Part 1 of this series generated quite a bit of good discussion and even a response article. I received quite a bit of good constructive feedback and would like to thank everyone who participated in leaving comments.
One issue that was brought up that I found quite interesting was a post brought up by ArchGenius:
“My major issue with classifying formats as casual or competitive is that it is a very heavy handed way of WotC telling us which formats we should be playing.
How competitive a format is highly dependant upon how much time good players are willing to spend playing and testing decks for that format.
By classifying formats as competitive or casual, Wizards is trying very hard to tell us which formats to play. As I see it, the problem with this philosophy is that it completely ignores what formats we enjoy playing…”
He goes on to give an analogy using a candy store dictating the kinds of candy its customers should buy by setting prices to make one kind look better than another instead of letting the customers decide for themselves what kind of candy they would like to buy and the owner providing that kind of candy. I disagree with the part of his post that WotC completely ignores the formats that we enjoy playing, because I know that there are people who enjoy Standard and Extended and Classic. I agree very much though with the poor impression that is given by classifying formats as “competitive” and “casual”. When WotC calls a format “casual”, it can falsely lead players to these formats thinking that there will be no Tier 1 decks and that their all ouphe deck will finally have a home. Only to find that many people are competitively playing what was called a “casual” format by WotC. It also gives the impression, as ArchGenius stated, that you should be playing the other formats if you want to play in tournaments. What about all of the players that want to play tournaments in the formats that they enjoy, not the ones that WotC thinks we should play tournaments in?
I would propose that if WotC would like to make a distinction that they call Standard, Extended, and Classic/Vintage/Legacy something such as “Core Formats” instead of "Competitive" and just not call the other ones anything; just call them "formats" or "online formats" as they do when they group them for B/R announcements. Labeling them as “casual”, “secondary”, or anything like that implies that those formats are in some way inferior to the core formats.
While, I understand that WotC has a desire to support formats that meet its business goals, I also think that there is plenty of room to give players options and cater to those looking for something other than the core formats as well as have a positive impact for WotC. They have stated that they hope that the “casual” formats, Pauper in particular if I remember the post on the WotC boards correctly, are meant to serve as a jumping board into their core formats. While this might be the goal in their mind, I’m not sure that it is the reality of the situation. I know plenty of players who stick to these formats and only these formats with no desire to play standard, extended, or classic.
For instance, I have played Singleton ever since the initial v1 Beta and I have played in Singleton PEs at the various times they have been offered through MTG:O’s history, but I have never once been tempted to jump into Standard or Extended or Classic as a result of playing Singleton competitively. I also found that Prismatic appealed to me and started that format as well, but it was not because of another format leading me there. I was attracted to it on its own merits. While I was disappointed in the fall of Prismatic; it did not make me want to jump into any of the core formats either and I accept its demise. There will perhaps be a day that I will be interested in classic but it won’t be from another format leading me there. What exists at the moment, in my eyes, is a large gap in the formats. There are a large amount of cards that just cannot be played competitively in any format. Singleton100 can use a few of them, but one only needs singleton copies not playsets and many cards that would be fun to build a deck around in a 4 of format just don’t work in a large deck singleton format. Prismatic filled this role to some extent but it was not a sustainable format due to a number of reasons discussed in my article and one million word’s/Pete Jahn’s article.
I believe that there are two formats that have a very large potential to be sustainable, have widespread appeal, and fill the void. The void where once giants of their time now reside idle and waiting, cards like: Mirari's Wake, Absorb, Astral Slide, Tradewind Rider, Man-o'-War, Wall of Blossoms, Mutilate, Tooth and Nail, Decree of Justice, Coalition Relic, Gifts Ungiven, and Keiga, the Tide Star.
What are they?
Build Your Own Standard (BYOS) and Block Party / Block Wars. I will discuss the details of these later in the article, but first want to talk about a major difference between the Paper world and the online world or the pants world and the no pants world if you prefer.