Competitive Magic: the Gathering can often be a stark contrast to what the vast majority of Magic players are used to. Large scale tournaments post attendance numbers in the thousands, and some players make their living traveling the tournament circuit every weekend and playing the most powerful decks comprised of the most powerful cards. And with the ever-increasing availability of information online, the results from these tournaments are often available within moments of the conclusion, complete alongside with deck lists, commentary, and breakdowns from pro-players and spectators alike. As always, patterns begin to emerge and become clear. Newer players aspiring to turn their hobby into a means of income will take note of decks that win and the cards used, then build the same decks in the hopes of putting up similar results. If enough players do the same thing, the focus of the game shifts to compensate for it – until invariably large tournaments become almost routine in their results, with the top decks in each event often being the same in a series of decks. This sounds dour, but oftentimes there are many popular decks and plenty of variance in the format. Other times it can take a lot of the fun out of the game though.
The beauty of the way the Standard MTG format is set up is that cards continually rotate in and out as time goes on so EVENTUALLY the decks are forced to change. Rarely is there ever an issue in that respect that time and the influx of new cards doesn’t correct. However, sometimes a card gets printed that is simply overpowered beyond the game’s ability to self-regulate. At those times the tournaments become irrevocably skewed towards those decks. Content put out from secondary markets and venues reflect this bias as well, and the price of single copies of the cards in those decks increase often beyond what is reasonable for even the more hardcore fans of the game. In these instances, the developers of the game will often try to release cards to counteract the card, though sometimes these interactions aren’t apparent or combinations of cards already existing make these remedies ineffective. In these rare cases Wizards of the Coast steps in and will ban the use of the card from competitive play. To put things in perspective, this is very rare. As long as the game has been in existence (since 1993) it has only happened seven times – now eight, as Wizards has banned not one but three cards from standard format. Bloggers and pundits of the game have been weighing in on the bans every day since they were announced, and opinions fall on all sides of the issue.
But what does this mean to the casual fan of the game? By and large we focus on a more casual crowd here at Family Fun Hobbies, so what happens at large tournaments probably might not matter much to you when you and your friends sit down to play here. It comes down to finance; supply and demand – now these cards are in less demand. Competitive players will no longer be needing these previously expensive and powerful cards. Those who have them will begin to sell and trade them at lower prices, and the singles market will flood with copies. Casual players will be able to acquire copies at lower and more reasonable prices, though their play will be limited to casual playgroups.
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– Sean Brietenbach, Assistant Manager and Events Coordinator