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Thread: The current state of Magic

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    The current state of Magic

    First, this isn't a "the sky is falling, Magic is dead" thread. But there are quite a few things going that are worth discussing imho.

    Chris Cocks is the CEO of WotC now, leading to a stronger (and much necessary) focus on the digital department. Right now, MTGO is getting its ass kicked by several competitors. I don't think the 20 million $ number is accurate and should be higher, given rough estimates calculated from league runs and trophies, but it also shouldn't be anyway near the often quoted 100 million $ mark by the community.

    Now why is that a problem for WotC? Maro has stated on his blog that Magic Duels is nowadays their main way to get new people into (paper) Magic. But with their competition being not crap like Wizards' digital department, it will significantly cut down the rate of new players. And we're seeing already the effects of this, as Magic's growth has slowed down to single digit numbers.

    What certainly doesn't help the case for Wizards is that their R&D went to shit as well: Their cash cow Standard has been plagued by massive problems for several years in a row now - be it Siege Rhino, Collected Company, Dual/Fetchland mana bases that costs 500$+ for half a year of Standard and now the recent bannings plus the change of B&R announcements. Looking at the results of PT Aether Revolt, it has 8/8 aggro decks in the Top 8, with 6 of them being Mardu Vehicles. But they, at least the Neo Twin combo (which they completely missed, btw) isn't destroying the format. Balanced format is balanced. Scrapheap Scrounger was a 31/32 in that Top 8. It's puzzling how they don't include safety valves like Rest in Peace anymore.

    It seems that WotC has entered full panic mode due dropping tournament attendance, considering how quickly they've revoked the accelerated rotation schedule, the introduction of Masterpieces to make "normal" Magic cards cheaper and the new B&R schedule. Yet they still don't know how to fix their stuff.

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Magic just isn't on the right path these days. I think the cards that get printed reflect what the players want, but not what is good for the game.

    Players want cards that are always useful, old cards valuable cards reprinted, packs and specific singles to be available everywhere, and for the cards they buy to be powerful in comparison to all previous cards printed. Players don't want powerful hate cards, to be told no by their opponents too much, to be color or mana screwed, to have their lands destroyed, or to lose before they get their chance to play cards.

    So, Wizards tries to do it all, with each concession in design for players resulting in a hit to brand and future of the game.

    Narrow powerful cards are much less common. Some valueable old cards become less valuable to entice people to buy the new set. Every set is printed so much that collectibility is not a relevant word; the best cards are worth little and the other cards are worth nothing. Standard has overpowered cards, and they dominate the tournament scene while they are in print. Control as an archetype has been on a steady downturn for a decade. Control was preceded in the death by combo. Combo needs effective counter spells in the environment for it to be healthy, and people hate effective counter spells being played against them. Every couple years there is a not terrible combo deck, but it rarely lasts. Combo was preceded in death by land kill, which will really never return.

    This is probably just a 2 am rant, but I am just a little bit disappointed with the way this game has developed recently. Magic isn't in a space where it can double the returns to Hasbro again by some trick. I get the feeling that high double digit growth year after year after year set the bar too high. When reality set in that saturation happened, small money grabs that players were clammoring for became the norm to boost profits. That is a slippery slope that leads to significantly diminished perception of value of their products.

    I'm not saying the sky is falling either, but I would like to see a big left turn coming up ahead.

    I'm also not trying to say that magic good old days were perfect either. Losing to cuneo blue and sinkhole decks wasn't fun. However, those mechanics need to be somewhat playable, in my opinion.

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Can't speak about standard, but from both a limited and a Legacy perspective, I've really enjoyed both Kaladesh and Aether Revolt.
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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Barook View Post
    Neo Twin combo (which they completely missed, btw)
    Authority of the Consuls begs to differ. I do not think they missed that combo. While they have a lot to fix, they are not that inept.
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    Re: The current state of Magic

    They're also trying to be like Hearthstone without understanding what makes that game good.
    I'll guess people will never be happy, but five years ago we would've been here claming the fall of the game for other reasons, with the good old days still being better. Yes, they're having some big problems right now, but I'll argue it was all for improving the game and moving to, you know, the new century. I won't claim to like and defend all their shots, but the "good old days" brought them to bee just another name owned by Asbro, which tell us a lot. About the price of old and new card I don't know how to put it, but here in Italy politicians from the 60/70 used to say: "Give a communist a house and a piece of land and you'll have a perfect conservative."

