Ah, here we are again. It’s Pro Tour weekend. All eyes are on Oath of the Gatewatch and the Modern format. Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom are gone. Will we all bow down to our new Eldrazi lords? Wait, what’s that, over there in the shady corner of the internet known as Reddit? Is it… no… it can’t be… didn’t we just go through this? Ugh…

Spoilers… Again

That’s right folks, it’s once again time for premature spoiler season! If you’re here then odds are you’ve already seen the news, but if you haven’t feel free to take a few moments and check out this report by Alex Ullman at Gathering Magic or this report by Joseph Dunlap at Mana Leak. All you really need to know is that once again unconfirmed spoilers have hit the internet and in a big way.

At this point I don’t really even care what was in the spoiled pack. Some new mechanics, some old mechanics, and some flavor text are all very intriguing. However, without any official confirmation from Wizards, which won’t be coming for another month or two, all we can do is play a guessing game. Why did they change the template for this mechanic? What’s up with that character in the flavor text? And so on and so forth Ad Nauseam.

Why did this happen again?

The individual who provided this leak made 20 euros for their trouble thanks to selling the cards on a Dutch auction that has been compared to eBay. So, congrats to you for being, as far as I know, the first person to leak unofficial spoilers and make some money in the process. Most of the time these things get thrown up on Imgur, Reddit, or Facebook and the rest is history. This time though someone decided to make a profit.

Not much of a profit though, if you think about it. From the images it looks like they acquired a sealed pack (more on that in a moment) and opened it before listing the contents for sale. If they were smart they would have listed it as a sealed pack. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was willing to pay a lot more than 20 euros for a sealed pack of a set that wasn’t going to come out for three months. I wonder how much Wizards would have paid to bring that pack back to Renton? We’ll never know.

Why did this happen again?

The buyer of the cards claims that the seller informed them the cards came “from a friend in Spain who work for Wizards of the Coast in the factory.” That’s pretty ambiguous but I can confirm that Cartamundi, the company that prints Magic cards, has a facility near Barcelona, Spain. That doesn’t confirm anything really. Anyone can go to Cartamundi’s website and see where they have locations around the globe. From an old Wizards article (now archived which can’t be accessed) I think the implication was that the actual factory where cards are printed is in Texas. Cartamundi’s US headquarters is in Dallas.

It’s entirely possible that Shadows Over Innistrad was printed in Spain or that the packaging was made in Spain or that the cards are in Spain on their way to the warehouse for distribution but the important question here is “why?”

Why did this happen again?

Even if it’s fake, and someone was just out to turn a quick profit, 20 euros seems like very little. If it took a few hours to mock up those images, and it’s a lot of work to fake a full pack of spoilers, then 20 euros seems like a pretty poor profit-margin. There’s little reason to think these are fake so once again Wizards finds themselves in the position of having to track down yet another leak in the supply chain from the R&D pit in Renton to your local game store’s shelves.

Is Wizards to blame? Is Cartamundi to blame? Are distributors to blame? Are fans to blame? Is everyone to blame?

It doesn’t even matter who is to blame if nothing is ever done about it. Because of the intense secrecy behind which Wizards conducts their investigations and the lack of transparency Wizards provides into this sort of thing we won’t know if the leaks situation has improved until the next leak happens or doesn’t happen. Obviously Wizards has a vested interested in preventing leaks, but the community is clearly torn on the issue.

Why did this happen again?

Many community members love leaks. They want every card ahead of time. If they could sit over Mark Rosewater’s shoulder while he designs new cards they would do so with Periscope running so the whole world could see how the sausages are made. As the saying goes, some people want to watch the world burn. On the other hand, many community members hate leaks. It ruins spoiler season and it kills hype for the new set. For many Magic players the most exciting moments involve opening packs of a new set for the first time and discovering a whole new game. How many times do you go to a prerelease and hear that some people haven’t looked at any spoilers, even the official ones?

So maybe the best scenario is somewhere in the middle? Are some leaks good? Maybe there are just too many leaks? Should we all be beholden to how Wizards wants to spoil their sets? Unfortunately the debate becomes so polarizing these days that it’s difficult to have a discussion about anything other than extreme scenarios. Meanwhile Wizards will continue to put out fire after fire perhaps never figuring out how to prevent some people from playing with matches and gasoline in the first place.

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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