8/6/2012 MM: "Setting the Standard"

40 posts / 0 new
Last post
This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
A couple things in this article stand out to me as being not entirely accurate, or accurate but for the wrong reasons.

People like to focus on the addition of new cards to a format, but the subtraction usually has a bigger impact. The reason is pretty straightforward. With addition, you can still rely on what you already know to base your understanding on. With subtraction, you often don't have that luxury.



Is this true?  Would it be true if sets rotated out at the same speed they rotate in?  Would it be true if rotation out and in were on a staggered schedule?  In October, we lose an entire block, and add a new base set.  Basically, we lose half of what we have, and then add on another third (roughly) to the half we have left.  When you change the cardpool that drastically, your understanding of the format has to change.  I feel as though, if the rotation schedule was tweaked (not that it should be, I'm simply speaking in hypotheticals) that the statement above might not be as true as it is.

Players tend to go through cycles with powerful cards. At first, they are excited about discovering how powerful they are. Then they love exploring how best to abuse them. Eventually, though, they grow tired of seeing the card again and again and having to deal with an environment always warped by the card. Rotation works well because usually at the point that the final stage sets in (not always, of course) the card tends to be close to rotation.



Is this always true?  Has it always been historically true?  With the exceptions of the last 5 years (Bitterblossom in Lorwyn, Bloodbraid in Alara, Jace in Zendikar, Swords in Scars, Delver/Snap in Innistrad), what cards have "warped" formats?  This seems to be the fault of the current crop of R&D, not the fault of Standard as a format.

Interestingly, seventeen years later, Standard (we realized a few years later that "Type 2" was a poor name for our premier format) is by far, and I'm talking a huge margin, the most popular Constructed format to play Magic.



Is Standard popular because people like to play it, or because it's the format that most tournaments are held as?  If, for example, WotC turned around tomorrow and said "Starting today, FNMs will be held as Block Constructed tournaments", would Standard still be the most popular Constructed format?  If the answer to that is "no", I'm not sure you can call Standard the most "popular", only the most "played".  Judging by personal anecdotal experience, I would venture to guess that, aside from the financial barrier to entry (which actually isn't that high anymore compared to Standard), Legacy is actually the most "popular" format (in that most players actually find enjoyment in playing Legacy).
While I have never actually played in an fnm I do think Standard helps new players in the game.  When I first started playing the game I made several standard decks.  I didn't make them standard because of the smaller card pool, but because I didn't have access to older cards yet.  As I got older cards I began to incorporate them into my deck, although a few decks still remained standard.  I still have a few standard decks from years past.  I don't play it much anymore because I mostly play edh now. 

Every once in while I want to make a silly standard deck, it's never competitive.  I get discouraged from making competitive standard decks because over a long time it's more expensive to make standard decks than it is for 1 vintage/legacy/modern deck.  Since the format rotates so often spending $50+ for a good standard deck every 2 years doesn't seem worth it.  My other problem is that I can be slow when building decks.  When I build a standard deck and it gets midway done I may not finish it, because I feel it won't be in standard much longer.  Depending on the standard, it can feel like there are few viable decks, like this one.  It feels that sometimes there are only 3 or 4 "good" standard decks at any one time.  In the more eternal formats there are seemingly endless viable decks that do all kinds of crazy things.  Standard may not be my format, but I do realize its importance.

Magic has had its share of player outrage. Both the Sixth Edition rules changes and the Magic 2010 rules changes caused a bit of an uproar. The announcement of the mythic rare rarity created a backlash. The changing of the card frames created more email than I thought possible. But all of these pale to the reaction to the announcement of the existence of Type 2. ("What do you mean I won't be able to play some of my cards?")


Obviously Mark's perspective would be different from my own, but that's not how I remember it.  I remember a backlash not at T2's existence, but at it replacing type 1 at certain tournaments.  That's a significant difference (as Ertai87 is also hinting at). On the scale of things, I think it enraged a smaller portion than Chronicles did.


Bear in mind, we already had the concept of Standalone set play.  People built Ice Age and then Ice Age/Alliances decks without the world ending.  So there was nothing inherently scary about a new format.  (Although each format does raise the difficulty of playing new people.  "Do you have a Magic deck?" turned into "do you have a Magic deck in the same format as me?")


Nice idea for a theme week, though.  I imagine Flores will have some good history on it. (And perhaps BDM too.)  "The Little Format that Could", though, is Booster Draft. It started as a jokey way to open packs and was even under-respected amongst Limited formats until players kept doing it and Wizards realized the profit potential of a format where cards were treated as disposable.


