When You Finally Decide to Tell the World that You No Longer Have Ideas – The Sans Mercy Secret Lair

Or “When You Go Meta in the Worst Possible Way” or “Please Tell Me I’m Funny” or “Cynthia Already Left, But We Have This Things Ready, So Let’s Just Put it Out There”.

Who’s Cynthia, you might ask. That would be Cynthia Williams, the posterchild of corporate evil, who had previously worked in high-level leadership positions at Altria (you know, the tobacco-company that fought for decades in courts before having to admit that tobacco might be unhealthy), Fulfillment by Amazon (you know, the environment that is so bad for their employees that there have been deaths at work and peeing in bottles is common) and Gaming Ecosystem Commercial Team (you konw, the people behind the most manipulative micropayments). She recently announced that she would be leaving as the CEO of WotC after less than two years on the job. Yes, that’s the person they brought in. Someone who is very experienced in mangaing everything toxic, both literally and figuratively. Since Chris Cocks, the previous CEO of WotC and current CEO of it’s owner, Hasbro, also came from Microsoft, I would imagine he handpicked her for the job. And obviously not for her gaming, because she read the Wikipedia article on MtG during her first investor call.

The thing is, the design cycle at WotC is so long that she possibly didn’t even stay long enough for them to go through one full set design. Yet, during her era, she oversaw things like the miserable M30. Did her presence affect other things? Probably.

While this isn’t talked about much in media, because media often wants to maintain a good relationship with rich people, but according to various studies, the leadership of a company has very little to do with how well a company does. There is one exception: if there are incentives for the leadership, they are willing to do anything to the company to meet the goals needed, which leads them to making bad, short-sighted decisions, which will bring the company down. I mean, there are actually CEOs, who go on hiring sprees just so that they have the necessary people to let go when they need to bring up the price of the stock next time. That is not healthy.

In WotC’s case, because they are pretty much the only profitable thing in the Hasbro empire, they have just been using their reprint equity as fast as possible. One of the ways they’ve been doing this is through the Secret Lair line of products. Personally, I hate those. The product is absoluty horrible in many ways. Clearly, since they limited the amount they are selling, the product isn’t doing that well either.

The latest (as far as I know) is called Sans Mercy. It’s five red and/or black cards that revolve around the theme of brutality. For a Secret Lair, the art is actually pretty generic, which I don’t mind. And the text is in Comic Sans including the “funny” flavor text. In one case, there is a reminder text of “lol”.

You can find them funny. You would be wrong, but you are entitled to that. My problem with them is actually this:

They, Wizards of the Coast, are encouraging people to be assholes at the table. Playing Ruination should be a move in the game. It should not be about making the people you are playing with feel bad about the game. Yet, this is exactly WotC is now telling the players to do.

How could they possible get here? Why would they do this? Why would they want people to be bullies at the table? Are they trying to kill Commander?

Here’s my guess: The corporate culture is in such a bad shape that it shows through in products like this. The environment is so toxic that they don’t realize when they are spreading that toxicity.

Or does someone really think people want basically the current version of Twitter in their games? This whole product is just off the mark in so many ways. Who is this for? Who still plays Doom Blade or Massacre? I understand the latter from card name point of view, but if they actually want to sell the product, why not use one of the many other two mana black kill spells like one of these two?

They could actually see play in some format.

Anyway, just boycott them, if you aren’t doing that already. Use the money to buy board games. They cost less and last longer.

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