One of my favourite parts of this hobby is the reaction. Whenever there is an announcement of cards from Wizards, I head to my favourite forums and read why this will be the reason that Magic will die. I have to admit I’m a positive person. I’m also very impressed by needless novelty. Put these two things together and you get someone who is always excited to see changes.
Let’s look at the last year or so of announcements.
Last summer it was Slivers. Whilst most players could see the gameplay benefits of this new one-sided mechanic, the community as a single voice hated the new art direction.
“They don’t look like Slivers. They look like the Predator.”
“What a terrible decision by WotC. The old Slivers were the best.”
“This new art work has burnt down my house and stolen my girlfriend.”
Were among the complaints.
Theros release was remarkably free of Magic-killing announcements. Well, a few grumbles about the bestow mechanic changing card type on the stack but apart from that magic was allowed to continue.
2013 Commander release introduced cards that interacted with the command zone. Surely this small fragile game that was only twenty years young would be murderised to death by these cards? The design team have blood on their hands for th… Oh hang on, nope they were cool. Lots of people enjoyed playing these.
“The new card frames are so hideous they will scare children.”
“No new players will start the game anymore and Magic will be dead in two weeks after the new frames come in.”
“Aren’t they just the same as the Planeswalker frames we have now?”
After such a close thing WotC should play it safe and not do anything crazy, right?
Conspiracy! Those fools, they’ve blown it now! Like I said in my intro, I love the novel so the way Wizards went about announcing this set was great. I think most people agreed and lots of fun was had on the internet solving these puzzles.
When the set came out, people who don’t enjoy multiplayer formats were furious with WotC for selling a product that they couldn’t (or didn’t) buy. I follow Mark Rosewater on tumblr and nearly every day he had to answer to people who were cross at him personally because Conspiracy was not a set they wanted to play.
In forums there were posts that claimed that WotC would shrivel and die if they kept on focusing on casual player instead of Spikes. These are the same guys who reply to someone who has asked what booster box they should buy with the comment.
“Buy singles. It’s more efficient.”
I’m just going to take a minute to talk about this. It’s probably right that buying singles is efficient, and I certainly get some of my cards this way, but opening packs is just great. People love to do it. If someone asks you if you know any nice country walks, you wouldn’t answer with
“You should get the bus, it’s more efficient.”
It kinda misses the point of what the person was going to get their enjoyment from.
The Modern Event Deck. I personally loved this deck, It was very cool and I voiced my opinion online. I got a lot of people telling me it was a terrible product. It didn’t have any fetches or contain any gold bullion. Wizards might as well just throw the entire print run in the bin and close the business down because no one would buy this awful product.
My rebuttal was that it had the things in it that I didn’t have, and that not having fetches meant that I could by it for RRP at my LGS. Well I guess I should have shut my mouth. It was explained to me in great detail how my LGS was a terribly run business and that they will probably close down soon. So not only was Magic dying but so was my LGS. This was the worst news… or was it?
There was a teaser for the Commander 2014 decks at San Diego Comic Con. Those crazy fools at WotC had gone and made a brand new Planeswalker: Teferi, Temporal Archmage. Cool, a Planeswalker from before when they had Planeswalkers characters in the story but not the Planeswalker card type. A lot of people have been wishing for pre-mending Planeswalkers. To the messageboards I went to see what was what.
Yep, Magic was dead.
“How can Wizards make Planeswalkers Commanders?”
“Does this mean all Planeswalkers are now legal Commanders? If so, that means Commander is no longer a format I’m going to enjoy.”
“I told my kid about the changes to Commander and now he says he’s going to play Yu-Gi-Oh! instead.”
“Sell your collection! Bury your playmats! Burn your dice! Magic has died!”
If you haven’t already figured it out, my examples of community reactions are exaggerated but they aren’t too far from the actual reactions you will see online. I don’t know if it’s the same across other online hobby communities. I don’t really frequent other forums much anymore but this is not how the people in my LGS react to announcements. Sure there are a few people who will not like certain decisions the company make, but they normally offer much more reasoned responses like.
“Na I’m not a fan but I guess I’ll get used to it.”
“I’ll have to see how it plays before I make a proper judgement.”
Then we have the new block structure. I, like most people, logged on the moment Daily MTG went live with the article that was going to change Magic. I read it and thought it was a fairly obvious and simple solution to a problem that most players could see to some degree. I rubbed my hands together in expectant glee over the hyperbole I would find once I logged onto my favourite forum.
When I got there, though, something terrible had happened. Everyone was being reasonable and talking over why the changes were needed. Examples of where the third set was terrible and where a proto 2 block method had been tried out.
I was truly saddened that day. You could say a little bit of Magic died in me.