If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

"As you add cards to the system, we start having a problem. Only so many cards can matter for Constructed play. As I talked about in my article about why we design bad cards ("When Cards Go Bad"), some of the cards can't be good. In fact, a majority of the cards can't be good because the nature of the system only allows so many cards to rise to the top. Making a more powerful card doesn't change the number, it just pushes one of the Constructed-level cards off the list.Adding more cards to the mix through expansions doesn't change this number, so all you are doing is creating more unplayable cards, either by making them directly or by displacing previously playable cards with new ones."

I don't think this is strictly true, a variety of synergies of overpowered former cards in older formats might mean that a greater variety of decks available, and thus a greater absolute number of playable cards. For example, my intuition is that Vintage, Legacy, and Modern metagames tend to have more viable decks than standard (though not all the time). Lack of variety is my biggest problem with Standard itself.
I don't agree with Mark's conclusion that the number of good cards remains static and nothing can be done to increase them. Legacy proves that more good cards, a few systematic bannings, and a few controllers like Force of Will can create a diverse format.

Is this always true?  Has it always been historically true?  With the exceptions of the last 5 years (Bitterblossom in Lorwyn, Bloodbraid in Alara, Jace in Zendikar, Swords in Scars, Delver/Snap in Innistrad), what cards have "warped" formats?  This seems to be the fault of the current crop of R&D, not the fault of Standard as a format.

Umezawa's Jitte, Arcbound Ravager and Disciple of the Vault, Skull Clamp, Astral Slide, Psychatog, Flametongue Kavu, Rishadan Port, Lin-Sivvi, Defiant Hero, Urza block, Necropotence, Stasis. And I'm just thinking of the big ones.
Standard is actually a fairly painful format to *come back* to if you take a year or two off.

I know from experience, my interest in MTG has gone up and down over the last few years due to varying reasons, and every time I try to come back and play anything in standard it's a pita to get ahold of cards from last years set (that you can't get in limited normally as everything is about the latest set/block). It's one thing that was definately made much worse by the change of core sets to be yearly and have only half reprints, half new cards/functional reprints.

I also have to agree with previous people that I'm not sure whether standard is the most popular format, or just the most played. To be honest it's been a long time since standard hasn't had one or two real groanworthy decks that people hate playing against (with the current one being delver, it's like the first miracle spell)
While it's true that a larger card pool can lead to a more diverse format, that only goes so far. Even if there isn't a hard limit on just how diverse the metagame can get, there's got to be a point of diminishing returns. Legacy has more than sixty-five sets' worth of cards compared to Standard's eight--it's more than eight times the size of Standard. But does the Legacy environment really have more than eight times as many viable archetypes as Standard? In ten years, when Legacy has over a hundred sets, will it really have more than twelve times as many viable archetypes as Standard? It won't. It can't.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Is Standard popular because people like to play it, or because it's the format that most tournaments are held as?  If, for example, WotC turned around tomorrow and said "Starting today, FNMs will be held as Block Constructed tournaments", would Standard still be the most popular Constructed format?  If the answer to that is "no", I'm not sure you can call Standard the most "popular", only the most "played".  Judging by personal anecdotal experience, I would venture to guess that, aside from the financial barrier to entry (which actually isn't that high anymore compared to Standard), Legacy is actually the most "popular" format (in that most players actually find enjoyment in playing Legacy).


Stores can run FNMs as Block. Nobody does, because people don't want to play Block.

Standard is certainly the most actually popular format. It's the most played Constructed format on MTGO, where events for every other format are just as easily available as Standard ones. It is certainly the most discussed format. Now, that all might come back to the fact that it's the most important competitive format, but it's a chicken-and-egg situation: Wizards will run more Standard GPs and make it a PTQ format more often because people want to play Standard, and people want to play Standard because there are so many events for it.

I like Standard, as a concept. I think it's a good thing that the "main" metagame is so radically different each year; it makes it more interesting to watch. Now, the last few Standard formats have been pretty lame, but that's not the fault of the concept. Modern is my favourite format but I don't at all mind the Standard is more popular.
blah blah metal lyrics
Is this true?  Would it be true if sets rotated out at the same speed they rotate in?  Would it be true if rotation out and in were on a staggered schedule?  In October, we lose an entire block, and add a new base set.  Basically, we lose half of what we have, and then add on another third (roughly) to the half we have left.  When you change the cardpool that drastically, your understanding of the format has to change.  I feel as though, if the rotation schedule was tweaked (not that it should be, I'm simply speaking in hypotheticals) that the statement above might not be as true as it is.



