In a major announcement made today, August 25, Mark Rosewater announced that starting in 2015, “Magic: The Gathering” will going through some major changes. The first of the major changes is that expansion blocks will consist of two sets instead of three. This will lead to two rotations in the Standard format rather than the one. The second major change will come in 2016. This is when the core sets will no longer be a part of “Magic.”
Now that people have had some time to mull this information over it’s time to talk about the possible implications that this will have on the game in the future. The first thing to think about is the overall game play of “Magic.”
Many pros took to social media praising Wizards of the Coast for the change. This further explains why WOTC had set up the upcoming Pro Tour season to be all Limited/ Standard - except for the one they recently changed to Limited/ Modern. The main reason for the praise was because this would push for more creativity in the format.
By introducing constant change, deck “brewers” are now forced to change up strategies at a more “fluid” pace rather than sit on them for the whole year. At the current state, the Standard format has had the same deck at the top since the past rotation - Mono Black Control. Now players can expect some kind of change in the Spring and in the Fall when the first set of the new first and third blocks are introduced.
So why is the core set being discontinued? According to the article by Rosewater, the core set has been going through an “identity” problem. Was the set for really for beginners? Or was it for experienced players? If it was for experienced players, why did the Research and Development team keep the core set from making such an impact on the game? Rosewater went on to state that the core set was trying to satisfy two audiences at the same time. Rather than trying to compromise, the decision was made to completely remove the core set.
Possible ripple effects
Something to consider is how this may impact other formats. With cards rotating in and out of Standard much faster, that means that Modern would see an increase in playable cards as well. This may be the support that people have been asking for regarding one of the most popular formats in “Magic.”
With shorter life-span of cards in Standard, people who want more time with these cards will have to seek to Modern to get more play time out of them. More cards available could also mean more decks will become viable in an already diverse format.
How much more will this cost players?
For some time, “Magic” has gone through quite the change on its own. It’s gone from a game that people love to play, to a game that many people try to make money off of. One could even compare the kind of behavior to playing the Stock Market. This has had both a positive and a negative impact on the game.
These “speculators” like to play the game of buying low and selling high. This behavior has caused the game to make leaps and bounds in regards to single prices. For example, Goblin Guide, a rare card from Zendikar, was priced at $10-$12 roughly two months ago. Thanks to people buying into the card, thinking it’s going to make a larger impact in the game (whether it’s tomorrow or months from now), many online stores have found themselves out of stock and prices have reached as high as $30. So now, what once was a card for “budget” decks, is now just as expensive as some of the fetchlands that have made getting into Modern so hard.
That brings us now to the new rotation rules for Standard. Players of the money game have already taken to the internet to share their displeasure of that side of the change. While they remain happy as players of the game, as players of the financial game they say that it’s going to be harder to speculate on cards. Reason being is that you can’t really wait a whole year to see if a card gains popularity.
The new rotation schedule also means that cards should not retain their value as much because the time span on the demand for popular cards should go down. However, this may be counterbalanced with the fact that fewer boxes will be opened. In the end, while cards may be cheaper, players will have to buy singles at a higher frequency. This will be needed to keep your cards updated for the Standard format.
Overall, these changes are aimed at for the better of “Magic: The Gathering.” Only time will tell if these changes were the right call. What do you think? Are you happy about the changes? Are you unhappy? Let us know how you feel in the comment section below.