically banning the cards but also sending the signal the cards are according to Rule 0 “more ok” to play.

    1. Not even 1 percent, because those that have access to the cards all won’t have money on that exact week.

  35. FAO the RC committee,

    Whilst I have read your response and reasoning behind your decision to not ban these cards at day 0, I feel you have completely missed one of the major concerns that has been raised. In your words, you feel there was 3 areas of concern:

    1. The availability of these cards is problematic
    2. The existence of non-Magic IPs on cards should be discouraged
    3. Negan is a dubious character

    I believe one of the biggest concerns raised was the actual act of printing these mechanically unique cards, and the precedent that this sets. By taking no action, you are implicitly saying that it is ok for Wizards to print 100% unique cards, and target the EDH community you claim to protect. We are now here to be gouged by WotC, and the RC is allowing this. You are truly thinking short sightedly if you believe that WotC/Hasbro does not see this as the go ahead to rinse EDH players dry.

    I actually call on you to explain your opinions and thoughts around this very real issue. Explain to us, the community, why this key part was not part of your deliberations and decision making process.

    I finally would like to express that I appreciate the difficulty of the situation you have found yourself in. It is likely that if you did the right thing, the RC would likely be disbanded by WotC and Commander would be fully under the rule of the company. But by not doing the right thing, you are serving EDH up to WotC on a platter anyway. You have potentially alienated the community you purport to represent, and some of us genuinely feel betrayed. The ramifications of this in the future could be huge, and personally, I am massively disappointed in your overall decision.

    Thanks for reading

  36. Wont be getting them myself, ill just play something different. I understand that in this financial climate, WOTC is looking to recover income that may have been lost. However it has slapped the LGS community by releasing cards like this. I cannot and will not believe this was designed to bring in Walking Dead community to play MTG. It wasn’t done for My little pony or Transformers they are silver border cards.

    One would hope that this does not lead to future developments that hurt LGS.

  37. I really like the idea of these cross-overs. I enjoy seeing IPs and other different properties made as Magic cards. If you ask Mark Rosewater how many times he has commented on questions regarding “is this character or that character a certain color or two colors” over the years, it happens so often that I’m sure he couldn’t count. Myself, I used to make my own magic cards using such characters as DC and Marvel superheros. So, yes I do like this idea of crossovers. What I don’t like is all the outrage over this one. It would be easy to make the cards silver bordered, but they don’t belong next to UN-sets. What these cards need and deserve is a different color border. Something to distinguish them from Magic and from UNsets. This would solve the problems with them legal in Vintage formats and would also allow Commander play groups to decide on their own if they allow Red bordered cards in their own play group. Also, it would open Magic up as a seperate entity of crossover cards for collectors and competition and sales. Imagine an Xmen set sold to kids but not legal in Standard, but has competition all its own. I understand Hasbro wanting sales and profits, but something needs to be solved regarding this if old players want to stay while new player want to enter the game.

  38. What Walking Dead fans do Wizards hopes to lure to commander in only one week?

  39. I have a question about this line.

    The primary goal of these cards is almost certainly new-player acquisition. Wizards hopes to lure some Walking Dead fans into Magic and any interest from Commander players is just a small bonus.

    so the way to get new players into the game is release a 50 dollar product with 5 cards that cant be played together and would require 200 dollars for a full set. for a single week that is so poorly advertised that most mtg players frequently miss them unless they hear about it on a youtubers news update. hell LRR and Commanders Quarters are the only reason I know when each product in this line is coming out.

    since you guys have connections with wizards can you ask them who made the choice that this was a good use of IP instead of being printed in a themed set like godzilla. They may want to reconcider their employment contract.

  40. 1) availability and price are a massive concern for a casual game where dropping a reserve list card like Gaia’s Cradle is seen as an issue at tables with new players. The Reserve List is ONLY good for collectors. It is, in of itself predatory of newer players. If they constantly see one hitting the table then they will want it. But they can’t have it unless they drop hundreds of dollars…. how is that good for new players? These are literally instant reserve list cards.

