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By: platipus10, A.C.W.
Jul 17 2009 3:23am
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 The Birth and Death of Formats: Part 2

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.






The Kitchen Table

One major advantage that MTG:P has over MTG:O is that in the Paper World the players own the "Kitchen Tables".  In the Digital World that is not the case; for us WotC owns the Kitchen Table.  What I mean by this is that in the Paper World players can easily create new and wacky formats.  For MTG:O this can be much more difficult.  Try doing a Cube Draft online.  Sure you can do it, but not without tons of effort on the part of the players involved.  There have been several player created formats that I have seen rise up, but most tend to fail for a number of reasons.  The largest is likely to be lack of support from WotC.  Support is not necessarily always in the form of tournaments and prizes, it can also be in the form of adding a format to the drop down or coding the necessary tools to play the format such as what was done to enable EDH.  I'm not saying that they need to support every format that comes along, I am just pointing out the difficulty that a format has in growing without any support from WotC.  Problems range every where from rules enforcement to maintaining a B/R list to format implementation to lack of decent clan chat (although this has now been fixed).

In Part 1 I mentioned that WotC's stance has traditionally been that they will support the formats that players will play and the formats that work with their business model.  This basically means that the format needs to appeal to players as well as put money into WotC's Pockets.  As mentioned, I believe that there are two formats that possibly fit both of these criteria that are currently not offered, yet have a lot of potential if implemented both for player enjoyment and benefits for WotC; Build Your Own Standard and Block Wars.  Before I begin to talk about each of these formats, I want to first look at the roles of the existing core constructed formats.


Standard/Block Constructed

I lump these two formats together because they both serve one very important function that the other formats don't serve quite as well.  They push sales of the most current product and feed off of the newness factor that accompanies every new set.  On MTG:O drafts put the most product into the system, but without these two formats creating a healthy secondary market for drafters, I would imagine a significantly fewer number of drafts would exist since the relative price of drafting would go up if the cards after the draft held less value.  Who knows I could be way off base on that because I’m sure there are some crazy draft addicts that will continue no matter what the cost, but it seems logical to me that there would be some affect especially when many draft articles state that the author picked a card because it will pay for half or all of their next draft.

Both of these formats also serve as introductory constructed formats.  Since they use only the most current sets, new players do not have to learn every card all the way back to Alpha (or in our case 7th / IPA).  Also they tend to be slower than the other formats and have fewer complex interactions by nature of having fewer cards.  It only makes sense for WotC to want to push these formats and to give them the most support.  These are the formats that are helping to drive their sales.



Next up we have Extended.  I did some research and found the following two announcements that talk about the creation of Extended on the Dojo Archives.
DCI May 1997 Tournament Environment Modification Announcement
DCI May 1997Clarification Announcement

The second Clarification Announcement actually has more information on the purpose and creation of extended, which wasn't spelled out quite clearly in the initial announcement, hence the need for their clarification.   Although I could not find the announcement that covered this I remember that the original Extended allowed Dual Lands even though the format did not include any core set that had them in print, which was interesting. The reason was that players loved playing their dual lands and WotC wanted to grant them this opportunity. Dual lands were later removed when the first Rotation Announcement was given. Randy Buehler wrote an article explaining the reasoning for the rotation, which was primarily that the format was problematic when a constant stream of cards was entering and creating more and more combo decks, thus the need for more and more bannings. This of course was true, but it also went against the initial purpose of Extended.

I would argue that Extended no longer serves the full function for which it was created.  At its inception the DCI gave the following quote as to the purpose of the format: "Its primary purpose is to provide a viable, organized-play format in which tournament participants can use their favorite card sets, even after those card sets rotate out of the Standard (Type II) environment."  This quote is taken directly from the Clarification Announcement above.  Basically, Extended was created as a place where you could still play your cards after they left standard without having to deal with the brokenness of the Vintage (Type I) card pool.  Later a rotation was introduced to cut down on the number of cards in the format and to separate it more from Legacy.  The problem now arises that cards which rotate out of extended are often left with little to zero tournament value because they are just not viable in Classic/Vintage/Legacy even though many are great cards that players remember fondly and would enjoy continuing to play with. In other words, Extended is no longer a format where participants can use their favorite card sets even after they rotate out of the Standard environment unless they happen to be recent sets.

