Should all Vintage be 100% proxy?

@fsecco / @garbageaggro yeah I'm confused. I feel like you made a 3 paragraph argument in favor of proxies (people can't afford the cards, people don't want to bring expensive cards with them, etc), and then concluded with "and therefore, proxies are bad." I'm not trying to win you over, but I really don't get it.

All of the things you said about magic pricing being different in different parts of the world (or country) are exactly the things I tell people when I'm trying to convince them how great proxies are.

Last year I spent a month hanging out with magic players in Mexico City (whatup Fernando!), I was AMAZED that people were willing to spend half a day's salary on a single draft, when they could be playing Vintage for free. There are clearly cultural forces at work that make people really reluctant to play with proxies (and I mean the culture of the magic community, not any particular country)

The mindset that you have to own the cards someday is where I'm lost ... why? Why not just proxy a vintage deck and then ... not buy the cards? It's the same game. I'd argue it's a BETTER game, because you're not constantly looking over your shoulder and terrified to put a beer next to your deck. If you're interested in Vintage and you don't live down the street from a place that runs sanctioned events, what does owning the cards get you? You get to subsidize SCG in exchange for a less-fun version of the game?

There are a lot of reasons people are for or against proxies, but "we don't have enough money for proxies" is hard for me to wrap my head around, if the alternative is playing Modern or Commander which is dramatically more expensive. I can't help but think there HAS to be some other unsaid reason here.

I was personally fortunate enough to buy power when it was much cheaper, but I play with proxies whenever I can - I only ever playtest with full-proxy decks, I proxy my power and leave it home when I go to a local event ... it's just a better experience for me, and it's a place I find EW to be consistently disappointing. I know Vintage isn't for everyone, but I hate to imagine people missing out on the format because of some mistaken idea that proxies offer an inherently worse experience.

Quick life story here. One day I just decided I wanted to play vintage. I had a good job and a deep legacy collection so I thought I would make the effort and try to get back some of the cards I had when I was a kid. I started looking at lists and found Dark times, which was basically mono black with a jet and that was about it. You could play lotus but some lists did not. So I traded some stuff, store credit for some more, and bought a Mox Jet.

From that point on I started building out my collection. Eventually that dark times deck moved me into wanting to try Dredge, and I got 4 bazaars (when they were about $250 each) once again by trading standard, modern, and legacy stuff I was not going to use into store credit and trades. I played that list for a long time, and then finally I decided I would collect power. My Bazaars went towards some moxen, I got a good trade at Gencon for a timewalk from a vendor, and finally I managed to trade in something like $1500 to cardkingdom for a reasonable condition lotus.

I was basically able to collect my vintage staples without directly spending a dime, by carefully saving my cards that I was getting via limited, speculating on stuff that would go up and trading into it, and spending the time. For what it's worth most of my vintage collection today was only available to me because I bought 100 copies of Deathrite shaman at 2 dollars store credit each which then sold at 18, and 200 copies of collective brutality at less than a dollar store credit which I think went for damn near 25. I was smart and lucky, but I don't think you have to be to have a similar story to me.

Point is, the quest to actually get these cards was part of the game to me, and quite frankly I think of it as being more fun and challenging than a lot of the rounds of magic I have played in my life. If scarcity was not part of the inherent design of the game, cards would not have rarity, and if owning the cards was not important people would not buy and sell them at the rates they do. During the period of time where I was collecting my power I never once said to myself, I wish I could proxy some crap I don't own at a tourney. I just played a different list or played a different format.

I am basically making the argument here that I view ownership of the game pieces as a critical part of the game itself, or at least the meta game around the game, and I do not think you can separate the two. I would go as far as saying that owning the cards will make you not only have more respect for them, but opponents and spectators alike will have more respect for you, and I think that is important to the life of the format itself.

@garbageaggro when did you start? Because a lot changed after 2007 when Legacy got created. We now have a bunch of formats we didn't have back then, so it was way easier to convince people to play proxies. The thing now is that they can play a "real format", with official support, big events and actual opponents with real cards (be it Legacy or Commander) or they can play their crazy friend with proxies in a format that, even in high profile play, is kinda casual. Vintage has no chance, really.

last edited by fsecco

@brass-man said in Should all Vintage be 100% proxy?:

The mindset that you have to own the cards someday is where I'm lost ... why? Why not just proxy a vintage deck and then ... not buy the cards?

