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CardName: Changes to Magic's Block Structure Cost: Type: Pow/Tgh: / Rules Text: Maro's article today announced changes to the way blocks and rotation will work for the foreseeable future. What do you think? Flavour Text: Set/Rarity: Conversation None

Changes to Magic's Block Structure
Maro's article today announced changes to the way blocks and rotation will work for the foreseeable future. What do you think?
Created on 25 Aug 2014 by Link

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2014-08-25 15:30:09: Link created the card Changes to Magic's Block Structure


I'm fine with the changes. I like core sets, actually, but I'll gladly give them up for more, faster-paced blocks. I'm not that active in Standard, so the faster rotation schedule hurts, but I'm not the type of player it was meant to help. I'm glad that Standard will be better for the Standard players. On his Tumblr, MaRo said that a new product line is being created for newer players to replace the core sets.

I wonder if that new product line is Magic Origins.

My major concern is that as someone who gets most of his cards with a single booster box and drafts, this means I have MUCH less time to accumulate/get the value cards on top of them rotating faster, I strongly suspect Khans block will be the last I will buy booster boxes for.

I liked the current arrangement with interesting core sets, but I like the reasoning for the new structure and think it will work better.

I hope there IS a decent on-ramp for beginners, but it's possible that can be a separate product, it doesn't have to come out as part of standard. That means there may be no introductory draft product, but either maybe that's ok, people can learn with preconstructed decks and then make the leap to drafting the current expansion, or maybe stores will offer "beginner" drafts somehow (either with wizards producing permanent-core non-standard-legal booster packs, or drafting non-sanctioned boosters made up of old core set cards?)

I almost never have time to make a constructed standard deck, so I already expect it to have rotated before I've played with it once or twice, so the shorter rotation doesn't make as much difference to me. Although I wish it was easier to build "a werewolf deck" or "a sliver deck" and have a format less competitive than modern but more competitive than casual you could play it in. Maybe block constructed (or "consecutive block constructed"?) should get support??

I suspect that expert expansion design won't be altered that much by this shift (other than maybe discarding the practice of avoiding certain obvious designs previously left for a third set) and that the "perennial staple" now will be introduced in the same way as those extra cards in the M15 Intro Packs. Rather than vanilla creatures, we'll see the intro packs (possibly with a new code series) bringing into standard cards like Chandra's Fury, Prey Upon and Duress instead.

MaRo's said that they'll be more aggressive with reprints in the expansions now to make up for not having the core sets.

well, time to re-tool my block plan. can't be using old WotC tech

anyway this seems fine, i don't play standard anyway (just limited) so all good news from where i'm sitting

I was kind of put off by all the build up in MaRo's article. This just seems like a natural choice, and what they've been building up to ever since Lorwyn/Eventide. I'm honestly surprised it took them this long.

Honestly? Don't care at all; I vaguely play eternal and sometimes play a draft. I've never followed sets and blocks and crap like that - it's all pointless design-wankery as far as I can see.

oh man, i want to hear you elaborate on that

Vitenka says a lot of stuff like that. Haha.

Yeah, I wouldn't take it too seriously. Vitenka's fond of saying things like "I don't pay attention to it, therefore it can't be important". He doesn't necessarily quite mean it.

Although... since he's someone who only plays each new set in one draft, maybe? With people who're inexperienced enough that any power imbalances within the set will be drowned out by issues like "oops, three of us next to each other all went into the same colours". So subtle considerations of block design won't have much impact on him.

Of course, it's not for him that this change is being made, but for the people who play Standard so intensively that they're getting bored with a format before it rotates away.

Indeed. Blocks and sets and.. whatever. They don't matter. What matters is the cards I actually see (I guess as-fan is the terminology there?)

Long overarching stuff? I don't see it; it might as well not exist, and any effort put into it is wasted effort that could be better placed into making individual cards more fun.

It probably matters for standard players, I agree. There; it's an utterly transparent attempt to push more product.

