Removed From Game — The Cost Of Lorwyn, Part 2

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In the sequel to last week’s bestseller, Rich Hagon casts not one eye but two over the winners and losers in the coming Magic year. Good news for Drafters talented or otherwise? Constructed formats of delight? Sealed success or Limited limitations? Find out where your dollar, pound, yen, drachma, or euro will be going during the next twelve months. Plus no accountancy joke this week, which will disappoint none of you (plus or minus 10%.)

Straight to business. Last week, we looked at the shape of the Magic year, and what the four expansion scheme might mean. This week, I’ll try to identify the winners and losers under the new scheme. If you’re reading this while attempting to eat your cornflakes, have a shower and drive to work all at the same time — which apparently many of you do — then I’ll cut to the chase and say that most types of players will find themselves financially neutral at worst as a result of the changes. There are, however, a couple of constituencies that are going to need to employ some fairly fancy footwork if they are going to keep ahead of the game.

Meet Billy. Billy is our test subject this week. Billy likes Magic. In fact, Billy likes Magic a lot, but because he has a girlfriend and doesn’t have a job in Information Technology, his resources for the game, both fiscal and temporal, are not boundless. As Billy looks ahead towards the 2007-8 Magic Year, he has a few goals in mind. First of all, he’d eventually like to end up with one of everything from each new set that gets released. He doesn’t mind waiting a few weeks to achieve this, so he’s not going to be trading away fabulous old rares for rubbish new uncommons or anything foolish like that at the Prerelease weekend. Talking of which, his girlfriend Tammy understands that Prerelease weekend is something almost holy to Billy, so, barring her giving birth to his first child, Billy will be at every Prerelease in sight.

Billy once qualified for the Pro Tour back at the end of the 1990s, and would dearly love to get back to the Show. Unfortunately, unlike back then when Magic really was the focus of his entire social life, right now he doesn’t have a large group of local friends who want to scour the country for a PTQ every weekend. Therefore, he generally has to content himself with going to just a couple of events each season.

Although Billy isn’t bad at the game, he understands that the PT appearance he made realistically belongs to another time, a time when players sometimes untapped after their upkeep, and where you didn’t draft Gaea’s Embrace highly in draft because you knew it would wheel during the PTQ Top 8. No, for Billy Magic is more about a fun time with local friends, and that means Friday Night Magic. Tammy, understanding girl that she is, appreciates that if she wants some Friday night magic of her own, it’s pretty much got to wait until after FNM. Sigh.

So, let’s take a look at what the year ahead has in store for Billy, starting on Day 1 of the Magic year, September 30th 2007.

Oh yes, one final thing. Billy happens to be a Brit, and that means he spends Pounds Sterling on Magic. Although £1 is roughly equivalent to $2, the true Magic exchange rate doesn’t quite work like that, especially with regard to Booster Boxes, which certainly retail cheaper in the US. Poor Billy.


Lorwyn Pre-Release. £15. One starter, 3 boosters.
Went 0-2 drop.

Went into a triple Lorwyn Booster Draft. £8. 3 boosters. Won two boosters for winning his first round.

Next day, Lorwyn Pre-Release Mark II. £15. One starter, 3 boosters.
Does much better, and is very happy to win 6 additional Lorwyn boosters.

He opens his prizes — this is very poor behaviour if you’re serious about Limited, by the way — and that brings his total for the weekend to 23 boosters / Rares towards his goal of 102 to complete the set.

Total monthly outlay £38. Total annual outlay £38.


Lorwyn gets released, and Billy decides to invest in two Booster Boxes, which sets him back £120. This nets him a further 72 Rares, although as he wades through booster box 2 he keeps pulling more and more rares that he’s already got. Deep into this second box he’s still seeing new uncommons though, and, sensitive soul that he is, he enjoys seeing the new artwork each time. Now Billy isn’t a big fan of Release events. As far as he can see, they’re just an expensive tournament with minimal prize support, and frankly, he doesn’t care about Sealed enough to justify the expense on a “just for fun” basis. On the other hand, Billy likes to try his hand at Deckbuilding, and whether you call it Regionals or Counties, this first opportunity to see whether the new Lorwyn cards can cut the mustard is too good to pass up. It’s clear to Billy that Lorwyn’s Grey Lotus is the absolute number one chase card. Sometimes, the chase card has been the one that everyone wants. This time it’s also the one that everyone needs. At least that’s how Billy sees it, so he spends an hour or so online, trying to find the best deal, and finds a trader willing to sell him three for £20. Since he’s already looking at a lovely foil version from his two boxes, Billy happily accepts, and goes to Counties to play Standard. Before the tournament starts, he manages to borrow a few rares from his mates, and decides to make do with a few cards from Time Spiral rather than pay premium prices at the one trader at the tournament. Although the Grey Lotus performed well, the rest of Billy’s deck didn’t, and he once again left without prizes. On the plus side, he was able to trade 15 rares away for 15 that he didn’t have, so he’s now up to 80. Finally in October he goes to a lone FNM, gets in a triple Lorwyn draft, and spectacularly fails to win.

Monthly outlay £120 + £20 + £5 + £8 = £153. Annual outlay £191.


Billy goes to two FNM. In addition to his 6 boosters he generates a further 5 in prizes. Then it’s time for the PTQ season. There are two events within reach, and Billy resolves to try his luck. Although 4 wins and 2 losses is a frustrating record from each of these, at least he adds 10 boosters to his prize pool. These don’t really help him with his collection, because they’re a mix of Future Sight and 10th Edition boosters, but at least they add to his trade folder. He quickly trades most of them away for Lorwyn, and is now only 10 rares away from the set.

Monthly outlay £16 + £30 = £46. Annual outlay £237.


Ah, the guilty month. Who gets Christmas cards this year? Annabelle, the pole-dancing ex-girlfriend? (Just out of curiosity to those who can speak from experience, why would you ever want a pole dancer to be an ex-girlfriend?), Tammy’s Mum? Or does that seem too formal? How many colleagues? And what about Magic players? Oh wait, that’s all right, Magic players ignore Christmas utterly. By the time Billy’s gone through all this, he’s barely fit to shuffle his deck, let alone actually play. He staggers along to FNM after some Christmas shopping, and is amazed to find that he actually wins a game with his four-color Constructed monstrosity.

Monthly outlay £2. Annual outlay £239.


With credit card groaning, Billy reluctantly invests another £120 on two boxes of Morningtide. Obviously he’s less excited about this than Lorwyn, especially as the opening of boosters quickly loses its freshness. With 60 commons in the set, he’s pretty much seen them all within the first dozen boosters, and that’s a lot of uninteresting cards to wade through before you get to the interesting bit. Even the uncommons have mostly been taken care of by the end of box 1, and then Billy settles down to the real business of cracking boxes, Hunt The Rare. This time round, Billy doesn’t need to work out what the chase rare is. It’s been loudly proclaimed from every available rooftop, from Flores to Chapin to Erwin to Jones. Even BDM has been heard to say it’s one of the most broken spells to see the light of day for years. Yes, it’s Skullgoyf, a 0/1 for 1G that gets bigger for each type of spell in any graveyard, plus it can become a piece of equipment that gives a creature +1/-1 and lets you draw two cards when the creature dies. Sadly, Billy has yet to see one of these fabled Creature/Equipment creations, at least in his own pile of cards. He wasn’t exactly surprised not to get one at Prerelease weekend — after all, he only got three Morningtide boosters to go with his Lorwyn starter — but he does feel a little aggrieved that two entire boxes have failed to unearth the power rare. A couple of FNM give him the opportunity to complain loudly about the print run for Morningtide, get another few Lorwyn boosters, and generally go about having fun with Magical cards and fantastical creatures.

Monthly outlay £143. Annual outlay £382.


