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By The Numbers

I had an incident with a player this weekend at my store.  It involved the distribution of prize support.  So I figured I would write up the scenario with all the proper numbers worked into it this week so that the great readers of Pojo.com have a better idea of what their favorite local game store goes through when trying to figure out how to distribute prizes for an event.
 
We were hosting a Team Trios Sealed event this past weekend, which fellow writer Jonathan Pechon wrote a little about yesterday.  Entry fee for each team was only $40.
 
If we assume that we had received full entry fee from every team, which we didn't, it would have been: $40 * 7 = $280.
 
At retail, the cost of the event using 14 Starters ($11.50 each), 28 boosters ($3.69 each), and then another 24 for prizes = $352.88
 
So obviously at retail, we are taking a loss, even if everyone would have paid into the event at full price.  If we assumed the retail prices at 20% off, which is a fair discount, we only come to $282.30.  So even with a 20% discount I don't quite make our mark. 
 
Another thing to keep in mind here is that I personally threw in another 12 boosters just to settle the situation.  So that's more of a loss on the end of the day.
 
Let's assume that a store's cost is roughly $6.32 for tournament packs and roughly $2 for boosters.  That should be about $192.48 AT COST for the event.  
 
$280 - $192.48 = $87.52 
The player in question was trying to claim that there should have been at least $100 in profit.  The way he was talking, he wanted me to run the draft using the 24 packs AND have at least a box worth of prizes.  Considering a decent box price is $90 these days, I would have made **$0** profit on the event doing things this way. I actually would take a short loss.  OK, technically, there would still have been say, $12-15, profit on the box, so there would be a small profit, but it still wouldn't have been any better than just selling the packs to an outside customer.
 
Now from a reality perspective, we had 4 teams buy-in at $30 and 1 team buy in at the full $40.  The others traded in cards and such to get into the event.  That's only $160 to work with.  We allowed teams to provide their own boosters for the event to get $10 off the entry fee or provide their own tournament packs and get $20 off the entry fee.  They could also provide all their own product.
 
It does cut back SOME of the product we had to front by 20 boosters and 2 Starters, the way it worked out.  Even at our assumed cost, that only takes off $63 from the budget to run the event.
 
So if our total wholesale cost was $192.48 to run the event, minus the $63, we get $129.48.  This would leave us making about $30 profit for running the tournament and dealing with the headaches and effectively giving up space in our schedule from another game to make sure this event happened.
 
Now add to the fact that I tossed in another 12 packs to appease them, and we now have a cost of $153.48 to run the event.  So take that away from the $160 cash we brought in and our immediate profit at the end of the day is $6.52 from the team event.  Sure, I'm might make another $40-50 over the course of the next seven to ten days from singles I brought in from it, but even then, that's nowhere near the number, dollar wise, that he was believing I should have made.  And honestly, that other $40-50 comes with its own set of costs and stipulations completely separate from the tournament.
 
I was purposely running the event cheaper than normal so that people who wanted to play, could still play, without being out a lot of cash.  So in some of your stores, that's something to remember.  If you are paying a low entry fee, then you should expect a lower prize pool.  If you want more prizes, pay more on the entry fee.
 
Don't get me wrong.  I enjoy running tournaments.  I am also not upset with the player in question.  I am just using this to state a point.  Many players like to believe they know how business works and how much a store owner should be making.  Even in practice this seems silly.  This basically stating that the end user (consumer) should be dictating what the retailer/manufacturer should be making.  If you work at a steel mill, should a construction worker be able to go to your factory and tell your boss that you should only be making $8/hour?  No, it's not really fair.  Don't do it to your local game store either.
 
Most retail game stores are working off of small margins as it is.  Every little bit they part with is money directly out of their pocket.  When they lose money, they get to see their hard work slip away.
 
Another thing to note is that there are other costs that go with running an event.  For instance, you can't assume that a store will make full profit off of the cards a couple of teams traded in.  Some of those cards will go out in trades for other cards.  Some will sit for three months eating up inventory space.  And of course, a few will sell after just a day or so.
 
Also, stores have what we call in business, "overhead."  This is the term used to describe the daily cost of operations on a business.  Things like utilities, rent, and payroll all fall into this category.  During the course of a tournament, some employee is being paid to watch/host/run the events, tables and chairs are being damaged (which will need to be replaced) and utilities are being used.  Some part of your tournament fees have to go toward paying for these things.  And believe it or not, there is even some cleanup time that needs to be done when the tournament is over.
 