Extended actually used to be my favorite format when I played paper, but that was long ago during the days of Tempest and Urza’s Block. Currently, however, it seems to be the step child of the core formats. I could be wrong and this may upset some, but it seems that many PEs fail to fire and there is really only interest in the format when it is the PTQ format du jour and even then the interest is only there because it was placed there by WotC and not because all of a sudden players on their own decided to start playing the format more frequently.



These formats probably do not add very much to WotC's bottom line in a direct sense with the exception of Classic, which helps to fuel the sales of online Classic releases.  However, these formats are very important formats for the game in general. They all serve a similar role to each other; to make sure that every card, well almost every card (curse you gleemox and ante cards), that you purchase, crack, draft, or find on the floor of a Waffle House restroom can be potentially played in a sanctioned format.  This, however, is somewhat deceiving.  Just because nearly every card is legal for play does not mean that every, or even a majority of cards are viable for competitive play.  These formats may actually have the fewest number of tournament viable cards available to them because with the entire of history of magic at their feet the bar for tournament viability has become quite high.  A card has to do it better, cheaper, or different, and often all three, than any card before it to be considered.

These formats also provide players with higher powered formats than the previously listed ones and provide an opportunity to mix cards from across Magic's great spectrum to come up with the most broken card interactions that can be made. These formats often have the misconception of being far to fast, but each turn in these formats is filled with far more decisions than any other format.  This leads to an almost different game where the format is defined by something other than the combat step, and I think that is a good thing because it shows the breadth and depth of the game that we all love and enjoy.

The Void

As brought up above, where do you use the cards that are no longer available in Extended, but just are not good enough for Classic?  Heck what about all of the cards that were good enough in Standard or Block Constructed but are not good enough for Extended?  Unless those cards are commons and can thus be used in Pauper, the answer is likely to be that you cannot really use them outside of casual decks.  Singleton 100 is one option, but it only requires one of each card and as mentioned previously many cards that you can build around in a 60 card 4 of fomat just do not work in Singleton 100.

The benefit here for WotC is that if there is a home for these cards it stands to help push pack sales of classic set releases.  No longer will players be looking to open only the one or two useful cards from these sets but they will be also looking to get playsets of the Tradewind Riders and Recurring Nightmares of the classic sets.

Pauper has recently shown this to be true.  It did an interesting thing to the commons market; it gave value to all of those commons from older sets that all of a sudden had a use.  While there was an active pauper community before its official support I remember Hamtastic mentioning in one of his weekly articles that the official support gave a noticeable jump to the overall common card values. The same can be done for the uncommons and rares from those sets.  All they need is a proper format.  WotC actually benefits in at least few different ways from this.

  • A healthier secondary market means that the overall game is healthier, which is good for their long term value
  • They stand the chance to increase sales of Classic Sets by giving a larger majority of cards greater use instead of the 2-3 Classic useful rares and 5-8 Pauper useful commons that we typically get.  This creates more demand, which in theory drives more drafting with the packs in question since the EV is higher.
  • Potential increase in tournament entry revenue if they prove to be popular formats
  • Potential greater customer satisfaction that their purchases have greater value, which also leads to better game health

 Build Your Own Standard  (BYOS)

For those of you who are not aware, Build Your Own Standard was a format used in the 2007 Magic Invitational where each player may choose any 2 blocks and 1 core/base set from which to build a deck.  The Banned list used at that time was any card on the Legacy banned list and any card on a block constructed banned list.  I'm not quite sure why they decided to include block constructed banned lists since very few cards are banned in block, but my guess is because they wanted to keep affinity out of the format.  I would envision the power level of this format to be somewhere around Extended because of the way that you can choose 2 blocks which compliment each other thus making up for the fact that Extended has more total cards available.