You got me there. I don't get that either, but it's the reality. Someone even mentioned this here (OP? Don't remember). The thing it that all of magic (Spike, Timmy, Jimmy, etc) are covered by other formats that are officially supported. This matters a lot. Why would anyone play Vintage competitively when it doesn't exist and Legacy does?
Why would anyone play it kitchen table style when Commander exists and can be way cheaper.
Sure, if people changed that mindset we'd get a bunch of vintage players, but they simply won't start playing. Also, it's a BIG problem finding calendar space to schedule events with all that's going on.
Creating a gauntlet of decks and lending it to people is the only way I got people to play and enjoy the format. What happened after that glorious event everyone played with my decks and loved the format? They never played it again because they spend their time building decks for formats they actually play.
So yeah, we should definitely play proxy. But it won't happen on a large scale and I also believe not having sanctioned big events like EW would be the nail in the coffin in the format.

Personally, I wouldn't have started without proxies. I dipped into Vintage with Cockatrice from time to time without actually knowing the format, and when I heard that the local league used proxies I gave it a try, and now it's my favorite format.
I started because of proxies and stayed for the format. How would anyone even get into Vintage without proxies?
I'm a poor student and can't even afford duals right now, but I'm fortunate enough to live in a country where it's relatively easy to eventually buy into power. And I will. Because it has something special to it.

Owning power is and should be something to look up to. Be it because you spent a good chunck of your salary or because you're in possession of these cards since 1993.
Playing Magic (read Vintage) should be available for everyone. Just like everyone could proxy up a standard deck and have fun with their friends.
Sanctioned events are another story though. That NBA analogy was on point. Nobody forces you to play sanctioned events.

Until I get my Beta Power, I'll jam my altered Zendikar Basics as Power. After all proxies should look beautiful.

@protoaddict I absolutely do not want to downplay your story, because personal history is a big part of vintage for a lot of people. I think you're right that it's hard or impossible for some people to split the idea of collecting from the idea of Magic, it is after all a "Collectible" Card Game. I completely understand why many people enjoy the owning and collecting part of the hobby, and I myself have a personal attachment to a lot of the cards I've had for decades.

But I'm really bothered by the idea that someone who owns more expensive cards is somehow more invested in the format, or more worthy of respect. I can assure you, while some opponents and spectators might respect someone more for owning expensive cards, I absolutely do not.

The cheapest Lotus on CardKingdom right now is $10,000, compared to the $1500 you had to pay. Salaries haven't really raised accordingly. That means in order for someone to get the same respect you have for earning cards, they need to be 6 times richer or 6 times luckier than you were.

When I bought my Lotus from SCG, it cost $419. That's about the price of a played Volcanic Island today. If someone today buys a Volcanic Island, in what way are they less worthy than me with my Black Lotus?

Cards today are dramatically higher in part BECAUSE of people like us who got in cheaply and never cashed out. Our bargain-hunting and passion for the format helped drive the lower supply and higher demand that's made a Vintage deck prohibitively expensive to own. My income is somewhere within top 5% for Americans and there's no way I would buy power today if I didn't already own it. Frankly the decision to buy power is pretty irresponsible for most people. This is to say nothing of people who live in other countries trying to buy cards internationally with USD.

I can think of several people who don't one power, some of whom will never be able to afford power, who have made big contributions to the vintage hobby/community, by writing articles, community organizing, developing decks.

When you're friendly and welcoming, when you play to the best of your ability, when you drive the format forward, when you make an effort to improve the experience of the people around you... these are things that make me respect a player.

When I see Alpha power? "Meh, must be nice."

@protoaddict Look man, I have a similar story. Until recently, I owned basically everything there is to own in Vintage and Old School. I had complete sets of Arabian, Antiquities, Legends, The Dark and Fallen Empires, Unlimited and CE Power, 4 Shops, 4 Bazaar, 40 duals, etc and could build basically any Vintage and Old School deck. That came to me with a lot of good trades I made during the 20+ years I play this game and a bit of money from work too. What does that mean to the health of the format? Nothing at all. It was just me in a sea of goodies and no one else.
You know why? Because anyone here can trade their huge Commander collection for Power, but WHY on Earth would they do it? I always told people that I had Power because I chose to, instead of having Legacy or Modern collections, for example. And that's partly true. But why should anyone give up their Legacy/Modern/Commander collections for Vintage? Why would anyone get out of healthy formats, with weekly tournaments and GPs and big kitchen tables or whatever to play... with no one at all?

