Magic: The Gathering’s 30th anniversary countdown kit, a Secret Lair advent calendar stuffed with interesting card art, was released on Monday at 9am PT, and sold out within the hour. The launch was plagued by issues – from a scalper feeding frenzy, to technical glitches that left some fans unsure if they’d secured the product at all, while others accidentally purchased multiple copies.
To begin with, many MTG players were displeased that such a hotly anticipated product would be available in limited supply. Typically, MTG Secret Lairs are printed to demand, but as Wizard of the Coast’s Mark Rosewater explained on his Tumblr blog yesterday, for this product: “There was no way to both print to demand and have it arrive before December.”
As many on social media have reported, users could buy up to 30 copies of the MTG advent calendar in one go, and so of course scalpers had a field day, purchasing as many as they could get their hands on to resell at a huge markup.
More dramatically, the process of actually purchasing this Secret Lair also seems to have been a nightmare. MTG content creator (and ex-pro) Brian Kibler tweeted that the “site has frozen multiple times, told me it couldn’t ship to my country, told me my user information is invalid, and dropped my order”
He soon added: “I then got a bad gateway error, and the page reloaded to a different page with no information about my order that just says ‘you are now in line’.”
Judging by the enormous number of complaints popping off all over social media, this looks to have been the average experience surrounding the checkout process.
To make matters worse, as the Secret Lair Twitter account soon reported: “confirmation emails for purchases may be delayed”. One MTG content creator MagicMikeDeVo tweeted that it took 17 hours before he received confirmation that his purchase had gone through.
This issue, combined with the fact that the site was having so many difficulties, meant many fans made multiple attempts to grab a countdown kit, not realising that they’d already purchased one.
These MTG fans ended up walking away with a lighter wallet, and numerous copies of the countdown kit as a result. Kibler says he ended up with two by accident, but he got off easy compared to some. For instance, Reddit user r/FancysaurusRex states that “I tried to buy three and apparently am confirmed for 18? I don’t want to buy 18 of these things. I sent them a message and we’ll see what happens.”
Wizard of the Coast’s Secret Lair Twitter account has acknowledged the problem “We’re aware of checkout issues customers are having with the latest sale and are looking to resolve them as soon possible. Thank you for your patience!” it tweeted out yesterday.
It then asked fans to raise a support ticket on the Secret Lair website “If you believe your order has an incorrect quantity of the Countdown Kit”.
On the bright side, if there’s lots of unwanted copies of the countdown kit flying about, perhaps it’ll come back to bite the scalpers…