Recently I wrote about my sealed deck in our little guild sealed deck event. I told you about my color and deck choice being influenced by the card [scryfall]Rise of the Dark Realms[/scryfall]. A fun card, which outright won me a few games. However, I’d like to emphasize that the decision to use this card was purely for my own entertainment. Its was actually not a good choice for the deck. Maybe if I had had a few more spot removal spells, it might have been very good, but as it stands, most of the time I drew it, it was a dead card.
In economics, this is called an opportunity cost.
The loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen
Here, the opportunity cost was huge. Not only did I often clutter my hand with a card I couldn’t use instead of using something better, I went heavily into black without much thought put into it, so I might have missed a great deck from the other colors (I doubt this, but you never know).
Each card in our decks has this opportunity cost. For each card in our decks, we’ve paid the opportunity cost by putting aside a bunch of cards. If we go over the limit (be it 40, 60 or 99), we pay the opportunity cost by lessening the probability of drawing something useful. I could have put one more land into my deck instead of the Rise, so I might have dodged some of the manascrews I had. I could have put the Dragon Hatchling into the to have an early flier. I could have put more enchantments or equipment into the deck to support my creatures. All this was lost, because I wanted to play a certain card for the giggles.
I won, but anyway… We need to be able to identify these things even when winning. There are always ways to be better. (But do go for the fun, too.)
Obviously, Magic isn’t the only game where this matters. Whenever you advance or level or whatever in RPGs, you make the decision to lose certain opportunities, at least for the time being. Besides not having a certain benefit, sometimes there might be situations where you are actually losing whole avenues of development. “If you don’t raise your Smarts now, you won’t be able to get Level-Headed until much later.”
There are opportunity costs at other levels in RPGs too. If you never take risks and always try to stay out of trouble, you’ll miss certain experiences (both as a player and a character). On the other hand, if you always take risks, you might lose the opportunity to play the character in the future.
Yeah, its all just economics…