Windborn Musings – So many Topics, Only one Article

The Magic community has looked at three different issues recently.  While most people are looking at the issues in relation to the tournament players, I thought I’d take a moment to look at things from the casual players’ perspective. 

Planeswalker Points

So Wizards has switched to a new point system to determine who will get benefits like GP byes and Pro Tour invites.  It will encourage the high level players to play Magic, rather than sit on high ratings in an effort to get invites based on high ratings.  The main difference is that the new system gives points for winning and points for playing, while taking nothing away if you lose.

So what relevance does this have to the casual player?  Right now, nothing.  If you play the kitchen table games or go to your store for some sanctioned Commander, you really aren’t going to notice anything.  If the store takes your DCI number when you play Commander, you’ll get a lifetime point, which counts for absolutely nothing.  If you just play at home, your games aren’t sanctioned, so a change in point system means nothing.

If you go to prereleases or FNM’s, you will collect points there, but it is irrelevant.  The only reason to gain points, as of right now, at least, is to get byes and Pro Tour invites.  You will need to accumulate far more than anyone could playing casually. You may also see a bump in the size of the local FNM’s but don’t expect it to last long.  It is a new system and the hardcore players are still learning the best way to game the system.

I’ll let you in on a little secret too:  the change in the point system means nothing for almost all the tournament players too!  You will need to play in so many tournaments just to get the points you need to even get a single bye, that for most players, the change in the point structure is irrelevant.  How many players in North America are getting on the Pro Tour due to points?  Only the top ten players.  Ten.  How many tournament players are there inNorth America?  You see where this is going.

I am hoping in the future Wizards will offer benefits based on the system.  Everyone loves free swag, and hopefully that will come back.  I’m not holding my breath though, and neither should you.  I do encourage you to check out the site.  Punch in your DCI card and have a good laugh with your buddies.

Modern

Modern is the latest attempt by Wizards to get tournament players interested in a format bigger than Standard, but smaller than Legacy.  Modern does not rotate, so the format will only grow.  Cards from 8th Edition and Mirrodin onwards are legal in the format. Those sets are also the sets where the new cardface first saw use, so generally, if the card has a new cardface, it is probably legal in Modern.

The reason I bring this up on a casual multiplayer Magic site is because Modern may be the answer for some newer playgroups. My playgroup is made up of players who played early on in Magic.  Many of them left the game for a while and are now returning.  Most of the cards in my playgroup are from the two most recent sets, and the much older sets.  Our group uses the Legacy banned list as our own banned list, so all the decks in our group must be Legacy legal.

This is not ideal, since many of the cards on the Legacy banned list are there because they are combo enablers or dominate in a format with only one opponent.  I would love to go through the list and remove many of the cards, but that will undoubtedly open up a can of worms with our group involving which cards to be unbanned.  The point here though is that Legacy legal decks is a quick way to explain to newcomers what cards are permitted in our little group.

Some newer groups would be best served with a different cutoff.  If you and your group of friends have been playing since Ravnica, then perhaps Modern would be the right cutoff for you.  I’m not advocating the use of the Modern banned list (it is clearly a work in progress, and not all that applicable to multiplayer), but limiting the range of cards may be what your group needs, and Modern is an easy way to explain to newcomers what cards are permitted in your little group.

Normally a group probably doesn’t need a limiter like this if everyone started at a similar time; just play your cards and all will be well.  The reason I recommend a limiter is for the time when a new person starts playing with your group.  Having a Modern cap will limit the likelihood of getting blown out by older, more powerful cards.

This may not be a great plan for your group’s personality.  You may find that letting the new player play with his older cards doesn’t imbalance your games and works out well.  Just keep in mind that Wizards has presented us with this easy option.  It may be the resolution you are looking for.

Double-faced cards

So the Magic-playing public seems to be opposed to these cards for all sorts of reasons (packaging, drafting, etc.) but most of the issues that I’ve heard with these cards involves someone taking part in a tournament.  What about us, the casual players? How is a two-faced card going to change our games?

