Will there be paper Vintage?

I read @Prospero post from a few months back and I recall thinking that I just miss paper magic and playing with people in person. Lately, I have been trying to figure out what happens to Vintage when paper magic returns.

The answer is nothing good. No one is really buying into the format, and the prices are crazy. It's hard for Old School players to get cards and decks together.

This is just the reality of where we are today and this has prompted me to ask - what does paper Vintage look like now? I play cards to play with people. MTGO and digital play does not work for me.

I play webcam magic but I want in person card play. If Vintage is only proxy will people show up to play? The number of people playing Vintage on MTGO is going down not up based on number of people in leagues.

Are new players entering the format in digital? Will players play paper using proxies?

I'm just interested in honest thoughts.

last edited by moorebrother1

@moorebrother1 said in Will there be paper Vintage?:

This is just the reality of where we are today and this has prompted me to ask - what does paper Vintage look like now? I play cards to play with people. MTGO and digital play does not work for me.

It doesn't exist at the moment to my knowledge, at least as far as in-person paper Vintage in the US is concerned. There's still a pandemic on, after all.

I play webcam magic but I want in person card play. If Vintage is only proxy will people show up to play? The number of people playing Vintage on MTGO is going down not up based on number of people in leagues.

Will people show up to play? Maybe, if you work with your local shop to promote it and get people excited to play the format. Maybe bring some extra decks for people to try so they can join the first event or two with no investment. Legacy players should be the easiest to attract since they have a lot of the staples already, but I wouldn't limit myself to just that audience.

Are new players entering the format in digital? Would this players play paper using proxies?

I think you answered this question in your prior question - league numbers are down. I would also not expect digital Vintage players to be easily converted into paper for a variety of reasons:

  • Digital Vintage is really cheap to play overall relative to paper, even if you consider the impact of 10-15 proxies on the paper price
  • Card rental services make it a lot easier to dip your toe in and back out again in digital. I'm not aware of anything similar for paper Magic, and understandably so
  • Lack of events reduces the incentive to acquire paper cards

I'm just interested in honest thoughts.

I think we all just have to face facts that we're playing a dying format. We might have small local resurgences if passionate players fight to build a community and keep it alive, but overall I'd be surprised if the number of people playing Vintage didn't continue to dwindle over time. Just one person's perspective, so take it for what it's worth.

I think OS folks like the look and nostalgia of old cards, so they want you to own the cards - mostly. Vintage players, on the other hand, play because they like the format that is busted and never "solved," and they just want to play, proxies or not. OS will always be an elitest format of old timers with big jobs/salaries now. Vintage can survive, and possibly thrive, as a proxy or digital format. If we allow full proxy and just say to hell with WotC, Vintage tourneys can be popular and abundant once the pandemic becomes endemic.

I don't see paper vintage happening again unless there a lot of proxies. Even Bazaars are worth a few K these days.

@john-cox said in Will there be paper Vintage?:

I don't see paper vintage happening again unless there a lot of proxies. Even Bazaars are worth a few K these days.

I find it hard to believe that events are going to have prize pools worth of value for people to put 50ks worth of cards on the table. Maybe if WOTC supported the format and held large and protected events (with security for players cards) then it would happen on a small scale.

I see this affecting all eternal formats. Legacy is still within reason for vested players and still has some budget decks for people to table, but if the duals, cradle, Diamond, and LED continue moving up then that format is going to die off worse than it has been. Honestly I think EDH may also have this problem long term because people want to play powerful cards there and not always be budget.

Timetwister is legal in EDH, it's worth more than ancestral 😀 .

last edited by John Cox

@protoaddict Right now, vested or well-heeled players tend to be in the 30-50 age range with good salaries. Teens in Magic's debut are now 40 (like me). Eventually, this "old guard" will hit age 60+ and stop playing/holding collections and will sell to collectors or become purely collectors. The majority of RL cards will become virtually extinct in paper for tourney play. That affects any format that uses these cards - period.

But again, it's not a WotC fix. It's up to the community to allow proxies and circumvent WotC entirely. We can hold our own full proxy tourneys with $30 entry and all-cash prizes and do just fine.

