Non-Token promos return to FNM
Posted on Feb. 6, 2018, 2:25 a.m. by Argy
As a lot of us guessed, special promo tokens haven't been working too well for Wizards.
There has been a decline in FNM numbers in most parts of the world.
To try to drag players back (to Standard in particular), starting with Dominaria Wizards is going back to releasing playable cards as promos.
If this entices people back to play Standard remains to be seen.
I think there are bigger problems that affect it, such as poorly designed mechanics, and over representation of pro decks in local metas.
Wizards keeps saying that they will "fix" Standard. They've been saying that for about two years, now.
I hope that they can. It's my favourite format.
What a surprise. No one ever expected that. Way to pull the rug out from under us.
Sarcasm aside, this was the expected move. Literally noone likes the doublesided tokens instead of cards.
February 6, 2018 3:33 a.m.
Current Standard can be seen as a simple equation=
X (Overpowered Card) + Y (Degenerate Mechanics) = Higher booster box sales as Timmy and Co. chase the Mythics they need to make the dominant protour deck for that season.
Then pre-planned bannings take place to try to restore some kind of balance to the environment which in turn stimulates more sales as people rush to replace cards and decks.
The solution is to take the game away from the high level accountants (who are only after higher sales, to the detriment of MTG) and put the game back in the hands of the players through having a variety of viable budget decks and a return to an Annual Core Set made up of previously printed cards that many players already have in their collections.
February 6, 2018 4:14 a.m.
Hey guys! Let's remove Core Sets! After all, it can't be important just because we call it "core" to the game, right? - Oops, err, nope, bad move, better bring them back.
Move to 3x 2-part blocks per year! People want more Planeswalkers and Story Moments! It'll be fine, everyone will definately stay up to date and play with the most recent sets and not what was released 18 months ago! - Oops, err, nope, bad move, better change again.
More mechanics! Hey, it doesn't matter what they are really, but we have to cram at least 2 new things into every part of every set! We don't even have to bother keeping a mechanic going into the second part of a set, as long as we make another new one! - Oops, err, seems trying to make so many things breaks a lot of things, who'd have thought that so many mechanics and so little testing time would do that?
Let's give people tokens at FnM! Double-sided ones! Everyone loves opening tokens from booster packs right? Let's foil them! People like shiny things, a shiny thing distracts from the fact the card itself is garbage! - Oops, err, people don't like garbage just because it's shiny and expecting people to change their well-planned and well-recieved Friday Night event to a daytime Saturday didn't work oot so good either...
Anyone else think WOTC has let the apprentices run things this past few years?
February 6, 2018 6:57 a.m.
GeeksterPlays if Wizards' employees read one post this year, it should be yours.
February 6, 2018 7:07 a.m.
Sorry for the double post, didn't have this thought in time to Edit.
Rabid_Wombat it's not only the Tammy/Timmy players chasing the Mythics.
It's the people who resell cards.
Then they can boost the prices way up.
February 6, 2018 7:14 a.m.
And of course - lets get rid of the Modern Pro Tour, it does not promote the new set enough! - Oops, err, people do not like 100% of time bad standard, lets change it!
Lets change standard rotation! Standard and its product is not moving fast enough! - Oops, err, people do not like that and standard is getting worse, so lets change it back.
People want a cool Magic digital product that is NOT, I repeat, NOT another Shandalar-style game! Lets bring them Magic Duels, something we will always update and keep fresh - Oops, err, turns out that was bad, lets do it again, we will call it Arena and for sure, stop updating the thing we said we would always update, what was it called again? Duels? Never heard of it!
Bannings in standard, never! (unless it is super bad!) - Oops, err, turns out people dislike standard, ban some cards and fix it! - Oops, err, turns out people dislike standard, ban some cards and fix it! - Oops, err, turns out people dislike standard, ban some cards and fix it! - Oops, err, turns out people dislike standard, ban some cards and fix it!...
To me it sounds like Magic is suffering from corporatis - corporate meddling in the affairs of developers too much.
February 6, 2018 7:24 a.m.
I also like how Wizards said they were going to set up a testing group to try to avoid the Felidar Guardian + Saheeli Rai debacle ... but that group failed to see how broken it was to have Attune with Aether sit in tri colour decks.
Oh well! Back to the old drawing board (after we ban some more cards, of course).
Magic the Bannering.
Modern Pro Tour returned for one reason, and one reason only - Modern Masters 3 didn't sell enough product.
February 6, 2018 7:55 a.m. Edited.
Let me start by saying I disagree with none of Argy, Boza, or GeeksterPlays in premise -- I totally agree that roughly 75% of the changes made in the past couple years have been rather mediocre, if not actively terrible. However, since I enjoy playing devil's advocate, and also like advancing foolishly optimistic causes...