I'm giving up my Old School collection because of that. Why should I keep all this beautiful expensive treasure to play with no one instead of building 1 Legacy, 1 Modern and 1-2 Commander decks (at a bare minimum) and actually play the game?

That's why I said this is an elitist view that comes from countries that actually have uses for Power and whatever. In the rest of the world buying power makes absolutely no sense unless from a collector point of view.

@brass-man said in Should all Vintage be 100% proxy?:

When I see Alpha power? "Meh, must be nice."

It is, I enjoy playing with them. That being said, I was very lucky to be gifted the set many years ago.

As a vintage player from Australia, I can say that there are very few sets of power in the country. When last I counted (about 4 years ago), there were between 60-80 sets in the entire country. Australia is a large country with a tiny population. The largest sanctioned vintage events top out at 40 players; most big events fluctuate between 16 and 24 players. Proxy-friendly events almost never go beyond 12 players. The sad truth is that there is a lack of interest in the format.

Before moving to the US, I coordinated vintage in Sydney. Since moving, events stopped being scheduled, and the community disappeared. Proxy events can help smooth the transition curve to vintage - in my experience in Australia, this was unfortunately not the case.

@rbartlet said in Should all Vintage be 100% proxy?:

As a vintage player from Australia, I can say that there are very few sets of power in the country. When last I counted (about 4 years ago), there were between 60-80 sets in the entire country.

Hahahahhhahahahhaah sorry but this shows pretty much what I'm talking about. Last I counted, in Brazil we have like 6-7 sets of Power. 8 if you count my 2. English speaking countries are probably on the high end of this.

@fsecco That makes plenty of sense why not to buy power, but not why not to encourage proxy vintage.

If the goal was to increase access to vintage and attendance, why not allow the latest batch of counterfeit cards, appropriately marked, to be used as in local non-sanctioned tournament play? I guess we can either keep our memberships to the exclusive vintage country club or open the course to the masses. Any vintage deck would be available for less than $200 USD, which last time I checked was about the same amount of money as my putter. Proxies can make the board annoyingly confusing- is that a mox jet or mox ruby? is that an underground sea or a volcanic- oh wait, it was a fetchland? I see a easy way to open the format, the cards are distinguishable, and actually makes play easier. Solves the proxy issues Brassman pointed out- legibility and damage, as well as the video coverage, and COST all in one fell swoop.

My philosophy towards proxies is: cui bono?

I am totally sympathetic with @Brass-Man's concerns about playtest card quality and can get behind rules restricting the quality of such cards. But I have not heard any arguments for why disallowing well-made proxies benefits either existing or potentially new Vintage players that I find personally compelling. A few points:

  1. It's great that the hunt for power has driven some players to become invested in our community. But I don't see the existence of one path to joining the Vintage community as necessitating closing off all other paths.

  2. "WotC will kill Vintage if it becomes a proxy format": this argument is odd to me for several reasons. First, (paper) Vintage is already de facto a proxy format, in that the vast majority of paper tournaments allow playtest cards in some form, and this fact has been acknowledged by WotC in their official communications. Second, WotC support for the format is infinitesimal. Other than a single tournament per year, (paper) Vintage is a community-run format.

  3. We shouldn't reward counterfeiters or encourage players to give them business. This is a reason to allow playtest cards at Vintage tournaments, since counterfeits are already de facto allowed (are you really going to whip out a loupe and take your opponent's power out of its sleeve in the middle of a tournament, to police authenticity?)

  4. Some people are concerned that allowing more playtest cards in tournaments would decrease the value of their investments in Vintage cards. While there is an undeniable link between card playability and value, all of the evidence I've seen points to very old cards holding value due mostly to (a) their collectibility and (b) their usefulness in other formats like Legacy and EDH, and only slightly due to their value as a Vintage game piece. Consider (1) the value of alpha and beta cards have skyrocketed, despite a stagnation in the number of (paper) Vintage players, and Vintage become de facto a proxy format; and (2) the high price of iconic cards like Shivan Dragon that see no Vintage play.

last edited by evouga

The issue with this discussion was the OPs contention that all of vintage should be 100% proxy. As it stands right now the number of proxies allowed in a game of magic is 0 for sanctioned, and what ever the hell number you want to use for anything else that you decide to run.

So if we extrapolate that we understand that this conversation is actually "should WOTC allow proxies in sanctioned events" which is a silly and moot discussion because the answer is that they have already said they will not.

