Since we all play this crazy game, why not find ways to make it better? I posted a Facebook status that asked what players would change about the game and got an unexpected amount of responses. This made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who thought Magic isn’t perfect.
3 things to know about this article (in the style of 3thingstoknow.com)
1. I am very critical of MTG
2. areas of critique include tournament structure as well as the rules
3. I love the game so I want to make it better
If you could change one thing about MTG for the better…
I narrowed the question down to just one change so I can gauge what’s the most important issue to players.
Ben Rasmussen: Kill mythics
Did you really think I could write an article about making changes and leave out the mythic debate? I was very radical in my stance regarding the price of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and I still stand by it. However, it would be more useful if I proposed a healthier approach to mythic rares instead. We can actually use the mythic rarity for good, but it’s not being done right now. Why is Hoard-Smelter Dragon not a mythic rare? It has the qualities that mythics are said to posess: a large casting cost that appeals to a wide audience and has the capability to ruin Limited games.
There were other players that voiced their concern over the amount of game ending cards in Limited. The integrity of the format is compromised when a small child opens a bunch of good cards and smashes everyone. We can use the mythic rarity to limit the amount of bombs seen in games of Limited. If you like playing against stupid bombs and want them to be more common, let me know in the forums.
Many players are also concerned over the price of planeswalkers due to their mythic rarity. If we reduce them to rare status they will be played more in games of Limited and will have less value. I know it’s tempting to complain about the price of something since before it was the cycles of land. If we only use the mythic rarity to protect Limited, then the prices of tournament staples will increase across the board. I personally like that Jace makes up for half of the cost of my decks because it’s easier to build a wider variety of decks. There was a time where no card in standard was more than 20$, but many were in the 10$ range. The cards that were played less frequently were more expensive and it was more difficult to build new decks as a result.
Luis Scott-Vargas bring back team events
This has been a debate ever since team events were replaced for Two-Headed Giant in 2007. We all love that format, right? Team events should have been revitalized as soon as 2HG was removed from the PTQ circuit. The grizzled veterans of the game know what I’m talking about, but my younger audience has never experienced team formats in all of their glory.
When I ask people about their favorite format, it’s usually team Limited or team unified Constructed. Who doesn’t love to play Magic with their best buddies? I just wish I was more experienced when it was around to take full advantage of it.
Paulo Vitor: I think I’d have to go with team events too – it seems very easy to implement, every single person on earth wants it to happen, and I have no clue why they haven’t come back yet, at least as an experiment. Even if it fails, you have one tournament that didn’t go as well as planned and that’s it. If it works, though, you have something sweet in your hands, seems worth a try.
I like the idea of WOTC giving the team format one try before it’s brought back in full force. The problem that is rarely addressed for teams is that it can be difficult for everyone to acquire two teammates. The players I associate with are a tight-knit group so it’s rarely an actual problem for them. Take for example someone who just got back into the game or lives far away from Magic hubs; can he find a team? I’m sure it’s possible, but not worth his time and effort. A sealed PTQ just requires you to arrive on time (not even essential) and have 30 bucks. There were always players who waited in the corner like they were being picked last for kickball that waited to see if they could find team mates.
Many players will drive to a PTQ or GP in a car with 3-4 other players. How many teams can you form with 4-5 players? The number 3 and 6 is quite awkward for the average PTQ player because they want to maximize value on gas prices. The two additional players must find another player that needs to transport himself to the event.
My first Pro Tour qualification came from an LCQ for Charleston back in 2006. It was difficult for me to find a team because I was new to big tournaments so I ended up with my brother and a guy I knew from back in the day. Neither of them played much Magic recently for various reasons, but they were all I could find. You may be asking yourself how a young upstart like myself and my rag-tag crew could possibly qualify for the Pro Tour. There were only 25 teams in the tournament and the top 4 teams received an invite. Twenty-five teams for an LCQ where 12 players qualify? The LCQs of today have about 300 players because they are more accessible and award less invitations.
WOTC is a business, as much as we all hate to admit it, and they need money to operate. Hasbro doesn’t exist to cater to the wishes of Magic players; they want to maximize their profit. We are living in an age where the kitchen table players are being catered to because they spend the money to keep the game alive and profitable.
I’m not asking for an entire Grand Prix or PTQ season, but lets just have team event once a year like legacy.
Stephen Boggemes (No relation) Synchronize online and real life releases
This is actually my cousin and is responsible for getting me interested in Magic as a lad.
Synchronizing the release date seems like an easy fix because all that can be compromised is the secrecy of the set. I don’t really understand why it’s necessary to keep the cards in a set a secret for a few extra weeks when it means that there are several lame-duck sessions on Magic Online.
This idea was implemented when Judgment was released back in the stone age. WOTC was shocked and outraged that a beta tester would spoil the contents of the set. As far as I know the set sold well even with this “slip.”
Remove foil cards from new sets
I saw a picture of Jace, the Mind Sculptor that had a beta card frame and it looked awesome. The new card frame makes me yearn for the old days, and we can still use the original for promotional purposes. WOTC could replace foil cards in new sets and instead have premium Beta card boarders.
It was annoying when you played against a small child with mono red burn during Shadowmoor standard. I could always tell what they were playing before we began because there were eight cards that were curved. The promotional Demigod of Revenge and Figure of Destiny were responsible for many game losses and marked decks in tournaments. That’s pretty ironic considering they were awarded for tournament participation (who doesn’t love irony? WOTC has a sense of humor, that’s all).
