Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

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Tangle Trail
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Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Tangle Trail » 25 Aug 2014, 08:30

So Mark Rosewater just put out this article. Pretty big changes coming to block design.
http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/ar ... amorphosis
Edit *You should read the full article, but if you're lazy here's a summary of the changes*
Cliffs notes version;
1. Blocks will be reduced to 2 releases instead of 3, consisting of one large and one small set.
2. Core sets are going away
3. Standard will cover 3 blocks instead of 2 + core

So in the end we have a similarly sized card pool, more worlds to visit/ revisit, and a potentially more diverse standard environment.

I'm stoked. What do you all think?
Last edited by Tangle Trail on 26 Aug 2014, 08:22, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Lord Hosk » 25 Aug 2014, 09:02

sounds great, I hope it works.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Atifexe » 25 Aug 2014, 09:12

There's a lot of relevant information in the article - I recommend reading it, and not just the summarized version. Among other things, this shift means standard will rotate out one block every six months, instead of every year.

I'm curious as to whether this will increase the barrier to entry into Standard, or if it'll make it harder to develop decks that dominate the scene for an extended period. Admittedly, I don't play Standard, but I have wanted to get into it for some time.

I feel like this might make some stories a bit rushed. The rise, revel and fall of Xenagos, for example, took place in a three step arc across three sets. I suspect that if they had done Theros as a two-set block, the story would either have felt rushed, or it wouldn't have been completed in a single visit to the plane (in which case, it would have had to be told in four parts, split in clumps of two and separated by years).

With all that said, I do hope that this helps solve some of the issues they raised in the article. I feel like concerns of dead third-in-the-block sets and the constraints placed on core sets might be limiting the creativity of the developers, if only by dampening their enthusiasm to be working on the project.If that is the case, this may be an excellent solution.

It should also be stated that even if these changes don't work out in the long run, it's not going to stop me from wanting to collect a playset of every set. That's just the way I am. =P
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Utilitarian » 25 Aug 2014, 09:58

I'm excited but less excited than I'd be in a world where I had unhindered finances.

A more diverse standard, I'm all for. I agree with the points about core sets being kind of awkward and I'm in favor of removing them for the new 2 set blocks format.

Conversely though, the more rapid rotation is undoubtedly good to keep Standard fresh and exciting, but people already complained about the rate at which rotation makes Standard decks obsolete, and I'm not crazy about having my collection devalued at an increased rate. My MTG budget is only so large and I'm not thrilled about Standard's demand on my resources increasing.

Perhaps ironically, for a change revolving mainly around Standard, the people who are unequivocal winners in this exchange are eternal and limited players.

Core sets tend to be mostly reprints and tend to be fairly simple, so cards from them rarely make it into eternal formats. More "expert" sets means more opportunities for new cards capable of competing in a modern or legacy format. Furthermore, smaller blocks likely means new mechanics appearing more often, again increasing the likelihood of something eternal playable being released.

For limited players, they're guaranteed a new limited format every 2 releases, and no longer have a period of core set limited, which a lot of folks find uninteresting (I'm a big fan of core set limited, but I recognize that I'm a minority)
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Volafortis » 25 Aug 2014, 10:47

I don't play Standard, so the rotation change doesn't affect me.

More frequent blocks means we can expect more frequent returns with regard to Planes, characters, story arcs, mechanics, everything.

Rather than waiting most of a decade to revisit the Phyrexians, Eldrazi, and Bolas, we can probably expect these epic storylines to play out much better.

The issue with the old system is this:
People want to see old mechanics.
People want to see old characters return.
People want to revist old storylines.
People want to go back to old planes.

Yet, while doing that, they still have players that want:
Brand new and interesting mechanics.
New characters.
New storylines.
New epic storylines.
New planes.

Fitting all of that in is a challenge all by itself, but somehow balancing that when you can only do 1 block per year? Honestly, I think that would be impossible. 2 blocks per year will certainly help with this issue.

Regarding the "blow to creative integrity, leading to rushed storytelling"

This certainly does break the "Three Act Model" that Magic has used in the past, but I think the goal will become to set up the first two acts with the first set, and the conclusion with the second.

Also, worthy of note, is that, should a block require more than two sets to do the story well, we can easily return to the 4-set model of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor. Without a Core Set to be concerned about, 4 set blocks aren't much different logistically from 2 2-set blocks, so if they NEED a longer period of story development, it actually becomes EASIER.

Overall, a huge plus, in my mind. It solves a lot of problems Magic has been having, and the only notable issue it causes is the loss of the introductory core set. (Reprints can happen in normal sets, and they've stated expert expansion reprints will become more aggressive to compensate for the loss of the core set.)

As far as introductory product goes: Duels of the Planeswalkers has been taking over on that front for quite a while now; with concepts of deck building being added, Duels is well positioned to take over completely as the primary introductory product, with a likely new paper product to assist players in transitioning from DOTP to Paper Magic.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Atifexe » 25 Aug 2014, 12:54

The article does state that there are plans to produce new product targeted specifically at bringing new players into the game - stuff that isn't core sets or part of the Standard rotation, and therefore can be safely ignored by anyone more focused on competitive play.

Also, excellent point about the set structure. For whatever reason I had it in my head that they'd just not do a four-set block. I feel a little silly now. =P
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby JQuill » 25 Aug 2014, 13:17

I have very much enjoyed the more recent core sets, but I think overall this is a change for the best.

I do wonder is this means we'll have about half as many Planeswalkers running around in Standard given that the core sets contained about as many of them as an entire block. Or perhaps we'll see more of them printed per set going forward.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Atifexe » 25 Aug 2014, 14:17

I think it'll about even out in regards to planeswalkers; there won't be a big bunch printed at once in a core set once a year, but we'll see more sets that feature events relevant to their stories, resulting in more diversity and about the same amount numerically. That's just a guess, though.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby korvys » 25 Aug 2014, 14:21

I guess we'll see them in blocks, which would be nice. Should get a bit more context rather than the "Here they are." in the Core Set.

Not sure how I feel about the whole thing. He's right that new blocks are always more exciting, and this means new blocks more often. Plus most decks seem to focus on the mechanics of a block, taking tools from the other block. More blocks means more diverse mechanics, and hopefully more decks.

On the other hand, assuming each set adds the same to standard, this actually reduces the number of cards available on average. Currently, when the first set of a block comes out, there are 5 sets availabled (3 from the last block, core set, new set). Under the new system this is the same. But, when you get to the next core set, you have 8 sets to choose from. Under the new system, you will always have either 5 or 6.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Kapol » 25 Aug 2014, 14:35

I know I'm actually going to miss the core sets a fair amount. I've always been a fan of them since I started, and always preferred drafting core set because I'm weird. The simpler mechanics lead to a more... simple(?) format overall. And that's something I liked. It was a nice break after 3 sets of mechanics that didn't always feel that good. It's too bad that core set quality has been increasing, only for it to get the axe.

For less sets being in standard, and the overall impact this will have for standard... I actually care a bit. I have to wonder if this is going to make the market for standard cards less stable. Why would you pay $20 for a card that could be useless in a few months, and will barely last a year of play? You could say the same for current standard, but almost all the cards from standard get at least 1 1/4 years. With some getting 2 full years. That 6 month loss for cards like Elspeth worries me. And with the more fluid nature of standard they're going for, it may end up causing less confidence that card X is going to keep being good for the entire time it's in standard anyways. This worries me mostly because one of my favorite things about drafting is the fact I can open something that's enough to pay for my draft. And I worry that won't be the case going forward.

That said, MaRo did say on his blog that this means we're likely going to be getting stronger reprints. I wonder if this means that the overall power level of standard is going to increase with this change. If so... I don't know if that makes me feel better or not. That means cards are more likely to see play in eternal formats, and therefore hold value better. But it could actually cause the opposite problem from my last paragraph. Creating cards valued more than people can overall keep up with and keeping people out of standard overall. I kind of worry that we're looking at a 'YuGiOh' power creep precipice with that statement. But I'm confident that won't happen. I suppose we just have to keep trusting WotC.


All of that said, I do think this is a good thing. I think that by the third set, people are tired of the block as a whole. This kind of seems like it's been coming, thinking about how Avacyn Restored was actually supposed to be a separate set from Innnistrad. And I do think this means more revisits to planes people like without having to wait for a massive amount of time. Which is good. If there is an increase in power level for sets, that means an increase in power level for drafts. And I think that sounds like it could be good for me as well.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby korvys » 25 Aug 2014, 14:54

Kapol, the cards will be good for 15 - 18 months. This is, of course, shorter than the current way of things. If you get a card in Journey, it's good for 18 months, where cards from Theros are good for 24.

I don't like that, but if I really think about it, I'm probably going to be buying new cards anyway, so I'm not sure if it affects me as much as I'm thinking. Just more reason to push harder into limited, I guess.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Kapol » 25 Aug 2014, 16:43

Right, and as I said, I don't know if that'll really effect anything. I don't think it's as much the actual drop in length of time as much as it might be the perceived drop in time. There's already a set mindset of 'start getting rid of the non-new stuff shortly after rotation/around the new year.' With the time frame for each block being dropped, I'm wondering how that mindset is going to change and how that will effect value.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Volafortis » 25 Aug 2014, 18:44

I assume people will start anticipating a card rotation once the second set of the third block gets released, and therefore, that'll be the "get rid of the old stuff" period, so each large set will have 15 months, each small set a year.