Packaging

Packaging is an easy place to start since this affects anyone who opens at booster.  There will be one 2-faced card in every pack.  They will take up a common slot in the booster.  The two-faced cards come in different rarities, but will always be in a common slot.  You can expect to see each of the cards as often as you would expect to see a specific rare in the set.  Your pack of Innistrad will include the one rare or mythic card, three uncommons, nine commons, a double-faced card and either a land or proxy card.  Some packs will include a foil at the same rate as they always have.

With this system there is a chance of opening a booster with a mythic rare, a mythic double-faced card and a mythic foil.  The odds of it happening are pretty slim, but it is there.  I’ll leave it to you to determine if this slight change to boosters improve the value proposition enough to encourage you to buy more boosters or not.

There will also be a proxy card included in 3 of every 4 boosters.  (picture of proxy card here).  While this is to be used in draft decks (since they are often unsleeved), they can be used around the kitchen table as well.

My main concern is that this means there will only be a land in every four boosters.  If you are new to the game, it just gets that much harder to actually have land to build decks.  As someone who likes to get the land from every set, I’ll likely be buying a fat pack to get the full set (only three of each basic land type in Innistrad) of lands.

Playing

If you draft… you can either show the card to everyone, or you don’t have to.  I’ll leave it to the drafting experts to determine the positives and negatives of drafting with this extra information.

If you are playing regular multiplayer games, you are going to need sleeves.

I know that there is a proxy card that you can use, so you don’t really need sleeves.  But really, why aren’t you putting your cards in sleeves already?  Even if you aren’t concerned about keeping the cards in good shape (and why wouldn’t you want to extend the life of your cards?) your cards are not like a regular deck of cards.  The regular deck gets even wear, since all 52 cards are getting the same amount of use.  That just isn’t true with Magic cards.  My older cards are getting visibly worn.  Without sleeves I can tell which cards are older just by looking at the back of the card, just as easily as you could spot a double-sided card in your deck if there were no sleeves on your deck.  Seriously, sleeve up your cards.  You’ll thank me tomorrow when your buddy sitting next to you spills his beer on your cards.

Before you go out and buy fancy sleeves though, know that it turns out many sleeves that are “opaque” are actually see-through when the difference in the hidden card is as dramatic as a Magic card back and a front of a card.  I have been told by friends who use lighter colored sleeves or some sleeves with art on them, that you can see the difference between a double-faced card and a regular Magic back card.  Get a dark or black sleeve.  If you use a colored or art sleeve, try putting in one card backwards in the sleeve, then shuffle up your hand and try to pick the reversed card. Or run the proxy card.  Don’t give your opponents more information than they are already getting.

Best way to handle flipping the cards

If you are playing multiplayer, the cards are going to flip.  A lot.  Perhaps Ludevic’s Test Subject only flips once, but Civilized Scholar and werewolves will be back and forth plenty.  This is going to be a hassle to pull the card out and flip it and put it back in the sleeve all the time.  What are your options?[1]

1.  Use the card and flip it, putting it back in the sleeve every time.  What a nightmare.  You will be destroying sleeves and your double-faced card flipping this thing so often.  Do you really want to draw that much attention to the fact that you have this creature out there that everyone else can control simply by either playing two spells or playing none?  I hate this plan.

2.  Use the card and when you flip it, leave it out of the sleeve.  This will probably cause less wear on the card than constantly resleeving it. Of course it will sit, vulnerable on your table, hoping that no one spills their drink.  And all the while your greasy pizza fingers[2] will be mucking up your card.  I don’t like this option either.

3.  Use the card and have a spare one in your deck box, set to the Night side of the card.  If you put the opaque sides against each other, you can flip the card(s) and always have them sleeved, without the hassle of desleeving or resleeving.  This is cute, and certainly earns some style points, but it does mean that you have to own an extra copy.  That may not be a problem with the commons, but when you are using the rares, things may get a little more pricey.

4.  Use the card and have a proxy in your deck box.  This lets you do #3 without buying another copy of the card.  You could even make your own proxy using a Sharpie if you have skills.  I do not have skills.

