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By: BlastodermMan, Carl E Wilt
Jul 23 2015 11:00am
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Welcome to late July in the Magic world. For those of us who have been around for a while, this is always the lull before the storm of Fall hits us. Rotation is just around the corner, and things start to get a little awkward. This week, I'm going to touch on the oddness that is this time of year, dabble a little in the current MTGO Summer rage, and go over a few tips for dealing with the doldrums until we get back to Zendikar.

This is traditionally one of the "unfun" times of the year for Magic. The Summer set comes out, and many people seem under whelmed, year after year. While I think some of this will be alleviated with the new release and rotation schedule, Origins itself has not escaped the issue that has plagued so many previous core set releases. Yes, there are splashy cards, like the double-faced Planeswalkers, all of which seem to have some level of playability. There are cards that will be staples come October. The problem arises in that, generally, there is not a direct tie in to the previous blocks and the set itself comes out when Standard is at its most powerful. The lack of continuity coupled with a general "underpowered" feel usually leads to some suppressed sales and gives a "blah" feel to the pre-rotation period of the Magic year. 

There are other mitigating factors as well. In the US in most areas, the summer break from schools is also winding down as well, so many of the regulars that you usually see use this time of year to take a break themselves to enjoy their last few weeks of "freedom" before the structure and routine of daily classes, homework and responsibilities. What is a Magic player to do? We'll get to that in a moment. First, though, let's touch on what has become a sensitive subject with MTGO.

In case you've missed it, which if you are reading this and a regular here at Pure seems unlikely, you may want to at least briefly check out this.  July apparently is the month for these types of announcements and changes. Last year, there was a vocal legion complaining about the retirement of the old client and the forced transfer to the current (then beta) client. While I'm sure that at least some of the people advocating cashing out and shunning MTGO at the time did, and while there was at least anecdotal evidence of it taking longer to fire events, leading to the conclusion that fewer people were playing, I have to honestly say that I always, personally, was able to get in a game whenever I wanted/needed to. Was that conversion an unmitigated disaster? Probably not. Sure, it wasn't smooth. There were complaints, and the then beta probably wasn't fully ready for prime time, but I'm not sure it was truly the end of the world as so many pundits claimed. This year's announcement is probably no different.

I admit, it is a change. I admit that the cost of Daily events doubling, from 6 tickets to 12, can be a deal breaker for some. I'm not going to strictly belittle the people upset with those modifications out of hand. One the other side, players, casual and pros alike, have been all over social media and mentioning in articles, that something needs to be done to address and fix the MTGO economy. It is almost constant hearing how horrible the 2-mans are because pack prices are so low, and how much bad EV there is in Dailies for the same reason. This seems to be an attempt to correct that by putting fewer packs into the system, with the desire to increase those prices and give additional value for winning the packs. Additionally, it seems to me that winning and doing well in these events makes it easier to "go infinite" on MTGO. Sure, you are getting fewer packs, but you are getting an ample number of play points to allow you to play in anywhere from one to three like events for free, meaning the packs can be looked at as "pure profit" from that perspective. 

It's not ideal, and I understand that I may be taking a simplified view of the issue. But I, again, don't think this is a catastrophic issue, and the sky is not falling. Will there be people who sell out and leave? Sure, I concede that point. I don't think there will be a mass exodus that people are clamoring for in the Twitterverse. 

In the interest of fairness, I will say that I do have one problem with the play points. I wish, if you had multiple accounts, that there was a way your accounts could be linked so that that you could "trade" these between your own accounts. I absolutely understand the desire to make sure these don't become a commodity in the game. It would at least be nice to share these within yourself though. 

So, with all that, how should us die-hards spend the next couple months? Here are some things I suggest, and things that I try to do every year around this time. 

  • Stock up on your Origins cards now, while they are least expensive. It is reasonable to wait a couple weeks while the release bubble deflates, but the next couple months are the times to get these while the getting it good. Core sets traditionally sell less than the blocks preceding or following them. Even the "Last Core Set" hype does not appear to have shifted that much. There was a reason that Nissa, Worldwaker shot up to $50 in October of last year. Don't be the guy paying that price this October for cards you can get for $15 - $25 during the dog days. 
  • Don't sell out of your MTGO account in haste due to the pending changes. If you do, you very well could be kicking yourself for it later this year when you decide to rekindle the spark and suddenly have to drop a bunch of tickets to rebuild decks you had previously. 
  • This goes hand-in-hand with my previous point. Keep your eye on those MTGO cards you've wanted. As I stated earlier, there probably will be a sell off by some players. This very well may cause some cards to drop in price, some even significantly. Personally, I have a list of six cards that I can't justify to myself, or to my lovely bride, that they are worth their current cost. But, if there is a drop off in price due to a knee-jerk backlash from players, I have no problem snapping them up at the right time, giving me more flexibility in the decks I can play in the future.
  • Have fun at FNM. We are coming up on a rotation. Over the last couple years, we've all managed to pull cards, or acquire cards, that we've never planned on playing, but we got them in prize packs or random drafts, or as throw ins on trades. There is no way the cards are playable in non-rotating formats, but before they leave Standard, build that silly deck and have fun with it before it's gone. I've done this is past years, going down the road of playing a Spiders deck before Arachnus Spinner rotated, and an all werewolf deck before Innistrad rotated. These are the days to brush off you Curse of the Swine and Fated Infatuation and see what happens. We have an entire series of Souls rotating, Grab the Soul of Zendikar and make a random Beasts deck. Get the enjoyment out of these scraps before they are gone. You may win; you may lose. But you will have fun.
  • Last item: Teach someone new how to play. We have our last core set. It is a bit more in depth than previous core sets, but it is still a standalone summer set, and probably the final one unless changes come about again. With the more relaxed, waiting for rotation, environment, it is a perfect time to introduce a new player to the game and get them started. Does it guarantee that they will always be players and that they will catch the bug like so many of us have? It doesn't. It gives you an opportunity to possibly grow the game in your communities. It can provide an "away from work" activity for those co-workers you want to hang out with outside the office. It may even spark new friendships with people you never thought you would be friends or have common ground with. 

Like every summer, this year is probably not going to be tremendously different than most. There will be MTGO changes, format changes, and spotty attendance in a Standard format that has little significance. However, don't let it all go to waste. Enjoy this time and try new things and spread your wings. There's no telling where that road can take you. 

Peace, 
Carl Wilt

1 Comments

Thanks by MichelleWong at Fri, 07/24/2015 - 00:09
MichelleWong's picture
5

Nice tips Carl, some excellent advice there.