Ten Minute Magic (July 29, 2016) – Magic: The Gathering Eldritch Moon Booster Box Mapping Problems, New Hashtag Policy
Join Joseph Dunlap and Ben Cottee in this week’s episode of Ten Minute Magic, a bi-weekly podcast format that highlights recent news in the world of Magic: The Gathering and looks at exceptional comments from recent content on Manaleak.com.
This is what’s going on in Magic: The Gathering this week…
1. Magic Booster Box Mapping: No Longer a Thing of the Past?
Magic: The Gathering was notorious at one point in its history for box mapping. Basically the print runs and packaging were so fixed that after buying enough boxes and marking in what booster positions in a box your rares were you could begin to go into a store open one pack and then know which pack/box to buy to hit the most card value. This is obviously not desirable for Wizards or consumers as you end up with packs sitting on shelves assuming that all the high value has already been plundered and an imbalance on the number of specific cards opened, also destroying the random chance of the next booster being the good one drug that we all chase.
This practice has largely been accepted as impossible to replicate for so long, due to randomisation in the printing and packaging, that the practice is mostly a whisper of legend for most players but has reared its head again this year. There was a Reddit poster which had some evidence and validity to opening identical Eternal Masters boosters boxes, as in the exact same rares and tokens in both boxes, this was brushed off at the time as it appeared to be a one off and Eternal Masters had a number of printing issues. Less easy to wash away is an apparent issue with Eldritch Moon.
A number of posters on Reddit plus some notable finance writers on Twitter have identified a correlation between the artwork on the booster wrapping and the chances of opening a specific mythic/flip card in a specific box, so in one box all the mythics will be in the same art pack. So you can open all the mythics at a much higher rate than the 1-8 ratio they should be, that could send shockwaves through the secondary market and severely undermine consumer confidence?
This in itself isn’t as much a problem as full box mapping was, although a right pain at the local store level requiring some randomisation/solutions, you will still open loads of random rares not every pack with that art has a Mythic after all, it also seems to be specific to the first US printed run (much the largest however globally). But this along with one off anomalies such as the Eternal Master boxes mentioned does give some concern as to what is happening at the printers and is worth some investigation from Wizards before a box mapping disaster occurs.
2. Wizards of the Coast Staff Hashtag
This week saw an unexpected change on MTG social media: any person who is an official Wizards of the Coast employee, when producing any public content (blog, article, or tweet), will now insert the hashtag #WotCStaff. The official explanation is that this adds clarity and consistency to the online presence of Wizards of the Coast. Like most changes, this hasn’t been received particularly well by the Magic community, with the main complaint being the hashtag uses up 14% of a Tweet’s character limit – which is nothing to sneeze at! The other is that it is really annoying and ugly in multiple back to back tweets without really having an outward use to it. #WotCStaff isn’t really useful in the way of worldwide Twitter trends.
The most interesting part of the discussion is what has driven the change, as many question the official reason given on the mothership. Popular theory is that it is a combination of two factors: first, the recent Sponsorship and Trade legislation/lawsuits in the US linked to people “randomly” publicly backing a brand/product, when in fact they have been paid to do so, or even having ownership in the brand. Secondly, the ongoing judge litigation against Wizards, where they want to highlight and distinguish actual employees from volunteers.
Matt Tabak aka the rules manager, who is often very active online answering a lot of various rules related questions, recently posted that he would be taking a break from Tumblr to focus on work responsibilities. This is believed to be related to the new hashtag.
It does seem in this case that someone at Hasbro legal is going out of their way to cross their t’s and dot their i’s, but it looks like #WotCStaff is here to stay.
3. Pro Tour Eldritch Moon: Hooray for the Little Guy
Pro Magic, especially the Pro Tours, have since the Channel Fireball team dominance become a who you know game. Large sponsored teams not only working together to master formats and create dominant decks ahead of the tournament but also scout the tables and give their team members a leg up knowing what their opponents are playing even before a card is played during the actual event and then telling them once they know who they are paired against. This topic was a large discussion towards the end of 2015.
The upcoming Pro Tour Eldritch Moon will see some steps, detailed in an article by Matt Sperling on Channel Fireball this week, to try and address the scouting activities which are seen as unfairly detrimental to the “lone wolves” who not only cannot scout all the tables as well but might have some rogue deck tech to protect. This is a complicated and uneven ground for Wizards to be addressing as with coverage and the such giving much of the game away plus you can’t just stop people watching games of magic/reporting what they see. Short of having all decklists provided the steps taken are some of the only ones open.
- Pairings will be posted in the venue as usual, however they WILL NOT list the names of opponents.
- At the time that pairings are announced, players cannot use electronic devices until the end of their matches.
- Feature matches will not be announced as pairings. They will be announced simply as a list of players. Players will receive their pairing assignments from the judges in the Feature Match area.
- Pairings that are posted to the Wizards of the Coast website will not be posted until a few minutes after each round begins.
- The period of time from pairings being announced until matches begin will be strictly timed at 4 minutes.”
Now how much of a benefit it actual gives the big teams is open to debate, but this will create a “feeling” of a more open Pro Tour.
The big feel good here is the opening paragraph of Sperling’s article which is that open communications with Pro’s is happening and being actioned on, that can only be good news for the Pro Tour.
4. From the mouth of Maro
You really should be following Mark Rosewater (MARO’s) Tumblr, as it is often a source of breaking news for Magic related issues, but we at Ten Minute Magic are more than happy to fill you in. From his posts this week, three newsworthy items have appeared:
Create – The preview of the October FNM promo card Rise from the Tides spoiled a new Magic terminology “Create”, this from Kaladesh going forward will be shorthand for put a token on the battlefield, probably good news with the expected influx of thopters! In the opposite move to #WOTCSTAFF this saves a lot of characters in a card’s text which opens up space for flavour text, more modes and abilities.
New format in the future? – but probably not for a while, Maro said that as more time elapses and Modern grows larger that there is more room for another non rotating format in between.
5. Popular Magic: The Gathering Articles This Week
- Commander Deck-Building Tips & Tricks – Part 1: Choosing a General, by Paul Palmer
- A Beginner’s Guide To MTG Duel Commander – Two’s Company, by Ben Cabrelli
- 5 Important Lessons Learned In Light Of Winning a Modern WMCQ, By Graeme McIntyre
Thank you for joining us in Ten Minute Magic. We would love to hear your feedback on the presentation, format, and length – as well as the topics discussed – so please leave a comment with your thoughts and we look forward to hearing from you. You can also connect with us on Twitter by following @Draw4Podcast, where you can send us topics throughout the week that you would like to hear us cover.
Joseph and Ben