5.  Use the proxy card in the deck, and your flip card stays in your deckbox until you need it. I’d recommend a clear sleeve since it will protect the card from spills, allows you to see both sides of the flip card, and will be easily noticed if you shuffle it into your deck (and you know you will shuffle it in all the time).  This is probably what I’ll be doing, but I’ll leave it to each of you to choose another way.  You’ll come back later and tell me how right I was.

Innistrad

Next week is Innistrad week here at the Muse Vessel!  We are aiming to bring you an article each weekday next week, culminating in our preview card!  Check us out every day next week as we look at the horror of Innistrad from a multiplayer perspective.

Bruce Richard
@manaburned
bnrichard<AT>hotmail<DOT>com


[1] I know just how anal retentive this is.  However, when it comes to Magic cards, I am a big believer in limiting the wear and tear on my cards.  I believe the rare double-faced cards are going to be more valuable, because fewer of them will be NM due to all the flipping.

[2] I recommend buying pizzas at Costco.  They are big, relatively inexpensive, and not greasy.  Most importantly, they are delicious!

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About Windborn Muse

If you seek limited or constructed tournament knowledge, wrapped up with excellent comedic writing, you are in the wrong place. Planted firmly at the kitchen table, Bruce (the Windborn Muse) is all things casual, focusing primarily on strategies for multiplayer games wrapped up with horrific, train wreck attempts at humour. Bruce is married to an extremely tolerant woman and has three children who will not go near him in public. In real life Bruce works as an attorney and lives just outside Boston.
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4 Responses to Windborn Musings – So many Topics, Only one Article

  1. kyzneg says:

    Nice to see a more casual viewpoint on these subjects, though something seems off reading about PWPoints/double-faced cards without hearing that the sky is falling or that “PWPoints/Double-Faced Cards/M10 Rules/any of the last 30 examples” will be the guaranteed death of Magic.

    I agree on the change to the point system, despite what you may read, the number of people who are realistically affected by this change is going to be pretty low, for most people it will matter about as much as their 1600-1800 rating did before now. Yes, losing the invites from getting top 16 in a GP will hurt some, but that was going to change regardless with the doubling of the number of GPs in a year. Yes, losing your invites that you had from rating (that you earned X years ago) is annoying, but if you’re not playing to protect your rating, do you really deserve to go over someone who’s actively seeking out opportunities to improve their rating/qualify?

    Regarding Modern, the playgroup I’ve most recently been involved in didn’t really have a formal banned list, but we were a fairly small stable group, so one wasn’t really needed. I wouldn’t personally like to be restricted to Modern, but that’s more out of personal preference and enjoyment of discovering old cards that do exactly what I’m looking for than it is out of wanting to play broken legacy decks in a casual environment.

    For the DFCs, I’ll probably be using a mix of #3 and #5, depending on how many of the given card I have available. If I’m going to be carrying 2 cards for that slot in the deck, I’d rather have 2 copies of the actual card than 1 copy and the checklist, given the choice. That being said, any deck I’m playing Garruk Relentless in will most likely be using a checklist card for the foreseeable future.

    On an unrelated note, do you have any experience with Pandemonium Books & Games in Cambridge? Working nights, I haven’t had time to play much (read: any) paper magic since I moved away from SBM’s playgroup, but I’ve got the day of the Innistrad prerelease off from work for some family stuff, and I might be able to make it for a late draft or something, so I’m curious if anyone has any experience with the location and how good of a place to play it is. I’m also somewhat interested in a decent place to play Commander, but again working 11PM-7AM Tuesday-Saturday makes it difficult to find time to play.

    • I’ve played there a few times. The basement has plenty of room and they are pretty much the premier location inside of the I-95/Rte 128 loop. I would suggest you talk to them directly about your prerelease options. This is the first big-set prerelease without a regional prerelease. The big set prereleases are always the best attended, and I expect Pandemonium to be in a state of pandemonium on those days since the regional prerelease players will want to play somewhere. Sign up right away!

  2. shoe says:

    When I was fortunate enough to play formats that weren’t EDH as well, we started out using the vintage B/R list but when ponder got restricted, we needed something newe. Check out the casual B/R list on my website and see what your group thinks!

    -Shoe

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