An Open Letter To Wizards Of The Coast
Dear Wizards of the Coast,
I have been a loyal buyer of your product and an avid Magic: The Gathering player and promoter for almost eight years. I hope to spend as much time in the future enjoying your product... But a recent decision has shaken my faith in the decision-making processes of your company.
To be blunt, I strongly disagree with your recent Extended rotation decision. I do not think it the rotation is in anyone's best interest, and I think it will have drastic repercussions on the Extended format.
First of all, why did you not at least consult the players of the game with some sort of poll before deciding on such a drastic change? The players are the ones who this will affect the most; why not find out what their opinion is on the matter?
If you had even read some of the Extended tournament reports around on the Net, you would see a steady string of repetition:
- "Extended is more fun than I thought I would be."
- "I really had a lot of fun at the Extended tourney last weekend."
- "Extended is an extremely balanced format."
- "There's so many viable deck types available in Extended."
- "Extended is my new favorite format."
Does this sound like a negative response to the condition of Extended?
The fact that this change comes now, in the wake of what may have been the best Extended season ever, is shocking. I have never seen a format lend itself so well to innovation as this past year's Extended.
Look at the past Extended season: It started out parading WWu and Secret Force as the top decks. Later, Kai Budde debuted a resurrected"Trix" deck. Following that, aggro decks like The Rock came onto the scene (most notably at GP: Las Vegas). Then Miracle Gro started posting great results. Lots of people began playing that deck. Then Super Gro was created to edge out Miracle Grow. As a result, Oath of Druids decks came into favor because they relished the Gro matchup.
Look at the decks from the most recent big Extended event, the Nice Masters and Gateway decks:
1.Sligh: 25 (20%)
2.Miracle Gro: 16 (12.8%)
3.Oath of Druids: 12 (9.6%)
4.PT Junk: 10 (8%)
5.Trix: 8 (6.4%)
6.Oath of Trix: 7 (5.6%)
7.Hermit Druid Recursion: 6 (4.8%)
8.PT Jumble: 5 (4%)
9.BUG: 5 (4%)
10.Aluren Combo: 4 (4.8%)
11.3 Deuce: 3 (2.4%)
12.Legion Land Loss: 3 (2.4%)
13.Turboland: 3 (2.4%)
14.Coalition Victory: 2 (1.6%)
15.Psychatog: 2 (1.6%)
16.Stasis: 2 (1.6%)
17.Benzo: 2 (1.6%)
18.Zila.dec: 2 (1.6%)
19.Artifact Red: 1 (0.8%)
20.Black/White Control: 1 (0.8%)
21.Green/Blue Threshold: 1 (0.8%
22.Elves!: 1 (0.8%)
23.Secret Force: 1 (0.8%)
24.Finkula Go: 1 (0.8%)
25.White/Blue/Green Control: 1 (0.8%)
26.Mono-Blue Control: 1 (0.8%)
There are twenty-six different archetypes represented in one of the most pro-heavy tournaments around! Does that appear as anything other than an extremely healthy environment?!
Secondly, I believe the motion is far too widespread.
If you wanted to"fix" problem areas, then why not just ban the areas you construe to be problems. If you used"targeted removal" like the DCI of old, you could have banned Donate, Illusions of Grandeur, Force of Will, Morphling - any of the cards you thought were too powerful and"abusive to the environment on the whole."
But no. You had to remove entire blocks from Extended. Approximately 1800 cards.
You said the rotation will result in a"greatly reduced need for card banning."
How is"rotating" all those cards out of Extended that far from actually banning them in tournament play? In essence, you are banning all the cards instead of just simply picking the ones you believe you need to banned. Honestly, if you created a whole new list (the Watch List) because of Force of Will, why didn't you just save the time and ban it? If you wanted to stop Trix, why didn't you ban Illusions of Grandeur or Donate instead of banning Mana Vault, Lotus Petal, and Dark Ritual? Why burn down the barn when only one plank looks rotten? Why rotate all 1800 cards?
You said it will foster a"healthy and challenging play environment."
In the past, you have always defined healthy in terms of variety, and I, for the most part, agreed.