    2) I don’t actually have an issue with alternate IP as Dana Roach made a point that Ali Baba and many other cards from magic history are from other stories. But in recent times either they have been Silver Bordered (dinobots, my little pony) or re-skins (Godzilla). Straight black bordered cards is simply not done…. after all Eldraine is entirely based on very well known fairy tales…. but WOTC deliberately did everything they could to avoid crossover. Yet now it is ok?
    As for this IP bringing in new players…. seriously? If you want new players you give cards to them via a route those people frequent. Which walking dead fans are you expecting to find out about these cards and then go to secret lair to buy them if they don’t know about Magic already. If you had a marvel licence then you put reskinned cards $50 on cards for a game they might not actually enjoy.

    3) Negan. The level of false equivalence is nuts. Clearly fantasy creatures doing stuff that is typical fantasy bad guy things as featured in comics and fantasy books for decades, is so very very very different to a human being in a fictional world intended to reflect the real world after a disaster doing extremely graphic and frankly evil things to other humans. Including acts that have happened to people who have played this game, and quite likely use this game to escape that. Worse still, the fact that said character could well be the figurehead of your deck which in turn forces other players to confront the things he did. and there a huge swathes of the magic player base who would understandably find that extremely unpleasant.

    4) the “they are not format warping or even overly desirable for non-twd fans” defence.
    Well probably not until Rick was spoiled. He is insane as a mono-white human tribal commander. You cannot tell me that this card will not become a staple for white in many many decks. But only if you live in a SL supported region and are willing to cough up $50.

    So there has not been a compelling arguement for allowing these cards to remain unbanned in their current format. But many many reasons to do so.

    A ruling that says they are considered silver bordered would allow rule 0 conversations if players want to use them. God news I have a deck with a silver bordered commander that I have never been stopped from using. But at least it is on the players to accept them rather than force huge swathes if the player base to actively communicate why they are unacceptable.

  41. I agree with the rules committee. Here’s why:
    1 v 1 Commander is regulated by WOTC, not the rules committee. This is generally considered cEDH, and if there had to be any bans because of availability, this would be the arena. General Commander- the ban list should only be for cards that warp the format, or are racially insensitive. Also the ban list in normal Commander is a guideline. If your play group or LGS doesn’t want to allow the Walking Dead cards, then don’t allow them. This has always been the spirit of casual Commander. Now I know people don’t like that cards from a non-Magic IP are in Commander. Well, what about Arabian Nights or Three Kingdom sets? Many of those cards aren’t in a Magic plane. Now I know availability is an issue for some people. What about Jumpstart? They are impossible to find and many of the unique cards have a scarcity problem which causes their prices to be hyper inflated. What about old reserve list cards? They also have a supply issue for some of the rarer cards. Casual Commander is supposed to be a fun format where you can express yourself with the thousands of cards available. But to be upset about 5 cards that really aren’t overall strong doesn’t make sense. If you are against the Secret Lair money grab, don’t buy it. But don’t get mad that other people will purchase this and play these.

  42. Availability – why are the Mox’s banned in EDH? I’d rather play a Sol Ring than a Mox Jet anytime. The card is banned because of AVAILABILITY. The same reason why I want these cards banned. I can’t have access to them, I can’t even buy them if I have money and actually want to (why should a kid from South Africa or Latin America have to rage-quit playing EDH because of this inconsequential corporate selling decision?). Opportunities are not equal anymore! – and the EDH ecosystem will be totally out of balance!

  43. This was a huge let down, it feels like you just don’t care. There isn’t a product coming out for many weeks and then it’s Commander Legends. Maybe everyone will have forgotten this by then, but I won’t. Remember, Remember the 28th of September. You had a choice and chose the wrong one! Nov 20th is my choice now. My choice to stop spending on a game of a company and committee that isn’t looking out for me.

  44. As a long term player of this game I have to make my opinion on this topic public. Like 94% of the player base I agree these should be banned in commander until the normal versions of the cards are printed.

    In casual games I think we are going to have to constantly have rule 0 discussions about no walking dead characters in pods for the foreseeable future.

  45. Tricky decision you had to make there.
    I think on balance I’d’ve gone the other way. I think it would have been better to state “Individual groups are free to house rule them legal, but we are treating these cards as silver bordered for the purposes of Commander”. But I understand it’s a tough call. I hope the ongoing conversations with Wizards are productive and beneficial.

