I would think the most fun thing you could do is worth ~$1000 an hour, a once in a lifetime
experience- like skydiving or, for less adrenaline fuelled folks, a many course meal with
expensive ingredients and drinks. Compare that to playing a long awaited video game (for me,
Fallout 4) where we’ll spend around $70 for about 70 hours of 8/10 fun (any more than that and
there’s a noticeable drop off in value, since you’ve just spent almost 3 days playing a video
game). Now say you can play a magic draft, Shadows Over Innistrad, one of my favourite sets
to draft in years, for $10. If you’re winning, you might rank your fun at an 8 for 5 hours, which is a manageable investment of time, but still $2 an hour.
One of the best things about Magic: the Gathering is in the name, it’s a gathering- people come
together to play with the cards, which gives each card a value in accordance with its playability
and power level. You’re a savvy FNM drafter, and you want to get the most value out of your
draft, so you’ll take that sweet $10 rare even if it doesn’t fit your deck, because your entry cost
$10, if you can sell that card for even half its face value, you just got half of the fun you paid for
for free, which brings your Money-In-Fun-Out balance to $1/1hour. For that, the only skill you
need is the ability to remember some prices, or just ask the table what a card is worth, you don’t
even need to win! Although- if winning is in the realm of possibility for you, say you go home
with that $10 card you opened and a Kaladesh booster? You just paid $10 for 5
hours of fun, a $10 card, and a $5 booster pack. You can even play mini-masters with a friend for that sweet 10 minutes of extra fun, or save your packs until you can draft with your friends!
The fact that Magic has a secondary market and prize support means you can easily get the fun
of playing the game and the value of trade able/ sell able cards to offset your input costs. I’m
going to explore the secondary market’s impact on the fun of the game in later articles, but I do
have to say- without the secondary market, Magic would not exist in the same format it does
today, and I think the game would be significantly less fun than its current form.
Magic has versatility in how you play, how you enjoy the game, and how you spend your
money- which leads to a complex answer to the question “Is Magic: the Gathering the most fun
game?” I invite you to follow me on this journey, where we’ll attempt to figure out how Johnny,
Spike, Timmy, Vorthos; Draft, EDH, Standard, and everything in between; Magic Online, Magic
Duels, and Paper Magic; even Kitchen Table, Friday Night Magic, Grand Prix, and Pro Tour levels of play all shake out in our “Economics of Fun” model.