13 votes

Magic the Gathering announces "Modern Horizons", the first set designed to skip Standard legality and go straight to Modern

22 comments

  1. [2]
    Deimos Link
    This is really interesting—in MTG, when a new set comes out, the cards from it are legal in the "Standard" constructed format for about 2 years. After that, the set "rotates out" and the cards...

    This is really interesting—in MTG, when a new set comes out, the cards from it are legal in the "Standard" constructed format for about 2 years. After that, the set "rotates out" and the cards from it are no longer legal to use in Standard (having been replaced with ones from new sets that come out in the meantime).

    There's another format called "Modern" where all cards from about the last 15 years are legal, so the decks are generally a lot stronger since people have a far larger card pool to choose from. This new set will skip over being used in Standard and go straight to Modern, which means that they can print new cards that are a higher power level than normal, since they don't have to consider their effect on Standard at all, only the already-powerful environment of Modern.

    9 votes
    1. onyxleopard Link Parent
      To add to this, the two cards that have been spoiled for this set so far have been callbacks to iconic cards from the history of the game. We’ve seen the two cards Cabal Therapist, which is a...

      To add to this, the two cards that have been spoiled for this set so far have been callbacks to iconic cards from the history of the game. We’ve seen the two cards Cabal Therapist, which is a callback to Cabal Therapy, and the first version of the planeswalker, Serra, in card form, Serra the Benevolent, which calls back to several cards: Serra Aviary, Serra Angel, and Worship. It’s interesting that MtG is more than 25 years old at this point, but Serra, one of oldest characters from the game lore is only now making her debut in card form.

      I’m excited for this set as an enfranchised player because Wizards of the Coast (WoTC), the developers of MtG, have been very conservative in the power level of cards they’ve introduced into the standard card pool for many years. My hope is they’ll push some boundaries with this set, and all of the cards in this set will be legal in my favorite way to play MtG: Commander.

      5 votes
  2. [16]
    TheInvaderZim Link
    I haven't played magic in years, due in large part to Wizards' continued systemic neglect of the game through stupid shit like this. But I like to keep up on the news, because it's entertaining to...
    • Exemplary

    I haven't played magic in years, due in large part to Wizards' continued systemic neglect of the game through stupid shit like this. But I like to keep up on the news, because it's entertaining to continue watching them fuck up. And it is stupid shit. Wizards has earned no credibility with me, and you should DEEPLY question your thought process before offering them the benefit of the doubt. Honestly, who asked for this?

    First, seven dollars for an ONLINE pack? Instead of maybe making the format more accessible and dropping the prices now that magic is more popular than it's ever been, we're looking at another modern masters scenario—overpriced packs for the same cardboard with different words on it. An at-minimum 8-dollar buy in for paper means that this will likely be another limited-print-run shitshow that helps keep the equilibrium pricing for the best decks at $1000+. I could be a millionaire and magic would STILL be too expensive for me to justify spending money on, at this point - the price of modern Jund, fun fact, is still sitting pretty at around $1,600 dollars, and hasn't been below $1,000 since before I graduated high school, SIX YEARS AGO. Burn - the supposed 'entry deck' of the tier list - is still sitting at 600+! Why is this allowed? Why is this somehow acceptable? Why do the people play still tolerate this garbage?

    Not only that, but because this is trying to produce new staples while not being standard legal, far fewer packs will be opened overall regardless of the size of the print run. Whatever chase rares end up being used will only further INCREASE the price of the format overall—not only will there be a minuscule amount of space to reprint them, later, but ESPECIALLY because they're likely going to be chases out of necessity (since this seems like the place they want to print the next Tarmogoyf).

    And why is it skipping standard, exactly? The implication here being that Standard sets are no longer supposed to contain modern playable ideas, because the power level of those cards is just too high? So anyone who wants to play a non-rotating deck is now best left to SKIP standard entirely? And new players or standard-jockeys looking to play an eternal format are just out of luck unless they can shell out obscene amounts of cash for one of the old standbys? Why is it such an incomprehensible concept to simply increase the power level of standard to what it was, 10 years ago? Why is it that the CORE DESIGN OF MODERN—a place to play your standard deck, with extra power, after it rotates—is only becoming MORE unachievable?

