Magic: The Gathering

One of the best and most popular games of all time.

Discussion from the old Forum:

This weekend is the prerelease of a new set called Aether Revolt. However today something seismic happened: The official tournament rules announced the banning of five cards, three of them in the most popular and most frequently changing format Standard.

This is big because this is the first time in over five years cards had to be banned in Standard. However it is kind of understandable. Emrakul, the Promised End is a ridiculous game-ending creature that through another card could be “cheated” into play as early as turn 4. Smuggler’s Copter on the other hand is of a new card type introduced in the last set and WOTC apparently failed to properly balance the card/pushed it a bit too much to make it the card of the new type most likely to see constructed play. Since it’s an artifact and doesn’t required any specific color of mana it then basically forced almost every deck that could play it to do so.

The real headscratcher is Reflector Mage which was apparently banned to hit one deck specifically. The card is also rather unfun to play against.

Add in two more bans in another format which should also strongly impact that format and this announcement sent major shockwaves through the Magic community. Particularly hard hit was one of the biggest independent tournament Organizers, StarCityGames, which had already printed up playmats with the artwork of Smuggler’s Copter as a participation prize for players in one of its major tournaments. Of course the price of the Emrakul and Copter cards immediately crashed on the secondary market.

All three of the Standard bans will see Modern play. I’m more happy about the Storm nerf with Gitaxian Probe.

Seems weird that apparently this thread only has a lot of negative now with few posts and the big things recently happening being negative, but I want to talk about it.

Well, WOTC fucked up this week, big time. A new set, Amonkhet was released, and the set looks super good and is very much up my alley due to the large number of Zombies in it, plus Nicol Bolas machinations in the background etc. However as explained above new set also brings with it an update of Banned & Restricted cards for tournament formats. The announcement was made on Monday and while something important was banned in Sensei’s Divining Top in Legacy, the bigger impact was the absence of any changes in Standard.

Standard had been suffering under the weight of a combo deck that was completed with Aether Revolt as the cards Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai combine to make infinite copies of the Guardian. Surprisingly neither card were in the ban announcement. WOTC however also released the new set in their online platform on Monday and the results were not good. This lead to an addendum banning Felidar Guardian announced last night.

While I support the ripping-off-the-bandaid approach because it is generally better to try and fix a problem right away rather than just ignoring it, the whole thing has a lot of people upset. Banning cards is never good because it means people can no longer play the deck they spent both money to build and time to learn how to play. This problem is now compounded because due to the two day delay between the respective announcements. A lot of people took the announcement for granted and bought into the Copy-Cat deck thinking they would be safe for a little while. Thankfully a lot of the major online card-resellers are now offering refunds on any copies of Saheeli Rai bought since last week.

I’ve got a folder full of rares from 1999-2002 that I ought to get rid of. I think maybe I ought to value the cards, halve that number and try to sell the whole lot at once for that price. If I try to sell them individually I’ll just spend too much time and get frustrated. Or is there a better way to go about it?

Look for some larger stores (ChannelFireball, StarCityGames, CoolStuffInc, etc.) Most of them have “buylists” on their website and you can gauge what you will get for the cards and probably compare. You can also mail them then the cards. Alternatively you can find a local shop or perhaps there might be a Grand Prix event somewhere closeby at some point where larger retailers will have booths if you want to deal in-person. If you are from europe you could go to which is a peer-to-peer selling platform and essentially the price guide in europe though getting rid of whole collections will be hard through there. Doubt you will have to halve the prices though even at a local shop.

Really terrific infographic:

Makes me realize just how short the time I played Magic actually was. I first played against a friend who brought Revised cards over to my house. Definitely late 1994. I stopped just after buying maybe a few packs of Alliances, which was the middle of 1996.

Also, I had not realized just how early on I was playing. When I started it felt like Alpha and Beta were ancient history. But no. If I had just started about one year earlier, I would have probably had Black Lotuses and shit.

