It has been a while since I have written any articles about Magic, whilst I have wanted to write; I needed a subject that I thought would make a good read and be interesting to write.
I was thinking recently about how my enjoyment of Magic has changed over the past months and wondering why?
Recently I attended GP Manchester and went with one bye safely secured by my Planeswalker Points, the only other time I had byes was from when I had won a GPT. I got to thinking that actually Planeswalker points has influenced my experiences with Magic in a positive way, I’d never had byes from my ELO rating.
I have recently been a much more competitive Magic player over the past few years, when I first played Magic I was much more casual; viewing Tournament play as a chance to show off my home brewed decks. When I returned several years ago I had changed as a person and was initially more competitive, that competitiveness grew with me looking to play in bigger events and do well.
To me the ELO system was a challenge as I returned to the game on less than 1500 points over 100 under the 1600 start level, over time I managed to steadily raise my rating and consistently hang around 1800 even pushing up to 1870 ish at the peak of my prowess. Whilst you could beat a big fish and gain lots of points it was more the threat of losing points that would cause changes to my play, if my sealed pool was poor I’d drop from a PTQ, if I had brought the wrong deck for the meta I’d likewise drop from the PTQ.
You know, I don’t do that so much now, the reason being I don’t really have anything to lose by continuing playing, if I win another round I will usually get more PWP than winning all my matches at my local FNM and more importantly I was getting practice against other decks. I remember coming home from my first Nationals, I hadn’t done at all well and lost well over a hundred hard fought ELO point gained over several months in two days.
Now how has this changed with PWP? even at the most basic of events you see less drop outs, people do seem to play events out more often. From a TO perspective I haven’t seen anyone drop out of an event for months due to having a bad deck and have attended PTQ’s who still have the majority of players staying in until the later rounds, though with higher level events this may also be connected to the increased entry fees for the last two seasons, but that is a discussion for another time.
Are PWP easier to gain than ELO points? Yes, as we get participation points but what most people forget is that to get a significant amount of PWP you do have to actually win your matches. It’s still the same that bigger gains come from playing in bigger events. Of course the recent GP Manchester has set me up nicely for the next season as gained over 200 in one weekend, more than I feel I could attain in a season of FNM’s.
PWP did come as a surprise to many players, as a Tournament Organiser I have seen numbers drop from people not liking the changes but PWP was only part of that with the organized play changes we all experienced. A bit of a poll of my own players recently reported that they didn’t even have an awareness of either ELO or PWP, they come for their weekly Tournament.
Looking through at other events it does feel like a little bit of a lighter atmosphere at events, there are fewer times you see people rage due to mana screw, bad luck etc against what they would consider a scrub costing them lots of ELO rating in addition to the loss itself. The stigma of a really low rating no longer exists, each event everyone pretty much starts on the same level.
Are PWP an encouragement? Well I certainly saw lots of players at events in March as they strove to get enough PWP for the WMCQ’s or for GP byes. That sounds to me like a positive as it helped attendances for those Tournament Organizers running events.
Now PWP has had its problems originally the multipliers were out leaving some wild options at Pro events to gain points at side events. Then we had FNM which is supposed to be an entry level event at x 3 PWP which in several communities saw some grinding of points and several players rolling up with the best deck possible and being very particular on rules enforcement.
It didn’t happen everywhere but where it did you could see the differences between those who wanted to play on the bigger stage and those who didn’t. With FNM, a normal event, it’s now a much friendlier place. What I have noticed is a decline in numbers at less formal events FNM, Game Day and Pre-Releases see good numbers with their extra prizes but a weekend shop event will be sparsely attended or fail to get enough players.
So how do I feel overall about Planeswalker Points, the initial installation wasn’t exactly advertised very well but we have all seen the after shock’s of the changes Wizards brought in and the system was far from perfect. There have been some good tweaks to the system on how points are awarded making the system much more rounded.
I have gotten over the loss of ELO rating but don’t feel the same sense of achievement in getting PWP. I have noticed I am more relaxed when I play events as I know my rating won’t take a hit no matter how badly I do. That being said PWP doesn’t have the same feel as ELO rating, I would check my rating weekly to see if it had increased and was happy whenever I saw I had my highest ratings but I only checked PWP to confirm I could attend WMCQ’s and have my bye for Manchester.
Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing.