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 Post subject: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 5:02 am 
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Joined: 2011-Nov-16 1:14 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Prague, Heart of Europe
Hello, forums!

So MaRo has let the cat out of the bag with his big announcement today:

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mm/metamorphosis

Basically, they're changing the block structure itself by reducing the blocks in size from three sets to two. Furthermore, after next summer, there will be no more Core Sets. To compensate, every year will now have two blocks. The spring release slot will change from the third set of autumn block to the first set of spring block, which will then have its own second set released in summer instead of the Core Set.
So, Magic year will shift from "Big/Small/Small + Core" pattern to "Big/Small + Big/Small".
That also means some changes to Standard rotation, but I won't go into that here.

What does mean to us, the EDH community? I can only give my own perspective, but in my opinion, this change is a good one. The problems MaRo is talking about in the article, such as the third set issues or the Core Set identity crisis are, in my opinion, very real and needed to be adressed. For me, this change will mean more mechanical diversity over the year, more creative content, and more opportunities to revisit old settings.
All of those are good things in my book and I'm glad that Wizards is still willing to take measures of this caliber to make the game more appealing to us, players.

For more detailed information, see above for the link to the whole article.

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Last edited by Antis on 2014-Aug-25 7:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 6:12 am 

Joined: 2009-Feb-09 4:00 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
This will burn people out on Standard - and by extension, competitive play - much faster.

Standard rotations usually grind out a bunch of players who decide it's not worth it to continue blowing huge sums of money to stay current only to have 90+% of those cards plummet in value after they leave the format. With rotations now happening more quickly, the chances that your cards drop in value go way up since decks built around certain inter-block synergies will expire much faster than they do currently. Since it's unlikely that Wizards is either going to triple their print runs to oversaturate the market or stop printing good cards, the buy-in and upkeep costs are likely going to remain undiminished - you'll just be punished for it faster.

What does that mean? Well, some of these players will leave the game forever because they're just tired of it. There's nothing you can really do about these people. Some ex-Standard players will like competitive play and want to move to a bigger format where a deck will stay good for longer. The logical choice is Modern, but if you want to build an actually good deck - as opposed to a sort-of-acceptable budget deck - you're going to have to buy multiple $50+ cards and probably end up spending in the high hundreds or finding chumps who will trade for your Standard cards using their Modern staples. The sticker shock alone is going to dissuade a lot of the less fervent players (and don't get me started on Eternal formats, whose high prices and insane reprint policies make them basically inaccessible to all but the richest connoisseurs). What happens then? A lot of these players will either attrition out of the game or revert to casual formats where they can buy maybe half a dozen cards at most per set and then not always the most expensive ones. Formats like EDH will be the beneficiaries of this provided they are accessible and balanced on multiple levels.

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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 6:24 am 

Joined: 2013-Aug-20 4:37 am
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Location: Boston
I think most formats are going to be positively impacted by this.

Limited obviously will get a boost because we won't have been burned out on the format as the 3rd set comes along. I think I did only one JBT draft because I was just sick of Theros limited when Journey came out.

Standard is going to end up with a more consistently sized card pool. Instead of having 2 large sets+core (which is large but weak)+2-4 small sets, it will always be 3 large sets+2 or 3 small sets. Because all of the large sets will be drafted a reasonable amount, you should also avoid the Thragtusk problem where a good core set rare ends up spiking to three or four times what a similar rare from an expansion would cost because of supply.

Block constructed might finally die the neglected death that it has been begging for since Shards.

Nonrotating formats are going to have more chances to get playable cards. Assuming set size doesn't change and they don't dramatically increase the number of reprints in expansions, we'll end up seeing about 50% of a large set more new cards each year (the cards that otherwise would be reprints in a core set).

For eternal format players, the only downside I'm seeing is that there is a greater chance of something pulling a 3rd set price spike. With each block being drafted for only 6 months, it is more like they got rid of 2nd sets than 3rd sets.


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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 6:24 am 
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I wonder how drafting will change. i guess it will go 2nd set, 2nd set, 1st set

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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 6:28 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Bruticus wrote:
I wonder how drafting will change. i guess it will go 2nd set, 2nd set, 1st set

I'd wager it'll be two packs of the 1st set, one pack of the 2nd. You don't want to double-up on the SMALL set.

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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 6:36 am 

Joined: 2013-Aug-20 4:37 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Boston
Nothing seemed to indicate a change in drafting. My comment about card quantities is assuming it will be LLL then SLL.


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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 6:58 am 
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Hm, core has become my favorite "block", this saddens me.

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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 7:39 am 

Joined: 2011-Sep-30 6:08 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Aggro_zombies wrote:
This will burn people out on Standard - and by extension, competitive play - much faster.
I don't think there is any evidence of this in the community reactions I've seen so far. Nearly everyone seems to be excited about the change. The thing that gets people out of Standard is boredom when they just die to Pack Rat every week for 12 months. Competitive players are most excited about a format that hasn't been solved, and this change means that you get an influx of exciting new cards and dispose of stale old cards much more frequently.

And, of course, Modern and Legacy just get more new cards per year, which is only a good thing for fans of those formats.

We also might see some really cool stuff in M16, since we now know that will be the last "Core" set.

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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 7:50 am 

Joined: 2009-Oct-08 1:00 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Aggro_zombies wrote:
This will burn people out on Standard - and by extension, competitive play - much faster.