Yes it is true. Take Delver for example. It took a few months for people to start realizing its potential. The impact of removing a card from your deck is felt immediately. The impact of a card you can possibly play is not so immediately. Thus, substraction always has a more radical impact than addition.

Judging by personal anecdotal experience, I would venture to guess that, aside from the financial barrier to entry (which actually isn't that high anymore compared to Standard), Legacy is actually the most "popular" format (in that most players actually find enjoyment in playing Legacy).




Anecdotal experience will always be skewed. The masses are always invisible for the more invested players.
Is Standard popular because people like to play it, or because it's the format that most tournaments are held as?  If, for example, WotC turned around tomorrow and said "Starting today, FNMs will be held as Block Constructed tournaments", would Standard still be the most popular Constructed format?  If the answer to that is "no", I'm not sure you can call Standard the most "popular", only the most "played".  Judging by personal anecdotal experience, I would venture to guess that, aside from the financial barrier to entry (which actually isn't that high anymore compared to Standard), Legacy is actually the most "popular" format (in that most players actually find enjoyment in playing Legacy).


Honestly, I think that Standard really is popular. I love casual legacy/vintage as a format, and I know a lot of others who do, but at anything more competitive than a kitchen table I prefer Standard. I like that the gulf between cheap decks and expensive decks is a lot smaller, and I like that I can find all the staples easily at any given game store.

Plus, I do like the rotating decks. I enjoy not playing against the same decks year after year, and frequently different decks every time a new set comes in. And I like that which strategies are viable change. There are a number of strategies that will just never be viable in Vintage or Legacy that rotate in and out of standard playability. (At least at the FNM level)

I think the biggest advantage is one that he didn't really touch on: New players don't get bricks dropped on them from the beginning. Give a new player access to a $500 budget and any singles retailer he wants, I guarantee the deck he builds for Legacy will be so hilariously outclassed by any real deck that he won't be able to win a single game. In standard it's a lot easier to get a deck to within a playable range, especially because the smaller pool makes spotting useful cards easier. Yes, a veteran player will beat a new player 95+% of the time regardless of format, but I think a new player stands a better chance at getting up to speed in standard than in Legacy/Vintage. 
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)

For those complaining about the lack of diversity in Standard, I'm often one of the first to complain about that sort of thing.  At States in 2008, I played against five Faerie decks in eight rounds.  It was horrible.  (I won three of those five matches - that's not the point.)


However, I played in a Standard PTQ two weeks ago, and another one yesterday,  and my opponents were quite diverse.  Each event was 8 rounds long, and all of my opponents in each event were playing quite distinct decks (although both events had a U/W Delver opponent and a mono-Green Infect).  The decks in the two top 8's (not me, sadly) also appeared to cover a range of archetypes with little overlap.  Perhaps we're still seeing shake-up from M13, and the metagame will eventually settle down into just a few lists, but right now Standard seems to be doing quite well.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...
Standard is actually a fairly painful format to *come back* to if you take a year or two off.

I know from experience, my interest in MTG has gone up and down over the last few years due to varying reasons, and every time I try to come back and play anything in standard it's a pita to get ahold of cards from last years set (that you can't get in limited normally as everything is about the latest set/block). It's one thing that was definately made much worse by the change of core sets to be yearly and have only half reprints, half new cards/functional reprints.


I also have to agree with previous people that I'm not sure whether standard is the most popular format, or just the most played. To be honest it's been a long time since standard hasn't had one or two real groanworthy decks that people hate playing against (with the current one being delver, it's like the first miracle spell)



I have to agree with this sentiment.  I used to be able to count on the core set letting me have a reasonable supply of reprints to build with, and it's not as true as it used to be.  Add to it the fact that so much of the power gets wrapped up in mythic rares and I feel like I have to choose between playing Magic and doing anything else.  Add to it the fact that the competitive decks have literally been called things like "Chase rare control" and you have Magic at its worst.


Yes, the game is a business, and a damned good one.  But when it stops being fun, it stops making money.  Magic for years defied industry standards that were "obvious", like making over powered super-rares that can't be answered and win the game single-handedly.  When people have the game figured out, they quit playing, and when the solution is "throw more money at your opponent" that solution is too obvious.