    This is to say nothing of the contents of the set itself—at best we're STILL looking at an environment likely designed for drafting, and there has literally never been a masters set in history that hasn't been made of up 90% unplayable garbage for that reason. SSDD.

    It's just a pile of stupid decisions on top of each other. Why is this replacing modern masters, right when the last modern masters set actually started to get the formula right? Why is it so expensive? Why did ANYONE think that printing new staples outside of a standard set was a good idea?

    Suck a chode, WOTC. If I'd known you were going to abuse your players like this, I never would've wasted so much time on the game in the goddamn first place.

    5 votes
    1. [14]
      onyxleopard Link Parent
      I agree that new players should not buy in to Modern. Standard is arguable. You can still have fun playing limited formats, though, they’re usually very well designed and fun. If you prefer a...

      I agree that new players should not buy in to Modern. Standard is arguable. You can still have fun playing limited formats, though, they’re usually very well designed and fun.

      If you prefer a constructed format, though, buy in to Commander/Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH)! It’s much more fun, economical, and WotC only prints maybe 20 relevant cards for the format a year. You only need single copies of most cards, games don’t play out the same way over and over again (unless you play competitive EDH or cEDH). As someone who got back into MtG in ~2013, having stopped in ~2005, I highly recommend Commander.

      2 votes
      1. [13]
        TheInvaderZim Link Parent
        Oh, don't get me wrong—I still own a couple of tier 2 commander decks despite them not having left their box in about three years, and I'm very well familiar with the ins and outs of the game. The...

        Oh, don't get me wrong—I still own a couple of tier 2 commander decks despite them not having left their box in about three years, and I'm very well familiar with the ins and outs of the game. The problem of price and power level is fundamental to even that format, though.

        The tipping point for me quitting entirely was, in fact, commander—with virtually no new power being introduced, and the EDH scene basically crapping the bed around that tier 2 power level as a result, it became impossible for me to revitalize my decks around new cards, and building new decks without the core staples that let them stand up to the standard of play expected was impossible without still spending $100+ on decks—just assembling the manabase was a daunting task.

        (This was NOT at the competitive level - this is just to ensure that I could always sit down at a table and enjoy playing.)

        Additionally, although to this day I enjoy the format for what it is (with my ever-rare actual magic play being entirely that format), there's no denying that EDH is pretty fundamentally different from actual magic.

        The problems that this set embodies are universal, there is unfortunately no escape. The fact is, good cards are just too goddamn expensive and hard to find on top of that. Hence, I no longer play.

        1 vote
        1. [12]
          onyxleopard Link Parent
          I’m more partial to this one, btw. Mana bases are always going to be the most expensive part of eternal, constructed MtG, but they’re also the part that is most likely to retain its value, or even...

          I’m more partial to this one, btw.

          Mana bases are always going to be the most expensive part of eternal, constructed MtG, but they’re also the part that is most likely to retain its value, or even appreciate over time. Shocks and fetches will set you back a few hundred USD for a complete set, but, you’re very unlikely to ever need to upgrade those pieces, and they have shown they retain their value even through reprints. That said, I think you can still have fun even without an optimized mana base. You can go very far with the Battlebond lands, cycling duals, pain lands, check lands, original Ravnica signets + basics, which shouldn’t break the bank. And there are plenty of mono-colored decks that are fun with much more affordable mana bases.

          One guy from my playgroup (since moved away) used to run one mono color Commander for each of the five colors and he always had fun in our casual pods. He was a legacy grinder and that’s the thing about any format—if you can read the table well and know the cards, you can easily win a Commander pod even if you have the weakest deck. The format boils down a lot to politics and timing more than card economy or sheer card quality in many instances.

          Personally, I have decks ranging the gamut of power levels, from a totally non-competitive Pharika deck, to a durdly, but kinda mean Darien deck, to a tier 2 Sharuum, and an in-progress tier 1 Najeela. And, even after years of spending Saturday afternoons, I still enjoy it! (Granted, I do spend a lot of disposable income foiling out my decks unnecessarily.)

          1 vote
          1. [11]
            TheInvaderZim Link Parent
            You've missed my point. Certainly there are ways to get around mana, but the idea that you need to deliberately limit yourself due to price is the problem to begin with. If, say, League of Legends...

