I've been planning to write this post for almost a month now, and I feel like recent events have precipitated an easier opportunity for me to make my point. So, what is that point? To put it simply: Reprints don't have to be this hard.
But what does that even mean?
Well, when a card gets popular, we often wait for months and sometimes years for it to be reprinted. Many times, that reprint may not even make the card that much easier to find or even that much cheaper. And when critical junctures that are good for reprints come up (Astral Packs, Tins, Structure Decks, etc.), Konami does not use them to the fullest of their ability, often instead using cards that people don't really want or need that badly. I literally fucking cringe every time I check this blog and remember the fact that RUM Barian's Force is not only going to be in the next wave of tins, but both of them.
Before I go on, I just want to make it clear that I am aware of the fact that Konami doesn't enjoy using Astral Packs for big reprints, because not everybody has access to an Official Tournament Store and that's not completely fair. I have a few points to make about this philosophy:
1. First, it's also not very fair to throw a single card someone's looking for into a 200+ card set, then complain when people constantly rely on the seconday market.
2. Second, that's still a terrible excuse for literally filling the packs with absolute garbage that isn't even relevant to the current state of the game or expensive in any way. Seriously, why the hell are cards like Swarm of Scarabs, Des Lacooda and Heavy Slump in Astral Pack 3? I don't remember any recent movement of people clamoring to get these cards for their decks. Do you guys? If releasing PSCT is THAT important, then just make a new area of the website where you can update every single card that you want to update. Reprinting cards is great, but you can't handle every single one solely for this purpose.
3. And third: okay, so no big reprints. What about SMALL or MEDIUM ones? Did you ever consider that? Not to ignore the fact that this does happen every now and then (Closed Forest, Dragon Ice, possibly others I really can't remember because my mind is distracted by the piles of shit being printed the majority of the time), but I still cringe every time I pull a Swarm of Scarabs instead of something like Vanity's Emptiness.
Back to my original point. We didn't HAVE to wait over three years for cards like Vajrayana to be reprinted. There were plenty of opportunities in that span of time; Konami just chose not to use any of them. Not to mention the fact that they can create a new reprint product if they really want to, like the Ultra Rare promos in Battle Pack 2 Round 2 (which actually does include Vajrayana).
If you're still not convinced that they're mishandling this process and making people wait longer for cards when we shouldn't have to, take a look at our most recent Structure Deck, Saga of Blue-Eyes White Dragon. There's always a large number of cards that probably need a reprint and you could use a lot of things, but for this example let's take Safe Zone. (I know what you're thinking - "But Safe Zone is going to be reprinted in two months!" I know, just be patient and keep reading.) After all, it is a Structure Deck - nobody uses the damn things straight out of the box anyways, and even if they did, it's not like Safe Zone just flat-out doesn't work with the deck. I could totally understand not slipping in a random Diamond Dire Wolf or Shooting Quasar Dragon. But instead of putting Safe Zone in that deck, where did it end up getting its eventual reprint? In a box that will cost you about twice as much as the Structure would have.
Do you see a pattern with this? Nowadays, great reprints are being shoved into products that either come with a high price tag right off the bat, or force you to risk sifting through multiple packs just to find the card you want. In our above example, there would still be plenty of opportunity to make money off Safe Zone's printing, and possibly even more of an opportunity, since people are more apt to buy the box knowing that they're spending half as much for a guarantee of getting a copy instead of twice as much for a one in five chance. And what decks ever use a single copy of Safe Zone anyways? Most decks that need it play two or three, so there's more money for you right there!
I'm starting to feel as if Konami is disturbing the balance between using reprints for the greater good - allowing people to play this game with a lower emphasis on how much money you can or want to spend - and using them for raking in profits. Because let's face it, Konami is a business and making money will always be of importance. There's nothing inherently wrong with that. But is there a case to be made that on this issue, it's getting too important, and at the cost of the players? And even if money is all they care about, there's a decent argument to be made that in the case of cards like Safe Zone, they might have actually gone about it in a less profitable way. I know damn well I'm not buying any boxes of Battle Pack 2 Round 2; for a one in five chance I'd rather just buy the promos from an online retailer.
My final point is this: Konami does some truly fantastic and remarkable things for this game. I'm not sure why it takes them so long to reprint highly desirable cards when they have plenty of chances to, and then turn around and use those chances to print things that most people don't even need.