The flip side to this is that some players want to make an argument that the tournament brings in business and does advertising for the store.  Truth be told though, the average tournament MAY bring in one new person.  This event in question had NO new players.  Also, when you are playing in a tournament, someone has decided to give up space for a different game, to allow you your time and space to play.  Think about it like this: What good would it be to a store to hold an event for the one new person to play in and make zero profit, when that same space could be used for a different event generating even just a $40 profit?  It seems really silly to go out of your way for one person (who's probably new and won't do well anyway) and give up making decent money on multiple players, doesn't it?  Once you add up the time and effort it's really not worth it.  You can't expect for your local store to make no profit on their event.
 
Basically, what I'm saying here is simple; cut your local game store some slack.  You can't worry yourself about how much product cost THEM.  They are just trying to make a buck just like you do when you go to work.  Imagine if your boss walked up to you and asked you to take a 20% reduction in pay for doing the same job you work hard at every day.  You wouldn't be too happy about it would you?  Imagine how your local game store owner feels when you ask him to do the same thing.  That's really what's happening when you do such a thing.
 
Every store is different.  Local economics are different.  Rent prices are different.  Utility rates are different.  Shipping prices over various distances are different.  Each store has their own set of costs that they need to cover.
 
Well, that's your education in small scale economics for the day.
 
On to more fun stuff...like...BAD PLAY OF THE WEEK.  Let me say that reader response was huge.  I don't think I got any GOOD plays of the week this week.  However, I got a TON of bad plays of the week.  Everyone was making up for me not getting any last week.  So needless to say, I am going to go over a couple of them this week.
 
This first one comes to us from Matthew Barrett:
 
I was playing in a sealed deck tournament in Dublin when my cunning opponent outsmarted himself in a wonderful self checkmate.
Heres the situation:
I have 5 lands out - 2 seats of the synod, 2 vaults of whispers and a swamp.  My life total is at 7 and I have two disciples of the vault and two skeleton shards on the field

He has got 5 lands out also-3 seats of the synod and 2 islands. His life total is at 17 and he has arcbound ravager, dross scorpion and a whispersilk cloak on the field

Its his turn, and he untaps his permanents and plays another island, then plays Soul Foundry, imprinting it with the Ornithopter in his hand. He grins as he tells me how he has set up his "unstoppable" infinite damage combo.  I say nothing as he equips his ravager with the Cloak, then taps the Soul Foundry to make an Ornitopter token which he sacrifices to the ravager to give it a token. That untaps his foundry through the scorpion and so on. He declared "repeat one billion times"

It was then that I pointed out that I had a pair of disciples of the vault on the field, and that he had just lost 2 billion life. He was annoyed, especially when I pointed out that had he only sacrificed Ornithopter 6 times, he would have had enough firepower to win with the unblockable Ravager whilst still staying alive on 5 life.

I got a good laugh out of this one, because I'd seen something similar happen to a local player years ago. 

As a bonus feature, our next bad play of the week comes from a reader simply known as turrtle1337:

I pulled off the combo early, and on turn 5 I had almost complete control of the board. Oxidize working wonders on his Great Furnaces, and Arcbound Crusher building up steam, I had him cornered with just two Mountains, two Skirk Prospectors, and a Piledriver. I, on the other hand, had a veritable army out, being able to play anything I drew thanks to the infinite mana combo which involves Mycosynth Lattice. Having his gobbos defeated, he showed me his hand of Siege-Gang, Warchief, and... Furnace Dragon?! Then he says, "Yeah. I would've played it too, if it wasn't for those darn Oxidizes..." Remembering that everything was an artifact as per Mycosynth Lattice, he kicked himself when he realized he could've done a complete reset of the board.
 
I thought this one was cute as a whole.
 
And my other weekly is the card of the week.  I really didn't have much that stood out to me this week.  I chose a card at random and I'm going with Aether Vile.  This is strange though, because I don't really know of any amazing uses with this card.  There are a lot of small things and a lot of neat little tricks.  However, I think people need to start experimenting with this card as it might be one of the keys to the format. 
 
I've taken up about enough time of your week already.  I want to ask you all to keep sending in good and bad play of the week.  I have plenty of prizes to send out! 
 
Also, as a request be sure to proofread your e-mail to make sure the facts add up and make sense.  Make sure you use capitalization and punctuation as well.  I had to take two e-mails out of the running this week, because of each of these things.  I had no way to know exactly how the events fell based on how they were written.
 
 
Until next time,
 
DeQuan Watson
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