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Scalpers and buggy websites plague Magic: The Gathering’s 30th anniversary advent calendar

The latest in an wholly disappointing celebration for fans and players.

Promotional image for Magic: The Gathering's 30th Anniversary Collectors Kit
Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Magic: The Gathering caused another upsetting but avoidable disaster as part of the trading card game’s 30th anniversary celebration. A special Secret Lair advent calendar sold out within an hour going live at 9 a.m. Pacific on November 1st, due in large part to scalpers and rampant technical issues with the purchasing website.

The 30th Anniversary Countdown Kit, which sold for $149.99, contained 30 individually wrapped cards, each from one year of MTG’s lifetime and sporting new alternate art from the roster of artists publisher Wizards of the Coast often employs for Secret Lair drops.

Unlike other Secret Lairs, which are printed to match the demand during the pre-order window, the advent calendar was only available in limited supply. Head Designer Mark Rosewater explained on his personal Blogatog page that the publisher would otherwise not be able to ensure delivery by December 1st. That makes logistical sense but raises the question as to why the company didn’t provide a wider purchasing window for fans and players.

Suddenly tempted to try out another trading card game? Wheels runs through some of the most popular and fun alternatives to Magic: The Gathering.Watch on YouTube

Players were perplexed to discover their ability to order advent calendar 30 at a time, which many guessed was another cute nod towards the trading card game’s birthday. Unfortunately, it opened the limited quality premium product, which had a built-in chance of contained foil versions of any included card, to scalpers hoarding vast quantities to sell for double the purchase price on secondary markets.

For many attempting to secure their own Countdown Kit, Wizards of the Coast’s website proved the more immediate hurdle. As reported by Wargamer, players faced numerous loading issues, perplexing errors when entering payment and shipping information and bugs that shunted many out of line and to the back of massive queues.

Minutes after launch pre-orders, the Secret Lair Twitter account posted, saying “We're aware of checkout issues customers are having with the latest sale and are looking to resolve them as soon possible [sic].”

Individuals also reported accidentally buying multiple copies of the advent calendar due to the buggy website. Confirmation emails were slow in coming, keeping many in the dark if they had indeed just purchased multiple copies, as one person explained on Reddit. The Secret Lair Twitter account posted again two hours into the sale: “We're continuing to work through issues surrounding the checkout process for the Secret Lair Countdown Kit. Please note that confirmation emails for purchases may be delayed.”

As it stands, the 30th Anniversary Collectors Kit has landed with about as much vitriol and confusion as the previously announced $999 anniversary booster packs full of non-legal cards. The official response has been just as silent - the Secret Lair Twitter quickly moved on to hyping Post Malone’s promotional product and Wizards of the Coasts said not a peep on MTG’s official site.

The company isn’t in the habit of re-issuing Secret Lairs, so if you weren’t scrambling during that first hour - and paying $300 to a scalper on eBay isn’t your cup of tea - this is yet another celebration of Magic: The Gathering that most of its players won’t be able to attend.

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Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter


Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.