BYOS in particular poses to be a wonderland for deck designers.  If you want to try out a WW build what sets do you pick?  Do you pick Tempest for shadow and Cataclysm or Lorwyn for Kithkin or the yet to be released Masques and Time Spiral blocks for Rebels?  The answer could very well be any combination or another that I did not list.  It is also possible that there are 2 or 3 great WW lists and block choice strategies to choose from, which leads to another thing that this format offers above nearly all others.  CARD DIVERSITY.  Even within an archetype such as WW for instance there is the possibility for many different sets to be chosen and that means that each archetype may have 2-3 or more completely different decks.  There might be 3 Tier 1 RG Aggro decks that have absolutely no cards in common.  I'm sure that eventually one list would prove to be slightly better than the others given enough time, but with the constant release of sets and the large permutation of block combinations and deck types and strategies it is quite possibly one of the deepest formats that could be explored.

The natural limit on the total number of cards available once you have chosen your sets to work with keeps a large quantity of cards viable for tournament play.  This is in contrast to formats like Classic, where the amount of viable cards eventually starts to diminish as only the very strongest cards are widely played.  BYOS would allow those gems from classic sets like Aluren or Survival of the Fittest have a home while also letting you play your IPA cards that have left Extended and may not be good enough for Classic.  BYOS stands to offer a much larger benefit to MTG:O than splitting Classic and Legacy.  I imagine that a large number of players wanting the legacy split want it because they wanted to play their IPA cards but they did not want to take the plunge into buying Classic cards.  I do not think many of them realized at the time of the original split announcement that they would still need to purchase things like Force of Will and the MED2 Duals which would also be legal in Legacy.  BYOS would allow players to use things like their IPA and OLS cards, without needing to purchase all of the other baggage that Classic or Legacy might require.

This format, to me, serves the original stated function of Extended far greater than Extended currently does.  I could actually even envision this format replacing or coexisting with Extended as an official format. 

MTG:O vs MTG:P presents one interesting question/problem for this format if it is eventually implemented in both worlds.  If Paper were the only concern it is likely that the rules would allow any 2 blocks from Ice Age on and any base set from 5th Edition on (4th ed still had things like Balance and Black Vice).  The problem is that Ice Age, Alliances, 5th Edition, and 6th Edition are not available online and if implemented in both worlds it would be desirable to have the formats mirror each other.  While we know that none of those 4 sets will ever be released online we do know that we are very likely to eventually have all or nearly all of the cards from those sets online via MED sets, FTV sets, promotions, or other means.  It is quite likely that it is possible to use Ice Age as the starting block and 5th Edition as the starting base set and not have a problem with MTGO.  The other option is to just use blocks from Mirage on and 7th Edition on and make it the same for Paper.  I personally don't have a problem with either option and think that the format would not suffer under either circumstance as long as the format exists with the same rules in both the Online and Paper worlds.

 Block Party/Wars         

Have you ever been disappointed that you purchased all of the cards you need for a Block constructed deck only to find that many of them have little to no use once the next block comes along?  If so, this may be your format.  Block wars was used in the 2006 Magic Invitational and is nearly exactly as it sounds.  Each player builds a deck using the cards from whatever block that player chooses.  All cards that were banned in that block constructed environment are banned in Block Wars.

I imagine at first everyone would be likely to choose the top deck from each block; however, that may not end up proving to be the best strategy once a metagame develops.  The reason being that each deck that was the top deck in its block may far differently when paired against decks from a different block.  It could end up being that the best overall deck for this format was a 2nd tier deck in its own block environment.  Regardless of that, this format is guaranteed to keep many cards playable since the power level will be lower and you have every block to choose from.

While not as interesting of a format in my mind as BYOS because many of the decks and interactions have already been explored, this format still serves to give your cards retained value by giving them a new home.  It also shares the same advantages for WotC in that it is another format that can be used to potentially push the sale of classic based sets as well as newer sets.

 Hybrid Format - Build Your Own Block (BYOB)

These formats also happen to have their own hybrid format which was actually used prior to the other two formats, and has all of the same advantages from each of its parent formats.  Used in the 2000 Magic Invitational, BYOB allows each player to choose any large expansion any 2nd set expansion and any 3rd set expansion to create one's own block.  Or more simply you choose one set from each of the columns in the table below.  For the Invitational any card banned in any format was banned in BYOB.  I'm not sure this is the way to go and it could use the legacy banned listjust like BYOS.  One potential problem with this format is that it may be too narrow or too similar to the other two formats to implement this in conjunction with the other two.  Whereas Block Wars and BYOS are different enough that I believe they could share space within the world of supported formats.

