Last updated on October 17, 2023
Gifts Ungiven | Illustration by David O'Connor
As a kid I saved up the Flag Points on my G.I. Joe “action figures” and mailed away for Duke and the Hooded Cobra Commander, both of which came in tiny coffin-shaped boxes a few weeks later. Would I have just been able to buy them in the store? Maybe. But there’s something about the mail, at least back then before Amazon made it pedestrian and guilt-inducing.
The idea of a mystery box through the mail, started in the nerd space by Loot Crate in 2012 but predated by a number of other supply box or surprise box companies in other spaces, like beauty and pet supplies, combined the old school fun of the mail with something even more alluring: surprises.
How about collectible card game crates? Does the formula work for MTG players?
Some of our love of surprise as Magic: The Gathering players is surely a whiff of the gambling high that comes from cracking packs looking for that chase rare. That’s muted in this experience, where a curated crate of goods at a certain price point is sent to your house. It’s unlikely they unknowingly dropped any golden tickets in there, although there’s usually some sealed product, so the fix is still on, just a bit.
Inked Gaming sent Draftsim a Supply Drop Elite Box, which I promptly cracked open. I’ll walk you through what was inside and give you my verdict on the experience in case you want that sweet mail order fix and are thinking about Inked Gaming as an option.
Gifts Ungiven | Illustration by Jason Chan
Incredibly fun. There are many different Magic related loot/supply boxes/crates out there, but many of them are just drops of sealed product. I can see how I’d want that if I were at another stage in my Magic life, but as a mostly casual Draft and Commander player, I generally buy all the sealed product I want straight away and add all the singles I need for my decks as needed.
I still love cracking packs, but I wouldn’t subscribe to a service that just dropped a crate of random boosters. What’s cool about the Inked Gaming box is that I didn’t know what would be in there and kept being surprised by its contents. That was the part that was so much fun. Of course, they preview a bit of what would be in the box on their website, so it wouldn’t necessarily be quite so surprising if I were up on my web browsing. But if I opted for a yearly subscription, I’d never look and just wait to open the box, I think.
My cats guest star in this section, so be warned in case you have a phobia of cute pets.
You can see the box was pretty large, which immediately made me think there was a playmat inside. I had been hoping for that because Inked Gaming started as a playmat printer, and I love some of these. Plus, I was in need of a new playmat but hadn’t made a decision yet because there are so many choices.
Sturdy tape reinforced with fiber, for you packaging and shipping nerds out there. You normals laugh, but we exist! Don’t judge!
Plenty of black creepy paper in the box (thanks, What We Do in the Shadows!). Mmm, suspense.
First tier of items:
Including a sweet playmat!
Meanwhile my cats were fighting over the creepy paper:
There’s a set of artworks, cards, and stickers by the monthly featured artist who did the playmat, David Lozeau.
Then we get a Gamegenic counters storage case.
Some simple orange Dragon Shield sleeves.
Not bad pulls from those. Cat wasn’t included in the box, but Pippin got there as soon as I emptied it out.
Finally, after defeating Merry in the Battle of the Creepy Paper, Knightley also won possession of the Inked Gaming box from Pippin. Bad day for hobbits!
I really love this playmat with art by David Lozeau. It’s perfect for the spooky October season, and I love all things skeletons and zombie. I’ve had quite a few playmats over the years, and I love the quality of this one. The printing is crisp and sharp, which has been a problem with other playmats I’ve seen before. I’d have expected that of a company that started in playmat printing and works with artists to get their stuff on mats, but it’s nice when things are done as properly as you’d expect.
There are 13 stickers, all nice, sturdy, and shiny. They’re all Lozeau’s art, and they’re all sweet. I’m fresh out of space on my laptop, so we’ll see where I put these.
It looks like the big card is signed, which is very cool for an art nerd like me! And there are a few other smaller cards.
