My thoughts on Magic: The Gathering Counterfeits, Eternal Formats and the Future by Alex Gershaw

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My thoughts on Magic: The Gathering Counterfeits, Eternal Formats and the Future by Alex Gershaw

This past month has been a whirlwind of Wizards having to tell people fairly sternly what it means to participate in their game. This article isn’t about passing comment on that, or whether I think what Wizards are doing is fair or unfair. This is an article about what happens next.

In short, Vintage tournaments will mostly end, except for the few occasions where the Vintage community get organised and make something happen, sadly this is not often the case as most of the Vintage players I know have obligations outside the game that often prevent such get-togethers. How do I know this? Well Wizards have already been enforcing the “no proxy” rule in the UK for around a year now, but it has only just become an international public discussion. Various TOs have been threatened with “Stop that, or your WPN status will be revoked”.

Wizards cannot stop what a non-WPN organiser can do, they have no threat there, they can’t stop you playing whatever you like, however you like at your kitchen table. So Wizards put up another barrier to entry, which means that we (the MTG community) have to get smart and get organised, otherwise a perfectly fun and incredibly busted format might die.

I have to define a term here before I go on. Wizards wants to define any player who uses any cards to replace or represent another card as using a “counterfeit”, this dilutes the word “counterfeit” entirely and it’s a term that I do not recognise. Instead I am going to use the word “replacement” – a replacement card is one intended to be used in unsanctioned events or testing but will not ever be sold, traded or passed on – printed replacements and scribbling on basic lands and useless commons aren’t– at least in my mind –counterfeits, because that word is necessary for a different discussion, one that is about buying and selling cards.

Vintage tournaments will mostly end
Image credit – http://cardboard-crack.com

What does this mean for LegacyTo me and the lovely Legacy powerhouse that is the North of England, very little. We’ve been “replacement” free for 5 years or so now. I’d be lying to say we didn’t do proxy events, I remember the time when we have 10 proxy and 5 proxy events for Legacy and it helped John “Wizbit” Ingham lend out far more decks than he had access to. (Side note – it was often the fetchlands he was missing multiples of not the duals, since Legacy decks often have more fetches in them than duals). Those events helped, but I don’t think they were necessary. I showed up with Affinity, what could have been classed as a tier 3 deck even then, I showed up with no proxies, had a lot of fun jamming some FNM-like events and sometimes make the prizes.

The Legacy community (at least in the North) is quite big and self-supporting, want to join in? Just ask on the Northern Legacy board to borrow a deck and you can join us too. We create our own events and have a lot of support from the TOs in the area, so much so in fact that even if Wizards decreed on high tomorrow that Legacy would no longer be supported as a format, or even that it was “banned” (something I’m fairly certain they would never do) we’d still function. This is mostly because the Legacy players aren’t just adversaries in battle, but they are also some of the best friends I have ever made.

What does it mean for areas without an already established community? Things got a little harder, I’d suggest finding an established community, finding a deck you like to play on any of the electronic platforms (e.g. on this website) before spending even a penny on a format that might not be for you. Playing it for six months or playing a wide range of decks for a year before actually investing to see if you both like the format and the game play found within it.

If there are no established communities in your area, you might have to go back to basics, you might have to start a Legacy community of your own, get a bunch of friends together and play the format without the high powered cards. Using Modern decks and porting them over to Legacy will get the community off the ground and while I know that isn’t quite the same, and you might not be making the top eight at a competitive event, it would be a great way to get into the format and work towards something greater. Often what a community really needs is enthusiasm, and maybe that spark will give someone who already has the cards (or the trading knowledge) to become a lender, and lenders are important in eternal formats.

The reason why I don’t think Wizards will ditch Legacy because it actually does make them money, it’s advertising for the game, the format still excites the professional players and why wouldn’t it, they get to enjoy it once or twice a year like a fine champagne. It’s also full of players who actively participate in other formats, playing Infect, Affinity, Jund and D&T in Legacy means you might actually be interested in those decks in Modern too, a format where Wizards has more influence over. Spoiler season still makes me want to buy boxes even though I’m a casual eternal player.

magic the gathering tournament events players

If there isn’t already an established community then start one of your own!

Speaking of Modern, I feel it’s about time to cut down some walls and dispel some myths – I think the barrier to expand in to either of these formats is attitude, and if we (the players) don’t stop bad mouthing each other for the formats that we play, then we are only hurting ourselves. For example…

Things Modern players don’t want to hear:

“Come play the best format”

“Why would you be interested in a format without [Enter various cards/decks/archetypes here]

“Modern, they keep banning the best deck”

Things Legacy players don’t want to hear:

“Why don’t you play a real format?”

“Legacy is a format where you die on turn 1”

“Why would you have fun doing [Enter various things you can do in Legacy but can’t in other formats here]

We are all guilty of it, we are all guilty of wanting to stay in our own caves with the entrance blockaded, where our friends are, where its nice a comfortable, but honestly, it’s probably more detrimental to the health of all formats than anything Wizards could do.

To that end, let me announce my dream – Sometime by the Summer of 2017, there will be a cross-format invitational in the North of England. Every month from March, Northern League will be awarding 2 invitations per open to the two highest finishers who don’t already have an invitation.

2 events per month, 1 Legacy and 1 Modern. The invitational will be multi-format and will have an impressive prize pool (to be announced later).

If you are interested in my events please look up Northern League on Facebook, the next events are 30th January for Legacy and 6 February for Modern at IQ Games Huddersfield. I hope to see you there.

If you have any more questions please message me, Alex Gershaw, on Facebook on comment below.

Thanks for reading,

Alex Gershaw

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