Billy goes to one FNM this month. In part this is because he’s not that bothered about two Lorwyn boosters for every one Morningtide in a draft, and also he’s gearing up for the Lorwyn Block PTQ season. Although Billy isn’t the best player in the history of the game, he understands that Skullgoyf is pretty central to the deck he wants to run. £40 later, he’s got a full playset. He manages to make Top 8 at one of his two PTQs, but gets no further — it turns out that Temporal Isolation deals quite effectively with a 7/8 planeswalkered-up Skullgoyf. Ho hum. 12 Lorwyn boosters come his way, and with just a little more trading at the back end of the day, he’s managed to complete his set of Lorwyn. All in all, good times.

Monthly outlay £58. Annual outlay £440.


It’s a quiet month. Billy thinks that Jelly is going to be a neat set, and wants to give it all his attention, so much to Tammy’s relief, a whole month goes by without Billy troubling the DCI database.

Monthly outlay £0. Annual outlay £440.


Here we go again then, thinks Billy, as the card previews have ratcheted up the hype for Jelly. With another 300-card set, Billy is tempted to cut his purchase down to just a single booster box, but eventually succumbs to the temptation and lays down another £120. In addition to the 2 starters and 6 boosters, Billy also manages to get another 8 Jelly boosters from Prerelease weekend. Two triple Jelly drafts at FNM leaves him feeling pretty happy. Although there are another 100 rares to put together, by the end of the first week of Jelly being in the stores, he’s got 65 of them.

Monthly outlay £166. Annual outlay £606.


Billy loves Two-Headed Giant. Even though his partner Simon isn’t the greatest, at least they’ll have war stories to tell, and can spend an hour working out if they could have won round 2 if they’d played that last turn differently. As expected, the two local PTQs don’t yield much in terms of results, but plenty in terms of fun, and that’s all Billy was realistically looking for. As for FNM, Billy is more than happy with Morningtide as prize support, since he’s still trying to put the set together, and another half dozen boosters do no harm.

Monthly outlay £29. Annual outlay £635.


With 2HG being so much fun, Billy decides to give the PTQ circuit one more crack. Travelling much more in hope than expectation, he gets an awesome Sealed pool, and together with Simon they slaughter their way to the top 4 draft. Although it’s not quite good enough to go all the way, losing the final gives them plenty of boosters to rip open on the way home, and when Simon gives Billy all his product as a contribution for fuel costs, Billy is pretty happy with his Magical life. June FNM isn’t so successful, but at least Billy’s almost completed Morningtide, and isn’t far behind with Jelly either.

Monthly outlay £17. Annual outlay £652.


Now Billy is faced with a problem. What to do about Doughnut? In the past, Billy has largely ignored the Summer Set. He did a few Coldsnap drafts and a lone Prerelease, and frankly didn’t think much of it. Because he’s been playing for so long, he has most of the cards that turned up in 9th and now 10th Edition. With holidays coming up and a busy time at work, can he really afford another two boxes? No, he can’t. But a bit of overtime on the job means he can justify one booster box to himself, even if not to Tammy, whose thoughts are rather more on Morning Sickness than Morningtide. With only one box to open, Billy’s eager to draft triple Doughnut, so drops from the Prerelease on 2-2 in order to do just that on both days. And then Billy takes his annual pilgrimage to Nationals. He isn’t qualified to play in the main event, and even a Last Chance Qualifier can’t get him over the line. But that leaves plenty of time for drafting, and Billy goes for it, notching up a whopping 12 drafts over three days, without even really trying.

Monthly outlay £150. Annual outlay £802.


Coming back from Nationals, Billy realises that he’s spent a lot on a little. Mirrodin / Judgment / Planeshift might be a fun format to draft, but at the end of it you’re not looking at a lot of quality rares. With most of his friends away on holiday, and hotel booked for himself and Tammy, Billy decides to take August off.

Monthly outlay £0. Annual outlay £802.


With only a couple of FNM this month, Billy is keeping his powder dry for the start of the new Magic Year. He completed Lorwyn and Morningtide quite comfortably. He still has a few holes for Jelly and a lot of gaps in his collection of Doughnut, but the chances are that during the next big set he’ll be able to trade for almost everything at low prices. After all, Doughnut is already feeling like yesterday’s news.

