One of the questions that crops up a lot in various UK-based forums is ‘How do we grow our community?’ I know it’s one of the things that store owners and tournament organisers ask themselves on a smaller scale but Tu Nguyen, owner of Manaleak, has asked this question on a national level. The answer he has come up with is that big events that draw players from all over the country foster a sense of community.
I have written quite a bit about travelling to PPTQs and GPs. How you tend to see a lot of familiar faces and relationships grow. This year a second GP was added to the UK. Liverpool and London. This is awesome and, with both looking like attracting decent numbers, we should see this continue next year. For those willing to travel onto mainland Europe there are a whole bunch more GPs, like Utrecht which is the Modern Masters GP.
My point is that Magic in the UK is growing, and Wizards are acknowledging that. However, it is not good enough that we just sit around and wait for WotC to gift us bigger tournaments. We have to go out and make these things happen. That is what Manaleak has done here. They want a stronger competitive Magic scene here in the UK so they have put together this whole weekend for Eternal Spikes to do battle.
I know, I know. I can hear some of you saying “Oh man… Legacy?” or “Vintage is too expensive to get into.”
A lot of people who don’t play Legacy or Vintage seem to think it’s all turn one kills and power 9. They will probably moan about the barrier to entry being thousands of pounds. But I have to say that this is not what I have found.
To be fair we don’t have much of a Legacy seen at our local shop. I run an 8 man every couple of months and players tend to play whatever seems like fun. There’s always a few recognised Legacy decks floating about but mostly it’s a bunch of players who want to play with a larger card pool.
My fellow Manaleak scribe Chris Cooper has written a lot about Legacy and Vintage. He’s posted lots of fun and affordable lists in his articles and I have to say that Chris is like most of the Eternal players I have come across. They are always very passionate and excited about their favorite format. They, more than anyone, wish there was less of a barrier to entry. They do their very best to mitigate the drawbacks and will go out of their way to make the format accessible in their local area. Because they know that more players mean more fun.
Eternal players on the Manaleak message boards have talked about fostering the Vintage or Legacy scene in their areas by lending out decks, having an altered ban list for power cards or, as Manaleak are doing for the Eternal weekend, offering prizes to decks without specific cards that manage to finish high in the rankings.
What’s the appeal of the non-rotating formats?
Firstly let me just say that, because I’m going to talk about Modern now, I have changed to the preferred title of non-rotating formats to appease the pedants. I think the number one appeal is that your deck stays playable. (Sorry pod players). There is no rotation so unless there is a specific problem with a card you can just keep the same deck and play the pants off it. This also leads to better skill games as people know their way around a match up.
Another reason is, and this might be a bit of an odd one to some, that people like a project. Standard is a fast moving format where the meta shifts from week to week. The non-rotating formats move a lot slower. For example, Bitterblossom was unbanned over a year ago but it took that long for the meta to shift and for the card to make its way into some decent decks. It also means that people can go about slowly acquiring the cards to play the deck they want.
I started getting together my Legacy deck well over a year ago. I don’t have all the cards I want for it yet but I know by the time I do that they will all still be playable, especially in a smaller local meta.
Having the ability to go to your shelf and pick up your Modern/Legacy/Vintage deck is a great thing. Without having to rebuild your deck for a shifting meta every few weeks. Sure, your 75 cards will change but it won’t be the wholesale changes of Standard.
Lets have a look at my list. I know I’m giving away vital tech but I’m going to the Eternal weekend to have fun and I don’t mind if people know I’m packing the heat.
1 Sulfuric Vortex 2 Searing Blood 2 Smash to Smithereens 2 Vexing Shusher 2 Ensnaring Bridge 1 Tormod's Crypt 2 Relic of Progentitus 3 Red Elemental Blast
So I’ll admit even this cheap list is rather expensive at face value but at least eight cards are borrowed and even more were traded into. My daughter opened a foil Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and that goes a long way when you’re trading for red cards.
Now, I have to build two Legacy decks, one for me and one for my son. This is where the community comes in. My son is one of those players at our local 8 mans that want to just play all the crazy cards. That means I don’t have a deck that would be any good for him at the Eternal weekend. So I turned to other players who like a bit of Legacy and, because they are grown ups and have responsibilities, are not able to go to the actual tournament. They all said they would help me build a deck for him to play, and get stuck in with testing too. And on the day I know at least a few of them will want progress reports. As a community we get to share in one player’s wins and losses.
We get to go to the comp and grow our UK Magic community, so thanks to Tu for putting this together. Also to Alex Gershaw who has done a lot to promote this event, and Legacy in general, up north. But let’s not forgot to thank, and wish good luck to, those who have already signed up to play. You are helping grow Magic in the UK.
Community Question: What do you love most about playing Eternal formats?
Thanks for reading,