And Standard is by far not the most popular format.  People only play Standard to play in tournaments, and the go-to tournament that you can play each week is Friday Night Magic.  FNM plays three formats: Sealed, Draft, and Standard.  If you don't want to drop $15+ a week for a tournament, your only option is Standard.  It's competitively robust and more dynamic than many of the older formats, but those things aren't the same as being the most fun.

I think another factor in Standard's popularity over Block Constructed is cross-block synergy. R&D have been doing a pretty good job of setting up cards that play well with Block N from core sets and Blocks N-1 and N+1.

As for what's most fun, clearly that's Casual :P

On a more nitpicky note:
to pretend like there isn't also a business side of game design

Yuck! "pretend like"? Did you really just write that? I always thought the flavour text on the new Fact or Fiction was making out Jace to be an arrogant know-it-all kid showing off his ignorance of proper grammar. But to see a premier MtG author writing that? And it not being corrected by the editor? Ugh. I tut once at Mark and twice at Kell or Trick (whoever's meant to be editing these articles).
I've finally decided to question Mark's belief that bad cards must exist. If every card is different, if true variety exist, then there is no bad card, there are just cards that are not relevant at that time. 2/2 for 2 in your UW Control is bad until it becomes the only early drop that can stop the aggro deck that has nothing but 3/2s in it.
While everything may or may not be true (from differing perspectives), one universal truth is inescapable.

It sells packs.
Standard seems like a lot of fun because designers/devlopers have much more control over the environment. If I had more disposable income I play. Standard is just so expensive (at least if you want to be able to win).

To be fair... most formats are very expensive.
It doesn't sound like Mark has played Vintage, or seen a Vintage deck list.

There are tons of prominent cards from recent sets: Snapcaster Mage, Lodestone Golem, Mental Misstep, Delver, Jace, ...

Obviously the "power cards" from the early sets also have not disappeared.

Mark's claim that power creep must preclude either old or new cards from being relevant is puzzling and observably false.
I played magic starting at the original Mirrodin block with a large stock of Onslaught cards on the side and stopped after Timespiral....

Standard was fun then....

I came back to magic at Innastrad and with the exception of Alara, I don't think I missed much in between....

After getting back I played Standard until about mid way through Dark Ascension and decided that with all the Mythics (still amazed that Wizards decided to do that) and the Plainswalkers (which I hate just as much) running around where I play, Standard was not something that I could rummaging around the Common/uncommon/bulk rare box....

After talking about it with some of the more experienced magic players at the local store they suggested EDH, and since then I have played nothing else....

I don't know about a popularity contest, but EDH sure wins out in fun....
Like others have said Standard at the moment at least feels too constricted in the amount of viable decks.  I'm a pretty new magic player having started during Worldwake.  I always feel discouraged making new standard decks, because if it isn't x, y, or z, there's no point in making it.  This might just be coming from someone who played magic a fair bit.  New players play in standard because as you said the cardpool is less overwhelming, but as their knoledge of the game and older cards increases they tend to play more eternal formats.  I'm just generalizing, but I'd bet if you did a poll on what 5+ year magic players play, chances are much less that it will standard.  It's just too expensive and boring to constantly get a viable deck every new season.  I just wish there was a little push to get newish players to try older formats.  Reprints of staples would be nice.
Mark's claim that power creep must preclude either old or new cards from being relevant is puzzling and observably false.



It's absolutely true, but format dependent.  For example, in Legacy, no one plays Shock over Lightning Bolt.

Power creep implies that the larger a card pool is, the more cards in that pool are unplayable due to ones that are 'strictly better'. 
Is this always true?  Has it always been historically true?  With the exceptions of the last 5 years (Bitterblossom in Lorwyn, Bloodbraid in Alara, Jace in Zendikar, Swords in Scars, Delver/Snap in Innistrad), what cards have "warped" formats?  This seems to be the fault of the current crop of R&D, not the fault of Standard as a format.



[...]
Umezawa's Jitte, Arcbound Ravager and Disciple of the Vault, Skull Clamp, Astral Slide, Psychatog, Flametongue Kavu, Rishadan Port, Lin-Sivvi, Defiant Hero, Urza block, Necropotence, Stasis. And I'm just thinking of the big ones.




I notice that the Ravnica-Time Spiral era of standard isn't mentioned in either post, and from what I remember, was generally well liked and diverse.