Monthly outlay £10. Annual outlay £812.

And then Billy makes a big mistake. Tammy asks him one night what he spends on Magic. He tells her, and then says “which seems quite a good deal, actually.” Twenty minutes later, when she’s taken him through the sleeves, the Fat Packs, the foil land, the sleeves, the fuel, the accomodation, the sleeves, the pens, the pads, the food and the drink, the sleeves, the dice and the limited edition print of Hallowed Fountain

Suddenly, the bill has almost doubled. And Billy thinks, “It’s a good job that Magic really is the best game in the world.”

So much for Billy. But what about you? If you’re thinking that Billy is a high roller of Magic, you should remember that he doesn’t go careering round the countryside in search of PTQs. He doesn’t qualify for a Pro Tour and spend a week away from home in foreign climes. He doesn’t take a weekend out to go to a Grand Prix abroad. He doesn’t play Vintage or own any of the Power 9. He doesn’t Pimp His Deck and buy 24 foil Unhinged islands. In many ways, Billy is a cheap player. But however much of yourself you recognise in Billy’s behavior, the change to an integrated 4 expansion year is going to have an impact on your bottom line. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers.

The Serious Sealed Deck Player

If you like playing Sealed, this is the year for you. First up you get a whole bunch of new mechanics with Lorwyn. You were always going to play in the Prereleases, but the quicker you start understanding Lorwyn Sealed, the better. The Pro Tour Qualifier season for PT1 of 2008 is this format. In Ravnica, Wizards were fairly forthright in acknowledging that the standalone Sealed format wasn’t the greatest. The trade-off was that, with the addition of Guildpact and Dissension, you would have not only a decent Sealed format, but one of the best Draft formats yet devised. When 80% of decks at Grand Prix: Nottingham ran Forests, you could see why they were apologetic. The format was pretty stale pretty quickly. It’s also true that pronouncements from headquarters were making excuses for 10th Edition Sealed, and equally with good cause. If you have a box of 10th Edition starters, crack them now and save yourself hours of Sealed misery. No such comments have preluded Lorwyn. With a PTQ season front and center, it’s imperative that Lorwyn delivers on the Sealed front. One of the most interesting questions is how the whole Tribal idea will work in Sealed, where the chances are that you won’t be able to cobble together a Soldier / Rebel / Elf deck etc. This may make the format quite tight, where cards that work well with a tribal theme are underpowered in Sealed. In Ravnica block, you could play just about all of your powerful cards. The likelihood is that won’t be true with Lorwyn, so the emphasis will move away from manabase issues (Rav block) and What Rares Will Kill You? (10th) to a proper card by card evaluation of risk/reward, Expected Value and a series of synergistic interactions. That’s a great Sealed format.

Of course, the good times won’t stop there for the Sealed player. As anyone who has ever played in a Prerelease event for an expansion without Starters will know, Sealed with just boosters can be a very hit or miss affair. I think this is the largest contribution to 10th being so lame for Sealed. One starter plus two, or three, boosters is not the same as five or six boosters. Having logged hundreds of decks across multiple Sealed formats using just boosters, I can faithfully promise you that there is a recognisable difference between these and the Starter + booster model. Simply put, especially with a smaller expansion, players may end up with 4 or more copies of the same card. If it’s 4 of a removal spell, yippee. If it’s 4 copies of Detainment Spell, not so much. This problem with card power and print run is ameliorated with starters. Admittedly, there are also patterns here. In Odyssey starters, uncommons Overrun and Shower Of Coals were almost always next to each other. This, in case you’re wondering, was quite a good pack. Overall, then, Sealed is a better format when you get to use properly prepared Starters. And, oh look, when April comes around we get to do it all again with Jelly. So, two lots of Sealed deck, one set of individual PTQs guaranteed and the likelihood of 2HG PTQs using Jelly, and if you like Sealed, you really can’t go wrong in the year ahead. A definite winner. Grade A.

