A few new things have happened to Magic over the course of the last year or so, and today I want to try and tell you some of my thoughts about the changes that have happened both in game and outside of the game. Here are my thoughts about what’s new and how it impacts my life as a player on the Mythic Championship!
The Magic Pro League
I think the MPL is a great thing to happen for Magic the Gathering. While it comes with a cost for almost every other Full-/Semi-Pro, I think overall the change will be a step in the right direction to get Magic to the place that I think it deserves.
I love grinding GPs, but I have seen the toll that it takes on a lot of people. They have to test for the next one a couple of weeks, they have to travel all the time with little money. It’s a lot of dedication and money put towards a goal that you might not even reach. I tried to balance studying and playing Magic, and it worked for me, but for some it has not, and that makes me sad. Therefore, I like the fact that they erase the pro points from these events, which makes it a big PTQ, essentially. Consequently, people won’t “have to” attend something they don’t want to, just because of their current pro point status. This will overall be bad for myself, since I never won a PTQ, MCQ or RPTQ and merely qualified through points and finishes at major events.
While this is just one of the costs that come with implementing the MPL, I think it’s a necessary evil for this to happen. The MPL makes a clear indication that you can be a professional Magic the Gathering player, you will get a brand, you will play a lot of competitive Magic in the four leagues and it will be displayed across a lot of platforms, making a real effort to become a true esport. The younger me would definitely think that this makes it worth it to grind MTGA or online MCQs. It is still in its early stages, but I’m looking forward to what it might bring.
The London Mulligan
Old man bias is a force to be reckoned with, but after I played with this mulligan rule, I can say that it is a delight. I only played it in Limited and Modern and these are my thoughts.
In Limited you get to build a deck around a certain strategy, be it aggro, curve, bombs, control, combo or just midrange grind. What is often the case for these strategies is the fight for resources and making the most of what you’ve got. Where the London mulligan shines, is that it erases some of the resource loss that a mulligan gives you, and actually gives you a fighting chance even with a mulligan to 5 or 4. Before you almost always had to keep a 6er or 5er if it was close to playable, because you lose an insane amount of equity if you go lower, and there is still a risk of an unplayable hand. The new mulligan rule turns all these former “non-games” due to mulligans into actual games of Magic. You are still behind with a smaller starting hand of course, but definitely not out of the game.
I thought that the Vancouver mulligan (the Scry) was a great improvement to Magic in general, but I think that the London mulligan is way better for Limited.
Getting to draw 7 cards in your opener in Modern after each mulligan comes at a cost. The cost is that degenerate decks that work around a specific set of cards, like Tron, are more likely to get these engine cards, than before. On the other hand, it also supports decks with hate cards in their deck, that target specific strategies like Leylines or graveyard hate cards. At the Mythic Championship, we saw Tron do fairly well, and people tend to give the new mulligan rule the credit – but I don’t think that it’s the whole story. It is true, that when I played against Tron, they had their set of lands assembled faster than usual, but I also played a lot of cards to deal with them. I played Whir Prison with cards like Sorcerous Spyglass and I felt firsthand how getting to mulligan non-hate card hands into a new 7 could be really strong against these linear strategies. This might be a bias because I tried to benefit from the rule as well, and I could see games with more fair strategies be hit harder by this. Stats from the Mythic Championship do however show both Jund and The Rock with acceptable results despite the popularity of Tron and the London mulligan.
Nonetheless I think the London mulligan rule is a great improvement overall and I think they should implement it, if not for Modern then for Standard and Limited. It makes the game less about variance and more about playing a game of Magic.
This is one of the things that make it hard to 100% determine if the London mulligan had as big of an impact as people think. It is hard to test something if you implement another thing at the same time. But open decklists were a hit in my book. I made the decision to play a deck that had silver bullets against some of the oppressive strategies, some played Meddling Mage and some playing stock lists, so that people wouldn’t benefit from reading their list. While most decks are easy to determine from the first play, you sometime still get to have a “gotcha” moment if your opponent keeps a bad hand for the matchup. Like the London mulligan, open decklists erase some of the “non-games” that can occur, for example when you keep a removal heavy hand against a combo deck. And I like every change that allows me to leverage skill, instead of trying to cheese out my opponents. (Even though I usually play Death and Taxes in Legacy – double moral much?)
I think the logistics, handing out a decklist to everyone, were a bit random, but I really liked what the change did to the tournament, games and testing overall.
Wizards rushed to get onto the esport arena and it has come with some pleasant and some less pleasant surprises. Not having the dates and formats for the tournaments that were announced frustrated a lot of people, and with good reason. I would be nice, if they would be able to tell us when, where, how and what (maybe even more W’s) but it isn’t what I want to talk about now.
What I do want to talk about is the MCQ that you are eligible to play in, if you managed to top 1000 in either the Mythic Constructed ladder or the Limited equivalent.
While a lot of players were playing and stressing because they wanted to stay in the top 1000 of the Constructed ladder, they could have had a completely different approach: playing the Limited ladder. I played my last game around April 17th and hit Mythic at #134 and then I didn’t play a single game until the season ended and qualified for the MCQ on #254.
Wizards had a lot of players qualify for this event, so I think I can talk for all of us, that it I was excited to see how they were going to run this event, and now we know. I am not going to go into details, since I honestly don’t get it 100% yet, but the outline is the following:
- The tournament will have a day 1 and day 2 like a GP, day 1 being Saturday May 25th and day 2 Sunday May 26th
- You qualify for day 2 with a record of 7-2 or better on Day 1
- You have 24 hours to complete your 9 matches
- Day 2 will be something close to a swiss tournament, where you will 1-on-1 challenge a competitor and the top 16 will qualify for the MCQ.
Florian Koch wrote on his twitter that roughly 68 players would make the cut if 3072 participates.
I think this is a great way of trying new things out. Having a flexible structure throughout the day makes it possible for a lot of people with responsibilities, who can’t take 6-9 hours out of their schedule, to get to play this. On top of that, I think it’s great that the top 16 qualify, if you are one of the lucky people that get the magical 7 wins and get to play the day 2.
That was it for today, but before I sign off I want to advertise for our Mage Discord. If you are struggling on the Arena Ladder, be it Constructed or Limited – or simply want to improve your game, Mage has launched a Discord, that is still in its early stages, where you can get in contact with the team members, get some insight and even get some strategical advice. You gain access if you support the team on our Patreon!
Until next time!