Why I Hate Magic: The Gathering Spoiler Season – Fact not Fiction by Michael Maxwell
I hate Magic: The Gathering spoiler season, especially leading up to new large sets. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing the new cards being revealed and imagining what they might do to various formats, but I hate what the new cards bring with them. I feel like I’ve read the same article 10 times already this week, and as I write this we’re still over two weeks away from the prerelease. They all have the exact same boring, predictable pattern:
Step 1: Talk briefly about one the handful of new cards that has been spoiled, mentioning how it’s similar to other cards we’ve had in Standard recently.
Step 2: Show what is basically a Return to Ravnica (RTR) block constructed decklist, but with 4 of whatever card you are talking about in it.
Step 3: Say that since only a handful of cards have been spoiled you have no idea if this new card/deck is going to be good.
Go to StarCityGames or ChannelFireball and have a look how many articles there are like that. They’re everywhere! All talking about the same few cards, putting them in extremely obvious decklists, and saying how it may or may not be good depending on what else gets spoiled/how the metagame evolves. For 2-3 weeks the number of articles out there that are interesting to read plummets, as everyone who can’t think of anything interesting to write about churns out the same article.
There are two circumstances under which I find these articles acceptable:
- The entire set has been spoiled, allowing cards and decks to be analysed in some sort of context.
- A new card gets spoiled that does something genuinely different to any other card in the format or that enables some sort of combo deck.
Saying that a one mana removal spell is going to be good or that some new planeswalker/mechanic/etc is going to be really good if the support is there for it but bad if it isn’t is as useful and interesting as listening to Sheldon Menery commentate on a match at the 0-15 table in the last round of the Pro Tour. Once the entire set is out, then you can start to make some sort of judgement on how easy it’s going to be to get enough devotion to keep the Gods around as creatures, or if [card]Destructive Revelry[/card] is going to be a maindeck card, but until you have that information can people not think of something more interesting to write about?
If a card comes along that does something unique or different, say like [card]Open the Vaults[/card] or [card]Birthing Pod[/card], then by all means dedicate an article to talking about the different ways you could build decks with that card, but reading entire articles about [card]Chained to the Rocks[/card] or [card]Abhorrent Overlord[/card] is tedious and smacks of a lack of imagination. Even talking about 3-4 vaguely interesting cards is not enough, either wait till the set is at least mostly spoiled so you have some context, or talk about a genuinely different and exciting card.
Now, it may seem like I’m just ragging on some of the best writers on the biggest sites, but that’s not what I’m trying to do as I do enjoy their content the vast majority of the time and I do understand their problem. They’re contracted to produce an article each and every week, which is difficult enough at the best of times, but with Worlds Week behind us and the Pro Tour too far away to get excited about yet, it’s even harder to think of something to write about. Standard PTQ season is over, but they can’t talk about Theros limited yet because the set isn’t spoiled, so they either write about the spoilers or come out with really generic articles such as ‘how to get better’ or ‘what magic means to me’.
It could be that the statistics show that on sites such as SCG and CFB the articles on spoilers and Standard are really popular and as such they are encouraged by their editors to write about these things, but I know that when I see a new Modern, or especially Legacy, video go up I’m always excited to watch them. Watching a Standard video is ok, but watching someone play a Daily Event with Jund and seeing them play R/G, U/W, the mirror, and R/G again is only interesting so many times. It’s going to be a long time before I get bored of watching people play Modern or Legacy events, both because the metagame is more diverse but also because the people recording videos always seem more willing to play unusual decks in older formats than in Standard.
So, my message to writers is this: if during spoiler season (or at any other time) you cant think of something particularly interesting to write about, try talking about something other than Standard. Just because you don’t regularly produce Modern, Legacy, Vintage, or EDH content it doesn’t mean that every once in a while you cant take a break from what you usually talk about to do a deck tech on some sweet brew or fringe archetype you enjoy playing or think might be good and running it through an 8-man or daily event. Strategy sites get completely saturated with articles about spoilers from day 1, so a little variety would be nice. I write a lot of articles during spoiler season, but they’re very rarely about spoilers, because reading the same article for the 10th time isn’t interesting to me and it isn’t interesting to you.
With that rant/plea/public service announcement out of the way, there is one other thing I wanted to talk about, which I started thinking about because of the card [card]Dreadbore[/card].
When Planeswalkers were first released back in Lorwyn, WotC said that they weren’t going to print cards that directly referenced or interacted with Planeswalkers (and no, [card]Great Wall[/card] doesn’t count). After a few years of printing ‘walkers they decided to try [card]Dreadbore[/card], to the consternation and objection of basically no one. This got me thinking, what other types of cards might/could they print in the future along these lines? Destroy target Planeswalker was a natural starting point, but what else could they do?
Here are a few of the more obvious ideas I came up with:
Loyal Guard – Creature – 1W
When Loyal Guard enters the battlefield, put a loyalty counter on target Planeswalker you control.
Allied Presence – Sorcery – U
Put a loyalty counter on each Planeswalker you control
Dark Prophet – Creature – 2B
When Dark Prophet enters the battlefield, remove 2 loyalty counters from target Planeswalker you don’t control
Master Assassin – Creature – 1BB
When Master Assassin deals combat damage to a player, destroy target Planeswalker that player controls
Surprise Attack – Instant – 3GG
Put a green creature or Planeswalker onto the battlefield from your hand.
Those are some of the more basic designs that we could see in the coming months if cards interacting directly with Planeswalkers is a path they want to go down. Do you like the idea of cards that interact with Planeswalkers? What designs do you think would be fun? Do you agree with me about spoiler season articles or can you not get enough of them?
Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading,
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