Column A Column B Column C

Ice Age
Urza's Saga
Mercadian Masques
Champions of Kamigawa
Ravnica: City of Guilds
Time Spiral
Shards of Alara

Urza's Legacy
Betrayers of Kamigawa
Planar Chaos
Urza's Destiny
Fifth Dawn
Saviors of Kamigawa
Future Sight
Alara Reborn

*I am not sure exactly how the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Block would be treated, but I would suspect it would be something such as this.


Overall I would like to see WotC experiment a little more with the types of formats that are offered in an effort to find out what players like. I see the offering of Kaleidoscope as a good start to this and I can only hope that it continues. Also we should always keep an open mind that if the initial purpose of something is no longer being filled perhaps it is time to fill that gap again. I am specifically thinking of the initial purpose of Extended and that perhaps there needs to be something to fill the void that it has left behind as it has moved along on during the years.

Hopefully many of you would also like to see similar formats to the ones I am proposing or one of your own, but either way it would be great to see some more experimenting and some more options to try out.  Please give your feedback and perhaps we can get WotC to offer some more great formats.

Cheers and thanks for reading,
Andrew Wappner

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build your own standard and by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 09:41
Anonymous's picture

build your own standard and byob both sound like alot of fun id love to see them supported on mtgo with real tournaments, it sure would make constructed a more viable format for budget players, well at least for a little while, and help keep the secondary market fresh.

I'm curious as to how these by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 09:59
Anonymous's picture

I'm curious as to how these formats you propose would be viable in an online environment.

BYOS for example.

Who decides what the 'standard' is? If I decide I want to build a deck using Kamigawa+Shards+9th as 'my' standard do I have to find an opponent that has a deck valid in 'my' standard? My issue with this is that it's hard enough for me to find Classic or Pauper games in a reasonable time frame (I'm not in a US time zone). With such a large number of possible 'standard' formats I'm never going to see a game fire. There could be a dozen other players online wanting to play 'their' standard and none of them able to get a game.

The other option is that all these BYOS decks can play each other. So in effect my Kamigawa+Shards+9th deck is going up against your 'Tempest+Mirrodon+M10' deck. I'm sorry but I really don't see the benefit of that set up at all. I can't see that a metagame is ever going to develop because deck builders have different restrictions and that means the format is a 'casual' one and can already be played between people who want to do that in the casual room.

BYOB makes the above issues even worse.

Block Wars is a much more viable option but again I'm not sure where there is any real need for anything other than a line of text in the description of a game that could be set up currently in the casual room.

I'm not trying to be negative however I'm struggling to see how these 'new' formats are going to be popular and make WotC want to support them when they could, with a little effort, be played already and as far as I can tell that just isn't the case.

Well worth writing an article on however. I'm sure that if there was enough support WotC would consider supporting any format. I was very surprised when they took on Pauper. OK, there are a few things that I dislike about what they did but on the whole it has been a very positive move for that format.

The premise is that all decks by hamtastic at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 10:22
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The premise is that all decks are 'standard' even if they're made out of different pieces.

Meaning that a Lorwyn Block + Tempest Block + 10th would be allowed to face an Time Spiral Block + Mirage Block + M10, you wouldn't have to find someone in your Standard.

OK, that clears up one issue by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 10:45
Anonymous's picture

OK, that clears up one issue I had, thanks Ham.

I'm still not sold on the idea but..... I'd give it a shot if it was available.

Any online format has to have three things to make me want to play it. It must be fun to play, it must provide me with opponents before I fall asleep at the keyboard and it must fit into my available spending budget.

I know that my definition of 'fun' and 'budget' are stricly personal things and there is nothing WotC or anyone else can do about that but hey. I'm trying to throw together a Commander deck after it was mentioned in an article here so there is proof that I will at least try things.

Part of the point of offering by platipus10 at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 11:54
platipus10's picture

Part of the point of offering the format as an official option is that it would help one find games faster and get more people interested in the format, because there are a lot of people like yourself that will give things a shot and who knows there could be a lot of interest or there may not be.

The point is that WotC won't really know until they try.

