As a casual Magic player, I don’t really pay a whole lot of attention to Standard/Modern block rotation. I’ve been playing Magic since I was in high school, and I did dabble in professional playing for a while. I found out quick that I don’t have the time or resources to put Magic on my career list. When I found Commander/EDH I simply fell in love. I adore the idea of playing a huge deck with one copy of a spell, save for lands, which I feel fits the Magic storyline. I remember playing Magic back in the great days when you’d get a full paperback novel by buying a Fat Pack. The story is still there, however I feel that it’s dipped behind the scenes as of late. It looks like some of the top heads at Wizards of the Coast are feeling the same, because Mark Rosewater has recently posted on the Magic blog some pretty big changes that are coming to the game that will shake up everything as we know it.
I’ve got my own opinions on the matter, but before we get into that let’s take a look at the facts of what these changes are and how they’ll affect the game as a whole.
The First Change – Magic blocks will consist of two sets each starting in the fall of 2015.
Usually Magic blocks are released in sets which come in three parts: either large, small, large, or large, small, small. That will change starting in the fall of 2015. Developers at Wizards saw quite a few complications with the current structure of the game’s releases. The story was hampered and slowed by the release schedule and Standard, Magic’s most competitive and popular format, has been “dumbed down” where it’s supposed to be a delicate puzzle to be solved. With Friday Night Magic taking place each weekend and the extensive use of social media, players are solving the game’s complexities and we’re seeing the same type of decks dominate the leaderboards until rotation. With the new two-set block structure, rotation will act a bit differently, which we will touch on in a bit.
The Second Change – Magic will release two blocks per year starting in the fall of 2015.
With two blocks coming per year, developers at Wizards will be able to speed up the game’s storytelling. The way it will work is as such: there will be a large fall expansion and small winter expansion for World #1. Following this will be a large spring expansion and small summer expansion for World #2. Developers can tell more of the game’s story, which will not only help keep things interesting, but it will also help introduce more characters, mechanics, and worlds to the already handful of content available.
The Third Change – Beginning in 2016 there will no longer be any Core sets.
Core sets have always given me mixed feelings, and now Wizards is snuffing them out all together. The summer of 2015 will see the last Core set ever to release for the game, going forward. The development team always seemed to be torn down the middle with exactly who the Core sets catered to. In a way they wanted to design the Core sets for beginner players, and in another way the team wanted to help supplement the professional players with deck staples. With a new product line geared for beginning players and Core sets being, well, bland, the team has decided to discontinue the set all together.
The Fourth Change – Starting in 2016, the first set of each block will cause a rotation.
More of an adaptation than a change, from now on the rotation of blocks remaining in Standard will be a bit different. The first set of a block has always caused a rotation of Standard-legal sets in the past, but with the introduction of two blocks per year this just means we’ll have two rotations per year.
The Fifth Change – Standard will now be three blocks instead of two starting in 2016.
In order to help bring back some of the game’s puzzle, the Standard format will now consist of three blocks instead of two. What this means currently is that the newest-coming set, Khans of Tarkir, will only be played in Standard for 18 months. This may affect some player’s decisions on how much of the set they buy into, so Wizards wanted this information out now. The good side here is that there should be more diversity in Standard, with decks having to keep up the pace of quick-changing environment.
Thoughts and Opinions
Like I mentioned before, I’m pretty much a casual player. I enjoy Commander, and I don’t have to worry so much about blocks rotating out like Standard/Modern players do. With the changes here I get more cards, a growing, faster storyline, and the possibility to see Magic take off like never before. All in all I’m pretty satisfied with the changes. I also think that the overall cost of Magic might get shaved a bit since blocks will be rotating out a bit quicker. I’m all for a better game.
Now if I was a competitive player these changes may affect me more. I’d pay more attention to block rotation in order to keep up with Standard. Overall, however, after taking some time to see feedback from players, most are positive with new changes. I think the Magic community understands the pressure Wizards has been under and we all want the same thing: a more interesting, fun, and competitive environment. I’ll be sticking to Commander, but there’s a lot of potential to see lots of new ideas coming from the Magic development team.
If you want all the info on the changes, including what drove the design team to make them, check out the post on the official Magic: the Gathering blog. That being said, what are your thoughts? Be sure to tell us in the comments!