Kitchen Table Sealed

Kitchen Table is a term often bandied about without it actually being explained. Here, I’m using it to describe the type of Magic player who doesn’t necessarily play in PTQs or even FNM. He or she may not even have a DCI number. But they love the game, and will play for hours with a friend at the, you guessed it, Kitchen Table, where there may be wacky formats, house rules, playing for ante, a world without the stack, or the most keenly fought niggardly rules arguments this side of a Level 5 Judge convention. I guess the one thing that unites almost all Kitchen Table players is that they really don’t care who won the latest Pro Tour, and probably won’t be copying the winning deck any time soon.

So how does this group fare in the coming year? Very well. Since Lorwyn plus Morningtide is meant to be a coherent whole, the opportunity for fun games of Sealed seems as robust as ever. As with their Serious counterparts, Kitchen Table players will benefit from the second big set of the year, and have a bonus period of three months in the Summer where a genuinely put together Sealed format is still fresh and interesting. Another winner. Grade A.

Serious Drafting

This is more of a mixed bag. I’m prepared for you to disagree with this, but in my view the Rav / Rav / Gld or TS / TS / PC format is structurally worse than R / G / D or TS / PC / FS. I accept that there may have been exceptions to this in the past, and there may be exceptions to this in the future, but taken in the round there is something fundamentally unsatisfying about the two of one, one of the other Draft format that simply isn’t a problem once the whole Block is in place. On the downside therefore, you will never get that sense of completion this year. As soon as Lor / Lor / Mor takes a hike, it’s on to Jelly times 3, then Jelly / Jelly / Doughnut. I will need a lot of convincing before this seems like a good idea. On the upside there are two factors at work. First, players who really put the effort in will undoubtedly be rewarded, as new formats will be coming around regularly. It’s also worth pointing out that by the time online articles on a format have reached the point where there is enough information to seriously improve the average player’s ability in a format, that format will be virtually over, and knowing the value of cards within Lorwyn will be much less beneficial than, say, Time Spiral is right now. Second, you have the Coldsnap factor. Triple drafting a small set is never really good times, not least because it was never designed to be. Congratulations, you have seven copies of Disciple Of Tevesh Szat, or nine Sound The Call. That isn’t the idea of Drafting, and we’ll be spared that next Summer. Overall, the absence of 3-set Draft is a major negative, but I guess the constantly-rotating formats push this category into a plus, barely. Grade B minus.

Casual Drafting

I don’t think the Casual Drafter will approach things much differently from their Serious colleagues. They do get one additional benefit though, which is the opportunity to have some fun next Summer with 4-set Draft. Thematically the two mini-Blocks are meant to be linked in some way, Tribal tends to suggest the possibility of yet more absurd interactions by adding in the fourth booster, and of course fundamentally the more boosters you put in, the more power you get out. I’m by no means a Casual player at heart, but even I can see myself setting aside a half dozen boosters of Doughnut for this 4-booster Draft form of entertainment. A slightly less grudging Grade B.

Casual Deckbuilder

It’s hard not to like being in this group of players looking ahead. Tribal mechanics have always been great for Casual play, and Lorwyn is likely to be no exception. You get an entire Block as early as January to mess around with, and in a format of 500 or so cards, there may not be many Tier 1 decks, but there are bound to be plenty of Tier 2s, which tend to form the majority of casual play groups. A second big set in April opens up more deck design space, especially as Jelly is going to introduce new mechanics, rather than the traditional structure of adding examples of previously-in-place mechanics. Doughnut then offers you at least half a dozen ways to enhance your deckbuilding experience. This starts with a Doughnut-only exercise, through Jelly-Doughnut Block Constructed, up to 4-set Block, then it’s impact on Standard, before the law of diminishing returns suggests that it’s effect on the Eternal formats will be bugger all, with the possible exception of 1 or 2 cards that just might squeeze into some impossibly niche corner somewhere. Of all the possibilities, I’m guessing that it’s the whole Tribal thing that will have most Casual deckbuilders getting excited and sorting their collections by creature type. Another comprehensive winner. Grade A.