I hadn’t heard of this Gamegenic Token Silo before, but I kind of love it. I’ve lost too many paper tokens from the Amonkhet days and now the proliferation post-Ikoria, so I actually can’t fill it just yet, but I have needed this in my life. I also love that the trays just slide out super easy with a pinch, which is key given how thin and hard to pick up those hexagonal counters printed on cards in MTG booster packs are. The big one fits full sized tokens, but I’m using it for role tokens and the Ring tempts you tokens.
I love Dragon Shield sleeves and already have some of their funky dragon art sleeves. I’m kind of into this “ember” color and am glad it comes in boxes of 100 since I only really use these for Commander.
Two set boosters. Nice. Can’t complain about the Rhystic Study!
Everything in here is in great shape. The packaging is top notch and the packing inside is great. Not a corner bend in sight on the art cards. Inked Gaming makes high quality playmats. Dragon Shield mattes in 100 count boxes are Draftsim’s choice for best sleeves, so no complaints there. I love the token silo and the art.
The only thing I was missing was maybe an insert talking about the artist with the kind of info you can see on their website. If I were a subscriber to these boxes, I’d always want to keep what was coming a surprise, and it would be more fun unboxing if I could understand a bit more about what I was seeing without having to go get my phone.
The Elite level box is $60 plus about $12 in shipping and then tax.
The contents work out to this:
Oversized Playmat: $29.95
Stickers & Art Cards: N/A
Storage Case: $14.99
2 Set Boosters: 9.98
So that’s about $67 worth of stuff not counting all the artist materials, which are harder to price. Good stickers aren’t cheap. If you’re choosing boxes from Inked Gaming, you value all these art items highly, although that experience is difficult to price. I love art, I love stickers, I love learning about new artists, and I like showcasing interesting art in products I use. So that’s a lot of happiness value for me in an element like this. Considering that the playmats are usually if not always curated art pieces, I’d also add value to the playmat for its art value, especially as a conversation piece for Commander night at the LGS.
That seems good to me. If you don’t want or need playmats, which seem to be typical includes in the Elite and Epic level boxes, this would be less valuable to you. The Essentials level at $30 doesn’t seem to usually come with a playmat, though.
As a one-time purchase, which is an option on their website, these all seem like good gifts for a Magic player in your life, especially for folks who don’t know much about the game but are buying for a family member who is into this hard-to-understand pastime. Because these boxes seem a bit off the mainstream of Magic product and there’s a surprise factor, it has that nice quality of a gift that is going to be a fun experience even if the playmat isn’t their favorite design or the boosters are from a release they didn’t like.
They also, at least right now, sell a Supply Drop Surplus product, which are older drops that didn’t sell out, offered at a discount. The Elite level price for those is $42. From a gifting perspective, that’s an even better deal.
As a monthly subscription, from a value perspective, I think you’d really need to be into playmats as art pieces, which for some folks begins to hit a limit. How many playmats do you need or want? I’m still interested in grabbing a few more. I like to sometimes bring a different vibe of playmat to different events.
But I can’t get a playmat a month forever. Over time the value of these boxes diminishes if you can’t find a use for the accumulation of playmats.
Fortune's Favor | Illustration by Yohann Schepacz
Getting one box from Inked Gaming is definitely worth it as a surprise, perhaps for yourself as a splurge of fun or as a gift for another Magic fan. I enjoyed opening this box and using the materials in it more than other loot boxes I’ve gotten before in other areas of life, from serious to nerdy.
A box subscription at the Elite or Epic level is worth it if you, as a Magic products buyer, meet two conditions. First, you have some disposable Magic money that you’d allocate for surprises. Second, you enjoy discovering art and artists, are interested in supporting that undervalued part of the world economy, and wouldn't mind soundproofing your streaming room with awesome playmats on the wall.
That’s probably not a huge segment of folks reading.
So, as with all things, moderation! A few of these would be great fun. I certainly really enjoyed mine.
Whaddya say, readers? Are you the surprises via mail order kinds of folks? Or does a box of the unknown make you nervous? Let us know in the comments or on Discord, and have fun!
Take care and stay safe!
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