Thanks For Listening WotC…. But This Changes Nothing.

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Wizards of the Coast made an announcement today that affects the way most of us play Magic. If you’re a Standard player, this affects you, so I’d read up. You can find out all about it here: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/revisiting-standard-rotation-2016-10-19. Just so you know, the rest of this article assumes you read the announcement. If you’re part of the TL;DR crowd, well, I guess you’re just fucked. Sorry. Expand your horizons.

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How We Got Here

In the interest of forming a narrative, I will give everyone a little backstory. A while back, WotC started noticing trends in the attendance of Standard events that we players and store owners had been pointing out for years. Towards the end of any Standard rotation, the game would get stale and not as many people were showing up at events. Shocker, huh? People got bored and were waiting to spend money until the new shiny dropped. The revelation must have been mind blowing.

Sarcasm aside, WotC decided the best way to fix this and grab all your cash at the same time was to redesign Standard. No more core sets and no more 3 set blocks. Now we would have 2 set blocks, 3 Standard-legal blocks at a time, and every time a new block was released, the oldest block would rotate out. While it sounds neat and tidy, the problem was that you could no longer use your cards for 2 years in standard. This new system cut the shelf life of cards down to a maximum of 18 months.

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And The Masses Revolted!

We all know how notoriously cheap gamers can be. It’s amazing how someone who spends so much on a hobby can be such a cheapass when it comes to anything else. Well, true to form, the gaming community did exactly what they always do. They took to the internet to vent their rage, and quit the game in typical knee-jerk fashion. The sad part is, they really did have a point. There are numerous fantastic gaming system out there that died simply because the company that made them increased release schedules in an effort to extract more profit and that’s exactly what this felt like to many of them.

So, like the proverbial rats from a sinking ship, they liquidated their collections and quit the game, fearing it would go under and making everything they owned worthless. While this kind of ebb and flow happens a lot with gamers and games in general, Magic is huge and like anything else of that size, these problems get magnified when you are talking about a player base like Magic. This got magnified enough that it showed up on the radar of WotC, and to their credit, they actually listened to what people had to say…. sort of.

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The Grand Solution

So today Wizards redesigned Standard once again, this time into the confusing and bizarre new structure they announced today. I, much like everyone else, have very mixed feelings. I’m glad someone up there is listening, and they really did try, I guess. Still, this new system is a recipe for failure. Here’s why:

Let’s start with the obvious. ¬†Gamers are notoriously cheap, as mentioned above. They just want their cards to be usable for the longest time possible. It’s called value, and we all want it. This makes 2 sets of cards last a little while longer but ignores the fact that it doesn’t change the shelf life of the other block that rotates at all! That means the second block to be released every years will still only have a 18-14 month shelf life depending on when it’s released. It case you hadn’t noticed, that’s exactly what people are complaining about! Nothing got fixed!

Not quite so obvious (but still pretty fucking glaring) is the fact that this puts us back on the rotation schedule we were on before. You know, the one that we all complained about until you changed it? Yeah, that one. The means a return to the old ways of 6 months of good Magic, followed by 3 months of “meh” Magic, followed by 3 months of the most boring card game on Earth. Or, if you’re like most people, a 3 month break from the game.

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The End is Nigh! The End is Nigh!

Will these new changes mean the death knell for Standard? Of course not, this game is huge and it’s going to take a fuck-ton more than this to drive the nails in it’s coffin. A few months will go by and WotC will see that the new plan has created two major problems where only one had existed before. If we complain long and loudly enough, they might even fix it.

Mostly because I hate those people who complain all the time and never offer a solution of their own, I’m going to add my thoughts on how Standard should shape up from here on out. Feel free to send me hate mail if you disagree. The simple way to fix Standard is to expand it to cover the latest four blocks released and have it rotate every time a new block is released. That gives cards a 24-21 month shelf life, keeps enough rotation in the format to keep it from getting stale, and makes it simple and easy to figure out what cards are legal and when they cease to be legal in a format. Quick, clean, and easy.

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