The Pro Tour Wannabe / Serious Deckbuilder

I’ve put these two together, because I believe they basically go hand in hand. The only reason to be a Serious Deckbuilder is if you’ve got a reason for your decks to be any good, and if you’re serious about making it onto the gravy train, you can’t do it without some serious decks. So if you’re making a serious effort to get to the Pro Tour this year, this one’s for you. If you drive for 6 hours each way to get to a PTQ, this one’s for you. If you’ve already budgeted for 6 Lorwyn Sealed PTQs, this one’s for you. And if you agonise for 3 hours over two or three copies of Tormod’s Crypt in your sideboard, this one’s for you.

I think you’ve got rough times ahead.

I went away after I wrote that last sentence and made sure that I actually do believe it. I do. In fact, I really think you’ve got rough times ahead. Here’s why. To begin with, things are as normal, with Lorwyn leading to a Sealed PTQ season. Some serious players don’t like Sealed, but I would argue that it’s some of the most skill-testing, least matchup-dependant Magic money can buy. You almost never see a new player winning a Sealed/Draft PTQ. Sooner or later, they get found out. Whilst it is true that some of the best players in the room sometimes end up with a horribly underpowered cardpool and even playskill isn’t enough to beat the good-ish player with his insane deck, the fact remains that if you look at the Top 8 of almost any Sealed PTQ, it’s chockful of good players, and by the time the Draft’s over, you’re almost always looking at a very good player going forward to the Tour.

Once Morningtide hits the shelves, things start to go downhill. I made the assumption last week that the second PTQ season would be Lorwyn/Morningtide Block Constructed. Someone suggested in the forums that I may have got this wrong, and they could be spot on. If I am wrong, though, that means that almost certainly the fourth season of PTQs will be Lor/Mor/Jell/Dou Block Constructed. Either way, there will be a Block Constructed season, and whichever way around it comes, you’re going to be the loser. As we explored last week, the simple laws of supply and demand suggest that Morningtide quality rares are going to be in short supply throughout it’s lifetime. Only half the product at Prereleases will be Morningtide, only 1/3rd of each Draft will be Morningtide, almost none of the prizes on offer during January-April will be Morningtide… you can see how this is panning out. If Block Constructed season begins as early as February, you are going to find yourself with a straightforward decision to make. Either you can buy 3-4 copies of all the Morningtide rares you need from a trader, or you can hope that the one deck you pin your hopes on for the entire Block season doesn’t need many chase rares. Neither of these seem particularly attractive options. When you look at the incredible diversity of Time Spiral Block Constructed it’s easy to see that there were, over the lifetime of the format, many decks you could play. It’s also true, however, that someone wanting plenty of options in order to respond to the dizzying pace of the Metagame shifts we’ve seen would have a Rare shopping list something like this:

Academy Ruins
Akroma, Angel Of Fury
Aeon Chronicler
Ancestral Vision
Bogardan Hellkite
Body Double
Boom/ Bust
Bridge From Below
Coalition Relic
Draining Whelk
Flagstones Of Trokair
Fortune Thief
Glittering Wish
Graven Cairns
Greater Gargadon
Grove Of The Burnwillows
Horizon Canopy
Hypergenesis — (just kidding.)
Imp’s Mischief
Korlash, Heir To Backblade
Lotus Bloom
Magus Of The Moon
Magus Of The Scroll
Nimbus Maze
Numot, The Devastator
Oros, The Avenger
Pact Of Negation
Radha, Heir To Keld
River Of Tears
Saffi Eriksdotter
Sengir Nosferatu
Serra Avenger
Slaughter Pact
Spectral Force
Stonewood Invocation
Summoner’s Pact
Take Possession
Teferi, Mage Of Zhalfir
Urborg, Tomb Of Yawgmoth
Venser, Shaper Savant
Vesuvan Shapeshifter
Wild Pair
Word Of Seizing

And let’s not forget the whole Timeshifted affair:

Akroma, Angel Of Wrath
Call Of The Herd
Lightning Angel
Mystic Snake
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Tormod’s Crypt

