This Month in Magic: You Can't Have Your Cake and Eat it Too


Howdy folks! It's Joe again and we're here with yet another This Month in Magic! Whew, it has been a crazy month and there is a lot more going on in the world of Magic.

Let's jump right into the thick of things, shall we?

Esports! Esports! Esports!

Boy howdy, esports. The buzzphrase of the year, it seems. If you haven't heard, Magic is transforming yet again, adopting the buzz and glam of esports through a new program aimed at both digital and tabletop Magic. One of the biggest pieces of this whole thing is the introduction of the Magic Pro League which will comprise of the Top 32 ranked players across the world. Players in this will be offered streaming/player contracts with a combined worth of a cool $75,000 per player.

Pro Tours are pretty much going by the wayside. Instead, they're being replaced with events called Mythic Championships (a rebranding of the name). With the change comes increases in prize support. Each one is to award $500,000 in prize money, with a special $1 million Mythic Invitational event at PAX East in March.

A big part of this is the investment into Magic Arena, allowing for it to be used for high profile events and the like. Wizards is banking big on Arena, hoping to make it into a very important piece of this puzzle.

In addition, this also means that there's going to be a reduction in certain events. Nationals is going away for 2019, as is the World Magic Cup in 2019. The last Team Series is in 2018–2019, and even the Pro Players Club is going away (since it is shifting into the MPL). Even the Pro Tour Hall of Fame is going away, with a new Hall of Fame structure to replace it. (The last part is great because maybe that means Chris Pikula will finally get the recognition he deserves.)

My thoughts on this whole thing are positive. I think it's a smart business decision to invest in Arena and trying to make Magic more accessible to people is healthy for business. The only awkward caveat is if there is a period of time where Standard is legitimately awful to play—and that could be an issue—but if we keep seeing sets like Guilds of Ravnica I certainly hope that won't happen again anytime soon.

However, that leads me onto my next topic:

Panic! MTGO is DYING! Panic!

Was I too clickbait-y with that? If you felt obligated to go run out and sell your Magic Online collection, let me stop you right there. Take a deep breath and sit down first.

Sitting? Good. Now yes, there has been some panic in the past few weeks regarding the state and health of Magic Online. Between the announcement of esports and Magic Arena, there was also a heavily clickbait article that was published on ChannelFireball about how Magic Arena is killing Magic Online. In addition, Treasure Chest EV has been at an all-time low, feeding into the notion that Magic Online dying. MTGO Vendors such as CardHoarder and MTGOTraders even stopped buying collections/tickets for a few days.

I didn't quite care for the nature of that article myself, due to the fact that its primary metric was the cost of a playset of every card on Magic Online. I feel as if there are other metrics to account for as well, such as reprints, event attendance, etc. The article has triggered anxiety in users of Magic Online, spurring a frenzy of selling off collections. Combine this with the announcement of esports and things get even worse. Personally, I feel like ChannelFireball could have done better than posting that article. It was, at its worst, fearmongering about Magic Online and how the value of collections has dropped, and the title was sheer clickbait.

Here's the thing about all that: You can't have your cake (your collection value) and eat it too (people to play with). Magic players like to complain that card prices are too high and that it's too much money to buy in, but then once those card prices are low? "I lost value." "Oh man, I wish I'd sold X card before it dropped in price."

You can't have your cake and eat it too—it just can't happen. What can you do? Be realistic. Realistically, we have to expect that at some point, Magic Online does eventually get shut down or somehow something happens to facilitate a shift in the right direction. The realistic notion is that this probably still takes years to happen. Does that mean that you should just sell your Magic Online collection and get out now while the getting is good? That is ultimately up to you to make that decision, but take some time to consider it rationally instead of just panicking. Panic only feeds panic, and it doesn't help to just blindly rush into things.

That being said, the enjoyment I get from playing on Magic Online is pretty great, and the enjoyment I've received from playing on Arena is equally great. Having MTGO be cheaper because of reprints and the like is a good thing for the player base, not a bad thing. You want cards to go down in price. Why? So more people can play. More people that can play is a very good thing indeed.

Furthermore, it seems as if we have a slight answer to the question about whether we would see Modern on Arena, and for now the answer seems to be no. The format that was thrown out was called "Standard Plus," and it seems to stand that the non-rotating format we will get on Arena will be that and will likely not include cards like fetch lands in it (meaning Origins is likely where it will start and will likely never include Khans of Tarkir block). This means that Modern, arguably one of Wizards' most popular competitive constructed formats, will only be playable via Magic Online, and this makes a big difference in my opinion. Players use MTGO to test for large Modern events, as well as to be able to play at decent levels of competition against other competitive players. While Standard is in a good place right now, Modern is definitely very, very popular.

And of course, don't forget that Wizards has got your back already on this whole thing. You can still qualify for Mythic Championships via older formats like Modern, Legacy, Pauper, and Vintage using Magic Online.

It's also worth noting that it did not take long for Cardhoarder and the like to get back to buying, with the condition that folks be rational and not flood them hard again with collection requests.

Again, the important part is to be rational, and be realistic. Don't panic! (And always remember your towel, of course.)

On a Brighter Note

On a brighter note, sometimes the Magic community are the most awesome people on the planet. Sometimes a community can help someone in need and help them get back on their feet.

Take recently, coming off the weekend of SCG Con and the StarCityGames Invitational in Roanoke, VA. SCG Regular and Queen of the Spirit Squad Kat Light (well known for playing Bant Spirits as her chosen deck) posted on Twitter that her Spirit deck had gone missing at the Airbnb where she was staying. She had last seen it the Saturday night prior, and the house had some people over that were not staying there.

This really sucks. While there is still some hope that the person who took it might feel a little guilty and cough it up, the likelihood is small and it's hard to track. It's sad in this holiday season that people have to act like this.

However, the Internet MTG community moved into action. Numerous folks jumped in and donated cards, helping Kat to get her deck back. Within the span of a day, not only had Kat had her full 75 back, but also some upgrades in some new shiny cards. Not only that, those donating the cards signed them for her (at Kat's request) as gifts to help Kat get back into the art of spell-slinging. Kat herself responded to everyone, stating that while the day had started terribly, it ended wonderfully.

It's amazing to see what this community can truly do for others in such a wonderfully short amount of time. I'm definitely looking forward to the first time Kat gets on camera with her new baby. It's going to showcase the love and amazingness that this community can sometimes pull off, and something we should all aspire to be like. And furthermore, it's going to come with a story. No matter what happens down the line, Kat herself is never going to forget the generosity of her friends and of course, her extended family of the Magic community.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this month folks! Remember to have some fun this holiday season and keep jamming all those cool games of Magic and maybe get some sweet stuff in your stocking!

Until next time!

Joseph Dyer (@volrathxp) is an avid Legacy enthusiast. He's admin of the /r/NicFitMTG subreddit, as well as a regular participant on the Source and MTGLegacy subreddits. His knowledge of the Legacy format is deeply rooted in constant analysis, playtesting, and lots of discussion of the format. Joseph's primary accomplishments include a 10–5 finish at GP Columbus 2016 with Rhino Fit, and a 32nd place finish at SCG Columbus Legacy Classic with Sneak Fit. 

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