01/05/2012 Feature: "From the Director's Chair: 2011"

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This thread is for discussion of this weeks's Feature Article, which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.
One of the things I love about Magic over the other games I play is the involvement you guys have with the player base and the ability to admit where things went wrong. We did have some low points last year between the bannings, and the communication meltdown, but the speed that those problems were addressed and detailed reasoning for what happened has only increased my faith Wizards. The high points in turn more then made up for the short comings and I have had an amazing time delving more into the game. My only regret is not having started playing the game sooner.

Great article, great year. Now lets see 2012 top it. :D
One of the things I love about Magic over the other games I play is the involvement you guys have with the player base and the ability to admit where things went wrong. We did have some low points last year between the bannings, and the communication meltdown, but the speed that those problems were addressed and detailed reasoning for what happened has only increased my faith Wizards. The high points in turn more then made up for the short comings and I have had an amazing time delving more into the game. My only regret is not having started playing the game sooner.

Great article, great year. Now lets see 2012 top it. :D

I could not say better! 

You stole my words. 
I would like to take the time to say that I appreciate that as a company, and as a community, you guys take the time not only to consult the player base, but to act on it and provide detailed explanation as to how and why you reach you conclusions. Keep it up guys, it's working great



P.S. Can't wait to see what modern looks like :>
While I appreciate that this isn't necessarily Mr. Forsythe's baliwick, I would've liked to see more discussion of the rewards programs in this article.  MPR vanished at the end of last year and now 12 months later we still haven't seen any replacement for it; and the overall quality of reward cards for FNM seemed to fall off a cliff this year (Artisan of Kozilek?  Jace's Ingenuity? Contagion Clasp?).  For an example of what FNM done right looks like, look at 2009: Magma Jet, Myr Enforcer, Kitchen Finks, Merrow Reejery, Wren's Run Vanquisher, Mulldriver, Murderous Redcap, Lightning Greaves, Watchwolf, Browbeat, ORing and Sakura-Tribe Elder.  There are a couple of whiffs there, but almost all of them saw substantial play in some format and even the worst of the bunch (Watchwolf, Redcap and maybe Myr Enforcer?) have some casual value.

Of course to a great extent playing Magic is its own reward, but right now the WotC prize support for the semi-casual (or enthusiastic amateur) player seems about as weak as it's ever been, and I can't help but feel like we're being shorted.
Anyone have a link to the "Infraction Procedure Guide" issue?  Google isn't real helpful on searching that up.

Good article overall.  That said, a point in mild annoyance at the "it's-okay-to-make-vague-jabs-at-old-sets-even-when-it-doesn't-actually-make-sense" bit to pump recent works...  this line stood out.

By focusing on the bloodthirst mechanic (which was executed here far better than it was in its Guildpact debut),



Well.  Bloodthirst has certainly been more relevant in Limited, and approximately as notable in Constructed (Stormblood Berserker has seen about as much play as Scab-Clan Mauler and Skarrgan Pit-Skulk together?  No Rumbling Slum in current Standard to really support a "Bloodthirst deck" though.)  But going back to Limited...  let's not get distracted now.  Nobody cares about the best environment for a mechanic - they care about the best environment.  A hypothetical set that best exploits Cumulative Upkeep might still be a mediocre Limited experience.

So, going back to stuff your own writers have noted on the site.  Ravnica - Guildpact - Dissension has a multicolor theme going on.  Mana-fixing in Limited is hard, especially reliable and fast mana-fixing.  Therefore, such an environment wants to be on the slow side, lest players abandon even trying 3-color+ decks.  (Okay, or else have insanely good AND common mana-fixing, but that has other issues.)  Bloodthirst was decent in RRG and RGD!  It's not like decks that wanted Scab-Clan Mauler were unplayable, and there was some enablers.  But it wasn't pushed, and it shouldn't have been pushed, because it'd have warped the environment as a whole and made it less fun if it were pushed.  Guildpact's execution of Bloodthirst was fine; the set came first, not the mechanic.