So far, we haven't seen the other foot drop that officially pushes more product. I'm sure it's coming. But since Wizards is dropping the core set, some Standard players are gonna end up buying just as many booster boxes per year. 2014's season already contained two big sets, and two small sets, if you count Magic 2014 as a big set.

What Magic does with their 'beginner product'... now that's a good question. Interestingly, I could see them doing a 'reprint only' set similar to Fantasy Flight's Living Card Game model. Buy this one box. It contains every card you need to start playing... but it only has a fer chase rares that only the real collectors would pay good money to get their hands on. It's an idea... probably a good one, too. Wizards would have to take one on the chin, though, to admit that not everything needs to come in booster packs.

Mmmm... dunno; they seem to lean that way. They might just stick with duel decks as the equivalent of starter decks.

Whenever wizards announce a big change, I mentally categorise it into either "make the gameplay better" or "protect the revenue stream". You might expect more overlap, but it seems to usually be one or the other. And my experience has been that almost all of the "make the gameplay better" changes have been a good idea (removing mana burn, changes to legendary, lifelink, etc, Nth edition rules changes, etc, etc) or been a mistake which has been admitted and fixed (deathtouch rules changes, affinity for artifacts). So whenever they announce something like that, I usually trust them that they know better than me and it will turn out well.

Whereas there are occasional changes which seem more business-focussed, and obviously those are sometimes necessary, since there needs to be a revenue stream for there to be a R&D, but it's not always possible to be as up-front about the implications, even if there's a good justification. So I accept those, but don't always take them at face value (eg. planeswalker points, mythic rares, etc).

But changes to block structure seem primarily the gameplay-focuses not business-focussed, so I assume they probably know what they're doing. In fact, I'm surprised no-one is more upset -- usually any change scares SOMEONE that it's going to take away something they loved. I really quite liked the new-cards core sets, but slightly simpler/smaller core sets can probably do the same thing, and obviously everyone loves new blocks, more new blocks is exciting for most people :)

I like the changes a lot. I don't play Standard a great deal except if a GP happens very close to where I live but I like to follow the format and the metagame (as I do with every format).

I also think one aspect that many people miss is many people play Standard only as long as "their deck" is playable. These people now have a way shorter wait until the format rotates and maybe enables the desired archetype.

I guess expert expansions will change considerably with this change. If we look at what has been done to design to try and fix the 3rd set problem, my guess is that the sets of the future will just have more of the awesome with less of the crap. This has several consequences. One of them is that design space on the "bread and butter" - the cards every set needs - will be explored in more interesting ways. I guess we will see more Searing Blazes and less Lightning Strikes. I think that the ability to make more cards work in conjunction with the accoring block theme preserves design space for simpler, more elegant designs which usually came up in the core set (think Murder, Turn to Frog and the like).

Anyway I'm very excited to get Maro's first articles, podcasts and blog posts on how it is to work with the new structure as well as seeing how the 2-set-blocks turn out.

Hm. I think Jsys's correct that the small sets in future will have more awesome and less dross; but I don't think that'll mean more Searing Blaze and less Lightning Strike. Maro said on Tumblr that the upcoming sets will include more reprints now that the core set has gone away; I'd expect that to mean the simple core-set-worthy cards will be reprinted in expert sets (mostly large sets), and new simple cards like Flesh to Dust and Righteous Blow will also be a slightly higher percentage of expert-level sets.

Maro said over here "We're going to work to get more of [the staple cards like Giant Growth, Pacifism and Cancel] in normal expansions."

And here's a post by a game shop owner explaining why the change is very good for game stores.

One possibly weird effect of this is that there will be less reuse of old art for reprints. Maybe Pacifism will get art that's not quite so ugly.

Mmm. More blocks and an 18 month Standard means they can be more swingy. In both directions, really. A Mirrodin-like block where there's no artifact destruction, for example, seems perfectly reasonable, if it only lasts half a year. Likewise, I'd expect to see back to back blocks where one features a card like Terminate, and the other set's best removal is Waste Away.

Sounds good to me. The variety should result in some intense cards and formats.

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