Magic cards collateral damage in trade war

Canadian fans of the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering should get ready to pay a little more to play.

New tariff on playing cards includes trading card games like Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering sets are a big seller at The Comic Hunter. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Canadian fans of the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering should get ready to pay a little more to play.

Playing cards are one of the 229 U.S. products that had tariffs imposed on them on July 1. That means the cost of all cards — including Magic: The Gathering cards — are set to rise.

The popular card game is one of the biggest sellers for The Comic Hunter in Charlottetown.

"We had worried about it when we heard what was going on but we didn't really think anything would happen," said Comic Hunter owner Sue Smith.

"It wasn't really targeted at Magic cards. It was targeted at playing cards but we happen to fall under that umbrella, and here we are."

Response to steel and aluminum tariffs

Packs of cards are subject to a 10 per cent tariff, which Smith said will increase the cost of a pack of 15 cards by at least 50 cents. That will add up on some Magic: The Gathering sets, which can go for more than $100.

"If you're buying a significant amount that can really add up … people will come in and drop a few hundreds bucks at a time."

The retaliatory tariffs are a response to the tariffs imposed by the U.S. on Canada's steel and aluminum imports.

"I can't just eat that, I'm going to have to pass it on to my customers," Smith said.

"It will affect younger players more because they don't have the disposable income that an older person might have, so yeah it's sad, but there's not much we can do about it."

Strategy, fantasy, imagination

Smith describes the game as a combination of Dungeons and Dragons and chess — "it's strategy and fantasy and imagination" — in which players build a deck out of the thousands of available cards.

"It's the only card game that we stock and we've been stocking it for well over 20 years. It's very popular," she said.

"Because the game's been around as long as it has been, there were people who started out playing as kids who are now in their 40s or 50s, and we've got people in their 60s playing. It's all ages."

Smith said it's not clear if the tariffs will hit at the distributor level, but the cost of the cards will likely go up when the new stock arrives next month.

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With files from Nakshi Pandit