I definitely don't agree with this conclusion.

First off, I think you're overestimating how much faster the rotations are. Under the current system, sets stay in standard anywhere from 24 months (large fall sets) to 15 (core sets.) The average set is in for 19 months. Under the new system, sets stay in either 18 or 15 months, an average of 16.5. Basically, nothing rotates faster than the fastest sets do now, and only the fall and winter sets rotate faster at all than they currently do. People's expenditure (in packs or singles) to keep current in Standard won't change basically at all, and for people who take a vacation it'll actually be faster to get caught up with Standard-legal sets.

Secondly, based on all the data we have, the fact that Standard rotates doesn't do much at all to "grind out" players. Standard is driven by active casual players (who buy small amounts of product regularly) and competitive grinders (who already buy singles from every set to keep on top of the metagame.) Neither group is actually that sensitive to rotations, and whatever resistance existed historically has actually been reduced a good bit by Commander, Modern, and Legacy providing outlets for rotated cards. What does drive these players away, historically, is an unenjoyable and stagnant format. Fall set releases cause Standard numbers to go up; obnoxious dominant decks (Affinity, Jund, Cawblade, etc.) or periods where the metagame is stagnant (Theros block standard) cause them to dip later in the year. This new change will combat that fatigue and push obnoxious decks out of the format faster.

(It is true that it will no longer be possible to compete in Standard with a single unaltered deck for a full year, but I don't actually think that was a huge use case for people in reality.)

If you look at the response in the greater Magicsphere to this change, it's probably more positive than I can remember for any other change in 20 years of the game, probably because Standard players are overwhelmingly in favor of it, flavor and design nerds get more of what they like each year, limited players get more variety, and eternal players get more cards (on balance) from sets where they might be Legacy/Modern/Commander-playable.


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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 9:30 am 
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crokaycete wrote:
Aggro_zombies wrote:
We also might see some really cool stuff in M16, since we now know that will be the last "Core" set.


Maybe updated rules text, new borders, and foils of Alpha to commemorate the last core set. Moxes and duel lands for everyone!

more on topic:
I agree that this seems like an overall positive effect for the game for basically everyone. Especially the part where we revisit old planes, and bring back old mechanics. (As long as Wizards doesn't fail by not bringing back cool mechanics like modular and introducing stupid mechanics like infect.)

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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 9:39 am 

Joined: 2009-Oct-08 1:00 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
JJackson wrote:
Because all of the large sets will be drafted a reasonable amount, you should also avoid the Thragtusk problem where a good core set rare ends up spiking to three or four times what a similar rare from an expansion would cost because of supply.

This is a great point that I didn't think of before. Card supplies will be dramatically more even now, which means we'll see far less weird price imbalances due to set scheduling.

Quote:
Block constructed might finally die the neglected death that it has been begging for since Shards.

It did that already when they took it out of the Pro Tour rotation this year and nobody complained, lol.

(Which reminds me, this change also explains why WotC thought they could do four Standard PTs in a year. Standard is going to be way more appealing over a year's stretch now.)

Bruticus wrote:
I wonder how drafting will change. i guess it will go 2nd set, 2nd set, 1st set

That's certainly the default (and how all the two-set blocks have worked in the past) though Rosewater was asking people on tumblr today if they preferred the reverse.


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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 10:09 am 

Joined: 2008-Jan-25 8:26 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Calgary
I think it's the right call to reduce the size fluctuations of Standard itself.

The format varies in size between 5 and 8 expansions now and that changes to always be 5 or 6 expansions in the new system.

The 8 expansion Standard is the most awkward one for new players. Half of those cards are about to rotate and for four months of every year new players will get the advice "you should wait for October."

Now a player can wait for either May or October, and has less incentive to wait anyway. They'll never face a format where half the cards are about to leave.

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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 10:32 am 

Joined: 2009-Feb-09 4:00 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
charlequin wrote:
Bruticus wrote:
I wonder how drafting will change. i guess it will go 2nd set, 2nd set, 1st set

That's certainly the default (and how all the two-set blocks have worked in the past) though Rosewater was asking people on tumblr today if they preferred the reverse.

No, the default is 2nd, 1st, 1st. Drafting two packs of a small set seems miserable, though I guess you'd only have to do it for three months.

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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 11:00 am 
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Aggro_zombies wrote:
charlequin wrote:
Bruticus wrote:
I wonder how drafting will change. i guess it will go 2nd set, 2nd set, 1st set

That's certainly the default (and how all the two-set blocks have worked in the past) though Rosewater was asking people on tumblr today if they preferred the reverse.

No, the default is 2nd, 1st, 1st. Drafting two packs of a small set seems miserable, though I guess you'd only have to do it for three months.

Going 2nd, 1st, 1st always seemed odd to me since people would already be drafting triple large block for a while and will want to draft more of the new set rather than just a dash of the new set. However, my tournament organizing experience is more focused on casual weekly drafts at college.

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 Post subject: Re: Block structure changed
AgePosted: 2014-Aug-25 11:05 am 
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Aggro_zombies wrote:
No, the default is 2nd, 1st, 1st. Drafting two packs of a small set seems miserable, though I guess you'd only have to do it for three months.

My players usually want to draft 2nd, 2nd, 1st because they already have most of what they want from the first set from drafting 3 packs of it in each draft, plus several months of getting it as prize packs.

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