WotC has to make changes (that players like!) to sell packs. That's the bottom line. Imagine if they made nothing but highly desirable reprints: everybody would buy their playsets of fetches/shocks/Swords and stop buying Magic forever, even if every reprint set was balanced and awesome. Now, that's an absurd scenario, but it does illustrate why Magic has been experimenting with improvements on everything from FNM to Standard rotation -- to increase players' enjoyment, so they can stay in business. (Change is also vital in challenging the status quo: paradigm-shifting change is the reason we have Planeswalker cards, Equipment, Zendikar, a more diverse group of main characters, and Standard as a format. Those all used to be highly polarizing, brand-new ideas.) With that theory out of the way, let's turn to the state of Standard:
Some of WotC's recent experiments actually turned out pretty well -- I've found new characters like Samut and Angrath to be compelling, and the increased focus on story has resulted in some of the best short fiction I've read in terms of the Jace/Vraska relationship in Magic Story. And these positive changes only came after the mediocrity of the Kaladesh story when we were all sick of the Gatewatch, and WotC made a course correction. That's the only heuristic available to WotC -- they experiment, probably fail, learn from the mistake, keep what worked, and undo what didn't.
So let's apply WotC's heuristic to Standard gameplay. They've made several changes, which mostly sucked. (However, some mechanics/themes, like Vehicles, Delirium, Cat tribal, DFC cycles from Ixalan, were rather balanced and popular.) And now WotC has demonstrated through shifting back to the 3-and-Core model and FNM promos etc that they've learned from their mistake. I'm betting that WotC will renew focus on balancing Standard (and the relative power of threats/answers), which they haven't done very well, and will also be able to optimize through the successes of the 2-block model: less awkward Limited play, less mechanical deviation through sets (see RIX, with only one major new mechanic in Ascend, or HOU with Eternalize), and fun minor themes like Vehicles or off-the-wall tribal.
In other words, I think y'all are spot on that WotC has made some serious mistakes, many of which were driven by purely corporate interests. But I'd also submit that they have had some major successes (in lore and Limited especially), and have also demonstrated their ability to correct their mistakes. So, despite how bad the past few years of Standard have been, I am willing to bet that the 3-and-Core model is going to yield some of the best Standard play yet (:
February 6, 2018 9:29 a.m.
If Wizards made a few course corrections every now and then, I would have no issue.
It's the regularity of stuff ups that has eventually gotten to me.
Ixalan Limited was quite bad. Rivals is not much better. Sealed is miserable if you don't get a strong Tribe pool, and the first pick for last season's draft was Rampaging Ferocidon.
I'm not into the Lore, but I shouldn't have to be in order to enjoy a set.
I should be able to dip into Magic in a way that is comfortable for me.
In the past that has been building my own brews, and seeing them do quite well against a wide range of other decks.
It's been playing against a whole lot of different decks, making friends, and learning things about Magic along the way.
Well, my friends have all stopped playing, all the brews are carbon copies of each other, and if you don't play you should basically just forfeit the match.
I now just tell new players that, unless they are willing to buy a pro built Tier 1 or 2 deck, they should basically just stick to playing private games against friends. I know that if they don't, they are likely to have a frustrating FNM experience.
If Wizards can make some changes to improve Standard, I'm all for it. It's just that they keep saying they are going to, and don't.
Don't even get me started on Duels ...
February 6, 2018 9:52 a.m. Edited.
Just wanted to add one other thing.
The move to FNM promo tokens was to supposedly move more competitive players to Standard Showdown, and give FNM a more casual vibe.
What this DIDN'T take into account is that there is still usually a prize structure for FNM. The more you win, the better the rewards. Usually in either an increased number of booster packs, store credit, or something else.
So competitive players were always still going to play FNM.
February 6, 2018 10:08 a.m.
Playing a bit of a Pit Fiend's advocate here, but I do think this is important to consider:
Everyone keeps forgetting that the game was invented pre-internet. The influence of the net is neither a good nor a bad thing -- it's simply a fact of life now that people everywhere, from entertainment to politics, are discovering the hard way. You think we've got it rough trying to reinvent our nostalgic Standard made entirely of fun, unique, and competitive homebrews, in a world where the PT Champion netdecks are at your fingertips? Imagine trying to be a car salesman earning commission only, when everyone on the lot has the factory price of each car on their cell phone. Imagine trying to be a senator voting how you see fit, when the entire nation has your voting record and life story only a Google search away. The sorry state of standard is merely one tree in the forest of today's society, so it's a helpful start not to see it as a problem unique to MTG and WotC.