  46. And I quote:

    “Wizards hopes to lure some Walking Dead fans into Magic and any interest from Commander players is just a small bonus.” _ this means EDH players just need to accept this major change in our favorite format and accept we are just a… “bonus”? Really? Some of us don’t even have a CHOICE. Half of the world can’t even purchase this product!

    I’m sorry, maybe I’m lost in semantics here, but… That doesn’t feel right.

  47. This is a very well reasoned and well argued post, but please reconsider it.

    The arguments on the other side are stronger imo (not going to get into them now).

    Honestly would love you guys to take over Modern, Vintage, and Legacy as well.

  48. I’m in the camp of folks who dislike TWD cards because they break immersion in the fantasy world of the game. I also support the decision not to ban them; I honestly can’t see how that could have even been on the table as a viable option.

  49. I’ve read the entire post and all the comments I could find at the time of writing this.
    First and foremost, I am not outraged by the response of the Rules Committee. I bear no ill will. I am, however, very uncomfortable with Secret Lair becoming an outlet for Wizards to sell unique cards. Although I’m still skeptical of Secret Lairs (availability and all), I guess I’m fine with Wizards selling re-skins of already existing cards, at least if they’re offered at a fair price and aren’t the only place to get those cards at a somewhat reasonable price.
    Everybody’s read the comments about the Godzilla treatments (something I agree on), making the cards un-cards (why not? If any format can take this Secret Lair, I’d say that’s even sturdier when it comes to risky stuff like this than EDH).
    So! On to the actual article. I have some thoughts on it.

    “If, a year from now, someone stumbles across a copy of one of these cards, tries to use it and discovers that it is banned in Commander, they will ask why.”
    “Wizards hopes to lure some Walking Dead fans into Magic and any interest from Commander players is just a small bonus.”
    I’d love to see some statistics on this. How many of the people who buy these Secret Lairs aren’t already Magic players? And how would your average The Walking Dead fan stumble across these unique cards sold over the course of 24 hours as collectors’ pieces? And why would they pay what I expect to be 20+ dollars for one card on the secondary market? Which I still believe Wizards aren’t allowed to acknowledge. Magic is already infamous for being an expensive game to play (at least with paper, which is the best medium or terminal in my opinion). If nothing else, I’d be more comfortable with an un-set commander deck with a The Walking Dead theme than this. Who knows, I might’ve even bought it for shits and giggles.

    On the topic of Negan, yes, he’s a villain. There are many in the Magic lore. But Magic: the Gathering isn’t running on Netflix (yet). There aren’t clips online of Nicol Bolas ravaging the people of Amonkhet (with stunning works of make-up and props to make it believable). Neither do we see Yawgmoth melt away people’s flesh with his deadly fart cloud.

    I don’t hate the rules committee. They probably know more about what’s best for the game than I do. I’d love to hear more on the topic, because there are some unaddressed points. I think I brought up one or two.

    My final, and perhaps most important point, as these aren’t un-cards and this was my first thought when I heard of the Secret Lair: How in the world did these characters make it to the world of Magic: the Gathering? And what’s going to be next? I’m not going to cry about conspiracies or anything. But this seems like a possible first step into more crossovers with other IPs. I am against the existence of that in general because I believe it weakens the integrity of the game. And again, Magic’s lore. The Walking Dead is also finctional, but for the longest time I thought Magic: the Gathering would stay a separate entity. Sure I want a wizard school. That’s what Strixhaven is for; Hogwarts without strictly being Harry Potter. If they make a Harry Potter Secret Lair, I feel that almost defeats the purpose of the former, as that’s what most people probably think of when they hear about a school for witchcraft and wizardry. Strixhaven can have all manners of puns, fun-poking and references to Harry Potter; that’s all fine by me. But it isn’t a trademark of another IP. It’s Magic’s magic school. Not J. K. Rowling’s. I’d rather have gotten an exciting story about stitchers and grafters than this, but I don’t really know how to vote with my wallet for that in this situation.

    Someone made interesting points about Invoke Prejudice (banned for being controversial) and the Power Nine (banned for unavailability). I’d love to hear responses to these as well, as although they are specific cases, so is this. This is the specific case of cards not existing being printed as original, Eternal-legal Magic cards with non-Magic characters from other IPs (our world, even).

    If players truly quit the game because of this, I think that’s sad. I’m not sure how yet; I’m a little on the fence. It’s just one product, and it’s only a game, but I do care and I think Wizards made a huge leap of faith here, and there isn’t a card of hay below as far as I can see.