            You've missed my point. Certainly there are ways to get around mana, but the idea that you need to deliberately limit yourself due to price is the problem to begin with. If, say, League of Legends or DOTA were to put those restrictions onto their characters than it'd just be a Pay 2 Win model. A TCG is different because there's a fundamental buy-in for new material, but it shouldn't be big enough to create a noticeable gap between the people who pay and who don't. The game is still way, WAY over that line, and it got to the point where I couldn't tolerate it anymore.

            1 vote
            1. [10]
              onyxleopard Link Parent
              I have yet to find a tcg that has the depth and fun factor that MtG does. Yes, it is expensive, and if I had just discovered MtG today, it’s possible I would not be comfortable investing in the...

              I have yet to find a tcg that has the depth and fun factor that MtG does. Yes, it is expensive, and if I had just discovered MtG today, it’s possible I would not be comfortable investing in the paper version. But, for the joy I get out of the game, it’s well worth the cost to me. To each their own.

              Are there other tcgs you currently play that you think are better bang for your buck?

              1. [9]
                TheInvaderZim Link Parent
                I do not, which is admittedly part of my frustration. I'm considering checking out Pokemon, and the new game by Garfield (keyforge, i think?), but since dropping MTG I haven't had time to get down...

                I do not, which is admittedly part of my frustration. I'm considering checking out Pokemon, and the new game by Garfield (keyforge, i think?), but since dropping MTG I haven't had time to get down to a store. You played either?

                1 vote
                1. [8]
                  onyxleopard Link Parent
                  Nope. I play a bit of Hearthstone, but, honestly, it’s growing stale, and the game has stagnated. The game client hasn’t really seen any significant new game modes or features, and the set designs...

                  Nope. I play a bit of Hearthstone, but, honestly, it’s growing stale, and the game has stagnated. The game client hasn’t really seen any significant new game modes or features, and the set designs are facing a serious crisis due to the eternal classic set. I don’t recommend getting into Hearthstone at this point. Also, I don’t like the ’nerf this problematic card so hard it might as well not have been printed’ rebalancing philosophy. It makes it seem like the designers don’t have the finesse to walk the line between strong and weak cards, and everything is either fair or too fair.

                  I’m going to ask my local store if they carry KeyForge. It sounds interesting, but may be hard to convince my MtG group to try something new. When we want some variation besides Commander, we usually draft packs or someone’s cube.

                  1. [7]
                    Deimos Link Parent
                    I haven't played KeyForge yet myself, but my impression from reading some about it is that it probably won't satisfy most people that are looking for something like MtG. There's no deckbuilding or...

                    I haven't played KeyForge yet myself, but my impression from reading some about it is that it probably won't satisfy most people that are looking for something like MtG. There's no deckbuilding or anything, you just buy pre-built, random decks that you can't change.

                    If you're considering digital ones, have you tried Eternal? I haven't gotten into it much, but it felt a lot like a cross between Hearthstone and MtG from what I've played. A lot of the people involved in designing it are ex-MtG pro players.

                    1 vote
                    1. onyxleopard Link Parent
                      I tried Eternal a while back when it was in beta. IIRC, there was interesting deckbuilding, but it felt like it wasn’t balanced very well. It also felt like both players were just trying to combo...

                      I tried Eternal a while back when it was in beta. IIRC, there was interesting deckbuilding, but it felt like it wasn’t balanced very well. It also felt like both players were just trying to combo off first, and I didn’t like that race aspect to it. It felt like it was missing some way of slowing your opponent down. This was not the finished game, though. I should give it another shot.

                      I tried Duelyst for a bit. That was actually really neat, but definitely felt imbalanced in some ways. Felt like the rate of expansions was too quick and I didn’t want to invest to keep up with it. It was a really neat concept, though, and I think that space could definitely be explored in a more methodical way rather than rapid fire and seemingly untuned/untested expansions.

                      1 vote
                    2. [4]
                      Badger28 Link Parent
                      I have a few keyforge decks and have played a number of times... And agree that it probably won't satisfy mtg players. It is a great game and can be really fun and rewarding. But I always end up...

                      I have a few keyforge decks and have played a number of times... And agree that it probably won't satisfy mtg players.

                      It is a great game and can be really fun and rewarding. But I always end up going back to netrunner because of the sheer scope of cards and possibilities.

                      Well worth grabbing a couple of keyforge decks though. They are so cheap and you only need 1 to start a game if a friend already has one.