If you want to say "We're happy that we were able to create a Limited environment where Bloodthirst is the star rather than being a role player," fine.  And M12 is a good Limited experience, to be sure.  You just don't need to diss Guildpact - RGD was also a good (better IMHO) environment, and didn't make a "mistake" by avoiding having the format revolve around Bloodthirst.
Regarding people being disappointed that the Titans got another go around in M12, and that WotC would reconsider how often things are reprinted in core sets...
... IMHO, the reprinting of the Titans was invaluable for the casual guys at kitchen tables. The Titans are now in the realms of affordability for the n00bs at home. Even Primeval Titan is now in a price range that doesn't just make it a single bought solely by serious tournament players. I thought this was half the reason WotC liked reprinting things like the Titans a couple of times in core sets? In order to make them more readily available for new players (well, as much as WotC refuse to acknowledge the existence of the secondary singles market, anyway)?
As a non-tourney player, I can't say I particularly enjoy the thought that WotC would consider printing bomb mythics once in a core set, and then yanking them away before their value reaches levels affordable for a home player. For example, if they failed to print Angelic Destiny in M13... does that make it eternally unaffordable for a n00b, short of opening hundreds of M12 boosters?
I, for one, would love to see WotC cycling the core set planeswalkers every second year, and cycling the alternate big five mythic slots currently taken by the Titans in the off years. Everyone would surely know what to expect, get excited about what is being cycled in / printed fresh, be able to plan for the existence of certain cards in Standard for another twelve months... I can see the arguments against this, but in my mind, the positives outweight the negatives.
~ Guides I Have Been Silly Enough To Write ~
Budget Duals and Fetches in Multiplayer
CadaverousBl00m's Guide To Multiplayer Artifice
Multiplayer Tribal Format

~ Latest Multiplayer Ramblings: Appearing on my blog when I feel like it ~
Kitchen Table Pricewatch: Rise of the Eldrazi Post-Rotation
Kitchen Table Pricewatch: Worldwake Post-Rotation
Kitchen Table Pricewatch: Zendikar Post-Rotation
Previous Multiplayer Concoctions
Elemental, My Dear Watson (Rainbow Elementals)
Watch The Little Birdies! (Bird Tribal with Proliferate)
Kavu Kavu Kavu Banana (Kavu Predator aggro)
Faerie Bleeder (The "Death By A Thousand Cuts" Faerie deck)
Braaiiins! (Mono-black Zombie control)
Verhexterring (Jinxed Ring / Grave Pact)
Flourishing Blowflies ( -1/-1 Counters)
Anyone have a link to the "Infraction Procedure Guide" issue?  Google isn't real helpful on searching that up.

These two threads should give you a basic understanding of the main problem with the IPG update.

Basically, they tried to change the handling of missed triggers so that players weren't forced into a position where they felt like they were "helping the opponent win" by pointing out the opponent's own mandatory beneficial triggers. However, the implementation was...well, let's just say severely flawed.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

I still think the Core Set 'walkers should be rare, even if it means putting them at a lower power level. They're just such a big part of the game these days to be only available at mythic.

Aside from my usual crusade on that point though...

I'm also waiting for another Magic Player Rewards type system to show up. I started actually having time to play at FNMs about a month after they did away with the system, and I was rather bummed. I can actually say I would strive to attend more events if Player Rewards were available.

As for the quality of FNM promos: I'll agree that we've had several misses this year. I mean honestly, Teetering Peaks? Really? Savage Lands is also such a random choice. I was okay with Contagion Clasp though, since I loved the alternate art and I'm rather fond of the card itself. Go for the Throat was nice of course, for all that the art is very similar to the original. Despise is a great start for the new year though. 
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
Innistrad really is an impressive achievement. Having now played both paper and MtGO versions I've been pleased to discover that the double faced cards don't wreck either. More importantly, the environment is fun as well as deep and strategic. I think this will be one of those sets - like Ravnica - that people point back to in future years as an example of how to do things right.

Props also due for changing stance on organised play. I was one of the cynics suggesting that the changes were commercially driven to the point where the feedback would be mostly ignored. Glad to be proved wrong this time.

