Interesting story about Alpha rares

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Interesting story about Alpha rares

Post by berkumps » Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:44 am

I found this story in an ebay auction, and was wondering about it's validity, and what this might mean for the print run of Alpha rares:

"Almost 15 years ago I was visiting a Pacific Northwest art gallery that specialized in fantasy/sci-fi works. Because of the then recent explosion of Magic:The Gathering, many of the items that were for sale were small original pieces that had been done for cards. Originally WotC only wanted reproduction rights and returned the art to the artists. I saw the original Black Lotus (almost bought it), The Library of Alexandria, Dual Lands, and many, many others. In the end I purchased the Royal Assassin. I also struck up a friendship with the gallery owner, Marcus.

One day Marcus informed me that an artist had a number of original Beta decks for private sale and wondered if I was interested. As I had just missed Beta by what seemed like weeks I was of course very interested. Marcus arranged for me to come in that weekend and meet with the artist in order to complete the deal.

When I arrived I found out the artist was none other than Jesper Myfors, a giant of a man and more than an artist, one of the designers of the early expansions. It turned out he had 13 Beta decks for sale, 10 of which were still sealed in a display brick, the other 3 sealed but loose. He also informed me of something unique about these particular decks. They contained ALPHA rares, rather than Beta.

His story went like this. In the first print runs Carte Mundi, the printer, had ran too many sheets of rare cards and had already cut them as Alphas. When WotC changed the cut to Beta and what we now have, rather than print more rare sheets they decided to save some money and just put the spare Alpha rares in the first batch of decks. That meant that these were the very first run of Beta decks every made.

While it seemed like an interesting enough story, there was no way for Jesper to prove this. That is without me opening a deck. And of course that is exactly what I did. First I asked that he sign all the decks' exterior cellophane to later confirm this incredible story. He whipped out a golden sharpie, tore into the sealed brick of 10 decks and proceeded to inscribe his glyph and the 2 digit year of '94' on the front of each of the 13 total decks. Then I opened one single deck. Just as Jesper had claimed the rares inside were indeed Alphas, the cut was apparent even before I took the cards out of the box.

Now over the years I have slowly whittled away at my original collection of the 12 remaining decks. Half are gone, posted on Ebay over the last few years. From time to time I need some cash for the special birthday present or the little vacation for the family. Once again I am ready to sell one of these. It may be the last one I release, maybe not. I held on to these for almost 15 years and would like to keep what I have left for at least that long again."

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Post by equi-nox76 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:53 am

I would only believe this when Jesper Myrfors confirms this story.
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Post by pp » Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:04 am

But this rumor is not unknown, i've heard before that there were Betastarters with Alpharares!

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Post by l0qii » Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:22 pm

The bit about a gallery selling original art of p9 and other great cards is true. This did happen. So this story is at least based in fact.

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Post by berkumps » Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:33 pm

Assuming this is true, the original print run for Alpha had 1100 rares, but did this include the rares that supposedly were shoved into Beta starters?

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Post by Rainsford » Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:46 pm

I have been playing since late Alpha/early Beta. I have watched 3+ people open Beta starters and get Alpha rares. The most memorable was at a Pro Tour down in LA at the (Queen Mary??). There was an 8-person sealed tournament using Beta Starters. I, personally, watched one person open a starter and get Alpha rares.

And I watched one person open a Beta starter and get a land in the rare slot and a Lace as the other rare. LOL.

As for why this happened, I was told (way back when) that the ratio of rares to uncommon/commons was slightly off because WotC was using commons in rare slots in some Starters. So the rares they replaced stacked up adn what are you gonna do with a bunch of rares? Stick them in the next wave of starters you make. *shrug* Not sure the quantity - nor sure how it might affect the quantity of Beta rares. I figure it might tweek the Beta rare qunatity by ... + or - 5. :-)

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Post by thulnanth » Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:18 pm

While I can't confirm the whole Jesper Myfors part of the story, being a player from back in 1993 I can confirm the Alpha rares in Beta starters part - saw it happen to several of my friends. As for its effect on the overall print numbers, no idea.

Hope this helps :wink:

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Post by hammr7 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 8:14 pm

The distribution facts of the story are entirely true Can't say about the autographs, although I have had JM-autographed cards with that "94" addition.

When printers fill an order, the specification always is +/- some amount. So if Wizards ordered 1100 sheets of rares, it was probably +/- 5%. This is because printers anticipate some scrap, but can't know exactly how much on any given run. If they guessed 10% scrap, they might start the order at 1200 sheets. If it ran really clean they might end up with 1150. If they had color-matching problems it might end up 1050. The +/- allowance is much cheaper than having to always run excess product, or having to add another setup for 50 or 100 sheets.

Printers are much better on anticipating scrap for large runs than for small. The uncommon run was 3 times the rare run, and the common run was approximately 11 times as large, so they were better able to control final output. Probably from being conservative, and running a bit extra for the rares, Carta Mundi ended up with some extra Alpha rares relative to the commons and uncommons. Always looking to save a buck, they were allowed to use them up with Beta packs.

The non-rares in rare slots came about because Carta Mundi filled the extra slots in their rare sheet with basic lands. They did the same in the uncommon and common sheets. Each non-land card was single-printed, and their sheets held 121 cards (11 x 11). Since there were 116 rares in Alpha, 5 of the 121 slots had lands (this went down to 4 in Beta). The proportions of lands instead of uncommons and commons was much higher, since there were only 95 uncommons and 74 (beta 75) commons.

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Post by PolarBearGod » Sun Mar 30, 2008 12:01 am

I'm not sure how true this story is, but I can say without doubt, that many years ago around the time Ice Age came out, a shop close to me had three sealed beta starters and they sat in the case forever, because nobody had the money to buy them. One day, a man came in and asked how much and agreed to buy one and even cracked it in front of us and sure enough HIS starter deck was filled with Alpha cut cards. We all thought it weird but were more into the excitement of a guy buying a sealed beta starter and opening it. Sadly he cracked no power but did get a dual land and a LACE lol.

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Post by Gryfalia » Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:59 pm

And, just to add my part, I sat at a tourney in Costa Mesa (I was out visiting Magic friends) watching one of the dealers pop open Beta starter after Beta starter, all with Alpha rares...

Dan G and Scott L was there at the time, IIRC. I did pretty good in the event too. Rah!
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