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderlust View Post
    Can't speak about standard, but from both a limited and a Legacy perspective, I've really enjoyed both Kaladesh and Aether Revolt.
    It would help, if the last 8 years of sets didn't all feel the same for standard or if pices are artificially driven by the 4th rarity and WotC Co-Op with vendors. All that is paired with the inability to deliver an Online Platform to recruit new players within a season mode tied to Standard. It baffles me that there are successful cardgames popping up left and right in AppStores while WotC/Hasbro are unable to even release MTGO for non-Windows platforms
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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Dice_Box View Post
    Authority of the Consuls begs to differ. I do not think they missed that combo. While they have a lot to fix, they are not that inept.
    They said so themselves.

    We did miss the interaction with Saheeli, however, and that has led to some . . . interesting decks in Standard. While we were pushing for more combo decks in Standard with Aether Revolt, this is not the kind of deck we would intentionally take a risk with. In hindsight, Felidar Guardian definitely should've said "creature or artifact." Pro Tour Aether Revolt is this weekend, and we'll be watching to see how these decks do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lemnear View Post
    It would help, if the last 8 years of sets didn't all feel the same for standard or if pices are artificially driven by the 4th rarity and WotC Co-Op with vendors. All that is paired with the inability to deliver an Online Platform to recruit new players within a season mode tied to Standard. It baffles me that there are successful cardgames popping up left and right in AppStores while WotC/Hasbro are unable to even release MTGO for non-Windows platforms
    It can't run on non-Windows OS without starting to code it from scratch due to their reliance on Windows-only programs. The responsible people just didn't care enough until Hearthstone took over the market.

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Barook View Post
    It can't run on non-Windows OS without starting to code it from scratch due to their reliance on Windows-only programs. The responsible people just didn't care enough until Hearthstone took over the market.
    They still don't care or why is MtG 2015 the only App I can find in the Google Playstore? They need to deliver a common platform for the game on iOS, Android, Windows and Mac even if it ONLY includes Standard in Seasons.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Echelon View Post
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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Barook View Post
    Well fuck. That changes my views a fair amount.
    It is better to ask and look stupid then keep your mouth shut and remain so.
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    Re: The current state of Magic

    At this point I'm not that worried. Standard sucking might funnel more people into Modern, Legacy, Vintage, and other formats that actually have deck diversity (except Legacy, unless you really like brainstorm). Standard has been overpriced for so long that I'm surprised people wouldn't just jump into something that holds value for the same initial investment (Modern). If online or other video games were what got people into Magic maybe this will finally force WotC to make an online Magic platform that isn't complete horseshit.

    That or make an interesting standard format, but as others have said, they pander to what people think they want and then end up with these overpowered and uninteresting standards. Problem is it takes a long time for the current Standard sets to rotate, so if they print a less powerful set no one will want to buy the cards until the powerful ones have rotated.

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix Ignition View Post
    At this point I'm not that worried. Standard sucking might funnel more people into Modern, Legacy, Vintage, and other formats that actually have deck diversity (except Legacy, unless you really like brainstorm). Standard has been overpriced for so long that I'm surprised people wouldn't just jump into something that holds value for the same initial investment (Modern). If online or other video games were what got people into Magic maybe this will finally force WotC to make an online Magic platform that isn't complete horseshit.

    That or make an interesting standard format, but as others have said, they pander to what people think they want and then end up with these overpowered and uninteresting standards. Problem is it takes a long time for the current Standard sets to rotate, so if they print a less powerful set no one will want to buy the cards until the powerful ones have rotated.
    There is no platform to suck people into the game which is pretty much the iOS/Android/Mac/Windows base we talk about. Its just WorC being unwilling to admit that MTGO, the client and the absurd prices for their digital goods are a massive fail. I mean, who the hell do they think to attract if a digital copy of Rishadan Port is 120$? Have they ever taken a look at the price for decks in heartstone or Gwent or for micro-transactions in other successful AppStore games? How the fuck do you want to suck Kids into the MtG brand with such paywalls?

    If they had balls, they just close down MTGO and develop a cross plattform app to play season-based standard format with some 0.99$ inApp-Purchase for boosters and tje option to grind for them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Echelon View Post
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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Closing MTGO would make the Chronicles reprints look like less than a tiny hiccup in the customer trust into WotC. Lots of people standing to probably lose hundredsof thousands of $. Altogether, their customers are likely holding millions of dollars in product on MTGO.

    The tragedy of the situation is that closing down MTGO and releasing a state of the art, free to play multiplatform client is the only way I see MtG having a future in the digitial age.
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    1. Discuss the unbanning of Land Tax Earthcraft.
    2. Argue that banning Force of Will would make the format healthier.
    3. Play Brainstorm without Fetchlands.
    4. Stifle Standstill.
    5. Think that Gaea's Blessing will make you Solidarity-proof.
    6. Pass priority after playing Infernal Tutor.
    7. Fail to playtest against Nourishing Lich (coZ iT wIlL gEt U!).