I'm curious about why. I know that that standard format was much larger than sets are now, and marginally larger than formats before it. Ravnica, Time Spiral, and 10th edition were all huge sets, and Coldsnap was also legal at the time. I don't necessarily think that the sets were designed and balanced better. I think figuring that out would require more time than I want to spend thinking about it. I do think that having so many more cards in the format allowed for more answers to problem cards. Though Faeries could be a strong counter argument, but I think a lot of people would agree that that deck was just a mistake, and that being able to play at instant speed cut the amount of effective answers to "not enough".

I think Zendikar/Scars and Scars/Innistrad are good examples of a small format becoming stale and less diverse too quickly.
And I think adding M13 without removing M12 has added a lot to the format. Adding M13 brings the total amount of cards close to the number in Ravnica/Time Spiral. Before M13 there was about a 350 card difference. That's a lot of possible answers and "build-around-me" cards:

Ravnica 306
Guildpact 165
Dissention 180
Coldsnap 155
Time Spiral 301
Planar Chaos 165
Future Sight 180
10th 383

Total: 1835

Scars 249
Besieged 155
New Phyrexia 175
M12 249
Innistrad 264
Dark Ascension 158
Avacyn 244
M13 249

Total: 1743
I notice that the Ravnica-Time Spiral era of standard isn't mentioned in either post, and from what I remember, was generally well liked and diverse.




If we want to talk about a card from Time Spiral block that warped a format, that's easy.  It's Tarmogoyf

Those who fear the darkness have never seen what the light can do.

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights. But you yourself are nothing so divine. Just next in line.

191752181 wrote:
All I'm saying is, I don't really see how she goes around petrifying swords and boots and especially mirrors. How the heck does she beat a Panoptic Mirror? It makes no sense for artifacts either. Or enchantments, for that matter. "Well, you see, Jimmy cast this spell to flood the mountain, but then the gorgon just looked at the water really hard and it went away."
I'm curious about why. I know that that standard format was much larger than sets are now, and marginally larger than formats before it. Ravnica, Time Spiral, and 10th edition were all huge sets, and Coldsnap was also legal at the time. I don't necessarily think that the sets were designed and balanced better. I think figuring that out would require more time than I want to spend thinking about it. I do think that having so many more cards in the format allowed for more answers to problem cards. Though Faeries could be a strong counter argument, but I think a lot of people would agree that that deck was just a mistake, and that being able to play at instant speed cut the amount of effective answers to "not enough".

I don't think it was so much the number of cards as the fact that they hadn't yet started removing complexity from commons. In Ravnica/Time Spiral Standard, you had a lot of options for Constructed decks because so many cards filled so many different roles in all rarities. Then they started removing complexity in Lorwyn, so common and uncommon options started dwindling, and then NWO order set in (in addition to smaller set sizes), greatly limiting the number of options available to deck-builders.

Now, the majority of commons (and a fair amount of uncommons) are so simple that they don't really separate themselves from the competition. We have more vanilla creatures, more virtual vanilla creatures, much simpler instants/sorceries, etc. It makes it much harder for a common to compare well to a rare or mythic when the rares are allowed to do more, allowing them to be applicable in more situations. Basically the only commons that get played any more are going to be those that don't have an analogue in higher rarities, such as pinpoint removal, counterspells and bounce.

And yes, they push the power level of mythics more, so there's that too. We're closing on "best cards", such as the Titans, which further limits your options because choosing anything else is almost always going to be wrong.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)

Is this always true?  Has it always been historically true?  With the exceptions of the last 5 years (Bitterblossom in Lorwyn, Bloodbraid in Alara, Jace in Zendikar, Swords in Scars, Delver/Snap in Innistrad), what cards have "warped" formats?  This seems to be the fault of the current crop of R&D, not the fault of Standard as a format.



Yes, this is historically accurate. Fireballmage and Tymestalker listed out a few examples, but every standard has had top cards that got stale by rotation.


Is Standard popular because people like to play it, or because it's the format that most tournaments are held as?  ...Judging by personal anecdotal experience, I would venture to guess that, aside from the financial barrier to entry (which actually isn't that high anymore compared to Standard), Legacy is actually the most "popular" format (in that most players actually find enjoyment in playing Legacy).



There's no requirement that tournament organizers run Standard (even for FNM). In-store tournaments tend to be standard because that's what most players want. Your personal experience with Legacy doesn't really translate to the general population; Legacy players tend to be really invested in the format and enjoy it a lot, but they're a minority of players. And there's really no comparison in price. For a $200, I can buy a tournament quality UW Delver-Pike deck. Or I can buy 2-3 duals (maybe).


I notice that the Ravnica-Time Spiral era of standard isn't mentioned in either post, and from what I remember, was generally well liked and diverse.