    If this is just an experiment and Wizards will take a long time to lean back and see the responses of the community before announcing the next Secret Lairs featuring characters of non-Magic IPs (perhaps moving away from such practice), this might be healthy for the game; if it is truly detrimental, I hope Wizards will see that and act accordingly in the future.

    I love this game. I think everyone’s feelings on the matter are valid. It’s a difficult situation when this kitchen table format becomes corporate and suddenly gets changed officially in ways we players can’t really predict or control – we can avoid buying or playing the cards, but some of us are understandably afraid this will have sorry consequences for the format and the game as a whole in the future.

    Thanks for tellng us anything at all. And until proven otherwise, I’m sure you gave it your all and made the decisions you thought were best. Maybe they really are what’s best for the game. I guess we’ll see how this develops eventually. An official response from Wizards would be funny. They’ve responded to less. But perhaps that would also be necessary.
    Have a good day! And sorry about the long read 😛

  50. I really don’t get why this is allowed. You have let down the entire commander community.

    Fellow commander players – Do not allow these cards at your tables. Ban it from your stores if you’re an owner.

  51. RC this was the wrong decision, you have failed as a rules committee.

    I am done playing magic, I am done playing commander, and I am done buying magic cards.

    With Pathfinder and all the other roleplaying variants I don’t even need D&D anymore and I hope WOTC goes out of business.

    If anyone out there feels like putting in the work to create a new format in the spirit of commander with the intention of actually protecting its player base from these predatory tactics I would probably be willing to start playing that format.

  52. What a disappointment, though I certainly can’t say I’m surprised. Concerns two and three, while valid, seem much less relevant than the first, so I won’t get into a big thing about how lame it will be in three years when someone taps Glen to crew the Enterprise and attack but their opponent flashes in the Turtle Blimp to block and your only option is to cast Hungry, Why Wait Eat a Snickers to turn the Turtle Blimp into a 1/1 until end of turn.

    But I can’t just see a statement like, “The primary goal of these cards is almost certainly new-player acquisition” and let it go. This is either the most naive thing I’ve seen in a while or you guys blatantly regurgitating Hasbro’s obvious lie. Let’s look at this realistically, if you were trying to attract new players you wouldn’t do it by releasing a six card limited edition bundle you can only buy online in a limited one week window. Someone who doesn’t play Magic is going to hear about these, then decide to spend $50 on them, get them six months later and start playing Magic? Really? They still don’t know how to play, they still don’t have a deck, the cards still aren’t legal in Standard, this isn’t how you get new players. Let’s call this what it is, these are cards that are essentially on the reserve list and they were made so Hasbro could sell them directly to established Commander players. The notion that someone would “stumble across these,” try to play them, then not understand why they are banned is no different than how they’d feel about any other banned card, Crusade for example. Except in reality nobody is ever stumbling across these.

    It’s a shame people aren’t just honest. Just say that Hasbro printed these cards to make money, and you guys would rather be on their good side than do what’s best for the game and what the overwhelming majority of players want. It’s really sad that’s what you guys are doing, you shouldn’t compound the problem by lying about it.

    That’s how I feel about it anyway, and I will certainly never sit down and play against someone running these. And when I have to turn away those friends I’ve yet to meet, I’ll at least be honest with them about the reason.

  53. The commander community was wrong to reach out to content creators and individuals in a toxic way, and although it shows how passionately commander is loved, it is never okay to attack people. However at the same time, many of us feel that the rules committee is the protector of the format, from threats within the community as well as threats from outside. WOTC is obviously testing a new business model where they will test how price elastic the market is, and by focusing design on cards specifically for the commander format, they will begin to change the format from the outside. I have nothing against WOTC they are a business, but I always loved that Commander was a format that stood apart from WOTC. The RC banning these secret lair cards based on this business model will most definitely pit the RC against WOTC, but by not banning these cards, WOTC will feel that they have to go ahead to keep doing what they are doing, even though much of the community has issues with this product.