Really the only downside of the year for me was the continued wasted potential of Magic Online. I think it's been pretty firmly established by now that the dev team is understaffed. Hire some more people! Here are some targets you should have hit last year (or, let's be honest, way earlier in some cases):

* MtGO should not randomly fail to record replays of games.
* Game replays should be watchable via unique URLs or similar (qv. Spotify, Steam, Skype etc.).
* Any draft on the site should be automatically available on Draft Viewer via a unique URL (with players anonymized if you feel that's important).
* Leagues.
* Decent trade support. Currently I have something like 2000 cards I don't need, but can't mark as tradeable because then when I'm trying to sell Mythics I've drafted the trade bots pick them up and offer me $0.01 for them. On the other hand when I want to give cards to a new player I have to spend hours clicking through my collection and trading them across in tiny batches.

Also - although this is really more of a "wouldn't it be nice" than an essential feature - how about a public API to the server? People already write trade bots, but have to do so in absurd and hacky ways like hooking into the Windows mouse. It would be a relatively simple matter to have dialogue with the server (or a sensibly chosen subset of it) conform to a public API (ideally using SOAP or similar).

I, for one, would love to see WotC cycling the core set planeswalkers every second year, and cycling the alternate big five mythic slots currently taken by the Titans in the off years. Everyone would surely know what to expect, get excited about what is being cycled in / printed fresh, be able to plan for the existence of certain cards in Standard for another twelve months... I can see the arguments against this, but in my mind, the positives outweight the negatives.


This would be really cool, and I'd love to see them do this. Since they have already shown themselves willing to cycle the walkers, and since we know the Titans are also gone in M13 I'm also guessing this is likely to happen.

Anyway, in regards to the rest of your post. While I do like seeing money cards reprinted if only to see the price drop off (For example I got Gave Titan for $5 recently when it was over $20 a year ago) the reason they do hit that price is because they are so good, so times they are to good to be left on us for another year. The Titans are a great example. However the cards aren't doomed to be unatainable for the casual players since several other factor can come into play to let them get there hands on it. First the rotation of standard is a built in mechanism that can drop prices. Vengevine was once worth over $30 but since leaving standard he is a reasonable $8 card. Related to this how the card is doing in the current meta. Your example of Angelic Destiny is a good example since while it is around $20 now it was once going for as low as $5 in some places. Lastly if wizards were to push mythics into other products, like they did with Commander, that will also drive the price down. So while having them reprint powerful cards to make them easier to obtain is a nice thing, somethings that just isn't the best move for them, but luckly the cards are still more then able to find there way into casual player hands thanks to other factors. 
Magic is doing better than ever, and so WotC is making more money than ever.  Where are:

1) The 5th Pro Tour?
2) The MPR replacement?

All this talk about how successful Magic is doesn't mean jack if you're not forwarding those gains to the community.
"Did you see that we're putting out a mobile phone app?"

I did not.  Where can I find more info about that?

Edit: Oh, it's today's Arcana. Laughing
I've started playing Magic again with the release of M11 and since then I've seen several cuts in player rewards like: cutting the MPR, cutting number of PTQs, cutting Worlds, lower FNM promo support with weaker cards (at least in europe), cutting the only Grand Prix in Germany (no replacement), also an absurd increase in display price from the european distributor (making buy a box promos almost unaffordable) etc...
How on earth does that match with the best selling sets of all time? I don't get it!

Also PTQ byes are a horrible idea. This is the local tournament where everyone should have the same shot (casual or pro) 
 
@ orcishartillery

Check out today's arcana. You may note that it is not out until later this month. And also that they are proposing "a small fee" for updating the deck builder. Which brings me to...


@ Ertai

I completely agree. I'm thrilled that Magic is enduring, especially in these troubled economic times, but this was the year that saw the prize support get cut, player loyalty rewards scrapped, and the price of competitive standard decks reached an all-time high (with the first in-print $100 card). The oil and utility companies over here were lombasted by the press and government for making 'record profits' whilst squeezing their customers, so perhaps a little less smugness from Mr Forsythe when announcing that Wizards are doing the same would be in order. So, for example, don't charge people for having the app which they use to support their already expensive hobby - charge a one-off fee if you must, but angry birds doesn't charge for a new level and I don't think Wizards should either.