Here's an analogy: if you have a building full of people - among them many different diversities, creeds, and faiths - and you bomb the building, the surviving total will almost certainly contain less of a variety of people.
Your idea now of a healthy environment must be:"Spin the color wheel, whatever color it stops on will be the color of your deck." In other words, mono-colored decks. I predict few decks will be made using more than two colors, simply because multi-colored decks lack the mana efficiency and reliability of mono-colored designs. And do not even try to say that players will just replace the lost dual lands with pain lands. Pain lands will never be able to compete with duals. Consequently, the deck builder's freedom to"mix and match" has been severely hampered. Now instead of Red/Blue/Green, more and more players will be made to choose a single color. Red. Or Green. Or Blue.
By removing dual lands, you have sucked the lifeblood out of Extended.
Thirdly, what is to become of all the rotated cards?
Will they find a home in Type I? Well, if they haven't already, they probably won't in the near future. You can ask Oscar Tan, an expert on Type I, just how many cards from new expansions find their way into Type I. In case you can't contact Mr. Tan, I'll inform you that very few ever do.
The next best option is Type I.5. Alas, this wonderful format is barely even remember because it doesn't receive prize-support and emphasis the way formats like Block Constructed, Limited, and Type II do - all of which are so similar it disgusts me. The margin of difference between the three formats is sickening, when compared to the sheer numbers of cards available in other formats.
Card pool Approximations
Limited: 160 cards
Block Constructed: 620 cards
Type II: 1400 cards
Extended (pre-rotation): 4700
Type I.5: All cards (about 6000) except the 50-100 on the Banned List.
Type I: All cards (about 6000) except for the 15-25 on the Banned List; 20-30 cards are also restricted.
Extended (post-rotation): 2900
The fact that Extended was verging on being a"fixed" version of Type I.5, as far the size of the card pool, did not matter. They were not competing formats. You supported Extended; it was a format played on Pro Tours, at GP qualifiers; it even had its own season!
Does 1.5 have any of these things?
Does Type I?
This hurts the people who have been here the longest, the people whose early purchases allowed Wizards to grow into the International powerhouse of today. I never quit the game. The chance exists that I never will quit - so long as I have people to play it with. This rotation hurts people like me, who love using the old cards like Sirocco, City of Solitude, Thawing Glaciers, Abeyance, and Nevinyrral's Disk. This rotation hurts people like me, who love using these cards and others like them in sanctioned tournaments.
Additionally, this rotation will hurt the business of every dealer in the world. In one sweeping motion, dual lands are gone. Since Type I and I.5 are not supported formats, most of their prices have flat-lined at a particular level. Take a look at Black Lotus. Has its value increased since '99?
The card is static, and the reason is that it is not being played in tournaments. It is not being played in tournaments because you do not support Type I.
If Type I and 1.5 tourneys don't occur, the cards in these formats don't get played nearly as much. Consequently, people don't have a great need to buy them, and prices fall. Watch the market on cards rotating out in the next six months. All rotated cards will fall, most likely by more than half their present value.
Think about it. How much is that Winter Orb going to go for now? And that Flood Plain - how much is it worth now? (To be fair, the card prices for older cards from middling sets like Mercadian Masques will rise as cards from those pools begin to rise in play value - The Ferrett)
Fourthly, by shrinking the division between Extended and Type II, you are giving cards a much shorter tournament lifespan. Prior to this rotation announcement, cards leaving Standard would at least have a permanent home in one supported set: Extended. Now, by moving the"rotated" cards into non-supported formats, you are effectively condemning them to casual play alone. Sure, there are some shops that run Type I tournaments every now and then, but the majority don't bother with them. Even more tragic is the state of Type I.5 play. Many people have a deck that's Type 1.5 and don't even know that such a format exists - that is how scarce the support is of this format. And that is just sad.
I have always been under the impression that Extended was created because people wanted a longer lifespan for their cards. By making this rotation change, you are actually lessening that lifespan, and undermining a goal of the Extended format.