I'm afraid you're remembering with rose-colored glasses. Yes, the format was very diverse, and some players had a lot of fun with it. But it was very difficult for new players to get into. On top of that, it had some severely busted decks (storm anyone?).

The size of the Core sets was also a huge problem. The high number of cards made it less likely that your box or boosters would actually have anything good. You ended up plowing through piles of Emperor Crocodiles, Mahamoti Djinns, and Jayemdae Tomes (it used to be rare) to find the few painlands or Wraths that you actually wanted. And since Core sets only came out every two years, there was a lot less product drafted, which made the rares even harder to find.

And the larger sets didn't actually make it easier to find answer cards or alternative strategies. The best cards were still the best; you just got more junk to go with them.
And lest we forget, Ravnica's main issue came from the Dredge mechanic, which made the Golgari Grave-Troll/Stinkweed Imp very powerful.

Those who fear the darkness have never seen what the light can do.

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights. But you yourself are nothing so divine. Just next in line.

191752181 wrote:
All I'm saying is, I don't really see how she goes around petrifying swords and boots and especially mirrors. How the heck does she beat a Panoptic Mirror? It makes no sense for artifacts either. Or enchantments, for that matter. "Well, you see, Jimmy cast this spell to flood the mountain, but then the gorgon just looked at the water really hard and it went away."
Then they started removing complexity in Lorwyn, so common and uncommon options started dwindling, and then NWO order set in (in addition to smaller set sizes), greatly limiting the number of options available to deck-builders.



Eh? I thought Lorwyn was one of the reasons they started removing complexity because it was so complex itself?
Then they started removing complexity in Lorwyn, so common and uncommon options started dwindling, and then NWO order set in (in addition to smaller set sizes), greatly limiting the number of options available to deck-builders.



Eh? I thought Lorwyn was one of the reasons they started removing complexity because it was so complex itself?

Lorwyn caused them to remove synergistic complexity (or on-board complexity as they call it), to start toning down the number of cards with activated abilities that mess with combat math. But they were already taking complexity away on a card-by-card basis by Lorwyn (thanks to Time Spiral block).

So, starting in Lorwyn they began toning down complexity of the cards, and then post-Lorwyn they started toning down complexities of card interactions.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)

The size of the Core sets was also a huge problem. The high number of cards made it less likely that your box or boosters would actually have anything good. You ended up plowing through piles of Emperor Crocodiles, Mahamoti Djinns, and Jayemdae Tomes (it used to be rare) to find the few painlands or Wraths that you actually wanted. And since Core sets only came out every two years, there was a lot less product drafted, which made the rares even harder to find.

And the larger sets didn't actually make it easier to find answer cards or alternative strategies. The best cards were still the best; you just got more junk to go with them.


"And since Core sets only came out every two years, there was a lot less product drafted, which made the rares even harder to find." this makes me wondering why the prices of singles have gone up so insanely for competitive rares since then

im going to agree with chronego: "Basically the only commons that get played any more are going to be those that don't have an analogue in higher rarities, such as pinpoint removalcounterspells and bounce."
not running mythics nowadays means less change at winning (a lot less) 
Standard is probably the best format for magics long-term survival. I wouldn't have bothered with the game if it costed $500+ just to build a mana base. WhIle I can understand that older players like using their older cards that they obtained for $5 before they became $100, it's unfair for them to think that the game can survive and remain dynamic without allowing new players and fresh metagames. I also doubt that the older players would enjoy seeing their collections value be destroyed by mass reprints of old cards, which is exactly what legacy-only yugioh does to remain accessible and relevant.
I want to add, on the length of the format, there's a rule in politics and marketing: Nohamotyo, or, No One Has A Memory Over Two Years Old.

Then they started removing complexity in Lorwyn, so common and uncommon options started dwindling, and then NWO order set in (in addition to smaller set sizes), greatly limiting the number of options available to deck-builders.



Eh? I thought Lorwyn was one of the reasons they started removing complexity because it was so complex itself?

Lorwyn caused them to remove synergistic complexity (or on-board complexity as they call it), to start toning down the number of cards with activated abilities that mess with combat math. But they were already taking complexity away on a card-by-card basis by Lorwyn (thanks to Time Spiral block).

So, starting in Lorwyn they began toning down complexity of the cards, and then post-Lorwyn they started toning down complexities of card interactions.



