Mark Rosewater, Head Designer of Magic: The Gathering, released an article on Monday about some big changes in Magic’s future. Instead of three-set blocks, there will be two-set blocks with a big set first and a small set that expands on the world the big set creates. Standard, the most popular constructed format, will change as well. Instead of the last two blocks, Standard will be played with the last three blocks and there will be a rotation whenever the first set of a new block comes out. On top of this, Core sets will be wiped from the map entirely.
These changes were made to keep Standard exciting and new. Now, more than ever before, people aren’t just having fun playing Magic, but watching it on Twitch, YouTube and sometimes even LIVE. This means that the designers need to do everything in their power to keep the game from getting stale. An audience wants a story; they want innovation. They don’t want to see people attack with Pack Rats and Mutavaults for years on end.
I might be wrong about this, but I don’t believe it is simply a “cash-grab” as many others are calling it. They are still printing just as many Standard legal sets and it should cost roughly the same for people to play Standard. If anything, more decks will be viable in this new environment. This might allow people to play with the cards they ‘want’ to use instead of the cards they ‘should’ use. If Wizards ends up making more money from this decision, it will be because people are more excited about the game and that’s not a bad thing for anybody.
What really piqued my interest were a couple hints to some of the decisions the designers of Magic have made about the future. Rosewater mentioned in passing that they were getting rid of the Core sets because they had been working on a product specifically designed just for beginners. What? Why? They did this before and it turned out to be the expensive and highly sought-after Portal, Portal II and Portal: Three Kingdoms (the most elusive set in Magic’s history). Hopefully, they learned from that mistake. It is nice to hear that they are making a product for beginners, though, because trying to get someone to learn the game from scratch just gets tougher and tougher with every new set that is released.
The second hint came when Rosewater said that they wanted to revisit old worlds more often, but to do that they’d have to spend a whole year there. The two-set block system allows them to visit new worlds and revisit old worlds a lot more frequently. Actually, this will make the story-telling element of the game a lot stronger. I don’t want to have to wait an actual decade to find out how the Eldrazi are holding up or to see if any Myr made it out of New Phyrexia unscathed. These are questions I have now and would, at the very least, like to see before I’m forty.
What do you think of these changes? Are they good or bad for the game?
Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading, everybody!