It's been a busy week in the world of Magic: The Gathering, everyone's favorite card game, assuming we don't count Hex, Pokemon, Hearthstone, Poker, and Go Fish as card games, which I don't for the purpose of this article. This leaves Magic as the number one card game in the world, which I already knew to be true before I started writing this piece. Armed with that knowledge, I worked backward from that conclusion and rejected all evidence to the contrary so that only facts that aligned with my perspective were considered to be valid. It's called reverse engineering and it's an important part of the scientific community. Without reverse engineering, how would we ever learn how to use the advanced alien technology that we discover in remote locations? Checkmate, skeptics. Time for you to reverse your opinion before I engineer a whole world of hurt on your brain with more indisputable, hand-selected, out-of-context facts. All day long. Bring it.
If you're looking for only the facts, presented with no bias and a high degree of journalistic integrity, well, you've come to the right place. Because that's the kind of news reporter that I am. Integrity is my middle name, unless you ask my parents or check my passport, in which case you might learn that I also possess an alternative middle name. That's just a small detail that is completely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but you can trust me to never overlook the small details. I take those small details, blow them grossly out of proportion and use them to create a storyline that fits my worldview, like any honest-to-goodness fact-based publication would do. I just want you all to know that you can rest easy. In a world plagued by an epidemic of fake news, you can count on me to provide you with clearly accessible Decidedly Not Fake News.
I'm the real deal, baby. Everything in here is my real, honest opinion unless I get involved in a custody battle with my ex-wife, in which case none of this is real. Buckle down. Saddle up. Ready thyself.
Earlier this week Wizards of the Coast put out an announcement detailing a number of changes to Organized Play.
Most of the changes were met with positive reactions, with a notable exception. Players seemed to be disgruntled that Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers now charge entry fees, especially considering that the Tournament Organizer has complete control over how much they decide to charge for the RPTQ. There's really no telling what these organizers might charge for these events, which do not award cash prizes, meaning that players could lose out big.
Wow. That's what people are mad about? Magic players, am I right? They'll complain about everything. WOTC could charge them an extra $60-$80 per booster pack and they'd complain how it was wrapped. Magic players really feed off of this kind of contrived controversy. They love to whine and dine.
I can't even begin to fathom how someone could start complaining about how an invite-only tournament that you have to spend a bunch of money and hours grinding local events to qualify for would go from being free to charging a variable amount of money based purely on the discretion of a third party that exists to make a profit. Like, what kind of mental gymnastics do you have to perform to convince yourself that this is a negative thing? Even Beckham can't bend it that much. Players seem to be forgetting that WOTC did not make this change lightly. I think if more players realized that this was not a lightly-made change, it would go over a lot better. They agonized over it. They still got you in the end, but they at least felt bad about it.
There's no need to worry, however. WOTC has heard the collective complaints, no matter how misguided they are, about this change and they have come up with a solution. According to an inside source, who I am not allowed to reveal because it would destroy our very close public friendship, WOTC will soon be unveiling a new announcement that will go a long way to mend these wounds.
Starting with Amonkhet, all invitation-based events will now have entry fees. That includes Pro Tours, the World Championships, the Magic Online Championship Series, and more. According to my source, they felt that free entry wasn't performing its intended purpose of getting people excited about the RPTQ system and that more people preferred the old PTQ system where you still had to pay entry fees. As a result, they decided to scrap this failed “no entry fee” experiment and go back to charging entry fees like the players want.
Pro Tour Amonkhet in May will be the first tournament to unveil this new policy. It costs millions of dollars to pay for the flights, hotels, prize payouts, staff and venue for a Pro Tour so it only makes sense that WOTC would be looking to recoup some of the costs by gouging the player base for a small drop of the total expense.
The entry fee for Pro Tour Amonkhet is $80 and it comes with a deck box, sleeves, a scorepad and pen. You also get a promo Electrostatic Pummeler and a Felidar Guardian playmat if you pay $20 for the Platinum package. VIP is $200 and comes with a personalized name tag and access to the VIP room where you can watch exclusive coverage of the Pro Tour and get free snacks and drinks all event long. Pro Tours don't have byes so you there's no reason to pay for the Sleep-in Special, but it's still listed as an option for $10 if you want it.
If $80 sounds expensive to you, don't worry. I saved the good news for last. There's an early bird special. If you qualified for the Pro Tour by March 10th or earlier, the entry fee is dropped to $70 instead. March 10th may sound like an arbitrary date, but I don't feel bad for anyone who didn't choose the early bird special. If you know you're going to play in the Pro Tour anyway, why not just qualify immediately instead of waiting until after March 10th to finally Top 8 your first Grand Prix?
The World Championship entry fee is speculated to be about $120 and include a free copy of LSV's official World Championship Power Rankings and a dice bag.
The Gatewatch, a collection of planeswalkers who have taken an oath to work together to protect the various planes in the multiverse from evil, has been an integral part of the Magic lore and story for the past few years. However, players have begun to grow restless, bored and disillusioned with the Gatewatch storyline. Discussion forums like the MagicTCG subreddit have seen a huge uptick in recent years of anti-Gatewatch sentiment, and this has not gone unnoticed by the creative team at Wizards of the Coast.