As far as planeswalkers and power level are concerned: We'll probably see no change in the number of planeswalkers per year. Maybe 1-2 less per year, but I actually think the most likely scenario is small sets get 2 walkers each, instead of just one. Power level should fluctate the same as it always has. What Wizards R&D refers to as "The Escher Staircase of Power Level"
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby RedNightmare » 26 Aug 2014, 00:22

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I liked drafting the core sets, but I have to admit, I don't mind them leaving constructed. Maybe we can draft with the new player solution?

I am very excited about visiting more worlds and getting the overall story going faster. I don't worry that block stories will feel rushed. They previously wrote them this way because they had to fill 3 sets. Now they just write stories made for 2 sets. It's not like they need to take a 3 set story and cram it into 2 sets, they are writing stories specifically with this new set structure in mind.

I am a bit scared about what this will do to Standard. Kapol makes a pretty good point actually about cards being in Standard shorter. It's true cards are in Standard for 18 months, but that doesn't mean they are playable. Some cards become far less useful once other cards rotate out, so really a card could have a life in Standard as short as 6 months.

As an example, Dredge is a valid deck right now, but once RTR rotates out and takes Grisly Salvage with it, the deck becomes far less playable. All the other cards of the deck are still there (enough at least) but they lost a key support card and it just doesn't work as well anymore. Each of those cards now lost value because of the rotation of Grisly Salvage. This more regular rotating could mean you need to construct new decks every 6 months just to stay relevant in Standard (unless you end up playing something that survives a rotation pretty unscathed)
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby VectorZero » 26 Aug 2014, 05:43

Now, y'all make really good points, but I think you're missing the big announcement in that article: Set Code Names.

Blood/Sweat/Tears/? --> Blood/Sweat & TEARS/FEARS!

BOOOOOOOO
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Jenelmo » 26 Aug 2014, 07:02

What is wrong with a tears for fears reference? are you afraid that the block will feature Shouting and people trying to rule the world?
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Volafortis » 26 Aug 2014, 16:17

But... I thought everybody wants to rule the world? I don't understand why, it's a pretty mad world.

I think they did a good job announcing the three word codenames, only to have them all become multiple 2 set blocks.

Lorwyn - Original disguised as "Peanut/Butter/Jelly"
Became - "Peanut/Butter" and "Jelly/Doughnut"

These are just Wizards being sneaky and doing that again.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby MowDownJoe » 26 Aug 2014, 18:24

Volafortis wrote:But... I thought everybody wants to rule the world? I don't understand why, it's a pretty mad world.

I think they did a good job announcing the three word codenames, only to have them all become multiple 2 set blocks.

Lorwyn - Original disguised as "Peanut/Butter/Jelly"
Became - "Peanut/Butter" and "Jelly/Doughnut"

These are just Wizards being sneaky and doing that again.

Fun fact: they had planned for Lorwyn to be a 4-set megablock with the codenames "Peanut/Butter/Jelly/Sandwich" until they decided to split Lorwyn into Lorwyn and Shadowmoor.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby VectorZero » 30 Aug 2014, 05:33

Oh, I'm not complaining about the set puns, the more groanworthy the better. A good pun is its own reword.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby JayBlanc » 30 Aug 2014, 05:44

Since I mainly play drafts, and don't play standard or legacy at all, I've had a habit of skipping the core sets. I much prefer the cohesive interactions and flavour of the blocks. The core sets always felt like they didn't know if they were telling a story, being their own thing, or just reprinting a best-of compilation album.
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby RadioshackRaider » 30 Aug 2014, 07:53

I like Cores sets. they're much more fun to draft since there at a lower level as it were. They don't have a bunch of keywords that can confuse players. There also pretty much the only place Chandra gets to see these days
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Re: Upcoming changes to blocks and rotation...

Postby Lord Hosk » 30 Aug 2014, 08:02

I think its great that standard will be more standardized.

Standard is currently 1700 cards. (roughly since there are in reprints in multiple sets right now)

in 4 weeks standard will be 850.

Every fall the size of standard is cut in half. Under the current format the number of cards will be roughly:
October:1050 cards
February:1200 cards
May:1050 cards
July:1200 Cards

Every rotation you lose a block, one large one small 400ish cards, and gain one large 250 cards to me this makes things more predictable it will keep things more standard. As korvys pointed out this rotates cards out every 15-18 months Blood will be in standard for 18 months, Sweat for 15, Theros 24 Born of the Gods 18 Journey into Nyx 15.

I dont think this will change aftermarket prices in the slightest. Ajani, Mentor of Heroes is one of the most expensive cards in standard and is from a 15 month rotation. Voice or resurgence was the most expensive card in standard when it came out and again it was only going to be in standard for 15 months. The value of cards is how good they are in standard, how good they are in commander and how good they are in Modern as that is where the bulk of cards get play in that order. The % of players in other formats is small so their effect on new card prices is also small.

People are scared of change but I think they are overestimating how much this will actually change. You still get 4 sets of cards each year, you still get roughly 800 cards a year and from what I am reading you will see roughly the same number of new and reprints as before.
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