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A Commitment to Excellence

By Tim O'Hara

Magic: The Gathering

April 17, 2018

It isn't often that you hear from people who work in operations. We're usually working behind the scenes on the physical production of the cards, games, and books you know and love. While I'm not one to step into the spotlight, taking on an important role at Wizards of the Coast is as good a reason as any to introduce myself and start shedding some light on how we make our cards, miniatures, books, and more.

My name is Tim O'Hara. I am the senior vice president of finance, and, recently, I added operations to my title. This means, among other duties, that I am now responsible for the quality of every product Wizards produces—from Magic: The Gathering cards to Dungeons & Dragons supplements to Avalon Hill board games. The operations organization touches it all.

There are aspects of the operations role that are familiar territory to me. While I've been at Wizards since 2012, prior to that my job was running finance and operations for Red Bull in Canada. In addition to Red Bull, I've had the good fortune to work for several other strong, quality brands, including FTD and American Express.

Although numbers have long been at the heart of what I do, I have a history working with premium brands and have a strong sense for what it takes to create and ship quality. I understand that our products need to be more than just good; they need to be great.

In that never-ending pursuit of greatness, we are always looking at our printing processes, running rigorous testing, and collecting feedback. For much of our 25 years, those processes have been behind the scenes. For our 25th Anniversary, we're going to start shedding some light on how we make the products you know and love.

Tom Wanerstrand, who has been helping to make Magic since Limited Edition (Alpha), will launch a new series next week that looks at how we make everything—from why your cards feel the way they do to how we mold miniatures to everything that goes into packaging.

To give you a preview of what Tom will be talking about, some players with highly tuned fingers may notice a different feel to your Dominaria cards at Prereleases this weekend. As part of our adoption of best practices from our primary printer in Japan, we're rolling out a new coating method for cards in English Dominaria booster packs that we believe is best in class. Tom's first article will explore the finer points of card coating and what that means for feel, playability, and, yes, even that new-card smell.

In subsequent articles we'll look at the talented team that has their hands in everything from molding plastics to paper stocks to packaging materials and more, and ways in which we're always looking to make products better.

Wizards has led in the game industry for 25 years, but continuing to be a leader in quality and innovation requires a never-ending commitment to excellence. As we get ready to celebrate 25 years of Magic and launch Dominaria, my goal—and the goal of everyone at Wizards—is to ensure that you see that commitment to excellence every day and in every product.