                      1 vote
                      1. [3]
                        TheInvaderZim Link Parent
                        I'd never heard of netrunner, but that's really neat. It's to Cyberpunk what Gwent is to the Witcher, which means it's almost certainly going to be included in some form with the release of...

                        I'd never heard of netrunner, but that's really neat. It's to Cyberpunk what Gwent is to the Witcher, which means it's almost certainly going to be included in some form with the release of CP2077. Only continuing to increase my hype.

                        1 vote
                        1. [2]
                          Deimos Link Parent
                          You've gotten the wrong impression somehow. Netrunner started coming out a long time ago, has no connection to Cyberpunk 2077, and is now cancelled. It's a good game though, and because it's an...

                          You've gotten the wrong impression somehow. Netrunner started coming out a long time ago, has no connection to Cyberpunk 2077, and is now cancelled.

                          It's a good game though, and because it's an LCG ("living card game") it was really affordable to play - whenever a new expansion came out, you just bought a single flat-price box that had a full playset of every new card. No random boosters.

                          1 vote
                          1. TheInvaderZim Link Parent
                            Really? Google says it uses the cyberpunk 2020 setting, which is directly a precursor to 2077. Non-random boosters will never again be a thing for future tcgs, i'll bet. Not until the fcc gets...

                            Really? Google says it uses the cyberpunk 2020 setting, which is directly a precursor to 2077.

                            Non-random boosters will never again be a thing for future tcgs, i'll bet. Not until the fcc gets done with loot boxes and starts looking at other examples of child gambling.

                    3. Tygrak Link Parent
                      Eternal is my replacement to MTG, I have been playing it since open beta and I still enjoy it. It is of course worse than MTG, but there's still no good MTG client on PC, MTGO is terrible and...

                      Eternal is my replacement to MTG, I have been playing it since open beta and I still enjoy it. It is of course worse than MTG, but there's still no good MTG client on PC, MTGO is terrible and AFAIK Arena is only Standard. I miss playing crazy strong combos like in MTG but otherwise Eternal is really good and in some things even better.

                      1 vote
    2. quinns Link Parent
      I’m with you on the idea that new players should avoid modern to have immediate fun, but I disagree in general. I left Magic for like ten years then came back and made a cheap standard deck and...

      I’m with you on the idea that new players should avoid modern to have immediate fun, but I disagree in general.

      I left Magic for like ten years then came back and made a cheap standard deck and had a ton of fun playing it in Friday night magic and against my friends that joined too. The game seems to be very well balanced in standard, at least it was like a year and a half ago.

      I ended spending like $70 on many days worth of fun and would do it again in a heartbeat.

      New players can have a lot of fun just playing with starter decks with a friend and improving them, they’re not horrible starting points like they used to be.

      I’m sure wizards is being as greedy as possible with what they’re charging online, but I think it’s partly because they don’t want to threaten their paper card game too much. If online was obviously and definitely cheaper then they could cause an exodus of paper magic players.

      1 vote
  3. [3]
    vivaria Link
    Gasp. Magic the Gathering? On my Tildes? Thanks for posting, Deimos! I'm a draft fiend, and I'm probably going to try to hit MF Seattle. I'm really excited to see a high-complexity/high-power...

    Gasp. Magic the Gathering? On my Tildes? Thanks for posting, Deimos!

    I'm a draft fiend, and I'm probably going to try to hit MF Seattle. I'm really excited to see a high-complexity/high-power level draft set that isn't pure reprints. I mean, I did love playing in GP Van with Ultimate Masters (missed D2 with 4-2-1 record RIP), but that was a pretty meh sealed format and I didn't enjoy practicing for it. This, on the other hand, seems like even more fun.

    From Mark Rosewater's Tumblr:

    I think the best way to explain why this set is applicable to more than just Modern players is to go back to where the set began. When Ethan and I first pitched this set in the Hackathon, here’s what we said, “One of the cool things about a supplemental set is that we can focus on ideas that we’re unwilling to do in a Standard-legal set. What if we took off the shackles and just made a set full of cards that we know players would love, but are hard to do with all the limitations that come with a normal Magic set. What if we dove deep into the creative and mechanical elements of Magic’s twenty-five year history and just had a blast designing cards? We could make something really awesome.” It took us the week of the Hackathon to put together our proof of concept, but once everyone saw it, we were given the green light. And then we had a lot of fun making a very interesting set. You don’t have to be a Modern player to love Modern Horizons just a Magic player.