As Hammy already stated. Its by platipus10 at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 11:44
platipus10's picture

As Hammy already stated. Its your second option where all of the BYOS can play each other. Of course a metagame would develop. All deck builders have the same restrictions and as tournaments are offered and T8 decks are published a metagame would develop just like in every other format.

Sure these formats can be played already but it is much easier to play a format when you can select it from the option list instead of relying on the comment field. Under your scenario WotC could potentially only offer Freeform, get rid of every other format, and then let people just use the game description. I assume that you would understand how selecting a format from the list is much easier than the chaos this type of things would bring.

Yes, there is no doubt that a by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 11:58
Anonymous's picture

Yes, there is no doubt that a filter for a format makes things easier. I don't question that. When I played Pauper before it was sanctioned deck legality was always an issue because it had to be checked manually and there was no way to enforce it. Even with the best will in the world mistakes happen.

What I was trying to say, probably badly, is this. People played Pauper before it was sanctioned using just comments and good will and that is what made WotC look at it. From there it was a business decision of thiers if they wanted to sanction it or not.

We would ne be playing sanctioned Pauper today without all those good folks who put in a ton of effort supporting it with PREs and websites hadn't done all tha simply for the love of the format.

BYOS or BYOB or Block Wars might be fantastic ways to play Magic, I just don't know. What I'm trying to say is that, in my opinion, if they were that good there would be people playing them now despite the handicap of not being supported. If there are people out there playing it then I'm sorry, I just hadn't spotted you.

I see what you are saying by platipus10 at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 14:22
platipus10's picture

I see what you are saying now.

I guess that I would like to see WotC experiment a little more in this area because they own the "Kitchen Table" I don't think that it should have to take the effort and time that people put into Pauper to get WotC to try out some new things to see if there is interest.

Very nicely laid out by dangerlinto at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 10:03
dangerlinto's picture

It made me want to read your article, and I agree that calling them "casual" formats is a complete misnomer.

New formats are fun! by Scartore at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 10:25
Scartore's picture

Rainbow stairwell would be a really fun format to allow people to play. The biggest issue has to be coding the filters. How exactly would you set up a BYOB event? Block wars would be easier.

Just to Clarify... by ArchGenius at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 10:57
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"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 never meant to say that WotC completely ignores the formats we enjoy playing. Pauper is an obvious example of WotC responding to what players like playing. I meant that some of the actions WotC makes completely ignores user feedback such as naming formats "casual" or "competitive" or offering Tempest packs as prizes for 100 singleton tournaments and most likely using the firing rate of those tournaments to judge the popularity of the format.

At least in 2-man queues if the prize for winning is barely worth more than the entrance fee, not too many people are going to join those queues, even if they love the format.

Yes, this I agree with. I by platipus10 at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 11:59
platipus10's picture

Yes, this I agree with.

I apologize if I misconstrued your quote. I think that when I was writing the article I found the word "completely" to be a little harsh. When used as a comment to an article it is fine, but I wasn't sure if I would get all kinds of comments saying that they don't ignore this and they don't ignore that, if I "completely" agreed with the quote as part of the article.

I hope that makes sense.

Excellent ideas by speks at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 13:51
speks's picture

Excellent ideas put forth in a well written article!
I do hope wizards would read and give thought to articles such as this.
As a player, I would totally play deep and fun formats like BYOS, BYOB and Block Party if they were supported.

Type 4 by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 14:28
Anonymous's picture

What would really make me play more MTGO though would be if they found a way to make type 4 work. Being able to actually draft the stack would make it that much better but I would be fine with just randomized decks as well.

Format Labelling by Fenaris (not verified) at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 16:04
Fenaris's picture

My suggestion on labelling:

Standard, Extended, Block, and Classic/Vintage/Legacy - Core Formats
The Remaining Formats - Specialty Formats

This will give off the fact that there are special facets to these formats as opposed to the core formats, which are just bound by set legality and B&R lists.

I really like this by platipus10 at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 16:34
platipus10's picture

I really like this suggestion. It does not imply that the Specialty formats are in any way inferior. It just implies that they have special restrictions beyond the basic Core Formats.