@thewhitedragon69 I agree with all of your points. I am trying to figure out if Vintage is already gone for me. I spoke with my wife and I will not be attending any large events this calendar year.

The earliest that I would be able to attend a large-ish event would be Spring of 2022. Would there even be an event for me to attend? Should I just plan on playing at Eternal Weekend and whatever Old School event that I can attend?

Do I travel with my cards now, since it is like carrying around $50,000 - $100,000? Do I just play the least expensive version of a Vintage deck?

Normally, I would loan out cards too. I have a very large collection and I can usually help others play. Do I even do that anymore?

If everything is proxy, why do I even care about the format? I know a lot of players say just use proxies and play. That is great it makes the format playable but it does not encourage the values that I like about Magic. That's a me thing - not an everyone thing.

I have been playing a lot of Modern over the last few years because people actually have decks and show up to play them. Maybe I'm just a local modern player that plays Vintage and Old School webcam games.

I'm not sure how this plays out, I'm just trying to get a feel of what the community thinks here. I am starting to play less and less MTGO and a lot of older players like me just don't play MTGO at all. When there is no paper you will lose us, and that will be the end of paper Vintage.

last edited by moorebrother1


If you play paper Modern because you like that people have decks to show up with, then you really aren't valuing "owning expensive cards" as much as you think. I think if you had a local tourney that could drum up 20 Vintage players and allow full quality proxies (not sharpie on a basic land), you still get the in-game aesthetic and get to enjoy the brokenness puzzle that is the Vintage format. Honestly, with all the legal textless art cards and alt art japanese stuff...I'd RATHER an English proxy so I can just read the damned card. If you have some decent Modern players dipping their toe into Vintage to beef up your local tourney numbers because they can gamble $30 and use a good-proxy deck, isn't that better than no opponent with your nice binder full of untouched collectibles?

As far as cost of cards, you have to literally think of it as money. Would you board a bus or plane with $200k in a backpack? I wouldn't. I can't even trade cards in person anymore because my TRADE binder is $50k+, and I won't let it leave the house. Would you loan out a literal stack of $200k to a friend hoping it makes it safely back? Hard nope from me. With things of that value, only bad stuff can happen. Not worth ruining a friendship or saddling them in debt for something they can't control (theft/damage). When they borrow a deck, too, it's kind of them saying "I'm not willing to risk $100k...but I don't mind risking YOUR $100k." I get that some folks simply can't afford it, but that gets back to the value in going proxy.

Ask yourself - did you get into this game because you like playing the game, or because you wanted the opportunity to beat people just on the strength of your wealth/have the opportunity to show off your wealth? If you chose "the game," then the only thing stopping you from enjoying a proxy format is regret that you spent so much $ on cardboard.

@thewhitedragon69 Your experience with playing with proxies is very different than mine.

I do play with proxies regularly and I have no issue with my friends using them and I use them so I don't ruin my cards during testing.

My personal issue is the dumb sharpie basic land thing, and I have not met very many people who actually go beyond net decking in the proxy format. Maybe that is a me thing or a local area thing but that is my experience.

I got into the game because I love playing the game. I have not ever really cared about the cost and I have usually spent too much money on cards because I like the game.

If I just wanted a puzzle, I would play video games, which are also very fun.

To be clear, I agree with your points. I play Old School because I love playing with people who are trying to do interesting things with a limited card pool. But I also love Old School because people have to invest to play.

At the same time, I would play proxy Vintage if the group of players were playing to do interesting things, not just print net decks.

@moorebrother1 I think a lot of players tend to be Spikes. They want to win, and they are deck players more than deck builders. I like to consider myself a builder first. Netdecking is the default for most Spikes.

That said, allowing proxies but not sharpied-lands solves the problem. If people are going to drop $50 on P9 and duals and other cards as quality proxies, they're going to actually invest time in mastering the deck first. It also upholds the aesthetic in-game experience and avoids illegible card text/ambiguous cards. Sharpie is fine for table-top playtesting, but I like good-quality proxy as a standard in local tourneys.