    This is delicious to read from a limited player's perspective.

    4 votes
    1. onyxleopard Link Parent
      For tilders out there who are unfamiliar with the MtG scene, Mark Rosewater is the lead designer for MtG. He is extremely passionate, borderline eccentric, and is probably one of the world experts...

      For tilders out there who are unfamiliar with the MtG scene, Mark Rosewater is the lead designer for MtG. He is extremely passionate, borderline eccentric, and is probably one of the world experts on game design. He’s one of the main reasons MtG continues to be relevant, year after year, and he tries his best to communicate a lot with the player base. He’s written reams and reams about MtG design, the history of the game, and WotC culture. He runs a podcast called Drive to Work, which he literally records on his phone while driving to work. The guy’s a gem.

      2 votes
    2. Deimos (edited ) Link Parent
      I like draft a lot too, I've been really happy with Arena making draft so cheap (even free to be able to do at least one or two a week), I just finished drafting a RIX-RIX-XLN deck a little while...

      I like draft a lot too, I've been really happy with Arena making draft so cheap (even free to be able to do at least one or two a week), I just finished drafting a RIX-RIX-XLN deck a little while ago. It's not really the same experience as a "proper" draft since you're drafting against bots and don't play against people that picked from the same card pool, but it's still fun.

      Cube draft is one of my favorite ways of playing Magic overall, I have a fully-proxied one that's all really strong cards (power 9, etc.), and it was always a ton of fun to play and see what ridiculous combinations people managed to put together. It sounds like this set could give a pretty similar experience, but with new cards. That's probably going to be fun (but unfortunately expensive).

      2 votes
  4. Ellimist Link
    Ah Magic the Gathering....you sultry minx, you.... I got into Magic after joining up with a LARP whose post practice meals usually involved a game or two of MtG. I fell in love with the strategy,...

    Ah Magic the Gathering....you sultry minx, you....

    I got into Magic after joining up with a LARP whose post practice meals usually involved a game or two of MtG. I fell in love with the strategy, the trickery, and the way one could tailor a deck to suit their needs. After playing around for a few months using decks built by a friend from his reserve cards, I decided to build my own deck. I asked him his opinion on what he thought I should play. His answer was "I think you have a love affair with casting giant monsters so it's pretty evident what you're going to pick regardless of what I think". He was right. Picked up the pieces for a RG Eldrazi deck and I've pretty much stuck to RG Ramp or Aggro ever since. Played FNM pretty consistently for several years and wanted to work up the courage to do the big tournaments but never could. I eventually sold all my cards when rough times meant I couldn't afford to keep up with the Standard rotations. I kept up with the game though, eventually playing MtGO on a piecemeal basis.

    Which is what leads to my concerns regarding this idea. I'm not against it per se but allowing Standard to be the de facto gatekeeper of Modern allows the Modern meta to really settle and let a significant number of decks be competitive. I love Tron in Modern. It's not the best, but it's competitive. And with cards needing to be designed with Standard in mind, then it gives Modern players more time to assess the possible incoming cards for new additions or threats to keep an eye on. It makes their investment in Modern decks a bit more worthwhile. At least as worthwhile as spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on pretty cardboard can be. Especially since Modern, in my opinion, has a much more healthy meta, with even the most powerful decks generally only comprising 4 or 5 percent of the meta while Standard can see decks easily obtain 15-20 percent of the meta before bannings.

    But by skipping Standard altogether, and going straight to Modern, WotC risks printing cards that completely invalidate decks that cost significantly more than Standard decks do. I haven't gotten back into playing Modern for the sole reason of cost.

    Using data from mtggoldfish.com, we can see the metas of the various formats and rough costs of those decks. The most expensive deck in Modern? Jund, at $1600. Standard? Esper Control at $508.

    I fully understand that mtggoldfish is one site and only represents a slice of data in a much larger pie but it is useful to see how much of a difference there is in the cost between the two formats and how Modern could be greatly impacted by the introduction of cards that skip Standard legality.

    As I said, I'm not opposed to Modern Horizons. I just think it needs to be done carefully so as not to invalidate the Modern decks that require much more investment.

    3 votes