- Haaf, Owner of Great Media LLC
I never thought I would write this kind of an essay. When you’re young you never really look ahead to think about how your hobbies will change, or how you will change and find something new to occupy your time.
Leading up to 2019 I was a full time employee at a card shop, a Level 1 Judge for Magic, and I could not be happier. My hobby was my full time job, and had been for almost 6 years. Unfortunately I lost that job, and had to find something unrelated to my love of gaming, and as I coasted into my 30s the desire for shiny cardboard started to wane. So now, as I write this in 2023 for my own hobby store website, I find myself in the unique position as an outsider to the game I used to love.
What happened? Why did the game change so much in just a few years? And what is it like to re enter the game having taken an extended break?
The last set that came out for standard before my time was up at my last job was War of the Spark, the final set in the Bolas Saga. It was a pretty interesting time for the game mechanically and storywise. The development team were taking us on a tour of endings with Eldritch Moon and Oath of the Gatewatch ending the Eldrazi threat. There weren’t many new beginnings or new arcs starting. What we were used to were smaller self-contained stories within the planes. All of this was building to the grand ending of Magic’s greatest Villain, Nicol Bolas, and his schemes that have been brewing for over 20 years. It was truly something special, and everyone knew the game would live on, but how? Where would the story go after this two decade long epic?
I never got to play Throne of Eldrane Standard, but I liked the concepts that I saw, but ultimately that marked the end of my time with the game. The story continued, but I could not tell you anything about it. My one place that I played no longer welcomed me, and I did not play commander, so my options became limited. I left the game. It was the perfect time, because I did not want to get invested in any more stories.
In just 4 years it feels like more than 100 new products have come out, creating special versions for cards, creating showcases, secret lair variants, and alternate art versions of almost every single new card design released since then. Wizards of the coast decided to support all aspects of Magic’s audience. The collector, the competitor, and even the kitchen table player were given a reason to buy these products.
I will never see that as a negative. With Wizards printing a vast number of variants, a lot of the prices of cards have remained fair, allowing more people to buy singles and grow every community around the game. When I left we were starting to see the population of competitive players dwindle for formats like Modern because the barriers of entry were so high, now even Tarmogoyfs have found themselves affordable, while remaining powerful.
Wizards is a company, and at the end of the day, the more players and collectors they have buying and trading products means they make money, whether directly or indirectly.
This may just be opinionated speculation, but back in pre 2019 magic players took pride in the value of their collection, whether or not they were actually planning to sell, so with Wizards printing an absurd amount of these playables, collections aren’t maintaining value, and the players who spent hundreds of dollars on a set of Tarmogoyfs are bitter. The big collectible cards are no longer your modern playables, but now the cards that are nearing 30 years of age.
I have found that ancient printings of cards are all still maintaining their value, or climbing slowly with each passing year.
Magic is becoming a game the common man and casual player can get into, and that is nothing short of extraordinary.
Of course, I am speaking from the perspective of a player that has not touched the game outside of Arena for 4 years. I don’t know what Modern looks like as a format, I just know what the cards cost, and with the introduction of Pioneer, it is possible we could see Modern fall into the realms of Vintage and Legacy, but 4 years is a staggeringly short time for this much change to have occurred. Between 2013 and 2019 the eternal formats remained relatively unchanged unless a new banlist update was released, and we have seen several supplemental products obliterate the status quo and change a lot of how the game is played in these older formats.
When you look at this and take into account the card list for the recent Dominaria Remastered, it’s hard not to get excited about getting back into the game. I have watched Magic: The Gathering’s world change from the outside into something healthy and affordable. We see a bunch of content creators out there shout doom and gloom, because Wizards is releasing these products at an insane rate, but with the exception of a couple outliers, they are decent quality unique ideas.
Sometimes we have to take a step back and assess things from a new perspective. We can miss a lot when we keep our horse blinders on and focus only on what the world presents in front of us. That was the inspiration for writing this. From the outside, I am excited about Magic’s future. Thank you for reading.
- I am sorry for any mispellings, misportrayed information. I wrote this at 3:50am, because I had a thought. We unfortunately don't have the resources to hire an editor. Help us out! Share this artcle! Did you love it? Did you hate it? Find me on Twitter @HaafGMG and tell me what you think!