It's much easier to keelhaul a card game company when you haven't yet grasped the difficulty of their situation and compared it to the difficulties everyone else is facing too. Billion-dollar entertainment businesses have been shutting down for decades due to the general consumer being short on free cash, yet here stands WotC, trying to grow so it doesn't become the next Blockbuster Video. The fact we're still playing with new cards at all at the very least says we haven't abandoned them yet, and neither have they abandoned us.
All that being said, yes, they've made some crap decisions. Daddy Hasbro demands his cut or else, regardless of how many zillions of dollars Transformers and My Little Pony bring in. But more important than the bad decisions, they've always tried to make good decisions to fix them when possible. They have to think years in advance, and pivoting mid-set like is no easy task, but they've managed to pull it off multiple times to keep from crashing completely.
My opinion on what we can do about it is simple. Don't buy what you don't want, don't like, or can't afford. That invisible hand of supply and demand works wonders, as does the vocal majority. Just don't get the idea that the people behind this game are stupid or evil, because they're not. They're just people, and so are we, and this is just a game.
TL;DR -- The 'net changed the whole world and not just this game, so have some empathy and talk with your wallet, because this is just a game made by humans.
February 6, 2018 10:38 a.m.
To start, I am not a Standard player, so I will refrain from discussing fixing that particular format, lest I make a fool of myself. Instead, I will post my thoughts on another couple of points raised.
(1) In recent years, there has been a bit of a resurgence in table top gaming. Tabletop games are no longer a fringe industry for us, for lack of a better term, nerds, but have increasingly become a part of mainstream culture. Where once Magic, D&D, and Catan stood, there are now countless newcomers competing for attention.
Given these potential new customers, it makes sense for Wizards to try and innovate. Flavourful sets, with flashy new mechanics are a good way to entice new players and keep them coming back for more, as well as ensure older players remain interested in the game.
(2) In addition to the competition over the board game resurgence, Magic has competition from the video game industry. Hearthstone and its ilk have become increasingly successful, due to their ease of joining, the fact they are "free" (at least to start), and their simple mechanics (Hearthstone does not have a complex stack or 150+ pages of rules). While Magic is trying to break into the electronic market, it still needs to ensure its paper version is dynamic and flashy enough to keep pace with online rivals.
(3) Magic has always been trying new mechanics, with greater or lesser success. Ravnica threw a bunch of new keywords out there for each of the guilds--many of these never to be seen again. Annihilator is an obscenely overpowered ability, and had to be stripped from future Eldrazi releases. And let's not even get started on Affinity.
(4) I like banlists. One of my two biggest problems with the new set is the number of cards that feel geared toward standard. Many new cards are functional reprints of older cards, just with a higher mana cost. This is not particularly fun for me as someone who plays more expansive formats. Wizards should not be afraid to release a card that might break Standard, but would be fun in Legacy. Banlists ensure everyone benefits from the new set, not one specific meta.
Fun sidebar: Banlists are almost as old as Magic--the first was released in January, 1994--five months after the game itself was released.
(5) My second problem with Magic's new mechanics is not how frequent they are, it's how set-specific they are. So far, only one of these mechanics looks like it will become deciduous--vehicles. Embalm and Eternalize will likely not return anytime soon--their very names are so bound up in Amonkhet lore that they will not fit in with other sets. Ascend might have become a deciduous mechanic, but its rules text references the "City's Blessing," which is absurdly limiting in terms of flavour.
(6) Here's what I want to see moving forward:
One new mechanic per block. This mechanic should be flavourfully appropriate to the set, but should not be created in such a limited manner that it cannot be easily reused.
One new obsolete mechanic per block, being tested for its viability as a new deciduous mechanic. There are a bunch of interesting abilities out there which I would like to see return. Unleash, Ninjitsu, Totem Armor (would help with the two-for-one issue of Auras in a limited format), banding (okay, I know, I'm the only one who wants to see banding make a return), last strike (even though it was a joke, there are some cool interactions Wizards could do with things like Enrage or Ninjitsu).
Wizards to take risks with cards. Smuggler's Copter was a terribly designed card. It provided evasion, looting, and decent power, all for a low mana/crew cost. But I am glad they tried it--they cannot learn how to properly cost cards if they do not fail a bunch of times.
February 6, 2018 11:08 a.m.
So this may seem like a weird idea but I think more casual players that don't have the money to spend will like this idea. The base of the idea is that everyone participating gets a fnm promo version of a popular semi-competitve card which they can put into there decks and help it become stronger. Sure this would mess with the market but it would also entice all kinds of players just to try fnm.
A similar idea that my old game store would do was they would open one of those all foil packs and shuffle it then randomly go down the list giving each person a random card. This helped me so much as even if I got last place I had a chance as something that would help my deck. Sure a foil progenitus isn't really standard playablr but it sure sold for a lot.