Time Spiral is basically the reason we don't have so much complexity in new blocks. From RAV-TSP to TSP-LRW-SHM, Standard was almost like playing Legacy in terms of complexity. (So many keywords.) Even veterans might have difficulty with all the keywords in Future Sight, and the weirdness of Shadowmoor. (Looking at you, .) Time Spiral also broke a rule; Serrated Arrows, Giant Oyster and Unstable Mutation (and to the last one, why are you not in Scars of Mirrodin?) all used -1/-1 counters in a block that otherwise used +1/+1 countersw.
139359831 wrote:
Clever deduction Watson! Maybe you can explain why Supergirl is trying to kill me.
---- Autocard is your friend. Lightning Bolt = Lightning Bolt
And Standard is by far not the most popular format. People only play Standard to play in tournaments, and the go-to tournament that you can play each week is Friday Night Magic. FNM plays three formats: Sealed, Draft, and Standard. If you don't want to drop $15+ a week for a tournament, your only option is Standard. It's competitively robust and more dynamic than many of the older formats, but those things aren't the same as being the most fun.

FNM events can be run in the Standard, Sealed Deck, Booster Draft, Block Constructed, Extended, or Two-Headed Giant (Standard or Sealed) formats. It is up to each individual tournament organiser which formats they want to run.
And lest we forget, Ravnica's main issue came from the Dredge mechanic, which made the Golgari Grave-Troll/Stinkweed Imp very powerful.





If we want to talk about a card from Time Spiral block that warped a format, that's easy.  It's Tarmogoyf




I wasn't playing at that time, but I'm pretty sure neither of those were very powerful in standard.

Tarmogoyf was usually just a Kird Ape or a slightly better Watchwolf.
And dredge was pretty terrible.


I agree with the comment about complexity in lower rarities, and I think Avacyn was a step in the right direction, with lots of commons and uncommons with many uses. Restoration Angel and the blink mechanic in particular seem to promote having a variety of options and creatures. Which leads to more diverse gameplay and decks.

Or maybe it's just the splashability..
I think that if there were more dual lands in the enemy colors right now, that would create a lot more viable archetypes.

Hamazing is correct, in both posts.


Tarmogoyf was instantly great in Extended and beyond (and on the topic of "only so many cards can be good" it pretty much supplanted Quirion Dryad).  But in Standard it was playable but not great.


Ravnica - Time Spiral was also a time when the R&D goal was "no tier 1, lots of tier 2" cards.  It's a difficult design goal but a worthy one for creating an environment.  However, marketing would certainly prefer a few high-profile things they can advertise.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

Ravnica - Time Spiral was also a time when the R&D goal was "no tier 1, lots of tier 2" cards.  It's a difficult design goal but a worthy one for creating an environment.  However, marketing would certainly prefer a few high-profile things they can advertise.



I doubt that. While it's true that chase mythics can drive pack sales, this has nothing to do with marketing. Sorin, Lord of Innistrad can be marketed as much as you want, it's the power level that ultimately settles its success, at least for this target audience.

What marketing wants are splashy things for the casual masses. Innistrad's horror themes, vampires, werewolves, the titans, planeswalkers, etc. 

My point being that I think it is possible to have a "tier 2" metagame while still keeping marketing happy with things that are high-profile in flavor/splashyness rather than tournament results.
On Pros and Cons of Standard...

I realise he has to be the mouthpiece for Wizards, but under the section "Deductions" aka, downside, there is no mention of the cost of standard. Each year Wizards bring out, say, a new set of duals that immediately requires a competitive player to have to shell out for playsets. That's before you get to the mythic bombs which are pretty much an entry level requirement of every meta since M10.

Don't get me wrong, I agree that the concept of standard is healthy for the game, and financially healthy for the producers of the game in a way that ensures that the game has a future. You can be balanced about it and note the positive that even if you have a "power nine" type card then eventually it will fall out of standard, but not mentioning the cost issue at all seems to me to be a rather gaping omission in a treatise on the subject.

From my own perspective, I love getting a regular refresh, and I often build standard-legal decks for the heck of it, but I don't dabble in any standard tournaments any more simply because optimizing a deck for a tournament invariably means getting 4 of a card whose price is unacceptably high to compete in an environment where rogue decks will almost always get beaten by meta-tested netdecks. That just isn't a fun return on the investment.

"Standard is by far the most popular format"

Really? I just played a day of magic with some buddies of mine I meet up with from time to time. I'd love to know how our casual kitchen table tournament featured in whatever statistical analysis MaRo was referring to. When I go drafting, you know what games are being played in the room before the draft starts? EDH. And many of the people I draft with like to draft all of the time (including online) but never play standard.

