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I think it's fun, but I HATE that it has such a strong pay to win component.

If a video game let players spend thousands of dollars on high power abilities to completely dominate the lower paid tier players, they'd be ridiculed in many circles.

There are certainly ways to play around this, but it's definitely a thing.






>I think it's fun, but I HATE that it has such a strong pay to win component.

At most tournaments, all the players have essentially equal access to any cards they want to play with. Some formats are more expensive than others to enter of course, but that's about the same as any other sport - I don't race thoroughbred horses or drive Formula One motorcars either.

In terms of non-tournament (or tournament practice) there is nothing stopping people from taking a sharpie and writing "Black Lotus" on a one-cent card and playing as if it's the most expensive card in the game. People do this all the time.


There are a lot of different formats. In Limited for example, you buy the boosters you are going to play with when entering the event (you don't bring a constructed deck). This makes it very level and pretty cheap (pay to enter instead of pay to win). It is also quite competitive and is a format often played in championships.

And sets these days are designed with limited in mind. Limited has gone from this weird thing you do at a PTQ side tourney after you flunk out round 4, to a real, super fun format!

> And sets these days are designed with limited in mind.

For reference, sets have been designed with limited in mind since Mirage in 1996.


I thought it was interesting to see that at the start they explicitly tried to make the common cards just as powerful as the rare ones.

That’s definitely changed for the worse, as well as making individual cards more powerful.

I used to make fun of YuGiOh for being full of ‘this card wins you the game’ cards, but magic has very much transformed into exactly the same thing.


Mark Rosewater (the head designer) commented on this very issue in the most recent State of Design article:

> Two years ago in my "State of Design" articles, I said we'd let complexity get a little too high. Last year, I said we overcompensated and ended up with complexity a little too low. I'm happy to say that we've found the middle ground and have been producing sets that seem to be hitting the sweet spot.

> The key to this success seems to be us towing the line of complexity at common, but upping the amount of complexity we allow at uncommon. This allows us to take in-theme things for the set that would normally be rare and pull them down to uncommon to allow us to raise the as-fan of the theme. A good example of this would be the planeswalkers in War of the Spark. The uncommon planeswalkers, in a vacuum, would probably be rares in a normal set, but by allowing ourselves to lower their rarity, we were able to infuse War of the Spark (especially Limited) with the planeswalker theme.

> Another component that allowed us to pull this off is a willingness to be more aggressive with the power level of commons, especially answers, to help make them more relevant without having to up their complexity.

( https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/s... )

The power level of commons was long one of their primary defenses to the question "why do you print bad rares?". Combining the introduction of Mythic rarity with the axing of staple commons did terrible things to the balance of power across rarities. As alluded to in passing here, they seemed to believe that powerful commons made the game more confusing to play and/or less fun, hurting their potential market.

You can track the issue on Doom Blade ( https://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multive... ). In M12 (2011) it's a common. In M13, as part of their commitment to continuously rotate which cards fill which roles, Doom Blade is replaced by Murder ( https://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multive... ), which is also common. In M14 (2013), Doom Blade is back! But it's an uncommon, where it stays for the next several years while they publish articles about how their new philosophy of design means you shouldn't have broadly useful removal at common for under 5 mana. But between M19 and M20, Murder shifts from uncommon to common. Murder is still much weaker than Doom Blade. But the philosophy of "no common removal unless it's either intensely situational or too expensive to play" has disappeared.

They're trying to balance money extraction, player demand, and the broader health of the game ("after playing 20 games, do I still like this?"), and feedback on those three issues has very different patterns of immediacy and accuracy. (And, of course, money extraction and player demand are in direct conflict with each other.)


That's entirely by choice? You can play in all sorts of tournaments. If money is an issue, play a sealed deck tournament. I get that MAY run you a hundred bucks, but if even THAT is too much, play with friends and set rules about what cards are allowed.

The beauty of magic is that people with even a modicum of spending money can find a competitive game.


I built my stepson a deck for about 50 bucks, and he won more than one reasonably-sized (>15 players) tournaments, as a 13 year-old.

Yes, if you currently want to be relevant you probably need Oko and friends, but if you want to play cheap, you can.

And if you want to play commander for cheap, check out The Commander's Quarters on YouTube, all deck techs are 25 or 50.


there are many formats. in some the field is as level as possible, in some it takes years to understand all the mechanics and interactions.

the cost to enjoy it is minimal if you’re not playing competitively and even if you are paying attention to the meta matters more than investing thousands of dollars in the game




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