@Topical_Island I think that this distinction between 'kids games' and 'serious games' like chess or bridge is becoming less and less relevant. We live in a world where it is perfectly normal for an adult to play videogames (and even that term now sounds archaic) in his or her spare time or even as part of their job. I have a colleague who has made a career out of researching and writing about the politics of videogames. As time goes on I think we will worry less about whether our particular game is taken seriously or not.
The bigger question is whether it will be successful in competing with all the other alternatives that are out there. A problem for Vintage players is that our game has to compete not only with other games but also other form(at)s of the same game! This complicates things because what is good for MTG as a whole might not be good for Vintage and vice versa.
But yes, I like your vision of vintage and generally agree with you here. Except I would probably keep the Rembrandt.
@Topical_Island Thanks for your response. I completely share your sentiments about wanting to get more people into Vintage. I also absolutely agree that Magic can stand on its own like chess in terms of gameplay. I have played a little bit of chess and although I enjoy it I would never play it over Magic given a choice between the two. But is chess 'growing' in any real sense these days? Maybe it is, but certainly not enough to satisfy a commercial gaming outfit like WOTC. Perhaps vintage is the chess of the Magic world - a format with a metagame that (usually) shifts slowly over time and that rewards technical mastery and sound theoretical understanding.
It seems to me that WOTC's business model is based on making it as easy as possible for people to start playing Magic with the unspoken assumption that there will always be cards/decks/formats that are relatively inaccessible for various reasons and that this is something that keeps people coming back for more. So while I absolutely agree with you about the strength of its gameplay I just think that too many people are unwilling to acknowledge that a huge part of the success of Magic is because it was the first collectible card game.
I guess this leads to a few questions (I don't have the answers to these, I'm genuinely curious to hear what you think): what is the relationship between growth in the broader MTG player base and the growth of vintage? How do people get into vintage specifically? Is it more to do with the gameplay or the allure of playing with older/more exclusive and therefore more desirable cards? If WOTC went bust tomorrow and stopped printing new cards would MTG become more like chess? Would Magic as a whole look more like Vintage does now? And would card accessibility become better or worse?
@Topical_Island Yes, the price (or accessibility) of cards is probably an obstacle to growth and is the one complaint that unites nearly everyone in the game. But what I have come to realise more and more is that this is the fundamental paradox of MTG - we play a trading/collectible card game and for many people (myself included) a big, big part of the enjoyment comes from acquiring new cards and having a 'wish list' of cards that I hope to add to my collection in the near(ish) future, knowing that I will then just end up lusting after newer, more desirable cards. Without this trading and collecting aspect I don't think MTG would ever have been as successful as it has been, so in a sense the inaccessibility is baked in.
So if by 'this otherwise amazing game' you mean vintage, which I assume you do, then yes, you are right. But it's my view that for MTG in general the inaccessibility is probably a net driver of growth. Maybe this will shift as the culture becomes more driven by online play and less by physical cards, but I think WOTC are aware of this and are doing everything they can to prevent the paper game from declining.
At least the Pokemon people were up front enough to make it their slogan - 'gotta catch 'em all'!
@Islandswamp I find it funny because although I suppose I was aware of the conspicuous consumption aspect to MTG (the fully foiled-out decks etc.) I hadn't really considered the possibility that people might view a whole format in that way or even enjoy the vicarious experience they get from reading about or watching other (rich and famous?!) people playing with power. I find it a little disturbing because although I realise that he is joking here this seems to be pretty much the opposite to reality in many ways. I mean, I love the VSL but it's hardly the Pro Tour! And how many other groups of (competitive) Magic players talk so openly about proxies?
Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the articles as well - they are a big part of the reason I decided to get into Vintage online.
Blake Rasmussen's write-up on the mothership:
"While the Vintage-playing community might be small, I firmly believe that the Vintage-reading community is significantly larger. Like people who read lifestyle magazines or watched Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (or Cribs for those of you who are younger), we all want to at least read about Vintage. Robin Leach would have played Vintage. Or whoever hosted Cribs."
I find this hilarious and slightly disturbing at the same time.
As well as the gameplay and commentary I really enjoy the clash of Magic cultures that the VSL (in its current configuration) provides. Just this week we had the reigning Vintage World Champion fail to recognise Brainstorm because of the VMA (online only) art, as well as a Hall of Famer getting excited because he had just cast Timetwister for the first time. Great stuff!
I'm really looking forward to reading this! The new cover seems super sci-fi, which I suppose is understandable given the publisher, although I think it is more to do with the typeface than the image. I actually really like this cover image although as someone whose early experiences of MTG were in a 'comic book and collectable card store' the previous cover did make some sense to me. I guess it's not possible for you to use anything that involves WOTC IP, which is a shame because the cards themselves are the most instantly recognisable image you could put on the cover.
Ked on MTGO. Currently playing various gush/delver/mentor decks while I build up my collection. Online infrequently, mostly Thursday and Sunday nights (UTC - I'm based in Leeds, UK) once the kids are in bed, but always keen for a match in the tournament practice room.
Great listen, really enjoyed it. On streaming and the ethics of MTGO, I have noticed that in the past LSV has put his stream on delay (maybe 15mins?) when playing in a major competitive event, which seems like a good decision. Perhaps the stakes aren't quite as high in the two-player queues or leagues to make it as important. But the other side of the issue, which wasn't mentioned on the podcast, is that when streamers play they run the risk of their opponents 'ghosting' to see what they are up to. So it seems to me that for any major tournament if wouldn't make sense to broadcast a live stream of your games. Of course there is still nothing to stop players having helpers in the room with them or watching online via a private connection but I don't think streaming is the main problem.