The other side of this being the conflict is that the winner of the tournament was annoyed, which I can understand, at how he got a foil common and I got am 80$ card. WOTC needs to come up with a less comprtitive format that can introduce people into a more competitive format that won't force people to break their banks. That's why budget decks are what I try to build as I dont have the spare pocket change for an average tier 1 standard deck.
February 6, 2018 11:23 a.m.
We can criticise Wizards all we like. We are their customers, and we pay good money for their products.
They aren't a charity. If we don't think they are doing a good job, we can say so.
Why do you think they decided to go back to Non-Token promos?
It's bothered me for a while that there doesn't seem to be an intermediate step for Magic players.
You come to an Open day,learn how to play the game, buy yourself a Planeswalker deck, open a couple of packs, you are excited, and want to play.
Then you are either forced to play with friends, other people you have taught, or slowly get better by playing at a local tournament.
I went down that path, and it was a hard bloody slog.
My friends all gave up, but I can be quite a determined person, so I kept playing.
I would love there to be some kind of space where people can learn how to play, and enjoy the game, without actually having to first learn the intricacies of deck building, or fork out a lot of money.
I've been floating the idea of a Planeswalker League for a while.
This would be a space for people to bring a Standard legal Planeswalker deck, and compete against other players with the same constraints.
Newer players would have time to learn mechanics like how to use the stack, who has priority, and the different parts to each turn.
More experienced players like me, who enjoy helping others, would play just for the joy of playing.
There would still be prizes, but nothing so substantial that it would make people want to cheat.
It's my long term dream.
February 6, 2018 4:02 p.m.
I honestly am not excited for this.
Although if the promos are Fatal Push quality, then I guess it's O.K.
February 6, 2018 4:46 p.m.
"This would be a space for people to bring a Standard legal Planeswalker deck, and compete against other players with the same constraints."
I think this is a decent idea, and would be a good middle-ground between kitchen table and more competitive play. That said, I disagree with your limiting it to standard-legal planeswalker decks.
I own a number of Wizards' preconstructed decks, as I have several friends who enjoy Magic, but do not like building their own decks or playing the more complex/control/combo decks that my girlfriend and I tend to build. Overall, I have been very impressed with the consistency of the other constructed decks. Mind (from the duel deck Mind v. Might) stands up well against Demonic (from the duel deck Divine v. Demonic), which goes well against Profit (from the clash pack Power v. Profit), etc. I have not purchased any of the Planeswalker decks, but, looking at their decklists, they seem pretty close in terms of relative power level.
Rather than just use the Standard-legal decks, and be limited in verity, it would be pretty cool if most* all of the precon decks were allowed. This would allow for more variety, and give players the opportunity to square off against several different archetypes.
There might be some issues in terms of price (Divine v. Demonic is pretty costly, as it has a Demonic Tutor in it). Should Wizards seek to adopt this format, it would be pretty cool if they rereleased the older decks, but place a "not tournament legal" watermark on them, or print them on slightly larger paper, so as to prevent their being used in regular play. These rereleases could be sold exclusively to game stores, who could rent them out to players who might not otherwise own a deck.
*Note, there are some precon decks which are at another tier of power. The Planeschase series and Premium Deck series, for example, generally steamroll the traditional Vs. decks.
February 6, 2018 4:52 p.m.
cdkime interestingly enough my LGS tried a Merfolk vs Goblins night recently where everyone bought the Duel decks and played three games against each other.
It wasn't very popular, but these things often take a while to catch on.
I'm not sure of the power of the Dual decks compared with the Planeswalker decks.
I've only ever played the Dual decks in a set, apart from in the first anthology.
February 6, 2018 6:25 p.m.
Argy Merfolk vs Gobbos was the last ever Duel deck so glad that you enjoyed it!
The new Promos are only going to work if they don't suxxr like the majority of FNM promos from the past couple of years...those I would just feed to Cownose (my GF's cat).
My group all quit Standard in 2016 and moved into Modern...I've since devolved into only playing EDH due to work commitments and the occasional Legacy/Vintage game with my Stasis deck.
February 6, 2018 7:45 p.m.
Argy, we've discussed the PW league before <3 <3 <3 I would almost move to Australia if that becomes a thing there but not in the USA. Either way, it's a cool idea that illustrates a very real need for a "medium-skill" format.
You're right of course, that our complaints make WotC a better company. And also that the changes have been fast and furious, AND that the current Standard environment is dull.
As to your comment on Lore, I'm with you that ideally WotC would be succeeding from lore AND gameplay standpoints. However, as a Vorthos, given that the post-New-World-Order lore was getting really stale, I'm glad that the lag of development and worldbuilding has caught up to deliver excellent story. My point in bringing it up was that I think we're on the up-and-up with gameplay, too, between Play Design and the return of core sets.
As always, glad to hear your thoughts, Argy. Cheers!