@ Aaron 

To give a balanced view, Innistrad has been one of the best sets to draft in ages. So much better than the linear-drafting sets of previous years. I'll also defend your reprinting of Titans in M12 - that, as noted by another poster, was vital to bringing their price down and making the cards accessible.

I am not affected by the changes to the tourney scene but I hear there is much less shouting now the fix was made. I will say that whilst I never really kept up to date on my old rating, I care less now about my new one. My old rating was at least something I could use as a yardstick of sorts to measure my improvement as a player when I bothered to look at it. My new rating doesn't distinguish between performance and attendance and so has become less than meaningless to me. I wish you could have kept the old rating for reference.

I would be curious to know if the "record sales and tournament attendance" were including magic online, and how the paper magic compared with last year. From what I heard, the standard bannings came from a notable dip in 'real life' attendance in that regard. I'm not suggesting that the overall picture isn't the relevant one - from a business point of view, it certainly must be, especially with the bigger margins on online magic - but I'd be wary of a false positive if these 'record sales' are because people have found their way to magic online and are buying both paper AND digital at the moment but may eventually drop the former. You should also heed the warnings of a number of industries that have gone digital - I think Magic has done it better than any before it, but at the same time when enough people go online as their primary magic experience, expect the law of unforeseen consequences to kick in. Just saying, friendly warning.

Lastly, my biggest niggle of no particular significance... WHY DIDN'T YOU KEYWORD MILLING!!! Seriously.    



   
Well said, good article. Here's to another year!
Good job Aaron! 

I really appreciate the way you communicate with us. Especially on twitter, you are always direct, honest, blunt. You're not wasting our time with spin and political correctness.

Magic is awesome at the moment on many levels, so keep it up! 
It has been a really great year.  And Innistrad is incredible.

I just want to be a voice for those folks outside the USA and say "game stores don't exist or don't work the same way outside the US!"  In the UK there is no such thing as a game store you can walk into and play a game.  I've live in both the UK and the US and it's just not the same thing.  Please try to take international differences into account and leave some flexibility for local TOs to do what is right cultural on the ground where they are.

Thanks! 
It has been a really great year.  And Innistrad is incredible.

I just want to be a voice for those folks outside the USA and say "game stores don't exist or don't work the same way outside the US!"  In the UK there is no such thing as a game store you can walk into and play a game.  I've live in both the UK and the US and it's just not the same thing.  Please try to take international differences into account and leave some flexibility for local TOs to do what is right cultural on the ground where they are.

Thanks! 



Completely this. I hear any number of references to  'your local brick and mortar store', but in the UK those things barely exist.

I'd love to draft Innistrad, but I just can't get around the DFCs. I really, really dislike them, which bugs me because they're in the way of a draft format I'd otherwise love to try. That said, it doesn't equate to lost sales because I can't afford cards anyway, and even if I had the disposable income I would never consider paying £3.50 for a booster.
I was not particularly thrilled with the way the last few months have played out from a PR perspective—both with the multiple changes to Premier Play and the published-then-repealed Infraction Procedure Guide—not just because I don't like the roller-coaster rides that such erratic behavior on our part puts you, the players, through, but also because I feel like it put a bit of a smudge on an otherwise wonderful campaign. Sure, there were other ups and downs—we had to ban cards in Standard, for instance—but 2011 was a year to be proud of, and I want to walk through the highlights, while also giving you a few hints about what 2012 has in store.



Explain, please, why this should instill a sense of trust in the audience about the way R&D, the rules team, the DCI, or Wizards in general
1. qualifies rules and procedures of play, including issuing rather fundamentally altering functional errata;
2. promotes an unhealthy environment within the gaming system by forcing players to deal with incredibly horrible situations for over a year;
3. promotes a cheery, happy outlook that is promoted to the benefit of the bank accounts of staff there at WotC but is inwardly cold and calculating?
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
hope this is the right place to ask this but this is for aaron forsythe i was wanting to know why ya have never reprinted Daru Warchief, its i think the only warchief i think that was never reprinted and i know will make White-winnies decks alot stronger plz send me a email back jsp261985@gmail.com
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