Mark Rosewater, the lead developer for Magic, mentioned on his popular blog that Magic would begin to see a decline in the prevalence of the Gatewatch. What Mark Rosewater did not say, but I could tell he wanted to say with his eyes, was that the Gatewatch was about to be replaced by a bigger, badder, more exciting story. What I was able to infer from that singular sideways glance he gave was that the removal of the Gatewatch was going to also bring about an entire paradigm shift in storytelling and that this new story was going to blow your freaking socks off. This new story was going to be so out-of-control awesome that holding it in and keeping it a secret until they release it has been his own personal cross to bear for the past year and it's eating him up inside. That's the kind of sideways glance Mark gave. It's just unfortunate that this fierce, hungry, know-all glance also happened to occur at exactly the same time that they brought in chick-fil-a catering. It would have been easy to conflate these two unrelated circumstances, but thankfully I rise above that with my journalism.
Later, I questioned Mark about the new story. His responses were cryptic at best and at one point I couldn't hold it in anymore. I got right in his face and outright asked him straight up: “Is the new story called Guardians of the Multiverse and does it feature a Racoon Planeswalker with a rocket launcher?” His response was simple, yet elegant. “No.” However, I could tell he was uncomfortable with the question and his eyes betrayed him yet again as he uttered that one word response. It was clear to me he was lying, and indeed I had stumbled upon the new storyline. I prodded him a bit more and was able to glean most of the important bits of the upcoming Magic story.
From now on we are going to be seeing the Guardians of the Multiverse. They are a group of awkward, mostly good to neutral-aligned planeswalkers who have banded together by taking an oath to protect the multiverse from evil. They travel from plane to plane to protect innocents and defeat baddies. Sounds crazy, right? I knew they were going to change things up, but I never expected it to be this much of a shift from the current paradigm.
Let's take a look at the new cast of planeswalkers.
This native Bel Airen practices a form of blue-aligned Magic called “Do You Mind? Magic” He has the ability to read thoughts, alter memories and simply erase them entirely. However, never one to forget his manners, Jack is always sure to ask someone “Do You Mind?” before he completely destroys their mind and renders them inconsequential forevermore. He'll ask, but this brash mage doesn't always wait to hear the answer.
Straight Outta Convent, this nature-loving nun is a green-aligned planeswalker. She appreciates the beauty in all living things and finds spiritual fulfillment in following a higher power. However, her world is torn apart, literally and figuratively, when a multidimensional being called Emma Kool starts to mess things up on Zendikar and she reluctantly gives up her life to join the Guardians of the Multiverse.
Channing Tatum Nalarm was a young country girl living on a farm with her two parents, Key and Peele Nalarm. Her life was great until the Transportation Security Administration started going militant and ended up killing her father, Key, in a local raid. Channing, having witnessed the entire ordeal, felt her spark ignite and now she burns books, barns, tips cows, and travels from plane to plane destroying enormous and unbelievably powerful interdimensional beings.
Gids McGee is a 1980's high school bully who has since learned the error of his ways. He ended up in prison for a crime he didn't commit and when other prison inmates started to bully him, he came to a realization about how much his actions had hurt others years ago. Now he seeks redemption for his wrongs while hunting down even bigger bullies. Thankfully, he hasn't forgotten his old ways, and if he's given a chance, he won't hesitate to smash the evil Elder Dragon Nicole Thanos into a locker, give her a giant wedgie and steal her lunch money, just like the old days.
This black-aligned planeswalker has a wildly different tale than the rest. The only one of the bunch who isn't truly good-aligned, Lily's story is a tragic one. She gave birth to Harry Potter, and was murdered by Lord Voldemort, which sparked her to a different plane where she used her newfound necromantic powers to raise herself from the dead. Now she hunts demons for fun, and has a Vessted interest in making sure the Guardians of the Multiverse succeed, even though there must be some personal gain for her in it.
This is a talking raccoon Planeswalker with a rocket launcher.
Oh yeah, that's right, baby. Get freaking hyped. Karn is now part of the Guardians of the Multiverse. Only he's no longer called Karn. He broke free from his Phyrexian overlords and discovered electronic dance music. Now they call him Chromatic Starlord and after starring in Tron: Legacy, he's ready to do two things, break skulls and break dance.
The Guardians of the Multiverse are expected to make their first debut in Ixalan, the set after Hour of Devastation later this year.
Stephen Hensley, a local player from Austin, Texas thinks he found the solution for Legacy.
“I always hear people talking all the time about how Legacy is a bad format, and how it's all variance and that the hate cards are too oppressive. I've been thinking, and I came up with an idea. Let's ban 8th and 9th Edition. I'm telling you, those sets have zero fun cards in them and they should just remove those sets from Legacy altogether. Choke, Blood Moon, Ensnaring Bridge, Worship? Nothing good ever came of those cards. Don't even get me started on the Tron lands.”
When informed that 8th and 9th Edition were comprised entirely of reprints and removing them would not alter the Legacy format in any way, Stephen elected to provide no additional comments and was reportedly googling “What is Legacy MTG” later that afternoon.