Yep, it’s that time again. Time for Gweivyth to write a tl;dr version of what should be a Reddit comment reply. This time in response to a Facebook post that was made by a store called Games and Stuff in Baltimore, Maryland. In the post, they are informed that even unsanctioned proxy tournaments are not allowed, which begs the question: What is Wizards going to do to persuade people to not HAVE to run proxy tournaments?
A lot of this is going to be me echoing the sentiments of many of the posters in that thread, but going into a little more detail.
So where did it start? Maybe at “it that will not be named.”
Yep, that’s right. The reserved list. This list has had a large impact on the playability of eternal formats for well over a decade now. Although I think the idea of the reserved list was noble at it’s conception, Wizards unknowingly shot themselves in the foot. It very well may have been a short-sighted solution to a long-term problem, or perhaps they didn’t imagine that Magic would last over 20 years? Even if Magic did survive eternally, perhaps they just assumed that people would not be interested in playing these formats 20+ years later.
So a lot of people talk about how the Reserved list is keeping people out of Legacy, but upon closer inspection, the only thing the reserve list is really keeping Wizards from printing to support Legacy is ABR duals, [mtg_card]Mox Diamond[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Metalworker[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]City of Traitors[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Gaea’s Cradle[/mtg_card], and [mtg_card]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/mtg_card]. While these cards are very important to play Legacy, there are plenty of other cost-prohibitive cards that are NOT on the Reserved list that are also staples that people complain about. Things like [mtg_card]Force of Will[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Wasteland[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Imperial Recruiter[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Show and Tell[/mtg_card]…and those are just the ones that aren’t in a modern border! So why haven’t we looked into printing these outside of judge promos? (Because judge promos are almost always more expensive, which defeats the purpose.)
When we talk about Vintage the Reserve list becomes a very clear roadblock, with almost all of the most played cards in the format being unprintable. The big problem with these cards is that time has simply made them more and more scarce. Magic was at it’s least popular back in ABR days, so the supply is already going to be pretty scarce, but add on to that the fact that people have had these collections sitting in all manner of places, from attics, to sheds, to basements, to everywhere in between. A lot of these already hard-to-find cards have simply been removed from circulation. A friend of mine recalls a story of a guy he knew in high school who collected like 100+ [mtg_card]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/mtg_card]s back when they were a worthless card, and left them in his mother’s shed. 15 years later when LED jumped to $100~, he returned to his mother’s house only to find out that the shed had burned down a few years prior with his Magic collection in it, essentially removing 100ish LEDs from existence.
Why am I even talking about this, though? What does this have to do with WoTC’s villainy!? To illustrate the fact that the Reserve list isn’t the entire problem. If Wizards wanted to support at least Legacy they could conceivably do it with a Masters set of some kind, they’ve simply chosen not to. I have my own opinions on the best way to do this, but this isn’t the place for that. They’ve supported Vintage on Magic Online with Vintage Masters, proving that they’re not completely adverse to having these eternal formats around, they simply don’t want people playing them in meatspace apparently.
If you want to keep playing these events, you have to take them on as an individual, as right now it’s likely not worth it for a store to ever do it, which sucks because it shouldn’t have to come to that. Until Wizards stops treating Magic like a collectible and more like a game, this will continue to be a problem into the future.
Wizards keeps overstepping their boundaries, and it’s not okay.
If you read the Facebook post, you’ll notice that there is a very ominous undertone to the email, which basically implies “If you’re running ANY events with proxies and you’re a WPN store, sanctioned or not, you face consequences.” So at what point does having a non sanctioned event vs. having a sanctioned event even matter, then? And where does the responsibility of the store end? If Random Joe brings in his cube to draft with his friends, and that cube has proxies in it, is it now on the shoulders of the store to tell Joe to screw off so that the store doesn’t lose it’s sanction? And who do they expect to report these unsanctioned tournaments, by the way? The same players that they refuse to reprint cards for? That doesn’t seem likely. So what is their play?
I think the biggest problem I have is that these “rules” that Wizards apparently has for all of us are invisible and completely arbitrary. Wizards will drop a bomb on the community and then follow it up with radio silence. Just a few examples of this are Zach Jesse’s banning, the suspension of the Southeastern judges, and now this? All of these events played out exactly the same; Wizards decides to take action against a person or group of people for things that either are not defined in their rules at all or have nothing to do with the game, dispenses completely unrealistic punishments or simply punished people who weren’t even involved, and then dropped the mic. They didn’t explain themselves, they didn’t punish everybody equally, (In the case of Zach Jesse, why didn’t we ban Patrick Chapin?) and worse than that, they didn’t give the rest of us any guidelines by which to conduct ourselves to avoid being randomly banned at their liking.
So that’s their play. They’re going to stay quiet because the fear of randomly getting banned or suspended because I didn’t blow the whistle on something I saw looms overhead and keeps me in line. I could get banned just because I said something they don’t like. Saying nothing is the best thing they can do to control everybody, because nobody knows what they can and can’t do or say without getting banned randomly.
This type of bullshit (and I hate to curse on this site, but it’s the only word strong enough to describe what I feel) is one of the biggest reasons I become more and more weary of playing Magic, and for some reason people refuse to acknowledge it. My participation in Magic is pretty much exclusively in the secondary market because I want to keep my money away from Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro. I barely even buy things in the secondary market anymore, I basically own all the cards I’m interested in owning. I’ve been trying to get more into Dicemasters and Hearthstone because in those games I don’t have to worry about some money grubbing governing organization randomly taking issue with me and making my hundreds upon thousands of dollars invested completely useless to me. With Magic, who knows? I could have a $5,000 collection that I have no use for because I got banned or suspended at their whims.
How do players overcome this?
You don’t. It’s a double-edged sword for you, because on one hand you want to stop giving Wizards of the Coast your money, but on the other hand this hurts your local game store which I’m sure you’re very fond of. Monopoly is a word that I’m sure many of us are familiar with, but this is the result of a monopoly. If you want to enjoy Magic, since Wizards is the only one who does Magic, you have to answer to every one of their whims and price fluctuation. Your only other alternative is to get the hell out of dodge.
I’ve been going that route, like I said. I think there are plenty of alternatives to Magic right now that it seems almost foolish to ignore. Pokemon is becoming more and more popular around here, and they have no qualms about reprinting every card into oblivion because the game isn’t supposed to be collectible, it’s supposed to be a trading card game. Force of Will also seems like a pretty decent game, although I don’t feel qualified to speak on it at any length as I’ve only played it a few times. Dicemasters is also a great game, but it can be a little hard to teach at first because there’s just so much to it. Hearthstone is super easy to pick up and play, and honestly I think that it may be the way of the future, even if it is kind of unfortunate for your LGS.
The nice thing about picking up different games is that your local game store still reaps benefits while spitting on Wizards of the Coast. And every time they pull something like this, that’s exactly what I want to do. And exactly what I will do. Might be time to go buy a box of Force of Will.
I wish I had something nice to say about Wizards and how they handle themselves, but as of late they just don’t seem interested in keeping favor with the community, and instead have lent themselves to becoming the type of corporate juggernaut that you love to hate. If they’re going to be the WalMart of tabletop games, I’ll go elsewhere.