I'm sure MaRo was looking at some numbers when he made the pronouncement that of the formats that wizards supports, the one that gets the most amount of support and coverage is strangely the most attended, but that's not the same thing as most popular. Or to put it another way, if we were all givem a choice between being kicked in the head repeatedly or watching paint dry, I'm sure that watching paint dry would be "overwhelmingly popular".

I think that standard is probably the most accessible format to new players, and a firm favourite with pros, the two demongraphics that seem to get the most attention. As to the other conclusions, I think I'd have to say they were a direct consequence of the way things are currently organised more than any objective measure of popularity.

Me? I like me some new cards. I like building standard decks but there aren't too many outlets for doing so casually or inexpensively and I can't be doing with all that meta-analysis. I also like drafting and kitchen table magic, moreso than standard.

Really? I just played a day of magic with some buddies of mine I meet up with from time to time. I'd love to know how our casual kitchen table tournament featured in whatever statistical analysis MaRo was referring to. When I go drafting, you know what games are being played in the room before the draft starts? EDH. And many of the people I draft with like to draft all of the time (including online) but never play standard.

Neither Casual nor EDH (Commander) are formats: they're Casual Variants. Neither is Limited: it's a style of play. Formats only exist for Constructed and the only formats are Block, Standard, Extended, Modern, Legacy, and Vintage. Of those, Standard is the run-away favorite. His statement was perfectly correct. Whether that's because it's the best supported or best liked is debateable; but it's also a chicken-and-egg dilemma--if lots of people play it, Wizards supports it more; as Wizards supports it more, more people gravitate to playing it.

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

On Pros and Cons of Standard...

I realise he has to be the mouthpiece for Wizards, but under the section "Deductions" aka, downside, there is no mention of the cost of standard. Each year Wizards bring out, say, a new set of duals that immediately requires a competitive player to have to shell out for playsets. That's before you get to the mythic bombs which are pretty much an entry level requirement of every meta since M10.

Don't get me wrong, I agree that the concept of standard is healthy for the game, and financially healthy for the producers of the game in a way that ensures that the game has a future. You can be balanced about it and note the positive that even if you have a "power nine" type card then eventually it will fall out of standard, but not mentioning the cost issue at all seems to me to be a rather gaping omission in a treatise on the subject.

From my own perspective, I love getting a regular refresh, and I often build standard-legal decks for the heck of it, but I don't dabble in any standard tournaments any more simply because optimizing a deck for a tournament invariably means getting 4 of a card whose price is unacceptably high to compete in an environment where rogue decks will almost always get beaten by meta-tested netdecks. That just isn't a fun return on the investment.



He doesn't mention it because it's not a design problem with standard, so not something within his area.
On Pros and Cons of Standard...

I realise he has to be the mouthpiece for Wizards, but under the section "Deductions" aka, downside, there is no mention of the cost of standard. Each year Wizards bring out, say, a new set of duals that immediately requires a competitive player to have to shell out for playsets. That's before you get to the mythic bombs which are pretty much an entry level requirement of every meta since M10.

Don't get me wrong, I agree that the concept of standard is healthy for the game, and financially healthy for the producers of the game in a way that ensures that the game has a future. You can be balanced about it and note the positive that even if you have a "power nine" type card then eventually it will fall out of standard, but not mentioning the cost issue at all seems to me to be a rather gaping omission in a treatise on the subject.

From my own perspective, I love getting a regular refresh, and I often build standard-legal decks for the heck of it, but I don't dabble in any standard tournaments any more simply because optimizing a deck for a tournament invariably means getting 4 of a card whose price is unacceptably high to compete in an environment where rogue decks will almost always get beaten by meta-tested netdecks. That just isn't a fun return on the investment.



He doesn't mention it because it's not a design problem with standard, so not something within his area.



True, but he does mention the commercial importance on being able to focus on new product. I'd say he opened the door on the importance of economic stability as well as design stability with that one.

Plus, he's a certifiable silver-tongued devil. As Astareal pointed out to me, Casual and EDH aren't formats. So when Mark says standard is the most popular format he is saying something that rhymes with "more people play standard than anything else" but in fact its just a glossy half-truth. Equally when he states that X is important, I would like him to acknowledge that Y is important too.
True, but he does mention the commercial importance on being able to focus on new product. I'd say he opened the door on the importance of economic stability as well as design stability with that one.



Oh yeah he does. Then you're right =)