If the issue proxies are trying to solve is ultimately the reserve list, then up until this point they really have not done much to solve it considering we have proxy events all the time and the player base has not exploded. Proxies are not the thing holding back the format, because people still see the format as a costly and elite one even if it costs them a grand total of 75 basic lands and a sharpie.

If the conversation is about how do you grow the format, then your discussion lies somewhere in the nexus of:

  • Print new cards that make reserve list cards unnecessary or options as opposed to manditories - Not possible for some cards but I think you could get away with replacements for some things
  • Print strategies that do not require Moxen/Lotus - Dredge was the first and really only one we have had.
  • Restrict a few pillar cards - Workshops and Bazaar come to mind, though the effects of that would have to be tested and new cards printed to fill the roles in a less powerful way.

@garbageaggro said in Should all Vintage be 100% proxy?:

@fsecco That makes plenty of sense why not to buy power, but not why not to encourage proxy vintage.

Oh I'm not saying you shouldn't encourage it. I built a 12 deck proxy gauntlet here. I just doubt that'll do anything for the format other than gathering your 3 friends for pizza. So I don't think it would solve anything if Vintage either was a 100% proxy format as the OP asked or managed by the community.

last edited by fsecco

I think the real solution has nothing to do with proxies...and it may not even be a matter of the reserved list. Sure, it'd be great if power was cheaper to acquire, but there are plenty of people that could do it and don't, yet pay big for Modern and Legacy. The biggest deterrent I feel is prize support and frequency of high-profile events. If you could pick up a playset of goyfs, bobs, seizes, chalices, and other pricey cards to play a BG rock deck, or a set of blue duals, FoWs, and other junk for Legacy, you're not far away from chipping away at pieces of power.

But why buy Vintage cards? You can go to lots of Modern tourneys and some big Legacy tourneys to a lesser degree - but when are you ever going to use that Vintage deck? Once or twice a year at best? And for what - a $100 entry for a shot at winning an underground sea? Cmon.

Vintage is by far the least supported format with few "big" events and usually crappy prize support or something decent but for $100 entry. If proxies were allowed, people might get in more easily and try their luck...but nobody is going to invest all the way for a format you rarely get to play and for low EV in prizes. Us old folk who bought in early and are now near 40 are the bulk of the scene. We can't expect young players to come in if the opportunity to play often and for good prize support isn't there.

@thewhitedragon69 said in Should all Vintage be 100% proxy?:

you're not far away from chipping away at pieces of power.

Sorry, but this is exactly the point - and I'll say this the last time to I don't say it too much. There's no such thing as "chip" at pieces of power. It has become expensive even to buy CE Power. Also, you can't start having "big Vintage events" in places where Vintage is non-existent. Those events will fail, lose trust from players and never be able to happen again.

@fsecco said in Should all Vintage be 100% proxy?:

@thewhitedragon69 said in Should all Vintage be 100% proxy?:

you're not far away from chipping away at pieces of power.

Sorry, but this is exactly the point - and I'll say this the last time to I don't say it too much. There's no such thing as "chip" at pieces of power. It has become expensive even to buy CE Power. Also, you can't start having "big Vintage events" in places where Vintage is non-existent. Those events will fail, lose trust from players and never be able to happen again.

^^100% this!
This is the cheapest Mox Ruby on eBay in Canada and its 3k Canadian before import duties!

last edited by John Cox

I know, cards are stupidly expensive. But let's say the cards magically reduced in price by 75% overnight. Why would you buy them (other than assuming it was a blip and they'd jump 150% back overnight)? You'd have nowhere to play them and the times you could use them you'd be paying big entry fees for low EV.

Nobody will host big events with huge prizes because they'd lose money as not many would show up. Most won't buy in because it's too expensive for the EV since there's not many sanctioned tourneys with any decent prize to play in. It's the chicken and the egg, except the chicken is cooked and the egg won't crack in this catch-22.

@thewhitedragon69 well, we can see how attendance would not go up if cards were cheap either. MTGO proves that. Vintage is cheaper than Modern there and we have just a few players. I think it has a lot to do with what I said before (did I say it here or elsewhere?) of we having a bunch of formats and people not willing to dedicate to another one. So yeah, I don't think even full proxy saves us without other factors.

IF Wizard could launch gold border power or whatever, that were only allowed to a max of 10-15 in each deck, something like "official proxyes" to reduce price and still have "official cards", then maybe. But that won't happen.

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