Blimey. That’s round about 60 rares, and most of them you’re needing 3-4 copies of. That’s a lot of money. Now I recognise that you won’t necessarily need every single one of these. And yes, you can borrow some of them, you’ll open some of them, you’ll trade for some of them, and, like Billy, you’ll crack some by buying a box or two. The fact remains, there are going to be rares you want that you just won’t possess, especially from Morningtide. Even now, Damnation fetches a hefty price, and that’s with Planar Chaos still being opened each week, adding to the supply of black Wraths. I believe that Morningtide chase singles will be among the most expensive we’ve seen for a very long time, as even traders will be reluctant to crack open boxes by the ton, recognising that they will only have a very short window to recoup their costs before Morningtide takes a back seat to Jelly. Whilst choosing an archetype and sticking to it seems an okay choice — choosing Red/Green aggro/mana ramp would reduce your outlay enormously — this is hardly the stuff of which PTQ winners are made. As if all this bad news wasn’t enough, there’s more. Thanks to Doughnut being a fully paid-up member of the Block Constructed Club, individual rares from all three of the previous sets are likely to become less useful, a factor that’s always at work within Block, but accentuated here.

Make no mistake, wherever the Block season falls, you, the Serious Deckbuilder and aspiring PT rookie, are going to pay for it, and in a big way. The comprehensive loser under the new system. Grade D.

The Pro

If you’re already on the Tour full-time, the chances are that you’ve already done your own analysis of what Doughnut and Co. means to you, and you don’t need me to help you. I guess the big question mark in the coming year for Pros is whether Two-Headed Giant will be back, and if so in what guise? Yes is almost certainly the first answer, and Jelly draft or even Jelly/Doughnut Draft is the likely second. Although Pros were broadly negative about 2HG last time around, at least three things should benefit the format in 2008. First, the Pros are ready for it, and won’t afford themselves the luxury of treating it as a joke format that wasn’t worth testing, as plenty did prior to San Diego. Second, there will be no Storm in the environment, which Wizards were frank enough to admit wasn’t the ideal mechanic to have for a fledgling format to debut on the Tour. Third, Lachmann and van Lunen showed that hardwork + understanding + teamwork = we win! And who wouldn’t want $25,000 a piece? Elsewhere in the calendar, Lorwyn / Morningtide Draft is a known quantity as formats go, the Full Block Constructed that might appear in the Autumn should have plenty of options to outplay opponents, and who knows whether Standard will re-appear for the first time since Hawaii? Overall, although many of them won’t think so due to 2HG, I believe the Pro scene is broadly neutral in terms of Doughnut. A convincing Grade B+.

The Collector

It’s hard to tell what impact the new structure will have on people like Billy who want to own one of everything. There are so many different approaches to collecting. Some people convert sets via Magic Online. Some people order a bucketload of boxes. Others again simply play a lot and then trade aggressively for the last few rares they need, offloading past irrelevant cards to do so. I believe that Collectors will suffer to a lesser degree than Block players with the shortage of key cards, since to a collector there really is very little difference between a Damnation and a Dichotomancy. Nonetheless, collectors may need to exhibit a little more patience than usual in order to complete the puzzle. A slightly ambivalent Grade B.


In reality, few Magic players fall neatly into just one of these categories. Even the most hardcore tester sometimes succumbs to a game of Elder Dragon Highlander with his judge mates, and even the most casual of Casual players can’t resist the lure of something sick like Dragonstorm or TEPS from time to time. How you fit into these categories will determine your likely experience over the coming twelve months of Magic. As you can see, I believe that the addition of Doughnut into the main cycle of sets is broadly a good thing, with only serious Block players being considerably inconvenienced.

Next week, I’m going to move away from the coming year specifically, and look in a more general way at how to improve the value you get from your favorite game. Yes, it’ll be Discount Week here at Removed From Game, and I can promise at least one way that even you haven’t thought of to keep the cold hard cash in your pocket, and get maximum enjoyment for minimum investment.

Until then, from Billy, Tammy, and Billy Jr. makes three,

Thanks for reading,