The July 17, 2017 Update

Posted in Daily Magic Update on July 17, 2017

By Blake Rasmussen

Blake is the content manager for DailyMTG.com, making him the one you should email if you have thoughts on the website, good or less good (or not good). He's a longtime coverage reporter and hasn't turned down a game of Magic in any format ever.

The Daily Magic Update is a roundup of everything Magic you should know on July 17, 2017. Today's Update is brought to you by talking about what people are talking about.

What People Are Talking About

Clearly we have to start here, and today's Update is going to be a touch longer than normal because of this.

First, for the uninitiated, on Sunday (we'll get back to that day) we published an article about in-store play changes. Most of the changes were well-received, but the one that stuck out was the change to Friday Night Magic promos from foil cards to foil tokens. While some people did like the change, the reaction against it was loud and visceral.

Admittedly, we didn't do a great job of explaining why we were making the change—and that is 100% on us—so I'm going to shed some additional light on our reasoning today. 

Before I do that, I want to direct you to an article we published in February by Elaine Chase on in-store play. Particularly two lines:

With that in mind, 2017 is going to be a year of trying new things for our in-store play—a year of innovating, of experimenting, and of pushing the envelope for in-store offerings.

And

Our goal this year is to refine and reimagine our in-store play programs to create greater accessibility and appeal for players of all skill levels.

To the first point, this is what we're doing; we're trying something new. That doesn't mean we won't re-evaluate in the future—we're always evaluating what we're doing. Everything is on the table for in-store play this year. We're always willing to try something new.

The second point is the more relevant one, particularly "to create greater accessibility and appeal for players of all skill levels." 

A year ago, many of the programs in the article we're talking about didn't even exist. Standard Showdown was just a twinkle in Chris Tulach's eye, Magic Open House didn't exist, Leagues were just a thing we did around the office, and the Store Championship was—well, that one was basically Game Day.

Each of those is meant to serve a different audience within the community. Open House is for very new players—the newest of the new. Leagues are for those just looking to play a little Magic in a fun, casual environment. Standard Showdown is for the competitive-minded, but somewhere before we start getting to the PTQ crowd. Store Championship plays in that same area.

But we're missing a portion—we're missing the players who just built their first deck. Players who just built a Cat deck (because Cat decks are awesome) and want to play against other players in a store setting. Players who got trounced at their first tournament, but learned a lot, had a blast, and want to come back for their second, armed with a newly tuned deck. Players who just want to hang out with their friends and play with that sweet Zombie they just opened. Or Cat. Because Cats.

That's the audience we'd like FNM to serve, though not to the exclusion of any other audience. FNM remains the centerpiece of our in-store play offerings, but we do want to try to carve out some space for that kind of player as well. Which brings us to Sunday's announcement.

Let's take one of the comments I heard and the general sentiment among those who didn't like the change: "We just want relevant, playable FNM promos." The implication is that the player community as a whole will attend more FNMs if the promos are better. Except it's not true.

The data just doesn't bear that out. While I can't give you the exact numbers, I can tell you this—in June, when Aether Hub was the FNM promo, attendance was not noticeably different than January, when Noose Constrictor was the promo. What's more, we've found this pattern repeated for years. FNM attendance is generally not noticeably tied to the community's online response, positive or negative, to the specific promo card. A few people recognize this, but it's understandably difficult to see that when your frame of view is your local store or stores. We know that individual store attendance levels can ebb and flow for any number of reasons, but on a macro level, there's just not a discernable difference.

Ultimately, we don't want players showing up just because they want the promo—we hope they're there because they enjoy playing Magic, hanging out with their friends, and having a good time. And if they get something cool out of it, well—bonus.

Basically, this. We haven't done a great job of articulating that, which is definitely on us. Hopefully my semi-coherent ramblings help explain some of it.

As for publishing on a Sunday, there was nothing nefarious there, no trying to hide the news—it was simply a function of when the article was ready versus when the sanctioning window for events opened in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. They opened yesterday, so we needed to get the new information out by then, and the article wasn't ready in time to do it earlier. Anyone saying we placed it on a weekend to hide it seriously underestimates our community's ability to read the internet on days that begin with S.

That said, we're always open to feedback, and rest-assured we've heard all the feedback so far. Keep the feedback coming and we'll keep trying to make Magic in-store play as awesome as possible.

What You Might Have Missed This Weekend

  1. StarCityGames.com Cincinnati Standard Open

It was the first week of Hour of Devastation Standard, and (spoiler alert) Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh himself took the whole thing down. His Supreme Will kept opponents at bay, his minion (once removed) Dovin Baan held off the opposition, and he even got a little help from Gatewatch member Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. Check out the Top 64 decklists here and relive the weekend with video replays here.

  1. Bolt | TheMagicManSam

We will (pretty much) always show off a MagicManSam video, because they're just so freakin' great. Slick, stylized, and interesting—just watch it.

  1. Mana Echoes: Let's Talk about Wizards CANCELING FNM Promos! | TheManaSource | Wedge

This is one of those places people were talking about the change to FNM promos. I said pretty much everything above, but here's Wedge's take on the issue. We're always open to and will never shy away from constructive feedback.

After Those, Read, Watch, or Listen to These

  1. Hour of Devastation Brew Blitz! | StarCityGames.com | Chris Lansdell

So. Many. Decklists.

  1. What's the Pick? Hour of Devastation Pack 1 Pick 1 with Huey | ChannelFireball | William Jensen

What did you learn from Draft Weekend? Put it to use and see if you can match up with a Hall of Famer.

  1. Hour of Devastation Set Review: White | Gathering Magic | Ali Aintrazi

Now that LSV's set review on ChannelFireball is complete, someone has to fill those set review shoes.

Deck of the Day

  1. Michael Hamilton's Four-Color Control

It's rare that week one of a new format gets taken down by a control deck. It's even more rare that Dovin Baan is heavily involved. Both of those happened at the StarCityGames.com Open this past weekend.

Playing a smattering of removal spells, counterspells, card draw, and planeswalkers, Hamilton bested all comers with what is essentially a Jeskai Control deck splashing for Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. The deck takes, and took, a long time to win, which actually makes the variety of removal spells something of a strength, as the deck is created to churn through much of the deck over the course of the game.

But the real genius of the deck, and what swung so many matches for Hamilton over the course of the weekend, was the creature-centric sideboard plan with Glorybringer and Spell Queller. His main deck had so few creatures—two, to be precise—that opponents would frequently sideboard out their removal. And that's exactly the kind of world Glorybringer and Spell Queller thrive in. Opponents who were caught by surprise were mostly just overwhelmed. Opponents in the know? Even they had to play a guessing game of how much removal to leave in and how much to take out.

I doubt this exact list will catch on—it's awfully eclectic and should be tuned to beat specific metagames—but Jeskai Control is certainly back on the menu.

Four-Color Control

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