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    The biggest problem about Magic as a whole is Not about Balance or Card Design or pricing. It's Hearthstone, it's All About Hearthstone. PSully has mentioned it several times on Cedtalk. When you watch Pro Tour on Twitch, you can barely see which card is which in each player's hand, broadcasting the game is a nightmare. If you show both MtGO and Hearthstone to a new player who doesn't understand the interface of both games, there's no competition, the new players would pick Hearthstone inevitably.

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    In another way, Hearthstone is also the single-greatest thing to happen to Magic, quality-wise. One has to undoubtedly say that both MTGO and Paper Coverage is way better today than what it was back when HS was released. I just wish WotC had already started working on all the general problems way earlier.
    The seven cardinal sins of Legacy:
    1. Discuss the unbanning of Land Tax Earthcraft.
    2. Argue that banning Force of Will would make the format healthier.
    3. Play Brainstorm without Fetchlands.
    4. Stifle Standstill.
    5. Think that Gaea's Blessing will make you Solidarity-proof.
    6. Pass priority after playing Infernal Tutor.
    7. Fail to playtest against Nourishing Lich (coZ iT wIlL gEt U!).

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Julian23 View Post
    In another way, Hearthstone is also the single-greatest thing to happen to Magic, quality-wise. One has to undoubtedly say that both MTGO and Paper Coverage is way better today than what it was back when HS was released. I just wish WotC had already started working on all the general problems way earlier.
    Are they even working on them now? I've been waiting for a long time now to actually be able to play MTG online without dumping in over a thousand dollars. I was playing it before and sold out, but for that much money I couldn't believe the amount of bugs and general shittyness of the program.

    I've never been a standard player so can't say much about how that format is or isn't changing for the better.

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Julian23 View Post
    Closing MTGO would make the Chronicles reprints look like less than a tiny hiccup in the customer trust into WotC. Lots of people standing to probably lose hundredsof thousands of $. Altogether, their customers are likely holding millions of dollars in product on MTGO.

    The tragedy of the situation is that closing down MTGO and releasing a state of the art, free to play multiplatform client is the only way I see MtG having a future in the digitial age.
    Jup. WotC amazingly managed to repeat the colossal fail of an uncontrolled secondary market instead of fucking binding cards to accounts once pulled, like every damn MMO does for its virtual property of value since the beginning of the Millenium.

    And here comes the joke:

    Some people WILL lose thousands of dollars at the inevitable server shutdown or whenever the people just quit this bugged shit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Echelon View Post
    Lemnear sounds harsh at times, but he means well. Or to destroy, but that's when he starts rapping.

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Barook View Post
    It can't run on non-Windows OS without starting to code it from scratch due to their reliance on Windows-only programs. The responsible people just didn't care enough until Hearthstone took over the market.
    You'd never design a computer game like Garfield designed Magic: the Gathering. The complexity of shared turns, the massive swath of card types, many other rules minutia from a game programming perspective make it far more complex. That being said, WotC has utterly butchered Magic Online, but stuff like Hearthstone was ground up digital only and the mechanics are designed as such.

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by nedleeds View Post
    You'd never design a computer game like Garfield designed Magic: the Gathering. The complexity of shared turns, the massive swath of card types, many other rules minutia from a game programming perspective make it far more complex. That being said, WotC has utterly butchered Magic Online, but stuff like Hearthstone was ground up digital only and the mechanics are designed as such.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lemnear View Post
    Jup. WotC amazingly managed to repeat the colossal fail of an uncontrolled secondary market instead of fucking binding cards to accounts once pulled, like every damn MMO does for its virtual property of value since the beginning of the Millenium.

    And here comes the joke:

    Some people WILL lose thousands of dollars at the inevitable server shutdown or whenever the people just quit this bugged shit.
    nedleeds is right, and not just from a programming perspective. The MODO business model was designed in the early aughts (the MODO beta went live in 2001 IIRC), when having the online game work as closely to the paper one, especially in terms of how your cards worked in the market, was a key selling point (hence the Digital Objects piece of the name and redeemability of online cards for paper ones). MODO was indended as an adjunct, and quite possibly was intended as much to create an approved alternative to Apprentice as it was to stake out a meaningful space in competitive Magic or be its e-commerce arm. The client (and a lot of its implementation) leaves a ton to be desired, but short of blowing the whole thing up and starting from scratch, they're stuck with the thing as it was created 15 years ago.