I would love BYOS, not by Godot at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 16:31
Godot's picture

I would love BYOS, not because I would go way deep into mixing and matching blocks for some perfect combination, but because it would make what I call my "Historical Standard" decks viable in a format other than Extended or Classic. I have so many Standard decks from throughout Magic just sitting there--massively underpowered for extended or classic, but not playable anywhere else. I hate that my current Standard decks are rendered competitively unplayable with each set rotation.

This is the beauty of the by platipus10 at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 16:38
platipus10's picture

This is the beauty of the format; It gives things to every one. It allows people to play glory decks of old, it allows deck designers and endless opportunity, and it gives a use to many of those cards you have lying around that you know used to be good, but just cannot compete in Classic.

Problem is that there would by adhuin (not verified) at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 22:17
adhuin's picture

Problem is that there would be huge power difference between old standard decks and 'properly' designed byos decks.

I probably wouldn't play either of build your own gamemodes, because it would take forever to make good decks.

The block wars sound fun though. manageable card pools and not having to cross reference sets sounds easy fun.

hmmm by Paul Leicht at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 22:19
Paul Leicht's picture

Somewhat how I feel. The BOYS seems particularly prone to brokeness though I guess I would have to see it in action first.

There is a chance this could by platipus10 at Sat, 07/18/2009 - 13:17
platipus10's picture

There is a chance this could happen, but that is what a B/R list would be for and also keep in mind that this format uses the Legacy banned list, which should help keep it in check.

I'm not sure the format needs to use the block banned lists other than to possibly do something about affinity.

Awesome article. Byos seems by Dr_TRex at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 22:59
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Awesome article. Byos seems like such a great format to me, and I recall when MaRo wrote about the invitational where it was used. Though I agree that it does seem somewhat prone to random broken combos (It would have a not insignificant portion of the classic card pool to pull from), and consequently would need to be monitored more carefully, the fact that you could play virtually any set you want and be decently competitive seems like a huge incentive to create the format. The only real problem I'd foresee with it would be corner cases like the master's edition sets (I, II, and soon III as well). Counting them as core sets might work, except that then the deck power level threshold leaps drastically (MED II Duals, Force of Will, Necro... you get the idea; and any of those could easily force the threshold of expenses into the realm of classic; meaning you haven't done anything but make a weird version of classic...).

I don't think they would have by Anonymous (not verified) at Sat, 07/18/2009 - 13:14
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I don't think they would have the MED sets count. They don't exist in Paper, and they aren't designed for something like this format in mind. You could use MED cards that are reprints from other sets though.

The article was very good by IvoMV (not verified) at Sat, 07/18/2009 - 14:38
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I want to again thank the author for putting the effort to write this very nice article. There seems to be interest in the format, and as one of the replies stated: pauper was already played before there was a filter (and queues) for it.

I'm willing to host some PREs with BYOS (I discussed this with Hamtastic some time ago). It would of course be great if I could get a sponsor for some small prizes, but even without I think people would come to try it out.

PDC by Scartore at Sat, 07/18/2009 - 15:19
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I know the PDC community did a build your own std event last year I think.
Block wars sounds like a blast, especially since the price reductions inherent with a set rotation. You could probably build a killer cbs block deck for budget prices nowadays.

Good Article by Katastrophe at Sun, 07/19/2009 - 03:37
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That's a good point about Wizards owning the kitchen table. But I don't think I'd want them to do anything about it. We can dream, but oh well. I'll accept that as part of digital Magic, along with players being unable to cheat or steal, automatic rules enforcement, and the rest. So maybe if we want a new format then we have to 'prototype' it in paper first? Especially if it's as messy as BYOS.

I agree with your negative assessment of Extended. It's kind of funny how too many cards in the pool start to 'eat' each other. FoW + Counterspell doesn't just 'eat' Cancel, the presence of fish.dec also prevents random junky aggro from appearing. (Okay, well, combo is really what prevents that. That's not my point.) I think it might be an exaggeration to say that Extended has more viable cards than Classic as a result, but I can see how it would seem that way. Classic and Legacy decks sure are piles of staples, but they also have a loose definition of staple. Seething Song and Nettle Sentinel are played, after all. Cards can "wake up" in Classic just like how dredge or Ichorid "woke up" Bazaar of Baghdad.