  54. “A concern of many players is that these cards would not be widely available, and for some countries, only available through third-party sellers. They worry that this model will be repeated in the future. We’ve heard you loud and clear on this issue. Because the cards are mechanically unique, this is the major problem most folks have. We wish that all of our friends around the globe had access to these cards. However, the RC of its own accord can’t solve that problem. What we can do—what we already have done—is add our voice to yours. Since this issue broke, we’ve been in contact with well-placed people at Wizards of the Coast to make sure that they understand your displeasure and where it comes from, as well as urging that they work towards a solution. ”

    Actually you can but you wont. Add banning of mechanically unique low availability cards to your EDH philosophy. Make it clear to Wizards that the EDH format isn’t an outlet for playing these cards and they lose a large part of the saleability of these and they will stop printing them, You conclude with them though and want to enable this and sadly therefore I trust not your weasel words.

  55. I agree with most of this, but I can’t get behind Negan being allowed in. The character is a rapist. Is Yawgmoth canonically a rapist? Did Nicol Bolas rape anybody? No? Because they are cartoon bad guys in a kids card game not a raping murderer from a very adult TV show. You should change your mind on Negan, the rest of this makes sense.

    “Negan sees nothing wrong with the fact that he coerced Sherry into becoming his “wife” and sleeping with him after he had just chased her down, threatened to kill her husband Dwight, and still assaulted him with a hot iron. Sherry, rightly fearing for her life, acquiesces to Negan — a textbook definition of sexual coercion or, to put it more starkly, rape.”

    You can play a card with that guy’s face on it. You can stir that shit up in a player across the table from you. If you trigger somebody with this and then use “well it’s not banned” as a defense, you think that person is ever going to play magic at that store again? With you again? Is it worth even one person’s happiness to allow that card in?

    Think about it folks.

  56. First and foremost I want to express my appreciation to the rules committee for managing the format that I exclusively play and love. However, I believe that this decision was not in the best interests of us, the players. I could go into the details of what I disagree with this response but I don’t think I will be saying anything that hasn’t already been said. I only wish to add my name to the list of dissatisfied commander players. These cards should be banned for the health of the format.

  57. I get the not wanting other IPs infringing on magic, but the exclusivity thing is meaningless unless we ban every one of the lands they won’t reprint, they go for hundreds if not thousands of dollars

  58. I think I’ve formed a bit of an unpopular opinion.

    Magic: the Gathering has always been a cash grab. Wizards of the Coast‘s prerogative, like any for-profit company, is to make money. The people that work for the company have families. They live in an expensive world where you have to work hard to secure the probability of a decent future. Magic: the Gathering has to generate revenue, or the people who work there will have to quit to find other jobs, and it will go out of business. It always has, and always will, be trying to find a way to make money.

    Have you ever opened a MTG booster pack? Look inside, you’ll see several generally weak “common” cards, a few better “uncommon” cards, and then (generally speaking) one or two game-winning “rare” or “mythic” cards. Why are there less of the best cards? Why are there tons of the worst cards? If you want to have the best deck, you have to buy more packs. They limit the availability to get more money from their players. Sounds like a “predatory sales tactic” to me.

    The whole darn thing is full of sales tactics that they use to help them generate revenue. That’s business. The people at WOTC work hard to make an interesting game that we really enjoy, and they’ve earned every bit of revenue they collect, in my opinion.

    They made some limited-availability cards that you buy directly from them within a small window of opportunity. Good for them! Good for us! At least this way, we’re not gambling. We know exactly which cards we’re getting. They’ve cut out the middle man.

    As for the subject matter: Ilike The Walking Dead. I watched most of the show. The cards are cool in my opinion. Interesting. A bit weak mechanically-speaking in my opinion, but that’s okay. I wanted the cards because they are a crossover of two of my interests. I want to use the cards in decks I play, because I like the cards. I was the target demographic. I took the bait, and I bought them. Just like some of us take the bait whenever we buy a booster pack. Just like when we take the bait to invest our money in anything . Someone else had an idea, made a product, gave us a price, and we bought it.

    The cards don’t “break the game” in any way. Nothing is wrong about printing cards that are based on another organization’s intellectual property (with permission from that organization). Limited availability has been the scheme the entire time.
    The outcry has been way out-of-proportion.

    Good call, RC

  59. I understand you had a hard decision to make; however, I believe you made the wrong one. I no longer believe you have the best interest of the players in mind. this entire article feels like it is attempting to deflect from the greater issues this secret lair presented.

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