Foil cards are also removed from high level drafts because they will be drawn more frequently due to their curvature. The fact that foils are manually removed from packs at the professional level means that high level judges know they compromise the integrity of the game.
I understand that there are many players who enjoy collecting foils and they should still be allowed in tournaments. As they are gradually removed from new sets, there will be less formats where this is an issue.
Sheldon Menery, Ben Stark, Tatyana Dobreva -Change mulligan rules
There were various ideas thrown around such as getting a free mulligan for hands that contain 0,1,6, and 7 lands for Limited. I like that Ben took this idea for only Limited because it’s difficult to abuse. Constructed decks have been known to contain as many as 43 lands or just two so I would advise against using it. The issue is that the rules on mulligans no longer become universal, which could be confusing to many players.
When I test for tournaments, players are allowed to mulligan to six an additional time. After the player mulligans to six two times, they are allowed to mulligan to five cards an additional time. My biggest concern for any new rule on mulligans is the increased power of combo decks. If you’re allowed to exchange life for a mulligan, decks that replace consistency for power are rewarded. The additional mulligan to six allows players to find reasonable hands without aggressively taking mulligans.
Tom Ross – Remove the “discard down to 7” rule. The possibility of abusing large hand sizes is slim.
Discarding from 8 allows plays that lack flavor like turn 2 Reanimate. It also unnecessarily punishes players that are manascrewed. Decks that draw a lot of cards will have a slight edge but if you have to discard from drawing too many cards the game result isn’t likely gonna change. Deciding which card(s) to discard takes up extra gametime that could be spent on gameplay.
I like this because there is no need to punish players who are already in bad positions. I would argue that there should be more rules implemented to help players when they are land light or flooded to make Magic more balanced. The only players who like the current rule are those that play degenerate combo decks like dredge or reanimator.
Grand Prix attendance structure
It doesn’t seem fair to me that an Australian Grand Prix with 400 competitors can give out the same prizes as a Euro or U.S. GP with 1,800 players. I don’t have an actual answer as to how it should be corrected due to various gambling laws it may violate, but there is a solution that involves adjusting prize money and pro points based on attendance.
There usually isn’t enough rounds for the large Grands Prix because I have gotten ninth place twice with an x-2-1 record (sick brag I know). That record was a lock just a few years ago and now there are a only couple that can make it.
A travesty regarding the Pro Tour qualification system is that the top 16 players in a Grand Prix lose the ability to compete in a PTQ for that season. It’s a joke to think that getting 16th in a 2,000 person event can actually be a hindrance. 500$ is nice and all, but that means you have to pay for a flight to Japan as well as the hotel and food. WOTC doesn’t give you the right to try to win your plane ticket that’s responsible for a majority of the cost.
The PTQ System
How can getting second place in a 200-person PTQ feel like your dog just died? Now I know I probably live a sheltered life, but there aren’t many things I have experienced that make me feel worse. This seems like a glaring hole in the system and we can do something to fix it.
I propose something similar to the VS. System Pro Circuit Qualifiers. A PCQ top 8 would result in a number of points and the farther along top 8 you go, the more points are earned. If you win the finals, all of the necessary points are earned. This helps players that consistently top 8 PTQs like Calosso to get more chances on the Pro Tour. Why is the random guy that played the right deck one week be more deserving to play on the Pro Tour than a ringer who Top 8ed 5 PTQs in a row?
I know many players that decided to stop playing PTQs because it feels futile. There is a room full of decent players and only one of them will go home happy. I have never seen a more depressing structure for a tournament. It makes me wonder about the typical attendance for an adjusted PTQ.
Discretion regarding banning cards
Why would WOTC pigeonhole themselves into only being allowed to ban a card during each season? I was happy that there were only four Caw-Go decks in the top 8 of the last SCG Open. Does this sound like a healthy format? The format would be much better if WOTC banned Sword of Feast and Famine.
I like the idea of banning cards that only affect one archetype. It may seem easy to blame the state of Standard on Stoneforge Mystic, but it’s the wrongdoing of the sword. When Valakut started to hinder the creativity of the format, the land itself was to blame rather than Primeval Titan.
My solution for these stale formats is to ban cards far more frequently. It takes about a month for people to solve the formats and have the popular decks narrowed down to just a few. I think the State Championships are so popular because the fresh format allows for many archetypes to exist. As soon as formats become solved, players typically complain that it’s boring. There aren’t many players that complain about the vast possibilities in a format because that’s why we play the game.
Yu-Gi-Oh! used this method for a while to keep formats fresh by banning and unbanning cards when necessary. As soon as the format became stale, it was immediately shaken up again by changing the Banned and Restricted list. We can have fun playing Standard even if a new set is not released to change the format.
Dress Code for tournaments
I’m glad this doesn’t apply to everyone, but you should get clean every day. This has been discussed by so many players as a joke, but it’s serious. We are representatives of the game and we should at least be clean and friendly. Tournaments are held in large convention centers where many people gather and we are often the distinct group with poor hygiene. Who would want to become interested in a game where the tournament is held in the room with the large gathering of smelly guys wearing those ironic T-shirts?
If you want to see the game continue to grow, we must break through the barrier of filth. There is a negative connotation associated with Magic players and it’s up to each and every one of us to change that.
There are many problems we can fix that will allow Magic to be an even better game. The only way to bring about these changes is to make the problems known to the community as well as Wizards of the Coast. There are so many possibilities out there that we should never be satisfied with what we have.
Be thankful I didn’t use any Gruesome Encore jokes this week!
Thanks for reading