Of all the formats you mentioned, BYOS sounds the most interesting to me. But our choice of core sets might be a problem. Imagine if BYOS existed in paper. I can't choose Legends because it wasn't in a block. Boo. But I can pick Urza's block + Time Spiral block + Revised, can't I? This is inconvenient online. Ice Age and 6th edition are certainly valid choices and I think I should be able to use MED cards that represent those sets. Everyone on MTGO is a lapsed player anyway, right? We'll understand. Could I set the card filter to BYOS, select Urza's + Time Spiral + 5th edition, and pick the following 3 cards: 9th edition Thran Golem, Onslaught Akroma, and MED2 Necropotence? It's perfectly sane. But if tribal is still having problems with changelings then they'll never get this right.

Fortunately, the tribal by AJ_Impy at Sun, 07/19/2009 - 07:04
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Fortunately, the tribal changeling bug was eventually fixed some time ago. Ergo, they might get this right.

As far as legality in formats goes, 7th Crypt rats and Befoul are legal in Pauper alongside 10th Drudge Skeletons. It's one of the aspects of the format that Online can manage better than offline.

Yes you would be able to pick by platipus10 at Mon, 07/20/2009 - 00:01
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Yes you would be able to pick those cards except you would find out that necro is banned.

You would be able to use any MED cards that are a part of a legal block or base set. Revised would likely not count as a base set as it was only 5th or 6th ed onward for the Invitational.

Great idea. by Zimbardo (not verified) at Sun, 07/19/2009 - 19:43
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BYOS sounds like an amazing idea. If it were me, I'd probably say go with BYOS and leave BYOB as a possible future idea for the start of things.

If you look at this as a potential business decision by Hasbro, there might be a bit of tension between the following two forces: a) people will buy more cards if they think they will have additional uses 2 or 7 years from now after they rotate, and b)people might switch from standard/extended to BYOS, which means they can keep playing the same decks forever and never buy new cards. If new blocks continue to be good, players will want to use them as part of their standard, so maybe this isn't a big deal.

Still, this one seems like a slam dunk. I think players would love it once it got rolling, and any constructed format that players really like is probably a good business decision when all is said and done.

Banned List by Zimbardo (not verified) at Sun, 07/19/2009 - 19:53
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Starting with something like the Legacy banned list seems like a great idea, especially for some of the cards in Urza's block.

Aside from Urza's and Mirrodin, are there any other blocks with broken decks that we'd need to worry about?

Faeries could get pretty annoying when you combine them with counterspell and Force Spike. I don't know how many of the good faeries are from Shadowmoor - would a Fae player be likely to try Lorwyn + Shadowmoor + 7th? 7th also has Opportunity and Inspiration, so the deck would be able to draw cards and play creatures without ever tapping out until opponent's EOT.

Some generic comments by IvoMV (not verified) at Mon, 07/20/2009 - 04:30
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Katastrophe: As far as choices go: I envision making the format 6th ed onward (or even 7th); and Mirage onward in terms of sets so that it can mirror exactly between online and its eventual implementation. If 6th ed is chosen, then they should add 6th ed (as the first "modern" core set) to MTGO (e.g. when they reach Masques block). It is true that this leaves Ice age, Legends, and old "core sets" out, but Standard didn't really exist at the time and the sets were really designed rather differently that I believe this is a "necessary" evil. Making the format in a way that it can be mirrored in MTGO and paper is (IMO) really important.

Zimbardo: As far as a possible conflict of interest for WotC's profit - as far as I see, what gets people into standard / block (instead of extended or any of the "eternal" formatS) is mostly the novelty. BYOS does not threaten Standard / Block in any way that Extended, Legacy, Classic or Vintage don't already do. In terms of power level BYOS is probably going to be a bit more powered than "regular" standard, so once again it seems like it would be more or less an alternative to Extended.

Zimbardo: Faeries would probably want some sort of quality instant speed card drawing (or something cheap like Ancestral V.) - inspiration simply sucks, opportunity can be good in the right format but I doubt this one would be it. 7th doesn't seem to offer this, despite the quality permission available to complement Cryptic Command, so perhaps Mirrodin for TfK or Time Spiral (which has other quality choices for Faeries) along with 7th and Lorwyn would be best (I think most of the best Faeries are in Lor and not Shm).