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This happened today during a Commander game (short version: It’s multiplayer instead of 1-on-1, you start at 40 life, you almost always have access to a legendary creature that you built your deck around). I wrote this together for another forum but thought I’d share it here too:

I recently built a Temmet deck because I didn’t really have a token specific deck. Most of these types of deck are very “go wide” while I wanted more of a “go tall” token deck, or rather one that creates token copies so you can have fewer but more powerful tokens. Unfortunately the only time I played it before was a very degenerate game where I only drew lands and another player basically went off very early and killed the table in short order.

Today I finally got to play it again in a three player game. The other players were a Phage the Untouchable deck, with the usual mono-black control shenanigans, and a relatively typical Atraxa super-friends and +1/+1 counters deck, though under a budget.

((Aside added for here: Phage the Untouchable is a powerful card as she just kills the opponent when she attacks and connects with an opponent, but she is also risky as her ability will kill you if you don’t counteract it, and using her as your commander means that you aren’t casting her from her hand and her ability will trigger. You need a card that protects you from her ability. Torpor Orb works but if it is destroyed when you cast her you just lose the game. Opponent also had a Sundial of the Infinite in play when he cast her so he could just skip his turn and survive if things went wrong. Platinum Angel is also a popular way to get around her effect.

Super-friends on the other hand is a strategy that uses a lot of Planeswalker cards, which basically function like players. Atraxa works with them because they use counters to “pay” for their abilities and Atraxa gives them one for free every turn. A Planeswalker usually has three abilities, the most expensive and most powerful one is referred to as the Planeswalker’s “Ultimate”))

I was ahead very early thanks to a Batterskull, but didn’t go after anyone specific. After that in the midgame the Atraxa player took over. Finally we managed to deal with his board of multiple planeswalkers when the Phage player started to dominate the game, buffed to a high life total thanks to a Sangromancer and endless cards due to Necropotence. Me and Atraxa had to form an alliance. Atraxa also survived a turn because Phage player forgot about an emblem that Gideon of the Trials had produced earlier, and another time because I snagged Trailblazer’s Boots with Grip of Phyresis

We finally managed to whittle the opponent down, mostly due to Atraxa casting Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and attacking multiple times. At this point I was mostly just trying to stay alive by activating my Azorius Guildmage repeatedly in a turn. Atraxa then managed to ultimate both a Garruk, Apex Predator on the Phage player and Dovin Baan and was looking to end it. However, he was already on a low life total and fell to an attack by Myojin of Night’s Reach by the Phage player after the last available blocker was killed by Visara the Dreadful.

I untapped, drew my card. Opponent activates the Myojin and I counter the ability with the Guildmage. Then I look at the card I had drawn: Supplant Form. Unfortunately I was a mana short with only seven available to execute it that turn as I didn’t cast my Lightning Greaves last turn, trying to save mana under Dovin Baan’s emblem.

Opponent’s turn. He casts toxic Deluge for two, killing his Myojin and my Guildmage. That’s okay. He taps Visara to kill my 9/9 Kraken token (final stage of the Reef Worm). That’s okay. Attacks me with Phage. I cast Supplant Form and survive getting a token-copy of Phage due to the opponent’s Torpor Orb*. Opponent passes the turn believing his Spires of Orazca will save him. I equip the Boots, cast and equip the Greaves, and kill my opponent with his Phage.

High fives all around.

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Another leak happened with the chinese version of the Set Release Notes for April’s “Dominaria”, which marks the return to Magic’s original setting. The leak is not good but WOTC is handling it pretty well and have released the notes document in all language just to not have bad translations floating around.

One of the changes introduced with the set I have to praise them a lot for though. They have switched away from the clumsy “he or she” wording to the singular “they”, e.g. “Target player puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard” becomes “Target player puts the top card of their library into their graveyard”. Simpler, shorter, more inclusive.


So, having played a significant amount of it lately, I honestly believe MTG:A to be a significant threat to Hearthstone. I’m just really sad that it seems like it’s going to be standard-only, my least favorite format.

I thought about trying it, but I think I’m just gonna hold out for that DOTA card game.

However you get your digital fix, man. I think a bunch of MTG pros made another one called Legacy or Eternal or something like that, too?

At least MTGA allows me to have my cross-over knowledge work between paper and pixel.