If we're playing with proxies the real question at that point becomes, since it is no longer a sanctioned event, would you rather just play a different format that is sanctioned or make up your own. Honestly I like Vintage but I truly believe there are probably better formats to play at that point including

  • EDH/cEDH
  • Canadian Highlander - where you can still play whatever but you don't feel bad if you just invest your points elsewhere
  • No Reserve list Vintage - I've dabbled and honestly it's not bad if not just it's own thing.
  • Modern - I think it may be poised to finally hit the sweet spot between eternal format, no reserve list by design, and huge variety of viable decks. MH2 will be the real test of it.
  • Make up your own format and insert it here

@protoaddict You can surely do any of those options listed. Playing Vintage doesn't stop you from doing other formats. I play Vintage, Modern, Pioneer, OS, Standard, Historic, and Brawl myself (the last 3 strictly because of MTGArena). Vintage is a really fun format, though. It allows the broken and the vast majority of all cards and is never "solved." I like Vintage probably better than any other format - but I also play with good proxies in Austin/San Antonio tourneys (when we had them pre-pandemic). That crowd/age of people is more my kind of folks than the standard/modern kids too, being 40 myself.

But, to wrap it up and reiterate, Vintage can thrive with unsanctioned quality-proxy tourneys. No need to involve WotC other than the B&R list - and that can vary locally if agreed upon prior, but then you have to be sure to communicate that change to people that may just "show up" whom you may have trouble informing about the changes. Standardized B&R for the format is fine, but sticking to strictly the 2-3 sanctioned tourneys per year with the rich-player exclusivity is a death knell to the format. Bypass that crap.

What has changed in the last eighteen months? Card prices have gone up? Card availability continues its downwards trend? Elapsed time since the last paper event fired? Personal circumstances have changed? Rules changes? New cards?

Any and all of the above may change how each of us feels about the game.

Vintage is really my only format, and I only really play in paper. Despite numerous attempts to "enjoy" MTGO, the reality is that digital is not for me. To the best of my memory, I have never used a proxy and I begrudge no one who does. Perhaps unlike others, I do not care about the quality of the proxy; alters, misprints, and reprints have numbed my senses. If and when in person vintage events are scheduled, and it they are safe to attend, I will do so.

Are new players entering the format in digital? Will players play paper using proxies?

Yes. That being said, assuming there are in person events, new players will also enter via that channel. As far as paper magic is concerned, proxies are a large part of the future. There is an interesting conundrum in that whilst proxies are a part of paper magic, they are what will keep WoTC at arms length. The unsupported nature of proxies combined with the reserve list limit growth. To my mind, none of this has changed much since the pandemic begun.

@thewhitedragon69 said in Will there be paper Vintage?:

But, to wrap it up and reiterate, Vintage can thrive with unsanctioned quality-proxy tourneys

Define thrive. What numbers do you need to achieve and for how long do you need to hold them for a format to be successful? There are other old and discontinued collectable games out there that still maintain an entrenched player base, many of which have started developing their own rules structures for the games in order to maintain them.

I sold a whole big box of lord of the rings combat hex minis a few years ago for a good price tag long after the game was discontinued because there is a group of 20 or so players who still like to get together at conventions now and then and recreate massive battles, fights that are like 50 times the scale that the game was designed for. It's really cool but that community is not thriving. They also make up their own rules and proxy figures.

Warlord is a dead as a doornail CCG. My cards are all long gone to ebay or to a landfill. They announced earlier this year that they were publishing a 20 year anniversary release with 19 new cards. I have no idea who's buying this but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that maybe I wanted a set to store away for a few years.

I think the key commonality with all of these though is that they are otherwise dead and unsupported CCGs now. None of these got that fan treatment when the publishing company was still around and kicking because human nature is such that people tend to want to play the official format. Back to my original point, what makes us believe that players would want to play a heavily proxied and ignored by the publisher format like vintage when so many other options exist. I will also say that while I love the skill testing nature of vintage, as of late some cEDH games I have seen are on a level of skill and complexity far beyond what i see in a typical game of vintage. I do not love multiplayer formats myself which is the only thing that holds me back, but it does say to me that Vintage is not alone in the world when it comes to what it offers players.

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