Why Wizards Should Sanction Multiplay

I believe that there are few (if any) good reasons why Standard is a sanctioned format while Multiplay isn’t.

When deciding my topic for this week’s article, my mind went through a lot of twists and turns to get to this point. I started out by deciding to base my article somehow on the three-way Rebels match that I participated in recently. At first, I planned to simply write about how the Rebels decks reacted with one another and how Rebel Informer dominated the game, no matter which player had it out. Then I thought I might write about how the”real” Rebel Informer might rat out the Ramosian Lieutenant, removing him from play, or how Lin Sivvi’s rallying cries can bring forth a Ramosian Sky Marshal. From there, my mind moved on to the thought of the three planeswalkers controlling those rebels.

And this is what brought me to the realization that there should be a sanctioned multiplayer format. I know that many people have yearned for one, but I believe that there are few (if any) good reasons why Standard is a sanctioned format while Multiplay isn’t.

My first thought was of the fantasy backdrop of Magic. As most Magic players know, when they sit down to a duel they’re acting as planeswalkers battling other planeswalkers by using spells and summoning creatures to defeat their opponents. This was the original dream of Magic, and this is what drew many of the earliest players. The thought came to me about multiplay: Why can’t there be three mages duking it out? Why not four? Do the Rules of Interplanar Conflict dictate that only two mages may fight at one time? Of course not! A planeswalker could just as easily bring in a friend or call up a favor as show up for a duel alone. Also, whatever the planeswalkers are fighting over, be it land, treasure, or glory, surely more than one mage would want a shot at it. The fantasy portion of Magic is not contradicted by multiplay; in fact, I believe it’s improved.

Additionally, the rules of play allow for more than one player. Spells that affect everyone can affect as many people as are present, while cards up to date with errata read”target opponent” instead of”opponent,” allowing for more than one opponent to be present. Anyone who read anything of The Ferrett’s before he became Editor-in-Chief or whatnot knows that multiplay is not only possible, but a challenging and exciting format that can be enjoyed for hours on end. (Anyone who read The Ferrett would also know he personally cringes at the idea of sanctioned multiplay, but Daniel’s got the right to his own opinions — The Ferrett, not trying to slam Daniel but being honest)

Also, a sanctioned multiplayer format would attract (or re-attract) many players to participate more in the game. People quit because the tournament format is too difficult to keep up with or too stressed with competition. A multiplayer format would be much more attractive to casual players than anything the DCI has to offer now. And, with such a high participation rate of non-professional players, the format might actually have a relatively casual and welcoming atmosphere.

So, what am I suggesting? I’m suggesting that, in addition to Types 1, 1.5, 1.x, & 2 and Limited formats, there be a Type Three format involving more than two opposing players competing with Constructed decks. Perhaps Friday Night Magic could have dual formats, either Type II or III, depending on individual stores. Or there could be special Type III tournaments, like there are Standard or Extended tournaments. I’m not saying that there should necessarily be a Multiplayer Pro Tour (though if the format were sanctioned, I don’t see why not), but I am saying that there should be DCI points available to those participating in multiplayer games.

Now, there are, of course, several barriers to the introduction of this format — but with a little dedication and ingenuity, I believe they could be worked around.

First, there would have to be a standard set of rules. As it stands today, there are many variants of multiplay: Chaos, Emperor, Five-Headed Giant, etc. A certain set of rules would have to be agreed upon to be followed. Just as Standard is defined as a format involving decks constructed from the most recent edition and the two most recent expansions, Multiplay would have to have a definition as well. If this idea were to be seriously considered, I think it would benefit all players if the DCI asked Magic players what they feel would be the best format for sanctioned Multiplay. (Type II — The Ferrett)

Now, this set of standard rules would, of course, involve the number of players allowed to participate in a duel — let’s say four. This would suggest to logic that the rounds would take at least twice as long. So we’re looking at two hours per match. But then, the matches might not be only three games; as many as five games might need to be played, and this might cause the time per match to increase. The solution would appear to be to reduce the number of matches in a tournament. The number of matches would, as it does in current environments, be based upon attendance. There would also have to a system of devising first place, second place, etc., but this appears rather obvious.

The most difficult obstacle, I believe, would be figuring out tiebreakers, DCI points acquired, etc. I haven’t a clue as to how these are configured as it is, so I really don’t know if this one point makes the whole idea moot. However, if such a complex system can be created and maintained as the DCI points system we have now, surely the minds behind that system could modify it.

I believe that a multiplayer format would broaden the horizons of Magic. It would introduce a level of psychological battling that exists only minimally today, primarily in Jedi Mind Tricks. It would also bring new strategies and interest into the community at large, and it would indeed change the face of Magic forever. But, that which does not change does not grow, and that which does not grow is stagnant.

I, of course, haven’t covered every aspect of this dynamic idea; I have, however, sown the seed of intrigue into your mind. Think it over, and let me know what you come up with. If, by next week, I have enough ideas to compile another article, I’ll bring this idea up again. But even if Type III isn’t practical, wouldn’t it be awesome?

Daniel Crane

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