Fifthly, who decided this change was necessary? In my opinion, this change was entirely needless. No one deck was dominating Extended. There was a great variety of archetypes present. There were a healthy combinations of colors represented. There was not abuse of a particular card. And if there was, banning everything is not the answer!"Abuse" of particular cards exists in every format! Look at Cabal Patriarch in Limited, Call of the Herd in Type II, Force of Will in Extended - these cards are used because they are relatively strong in their given format. People don't like using bad cards. How many people are excited to open a Dematerialize when they're not playing Limited? (Or even when they are? - The Ferrett)
Dematerialize sucks. It is what is commonly known as"chaff." It's a card dealers will throw across the room with even less thought than a Mudhole. The card has been so watered down that it is worthless in every format but Limited, where almost any card can be considered playable.
Sixthly, such a large cut will restrict options so much, that almost every major archetype in Extended will be destroyed. Pigeonholing so many cards in unsupported formats will only contribute to Magic's detriment on the whole. Soon, the vast majority of cards in Magic will be unplayable in tournaments - not even with a Wish - because the amount of cards allowed in Extended will remain constant, but the amount of cards in unsupported formats will only increase as more and more sets rotate out. Furthermore, Extended appears to me as a stronger format than it was a year ago, and even better than the year prior to that. Why does such a change occur now? The old axiom"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," apparently isn't recognized in your decision making policies.
I remember reading about when Richard Garfield was toying with the idea of changing the card backs of Magic expansion sets; perhaps old-timers among you will remember. Garfield was considering changing the card backs of Arabian Nights to pink. However, when he mentioned a word about it to some folks at a game store, the store went nuts. Everyone in the store was so vehemently opposed to the idea that Garfield scrapped it.
Garfield listened to people.
What about you?
Do you listen to people today?
I have sent letters on other issues before - you may remember one I sent urging the release of information from the DCI, but I doubt it. Since I never once received the dignity of a reply for my troubles, I can only assume that you have ceased listening to people like me. I am only one measly consumer, one player. But I have a voice, and I am making myself heard whether you care to listen or not.
Although this letter probably won't change your minds, perhaps it will somehow affect your policy-making in the future.
I will close this letter with what Magic players are saying on Beyond Dominia:
BY: Izihobip, Harbinger of Doom (Caplan) on Friday, May 17, 2002 - 04:47 pm:
From the Sideboard...
Dual lands will be rotating out of Extended on November 1st, 2002, along with the Ice Age block (including Alliances and Homelands), Mirage Block (including Visions and Weatherlight), and 5th edition.
Wow. That's a lot. So let's see what goes out of the window...
By Israel Casanova (Casanova) on Friday, May 17, 2002 - 04:54 pm:
I sense old Tempest era type II decks coming back... grrr..
By Godder (Godder) on Friday, May 17, 2002 - 11:56 pm:
The Mirage tutors were reprinted in 6E...
In completely unrelated news, my mono-White LIFE deck is untouched . It even gets Test of Endurance...
By Tracer Bullet, Better than Spiff (Tracer) on Friday, May 17, 2002 - 11:59 pm:
Worst news for competitive Magic since the printing of Tolarian Academy.
By Godder (Godder) on Saturday, May 18, 2002 - 03:12 am:
Let's have a look... Secret Force - gone. Oath - gone. Sligh - weakened. WW - weakened. U control decks - weakened. Yup, a solid supply of neutered decks .
By Lord Fril (Fril) on Saturday, May 18, 2002 - 12:22 pm:
Maybe I'll wait now to get rid of my Powder Kegs; good thing I only have one Force of Will and no duals....I wonder how much this will screw up prices....
By Taco deShell says Lich stays crunchy even in milk (Taco) on Saturday, May 18, 2002 - 11:37 pm:
this is ganna suck
See a theme?
Your fiercely loyal Magic proponent but harsh critic,
Note to all Star City readers: I strongly encourage all people who read this to send their opinions to Wizards. They may not be willing to take their hasty action back, but at least they will know how badly they screwed up.What do YOU think? Share your opinion with the community and you just may walk away with some FREE Magic cards... courtesy of your friends at StarCityGames.com!