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Barook View Post
    Now why is that a problem for WotC? Maro has stated on his blog that Magic Duels is nowadays their main way to get new people into (paper) Magic. But with their competition being not crap like Wizards' digital department, it will significantly cut down the rate of new players. And we're seeing already the effects of this, as Magic's growth has slowed down to single digit numbers.
    Source for its growth being only single digit numbers? I'm not sure I've seen data on its growth before and I'm curious about it.

    What certainly doesn't help the case for Wizards is that their R&D went to shit as well: Their cash cow Standard has been plagued by massive problems for several years in a row now - be it Siege Rhino, Collected Company, Dual/Fetchland mana bases that costs 500$+ for half a year of Standard and now the recent bannings plus the change of B&R announcements.
    Siege Rhino was annoying, but I don't think it was any worse than the usual Standard screw-ups. The dual/fetchland was a catastrophically bad idea to the point I'm baffled they did it. I don't even think dual/fetchland is inherently a bad idea for Standard (you do have to be cautious with it, though), but to do it while having no hate whatsoever for it? That's a terrible idea. Lack of hate for it resulted in the awkward fact you'd end up with better mana in a 3-color deck than a 2-color deck.

    What is especially odd is the order they did it in. It was fetchlands, then battlelands. Here's the problem. With that kind of manabase, the fetchlands will be more in demand, because you'll be running more of them than the battlelands. But the fetchlands were from the older set no longer being opened as frequently. So with that order, they made all the demand be for the older set rather than the current one. This meant the expense was greater than if the fetchlands were in Battle for Zendikar. If it had been the other way around, players might not have been driven off as much as the fetchlands would be cheaper. But even from their own perspective, it also meant that Wizards of the Coast benefitted less because the greater desire for fetchlands wasn't causing increased interest in the current set they were pushing, but the older set.

    Looking at the results of PT Aether Revolt, it has 8/8 aggro decks in the Top 8, with 6 of them being Mardu Vehicles. But they, at least the Neo Twin combo (which they completely missed, btw) isn't destroying the format. Balanced format is balanced. Scrapheap Scrounger was a 31/32 in that Top 8. It's puzzling how they don't include safety valves like Rest in Peace anymore.
    I seem to remember some complaints here back when Rest In Peace was spoiled about how the graveyard hate was becoming too powerful or something. That said, Rest In Peace would've been a good card to have around; if it had been legal Emrakul probably wouldn't have gotten banned. But as you note, it's puzzling they didn't do that... normally they always followed up a block by printing some stuff to hate on the previous block's mechanics to ensure they didn't stay too powerful. Stony Silence after Scars, Rest In Piece after Innistrad, Burning Earth after Return to Ravnica, Back to Nature after Theros.

    It seems that WotC has entered full panic mode due dropping tournament attendance, considering how quickly they've revoked the accelerated rotation schedule, the introduction of Masterpieces to make "normal" Magic cards cheaper and the new B&R schedule. Yet they still don't know how to fix their stuff.
    Well the accelerated rotation schedule was a pretty bad idea from the get-go. Two-set blocks was a reasonable idea, but I don't know why they decided they had to accelerate rotation at the same time. Maybe they were just stuck on the "let's rotate after each block" mentality.

    I don't think Masterpieces are really panic mode. I think they would've done that regardless, as expeditions were apparently popular on the whole. There's a big difference between doing something, then quickly reversing on it (rotation) compared to doing something, then deciding to keep doing it (Expeditions/Masterpieces). The former can be a sign of "panic," but not so much the latter.

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    Re: The current state of Magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Julian23 View Post
    Closing MTGO would make the Chronicles reprints look like less than a tiny hiccup in the customer trust into WotC. Lots of people standing to probably lose hundredsof thousands of $. Altogether, their customers are likely holding millions of dollars in product on MTGO.

    The tragedy of the situation is that closing down MTGO and releasing a state of the art, free to play multiplatform client is the only way I see MtG having a future in the digitial age.
    Realistically, they're going for their typical tactics of making "thing" so undesirable that pretty much all support is gone before they kill it.

    Worked for Extended.
    Worked for Modern PT.
    Will work for MTGO.

    Once Magic Digital Next releases, they're most likely going to completely cut redemption, nuking the market. Collection value will continously go down as people naturally quit/switch over while no fresh blood comes in. At the point where collections are extremely low value, they'll pull the plug. Crisis averted, while people still got fucked over.

    @Lord Seth: Quarterly earning reports from Hasbro iirc. We'll get the report for 2016 this week, which might contain new info.

    The accelerated rotation model was a clear sign of greed that backfired terribly. They thought they could milk the userbase even more while being less concerned with R&D ("If it's broken, it's going to rotate in 6 months anyway, who cares!"), which resulted in dumb shit like a dual/fetchland manabases without hate in Standard.

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