So is M:TGA going to be the go to if you want to play Magic but don’t want to actually get on the classic Magic hampster wheel of poverty?

That’s what they’re aiming for. They want to compete with the Hearthstones of the world. I think the one real failing they have is that since M:tG is still a physical card game, they don’t have cards that do things which are impossible with a physical card game. The design space is therefore inherently limited, and the game is less interesting. But if you really want to play M:tG digitally, it seems to be by far the best option.

MTGA is the hearthstone model. Casual play, low to no stakes, focus on casual standard with some drafting (though no real drafts yet. MTGO and paper are, for at least a few years to come, going to be the only places to experience what the majority of players play from highly competitive formats to casual constructed and Commander.

It is at least a cheaper way to experience Standard, which can be fun.

The M:tG World Championship is happening right now. One of the top tier players who qualified has dropped out. He says he has been planning it for over a month, but only announced it after arriving in Vegas. That way the tournament would be short a player, and it would make his protest more effective.

What is he protesting? He’s protesting that you don’t make a guaranteed salary and living wage as a professional Magic player.

In team sports, players usually get contracts and get paid. There can be bonuses for good performance, but there is a floor where they get paid no matter what. They also usually have unions even if some (baseball, basketball) are stronger than others (handegg).

In individual sports, like tennis or golf, players don’t get salaries. Instead, they get prize money from tournaments and they get money from other sources like endorsement deals.

Magic is an individual sport. I don’t agree with him that M:tG players should be paid salaries. I believe they should be compensated the same way that tennis players or golfers are paid.

What I do agree with him is that they are vastly undercompensated. Here is the payout structure for the M:tG World Championship happening right now.

300,000 total pool
1: 100,000
2: 50,000
3-4: 25,000
5-8: 10,000
9-16: 5,000
17-24: 2,500

I could be very mistaken, but I believe this counts as prize money, not as normal job income. If that is correct, then that means it is taxed like lottery winnings, and not like regular income. That means a lot less of it goes in your wallet.

It also means that the world’s 17th best player only gets 2,500 at the biggest event of the year. That is not enough to live off. That means that less than 10 people on earth can afford to play Magic as their sole profession and earn decent money. Those people have to play and do very well at tournaments pretty much constantly. That is an expensive lifestyle since they also have to travel to tournaments and buy cards and such.

Compare that to this payout for the US Open of golf.

67th place got almost $24,000. If you are in the top 70 golfers in the world, you can play in just a few tournaments and you will be affluent.

Here is the PGA Tournament Schedule including total purses. The smallest is over $3 million.

Here is the info about how to get a PGA tour card.

Basically, if you get a tour card, you can play in those tournaments. You don’t even have to do well. You don’t have to win. You just have to qualify consistently and do well enough to keep your tour card. If you can manage that, and you play in 20-30 tournaments a year, you will be rich. Nobody will know your name. You will have no fame. Yet, you will have mega money.

Obviously M:tG does need to pay out as much as PGA Golf does. But there is a healthy middle ground. The 100 best M:tG players on Earth should all make enough from tournament prize pools to be able to live normal lives. Buy houses, cars, computers, food, insurance, etc. Just as much as anyone else makes at an office job.

Because they do not make enough, I can’t blame anyone for not putting in the effort to go pro. It’s just not worth it.

And there you have the plot of the first half of Happy Gilmore.


GerryT, who btw previously worked in Magic R&D at an inernship testing and developing cards, is protesting far more with this thing. He is also protesting poor communication by WoTC, a coverage system that doesn’t cover players enough, the ridiculous difficulty of even qualifying for the Pro Tour due to the limited number of seats available even though Magic has significantly grown, and the imbalance of tournament availability between regions which makes it even harder to become a pro if you are from Latin America or Asia.

He goes in a lot of detail with examples on Reddit:

The first couple of responses to this thread is people telling that they only realized Worlds was this weekend because of Gerry’s protest, which is a really black mark on WoTC considering that the /r/magictcg subreddit is the most enfranchised playerbase to begin with. I also didn’t know this, though I don’t really follow the pro scene (and due to lack of time I am even contemplating no longer playing tournaments at all).