Magic the Gathering and the Sunk Cost Fallacy

Recently, I got to enjoy a couple weeks as a pseudo-bachelor while my wife and kids were in Japan visiting relatives (I caught up with them later, but that’s another story), and decided to spend a bunch of time at my local game shop.  With the release of the M20 set for Magic the Gathering, I participated in a bunch of drafts that time, and lost most of my games.

Drafting with MtG has never been my strongest suit (I tend to play Pauper or other Constructed formats more often), but I can often get a 2-1 night when I draft.  However, each time I played I got at most 1-2, which at a draft price of $15 means I am in the red each time.

I felt like adding some more draft opportunities to try and re-coup my losses, but then I read about the economic concept of sunk-cost fallacy.  This means that after you’ve put money into something, even if it’s a loss, you’re inclination is to put more money into it.  For me, this meant that playing more draft would (in theory) help me win more games and start getting in the black (since you win more packs).

But, what if I still lost draft games?  Then I’d be even further in the red, and have more cards that I’d have to store somewhere and would like never use again?  The potential for waste kind of outweighed the potential wins I might get.  And honestly, I have too many cards from M20 at this point, and don’t really want to add to the collection at this point.

So, after having a small light-bulb moment, I realized that rather than trying harder to win at drafting, I needed a long break.

Drafting for Magic the Gathering can be fun, but if you’re going in with the intention of competing and getting a winning score, it requires a considerable investment of time, endurance and practice¹ to get good at it.  At this point in my life, I just don’t feel it’s worth it.  I like playing with my coworkers and friends from time to time, and use my Constructed decks when I can, but apart from that, I just don’t like competing in Magic.

So, rather than banging my head against the wall that is competitive drafting, and trying to save face, I decided to accept that fact that my M20 drafts were a sunk-cost and move on.  It kind of sucks that I spent dozens of dollars and have nothing to show for it besides a bunch of cards I don’t really want, but better to accept this and move on than to try to “recoup” my losses.

Also, I have decided to focus my energies on a different hobby now: D&D Adventurer’s League!  More on that in a future post.

¹ The thought of spending hours every night playing Magic online just to get more “reps”, or grinding away Friday night after Friday night just doesn’t appeal to me. Life is short, and this just isn’t worth it.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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